Zach is surprised to get a Thanksgiving dinner invite from his reclusive great uncle Derek, but a trip to Maine with his friends sounds better than cooking. As it turns out, more awaits them in the strange old oceanside house than a few platefuls of turkey and cranberry sauce.
Added: Nov 2022 Updated: 28 Jan 2023 15,844 words 8,022 views This story was commissioned via Patreon Story Commission.
The guys were amenable, especially Asher, who was keen to see as much Americana as he could now that he was in the country for good. Gabe, a lanky ex-Californian surfer type, was appropriately even-keeled by temperament and was fine with anything. Alexander, my best friend from work, fretted a little—he was a city kid and felt uncomfortable without bodegas and subways close at hand—but said he knew he was being silly and didn’t want to go against the group. So it was that come Wednesday afternoon we were all packed into Gabe’s Forester and headed north.
The drive was boisterous and uneventful, full of driving games and splurges on junk food and giant sodas. The arrival was… strange. On the way up to the Manor we passed through the nearby village, Serbiton, a typical New England town basking in the unexpected November sunshine. As we cruised past the town commons I couldn’t help noticing the little cluster of homey-looking shops with Derek’s family name, “Blevins,” emblazoned on the marquee, including a toy store, a booksellers, and—was that a head shop? I mentioned the name connection to the guys.
“Is your uncle a big cheese around here, then?” Asher asked, his heavy, well-trimmed beard barely hiding his grin as he avidly watched the town going by through the rolled-down window. Everything about my muscular, hairy Jordanian friend was a size up from the norm, but even with him taking up more than his share of the front I got the feeling he’d be leaning halfway out the window like an oversized pooch if he could.
“Looks like his family is,” I mused, as I turned onto the main road heading coastward from town center. I was glad Gabe had been more than happy to let someone else drive—it gave me a bit more of a feeling of control. Even though Derek was a relative, the brother of my Nana, their branch of the family tree was obscure and there were no more Blevinses that I knew of. Nana didn’t talk about them and, in retrospect, had seemed more than happy to live as if Edna Edwards were the only name she’d ever borne.
As we pulled up to the house, Alexander whistled. “Will you look at that,” he said, his Georgia drawl accentuating his awe. I couldn’t help agreeing as I drove around the drive, all of us craning to see the towering manse through the truck’s windows as we rotated around it, the roar of the ocean warning us we were perilously close to land’s end. Rounding the place was strange, as though a massive stone turntable were showing off the house’s size and complexity of architectural features, including the gabled roofs, round angles, bay windows, and decorative woodwork. It was like someone had offered a prize for the most spiky towers, sharp turrets, and protruding dormers you could slap on. Apart from all the brick the colors were mostly subtle medium blues and grays trimmed with white. It was just a house, I told myself as we pulled around to a little parking area behind the isolated house, next to a detached garage; though as we got out, all of us staring up at the three-story demesne as we made our way around to the veranda steps, I was glad it was a clear and pleasant evening. This place with a lowering sky and lightning behind it would be more than a little unnerving.
“Who lives here, Nathaniel Hawthorne?” Gabe asked, sounding amused. The wind was high and I barely heard him over the crunch of gravel under our feat and the sloshing of the Atlantic Ocean battering the nearby cliffs. No one to hear you scream, I thought, then huffed a laugh at how I was managing to psyche myself out.
Derek met us at the door with warm smiles and firm handshakes. Maybe I was a little discombobulated from the house, but remeeting Derek after all these years tripped a few oddness alarms hidden away in the back recesses of my brain. For starters, he didn’t look anything like his age. Nana was stooped, wrinkled, and white-haired, the prototype of a smiling, cane-wielding granny. Derek, for his part, looked more like her son than her older brother. His skin was smooth, his shoulders square, and his eyes were clear and vivid blue. He was handsome, with a firm jaw and a tiny George Hamilton beauty mark on his left cheek, and still had his hair, a few strands of gray amidst the black almost the only signs he wasn’t closer to my age than his own. He was even surprisingly buff, the shape of not insubstantial pecs gently pushing out his heavy, loose navy-blue tee, as if to mirror my own pool-honed chest. Facially, too, he looked a little more like me than I remembered him doing, which was… unexpected.
He gripped my hand a second or two too long, and there was something hungry in his gaze as he held mine. Was he that starved for company, or was something else going on? He definitely merited the old-fashioned usage of the word “queer,” I thought wryly to myself, if not the modern one as well. “Dashed queer fellow,” I could imagine Dr. Watson saying as we all passed into the foyer.
Derek was eyeing us with brimming excitement. “Welcome to the Manor,” he said grandly, arms wide, as he stood before a vast painting of a violent storm seemingly bent on destroying a lonely, stalwart lighthouse. There was a ring with a small but luridly green gemstone on his left ring finger, I now noticed, as though he were engaged to Skeletor. “Zach, won’t you introduce your friends?”
Introductions were made. “Thank you for the invitation,” Alexander said graciously.
Derek smiled wide at us. “Not a problem!” he said, looking us over. My stomach fluttered, though I couldn’t say why. “I can’t wait to share the holiday with you. Shall we have a tour?”
He guided us through the winding halls and up narrow, sturdy stairs, showing off the house’s features like a combination of a proud parent and a trained docent. The rooms included a two-story library packed with books; a sewing room with what looked like a hundred-year-old sewing machine and an actual, honest-to-goodness loom; and, inexplicably, half a dozen snug bedrooms, all with the springy queen-sized beds already made and the furniture polished and every brass candlestick and doorknob gleaming like new. Suddenly a valid reason for the out-of-the-blue invite occurred to me—maybe Derek looking to convert this place to an inn or a bed and breakfast, and the guys and I were his beta-testers. I was oddly relieved, though the explanation didn’t quite sit well enough subconsciously for me to completely believe it. Maybe I’d have a chance to ask him about it later.
We went back down and toured the remaining ground rooms, including the kitchen—just as impressive in person, and fragrant with the lasagnas he’d been baking for our arrival—and the adjoining grand dining room. It was all kind of fascinating, not least because it was so outside the familiar for me. I noticed a narrow walnut door off the parlor as we passed through and tried the knob. It was locked, which was unusual from what I’d seen in the Manor so far. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. I noticed Derek was watching me. “Closet?” I asked.
Derek gave me a crooked smile. “Oh, that’s the toy room,” he said easily. “Maybe you’ll get to see it… later.”
Okay, was I imagining the way he’d said that? I exchanged a look with Gabe, who was standing nearby, the others having passed on into the piano room. He just shrugged and followed the others, Derek doing likewise without further comment.
I watched them go for a second before trailing after our host. “Dashed queer fellow,” I muttered to myself, as I left the parlor and its strangely locked side-room door behind me.
After the tour we retrieved our bags from the car and brought them up to our rooms, then went down for dinner—which, after the strangeness of the house itself and the oddities of the tour was almost anticlimactically normal. Derek had either intuited we were all meat-eaters or didn’t care, but the ground beef lasagna was delicious, and the dry red wine and soft Italian bread he served with it were both a pleasant match to the broad, round savoriness of the cheesy-beef pasta dish. The table chat flowed normally enough; Derek was congenial and conversational, more than I remembered him being, but the good food and a half-glass of red lowered my guard some, though I noticed he talked about the town more than himself, and tended to deflect the flow our way. He seemed particularly keen to hear about how Asher, Gabe, and I had gotten to know each other in college (we’d met in the gay alliance where Asher was one of the gung-ho officers), and we talked about this long enough for Gabe to let slip we’d tried being a threesome for a while before deciding to stick to being friends. Derek, I saw, noticed but let it slide with a small smile.
Alexander, meanwhile, was fidgeting in his chair next to the host—he was fairly introverted but was prone to feeling awkward when left out of conversations—so Derek turned to him and asked his first meeting with me. So Alexander told the story about how we’d been both abandoned in a disused office together with a stack of training binders for our whole first day, and he admitted he’d found the company in the enclosed space distracting enough he was worried he’d be fired for lusting after a fellow employee and not completing his training exercises fast enough. I gave him a fond smile and he blushed cutely. I had this thing about work and relationships, and had always flagged Alexander as off-limits because of it; but there was no denying he was more than a little adorable in a messy-haired, fit-looking elfin kind of way. He’d changed his top for dinner, complaining he was feeling grungy from the drive up, so while the rest of us, even Derek, were still in various flavors of tee shirt, he was wearing a silky scarlet button-down that went nicely with all the dark wood of the dining room.
After dinner Asher and I helped Derek wash up while the others bused the table and got the dining room squared away. I was drying as Derek washed, but my eyes were more on him than the damp cutlery and china he was handing me. Plunging his hands into the soapy water and the action of scrubbing plates and pans drew attention to his forearms, which were as alluringly sinewy as mine and just a bit hairy—with no gray follicles in sight, or any other sign he was three times my age. I finally bit the bullet and asked, “So, what’s your secret?”
He tilted his head toward me and gave me a crafty smile. “You really want to know?”
My stomach did that fluttering thing again. “Well, as long as it’s not sacrificing children to Ba’al or anything.”
He smiled wider. “Oh, it’s nothing like that,” he said, then handed me the wine glass he’d been rinsing and said no more.
Dark fell very hard—it was pitch black outside the dormer window when we collected in my room for a pre-bedtime powwow, and unlike my mostly night-owl friends (apart from Alexander) I was thoroughly conditioned to snoozing whenever the sun was absent from the skies. Even eclipses made me drowsy. Sure enough, I was fighting off a night-sympathetic torpor as we discussed my uncle and his strange abode. In the end we came to the consensus that he was eccentric but harmless and dispersed, Alexander and me to sleep, Asher and Gabe to Gabe’s room to play video games on his tablet before calling it a night. I climbed under the covers, wondered how well I’d sleep in a strange bed for a good five seconds, then konked out.
I woke to someone saying my name, right in my ear, over and over. Something was poking my cheek, too. I jumped back, startled, and I felt something move nearby. A cat? Something smaller? Hurriedly I reached behind me and snapped on the bedside light, then turned back—and stared at what had woken me.
Sitting on my pillow as if he’d fallen back on his ass, clearly visible in the 60-watt lamplight, was something that looked very much like an action figure. It was six inches or so tall, dressed in a white Oxford that didn’t hide his muscular frame and jeans that looked very bulky at that size, with bare feet. The young-looking face was very familiar, though, complete with black hair and beauty mark, and when he stood up it was very clear that this was no factory-molded plastic anything but a real, flesh-and-blood, six-inch-tall man. He looked distressed, showing no sign of the smarminess I’d observed all night, and ice ran down my spine as I gaped at him.
“Zach,” the tiny version of my great uncle Derek said urgently, “you have to leave this place. You have to leave now!”
I was dumbfounded, quite literally. My mouth moved but nothing came out. All I was aware of was there was a six-inch-tall version of my uncle standing pertly on my pillow, waiting for me to do something.
“Zach!” he said again, his tone commanding and pleading at the same time.
“How—how—” For some reason I was thinking about how tall the bed was, with its extra-thick mattress, box-spring, and steel frame. It’s muddy, but I think the question I was trying to ask was how he’d climbed up to stand there on my bed in the first place. I imagined him leaping for the hem of the top sheet and then pulling himself up by scrunches of muslin, hand over hand like a tiny commando. “How—”
“Get a grip, Zach,” he said. My brain fumbled that one, still picturing little Derek fisting bits of fabric as he climbed, until I registered what he was saying. Get a grip. Right.
I licked dry-feeling lips, unable to take my eyes off him. Weirdly, I was conscious of my nakedness under the sheet and duvet, which now seemed reckless and ill-advised for a guest in someone else’s home. Worse, my body was reacting to how good Derek looked like this, which took me by surprise. This version of him was just a bit hunkier and younger-looking even that he’d seemed earlier that night. I shook my head. “How—” I said again, this time stuck on a more relevant question. I tried again. “You were just—”
“That wasn’t me, Zach,” Derek said, a little impatiently, like I should have worked this out already. “That was—the creature. Pretending to be me.”
I couldn’t quite take this in—not that this was the real Derek, a truth I believed implicitly for reasons I can’t explain even now. “The… creature?” I repeated.
He grabbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know what it is,” he said, exasperated. “I got here to collect the inheritance, took possession of the house, and some spirit or energy or creature trapped me and shrunk me, so I could be its pet or whatever. Then it took my form.” He shuddered.
“Its pet?” I said, horrified. “What does it do to you?”
“It just watches us, mostly. Eating, working out—there’s a small-sized gym and everything for us, in the game room off the parlor. Usually we’re locked up in there, but a year or so back we found a way out through one of the loose floorboards.”
“Wait, wait—who’s ‘we’?”
Derek sighed and pointed toward the door where another six-inch man, this one sandy-blond, shirtless in black slacks, and obviously ripped even from this distance, was keeping a lookout through a crack in the door. He waved. “It lured Luis up here on the pretense of making some repairs after it figured out I was lonely,” Derek said. “There’s been a couple of others since. Look, we don’t have time for this. It’s going to be up here any moment to grab you for its collection!”
Suddenly I remembered my friends and alarm sizzled through me. “We have to warn the others,” I said. I realized this meant two things: me getting out of from the covers, exposing my dick at half-mast to my similarly-sized guests, and Derek getting down from the lofty heights he’d climbed up to. I decided to address the second one first. “Um, do you need a hand, or—?”
Derek just turned and jumped blithely off the bed, tucking and rolling when he hit the rug. He stood and looked up at me. “We’re… fairly sturdy in this form,” he explained. “Coming?”
I will be soon if you keep doing stuff like that, I thought. Then I realized I was perving on Derek probably in exactly the same way as his captor, and my dick deflated slightly… though it stayed half-hard, annoyingly. Deciding the situation was more important than my chagrin I threw back the covers and grabbed my jeans from the floor next to the bed. I hauled them on commando, consciously not checking to see if Derek was watching, and stood up.
Derek looked over at Luis by the door. “Clear?”
“Clear,” Luis whispered.
I padded across the nubby throw rug as Luis pushed the door open, fairly easily despite his size. Geez, how strong are these guys? I wondered. The hinges creaked a little and I winced, but there was no sign of anyone in the darkened hallway. I made my way down to the next bedroom, Asher’s, the two small men trotting behind me like we were a size-diverse special ops team. I eased the door open to Asher’s room—empty. My stomach flipped at the sight of his neatly made bed, but a second later I realized this was actually a good sign. “He’s probably still in Gabe’s room,” I said quietly.
Sure enough, in the room across the hall I found Asher’s big, burly physique wrapped companionably around Gabe’s lankier form, the covers thrown back to expose their manly cuddling to the silvery slash of moonlight coming through their dormer window. Gabe still clutched his tablet in a loose, sleeping grip. They looked good like this, not to mention how they were bringing back some very hot memories from the time the three of us were more than just buddies. Either way I was kind of reluctant to disturb them. “Okay, let’s collect Alexander and come back for these two,” I told my small companions.
They nodded and I crept down the hall to the last bedroom. The door slid open, soundlessly this time. This room was in one of the side-turrets, round and open, with a ring of large windows facing out on the backyard and the cliffs beyond. Alexander had one of them half-open, filling the room with cool air and the relentless noise of the ocean—which perhaps explains how the stooped figure of my fake uncle looming over my friend’s bed, the green ringstone glinting faintly in the low light, wasn’t aware of me until it was too late.
Without conscious thought I grabbed one of the heavy brass candlesticks from the tallboy dresser by the door and made my way soundlessly across the room, praying for there not to be any squeaky boards under the throw rug I was edging across. Finally I was right behind the doppelgänger, the creature still too focused on my friend to notice me. With a wholly unfamiliar blood-lust I raised the candlestick and then smashed it down on the stooping form with all the strength I could muster. There was a sickening crack, then—nothing. The solid form of my fake uncle vanished as if he’d disintegrated into his component quarks, the clothes he was wearing dropping to the rug empty. There was no sign of the ring.
“Damn it,” I heard Derek say. “He’ll be back once he re-forms. We have to go.”
I wasn’t listening. My eyes were fixed on the body of my friend, who lay white faced and staring up at me with terrified eyes from the cornflower sheets, his six-inch body naked and newly muscled, his enlarged, crazy-hard cock tapping the tops of his suddenly chiseled abs. Clearly whatever this shrinking process was, it did more than scale you down to banana-size.
“Holy shit,” I breathed. Even his face was cuter.
“Zach?” Alexander said, sounding helpless and afraid despite his aroused state.
Tenderly I scooped him up, so he was laying in my hand. He was pleasantly heavy. I watched as his thick, disproportionately huge erection flexed, the tip touching the skin below his pecs and leaving a damp spot there. I felt the kernel of an obsession forming somewhere in my lizard-brain, a me that wanted only to pleasure this small yet augmented version of my friend; and though I knew that need should be repressed under the circumstances, I was not yet ready to do so. We’d never done anything together, but we’d both been into each other since we met—and in this form he was, to me, almost literally irresistible.
“We need to go,” Derek hissed. “We’ve got to get out of this house. Far away. We have to go now!”
I turned to look at the other two small men where they were standing in the middle of the round throw rug that mostly filled the room. Derek seemed frantic, as if now that he’d alerted me to the danger here he couldn’t endure the place another minute. Even Luis was looking at him with concern.
“No,” I said. With my eyes on Derek I let my thumb caress lightly Alexander’s small form, and as I felt the hard cock sliding under the pads of my thumb I trembled. Alexander let out a tiny moan.
“No?!” Derek repeated incredulously.
“No,” I repeated.
Luis and Derek were both looking at me now. I felt myself taking charge, just like I always did at the office whenever a crisis struck. I could do this. “We’re not just going to run,” I said. “We’re going to fix this.”
Luis was nodding, but Derek frowned. “How?” he demanded.
I kept my gaze fixed on the two smaller men, even as I let my thumb steal another caress along Alexander’s naked body. “We,” I said confidently, “are going to steal the creature’s magic ring.”
Derek was eyeing me skeptically from his position near the open door to Alexander’s round bedroom, the muffled noises of the nearby ocean drifting in through the open window. It was obvious the next words out of my six-inch-tall hunka unca’s mouth would be something along the lines of “How exactly?” I didn’t exactly have the answer to that yet, so I redirected.
“We need to roust the others and withdraw to a secure but nearby position,” I said preemptively. Derek’s expression was flat but not obstructive. Good enough. I glanced at Luis, who was watching the hall for signs of our host. The shirtless mini-handyman caught my eye and nodded—he’d clearly been waiting for a chance to fight back.
I chanced another look at Alexander, willing myself not to get distracted.
It was an uphill fight. I’d always steered clear of Alexander in real life, not wanting to manufacture workplace stress on top of what our design firm already generously supplied; but that didn’t mean I hadn’t spent plenty of time daydreaming up all sorts of lusty scenarios for us to pursue in the privacy of my imagination. Encounters at the coffee-maker where our resolve slipped and we gave into temptation. The two of us trapped alone at a client site in mid-blizzard. Me standing in as his last-minute fake boyfriend at his sister’s high-society Atlanta wedding. In most of these smutty reveries Alexander was consumed with lust but shyly reticent, watching me with burning eyes as he held back, waiting for me to move in close and charmingly, relentlessly, bend him to my will.
And now, here he was, literally in the palm of my hand. His size and heft was somehow utterly perfect. I was reminded of those stout six-inch dog bones with the marrow we used to buy for our chocolate lab when I was in high school, exactly the right size to grip in your hand. Alexander was that size now, buffed, hard, and wanton. He was looking up at me like I hung the moon, and from his perspective it probably seemed like I could.
The middle part of my thumb was resting firmly across his unnaturally hefty erection. With an effort I restrained myself from shifting it even a millimeter along his stone-hard shaft. I wanted him, and he wanted me, but we were in trouble and my personality was shifted to dominant male-problem-solver mode. “Alexander,” I said, gentle but insistent. “Are you with us?”
Alexander seemed to catch the urgency in my tone. His lust-glazed eyes focused more acutely on me, and after a second he nodded.
I smiled and started walking, Alexander in my hand, the other two trotting tirelessly a few feet ahead of me. “Okay,” I said quietly to my miniaturized workmate crush as we padded down the hall. “Good. We’re going to—” I paused. I’d been about to promise him we’d get him back to normal, but my traitorous, half-stiff cock wasn’t entirely on board with that idea. Instead I finished, “—find a way out of this, all right?”
Alexander nodded again, then added, “Okay,” as if to reassure me he actively assented to whatever I was planning.
“Okay.” I wanted to squeeze him a little, just to seal our agreement—I knew from his heft and what Derek had told me that he was a lot more durable in this form than you’d think—but I decided to hold off on that until later. Alexander seemed to guess what I was thinking, and his saucy expression suggested he was looking forward to that “later,” whenever it should arrive.
We were already at Gabe’s room. I’d left the door ajar, and Luis was pushing it open like it was made of cellophane. Even from my vantage point it was exciting to watch his biceps and delts bunching as he almost effortlessly pushed the door open.
Asher and Gabe were still spooning adorably in the queen-sized bed, looking like an allegory of light and dark under the weighty comforters. I hesitated for a moment beside the bed, then, deciding I wanted both hands free, I gently maneuvered Alexander into my right jeans pocket—the side opposite were my half-swollen, unswaddled dick was rubbing impatiently against the interior denim. The jeans were loose enough Alexander slid in without being too constrained, though the pocket was just deep enough he kept upright and visible by riding the hem of the pocket, arms, head, and shoulders naked and exposed, like some smiling, perfectly tanned fitness model perched on the edge of a pool, arms folded, muscled bis and rounded delts and luscious traps hinting at the mysteries hidden from view. Was he just as hot below as above? Was he naked? Hard? A merman? Your imagination could fill everything in just as you liked.
Of course, this setup was a bit different, seeing as I was the pool and could feel Alexander’s hard, heavy form pressed against my hip like any girl dancing with her date at the prom. My dick jumped, swelling to three-quarters hard and wanting to drag me under the mindless seas with it. I mentally slapped myself up the back of the head. This is not the time, I thought. I knew where all this sexual urgency was coming from: it was fear that we might succeed. If we succeeded, everything would go back to normal. The 42-minute reset button would be pressed, and Alexander and I would be back to sidelong, wistful glances and lots of small talk over my cubicle wall on Monday, and all of the glorious possibilities of Small Alexander would be lost.
But you’ll have the evil ring, I tainted myself. Pull this off, you’ll be able to make Alexander exactly what you want him to be, anytime you want…
I shuddered, shocked at how blatant my lizard brain was being. I tried to cast this temptation firmly put of my mind, but only succeeded in tabling the issue. That implied “if”—if you pull this off—would have to be achieved first. We needed to defeat the creature and get the ring, before I’d need to even think about what I would capable of doing with the damn thing in my possession.
All of this passed through my mind in a second, but we had more pressing concerns. Before the others could get impatient, I reached out grabbed Asher’s muscular shoulder. “Ash,” I hissed. “Gabe. Wake up. we gotta go.”
Asher’s eyes snapped open, the whites looking bright in the dim light. He caught sight of me and registered that all was not right with the world. “What’s going on?” Asher said. Gabe moaned grumpily and tried to nestle deeper under Asher.
“No time for the whole story,” I said quickly. “Short version, our host is more than just creepy and we gotta book.”
Asher stared at me, but only for a second. He turned his attention to the blond cuddle-partner. “Gabe, we gotta go,” he told him, mouth close to his ear.
“Fuuuck,” groaned Gabe, his voice muffled under Asher’s prodigious arm. “I was having such a good dream.”
I caught Asher’s eye. “Grab your stuff and meet up in the hall.”
“I got him.” Asher nodded, satisfied for now.
I backed out and made for my own room across the hall. Once there I hauled on my shoes, then grabbed my phone, wallet, and keys and stuffed them in my pockets, then checked through the gym bag I’d brought by way of luggage. “How long until the creature re-forms?” I asked Derek and Luis as I worked. “Any idea?”
Derek had somehow managed to get up on the night stand and was checking the exterior perimeter through the window, not that there was much to see—though for all I knew these guys had enhanced night vision, too. “I’ve only seen it once,” he said. “I managed to push him out a window once. This window, actually. He went splat on the pavement and vanished, just like before.”
I stopped and stared at him. Derek shuddered. “He was back in fifteen minutes, a bit disoriented but still as angry as I’ve ever seen him. I don’t know if he can do it faster.”
“You pushed him out a window?” I repeated.
“Once.” He didn’t seem willing to say more.
Luis, stationed at the door as before, shook his head. “Wish I’d been here for that one.” My eyes caught on him for a second. There was slightly more light in the hall, casting a dramatic contrast of light and shadow over Luis’s impressive physique. Reminding myself to focus, I looked around for anything else of mine. The tee shirt I’d been wearing was nowhere to be seen. I’d copy Luis and go topless until we had time for me to dig in my bag for a spare. I turned to my bad and started to zip it up.
“Wait,” Derek said. Before I could respond he leapt off the night stand onto the bed, tucking into a roll like he had before. Did he train in gymnastics on the side at med school, or did acrobatic aptitude come with the miniaturization upgrades? Before I could sort that out for myself, Derek ran over to my gym bag, made a leap, and dived in, landing right on top of my clean underwear. He stood and looked up at me gaping at him. “Faster this way,” he said briefly. “Get Luis!”
Okay, that was hot, I thought. I hesitated briefly, then looked down at Alexander. “I’m okay here,” he said, and, fuck, was he grinning? Some dirty part of my brain passed the thought up that Alexander liked it there—that maybe he could feel the pressence of my fat, more-than-semi-hard cock skulking so near at hand, radiating heat and musk and god knew what else that might be detectable by someone cock-sized and mere inches away.
My cheeks suddenly felt warm. Why was I so—?
Right. Escape. Quickly, I turned and jogged over to Luis, kneeling and leaning close. He smelled nice, which was unexpected—like acorns and earth, I thought. “Uh, should I grab you?” I asked.
Luis grinned. “Go ahead,” he said cheerfully. “I won’t bite.”
I smiled at him, still feeling warm from my thoughts about Alexander. “Uh huh,” I teased back.
I snatched the big little man up, feeling the difference in heft compared to the buffed but still middleweight-class Alexander, and brought him back to the bag, placing him inside next to Derek. “I’m going to zip you guys in, okay?” I said. “Hold tight.”
“Do it,” Derek agreed.
I thought about saying something smarmy about the two of them being in there together, something like “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” but time really was of the essence. I pulled the zip and, as carefully as I could, slipped the shoulder strap over my shoulder and headed out into the hall.
Gabe and Asher were already waiting with their stuff, now fully dressed (which was more than I was). Gabe looked sleepy and disgruntled; Asher was obviously worried. “What’s going on?” he repeated. He looked around. “Where’s Alexander?”
I headed past him for the stairs, grateful for the moment that in the dimness he hadn’t spotted our missing teammate, buck naked and riding shotgun in my jeans pocket. “Safe,” I told Asher over my shoulder. “Explanations later. Come on!”
Gabe and Asher said nothing and followed close behind me. Together we slunk silently down the stairs, managing to contravene the hoary old trope that required a creaky step to give us away, and emerged onto the main floor. Apart from a single torch lamp in the sitting room everything was dark and still, the only sound the distant, eternal roar of the ocean. I started hoping that the creature was just an opportunistic being, driven by stimulus and response, without the capacity for traps and endgames. This wasn’t a horror movie, for fuck’s sake.
We crept through the rooms warily, half-expecting the shadows to come to life and attack us, but we made it to the kitchen and the back door I’d clocked on our tour unmolested.
Cautiously I tested the knob. It turned without protest, and I eased the door open, waiting for the revealing creak. It didn’t come, and we slipped through, closing it behind us.
We were only fifty feet from the car, but it was across exposed ground. If the creature were watching from the windows, he would see us. I still had the keys from the drive up, and as I got them ready I glanced up at the house. The panes revealed nothing but blackness.
There was nothing for it. Waving for my friends to follow I rushed across to the Forester, pushed my bag in the back seat, shut the door, then moved to the front seat. As I started to clamber in I heard an abrupt “Careful!” from very near my crotch. Having somehow momentarily forgotten my workmate crush had been shrunk to a very buff and extra-hung half-foot version of himself and was currently riding my front right jeans pocket with his head and shoulders exposed like a drunk naked guy popping out of a limousine moon roof, my heart alarmingly skipped a beat as my brain went straight to talking boners not wanting wanting to get bent in half when you sat down—a worry that, to be fair, any vocally-enabled cock would quite reasonably be likely to express, and with some urgency.
I took a breath, and reality, which was damned weird enough, reasserted itself. After a quick glance at the others (who’d both rushed to the other side of the car together and hadn’t heard) I got in behind the wheel a bit more slowly than I’d been about to, making sure to seat myself as carefully as I could so as not to bend the warm, heavy man in my pocket.
Heart still pounding, I slipped the key carefully into the ignition, turned—and heard nothing but a click.
I gulped, waited a second, and tried again, the others watching my every move.
Click. It sounded loud in the stillness of the car, like a neck breaking.
The creature had thought ahead after all. Likely he’d come out the moment we’d gone to our rooms and removed the distributor cap or whatever you did to disable cars so your victims can’t get away. Damn it.
I looked at Asher next to me, then at Gabe leaning forward between the seats. Around us, the sloshing of the ocean filled the empty estate-lands and the sprawling wilderness beyond.
“We’re trapped here,” Gabe said.
A minute passed. The noise of the ocean, normally so soothing and regular, was now like a ticking clock—every dull crash announcing another moment had passed.
“We can’t sit here,” I said, mostly talking to myself. The Forester was both ridiculously exposed and an obvious place to look for us. Asher and Gabe wanted explanations, but we couldn’t do it here. My stomach sank as I thought about having to tell them about Alexander. Would they guess how turned on I was by his transformation? Would they pick up on my guilty need not to turn him back?
Asher pointed to the detached garage where the driveway asphalt terminated after bending around the cursed house. “Maybe there’s something in there we can use,” he said.
I considered the structure briefly. It was narrow but with two bays, plus an ordinary door to the side—the kind with four window panes that you could smash through if the door was locked. The whole thing looked neglected, the paint nobby and peeling and the bay doors scuffed and moribund. Asher’s hope that there might be a second getaway vehicle stored in there was optimistic; a dead rider lawnmower seemed more likely. We weren’t going back to the house, though, not until we had a plan. “Let’s go,” I said. “Leave your bags.”
As quick as we could we exited the car. I grabbed my own bag, obviously not wanting to abandon Derek and Luis (who’d be needed for explanations and planning anyway), but the others left theirs behind as we bolted for the garage side door. This turned out to be providentially unlocked, and we piled into the empty, cobwebbed darkness, hoping not to find the monster lying in wait for us.
We pulled out our phones and turned on the flashlights to look around, careful not to shine the beams out toward the door we’d entered by and its little windows. Turned out there was nothing to see but us. The interior of the garage was devoid of everything: no people, no supernatural creatures, no serendipitous Dodge Darts or rusty Gran Torino station-wagons that might transport us to freedom, nothing but shelves with old paint cans, random camping detritus, and various worn cardboard boxes. Not even the derelict John Deere I’d expected to find graced the oil-stained cement.
I was looking around with a frown, thinking that as hiding laces went an enclosed space with only one exit, the only other building on the property, was not ideal. But Gabe, normally so placid, got in my face and said, “Explain.”
I looked at Asher, but he was shining his phone flashlight at my pants. “What the fuck is that?” he said.
“Hey, not in the eyes, asshole!” Alexander complained, his Georgia drawl sounding more pronounced in his agitation.
“What the—!” Asher yelped, dropping his phone with a clatter.
Gabe took a step back. “Duuude…”
I let out a long breath. Looking around I spotted the cheap, square vinyl-topped card table I’d seen earlier and unfolded it. I set my bag gently down on it, then carefully extracted Alexander from my pants and set him on the table next to it. The others watched with wide-eyed trepidation, like I’d suddenly become a magician of unknown abilities and intent.
Alexander squinted up at the others, shading his eyes. “Seriously, those things are super-bright,” he said. Hastily Asher and Gabe canted the flashlight beams away from him, still staring at him in horror.
“He’s naked,” Asher said. “Why is he naked?”
“Why is he tiny?!” Gabe said.
“I’m not ‘tiny’!” Alexander objected, who’d been a little sensitive on the subject even before he’d been shrunk down to the size of a champagne flute.
Ignoring all this, I unzipped my bag and extracted its living cargo, and a momently later Alexander was joined on the black, puffy vinyl by two more miniature muscle-men. I know the small men were abnormally sturdy, but I looked them over anyway. “You guys okay?” I asked the two men. “Any bruises?” They shook their heads and turned to face Alexander, who was eyeing them with interest.
Alexander had evidently recognized the more clothed of the two hunks. “Let me guess,” he said, extending a hand, “you’re the real Derek Blevins.”
Derek shook Alexander’s hand. “I am,” he said solemnly. It sounded like he was feeling a certain amount of guilt and contrition about Alexander’s new condition, but he moved on to introducing Luis without further comment. Alexander shook hands with him as well.
“What the hell is happening?” Gabe said unsteadily. His flashlight beam was wavering, too, and I worried that my buddy might be about to lose it. Maybe Gabe was so even-keeled because as a rich, good-looking surfer boy things normally went more-or-less as expected around him, and life hadn’t thrown him too many unexpected curves—not that there were many curves like seeing your friend had been shrunk to six inches tall. Either way his reaction was potentially unfortunate, because right now the six of us needed to be a unity.
There was a ten-inch battery-powered Coleman lamp on the shelves with the camping gear, a bit dusty but not ancient-looking. I tried the switch on the side and to my surprise it lit up—anemically, to be sure, but in our case that was a bonus. I set the lamp on the table next to the shrunken men and said in a quiet, firm voice, “Phones away.” They did as they were told but kept staring at Alexander and the others as if they might vanish if they looked away, both of them as thrown as I’d ever seen them. My stomach twisted and I felt like a pervert—clearly my sexual reaction to Alexander’s new size was abnormal, going by Asher and Gabe. I mercilessly pushed all that down and laid out the facts as clearly and calmly as I could.
I decided to start with the core of our dilemma. “You guys remember the green ring? The one ‘Uncle Derek’ was wearing when we arrived?” I asked them.
Asher looked up at this. “Yes,” he said. “It was weird, like it was glowing.”
I nodded. “The creature that haunts this house,” I said, “uses that ring to shrink people. He got Uncle Derek and Luis here, then took Derek’s form and lured us up to the house.”
“I tried to warn Zach,” Derek put in, “but the thing got to Alexander before we could stop him.” He turned to Alexander and said, “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay,” he said. He looked down at himself. “I’m not too upset. Though I’m not looking forward to going to work like this,” he added with a crooked smile.
Gabe was looking between me and the three action-figure-sized men standing on the card table. “Wait,” he said. He sounded almost angry. “You say there’s some kind of creature? With a magic ring? And you woke us up to flee the house because it’s going around shrinking people?” I nodded. “Why?!” Asher put a broad hand on his shoulder, but Gabe didn’t seem to notice.
“Uh, I didn’t want you guys to get whammied?” I said, confused.
“No, no, I mean, why? Why the fuck is he shrinking people?” Gabe demanded.
I exchanged a look with mini-Derek. “He… likes to watch,” I suggested, and Derek nodded.
“He likes to stare at us all small like this, doing normal stuff like nothing happened,” Luis said grimly. “He gets a kick out of us being like this.” He gestured at his pint-sized-yet-enhanced body.
“That’s sick,” Gabe spat. Asher squeezed his shoulder, and Gabe looked away from the three men standing on the table as though disgusted by their very existence.
My gut twisted a little more at this, but I pressed on. “That’s why we’re not just running,” I said evenly. “We need to stop this thing. We need to steal that ring.”
It was Alexander who voiced the obvious question. “How?” he asked, arms folded over his bare chest.
I looked at all five of them in turn. “I… have some ideas about that.”
Twenty minutes later I stood in front of the front doors to The Manor, flexing my fists to psych myself up like I used to do before high school soccer matches. I still hadn’t tracked down a shirt, and the night air, though mild for late November, was still cool enough to perk up my nipples. I ignored that and focused on what I had to do.
I looked around quickly. It was still the middle of the night—dawn was a few hours away yet—but I’d acclimated to the darkness and was seeing everything in a sharp, low-contrast way, like a better-than-average day-for-night shot. Knowing there was no time to waste, I pushed open the doors and walked into the unlit foyer where we’d shaken hands with the creature we’d all thought was my hermit uncle.
“Hello?” I called out boldly, listening to my voice ring through the house. My guts were singing, telling me to shut up, to turn tail and run as far as I could, but the whole point was to call attention to myself.
I had to bring the creature to me.
I stepped further into the gloomy foyer, standing right under a rustic chandelier I’d barely noticed the first time. It felt like an invitation, a noir whodunnit trope waiting to happen. Wrong genre, I thought. “Hello!” I bellowed, louder this time. “Show yourself!”
In the darkness of the house’s interior I saw the ring before I did the creature. It really was phosphorescent, a little glob of virulent green casting a faint but unmistakably malevolent glow on the hand that wielded it. It glided down the stairs like a will-o’-the-wisp, the figure of my false uncle shadowed and indistinct by comparison. I wondered what kind of advantage he had in the dark. Did creatures like him really prefer the blackness of night, or was that just us humans combining the thing that terrified us?
He moved into the foyer and stood facing me, maybe six feet away. He was regarding me curiously—no doubt intrigued by the errant fly who’d willingly returned to the web. Well, I was pretty curious, too. “What are you, anyway?” I asked.
The creature the looked like my uncle shrugged. “I’m just trying to get by,” he said coyly. He didn’t move any nearer, and I didn’t dare try to close the distance until we’d established a bit more of a rapport.
“That’s no answer,” I said, and he shrugged again. “Why this house? Are you stuck here?”
“You want to know all my secrets?” the creature teased. I could see him better now. He really was quite handsome, with glinting eyes and pleasing lips you wanted to introduce your own to, and the kind of well-shaped shoulders you wanted to track your hands over. Was he some kind of sex demon, offering pleasing shapes to others in order to feed on their arousal? But if that were true, why had he shrunk Derek and Luis? Why had he shrunk Alexander tonight instead of firing his libido and absorbing his lust? And lust there certainly had been—he’d seen it, powerful and needy in Alexander’s eyes, kindling an equally fierce need in himself. I focused on that, willing my arousal. Whether it was food for him or not, I knew there was a sexual component to what he did, and I wanted him to smell it on me. I wanted to stink of it.
I cautiously took a single step closer, then stopped. The creature didn’t move, just watching me. “I figure you’re like a hermit crab,” I said at random. I kept my thoughts on miniature Alexander, on the feel of his huge cock under my thumb as I’d held him in my palm, and my cock dutifully stirred and hardened in my jeans. I was still commando, so the feel of my cockhead dragging along the denim was part of the stimulation. I drew in a breath. “At first I figured you were a ghost, attached to the house,” I went on, holding his attention as I took another step. “But it’s not like that, is it? You just need a place to lure people to. A lair. Am I right?”
“You make it all sound so… diabolical,” the Derek-creature purred. He took a step toward me, and I thought I could see his nostrils flare. He was definitely smelling my musk. “We’re not so different.”
“Maybe not,” I said.
I took another step forward, but he suddenly raised a hand—the ring hand, the one casting that faint, eerie glow. “Why did you come back, Zach?” he asked.
I poured my imagination into sexual feelings for Alexander. Kissing his six-inch body. Licking his muscles, his disproportionate cock. Sucking his little feet into my hot mouth. I was pretty sure Alexander’s sex drive was stronger now, that bringing him to a delirious orgasm would be five times as intense as it would have been if we’d hooked up after work someday, in the normal world that existed before this trip. I wanted that, craved it, and as I focused on that need my arousal cascaded, building geometrically to a fever pitch in seconds. I was consumed now, fully hard, my fat cock raging against my hip. I stared back at the attractive, sexy creature facing me, letting his deceptive hotness stoke my already burning lust. Somehow I could tell it was working—the creature could practically taste my soaring arousal.
“You know why,” I said softly. In spite of his raised hand I took another step. We were only a couple of feet apart now—just within arm’s reach. “I saw what you did to my friend.”
“Yeah? What did I do?” he said, probing. He wanted to hear me say it, like a man who calls the Undergear helpline to have the jockstraps described to him by a hunky-sounding operator. I was happy to oblige.
“You improved him,” I said. “Made him like a god. A six-inch muscle god.” I didn’t have to fake my arousal, or the panting as I spoke about Alexander. My cock was trying to rip out of my pants. He was watching me avidly, drinking me in. I took one more step, bringing myself within his reach. “I want it,” I said.
“You want it?” he said roughly.
I nodded. “I want you to improve me,” I rasped. “I want you to make me… like him. I want you to do it. Now!”
That was the signal. While I’d been talking, holding his attention, Gabe and Asher had slipped into the house from the kitchen door and moved silently into position, just out of sight in either of the two doorways out of the foyer. As soon as I spoke the word “now,” they pounced. Asher used his superior weight and power to bring the creature crashing to the carpet, while Gabe focused all his attention on immobilizing the creature’s right arm—the one wielding the ring—behind his back. Then Luis and Derek rushed in, jumping on the creature’s other wrist and holding it down with their own unnatural strength. At the same time Asher pressed his knee into the creature’s back, holding him effectively in place while pushing his face into the rug. “Hurry—he’s strong!” he shouted.
That left Alexander. Hopping up onto the prone, struggling form, he ran as fast as he could up the body, around Asher’s knee and straight to the wrist Gabe was holding down. This was the only part of the plan I wasn’t sure of. Could the creature disintegrate at will, or only when he was knocked unconscious? Would he reveal some hitherto unforeseen power that would enable him to stop what we were doing before the crucial last step? But I needn’t have worried. In a single swift move, Alexander wrenched the green-glowing ring right off of the creature’s hand and lobbed it up to me as effortlessly as Superman hurling a football into the stratosphere.
The creature screamed. “No, you mustn’t!” it said, his words half-garbled by the carpet fibers Asher was mashing him into. “It’s mine! Only mine!”
“Let him see,” I told Asher. Asher dutifully grabbed the hair on the back of false Derek’s head, forcing his face up to look at me.
I held the creature’s wild gaze for a long second. Then, with a Joker-esque grin stretching my face, I lifted my left hand, fingers splayed, exhibiting the ring with my other hand. It felt warm, ready to act, to transform.
“Don’t do it,” the creature snarled. “It’s mine!”
“Zach—” the real Derek started to say, sounding worried.
I kept my eyes locked on the creature’s. “It’s the only way to restore you guys to normal,” I said, though I think everyone heard the note in my voice that gave away the truth. I wasn’t doing this to restore normality, and we all knew it. Even me.
Very deliberately, watching the creature I’d robbed every step of the way, I slipped the green ring on my finger—but as the scalding power surged through me it was the creature who started laughing.
I may have screamed—I don’t know. I couldn’t quite hear it, or even feel it. Sound and sight and sensation all crashed and tossed together, like being caught inside an avalanche, with everything so crazy around you that flailing chaos was all you knew.
Weirdly, the one recognizable thread I recognized whipping through the churning, roaring furor at first was the creature’s manic laughter. Wrecked as it was by the loss of its symbiotic magic ring, it could still find fierce satisfaction in my plight. It knows, came the wisps of thought, swiftly submerged in the pandemonium. It knows what’s happening to me, because it felt, once… when it took the ring.
I lost track of my surroundings as the ring itself consumed my thoughts, the sensory tornado around me and in me muted as I focused on the ring’s animal fury at having been wrested from the master it had so long accustomed itself to. It poured malevolence into me, the hot acid of it sizzling up my arm and tearing through my body like electrocution via poisonous venom, and this time I know I screamed my throat raw as I fell to me knees, the shock of the hard floor rocking up my legs barely registering amidst my all-encompassing agony. The laughter was gone—someone had shut the creature up, or maybe the amusement was out of his system, and he was content to watch curiously to see whether I would survive my recklessness. I heard other voices through the tempest of sensations. “Zach!” someone called, several someones, and I had to force my mind even to recognize the name as my own. “Hold on!” someone else cried out. “You can beat this!”
I wanted to laugh. This wasn’t some Hollywood movie where your friends’ love and utter faith in you always won the day. Pah! What chance did the reedy power of love and faith have against inhuman magic—wild primeval forces that knew neither reason nor sentiment?
The ring lashed out again, and my body seized, my back arched and arms splayed. Moving was impossible.
I grappled for that one thought. “Except—”
Except, the ring did know sentiment. It was attached to its master, and yet aggrieved by him. It was passionately and aggressively loyal, like a fierce and powerful hunting dog, and pained that that pure, animal fealty was not returned. I had torn it from all it knew. I had grabbed the animal’s leash and collar and wrested it from everything that had so far mattered to it.
Through the spinning maelstrom of my mind I tried focusing on the ring, reaching out to it. You can be happy with me, I tried telling, not so much with words—I guessed the ring wasn’t sapient, only self-willed and aware, so I hoped it would perceive the feelings I was trying to send it through some kind of innate empathy. I can give you what he gave you. What did he give the ring? Or didn’t? I can give you more.
Did the ring crave transformation? My heart quickened. Instantly, I recognized the very idea for what it was: pretext. Excuse. Temptation.
It couldn’t remain dormant, I would tell myself, temporizing to justify my own actions. It can’t. It has to feed, to be taken care of, doesn’t it? I have to keep transforming people. I don’t have choice. It’s like walking the dog. It would be cruel not to use the ring… wouldn’t it?
Guide me, I told the ring. Help me understand.
The ring calmed suddenly, no longer flailing but just as angry and confused. Its power seemed to intensify, becoming blinding in a way that was beyond sight. It obliterated my sense of my physical being, leaving my soul, my core, utterly exposed to the universe. I tried again to reach out it. It’s okay… I can—we can—we—
The ring clamped suddenly around my soul, sinking its cruel magical talons into it, and I screamed again, emptying myself of sound. I was the ring, the ring was me, and the inchoate havoc of sensation that had been blurring the world vanished, replaced with an almost painful clarity. I saw the gloomy foyer around me, glimpsed the still-prone creature with my uncle’s face. My friends, the Manor, the scrubland and forests, the cliff, and the endless ocean, a fathomless well of nearly infinite energy and power—
Magic burst out of me as a supernova of light—not just metaphorically but as real, actual light. It wasn’t the lurid green of the ring itself, but a pure white incandescence that filled the space around us, penetrating every surface, corner and cranny. I panted, still on my knees—the expenditure had been draining for me, yet at the same time I was invigorated stem to stern. My fingers tingled, the very hairs on my exposed arms and chest stood straight and eager. I was hard for no reason other than the sheer pervasiveness of that release. What a rush, I thought, or maybe it was the ring and me both. I could feel the exhilaration in every part me—in my muscles, my bones, my hot, coursing blood, and especially my rigid cock and thick, churning balls. What a fucking rush!
I heard the voices again. “Zach!” one of them said. “You can control this! Focus your mind—!”
I blinked a few times, like I was using my eyes for the first time. I could see them now, but I was disconnected, my reality somehow different from theirs. It was Asher who was speaking to me. His knee was still pressed the creature’s back, but his eyes were fixed on me, will me to see him, almost as though I might find a way to borrow or emulate his easy concentration. I frowned. His plum tee shirt and dark blue jeans were now pure white, somehow, a vivid contrast to his dusky brown skin. Gabe’s retro bowling shirt, once azure, was now snowy white as well. The clothes of the others had had all their colors subsumed, too: mini-Derek’s shirt was already white, but now his jeans matched, as did Luis’s slacks. And the silky once-black shirt and slacks of the captive creature. And the fancy rug his face was pressed into as he stared at me with wide, disbelieving, vivid cerulean eyes.
It wasn’t just the clothes and the rug—every inanimate surface and object I could see had been thoroughly albinified from the inside out. The oak walls of the foyer: totally, intrinsically white, exactly as if that were the innate, natural color you’d find concealed under the rough, protective bark of any oak tree in the world. The staircase: same—railing, banisters, risers, and all. The side-table. The polished wood-grain floors beyond the rug. Baseboards. Heating vents. The heavy doors I’d just walked through to trick the creature into giving me this ring. And so I had done, and now savage, untamed, limitless power was flooding out of me, battering my world and mutating everything I saw and knew.
I laughed, shrill and hysterical. Control? Who could control this?
I focused on Asher, still laughing. He was the big one out of all of us, and fuck, he looked big. So big. Delts like basketballs, round and striated like he’d been comprehensively enlarged to show texture. His hairy pecs were enormous and thick against his white tee-shirt, protruding aggressively outward like he was annexing the space around him. I stared at them, giggling. Such was the volume of these furry spheres of wonder, it was almost like my shrunken friends could live inside them, curled up against the gentle interior curves at day’s end, the steady nearby thump of his heart a steady reassurance and a lullaby.
Only Asher’s pecs weren’t hollow, of course—they were ponderous and dense with strength and power, like all of him… arms the size of legs, legs the size of trees, deep-chiseled abs as immutable as steel—
Asher was gaping at me, his expression striking me as comical on a man who half-filled the modest grandeur of the white-infused foyer, and I cackled manically. I caught sight of Gabe behind him, still holding down the creature’s arm, and the alarmed, slightly panicked expression he had just then struck me as even funnier, given his customary surfer-dude equanimity. Gabe was the one who was never bothered. Practically the first conversation we’d had had been about the epic jack-off session he’d had that morning, taking care of his usual morning horniness right there in bed without waking the guy he’d brought home the night before on account of he was nice like that. Subconsciously after that I always associated Gabe with his dick, like it was larger than life and his own best friend—yeah, like that, as thick as a leg and drag-the-floor long, the ultimate expression of masculine pleasure. With balls to match, of course, though even these cum-factories the size of crenshaw melons were usually only barely visible behind the weighty, vein-rippled girth of Gabe’s enormous, pleasure-hungry wang—
Gabe’s ungodly tool was still soft, or as soft as it got, because it was always radiating some level of arousal though him, tightening the skin of his gymnast bod and thrilling through his senses 24/7. I, on the other hand, was fucking granite-hard. The constant hurricane blast of magic through me still hurt—it felt like bits of mitochondria were constantly being wrenched from my cells like tree leaves in a world-ending storm—but the sensation was so potent it was intoxicating. Pleasure blurred with the pain tearing through veins and capillaries. I was still kneeling in the very center of the room like the space had been marked out for a ritual, my heart hammering, my breathing loud and ragged, while my cock writhed untameably against its white-denim constraints as though it might rip itself free at any moment.
I was seeing things in whirling snatches now like a drone caught in a tornado, only able to see details as they spun past out of control. Randomly my glaze flicked across Luis—he must have tumbled from the creature’s back at some point as things got crazy and was now supine on the rug somewhere, raised up on his elbows, his warm amber skin a striking contrast to the extreme milky whiteness of his snug trousers and the soft rug he’d fallen on. This was the perfect ally, I thought disjointedly—solid, ready, reliable, fun, a strong, good-hearted warrior, half a foot tall or no. Luis at any size! A good fuck, I bet, too—no, a good lover, a good partner. He got things done. Great ass, too. There needed to be more like him. Our team needed more Luises—
“Zach!!” someone shouted, but I was losing track of people again, and whoever it was was cut off by a shriek.
“NO! You must not!” It was the creature, its voice shredding the roaring air around me like a banshee. It was facing me now on its hands and knees, a feral creature at bay in a room full of enemies, though I was the only focus of its desperate bravado. It looked coiled and ready to attack me physically, not that that was remotely possible. Asher was no longer pinning it—given his room-filling size and metanormal density, Asher’s knee in anyone’s back would snap their spine like a twig—but the baseball-glove-sized hand he had resting on the being’s white-clad shoulder was keeping it in place as immutably as steel shackles. Still, it strained toward me. “You cannot command the power, fool!” it seethed.
I grinned, though I was barely able to focus on the creature in my increasingly fragmented state. It still looked like Uncle Derek, I thought somewhere in the spinning mess of my brain, but sallow and diminished, like the loss of the symbiotic magic of the ring after so long was subtly but rapidly emaciating it. The George Hamilton beauty mark now looked like a reference against which to measure its pallor, and I even fancied a few more strands of silver had crept into its jet-black hair, the damp strands of which clung to its sweaty brow.
Its expression hardened as it saw me looking at it. “You cannot master it, human!” it sneered. “Only I can master its power! Give it to me!” Its voice was rough with urgency and contempt. “Save your meager self and give it to me!!”
Scattered as I had been in the moments before, I was all at once totally focused on the creature and its slurs against me. Who was it to tell me I could not master the power? It was the fool. The creature had had the ring all this time, and it yet did not know the simplest truth about it. The ring’s power was one of communion, not dominion! As I thought these words, I know them to be true, and in that moment reality shifted and the magic of the ring seemed to stop fighting me. Our essences melded in way I knew, from this very communion with the ring, that the pleasure-vampire villain before me had never fully achieved in the centuries they had spent together.
I looked upon the creature with cold contempt. Before I had been curious what kind of being he was, but that was a waste of thought. It was a creature. And what was the nature of creatures? I’d always associated the word less with beasts than with things that scurried out of holes and behind walls. I grinned. Legs—that was what creatures had. Lots of legs.
The pale being with Derek’s face gasped as arms twisted and its shoulders thickened. Biceps and triceps swelled and extended, becoming quadriceps and thigh biceps, the white sleeves of his shirt expanding with them as if such as a sight were as normal as sunshine. Forearms lengthened, becoming shins burgeoning with firm calf muscle. Hands mutated, bubbling and stretching into strong, pale feet. I laughed hard. Yes, scurrying creature, you shall look like what you are!
More. I wanted more. The creature’s torso warped, bulging suddenly and obscenely from the middle on both sides as another set of hips forced their way out. More legs unfolded from them, bare feet striking the white rug beneath him with solid thuds of his newborn heels. I brayed with laughter as the spider-human creature goggled at me in horror. “No, please!” it begged, all its arrogance gone. “Human—Z-Zach—!”
I bared my teeth, instantly infuriated at my name passing from those stolen lips. It was this… thing that had taken my uncle and his friend from town for its own perverted entertainment, then lured us here for more of the same. I straightened my back, staring him down. “You will pay for what you have done,” I growled. The creature’s eyes were round with terror.
“Enough!” cried a voice. Something moved between us, out of focus at first thanks to the intensity of my concentration on the creature. I glared down at what had dared to interfere with my retribution, but my anger melted away as I saw Alexander, my ravishing, sweet, boyish Alexander, standing defiantly between me and the others cowering in the distance of my vision. I gasped silently, taken by the sight of him. He was augmented, his muscles and masculinity almost absurdly perfected, but for all his supposed meekness I knew it was not these superhuman upgrades but his innate strength of character that gave him the courage to face me down in my crazed and floundering, power-drunk state.
My cock throbbed, pulsing with my carnal love for him. My heart’s pounding deafened me, as though it had not been beating before. I saw only him. The world was Alexander, and all else was blurred fringes on the edge of what mattered. Though he was a mere six inches tall I could see the pores on his face… the scattered bristles of his unshaved stubble… the exquisite lines of his smooth, squarish pecs and intricate, lickable abs… the twitching of his massive half-soft cock… and, most of all, the riveting sea-green of his gold-flecked eyes as he stared up at me, shielding the others from me with his heart and the simple, modest inner beauty that had snared me at first sight.
I was so overwhelmed I came, all at once and without warning. I erupted violently in my pants and seemingly from every part of me, and the unexpected climax was so consuming and so unbearably euphoric that I passed out. I was exhausted, worn and drained and dizzy with pleasure all at once, and it was suddenly all too, too much. I was still cumming as I slumped to the floor, my cheeks and shoulders hitting the soft, white pile like a dream had intruded into the world to take me for its own. The world I could now seemingly change with the merest thought eluded my fumbling grasp and disappeared into the still, enfolding void beyond.
I awoke in bed, like the whole thing had never happened. Mini-Derek had never awoken me and told me to flee, Alexander had never been attacked and shrunk, we’d never tried to flee and failed, thereby forced to confront the thing that had drawn us here for its own craven purposes—
I had never—
But I was deprived of my denial as soon as I could focus. For one thing, the daylight streaming through the window revealed a room in which everything was gleaming, alabaster white. The walls, the bedspread, the bureau and the nightstands and the kitchy lamps, the louvered closet door—everything but the human occupants.
It wasn’t just the foyer I’d leeched of color.
It wasn’t a dream.
The ring was a weight on my finger, but though I felt the communion between us the connection seemed dormant. No magic flowed between us, no reserve of chaos verged on the edges of my consciousness. The window was open, letting in a refreshingly cool sea breeze, but this time the reminder of the infinite engine that was the churning Atlantic behind us sparked nothing but awareness of the distant calming crash of waves on crags mixed with the faint squawks of seabirds.
The others were in here with me. Their silent stares felt uncomfortably like a jury. Asher was the most obvious, physically and in intensity of expression. Even sitting in the corner he was taller than most men standing up. Wider, too. Just his delts looked almost too big for the narrow doors of an old house like this. I caught his eye, and his expression was… disapproving. Gabe, who leaned against the wall next to him, was more visibly upset, his gray eyes lit with simmering anger as he glared at me. My lips drew back in a wince as I remembered.
“Don’t look at them, look at me.”
I refocused. The weight on my chest I’d been half-aware of turned out to be Alexander, seated with his legs crossed atop the chalk-white blanket. He was still naked, though it seemed enough time had passed that the pepper-dots along his jawline had resolved into a gentle smear of stubble. I thought distractedly about how damn good he’d look with a nice, well-groomed beard like Asher’s.
He was giving me a firm stare, but it wasn’t remonstrative, just serious.
“Talk,” Alexander said. “Are you okay? Are you… sane?” He set his jaw. “Are you still Zach?”
So brave, I thought. Fuck, I might actually be in love with this man. I swallowed. “I am Zach,” I said, my voice croaking from disuse. For some silly reason, the minute I said the words I thought of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, and couldn’t help smiling a little. Alexander smiled too, his expression softening—maybe he was thinking of Groot as well, or maybe he was relieved to see me smile normally and not like a maniac.
“I promise I’m me,” I said to him, and it felt like a real promise, a vow to be normal. That felt right, actually. Necessary. I nodded and said it again, more seriously. “I promise I am me.”
“Are you sure?” Alexander said. His tone wasn’t doubting, exactly—more wary.
My brows drew together. My stomach fell—I suddenly had an inkling of why he might not be fully convinced. “What?” I demanded quietly.
Alexander said nothing, only pointed two fingers at his own eyes.
“Let me guess,” I said. “Green.” Not the gentle, dark sea-green of Alexander’s own eyes, either, I’d wager, but the livid, virulent green of the ring itself. Alexander nodded.
I glanced down my left arm at the ring and sucked in a breath. The living green radiance that had been emanating from the ancient bijou’s single large stone since we’d arrived was gone, leaving an ordinary oval garnet. I turned my hand, but it only caught the light in its facets like any well-cut gemstone, producing none of its own.
I met Alexander’s gaze, and saw that we were both thinking the same thing. It had bonded with me, in a way it had never done with the pleasure-vampire that had assumed my uncle’s form and life. I felt sick. What an idiot I had been! All the trouble I had gone through to get this ring, and I had let it take me. My gaze flicked to Asher and Gabe. Worse, I had succumbed to the lure of transformation, just like the demon I so despised—
“Look at me,” Alexander said again. He was trying so hard to keep me focused and grounded, and my heart ached. I love you, I almost said.
But I had lied. I wasn’t “me,” not if I had truly melded with the essence of the ring. I needed it out of me.
The trouble was, we knew nothing about it. As much as I hated the thought, we needed my fake uncle. It had to tell us what it knew about the ring, one way or another.
Abruptly I remembered what I had done to the creature and cringed. It might be a monster, but in the cold light of day I had no doubt that what I had done to it put me in exactly the same category. And here was Alexander, still six inches tall—in my orgy of wild changes I hadn’t even done the one thing I had supposedly taken the ring to do.
“Where is the creature?” I asked the little man sitting on my chest.
Alexander shook his head. “Gone?” I asked, taken aback.
“We locked him into the room he kept us in,” said a voice to my right. I turned and saw that Derek was sitting calmly on the edge of the gleaming white nightstand, bare feet dangling. His blue eyes met mine unflinchingly. “We assumed that the space was secure, but when we checked on him this morning he wasn’t there.”
I stared at Derek half-listening, distracted by his appearance. He had changed clothes somehow—he was now wearing a golf shirt and looser jeans—but they were still as snowy white as the ones I’d transformed. Apparently I had bleached every nonliving thing in the damn house with that first burst of magic.
Standing a bit behind Derek I was startled to see two brawny, shirtless Luises, both apparently scaled up to a mighty eight inches instead of the standard six. They looked relaxed and alert, with no sign of recrimination. Their arms were folded over their bare, slightly hairy chests, their bulging triceps brushing against each other as though contact between them was something they very much didn’t mind.
For some reason I glanced toward the half-open door where I had conditioned myself to expect to see Luis on guard. Sure enough, he was there—or, rather, three of him were. Two were the half-ruler height I expected him to be, but the third towered over them, so that the six-inch forms barely came up to his pecs. I gulped and decided to stop looking for Luises.
I looked bleakly back at Alexander. What a mess. “I should…” I started to say, then faltered. My urgency to get this contamination out of me warred with the guilty need to undo the creature’s transformations as well as my own. “I know… I know that I must do what’s right…” I stammered, almost to myself, and paused again to sort out what I was going to say next.
“As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti…” Derek crooned softly, breaking my train of thought.
I glanced over at him. “Huh?”
Derek smiled wanly. “Old song, sorry. Go on.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him and then turned back to Alexander, who was struggling to keep a straight face. I made myself try again. “I’m… on this,” I assured him finally, slightly exasperated at myself and the whole situation. I let out a breath. “Okay? I’m going to fix you, and then I need to—”
I’d sort of meant the “you” in that sentence to be plural—okay, maybe with Alexander prioritized (he had been the reason I’d taken the ring in the first place, after all)—but evidently it didn’t come across that way. At the same time as Alexander said, “Don’t worry about me,” Gabe abruptly burst out, “You need to fucking fix me, you shit!”
I gaped at Gabe, startled by this unaccustomed rancor. I couldn’t see it past my own feet at the end of the bed, but I knew what was down there. I had given Gabe a leg-thick floor-dragger of a dick, and it sounded like he was less than happy about it.
To my surprise, Asher grinned. “Yeah, Zach,” he said. The massive man’s voice was a pleasantly lowered basso with a barely perceptible under-reverb, like he came with subwoofers now. “How’s he going to go surfing with that thing?”
“It throws off your whole center of gravity,” Alexander explained in a confidential tone, eyes glinting.
“I dunno, hanging eleven can’t be much harder than hanging ten,” argued the ten-inch Luis from the doorway, snickering.
“Toss in a few hot guys on the beach and he’s got his own built-in surfboard,” Asher added.
I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing. It felt so good to laugh, and not like a crazy person. Alexander and Asher and the others were grinning, too, relieved the tension was fully broken at last.
“Fuck you guys,” Gabe said, but without heat. There was a ghost of a smile on his handsome face, too. “Come on, Zach, is this what you really think of me? That I’m all about my dick?”
“You kind of are, though,” Asher rumbled good-naturedly.
Taking Alexander into my hand so he wouldn’t fall—and fuck, the heft of him in my grip was something I’d never stop enjoying—I sat up, feeling the need to be fully engaged in this and that that meant being at least partially vertical. I looked around at this room full of friends, meeting all their eyes one by one: Derek, the Luises, Alexander, Gabe, Asher. Despite my responsibility and the onus of all that needed to be done and undone, I felt light of heart, and weirdly grateful this gathering had brought us together. “I will fix you,” I told them, half wry, half solemn. More seriously, I continued, “But I need to understand my power first. I couldn’t bear to hurt you.” I glanced at Gabe. “More than I already have.”
Gabe sighed. “You haven’t hurt us,” he said. He grimaced. “I mean, it’s fucking heavy, man, and I’m kinda scared to see it hard, but I gotta admit it feels amazing and—well, fuck, who hasn’t wondered what it’d be like to have a leg-sized dick?”
“I haven’t,” the Luises all said. I snorted a laugh. Asher chuckled too, and I could have sworn I felt the vibrations of it through the bedframe and mattress.
“Yeah, well, you’re already an Adonis,” Gabe groused.
“Adonises,” one of the six-inch Luises amended.
I was still cradling Alexander loosely in my hand, and I was pleasantly surprised to feel his dick swelling and stiffening along the side of my thumb. He liked being held like this, and knowing that sparked a flutter in my stomach and a twist of heat in my balls.
“The point is—” the little hunk started to say.
I cut him off, speaking to all of them. I knew what the point was. I had egocentrically changed them according to my fantasies, making me no different from the creature who had done exactly the same thing. “The point is,” I said, “as soon as I am sure of my powers, I will give you all what you want, not what I want.” I looked at the man in my hand—the man I loved. “Everything you want,” I told him.
Sweet Alexander smiled a not-so-innocent smile, and suddenly I wondered if I could use my new, temporary demonic powers to gently deposit all my friends… somewhere else, just so Alexander and I could be alone. I brazenly stroked Alexander’s huge hard-on with the pad of my thumb, and his eyes darkened accordingly, making the facetious idea seem more and more plausible. A little selfishness in my magic use wouldn’t corrupt me completely, I teased myself. Would it?
Matters might have progressed in a predictable manner, had the moment not been suddenly shattered by the unmistakable sound of fists banging relentlessly on the front doors of the Manor, just down the stairs below. Distantly, more through the open window than through the solid, albinized oak of the doors, we heard a gruff voice calling out, “Sheriff’s office! Open up!”
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Welcome to Ascension Escape Games where you have two hours to escape the largest Escape Room in the world—alone! But be careful, if you aren’t quick enough, you may just grow too large before you can find a way out.
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