Against protocol

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• Latest update: 7 December. Next update: 21 December. (Submissions welcome.)

• Latest post: Saturday Flashback: December 2015.

• Latest from BRK: “Flashmob”, Parts 9‑10.

 

“C’mon, Jackson, you’re holding up the line.”

“Yeah, just take it!”

Jackson twisted to look at the queue of very hot and increasingly impatient floor reps waiting to clock in. He grimaced at them, then turned back to the blank-faced, gray-jumpsuited security dude from corporate who was standing in his way. He looks like he’s made of granite, Jackson thought uneasily. Like a Chinese stone guardian lion—completely still right up to the moment he comes to life and snaps you in half.

The security dude said, “Monthly beta testing of mods is required of all Level 3 personnel.” It was the exact wording of the contract modification Jackson had signed.

“I know, but—”

“Are you refusing to accept your mod for this month, doctor?” It didn’t seem to matter to Stone Face here whether Jackson was or not; he just wanted absolute clarity. His mind is pure decision tree, Jackson mused, all yes and no. Ain’t no maybes in a decision tree. The benefits of a conditioned mind.

“I’m not refusing,” Jackson replied firmly. “But—”

“Then take your mod, sir,” the guard said. He held out the small Dixie cup. Instinctively, Jackson glanced down into it. A fat, oblong red pill lay at the bottom. Jackson’s lips twisted. There was no corresponding dark-blue pill, unfortunately. It was Wonderland or nothing with this place. “The requirement—”

“I still have last month’s mod!” Jackson broke in testily. Getting through to this guy was murder. For evidence he raised his hand up, palm out, as if he were about to put the other one on a Bible and swear to tell the truth. He might need to at this rate. He glanced over his shoulder again and wiggled his too-many fingers as if he were waving to his colleagues with the back of his hand, but playing to the crowd effected no results; the other guys in line were still looking exasperated and impatient. He turned his head back to the guard.

The guard had flicked his eyes to Jackson’s seven-fingered hand for a second, but as Jackson faced him again the guard seemed to elect not to have seen what he’d seen. His cold blue eyes stared back into Jackson’s. “Impossible, sir,” Stone Face said. “All mods expire after 14 days. Two weeks of experience, two weeks of post assessment. It’s in the handbook,” he added officiously, as if that settled the matter.

“Mine didn’t,” Jackson insisted. In fact the last three mods had stayed on him instead of reversing out as they were supposed to, but he wasn’t keen to drop his drawers to show Chip here the knee-length tallywhacker he’d gotten the first week in January like a belated Christmas present. And the other mod that had stuck was definitely O-U-T. Demonstrating the triple-enhanced sperm production he’d discovered he’d gained the next round was not, he was reasonably certain, the sort of thing that went over well in the Monday morning clock-in line. There was probably something in the handbook about that.

It occurred to him also that he’d had trouble buttoning the top button on his de rigeur crisp white dress shirt this morning, even with his nimble extra fingers, and had finally given up and resorted to cinching up the knot of his cobalt-blue tie over a discreetly open collar. For that matter his shirts had been feeling a little tight lately across his chest as well, and when he got to his locker and put it on he’d probably have trouble with his lab coat again too, across the shoulders. On Friday he hadn’t thought much of it, but today…

Now that he was hyper aware of his body, he could tell that his clothes were in a general state of being a bit tighter than they should have been. His slightly stretchy dress slacks especially were feeling damn pretty taut across his ass, for example, as he stood there awkwardly shifting his weight under the guard’s scrutiny.

Jackson frowned to himself, thinking it all through. It kind of made sense. That kind of thing hadn’t been in this run of mods, not specifically, anyway; but Jackson was starting to suspect the mods might be doing more to the men in his development group than making them continually beta-test one specific iteration at a time out of the Trust’s secretly developed line of MetaMorph major body enhancements. He already knew that there was something in the mods that made the subjects more or less ignore the changes, in themselves and others; he knew this because he’d discovered at the very beginning of the trials that, uniquely among all the scientists in his group being subjected to this testing, he was completely immune to this effect. There was always an outlier, and it was him. Now that things were getting strange, he almost wished he weren’t the one guy who didn’t fit the specs.

He thought about his too-tight clothes. If there was that kind of low-level extra effect in all the mods on top of the main enhancements ostensibly being tested, then he was probably aggregating them, too. Great. Good to know I’m being screwed around with on multiple levels, Jackson thought grimly.

Stone Face was staring at him impassively. His decision tree is looping around, Jackson thought. “C’mon!” shouted one of the four or five unusually sexy and increasingly impatient scientists behind him. “I have six reports to write today!”

Jackson thought furiously. What do I do? The head of the project, Stafford, wouldn’t listen to him—he lived inside a spreadsheet. What he needed to do is talk to Bronson. He’d gone upstairs now, promoted out of the group into the giddy altitudes of management. But he still remembered working with them in the labs, Jackson thought, with all the other biochems and whatnot. He’d listen. In fact, he’d want to know that something was—

Stone Face’s internal processes finally reverted to zero. “Please take the mod, doctor,” he said flatly. “If you won’t take the mod, my orders are to have you escorted you from the building. Immediately.” He was still holding out the paper cup with the pill in it.

Jackson decided his priority at the moment was to get to Bronson. “Fine,” he said resignedly. He snatched the cup and downed the large pill in one go, then took the mini water bottle the guard had ready and opened, and gulped down half its contents.

The guard checked his clipboard. Process closed. “You’ll need to remove your shirt before the effects take hold,” he said after a moment in his usual flat tone, but Jackson thought there was less on an edge to it now that everything had leveled out to normal. The guard set the clipboard aside, already looking for the next double-blind dose for his lab partner Hopkins, the guy who’d been waiting calmly (more calmly than the others) directly behind Jackson. “Clothes and coat are already in your locker as usual,” Stone Face added, dismissing him with a tilt of the head toward the locker rooms.

Jackson nodded curtly. He was already feeling a little flushed—the lead time on the effects seemed to be shrinking as the beta-testing progressed. “Got it. Anything else?” he asked, loosening his tie.

“No, sir,” the guard said. He’d picked up the next cup and was already looking past him to Hopkins. “Have a good day, doctor.”


Jackson had barely gotten his shirt off and neatly folded on the bench when the extra arms popped out of his shoulders. He frowned down at them grumpily. Why would the protocol jump straight from two arms to six? Maybe add one extra set of arms first, see how that went? He shook his head. None of this made any sense, and now he was going to be stuck with six arms on top of everything else for the duration, or until he got through to Bronson.

He sighed, fumbling with at least two hands more than was necessary at the buttons of his trousers—it was standard procedure to shower, first, once the mod had taken effect, so that you brought as little of the outside world into the beta testing as possible. Then a new thought occurred to him, and Jackson paused. Maybe the protocol was supposed to be four arms, and whatever was obviating the expiration of his mods was upping his enhancements as well. He’d gotten two extra fingers last month, not one, and… he kind of remembered the others having six fingers, not seven, while their mods were active? Hopkins had had six fingers, that was for sure. The not-noticing thing had screwed him up because he had a tendency to count the points he was making on his fingers, and he’d gotten this befuddled look that one time when he’d gotten to point number six.

Maybe that explained his knee-length cock, too. That was beyond an upgrade, that was accidentally upending the whole box of pasta into the boiling water and going with it. The sperm production too—he’d had to start jacking off in the shower because he just made way too much of a mess to do it in bed.

Now he was curious what he’d see in the locker. Had they left him a six-armed shirt, or a four-armed one, to pull on after his shower?

Did they know?

He shook his head slightly and finished undoing his pants, toeing off his shoes as he did so. At least it wasn’t extra legs—shoes were frickin’ expensive. Though that was probably next month’s mod, the way his luck was going. He dropped his trousers and stepped out of them, folding them carefully and setting them on top of his shirt, then removed his socks and boxers. He was just placing these on top of his pile of clothes when he heard a voice behind him.

“Oh, hey, Jacks,” he heard Hiller’s voice say, “did you ever get a chance to look at those assays from…” The voice trailed off, though, and Jackson turned to look curiously at him. Hiller, standing only two feet away, was looking at him, distracted, his eyes pivoting between Jackson’s face, his multi-armed torso, and the footlong, forearm-thick bologna sausage he had hanging heavily from his groin.

“…uhhh…” Hiller said, his brain apparently stalled. His eyes did the same three stations in succession. Hiller blinked, then, trying to reboot. “Say, Jacks, you’re looking pretty good lately,” he said, though he was still cyclically checking Jackson out and not meeting his gaze, like Jackson’s body had maxed out Hiller’s attention. “You, uh, working out?”

“Not really,” Jackson said, deadpan. “Maybe it’s the new haircut.”

“Uh huh,” Hiller responded, not registering anything Jackson had said.

Jackson smiled wryly. The truth was, he could sort of understand. Ben Hiller had once been a little pudgy, if Jackson remembered right—he hadn’t really paid a lot of attention, but he seemed to remember Hiller being soft, back at the start of all this when he was too distracted by everything they were doing and everything that was being done to them. Not anymore. The Hiller before him—naked and shower-ready like Jackson—looked like he’d been cut out of an underwear catalog, though maybe one aimed at hot, gay scientists, since he still had his glasses to give him a hot-professor vibe. His legs looked rangy and triathalon-ready, his torso was lithe and tight with hints of an emerging six-pack, and despite how bookish Hiller still looked his four long, nicely proportioned arms seemed like they could do a lot of push-ups, and his hands would firmly grab four hard, raging erections at once with aplomb.

It was kind of silly, because Hiller was so left-handed he barely even used his right hand. If he didn’t even have use for two hands, what point was there in him having four? But the fact was they looked damn good on him. In fact Hiller was looking like someone Jackson might want to have some naked times with, away from the labs and his distracted, stressed-out colleagues, not to mention the stone-faced guardians at the gates. Hiller was full of life-energy, just like the Jackson he saw in the mirror, and it made Jackson want to have tireless, marathon sex with the hotness-upgraded, multilimbed scientist nerd in front of him.

Caught off-guard by his own reactions to Hiller, Jackson let himself stare at the man—easy enough since Hiller was still blue-screening—and the more he looked the more he decided Hiller was pretty damn hot, glasses, 1970s haircut and all. Jackson’s dick started to chub and swell, rising like a mighty garage door, and Hiller’s slow, pinballing appreciation of Jackson’s various attributes focused and stilled on his massive, ascending erection. Hiller’s own healthy but more normal-sized endowment rose in sympathy with Jackson’s. A few heartbeats, and they were both rock hard, Jackson’s sticking straight out in front of him like a battering ram, Hiller’s more modest six-incher pointed up that the lights overhead.

Hiller couldn’t keep his eyes off of Jackson’s enormous, tree-trunk of an erection, which was good because Jackson knew that once was hard there was no way he’d get his knee-length softie back until he’d blown what felt like a few gallons of high-velocity spunk out of his very needy and very stubborn cock. Hiller was going to need those extra hands after all, if he was to get the job done. And maybe Jackson would lend a few of his own to the cause if Hiller needed the help.

“Hey, Ben,” Jackson said, quietly but firmly. Hiller’s eyes jumped to meet his, looking slightly dazed. Jackson jerked his thumb behind him. “What do you say we go hit the showers, eh?” he suggested.

Hiller nodded. Then he blinked and nodded again. Jackson smiled, wrapping a couple of right arms around Hiller’s very-well-proportioned torso, and guided him toward the showers. He still had to talk to Bronson, but he was starting to second-guess the idea of rolling back all of the mod effects.


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