A steady ground. A hard, stable surface upon which to walk, run, live… He felt as if he was waking from a terrible nightmare. The kind of terrible nightmare that faded quickly with the state of sleeping but left one trembling, sweating.
A steady ground. Yes, he was waking from a terrible dream, but what he was waking to, he did not know. That moment of disorientation just before reason and logic where the world seems like an alien place. Except, for him, the reality did not come.
His name… He reached out into the inky black void of his mind, grasping for information that should be there at his fingertips, ready for him to produce as an instinct. But it wasn’t there.
None of it was. How old was he? Where did he live? How did he get here? Where was he?
All of these questions circled his mind, asking themselves in different ways. Backwards, forwards, sideways. Yet, still, the answers did not come.
He stood up from the smouldering wreckage of the building surrounding him. Carefully, he climbed towards a far away light. He slipped several times as he made his way through broken stone, metal and glass. Finally, he stood on solid, even ground. Asphalt. He looked down at his hands and finally his feet. A part of him knew that both should be covered in cuts, welts and burns, but they were in tact. No pain.
He frowned slightly as he looked down at his hand. Glass, Asphalt, he knew these things, yet he did not know his name. He knew the object next to him was called a car. That it was made in 2002 by a company—a company?—named Chevy and was called an Impala. The color: blue. The tires, bald.
Flashing lights. Red, white, blue. He felt his abdomen tighten in a combination of fear and relief. Those colors meant safety but also danger. Why danger? Why danger? A part of him, a distant part of him screamed at him to run, to go. Another part urged him to stay.
Before he knew it, his legs were moving and the ground flew beneath his feet. Air roared in his ears as he approached the far white lights. He came to a stop as he reached the lights and several things happened at once. The cars standing next to the strange columns shook and started screaming. The lights above flickered. Then several people ran out of a door and began yelling.
He tried to understand why they seemed so… angry. He just needed to know where he was. He looked around as the people continued to yell at him but found no indication of where he was. He turned to the rest of the people and tilted his head. “Where am I?”
One person threw his hands up, “Great, he doesn’t speak fucking English.”
“Sounds like Chinese,” a woman said softly.
“Who the hell goes walking around naked at two o’clock in the mornin’ at a gas station?”
“Probably some frat boy.”
“Poor thing, someone get him a blanket or something.”
The blanket they provided smelled like stale sweat and smoke. Sweat… Smoke… He looked up at the surrounding faces. As time passed, they began to show worry. “I don’t know what my name is,” he said softly.
“Where did you come from?”
He frowned and searched his thoughts. Still, no answers. “I don’t know.”
“Let’s get him cleaned up and take him down to the police station, maybe he’s like, you know, retarded?”
“Doesn’t look retarded to me.”
The man again felt his stomach tighten. Fear. That word. Police. No, he couldn’t go to that… Police Station. A man put a hand on his shoulders. He looked old. There were lines in his face around his mouth and eyes. This man smiled alot. He like him. Gently, the old man led him to a room whose smell sickened him. There were small walls inside and a white… thing mounted to the wall. Urinal, the word came.
“You need to use the bathroom, son?” the old man asked.
He looked at the old man for a moment. Yes, he had to use the bathroom. He nodded. The man guided him to the urinal and gestured for him to go. He went. As he did, the man spoke.
“That’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen on a man,” he remarked idly. “Yer mom musta bred with a horse if you know whata mean.” The old man laughed. He looked back at the old man. A horse… “Yer big too, muscles and everythin’. Not as big as somma those boys down at the beach, mind ya, but big enough.”
He flushed and moved over to the sink to… wash his hands? He turned on the water and ran his hands under it. After a few moments he looked up into the mirror. Smoke, grime and dirt covered his features and made his black hair grey. But it was him. The reflection moved with him, so it must be him. His eyes travelled down from his moonlight pale eyes, across his bronze skin and finally to a marking on his chest.
“Ninety-one,” the old man remarked over his shoulder.
Ninety one. The numbers done in gothic—gothic? “Ninety-one. Is that my name?”
“Nah, don’t think so. Then ‘gain I could be wrong,” the old man shrugged. “Got girls out here named Bonifa. But I suppose you need a name. How about… Nine? First name Nine, last name One?”
He frowned slightly, then nodded. “Nine.”
“Alright, Nine, wash your face and I’ll get you to the police station,” the old man said.
“What is your name?” Nine asked.
“Me? Oh, Will,” the old man replied.
“Will, I cannot go to the police,” Nine stated clearly as he leaned his face down and rubbed it with water.
“Why not?” Will asked, curious. A dawning comprehension lit his face. “You’re runnin’ from the law. That’s why you’re naked and that’s why you got that tattoo!” Fear quickly replaced comprehension. The man took a deep breath as if to yell as he scrambled backwards towards the door, then froze.
Nine jerked his head up out of the water and caught the man with his gaze. He felt something click within him as he looked into the man’s eyes and felt his body grow warm. His sharp gaze quickly turned into one of lust. His cock swelled and he knew that it must be dealt with. Now.
Nine felt the man’s will break under his gaze and in moments old Will dropped to his knees forcing his first cock down his throat. Nine leaned back against the wall of the small bathroom and let out a long moan as Will sucked harder and harder, trying to pull Nine’s orgasm from his body. Slowly, Nine began moving his hips, forcing his cock back and forth between Will’s lips.
His body felt as if it were on fire as he was thrown upwards and over the pinnacle of his climax, forcing jet after jet down Will’s throat. Nine’s orgasm ripped from his throat in a primal roar that did not end until the last shot ebbed from his softening cock. Will fell back onto the ground, clutching at his stomach as Nine stepped out of the bathroom. An old woman looked up at Nine in fear then rushed into the bathroom at her husband’s cries.
“Oh my god, Will!” she screamed. “You’re… growing!”
Nine glanced back and saw Will’s pant leg explode with muscle before he looked back out over the dark expanse of the world. Like his mind, its secrets lay hidden in the murky black. Who was he? Nine? That couldn’t be his name, yet it felt right.
He knew what was right and what was wrong. Wrong was a tightness in his abdomen, a flutter of fear. It was an overwhelming sense of discomfort. Right was warmth in that same place, in his core. Right felt like a warm blanket around his shoulders as he sat before a campfire.
Right was the bright smile that looked at him from across that fire. A name… K..
The gas station was behind him and old Will left to his own devices. He thought about what he’d done and didn’t feel the pang of wrong or the warmth of right. What happened simply was. What happened was a fact. And it was pleasure.
Nine sat atop a small hill. The smell of fresh earth from an overturned tree nearby filled his nostrils. He’d leaned against it, the need to stretch and flex his body overwhelming. The tree, its trunk three feet in diameter, was not equal to the task of his body.
In the moonlight, mottled by the shadows of the foliage, his muscles had flexed, bulging explosively. His bare feet sank into the soft earth and the bark of the tree shattered beneath his palms and a split second later the tree was on its side.
There was something wrong with what had happened. Everything that had come before—that place in his mind beyond the gulf of darkness that separated his past from his present—said that he shouldn’t be able to do such a thing. Trees were a constant. Men did not simply knock them over with tools.
Something else from before: sleep cured confusion, drunkenness, displeasure. If he slept, perhaps then his past would return. Before would return to him.
He stood and set off down the hill and across the large, flat plains.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Elliot Erickson rubbed furiously at his face as his laptop flickered again and settled on a solid, steady, and infuriating blue. Such a thing wasn’t nearly as frustrating as it had been only ten years ago. Ten years ago, he could have lost an entire article either from not saving or having a hard drive corrupt. Today, though, he knew that his document synced with the cloud and that most he could expect to have lost was maybe a few minutes of work.
But still, having his work interrupted, especially when he was on a roll, was still just as frustrating. Elliot pushed back from the dining table he’d converted into a work area, pulled up his flannel pajama bottoms, and padded into the kitchen while his computer restarted.
The kitchen was enormous. In fact, the entire house was enormous. Three floors plus basement. Fifteen foot ceilings and crown mouldings that looked original or at least as good as a couple things out of HGTV. The house was his now, left to him by his grandparent whom he’d only met once. They’d passed a few weeks ago and when the lawyer showed up at his office at the Washington Bugle, he’d been certain he was going to be served. Instead, he’d gotten a house and a small fortune out of the deal.
He’d come out as soon as the ink was dry and the accountant that came with the estate—estate!—made sure that Uncle Sam wouldn’t screw him over too hard. For twenty-five and in the first year of his actual job with an actual 401K and the actual responsibility of paying off the student loans he’d had to get as an orphan to get through school he’d done pretty well. Not that he could congratulate himself on killing his grandparents.
Elliot filled up a glass from the tap, and drank, trying to get his mind back in order from the screeching halt of just a moment ago and considered quitting for the fiftieth time that week. He’d done the Tom Cruise thing, sliding across the hardwood floors in briefs and socks. He’d done the porn thing, jerking off everywhere from the kitchen to the living room and, just last night, on the porch. But now, he just felt as if he was in an aimless spin. This morning had been the first time he’d found himself able to fall into the groove of writing since moving into the house.
The sun’s morning rays shining through the kitchen windows caught his attention for a time before a doorbell sprung him from his thoughts. He set the glass down and answered the door. The woman who stood there blinked in surprise. “Ah,” she said, hesitating,
Elliot’s reflexive smile froze when he saw that she was wearing a police uniform and another uniformed man leaned against the police patrol car in his driveway. “Can I help you?”
“We had a bit of a disturbance last night and was wondering if you saw anything out of the ordinary?” She asked, glancing past Elliot briefly before she looked back at his face. Well, almost. Her eyes briefly raked across his bare chest, at the definition there.
“Can’t say I have,” Elliot replied, his smile thawing at seeing her eyes.
She pursed her lips, “You’re Mr. Erickson’s grandson.”
He nodded, seeing no reason to deny the fact, “I am. Just inherited the house.”
“And you’re new to the neighborhood.”
“In so much as this is a neighborhood,” he leaned out of the door and looked both ways. All that was visible was greenery and he knew, because he’d run it, that the nearest house to either side was nearly a mile away. The ‘city’ proper was fifteen.
“Welcome to the neighborhood,” she said turning to leave, “If you see anything strange, give the sheriff’s office a call.”
He turned to re-enter the house, “Mr. Erickson?” a male voice called. Elliot turned to see the male officer wave, “We generally answer the door fully clothed in Madison.” He gave Elliot a sly smile as he slid into the car.
Elliot watched the two go and, once they’d turned off his private drive onto the road, he closed the door. He didn’t recall anything strange last night. In fact, he slept like a baby. He climbed the stairs, intending to get clean and dressed for the day—the officer was right, if he stayed in his pajamas all day, he might spontaneously turn into a pumpkin—when a breeze caught his attention. It wasn’t the feel of it, but the sound of it, whistling beneath a nearby door.
The officers didn’t say what kind of strangeness that had them asking door-to-door, but he was still wary. A rabid bat had once attacked a classmate of his and he’d gone with her to get the shots needed to combat the foaming mouth disease. He did not relish the thought of going through that.
He pushed the door open and froze. Past the broken glass from the window and the tracks of dirt on the hardwood floor, was a man, lying in the bed asleep. Each breath caused his chest and abdomen to rise and fall, accenting his musculature.
“What the fuck?”