I had the same dream that night.

 

Almost the same.

 

It began like before. In the kitchen, my kitchen, with my parents in their Sunday best. Mum fussing over my black and gold suit, inexplicably back from whatever life she'd chosen over us like she'd never left at all. Dad fit and young and smiling again.

 

In the blink of an eye I was outside the same glitching church, its eerie spire twitching and jolting and reaching up so far it pierced the grey and ominous sky high above.

 

Down on the ground, like before, was the same faceless wedding crowd waiting for me. The same woman in black and gold standing by the old wooden doors. But she looked different: gone was the swirling soup of skin and shadow that had made up her face.

 

Now her features were as clear as day.

 

She was older than me but young. Late twenties or early thirties. And beautiful. Stunning. She had glossy, shoulder-length blonde hair, high cheek bones and red painted lips pulled straight in neither a smile nor a scowl.

 

Two dull, sad blue eyes looked straight at mine, but she wasn't looking at me. She was looking through me, like I was made of glass.

 

I recognised her. I'd seen her before. Somewhere.

 

Moving on I pushed the church doors open and they flung inwards at the slightest touch, crashing against the stone walls inside. Tim turned at the boom, still waiting at the altar in his matching black and gold suit. Still beckoning me closer.

 

I ran. Faster than before but the floor still span like a treadmill. Pumping my legs as hard as I could I tried and tried to get closer. But again, it was futile. The ancient, broken tiles fell away, right on cue, and I tumbled down into darkness.

 

The same office materialised around me as I landed in the same green chair; the same computer in front of me. The same nameless folder on the screen. The same video file: Tim and Adam kissing. James in the middle.

 

All three naked and hungry and hard.

 

But this time, as the little guy got spit-roasted raw, his tiny, toned and flawless alabaster body rocking back and forth on his knees and hands between the two muscled giants Adam pumping in and out of his mouth and Tim, my Tim, stretching and filling his hole wider and fuller than I ever had I wasn't jealous. Or angry. Or anything I'd felt before.

 

Instead I laughed. A grin at first. Then a smirk: no more than a punchy, breathy burst out my nostrils. But once I'd started I couldn't stop, like a dam had burst inside my mouth. Soon I was howling like a maniac.

 

I knew what the video meant. What all of it meant. Before I was scared. Scared of losing Tim. And jealous. Jealous of Adam's past and James's potential. But now I knew Mr. Price wanted me. He'd told me himself, in his own words. Words I'd seen with my own eyes.

 

Adam and James were nothing compared to me.

 

Standing, I picked up the computer monitor and yanked it away from the desk. Wires strained and snapped but the scene kept playing: their grunts and moans and groans, thrusts and pleasure-filled winces louder and closer, looping in my hands.

 

Raising the screen above my head I threw it down as hard as I could. Plastic and glass crashed and shattered. Wood splintered and cracked. The monitor exploded in a spray of glistening glass shards, wires and metal. The desk broke in two, clean down the middle.

 

All around me the sounds of destruction rolled and echoed. But the noise grew louder. Louder and faster; reverberating off the walls and through me like feedback through an amplifier until the booms and bangs became beats and the beats merged together to create an endless, ear-splitting, high-pitched screech.

 

Then in an instant, as the pitch neared unbearable, silence descended. Heavier and thicker and more oppressive than silent. Like sound had been sucked from the air by an unseen vacuum.

 

The office disappeared. The broken desk vanished. All four walls around me fell backwards and the filing cabinet and chairs and printer disintegrated like sand castles caught in a noiseless gale.

 

In its place appeared Mr. Price's bedroom. His bed. The same bed I'd just seen in the video; the same bed I'd spent an hour on the night before. Face down, arse up.

 

Sitting, I stroked the soft, cotton of his duvet cover. Pulled it to my cheek and breathed in his scent. Then it was ripped out of my hand.

 

The blonde woman.

 

She was suddenly standing a metre away from me but hunched over and sobbing soundlessly into the sheet scrunched up in her fists. Her whole body shook and convulsed; her hair hung forward, hiding her face.

 

I tried to move. Tried to speak. Couldn't.

 

She looked up and a blood-curdling shudder rolled through me. Her eyes were completely black and streaming deep red tears. Her white teeth were bared between cracked, bleeding lips pulled back in a furious snarl.

 

Raising a shaking index finger, she pointed at my chest.

 

Then, as sound returned with vigour, air whooshing past my ears like I'd stuck my head out a car window doing a hundred on a motorway, she screamed.

 

Two words. A single syllable each but both dripping with a sadness and fury and hatred worthy of a lifetime of pain.

 

`GET OUT!'

 

I woke with a jolt, panting and wet through with sweat; my hands clutching at my damp bed sheets; my knuckles white and my fingers aching. Letting go I rubbed my eyes and looked around. I was home. In my room.

 

Awake.

 

Letting out a long, deep breath I stared at the ceiling as the unsettling aftermath of my nightmare slowly seeped away with the retreating gloop of unconsciousness.

 

`It was a dream,' I told myself. `Just a dream.'

 

Then I remembered what day it was.

 

Smiling I shook my head fast, as fast as my aching neck would allow, and tried to make myself forget the blonde woman's black eyes and tears of blood. Swallowed down the all too vivid sorrow and agony of her words.

 

I had more important things to worry about.

 

Throwing back my covers like a kid on Christmas morning I let the air roll over me. My room was cold but the chill soothed my hot, naked body. Wiping my forehead with my forearm I stood up and stretched. Looked down at my cock.

 

`Good morning,' I said to myself.

 

Wrapping my fingers around my shaft I squeezed. Relished the ache through my balls and thighs and calves all the way down to my toes; my arse cheeks clenching; my hole squeezing tight between them.

 

`Today's the day,' I said, relaxing out before slowly pulling on myself.

 

Fast enough to feel good but slow enough to stay in control of the urges racing through me. Urges telling me to lie down. Spit on my hand. Smear my saliva from base to tip while I thought about him. All things he'd done to me. All the things he was going to do.

 

I let go. Tim Price deserved full balls.

 

Yawning I walked to the window and pulled open my curtains. Daylight streamed in, dimmer than any other morning that week.

 

Too dim.

 

Flopping back onto my bed I reached over to my bedside table and picked up my phone. Checked the time.

 

`FUCK!'

 

Jumping onto my feet and grabbing a towel I raced to the bathroom. Slammed the door shut, locked it and turned on the shower.

 

`Fuck, fuck, fuck!' I said again, throwing myself under the stream of lukewarm water and furiously brushing my teeth.

 

It was three in the afternoon. Three in the fucking afternoon. Not only had I slept for fifteen hours I had, at most, forty-five minutes to get ready.

 

Forty-five measly minutes to shave my arse crack, wash my body from top to toe and shampoo and condition my hair. Forty-five minutes to dry myself, dress myself, dry my hair, do my hair, smash a coffee and get walking.

 

No time for last-minute press-ups to beef up my pecs and biceps and triceps. No time for a sit-up power session to tighten my abs. No final squats or lunges to ensure my legs and arse were looking their best. All I had was a race against the clock to turn up at Tim's looking barely fuckable.

 

Thank sweet Jesus my pubes were already trimmed.

 

Thirty-five minutes later I was watching the kettle boil in the kitchen, dressed in my go-to outfit: my best, arse-cupping jeans paired with my tightest white t-shirt and burgundy sweater. White jockstrap. Tan suede shoes. My hair had turned out better than expected too. I looked good.

 

Smart but casual. Smooth and sexy. But I didn't feel smart or smooth or sexy. I felt like shit.

 

I was tired. That weird, dazed tired you get from too much sleep. But there was something else. A feeling in my stomach, deep down inside my gut. Unsettling and unwanted, wriggling around like a parasite.

 

Who was she?

 

Again, I ignored it. It didn't matter. I'd seen a documentary when I was a kid that said humans are visual creatures and our dreams are made up of what we consciously and subconsciously see around us. She could have been anyone. A woman in the street or on the bus or at school or on TV.

 

No point in thinking about it.

 

Slamming my empty mug on the counter I grabbed my keys, wallet and coat and made my way to the front door. But as I reached for the door handle it moved downwards by itself and the door flung towards me.

 

Dad. He was holding a plastic carrier bag full of what looked like glass bottles. And he was drunk.

 

`Look who it is,' he said, stumbling into the hallway.

 

Collecting himself he leaned against the wall and looked me up and down. I said nothing. No point.

 

`Aw what's the matter? Don't want to talk to your dear old dad?'

 

I said nothing.

 

`Pfft,' he said, pushing himself back to standing; bottles tinkling. `Where you going?'

 

`Out.'

 

`With who?'

 

`A friend.'

 

He scoffed.

 

`You? Who the fuck wants to be your friend?'

 

Again, I said nothing. His words didn't hurt me anymore. They hadn't for a long time.

 

Plus, going by his choice of vocabulary and level of inebriation, he was only getting started for the day. He was far more interested in getting inside and getting obliterated than getting under my skin.

 

`Whatever. As if I care,' he said.

 

Tensing, I passed him slowly. He stank of booze but he let me by without any trouble. Not that he'd hit me before, but he'd pushed me now and then. Shoved me once or twice. For fun.

 

Safely outside I began the fifteen-minute walk to Mr. Price's. It was cold but the sun was still shining and its late afternoon beams were just strong enough to heat my face and body. It felt nice.

 

But I still didn't. I couldn't shake the feeling.

 

With each step, it grew and grew, twisting and turning and squeezing tighter. Flashbacks of the blonde woman strobed my mind as I crossed streets and passed shops and walked parallel to busy main roads.

 

At two-minutes-to-four I reached Tim's street and by dead on four I was next to his spotless black Audi. Leaning against the cold metal I closed my eyes and pushed it down one final time.

 

All the dread and unease and uncertainty and foreboding. All the way down to the place where I kept the things I never wanted to think about again. Like memories of my mother and father and life before it all went wrong.

 

It was nerves. Just my mind playing tricks on me after a bad dream. Butterflies before my big date. Right?

 

Wrong.

 

To be continued ...

 

Head over to my website to learn more about Oscar, including exclusive content about my upcoming eBook series Oscar Down Under.

 

Copyright Jack Ladd 2016

 

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