In response to my inquiry just before she left, Gran told me she'd slept
very well during her visit and thanked me for giving up my comfortable bed.
She also told me that her very restful slumber was probably due to the air
and quietness of the countryside. Although I was glad she'd enjoyed
her stay, I must admit to being a little disappointed that she didn't report
anything unusual. It occurred to me that if I was the only person to
have strange experiences in the room, maybe there was a problem with me, and
maybe that problem was related to my mother's mental illness.
After Gran's departure I decided to spend another couple of nights in the
'old guest room', so named because it had all of the old furniture from the
guest bedroom in our former home. The reason I gave for that decision
was that I wanted to reduce the rate of production of dirty laundry.
Dad accepted this without comment and Mrs Crawford merely said she didn't
mind doing extra laundry. However, from her expression I had the impression
she was a little sceptical about my reason for not moving back into my own
While Gran was with us I had no problem sleeping in the spare room, but
the first night after she left I was very restless. Something was niggling
at the back of my mind and preventing me from settling down. There was
no obvious reason for me being unable to sleep, but it just felt as if I'd
forgotten something or needed to do something before I could allow myself
to relax. Eventually, though, after hours of tossing and turning, I
drifted off to sleep.
The same thing happened the following night, so on the third night after
Gran left I decided to move back to my own room. As soon as I got into
my own bed it felt as if I were returning from a long stay away from home
and I immediately relaxed. Within seconds I was fast asleep.
The following week, during one of our frequent evening phone calls, Tony
and I discussed the upcoming mid-term vacation. Fortunately, we both
had the same days off, so I invited him up to stay with us. As expected,
when I later told Dad that Tony was planning to visit, he not only didn't
raise any objection but in fact he was genuinely happy to be seeing Tony again.
The next morning, when I turned up at the Crawford house before school, Brian's
first words on seeing me were:
"I hear Tony's coming up for mid-term. Have you made any plans for
his visit yet?"
"Erm, n-no," I replied, startled that Brian knew about the visit already,
"We only arranged it last night. How did you know?"
"Got an email from Tony."
Tom emerged from the house and we set off for the bus stop. As usual,
he followed us at a distance which seemed calculated to set him apart from
his brother while still remaining part of our group. Well, that was
my impression, but I have no idea if that was really Tom's intention.
Usually he was also close enough to me and Brian to be able to hear our conversation,
but he never joined in or even gave any indication that he was listening.
That particular morning, however, my attention wasn't on Tom's behaviour
but instead my thoughts were concerned with Brian's knowledge of Tony's visit.
Of course I knew they exchanged emails, but the fact that Tony had informed
Brian so quickly made me wonder just how close they'd become. To be
honest, I was feeling more than a little jealous - after all, Tony was my
friend. I also felt a hint of paranoia, wondering what information about
me they might be sharing.
"You're lucky to have a friend like Tony," Brian said, breaking into my
"Yes, I am," I replied a little sulkily, "but you've got lots of friends
of your own."
"Lots of acquaintances," he replied thoughtfully, "but only a few friends,
and none of them as close as you and Tony. Ya know... I'm not sure I
should say this... but he's always asking me how you are and in his emails
the only thing he writes about more than you is soccer."
"Oh," I said.
Whenever I don't know what to say but feel the need to say something, I
tend to avail myself of the word 'Oh'. Maybe it's not even really a
word, but I find it to be a very useful multifunctional expression, and with
variations of intonation it can be used in many different situations.
In this particular case it was uttered in a deliberately neutral tone intended
to hide my jealousy and paranoia.
Between Gran's departure and Tony's arrival I had heard the tapping in my
bedroom only once. Thankfully, it signalled the start of an erotic episode
rather than a nightmare and now that I'd grown almost accustomed to it, the
experience became a source of enjoyment rather than a cause for concern.
The eroticism was more intense than on previous occasions. and despite the
fact that I'd wanked myself to two orgasms before falling asleep, I also
had a wet dream featuring Tom. Fortunately, the next day was a Saturday
and Dad was working, so I managed to get my sheets cleaned and dried without
anyone noticing any embarrassing evidence.
As I stuffed the sheets into the washing machine the next morning I was
thinking about the fact that I'd not had many wet dreams since I discovered
the joys of regular wanking. I wondered if this was yet another one
of the effects Prospect House had on me. That thought in turn reminded
me that since I'd moved into the house I'd not experienced any of my 'mini-visions'
and it occurred to me that if my dad knew this he might consider that to
be at least one beneficial effect of the move.
When Tony arrived for his visit, I had him installed in my bedroom, citing
the same reasons as I had for giving Gran my room; it was more comfortable,
bigger bed, more convenient for the bathroom and close to the guest room where
I would be sleeping. Those public reasons were genuine, but in addition
I secretly wanted to know if Tony would experience anything unusual.
Gran had stayed for just three nights, whereas Tony was staying for six, so
that should provide twice as much opportunity for him to feel something.
Maybe it seems heartless to use my Gran and best friend as test subjects,
but I was anxious to find out if I were the only person to have strange experiences.
Also, the worst things that had happened to me were just nightmares so I was
convinced that my test subjects wouldn't suffer any harm.
Around mid-morning on the second day of Tony's visit he, myself and Brian
were waiting for a bus to take us into Moreton. Tony was telling us
about a recent party he'd been to when Brian swore quietly. Tony fell
silent and we both looked questioningly at Brian who, obviously not intending
for us to hear his swear words, blushed slightly.
"I wish Tom would stay away from that kid," Brian muttered, looking
across the road.
Following his gaze I saw Tom standing just outside the open door of Chris's
cottage and apparently talking to someone, invisible to us, inside the doorway.
As I hadn't seen Tom going to the cottage I assumed that he'd just emerged.
"What kid?" Tony asked.
"The one who lives there," Brian replied and nodded his head toward the
If I'd given the matter any thought I would probably have remained silent,
but something about Brian's tone goaded me.
"His name's Chris," I said, "He's Tom's friend."
"What's wrong with Tom's friend?" Tony asked.
There was no way that I was going to answer that question and Brian hesitated
"He's queer," he said eventually.
Tony frowned and for some reason I felt embarrassed, so I looked away from
him and gazed across the road to see that Tom hadn't moved from his earlier
"How do you know?" Tony asked.
"The lads in his class say he was always looking at them in the changing
room... until they made him start changing on his own in the toilets."
"That doesn't mean his gay," Tony said and gave a snorting laugh, "Lots
of lads are curious about other guys' equipment... Don't tell me you've never
sneaked a peek!"
"Well, maybe..." Brian admitted, clearly embarrassed, "but I never stared...
and anyway, everybody knows he's queer and he's never denied it!"
Tony frowned and appeared to be thinking carefully before he spoke again.
"Don't you like gay people?" he asked.
I don't know what, if anything, I'd expected Tony to say but his words and
the irritable edge to his voice took me my surprise. He also put a slight
emphasis on the word 'gay' as if to contrast it with Brian's use of 'queer'.
Apparently this had an effect on Brian as well because when he spoke again
he was very defensive and not at all like the self-confident young man I'd
come to know.
"I've not got anything against them... as long as they stay away from me
and my family."
"Why?" Tony said, "Afraid you'll catch something?"
Again his tone, almost a sneer, took me by surprise and again it seemed
to have a similar effect on Brian. I felt embarrassed and for a moment
I think that Brian and I were both asking ourselves the same question - why
was Tony making such a big deal about this?
"Don't be daft!" Brian said, "I just don't want people thinking my brother's
It didn't escape my notice that he'd said 'gay'. At that point I expected
Tony to just accept Brian's statement and let the matter drop, but I was wrong.
"Would it be so bad if he was?"
"Well, erm,... maybe not," Brian replied defensively, but then his tone
changed to one of exasperation as he continued, "Look, I don't much care
whether Tom's gay or not. I just don't want people to think he is."
Tony's look of slight irritation gave way to one of mild confusion.
"You're used to living in a city," Brian said with a sigh, answering the
unspoken question, "You don't know what it's like in a little village.
Everyone knows, or at least wants to know, everyone else's business and gossip
is a major hobby. Once a bit of juicy gossip gets started it sticks
forever. I don't want that to happen to me or my family."
As his short speech progressed his voice became more and more intense and
emotional and by the time he finished Tony must have realised that he'd pushed
the matter far enough because he said no more on the subject. I remained
quiet and glanced across to the cottage to see that the door was closed and
Tom had disappeared. No one spoke until the bus arrived, by which time
the tense atmosphere had fortunately faded.
That was the first time I'd ever heard Tony say anything on the topic of
homosexuality and during much of our trip to Moreton I wondered why he had
pressed Brian so hard on the subject.
That night I had one of those special nightmares, but this time it differed
from previous such experiences. This was the first time it happened
when I wasn't in my own bedroom and it was not preceded by any tapping.
Also it was by far the worst nightmare I'd ever had and the escalation from
deep sadness to crushing breathlessness happened very quickly. In a
very short time I was trying unsuccessfully to struggle against a weight on
my chest and a tightening round my throat, and then I rapidly lost consciousness.
When I opened my eyes I was dazzled by the light and as I squinted and tried
to focus I saw Tony's concerned face looking down at me. Then I felt
the carpet under my bare back and realised I was lying on the floor by the
side of the bed, with Tony kneeling next to my head. While I was still
coming to my senses, he spoke.
"Are you okay? What happened? Shall I get your dad?" he asked,
sounding almost frantic with worry.
Although I was still groggy I understood enough to want to make sure he
didn't wake my dad.
"No, don't bother Dad... I'm fine now," I said.
Bearing in mind what had happened to Mum and the spectre of possible mental
illness hanging over me, I certainly didn't want my dad to know that I was
having nightmares bad enough to wake up guests. I tried to sit up but
as soon as my head left the floor I felt so weak and dizzy that I fell back.
From the expression on his face I could tell that Tony wasn't entirely convinced
that I was alright.
"I just had a nightmare... must have fallen out of bed," I said with a weak
smile, trying to convince him there was no need to wake my dad.
"Anyway," I continued, "what are you doing here?"
"I woke up and heard you banging on the wall between our rooms and when
it didn't stop I came to see what you were up to. I knocked on your
door and asked if you were okay but when you didn't answer I got worried
and came in. When I turned the light on I saw you on the floor."
While my mind was absorbing what he told me I noticed that his bare knee
was pressed against my naked shoulder and that he was wearing just his boxers.
His crotch was just a few inches from my face as I caught the scent of his
teen maleness I felt my dick begin to thicken. Then I realised that
it wasn't just my shoulder that was naked and that as usual I had been totally
nude as I slept. Fearing that he would notice my arousal, I forced myself
to sit up and as nonchalantly as I could manage I draped my forearm across
my genitals. Unfortunately, the effort of sitting up proved to much
for me and I would have fallen over sideways if he hadn't caught me in time.
"Let's get you back into bed," he said gently, lifting me easily in his
I felt embarrassed at being so weak and useless in front of him, but before
I could protest that I could manage on my own he'd got me onto my bed and
was putting the duvet over me.
"Sure you're okay now?" he asked.
"Mmmm," was all I could manage because almost as soon as my head touched
the pillow I was overwhelmed by a wave of weariness and fell into either sleep
or unconsciousness, I'm not sure which.
When I next awoke the room was dark, apart from the dim glow on my left
hand side from the clock-radio on the small bedside table. It was almost
five o'clock in the morning. Then as I slowly became more awake I noticed
that my right hand was being held loosely by another hand, larger than my
own. Looking to my right I could make out a shadowy figure, which even
in the dim light I could tell was Tony.
There was enough light for me to see that was wearing more than just boxers,
and from the outline I guessed was wearing my dressing gown. He was
sitting in a chair that he must have moved from the desk at the opposite side
of the room, and his head was leaning sideways, supported partly by his shoulder
and partly by the wall behind him. Although his position seemed far
from comfortable, he appeared to be snoozing.
"Tony," I said quietly, gently squeezing his hand, "Tony... you awake?"
"Mmfffhh" he uttered, straightening his head.
His hand tightened its grip on mine then, as if embarrassed, it slowly withdrew.
"You okay now?" he asked groggily.
"Yes, I'm fine."
"Yes, I'm fine now. Really," I reassured him, "How long have you been
"Mmm," he said, shifting his position to look at my clock, "maybe a couple
of hours... I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Thanks," I said, realising the word was totally inadequate, "But I'm completely
recovered now, so why don't you get back to bed and get some rest."
He stood up and stretched his limbs, which I was sure must have been stiff
from the uncomfortable position in which he'd been snoozing. When I
heard him bump into something I switched on my bedside light and we both had
to shield our eyes from the sudden glare. Sleepy and slightly unsteady,
he made his way to the doorway.
"We need talk about this later," he said just before he closed the door,
"G'night, and thanks again," I replied.
When he'd gone I turned off the light, lay back and closed my eyes, not
at all keen on the idea of 'talking about this later'.
Then something else occurred to me. The headboard of my bed was against
the opposite wall to the one which was between my bedroom and this guest room.
Had I really got up from my bed, crossed the length of the room, banged on
the wall, and returned to collapse by my bed? I certainly don't remember
doing so, and if I didn't bang on the wall, then who or what did?
That morning I slept in until after ten and although I still felt weary
and drained, I didn't actually feel sleepy, so I got up. When I peeked
into my bedroom after my shower I saw that Tony was still fast asleep, so
deciding to let him rest as long as he wanted, I went downstairs to the kitchen.
Mrs Crawford was already there and when she offered to make me some breakfast,
I gratefully accepted.
"I suppose Tony's still asleep?" she asked as she filled the kettle.
"Yes. We were up late last night so he's having a lie-in," I replied,
bending the truth just a tiny bit.
"Ah, you teenagers!" she said with a smile, "Can't get you to go to
bed at night and can't get you up in the mornings. My two are just the
same. They were both still in bed when I left the house this morning."
"Is Tom alright?" I asked.
"Yes, he's fine," she responded, looking slightly puzzled, "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, no special reason... just checking that he's okay."
She didn't seem very convinced by my little lie, but for the moment she
didn't pursue the matter.
"He didn't have any nightmares last night, then?" I continued after a long
"Well, yes he did," she said, apparently surprised by my question, then
she gave me a piercing look before continuing, "But it wasn't one of his
really bad ones, and so far he doesn't have a migraine today... So why are
you so interested in his bad dreams?"
Had I not been so weary I would have anticipated that she'd be curious about
my questions, but as it was I didn't have a prepared answer and had to think
"It's just that I remember you mentioning his nightmares and it reminded
me of all the nightmares I had for years after Mum died. So I sort-of
know what it's like."
Given more time I could probably have thought up something better, but given
my tired brain I thought my answer wasn't too unbelievable. I wasn't
proud of using the 'dead mother' ploy, but I wanted to discourage further
questions and in the past I'd found the tactic to be effective in that respect.
Fortunately, it worked again this time.
While she sliced bread for toast, my thoughts turned back to Tom.
He'd had nightmares on the same nights as my two previous ones, so of course
the real reason for my questioning his mum was to find out if the coincidence
had occurred a third time. The fact that it had was very puzzling and
more than a little disturbing. I didn't like to think that his nightmares
might somehow be triggered by mine. However, I managed to take some
small comfort from the fact that although there may have been a correlation
between the times of our nightmares, the severity seemed to be unrelated.
Tony got up about an hour later and I sat with him as he ate his breakfast.
He was very subdued, which was very unlike him, and seemed to have something
on his mind. The weather was cold and damp, so after he'd finished eating
we decided to stay in and watch DVDs. A little later, while we were
sitting together on the living room sofa watching an old Indiana Jones movie,
he cleared his throat a couple of times as if about to speak, but then seemed
to have second thoughts.
"Mark?" he said eventually.
I guessed that we were about to have the 'talk' he mentioned as he was leaving
my room earlier that morning, so I stopped the DVD, muted the TV, and turned
"Have you had nightmares like that before?"
"Well, not exactly like that," I equivocated.
Knowing me so well, he could sense that I wasn't telling him everything
and as he continued looking silently into my eyes I felt the best option
was to tell him the truth.
"Since we moved here I've had some similar nightmares, but none were as
bad as last night."
"I was thinking..." he said slowly, "what would have happened if I'd not
been here to hear you banging on the wall? Your dad's on the other side
of the house and he wouldn't have heard it."
"I would've eventually just woken up on the floor and got back into bed,"
I replied with a rueful grin, trying to make light of the matter.
"No, really," he said, frowning, "I'm being serious."
"So am I... it wasn't a big deal. I had a bad dream and fell out of
"But when I found you on the floor you were pale as a sheet and gasping
for breath," he persisted, "and you just admitted that it wasn't the first
"It's the first time I fell out of bed!" I said, again trying to make a
joke of it.
From the expression on his face I had the impression that he was going to
press the matter further, so I tried to divert him.
"It's probably just moving up here, living in a new house, going to a new
school and being surrounded by strangers," I said, "I'm sure that once I've
settled in the nightmares will stop."
He was silent for awhile but I could tell that he hadn't entirely accepted
my explanation and it was clear that he was thinking hard about what to say
next. His words took me by surprise when he did eventually speak.
"Erm, ya know," he said hesitantly, "I thought that maybe something Brian
said yesterday might have upset you and caused the nightmare."
I suddenly had an uneasy feeling about the direction our conversation was
taking, so I didn't respond, hoping that he'd drop the subject. Unfortunately,
my hopes were unfulfilled and after a brief silence he continued.
"He's a bit, erm, provincial in his attitude to gay people, isn't he?"
My uneasiness about the way things were going increased enormously and I
felt like running from the room. However, realising that he wasn't giving
up and that it was difficult to avoid responding to a direct question, I
decided to go with the flow and hope it didn't lead toward anything too dangerous.
If it did, then I felt reasonably confident that I could find an escape route.
"I s'pose..." I said, then trying to make a joke of it, I continued, "So
you kept pushing him about it in order to educate him to a less provincial
"Yeah, in a way. He's basically a good person and I don't think he
realises how hurtful he can be. I wouldn't want any friend of mine to
be hurt just because Brian's careless about what he says."
Now if I hadn't been so tired maybe my curiosity would have been overruled
by caution and I would have remained silent. Perhaps if I had kept quiet
he would have dropped the topic, but as it was I spoke without thinking.
"You have any gay friends, then?"
"Maybe," he replied cautiously.
"Who?" I asked.
Although I was dreading the fact that he might be referring to me, I was
also extremely eager to find out if he had other gay friends. I'd never
met anyone I knew to be gay apart from Chris, and I wasn't even sure about
him. After all, for all I knew his 'reputation' might be just idle gossip.
"Even if I was sure," he said with a grin, "I couldn't tell you that.
Anything I knew about such a friend, even his name, would be my secret and
From his expression and the way he was looking into my eyes I was now pretty
sure that I was his 'maybe-gay' friend. Although I wasn't yet ready
to either confirm or deny his possible suspicions, I couldn't resist just
one more question.
"Don't you think there's anything wrong or weird if a guy fancies another
For a few seconds he seemed to be deep in thought, then he laughed quietly.
"Definitely a bit weird," he said, "but not nearly as weird as a guy who
actually enjoys exams."
I blushed deeply because now I was sure that he suspected I was gay.
What's more, it was clear from his expression that he knew that I knew.
Of course, I wondered why he suspected me, but for the time being I had no
intention of asking.
"Let's watch the movie," I said and pressed the play button.
Despite the fact that I made neither a confirmation nor a denial, he had
a knowing smile on his face as he sat back and turned his gaze to the TV.
For the rest of his visit I half expected him to bring the matter up again
but he didn't, and his behaviour with me was in no way different from all
the other times we spent together. Also, he never at any time made any
comment about having unusual experiences in my room, so I had to conclude
that I, not the room, was the source of any weirdness.
After Tony's visit there was a subtle and gradual change in Brian's behaviour
toward Chris. In fact, it was so subtle and gradual that it was several
days before I noticed anything at all. Previously, when Chris had joined
us at the bus stop, Brian had made a point of totally ignoring him and frowning
at me if I greeted Chris. Now I noticed that while he still didn't speak
to Chris, he occasionally acknowledged that the younger boy existed by bestowing
a brief nod in his direction. However, if any of Brian's friends, especially
Nick or the twins, were around then Brian returned to his former habit of
totally ignoring Chris.
Another change that I noticed was that, at least when I was around, Brian
no longer made disparaging comments about Chris or about gay people in general,
although he never discouraged his friends from doing so. Still, as I
lacked the courage to publicly defend Chris and merely ensured that I was
not associated with his attackers, I was in no position to criticise Brian
for behaving similarly.
One day in early November, about two weeks after Tony returned home, my
last class of the day was a 'self-study period' so I went home early.
When I arrived I went down to the kitchen to make myself a snack and found
Mrs Crawford just finishing her work for the day.
"Don't forget to leave room for cake later," she said when she saw me opening
the bread bin.
"Cake?" I asked, grinning in anticipation, "did you make us a cake?"
"Well, I actually made it for Tom. It's his sixteenth birthday today...
didn't he invite you to have cake with us later?"
"Erm, no. He didn't even mention it was his birthday... If I'd known
I'd have got him a card or something."
"That's very odd. I told him I was making an extra-large cake so he
could invite friends round after school," she said with a frown, then more
to herself than to me she added, "Not that he has all that many friends...
I wish he'd make more effort."
She refocussed her eyes in my direction and, unusually for her, appeared
to be a little embarrassed that she'd spoken her thoughts. Meanwhile
I wondered why the birthday hadn't been mentioned by either Tom or Brian.
"Anyway, Mark, I hope you'll come round at about five and have some cake
with us. Brian's got rugby practice so he won't be there and I don't
want Tom to think no one cares about his birthday."
"Well, if you're sure Tom won't mind," I said hesitantly, "After all, he
didn't invite me, so maybe he doesn't want me to go."
"Don't be silly. I'm sure he'd like you to be there," she replied
Mrs Crawford was not the sort of person it was easy to disagree with, so
I accepted her invitation. As soon as she went home, I changed my clothes
and went into the village to look for a suitable card for Tom. Both
the general store and the Post Office sold cards but the choice was very limited
and my least-worst option turned out to be a mildly amusing Garfield generic
card. I would have liked to have bought him a small present, but there
was nothing even remotely appropriate in the village.
Shortly after five I turned up a little nervously at the Crawford's front
door. Tom let me in and as he accepted my card with a mumbled 'Thanks'
it was clear that we were both uncomfortable and more than a little embarrassed.
He led me through to the dining room where there were two other boys and a
girl, all about the same age as me and Tom. One of the boys was Chris
and the girl, introduced to me as Sophie, was a slender Goth-type I'd occasionally
seen talking to Tom on the school bus. The other boy, whom I don't remember
having seen before, was called Michael and appeared to be Sophie's boyfriend.
He was tall, slim, fair-haired and not unattractive. Sophie and Michael
sat next to each other at the dining table and Chris stood near the centre
of the room.
After Tom introduced me there was an uncomfortable silence while I hovered
uncertainly in the doorway. Fortunately, Mrs Crawford distracted everyone's
attention when she arrived from the kitchen bearing a large multi-layered
cake. Tom and I quickly moved further into the room to allow her through
the doorway and as she passed close by me on her way to the table she paused
"Glad you came," she said, loudly enough for just me to hear.
After placing the cake next to a stack of plates already on the table, she
addressed the whole room.
"I was going to put sixteen candles on the cake and get you all to sing
'Happy Birthday' while he blew them out, but our Tommy thinks he's too old
for that sort of thing now."
"Well I am!" Tom said, blushing deeply.
I think his mum was the only one in the room who didn't feel sympathy for
Tom at that moment and probably most of us were reminded of times when we'd
been similarly embarrassed by our parents. Apparently oblivious to this,
Mrs Crawford proceeded to slice the cake and put large pieces on five
"Come and get it!," she announced brightly before heading toward the doorway.
"Aren't you having any?" I asked her as she passed me.
"No, pet, not just now," she said with a smile as she paused to answer me,
"I'll have some later with my Andrew and Brian when they get home."
After she'd left the room, we all went to pick up a loaded plate and remained
gathered round the table. Sophie and Michael were furthest away from
me and began whispering to one another. I got the strong impression
that all four of them would have been chatting together if I hadn't been there,
so I began to eat quickly so that I could make my excuses and leave as quickly
as possible. Unexpectedly, the first person to speak to me was Chris.
"Tom told me you moved up here from Birmingham," he said, speaking quickly
as if he'd been rehearsing what to say in his mind. "I s'pose it's boring
being in a little place like this after living in a big city."
"I didn't actually live in Birmingham..." I began to respond.
Then, noticing that they were all looking at me and listening to my reply,
I became even more self-conscious than I'd been before the cake had arrived.
My first impulse was to run away, but I didn't want to appear ill-mannered
so I continued speaking to Chris as if he were the only one listening.
"I lived in a large town not far from Birmingham, but I guess that as it's
all built-up some people might think it's almost just a suburb of the city."
"Still," Chris said, blushing slightly, "it's got to be more interesting
than here. More things to do, more places to go, more people."
"This place can be quite interesting," I said, smiling to myself as I thought
about my strange experiences in Prospect House, "and I think the countryside
is prettier than lots of houses. There's certainly a lot more people,
but I'm not sure that's such a good thing cos I don't like being in big crowds."
"Yes, but in a big crowd it's easier to be yourself without anyone noticing
you, " Chris pressed on, apparently unfazed by the fact that our conversation
was being monitored by the other three.
"Yeah, I s'pose so," I said thoughtfully, wondering how many people at my
old school, apart from Tony, had noticed I even existed.
"Anyway," Chris said, "I can't wait to leave school and get away from here,
maybe even go and live in London."
"I agree with Mark," Tom said, eventually joining the conversation, "visiting
a big city might be fun, but I prefer living in the countryside... and if
you want to visit a city then Newcastle's not too far from here."
"Well, actually Newcastle's pretty tiny as cities go," I said, reluctant
to contradict Tom, but wanting to set the record straight.
"Whatever," Tom said, shrugging his shoulders and seeming a little irritated
at what he may have regarded as my nit-picking.
By this time I'd almost finished my cake so I quickly wolfed down the remainder
and decided to beat a hasty retreat. I put my plate on the table and
looked at my watch.
"Dad will be home soon," I said to Tom, "so I'd better be getting back to
the house now."
Without waiting for a response I said a general 'See ya' to everyone in
the room, then went to say good-bye to Mrs Crawford and thank her for the
delicious cake. After I'd spoken to her very briefly in the kitchen
I made my way to the front door and was surprised to find Tom there, apparently
waiting for me.
"Thanks for coming," he said as he opened the door for me.
He appeared to be as embarrassed and uncomfortable as I felt, so I'm not
sure what induced me to say what I said next.
"It was nice of your mum to invite me," I responded, emphasising the word
Instead of being offended as I might have expected, he became apologetic.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I would have invited you myself but this whole 'birthday
cake' thing that Mum insists on every year is really embarrassing. And...
and I thought you might not like my other friends."
The first thing that struck me was the phrase 'other friends'. One
possible implication of that was that he considered me to be one of his friends,
and that possibility made me feel happier than I would have liked to admit.
The second thing that occurred to me was that Brian might have deliberately
arranged a rugby practice for that day.
"I don't know Michael or Sophie at all, so can't say if I like or dislike
them," I said after my brief pause for thought, "and today is the first time
I've really spoken to Chris, but he seems quite likeable."
He didn't respond, so before the silence became too uncomfortable I said
a quick 'good-bye' and made my exit. As I crossed the threshold he spoke
to the back of my head.
"You haven't really spoken much to me either," he said so quietly that I
could barely make out his words.
"But I already know that I like you," I said, equally quietly and without
turning to look at him.
I continued walking and as I walked up the drive toward Prospect House I
mentally kicked myself for revealing my feelings. However, I comforted
myself with the thought that there was a good chance that he hadn't heard
During the next couple of weeks neither Tom nor I mentioned the evening
of his birthday but it seemed to have started a thawing in our previously
formal-friendly interactions. The change wasn't immediate or rapid
but within just a few days I began to notice little differences. For
example, instead of lagging a couple of paces behind me and Brian as we walked
to the bus stop, he began walking close by my side. Also, he began
to contribute to our conversations, though his remarks were still addressed
to me rather than to his brother.
This improvement in my relationship with Tom was accompanied by an increase
in the frequency of my experiences of tapping sound followed by intense erotic
feelings. As time passed, those feelings were more and more directed
toward Tom, and Tony began to feature less in my fantasies. Thankfully,
during that time there were no nightmares and I began to hope that they had
gone away now that I was settling in to my new life.
All was going well for me. Dad and I were getting along well and despite
his long hours at work we seemed to be closer than we'd been for several years.
Life at school was pleasant because my classes were easy and I found a routine
that minimised the need for personal contact with other students
In addition to my improving relationship with Tom I was getting along well
with Brian and even Chris occasionally said more than just 'Hi' to me.
As well as my new friendships with Tom and Brian, I was also maintaining
my close friendship with Tony, despite the distance between us. He and
I were in almost daily contact but neither of us made any reference to the
conversation we had in which he mentioned a possible gay friend. I
was pretty sure that he knew, or at least suspected, that I was gay, but I
wasn't yet ready to confirm his suspicions, even though I knew that he'd be
okay with it.
With the disappearance of the nightmares I managed to set aside my worries
about the possibility of inheriting some sort of mental illness. Overall,
everything in my life was proceeding just how I liked it - smoothly and with
minimal complications. Of course, I should have known that life doesn't
run smoothly for very long.
One afternoon in the middle of November I was on the bus going home from
school. As it was one of the early school buses of the afternoon it
was almost empty, and being a creature of habit, I sat in my usual place at
the back and next to a window. Just as the bus was about to leave, Nick
got on and if he saw me at all he chose to ignore me. He sat a couple
of seats in front of me and looked at his watch. When the bus stopped
outside the high school in Moreton a handful of younger kids got on and one
of those kids was Chris who, unusually, was not with Tom. He didn't
appear to see me but immediately spotted Nick and to my surprise he took
the seat just in front of Nick, who leaned forward and apparently whispered
something into Chris's ear. Then he sat back and ignored the younger
When Nick didn't get off at his usual stop I was intrigued, and when both
he and Chris got off the bus together just one stop before I expected Chris
to leave the bus with me, I was even more intrigued. As the bus drove
off I looked out of the rear window and saw the two of them cross the road
and start walking in the direction the bus was going. Of course, my
curiosity was aroused by the fact that two boys who apparently disliked one
another had gone off together like that.
The bus travelled only a short distance before taking the road that branched
off toward the village, and as I got off the bus my curiosity made me decide
to go back to the previous stop and try to see what Nick and Chris were up
to. As I trotted along I noted that on my left and following the line
of the road was a tall old red-brick wall, much of which was covered in winter-brown
vegetation. My mental map of the local area was still rather fuzzy,
but it occurred to me that the wall might be the boundary of the old Armstrong
Although it took me only about five minutes to reach the place where I'd
last seen the two boys, there was no sign of them anywhere. As there
were no side roads and very few nearby buildings, I looked around, wondering
where they might have gone. Just as I was about to give up and go home
I noticed a gap in the wall. The gap was partially covered by vegetation
and obscured by shadows cast by the setting winter sun, so it wasn't surprising
that I hadn't seen it earlier. After a brief hesitation, I squeezed
my way through and entered the woods on the other side.
In the fading light the bare winter trees were quite spooky and a shiver
ran up my spine. Reassuring myself that there was nothing to be afraid
of, I went deeper into the woods. As I stepped warily on the fallen
leaves I told myself that my cautious tread was merely to avoid any sounds
which might betray my presence if Nick and Chris happened to be nearby.
Although there was no obvious path, I slowly made my way deeper into
the wood, following what seemed to be a line of least resistance through
the sparse undergrowth. I had travelled about twenty yards from the
wall when I heard a voice. Although it was loud enough or close enough
for me to make out the words, it was pitched too deep to be Chris so I assumed
it was Nick.
Trying to make as little noise as possible, I headed in the direction of
the voice. As I got close enough to distinguish the words I crept closer
and crouched down so I could see the speaker without myself being seen.
Before I could get a good view I heard Nick growl.
"Go on, ya little queer, you can do better than that."
Peeking out from behind the trunk of a large tree, I saw Chris and Nick,
but in the dim twilight at first I couldn't make out what they were doing.
Then I saw that Chris, facing Nick, was bent at the waist at an angle of about
forty five degrees. Almost immediately I realised that because of the
big difference in their heights, this put Chris's head on a level with Nick's
"C'mon, you can get more in than that!" Nick said, his voice thick with
lust and his heavy breathing puffing out clouds of vapour into the cold air.
Even before he said that, I knew what was happening. As quietly as
I could, I moved to take cover behind another tree that afforded me a closer
view with a better angle. From my new vantage point I could see that
both boys had their dicks sticking out of the flies of their jeans.
Chris had Nick's long, thin cock in his mouth and was rapidly wanking his
own smaller dick. The whole scene made me very horny and I began rubbing
my own erection through the cloth of my trousers.
Then Nick grabbed the side if Chris's head and began fucking hard into the
younger boy's mouth. Chris tried to pull away and I could hear him gagging.
"Don't be such a wimp," Nick rasped impatiently, "You've had enough practice,
so you should be able to take it all by now."
Despite Nick's words, Chris was choking and trying to pull away from the
cock that impaled his mouth. I noticed that Chris's own dick had deflated
and was now hardly visible. After a couple of seconds Chris managed
to free his head from Nick's grasping hands and stood up, gasping for breath.
"Okay," Nick growled in frustration, "If you can't fit it all in one end,
let's try the other."
At first Chris looked confused, then he appeared to understand what Nick
meant and shook his head.
"No," he said, "I've never done that and I'm certainly not going to do it
"Well," Nick said with a smirk, "if you want me to tell everyone about Shotton
Chris hesitated for a couple of seconds then took a deep breath before responding.
"I don't care!" he said defiantly, though his voice was trembling, "I don't
mind sucking you but you're not going up my bum."
"Oh yes, I am!" Nick hissed, "Now drop yer pants!"
Chris moved as if about to run away, but Nick grabbed him and twisted his
arm up his back.
"Ow! Gerroff!" the smaller boy yelped, "That hurts!"
"It'll hurt more if you don't cooperate!" Nick snarled.
With that, he pushed Chris down over a fallen tree trunk and threw himself
on top of the younger boy. Chris struggled and wriggled for a few seconds,
then I saw him go limp, as if he'd given up and resigned himself to his fate.
The moment that Nick had started twisting Chris's arm I'd frozen in shock.
I'd always abhorred violence and as my shock wore off, seeing this real life
example made me feel physically sick. To be honest, and to my shame,
my first reaction was to run away. After all, neither of them knew I
was there and it wasn't really my business. Then I thought that not
only would flight be morally wrong, in the long term it would be worse for
me. How could I live with myself if I just ignored what was happening
"Aargh! Owww!" Chris squealed.
While I'd been wrestling with my conscience Nick had wrestled Chris's jeans
and underpants down to below his knees and was lying on top of the younger
"Ow, it hurts!" Chris yelped, "Stop! It won't go in!"
His cries galvanised me to action and with a thudding heart and growing
nausea, I stood up.
"Leave him alone!" I said and hoped that my unsteady voice hadn't betrayed
how scared I was.
Nick jumped up, more in surprise than fear, giving me a glimpse of Chris's
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Nick snarled as he struggled to push
his cock back inside his flies.
"What are you doing here?" I countered, trying to sound more confident than
I felt, "This is my dad's land and you're trespassing."
Actually, I wasn't sure if it was my dad's land, but I was counting on him
not being sure either. Nick looked uncertain for a moment then spoke
"I was just having some fun with the queer boy," he said.
"Looked more like rape to me," I said, my voice shaking with mixed fear
"Don't be stupid," Nick retorted, "He's queer. He likes it."
Chris stood up, sheepishly pulling up his jeans, and I looked at him uncertainly,
hoping that he'd say something to back me up. Instead, he carefully
avoided meeting my gaze. My brain went into overdrive as I tried to
think of a response to Nick's assertion.
"Doesn't matter what he likes," I said eventually, adrenaline making me
sweat, despite the cold, "He's under sixteen and your over sixteen, so you're
still breaking the law."
"So what?" Nick said smugly, "He's not going to say anything cos he knows
what will happen if he does."
"But I'll say something if you don't leave him alone. Do you want
to end up on a sex offenders register for the rest of your life?"
"You wouldn't dare! No one would believe you!" he hissed.
From his glare and stance I thought he was about to attack me, but I tried
to suppress the shaking of my body and fought to keep my voice from trembling
as I replied.
"Are you sure of that? I think Brian and Tom will believe me."
Well, maybe Tom will, I thought to myself, but would Brian? I hoped
Nick wouldn't call my bluff. After glaring at me for what seemed like
an eternity but was probably just a few seconds, Nick stormed off and rapidly
disappeared into the gathering darkness between the trees. As he departed
I heard him mutter something in a threatening tone, but I could make out the
I turned to Chris, who by now had pulled up his jeans and was removing dead
leaves from them. He appeared sheepish and uncomfortable and was still
avoiding eye contact. I had the impression that he too would leave as
soon as he was sure that Nick was well out of the way.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
He looked down at his feet, then into the trees as if he were seeking an
escape route. I was mildly irritated by the fact that he was so defensive
and almost afraid of me, bearing in mind that I'd just rescued him.
"Yes... Thanks," he said very quietly, still without looking at me directly.
By this time my adrenaline rush was fading rapidly and the reaction left
me shivering and feeling weak. Feeling dizzy and nauseous, I leaned
against the tree behind which I'd previously been hiding and closed my eyes
for a second.
"Are you okay?" Chris asked with genuine concern.
When I looked back at him he was taking a hesitant half-step toward me and
this time he didn't avoid eye contact.
"Yes, I'm fine. Just not used to being so confrontational," I replied
and smiled wanly.
"D'ya... d'ya want me to walk home with you?" he asked shyly.
"No, that's okay," I said and laughed weakly, "Actually, I was going to
ask you the same question."
He smiled for the first time since I'd seen him with Nick on the bus and
I could sense that he was beginning to relax a little.
"Well, there's a short-cut to your house through the woods," he said, "but
it's not such a good idea in the dark. You'd be better going the long
way round, in which case you'd go past my house anyway."
"Okay," I said, straightening up, "lead on."
I followed him back to the wall and out through the gap. Although
my mind was full of questions, as we walked along the road we maintained
a slightly uncomfortable silence. Chris was the first to speak when
we were just a couple of dozen yards from his house.
"So... what were you doing in the woods?"
The question might have been expected if I'd given the matter any thought,
but as it was, it took me totally by surprise. I was reluctant to tell
him the truth in case he thought I'd been spying on him, which of course I
had been. So I thought I'd distract him by reflecting the question back
"And what were you doing there with Nick. I thought you didn't like
"I don't.... Oh, it's a long story!"
His tone made it clear that he had no intention of telling me any part of
that story, so I didn't pursue the matter. Much to my relief, he also
didn't return to his original question and nothing else was said until our
paths diverged and he was about to cross the road to go to his house.
"You won't tell anyone, will you?" he asked anxiously, "You won't let anyone
know what happened?"
"No, of course not," I replied, "but if Nick bothers you again maybe you
should tell someone."
"But you won't say anything? You promise?"
"Yes, I promise."
He nodded his head slightly, then turned and crossed the road. I watched
him until he got as far as his garden gate but he didn't look back so I carried
on toward home.