A Bathys Serial
by Nial Thorne
Usual warnings. Reading further constitutes an unambiguous gesture of assent to the statement: I am not a minor person, nor in the company of a minor person. The story and the Bathys scenario are copyright © 2002 Nial Thorne. You may copy this for your own private use; all other rights reserved.
Comments very welcome at Nial_Thorne@hotmail.com
I was so young, and it was all so exciting.
The party had been great, even though I conked out fairly early. Don offered to take me back to the Flats, and I felt a bit bad about that, but he said he'd had enough. I liked Don; he was kind and gentle, and he looked after me. But there was something going on inside him; I could see that he wasn't really happy, and a couple of times I caught him nearly crying, it seemed to me. But he always sort of shook himself, and gave me a smile.
I didn't much like the atmosphere in the Flat. I couldn't really understand much of what was going on, but Jack always seemed to be angry, and most of what Liam said just made things worse. David was wrapped up in his own thing and mostly ignored me. That morning I wanted out of there.
But I really did want to go and see the dinosaurs, and although I could see that Don wasn't very interested, I more-or-less bullied him into coming. Little kids are selfish by nature, I guess.
He said we'd need some clothes for our expedition, so he led me down the steps (our Flat was on the fourth row) and along to the Southwall Centre. It was a warm day, and I was so excited I could scarcely bear myself, jumping and dancing and prattling on, and gradually Don lightened up and started to smile, and laugh at the things I was saying. By the side of the path we found a little group of animals, about two feet long with long tails and pointy noses, playing in the sun. Bathys said they were mongooses. They didn't seen at all scared of us, but came nuzzling up to our knees, looking for food, and in no time we were playing with them, chasing them and throwing things for them to catch. They were great. I wanted to take one home with us, but Bathys said that wasn't a good idea.
I didn't much like big, open places and crowds, and the Southwall Centre scared me a bit. Don put his arm round my shoulders and steered me to the clothes shop. It was huge, but Don went to the man and asked him what we should wear.
"Looking for dinosaurs?" he said.
His name was Laurie, and he was about 25, I guess, with dark hair, and the way he looked at us was kind of familiar to me; it reminded me of the men my Dad made me go with. But somehow, with Laurie it wasn't nasty that way. He just enjoyed looking at us, and it didn't make me feel bad; on the contrary, I was surprised to find I liked it. I gave him a smile.
"So, where will you go? Where should they go to find dinosaurs, Bathys?"
"I would recommend the Grasslands at the moment, Sir Laurie."
"Okay, well, you'll be out in rough country, maybe the woods... I know! Come and look over here."
The clothes he led us to looked like baggy overalls, hanging in line on a rail and all made of a strange shiny material, cool to the touch. He picked out two suits, and they were mostly bright red, with blue and white stripes down the sides.
"You're beginners and there's no on else with you, so bright colours are best. Just in case they need to find you... Try these. Just take your clothes off..."
This alarmed me for a bit; the times when I'd had to take my clothes off with other people weren't times I wanted to remember. But Don stripped off quickly enough, so I followed suit, blushing furiously. I'd never seen a boy his age naked, and I noticed that his cock was a lot smaller than most of the men I'd been with, but much bigger than mine. For some reason I liked it, and wanted to touch it.
Laurie looked at me, standing there with my hands over my privates, and laughed.
"Oh, kid, don't be ashamed, you're just perfect! C'mon, slip into them."
They were in one piece with an opening in the back, and I wriggled into mine. Laurie closed it by running his fingers down the back. It was gigantic, cavernous, and hung off me in folds, and Don's was just as bad. I burst out laughing.
"It's huge! I can't wear this!"
"Just you wait," said Laurie. "Come over here, this is going to be so cute!"
He stood me in an alcove lined with lamps and told me to shut my eyes and keep still. Wondering, I obeyed. There was a click and I felt heat on me; and suddenly there was pressure, pressure all over my body. A moment later the heat stopped.
"Yes! Now just have a look at yourself."
There was a mirror opposite me, and I gasped. The weird garment had shrunk round my body and now encased me from neck to ankles and down to my wrists, as tight as my own skin. Tighter, in fact: I felt its tightness all over me. It was strange, but nice.
I stepped towards the mirror, and the thing massaged me as I moved. It was intensely sensuous and I was hard in an instant. I liked it a lot.
"Now you, Don."
He stood in the alcove, the lamps bathed him in blue light and I actually saw the garment mould itself around him.
"That's it. Try moving, now."
Don's eyes were wild. He took a step and instantly gave a groan and buckled over. Laurie was ready, and held him up.
"Too much for you, kid?"
"No... Ugh! No, it's okay. God! What is it?"
"It's called an 'ormic'. It keeps you warm when it's cold, and cool when it's hot. It lets the sweat through and it's tough enough to protect you from stones and brambles and so on, and wearing it, you can just sleep on the bare ground. It's pretty amazing. You can walk in the snow in that, and still feel warm, and it'll keep you warm when you swim, too."
"It feels... it feels incredible," Don gasped, and Laurie laughed at him.
"Believe me, it looks pretty good, too," he said.
I gazed at Don, fascinated. He was a thin boy, thin but taut, and the ormic showed it all, the muscles in his arms, his pectorals and the hard belly. And, of course, his erection, pointing straight up towards his navel. Laurie's hand ran down my back and over my arse, and strangely, I didn't mind at all. I looked up at him smiling, and he winked at me.
"How do you get it off?" said Don.
"You need a special tool. It's almost impossible to cut. I've got one and the robots can get one if you need it. Apart from that, you're stuck in it."
"Oh, God!" said Don, giggling. "I can't..."
"Sure you can," said Laurie. "What's wrong with feeling sexy, anyway? Just go with it, kid."
"How do we... I mean," I stammered, "Supposing we need to..."
"Look." And his hands were on me, showing me how to open the seam that ran through the crotch and fold it back. "See?"
Embarrassed beyong bearing, I turned away from him, and closed it up. It was easy enough to do.
"You can bathe in it and you'll sort-of get clean," said Laurie. "But you shouldn't wear an ormic for more than a week or so."
"A week!" said Don. "I'll die!"
"No, you won't," said Laurie. "What'll happen is it'll make you come a few times, and then you'll get used to it. Shame, really..."
I laughed at Don, and made as if to grab his cock, and he turned away with a yell. I was enjoying the ormic, although it wasn't affecting me anything like as strongly as him. But sex to me had always been something to put up with at best, when it wasn't actively horrible and painful, as it usually had been. That day I sensed for the first time, without really understanding, that it could be a game. It could be fun.
He'd skedaddled again! I came out of my shower that morning, and he'd gone! For a moment I was furious, but then the humour of the situation caught up with me, and I collapsed into a chair, convulsing with laughter. He'd had no breakfast; he must be starving. Jesus! He was running me a dance!
Cool, that's how he had been at the party. He felt he had to be there to support Paul but I could see he hated it. Cool, remote; cool, chaste white clothes buttoned up to the neck, hiding his tags, so that no one could see that he now had an FI as well: fellatio, insertor. He stuck to me throughout the evening, which made me feel more proud than I would have thought possible. Amit, the fabulous Amit, was mine, and he let everyone see it. But when we got home, late into the night, the cool, white mask broke. Once again he let me see the Amit no one else saw: the tiny, frightened child, desperate for love, frantic to be held. And once again I had taken him in my mouth, and he had allowed this, surrendered to it, and screeched out his release.
I laughed at myself again. Was this really Michael, the dominant, the sadist, Lord of the terrifying Castle? I'd had men kneeling for me before now, I'd had their submission, I'd taken their pain and devoured it. But with Amit - well, to start with, yes, the fantasies had been there, but now they wouldn't come. They were lost in the delight, the intellectual and emotional fascination, of keeping up with the real boy, and I wondered if they would ever be back.
I supposed he wanted me to wait for him; but I wouldn't. I, too, was not going to be taken for granted! I decided to go to the Centre and visit a bar.
The walk through Southwall town calmed me down. I remembered the discussions about the design of this place, and I was happy with the results: what we had here was a tiny slice of an urban space, bustling, active and chaotic, the only place like it in Bathys. Well, I was by nature an urban person, and I loved it. The huge expanses of ecologically-correct countryside with their beavers and toads and beech trees and whatnot bored me witless.
I saw Amit sitting with Paul at a pavement cafe, but made sure they didn't spot me, and crossed the esplanade to the Centre. There, the delectable sight of two boys in skin-tight red and blue ormics made me pause for a while, and I watched them cross the gallery to the sports shop. Then I ducked into what had already become my favourite bar: Nicky's. I ordered a pint with relief.
"How are you this fine morning, Mike?"
He was the only person in the world who called me that. Usually I stamped on it, but somehow his office as a bartender seemed to give him the right.
"Oh, okay, I guess, Nicky."
"We're playing the game, my friend. And he's a hard, hard player."
"Maybe... maybe not as hard as you?"
He laughed, and leaned towards me confidentially.
"We got a fixture over there. Been here most of the night, and really hitting it..."
I glanced at the man he nodded towards, and I knew him. I sighed. Well, we'd bumped him out of his job; I suppose I ought to give him a try. I drifted along the bar.
"Hi, Tom. How're you doing?"
He looked at me blearily. His beard was tangled and matted with beer and food, and maybe other, less pleasant things, and he stank.
"Well, well. If it isn't Lord Mucky-Muck Michael himself. What d'you think, my Lord? I'm fucking pissed, that's what I am. Fucking, fucking pissed..."
"Yeah, looks like you've had a bit."
"And how is the Castle, my Lord? How's that going, eh? You got them all up there, have you, flogging them? Flogging them till they scream, are you?"
"No. There's nobody there yet."
"Cos that's what I did, you know?" He leant towards me, poking himself in the chest. "Beat them till they screamed. Jus' - just like you, and look at me? No job, everyone hates me and I'm pissed."
"Well, I don't quite beat them like that, you know," I said mildly.
"I beat the Prince. Oh God! And he screamed and screamed..." He looked at me and began to weep. "I - I dunno why. Why? You tell me, Castle man, why did I do that? I wanted to, I really... That poor kid..."
"Poor little Paul. I... I really love him, you know that? Really, really love him, but I still beat him, beat him with my fucking strap. So pretty, and when he screamed, that was... so... so... What's that about, eh?" He stared at me. "You tell me! What's all that about?"
He teetered dangerously on his stool. I was appalled, and annoyed with myself for not realising how it was with him, and taking him in hand sooner.
"Hey, steady, man!" I held out a hand to him. "Nicky?"
"Have the robots mind the shop. Let's get him home."
One on either side, we guided him through the Centre and back to Southwall, to the house where Bathys said he lived. I called a couple of robots and left him in their care, but not before he'd thrown up all over me. I went home and had another shower.
All my life had been children.
Other people had wives and husbands, lovers, friends, and built their lives round them. They moved easily from orbit to orbit, took up their different roles as they needed, and the lives they had were what was generally regarded as well-balanced. I wasn't like that. For me it was just children, the children I treated and consulted, the children I wrote about, individuals and groups. It was always them.
I encountered other people, of course I did: the ones I worked with, the parents of the children I dealt with, acquaintances of various sorts, and I interacted with them as I had to. And I was good at it; I had a repuation as a friendly guy, a helpful colleague. But for me, they were all no more than walk-on players, and the stars in my drama were only children. They were my work, and I worked hard; but from them also I got all the warmth, all the companionship, all the stimulation I needed.
People, and especially colleagues, thought of me as a workaholic. And indeed, once the daily consultations were over, I turned to my writing, and that was children too. The learned journals were dotted with my stuff, and the magazines and newspapers too. I was controversial, and always good value. I appeared on TV, and debated my positions, dependably genial, clear and decisive. But people disagreed with me a lot. My views were not popular in the tightly-controlled society of those days. I was Igor Tverdovsky, the 'Free Kids' guy.
I wasn't without insight. I knew what lay behind it all, and I didn't deceive myself. The interactions I had with my children were more than sufficient to keep me content, and I knew that anything else was beyond folly, dangerous both to me and, more importantly, to them. But I was aware that there were other realms there, other dimensions; I simply resigned myself to the idea that they could never be explored.
I had a co-counsellor, of course, and she was the only person to whom I opened myself, and named myself frankly: homosexual paedophile. She wasn't shocked. She understood what I did, and why, and admitted her admiration for my work, and my determination. Her importance to me was beyond calculation.
When Darren, and then Max Donner, had contacted me, my first response had been horror, total horror that I was so transparent that I could be pinned down by an electronic search. That was before I learnt to appreciate Max's genius, his incredible skill in the understanding and management and manipulation of others. Max played me with precision and delicacy, gently opening to me a way, a way out of the impasse which I didn't even know I was in. And that was how I became one of the Lords of Bathys.
The chaos of the Gathering was my induction into my new life, and to start with I found it impossible to grasp: suddenly I had to deal, not just with children, but with adults as well, I had to learn how they ticked, how their histories affected them. You'd think it wouldn't be too difficult: we were all, when all was said, variations on the same theme. Perhaps it was precisely this which made it so hard.
But that was before I met Paul Donner.
He simply crashed into my life like an earthquake. He was a completely new phenomenon for me: a boy who was also a colleague, a friend and an ally, and, in a purely intuitive way, as skilled a child psychologist as myself. Of course, he was beautiful too, and precisely the type that matched all my desires. He overwhelmed me.
But immediately, I knew that he was forbidden territory: he was entirely enwrapped with his father. You might have thought this would dismay me, and that I would spend my days in the agonies of unrequited love, but that didn't happen. I was, after all, an expert in this kind of self-denial; moreover, the thought of spoiling the beauty of his happiness and stability was unthinkable. I enjoyed his company and everything we did together, and called myself lucky.
I could tell that he knew, of course, and that he knew that I knew. It didn't matter. We were comrades, and we drew strength from each other.
And then, yesterday at the party, I had met Karl, and that was another thing altogether. Purely physically, I was attracted at once. It wasn't that he looked like Paul, although to some extent he did; more that both of them were the type I liked. And although there were some other similarities, he wasn't in any sense just Paul, Mark 2. As we moved through the party together, I began to see him for himself: full of fun, humorous and rowdy, and strong with a deep, simple strength born of suffering and optimism. I realised that something new was happening to me: I was approaching a boy as an equal.
"He will be your boy," Paul shouted in my ear as the music buffeted us.
"You think so?"
"Yup. He'll be your lover."
I had had several drinks, and they allowed me to step over the line we had drawn between us months before.
"If he's my lover, what are you?" I yelled back.
"Me? I'm your Prince, Lord Igor."
He smiled at me, and it was all so simple.
But after that, I didn't push anything with Karl. I knew what I wanted now, and it was a joy, an uproarious joy, to know that it was actually possible, that it could actually happen. The trouble was, I had no idea what to do; I had never been in this position. It was a completely new country for me, both exciting and terrifying. Maybe he was waiting for my move. Or, more likely, he simply wasn't interested. After one evening, I could have drawn charts of his subconscious, but what he thought of me I had no idea.
"I don't know what to do," I said to Michael. "It's pathetic. I feel like a teenager."
"Leave it to him," he said. "He's the boy. He has the steering wheel. And the accelerator."
Shortly after that, Karl left. He had to take Brent, his little charge, home to bed, and I was almost glad; it meant we could finish the evening without awkwardness. He gave me a hug, and it was epoch-making.
And now, the day after, once again I didn't know what to do. I moved from room to room of my bright new house on the beach, tidying up small things, listening to music, making myself a little food, hugging my memories and fretting. I laughed at myself again and again, and finally resolved to do what I always ended up doing: writing. I got stuck in, chasing references, questioning Bathys. There were ten thousand kids here, all of them with execrable histories, and I had a lot to do. I lost myself in my work, and when, halfway through the afternoon, the doorbell rang, I was annoyed at the interruption.
But it was him.
"Hi, I was having a swim," he said, speaking quickly and avoiding my eyes. "And I wondered if you could give me something to drink... I'm... I'm sorry to bother you, my Lord..."
He blushed. And quite suddenly, it was easy, easy and delightful. I smiled at him, and shyly he smiled back.
"Come inside," I said.
Paul said he had things to do, and headed off for the town, but I cried off. The fact is I was still tired. The last six months had been truly awful, and most nights I had been lucky to get more than two or three hours sleep. I had exhausted myself, and now the pressure was off, it came back to me. I rolled back into bed and slept until noon.
When I awoke, Paul had not returned. Slightly discomfited, I made myself some lunch, and when there was still no sign of him, I decided to do some shopping. We had time now, time for all sorts of things, and I wanted to be ready. I got clothes and food, stopping in the little shops in Southwall, and went to some of the big stores in the Centre too.
I came home laden with bags, and sorted through my new possessions, grinning a little at the things in my head. Then, at a loss, I made some calls, and pottered for a while in the garden, giving the lawn its final cut of the year and gathering some of the fruit. There was still no sign of Paul, and his absence began to hurt.
A couple of hours later the sun was beginning to slide into the west. I was making supper, and I was by now more than a little annoyed. Where had he got to? Dammit, he was only fourteen. Could something have happened to him? Suppose...
I was putting the food on the table, fretting, when I heard him run up the path, and then he charged into the room.
"Dad?" he shouted happily.
"Where the fuck have you been?" I yelled.
He stared at me, thunderstruck.
"You just disappeared for the whole damn day! I had no idea where the hell you were! Anything could have happened to you. I've been worried sick! I simply can't believe you could be so thoughtless. You seem to forget I'm you're father, and I'm responsible for you, young man! Well? What have got to say for yourself?"
Paul's eyes flashed and his fists balled, and for a moment I thought he was going shout at me himself. Instead, he looked down.
"If you want me to stay with you all the time, Dad, just say, and I will."
"No! Of course I don't want that, don't be absurd. But I'm entitled to know where you are! I'm your father! Where were you?"
"I went to Southwall and had a coffee with Amit. Then he was going to interpret for one of the Indian kids at the polyclinic so I went with him and spoke to the optician about Ngolo's glasses. Then I went with João to talk to a kid from the Amazon who's not happy - that didn't go very well - then I met up with Amit again and we had some lunch, and after that we went to talk to Lord Peter about the robots' cleaning schedules for the Flats, and we all had to talk to Lord Yuexing about that too. Then Amit went back to Lord Michael's and I went to talk to a Japanese kid who's having problems sleepwalking in the Flats, to try to get him to go to the doctor. Then I came back here."
I just stared at him, dumbfounded and ashamed. While I had sat at home, fuming at him, he had spent the whole day working. And at once I recognised the root of my fury: it was jealousy, pure and simple, the fear of losing him to someone else.
"Dad," he said quietly, "If you ever want to know where I am, you can always ask Bathys."
I sat down heavily and put my face in my hands.
"I... I don't know what came over me."
He pushed my arms away and sat astride my knees, facing me.
"I know," he said, and his voice was teasing. "You're worried about me going off with Lord Peter, who always strokes my bum, or that optician, Sir Duncan, who looks at my dick out of the corner of his eye..."
"Something like that," I said.
He just looked at me, smiling, until I began to giggle, and then I grabbed him and tickled without mercy, until he was shrieking with laughter. Finally we collapsed on the sofa.
"My God," I said. "If I ever get like that again, I want you to tell Michael, okay? Let's make a treaty. Both of us can go where we like, when we like. We don't have to be on top of each other. That's not how Bathys is. Agreed?"
"And both of us can have sex with whoever we want."
"Boys and grownups?" he asked.
"Yup. But we always tell, okay?"
"Okay. But I won't do anything new with anyone but you."
"I won't do anything with another boy that I haven't done with you," I said.
I held out a hand. Solemnly we shook, and it was good. Something important had happened.
"You were right in one way, though," he said. "I should have told you when I'd be coming back. That's just polite."
"Maybe," I said. "The same would apply to me."
"Perhaps you should strap me," he said, and grinned.
"No-o-o. I'll think of another punishment, I think. But not tonight. I'll let you sweat a little."
He giggled and jumped off me, moving on to the next thing.
"Look! Look what I found in the town."
He held it up, and to my astonishment it was a newspaper. A newspaper? THE SOUTHWALL TIMES, it announced itself, and it was only two tabloid sheets. Thousands hail birth of Bathys said the main headline, with a picture of the party. Prince Paul's pledge, said another, and Welcome Team continues work.
"Amazing!" I said. "Quite a good picture of you..."
"They're trying to organise a football league. And there's an article about elephants by Lord Ortan, he says you should always approach them from downwind."
I laughed and slid the paper onto the table, and we went to have supper.
"How about this house thing?" he said.
"Oh, my God, yes! I'd forgotten that. Do you really want to do that?"
"Yes, it'll be fun. The thing is, I want to do something different, Dad. All that stuff I do for the boys - it's nice in a way, having them all following me like that, but they need to learn to do things for themselves a bit, and for each other. And I want to be with you, and my real friends, like Amit. If we build a house..."
"Yes. It'll be good for me too. I need some kind of project, I can't cope without one at the moment. Some kind of structure for the time... I know. Let's get out of here for a bit, go and look around, and see if we can find the perfect site. Where shall we go?"
"How about Lakeport? I like it there."
"Okay! We'll go tomorrow." I chuckled. "And... I can punish you there!"
"You're planning something," he said, narrowing his eyes.
"Yup. I have a plan. And you - you will find it interesting..."
And after that, I took him to bed. I didn't try anything new; I felt we needed to be quite gentle and relaxed that evening, and we were, and it was very good.
In the middle of the night I got up to piss. The newspaper was still lying on the table, and idly I flipped it over. On the back, above a long article by Lord Christian, was the headline: Availability Resolution: Prospects for Repeal...