Fifteen Minute Break

© 1997 Rogue

Dz'isu concept © Brian Harp
Dz'isu characters © Ken Sample.
Used with permission.

"Damn," Victor muttered. "It's like King Kong."

The wall that surrounded the construction sight was indeed like something straight off of Skull Island. Fifteen feet high all around, and made of tight-fitting slats without a single peephole cut into them, the wall had turned the site into a veritable fortress. Forbidding "Keep Out" signs flanked man-high letters that read: Contractor -- Dz'isu Construction Company, Newark, New Jersey. At least he had the right place. But did he really want to take a job someplace that needed a wall like this around it? What were they trying to keep out? Or in?

Yeah, he thought bitterly, keep out. Like all the other places, once they'd found out about him. No reason to think this one would be any different, but right now, it was the only game in town. If he didn't land this job, he'd be looking at a spot on a subway grating.

A grim-faced security guard met him at the entrance. "Got a 'pointment, kid?"

Victor squared his jaw. "Victor Sykes. I'm here to see Omar Przbrowski."

"You mean Fatty." The guard's humor returned as he thumbed through his clipboard and found Victor's name. He opened the gate just far enough for Victor to squeeze through. "It's the green trailer," he said, pointing. "Watch your step - it's muddy as hell."

That was odd. It hadn't rained for two weeks. Victor didn't give it another thought, though, as he made his way over the mire, along a wooden walkway that led up to the trailer. Inside he found who he was looking for, and who made it immediately obvious where his nickname had come from. "Mr. Przbrowski?"

"Yeah, right here." The man behind the desk wheezed, and with a Herculean effort, managed to stand up long enough to shake Victor's hand before crashing back into his chair. "You're Sykes?"

"Yes, Sir." Victor sat down and furtively wiped his hand on his jeans. This must be where the mud came from, he said to himself. This guy could make the Sahara green just by sweating on it. "I got your call yesterday, and I'm -"

"Yeah, yeah." Fatty mopped his brow with a dirty handkerchief. "Let me get your application out. Ugh! Damn, it's hot. Yeah, here we go. Sykes. Victor...Sykes." He hummed thoughtfully, staring at the paper, and Victor felt a little knot starting to form in his stomach. "You from Newark originally?"

"No. I'm from Pittsburgh. Only been in Newark six months."

"Uh-huh. You worked for...what is it, Taylor, down in 'Lizabeth...why'd you leave?"

Victor shrugged casually. The knot inside him tightened. "I didn't like the way they did business." It was the truth, at least.

"That happens." Fatty kept glancing over the application. "Been other places, I see. So, you got a specialty?"

"I can weld with the best of them." Victor smiled confidently, but his unease grew when Fatty's expression did not change. "And, well, I can handle a rivet gun. I've got a pretty broad range of experience. I'm up for just about anything."

"Is that a fact?" There might have been a smile hidden somewhere in that comment.

An awkward silence ensued, during which Fatty kept staring at the paper in front of him. Victor tried not to fidget, and finally he had to speak up. "Um...I can handle the heavy equipment, too. I've done them all. Cat, Link-Belt, Kiewit..."

"We use Komatsu here."

"Oh -- sure! No sweat. I can handle Komatsu."

Fatty raised his head and looked him straight in the eye. His mouth curled up in a smirk. "You think so?" he said quietly.

Victor swallowed. "Ah, look, Mr. Przbrowski..."

"Save it," Fatty grunted and heaved himself out of his chair again. "Lemme show you to the foreman." He mopped his brow again and waddled toward the door.

Victor stared at him, bewildered, and then jumped up to follow. "So, do I get the job?"

"We'll see what the foreman says." With that he lurched down the stairs and onto the wooden walkway, with Victor in tow. "He's the one you'll be working for, so he gets the final say-so."

"Right." Victor felt the knot unravel. So far it looked like they hadn't checked his references very closely, and that suited him just fine.

The project was a high-rise, topping off at 15 stories, broad at the base and with a central tower. Its skeletal frame was buzzing with activity, and here and there a shower of sparks from a welding torch trickled down. Victor and Fatty stepped off the walkway onto drier ground and stopped. "Beauty, ain't she?" Fatty wheezed.

"Yeah, it sure is." Victor looked around, and realized something was odd. "Mr. Przbr..."

"Fatty. Might as well."

"OK. Um, Fatty, I don't see much heavy equipment around here. Is it off-site for some reason?"

"Nope. We got everything we need right here."

"Really? Oh. Then, where's the Komatsu you mentioned?"

"He's coming."


Fatty leaned his head back and let out a holler. "Hey! Komatsu!"

Victor felt dull thud through the ground, like someone had dropped a railroad tie from the third floor. Then he felt another, and another. And then he almost wet his pants.

A wall of muscle filled his vision, cobalt-blue, glistening in the sun like wet leather. His gaze rose upward, following a yellow swath amongst the blue, until he was staring almost straight up into piercing black eyes. A bone-jarring voice rolled from between many, many teeth. "Is this the new guy?"

Victor's knees did not give way, nor did his bladder, although both came very close. Fatty said a few things that Victor did not hear, as the looming form scrutinized him. "He'll do," the behemoth said, turning away at last. "Start him out with Angelo."

Victor watched it go, and some seconds later he found his voice. "M-my God!" he gasped. "A...a dragon!"

"That's Dz'isu, to you." Fatty shielded his eyes and studied the building, while Victor watched the monstrous shape disappear behind its base. "There's Angelo. Come on, he'll get you broken in."

Fatty started toward the lift, then paused and turned around again when he realized he wasn't being followed. "Hello? Hey, Sykes! Wake up!"

Victor's eyes focused again, and he staggered a moment before catching his balance. "What in God's name did I ...?"

"Are you just gonna stand there all day?"

It took him a moment. " I'm coming. Thank you."

The lift carried them to the fourth floor, where a dark shape emerged from behind a curtain of sparks and approached them. It doffed its gloves and raised a visor to reveal a dark, handsome face. "It's a miracle!" the man sighed, flashing a friendly smile beneath a mustache that was as black as his teeth were white. "Fatty come-a down from the mountain to give a poor Dego his blessing!"

"Yeah, up yours, too. Angelo, this is Victor Sykes, just off the street this morning. Give him the nickel tour and then send him back to the office at lunchtime to do the paperwork and shit." He turned and waddled onto the lift. "And give him some coffee or something."

Angelo waved as Fatty sank out of sight and turned his attention back to Victor. His brow furrowed. "Oh, no, you don't look-a so good! Here, you sit down." He guided Victor to a chair, and after a furtive look around, he tugged a hip flask from his pocket and pressed it into Victor's hand. "Here, take a swig. I know, I feel-a the same way when I first see the boss, eh? You sit a while, and then we talk."

Victor nodded and took a long, grateful pull from the flask. The liquid burned its way into his belly and warmed the shiver out of his limbs. "Thanks. Do they always let you drink on the job?"

"Eh! Little sip here, little sip there. Do your job good, don't fall offa the building, and nobody get upset." He sat down beside Victor and draped a hand on his shoulder. "You lookin' better now -- give-a back. So! Whatta you think of our boss, eh?"

Victor ran his fingers through his hair and closed his eyes, trying to shake the image of the blue titan from his mind. "What the...what the hell is he?"

"He's Dz'isu. Komatsu, he's called. Like-a the name? Good name for in this business eh?" He laughed brightly and rubbed Victor's shoulder. "When I first-a saw him, I thought, "It's the Devil himself, help me, Maria! I thought-a he was gonna eat me up like a Italian sausage. Ha ha! But I tell-a you this, my friend, that after I get to know him, I wouldn't-a work for anybody else now. Komatsu, he takes-a good care of his men, believe me." He turned his head, staring off into the distance, and Victor saw a gleam in his dark eyes. "Oh yes, my friend," he said quietly, "he takes-a good care of us!" Suddenly he jumped to his feet. "OK, now come-a see our growing baby, eh?"

Victor nodded and followed. He knew his way around a construction site, so he only half-listened as Angelo guided him around and introduced him to the crew. They were a youthful bunch, all of them, with backgrounds as varied as the streets of Newark itself. There were a lot of Portuguese men, a few Italians, a fellow with an Irish first name and a Spanish last name...but Victor was having trouble keeping his mind focused. Having seen what he still wasn't sure he really saw, he was having trouble convincing himself that he was even awake.

At last, Angelo took him down once more to the trailer - "Watch-a the mud; we hadda little spill." - and left him with Fatty, who had all the paperwork ready for him.

"OK, Mr. Sykes, that there's your hourly rate, and your bennies here, insurance, standard stuff. You're on eight to six, starting tomorrow. Payday's the first and fifteenth. Any questions?"

Victor was peering out the window. His eyes widened as the sunlight suddenly vanished behind a blue mountain, which passed rapidly by the window, trailing a long, serpentine tail behind. "Yeah," he whispered. "That he real?"

"What kind of question is that? Of course he's real." Fatty clapped a pen down on the table. "Come on, we're busy here. Are you in or out?"

Victor turned numbly and stared at the paperwork sprawled on the desk, and then picked up the pen. Angelo's words, and moreso the almost reverent tone in which he'd said them, kept echoing through his head. Komatsu takes good care of his men.

"Yeah," he said quietly. "I'm in."

Even though he hadn't much money left, Victor decide to stop at the bar on his way back to his cramped apartment on the other side of town. It was necessary for his sanity, he figured Angelo's hip flask had been a welcome reprieve, but it hadn't been enough. Only after a few stiff drinks could he form a clear picture in his mind of what he had seen that afternoon.

The creature - Komatsu - was huge. There was no other way to describe him. He stood at least twelve feet tall on two legs, each as big around as a 50-gallon drum, and packed with muscle from head to toe. "Blue," he blurted out to the bartender. "Blue all over, except his chest -- it was yellow. And my God, I was...I came up to his waist! His was like looking up at a dinosaur, man."

The bartender smiled sympathetically. "That's enough for you," he said. "I'll call you a cab."

More details came back to Victor as the night wore on and the shock wore off, such as the fact that Komatsu had been carrying a steel girder across one shoulder as though it were a baseball bat. That sheer amount of power in a living being was impossible to believe, and yet he'd seen it with his own eyes. If he didn't need this job so badly, he'd have run screaming in the other direction, right through that big wall.

It took a long time for Victor to fall asleep that night. For many hours he lay in the darkness, staring upward, up past a massive reptilian chest, at alien eyes that stared back at him from far, far above.

When morning came Victor went into work early, the shock having given way to intense curiosity. He was hoping for the chance to get a closer look at his new foreman, but Angelo met him at the gate and dragged him quickly to the fourth floor. "No time!" he said when Victor protested. "We got-a welding to do, and we're behind. I tell-a you anything you wanna know, but we get started first, eh?"

When the first burn was done and the metal was slowly cooling, Angelo gave Victor a more detailed orientation. "You see-a that big clock down the street, by the hospital, way down there? We get a coffee break onna hour, and lunch at noon. And at two..." Here he grinned broadly and swatted Victor on the back. " two, my friend, we get-a the fifteen minute break! Best part-a the job."

"What's so great about it?"

Angelo was still grinning. "Oh, you'll find out, eh? Now, the wall down there? It keeps-a the people from looking in. When we first start, there's-a so many people looking in at Komatsu, they make a road block. The city makes us put-a the wall up. so no more traffic jam. Lotta people now don't-a even believe he exist."

Victor nodded. "I can understand that. I still can't believe it. Where'd they find something like him?"

"Dz'isu, you mean? I dunno. Maybe he comes-a from under the sea. Maybe Detroit. All I know is he's a good boss, and he knows-a the construction business like crazy. He loves his men, too, and he takes-a good care of us."

"So you told me. Where is he now? I've been wanting to see him again. I guess I won't be able to convince myself he's real until I do."

"Oh, he's-a real! And he's-a in with the blueprints today. The buyer, he's making changes again. Pisses us all off, but whatta you gonna do, eh? Hey hey, back to work now. Gotta catch up, eh?"

Victor nodded, and tugged his mask back down and re-lit his torch.

The afternoon wore on, and still he caught no sight of the mysterious Dz'isu, At last, the clock tower down the road struck two o'clock, and even before the echoes had faded, a call came up from one of the men on the second floor. "Hey, Angelo! You're up, Buddy!"

Angelo's face lit up. His welding mask and gloves hit the floor, and he was off and running for the lift. "Hey!" Victor shouted after him, "What the hell?"

"Fifteen minute break!" Angelo jumped onto the lift and was gone from sight.

Confused, Victor hurried to the rail and peered downward. He saw Angelo racing across the lot, toward a fenced-in rectangle nestled between two storage sheds. "Oh, so that's it," he said with a smirk. "I guess that's where Angelo and his little flask spend their fifteen minutes." Turning away, he stretched out on a spool of wire to relax, and wait for his friend's return.

It was a more than fifteen minutes before Angelo came back, and Victor was getting worried. His fears were confirmed when Angelo finally reappeared, stepping off the lift and staggering. "Oh, my," he said, staring off into space and smiling beatifically. "Oh, my...Oh, Maria!"

Victor quickly ran over to him and took his arm. "You stupid wop!," he hissed. "What the hell are you doing getting drunk on the job?"

Angelo laughed loudly and shook his head. "No no no, my friend. See? My little-a flask is still full."

Victor frowned. "What'd you do, then? Are you high?"

"No! Never touch-a the drugs, not ever."

"Well, what's got into you, then?"

Angelo turned to him and gave him a warm smile. "Fifteen minute break, my friend," he said happily. "Best part-a the job!" With that, he picked up his mask and torch, and was back to work, leaving Victor staring after him in confusion.

Komatsu was nowhere to be seen for the remainder of the day, and by the next morning, when he still saw no sign of the elusive blue giant, Victor began to feel that the crew had played a joke on him. It annoyed him at first, more than anything because they'd been able to get him so worked up, but he shrugged it off after a while. He was the new guy, after all, and the fellows were bound to want to have a little fun with him. So be it. So long as he had a job.

So he kept thinking, until he and Angelo finished the last of their assigned welds on the fourth floor, and he took off his mask to find Komatsu crouched beside him.

He almost fainted. The giant was resting on one knee in what were to him the cramped confines of the work area. A long, pink tongue was curled thoughtfully up over his snout, and those dark, bottomless eyes were fixed on the welds they had just completed. "Good job," Komatsu said, his voice resonating through the surrounding girders. "A very good job. I knew you'd work out." The frightful gaze shifted to Victor's face. "So how are you getting along with Angelo? You two seem to make a pretty good team."

"Buh..." was all Victor could say.

Angelo hid a snicker behind his hand, and Komatsu smiled. A mammoth hand reached out and closed around Victor's upper body, thumb in the center of his chest, taloned fingers at his back. The grip was gentle, an almost tender embrace. "Relax," he whispered, in a voice that was surprisingly soft. "I'm not going to bite you. I'm just a builder, like you."

The tone of the giant's voice was soothing, and something in the touch seemed to draw the tension out of Victor's body. He finally was able to speak. "Sorry," he said, a little shakily. "I've just...never seen a Dz'isu before."

"Understandable. There's not many of us around here."

"I guess not." Victor found himself staring into Komatsu's eyes. They were not at all the eyes of a dragon. They were warm and pleasant, their gaze as smooth as silk. He was beginning to feel warm all over, he realized. It made him a little light-headed.

Komatsu smiled and let go of Victor, and rested his forearm casually across his knee. "We'll get used to each other. In the meantime, I want you and Angelo up on fifteen this afternoon to give Carstairs a break. We're capping it tomorrow, and I want everything ready to go on schedule."

"You got it, Boss," Angelo said.

Komatsu rose to his feet and stooped awkwardly beneath the low ceiling. He reached down and gave Angelo's head a playful ruffle, and then made his way to the edge of the floor. Victor stared in surprise as a pair of wings suddenly unfurled from the big Dz'isu's back as he sprang forward. Victor raced to the edge in time to see Komatsu glide down to a solid landing on both feet, the massive wings snapping smartly closed behind him. "Holy Jesus."

"Eh, he's just-a showing off!" Angelo strolled up behind him.

"But the wings. How the hell didn't I notice them before?"

Angelo laughed. "Nobody does. You're too busy looking at-a the rest of him! Now, you heard-a the boss. Up we go!"

Victor allowed himself to be pulled onto the lift, and he watched through the forest of girders as Komatsu strode off, tail following behind him in its own sinuous track. He could still feel the Dz'isu's touch, and the warmth that had flooded his system in its wake did not begin to fade until Komatsu was well out of his sight.

The fifteenth floor, the topmost one in the building, was little more than a maze of planks among a forest of girders that reached up into the sky like metal fingers. By "capped", Komatsu meant that the big I-beams that would support the roof would be mounted in place tomorrow. It was a tedious process, requiring a large crane to heft the massive beams into place one at a time, and an army of men to secure them. To Victor, it seemed overly optimistic to plan to have the entire operation done in a single day, but Angelo scoffed at him. "This is Dz'isu Construction Co. We do the impossible. You just-a watch us."

The two found themselves alone on the floor after lunch, and set about putting together a more solid floor to support the army of riveters that would be there the next day. As break time neared, Angelo stood and mopped his brow. "I'm-a gonna get a Coke. You want one too, Victor?"

From the corner of his eye, Victor caught sight of a dark blue form moving in the shadows far below. "Nah, I'm all right. I'm just going to hang out up here and work on my suntan."

The clock tower chimed 2:00, and Angelo nodded. "Sure, sure. Don't get too dark - people think-a you're Italian!" He chuckled and slid down the ladder, and out of sight.

Victor watched him go, and then took a seat on a plank and scanned the compound below him. It didn't take him long to locate Komatsu, whose blue and yellow hide stood out like a neon sign from Victor's high vantage point. The big Dz'isu was sprawled out on his back inside the same fenced-in enclosure that Angelo had sneaked into the previous day. It was obviously a popular little hiding spot, hidden from all prying eyes save for those high enough to peek over the fence...

Victor's breath caught and he felt his cheeks flush. Carstairs was in there, too. Carstairs, whose bright red hair flagged him from a distance almost as well as Komatsu's hide, was naked, his pale Irish skin clashing sharply with the deep blue arms that rose to enfold him. Victor stared fixedly as the young man was surrounded in the gigantic embrace, and as Carstairs squirmed, rolling to the side, Victor caught a brief glimpse of a massive erection as it lengthened swiftly along Komatsu's belly. Carstairs rolled atop it then and began to pump rhythmically.

"This can't be happening," Victor breathed. Komatsu's hands folded over Carstairs's back, and his tail arced upward to lay its broad spade-tip over the young man's rump, half-obscuring Carstairs from view. It was obvious what was happening, though, the pleasure on the Dz'isu's face obvious even from the fifteenth floor. Victor could only gawk, captivated by the bizarre scene. The motions of Komatsu's tiny lover soon grew more pronounced, and the giant himself was growing visibly more excited, his legs beginning to jerk, the claws of his toes scraping at the wooden fence. Suddenly he flashed every one of his huge teeth, and from under Carstairs's head a white jet shot forth, landing in a thin line along Komatsu's chest. Carstairs's fiery red hair began to grow more indistinct, slowly disappearing as it became surrounded by an ever-expanding circle of whiteness. Victor saw the massive body relax, head falling back, eyes opening and staring up at the sky, and seeming to fix directly on him.

"I gotta Coke for you anyway."

Victor almost leaped off the plank when Angelo suddenly spoke up behind him. "Oh, Jesus shit! Don't do that!"

"What, I scare you?" Angelo leaned over Victor's shoulder and peered downward. "Oh, oh, I see! You find-a the break room. It's OK, the boss doesn't mind if-a you watch. The fence, that's just so the public don't-a get -"



Victor stared at his friend. "That...he just...him and Carstairs..."


"So? He's not even...I mean, how could he..." The realization suddenly struck him like a lightning bolt. "Oh, Jesus. Yesterday, break time, when you...?"

Angelo threw his head back and laughed so hard it brought tears to his eyes. "Heehee! Oh., I should-a told you. Here, take-a your Coke, my friend, and sit down. Seems you got a lot to learn about-a Dz'isu."

Taking the Coke in a numb hand, Victor turned his attention back to the fantastic scene below. Carstairs was kneeling on Komatsu's chest now, leaning back against the big spade-tipped tail. Komatsu's muzzle was in his crotch, tongue flicking rapidly in and out. Even from this distance, Carstairs' face looked like he was in Heaven.

"Anyway," Angelo continued, "For a Dz'isu, it's-a like breathing. They like to have sex, moreso than you'n me. Probably, he'd have-a six or seven breaks a day, but then no work'd get done, eh? Somma guys don't wanna, and he doesn't ask. Most of us, though, we feel-a we owe it, since he's-a so good a boss. Now, maybe you not into that stuff - that's OK. But me, I tell-a you, I can't get enough. Maybe I'm a Dz'isu stuck inna Italian body, eh?"

Victor shook his head, still watching below. Komatsu had carefully cleaned Carstairs off with his tongue, and was now licking himself clean while Carstairs squirmed back into his clothing. The clock down the street read 2:15.

"Hey! You listening?" Angelo tapped his shoulder.

"Huh? Yeah. I just can't believe it. It's like stepping into another world. I mean, I got fired from my last job..."

"Because-a you're gay." He waved his hand when Victor jerked his head up. "Oh, don't gimme that look. I knew alla time. It's probably one-a the things got you hired."

Victor gaped. "You mean...?"

"Oh, no, not-a like that. If you're no good at building, he'd never-a take you. He like-a to hire men who're the best workers, but can't-a get work because-a shithead bosses, like one I used to work for." He muttered a few things under his breath in Italian that probably were not very nice. "That stuff down there, that's-a just play. He won't touch you 'less you say he can. He got his guys that he know-a like to do it, and the others, well, they get-a paid just as much. He's a good-a boss, I told you."

" told me." Victor swiped at his forehead with the back of his forearm, and watched as Komatsu and Carstairs crossed the lot and disappeared beneath the base of the structure. He was quiet for several minutes. "Angelo," he said at last, hesitantly, "How would I...?"

"You talk-a to him." Angelo gave his shoulder a squeeze. "But later. Right now, we got-a work to do! He'll still be there on the next break. Come on, now."

The two worked in silence for the next hour, as the wooden floor grew and took shape around them. Angelo kept glancing over at Victor and smiling; Victor smiled back, weakly, a little embarrassed and still incredulous. Eventually, Angelo straightened up and cracked his back. "Maria! I think I'm-a getting old." He wandered over to the edge of the platform and leaned over. "Hey! Komatsu! You come-a up fifteen, eh?"

Victor jumped to his feet. "Wait, Angelo!"

"Wait? Wait for what? I thought you wanna talk with him."

"I don't know if I'm ready, though."

Angelo chuckled. "You-a ready as you'll ever be."

There was a sound like laundry hung on a line makes on a windy day. A breeze blew over the platform, and grew to a gale as Komatsu rose majestically over the edge of the building, monstrous wings beating in powerful strokes behind him. He stretched a leg out and seized the edge of the platform in his strong toes, and pulled himself onto it, wings snapping into neat folds behind him. "What's up, Angelo?"

Angelo smiled, and turned and looked pointedly at Victor. "I'm-a gonna get me another Coke," he said simply. Without another word he strolled over to the ladder and slid down out of sight, leaving Victor alone with the giant.

Komatsu merely stood expectantly, watching Victor with a bemused expression. Victor stared helplessly after Angelo, and then turned to face the Dz'isu. "Good afternoon, Mr. Komatsu."

"Just Komatsu."

"Komatsu. I...ah, was wondering something."

"What would that be?"

The voice was low and melodious, like a bass fiddle. Its humming could be felt through the boards that Victor was standing on. He felt the same warmth returning to his body, as though Komatsu's eyes gave off some sort of heat ray. It made him fidget like a schoolboy in the principal's office. "I couldn't help, ah, watching, during the break, when you there."

"Yes. I saw you."

Damn him, Victor thought, he's enjoying this. He lost his nerve. "What I mean is, I just met you, you see. I really don't know much about you, and I thought, maybe, sometime, I might, you know, get to talk." The heat was rising in his body.

Komatsu chuckled. He reached down and brushed the smooth curve of a claw along Victor's cheek. The warmth seemed to follow it, rushing into his head and making him dizzy. "I'd be happy to," the deep-toned voice murmured. "You can come by my place sometime after work. I'll let you know when I'm free." With that he turned, stretched his vast wings, and stepped off the edge of the building. The last thing Victor saw was the long tail snaking downward, the spaded tip seeming to wave to him before it vanished.

"I love-a that tail-thing he does," Angelo's voice said behind him. "I think he likes you. That touch with-a the claw, that's a friendly thing."

Victor just kept staring over the edge of the building. Angelo's words faded around him. "He's big," was all Victor could say.

"Oh, you think so?" Angelo slapped the handle of a hammer into Victor's hand, jolting him back to awareness. "You just-a wait until tomorrow."

"Why? What's tomorrow?"

Angelo only laughed.

Victor was early for work again the next day, and found that most of the crew had already arrived. He joined them near the base of the building, where two massive stacks of I-beams rested, and helped himself to some coffee from the urn. "Where's the crane?" he asked.

A rumble of laughter went up from the group. A few men nudged each other and exchanged knowing glances. Victor felt a little awkward. "You know...the crane?"

"Don't need no Cat," one man said with a wry grin, "when you got a Komatsu!"

The men laughed again, and Victor shrugged it off. He figured that he'd find out sooner or later, and from what he'd seen of this company, he might as well not even try to anticipate what the answer was going to be.

Komatsu arrived a few minutes later. The crowd of men parted respectfully as he strode into their midst. "Good morning!" he boomed cheerfully. "We've got a long day ahead of us, so let's not waste time. I want you all to remember your standard safety precautions, and in particular, nobody goes inside the yellow tape, for any reason. Anyone who wants to be on the sixth floor at two o'clock is welcome, but let's do what we can to avoid another flood, hm?"

The men laughed heartily, and Komatsu snapped his clawed fingers. The crowd melted back away from him; Victor followed, perplexed, and stared as Carstairs and another worker roped off a huge rectangular area, half the size of a football field, around the Dz'isu. "There's going to be a lot more rubberneckers that we had last time," Komatsu continued, "and I've already made my apologies to the City Fathers. Let's try to be good neighbors and get things done as quickly as we can."

Victor found Angelo in the crowd and tugged his sleeve. "What's he talking about?"

"Just watch," Angelo replied.

Komatsu turned around in a slow circle, inspecting the empty terrain around him. "All clear!" he bellowed, and turned to face the building. Victor would never be sure if what happened next had been instantaneous, or whether his stunned mind had simply failed to record the action. One moment he was watching Komatsu; the next he was staring at a foot, with talons the size of refrigerators digging into the earth ahead of him. A powerful leg rose above it, muscles flexing as the weight of the immense body shifted. Victor nearly fell back as his gaze traveled upward, his eyes widening. "Fuck...."

"There's yer crane," one of the men snickered, as the crowd dispersed and headed for the lifts.

Victor stood transfixed, the sight of the towering blue giant freezing him to the spot. He felt helpless, vulnerable, and barely realized that Angelo was pulling at his shirt. "Hey, come on. You and me's onna fifth floor today."

Still Victor didn't move. Sighing, Angelo took his arm and dragged him bodily out of Komatsu's shadow. "Come on, come on. You still get-a nice view from the fifth!"

Before he realized it, Victor was on the fifth floor, and a nail gun was being pressed into his hand. He found that he couldn't tear his eyes off the mammoth blue thigh as it rocked and flexed near the edge of the floor, and finally Angelo sighed and gave him a little nudge. "You're no good like this. Go on, take a good long look, get-a your eyes filled, and then come back and gimme a hand, eh?"

Victor shuffled slowly to the edge of the floor and stood trembling. The massive leg filled his view, muscles rippling fluidly under the smooth cobalt flesh. The sight was awe-inspiring, and infinitely beautiful. Slowly he raised his eyes, gulping at the sight of the huge bulge in the front of the black briefs that Komatsu wore, and which had grown along with him. They obviously were not worn for modesty, as the contours behind the briefs were clearly outlined in gigantic detail. Victor felt his heart pounding, and reached out a numbed hand to touch.

A metallic clatter from below jolted him and he stepped back from the edge. Komatsu's tail had swung around, and the big triangle at its tip thrust its way under one of the stacks of beams. They rolled loudly onto it, and it curled around them like a fist, hauling the entire stack into the air and up past Victor's field of view. "Shit," he breathed, "that must be a hundred tons."

"Yeah, he's-a something else, eh?" Angelo said, stepping up behind him. "You seen enough?"

Victor shook his head. "I don't think I ever will."

"Haha! I know how you feel! But we gotta get this wall put up here, right? You're new onna job. You don't want-a your new boss to think you're lazy, eh?" He tugged at Victor's shirt.

Reluctantly, Victor backed away from the edge, although his gaze lingered on the huge, magnificent thigh for several long moments. "How the hell is this possible?" he moaned.

"It's easy. You use-a the nail gun, see? Hold the board up, like-a this, and -"

Victor growled and smacked the top of Angelo's head. "Not that, dummy! THAT! Komatsu! How could he grow like that?"

Angelo rubbed his head. "Oh, that! I dunno. It's a Dz'isu thing. I ask-a him once, and he says that, 'It's a Dz'isu thing.'"

"Christ." Victor picked up the nail gun and tried to keep his eyes off of Komatsu's leg. There was a rattle from above as the rivet guns started to work on the first beam. Victor could imagine Komatsu holding it in place, effortlessly, as though it were a piece of an erector set.

Erector set. He shivered at the thought and glanced down, and realized that he was. Very.

"Nails," Angelo reminded him. "Boards, nails, wall gets-a done."

Victor grumbled and set to work. Even over the chattering of the rivet guns and the whine of Angelo's circular saw, he could hear the sound of car horns blaring all around the site. The site of the gigantic Dz'isu working beside the building must have brought half the city out, he thought. I wonder if any of them are feeling the way I am?

Probably a lot of them.

Komatsu worked through the morning coffee breaks and through lunch. Angelo explained to Victor that whatever the boss had done to make himself grow was hard on him, and once he was big, he had to stay that way until he finished the job. It was simply too draining for him to go up and down over and over. A sudden thought struck Victor, and sent chills through him. "Angelo," he said apprehensively. "What's going to happen at 2:00?"

"Same as every day," Angelo said, and flashed him an eager grin. "'cept its-a gonna take a lot more of us."


Angelo gave him a wink. "That's a good question, my friend." He leaned in close. "You come up to six with me then, and maybe you find out, eh?" He squeezed the trigger on the saw, and the piercing whine drowned out the rest of Victor's questions.

The level of tension in the atmosphere of the site increased steadily after lunch. It was not a negative tension, the sort that comes with foreboding and stress. This was more like anticipation. Every man worked a little faster, a bit more eagerly, as if trying to push time along by finishing each job more quickly. Even the crowd outside the wall seemed to feel it, their ranks having swollen further since the morning rush. Victor was beginning to feel that there was a great secret that the whole world knew, save for him. Only Komatsu seemed unaffected, and kept on working at his tireless pace, hefting the girders to the top floor and holding them steady while the rivet guns clattered away.

Victor was busy firing nails into a plywood panel when Angelo swept up behind him and flipped the power switch on the nail gun. "Let's-a go!"

"What? Is it time?"

"Close enough. Come on."

Angelo was obviously excited, and Victor didn't ask any question as he followed his friend to the lift and rode up to the next floor. A large number of men had already gathered from above, and were busily unrolling a wide blue tarp across the floor. Victor watched as they strung ropes through the edges and hoisted them up to the ceiling, forming a barrier around three sides of the building.

"We're gonna try not to have another flood," Angelo said, and nudged him in the ribs.

The fourth edge of the tarp was allowed to rest on the floor. That was on the same side of the building where Komatsu was standing. The view from here was, if anything, even more intriguing than from the floor below, Victor found. Komatsu's hips rose to the level of the ceiling; much of the opening at the end of the floor was taken up by the black, silken surface of his briefs, whose contours were even more impressive from here than they were from below. Victor stood dazed as the men, acting on some unseen signal, began to strip. Two of them ran up and each slipped a crane-hook between the Dz'isu's taut belly and the top of his briefs. A generator coughed to life, and the face of the briefs began to winch downward.

The chatter of the rivet guns grew suddenly more fierce, the sound echoing throughout the structure. Komatsu stood very still, his abdominal muscles tightening as he took a deep breath. The briefs sank lower, and Victor was treated to the sight of an inconceivably large penis, startlingly pink against the yellow sheath from which it protruded. Several men moved forward as the monstrous organ flopped free and landed heavily on the tarp, the sound lost among the clamor of the rivet guns. Those men closest knelt and pressed themselves against it, almost worshipfully, their faces relaxed and blissful. It responded instantly, thickening, stretching forward along the tarp and allowing more of the men to take positions around it.

Angelo had already shrugged out of his clothes, and leaned in close to Victor's ear. "It's best you just-a watch the first time," he shouted. "It's-a not as easy as it looks!" Clapping Victor on the shoulder, he jogged forward and knelt beside the curving flare of the giant's glans.

Victor obeyed, not so much from a lack of desire as from utter shock at what he was witnessing. More than two dozen men now surrounding the massive erection; some even stretched atop it. Their bodies swayed and stroked across its length in a surreal dance whose music was a chorus of riveters. The immense organ dwarfed them all, pulsing with life, its surface slicking with the thin fluid that seeped from its tip and was spread over its length by the motion of its supplicants' bodies.

A dark blue hand descended from above and gripped one of the staunch uprights at the corner of the building. Victor saw the vast plain of Komatsu's belly flex and bulge, and the immense organ drew back, and then slid forward, throwing the workmen momentarily off balance. They recovered quickly, though, apparently anticipating the movement, and hastily repositioned themselves. Komatsu began to thrust slowly, his erection pumping in measured strokes through the press of the surrounding bodies. Some of the men had even clasped their arms over the top of the shaft. Gradually the rhythm increased, the mighty organ pumping faster, the structure trembling slightly from the mounting force of the thrusts. Thin wisps of steam began to rise from it as the flesh grew warmer.

Victor stood motionless, and then slowly, like a man in a dream, he shuffled forward and knelt beside the pistoning bulk. He stared dumbly as the broad glans shoved forth from the knot of bodies, and then retreated again, its flange bumping against limbs and torsos. He leaned forward, smiling, and watched closely as the tip rushed forward and halted just inches from his face, the slit at its extremity yawning wide and dribbling a trickle of clear fluid. A little splashed onto his face, unnoticed. He saw the tremendous organ retreat, and then bolt forward once more, bumping his cheek, leaving it dripping.

Abruptly a hand seized his wrist. He resisted, trying to pull his hand away, but he was yanked back from where he knelt, stumbled, and fell on his side. He sat up and turned in time to see the mammoth erection surge forward once more, and then a wide opaque column erupted from its tip. The stream rocketed past him and struck the tarp at the far edge of the floor, the force of the impact tenting the plastic outward. A curtain of whiteness splashed outward in a fantastic arc from the point of impact. The stream then weakened, the white column bending and falling, crashing wetly onto the tarp below. No sooner had the quivering pools settled than a second burst shot past him, battering the tarp outward again. A fist-sized globule of cream flew back, splashing Victor squarely in the face, nearly smothering him.

He coughed and sat up, trying to rub the thick fluid from his eyes, but to no avail. After a moment he felt something being pressed insistently into his hands -- a towel, warm and moist. Eagerly he wiped off his face, and his vision cleared. He saw the men still sprawled against the massive organ, their faces drained, panting. The Dz'isu's penis itself lay still, quietly throbbing, a heavy froth of cream oozing feebly from its tip. It was beginning to shrink, although gradually, and as the men regained their strength one by one they began to clean themselves off.

Angelo was standing beside him, holding another towel. The rivet guns had stopped, although Victor's ears were still ringing with their clattering. "You OK?"

"Yeah. I think so." He took the towel gratefully.

"You almost-a lost your head, my friend," Angelo said. "That's-a my fault. Shoulda warned you. A year ago, Ben Philips, he got in the way of the blast - it break-a his arm, give-a him concussion. Komatsu made a rule that nobody gets-a come on, no matter how much he wants to."

"I can imagine," Victor said weakly. He scrubbed some stickiness from his ear as he watched four men heft the flaccid organ and tuck it back inside the Dz'isu's briefs. The great muscular belly above was heaving steadily; apparently Komatsu was still catching his breath. "Do you have to do this often?"

"Not have to, no. You see any man here look-a like he don't wanna be here? I tell-a you before, Dz'isu, they got to have a good come at least every day. They got to. You think-a you get bad if-a you go two weeks without? For these Dz'isu, one day is like-a two weeks. It's-a the nature of the beast." He patted Victor's shoulder. "And between you and me - hey, you miss a spot here - between you and me, I don't-a mind in the least helping him-a get rid of that pressure!"

Victor shook his head blankly. "I guess. I dunno. It's just so strange."

"Eh! Now you talk-a like a straight boy. I saw you there. It's not-a strange. New, maybe, but not-a strange. Well, OK, maybe a little. But I give-a you two, maybe three weeks, and you be just as happy to help as this crazy Dego."

Victor didn't answer. He had turned away, and was staring at several men who had gathered before Komatsu's loins. On a count of three they bent and hefted the flaccid penis up, and tucked it into the black silk. Through the fabric the huge organ could be seen retreating back into its sheath, and once more the muscular torso was flexing and swaying busily, as the Dz'isu's tail carried another load of girders up and out of sight.

The crowd outside the wall continued to mill about and gawk at the giant as the afternoon wore on. "Do you think they know?" Victor asked Angelo.

"Know what?"

"What Komatsu was doing this afternoon?"

Angelo cursed in Italian as he tugged the blade guard off the circular saw. "Damn piece of shit," he muttered. "Them out there? Maybe some do. It's-a hard to tell. I saw him from outside once, bad day for me. He look-a just like he standing against the building and talking to-a the guys on twelve. I know better, though. Two days before-a you show up, the tarp fell down. We had - Maria, what a mess! All that mud, the whole corner, oh! We tell-a the policemen it's ice cream. We havin' a big party and the ice cream all melt and get-a spilled." He laughed. "They don't believe us, not for a second, but whatta they gonna do?"

Victor chuckled and gazed idly at the mammoth thigh, which had become a major part of the scenery for him. The muscles rippled like ocean waves, and occasionally the whole leg would shift to one side or the other. He must be getting tired, Victor thought. Even something that powerful can't stand in one place all day long. Especially not after that little workout he got.

He found his thoughts turning to what it would be like to curl up inside those vast briefs, and he smiled wistfully.

Behind him the circular saw whined and began to bite into the wood. There was a sudden sharp, metallic ring, and something whistled past his ear. Victor ducked instinctively and spun around. "What the fuck was that?"

Angelo had his back to him, and was standing very still. He didn't answer.

"Angelo?" Victor said, fear rising into his voice. The rivet guns started to rattle once more up on fifteen.

Angelo shuddered and slowly turned around. His dirty white T- shirt was stained a uniform red from chin to waist. Victor could see an inch and a half of shining metal protruding from the center of Angelo's chest, and a crimson fountain boiled up furiously around it. "Oh, Maria," Angelo said hoarsely, staring dazedly down at his chest. "Oh, Maria. Victor...Victor, I'm-a fucked, my friend..."

Victor caught him as he fell and eased him down to his back. "Angelo! Shit -- Help! Someone help!"

His cries were lost among the noise of the rivet guns. "For God's sake, help!" Frantically he jammed his hand down on the wound as hard as he could, the metal shard thrusting up between his fingers. "Oh, Christ. Angelo, don't move..."

"I'm-a fucked, my friend." Angelo's face had turned gray, and his eyes rolled back into his head.

"Jesus...." Victor looked around wildly, and his eyes fell once more on the huge blue pillar. "Komatsu!" he shrieked.



It was no use. The riveters simply drowned him out. In desperation, he cast about and caught sight of the nail gun lying nearby. He tried to reach it, but couldn't, not without taking the pressure from the gushing wound. Sobbing in frustration, Victor lashed out with his leg and managed to catch the handle of the device with his toe of his boot. "Hang on, Angelo, just hang on," he cried. Dragging the nail gun into his hand, he heaved it up from the floor, swung it toward Komatsu's thigh, and squeezed the trigger.

The crack of the nail gun was followed by a startled roar that shook the entire structure. The rivet guns ceased instantly. The big blue leg retreated, and a vast expanse of yellow swept downward, to be replaced by Komatsu's scowling face.

"Angelo..!" Victor gasped before the Dz'isu could speak "The saw blade...he took the guard off....he's hurt bad!"

Komatsu's eyes widened, and another roar shook the building. "Fatty! Get an ambulance!"

"There isn't time for that!" Victor yelled back hoarsely.

Komatsu grunted. A moment later an enormous hand pushed its way between the girders at the edge of the floor. Victor had no time to think of being frightened as the massive fingers curled behind him and began to scoop both him and Angelo toward the edge of the building. Another hand rose up like an elevator, bringing Carstairs into view. He grabbed Angelo's and shirt and with Victor's help, dragged him into the open palm. "Got him! Take us down!"

Victor stumbled a little as Komatsu's hand descended. His hand came away from Angelo's chest. Carstairs scrambled over and took his place, using both hands to staunch the flow of blood. "We gotta move," he hissed through gritted teeth.

The hand reached the ground and Victor stumbled off of it. "Victor," Komatsu rumbled. The voice alone was enough to cut through the panic and seize the man's attention. "Get into the service truck - now!"

Without hesitating, Victor wheeled and raced over to the big yellow pickup. He scrambled into the driver's seat, and as he turned the key, the landscape dropped abruptly away. His stomach fell with it. Turning his head, he saw Komatsu's fingers grasping the truck around the middle, and holding it aloft as easily as if it were a toy. Within seconds the truck was carried over the wall and set down at the rear of the gaping crowd. A shadow fell around him, and Victor looked up in horror to see the bottom of Komatsu's foot descending rapidly toward him. "Get moving!" the giant bellowed. "Clear a path for me!"

Victor gasped and slammed the truck into gear. It lurched forward, sending hysterical onlookers scattering in all directions. That was the idea. Two seconds later Komatsu's foot slammed into the pavement where the truck had been sitting, the concrete beneath it shattered with the impact. The clawed toes bent, gouging three deep trenches and then kicking up great chunks of rubble as they rose again into the air.

Frantically, Victor flipped on all of the truck's rotating lights and jammed his hand down on the horn. Pedestrians scrambled for safety, and other vehicles squealed and spun off to the side as he careened past them. In his rearview mirror he could see the mighty claws crashing behind him, landing heavily in the gaps created by the pickup's passing. He stared for a moment, terrified that he would see some poor soul smashed flat under one of the pounding feet, and then his attention was jerked to the road ahead as a slow-witted motorist tried to make a turn in front of him. The bumper of the pickup clipped the car's fender, sending it spinning; the opposite fender then crashed into Komatsu's toe as it landed.

Victor spotted the truck's mobile phone and grabbed it. A hand- lettered card had been taped to back: Hosp. ER *12. He jabbed the buttons, cursing as the phone rang and rang.

"Emergency room, can you hold?"

"NO!" he shrieked. "Get a crash team up to the helipad now! You've got one coming in."

There was a pause. "Sir, we haven't had any --*"

"Just do it! Don't fuck with me, Lady, just get'em up there!" The phone fell from his hand and he served hard as Komatsu's huge foot slammed into the pavement beside the truck.

"Faster, Victor!" the Dz'isu roared, and Victor obeyed. Seconds later he jumped the curb in front of the hospital, the truck lurching and dancing across the ambulance parking lot before turning sideways and skidding to a stop. Komatsu's thunderous footfalls stopped a moment later.

Victor scrambled out of the cab and ran toward Komatsu's foot. The big Dz'isu towered over him, arms out of sight over the top of the building. He didn't move. Victor didn't, either. Sirens approached, growing louder.

At last Komatsu sighed and squatted down, his tail waving agitatedly behind him and sending more people fleeing. He lowered his hand, where Carstairs lay exhausted in the middle of the palm. "It's pretty bad," Carstairs panted, climbing to his feet. Victor nodded grimly.

A police car squealed up beside them, and two beefy patrolmen leaped out, sputtering curses. Komatsu sighed. "We had an emergency, officer," he rumbled. "It couldn't be helped. My crew will start repairing the damage to the street immediately, and the company's insurance agent will be on hand to talk to anyone whose vehicles were damaged."

The driver of the patrol car didn't seem to be listening. "You son of a fucking bitch!" he howled. "First all that shit this morning, and now you're trying to tear the fucking city apart! What the fuck is wrong with you? You some kinda fucking Godzilla, or something? Do you fucking know how many fucking people you could've killed?" He turned his reddened face toward Victor. "YOU! Fucking Mario Andretti, fucking demolition derby! You are no fucking ambulance! It's fucks like you that -"

There was a dull thud as Komatsu's hand landed between Victor and the raging policeman, forming a wall. Komatsu's teeth were fully bared, and his breath hissed angrily between them. His eyes burned. Behind him there was a crash as his thrashing tail knocked a garbage dumpster onto its side.

The policeman was quiet. The whole city was quiet.

Komatsu spoke at last. "Am I under arrest, Officer?" he said in slow, measured tones.

The policeman shook his head slowly.

"Thank you. I am going to call in my asphalt trucks in now, and my men are going to repair the road. My insurance agent will be on his way in a few minutes." Carefully he picked Carstairs up between two fingers, and the battered truck in his other hand. "Victor..."

Victor blinked and looked up at him.

"Please stay here, and call us as soon as they know."

Komatsu stood and turned around slowly, making sure his tail did not brush the hospital building, and slowly he walked back down the street toward the construction site.

Victor was awake through the night, pacing. He barely noticed the other people in the waiting area. Once in a while, some adventurous soul would approach him and try to ask about Komatsu, but Victor made it clear with just a look that he was not granting interviews.

It was almost twelve hours later before a doctor finally appeared and gave him the news. Victor went to the phone booth and dialed Fatty's number. "He's going to make it," he said simply.

"That's good." Fatty's voice sounded sleepy. "Komatsu said to tell you to take the day off and get some rest."


Victor hung up the phone and plodded wearily outside. The first pale streaks of dawn were just beginning to show in the East as he turned toward home, walking past a string of barricades, each surrounding a patch of fresh asphalt in the near-perfect shape of a giant, three-toed foot.

He slept past noon, and then lay awake in bed for nearly an hour before finally summoning the energy to make some breakfast. He called the hospital while he ate. Angelo was still unconscious, they told him, but his condition was stable - the standard need-to-know answers that hospitals like to give. It didn't tell him very much, except that his friend was alive, and at the time, that was all he really cared about.

He sat at the table for a long time afterward, mulling over the events of the previous day. Nightmares and dreams, one after the other, sometimes one and the same, but none of the events seemed even remotely rooted in reality. He was beginning to seriously consider that he had gone insane. Maybe none of this was actually happening. Maybe it was all in his head, and somewhere, his body was trussed up in a straightjacket, banging its head against a padded wall and babbling about giant blue-and-yellow dragons.

A smile came at last to his lips. "So maybe I'm nuts," he said aloud. "Can't say I'm not enjoying it."

The phone rang suddenly, jarring him. Irritated, he grabbed it off its cradle. "Hope I just don't wake up anytime soon," he mumbled and put the phone to his ear. "Yeah, hello?"

"Victor Sykes?"

Even through the telephone, the resonance of the voice made Victor's bones rattle. "Komatsu?"

"Yes. Did you get any sleep?"

"Uh, yes. Thank you. Fatty told me to take the day off."

"I know. I asked him to. You did a good job yesterday, Victor. I don't think Angelo would still be alive if you hadn't kept your head."


"You can fill out an accident report tomorrow in Fatty's office. As for tonight...I wonder if you've had dinner yet."

Victor glanced at his breakfast plate, still sitting on the table. "No, not yet," he said truthfully.

"Good. Do you think you would like to come by my place tonight and join me? Fatty can give you a ride if you need it."

He felt the hairs stand up on his arm. He paused a moment, taking a deep breath, and quietly said. "Sure."

"Seven o'clock?"


"I'll see you then." The tone of these last four words was striking - softer than usual, gentle, soothing...


Victor put the phone down and ran his fingers through his hair. "Oh, boy," he croaked. "No way had I better wake up now." He glanced at his watch to see how much time he had, and then headed for the shower.

Fatty's car was as tiny as Fatty was big. The man drove an ancient Toyota with more rust than paint and a cracked windshield. "Not much to look at it, but it runs like a dream," he wheezed as Victor squeezed himself into the front seat beside him. They drove together in silence; Fatty was not a very talkative man by nature, and Victor was too preoccupied with his own thoughts. He realized during the ride that he really had no idea what to expect from this visit, and that made him even more nervous.

The car pulled up in front of an old red-brick factory. Faded letters painted on the wall read Sumner's of New Jersey, Fine Confections, Est, 1939. "Here?" Victor said in amazement.

"That's the place." Fatty pointed to a set of big sliding doors. "Go in to the left of those. Don't bother knocking. He knows you're here."

Victor eased himself out of the car, and it puttered away. He mounted the stairs to the old loading dock and made his way to the door Fatty had indicated. Pausing a moment to gather his nerve, he pulled it open halfway and peeked inside.

The factory was surprisingly clean inside, brightly illuminated by an array of lights aimed at the ceiling from the overhead catwalks. To his right was a wide steel palette, which he realized after a moment had been fashioned into a weight bench. An iron girder welded between two one-ton piledriver heads rested beside it, a testament to the immense strength of its owner. Other hand-crafted weights of even more gigantic proportions were arranged nearby. Komatsu apparently liked to keep in shape.

"Over here, Victor."

The voice came from a huge vat in a recessed area of the factory floor. Steam billowed and curled above it, and as Victor moved closer he saw Komatsu's saurian head rising above the surface of several thousand gallons of water. "They used to boil chocolate in this vat," he said blissfully, his tail swishing up out of the water with a splash as he shifted his position. "That was in the old days. Now, there's only boiled Dz'isu." He smiled over at Victor. "Care to join me? It's perfect for soaking the kinks out after a hard day at the site."

Victor swallowed. "Sure," he said, sounding more self-assured than he felt. He stood awkwardly for a moment, and then began to remove his clothing. He watched Komatsu for any sign of approval (or disapproval), but the big Dz'isu had closed his eyes again and settled to his chin in the hissing water. Victor had to slide down a metal ladder that led to the pit, then climb yet another ladder to reach the rim of the enormous tub, and after assuring himself the water wasn't as painfully hot as it appeared, he eased himself in.

To his surprise, his feet found a metal shelf a few feet under the surface. Victor was a little relieved, and he sat down on it, letting his legs dangle over the edge of the shelf, the water lapping at his chin. He sat across from Komatsu, whose head alone was visible. "I put that in myself," Komatsu said after a long silence. The surface of the water danced and rippled harmonically with the rumbling of his voice. "I don't want guests to drown before dinner."

Victor laughed a little, still feeling somewhat awkward. Komatsu opened his dark eyes and gazed back at him. "You look nervous."

He thought about lying at first, but decided against it. "I am."


Victor fidgeted on his seat. "A couple of things, I suppose."

Komatsu smiled. "Is it because I am your boss, or because I have jaws that open wider than your head?" He saw Victor shiver, and laughed quietly. "I think that means it's both. As for the first, I don't want you to worry about that. I've never fired a man for speaking his mind, and I won't start now. As for the second...well, there isn't much I can do about that, other than to assure you that dinner is already cooking in the oven." He sat forward, the water swirling around his vast shoulders as they rose from its depths. "I hope you believe it, but I like to say it anyway: I don't hurt people unless I have a good reason, and the list of good reasons is very, very short."

Victor nodded. "That's good to know." He leaned back against the wall behind him and tried to look relaxed. He didn't want to get into the main reason for his nervousness, the reason that was still hidden beneath the water on the other side of the tank.

"All right. With that said, tell me about yourself."

"Me? There's not much to tell, I guess. I was born in Ohio. My parents moved to Pittsburgh when I was six. Studied welding in trade school, worked in construction in that area until about six months ago, and then came to Newark."

Komatsu nodded. His black eyes peered intently at Victor - into him, it seemed. Victor pursed his lips. The Dz'isu knew that there was more, and he was waiting for Victor to say it. He couldn't do it, though. Maybe out of everyone he'd ever met, Komatsu would understand, and considering what Victor had seen he'd probably even approve, but despite all, he couldn't bring himself to say it. He had locked it up too deeply inside, how his father had thrown him out of the house, how his coworkers had beaten the shit out of him, how he'd been thrown off of one job site after another, how the word faggot had followed him all the way to New Jersey and shut every door in his face.

He simply sat there, squirming uncomfortably in the warmth of the Dz'isu's gaze. Komatsu smiled at him and nodded thoughtfully before turning away. "Dinner's ready," he rumbled.

Victor sighed with relief, and realized he was trembling slightly. The subject was not one he liked to talk about, or even think about for very long. Somehow, though, he sensed that Komatsu already knew.

The giant sat forward again and then stood up, water cascading down his muscular frame. He turned away from Victor and picked up a towel that was larger than a king-sized bedsheet; with his tail, he scooped up a more modestly-sized towel and lifted it across the water to Victor's waiting hands. "Thanks. That's a pretty neat trick," Victor said, indicating the nimble tail.

"It comes in handy." Komatsu threw a leg over the wall of the tank and stepped out. Victor watched him surreptitiously for a few seconds, and then clambered down the ladder and hastily dried himself off. Wrapping the towel about his waist, he climbed up to the main level of the factory floor and walked around the pit to where Komatsu was waiting.

Built into the wall there was a large brick oven with a metal door. Victor watched as Komatsu opened the door and reached inside with a bare hand, withdrawing a round pan with what looked like an entire beef quarter stewing in the center. "Tough skin," he explained, setting the pan down on a worktable that was higher than Victor was tall. "I hope you like it well-done."

"That's fine," Victor said. He stood on tiptoe to try to see what the Dz'isu was doing. "Can I ask a question?"

"Of course -- feel free."

"Do you, ah, eat anything besides meat?"

Komatsu chuckled deeply. "That's a fair question. Don't let these teeth fool you. We're also having baked potatoes and asparagus. Dz'isu are omnivores, though we do tend to enjoy meat more."

Victor smiled. "I guess it was a stupid question."

"Not at all. Any question that you don't know the answer to isn't stupid." He bent down and offered Victor a plate, tiny against the gargantuan hand but piled with enough food for two full meals. Komatsu's own plate was as big as a garbage can lid. "I can tell that you've got others, too. Let's sit down, and I'll let you ask them while we eat."

The Dz'isu turned and strolled toward the rear of the factory. Victor followed, having to race a little to keep pace with his host's massive gait. He couldn't help watching the long, sinuous tail as it snaked behind its owner, the spade-tip weaving side to side in a nearly hypnotic motion. So hypnotic, in fact, that he almost ran into it when Komatsu suddenly stopped. "Make yourself comfortable," the giant rumbled.

Victor stepped around him and saw an immense mattress spread across the floor. Beyond it was an impressive array of electronics, including a projection TV and a stereo with at least a dozen speakers. "I don't have any furniture for someone your size," Komatsu said apologetically, "so I hope the bed is good enough. I also don't have utensils. I'd been meaning to get some, but when one is used to claws..."

"No, this is fine." Victor lifted one foot up as high as he could and stepped up onto the mattress. It yielded slightly under his weight, and he guessed that it was a crash pad, like the ones pole-vaulters use, maybe even several of them tied together. Komatsu stepped up, feet sinking considerably further into the surface. The material covering the cushion miraculously did not tear beneath the vicious claws; Victor figured that had to have cost Komatsu quite a lot.

Komatsu leaned back on his tail and settled down to a sitting position, crossing his legs. He laid his plate in his lap. "All right, then, Victor. What would you like to know?"

Victor took a few bites of his dinner. "I guess, more than anything, I'm curious to know what you are. I know, Dz'isu, yeah, but what are you? Where did you come from?"

Komatsu chewed thoughtfully and mulled the question over. "My people are an ancient race. We were created long ago to serve as warriors to the Overseers. Don't ask who those are - it would be awfully hard to explain. I suppose, in time, even a warrior race gets tired of fighting, and needs to strike out on its own. So we did." He paused for another bite, swallowing it before continuing. "We aren't that much different from you, in most respects. A little more advanced, maybe, although that might just be our own arrogance. A few extra senses, and some powers that Man hasn't discovered yet. Other than that, we're just...people.

"As for how we got here, well, that would take an awful long time to explain, and I'm not completely sure I understand it all myself. Best to save that one for later."

Victor nodded, listening closely. "How come you're here? And why haven't I ever heard of you before?"

"The second one's easy. We haven't been here long. You saw the crowds outside the site. A lot of people are only just learning that we are around, and they're naturally curious. If we didn't have the wall around the area, they'd be packing in just to catch sight of me. I admit, it's flattering, but it gets tiresome after a while. Now, as for why...I suppose for it's for the same reason you moved to Newark. We had something to offer - our abilities, our knowledge - and we were just looking for a new market for it."

"Ah-ha." Victor ate in silence for a while, and then ventured, "Are all Dz'isu as big as you are?"

Komatsu smiled. "No. I'm actually very big as my kind go."

Victor felt the warmth rising within him as he realized the double meaning of that, and he cleared his throat. "And do all of know, grow the way you did?"

"Not all of us. That's a very special talent that has to be learned. It takes a lot of patience and practice, and frankly, not many Dz'isu have that kind of patience."

"Uh-huh. I guess you are a lot like us," Victor said with a grin.

"Maybe. Now I have a question for you."

"OK. Shoot."

"Why are you still nervous around me?"

Victor paused. "What makes you think I am?"

"Because during this whole meal, you haven't looked at me once."

He realized that was true, and now that it was said, he raised his eyes and met Komatsu's gaze. The warmth within him rose, and he began to fidget restlessly. He tried to think of an excuse, but he knew that somehow those eyes would see through it. "It's..."

"Go on." The voice was soft, encouraging.

Victor sighed and looked down at his plate. "At the site...the fifteen minute break at two..."

The Dz'isu hummed and nodded. "I hire workers who are good at building and can handle the job. I like them sincere, honest, and dedicated. Personally, I have a preference for those who are good at what they do, but through no fault of their own can't find or keep a job. That's just me." He smiled amiably. "The break-time play is not a job requirement, nor will it ever be. I don't ask anyone to join in, unless that person comes to me first and expresses an interest."

Victor shivered a little and gulped. "I think I'm afraid to," he heard himself saying.

"Afraid of what? I told you before, I don't bite."

"It's not that. I'm just afraid I wouldn't...qualify. I mean, you're..." He waved his hands helplessly. "And I'm..."

Komatsu blinked, and then chuckled. "You're afraid to come to me because you think I won't be interested?"

Victor shrugged. "Something like that. I don't know."

"Then why don't you find out?"


Komatsu leaned casually to the side and stretched his legs out. He propped himself up on one elbow and regarded Victor with a level gaze. "Why don't you find out?" he said more quietly. The tone was similar to the one he'd used on the telephone.

Victor swallowed, and realized he was trembling a little. Slowly he set his plate aside and rose to his feet. He shuffled forward, hesitantly. " hoping...."

"Hush," Komatsu said quietly. Even the soft word sent a rumble through the mattress. "Don't ask. Just find out."

Victor stared at him, and then nodded. He took another step closer and knelt down in front of Komatsu's chest. He felt the giant's gaze on him, felt the warm breath on his shoulder. Slowly he reached a hand toward the huge, muscular expanse. Heat radiated from it, and his fingers hesitated a moment, and then gently touched the flesh.

Komatsu rumbled appreciatively and relaxed. Victor did, too, the apprehension he'd been hiding quickly flowing away. He began to explore, eyes wide with wonder and admiration, fingers wandering along the curve of Komatsu's chest, to the edge, where yellow flesh gave way to beautiful blue, and then down again. The muscles were firm, as hard as the steel at the heart of the buildings they helped construct, and resonated pleasantly with the Dz'isu's contented purr. Victor gulped down a lump that was forming in his throat, and carefully leaned forward, pressing his cheek to the enormous chest. The purring was louder now. His hand explored further, stroking over the giant's belly, fascinated by its firm curves and valleys.

Komatsu's tail slipped quietly behind him. It's tip nudged its way under the towel around Victor's waist, and gently pulled it away. Victor did not resist, nor did he protest when the broad spade cupped around his back and held him while Komatsu sat up, then gathered Victor into his powerful arms and hugged him tightly. He swallowed again, and finally was able to whisper, "I was hoping to join you during a break sometime."

The great head swung downward. "Certainly," the sonorous voice replied. Komatsu nuzzled gingerly at Victor's cheek, then nudged the man's head back and pressed his muzzle to Victor's lips. He shuddered in response, feeling Komatsu's tongue pressing momentarily against them, and then gliding between to fill his mouth.

Slowly, Komatsu eased Victor onto his back, the spade sliding out from beneath him as he sank into the mattress. An immense hand settled down on either side of Victor's torso, and Komatsu broke the kiss and began to nuzzle his way down Victor's body. He stopped when he reached the middle.

Victor's head swam, and he felt pins and needles dancing beneath his skin. His erection throbbed painfully as Komatsu exhaled across it and then slowly opened his mouth. From between the cruel rows of fangs a lengthy tongue slithered downward, the tip brushing Victor's glans and recoiling, as if surprised. A hesitation, and down it came again, shyly tasting at first, before striking and coiling like a serpent around Victor's manhood, holding it firmly while the gaping maw engulfed it.

Victor let out a cry and arched his back; Komatsu's hand shifted to his chest, gently pinning him down while the soft lips closed around his erection. He could feel the soft tongue quivering around it, slithering, teasing a moment and then tightening its coils. Komatsu growled, the reverberation through Victor's loins overwhelming the man's senses. His body strained upward and went rigid as his pleasure began to pour forth into Komatsu's mouth.

He felt faint. Long minutes seemed to pass before his aching loins finally gave up their last, and his body sagged feebly back down.

Komatsu chuckled and raised his head slowly, closing his eyes and swallowing with great delight. He licked his lips, and then began to crawl forward.

Victor felt as though his strength was gone, and he could do no more than lie passively, watching as the titan's frame loomed over him. A knee landed to either side of him, and Komatsu nudged his hips forward. Melon-sized testicles descended onto Victor's chest and lay heavily upon it. A powerful scent, thick and masculine, filled his nostrils, invigorating him. Before his eyes he saw an inch or more of pink flesh protruding from the gigantic yellow sheath as it overhung his face. Needing no further encouragement, he mustered enough strength to lift his head and begin to lick.

The taste was rich and salty, and the response was immediate. The broad shaft pushed free of its housing and lengthened rapidly, shoving insistently into Victor's mouth. Alarmed, he began to squirm, the swelling flesh forcing his jaws open wider and wider.

Reluctantly, Komatsu withdrew and sat back. His powerful thighs framed Victor's little body; the taut curves of his rump settled to either side of the man's spent penis while the great scrotum draped over Victor's belly. Komatsu groaned as he continued to swell, the length sliding up Victor's chest, growing heavier. Victor gasped at the sight, so much like the bizarre scene on the sixth floor that had so captivated him the previous day. He reached up and enfolded the mammoth organ in both hands, and when its girth grew too great for him to hold he threw his arms about it in a tight hug, squeezing it to his chest. Komatsu moaned again, and a trickle of warm fluid fell upon Victor's cheek. Komatsu began to thrust, purring, legs flexing smoothly, the great shaft pumping along Victor's chest and past his face. He turned his head and lapped at it, holding it as he would a lover, panting as it dragged over his skin. He savored the power of the mighty creature as the muscles strained and flexed above him, their rhythm growing ever more urgent. The huge organ began to throb in his arms, and he held it tighter, panting eagerly. The curve of the glans rushed toward him and past his cheek, then withdrew again, and then the world vanished in a curtain of whiteness that rushed over his face in warm, smothering waves.

Victor became faintly aware of something soft and wet stroking across his face and chest. Through half-lidded, half-focused eyes he could see Komatsu's tongue caressing his flesh, carefully licking him clean. He felt it upon his neck, his face, and then his shoulders, leaving the skin cool in its wake. A deep, contented rumble surrounded him as he was eased onto his side, and as strong arms drew him once more to Komatsu's chest he drifted off to sleep.

Komatsu gathered the crew together at lunch the following day and read them the riot act. He wanted no repeats of the recent accident, and any one caught operating any machinery in an unsafe manner would be dealt with. "Not fired," he warned. "Dealt with."

The men looked away nervously , not wanting to imagine what that implied.

Victor watched the Dz'isu stride away after the speech. He was still half-giddy from his night spent in the giant's arms. He'd never before felt quite so free, nor so alive. He imagined he could still taste Komatsu's pleasure on his lips, still feel the gentle sweep of a warm tongue over his flesh, and a shiver danced along his spine.

He turned around to step onto the lift, and found Carstairs standing behind him, smirking. "First time last night, I hear."

Victor tried to look nonchalant. "Yeah, it was." Carstairs laughed. "Take some advice, and stick to the ground floor the rest of today. We don't want you swooning and taking a header off a girder." He snickered, and Victor gave him an indignant look, although he knew very well that Carstairs was right. "Oh, hey, I stopped at the hospital on my way to work. Angelo's awake. He's pretty sore, but I was able to talk to him a little bit."

Victor's heart leaped. "Really? All right! What's he got to say?"

"He said thanks, for one thing. He also wants you to come visit him tonight. He said he wants to know all about your first night with the big blue boss."

"Yeah, sure, whatever," Victor said with a shrug. "I just hope his heart can take it. When are visiting hours?"

Someone called for Carstairs from above. "Gotta run," he said, dancing backward, "You can go anytime. They'll let any of us in as long as we don't bring Komatsu. He's sort of on their shit list right now."

Victor thought about the mess the huge claws had made of the driveway, and decided that wasn't unreasonable. Taking Carstairs' advice, he put his name down for ground-level work for the afternoon. It was mostly wheelbarrows and cement, mindless and back-breaking, but at least it gave him lots of time to indulge in his memories, and to ogle the big Dz'isu each time he passed by.

Later in the afternoon, Victor paused to take a restroom break. That was another small but welcome advantage to working on the ground -- it was much closer to the port-a-potties. He ducked inside one of them and attended to what was necessary, and as he swung the door open and walked out he blundered headlong into a black wall that hadn't been there when he entered. "I beg your pardon," it said.

Victor stepped back in shock and looked up. The huge figure ahead of him turned slowly and lowered its gaze toward him. Where Komatsu was blue, this creature was inky black. A red underbelly and stripes on its limbs gave it an almost demonic appearance. Victor was so startled that he did not even hear Komatsu's heavy footfalls approaching. "Ah, there you are!"

The black Dz'isu smiled and lowered its head respectfully. "I'm sorry I'm late, Komatsu. How is our man?"

"He's going to be all right," Komatsu rumbled as he wiped some grease from his hands on a rag. "It was a close call. Victor, you heard the news, didn't you?"

Victor swallowed, looking from one giant to the other. The black one was not at all as large as Komatsu, but he still towered over Victor, who was feeling quite tiny in their presence. "Yes. Carstairs told me."

Komatsu nodded, and then laid an enormous hand on Victor's shoulder. "This is Victor Sykes. He's the one I told you about. Victor, this is Takenshi, my business partner."

Takenshi smiled down at Victor and offered a hand. Victor took it, tensing a little as it curled into a fist around his whole hand and squeezed softly. "You did a good job, I hear. We ought to give you a raise."

Victor blushed. "I only started this week."

"We'll take it out of Fatty's pay," Komatsu offered with a broad grin. "He could stand to slash his grocery bill a bit."

Takenshi let out a barking laugh, and then turned and cocked an ear as the clock down road struck two. "Oh...break time." He winked at Komatsu. "Shall we?"

"And why not?" Komatsu snickered and strode off, with Takenshi beside him, their tails snaking behind them in perfect symmetry.

Victor watched them disappear into the fenced area between the two sheds, and then sighed and started back toward the cement trough. He made a mental note to chastise Angelo soundly for not mentioning this "business partner" to him before.

A lone rivet gun began to clatter high up on the structure as Victor bent over his wheelbarrow, but even over the noise he heard someone roaring out his name. Dropping the handles in alarm, he spun around to see Komatsu leaning out from behind the shed. A black tail- spade was draped casually over his shoulder. Smiling, he raised his hand and cocked a clawed finger invitingly.

Victor swallowed, and looked around, then pointed questioningly at himself.

Komatsu nodded, his smile broadening, and then vanished behind the shed again.

"Oh Lord," Victor breathed. He took a shaky step forward, and then another, and then broke into a run, stripping off his shirt. "You weren't kidding, you little Dego," he muttered aloud as he raced toward the break room. "Fifteen minute break -- best part-a the job!"

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