Hey everyone. This is my first attempt at a gay fantasy story. I hope you like it. Questions and comments can go to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading,
Words called into the dark, hollow burial cave. A man shuffling forward, covered in moldering funeral cloth. And there, before the disbelieving crowd, a spark of faith quickened once again. It was not only the dead man that lived once again, but also their belief that the ancient rites and religions held some mote of knowledge and promise still. Perhaps, for that moment, they believed. Truly believed even death would be conquered in the end.
I smiled slightly at the strangeness of this image conjured from the memories of youth, of Catholic priests pressing their chalk hard on the blackboards in the futile hope that perhaps some of the catechism would take root and grow in our fertile minds.
It never did. We were far too young, far too absorbed with memorization and earning high marks to grasp the importance or spiritual meaning of it. They were stories we learned for school, either secular or religious, the same way we learned Dickens and Bronte and Twain. The allegories slid from our minds as quickly as they were taught.
The memories faded as I watched the light over the dove gray Irish Sea ebb away as suddenly as the high tide. Deep within a British winter, darkness does not descend over the land; it collapses upon it. The colorless shore with its colorless sand and colorless water vanishes in mid-afternoon, leaving me to wonder if it had truly ever existed in the first place. It resigns to the place in my mind of vague memory, like an old black and white film.
"Ryan, take this." Matthew's voice in my ear. He handed me a styrofoam cup full of hot, black coffee and leaned against the retaining wall, sipping carefully from his own.
The image of Lazarus returned, twinned with Matthew in my muddled thoughts. Revivification. To bring someone back into the realm of the living. How desperately I wanted to stave off time and the attending decay in this relationship. How could I abide leaving him when he stood here beside me, as I always wanted him to be?
Matthew was quite simply the most gorgeous young man I had ever known. Even now, I studied his long, delicate fingers curled around the coffee cup. His hips settled into his jeans just so as he reclined against the wall - an innocent and erotic posture capable of setting me to aching.
My heart constricted with memories threatening to pour out of every artery. How many times had he brought me coffee when I stood motionless on this very spot, gazing out at the gray Irish Sea for hours at a time? How many nights did I take the coffee from him wordlessly? And he accepted the silence, respected my need for isolation from the spoken word.
How he had smiled at me when we first met, in this very place, following me out of a club after a long night of downing pints. So brash with liquid courage burning through his veins. "You talk like an American," were the first words he ever said to me.
He had taken me to him that very night.
As lost as I had been - vulnerable, away from my own country, completely submerged in another land, another culture, looking little better than a tramp out of Oliver Twist - he took me back to his dingy little flat.
The first time was quick and passionate, there in the claustrophobic bedroom with the blue sheets and tattered pillows. A hunger I kept closed within myself devoured him that night. We made love until the morning and slept until dusk.
When we awoke, we made love again. The next day, I gathered my few belongings from the youth hostel and moved in with him.
Two years had passed since then. So long ago. We were still young, but now much older for it, for the arguments and the fights and the desperation and sheer stubbornness we both possessed. We caused and shared our own pain together, until the burden of it was too much.
Reluctantly, I looked at him now. His deep brown eyes were sad and overcast in the spare twilight. We met this Sunday evening for our own burial. And it was this ceremony that sent my mind reeling for images. I did not want to be here for this. I would rather be elsewhere; even if elsewhere was a fanciful mental immersion in Biblical imagery.
There was to be no resurrection for us, no shambling out of the grave with the promise of new life. It had been too long. Too much had passed between us for that. No, we had to bury what existed between us and slam the shovel down on top when all was finished, for good measure.
"You can have the flat," I offered, taking a pack of Marlboros from my coat pocket and tapping one out onto the wall. "I'll come for my things on Wednesday while you're at work. I really hope everything works out for you." What awkward and foolish words.
"That's just fine," he replied dully in that slight Welsh accent I still loved. "I hope things work out for you, too." He gripped the coffee cup more tightly. "Does this need to happen?"
Excruciating, this. Unbearable. Don't see yourself through his eyes. Too horrible.
I lit the cigarette, inhaled deeply, and blew a thin stream of gray smoke into the air. "It does. We cannot continue on as we have been. You want more out of life. I want less. You resent me now. You will resent me more if we stay together. This is the best thing for the both of us."
The corners of his mouth dipped just a little at this, but he retained his composure. "I suppose so." And then, "I hate this."
In the end, we embraced. He clung to me tightly. I buried my face in his neck, letting his soft brown hair fall over my cheek, inhaling the familiar, spicy scent of his cologne for the last time. And then it was over. I left him.
* * *
Afterwards, I walked along the beach. The Irish Sea had grown dark and quiet. The tide had completely gone now, leaving a steady line of trash littered high along the retaining walls. It was clean down here by the water. Pure. Only the garish light from the arcades, bars, and casinos of this English tourist trap for company, and the occasional whispered conversation from inebriated couples sitting on benches up by the boardwalk, sharing slurred words of affection or bitterness with one another.
I was not the only man putting things to rest tonight. Their voices filtered through the air, into my porous mind. Two figures seated on a bench caught my attention.
Tell her. Tell her! I'm going to tell her. A stubbled man in a leather jacket breathed heavily. Sweat seeped from his brow. A confession lingered on his numb lips. Should he tell his girlfriend of the one night stand he had a week earlier with another woman? The Cuban rum he had drunk earlier helped, but the guilt and fear gnawed at him. He fidgeted.
Her face was slack and carefree. She had more vodka than he had rum. The excitement of an imminent proposal raced through her mind. Her face was heavily painted with make-up. Too much luminous red lipstick and dark eye shadow. Too much perfume, which even I, down by the water, could detect on the breeze. There was no inkling in her of what was coming. She hadn't the slightest idea in her pretty little head.
I observed all this with the most detached curiosity. For I walked far too distant from them to hear any words. No, it was their thoughts I listened to, invaded, took into my own mind and consumed in my way.
I wished the talent would leave me then. I wanted to hurry away from people and their little dramas, perhaps wade into the cold sea and swim towards the other shore so many miles away until my arms gave and I sank into a warm, salty embrace. Where was Matthew? If I concentrated, kept his beautiful face firmly locked in my mind, I could find him. I could see through the eyes of others, let my soul drift through the endless crowds and fix upon him. Did he weep as I desperately wanted to at this moment? Was he as shattered in spirit as I?
I walked further along the beach, remaining just out of reach of the low, dark waves. I made my way towards the massive northern pier of this town. The hulking mass stretched far into the water with arcades and shops peddling cheap trinkets clustered upon the wide wooden pillars. A large but mostly empty ferris wheel slowly spun upon it, its muted neon lights utterly cheerless.
The feeling slapped me heavily like a physical blow. So suddenly did it strike that I reeled and lost my footing in the sand, falling to my knees. My hands sank into the cold water.
Where had this come from? A pickpocket? Some vagrant with a knife approaching me? I scanned my surroundings. No, nothing here. The couples still whispered upon the benches. The man had confessed to his girlfriend, and now she sat quietly sobbing. The slight stench of urine from the public toilets on the boardwalk reached even the shore, filling my nostrils. Electronic noises filtered out from the arcades. But, nothing within my immediate vicinity invoked alarm.
My heart stilled, my ears opened to the darkness, my entire body transformed itself into a receptacle of sound and light.
And then a figure took shape within the shadows beneath the pier, dressed all in black.
Your beloved has retired to his flat for the night. Do not weep for him. He does not weep for you. He is hardening his heart against you, convincing himself that he holds nothing but hatred for you. He will use that as his shield. A voice, soundless, without body and without accent, but clear and annunciated traveled over the sand. The words were cool, inviting, full of sympathy and concern.
My muscles tensed, the hair prickled across the back of my neck. Who are you? I demanded silently. And why do you invade my private thoughts?
I am as you are. A man with the "talent" as you refer to it. How disconnected and dissonant that voice. Completely disembodied.
Yet, it allured me. I wanted to approach it. Only a concerted effort of will restrained my body from moving towards this man. The feeling of danger remained strong. Some hidden power emanated from the figure beneath the pier. Make yourself plain. Do not skulk about in shadows, just out of sight. It irritates me.
It was perfectly stupid of me to think I was the only person in the world who could overhear thoughts. Positively arrogant to think I alone possessed such a gift. But for twenty-three years, I had never once encountered another. My talent inspired fear and revulsion in those around me. "Abnormal" is what the child psychologists called it. "Satanic" is what the priest told my mother after she had taken me to see him, convinced I was infused with some demonic entity. But encounter another person with the same gift? Never.
Those around you are ignorant of who you are. Pay them no heed any longer. Ignorance is in the past for you. I have come to you on this night to reveal our mysteries. To reveal your mystery to you, came the voice again.
The man emerged from the darkness below the pier. He seemed to glide across the sand from the shadows, moving nearer to me.
Trusting this primal instinct, I collected the talent in my mind, drew the power from all my limbs, let it coalesce and concentrate within my skull, a burning vortex of energy. Seething, fiery pain shot through my eyes as I released this manifestation of my terrible will, lashing out at this figure who dared intrude upon my private pain and approach me in this manner.
The force struck him like a solid, mailed fist, sending him sprawling backwards into the shadows once again.
Though exhausted by the effort, shock overwhelmed me. For never before had my talent demonstrated an ability to affect material objects. My one small hope was to cripple this man's mind, to drain him of his will, to sap his energy and leave him helpless just long enough for me to run away. I had done that to others before when threatened. In moments of great anger or great fear. And yet here, this man suffered physically for it. Injured in body and also in mind. His thoughts tumbled out as his discipline crumbled.
His name was Samuel. There was danger within him. He had the talent just as I had, though his was a more refined and controlled possession. Yes, he knew just what to do with it, how to wield it like a blade and cut others down. There was an education and intelligence behind his use of it.
He had been watching me for several months, tracking my movements, waiting for the perfect moment to approach me. He had perceived my abilities entirely by accident one night, as I sat here on the shore, gazing across the sea. He came to me now, on this night, because he felt my vulnerability, my weakness over leaving Matthew. There lay an advantage for him in that, and he intended to exploit it in full.
Get up! I silently commanded.
Samuel did so, brushing the sand from his clothes. He recovered quickly, his mind closing to me like the iron locks of a bank vault sliding on well-oiled hinges. Completely impenetrable now.
And then his soft voice across the sand, barely perceptible. "You'll learn . . ."
End of Part 1