THE EPICENE EFFECT
At eight o'clock the next
morning the boys and all their worldly possessions were riding east in
a white van bearing the mark of the church. Joseph was driving and
hadn't said anything about the nature of their journey. Not that he
needed to, at present, because Tom and Toby had never been out of the
city. Consequently, their noses were plastered to the windows,
observing the passing landscape with big eyes. However, Tom stole
glances at Toby periodically, remembering the parting words of Father
Benton. As the boys left his study the day before, the priest held Tom
back for a moment and whispered, "You said you loved him
unconditionally. Remember that. Protect each other at all costs. If you need me, give me a call, any hour, day or
By eleven o'clock, the van entered the outskirts of a small town.
Joseph parked in front of a modest looking restaurant and opened the
engine compartment. After removing a small part, he pressed a control and
the engine refused to start. At their incredulous expressions, he declared, "We are broken down, as you can see. Now,
each of you make up a back pack with your toilet articles and one change
of clothing. While I secure the services of a towing company, go into
that restaurant and eat lunch. In precisely forty-five minutes, leave
the restaurant by the side door. Walk up to the next street and another
van--a blue one--will be waiting for you. The driver's name is Daniel.
Get in and he will continue your journey."
"But, but what about you?" Tom began.
Joseph granted a rare smile. "While I am scouting this small town for a
tow truck, you will be out of my sight and will have disappeared, don't
you see? Now go, or you will use up your time for a much needed meal.
God go with you."
After an uninspired but filling lunch, they stepped up to the appointed
street corner just as a blue van--without church markings--arrived. The
window opened, revealing a cute youthful face. "Hi guys. I'm Dan.
Get in." With no real alternative at hand, they complied.
Dan headed out of town, then turned west on a main highway. He tossed
an envelope over his shoulder. "Here's your new identification. You're
now Joel and Ray. There's some contact lenses in there too, to change
the color of your eyes. The authorities are gonna be looking for two
guys with gray eyes. There's another change of clothes for you
in the back. Wear the caps to cover your light hair."
"Dan, can you tell us anything about what's going on or where we're going?" Toby asked.
"Don't really know where you're going to wind up. Right now, I'm just
carrying you west." He chuckled. "I'm just one of the middle men, here
to help make you disappear. But, rest assured you will be in good hands
all the way."
"But, what about our belongings we just left behind?"
"Don't worry about them. You won't need 'em anymore." Otherwise,
he was a talkative sort who seemed to know all about them, but revealed
nothing about himself. To compensate, he talked about the scenery, the
weather and the towns they passed through, until he discovered that he
had put them to sleep. He harrumphed to himself and drove on - silently.
Two hundred miles later, Dan deposited them at the door of a small
hotel in another small town. "Check in guys for the night and don't leave the hotel. Sleep
well. Have breakfast early tomorrow and be ready to leave at eight. A
driver named Vic will pick you up in a green van."
That night, after another unremarkable meal, they returned to their
room and stripped for their nightly ablutions. Washing each other in
the bath had become one of their favorite pastimes. As they languished
in the shower, Tom slowly stroked every inch of Toby's
body. In response, the boy leaned back against the tile, eyes closed, mouth slack,
sucking in quick breaths when his lover's fingers touched a particularly sensitive spot.
Tom raked his tongue
across Toby's lips and remarked, "Do you realize you're loosing your body hair?"
Without opening his eyes, Toby responded, "Probably because I quit taking the
hormone injections. Um, yeah. Stroke there again. I only have to shave
every few days now too. Ah, yeah. Do that again."
Tom encircled Toby's penis with a thumb and forefinger. "With less
pubic hair, your penis is easier to get to," he crooned with a wicked
Rising to the tease, Toby captured Tom's ear with his lips and whispered, "Anything for my lover."
Later, they lay in each other's arms sharing lazy kisses and caresses. "You're inspiring me," Toby volunteered quietly.
"To what?" Tom breathed into his ear.
"To do something really great with these erections of ours," he
responded, snaking his tongue between Tom's lips. "We seem to have
worked ourselves up into a state."
"Give it your best shot Love. I haven't ejaculated all day."
"Me neither. This could be very enjoyable, and take a long, long time," Toby responded in a husky voice.
"Let's go for it," Tom barked, suddenly unable to wait another minute
and Toby quickly turned around in the bed. They lay on their sides,
each powerfully aroused. The boys' heads
bobbed frantically for a few minutes until they groaned in orgasm and
fed their seed to each other.
Neither moved for many minutes, heads
resting contentedly on his partner's thigh, holding the hard object of
his desire in his mouth, inhaling the scent of his lover. Finally, as one, they began to nurse again,
swirling their tongues around the most sensitive parts, licking the
shafts and sucking the testicles, hands roaming freely, stroking here
and there, propelling them into another inevitable round of ultimate
In tandem, each raised his partner's leg, exposing his anus.
They massaged there for a long time, producing quiet moans of pleasure.
When they could stand the stimulation no longer, each boy inserted a finger
into his partner and gently massaged his prostate. Electrified by the
contact, they began to nurse in earnest. Mouths milking and
bobbing rapidly, their blood coursed faster; breaths came short;
perspiration appeared; nerves neared overload. With muffled groans,
their bodies tensed in orgasmic pleasure and poured forth their rewards.
Much later, after more rounds of love making, they lay awake in the
dark. Toby's head rested on his lover's shoulder. Tom's arm encircled
him protectively. "Wonder how much further we have to go?" Toby asked
"Don't have a clue Baby, and I don't have one about what we're going to
find when we get there," Tom ventured and kissed him on the forehead.
"I trust Father Benton. And, as long as I can spend the rest of my life
holding you, and loving you and making love to you, I don't care where
we go, as long as we don't have to see the inside of another Church of
the Holy Conception."
smiled up at him. "Amen and well-said Love of My Life. I'm content then
to go anywhere with you." They kissed to seal the bargain.
And so their journey progressed. They were handed off two more times in
as many days, each to another van and driver. Civilization thinned as
they rode along. They passed miles of fields where automated
farming machinery toiled. The van sped on unimpeded except to slow
enough to move safely around automated machines reparing the highway.
They stopped only long enough to relieve themselves and to replace fuel
cells in the van.
Gradually, the fertile fields disappeared and the
road began to climb into a range of mountains. Abandoned towns appeared
occasionally where weeds choked the streets. They questioned this and
were told that since all new births took place in propagation centers
in the cities, rural life was literally dying out.
At the end of the third day, darkness found them in a tiny town, a grubby crossroads, half abandoned,
in the foothills of the mountains. The van stopped in front of a small inn. The driver turned and handed them two laser pistols.
"Why do we need these?" Toby asked, shrinking back from the offered items.
The driver pressed the pistols into their hands. "Like I said,
civilization is dying out here, so times are dangerous. This part of
the country is becoming lawless. After you check in, don't leave the
inn. Carry these when you leave the room. They are set to penetrate an
inch of steel. And always wear your caps and contact lenses. The
authorities won't be looking for you out here, but folk legends are
spreading in these parts that people with gray eyes and light hair are somehow
different and to be feared. So keep a low profile."
Toby had been
particularly affectionate that day and required constant physical
contact with Tom. Inside the hotel room, after their evening meal, he hugged himself to Tom, burying his face
under his lover's chin. "Tom, undress me and take me to bed. Make love
to me for a long time. Please," he cooed in a low
Tom had been excited by the contact with Toby and needed no
further invitation. He slowly undressed his lover, kissing each portion
of Toby's skin as it was revealed, making the boy writhe with each
touch of his lips. At last, when Tom could finally look at his totally
nude beauty, he picked the object of his desire up and laid him on
the bed. Toby immediately held out his arms and begged Tom to join him.
Tom threw off his clothes and slid onto the bed.
Toby was needful and crawled into Tom's arms whimpering, "Hold me Love. Please don't let go. Make love to me slowly tonight."
Tom kissed him briefly, then studied his handsome face, trying to understand
this uncharacteristic behavior. Normally, Toby took the lead in their
love making as quickly and confidently as did he. But, his thoughts were
interrupted, as Toby responded wantonly, capturing his mouth for a deep,
long kiss while one of his hands roamed over Tom's body and the other
stroked his penis.
Tom smoothed his hair and kissed his eyes. He licked Toby's
sweet lips and planted another kiss. He continued to leave
small kisses in a trail leading from Toby's mouth, to the soft
tissue of his throat, to the muscular plains of his chest, down to his
nipples, nursing there gently until they were erect and swollen.
"Um, yes Love! Make love to me! My body is on fire tonight!"
Tom's tongue found that wonder of nature, Toby's navel, and cleaned it,
sending the boy into a fit of expletives. His fingers knotted in Tom's
hair. "Yes! Yes!" Toby said frantically. "Lower. Kiss lower,"
motivating Tom to move his ministrations to a point just above Toby's
"There! Stroke me there Love!" He was shaking with desire.
Tom opened his eyes and looked at the place he was kissing. "Toby!
There's a red mark, a line, about three inches long just above your
pubic hair! Did you burn yourself?"
With a quivering voice, "I don't remember burning myself. It feels so good when you touch me there. Do it again!"
"What's happening Toby? You're behaving strangely, and now this. Are you all right?" The thoughts running through his mind
"I'm fine Love. I feel great. Please make love to me."
"Not until I find out what's going on." He left Toby curled into a
ball on the bed to find his mobile phone. Breathing heavily, he savagely punched numbers
on the key pad and waited for the connection to the satellite. Father Benton answered
"Father, something's happening to Toby," Tom shouted. "I'm scared. A red mark has
appeared just above his pubic hair and he's behaving as if he's
delirious," Tom said in one breath. And, as an afterthought, "And,
he's lost most of his body hair." He took a deep
breath, tears filling his eyes. "You said I should call you if
I needed you. Well, I don't know how to handle this."
"When did Toby begin to change?"
"He's been acting a little strange all day, but the red mark just appeared tonight."
"Now, listen carefully. Take a deep breath and calm down. Are you with me?"
"Good. Now, believe what I say. Toby is perfectly all right. Nothing,
absolutely nothing is wrong. You must go to him, and comfort him.
And, above all, you must trust him. Do exactly
what he says. Do you understand me Tom?"
"Yes sir," Tom responded in a contrite voice.
In the kindest voice Tom had ever heard, Benton said,
"Son, you were perfectly right to call
me. I know you were frightened. I would have been in your place. Now,
go to your beloved and pour out all the love you have in your soul to
"I will Father."
"Good. Call me in the morning." Benton broke the connection.
Tom quickly moved back to the bed and looked down at the huddled form
there. He crawled in and touched Toby tentatively. "I'm so sorry I left you Sweetheart. I was
scared, but I'm okay now."
Toby uncurled himself and smiled up at Tom. "That's okay My Love. I'm
all right. In fact, I've never felt so good. Just make love to me Tom."
"I will Sweetheart, but please tell me what you want. I'm kinda at a loss here as to what's going on."
Toby pulled him down for a long kiss, then murmured instructions and their ardor rekindled,
more powerful than before. As Tom stroked the red mark, Toby writhed and began a running account of his feelings.
"Oh God, it's so good. Yes Baby, yes! It feels wonderful. I've never
felt anything this good." He unconsciously reached out and began to
stroke Tom's penis.
As Tom kissed and stroked the place that gave his lover so much
pleasure, he noticed with slight alarm that Toby's testicle sack had drawn up into his
body and his penis had done the same.
But, these thoughts were diverted when the red mark on Toby's abdomen
began to recede slowly. As it did so the flesh began to open. The
breath stuck in Tom's throat and he began to panic once more.
Toby quickly pulled him into another kiss, then cupped his face with his hands.
"Tom, look at me." They stared intently, eyes inches
apart. "Look at me Tom." Toby sucked Tom's soul into those colorless
eyes. "I love you so much. It's you I want to mate with me. Touch me
there." Tom's fingers caressed the slit in Toby's body. "Yesss, Love.
More. Yes." He slowly spread his legs, their eyes still locked in the stare. Toby said, "Tom climb
on top of me." As he did so, Toby guided Tom's penis into the slit,
and both boys sighed with pleasure. Toby clenched his abdominal muscles
around the hard shaft.
Love, it feels so wonderful. You're mating with me. Deeper Love,
deeper. All the way." Toby placed his hands on Tom's buttocks, urging
him on until Tom's penis was completely engulfed.
"Ahhhhhh," Tom breathed, closing his eyes to savor the exquisite
feeling. Tom began to tremble, both with desire and trepidation.
okay Love. You're doing fine. Everything's okay. Relax. Rest your body
on mine." Tom collapsed, relaxing completely, and Toby placed his arms
around him. "Oh Love, now we are truly one," Toby whispered
into his ear. "Now, it begins," he soothed, stroking Tom's
With those words, something began to tickle the tip of Tom's penis, causing him to inhale
sharply. The tickling became a tingling, slowly making
its way up his urethra. Both boys tensed. Tom's penis swelled and
hardened as blood rushed into it.
"Ahhhhhh," they exclaimed at the same time. Toby's arms tightened about his lover.
"We're both feeling the same thing, the pleasure," Toby gasped. Tom
couldn't speak he was so caught up in the sensations coursing through
Suddenly, the tingling reached Tom's prostate, and what felt like orgasms delivered
on the tips of lightening bolts hit them as Toby began to draw
the semen out in a steady stream.
They cried aloud; their muscles clenched; they held on to one another
convulsively; tears flowed; breaths stuck in their throats; sweat
poured - for long minutes. Then, the tingling slowly
receded and the sensations stopped. Toby relaxed his abdominal muscles,
and the boys collapsed into a spent heap, gasping.
When their breathing returned to something resembling normal, Tom
raised up and they stared at each other in wonder, mouths
agape. Toby whispered, "Love, it is not finished yet. You must remove yourself from me."
It was only then that Tom realized that his penis was still buried in
Toby. He carefully extracted himself, staring in wonder
at the place of their coupling. He reached out to touch it and Toby
gently stilled his hand.
"Please don't touch it until it is
finished." They watched with astonishment as the flesh closed itself,
leaving something faintly resembling a scar.
Tom lay down and took Toby into his arms. Their emotions were running
high; the air fairly crackled with them. Something was needed to break
Tom sniffed and puckered
his nose. The air was redolent with the scent of the sex storm. A
snicker escaped his throat and escalated into a full belly laugh. "Man,
this place smells like sex education
class on intercourse day." Toby joined in the laughter. "The
are clammy with sweat and we smell like
yaks in heat." He looked over at the second bed in the room. "Are
you as whipped as I am?" Toby nodded. "Then, showers can wait until
morning. Let's move over there."
They climbed into the other bed and were asleep instantly. Questions
and speculations about what had happened this night could wait.
Toby roused from a dreamless sleep. He opened his eyes to find Tom
staring at him with a smile. "Wow," Tom said in a low voice.
Toby smiled back. "What?"
"This is what you really
"What do you mean?"
"Come on." Tom took his hand and ushered him into the bath, positioning them before the mirror.
"Wow," Toby exclaimed.
Tom snickered. "I said that already. Babe, if I thought you were
drop-dead gorgeous before, I don't know how to describe you now."
The night had transformed Toby somehow. The curl had disappeared from
his hair, leaving it straight and silky, with silver highlights, falling casually over his
forehead. His facial features had softened somewhat around his almond shaped eyes. Tom stroked the
soft skin of his cheek. No beard would dare appear there again. In fact, Toby
was hairless except for his head, brows and a thin line of pubic hair.
His skin, stretched over the angular planes of muscle, was blemish free
and now radiated a golden tan. His penis and testicles had
returned to their former state, but the pseudo-scar just above the
pubic hair remained.
Still staring at the mirror, Tom shook his head in wonder. "Does this scare you?"
Toby shook his head, smiling at their reflection. "I don't know why, but no. In fact, I've
never felt so alive before. I guess this is
the real me."
Tom kissed the back of his ear. "If you're content with the changes,
then so am I. There must be some explanation for them and I suppose
we'll find out what they are when we get to where we're going." Tom
jerked out of his contemplation and exclaimed, "Oh shit!" and ran back
into the bedroom to check his watch. "It's almost eight o'clock Babe.
Our ride will be here any minute."
They took a hurried shower, mourning the lack of time to touch each
other. Tom brushed his teeth while Toby muttered quietly, trying to manage the new texture of his hair with a brush and comb.
Minutes later, Tom stood in the bedroom, in clean underwear, shoving
dirty clothes into his back pack when a knock sounded at the door. He
fished the laser pistol out of his back pack and slid it under a pillow on the
corner of the bed.
Opening the door slowly, he saw two smiling young men wearing battered
caps and rough,
worn clothing. They entered and greeted him. "You must be Tom. I'm Nick and this is John," the taller
of the two stated. Before Tom could respond, Toby strolled in from the
bath naked. Nick frowned and consulted a folder in his hand,
checking a photograph there. He looked up, apparently in shock.
"Toby?" he asked in an unsure voice.
"Yes, I'm Toby," he answered, with a hint of fear in his voice, having seen Nick's reaction to his appearance.
Nick's eyes narrowed as he perused the boy critically. "It's happened," he stated to no
one in particular.
"Yes, he's changed," Tom said, wrapping his arms around Toby protectively.
Nick continued to stare at first one of the boys, then the other.
Finally, his gaze settled on the pseudo-scar on Toby's abdomen. "Did
you mate?" he asked in an awe-inspired voice.
"Yeah. What of it?" Tom responded, his words dripping with warning. He inched closer to the pistol on the bed.
Nick, whooped and poked John in the
ribs. "It's really happened!" he shouted. Both men laughed with joy as
Tom and Toby stood there in confusion. "You really mated?" They nodded.
"Oh man, this is fantastic!" Nick pulled them into an embrace. "Take care of each other,
are really, really special," he whispered.
Seeing that they were completely bewildered, Nick became all business. He explained that they were about to
embark on the last leg of their journey, and that they would be
traveling through land that had been abandoned by the law. For self
protection, he gave them changes of clothes, just as rough and worn as
his own, the better to blend in with the few natives left in the
region. He reminded them to wear their caps and contact lenses and to bring along their laser pistols.
Still totally confused, they loaded their gear into a disreputable looking van with dents and
peeling paint. But inside, the vehicle was a model of the latest
comforts and technology. John reported that the van was armored and had
a range of a thousand miles.
As they left town, Nick turned on to a narrow highway with pavement
obviously left to the mercy of the elements. The roadway soon lifted
sharply into the mountains, making many blind curves. Progress was slow.
Just outside of town, John donned a communications headset and reported in to someone.
>From his half of the conversation, Tom and Toby gathered that the other party was overjoyed with
the news of Toby's changes. Just before he signed off, John gave a
mischievous look at Tom and Toby, then stated that a blessed event
might possibly be forthcoming. The reaction of the other party required
John to move the headset away from his ear.
With a grin, he looked back at the boys and said, "Uh guys, they're really
happy for you." Toby and Tom dissolved into embarrassed giggles. They didn't know what to make of these two guys.
Tom suddenly exclaimed, "Damn, I forgot to call Father Benton!" and reached for his mobile phone.
John said, "Don't bother. No doubt he's being notified at this moment, along with the rest of the network."
With a determined sigh, Toby said, "Look guys, we've been kept in the dark for nearly a week.
Can you tell us where we're going and why we've had to go through all
John nodded. "I'll leave the major details to the people we work for, but I
tell you that we're headed for what used to be an abandoned mining
town. About forty years ago, a group, mostly scientists, settled there,
primarily because they didn't go along with the government programs of
propagation. Initially, they were laughed out of the then current
scientific and political communities because of their differing
theories, but eventually, they had to move for their own safety. That's
why we had to bring you here as we did. Times are getting dangerous.
The government here and everywhere else is seeing all of their efforts
to save mankind from extinction fail. Unfortunately, the more they
fail, the tighter they feel they have to control things. In their
panic, they refuse to
look at any alternative path." He gave Toby and Tom a serious glance.
"If the authorities had known that you two wanted to leave the Church
of the Holy Conception, they would have literally chained you to your
beds at night
to keep you there."
Tom and Toby shuddered, then Tom asked, "Will Father Benton be in trouble over this?"
"No, as you've no doubt suspected, he's a covert operative, along with
hundreds of other people, mostly priests, all over the world. As long as women keep
getting bred every day, the priests pretty much run their own show, and
Father Benton has made a practice of transferring people around." John
grinned wickedly. "And, some of the people get lost every once in a
while. The government makes a half hearted effort to recover them, but
they never do."
Toby frowned in thought. "What is it exactly that Father Benton does for you?"
John replied succinctly, "He looks for signs of the Epicene Effect."
John teased, "Figured I'd have to explain that to ya." Then, seriously,
"The Epicene Effect is what the scientists call it, and I'll let them
give you a technical explanation. Considering that all men are now
doped up with hormones, it's hard to spot. About the best that Father
Benton, and all the other operatives, can do is look for (1)
with prime sperm tests, (3) with light gray eyes, and (4) light-colored
hair. The characteristics are the same for all races. Not that
different races mean much anymore. But, as you can imagine, that has
caused some raised eyebrows at the propagation centers, like when a
black baby is born with light hair and gray eyes. But they are just
happy that a baby was born. Also, the one's who are likely
to experience the Epicene Effect are under fifteen years of age. You
have all the characteristics, so that made you two prime
rode along in silence for a few minutes. Toby was trying to sort out
all that happened to him in the last twelve hours. Finally, he said, "I
we are. And it surprises me a little that I'm not frightened about it."
John said seriously, "Probably because it feels natural to you,
even though it goes against everything you believe about the human
He searched the boy's face for a reaction and got it. The corner of
Toby's mouth twitched up into a serene smile. "You're right. All of
this seems natural to me." He
leaned over and gave Tom a kiss. "Father Benton said that God had
another plan. I wonder if I'm part of it."
Suddenly, Nick rounded one of the blind curves and braked the van hard,
throwing everyone forward. A large boulder about six
feet across rested in the middle of the highway. A steep slope up the mountain on the
left and a steep drop on the right made going
around the obstruction impossible.
"Something's rotten in these here parts," Nick muttered. "That wasn't
here two hours ago. Shit!" They surveyed the landscape on either side
of the van. The road was cut out of a mountainside dotted with a forest
of huge boulders, both upslope and downslope. "Those rocks could hide a
A hail of large stones rained down from the mountainside and bounced off the van. John
quickly activated a control panel in front of him. He twisted a
dial as he watched images appear on the screen. "Look Nick. There's four
of them hidden up in the rocks." Toby and Tom saw four green images on
the screen, then looked up at the mountainside, but didn't
"Who are they?" Tom asked.
"They're just poor devils, mostly older guys that got left behind when everyone else moved closer to a
city. Now, civilization has left them and they're returning to the
"Will they attack us?" Toby asked, fingering his laser pistol.
John fished around under his seat and extracted a laser rifle. "Yeah,
if we sit here long enough. They're just looking for food or stuff to
trade with other guys like them." Then, to Nick, "Thank God there's only four of them. We gotta scare 'em
off before we deal with that big rock in the middle of the road."
"Yeah, go ahead," Nick said, uneasily. "I'll watch the screen for you." John got out on the right side of the van, keeping it
between him and the mountainside. Nick tweaked the controls. "You're on John."
John aimed the rifle up at the mountainside and fired. A red
lightening bolt splintered rock and kicked up dust. "A little higher
up," Nick instructed.
Before John could fire again, a blast of small stones hit the right
side of the van, making a deafening noise. Spiderweb cracks appeared in
the windows, and John fell to the ground. "John!" Nick bellowed as he
jumped out of the van.
"Nick, watch out!" Toby cried as he saw dozens of rough looking men advancing toward them from the rocks below. They wielded
slingshots, swinging them above their heads, ready to loosen another
volley of stones. Toby grabbed his laser pistol and kicked open the van
door. He fired into the mob, watching a burst of red light sever the
arm of the man closest to the van. He fired blindly, again and again.
Tom joined him, firing shot after shot, gradually driving the men back to cover.
"Nick, how is John?" Toby yelled.
"Just knocked out. Help me get him inside." Tom scampered out,
grabbed John's shoulders and dragged him the back of the van.
Another rain of large stones thundered down on the van from the
mountainside above. On the right, heads began to reappear from the
rocks. "Keep firing down the slope!" Tom shouted to Toby. "Keep 'em pinned behind the
rocks!" Meanwhile, Tom opened the drivers door and fired up the mountainside. Nick
grabbed the laser rifle and joined him,
firing burst after burst of deadly red light. Pebbles skittered down and bushes
erupted in flames. Tom spotted
at lest two heads bob up and then disappear. "They're on the run. Aim
just a little higher," he yelled to Nick. Another shot. And Tom saw
scampering up the mountainside and over a ridge.
"They're gone," Nick said, "but keep your pistol trained up there." He
motioned to Toby and they fired several more times down the slope. As they crept closer to the rocks, they saw what was left
of the mob scrambling away five hundred feet below. In their wake were
the charred bodies of perhaps a dozen of their fellows. The stench of
burned flesh made Toby's stomach heave. He knelt and vomited. Nick
retrieved a canteen of water, and Toby rinsed his mouth.
Returning to the van, the three stood there for several heartbeats, trembling, sweating and breathing heavily.
At length, Nick said, "Let's get inside guys. This place is too
vulnerable. We need to get to a safer stretch of road so I can look
after John." They covered John
with a blanket and took their seats.
Looking forward, through the windshield, Toby asked, "What about the boulder?"
"Watch this," Nick said with an evil grin. He flipped open a panel and
pressed a button. A red beam shot out of the nose of the van and the
top of the boulder
evaporated into dust. Another dozen blasts and the obstruction was reduced
to gravel. "Laser cannon," Nick explained. He started the engine and
cautiously drove on. Opening the windows, he bid Tom and Toby to keep
watch with their pistols.
Several miles later, they came to a small valley devoid of trees. Surveying the landscape, Nick
parked beside the road. "If anyone is out there, at least we can see
them coming. You guys keep a lookout. Shoot anything that moves." He
crawled to the back of the van and knelt over John. Patting his face,
he crooned, "Come on John Boy. This is Nick. Come back to me Baby. I
John opened his eyes and winked. "I'm awake. I just wanted to hear you say that," he said with a smile.
Nick laughed. "You shit. You scared me. How long have you been awake?"
He gave his lover a long, sweet kiss before he could answer.
"The van was moving again when I woke up. I tried to sit up, but my head hurt too bad. So I just laid here."
Nick examined the left side of his head. "The skin's not broken, but you've got a knot
there." He opened a medical kit, fished out a cannister and sprayed
medication on the bump, immediately taking away the pain. Then, he opened a bottle and extracted a
capsule. He put the pill in John's mouth, lifted his head and held the
canteen to his lips. "We need to get going. You want to ride back here
or up front?"
"I feel better already. I'll ride with you." He sat up and saw Tom and
Toby staring at him. Suddenly, his eyes filled with tears. He drew them
into his arms, hugged them tightly and kissed their cheeks. "I'm so
sorry," he whispered.
"What for?" Tom asked.
John looked sheepish. "We were here to protect you, and we almost blew it. I should have expected that gang to blindside us."
Toby kissed John's cheek and smiled at him. "We're safe now, aren't we?"
Nick laughed. "Yeah, thanks mostly to you guys and your quick thinking. Where did you learn to shoot like that?"
Tom and Toby looked at each other and shrugged. "We've never fired weapons before. We were just scared shitless," Tom quipped.
"Then that's what I call learning under fire," John retorted. And, they all had a good laugh as they drove on.
Further conversation in the van was sporadic until Nick turned off the highway
onto a gravel road that led into a thick pine forest. "We're almost
there," he said as the van picked up speed. The road leveled off but
twisted and turned for a few more miles through the trees until the
forest gave way to a mountain meadow bisected by a wide, shallow
stream. There, the road ended.
Without pause, Nick drove into the water
and headed upstream toward its outflow from a fracture in a towering slab
of granite outcropping five hundred feet high and
just as wide. As they approached the fracture, the stream curved around
a large boulder. From this point of view, it was easy to see that the
split in the rock was about thirty feet wide.
"We're home guys," John said with pride as the van drove into the towering fissure.
To be continued.
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