Author's note: until now all of my posted stories (except The Nexus, which mostly didn't take place in our world at all) have been set back in the halcyon days of the mid to late Seventies, when shorts were short and kids had no computers, mobile phones or anything else much to distract them. But here, just for a change, is a modern-day tale. And, while it does deal with my usual theme of outsiders, this one is really just a fairly straightforward story of friendship.
I would like to thank my friend JJ, who is an author himself and has been contributing here far longer than I have, for suggesting the initial idea from which this story grew.
Of course, the usual disclaimer applies: this story deals with physical, sexual and emotional relationships between minors, so if that sort of material is illegal where you are, or if you are not old enough to be reading such material, please go away now. Thank you.
Monday March 17th
It’s not easy being a genius.
Well, okay, maybe ‘genius’ is overstating it a bit. You can call it ‘bright’ or ‘clever’ if you prefer. My mother usually calls me ‘gifted’… anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.
My name is Martin Gillespie and I’m twelve years old. This is my journal. I decided to keep one because I think it’ll be interesting to look back at it when I’m famous… if I live that long.
We have just moved here from London. ‘Here’ is a village in Kent, and it’s completely different to living in London, where there was always lots going on and you could hear sirens even in the middle of the night. Of course, that’s mainly why my mother wanted to move: she was convinced I’d end up getting murdered if we stayed in London. Probably that’s not true – after all, we lived in a fairly good area, and because I don’t go to school I quite often went three or four days without leaving the house. But at least once every two or three weeks there was a story on the news about some boy or other getting stabbed or shot in London, and in the end she just decided that she didn’t want me growing up ‘in a place like that’.
To be honest I think I prefer it here. Because we’ve only just moved I don’t have any friends, but that’s fine because I didn’t have any friends in London either. Like I said, I’m home schooled, mainly because my mother doesn’t think there are any schools that could keep me engaged. Home schooling is fine by me: I learn stuff I would never learn at school, and I don’t waste time learning stuff that’s never going to be of any use to me. Besides, I’d have problems if I went to school: when I used to go to primary school – until my mother withdrew me when I was nine – the other kids used to think I was weird because I didn’t think the way they did, and because I’m not interested in football or pop music (I mean the plastic commercial stuff that gets played on most radio stations) or rubbishy reality TV programmes. And I used to think (and still do) that the other kids were boring and shallow and, frankly, thick. I don’t need friends like that.
Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a friend, or at least someone to play with. At other times I don’t think I need friends at all: I’m usually perfectly happy on my own. Which is just as well, because the chances of meeting a boy of my own age with an IQ like mine (my mother says it's 158, and I suppose she should know), are almost non-existent, and I can’t imagine that I’d be able to interact properly with someone less intelligent than I am. All the same, sometimes I wish...
That’s one of the reasons I said at the start of this entry that it’s not easy being a genius: it can be lonely. Not often: as I said, I’m generally happy being on my own. But just occasionally I wish I was just another normal kid, with an average IQ, happy to kick a ball around with other kids…
But really that’s a stupid way to think. After all, being brainy means that I’ve got a far better chance of doing something useful with my life than most kids have: there’s no reason why I should ever end up stacking shelves at Tesco’s or sweeping the streets. I’m not really sure what I want to do yet, and my mother says I don’t need to make a firm decision yet, anyway: for now I just need to follow the obvious path of GCSEs, A levels, Oxford and then a PhD. By then I should have a good idea of what I want to be.
Of course she also wants me to be good enough at music to be able to use that as a career if I want to, which is why I spend a couple of hours a day practising the piano. Not that I really need to practise that much, because for some reason I seem able to play almost by instinct sometimes, at least when I’m improvising. I love classical music, especially Bach, but I also like a lot of contemporary music. My mother doesn’t like me listening to metal – not even symphonic metal - so I have to wear headphones when I use the player in my room, or stick to using the pocket CD player, but I improvise on it sometimes during my piano practice. It seems to speak to me, somehow.
So, what else should I say about the twelve-year-old me? Well, I’m four feet eleven inches tall and I weigh a little under six stone, which makes me sort of skinny. I’ve got mid-brown hair which I wear fairly long – it covers my ears, anyway – and blue eyes, and my mother says I’m really good-looking, though I suppose all mothers say that about their kids. I play chess quite well and I’m learning to play bridge, but I’m no good at any physical games because I never get a chance to practise (even if I wanted to) and because I’m skinny and a bit lacking in muscles. I do quite a lot of walking, though, and I suppose now we’re living in the country I’ll be able to do some cycling, too – my mother never liked me cycling in London because of the traffic.
I keep talking about ‘my mother’, not ‘my parents’, but I do have a father. He’s just away a lot, because he works for a firm of international couriers and he’s usually off flying round the world delivering confidential documents and stuff like that. My mother used to be a university lecturer before she gave it up to teach me. And I have a younger brother, too, but he has a boringly low IQ – well, okay, 110 isn’t actually low except in my terms, but still… Anyway, he’s ordinary enough to go to the local primary school. His name is Miles and he’s ten years old. We get on okay, but we don’t spend a lot of time with each other.
I suppose I should explain that comment in the third paragraph about ‘if I live that long’. Well, sometimes I feel as if I don’t belong here. I don’t just mean in this family, or in this village, but in this world: sometimes I think the kids at primary school who called me ‘alien’ were right, that I’m a completely different species to everyone else. And sometimes I feel so weird, so alien if you like, that I think I’m a mistake, and that maybe it would be better if I killed myself. I don’t know what happens to you after you die – if anything happens at all, that is – but sometimes I think I’d prefer to find out than to hang around somewhere where I don’t belong.
But most of the time I think there are still plenty of interesting things to find out about, and so on the whole I think I’ll hang around for a little longer. Besides, one of the interesting things that’s happening right now is that my body is changing. I don’t know a lot about sex – certainly I’ve never been taught about it, and I’d be far too embarrassed to ask my mother about it. If I had a computer I suppose I could look things up somehow, but my mother has a stone-age view of computers, which she thinks are more dangerous than the North Circular Road in the rush hour, and so she’s never been willing to buy us one. And, although I know the basics of how to use a search engine, I am certainly not going to risk typing in ‘sex’ on the public computers at the library. I’ve been saving my allowance for a while now, and eventually I’ll have enough to buy my own computer, and then things will be a lot easier.
Anyway, for the moment I don’t actually know why my penis keeps getting hard, or why I‘ve got some small hairs growing round the base of it, or why I’ve been having some weird dreams, or why when I’m out shopping I sometimes find myself looking at boys in a whole new way… I can’t remember being remotely interested in what other kids looked like when I was at primary school, so I really don’t know why I’ve started thinking that some of the boys I see are particularly good-looking…. probably it’s just a phase, or something: either it’s normal, and I’m growing up, or it’s because I really am weird, like the other kids used to tell me.
So that’s me. I’m intending to jot stuff down in this book whenever something interesting happens, so I won’t be making an entry every day, as I would if it were a diary. Most days go by without anything interesting happening. But maybe now that we’ve moved to a new house that will change…
The Easter school holidays had just started. Although Martin was home-schooled he didn’t work during the school holidays, unless he actually wanted to (which did happen, mostly because there was nothing else he wanted to do instead). But now that he had a new environment to explore he was happy to leave his studies for a while.
He thought about taking his bike, but then decided that he might as well have a look at the immediate area first, and for that he could stay on foot. So he walked down to the crossroads in the centre of the village and stood there for a moment trying to decide which way to go, before choosing to keep going straight ahead. After about a quarter of a mile there was a narrow lane leading off to the left, and so he took that. There was no traffic at all, so he was able to walk along the middle of the lane, enjoying the peace and quiet. There was a tractor off in the distance somewhere, but apart from that he could hear nothing except for the birds singing.
He walked on, not thinking about anything in particular, until finally the lane met a main road. Of course by London standards the traffic on this road was light, but there was no pavement and Martin didn’t want to try just walking along the edge of the road, which he didn’t think would be safe, especially since in both directions the road disappeared round a sharp bend. However, there was a footpath leading off to his left at the point where the lane met the main road, and that looked an altogether safer option, so he climbed over the stile and set off along the path, which ran past a farmyard and out into a field beyond.
The path led him back in the general direction of the village: it seemed to run parallel with the lane, at least to start with, though gradually it diverged from it.
Martin followed the path for a couple of hundred yards and then realised he needed a pee. There wasn’t a soul in sight and he could quite simply have unzipped his jeans and got on with it where he stood, but he didn’t feel comfortable doing that. Off to his left was looked like a small copse of trees, so he climbed through the fence and walked in that direction. And when he got there he found that it was actually a dip in the ground, maybe fifteen feet deep and fifty yards long by twenty yards wide, with trees growing around the edges. The floor of the dip was largely devoid of vegetation except for a few patches of brambles and nettles, mostly at one end.
He climbed down into the dip and, once he had had his pee, explored it carefully. About halfway along was a tree that was growing out horizontally from the bank, with two trunks, each about four inches in diameter, one about a foot above and a foot to one side of the other. The lower trunk was maybe three feet above the ground.
He climbed up onto it and sat down, resting his arms on the other trunk: it could have been grown that way especially to accommodate him. And there he sat, thinking about this and that, while the afternoon rolled slowly onwards.
Wednesday March 19th
I found a really good place today: it’s a sort of depression in the corner of a field, deep enough to be out of the wind and sheltered by trees growing all around the edge of it. Their branches seem to grow most of the way over the top of it, too, which means it might even be quite dry even if it rains a bit. And there’s even a place to sit. I think I’ll be going back there a lot – it’s only about half a mile from the house, so any time I need to get away for a while it’ll be perfect.
I needed to find somewhere like it, and I’m really lucky to have found it so soon after we moved. Our garden in London was quite long, and at the far end was an overgrown area with a large rhododendron bush in the middle, and whenever I wanted to be on my own I used to go and sit in the middle of it. Nobody would bother me there – even Miles was decent about it, never interrupting me if I was out there. Our new garden is smaller and there aren’t any bushes, and anyway now I’m a bit older it feels nicer having somewhere away from the house. The only thing I’ll have to be careful about is the weather: I don’t mind a bit of rain, and as I said, I think the trees would keep most of it off anyway. But I really wouldn’t want to get caught that far from home in a thunderstorm….
Miles thinks I’m a baby because I’m scared of storms, but there are good scientific reasons not to like them: there’s a terrific amount of power in a lightning bolt, and if one hits you, you’re probably dead. Occasionally people get hit and live, but I really don’t want to find out what that’s like. Okay, maybe it is silly to be scared of them when you’re indoors, but I can’t help it. And at least I’m not scared of spiders, like Miles is. So, anyway, I’ll need to keep an eye on the weather forecast before I go out to the special place in future.
So far the move has gone really well. Of course, I know that things will go wrong sooner or later, because they always do, but maybe it won’t happen for a while yet. I hope not, anyway.
Miles Gillespie had been out exploring too, though he had taken his bike. He rode as far as his new school, which was about a mile and a half away in the neighbouring village – and he really liked the idea of being able to ride to school on his own, which was something he would never have been allowed to do in London – and then he rode round to the recreation ground next to the school, where some boys of around his own age were kicking a football about. He watched them for a bit and then asked if he could join in.
“Are you any good?” asked one of the boys, sceptically.
“Okay, then. You, me and him against those three.”
Miles was quite good at football – and, unlike his brother, he really liked the game, too. He always watched matches when they were on the television (Martin usually retired to his bedroom to listen to music when the football came on), and once his father had managed to get tickets to watch Arsenal play in one of the midweek games in the Champions League. It was quite expensive going to watch games live, but he had really enjoyed it. It was one of the few negative things about moving to the country, in fact: it would be a lot harder to get to a real game now they were living so far out of London.
By the time he went home he had made five new friends, four of whom went to his new school, so he reckoned he would know everything he needed to know about it long before the holidays ended. One of the boys, Graham, lived only half a mile from the Gillespies' new house and they cycled back as far as Graham's house together. Graham asked if he wanted to come in for while, but Miles said that he had to get home for tea.
“You can come and call for me tomorrow if you like, though,” he added. “We can go out on our bikes, and you can show me round a bit.”
“Okay. About half-past nine?”
So next morning Graham turned up just after half-past nine. He could hear music coming from inside the house: someone was playing the piano. At first he thought it was a recording, but then the music stopped, went back a bit, played the same short passage a couple of times and then carried on, so clearly it was a real person playing. Graham rang the doorbell, and a half-minute or so later Miles opened the door.
“Who's playing?” Graham asked him.
“Oh, that's just my brother.”
“He's good, isn't he?”
“Yes, but that's because he's not human: he's just a weird alien computer done up to look like a human boy. Hey, Mars!” he added, yelling over his shoulder. “Come and meet my friend!”
The music stopped abruptly and Graham saw another boy come into the hall. He was maybe four inches taller than Miles, and his hair was a little darker and straight where Miles's was wavy, and his face was thinner than Miles's. But they had the same blue eyes and slightly upturned nose, which was enough to make it fairly obvious that they were brothers.
“Mars, this is Graham; Graham, this is the alien who pretends to be my brother. I call him Mars, because that's where he probably comes from,” Miles added.
“I've told you, Mars is too cold to support life,” said Martin, matter-of-factly.
“Yes, but you're not really alive, are you? You're just a strange alien computer chip in a plastic body.”
“He's not really, is he?” asked Graham, not completely convinced that Miles was joking.
“Well, probably not. He's just got a brain that's too big for his head, that's all. I mean he's okay, as brothers go, but he's strange. He doesn't even like football, do you, Mars?”
“It's a stupid game,” confirmed Martin. “I can't see the point.”
“Bloody hell, he really is an alien!” exclaimed Graham. “How can anyone not like football?”
“Told you,” said Miles. “Anyway, I'll go and get my bike, and then we can go. Sorry for interrupting your practice, Mars, but I thought you'd like to see that people who live here are normal, too. Tell mum I'll be back for lunch.”
Martin nodded and went back to his piano, picking up, so far as Graham could tell, from exactly where he had stopped playing. Miles stepped outside, shut the door and led Graham round the side of the house to the garage, where he collected his bike.
“Actually, Mars is okay, even if he is weird,” he said. “His real name's Martin, but obviously I never call him that. But he's better than a lot of older brothers: he never pushes me about or bosses me around, or anything like that. And he really is mega-brainy, which is useful if I get homework I can't do. Have you got any brothers or sisters?”
“A little sister. She's a pain, always grassing me up if I do something I shouldn't. That's why I spend as much time out of the house as possible. So – where do you want to go?”
“I don't know – I mean, we only moved here last week. You decide.”
“Let's go down to the river, then.”
And they got on their bikes and rode away.
Friday March 21st
It's Good Friday today. Not that we go to church, or anything: I don't know if my parents believe in God or not. I think they probably do, it's just that they don't belong to any of the organised churches. I think there's probably a God, too, except... there's nothing about Him creating aliens in the Bible. Perhaps that means that aliens weren't created by God at all: maybe they just evolved on their own.
Of course we really don't know enough about the past at all. I know that some people think aliens visited Earth thousands of years ago – someone wrote a few books about that a long time ago, saying maybe the pyramids were designed by aliens and stuff like that. Other people think that's a lot of rubbish. But I'd like to think there's something in it, because if I really am part alien... well, it would explain a few things.
Anyway, the reason I mentioned it being Good Friday is because it means my father is home for the next four days. That's nice, because we don't see him very often. I like listening to him telling me about the places he's been – it's interesting hearing about other parts of the world. Right now he's out in the garden playing football with Miles. They asked if I wanted to play, but of course I said no. I don't think it's sensible to risk getting hurt playing a stupid game – what if I got hit on the head, or something? I need to protect my brain, because it's the most important part of me.
I went back to the special place again yesterday. I'd thought about taking my CD player, so that I could listen to music while I was there, but then I decided not to: it's nice just being somewhere quiet, with just a few birds singing. I sat on the branch and thought about stuff for a couple of hours, and it felt really good. I might take a book next time, though, because I think it would be nice reading somewhere like that. I like books set in other worlds – not just science fiction, but fantasy as well. In fact I've been thinking about writing a fantasy story myself: I'm sure I could if I tried.
Miles has already made some friends here, so he's happy. I don't know how he does it, but for some reason it seems to come easily to him. I'm not jealous, or anything, because I like being on my own – except that maybe it would be nice to be able to talk about stuff with someone of my own age sometimes, because there are things I'd be embarrassed to talk to my parents about... it is hard being alone sometimes. Of course, I know I'm not the only person who thinks that, because quite a lot of the music I like is about being on your own and stuff like that. Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly alone I think about killing myself, because whatever happens afterwards is probably better than just being stuck on your own in a world where nobody understands you. But I suppose I'm still a bit young to think about that seriously: things might change. I might change, even.
And it's Easter, so there'll be plenty of chocolate eggs to eat on Sunday, and it would be silly to miss out on those. I mean, I know too much chocolate isn't very good for you, but to be honest I really don't care!
There were indeed plenty of chocolate eggs around on the Sunday, which kept both boys happy. Martin spend most of the afternoon in his bedroom, listening, first to Megadeth and then, because he wanted something a little less frenetic, to Anathema. And while he was listening he started writing his fantasy story, about a boy not very different from himself who found a place not very different to the ‘special place’ but who discovered there was a portal in it that led to another dimension, one where high intelligence was normal and where his alter ego would be treated like a normal person, not like a weird visitor from the Planet Zog…
On the Monday afternoon Miles went back to the recreation ground beside his school, where he had arranged to meet Graham and his friends. This time they went straight into a series of three-a-side games, changing the teams every so often. Of course Miles had done this sort of thing in London, too, but the difference here was that the pitch was on the edge of the village and so next to trees and fields, whereas the small area of grass he and his friends had used in London was surrounded by houses and busy roads. And the other difference was that here all the other players were white, whereas in London his friends had been of several different races. Not that he cared about that: in his book, anyone who could play football was alright by him.
They played for about an hour, and then the other boys went into a huddle while he ran to retrieve the ball from where he had just misdirected it some distance behind the goal, and when he came back Graham said, “Okay, Miles: how good are you at taking penalties?”
“Not bad. Why?”
“Well… we have competitions sometimes, and, now we’ve seen what you’re like… Anyway, we’re going to have one now. Okay?”
“Sure. Why shouldn’t it be?”
“Well, whoever loses gets a penalty himself.”
“What sort of penalty?”
“He has to do ten press-ups.”
“Twenty,” interrupted one of the others, grinning.
“Okay, twenty press-ups,” agreed Graham.
“What’s so bad about that?” asked Miles.
“He has to do them stark naked.”
“Get lost!” replied Miles. “If you think I’m stripping off here you must be mad – there are houses just over there. Not that I’d lose, of course…”
“You don’t have to do them here,” Graham told him. “We go round behind the changing-rooms. But I bet you’d be too chicken even to do it there.”
“No, I wouldn’t. Except, like I said, I’m not going to lose.”
“Yeah? We’ll see. Who’s going first?”
“I don’t mind, as long as you know you’re all going to get shown up,” said Miles, picking up the ball.
So they moved over to the proper goal and Robert put his goalie gloves on and stood between the posts, and Miles set the ball down on the spot, took a short run-up and hammered it into the top corner of the goal.
“Not bad,” said Graham. “Fluky, but not bad. Bet you miss the next one, though.”
“Bet I don’t,” said Miles, and he didn’t. Altogether he scored four out of five, and then he stepped back to watch the others, feeling confident that with four out of five he wasn’t going to come last. And he was right: Graham scored three, Jack scored four, and Jamie and Tom both scored two. They then had a sudden-death shoot-out, which Jamie lost.
“Hang on,” protested Jamie, as the other started to herd him towards the changing room, “what about Rob? How come he doesn’t have to take penalties?”
“Because I’m the goalie. Goalies don’t take penalties,” Robert told him.
“Yes, they do – what about that Paraguayan guy, the one with the mad hair? He used to take penalties for the national team, even though he was the keeper.”
“Okay, then. I know I’m better than you, anyway,” said Robert, removing his gloves and handing them to Jamie. “You’d better go in goal yourself, then you can’t whinge about someone else letting my shots in deliberately.”
So Jamie put the gloves on and Robert scored three in a row. To be honest he was a bit lucky: the first went in off the post and the second was a complete mis-hit that only went in because Jamie had already dived the wrong way. The third was a decent shot into the bottom corner, however.
“See?” said Robert. “Told you.”
Jamie sighed, removed the gloves, handed them back to Robert and walked to the changing room with the others following. There was an open space at the back next to a shed that held the line-marking machine and the mower, and it was sheltered on all sides by the changing-room itself, the shed, a wall and some trees. Jamie stripped off and dropped into the press-up position, but not quickly enough to conceal the fact that he had an erection.
“Jamie’s got a stiffy, Jamie’s got a stiffy,” sang Graham, and the others all joined in.
“Shut up,” said Jamie, blushing. “I can’t help it. Anyway, you’re just jealous because yours are all so small that nobody can tell whether they’re stiff or not.” And he started to do his press-ups while the others all kept teasing him.
Miles squatted down next to Graham and watched with interest: this was something he’d never done with his friends in London. And Jamie certainly did have a stiff one. It wasn’t very big, maybe around three inches long, and he had small balls, too, but his erection jutted away from his body and showed no sign of subsiding while he was doing his press-ups. When he stood up after completing twenty (actually he did twenty-four, but the others wouldn’t let him count four of them, which they said he hadn’t done properly) it was still really hard, sticking up and out at an angle of about forty-five degrees above the horizontal.
“Satisfied?” he asked, glaring at them with his hands on his hips.
“What do you reckon, Miles? Think we can let him off now?” asked Graham.
“I reckon. He did twenty, anyway. More or less.”
“Too right, I did,” said Jamie, grabbing his boxers and pulling them on. “There was nothing wrong with the other four, either. You wait till it’s your turn, Rob – you know you’re crap at press-ups. You’ll be trying for hours to manage twenty proper ones.”
“Ah, but then I’ll never lose, so it’ll never be my turn,” Robert told him. “Want to come and do some practice? I think you need it.”
So Robert and Jamie went back to the goal to practise penalties, and Tom and Jack headed off to Jack’s house to play video games.
“We can do that too, if you like,” said Graham, picking up his bike. “Have you got time to come back to mine for a bit? I’ve got some good games.”
“Yes, okay,” agreed Miles. “I haven’t got to be home until six. I mean, I’m not much good because we haven’t got a computer. I’m saving up for an Xbox, but right now I can’t play anything at home. But I used to go round to a friend’s house when we lived in London and play on his, so I’m okay at some games. What have you got?”
Graham told Miles which games he’d got, and Miles had never played any of them. So when they got back to Graham’s house and were safely in his bedroom with the door shut (to keep out nosy little sisters) he switched on his PlayStation and scrabbled about in a box under his bed until he found a racing game.
“This isn’t too difficult,” he said. “You should be able to pick it up fairly quickly.”
“Okay – but we’re not playing any of those ‘loser has to do naked press-ups’ games,” said Miles, firmly.
“Pity,” said Graham, grinning. “I was going to challenge you. Well, okay, maybe we can do that in a couple of weeks’ time. I want to see if you’ve got a big one.”
“Well, unlucky, because you’ll never get to find out. You’ll be the one doing press-ups because I’m invincible… or I will be, once I’ve learned how to play.”
“Yeah, right. Of course, maybe you’ll lose at penalties first, and then we’ll all get to see.”
“Dream on. I think that’s a good game, though – I’ve never done anything like that before.”
“I thought you might enjoy it – we all reckoned you’d be ready to join in. Everyone thinks you’re a good laugh, and we reckon we can trust you to keep it to yourself, too. Anyway, we’ve been playing that game for a little while now. It’s sort of interesting to see what everyone looks like. It’s a pity you weren’t here three weeks ago: we talked Tom’s older brother into playing. He’s a bit of a geek, so we didn’t think he’d be much good at penalties, but we all kept calling him ‘chicken’ until he agreed to have a go. He was good about it, too: he didn’t try to argue when he lost, he just went round behind the changing room straight away. He was a bit nervous, but he still did it. And it was interesting because he‘s thirteen, so he’s got some hair. His cock isn’t very big - well, it’s bigger than most of ours, but then he is two years older – but the hair made it look interesting. It’s a pity he didn’t go stiff, though, because that would have looked funny.
“Jamie always gets an erection when he strips. I don’t know why, it just happens. The rest of us generally manage to keep it under control, though – at least, I have the only time I lost so far. I think we might have to change the rules in future to say that you’re not allowed to start your press-ups until it goes stiff – that’ll be funnier. And Jamie’s bound to think it’s a brilliant idea, so he’ll definitely vote for it. What about you – you reckon that’s a good idea?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I’ve never stripped off in front of people before… but I reckon if the rest of you are ready to do it, I would be, too. And, anyway, I’ll never have to do it because I’m class at penalties.”
“Great! It’s a pity your brother doesn’t like football, though, because I like making older boys strip. Has he got hair on his?”
“I’ve no idea, I haven't seen him undressed for ages. And there’s no chance of him ever agreeing to play football, either: plastic robots from Outer Space don’t know how to play.”
“Pity. Oh, well… look, there’s one more person I’d like to talk into playing with us: Rob’s got a twin sister, and she does play football – she’s pretty good, for a girl. And I think it would be fun making a girl do press-ups. Jack likes the idea, too, but Jamie and Tom aren’t really interested in girls, and Robert doesn’t want to risk having to strip in front of his sister, so he won’t do it, either. What do you think?
“It might be interesting, I suppose, but I don’t think girls of our age have much to look at. I mean, usually their tits haven’t started growing, and all they have lower down is a slit, and so all girls look the same. At least with boys there are some differences – big, small, long, short, stuff like that. But maybe it would be fun to do it with a girl. Do you think she’d agree?”
“Probably. Like I said, she’s not bad at football, and she’d reckon there were six chances that she’d get to see a naked boy and only one chance that she’d lose herself. I’m just not sure we could talk Jamie and Tom into it, though.”
“We could always do it when they’re not there, and if we let Rob stay in goal there’d be no risk of him losing himself. So it would just be you, me, Jack and the girl. I think I wouldn’t mind risking it, anyway.”
“Okay. Maybe I’ll get Rob to ask her, then. Anyway, let’s play: I’ll go first, so watch what I do, and then you can have a try, and then we’ll have a proper race.”
So Miles watched carefully, and quickly he got the hang of it, and he did better in the first actual race than he had dared to hope. By the time he went home he was starting to think that he ought to be able to beat Graham before too long – and then maybe he’d accept the challenge of naked press-ups for the loser…
Monday March 24th
Miles was really happy when he came home this evening – he seems to have some good friends already, and he even said he’s looking forward to going to school with them. I don’t remember him ever saying he was ‘looking forward’ to school before…
He also tried to persuade me to go and play football with him and his friends – he said it would be ‘fun’. My definition of ‘fun’ does not include kicking (or trying to kick) a lump of leather between some sticks, and so obviously I said no, and he seemed disappointed. And that made me feel good – not that he was disappointed, of course, but that he’d asked me in the first place. After all, it’s not that often that Miles asks me to do stuff with him.
So he’s obviously glad we’ve moved. I thought it would be harder for him, because of course he had friends in London that he had to say goodbye to, whereas I didn’t – it really doesn’t make much difference to me where I live. But he seems to have found replacements really quickly, which is good. Okay, he teases me a lot, but he’s really not a bad kid, so I’m glad he’s settling in.
And I like it here, too: it’s quiet, and probably the air is a lot cleaner, so it’s healthier, too. And I can go for walks without worrying about getting mugged, and I can ride my bike without having huge lorries missing me by two centimetres. This seems a really good place.
I’ve written about six pages of my story today. That’s about the one thing I’d need to make this place absolutely perfect: if I could find a real portal through to a world where everyone is like me it would be brilliant. Maybe there really is one – maybe the idea came to me when I was in the special place because I was picking up something that actually exists. Next time I’m there I’m going to have to search it really thoroughly, because if there is a way to find someone else like me I really have do everything I can to find it…
Well, now you've met Martin and his brother. Miles is clearly settling in quickly, and even though Martin is still spending most of his time on his own, he seems to be enjoying the change of scenery, too. In the next chapter Miles's new friends start to teach him a bit about sex, and Martin's life becomes a little more confusing...
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