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Okay, here's the start of something new. Let me know if you want me to carry on! What you need to understand is that Harry and I had been friends all our lives, or nearly. When we were in playgroup, I chewed on his toy car. When we went to school together, we taught one another to read. If a teacher asked me what my name was, I’d say: “Max and Harry.” For years, right up till we went to university, people would call us Maxandharry or Harryandmax. Even at Uni, him studying Biological Sciences and me doing Business Studies, we texted nearly every day. For a while, after celebrating our Friendversary, we even changed our Faceboook names to MaxandharryandharryandmaX, till he pointed out it looked a bit gay. I felt a bit sad changing it, but my girlfriend of the time told me he was right. In the years since then, of course, we drifted apart a bit. We were both in London but we would only meet for a drink every couple of months. I guess he slowly started noticing a change in me about summer 2019 when I had made a special effort to get #BeachBodyReady. ‘Shit, mate, you really do have a gym membership, don’t you?’ he said. ‘When are Men’s Health ringing you for a cover feature?’ I was in a short sleeved shirt and I was feeling pretty good about myself back then, but still I knew he was talking shit. ‘Bro, have you seen the guys on Love Island? All I’ve done so far is lose a bit weight really.’ ‘Impressive though,’ he said, sinking the last of his pint. ‘I don’t think so,’ I said. ‘Not yet.’ ‘Well, I reckon Niamh would think so,’ he said. I cuffed his shoulder. ‘She’s not superficial like other ho’s,’ I said. ‘Girls like that sort of thing, though,’ he said. He looked down at himself. ‘They can’t help themselves.’ ‘They like to see we’re taking care of ourselves,’ I told him. ‘Anyway, you’re far from overweight, dude.’ ‘Underweight, if anything,’ he said. ‘I do my heavy lifting with this.’ He tapped his brow, and we both laughed. ‘Mind you don’t go impairing it with two many hipster beers, then,’ I said, getting up to fetch another round. ‘If you promise not to go crazy with this gym stuff,’ he said. ‘You’re fine as you are.’ But I knew he was wrong. By the time we met to toast Christmas, he couldn’t resist squeezing my arm. ‘Holy shit!’ he said, eyes wide. ‘I thought you just had a big jumper on under that coat. You’re huge!’ ‘Not as big as I’d like,’ I couldn’t help saying, blushing. ‘Still a way to go.’ ‘What do you weight though…?’ ‘About 70kg,’ I said, automatically. ‘Roughly 150lbs.’ ‘Whoa,’ he said, ‘I didn’t expect you to actually know. You must be taking this seriously.’ I shrugged. ‘It’s fun too.’ ‘Bet you’re not drinking tonight.’ ‘Maybe just the one. My body fat’s down to 7%.’ I sipped my orange juice. ‘It feels great, though. I’m so alive, so capable. And, bro, let me tell you, the girls are hanging round me like flies around shit.’ God, it felt good.. Harry didn’t seem to feel so, though. ‘Mate, I didn’t need to have another reason to feel inferior,’ he sighed. His mouth was proper down-turned. ‘Niamh,’ I said, testingly. He nodded glumly. ‘I wasn't enough for her, it seems.’ ‘You were too good for her, anyway,’ I said, although I wasn’t sure how true it was. There he sat, a weedy little guy with glasses, maybe half my size. He couldn’t have lifted a weight above his head, let alone bench-pressed what I was doing. He looked pretty pathetic. ‘Maybe you should join my gym. Just to cheer yourself up.’ ‘Can’t think of anything worse,’ he said. ‘Come off it, mate,’ I said. ‘Build a bit of muscle and you’ll feel amazing. Imagine if Niamh sees you on the beach next summer with your shirt off, biceps bulging, pecs rippling…’ I tailed off, thinking how ridiculous this sounded. Even if I could persuade him to take some exercise, I thought, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for him to take his shirt off on camera. He was still as lean and hairless as when we both set off for University. I wondered, was I naturally superior to him? Niamh would certainly have picked me over him for a mate: law of the jungle. I’ve have shown her a better time, as well. I didn’t like to think how embarrassing Harry must have been in bed. I shook my head to clear it. Harry had been talking to me and all the time I’d been thinking about banging his girlfriend, cucking him in his own bed. Crazy thinking. I interrupted him: ‘I don’t want to hear any shit, mate, you’re coming with me to the gym tomorrow and that’s that.’ He sat back in surprise, held up his hands. ‘Fine. Fine!’ There was a long pause. Finally he laughed and got up to go to the bar. ‘Better get a round in while I’m still allowed, then!’ ‘Skip the crisps this time, okay,’ I laughed back. ‘2020’s going to be your year.’ And to be fair to him, he turned up. He obeyed me, as if I was in control of him. He did the exercises I told him to do. He changed his diet. It became quite fun, turning up to see him at the gym – maybe not as often as I would be there, but at least a couple of times a week. He didn’t enjoy it but he worked hard. At the end of January, he had actually lost a bit of weight – but sadly, he hadn’t put on a single shred of muscle. We stood looking at one another in the mirror. ‘I can’t fucking believe it,’ he said. ‘I’m actually smaller than before.’ ‘I’ve just grown bigger,’ I said, ‘that’s all, mate.’ ‘Bullshit,’ he said. ‘Yes, you’re bigger but look at me. I’m a shrimp. Nobody would guess we were the same age.’ ‘You’re a week younger,’ I told him, shrugging off my sweaty vest. ‘Maybe you’ll always be…’ Again, I didn’t want to say the truth. ‘What?’ he demanded. ‘What were you going to say? Weaker? Smaller? Inferior?’ ‘But only to me,’ I told him. ‘You might put on some muscle by summer. You won’t be strong but you’ll be fit.’ ‘That’s really what you think of me,’ he said, eyes wide. Furious. He looked like he wanted to pick a fight with me, but something rational was stopping him. He’d be mullered in a second. Instead, he ran away. Just grabbed his bag and stormed out. I should have run after him, but I was meeting this girl for dinner. He had told me on Tinder that she wanted me to fuck her like an animal, and I was still wondering how best to do that. I was too distracted. That was half my trouble. MaxandharryandharryandmaX was in trouble for the first time in history. An unshakeable bond, broken by the gym. Or maybe more, I thought. Maybe by masculinity and testosterone. Maybe by alpha male power. It could never be equal again now that I had begun to dominate. February slipped past, and I thought about him every day. I dreamt about him. I dreamt he was watching while I effortlessly fucked Niamh. I was pumped and bigger than ever while I worked at her tight snatch, and he got smaller while he watched me. In March, I finally sent him a message. ‘Miss lifting weights with you. Miss lifting pints even more.’ He replied almost straight away. ‘Maybe we should resume one of those activities. Guess which one.’ ‘Gym’s open longer hours,’ I replied, with a emoji to show I wasn’t serious. ‘Mate,’ he texted back, ‘I wouldn’t go there right now.’ ‘Why?’ I asked, expecting a joke. And so, Harry was the first person to tell me about coronavirus. I thought it was just him making an excuse about not exercising. I don’t follow the news, don’t really do social media; in fact, I was pretty buried in work and working out. I suppose, I also didn’t want it to be true. I was in full denial. And so, inevitably, I caught it. I’m strong. I’m healthy. I don’t even take roids, so no strain on my heart. So I guess I was well prepared for it. Even so, it knocked me out for longer than I expected. Those were some crazy weeks. Maybe the weeks that followed were even stranger. Apart from work, Harry was the main person I was in contact with during lockdown. At first we talked a bit about fitness: my gym had closed. I tried to buy gym equipment online, but there was none available. ‘I must have got the last set,’ Harry told me. He told me it was the one good thing in his life now. It was hard for him - he was still so weak - so I sent him tips over email, links to videos and online advice. He asked me questions about diets and supplements and steroids. I told him to do it all clean, which disappointed him, being the biology scientist – he wanted to make himself into his own experiment. But it was a good thing. It was like we were the same person after all, just slightly out of phase. Except I couldn’t work out, not properly. I did some bodyweight stuff and started running. The muscle just melted away. I ended up looking as lean as a stick of celery. ‘You’re going to end up as my trainer,’ he said, when we talked about it. I didn’t like that. What if he caught me up? So we didn’t talk about it. And the lockdown rolled by. The lockdown was raised. Life began to return to normal. It was September when we arranged to meet again. A few drinks in the same old pub we used to frequent – but first, we would work out together, side by side. It struck me, as I walked towards the bench press: we were equals at last. MaxandharryandharryandmaX had been brought closer together by the quarantine. We had both realised something: his innate power, my humility. At last, we would be best friends once again. The only problem was, he didn’t appear to have showed up. The gym was pretty much empty, and the only person hanging around our agreed meeting spot was a big guy. Proper monster. Shaved head. Lats out to here, waist in here, a real triangle. He looked nearly a foot taller than me and I was worried for a second. In an empty gym, it’s pretty bad etiquette to stand waiting for a piece of equipment. I didn’t want him to think I was trying anything on; he could have ripped me apart. He turned around and the light glinted off his glasses. He smiled. ‘Hey, Max, you made it!’ ‘Harry?!’ I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a wind-up. He opened his arms inviting me for a hug. Each arm was as big as both of mine put together. The muscle was thick and pumped as if he had just completed a workout, not spent months in quarantine. ‘Harry,’ I said, looking up at him. ‘This is insane. You’re a fucking beast.’ ‘I used the lockdown well,’ he said seriously. His voice had grown deeper. It was like talking to a different man with my friend’s face, one who towered over me. ‘All this came from working out?’ ‘Of course,’ he said. ‘I see you went the other way.’ I looked down at myself, blushing. ‘Yes, I’m pretty small these days.’ ‘How big were you before the lockdown?’ he asked me. ‘Let’s not talk about it,’ I said. ‘Maybe we should –’ ‘Cut the crap,’ he said. ‘I asked you a question.’ ‘About 75kg,’ I told him. ‘165lbs.’ He shook his head in disbelief. ‘You used to seem so big,’ he said. He ran his hands over the huge globes of his chest and the hard, thick ripples of his abdominals, lightly brushing his fingers across the giant vascular boulders of his biceps and the vast shoulder-muscles that framed his firm chin. ‘I’m about 270lbs. 125kg.’ ‘It’s not possible,’ I said. ‘Feel it,’ he said. ‘Then you’ll know how possible it is.’ I laughed and held up my hands. ‘That’s fine, I’ll believe you.’ ‘What is the problem with you?’ he said. He didn’t raise his voice but the authority was clear. ‘I told you to feel it, you little bitch.’ ‘Are you okay?’ I asked him. He shook his head for a second. ‘Sorry, bro. It’s the testosterone. Sometimes I lose control. I mean, it’s true that you’re little. And you’re being a bitch.’ He put a hand over his mouth and blushed. The redness spread down his huge neck where it got lost at the tops of his pecs. ‘Jesus. Just bants, mate. Just bants!’ ‘Will it help you if I – if I feel your muscle?’ I said, putting my hands on his physique. ‘Be careful,’ he said. ‘I’m like a loaded gun nowadays.’ ‘More like a cannon,’ I said, feeling his might. ‘The Incredible Hulk has nothing on you. So you went for the steroids after all?’ ‘No way, you little cunt,’ he said, breathing heavily. ‘Ah, I’m sorry, Max. But no – not steroids, exactly. I did some research. With some friends online. Other biology academics into weightlifting. I was looking for short cuts, and they were looking for ways to build size and strength. I think between us we tapped into something that did both. Workouts combined with certain hormones and particular herbs. It’s all perfectly safe, just a few side-effects.’ ‘Like the anger management issues,’ I suggested. ‘And all this fur.’ I ran a hand through the pelt on his monstrous chest. ‘You really are becoming a beast.’ ‘Fuck!’ he gasped. ‘You touched it! I should have warned you – but I thought it would sound gay.’ ‘Touched what?’ I snatched my hand away but he caught it in a giant fist. ‘You touched my nipple. Fucking sensitive nowadays.’ ‘So what – what does that mean?’ ‘It means,’ he said, ‘either I need to fuck a woman in the next ten minutes or…’ ‘Or what?’ Harry looked toward the changing room door. ‘Or, old friend, you’ll have to milk the cum from my big swinging balls…’ TO BE CONTINUED…
This is perhaps a monologue, or short play with one speaking part and others nonspeaking, rather than a story, so I hope it's not out of place. It was inspired by a work by the artist MSSF, which is at the end. i INVICTUS: or, The Captive Aside, to himself: My mind is mine and never will be his. Then, speaking aloud: I am your captive. My life and my body are yours. Beat me. Torture me. But enslave me not, nor keep me idle in a dungeon deep. Hasten my life to its end. Make of me with knives your complete sacrifice. Again to himself: Thus will my last moments pass quietly in my mind, for I will know that my end comes soon. When it does, I will have freedom, freedom from this mortal body which he defeated in battle, freedom from the shame of defeat before my warriors, my men, my sons. Aloud: Yet with your knives, take special care before you stab and slice my mortal flesh. Make sharp your sweet steel and as you carve and sever keep fresh your blades that you may cleanly cut and my blood may quickly flow. Limit not the artifice of your craft, but fulsomely display your handwork. Create thus a pleasing sight for your eyes, but not for your eyes only. A worthy deed well done must be seen. Issue a summons. Bring forth your high priest and his acolytes. Call forth your sons who must with their own true eyes bear witness that they may know, not by the poetizing of your scribe, but by their own beholding, the savage beauty as their father draws death from life and my unworthy body, flayed and bled, expires to a corpse. Again to himself: His look is fierce and keen, but still unquenched. And now aloud: I see and all here now assembled see your risen cock, and mine. Your manhood rises in triumph. Mine rises to honor your victory. Yet among the assembled, whisperers pass judgment that your captive flaunts his member in defiance. To quell them, command my final ejaculation. Order a show. For in my tribe, as high priests and consuls attest, the jizzum of their warrior-prince possesses potent magic. Nothing in alchemy surpasses it. Indeed, my very sons have supped on it, that they may be strong and valorous. To honor your manhood, command the last surge of my seed. From my risen cock, engender a fountain of virility. Provoke my testicles in their sack. Rouse my idle semen and incite my hoary balls to issue yet more sperm, as you do, and pull and stretch my scrotum, and slice it off. Take with it those two jewels which men so admire and praise. That kind action of yours will make my manhood prouder still, and in its pride, it will bring forth for you my rapturous final ejaculation. No further touch will be necessary. But have your chest ready that my unctuous jizzum may splurge there as my tribute. And have your sons at hand that they may lap at your nips, not as pups, but as men. For in my seed, there is that powerful magic of which I spoke, and which will make them brave and strong. Thus will they make battle victorious against my own sons, for your sons will have the power of your seed and my seed against my puny sons who have but the power of their own father’s seed. Sotto voce, and turning his head slightly: Scribe, if you hear this tale, write it as I tell it. But know yourself, and in confidence tell two or three wise poets, that my conquerer is a gullible and foolish man who puts faith in such magical potions and tall tales as educated men long ago put aside. I know his weakness in this, as in blood and in lust. Thus, even in defeat, I prevail over him, and in this way, abrupt and savage, I make a quick end for myself. Aloud again: When I have thus anointed you, then slice again. Slice off my shaft, which even then will stand erect in your honor. Display my defeat. My cock is your scepter. Then vanquish me as you and your sons, splurge your cum on your bloody trophies. The deeds being done, the captive dies. art by MSSF