Something Wicked This Way Comes

Friday, April 15, 2016

FREE FICTION FRIDAYS - BAD


Welcome back. I've working under a serious time crunch here, so we got nothing fancy this week. I hope you enjoy this little flash piece. Have a great weekend!


* * * *

BAD
by Tucker McCallahan

A twenty-ounce Mountain Dew sat beside my feet.  Three or four other guys in wife beaters and long shorts lounged around me on the stoop of 746, drinking forties, smoking cigarettes, and generally looking like lazy thugs. Old school Public Enemy blasted from a random phone. My head bobbed to the hardcore beat. Couple of the regulars showed up and I took care of them with the easy slide. I was in the middle of a text to Shane telling him to shuffle his ass my direction and take over for me when I looked up.

I deleted the text.

One of my dudes stopped the kid ten feet in front of the stoop. I read the body language going on and knew he was telling the kid to take off.

"It's cool, bro." My words didn't carry over "Fight the Power." I raised my voice and repeated myself, adding, "I know him."

"Smell like bacon, yo."

I grabbed my soda and stood up.

"He's aight."

I left the comfort and safety of the stoop and approached the kid. I didn't know him, but I knew the look. I could practically smell the desperation. I held my hand out and the kid stared at it for the longest second ever. He finally reached out and slapped my palm. I gripped his fingers before he could pull them away and yanked him toward me for a shoulder-bump-back-slap.

"Long time, man. Let's talk."

I shoved one hand in my pocket and headed around the side of the building. I didn't check to see if the kid followed me; I could feel him. Two massive dumpsters sat cockeyed up against the peeling paint of 746 about halfway down the alley. I turned sideways and dipped between them. Normally I would've tapped one of the dumpsters to make sure the spot was unoccupied, but I'd been out all day. I already know nobody was back here getting off.

I slid sideways and leaned up against the naked brick. The kid stood in front of me, his face telegraphing his nervousness. I set my soda on one of the three plastic crates among the used condoms, rubber gloves, dirty needles, balloons, and wadded-up bags scattered all over the concrete. Hooking another crate with my foot, I dragged it over in front of me, and then grabbed some serious eye contact with the kid.

"Who?"

"Jamie. Uh, he goes by Lil J?"

"I know him." I motioned to the crate in front of me. "Cop a squat."

"I really need–"

"I know what you need. Question is whether you can pay for it."

He fidgeted, eyes skipping around the ground.

"Look at me, kid."

His eyes snapped back up to my face; they were blue like summer pool water. I bet he'd been a looker before he got strung out. His face was all hard planes and sharp edges, fined down from more dope than food. But his skin was the golden brown of the toasted cheese that came on the top of a bowl of French onion soup, and I had no doubt he'd be just as delicious.

"You got no cash, right?"

He shook his head and shivered. His nose was running. He was gonna be in a real bad state three-four hours from now.

"So it's your thing. Pay in trade or break out."

He said nothing, but reached for me. I brushed his hands aside. In exactly three seconds I had my dick exposed and in my hand, stroking slow. Usually I amped up with my eyes closed, my head filled with the visual of sliding between my last boyfriend's full, moist lips. But this kid hit some kind of nerve, and just staring at his dark eyelashes fluttering at he gazed up at me turned me so solid I had to stop.

He licked his lips and leaned in, but I retreated.

"Chill baby."

I slid a condom from my pocket and rolled it on. I treated everybody like they were infected with Ebola. Last thing I needed was my dick rotting off. He stared at me like I'd done some incredibly sweet thing. I wasn't sure if his gratitude was because I'd called him baby or because I didn't intend to make him swallow. Didn't really matter either way. Another stroke or two over the latex and the show was all him.

And he was perfect.

Those dark eyelashes fluttered again as he engulfed the head of my dick. The heat of his mouth was fucking fantastic, and I put my hands behind my head so I wouldn't be tempted to touch him. His hands fisted the heavy denim of my shorts, drawing the material snug across my ass. I didn't expect that sensation and groaned. When he yanked my hips forward and used his grip on my clothes to fuck me deeper into his throat, I gave up hope of making it last. He worked me like a machine. Several more deep thrusts and I came hard.

If my hands hadn't been behind my head, I would've slammed it into the brick wall.

As it was, I scuffed my knuckles and didn't care in the slightest.

Kid drew off nice and slow, his tongue tracing all the way up my dick. Then he sat back and let me deal with the condom. I dropped it and tucked up, fixing my shorts. As I did, I reached into the little pocket inside and pulled out a bundle.

"What do you need?"

Those pretty blue eyes flicked from me to the dope and back.

"One to get well, one to get off."

I counted three off and held them up, pulling my hand back as soon as he reached for them.

"The third's yours…if you tell me your name–your real name–not some street shit."

"It's Aaron."

I handed over his dope.

"Da'Von."

He pocketed his stash and turned to go.

"Ain't gonna get right here?"

He turned back, his face a picture of disgust as he shook his head. I cocked my head, considering.

"I'm 'bout ready to bounce. You wanna hang for five?"

He briefly considered a proposition I hadn't made to another customer, ever. Finally he pulled a bag from his pocket. With easy proficiency, he opened it, slipped a pinkie in, and brought a taste up to his nose, inhaling hard. Then he closed the bag and made it disappear.

"I can hang…if that's what you want."

Those long black eyelashes fluttered and I was totally lost. I nodded and pulled my phone out to send that text to Shane. We squeezed through the space and headed for the stoop.


* * * *


Once again, thanks so much for reading! Comments are, as always, craved and appreciated. 

Be Sure To Check Out The Other Stories:

Follow all your favorites and read the first 100 words on the group’s website: 





Friday, March 18, 2016

FREE FICTION FRIDAYS - THE COST


Welcome back to Free Fiction Friday at A Little Something... Wicked. This week is sort of special. I was invited to submit a selection for a fiction anthology, the proceeds of which will all go to charity. Every story in the anthology, titled Stardust Always, is inspired by the lives and careers of either David Bowie or Alan Rickman. The charity that's been chosen is St. Jude's Hospital. The event can be found here. The release date is set to coincide with National Cancer Survivors' Day, June 5th.

I chose to write a short piece inspired by The Hunger. As a forewarning, this story isn't erotica. If you enjoy it, please consider purchasing the anthology.



THE COST
by Tucker McCallahan © 2016

"Oh my god! It's like walking onto the set of Evil Dead!"

"The original or that shitty remake?"

"Either. Wow. Is there a trapdoor that leads to the basement?"

"It's called a root cellar." I dropped my bags onto the dirty floor and gave my two companions a tired glare.

"Scary." Tina flipped a light switch and jumped when it worked. Light flooded the main room of my grandparents' cabin. She gazed around and made a face. "And this is your idea of relaxation?"

"No." I stretched and went to open a window. "I wanted to come alone, remember?"

"Uh huh." Rick strode through the room, one hand pulling the large cooler and the other dragging his suitcase. "You're not well enough to be alone."

"Thanks for the reminder, Captain Buzzkill."

"Be nice." Tina's hand trailed across my shoulders as she headed for the door. "We love you, remember?"

I said nothing. In seconds, Rick returned from the kitchen and went back outside to help Tina unload the rest of our gear. Standing there alone, the depression I couldn't seem to shake rose up and owned me. Nothing was worse than waiting to die, and lately, that's all I'd been doing. This trip, coming up to the mountains, was supposed to make me feel better. So far it wasn't working.

We devoted the next few hours to making the cabin habitable. Nobody had used it since my grandmother died, so we had twenty years' worth of dust, dirt, and rodent droppings to dislodge. My energy flagged after less than an hour, and Tina sent me outside to get some fresh air while she beat an area rug like it had personally offended her.

The view of the mountains was spectacular. The cabin was far enough into the foothills to be considered remote, but civilization was only about an hour away. As I stared down into the far valley, I realized what had been pristine land when I was a child was now covered with houses.

It made me feel old.

I walked around the cabin, intending to enter through the back door. As a kid, I'd loved this place. My memories of it were full of fun, adventure, and magic. Now I noticed the gutter had rotted off the roof, and the forest had encroached to crowd up against the back of the cabin. The clearing I had played in was gone, consumed by multiflora rose shrubs. I shuddered. Getting through that bramble of thorns would require a flamethrower at this point.

I went back inside. Tina chattered at me, but I ignored her. I went back to the bedroom I'd slept in as a kid and uncovered the tiny twin bed. The old mattress stank like mold and felt damp to my hands.

"I inflated an air mattress in the other bedroom, babe. Why don't you go lie down in there and I'll get this room set up?"

Rick stood in the doorway, a roll of duct tape around his wrist and a Dewalt cordless drill in his hand. He'd taken his button-down off and wore a plain white T-shirt that already showed his perspiration. He was everything a healthy man in his mid-forties should be, and I hated him just a little bit for that. I forced out a thank you and went to what had always been my grandparents' room.

I didn't think I'd be able to sleep surrounded by the scent of decay and memories of dead relatives, but surprisingly enough, I drifted off quickly, birdsong and the hum of Rick's drill in my ears.



"Wake up, sleepyhead."

I blinked and rolled to find Tina leaning over me.

"Hey." My mouth was bone dry. "What time is it?"

"Four-thirty. Why don't you get up and help me make dinner?"

I climbed off the air mattress with Tina's help. My left shoulder hurt. The damn port they'd put in for chemo always ached if I slept on my side. I caught a glimpse of my reflection as we went into the kitchen and ran my hands through my hair; the back was sticking straight up. Tina giggled at me.

"I liked the bedhead."

"Oh yeah, I'm a stud."

"Always." She kissed my cheek and pointed at the counter. "Why don't you make the salad?"

"Where's Rick?"

"He went hunting."

"He's hunting alone?" My face showed my shock. "He doesn't know these woods!"

"Calm down, Grizzly Adams. He's got his cell." She chuckled. "He doesn't want pasta tonight, and I told him if he wanted something else he'd have to go kill it himself."

"Mornings are the best time to hunt around here."

"Well, when he comes back empty-handed, you can razz him mercilessly about his lack of knowledge and skill."

We managed to light a burner on the gas stove without setting the cabin on fire. Tina sautéed slices of zucchini for the pasta sauce while I cut up cucumber and tomato. Before we knew it, dinner was ready and the sun was dropping toward the horizon.

Rick was nowhere to be found.

Tina stood between the cabin and the SUV, her phone held aloft as she sent yet another text message.

"Service sucks here!"

"Do you know which way he went?"

I sat on the edge of the sagging porch and loaded the clips for my Beretta. The M9A3 was new, and I'd never fired it anywhere but at a range. Vivid memories of my grandfather shooting coyotes from this porch played through my mind as I loaded the gun and slipped the spare clips into my pocket.

"No. Over there?" Tina waved her phone toward the thick woods that crowded the cabin. "Do you think he's ignoring me?"

"He's probably not getting the texts."

"I don't think you should go looking for him."

"And if he fell or sprained an ankle, and he's sitting out there waiting for help?"

Tina chewed her lip. I could almost hear her thoughts. She was worried I wasn't well enough to go tramping around the woods, and she was right. I didn't have the stamina for it, and the sun was sinking.

"I'll go with you."

"What if he makes it back to the house?"

"We'll leave a note."

"Tina, have you ever gone hiking?"

"No."

"It's getting dark. You'll slow me down."

"But–"

"Look. If I don't go now, I'll run out of daylight before I run out of energy."

She dashed over to the SUV and grabbed a huge roadside flashlight. I slid the gun into its holster and took the light from her.

"I won't be gone long."

"What happens if you don't find him?"

"You drive out of here, and as soon as you get a good cell signal, you call the cops."

"OK." She wrapped her arms around her torso. If she kept gnawing on her lip she was going to make it bleed. "Go."

I slipped the light into my backpack and brushed my lips over Tina's. I had no idea what Rick took with him when he left; Tina hadn't paid attention. I wouldn't have gone anywhere without a first-aid kit, matches, water, and a good knife, but I'd spent every summer here for over a decade. Most of the wildlife was harmless, but we had cougars, coyotes, foxes, rattlesnakes, and copperheads that weren't so innocuous. I'd grown up with a healthy respect for wild animals.

I walked straight into the trees, checking the setting sun as I went. I really didn't have much time before I'd be walking blind, and a sense of urgency propelled me forward. Rick, Tina and I had been a trio for over twenty years. A pang of guilt hit. Rick agreed to this trip because of me. I hoped like hell he wasn't hurt.

Forty-five minutes later, twilight had fallen. I needed to turn back. My lungs burned from the thin mountain air. My lower back and thighs were on fire, too. I stopped where I was and swung my backpack off. I cracked open a bottle of water and took a pain pill. I capped the bottle and was zipping the pack when the sound of running water filtered through the rest of the forest noises. I'd made it to the creek.

As a kid, I'd traced the creek up and down the mountain. I could follow it through the woods to the clearing that wasn't clear anymore, and then make it back to the cabin. The idea of skirting an entire field of brambles and thorns didn't thrill me, but it was better than walking blind in absolute darkness. Heartened that I had physical landmarks to guide me back, I headed for the water.

I almost tripped over Rick.

My guts surged up into my throat. He wasn't hurt; he was dead. I knelt, swallowing the bile and blinking back tears, and pulled the big flashlight from my backpack. I looked him over, trying not to touch him. He was very pale. Blood had leaked from two rips in his throat and pooled under him.

Staring at the injury, the image of a cougar sprang into my mind. Cougars used their big paws and claws to trip their prey, and then held it down while delivering a kill-bite to the throat that usually broke the neck. They had massive fangs and a jaw powerful enough to drag down elk and moose.

I shone the light around. I couldn’t see any drag marks or signs of a chase. Rick's rifle lay on the ground not two feet away. I forced myself to shine the light on my dead lover again. He had no other injuries, not even to his hands. If the animal was hungry, there would've been flesh missing. If Rick had surprised it or run from it, he would've been clawed up. My confusion and grief turned to fear. Full darkness had fallen. Hungry cougar, spooked cougar, feral cougar–I'd take D, none of the above.

Looping the light's carry strap over my arm, I shrugged the backpack up onto my shoulders and picked out the edge of the creek. I needed to get back to the cabin. Tina would fall apart over this; we'd been preparing for my death, not Rick's. We had to call the county sheriff. We'd have to tell Rick's parents and his brother. I wept as I walked, guilt, grief, and anger snarled in my head.

Hiking back took forever. When the glow of the cabin's electric lights finally appeared in front of me, relief spread through me like an antidote. I found a burst of energy I didn't know I possessed, made it to the porch, and stopped.

The front door was wide open.

Fear flooded my mouth with an awful bitterness. The sweat down my back and over my forehead suddenly felt ice cold. I drew the Beretta, thumbed off the safety, and moved through the doorway.

The living room was a mess. The coffee table looked like kindling. A standing lamp lay on its side, shade askew, bare bulb spilling light across the floor.

Tina lay on the floor. At first I couldn't make sense of what I saw. My brain needed time to put the puzzle together. Somebody crouched behind Tina, as if holding her in an embrace. Its mouth pressed to Tina's throat, and as I brought the gun up, it glanced up at me, its mouth smeared with blood.

"Let her go."

It ignored me, lowering its face back to wounds identical to the ones I'd seen on Rick.

"I will shoot. Let her go."

When it continued to ignore me, I took aim and shot it. My bullet hit its shoulder, punched through, and ended up in the hallway wall behind it. It stared at me, though it didn't stop sucking at Tina's neck. I emptied my clip into the thing with no effect.

I reloaded. I didn't know what else to do. This thing had no fear; not of me, the noise, or the gun. I'd just chambered a fresh round when it let go of Tina. She slid out of its arms onto the floor with a dull thud.

"Save your bullets."

I froze. Its voice was musical. I couldn't tell if it was male or female, and it didn't really matter. Its face was as beautiful as its voice.

"You aren't in any danger." It seemed to think about its words and then smiled. "Well, not danger from me anyway."

"You just killed my family. I think I'm pretty much fucked."

"I don't know what that means."

"It means I don't believe you."

"I do not require your belief." It gazed at me, its nostrils flaring as it inhaled. "You are...wrong."

"What?"

"Wrong." It stretched slowly, its body undulating like a serpent though it appeared to be fully human. "Unwell."

"I have cancer."

"You are unfit for feeding."

That struck me as funny. This thing was telling me the same thing I'd been telling myself for months: I wasn't good for anything. The adrenaline I'd been operating on ran out, and fatigue swallowed me as I laughed hysterically. I backed up against the wall beside the open door, gun up. I tried not to choke on my laughter as I slid down the wall to sit on the floor.

The androgynous creature stood and approached me.

"You are dying."

"Yes." I struggled to get a good breath. "So it doesn't matter whether you want to eat me or not."

The thing sank down beside me. It touched my face with a slender finger.

"Do you wish to die?"

"No."

"If you could life forever, would you wish it?"

"What's the catch?"

"I do not understand."

"What's the price for living forever?" I glanced at Tina. She never moved or made a sound. "Nothing good comes without a cost."

"True." It regarded me with interest. "You presume living forever would be good."

"Better than dying."

"You presume death would be bad." Its gaze followed mine and landed on Tina. "She enjoyed our communion."

"Doesn't look like it. Looks like she fought like hell."

"Some fight." It shrugged. "Some do not."

"Guess that depends on how badly they want to live."

 It looked into my eyes and my pulse sped. It had no iris, just solid green eyes with a vertical pupil like a snake. Its voice came out in a whisper.

"How badly do you want to live?"

That was the question I asked myself repeatedly over the last year. Every time I went for radiation, every time I had a chemo drip, every time I begged off doing something because I felt like crap, I asked myself if it was worth it–if I wanted to work so hard to beat the disease that might win anyway.

I had my answer, finally.

"Bad enough to fight for it."

"Why?"

"Nothing good comes without a cost."

"You would fight for such a small amount of life."

"Yes."

"You would wish to live forever then?"

I thought about it. If I was willing to fight for my life now, what would I do to live forever, to never face death? But even as I thought the question, my brain clicked on and I voiced my answer.

"I don't want to watch anymore people I love die."

"Are their deaths more important than a stranger's passing?"

I blinked; it was a good question.

"To me, yes, but to the universe, I suppose not."

"The universe?"

"You know." I gestured with my hands, the Beretta still clutched in one. "Life. The universe. Everything."

"I do not understand."

"You don't spend much time around people, do you?"

"For many years I lived among men." It sat back on its haunches and studied me. "In another land, across the water. Things were different then."

A long silence passed, and it wasn't comfortable. I didn't like the way it stared at me, unblinking and contemplative.

"You never told me the price for immortality."

"You would not pay it."

"I'd have to kill people, wouldn't I?"

"All living things must feed."

It took great care to move slowly. Its cool fingers stroked my face. Its touch was soothing, almost lulling, though my heart beat so fast it seemed to stutter and trip.

"Think of it. You could join me. Live free, go where you choose, do what you choose."

"What about family? Lovers? Children?"

"The families of multitudes will live in you."

"Because I killed them."

"Their lives will sustain you."

Despite the depression I'd suffered for months, this wasn't a difficult choice at all. I didn't want to die, but I certainly didn't want to spend eternity eating people alive, like cancer. I shook my head, never breaking eye contact with the strange creature.

"No."

"Then I shall leave you to your slow death."

It rose with uncanny grace and walked out the open door into the night. I trembled so hard against the wall it hurt. The relief of surviving was almost as strong as the guilt of it. I made myself take slow, even breaths and tried to slow my fluttering heart.

An arm snagged me from around the edge of the door.

I slid through the doorway to end crushed up against the creature's chest. Its arms were steel bands, its breath hot on my throat. I fought like a madman, but it didn't budge. Its shriek hit my eardrums like shards of glass. The fingernails on one of its hands grew into talons. With one stab, it pierced my throat.

All the heat flowed out of me. I shivered uncontrollably, clutching at it. Dizziness swept over me and knocked me off my feet. Pleasure coursed through me like a morphine injection. I was floating in perfection and had no desire to move. I was going to drown in bliss.

Its face appeared in front of me, hovering like an apparition.

"Why?" I whispered.

"It's what I do."

Using one of its talons, it sliced its wrist and pressed it to my lips. Unable to resist, I lapped at what flowed into mouth. It chuckled.

"What we do now. Together. Forever."

THE END


Inspired by Whitley Strieber's novel and the David Bowie film, "The Hunger."

* * * *

Once again, thanks so much for reading! Comments are, as always, craved and appreciated. 

Be Sure To Check Out The Other Stories:

Follow all your favorites and read the first 100 words on the group’s website: 



Friday, February 26, 2016

FREE FICTION FRIDAYS - DRIVING SEX


It's Friday, and that means free flash fiction. I'm really digging the new job and schedule - this whole having time to write is pretty nifty. I even managed to see Deadpool with the family. Great flick, by the way, though all the hype about Ryan Reynolds doing a full frontal scene was totally overblown. Trust me, if there'd been something to see I would've paid the price for several more tickets. *wink*

That said, this week's piece was inspired by 1950's Hollywood, and my favorite film comedy of all time. Not saying anything else - if you're into vintage cinema (or you watch a lot of TCM) you'll recognize it. 

Enjoy!


* * * *



DRIVING SEX; by Tucker McCallahan:

"Wake up, Lanch."

The voice coming from the walkie-talkie startled me. Swearing under my breath I took one last drag from my Winston and crushed it out in the ashtray. I grabbed the box and keyed it with a thumb.

"I'm here; over."

"Nobody does that, 'Over and out,' stuff anymore, old man."

Chuck was laughing at me again. Little turd.

"D'you radio just to pick with me, or is she ready to go? Over."

"She's ready."

"Rolling; over."

The motions were automatic. One week on this set and I could've driven through it blindfolded. The Hotel del Coronado was nice enough, but San Diego was so damn close to Mexico it gave me the scratch. All I could think about was a run across the border, and the cherry 58' Buick they had me driving for her was sweet temptation.

The back seat was huge.

I gave Chuck a middle-finger wave as I rolled past him. He shot it back just as Evelyn and Sandra came out of makeup. They looked scandalized, and I was still laughing when I pulled up to the door.

They must've been looking for the Buick, because she came out immediately. She'd put sunglasses on, but not her scarf. I leapt out and grabbed the door.

"Thank you, Mickey."

I controlled the wince. Everybody called me Lanch. Everybody but her and my grandma, and my grandma had been dead for twenty years.

I climbed back into the Buick and we took off. Most of the cast and crew were at the Coronado for the duration of the shoot, but she, Jack and Tony all had houses down the beach. The studio took good care of their stars.

Two minutes later we pulled up in front of her place. I glanced in the rearview mirror. She was pouting.

"Something wrong?"

"Arthur said he'd be waiting for me."

"I'm sure he's inside." I pointed to the driveway. "The other car's here."

"He's mad at Billy, so he's mad at me."

That breathy little-girl voice damn near punched right through my guts. I controlled the urge to storm into the house and drag Art's sorry ass outside. I had no idea what she saw in the guy. I could generally find something to like about any guy–even if it was only for fifteen minutes or so. Not the case with Miller. Guy just rubbed me wrong all over.

As usual, I didn't know what to say to her, so I held my tongue.

The front door opened and Art paced out. Maybe she was right. He looked harassed and irritated. I jumped out and opened her door before he got to the car. Two seconds later he was next to me, bending into the Buick to help her out.

"Thanks, Mickey."

"My pleasure, ma'am."

She threw a sweet smile over her shoulder as he led her toward the house. The instant the front door closed I knocked another Winston free and lit up. Just for kicks I headed back to the set. If they were done shooting Frank would be free. He'd be ready for a shower, cards, whiskey, and a quick fuck–not necessarily in that order. I didn't particularly care. That list in any order sounded swell to me.

Instead of finding Frank packing up cameras, I found Chuck. He was going full tilt; his arms looked like a windmill. I rolled up and turned the engine off. Tucking my smokes in my breast pocket, I climbed out and stretched. Sitting in the Buick all day made my legs stiff. I strolled over.

"–any idea what those cost? Sweet virgin Mary!"

"Whoa, watch that language." I gestured toward where a group of young girls huddled, obviously hoping for a glimpse of Tony. Chuck glared at me.

"Unless you're gonna dump him in the trunk and drive away, mind your own business, Lanch!"

I got a look at Chuck's latest victim and did an abrupt double-take. Christ, it was a kid. A boy, actually, and if he was eighteen I'd re-enlist for another tour with Uncle Sam. He had a good 'ol boy look: square jaw, sandy hair, slight squint. He also looked more bored than upset. Good for him; he'd already figured out Chuck was all bark and no bite.

"Sure." I scowled at the kid. "Told you if you welched I'd find you."

The kid's eyes, as blue as the California sky, widened. Chuck glanced between us.

"He owe you money?"

"Promised it this morning."

Chuck shook his head. Turd was laughing again. It was pathetic that anybody could be so easily manipulated. I kept my mean face on anyway.

"Feel sorry for you," Chuck said to the kid. "Everybody knows what a loan shark Lanch is."

I lit another cigarette.

"You done? Me and him, we need to have a little talk."

"Don't hurt him too bad. Frank will pitch a fit if cameras are short-handed tomorrow."

Somehow I wasn't shocked to hear the kid was on Frank's crew. That man had an eye. Chuck was already walking away. The kid gazed at me, interest and uncertainty pouring off him in equal doses.

"C'mon."

I turned and headed for the Buick. He followed me.

"What'd you bust?" I asked, once we were inside.

"Lighting rig."

"Why were you carrying zaps if you're on Frank's crew?"

"Chuck told me to."

"Figures. Where's Frank?"

"He owe you money, too?"

"Maybe."

The kid's look was way too knowledgeable. I drew on my cigarette and let my eyes run over the kid the way most men looked at her. Boy wasn't dumb; he knew the score. I offered the kid a Winston and lit it after he stuck it between his lips. The dimple in his chin was perfect. Yeah, Frank had an eye. The kid rolled the passenger side window down and cocked his head.

"How long you been a driver?"

"Since before you were born."

"I'm twenty-five."

I gave him the hairy eyeball, and a faint blush stained his cheeks.

"You're not a day over eighteen." I blew a plume of smoke out and started the Buick. "If you're even that old."

"I'm old enough."

He looked around, taking in the swank interior, and his eyes got huge.

"This is her car!"

I nodded as we rolled off the set.

"What's she like?" he asked.

"Didn't you just spend an entire day watching her?"

"Yeah."

"Jack and Tony take bets on how many takes she'd need to get her lines straight?"

He nodded.

"Who won?"

"The costume guy."

This time my laugh was genuine. The kid joined in and for the first time since I'd started driving the Buick, I wished it was a convertible and not the hardtop.

"You staying at the hotel?" I asked. We'd already made a circle of the joint. I wasn't about to keep driving around the place with the kid in the front seat.

"Yeah, got a room with a couple of the C-crew. What about you?"

"I'm solo."

"How'd you score that?"

"Gotta be available twenty-four hours for her."

"Why?"

"Cause that's what her contract says."

I pulled into space number twenty-one and turned the big V8 off. We got out and walked inside the Coronado with nary another word spoken.




The knock on my door came at just before midnight.

"It's open," I called.

The door opened and the kid walked in. His hair was damp. I motioned him over to the table where I sat.

"Wasn't sure you'd show."

He stood beside me and shook his head when I pointed at the other chair. I stood.

"What time's your call?"

"Six."

I nodded. I was pretty sure he wouldn't be here past one. I crossed to the bed and let my white hotel towel slip to the floor. When I turned to sit, he was right in front of me, shirt gone, belt undone, fingers working to get his heavy denim jeans unbuttoned. I grabbed the material at the sides and yanked it down, taking his shorts with the jeans.

I don't know if I leapt or he pounced, but we landed in a tangle of arms and legs in the center of the narrow bed. He smelled like smoky lemons and tasted like spearmint. I could've spent hours just touching his skin.

The sex was over too quickly.

I rose and stalked over to my cooler. I got a beer and looked back over my shoulder. The kid stretched out on the bed, his sandy hair tussled and a silly grin on his face.

"You want a beer?"

"I want another go."


I dropped the beer back into the cooler and contemplated grabbing some ice to cool the kid off, but felt a grin as silly as his spread across my face. Another go sounded great, and after all…some like it hot.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

DUST BEFORE ASH - A PREQUEL STORY


Happy Valentine's Day, my readers! As a thank-you to everybody who's waited so patiently while I shopped the Dust & Ash series to publishers, I'm posting up a special prequel story.

As a disclaimer, because I try to be scrupulous about that kind of thing, this story contains sexual activity between minors.

ENJOY!

* * * *
DUST BEFORE ASH
By Tucker McCallahan © 2016

This is a copyrighted work of fiction. All rights reserved.


The lights in the hallway to the laundry room were broken.

Micah took in the gloom, the whiff of sulfur in the air, and the bits of broken glass still on the floor. He gazed down the hallway to where the heavy doors to the camp laundry room stood closed.

They were only supposed to be closed in emergencies.

Micah shook his head in disgust. It fucking figured. He quickly arranged his things into a bundle he could hold with one arm, eyes watchful. It was Monday, too, dammit.

He stalked down the hall taking slow, deep breaths to center himself. Sure enough, when he got within two yards of the doors, they opened. Micah recognized a member of Malos, one of the Hispanic gangs from So Cal. Despite his sneer and amateur ink, dude only hit Micah at mid-chest and was probably forty or fifty pounds lighter. Micah dropped his small bundle of laundry to the floor and loosened his stance.

It wasn't even a scuffle. Couple love taps and dude hit the floor.

Micah scooped up his laundry and rushed through the doors.

He heard them before he saw them. The steady hum of the machines backed a chorus of hoots and catcalls, punctuated by regular swearing, thudding, and thumping as three Malos wailed on somebody.

It was the new kid. Little white-haired ghost of a skate punk had arrived at El Paso de Robles School for Boys and Los Robles Camp right after New Year's. In just over a month he'd managed to almost off himself twice. Word around the camp was that he was a meth-head, bent, and totally fucking insane. At the present moment, three Malos fucktards were tearing his uniform off as they forced his legs open.

The gravity of that situation clearly outweighed any other concerns Micah might've had about the kid. He dropped his shit and launched his considerable bulk at the attackers.

Gangbangers were such pussies.

Micah's mitt of a hand closed around number-one's throat. Fingers sinking into damp skin, Micah yanked the closest guy off the kid and tossed him face-first into the wall. Number-two was too busy pulling his dick out to notice his friend slide to the floor, nose bloody and his eyes unfocused. Micah got a glance of the kid's face all pounded to hell, and then Micah's knee slammed into number-two's balls. He crumpled against a washing machine and heaved, vomiting everywhere. Number-three whipped around and rushed at Micah, the scraps of the kid's uniform pants falling from his hands. Micah dodged a sloppy combination that didn't even come close to connecting. With a lunge, Micah rotated from the hips up through his torso into his shoulders and threw all two hundred pounds behind his wrist. The power jab took number-three squarely in the face.

One by one Micah dragged the homeboys to the double doors and bodily tossed them out of the laundry room into the dark hallway. He had no way of knowing how much more time they had before somebody investigated why the lights were smashed. His left hand throbbed to the rhythm of his accelerated heartbeat. He shook it out and it hurt worse, but not even the possibility of a broken hand could dampen Micah's spirits. The whole world looked brighter and smelled sharper. It had been a nice little scuffle.

Micah jogged back over to where the kid huddled mostly-naked on the laundry room floor. One arm hugged his torso as he carefully wiped his swollen face. He peered up at Micah. His eyes were like creamy, golden toffee. Combined with his white-blond hair, the kid had an exotic look no amount of snot, sweat, or blood could ruin. A wave of protectiveness welled up inside Micah. Something clicked, and suddenly everything Gregos had been trying to tell him for the last three years made perfect sense. Micah stared at the kid with equal parts of wonder and gratitude.

The kid spit a mouthful of blood on the floor and winced. "Thanks," he whispered. His voice was surprisingly deep.

"Micah. Been watching you, blondie. You got a death wish?"

"No." At Micah's disbelieving smirk, the kid sighed. "Just…" He shifted on the floor and grimaced, an involuntary moan slipping free. "Well…" Tears cut tracks through the mess on his face. "Yeah."

"Come on." Micah grabbed a clean white towel and pitched it at the kid. "Let's get you cleaned up. I think we should talk."

"About what?"

"Options."

"Options? Options for what?"

"For you. Your future. Death isn't an option, man. There are other things that are far more satisfying."

Micah offered the kid his hand, but the kid ignored it. He crawled to the closest rumbling machine and used it to climb to his feet. One of his eyes was swelling shut.

"No offense, Micah, but I don't think you're my type."

"Yeah, I am. And you're totally my type." They couldn't hang out and rap here; they had to get the fuck out of Dodge. "Come on."

"Uh, maybe I'm not being clear. I'm gay. Really gay, not the play gay shit that the idiots here are doing till they get out."

Somehow the kid managed to look fierce despite being pulped only minutes before. A dozen scenes where Micah had thrown that same look at Gregos flashed through Micah's head, and he laughed. He jerked a dryer door open and rummaged through the contents. Micah offered the kid a pair of pants.

"I got a boyfriend who would eat you for breakfast, blondie."

The kid stared at him like Micah was going to use the uniform pants to strangle him. Micah tossed them at his feet. The kid had reason to be suspicious. He'd been jumped, beaten, and nearly raped.

"Sorry. But, if you've got a boyfriend, then…uh…"

"Doesn't matter. I'm not talking about sex." Micah's gaze roamed over the kid. OK, he shouldn't outright lie to his new protégé. "Not really.”

“What are you talking about?”

"C'mon." Micah moved several steps toward the double doors. "I've got all kinds of things to teach you."

A door slammed somewhere nearby. The kid jumped, then limped after Micah. After checking the hallway, Micah led the kid to the stairwell.

"Huh uh." The kid shook his head. "I'm not going in there."

"Kid, if I wanted your ass I could've joined the line in the laundry room."

Grumbling, the kid stepped into the stairwell. Micah followed him in and held the heavy steel fire door so it didn't slam behind them. He strode forward, leading the way down the stairs. The kid followed, still mumbling under his breath.

"What's that?"

"I said I'm not a fucking kid. My name's Dustin."

"OK Dustin. What'd you do to piss Malos off?"

Dustin stopped and Micah, several steps ahead, paused to glance back at him. Dustin still hugged his torso with one arm, but Micah recognized the set of his body. Dustin was ready to run.

"Fuck kid, I'm not gonna hurt you."

"Sure."

"Look I need to know what's up in case I get questioned." Micah's sky blue eyes hardened. "You into them for dope?"

"No."

"Kid–"

"Dustin."

"Whatever." Micah led Dustin down to a door marked Maintenance Only. He opened it as carefully as he'd closed the other door. "I'm ten for homicide and I've already done two. You can't surprise me. Now what the fuck did you do to get on Malos' bad side?"

They stood in a maintenance tunnel partially lit by red emergency lights. Micah moved ahead and led the way, hunching down so his head didn't hit the reinforced archways of the tunnel. Dustin's answer sounded ghostlike as it reached Micah.

"S.O."

"No shit?"

"No shit."

Micah let that tidbit roll around in his head. Just because Los Robles was a secure facility for minors convicted as adults, that didn't mean it was any different from a regular prison. Dustin's suicide attempts might've saved his life. Malos was notorious for their hatred of sex offenders.  

Hitting a junction, Micah made a hard left and led Dustin from the camp tunnels to the school tunnels. Hopefully he could get Dustin to the infirmary before Malos found out their boys had failed. Otherwise, the kid would get his wish. He'd be dead within a week.

*

Dustin stood in the doorway to Micah's room. Everything he owned was stacked in a pile on the lower bunk.

It was a damn small pile.

Micah was in the middle of the floor doing push-ups.
"Just a sec. Have to finish the set." If he was counting, he was doing it silently. After four more push-ups, Micah stood. He was exactly like Dustin remembered: massive. He stretched his arms out, muscle straining the seams of his uniform shirt, and tilted his head left and then right. He pointed to Dustin's things.

"Didn't know if you wanted top or bottom." Micah's blue eyes sparkled. "I like both."

Dustin tried to scowl, but his swollen face refused. One day and one night in the infirmary hadn't done shit for a broken nose and a bunch of broken ribs. They hadn't even given him anything for pain, just doped him up on even more psych meds and kicked him out. He fully expected to land in protective custody, which was what Los Robles called solitary confinement. The director had been pissed that Dustin wouldn't say a word about the beating. Instead of a nice empty room to call his own, though, Dustin was escorted to a new room.

Micah's room.

Dustin stomped over to the bunk beds, throwing the best glare he could manage in Micah's direction.

"I've got broken ribs, dumbass. If you want to sleep on the lower bunk, I'll crash on the floor." Dustin deliberately refused to look at Micah. The psych meds might've kept the dragon asleep, but they did little to improve Dustin's mood.

Micah shrugged and dropped back down onto the floor. He resumed his push-ups.

Dustin sat on the bed, but his ribs hurt like a motherfucker. He tried to lay down and couldn't get comfortable that way, either. Even just lying flat on his back was excruciating. He shifted, moving gingerly, and a huge body pillow landed beside him. Micah sat down on the floor beside the bed.

"You need it way more than I do."

"No thanks."

"You look miserable."

Dustin closed his eyes. He might've been willing to believe a guy that looked like Micah would pull the savior routine. But ending up in Micah's room? The bad pun about tops and bottoms? Now Micah offered exactly what Dustin needed to sleep? Dustin sighed and managed to roll enough that he could see Micah.

"Look. Thanks for helping me out Monday. But I'm not gonna be anybody's bitch in here, especially yours."

"Dustin–"

"I figure since I'm here, you've got some pull with the director. Just tell him to dump me in solitary. Or back in the psych ward."

"Shut. Up."

Dustin's mouth snapped shut at the tone of Micah's voice.

"You know what Fate is?" At Dustin's confused look, Micah continued. "Fate. Predestination. The idea that our choices aren't really choices. Any of this ringing a bell?"

"I don't believe in Fate. I'm here because of my choices. I know how real they are."

"You mean you think you know. You being here? It's Fate."

"No. It's fault. Mine."

"Ever heard the story of Oedipus?"

Dustin's head was ready to spin off. The anti-psychotics and anti-depressants made him feel heavy and dull. The last thing he wanted to talk about was Greek tragedy.

"Yeah. Guy killed his dad and fucked his mom. Could we talk about this next week?"

"No. How about Aristotle? Ever read his On Interpretation?"

"No. I'm tired."

"You're not tired; you're drugged. Pay attention."

"Did you miss where I said I wasn't gonna be your bitch?"

"I ignored it. And I'm not gonna leave you alone until you listen."

"Oh my god. You're like a toddler!"

"Aristotle said a chair is a chair, no matter what language we use to describe it. The thing, the chair itself, is a chair no matter what. With me?"

"A chair is a chair." Dustin's deep voice came out in a flat monotone.

"Right. He then tells us every statement is, out of necessity, either true or false."

"Well that's not right."

""Except it is. You just admitted it." Micah pointed at the pillow. "That is a pillow. Now my statement is either true or false. If that's a pillow, then it's true. If that's not a pillow, then it's false."

"Sure. A chair is a chair. A pillow is a pillow. True is true, false is false, and I'm tired."

"And I'm about to prove to you that we're gonna have sex and it's Fate. Even if you say no now, it'll still happen."

"Not in this fucking lifetime."

"Sex between us will occur. Sex between us will not occur. Based on Aristotle's method, if one of those statements is true, then the other is false."

"Right. We're not ever gonna fuck, so that's the truth."

"Let's say though, that I'm right. Sex between us will occur. If that's true, then it's always been true. It's even true now, before it's happened."

"You talk in riddles. You're like a damn sphinx."

Dustin really was tired. He'd slept like shit in the infirmary. Micah's body pillow was the perfect firmness and it smelled really good, like some kind of musky cologne. He relaxed into it and wanted to weep at finally being comfortable. He was fully willing to listen to Micah babble for use of the pillow.

"Think about it. If my statement was always true, then sex was always going to happen. But if sex was always going to happen, then it's impossible for sex not to happen. That means that sex can't not happen."

"Huh?"

"If something can't not happen, that means it has to happen. If it has to happen, then it's necessity, and whatever choices you make don't really matter." Micah jumped up and went to one of several large stacks of books against the wall. He pulled one free and flipped through it. "I'm probably not saying it the best way. Aristotle is a lot easier to understand."

Micah found the section he wanted.

"OK, this is it. '…If it was always true to say that it was or would be, it could not not be, or not be going to be. But if something cannot not happen it is impossible for it not to happen; and what cannot not happen necessarily happens. Everything, then, that will be will be necessarily.'" Micah slapped the book closed with a triumphant smile. "Which means you being here? Fate. Us meeting? Fate. Sex? Fate."

All Micah got for his philosophical proof was a soft snore. Dustin was out cold, carefully wrapped around Micah's body pillow.

Micah returned Aristotle to his place, dropped back down to the floor, and resumed doing push-ups, a smile on his face.

*

Despite their rocky start as roommates, Micah and Dustin got along pretty well. If Micah wasn't eating, sleeping, or attending classes, he was either reading or exercising. Sometimes he read while he exercised. They got free time in the evenings, but Dustin had no desire to be in any of the common areas.

Surprisingly, Micah didn't socialize either. He occasionally went to the weight room, but he didn't play basketball, cards, or watch TV.

Unlike the crazy "sex can't not happen" debate, most of what Micah said was logical, practical, and made sense. He was starting his third year at Los Robles; he had their system and rules memorized. After a few weeks, Dustin stopped getting angry at Micah's sexual puns and double entendres. That was just Micah's personality, and as he'd proven over time, he wasn't going to hurt Dustin or force him into sex.

What Micah did push Dustin into was school. Back in Flordeperla, all Dustin had really cared about was getting high, skateboarding, and playing the drums. School was the place he went to see his friends and score meth. When Micah found out how far behind Dustin was, he insisted Dustin attend classes and do homework, often tutoring him. Dustin discovered a love for reading that rivaled Micah's, and in no time stacks of books cycled through their room from the county library's loan system.

The cuts, scratches, and bruises from the Malos attack faded. Dustin's ribs healed. Instead of watching Micah exercise, Dustin joined him, usually doing about a quarter of whatever Micah was doing.
They talked for hours. Dustin had been born and raised in San Diego, while Micah was a San Francisco native. One of their favorite topics of conversation was Southern California versus Northern California. Micah had no intention of ever leaving the state; Dustin couldn't wait to move as far away as humanly possible.

That duality permeated their relationship. Though they were both born in July and Cancer signs, they were as different as night and day. A lot of their conversations became debates, usually with Micah whipping out whatever philosopher he was currently reading to back up his argument. Several times their arguments got loud and passionate enough to bring staff to their door. That inevitably meant the nurse who made rounds first thing every morning stuffed extra drugs down Dustin's throat. His regular meds were so heavy Dustin napped every afternoon, so Micah did his best to keep his enthusiasm under control. He didn't like Dustin all drugged out any more than Dustin liked being that way.

The two settled into a routine together, a nice, comfortable friendship.

*

Dustin sat at his desk. He had an English essay to write and had spent the last hour procrastinating. A number-two pencil in each hand, he drummed on his book and paper, head bobbing to the rhythm. He looked over at Micah who was buried in some new book by Jean Genet.

For the last week, Dustin couldn't look at Micah without getting an erection. It wasn't just how massive and muscular he was, Dustin had never had a friend like Micah. He knew all about Micah's boyfriend, the very amazing, very rich, very old Dr. Kalogeros, which meant Dustin knew the relationship was open. He didn't understand it, but he knew Micah wasn't lying. Dustin's relationships had all been so awful, but his friendship with Micah was perfect.

Dustin missed being touched. He was alone in the world at fifteen. He didn't just miss being touched, he needed it so badly. Gathering his courage, he cleared his throat.

"Hey…remember that talk we had about Aristotle?"
"What talk?" Micah didn't glance up. "That paper is due Monday."

"I know. I'll get it done. You tried to explain Aristotle to me and I fell asleep. Remember?"

This time Micah turned in his chair. His blue eyes sparkled.

"You mean when I proved we'd end up having sex. I remember."

"Well, you didn't prove it."

""If something can't not happen, then it has to happen."

"But wasn't your whole argument based on your statement being true? What if it wasn't?"

Other than the visits he got from Gregos every two weeks, debating philosophy was what made Micah happiest in the world. His eyes gleamed and he turned his chair around so he could face Dustin.

"OK. Let's say your statement was true. What was it again?"

"That sex wouldn't happen."

"If that's true, then it's always been true. That's Aristotle's theory, right?"

"Yeah, see, I actually had a question about that."
"Go ahead."

"Well if what I said was true, there'd have to be a reason for it to be true."

"Aristotle says–"

"Forget Aristotle." Dustin had long since stopped drumming with his pencils. He stood up and tried to ignore his shaking hands. He took the five steps to where Micah sat, and with every step, the vibe in the room got heavier. Dustin's voice was breathy when he finally spoke. "Is what I said true because sex between us would be bad?"

Micah's pupils expanded. Anything that came out of his mouth might ruin this, and he'd waited more than patiently. He stared up at Dustin and shook his head.

"Is it true because you're with Dr. Kalogeros?"

"No," Micah whispered. "You know that."

Dustin melted onto Micah's lap, one hand clutching at Micah's shirt for balance.

"Maybe we should conduct an experiment."

Dustin's head dipped, and his lips trembled as they met Micah's. Dustin moaned and sank into the kiss with everything he had. Micah took that for consent. His big arms wrapped around Dustin, one hand cupping the back of Dustin's head to hold him steady as they devoured each other.

Micah stood taking Dustin with him. He carried Dustin with one arm, mouths still locked, as he dragged his chair over to their door and wedged the back under the handle. In three steps they were at the bunk beds, and the body pillow went flying as Micah swept the lower bunk clear. He deposited Dustin on the mattress and rose up long enough to yank his uniform off.

Dustin had been fully solid since his ass met Micah's lap. Micah naked and looming over him was almost too good. Dustin scrambled to get his clothes off. He wanted skin, heat, pressure, and he wanted it all right fucking now.

Micah knew he was more experienced than Dustin. Their talks over the last seven weeks had strayed to sex and boyfriends more than once. He also knew what Dustin had done to end up in Los Robles. Micah gazed down and couldn't help blinking a few times. Dustin fully erect was…daunting.

"I'll bottom." Dustin reached out a hand to Micah with a smile. "This time."

Micah laughed, and suddenly everything was all right. He kissed Dustin's hand and then spun around, heading for his books. Micah grabbed his beat-up dictionary, opened it, and removed condoms. He dropped the paperback on the floor and stalked back over to Dustin grinning like a lunatic.

It was so good. Hands, warm lips, Micah's weight pressing Dustin down into the mattress. As Micah slid home, the burn and fullness almost eradicated how empty Dustin felt inside.

Almost.

Though it felt like they moved and slid against each other for hours, in reality only minutes elapsed before Dustin buried his face in Micah's shoulder and came with a soft cry. Micah followed him over the edge a few seconds later, his dark hair sweat-dampened.

They laid on the thin bed, sated and breathless. Micah held Dustin, and kissed him gently.

"I need a shower."

Dustin smiled.

"I think we both need a shower."

"I didn't even look at the clock. How long do we have before checks?"

"Not long." Dustin looked guilty. "I couldn't help it. I've been trying to figure out how to ask for this for a week."

Micah kissed him again and chuckled.

"What're you laughing at, sphinx?"

"You. I told you sex would happen."

"And you're always right."

"Not always, but often enough to room with a dragon."

They rose and dressed. Micah reclaimed his chair. Just as they returned to their studies, the door opened. A staffer stood there. He frowned and sniffed.

"How long have you two been hitting the books? It stinks in here."

"We skipped showers to study." Micah lifted his book. "Test Monday."

"Don't skip showers anymore."

"We won't."


The staffer closed their door. Dustin and Micah looked at each other. They burst out laughing.

* * * *

Hope you enjoyed a little taste of life at Los Robles Camp. This was mostly written for character development, so if you're interested in reading more, please comment and let me know. Once again, I wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day!