By Dan Laws
It started in the office kitchen, one of those unfortunate incidents, a sudden spasm that took my hand and squeezed the tumbler till it smashed into jagged pieces.
‘Shit! Man, are you alright?’ asked Declan, staring at my punctured palm.
I looked at the shard of glass protruding from my flesh with surprise.
‘Yeah, fine!’ I lied. ‘Get me a dressing, will you?’
‘But, mate, it isn’t even bleeding!’
‘It will,’ I told him, carefully prising the piece of glass from the wound. ‘The dressing? Quickly now.’
By the time Declan had returned with the first aid kit, a profuse amount of blood had spilled to the floor, so we stood side by side at the sink, cleaning and bandaging the wound. We liked our nearness and deliberately leant into each other’s firm bodies.
‘I think you are going to need stitches, Dan,’ he said.
‘I think I need you to kiss it better.’ ‘
‘Love to mate, but I’m a married man with kids,’ he laughed.
‘Get a room you two!’ said Glenda, my line manager, standing at the door with a smile.
Declan blushed and moved aside, busying himself with the first aid kit and closing the lid.
‘Sorry miss,’ I put on a display of chagrin, ‘I have cut my hand. Maybe you will kiss it better?’
Declan excused himself and squeezed past Glenda to find the cleaner.
‘How about over a drink tonight?’ she suggested, being forward, very forward. I like that in a person.
After a few drinks – well quite a few for Glenda – we found ourselves out on the pavement, waiting for a taxi. She was making sure that we made physical contact at every opportunity and had remained close to me all evening.
‘Will you be a gentleman and see me home, Dan?’ she meowed, her face resting on my chest. ‘I am afraid the Ghoulie-Man will get me.’
‘The goo-what-a man?’
‘The Ghoulie-Man!’ she responded with surprise. ‘You know, the monster that is going around the city dismembering and devouring unfortunate citizens. Don’t you watch the news?’
‘I do, I do, I just didn’t know that they had given it a name.’ I signalled to the taxi as it pulled up. ‘Rest assured you will be safe with me.’ In the taxi, Glenda all but sat on my lap and breathed heavily into my ear. We could have made small talk, chatting about this and that, but she was only interested in one thing. Finally, impatient, Glenda leant in and bit my earlobe.
‘Oh! Your ears are so cold!’ she said, pulling away.
‘Perhaps I need you to warm them up,’ I hinted at possibilities.
Glenda giggled like a school girl, ‘My thighs make excellent, excellent, earmuffs!’ She was more intoxicated than I realised as she continued, ‘But I just want to say this, I just want to say that you smell nice, you smell all, all organic and earthy.’
A sense of foreboding knotted my stomach.
‘And I know what your scent of choice is too,’ I interjected, hoping to head her off. ‘Xerjoff, I would know that perfume anywhere.’
‘Ha! Flattery will get you everywhere, you cheeky young man. Sadly, it is only Clive Christian but thanks for the compliment.’
‘Sorry, it has been years since I visited the Amalfi Coast.’
Glenda persisted, ‘But back to your smell, I know what that smell is… I do, I know.’
I gave her a quick appraisal and decided to do nothing.
‘Truffles! That’s what you smell like.’ She leant forward, laughing, and tapped the driver on the shoulder. ‘Doesn’t he smell like truffles?’
We shared a laugh and then I indicated that we had arrived at our destination, Glenda’s apartment building. I told the driver to wait and guided her up to her unit’s door, waited while she fumbled for her keys then turned to go. She looked at me confused as the door swung open.
‘Aren’t you coming in for a, for a night cap?’
‘Not tonight,’ I replied, ‘big day tomorrow, lots of pressure.’
‘Sorry Dan, I have to ask, I’m just going to put this out there… but are you… gay?’ her bleary eyes examined me. ‘You, Declan, me… the perfume…’
‘Another night maybe, when the pressure is off, good night.’
‘Ah, erectile dysfunction, there are tablets for that you know?’ She stepped past the door and disconsolately started to swing it shut, ‘Ni-night truffles.’
The boardroom the next morning was alive and frantic, conversations ricocheting around the room. I cornered Declan and held up my neatly bandaged hand.
‘Four stitches at Saint Edmunds,’ I boasted.
‘You still right to play squash this afternoon?’
‘I can beat you one handed,’ I said as I took my place at the table.
One of the team asked where Glenda was, it wasn’t like her to be late, another pointed me out and said that she had had a hot date.
‘I was the perfect gentleman,’ I protested. ‘I saw her to her door and was home by ten.’
‘Yeah, she rang me at ten thirty,’ said the stenographer, ‘fruuuustrated!’
There was a titter of understanding and I would have blushed if I could.
‘I just hope that the Ghoulie-Man didn’t get her!’ continued the secretary.
‘No, I heard it struck on the other side of the city last night,’ I said, but there was a chorus of disagreement, apparently there was more than one Ghoulie-Man now.
Derek, the beloved old man, took Declan and myself aside with a concerned look on his face. ‘Management is worried that our, our research, at the lab, is somehow connected with these “Ghoulie-Man” killings. I need you to confirm that it isn’t!’
‘It isn’t sir, the facility is totally secure,’ I rushed to assure him. ‘I have audited security myself and it is airtight.’
‘Good Dan, good,’ he nodded, ‘but I want you to check again, okay?’
‘Very good sir.’
‘And Declan, I want you to cover for Glenda while she is not here, blast that woman,’ pinching his palms with his nails, ‘I need to know how the project is going. How are things in the lab?’
‘Yes sir, everything is fine.’ Derek had turned to walk away but Declan, obviously wanting to protect the old man from more concerns, felt like he had to advise, ‘there is one issue, sir, that we are working to address.’
Derek swung back, alarmed.
‘Most of the units are conforming, but occasionally one, perhaps two, are showing signs of superior intellect,’ continued Declan. ‘They are um, high on the IQ score and can think laterally.’
‘Is that a bad thing, Declan?’ I asked. ‘Can’t we put that to good use?’
‘They also exhibit a tendency for self-preservation and an aggressive propensity for procreation.’
The old man was shaken. ‘Aggressive?’
‘They have managed to infect two lab technicians, sir,’ was Declan’s admission.
‘Lock down! Immediate lock down!’ came the Chief Executive’s urgent order. ‘How many units do we have?’
‘About one hundred,’ I replied.
‘And how many rogue units?’
‘A dozen sir, including the two lab technicians,’ Declan said quietly.
‘A dozen? A dozen? What happened to one or two?’ the old man asked, aghast.
Declan shrugged mournfully.
‘Sterilise the lab, nuke it,’ came the decision, ‘compliant units, rogues, viruses, the lot! I don’t want a shred of this program to remain.’ With that he walked to the door, ‘Disappointed in you Declan, for not keeping on top of this. We will just have to start again, start from the beginning.’ And he was gone.
‘Well, it looks like your hand will be well healed before we get a chance to play that game of squash‘ mumbled a rueful Declan.
‘I don’t know mate, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to act. It’s just a knee jerk reaction,’ I said, placing my arm around his broad rugby shoulders. ‘Besides I don’t think management will want to put the program back ten years, not now we are so close.’
‘Yeah, I suppose.’
‘Suppose? I can see management now, think of the profits man, think of the profits!’ I cajoled him.
Declan smiled. ‘One-handed?’
I held up my good hand, ‘One-handed.’
The game was hard, a fierce battle between two well-matched opponents and I had to admit that Declan was in magnificent form as I blatantly admired his striking physique in the post-game shower. His supressed sexual peccadillo was quickly unravelling under my somewhat psychic empathy and I decided to take a risk.
‘Soap me up?’ I asked, offering Declan the soap.
I wasn’t wrong. Without hesitating he took the soap and slowly lathered my back, enjoying a sensual pleasure before sliding his hands around my waist. I pushed against him so that he knew his ministrations were welcome and reaching up he began to massage my taut pectorals and tense with arousal obliques. I could feel his swollen manhood nestling between my buttocks and I smiled in anticipation. I easily turned around in his soapy grip and with a sharp move, captured his lower lip with my teeth and bit firmly. This had the desired effect.
‘I like it a bit rough!’ he told me, and I groaned with delight as he lifted his chin, exposing his trunk-like throat to my reach.
I dived right in but in my haste missed the intended target and didn’t puncture the skin.
‘Fuck! Not too rough!’ he cried, but I re-assured him and moved to the other side of his neck.
Blood from his ruptured carotid artery sprayed the roof with a giant gash then blanketed the cubicle with a creamy red, saturating me with his life juice.
‘What the…? Oh shit!’ he cried as I held him in my arms, resisting the urge to gorge myself on his flesh, a ghoulish waltz in a crimson ballroom.
‘Tasty,’ I told him, ‘not as tasty as Glenda but you would make a delectable feast.’
Declan looked at me with bewildered eyes, not comprehending.
‘Fortunately for you, I need you intact, beside me – an ally.’
Declan died in my arms and I gently lowered him to the cubicle floor. I furiously showered down the walls, ceiling and myself before anyone else entered and then retrieved the treasured syringe from my kit bag. It took only a moment to infect Declan with the virus from the lab and I was dried and dressed before he woke up, a new life, exotic, erotic in his innocence.
I moved back into the cubicle and, carefully squatting, brought my face to his. I gave him a lingering kiss, enjoying the cold, bloodless lips then pulled away.
‘Get dressed quickly,’ I told him, ‘but be careful to cover that mark. We have a lot of work to do.’
The doctor is quiet, his head resting on his chest, the ubiquitous notebook propping up his swinging arm.
‘So, it is like this Doc, Declan and I want to consummate our relationship, we want to hit a home run, but we can’t!’ I am staring into my empty shot glass. With a non-functioning digestive tract, the alcohol would have no effect whatsoever, but it was a comfort to try. ‘Without blood neither of us can ejaculate and we certainly can’t get an erection.’
The doctor groans then rolls off the couch. Unfortunately, despite his prodigious intellect, the virus has rendered him brain dead.
‘We, our community, have all sorts of carnal desires and lustful urges,’ I say as I pour another shot. ‘Just because I am dead doesn’t mean I don’t get aroused.’
I swallow the fine malt in a single mouthful and walk to the window, staring down at the teeming mass of humanity.
‘Without an orgasm, what is left?’ I ponder. ‘We are nearly immortal, but feeding, feasting, gorging? Is that all there is?’