Geeky freshman Ryan is given a camera with special selfie-editing options that Instagram hasn’t thought of yet. As Ryan adjusts to his modified body, he then applies the camera’s effects to his jerk of a roommate, leading to all sorts of complications and an unexpected encounter with his roommate’s bro buddy Shiloh.
After I texted my dad the photo showing how much his camera had changed me, I zonked out pretty fast. Growing six inches and eighty pounds in one night will do that to a guy.
Not sure whether it was the sound or the smell of the fart that woke me up, but the combination of the two was lethal. I rubbed my eyes and held my breath as I heard the low chuckling of my dumbshit roommate Cole. The fucker was plastered, and his idea of subtle humor was to wake up his roommate at 3 a.m. and fart in his face.
“Hey, baby, can I borrow a diaper from you?” he said in a demented whisper, hardly able to contain his laughter. Even his dimwit buddies hanging in the doorway were telling him he was being immature and should leave me alone.
I just reached up and gripped his wrist, then twisted his arm around his back, amazed by my strength. He sure wasn’t expecting that from his wimpy roommate.
“Ow, ow ow!,” he yelped. He whispered to his pals by the door, “Fuck, I’m in the wrong room!” His loyal friends freaked out and ran away.
“No, you’re in the right place,” I whispered. “You just fucked with the wrong guy.” I climbed out of bed while maintaining hold of his arm. I flipped on the light over my bed and could see clearly on his face just how much pain he was in, so I let go. His arm fell slack at his side. He rubbed his shoulder and turned around. I got a real kick out of watching his eyes as they caught their first glimpse of my broad chest and my giant arms, then moved up and up until he saw me grinning down at him. I now had a good couple inches on him and, except for the part covered by my exercise pants, all of my new muscle was on prominent display.
He stared stupefied at my face, which basically hadn’t changed but looked a shitload more bad-ass on this body. If he hadn’t been so drunk, his brain probably would have exploded at seeing the stud his “baby” roommate had become. Instead, he was just really, really confused. He poked his index finger into my firm pecs, like he was trying to make sure they were real. “Didn’t you used to be a little pussy?” he asked.
“Yeah, but the campus food plan is awesome. Lotsa protein,” I said, continuing to mess with him. “This is only after one week. By next week, I won’t fit through the door.”
Cole stood dazed in the middle of the room, his eyes glazed over like he had passed out standing up. Just like he had been doing to me, I touched his chest with a finger. He toppled right over and was snoring on the floor within a minute. I couldn’t leave the idiot just lying there, so I lifted him up and carried him to his bed. He felt surprisingly light in my bulging arms. I scooted a trash can next to his bed, just in case he needed to hurl during the night.
On my way back to bed, I noticed I had gotten some texts while I was asleep. Dad had written back after seeing the photo of my new body:
“WHOA, buddy. I guess the camera DID work. You might want to scale it back and take things more gradually. Massive changes like that can be hard to adjust to.”
That was followed by:
“Oh, and you won’t need to buy new clothes. Just use the camera to adjust your old ones into whatever you like. :) Have fun, son, but don’t go overboard. Call me if you need advice.”
Despite what Dad thought, I felt like I was handling the changes pretty well, especially since he gave me the thing with no instructions. He always liked to do that, bring home some project from work and ask his geeky little kid if he could figure out what it did. It was a fun father-son bonding type of thing. I’m pretty slick with computers and shit, so it was never much of a challenge, but he’d never given me anything nearly as amazing as this before.
I carried the camera back to bed and stared at the picture of the new me. I didn’t even realize at first that I was stroking my cock, queering off to my own picture. When I looked at my dick, it seemed really small in the grip of my new sinewy hand. Seemed like I ought to be able to do something to change that.
I aimed the lens at my semi-hard cock and focused. I’d never taken a dick pic in my life. No one ever wanted to see my dick in the flesh, so who would want a picture of it? I clicked and the rear screen displayed my little friend. I brought up the menu and had to scroll pretty deep through the options before I reached the controls for “GENITALS”. The options were “MALE”, “FEMALE”, “BOTH”, “NEITHER” and “NON-HUMAN”. Guess those scientists at Dad’s company didn’t want to leave out any potential customers.
I stuck with “MALE” and discovered the options for “LENGTH—SOFT” and “LENGTH—HARD”. I only bumped up the soft length a little, figuring I didn’t want fitting my dick into a pair of underwear to become more of a challenge than solving a Rubik’s Cube. I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute, by the way. Not bragging, just the truth—although these big new hands and this lowered intelligence might slow down my speed a little. Then again, considering how long I was making my “LENGTH—HARD”, I didn’t figure I’d be having too many more Saturday nights sitting alone with nothing to do but fondle my Rubik’s Cube. I clicked “ACCEPT”, then “SAVE”, and flipped off the light. I was amazed how far my hand had to travel up and down the shaft of my cock as it grew to its new full length, and my fingertips didn’t even meet my thumb on the other side when I gripped the fucker. Once I finally fired, I coated my chest and abs with more cum than I thought I had in me. Guess everything about me was bigger now.
In the morning, I woke up full of energy for the first time in my goddamn life. I actually felt like going for a run. On purpose. Not even because it would be good for my body, because obviously I could adjust this body however I wanted without a lick of exercise. No, I just wanted to go for a run because I thought it would be fun.
I pulled on my clothes from the night before, then snapped a selfie in the full length mirror on the back of our door. I musta spent half an hour going through the menus to decide what shirt and shorts and sneakers I wanted the camera to give me. I knew I could get sucked into a video game so deep that ten hours would pass and I wouldn’t even get up to take a leak, but I never thought I could be just as addicted to picking out clothes.
Once I chose a white tank top and some red running shorts that looked snug around my package, I checked myself out in the mirror and decided I would look even hotter with curly blond hair. So there went another ten minutes, as I figured out the exact shade and length I wanted. I settled on a nice rich honey color and adjusted my cap so it would fit (backwards, naturally) over my new halo of curls. I looked righteous. I clicked “SAVE” and the changes were locked in.
Cole snorted loudly, still lying on top of his rumpled bedspread, tongue hanging flaccid from his mouth and basically looking like shit. One hand was lazily scratching his belly underneath his beer-stained sleeveless tee and the other was stuffed down his cargo shorts. A naughty thought passed through my head. I snapped a quick photo of him, then tucked the camera in a pocket of my shorts and headed out for a nice long run.
The campus was beautiful that morning, with just a taste of fall chill sneaking into the morning sunshine. I’d never noticed how many people exercised in the morning, maybe because I was usually still in bed at this time. When I looked down, my arms and legs were swinging so fast and powerfully that my shadow was basically just a dark smudge speeding across the sidewalk. As my big feet pounded the pavement in my new Air Jordans, I smiled at all the chicks and guys who were running or walking or riding bikes or doing yoga, and nearly everybody smiled back. And why wouldn’t they? They weren’t looking at geeky Ryan Bradford any more, with his pencil-thin arms and legs. They were checking out Ryan Bradford, campus stud, whose muscles barely fit in normal clothing. I didn’t even feel like the same person any more. A dude like me oughta have a nickname. What would my drinking buddies call me, if I had drinking buddies? Or any buddies? How about Ry? “Hey, I’m Ry,” I muttered to myself as I ran. I liked the sound of it. “Yo, this is Ry.” I chuckled my deep new chuckle.
It was a thrill to see how many girls were staring at me, but the looks I was getting from guys were kinda freaking me out. Before last night, I found it hard to believe that any girl would be charitable enough to go to bed with me, but I never even considered that a guy might want to do it. I just wrote off all my fantasies about big hunky jocks as envy, not lust. Now, I felt like I could walk into any room on campus and seduce anyone in it. Male, female, both, neither or non-human. (Just kidding about the non-human thing. Gross.)
By the time I reached the lakeside pier, I must have run ten miles but I still wasn’t breathing hard. My shirt was soaked with sweat, so I pulled it off, the sunlight glistening on my wet torso. I stretched out on a bench. They seemed to go on forever, like they were longer than my whole body used to be. The lake and the trees looked so scenic, I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture. I checked the editing options, but wasn’t given anything unusual. Guess Dad’s company hadn’t figured out how to make the camera turn a sunrise into a sunset, or a tree into a polar bear. Yet.
I deleted the scenic photo, and the last photo I had taken showed up onscreen: Cole, sprawled in bed. I amused myself thinking about what modifications I would make to the jerk if I could. What was I thinking “if”? I could! Too bad the options wouldn’t let me change him from a prick into a decent guy. I could turn him into a GQ model and he’d still think it was hilarious to fart in my face. Then again, if I changed his body enough, maybe it’d change his behavior too. I was definitely acting differently as Ry than I had as Ryan. Maybe Cole could stand to be a little less like Ry and a little more like Ryan.
I brought up the “BODY TYPE” menu, where Cole was a obviously categorized as a “MESOMORPH”. I nudged the wheel toward “ECTOMORPH” and watched his muscles wither away until he was practically skeletal, even worse than I had been. Not sure even Cole deserved that big a punishment. I slid the wheel back toward “MESOMORPH” and got so aroused as his muscles grew back that my boner started to strain my shorts. My finger wavered on the dial until I hit a sweet spot where he was just muscly enough to turn me on but still puny enough to have an inferiority complex. His clothes now looked baggy on him, and he looked a couple inches shorter. I clicked “ACCEPT” and chuckled, wondering what must be going through Cole’s mind at that moment as the changes took place.
“What’s so funny?”
It was a chick’s voice. I looked around and saw a girl on the bench across the pier, looking right at me. She was just the kind of girl who always wanted to be my friend in high school. They weren’t total space cadets, because they appreciated my less obvious qualities enough to hang out with me, but they were definitely more interested in the football team than the chess club. This one had her red hair pulled back in a ponytail and wore glasses that screamed “I listen to NPR”, but her legs were tanned and toned enough that you knew she hadn’t spent the entire summer in her attic writing poetry. She was trying not to look like it, but I could tell she was scoping me out.
“Oh, just a picture of my roommate,” I said, still surprised every time I heard my new voice. I knew I had knocked down my IQ last night, but I sounded dumber than I felt. “Dumbass passed out drunk last night, so I…” I realized I shouldn’t explain any more. “Just did something funny to him is all.”
“Ah,” she said, smiling mildly and going back to her reading, not interested in hearing some sophomoric “dude” story. I hated that I was still so terrible at conversation, no matter how I looked. I noticed that she was reading a book I had also read over the summer. I could’ve struck up a conversation about that, but I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember what the book was about any more. I didn’t want to look too vain in front of her, so I decided to wait until I got back to my room to take another selfie and bump my IQ back up.
I stood up slowly, making sure the chick could get a real eyeful of my body as I stretched. I had no idea if I was stretching right, and based on the way she was smirking, I probably wasn’t. I walked over and extended my sweaty hand. “Name’s Ry. Hope to see you around.”
She declined the handshake, smiled back mildly and said, “Kay,” which I assumed was her name but could’ve been her just saying “‘kay” to get rid of me. Still, I’d made first contact.
I jogged back to the dorm, feeling even more energized than before. I felt incredibly horned up from changing Cole’s picture and talking to Kay and just the general friction of my shorts against my hard-on. I was ready to take a good long shower and a have a good long wank session when I got back, but when I got to the room, Cole was curled up in his bed, looking ready to shit his pants. His thin but still muscly arms were wrapped around his thin but still muscly legs, and his face had gotten skinnier too. He looked more like a sophomore in high school than a sophomore in college. With a shaky voice that sounded like it had barely escaped puberty, he said, “I think I caught the same thing that you did, only backwards. Look how little I am!”
I played dumb, even dumber than I was feeling. “Holy shit!” I sat down on the bed beside him and furrowed my brow. “I wonder what’s causing this.”
“I never heard of nothing like this. I tried looking it up on the Internet, but I didn’t even know where to start looking. Maybe it’s God’s revenge for me having so much sex.”
I looked down at my body. “So is this my reward for never having any?”
Cole actually laughed, and not in a mean way. I didn’t know he could do anything that wasn’t in a mean way. He looked so scared and vulnerable. “I wanna go see a doctor.”
“I’m sure there’s no need for that,” I said reassuringly. “I bet you’ll be back to normal by tomorrow.”
He looked back at me, doubtful. “My buddy Trent dropped by, but all he did was laugh at how I looked and my squeaky-ass voice. You’ll help me, won’t you?” His big eyes were pleading.
“Sure thing, Cole.” He leaned over and wrapped his lithe arms around me. When I hugged back, I could feel my erection lengthening. If Cole held me any closer, he was sure to feel it too. “There, there,” I said, trying to pull away from him, but he was clinging to me desperately, making my cock grow even longer. As I squirmed to avoid intimate contact, I noticed the camera sliding out of my pocket and landing on the bedspread, with the adjusted photo of Cole still lit up on the screen. If he saw that, I’d be fucked, and not in the good way. I snatched up the camera and held it behind his back. I rested my chin on his shoulder and patted his back. I could feel his teardrops mixing with the sweat from my run.
Let me say up front that I’m not proud of what I did next. I could blame it on the massive changes my body had gone through, which Dad had said took time to get used to. I could blame it on not having as much brain power as usual. I could blame it on having more testosterone in my system than Lance Armstrong on a bender, reliving old times. I could blame it on feeling Cole’s tight little body pressed so close against me. But the truth was, I just desperately needed to get off. So I looked at the photo of Cole and quickly found the menu for “ORIENTATION”. Cole’s initial setting was, not surprisingly, rock-solid “HETEROSEXUAL” Since my giant cock needed a blow job right fuckin’ now, he had to be into it one-hundred percent, so I swung him all the way to “HOMOSEXUAL”. I wasn’t dicking around. I clicked “ACCEPT”, promising to myself that I would switch him back to “HETERO” as soon as I was done.
The change in Cole’s behavior was subtle, definitely not as dramatic as if I had made the switch right in the middle of him farting in my face last night. He was already hugging me, but feeling Cole’s soft lips kissing my neck was strange. Fantastic, but something I could never have imagined would happen in a million years. He leaned back, his eyes looking a bit mystified, as if they weren’t yet as fully with the program as the rest of his body. Then he pushed me back on the bed and climbed out of his oversized shirt, revealing that he still had decent muscle tone and the hints of a six-pack. Instead of the burly bruiser he had been this morning, he now looked like a scrappy high-school wrestler, and he was looking down at me with pure lust. He yanked down on my shorts and we were both amazed to watch my cock rise to a rigid ninety-degree angle. I didn’t have a ruler handy, but we were probably looking at ten inches. I had set my max for twelve, so amazingly I still had some room to grow.
Cole looked at it hungrily and bent down, burying his head in my pubic hair, which must have been pretty rank after my long run. “Mmm,” he moaned. “Oh, yeah, baby.”
For the first time, I didn’t mind him calling me “baby”.
Cole licked his way up my shaft before working the head and as much of the shaft as possible between his lips. Maybe the camera had implanted some techniques, but he sure seemed to know what he was doing down there. He stuck one hand into his loose cargos and started to stroke himself. He worked my balls and shaft with his other palm while tending to my head orally.
I grabbed the foot of his bed with my hands and braced my feet against the headboard as his attack became more intense. I was getting so big down there that I worried he couldn’t handle it, but between his teeth, his lips and his tongue, he kept working me into a frenzy. I tried to keep my moaning down, but the guys in the rooms next to us must have heard the banging of the bed. They’d probably assume it was just Cole and some chick. A chick with a really deep moan. My arms and legs tightened as I braced myself for an orgasm that could be measured on the Richter Scale. Jizz blasted into Cole’s mouth and down his throat until the little guy had to pull away or else he would choke to death. He leaned against his headboard as my cock continued to blast his face and chest with hot cream. The pumping gradually slowed until my limp-ish cock flopped onto my abs and we both sagged lifelessly on the bed.
Cole looked shell-shocked. “Sorry, man. Something just came over me.”
“Yeah, that was me.” I smiled, looking at the glistening puddles on his skin.
He laughed, pushing me playfully with his bare foot, then wriggled out of his shorts, giving me a good look at his erect cock. It was damn impressive, especially on his compact new body. Proportionately, it was probably bigger than mine. He seemed perfectly happy stroking it himself, but I figured I owed the guy now, so I crawled my way toward him. I knew basically what I was supposed to do, although I’m sure my technique was amateurish even for a first-timer. Fortunately, Cole was gentle and helpful. He ran his hands through my curly hair and told me how hot it looked. Then he guided my head onto his cock and talked me through what he wanted each step of the way. He gushed sooner than I expected, sending most of his cum onto my chin and chest, but he looked very satisfied.
As I lay down with my head beside his, I felt something hard beneath me and heard the faint click of the camera. Cole curled up next to me and traced his finger along the contours of my muscles and into my belly button. “That was so ‘not me’, man. But I dunno, for some reason, it felt so right. Did you like it? Were you satisfied?”
“Yeah, Cole, I had a great time.” It was downright cute how vulnerable and considerate Cole had become.
“I know people ‘experiment’ with sex in college, but I never thought I would,” he said. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s just temporary. Maybe it’ll blow over by tomorrow.”
“I’m sure that’s it,” I told him. With any luck, when I made him straight again, he’d retain some of this kinder attitude and wouldn’t be such a giant ass any more.
“So,” he said in a sing-song voice, grinning at me, “you wanna fuck my ass?”
He seemed very eager, but my conscience was weighing on me already for turning him temporarily gay. I didn’t want to take any more advantage of him than I already had. It was almost like I’d slipped him a technological roofie.
I told Cole I was going to take a shower. Between the cum and the sweat, I had never reeked so badly in my life. My running clothes stank nearly as bad. Once I was cleaned up, I knew I would have to conjure up some fresh clothes with the camera. I stood up, carefully palming the camera in my hand so Cole wouldn’t see it, then slipping it into my underwear drawer.
I took a long hot shower, kneading the shampoo into my plentiful curls and realizing I had no idea how to care for a hairdo like this. Then again, maybe once I altered the photo, my hair would just stay like that until I took another photo and changed it again. Sure would’ve helped if Dad had given me some helpful hints. I wasn’t just tinkering with some ordinary product from his company like a virtual-reality system or a 3D printer. Well, actually, in a weird way, this was sort of the ultimate 3D printer. And I definitely felt like I was in a different reality.
With a towel wrapped around my waist, and envious glances directed my way from my neighbors, I strutted back down the hall to my room. When I got there, Cole was gone. I hadn’t seen him in the shower room or the bathroom. His oversized clothes were still lying on the bed and the floor where they had landed during our fuck session. Hard to imagine he was running around naked.
As I looked in my own closet for something that even approximately fit me, I noticed that a few items were missing. Nothing special, just a small black tee, some skinny black jeans and purple high-tops, but they all would have easily fit Cole at his new size. Still in my towel, I ran back into the hall and looked for him. I asked around whether anyone had seen Cole. Nobody had. Nobody seemed to have any clue who I was either. I ran back into our room and looked out the window, to see whether Cole was wandering around outside the dorm, but I couldn’t spot him.
Fortunately, we had exchanged phone numbers on the first day, before I realized what a tool he was, so I grabbed my cell phone and called him. After the first ring, I noticed Cole’s cargos inching slightly across the floor. Another ring, they moved again. I reached down and pulled his phone from the pocket of his discarded shorts.
I figured I’d better undo the camera’s effects before he got into a situation he didn’t expect. I opened my underwear drawer and was relieved to still find the camera there. If he had discovered it and taken it with him, who knows what could have happened?
I sat down on my bed naked and opened the revised photo of Cole. The word “SAVED” appeared at the bottom. I hadn’t remembered saving the image…unless that was the click when I accidentally sat on the camera. I tried to re-open the photo and make further adjustments, but none of the menus would open. Come to think of it, I had never gone back to make additional changes after hitting “SAVE”. Finally, a new message came on the display: “TAKE NEW PHOTO TO MAKE MORE CHANGES”.
Shit. So I would have to take another picture of Cole before I could change him back? That meant his horny little gay ass was wandering around out there, and it was all my fault.
I tried to fit into some of my old clothes, but everything was far too tight. So, since Cole had borrowed some of my stuff, I figured I could wear some of his. God, he had terrible taste, though. The nicest shirts he had were either football jerseys or camouflage jackets. It took me a minute to remember that it really didn’t matter what the clothes looked like to begin with. I could just change them to whatever I wanted. With that, I pulled on a sweatshirt, orange hunting pants, and muddy cowboy boots and took a picture of myself reflected in the mirror. I didn’t have time to dawdle getting my wardrobe perfect, so I quickly converted my outfit into a short-sleeved blue button-down, gray wool trousers and black penny loafers. Instead of drying my long curly hair, I just shrank it into a blond buzz cut. And I had the presence of mind to bump my IQ back up. While I was at it, I even gave myself an extra twenty points. I was going to need all the brain power I could get my hands on. I clicked “SAVE”.
Now, I asked myself, where would Cole go if he were gay?
I had no inkling where to start my search for my roommate Cole, having selfishly turned him from an abusive nincompoop into a frisky cocksucker just to satisfy my own sexual needs. Despite having boosted my intelligence substantially with the astonishing camera which my father had given me, I had little clue where my transformed roommate might have gone.
Cole’s cell phone, which I had retrieved from the pocket of the cargo shorts he left behind, began to vibrate. The screen displayed the name “SHILOH” with an accompanying photo of one of Cole’s posse extending his middle finger. Those gentlemen were all class.
I answered the call, stating, “Cole’s phone.”
The person at the other end laughed. “Uh, yeah, hi, Cole’s phone. Is Cole there?”
“No. You’re Shiloh, I take it?”
“Yeah, this is Shy. Who the fuck are you, and why the fuck do you have Cole’s phone?”
With irritation, I replied, “I the fuck am…a friend of Cole’s, and I the fuck have Cole’s telephone because he left it behind.”
“Where’d he go? Trent said Cole looked mad sick and would probably be in bed all day. I was just checking to see if he’s okay.”
“He’s far from okay. Do you have any ideas about where he might have gone?”
“Shit, I dunno. Let me call the other guys and see if any of them have heard from him. I’ll give you a call back.”
“Thank you. I’ll await your call.” I hung up, wondering why I sounded so uptight. Was it because I had raised my IQ that that I was talking like I had a stick lodged up my rectum? “Rectum”? What was with my vocabulary suddenly? For the first time in my life I looked cool and sexy, yet I sounded like an insufferable pedant. It was time for another readjustment. I raised the miraculous camera to take another photo of myself in the full-length mirror. I was becoming ever more proficient at operating the variety of menus and submenus, which I used to nudge my IQ back down to its usual level. Fortunately, my standard level of intelligence was still well above average, just not obnoxiously so. I somewhat reluctantly bade farewell to my heightened intellect with a simple tap of my finger…
…and a rush of relief spread through my body. Being smarter had literally made my brain ache. It felt unnatural. I was glad to feel normal again. Well, at least as normal as I could in my new studly body.
I took a seat, drumming my fingertips on my desktop and waiting for Shiloh to call back. I studied the camera, wondering how it operated. It looked like an ordinary digital camera, but its power to edit not just the photograph but the person in the photograph was phenomenal. It could definitely be misused in the wrong hands, and I wondered if “the wrong hands” included my own, seeing what I had done to Cole. Maybe that was why Dad had given me the camera without any instructions. Maybe he wanted to see what errors in judgment might be made even by someone who he trusted. If I couldn’t handle the responsibility of using the camera, imagine the havoc that would be caused by someone with less impulse control, like Cole.
The phone rang, displaying Shiloh’s name again. I picked it up. “Shiloh. Any luck?” It was a relief to let words just fall from my lips again without my brain obsessing over proper sentence structure.
“None of the guys have heard from him since Trent dropped by this morning. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I’m sure he’s fine.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
“Why not? I mean, who are you anyway?”
“I’m…just a worried friend. Just like you. Can you help me search for him?”
“Sure, I guess, if you’re that concerned.”
“Where should we meet?”
Shiloh thought for a second. “How ‘bout the pier? He might be there, doggin’ on chicks.”
Given how he was behaving before he left, I doubted that Cole would be “doggin’ on chicks”, but it was as good a place as any to start. We described what we were wearing so we would recognize each other at the pier. Shiloh said he was wearing a white “wife-beater”, blue jeans and a purple baseball cap. Turned backwards, undoubtedly. It was like Cole and his buddies had been issued a bro uniform when they enrolled.
I hurried to the pier as fast as I could, although it had been much easier running there in athletic shoes that morning than in the penny loafers I was wearing now. It was late afternoon and the place was crawling with minimally-dressed students, soaking in what might be the last warm day before autumn took hold. I felt way overdressed and considered sneaking off somewhere to zap myself into something more comfortable, but the truth was I thought I looked damn good. Just because I now had massive guns didn’t mean I had to be flashing them constantly.
I saw plenty of guys in white tanks and jeans hanging around, but only one in a purple cap…backwards, as expected. I dimly recognized Shiloh as one of Cole’s crew, but he was clearly the runt of the litter. Although he was obviously trying to fit in with his fellow dudes, his efforts were almost too blatant—not unlike the ways I had tried to make my weedy little body look cooler with tattoos and jewelry. It was hardly surprising that I had almost totally overlooked Shiloh, compared to Cole and his bulkier, hulkier comrades. Shiloh was short and skinny with pale skin, sloping shoulders and wispy chest hair poking out above his tank top. He had a pugnacious but fairly average face, with caterpillar eyebrows, dark eyes, a broad nose, thin lips and a rounded chin covered with scruff.
I walked over with a friendly smile and said, “Shiloh, right?”
“Uh, yeah. The guys call me Shy,” he said, sizing me up. Clearly my bulky body was not what he pictured from our phone conversation.
“I’m…uh, my friends call me Ry.” Yes, all of my vast circle of non-existent friends. I extended my hand and shook his, realizing too late how hard I was squeezing his thin fingers. “You spotted Cole yet?”
“Nah, I just got here,” he said. “Trent said Cole looked really skinny this morning.”
“That’s right. He might look shorter than usual too.”
Shiloh stared at me skeptically. “What the fuck? How does a guy get shorter overnight?” I just shrugged, playing dumb.
As we prowled the pier, I hung a few steps behind Shiloh and couldn’t help but fixate on how tightly his jeans fit, with no wallet in his back pockets to interrupt the smooth curve of his butt. I wondered if Dad had known that his camera would make me so sex-obsessed. Was that part of what the beta test was designed to explore?
My attention shifted from Shiloh’s ass to a familiar pair of tan legs on a familiar bench. Kay, the girl from that morning, was lying on the same bench, only barefoot now, still reading the new Malcolm Gladwell with his latest theories on how everything works. Shit, I could finally remember the book and what it was about! She and I could have had a genuine conversation about it, if only I weren’t in the middle of searching for Cole.
“Hey, it’s Kay, right?” I said, looming over her. She peered up, shielding her eyes and slightly confused. “I’m Ry. We talked this morning.” It wasn’t much of a conversation, but we HAD talked.
“Oh, right,” she said as the light of recognition went on. “I see you’re wearing clothes now. You got a haircut too!”
“That’s right. I did.” I brushed my palm across the bristles of my buzz cut. “You like it?”
“I kinda liked the curls,” she said with an inscrutable smirk.
I felt like I had disappointed her. “I can always grow them back.”
I had zeroed in on Kay so much, I’d almost forgotten Shiloh was beside me, but Shiloh seemed used to being overlooked. “Oh, this is Shiloh. We’re looking for a friend of ours we thought might have come to the pier. Since you’ve been here all day, maybe you noticed him. About yea tall,” I said, raising my hand up to my chin level. “Dark wavy hair. Black t-shirt. Black jeans. Purple sneakers.”
Kay shook her head. “Sorry, I’ve been reading. You’re probably the only person I noticed all day. Your friend sounds cute, though. Hope you find him.” She raised her eyebrows and smiled.
I grinned back and thanked her. I could swear she was flirting, but then everyone I saw today seemed to be turning me on. I might have to go into the camera settings and pick either totally straight or totally gay, just so my libido could ignore half of the world.
As Shiloh and I walked away, I realized I didn’t know exactly what to talk about with one of Cole’s buddies. Wasn’t their conversation mostly about sports and chicks? “That chick was pretty cute, don’t you think?” I offered.
Shiloh didn’t seem all that impressed. “I suppose. If you’re into that type.”
We swung by the campus clinic to see if Cole had come by to get checked out, but the receptionist didn’t remember anyone of his description. We didn’t find Cole in any of his other usual hangouts either, and it seemed increasingly unlikely that we would simply run into him by wandering the sprawling campus randomly. My big-ass body was starving, so we stopped in a Mexican restaurant and strategized. As I watched Shiloh stuffing a burrito into his mouth, for some reason it reminded me of Cole giving me a blowjob this morning. I realized I had to level with Shiloh about how much his buddy had changed.
“I think you should know. What happened to Cole, I don’t think it just changed him physically.”
“What do you mean?” Shiloh asked, chomping down another bite.
“I think he’s behaving differently too. Last time I saw him, he was acting…pretty damn gay.”
Shiloh burst into a laugh that sprayed rice and beans into my face. He looked embarrassed, reaching over with a napkin to wipe me clean.
“Sorry about that. I just find it hard to believe that Cole would be gay.”
“Maybe he’s been in denial.” Or maybe a magical camera turned him gay. Nah, too crazy. “Is there, like, a gay part of town where he might have gone?”
“Over on Sixteenth Street. Some people call it Sixty-Nine Street.” He added, “So I hear.”
“Maybe we should head over there and look around.”
Shiloh looked dubious. “You and me walking Sixty-Nine? People will think we’re a couple.”
Would that be so terrible, even if he was a bit puny for my tastes? Funny how I’d suddenly developed standards and thought I could afford to be choosy.
“Cole might not come with me,” I said, “but he might listen to you. You’re his friend.”
“Aren’t you his friend too?”
Let’s see. Cole had abused me from the moment we became roommates. Then this morning I turned him into a little gay boy without his permission. “I’d say we’re more like acquaintances.” Shiloh was skeptical of my theory but agreed to continue the search.
Judging from the rainbow flags and other obvious signs, it appeared that the core of 69 Street was barely a block long. Shiloh seemed nervous to be around the neighborhood, but I was enjoying the sensation of guys ogling me with no hesitation. I unbuttoned a couple extra buttons on my shirt to display my pumped pecs.
Despite the aura of cool I was hoping to project, I was pretty embarrassed when we went into one sex-toy shop, and Cole was blushing so hard, his skin almost matched the purple of his cap. The place still had those coin-operated porno viewing booths that I had heard about—I guess for the last remaining pervs on earth without internet access. I wasn’t about to knock on the doors to find out if Cole was using one of them. On the off chance that he was, I decided I wouldn’t be asking for my purple sneakers back. Not seeing Cole prowling the aisles, we got out of there fast.
As we stepped outside, Shiloh literally collided with a pedestrian, sending them both reeling in opposite directions across the sidewalk.
“Watch your step, honey,” the pedestrian said with annoyance. I instantly recognized the voice from this morning.
Shiloh stared with fascination at the other guy. “Cole? Is that really you?” Shiloh’s confusion was justifiable. With its turned-up nose and pillowy lips, Cole’s face had already been changed by the transformation, but Cole had been a busy boy refining his look since then. He was still wearing my purple shoes but at some point he had ditched my black tee and jeans and was now wearing a white fishnet tee that exposed his abs and low-slung lime-green shorts. He had obviously spent some time in a salon too, as his nails were now black and his hair sported a magenta streak that matched his eye shadow. I may have turned Cole gay, but I took no responsibility for his fashion sense.
Cole rushed over and hugged Shiloh. “Shy, baby! I’m so happy to see you!” Shiloh patted Cole’s back, his eyes registering amazement, while Cole showed now hesitation as he groped Shiloh’s cute butt. When they parted, Cole’s attention shifted to me. His eyes roved my body and a smirk crossed his lips. “Oooh, and I remember you, big boy.” He slinked over to me and pressed his lips on mine. I couldn’t resist kissing back, and the intensity of Cole’s passion was possibly even greater than it had been earlier in the day. Our public display of affection was so public that I could hear guys on the street whistling or clapping or yelling “Get a room.” When we parted, I noticed Shiloh’s dumbstruck stare. I looked back, doing my best non-verbal “I told you so.”
“What are you boys doing in this neighborhood?” Cole asked.
“We came to take you home,” Shiloh said.
“Why would I go home? I’m having a blast, honey. I’ve never felt so happy.”
“But this isn’t you!” Shiloh insisted.
“I know. It’s better, baby. You should try it sometime.” Cole winked at me before his eyes drifted to a large hairy biker dude in leather pants walking past. Cole’s head pivoted to keep an eye on the big guy and, as he set off in pursuit, he called back, “See you later, boys.”
Shiloh watched as Cole chased after the brutish guy and struck up a conversation. Shiloh turned to me and said, “I think you better tell me what’s really going on here…baby.”
I froze, knowing that I’d been found out.
“You are Cole’s little roommate Ryan, right, Ry? The one he teased so much and called ‘Baby’?”
I nodded. Shiloh studied me. “Unbelievable. You look…totally different. So whatever changed Cole is probably the same thing that changed you, right? What is it you’re not telling me?”
I was pretty sure I was going to need Shiloh on my side to wrangle Cole if I had any chance of converting him back, so I pulled Shiloh in between two buildings where we wouldn’t be overheard. “What I’m gonna tell you will sound nuts, but it’s true. Can I trust you to keep a secret?”
Shiloh nodded. As I looked in his eyes, he seemed to have an inherent honesty and integrity, which made me wonder again why he ever hung out with Cole and his buds. Still, I felt I could trust him. Without divulging any more details than were absolutely necessary, I showed him the camera and described how it could be used to essentially Photoshop someone so that their body changed in real life.
“How does it work?” he asked.
“I have no fucking clue,” I said with complete honesty. I figured a demonstration would be the best proof I could offer, so I pulled up the last photo I had taken of myself and showed him the various menus. Since I had never saved the photo, it was still editable, so I decided to alter my clothing, looking around to make sure no one was watching.
I quickly chose a wardrobe that might be more appropriate for this neighborhood. Shiloh watched in amazement as, one by one, I “tried on” new clothes on the camera screen which then appeared on my actual body with a simple click of the “ACCEPT” button. Within a minute, I went from my conservative outfit to an orange sleeveless tee, a pair of ripped-knee jeans and rhinestone-studded All-Stars. While I was at it, I decided to give myself a new tattoo, opting for a Maori design for my chest and upper arm. I felt a concentrated barrage of needle pricks as the pattern emerged across my skin. I even selected “JEWELRY” and added seven silver hoops to the upper edge of my right ear, gritting my teeth as the pain of seven piercings was condensed simultaneously into the space of five seconds, then quickly fading away. When the transformation was complete, I extended my arms to my sides and said, “Ta-da!” Shiloh gaped in awe.
“Satisfied? Now let’s go get Cole and turn him back.”
As I turned back toward the sidewalk, I heard Shiloh behind me.
I looked back, knowing that I should resist, knowing that I didn’t need this situation to get any more complicated than it already was.
“Do me. Please?” I could see a familiar longing in his eyes, the same desperation to be noticed that I’d carried within me for so long. Silently apologizing to my dad, I walked back between the buildings and asked Cole to pose against the wall. I snapped a shot.
I studied his photo, my mind racing at the possibilities. “So what do you want me to change?”
“Anything. Everything. Just make me look cool. Like you.”
The idea of me being the epitome of cool was absurd, but I dove eagerly into the task of reshaping wanna-be bro Shiloh into a hottie.
“This first one’s gonna hurt, but you’ll thank me.” I slid him from “ECTOMORPH” to “MESOMORPH” to put some meat on his scrawny bones. As I hit “ACCEPT”, the changes began. He seemed remarkably unperturbed by the pain I knew he must be experiencing, but he seemed utterly distracted by the awesome sight of his muscles and skeletal system growing at lightning speed. I frantically bumped up the size of his clothes before his muscles had a chance to burst through them. Since he had left the aesthetic choices to me, I tanned his pale skin and whisked away the thatch of hair on his chest. Shiloh would be a metrosexual if I had anything to do with it, and I actually had everything to do with it.
Flexing his reshaped right arm while rubbing his left hand across his newly smooth pecs, Shiloh looked over at me and smiled, our eyes now at the same height. “More” was all he said. His eyes looked dark and impenetrable, so I adjusted them to a lighter shade, giving them a seductive sparkle.
I knew the next thing that had to go was that stupid baseball cap, but rather than simply asking him to remove it, I chose “HEADGEAR”, then “NONE”. The best way to de-bro him was to take away his options. I clicked “ACCEPT” and the cap vanished from Shiloh’s head, dematerializing until it revealed Shiloh’s greasy mop of stringy brown hair.
I decided he would look much better as a blond with highlighted streaks. “Ow, it’s vibrating,” Shiloh said, clutching at his hair as a month of growth was crammed into under a minute and his dark locks lightened as if he had spent all summer at the beach.
My options seemed endless. I thinned his eyebrows and streamlined his nose. I pumped up his lips and gave him a more pointed, manly chin. Unlike Cole, who I had modified with revenge in mind, I realized I was reworking Shiloh with the secret goal of turning him into the hottest eye candy I could imagine. Now, as the final pieces shifted into place, the growing feeling in my heart—and my jeans—told me that I had succeeded. I had created my ideal man.
Too bad he was straight.
But, wait, how did I know he was? He acted straight, but… While Shiloh was occupied checking out his new body, pulling up his white tank to examine his new abs, I surreptitiously pulled up the “ORIENTATION” menu. Just as it had told me I was bisexual and Cole was initially straight, the camera had determined that Shiloh was most definitely “HOMOSEXUAL”. How the hell could a machine figure that out, just by taking a picture, when I couldn’t tell from spending time with the guy? It was one of about eight-million questions I would be asking my dad once this whole adventure was over. At the moment, I was just psyched to realize that I had a chance with this golden hottie. It’d be my cosmic bad luck if I had the power to whip up my dream man only to discover that he had no interest in me.
“What do you think?” I gestured to his new body.
“It’s a miracle,” he said, grasping at his throat when he heard the resonance his voice had gained in the transformation.
“Just so you know, I didn’t do anything to cause this, but the camera indicates that…you’re gay?”
He hesitated before nodding.
“Do Cole and the other guys know?”
He shook his head. “Those guys? You can imagine how they’d have reacted.”
“Then why did you hang out with them?”
“I dunno. It was better than being alone. Maybe I hoped a little of their macho would rub off on me. Plus…I think I had a little crush on Cole.”
My jaw fell. “Do you still?”
Shiloh smiled. “Not so much after what you did to him. I like my guys…” He looked me up and down. “…big.” He smiled and walked back to the sidewalk.
We entered a clothing store so Shiloh could inspect himself thoroughly in a mirror. “Oh my god,” he said with a hushed voice. “That’s really me?” As if still in disbelief, he raised his arm to flex his biceps and was amazed to see his reflection doing the same. He smiled into the mirror, revealing a set of perfect teeth that made me swoon. He turned to me with moist eyes, then wrapped me in his powerful arms and kissed me. Mmm, the camera had done a great job on his lips.
God, I loved technology.
Shiloh walked out of the store with supreme confidence, his arm wrapped around my waist. We looked up and down the street for Cole until Shiloh finally spotted him. “Cole just went into the Manhole!”
“He fell down a manhole?”
“No, the Manhole. The club over there. He was still with the big hairy guy.” Shiloh pointed down the street.
“Great. We’ll wait outside until they throw him out and then grab him.”
“Why would they throw him out?”
“Because he’s not 21. In fact, right now he looks about fourteen.”
“The Manhole is eighteen-plus most nights. If you want to drink, you have to wear a wristband.”
“You sure seem to know a lot about this place,” I said teasingly.
Embarrassed, Shiloh said, “I thought about going there a lot last year, but I always chickened out before I got to the door.”
“You think you’re ready now?”
He grinned back, cocky as shit, and said, “The question is, is it ready for me?” As he marched down the street, I held myself back a few steps, pleased with how breathtakingly his new ass filled out his bigger jeans. I could follow that butt anywhere.
When we reached the bouncer at the Manhole, I showed my ID, relieved that I hadn’t changed my face much. He must have wondered how I grew so much from the height and weight listed on the driver’s license, if he bothered to check that at all, but he waved me along. Shiloh, who now looked nothing like he had ten minutes ago, just said that he’d forgotten his ID. Before the bouncer could deny him entry, a firm voice emerged from inside the front door, saying, “You are NOT turning away a boy who looks that fine.” The bouncer stepped aside and let Shiloh enter.
The owner of that mystery voice was a slim young guy with either a very wide mohawk or a very severe sidewall. He asked for ten dollars each. “I guess that’s the Manhole cover,” I joked. From his expression, I was not the first person ever to make that joke.
The muffled booms of bass speakers vibrated the walls as we headed to the dance floor. It was tremendously loud inside the club. Amid the swirling, colored lights were probably two hundred guys, some coupled up, others playing the field. I followed Shiloh, noticing how many guys were leering at him or copping casual feels and wondering if I had done too good a job. If I wanted to keep him for myself, I might have to go back in and ugly him up a little.
Shiloh looked exhilarated and overwhelmed to be in the middle of the crowd. I no longer needed a high-tech gizmo to determine this boy’s orientation. I could tell from the delighted expression on his face.
I ran my palms across Shiloh’s sturdy shoulder muscles and down his arms, my thumbs following the lines of his biceps veins and over his forearms. We began to move in sync with the music, and I was pleased to see him devoting his full attention to me, despite the massive attention he was getting from others. As I pressed myself against him, I could tell from the lump in his jeans that I wouldn’t be needing to make any alterations down there. Our eyes met and the next move was obvious.
I took his hand and led him into the men’s room where we found an empty stall. We must have looked absurd, two total studs who were utterly clueless about what to do next. All I knew was I needed him and he looked like he wanted me. I unbuttoned my 501s and pulled out my foot-long cock, which Shiloh studied with amazement. He knelt down, ready to latch his lips around it, but I needed more than a blowjob this time. I spun him around and positioned his hands against the tile wall, then reached around to slide his skintight pants down his legs. Man, did he have a magnificent ass. As I gently probed my way inside, Shiloh started to moan. I rested my chin on his shoulder as my hips gyrated, pushing further into him while my left hand stroked his growing cock. Even in here, the din of the club nearly drowned out our voices, although I doubt anyone would complain if they heard what we were doing.
I went faster and faster, pressing my face against his back, my nose buried between his shoulder blades as his tank became soaked with his sweat. He reached his sinewy arms behind his shoulders and pulled off the tank top. I licked his salty skin and felt euphoric as my cock spurted inside his tight ass. Shiloh pounded his mighty fist against the wall while screaming with pleasure as his cock surged in my hand. He joined in the stroking until he began to spurt onto the wall.
When we had both settled down, Shiloh turned to kiss me and I got my first clear look at his sculpted chest and abs. I must say, we looked pretty damn good for a couple of wimps.
Someone knocked urgently on the door of the stall. “How long you gonna be in there?” Not wanting to hold up someone in desperate need, we quickly pulled up our pants and opened the door. The guy rushed in, followed momentarily by a friend.
Shiloh stuffed his tank into the back pocket of his jeans, returning to the dance floor topless. I took his hand and we resumed dancing. Somehow, amid the mob of faces and gyrating bodies, obscured by dry-ice fog and epilepsy-triggering strobes, I finally spotted Cole on the balcony, going into overtime playing tonsil-hockey with the big hairy guy. Shiloh and I squeezed through the crowd and worked our way up to the balcony. Shiloh tapped on the hairy man’s shoulder. “I need to talk to my friend.”
The hairy guy must have had a hundred pounds on Shiloh. “Fuck off,” he demanded, pushing a finger firmly into Shiloh’s sculpted chest, but Shiloh stood firm.
Shiloh turned to Cole and asked, “Cole, is this guy bothering you?”
Cole was staring at Shiloh, puzzled. “Do I know you?”
“It’s me, Shiloh.”
Cole’s eyes widened. “Shy?” He literally drooled at the sight of his buddy’s new body.
“That’s right,” Shiloh said. “And this time, we’re not asking, we’re telling. We’re taking you home.”
Cole looked conflicted, but the large man blocked the path between Shiloh and Cole. “I think you’re wrong, pal. I’M taking him home.”
Shiloh tried to push the big guy aside to grab Cole, but the hairy guy punched Shiloh hard in the face. Shiloh fell to the floor, clutching his nose. When I stepped forward, the hairy guy turned his attention to me. “You gonna be as stupid as your friend there?” Big as I was, I couldn’t envision winning a fight with this guy, so I backed off. The hairy guy wrapped his huge mitt around Cole’s fragile wrist and started dragging Cole toward the exit. Cole looked back at us with fear in his eyes.
I knelt down to check on Shiloh. “You okay?”
He pulled his hand away and discovered his palm covered with blood from his nose. But he was undeterred. “Can that camera make us big enough to beat that motherfucker?”
We ran into the bathroom, the only place in the club well lit enough to take a decent photo of the two of us. Then we ran out the front door, catching a glimpse of Cole being dragged around the corner by his new “friend”. Shiloh and I ran down the sidewalk as fast as we could, while I simultaneously attempted to navigate the menus on the camera and change us before we lost track of Cole. With each pounding step on the pavement, the camera was jostled in my hand.
I knew we were going to need bulk if we had any shot at wresting Cole away from his captor, so I chose the “BODY TYPE” menu and slid the dial way past “MESOMORPH” into “BEAST” and then “BEHEMOTH” mode. Feeling it would give us our best chance, I chose “BEHEMOTH”, then “ACCEPT”. An incredible rush of power swept through my body. My muscles grew two, maybe three times their already impressive size. My powerful legs slammed so heavily against the sidewalk, I could swear the cement was cracking under my weight. I looked ahead of me and realized Shiloh was undergoing the same transformation. It hadn’t occurred to me, when taking one photo that included both of us, that any changes I made to the photo would affect Shiloh and me identically.
I quickly changed our pants to black bicycle shorts, so they would stretch as our bodies enlarged. With a massive change like this, the rest of our clothes were goners, shredding on the fly and leaving a trail of tattered fabric behind us. I lagged behind Shiloh and could see his back and shoulders widening to inhuman size and his blond hair streaming like a mane behind him.
Up ahead, the hairy guy had heard and undoubtedly felt our approaching footsteps. He now had Cole slung over his shoulder and was running toward a battered pickup truck. He flung Cole hard into the bed of the truck, seemingly unconcerned for the safety of his prey but determined to keep him away from us. He climbed into the driver’s seat and revved his engine.
Shiloh reached the truck before I did, grabbed the driver’s side door and tore it completely off its hinges. Shiloh yanked the big guy out of the truck and tossed him into the street. Shiloh was reaching for Cole’s hand when I noticed something that had escaped Shiloh’s attention.
“He’s got a gun!”
The driver had dragged a shotgun out of the cab of the truck with him, which he was loading quickly. Shiloh turned back to him with fury, chasing him down the street. He took the hairy guy’s shoulder in one mighty paw while snatching away the shotgun with the other. Shiloh smashed the gun over his enormous knee and flung the remains over a nearby chain-link fence. The skinny kid I had only met hours before was now an unstoppable fighting machine. Even with similar size, I was nowhere near as fearless as Shiloh. Shiloh held the squirming man in his grip, then raised his humongous fist overhead, prepared to strike. I feared that a single blow from Shiloh could kill the man, so I screamed, “Stop!”
I ran up and instructed Shiloh to make the big hairy guy stand in the glare of the headlights so I could take his photo. Shiloh smiled, seeing what I was up to, and tossed the hairy guy into the road where the lights illuminated him. Within moments, I had reduced our opponent to a five-foot-three ectomorph with a smooth hairless body. He stared with panic at the whittled-down specimen he had suddenly become.
“I’ll get you motherfuckers,” he squeaked, running to the passenger side of his truck, leaping his skinny body through the open window and climbing into the driver’s seat. He squealed down the road, with Cole hanging on desperately as he was flung around the truck bed.
Shiloh chased after the truck on foot, until the truck spun a U-turn mid-block and came racing directly toward him. I ran onto the sidewalk and braced myself, but the truck remained in pursuit of Shiloh, who narrowly escaped by ducking between two parked cars. The truck smashed into the cars, shattering its windshield. I could see Cole attempting to jump free but he fell back into the truck bed as the driver shifted into reverse and sped off.
Shiloh gingerly lowered his bulk to the sidewalk beside me, his long blond hair falling in a sweat-drenched curtain past his eyes. We were both exhausted. In the middle of everything, we barely had a moment to appreciate just how radically our bodies had changed. We must be hovering near seven feet now and well over 400 pounds, most of it muscle.
“When I said I liked guys who were big, I never meant this big,” said Shiloh in a voice so deep, I could hear it rattling nearby windows.
“Sorry, man,” I said, my voice even deeper than his. “I didn’t have time for subtlety.”
“What do you say we change back and let the police handle it from here?” Shiloh asked.
“Sounds like a plan,” I said. I pushed myself to my feet, then extended my brawny arm to help my fellow hulk stand. The commotion had naturally drawn crowds out of the clubs of 69 Street to see what was happening, and our huge musclebound bodies were naturally attracting a lot of attention.
I suddenly had the realization that I was no longer holding the camera in my hand. “Shit, I don’t have the camera!”
“Did you drop it somewhere?” Shiloh asked. I shrugged my massive shoulders and stepped as gingerly as possible into the street. Shiloh joined me in my quest.
“I sure hope that asshole didn’t run over it with his truck,” Shiloh said. “I would not want to be stuck like…”
I heard a crunch and closed my eyes. When I opened them, Shiloh was looking scared. He lifted up a gigantic foot, revealing the crushed remains of the miracle camera embedded in the asphalt.
In unison, we said, “Oh, fuck.”
Shiloh and I stood in the dimly lit street, our astounding bodies each seven feet tall and bursting with more muscle than I’d ever seen on a human being—if that’s even what we were any more. Our shoulders and biceps were bigger than beach balls and solid as steel. Our lats flared out so dramatically that neither of us could lower our arms fully to our sides. A street light behind us showed off our musculature in sharp relief and cast long brutish shadows along the pavement. I was glad I’d had the presence of mind to switch us into stretch pants when our bodies became so gargantuan, so at least we weren’t naked.
Guys had run outside the Manhole and the other gay establishments of 69 Street once people heard the sounds of our frenetic battle with the guy who had taken Cole away with him. Everyone was keeping their distance from the two silhouetted giants in the middle of the road, but every-goddamn-body had a camera on their cell phone and was taking pictures and videos of us like two sasquatches who had just landed in the gay-borhood.
Ironically, Shiloh and I were the only ones who didn’t have a camera, and we were the ones who really could have used one, since it was my magical camera that had gotten us into this mess. Too bad Shiloh had accidentally stepped on it, his enormous weight grinding it into irreparable bits.
I was surprised that I had maintained my composure and most of my wits. Shiloh was more riled up, having been in the heat of the battle with Cole’s abductor, smashing the guy’s shotgun and tearing the driver’s side door off his pick-up truck. Shiloh was still wired with adrenaline and ran angrily toward the crowd with a menacing roar that echoed off the buildings. Everyone scurried back in fear, and I clamped one of my meaty paws on Shiloh’s traps, dragging him back toward me. I spoke as softly as I could, even though it felt like everything I said in this new body was being bellowed through a megaphone. “Chill, Hulk. You don’t have to ‘smash’.”
Shiloh, still glaring furiously at the mob armed with their smartphones, asked, “Well, what do you suggest we do?”
“We maybe got a minute before the cops show. I say we run as fast as these big-ass legs will carry us.”
“Someplace we won’t be noticed.”
“Oh, that oughta be easy to find”, Shiloh snorted sarcastically and it came out like a lion’s roar. That gave me an idea.
“Follow me.” I spun on my heel and began to run away from the crowd.
I could hear from the pounding at my heels that Shiloh was right behind me and that some of the crowd were attempting to keep up. Fat chance of that. Despite my bulk, I felt just as agile as I had earlier in the day when I weighed half as much. I’d never felt so exhilarated as I bounded at ten feet per stride, my muscles like coiled springs.
I tried to keep us in dimly lit areas, under railroad bridges, in industrial areas where no one was working at this time of night, but I’m sure that the pounding of our feet alone made our presence obvious to anyone within several blocks. Maybe one sprinting muscle beast could slip by unnoticed, but two would definitely catch your attention. One unlucky driver must have gotten the scare of his life as he turned down the street toward us. He slammed on his brakes as fast as he could, and I miraculously hurdled his car. Shiloh leapt over the car too, but his heel clipped the rear bumper, knocking it clean off. Shiloh paused to look back, but I yelled for him to keep going. The sooner we vanished, the less likely the driver was to know what hit him. I did take one short cut over a parked car where I left a giant foot-shaped dent in the hood of the trunk. If you parked anywhere in the neighborhood of Sixteenth Street that night, I sincerely apologize.
When we finally reached our destination, we had to scale a fifteen-foot concrete wall with barbed wire at the top. Leaping to the top was simple with our new muscles, and the barbed wire left little more than surface scratches on our thick hides. After being such a little dweeb all my life, it was extraordinary to experience life as an almost purely physical being. I felt practically indestructible. We slid down the other side of the wall and landed in a scummy, stagnant water pool. We had become so animalistic in our behavior by that point that we felt refreshed, splashing ourselves and each other playfully, joyfully. We even cupped water in our hands to slurp it up and rehydrate after our marathon run. At that point, we both came to our senses and spat out the putrid stuff.
Shiloh looked around. “What is this, a zoo?” I grunted affirmatively. “So we’re in a cage with wild animals?” He scanned his surroundings with fear, moonlight catching in his eyeballs.
“There are no animals. It closed down a couple years ago. My folks used to bring me here when I was little. Never thought I’d be on this side of the cage.” I lay down on the cement where apes used to prowl, feeling my gigantic ribcage expanding and contracting as I caught my breath. Shiloh prowled our new habitat, on alert for anyone or anything approaching. He began to swing swiftly on a rusted old set of bars that had been installed for the apes to play on.
Part of me was already making plans for what Shiloh and I could do with bodies like these. Obviously, we would be the center of attention wherever we went. We could probably go into football, pro wrestling, acting, modeling. I didn’t think they’d let us into bodybuilding with the head start Dad’s camera had provided. Then again, once Dad’s camera went on the market, body building the old way would probably become obsolete. As would dieting. And plastic surgery. And shopping for clothes. And visiting the barber. This one little gadget might drive half the companies in America out of business. Dad and his colleagues were in line to become the richest people on earth, or the most hated, or most likely both.
As I rested a hand on my thigh, I noticed something tiny and hard caught in my skintight pants. My cell phone! Even when I transformed our pants into running shorts, eliminating pockets, the phone in my front pocket had survived the change and was pressed firmly against my flesh. I gently pulled down the shorts and carefully extracted the phone, which now felt so tiny in my oversized palm that I was afraid I would crush it. If I’d had to dial individual digits with the bratwursts my fingers had become, I’d have been shit out of luck, but fortunately the person I needed was on speed dial. As the phone began to ring, I raised it to my ear.
“Hey, big guy, what’s shaking?” came the comforting voice of my dad on the other end of the line.
“Why, what have you heard?” was my response, coming out in my laughably low new voice.
“Holy cow, Ryan, is that you?”
“Yeah, Dad. I need your help.”
Sternly, Dad asked, “Have you been using the camera some more?”
“A little.” I could probably lift a semi with my bare hands right then, but Dad’s disappointed tone instantly transformed me mentally into an eight-year-old afraid to admit that he had knocked a baseball through the neighbor’s window.
“I warned you to take it easy with that thing. But don’t worry, if you’ve pushed yourself too far, there’s a quick fix that’ll reset you right back to normal. You got the camera with you?”
“Ummm…that’s part of the problem. The camera got kinda…crushed.”
A long pause from Dad’s end. “How ‘kinda’ crushed?”
“Like oblivion crushed.”
Dad let out a world-record sigh. I waited for him to say something, anything.
“You still there, Dad?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just trying to get a fix on your coordinates. Looks like you’re at the old zoo, right?”
“Right. How’d you know that?”
“When the camera transformed you, it put radioactive tracers in your body. I’m seeing another big blip. Is someone else with you?”
“Yeah, my friend, Shiloh.” My delight at being able to tell my dad that I had made a friend at college was tempered by the knowledge of what I had turned that friend into. He was currently atop the monkey bars, pounding his chest like Tarzan and yowling at the moon. I shushed him, not wanting to draw any attention to our hideout.
“Okay, hang on, buddy. I’ll be right there,” Dad said.
“Thanks, Dad. Hurry.” I could hear distant sirens and couldn’t imagine that Dad could drive here before we’d be discovered by the cops.
I was walking toward Shiloh to give him the good news that Dad was on his way when I saw a weird glow over the water pool. The air above the ground seemed to be thickening and pulsating, reminding me of my initial transformation when the camera sucked me through space to another location via some gelatinous portal. Sure enough, I saw the outlines of Dad’s shape emerging inside the glow. As he stepped his way through the ethereal goo, he became aware that he had beamed in at ground level, while the ground beneath him was actually several feet lower. He plunged into the stagnant water of the apes’ drinking hole.
I rushed over to grab him as he scrambled out of the water, carefully holding his camera aloft so it would not get wet. I reached out and wrapped my fingers completely around his forearm. He seemed unprepared for just how monumental I had become.
“Oh my, Ryan. What have you done to yourself?”
“I just wanted to put on some muscle. Things got out of hand.”
“Nice understatement, son. I know how sensitive you are about your size. I thought you’d use the camera to give yourself a few minor adjustments so you’d fit in better with the other college kids. But this, son, this is not fitting in.”
“I know I screwed up, Dad, jeez. Why do you think I called you?” I must have been the whiniest gigantic muscleman in the history of gigantic musclemen.
Dad dropped the lecturing tone. “I’m sorry, kiddo. I’m glad you called me.” He noticed Shiloh, who was hanging on the monkey bars. “And you must be Shiloh. I’m Ryan’s dad. Nice to meet you.” Shiloh dropped down and ran toward us, slumping forward and practically running on all fours.
Dad looked around the spooky old zoo. “Well, one thing in our favor. At least you came to a nice isolated place to experiment where no one could see you.” The silence from Shiloh and me must have been pretty obvious, as were the sirens in the distance which were growing louder. Dad looked up at me wearily. “People saw you, didn’t they?”
Shiloh and I nodded like bad little boys. I had to tell Dad, “We’re probably on YouTube by now.”
“Fuck!” Dad yelled. I think I’d only heard him drop the F-bomb twice before in my life and never with such well-deserved ferocity. “If my company learns that I gave my son an untested prototype and that he turned himself and his buddy into monsters…”
“We are not monsters!” Shiloh shouted, his words bouncing off the concrete walls as he shook a cinder-block-sized fist at Dad. I ran behind Shiloh and grabbed his arms to keep him from attacking Dad.
“Well, you won’t be in a minute,” Dad said, raising his camera. It looked slightly different from the one I’d been given, bulkier with extra modifications, like a newer model that had been jerry-rigged in the lab. Dad quickly took a flash photo of Shiloh and me and started to manipulate the menus. I hovered over his shoulder—high above his shoulder—and watched how masterfully he worked the controls. I thought I had been getting the hang of it, but Dad had clearly been fiddling with this device for months or maybe even years.
“If you have a picture of two people, the command affects both of them,” I told Dad, offering one of my hard-learned lessons as if he might not already been aware of it, even though he was probably the person who had designed it to work that way.
“That’s right, son, but there’s an easy override for that. What I’m trying to do is trickier. I want to set you both back to the way you started, which would be MUCH easier if I was working from the camera that made the changes in the first place.”
“Nice way to rub it in, Dad. I already apologized for that.”
“Do you have to change us back?” Shiloh asked. “I feel kinda awesome like this.” He flexed an arm and admired his massive biceps pump.
“You’re caught up in the endorphin rush, but it’ll fade soon. You’ve expanded your body parts to inhuman proportions, way beyond the size at which they were designed to function. Your heart, your lungs, your brain, they’re all straining to support what you’ve become. If you stay like this, you’ll be dead in two days.”
“Okay, you can change us back,” Shiloh said, all menace and bravado immediately gone from his voice.
“Ah, there it is!” Dad shouted. “I connected back to the lab. All your settings were stored back there every time you used the camera, so I can revert you to your original states. You better brace yourselves. It’s going to be quite a shock to be yourselves again.”
Shiloh and I walked over to the monkey bars and gripped them tightly. Dad gave us no warning that the process was already in motion. It felt like I was being crushed by a black hole, becoming smaller and denser at such a speed that I worried it might keep going until I was reduced to nothingness. The metal bar in my hand seemed to be getting bigger when it was really my hands growing smaller around it. It was a relief when my extreme hyper-inflated muscles were gone, but I genuinely felt comfortable when I had reached the size of the miniature weightlifter of my initial transformation. I felt like yelling to Dad to stop the shrinkage right there, but I was going all the way back to my frail “baby” weight. I felt so distanced from that version of me after all that had occurred, it was hard to believe that I had only been Big Ry for the past twenty-four hours.
When I could feel the process coming to an end, my hands slipped from the metal bars, my knees buckled and I fell to the concrete, whacking my head and discovering that pain was once again a factor in my life. I looked blearily across the way and saw Shiloh coming to grips with being ordinary again too. All the “improvements” which I had made to him were gone. Shiloh was no longer the blond sex god of my dreams. He was just a regular guy trying to look tougher than he was. We were each wearing the jeans that had worn before our first transformations, but the rest of our clothes were missing, since whatever they had been changed into by the camera was shredded when we grew to behemoths. Interestingly, Shiloh’s backwards baseball cap had returned from the oblivion where I sent it, having been stored in memory back at the lab.
My ears had been ringing throughout the shrinking process, but I could now distinctly hear the sirens closing in. In another minute, we would be discovered trespassing at the zoo and we’d have a lot of fast talking to do. Dad hustled over and gathered Shiloh and me close together, holding out his arm to snap a selfie of the three of us. As soon as the flash went off, we could hear voices outside the wall as cops noticed the burst of light.
“I’ve never transported three people at once, but it SHOULD work,” Dad informed us. “We would have overwhelmed the system’s capacity if you were still the size of human tanks, but we shouldn’t have much trouble with you kids.” Shit, I was back to being a kid.
I can’t speak for Shiloh, but my heart was racing with fear that we were going to get caught. Dad seemed unworried and unhurried. He pulled up the “BACKGROUND” menu—something I’d forgotten about since last night—and input very specific latitude, longitude and elevation coordinates, an option that hadn’t been included on the model Dad had given me. The screen previewed the three of us against a plain white wall instead of the murky background of the zoo. Dad pressed “ACCEPT” and wrapped his arms around Shiloh and me. I realized too late that I’d better warn Shiloh what he was in for.
“Shiloh, it’s gonna feel like…”
By the time I could say, “…squeezing through Jell-O,” we had already made the freaky transit through space and were standing in an all-white room that I recognized as one of the labs at Dad’s company.
Shiloh was reeling. He braced himself against a counter top to keep from falling and turned to Dad, wide-eyed. Of all the shit he had seen and experienced today, this teleportation had blown his mind the most. “How did you do that?”
“Simple. The hydrogen componolizer interacted with the dichlorium atoms in your duodenum, generating a paradoxical flux which reverberated against the polonium-synchronized geographical wave spectro-analyzer and creating a temporal parahelion dispersion of point-two-seven.”
Shiloh stared at Dad, in awe. I laughed and said, “That was just a bunch of nonsense, Dad.”
Dad smiled. “Yeah, but if I’d said, ‘It’s magic,’ you wouldn’t have believed me.”
And with that, he walked purposefully toward a computer work station, where several other working models of the camera were charging.
Shiloh and I stared at each other. In the course of one day, we had been hunks together and hulks together, but now we were face to face as our real selves. Two skinny guys, same height, same weight, with more in common than we would have assumed that morning.
“Almost forgot what you looked like,” Shiloh said. “I dunno why Cole made so much fun of you. You’re a cute guy.”
Even in the dim light of the lab, I’m sure it was obvious that I was blushing. The way Shiloh was examining my emaciated frame, I got goosebumps. “I thought you liked your guys big.”
“I do.” Shiloh’s slim lips curled up. “But size isn’t everything.”
Across the room, Dad cleared his throat loudly and started humming some unrecognizable tune, which is what he always did when he heard something he felt uncomfortable hearing. Shiloh and I walked over behind him to see what he was checking on his computer. He was cycling through all of our vital statistics which the camera had recorded. “Looks like you two guys are safely back to normal, so that’s a relief. I can survive any shit I’m going to get from the company, but if I had done anything to harm you…”
“I know, Dad,” I said, wrapping my skinny arm around his shoulders. I could feel his body tense up, and he leaned forward to look at something on his computer. “What is it?”
“I’m seeing two more blips,” pointing to two bright spots on a map of the city, not far from Sixteenth Street. Dad turned to me, looking like he might be willing to harm me after all. “Care to enlighten me?”
Shiloh scooted his body between Dad’s and mine, trying to explain. “I did them!”
Dad glanced at Shiloh, then angrily back at me. “You let someone else use the camera?”
I was in the middle of shaking my head when Shiloh blurted out, “Ry didn’t know. I snuck it away from him and did it totally on my own. Please, it’s not his fault.”
Dad glared at Shiloh. “So are you telling me there are two more monsters on the loose out there?”
“No! I made them both skinny! Skinnier than we are now! That shouldn’t be dangerous, right? I mean, not as dangerous as super-sizing at least.”
Dad thought it over, still unhappy. “Well, no, in our tests, we’ve found that making the body smaller and leaner is actually healthier, within reason.” Dad sat down, his temper cooling. His eyes darted between Shiloh and me as he decided whether or not to believe Shiloh’s story. “Can you keep tabs on these other two? And if you notice ANY adverse changes in them, you’ll bring them to me immediately for testing?”
Shiloh and I said, “Yes” at the same time. I added “Dad”. Shiloh added “Sir”.
Dad took blood samples from both of us and ran tests on them. While we waited for results, I checked YouTube on Dad’s computer. Sure enough, a dozen or more grainy videos had already been posted of two mysterious figures prowling the streets of the city. Fortunately, nobody got a good shot of our faces—not that either of us resembled those two gorillas any more. The company had a TV in the break room and we watched the late news with Dad. The monster rampage was naturally the lead story on all the channels, but the police seemed baffled. They thought they had the beasts cornered at the old zoo, but a thorough search turned up nothing.
They did say that police were seeking a man who drove off in a pickup truck at a high rate of speed and they showed his mug shot from a previous arrest. Shiloh and I immediately recognized him as the big hairy guy who had taken off with Cole. He looked even scarier in the mug shot than he had in real life, with scowling features and steroidal muscles. “That’s one of the guys, sir,” Shiloh told Dad.
Dad studied the screen. “And you say he’s smaller than you boys now? I think you did the world a favor.” Dad smiled and went to check on the blood tests.
Left alone together in the lab, Shiloh and I stared at each other nervously. “So, what are we gonna do now?”
“Life will go back to normal, I guess. I’ll be my old wimpy self and you’ll hang out with the rest of Cole’s posse of douchebags.”
“I don’t think I can, after this.”
“I know what you mean.”
“And what about…us?” Shiloh asked warily.
“I dunno. I mean, I really loved what we did together, but I still like girls too.” I looked down at my once-again anemic body. “But they probably won’t like me. Story of my life.”
“Any girl, or guy, would be lucky to have you,” Shiloh said, walking over and kissing me on the mouth. His lips weren’t as luscious as the ones I’d specifically chosen for him, but they had the benefit of authenticity. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation. Anyone would be lucky to be kissed by Shiloh.
I heard Dad clear his throat and begin to hum again in the hallway. Shiloh and I parted quickly as Dad reentered the room, pointedly looking down at a computer printout. “Good news, guys. I’m not seeing anything scary in the blood tests. You probably weren’t at enormous size long enough to cause any permanent damage to your organs, but you let me know if you notice anything unusual in the next few days. Fatigue, migraines, shortness of breath, pain in your joints, pain in your…loins.”
Shiloh and I nodded. Dad got out his cell phone and called two cabs to pick us up. “I assume you two don’t mind going back to campus the old fashioned way?”
“Fine, Dad,” I said. “I think I’ve been sucked through Jell-O enough for one lifetime.”
“Absolutely,” said Shiloh. “You positive we didn’t screw up anything for you?”
“I’m sure I’ll be asked a few stern questions in the morning,” Dad said. “But your little unauthorized field test gave us tons of data to study. And quite a few more ethical questions to debate.”
When the cabs arrived, Dad shook Shiloh’s hand, then gave me a warm hug. I heard him whisper in my ear, “Have fun at college, son. Make me proud.”
I was happy that, after all of this, it was obvious that he still loved me. I got in the cab and, as we drove away, I felt something hard in the back pocket of my skinny jeans. I wriggled in my seat and extracted it. Shiloh and I were amazed to discover that Dad had slipped another camera in my pocket, with a Post-It attached. In the passing street lights, I was able to read the note:
“Ryan, This camera’s options are limited. Yours are not. Love, Dad”
“What do you think that means?” Shiloh asked.
When we reached my dorm, I invited Shiloh to come up so we could check out the camera. Dad had deactivated most of the menus, but I discovered two presets, one with my name and one with Shiloh’s. I snapped my picture in the full-length mirror, then applied my preset. My image on the screen now looked exactly like the musclebound stud I had first changed myself into the previous night. I clicked “ACCEPT” and braced for the standard painful contortions, although they felt like nothing compared to being enlarged to “BEHEMOTH” size. As the metamorphosis occurred, I realized that my mind hadn’t dulled. Dad must not have lowered my IQ the way I had during my original transformation. I couldn’t blame him. He wasn’t spending good money to send a dope to college.
Shiloh watched enviously as I evolved back into Ry before his eyes. As I grinned down at him, I could have predicted his next words.
He stood against the wall, still in his dumbass baseball cap. I eagerly applied the preset “SHILOH” modifications and pressed “ACCEPT”.
Shiloh was wracked with pain as his slim body was once again wrapped in lean muscle and sun-kissed skin, and his face regained the features I had given him, the sleek nose, the powerful cleft chin, the ultra-kissable lips. His purple hat evaporated and his hair turned from brown to golden.
I reached both hands toward him and lifted him to his feet. We stood in the middle of my room, thick arms wrapped around each other’s torsos, studying each other closely. If he had any imperfections, I couldn’t see them, but I hoped to inspect him very, very closely, very, very frequently.
We stripped off our clothes and tumbled onto my bed, our combined weight testing the limits of the springs. Since I had taken the lead back at the Manhole, I let Shiloh assume control now. Our powerful bodies slid across each other, working up a quick sweat. Long strands of Shiloh’s blond hair dangled into my eyes as he explored my mouth with his tongue. My hands slid down along his ribs until I reached up and squeezed his ass cheeks. I felt his cock pressing against my abs and starting to ooze precum, so I wriggled underneath him until I was face down. He slid his erection gently but firmly inside of me and I yowled with a mix of pleasure and pain, clawing at my pillow and tensing my legs. Shiloh’s strong hands were pressed against my back for support as the pace of his humping accelerated.
When Shiloh came inside me, it may have been the best feeling I’d had all day, and after a day like this, that was saying something. But my cock was still rigid, so I flipped over and wrapped my hands around Shiloh’s neck, pulling him down toward my erection. As he lovingly applied his tongue and lips to my shaft, slowly and lovingly bringing me to orgasm, the “best feeling of the day” competition had a new winner.
Shiloh lay beside me, brushing his bristly chin against my cheek and rubbing his hand up and down my chest. He whispered in my ear, “Thank your dad for me.”
I laughed. I probably wouldn’t mention this specifically to Dad, but I was glad he had been so cool about everything. I’m sure I had changed many of his perceptions of me that day.
Shiloh slept over with me. Cole never did come back to the room that night, and in the morning we decided it was more important to track him down than to go to our classes. We knew basically where the blips had shown up on Dad’s computer screen and hoped that Cole might still be near there.
Sixty-Nine Street wasn’t as active in the daytime, and city crews were still busy cleaning up the damage from last night’s fracas. Shiloh and I attracted our share of attention as we walked down the sidewalk, but we had no fear that anyone would imagine that two studly gentlemen like ourselves were in any way connected with the massive creatures who had terrorized the town the night before.
As we walked further down the street, I noticed something and grabbed Shiloh by the elbow, pulling him backwards. We had just walked past a pickup truck. One that was missing its driver’s side door. Jackpot! Now all we had to do was figure out where…
We turned and were amazed to see Cole—at least the slender twinky version of Cole I had created—leaning against a wall.
“Cole!” Shiloh shouted, looking relieved that his former crush was still alive and seemingly unharmed.
Cole was wearing a sheer black tank that was way too big for him and a black Speedo that seemed to fit just fine. He still had on my purple sneakers. Even in this part of town, it was an unconventional look for street clothes in broad daylight, but he was pulling it off. It was a bit annoying that I had made my tormentor look so fucking cute.
“Thank god, you escaped from that lunatic!” Shiloh said.
“What lunatic? You mean Jerry? Oh, he’s such a sweetheart. I’m waiting for him so we can go get matching tats.”
Shiloh and I couldn’t believe what we were hearing. “You’re still hanging out with the guy?” I asked.
“Uh-huh. He’s inside buying some new clothes right now. He woke up this morning and couldn’t find a thing that fit. Fortunately his ex had left behind some clothes that were just right for me. You like?”
“It’s definitely a different look for you” was as much as Shiloh would commit.
“So when you coming back to school?” I asked.
Cole shrugged his shoulders. “Dunno if I will. Jerry wants me to go to a motorcycle rally in Reno with him. He’s got a Harley and I can ride on the seat behind him!” The prospect seemed to excite him, if you could judge by his Speedo.
Not that I really wanted old Cole back in the world, but my conscience was killing me. “Are you really sure about this? I found out there’s a way to cure what you’ve got so you’ll like chicks again.” I had checked overnight, and the camera still would allow me to alter a person’s sexual orientation.
“Chicks? No thank you!” He flapped his hands dismissively. “No chick ever appreciated me the way Jerry does. Oh, and here comes my baby now.”
Even though I knew I had reduced him to an ectomorph in the middle of last night’s craziness, Shiloh and I were unprepared for the shock of seeing the new Jerry. He was walking down the sidewalk toward us, zipping up his new leather jacket, his skinny legs encased in tight leather pants. Unlike the thuggish lout who had nearly run over Shiloh with his truck last night, he now looked like a boy-band dreamboat trying to look like a tough guy, with a slightly shaggy pile of light brown hair over a baby face that had never felt the touch of a razor.
“Mmm, check out my sexy little boy-toy,” Cole said. “Doesn’t he look fantastic? Jerry, these are my dear friends Shiloh and Ryan.”
“Uh, yeah, we met last night,” I said cautiously. I had been worried about running into last night’s hothead again, but I felt pretty sure Shiloh and I could handle Jerry now.
Jerry peered his bright blue eyes through the fringe of his bangs. “Oh, hey, how you guys doing today?”
If he was still mad at us, it sure didn’t show. He was positively meek as he wrapped a leather-clad arm around Cole’s body, palming an ass cheek. Cole kissed Jerry on the forehead. Cole may be a shadow of his former self, but the camera had made Jerry even tinier, several inches shorter than Cole.
“Awesome outfit, Jerry,” Shiloh said. “Cole says you guys might be going to Reno?”
“Yeah, if he’ll let me buy his sweet ass some leathers. Somewhere around the Continental Divide, he’ll realize he needs more than a tank top and Speedos.”
“We’ve got time, baby. Lots and lots of time.” Cole gave Jerry a long French kiss, then smiled back at us. “So good to see you boys again.” He blew us kisses, then they got into Jerry’s truck and drove off.
Shiloh and I watched the truck disappear around the corner. We were shell-shocked.
“Holy shit,” I said. “I guess your posse really is breaking up.”
“Good riddance. So…does that mean you have an opening for a new roommate, Ry?” Shiloh asked with a sly grin.
I smiled back and teased, “Only if he looks as good in leather as Jerry.”
Shiloh’s eyebrows leapt at the idea. He practically raced into the leather shop.
As Shiloh began trying on jackets, I pulled out my camera and reopened my photo from last night. I hadn’t pressed “SAVE”, so it was still editable. I pulled up the “ORIENTATION” menu. My finger hovered over the screen as I thought about Kay from the pier and all of the girls in high school who had been content to be my friend but nothing more. And I thought about what Cole had said about Jerry. No “chick” had ever appreciated me the way Shiloh did.
I slid the dial from “BISEXUAL” to “HOMOSEXUAL”.
I clicked “ACCEPT”. I didn’t feel much change, actually. Only a sense of calm and clarity as I watched Shiloh sliding his bare brawny arms through the holes of a leather vest. Goddamn, he looked hot. I might need to buy one of those too.
I clicked “SAVE”.