Randall wobbled unsteadily on his suddenly longer legs, having difficulty finding the center of gravity of a body now topheavy with new muscle.
“Maybe you ought to sit down,” Nigel urged from across the room.
“Probably a good idea,” Randall replied, groping his way toward the sofa and sinking into its cushions.
“You gonna be okay?” Clay asked.
“I’ll be fine as soon as the room stops spinning.” Hearing the lowness of his voice, Randall massaged his thick neck and said, “I think I’m coming down with something.”
“How about a drink to settle your nerves?” Nigel suggested. “Want me to fix you up a Negroni?”
Randall grimaced. “I don’t want any of that fancy shit. Just gimme a beer.” He propped his bare feet on the coffee table, the green booties and tights from his Robin costume having failed to accommodate the dimensions of his now size-12 feet.
Lance and Clay gave each other curious looks, and Nigel surely would have joined them if his expressions were visible. Randall was their resident cocktail snob. None of them had ever seen him voluntarily consume a beer, let alone request one. Nigel’s red undies strutted through the air on the way to the kitchen where the refrigerator door swung open and a bottle of Sam Adams floated out.
Randall gradually opened his eyelids, let his eyes focus, and took in the scene before him. “Look at you guys. Great costumes! The ginger werewolf’s gotta be Clay, and I can tell from the shorts that it’s Lance as the Creature From The Black Lagoon. Where the fuck’s Nigel?”
“Right here, mate,” Nigel said, stepping from behind the kitchen counter so Randall could see his underwear.
“Oh, Invisible Man. Sorry, I didn’t see you. Ha! Get it?” Randall seemed unfazed by the sight of well-packed undershorts floating his direction accompanied by a bottle of beer. “Very impressive. Where’d you get these outfits anyway?”
“Same place you got yours,” said Clay, gesturing toward the empty Mariposa bottles on the snack table.
“Well, then I got screwed, ‘cause my costume is ripped to shit.” Randall looked down at the remains of his Robin costume stretched thin across his athletic physique. He saw the beer bottle which Nigel was holding, plucked it from mid-air and swiftly guzzled down the contents, punctuating it with a satisfied sigh and a deafening belch. He slammed the bottle onto the coffee table, far from the nearest coaster. Nigel frantically picked up the empty bottle and grabbed a napkin to wipe away the moisture ring.
Lance had experienced many Mariposa transformations and witnessed plenty more, but he had never seen a first-timer so instantly comfortable with—or perhaps oblivous to—the changes they had undergone. “Maybe you oughta take a good look at yourself in the mirror, Randall. See if you notice anything… different.”
Randall pushed himself to his feet and swaggered confidently across the room. Clay’s nose involuntarily twitched as Randall sauntered past. When Randall caught his reflection in the mirror on the wall, he wasn’t startled or even mildly surprised. “Yeah, I definitely don’t think I’m gettin’ my deposit back. What is it I’m supposed to be looking for?”
“Don’t you think you look kind of… big?” Lance asked.
“Damn right I do. I’m one jacked motherfucker.” He ogled himself unashamedly, grinning as he clasped his hands behind his head and flexed his biceps. The unruly fringe of dangling hair shading his eyes only added to his smouldering appeal. “Oh, yeah, I’m gonna snag some major ass tonight for sure. Can’t say the same for you bunch of freaks.” He brought his hands down, his fingers having burst through the seams of his gloves. Yanking his lapels, he snapped the last intact laces on the remains of his Robin tunic, fully exposing the heavy slab of his inflated pecs and the symmetrical crevices of his recently-acquired abdominals. His system awash in testosterone, Randall watched as his swollen cock burst apart the scrap of green fabric which had been tenuously holding it in place. Reduced to his primal instincts, Randall grabbed the thick tool in one hand and began to stroke it vigorously, just one dude casually masturbating in front of his buddies.
“Oh, hell no!” shouted Nigel’s disembodied voice. “I just had this carpet installed!” His unseen hands grabbed Randall by his beefy shoulders and pushed him toward the bathroom. Randall put up little resistance, blissfully continuing to jerk himself as Nigel guided him into the bathroom and slammed the door. “No jacking in the living room! I would have thought that went without saying!”
As Nigel walked back into the living room, Lance chided him, “Take off that stupid underwear, will ya? You look ridiculous with your happy little red shorts bouncing around.”
“I look ridiculous? Have you taken a glance around the room lately? I’m fuckin’ invisible, and I’m the most normal one here!”
Lance held the Mariposa package in his webbed and scaly hands. “So I guess ‘Autumn Edition’ is like heir Halloween collection.”
Clay pointed his hairy index finger at the six-pack. “That harmless little butterfly is false advertising. This is the shit they should call Monster Energy Drink! I mean, if they’ve got the technology to turn us all into this, who knows what other shit they can do that we don’t even know about?”
Pondering his investment, Lance speculated aloud, “Makes me wonder what the other two bottles do.”
Clay began to prowl the room, increasingly agitated. “So if we’re a wolfman, a sea monster and an invisible man, what the hell has Randall turned into?”
“Frankenstein, maybe?” Lance suggested.
Nigel shook his head. “Frankenstein was never that sexy.”
“Frankenstein was the doctor,” Clay muttered.
“Could be Frankenstein,” Nigel agreed. “I mean, he does have an enormous schwanzstucker.”
Clay growled insistently, “Frankenstein was the doctor!” He pounded on the snack table for emphasis.
“It was so bizarre to see meek little Randall acting such a twat,” Nigel said. “Maybe he’s one of the less famous monsters. Like the Amazing Colossal Ego.”
“The Toxic Male?” Lance suggested.
“The Incredible Douche?” Clay offered.
“Still,” Nigel said, “he may have turned into a right prick, but I’d fuck him in a heartbeat. Total smoke show.”
“No kidding. The second I smelled him, I got instantly horny,” Clay said.
Nigel said, “Me too! He must be exuding some kinda musk that says ‘Fuck me, I’m an outrageous prick.’”
“I know,” said Clay, trying to find the right words. “It was like this mixture of fresh coffee, potting soil, a gym locker and… entitlement.”
“Where the fuck was I? I didn’t smell a thing.” Lance attempted to sniff through the lumpy green cartilage that had replaced his nose, still getting used to his transformed body. “I don’t even know how to smell in this. How do fish smell?”
A spooky voice in his ear whispered, “Terrible.”
Startled, Lance leaped in the air and lashed out his arms in hopes of accidentally swatting Nigel. “Don’t sneak up on people like that!”
He could hear Nigel’s laughter beside him. “You were right, mate. This is way more fun without the underpants.”
“Yeah, yeah, fuck you,” Lance said. “I’m being serious here. Usually Mariposa gives me an instant boner, but even when Randall was standing there molesting himself, I didn’t feel a thing.” Curious, he pulled the drawstring of his board shorts and pulled them down, revealing that his crotch was now a smooth codpiece connected to his scaly abdominal panels. “Jesus! What the fuck? Where’s my dick?” He clicked his talons against the slick impenetrable surface, finding no trace of a cock or balls. In a panic, he clutched at his ass, feeling desperately for an opening there. “Shit, I don’t have an asshole either.”
Lance crossed the room, his limbs moving stiffly, and stopped in front of the mirror for a thorough inspection of what he had become. His face was truly hideous, with glassy eyes and a gaping maw surrounded by flabby green lips. His skull was covered with dozens of chitinous lumps instead of hair and his ears flared out in netlike wings. He found himself gasping for air, feeling increasingly claustrophobic inside his rigid exoskeleton. “I can’t breathe.”
“Why don’t you step out on the balcony? Get some fresh air,” Clay suggested.
Lance said, “I don’t think that’ll help.” He walked to the snack table, jabbed a can of sparkling water with his talons, and doused his face and neck in the gusher that flowed out. Skin-like flaps on either side of his jaw expanded and contracted, sucking up the carbonation. The new organs fluttered in unison and vibrated as they issued an otherworldly approximation of a belch. “So… I guess I got gills now.”
Lance wasn’t the only one growing increasingly agitated by the changes Mariposa had wrought. Clay had already unbuttoned and torn off the sleeves from his flannel shirt, and his tight pants felt too confining. “We gonna get out of here or what?” Clay asked, prowling the apartment restlessly. His ears, reshaped into sharpened points and abundant with sensitive hairs that heightened his hearing, were picking up the sounds of the distant festivities. “The DJs have already started playing.”
“I’m not leaving Alpha Randall alone here,” Nigel declared. “I’d probably come back to find him fucking the sofa and the walls spackled with jizz.”
“Well, let’s figure out what we’re doing soon. I’m going stir crazy. My clothes are too tight. Feels like I’m walking around in a straitjacket.” Clay looked at Lance’s shorts enviously. “Loan me your board shorts.”
Lance told him to fuck off.
“What, it’s not like they’re covering up anything.”
“What if this shit wears off all of a sudden?” Lance asked. “I don’t want to be standing in the middle of Santa Monica Boulevard with my dong flapping around.”
“From what I hear, it wouldn’t be the first time.” Clay turned toward the last place he’d heard Nigel’s voice. “How about you, Nigel? Can I borrow something of yours?”
“You bulked up a bit, mate, but you’re not exactly my size.”
“Better something too loose than too tight. I feel like these pants are gonna split apart the second I squat.”
Nigel grumbled. He had always been uncomfortable letting anyone handle his belongings, and loaning clothes to a werewolf seemed like a particularly unwise choice. Nevertheless, he could see how constrained Clay’s legs seemed as he scuttled around the room. “Okay, check the third closet on the right. That’s where I keep my old stuff I’m tired of.” Clay gave him a hairy thumbs-up and headed toward the bedroom.
“You’ve got three closets of clothes?” asked Lance from the kitchen where he was running the tap to fill a basin of the sink with water.
“Four, technically,” replied Nigel. “Plus a storage locker.” As an afterthought, Nigel shouted toward Clay. “And keep your bloody paws off my shoes!”
As Clay loped down the hallway, he could hear heavy panting from the bathroom and was nearly overwhelmed by the potent stench of Randall’s pheromones seeping through the door.
Inside, Randall had made a discovery. As he became even more aroused, he grew even bigger and stronger. Each of his hefty muscles was pulsating in rhythm as he stroked his unit methodically, holding himself at the edge, torn between the desire to climax and the curiosity to see how much more massive he could make himself. He clenched his teeth as he watched his face turning purple in the mirror. The yellow cape around his neck, the last remnant of his Halloween costume, constricted around his broadening neck. He snapped the cord and let the cape fall to the floor. His shoulder muscles had swelled to the size of softballs and snaky veins bulged along his sinewy arms. He imagined the jealousy his body would elicit as he strolled through West Hollywood, attracting envious stares from every guy he passed. Just the thought of all that lustful desire aimed in his direction stiffened him to the point of no return. He began to yowl with each stroke, thick legs spread wide, big feet braced against the wall, broad back thudding repeatedly against the bathroom door. “Yes. Yes! Yes!!!”
But as he surrendered to the inevitable release, he could feel the power ebbing from his body. To his dismay, he could watch himself deflating in the mirror over the sink, his muscles rapidly losing their heft, his bones squeaking as they retracted to their initial size, the fresh growth of hair on his face and body fluttering to the floor like autumn leaves. His elation shifted swiftly to distress “No. No! No!!!” He vigorously shook his dwindling and increasingly flaccid cock, trying to will it back to erectness, but by this point his wad had been shot, leaving abundant residue in every direction. His back slid slowly down the door as he gazed at his reflection, reduced once again to the harmless twink with the scrawny body and the soft face, trapped in eternal boyishness.
Returning from the bedroom, Clay no longer detected Randall’s scent and the bathroom had fallen eerily silent. He tapped a fingernail on the door and softly asked, “You okay in there, Randall?”
From inside, he could barely hear a defeated and deflated “Yeah.”
Clay walked into the kitchen where Lance had submerged his head in a sink filled with water, a relieved “Aaaah” gurgling up with a flurry of bubbles. Clay only knew Nigel’s location by the hovering carrot stick which became shorter with the sound of a crisp chomp, the bitten chunk vanishing inside whatever unfathomable force field had rendered Nigel transparent.
“What are you wearing?” Nigel’s voice demanded to know. “Which closet are those from?”
Clay looked down at the destroyed jeans he had selected, tufts of red hair puffing out of each strategically-placed tear. “Sorry, but your skinny jeans are the only thing small enough to fit me.
“Those are designer jeans, the location of each rip personally chosen by Stella McCartney!”
Clay defiantly snagged the faded denim with a long fingernail and ripped a ragged new opening to the right of his crotch. “Oops! Does that hole make them more valuable or less valuable?”
“Take ’em off,” Nigel said, his voice moving ominously closer to Clay.
Clay instinctively lowered himself into a defensive crouch, thrashing out with bared claws and snarling to reveal that he’d also developed fangs. “Want to see if your blood comes out red or clear?”
Lance lifted his head out of the water and walked across the kitchen, standing between Clay and where he assumed Nigel must be. “Would you guys lighten up? I know it may not look like it, but we’re not literally monsters here. Let’s not do anything we might regret in the morning.”
“Obviously a new philosophy on your part,” Clay said with a chuckle, lowering his arms to defuse the moment.
“We cool, Nigel?” Lance asked in vaguely Nigel’s direction.
“Yeah, we cool,” said Nigel not particularly coolly.
“So, can we get going soon?” Clay asked as he opened the refrigerator. “I’m fuckin’ starving.” He rummaged around, excited to find a cooked chicken breast that he could smell through the Tupperware. Without asking, he tore open the container and began to devour the hunk of poultry with animalistic fervor.
“Oi,” Nigel asked, “is that meat vegan?”
“Fush you,” Clay mumbled, his mouth full of half-chewed chicken. Clay stalked out of the kitchen and onto the balcony, gazing at the rising full moon as he continued gnashing away at the cold chunk of meat.
“You really gotta chill, Nigel,” Lance said, grabbing a dish towel to dry off his face. “This shit is weird enough for you and me, but at least we’ve been through this before. For those two, this is their first time. No wonder they’re freaking out.”
“But we got no idea what expired Mariposa does. I mean, what if the formula went bad? What if these changes turn out to be permanent? Look at me! What’s more useless than an invisible model?”
Lance thought for a moment. “A mime doing a podcast? Listen, you think I want to get stuck looking like fuckin’ Swamp Thing for the rest of my life? You wanna swap? ‘Cause I’d much rather have an invisible dick than no dick at all. At least being an invisible model would be unique. You’d have a gimmick nobody else has. Who knows? Turning invisible could be the thing that finally gets you noticed.”
A weak but familiar voice across the room asked, “So, are we still going to the block party or what?”
They turned to find Randall, returned to his normal appearance, standing in the living room wearing nothing but his yellow Robin cape wrapped around his slender waist like a bath towel. His hair was disheveled, his skin once again smooth and hairless, his torso scrawny, his legs… still not bad looking. His face conveyed a mixture of bewilderment and embarrassment.
“Hey, look,” Lance announced, “Fun-size Randall is back!”
“How you feelin’?” Nigel asked with genuine concern. “You kinda freaked us out there.”
“How do you think I felt? All of a sudden, it was like some macho shithead took over my body and I had to watch helplessly. I mean, I gotta admit, it was pretty cool to get taller and grow big muscles and all that, but it was scary to not have any control over what I was doing. It’s like I was just along for the ride with some maniac at the wheel.”
Lance snapped his clawed fingers as a realization dawned on him, although the name he was searching for was escaping him. “You’re the Doctor!”
Randall corrected him. “I keep telling you, I’m not a doctor, I’m a nurse.”
“No, that’s what you turned into. Doctor… Doctor Jekyll! And the asshole you turned into was Mister Hyde!”
“More like Doctor Randall and Mister Hide-The-Salami, am I right?” Nigel offered.
This revelation wasn’t particularly comforting to Randall. “So, what does that mean? Am I gonna change back into… him… again?”
“Guess we’ll have to wait and find out,” Lance replied. “What made you turn back to normal?”
“I don’t know. He… I… just kept getting bigger and bigger, and then I… he… started jerking off like crazy and then, as soon as… we… came, I was me again.”
“That’s bizarre,” Nigel said. “Usually the transformation gets more intense every time you get off. Maybe that’s a good sign. Maybe the Mariposa really has lost its potency. Maybe it’ll will wear off for all of us once we have an orgasm.”
“And what good does that do me?” Lance wondered, pounding his fist against the carapace covering his crotch. “I got nothing to jerk off! Maybe someone’ll have to give me a gill job or something.” Behind him, Lance heard the soft brush of skin against skin. “Nigel, are you fapping right now?”
The sound stopped and, after slightly too long a pause, Nigel replied, “No.”
“So you really think it might be out of my system?” Randall asked hopefully.
Nigel invisibly shrugged. “Not gonna lie, brother. We got no fuckin’ clue. We’re in uncharted waters.” He patted Lance on his plated shoulder. “No offense, mate.”
At that moment, a plaintive howl was heard from the balcony. They all turned their attention to see Clay standing on the concrete railing, pounding his fists on his chest, his jaw jutting forward as he barked at the moon.
Randall screamed, “Oh my god!”
“Shit,” Nigel yelled. “If he falls offa there, the condo board’s gonna pitch a fit!” He shoved Lance aside and bolted toward the balcony, upending the snack table that was blocking his path, dumping the evening’s refreshments onto his pristine carpeting. “Clay, get the fuck down from there!”
Clay’s head swiveled toward the source of the voice. His eyes, now yellow, glinted in the light coming from inside the apartment. He grinned widely, his gleaming choppers dripping with saliva, looking like he was preparing to devour Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother. “Try and get me,” he snarled, and leaped nimbly off the side of the balcony.
Nigel rushed forward, but Clay’s legs were out of reach before he could grab them. Lance and Randall raced in from behind, unintentionally ramming into their invisible friend and sending Nigel hurtling toward the edge. Nigel caught himself from toppling over the railing, and spotted Clay on the next door balcony one floor down, perched upon the rail on all fours. Before Nigel could yell, “Stop!” Clay had already made the jump to another balcony further down, grasping the rail in one hand before springing to his next landing spot. After two years of futility as Clay’s personal trainer, Nigel was amazed to see the red wolfman’s newfound agility in action. From below, they could hear their friend barking with delight, his howls echoing off the nearby buildings.
“Well, boys,” Lance announced, “looks like we’re going werewolf hunting.”