Randall

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It was a Wednesday, I remember that. July, the summer between college and grad school. The office I was temping at—the corporate headquarters of a faceless insurance company—felt unnaturally cool and bright; outside it was hot and sultry, with storm clouds looming.

The FedEx box was already at my desk when I got to my cube, deep into the customer service cube farm. A soft babble of soothing voices was swelling around me. I was late. I had to log in and get going right away, another day of answering inane questions from stupid people. I wanted to be out surfing so badly I could taste the salt water on my lips and feel the steady firmness of the board under my feet. As I fell into my chair, I grumbled to myself that the closest I'd get to the beach today was the aquamarine stripe in my tie. I tried to dress well for my job, just to make the whole enterprise seem worthwhile, but Armani shirts and Hugo Boss ties don't make a dead-end, money-for-books job any more fulfilling.

I sighed and picked up the FedEx box, looking it over with growing interest. It was the large size, big enough to fit two reams of paper side by side. Its presence was wholly mysterious: I hadn't ordered anything or sent away for anything, and if I did, I certainly wouldn't have it delivered here. The weight distribution was funny too. It was heavy—maybe twenty or thirty pounds—but it wasn't solid, as it would be if it were filled with stacks of paper or one large object. The weight seemed concentrated at one end, like loaded dice.

The airbill was unenlightening: To Randall Swaine, Faceless Insurance Company, etc., etc., from John Smith, 1 Main Street, Dallas. Geez, the city might as well have said, “Anytown, U.S.A.” I was of course incredibly curious about the contents now, but also a little nervous. For all I knew I'd find deadly white powder or a ticking bomb inside.

But I brushed aside such remote possibilities. After all, why would some crazy person send such dramatic mail specifically to me, the no-worries surfer temp-slash-poli-sci prodigy in cube 114?

I was about to find out.

I turned the package end for end, looking for the opening pull-strip, and heard an unsettling “thunk” of something heavy moving around inside. I realized whatever was inside might be fragile, even though the box wasn't marked that way, and resolved to be more careful with it, though I was completely at a loss as to what could be inside. An ashtray? One bookend?

I pulled on the pull strip and opened the top of the box. Inside were two objects: a small square envelope of really nice, stiff stationery paper, and, bizarrely, the next smaller size FedEx box.

I opened the envelope. Inside was a single square of the same stiff paper. It bore the following message, written with a fountain pen in an ornate, almost calligraphic hand:

“I have no further use for the enclosed, so I am returning it to you. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I have.”

There was no signature—not even a cryptic initial.

I set the note and envelope aside and carefully drew the larger box off the smaller one and placed it on the floor. It felt even heavier, maybe because it was smaller, and it was a little battered and rumpled from whatever was in it smashing around during its overnight journey. Now my heart was pounding—I had a distinctly bad feeling about this box but there was no way I was going to not open it, no matter how certainly I knew I was going to regret doing so—

The intercom on my desk buzzed so jarringly I nearly dropped the box. I jabbed the button and immediately heard my supervisor Molly's brisk, businesslike voice. She was checking to see if I was “in”, since she'd noticed I hadn't logged into the customer service system yet.

I stammered something about getting right to it and somewhat rudely broke the connection. A little more hastily now I turned the medium-sized FedEx box toward me and, once again, pulled the opening stripe, feeling as I did so an ominous roiling in my stomach. I lifted the lid.

The dank, unpleasant odor escaped, as if sweaty socks and underwear had been left in it for a week, did nothing to calm my nerves. Cautiously, I peeked inside.

Inside the box, sprawled with arms and legs akimbo, was the naked figure of a young man. I stared at it, dumbfounded, uncertain what I was seeing. It was impossibly lifelike—I felt like I was looking not at an object, some toy or doll perhaps, but at a (very expensive) digital special effect. Overall its proportions were admirable, though more realistic than any action figure: well built and perfectly proportioned but not muscle-bound. It was indescribably, ineffably more real than more than any toy, with exquisitely detailed features and articulations and skin that looked more genuine than any plastic, rubber, or fabric—it looked startlingly like actual skin, even glistening a little in the fluorescent light, as if with a light sheen of sweat. Not to mention such subtleties as fine, perfectly realized hair, from the unruly, longish, blond head hair to the few days’ growth of scruffy beard, even down to a thin pleasure trail—which led, remarkably, to very realistic, if generous, anatomical correctness. There was even a tiny mole just to the right of the navel. This was like no doll I'd ever seen! Its perfection was both thrilling and a little creepy, as if I'd entered some unreal place or state of being.

But as beautiful as it was, it was in a bad state. It was bruised and battered all over; the skin was black and blue, scuffed and scraped. A little blood was matted in the unkempt hair. The damage was not just on the surface but seemed deeply imbued into the figure, even down to a dried, bloody nose.

I was completely mystified. What was this thing, and why was it sent to me? And why had it gotten so barked up in the course of a simple courier shoot from Dallas to San Clemente? Why hadn't it been more carefully packaged if it was so fragile? Who the hell was behind this, anyway?

Than the unthinkable happened. As I stared at the figure, wondering what to do with it, it—moved.

My heart stopped dead as I watched the head twitch a little against the narrow side of the box. The arms shifted and drew in toward he body.

I was already about to pee in my pants when it—he!—opened his eyes and looked up, directly into mine. His bright green gaze conveyed so much in a single instant: agony, pleading, relief, recognition—

I'm not proud of what happened next. I was so frightened I recoiled, ejecting the box from my hands. The box crashed to the floor, denting one corner, and flopped in its side, eliciting a small but dismaying moan as it did so. A small hand spilled out of the top, then was slowly withdrawn.

I'm not sure how I ended up sprawled on the carpet. I must have fallen out of my chair. I might have yelped, I'm not sure. When I looked up I realized two of my coworkers, a fellow college kid temp from UCLA named Burke and a girl with glasses whose name I didn't know, had materialized in the doorway. Christ, how long had they been there?

“You O.K., Ran?” Burke asked. The girl said nothing—she seemed more curious than concerned.

“Y-yeah, I'm O.K.,” I stammered. I looked down and saw to my horror that the front of my crisp charcoal slacks were tainted with a large wet stain. My two visitors joined me in staring at it.

“Yeah, I, uh, spilled my soda,” I said limply, struggling to my feet.

Burke nodded crisply, despite the obvious lack of any soda can in sight. “Let me know if you need anything,” he said, nodding toward his cube just to the left of mine. He then aimed a dark look at the woman, who seemed to feel its heat. She moved on, and in a moment Burke was gone as well.

I was left alone with my pounding heart, and the box.

I picked it up gingerly, carefully trying to balance its weight. Inside, the figure was curled up in a ball, clearly in pain.

I stared down, feeling powerless and deeply moved. I ventured a whisper into the box. “I'm sorry,” I breathed. “Are you—are you—all right?”

The man raised his face to look up at me. And suddenly I recognized that face. I recognized it from my own mirror.

I was so shocked I nearly dropped the box again, but I saved myself at the last minute, merely jarring the man inside. He was still looking up at me, and he winced at the sudden movement.

“I'm hurt,” he said softly. “I need help. And food. Please.”

I glanced up too see if anyone was listening to this. At that moment, I would have given anything for a real corporate job with a real office and a door. I had a million questions, but I was afraid to ask any of them, and in any event my mind was stalled. His words—“I'm hurt”—reverberated in my head and I realized I had to, wanted to, help him. I glanced up again to check the hallway and then looked down to whisper, “I'll take you home.”

He shook his head. “Too far,” he panted. “So thirsty.” He reached a hand up to where his hair was matted with blood, toward the back of his head. His fingertips came away red—he was still bleeding.

“Shit,” I said aloud.

Without another thought I got to my feet and started heading straight for the men's bathroom, though I'll admit I was self-conscious enough to hold the box low enough to hide most of the stain from my recent liquid transgression. Halfway through the cube farm I had a better idea and altered course, away from the multi-user men's room on the edge of the farm and toward the stairs down to the managers&rdsuo; level. There was a single-user bathroom there that would be much safer.

I walked as quickly as I could, trying not to jostle my charge, and took the stairs in a fluid run. In moments I was locked safely in the austere managers’ bathroom. I filled the sink with warm water and soap from the little dispenser, testing the water and fiddling with the faucets to make sure it wasn't getting too hot or too cold. Soon the sink was filled with sudsy water.

I switched off the taps and turned slowly back to the box, which I had left standing on its end on the counter by the sink. I looked in, my insides still fluttering with the knowledge of what was inside.

He looked up at me expectantly. I was struck now at how tired he looked. His body was tanned, under the grime and scrapes and bruises, yet his face looked pale and gray. I felt a surge of compassion and the certainty that I was responsible for him.

“I'm going to lift you out now,” I said softly, and as I did so I considered the best ways of reaching in and lifting him. “Er, can you stand?”

He struggled gamely to his feet, wincing sharply and hissing as he placed weight on his left ankle. He lifted the ankle up and tried to lean on the side of the box, which would have tipped over had I not immediately grabbed it with my left hand. With some effort he stabilized his weight on his other foot, then looked back up at me.

I took a deep breath and reached into the box with my right hand. He lifted his arms and, very cautiously and with part of my mind gibbering about how crazy it was what I was doing just then, I wrapped my hand around his torso, watching his face the whole time for signs of pain. It had already occurred to me that he might be injured internally, and I was at a loss as to what to do if he was. But his expectant, patient expression did not change.

He was very warm. I wondered if he had a fever.

I wondered a great many things.

I pulled him slowly out of the box. He was heavy in my hand, easily the thirty pounds I'd guessed before, and I felt the muscles of my upper arm brush against the smooth cotton of my shirt as I moved him across the counter and lowered him into the bath.

“Relax there for a moment. I'll bring you something to drink and some antibiotic for your wounds, O.K.?”

He nodded and, with a ghost of a smile, sank gratefully into the soapy water. He was just slightly too large for the sink. How big was he? I turned and hurried over to the door, unlocking it, and ran toward the nearby pantry. There was a first aid kit there, I felt sure.

How big? As I bustled into the kitchen, I relived the moment in which I'd moved him from the box to the sink (as I have many times since), surprised at the warm feeling the memory gave me. My hand had wrapped just around his torso. Overall he'd looked to me to be about three times the size of my fist. I grinned unexpectedly as I drew a cup of water from the water cooler—there was another measurement I knew was three times the size of my fist.

More quickly now I hunted down the first aid kit, which was hidden in an overhead cupboard, and withdrew the hydrogen peroxide, some cotton balls, and some antibiotic ointment. I grabbed the cup of water and rushed back around the corner—only to see M. Caruthers Harper, my boss's boss's boss, heading unmistakably for the bathroom.

His hand was on the doorknob. I called frantically, “Mr. Harper, don't!”

He turned and stared at me, annoyed, hand frozen in mid-turn.

I rushed up to him. “Believe me, you'll be glad I stopped you. The toilet is backed up in there, I just went to tell maintenance. No one will be able to breathe in there for weeks!”

He narrowed his eyes at me, perturbed perhaps by such graphic information, but nevertheless tossed a word of thanks at me before hurrying off in search of other facilities.

I ducked quickly into the bathroom and locked the door.

My three-fists-high man had sunk low in the sink, only his head visible above the suds. His eyes were closed, and the half-smile hadn't left his face. He opened his eyes briefly to look at me, then closed them, trusting me.

Gently I treated the wound on his head, which turned out to be fairly minor. As I did so I said, a little nervously, “What shall I call you?”

He said softly, without opening his eyes, “Call me Randall.”

I took a deep breath. “O.K.,” I said, daubing his wound with peroxide. “You can call me Randall, too.”

“O.K.” He smiled again and said nothing more.

I finished with his wound and paused, my heart pounding again suddenly. “How—“

“Don't ask me now,” he said, still with his eyes closed. He sounded deeply relaxed. “Later.”

I nodded. “O.K.,” I said. “Drink.” I held the not-quite-full cup of water up to his lips. It looked huge next to him, he could have climbed into it, though as it was icy cold I doubted he would have done so willingly. He opened his eyes and drank deeply, enough so I could see the water level drop. When he pulled back I set the cup aside. Now I reached both hands into the sink and began, gently, to wash him.

Something happened to me inside as I ran my fingers over his firm, battered body. Each leg, each arm, was muscular and strong, and I felt his strength, his masculine energy, in my fist as I wrapped my hand around each limb. He was just muscular enough in the chest and lats that my fingers did not quite meet, and immediately I thought once again of another object which, when grasped, prevented my fingers from meeting. And as if in answer to my thoughts I began to flush and feel aroused, my cock starting to stiffen in my 2xist boxer briefs. Not quite understanding my feelings, I began to caress his body under the soapy water, and he stretched luxuriously in my hand's embrace and moaned softly with pleasure. My little finger touched his muscular ass and began to slowly rub it, and he smiled more broadly. And even as I was absentmindedly adjusting my ballooning cock in my slacks with my wet left hand, I felt something brush against my fingers and I realized with a pounding heart that his cock was already completely hard and pulsing against the heel of my thumb.

I lifted him toward the surface of the water so I could see it, my mouth dry. Just as he looked just like me, only a touch more handsome, and just as he was built just like me, only a bit more muscular, so he was hung like me—only more so.

However he had come to be, this man was me—plus.

I adjusted my cock again, so it was sticking straight up, trapped by my belt with something like five inches sticking up under my shirt, which I unbuttoned awkwardly with my left hand and yanked out of my slacks. My cock pushed most of the way up my abs, but his monster went further, its tip brushing his sternum. It looked a mite wider than mine, too.

It was a moment before I realized he was looking at me now, most intently.

I lowered him back into the warm water. Slowly, gently, with the side of my thumb, I began caressing his cock. He moaned softly and did not take his eyes off me.

With my left hand I began stroking myself. I was titanium hard, almost painfully so, and it seemed he was too. My other fingers were moving, caressing his body as I rubbed his cock, and he was writhing now with pleasure, watching my face and watching my left hand stroking my cock. I thought about wanting him to touch my cock, wanting that very badly, but the thought itself pushed me over the edge and him, too, watching me. We came simultaneously, both of us pumping a surprising quantity of cum onto our chests.

I relaxed both my hands but did not let go of either of the things I was holding. I grinned at him. “Was that O.K.?” I said. “Did I hurt you?”

He grinned back at me and shook his head. “Randall?” he said.

“Yeah?”

He replaced his grin with a smile, a smile that, like his first glance at me, conveyed many emotions. He said softly, “I need you to take me home now.”


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