From the author:

Hello readers!

What follows is the first chapter in a story entitled Space Ship Boys. What’s it about? I’ll leave most of the discovery to you, but what I can tell you is that it’s an epic character-driven science fiction story set aboard a spaceship that has escaped a dying world. It features mostly 17-22 year-old guys, and in the coming chapters you will find adventure, love, sex, uncertainty, humor, angst, more sex, hijinks, and possibly a whale or two.

As a writer, I can make a couple of promises. This is a story about all of the things above, but at its core it is an erotic story. Unless something unforeseen comes up, there will be sex in every chapter, I promise. It is my purpose to arouse as well as entertain, and if a chapter fails to do both I will have fallen short of my goals. At the time I am writing this new forward I am completing chapter 15, and it is my attention to take the characters you find below to a satisfying end.

I love to hear back from readers. You can always email me at erikritler@yahoo.com.






Space Ship Boys


Chapter 1
An Accidental Voyeur


The world ended – about three months ago – there is no doubt about this.

Not that I want to be a total downer, it’s just probably better to get the serious stuff out of the way. I’m not one to gloss over the reality of the situation. Earth. Gone. Massive evacuation. Hundreds of gigantic space ships on a route that will take us by five planets, each a possible new home; a journey that could take as long as eighteen years. Humanity’s last hope. Whatever.

It’s cold in the emergency access tunnels today. There’s always a draft, which ranges from frigid to slightly warm, depending on how the climate controls are working. The cool air that flows over me now gently pushes my bangs around in a breeze that smells a little like a pediatrician’s office – slightly stale and antiseptic. There’s no emergency, that’s not why I’m in the emergency access tunnels – but more about that later.

Sitting alone in a cold metal tunnel can make one think, I find; and since my brain never really shuts off, thinking is exactly how I pass the time. These days I think a lot of Earth, that now non-planet to orbited the now non-sun with seven other now non-planets. Hmm, to be accurate, I think the sun still exists in some form, and the scientists say everything past Saturn will be fine. I guess Pluto got its revenge after all.

When there was an Earth, I grew up in San Diego. I miss San Diego a lot, and my little house there; I miss my parents, who were always kind, happy, and who always had time to teach me math or poetry, how to make chocolate bowls to fill with creamy orange chocolate mousse or what happened when you put a roll of mentholated candies into a bottle of soda.

“Devon, honey, your mousse sculptures look great, but let’s try not to get it on the ceiling next time,” my mother had said to me one afternoon when I was eight, just before she gave me a firm hug, which got chocolate mousse all over both of us.

Another afternoon, several years later, my father had said, “Hey, sport, heh, I appreciate your interest in science, as you know. But maybe the soda and candy experiment was for the driveway, not the living room. You want to go get the mop and bucket? I’ll help you clean this up, and then your mom will never know.”

I remember padding around the house a lot, perpetually barefoot. There had been an ancient magnolia tree in our back yard – it had towered over the house like a gentle guardian. In the other corner, a bougainvillea had claimed a quarter of the yard, and having won a decades-old battle with a tool shed, providing a swath of deep purple shade and a perpetual rain of violet and white leafy blossoms throughout the spring and summer.

My parents had named me Devon, which I’d always found rather dull. I asked my mom about it one Saturday morning when I was twelve. She’d been making waffles and bacon. She always cooked the bacon first, then crumbled it up and put it into the batter before cooking the waffles, just how I liked them.

“You know,” she’d said, “I’m surprised we never told you that before. Well, you know that Anglican culture was really big back then, right after the transfer.” She was referring to the transfer of ownership of California to Great Britain, a deal that had been brokered to pay off excessive debt on the part of the United States. “It was an exciting time. The queen came over to live at La Cuesta Encantada in San Simeon for six months. There was a revival of English art and music. Everyone on California was happy, we were all making love in the grass every afternoon…”

“Jeesh, whoa, mom, enough!” I’d interjected

She’d smiled at me and continued, tussling my coffee-colored hair (it started blonde, got darker every year) before she spoke. “Well, you asked. Anyway, your father and I were very much in love. We were young – not that much older than you are now, really. We’d been married a year, then I got pregnant and we were so happy. Your dad suggested we name you Harold, which was popular because the Prince Consort had recently died. We’d never seen you, obviously, but I felt like I knew you a little already. You didn’t seem like a Harold.”

“I don’t feel like a Harold,” I’d said.

“We talked about it, and about how my great, great, great grandparents had come to America from England. They’d lived in Devonshire before that. When I told your father this, we knew immediately what we wanted to name you. And when you arrived, you did very much seem like a Devon Chasen.”

I’d smiled, and my name had never bothered me again. It was a cool story.

“There’s my guys,” my father had said, entering the kitchen, already dressed for the day. He’d given my mom a kiss on the cheek, and then walked past me, smacking me lightly on the butt with his newspaper tablet right as I took a big swallow of orange juice. “Morning, Harold,” he’d said, smirking at me. I’d laughed. Orange juice had gone up my nose, and everything had smelled citrusy for three days after that.

The tunnel feels a little colder now, and I shiver. It’s not that the climate control is completely malfunctioning – to be fair, the emergency access tunnels aren’t designated as living areas, so they aren’t held at a consistent temperature. So long as they won’t freeze or bake you (literally), the computer seems happy.

There’s a metallic ‘thump’ from down the way, and I start. I look down the dimly lit tunnel, which curves off to my left. I don’t see anyone or anything, it was probably just the sound of someone moving around in one of the bedrooms, or maybe something mechanical occurring somewhere on the ship.

Escape Vessel 5997 – the ship I was now on – was not the largest ship in the fleet, not by far. In fact, from what I understood it was one of the smaller ships, meant to house just over ten thousand evacuees, as well as a variety of plant and animal life. It was huge inside – much larger than I’d ever imagined growing up, when as a young boy I’d pore over schematics and drawings and think about what it was like to live in space.

A full third of the ship was designated as “engineering sections,” which were completely off-limits unless you had clearance to be there. The front two-thirds of the spherical ship were divided into areas that would allow us to live and thrive on the potentially eighteen year journey to a new home. There were dorms, farms, offices, stores, parks – everything you’d need to form a small town in space.

The office and clerical areas, along with the ship’s bridge and the mess, were primarily located at the top of the ship, formally referred to as “Topside”. As you might expect, since the ship was a sphere, there was a counterpart at the opposite pole, unoriginally referred to as “Bottomside”; this was where most of the recreational facilities were housed – a gym, various courts for various sporting events, and a large field with stadium seats and real grass – an ideal location for football (or soccer, as some still called it), the game of choice on the ship.

All of these areas: Topside, Bottomside, the dorms, the farms, the massive domed space in the exact center of the ship called The Commons and its three long, mall-like concourses, and others were connected by a series of pathways, hallways, elevators and stairways. It had been fun exploring those first few weeks!

The designers had also deemed that every space on the ship, be it a bedroom, living area, farm, tool shed, or anything else, needed a second exit, both for climate control (more for providing breathable air than temperature control, as I was learning) and to serve as a hatchway in the event of an emergency. This was accomplished through a series of tubes, some wide and some rather narrow, which criss-crossed the ship in crazy, maze-like patterns.

In the living areas, where I was now, the emergency access tunnels were narrow passages, just barely tall enough to stand in, grey metal walls with large red lettering marking locations. There were hatches every several feet, which could only be opened with a key, or if the ship was set to “emergency mode,” unlocking the hatches and allowing access. The tunnels were raised from the rooms, so that the hatches along the floor of the emergency tunnels were on the upper, rear wall of the bedrooms. Each hatch had an air vent in its center, which allowed ventilation (duh!), but also let anyone in the tunnels see into whatever space the hatch led to. But I’ll get to that later.

Thinking about the ship made me think about the first time I’d seen one of them in person. Well, I’d sort of seen it.

It had been a rare rainy weekend in San Diego. There’d been thunderstorms, so my parents had put a strict moratorium on surfing. I was fourteen, and becoming a little sarcastic. I told them I’d just swim around in the ocean instead or surfing, which had landed me a weekend at home.

Ultimately, a batch of burned cookies, a broken clock, an experiment to dye my hair green, an unfortunate incident with some fireworks, then another unfortunate incident with a cat and a clothespin, led my parents to the inalterable conclusion that Devon + boredom + small house = impending doom.

“Tell you what, guys,” my dad had eventually said, trying to calm a very frantic and poofed-up kitty. “We’ve never gone out to see EV1888. How’d that be?”

“Cool!” I’d exclaimed. My mother had nodded, probably thinking a road trip would be just the thing to save the house further chaos or damage.

EV1888 – the San Diego ship – was located in the desert, a two-hour drive from San Diego. Well into the car ride, which had made me even more bored and babbly, I’d had to ask. “Isn’t this far for an evacuation?”

“Not really,” my father had said. “If it ever happens, and some think it might not, or won’t for thousands of years…anyway, when the shit hits the fan…”

“Mark!” my mother had said in admonishment over my father’s language.

“Er, sorry,” he’d said. “Anyway, when things get all fucked up…” he’d smirked at my mother, who’d rolled her eyes at the joke rather than scolded him, “…they’ll know in advance somewhat. The evacuation will probably occur over a couple of days, and locating the vessels remotely should help the process.”

We’d arrived at the ship in the early afternoon, the tall towers that demarcated its location visible for five miles across the flat desert before we’d eventually located the parking lot.

If you’re wondering what a round ship a mile or two in diameter looks like towering over the desert floor – I have no idea. The ships had all been constructed underground. But you could usually see the tops of them, the final hundred yards breaking the earth’s surface like a massive dome, but it was thrilling to think the structure extended over a mile below the surface. There was almost always visitor centers at ship locations, which is where we’d spent the day.

The tour was okay.

“My name is Sub-Midshipman Tony Esperenza, but you can call me Tony,” our guide had stated as we started the tour.

“I am a member of the crew of EV1888, which we’re standing over right now. There are approximately five hundred crewmembers assigned to the ship right now, and were we to evacuate today, we would enter the vessel, prepare it for launch, and then serve as your initial crew on the voyage. So, while you may make me get coffee, answer questions, and shine your shoes on this tour, should that lamp light up…” Tony had pointed to a huge, red alarm light, which sat unlit over the entrance to the museum, “…you’ll be taking orders from me.” The guide had looked at the lam, as if expecting it to go off right then and there. “No, just kidding folks,” he’d chuckled, sounding very phony, “it almost never goes off on cue like that.” Tony had laughed at his joke, but no one else had.

We’d entered the museum, and Tony had described the DENON project – the most massive undertaking humanity had ever…um…undertook.

Everyone had known the Earth was doomed. I mean, even in the 20th century people seemed to recognize that mankind would eventually make the planet uninhabitable. One might argue that HG Wells realized this as far back as 1885. But in the late 21st century, there was what we might refer to as a “boo-boo,” an accident that sealed the fate of the planet, but not right away. But I’ll talk about that later.

In response, the most powerful nations on Earth had formulated a plan. If and when the day came, and as I’ve said no one was totally sure it would, mankind needed the ability to take to the stars, find a new home, and take as many pieces of earth with them as possible.

The Earth’s greatest minds took to the task, along with some celebrity sponsors. Project DENON had resulted in the design and construction of EV0001. And then EV0002, EV0003, and so on. You see where this is going. The ships lay buried, maintained and crewed, ready to serve mankind if the need ever arose. The world’s propensity for warring with each other replaced with a new military economy, one that sought relocation over explosions. Years passed, then decades. The San Diego ship had been built and buried in the desert since before my grandparents were born.

Chances were the need to use the ships would pass my generation by, just like it had others before me. As you may have guessed, “best laid plans” and all that crap.

A noise in the room below me gets my attention. I wonder if my ‘prey’ has arrived. But it’s a false alarm – a guy I don’t know enters the room, but he just picks up a bag and then leaves. Dang it.

He’s almost certainly another former student from John Ducker Third Level University – more commonly called JDU – the college I’d been attending when the evacuation occurred.

Daydreaming yet again, I think back to those early days at school.

I’d been sixteen when I left for college, a year younger than normal, but my test scores warranted early admission. I liked my parents – I really, really did, but if you think I didn’t take a running leap at the opportunity to be on my own, you would be totally wrong. I did, and one August afternoon my parents had driven me from San Diego to a small town in Wyoming, where the school had been located.

College life had been new, and exciting, and sometimes a little scary. It was an all-boys school, which wasn’t so bad, but it was also really challenging, and the pile and piles of homework weren’t that wonderful. I would work through third level at JDU, then transition straight into primary studies. That had been the plan. The college also offered graduate courses, but it was common to go to a different school when you got that far.

The campus had been beautiful. Everything was designed in a “collegiate log cabin” style that looked both regal and informal. It had been a place of learning, but one that had fit in well amongst the pine forests that dotted the surrounding areas.

I’d met Patrick Dellano over orientation weekend. I’d instantly pegged him as a nerd, but an earnest nerd, and we got along right away. Turned out we even had some classes together. Unlike a lot of schools, JDU allowed for a second round of roommate assignments after orientation, and Patrick and I got along so well we’d requested to be housed together.

The first year dorm rooms had accommodated four students per room. Patrick had actually already had a third for our housing request – a guy called Reid Woodard. He wasn’t at orientation because his second level school was still in session at the time, so I didn’t meet him that weekend. To be honest, meeting Patrick and then knowing we could room together was a relief, but adding Reid to the mix “sight unseen” had made me a little nervous.

Turns out, I’d had nothing to worry about. Reid had showed up a week later, just as the semester was starting. He’d been nothing like Patrick – he was far more easy-going, athletic, and he had a great sense of humor. Reid and I hit it off right away, and it wasn’t long before Reid, Patrick and I became something of a trio on campus. Those early days were great.

Our fourth roommate, Derrick Scottson, wasn’t nearly as fun. Neither Reid nor Patrick had anyone to request for the fourth slot, and I hadn’t either, so Derrick was a random add-in. He was a bit of a dick, to be honest, and while there were no outright confrontations, we were never that friendly with him. He’d almost immediately joined a fraternity, though, so we barely ever saw him.

First semester had been uneventful, second semester – not so much.

I’d been sitting in class, thinking about upcoming midterms with a rather nasty feeling in my tummy, and also pondering how unfair it was that I’d been stuck in Friday classes when so many others had left for the holiday weekend. It was March; If I’d been in San Diego, it would be springtime and the bougainvillea would be claiming even more territory in our backyard (and dad would be threatening to buy a machete for the eighth year in a row). I’d been in Wyoming, however, and it was cold still. I mean cold. Reid had made fun of my wardrobe all winter. Turns out, you need different clothes in Wyoming than South California. Go figure.

Anyway, I’d been thinking about midterms and the foul weather when the klaxons went off. It was a screeching, horrid sound, designed to be heard for miles and miles around. More like made to deafen for mile and miles around.

The sound had been both low and high pitched, so that it was like fingernails on a chalkboard in the exact middle of your brain. It had reverberated through the desks, chairs and furniture in the room, making them buzz against the hard floor of the classroom.

Everyone had looked around, most of us wincing. We’d thought it was a drill at first, but then they never set all of them off for a drill, and they just test one for a short burst. About fifteen seconds after the din started, the chalkboard (an archaic term for the large LED screens across the front of the classroom) had lit up in large red lettering: NOT A DRILL. EVACUATION REQUESTED. DENON ASSIGNMENTS IN EFFECT.

Everyone had seemed to scatter all at once, but not in a panic. Protocol for this sort of situation had been covered once a year in every school in America (and British America), so we knew what to do. Take our time, remain calm, but get our stuff and head immediately to our nearest evacuation center.

I’d made my way back to my dorm room. Exiting the Social Sciences building that afternoon, my fellow classmates all leaving the other building simultaneously, I’d sadly reflected that if this were for real – if an evacuation was actually on – I was no longer a college student. And soon there’d no longer be an Earth.

My first reaction had been to call my parents. My voice call was rejected, so I’d tried a text. It had gone through, and thirty seconds later a response came:


We’re headed for the ship. Traffic isn’t bad yet. You get to yours. Communications are probably going to go down soon, dad says. Voice is already down. Uncle Rich says this is for real, get to the ship and get on it right away. I’m sorry you’re not home, but dad and I want you safe. Get to the ship. We’ll talk to you once the ships link up.


I’d looked at the message in bewilderment. I’d though to myself, “How could this be happening?” I’d imagined my parents driving across San Diego, my mom composing the message while dad drove. They might have the Edwards, our neighbors, in the back seat. The klaxons had sounded for another two minute burst, shaking me back to reality and getting my ass moving towards my dorm room.

I’d entered the building, and my phone had beeped to notify me of an incoming text. I hadn’t read it right away, instead hopping up the four flights of stairs to my floor. I’d entered our room to find that it was empty. That had never seemed scary before.

I’d looked at my phone. The second message had been longer, almost qualifying as an email. It had read:


Devon,

I don’t want you to overreact to this message. Dad and I are class three, and therefore almost assured spots on the ship. You should also be fine. Get to your ship.

But life is never predictable, and in that it’s a lot like you. If anything should happen, dad and I want you to know that we are proud of you. So very proud. You have grown up into a beautiful young man, one whose heart and mind astounds us each and every day.

This is a new stage in your life, and in ours. I regret that our little family will be broken up. I want you to know that we will be there for you, always. Dad says communication between ships will be impossible for weeks, maybe even months. Check the manifests when they become available. Send us a message when you can.

Until then, we love you more than anything. You have been our greatest adventure. Don’t worry, we’ll see you again someday. Until then, we’ll be thinking about you every day. You are our Devon, and we will cross the universe itself to be with you again.

Now get to your ship. And don’t forget some warm clothes.

Love,

Mom and Dad


I’d read the message three times. By the end of the first read, I’d been crying, although the last line made me laugh, a snot bubble erupting grossly from my nostril. Mothers are always mothers, even at the end of the world.

By the third read-through, I’d become terrified. I’d imagined my mom sitting in the car, tears also streaming down her cheeks. I’d known that she’d been more scared than she’d let on, and that this message had been intended as a good-bye in case we didn’t make it.

I’d hurriedly sent her a reply:


Mom, Dad,

I love you too. I am leaving now for the ship. It’s a twenty minute drive. I’ll make it. I don’t want you to worry about me. Reid and Patrick are here. I’ll talk to you again when I can. I love you too.

Devon


Then I’d thought to ask my parents a question. I’d started typing a new message, but my phone had flashed red, then went black. White letters had appeared on the screen. “Communication networks down for civilian use. Evacuation in progress. DENON assignments in effect.”

I’d put the phone away and wiped the tears from my eyes. I’d had a large duffle bag in my room, which I’d begun packing hurriedly. I’d been a student; I hadn’t had much, so I’d tossed almost everything I owned into the bag. I’d made sure to include my snowboarding clothes. Maybe mom was right – space did sound cold.

The sirens had sounded off again, and I’d just about peed my pants. My school computer had vibrated and buzzed, causing the monitor to tip over with a dull thunk. I’d wondered if the klaxon noise was going to mess up the electronics, but then realized it didn’t really matter. I’d noticed the blue light on my personal external drive. “Oh, shit!” I’d exclaimed, realizing that leaving behind my data – my music and movies and schoolwork, along with tons of photos (and even some “unmentionable” files) – would be a huge mistake. I’d unplugged it, then I’d stowed it safely in my bag.

Just as I’d finished packing, Reid and Patrick had entered the room. Reid had looked red and sweaty, like he’d run the entire campus to get here. Later I’d learned he had. Patrick had been calmer, but he’d also looked concerned. We all three had tried not to give away how scared we were.

Reid had immediately began tossing his belongings in a bag similar to mine, just as I had done a moment earlier. Patrick had stood in the center of the room, looking dazed.

“Patrick,” I’d said in a moderated voice intended to get his attention. He’d just stared at the wall. “Patrick!” I’d stated more firmly, causing him to look at me in a creepy, distance stare. “Get your stuff, we need to leave for the ship.”

He’d remained silent, but reacted, stepping over to his bed and sliding a trunk out from under that had read “PROPERTY OF PATRICK DELLANO, (9155) 4477-41448,” then under that, “EMERGENCY EVACUATION KIT.”

“Wow, fancy,” I’d said. Nerds can be cool. Or if not cool, prepared.

Once we’d packed, which didn’t take long, we’d discussed whether to wait for Derrick, or head for the ship. “I think he’ll go to the frat,” Reid had said. We’d never discussed what we’d do if an evacuation occurred – it just wasn’t something you thought about on a day-to-day basis.

“You’re right,” I’d said. We’d agreed to head out on our own.

Later we’d learned that Derrick’s fraternity had been in the middle of an afternoon “BBQ slash beer-fest” when the sirens had gone off. Drunk and, in my opinion, rather stupid, they’d voted that it was all a false alarm, despite all the evidence to the contrary. As if they’d been really, really trying to get the suckier part in a new Aesop’s Fable, they remained on Earth, or so the one pledge that had deemed it wise to leave had later told us. Yep, Derrick was dead. He’d been stupid, but it still made me sad.

Reid, Patrick and I had hopped into Reid’s car – he was the only one who had one on campus. Our gear had fit snugly in the trunk. We’d been amongst the first to leave campus for the ship, so the exits out of the parking areas weren’t yet jammed. I’m no early bird, but in this one instance I was happy to play that role.

As we’d rounded the corner onto the road leading off campus towards the highway, we’d encountered a small group of hitchhikers. Well, they’d been students, clearly, but had their thumbs out. I’d asked Reid to stop, and he’d pulled over.

A red-headed boy had walked over to our car, smiling. “Heading to the ship?” he’d asked.

“You know it,” I’d said.

“Any extra space?”

I’d looked over to Reid. It wasn’t a large car, and there’d been four guys standing there. It had seemed unlikely they’d all fit. “C’mon,” Reid had called out through the open window, “Squeeze in. We’ll take what we can.”

I’d gotten out of the car, as had Patrick, and we’d worked to fill the car as if we’d been putting together a jigsaw puzzle of college guys, duffle bags and car parts. We’d first emptied the trunk, Reid had suggested tossing out the jack and spare tire (Won’t need those no more!”) This had allowed us to fit three of the newcomers’ bags into the rear. The guys had then all piled in, cramming Patrick and the four other boys in the back seats, along with the extra bags. It had looked a little ridiculous, but it worked.

I’d walked around the car intending to climb back into the front seat when a fifth boy ran around the corner, waiving at us. Reid had seen him and said, “There’s no way he’s going to fit in here. There’s another car coming, Devon, see if you can flag them down.”

I’d looked, and a black sedan was indeed coming down the road. We’d been blocking the second of two lanes. I’d stepped over to the driver’s side of Reid’s car and entered the other lane, waiving to the other driver.

Rather than stop, he’d moved into the oncoming lanes, driving around us. I’d seen that there were two guys in the front seats, but the back had been empty. I’d recognized the driver from somewhere, but I didn’t know where. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I’d said, walking back to my side of the car.

The fifth boy had made it to our car. He’d been tall and blonde, wearing a green shirt and jeans. He’d seemed familiar. I think he’d been in one of my lectures first semester. “I tried to get those guys to stop,” I’d said. “Dickwads.”

The boy had looked at the car, where everyone in the back seat was crammed. He’d said, “I need a ride, but I can wait for the next car. Somebody’ll stop, I’m sure. I hope.” That last part hadn’t sounded very certain.

He hadn’t had too much in the way of luggage, just a backpack and small bag. I squeezed into the front seat – we’d moved it up to create as much room in the back as possible. My knees had been crammed against the console. The other boy had looked worried – we all did, but I’d known he wasn’t just thinking about the evacuation, he was also wondering if he was going to be left behind to die on this sidewalk. “Cram in here,” I’d said to him, motioning him towards my door. “Any port in a storm, eh?”

The boy had smiled uncertainly, and then tried what I’d suggested. It hadn’t been easy, but eventually we fit two guys and two pieces of luggage into a space best suited for a small asian woman with one leg.

Once we’d managed to get the door closed, Reid had taken off down the road. The final boy had ended up in my lap. Seeing as how we were now close friends (literally!), I’d introduced myself.

“I’m Devon,” I’d announced to the cabin. “The driver is Reid.” Reid had grunted in acknowledgment. He had been taking the driving very seriously, probably concerned because he couldn’t see out the rear window, or maybe because if we got a flat tire we’d have been royally fucked.

One of the new boys in the rear had replied, “I’m Marcus. Marcus Freund.”

“Josh Goland,” another had said.

“Beck Harris.”

“Jason Kritchma.”

“Patrick Dellano,” Patrick had said, sounding a little winded from being crammed in the back seat with four others.

“I’m Ian, Ian Whedon. Hey, thanks for letting me in,” the boy in my lap had said.

“No problem,” I’d said, “I’ve been thinking about whether or not I want to gain an extra 70 kilos, and this is helping me decide that’s a stupid idea.”

Ian had laughed, which had hurt my kidneys.

The road had started to get busier, but almost all the cars were from the college. We’d passed a yellow bus, which had been chugging up a long hill substantially under the speed limit. “Is that a school bus?” I’d asked.

JDU and the small town that served it had been the only thing out that far from the cities. I’d chosen it partially because it had been so remote. “Looks like it,” Reid had said as we passed the bus. Several faces had been pressed against the windows, staring out and leaving greasy smudges on the glass. They were kids, I’d have guessed them to be ten or eleven, but I couldn’t really tell. Most of them had looked scared. Ian and I waived at the kids, thinking it might lighten their moods. Only one responded, a green-eyed boy who smiled and waived back.

Reid had passed the bus and continued on. We’d driven through the town, passing our favorite burrito joint and then a coffee shop I’d gone to on my first college date. It had been with a girl called Allie, and we’d seen one another off and on after that night.

Town had become a few random houses dotting the countryside, then fields, then forests. We’d been mostly quiet on the drive. I’d been thinking about too many things to list – the future, the past. My chances of getting a spot on the ship. What would become of my parents. What would become of San Diego. Whether my bougainvillea plant was sad, because I was.

Eventually we’d spotted the towers of EV5997, the ship that had served the surrounding areas. Another five minutes and we’d arrived, pulling into the parking lot that had before that day served the visitor center. There had already been a lot of cars there, but Reid had found a spot quickly.

We’d piled out of the car, all of us glad to be free of the confined space. There had been a damp spot down Ian’s back and up my front where we’d both been sweating. I’d smelled myself on my shirt, but also an unfamiliar scent I took to be Ian. It hadn’t been too bad.

Once he’d stretched a little, Ian had turned to me, saw the sweat marks on my shirt, and said, “Was it good for you too?” I’d smiled, and then laughed. One of my last earth laughs.

We’d unloaded the car, which took far less time that filling it had. Everyone had slung their luggage over their shoulders. I’d looked towards the main building of the visitor center, the LED screen over the entryway had no longer displayed day pass prices and tour schedules. Large red letters blazed in a bright message. “EVACUATION IMMINENT. PROCEED TO DEPARTURE ZONE. PLEASE BE ORDERLY.” I’d taken a deep breath – this was all really happening.

“Ready?” Reid had asked, nudging my shoulder. Our group had started walking in the direction of the entrance.

“Uh, just one sec,” I’d said, running the ten feet back to the car. Reid had unlocked it for me from his keychain; the car beeped. I hadn’t actually left anything behind, but I had noticed that we’d parked next to the black sedan that had passed us so rudely. Reid had parked rather close, actually.

I’d opened the passenger door a little, and then pushed it to where it was almost closed. With a mighty tug, I’d pulled it open as hard and fast as I could. As intended, the door had slammed into the driver’s door of the sedan, leaving a nasty gash in the paint and denting the paned. It had even cracked a little.

I’d jogged back to the group, most of them wide-eyed. “What the hell was that about?” Reid had asked.

I’d shrugged. “That guy was a dick,” I’d responded. “Sorry about your door.”

Reid had looked at the keychain in his hand. “Not really my car anymore.” With a wild toss he threw the keys into the distance. We hadn’t even heard them land; they’d probably found their way into a bush or something. Reid and I had smiled at each other. I’d been really glad he was there, and Patrick too.

We’d turned towards the evacuation center, all still a little scared. I’d taken a deep breath. “This is real,” I’d muttered to myself.

A noise in the room below me brings me out of my daydreaming. I’d sat on the floor cross-legged while I waited, and hadn’t realized until now that my butt was getting cold and sore. I flexed it to see if I had full feeling in both cheeks. I didn’t. Oops.

Peering through the metal vent, I see two boys enter the room. They’re whom I’ve been waiting for. About time.

The boys are called Sean and Dog. To clarify, Dog’s real name isn’t Dog; no one would name a baby that. It’s actually Doug, but Doug being a name that Dog loathes, he somehow picked up the nickname Dog and is now called that. Sean was just named Sean, no back-story.

I’d know both boys back at school, but not well. To be fair, I still didn’t know then that well, but I did see them every day. As time passed, we were all being placed into careers around the ship. My primary career was now food services, which sounds worse than it is. I’d actually requested it. Right now it was serving pre-packaged rations. Later it would entail more food management, cooking and creativity. But it was how I knew Sean and Dog – I handed them a grey packet of goo, their afternoon meal, everyday around one.

This is how I’d come to notice there was something odd about these two. Unlike almost everyone else on the ship, they didn’t remain in the cafeteria to eat. Instead they slinked off, which at first wasn’t suspicious, but eventually I noticed they acted a little weird at lunchtime, disappearing with shifty glances.

Life on a space ship can be dull – sometimes exceedingly so. It didn’t take a long for me to start wondering why these two were acting odd, and then concoct elaborate scenarios in my mind. I felt the most likely explanation was that they had some pot hidden away somewhere and liked to get high in the afternoon. The most fun (but substantially less likely) explanation was that they were Russian spies gathering information for an eventual war with Eskimos.

“Damn Eskimos,” I muttered, before realizing that someone spying on the other side of an open vent should keep their stupid mouth closed. Neither Sean nor Dog seemed to have heard.

Long story short, I’m an odd guy, so the reasonable course of action seemed to be to find out where these two were going. I’d followed them one afternoon and discovered they were going to a dorm in Area 22. Not a big deal. A little research the next day revealed that it was their dorm. Lame.

I could have let things end there, but I was curious and bored. I was one of the few guys who had access to the emergency tunnels – long story – so I’d figured out how to get to the vent on the other side of Sean and Dog’s bedroom. That brings us here, where I was now about to learn what the deal was with these two.

“Fix that,” Sean says in the room below, pointing to a large green evacuation trunk, which I assume belongs to one or the other. Dog slides it so that it’s sitting in front of the door, wedged between the built-in chairs that sit to either side. The rooms don’t lock, so I assume this is for privacy. Sucks to be them, I laugh to myself, they’re not getting any privacy from me.

Dog opens the top to the trunk, and I take a deep breath. Either a dime bag or a book of Cyrillic ciphers is about to come out of there, answering the age-old question about these two. Instead, Dog removes a small clear bottle with a black band, but I’m too far away to see what it is.

Sean sees what Dog has and smiles at his friend. “Oh, you think so?” he says.

“I know so,” Dog replies.

“We have to be on shift in twenty minutes.”

“I know,” Dog says, “We’re good.”

Do they make drinkable pot, I wonder? Both Sean and Dog seemed a little red-eyed and laid-back, which is where the pot theory came from.

What happens next pertained to exactly NONE of my eleven Sean-Dog theories, and has me watching wide-eyed.

Sean crosses the room towards Dog. At first I think he’s going to hit him, but then he puts his hands on Dog’s face and pulls it towards his. The two engage in a deep, passionate kiss. What the frell?

The kiss doesn’t last too terribly long before both boys fumble out of their shirts, and then they embrace again; both boys moaning as they grind their lips together. I blush from my hidden vantage point.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not offended. And I’m not stupid. There were five thousand people on the ship, some of them were sure to be gay. But it hadn’t been my intention to sneak up on a make-out session this afternoon. Still, that doesn’t make me leave, either.

I look the two guys over. Sean is slightly taller, and considerably more muscular. He has thick chestnut hair that he’s cut extremely short, so he reminds me of the Navy guys I’d sometimes see around San Diego. His chest has a light feathering of similarly dark hair in a small patch the size and shape of his sternum, which may be why he looks older than Dog despite them being the same age.

Dog is considerably lankier than Sean, almost to the point of being overly thin. But with his shirt off, I see that he’s not at all unhealthy. His chest looks flat and hard, and the muscles of his smooth abdomen are sleek and firm, which makes me a little jealous. Dog’s tummy makes him look really long, and his skin is flawless. His hair is shorter than Sean’s, almost buzzed, which makes his oversized ears even more adorable.

Dog places a hand palm-down on Sean’s chest, and Sean responds by doing the same to Dog. They’re on the other side of the room, but I imagine that I can hear them breathing heavily. They look each other in the eyes before going for each other’s pants in a rapid motion.

“I got you this time,” Sean laughs, tugging on Dog’s athletic shorts.

Dog giggles, trying to get at the fly on Sean’s jeans while preventing him access to his own waistband. He’s unsuccessful, and before he can even get the zipper down on Sean, his shorts and underwear are around his ankles.

“Victory!” Sean exclaims, raising two fists to the sky. Dog take advantage of this to yank Sean’s jeans down. They go as far as his knees, but get bunched up there.

I gulp. Both guys are naked – well, mostly – and both guys are…hard. Yikes.

I’d seen dicks before. In locker rooms, but all of these had been flaccid, or they’d belonged to a schoolmate who’d been running off, trying to hide an embarrassing erection. And I’d seen porn, of course. It wasn’t hard to access the internet’s endless supply of smut. But in all honesty, I’d never seen a peer’s dick hard before. Not like this.

Seeing Sean and Dog naked and aroused, albeit across the room and through a vent, I learned something about dicks. They can be really different. I mean, I knew that before. But now I really know it.

Sean’s dick looks thick, and I consider this matches his muscular body really well. It sticks straight out of his body, but the shaft curves very slightly up at the end so that the wide helmet tip points upward at a slight angle. His tip is a deep red, which makes me notice that the skin of his shaft looks a little darker brown than the rest of his body.

Dog, on the other hand, is really different. His dick is thinner, although probably as long as Sean’s, if not a little longer. And it’s also straight, but this is what surprises me – it points up and lies flat against his belly, ending in a pinkish tip. I’d never seen a boner that stayed so flat against the tummy like that. It didn’t even bob or droop – it just remained against his belly like it was firmly attached at both ends.

If I’m entranced by the two erections, the boys I’m spying on are doubly so. They’ve barely undressed before they’ve grabbed each other, stroking one another in the all-too familiar masturbatory motion known to most every male on the planet – well, former planet.

“Wait, ow, wait,” Dog says, pulling away from Sean’s hand. He takes the bottle he’s still holding and opens it, then uses it to squirt a stream of clear liquid on first his dick, then Sean’s.

“That’s what that was,” I whisper to myself.

Once Dog sets the bottle back on a table, the boys take each other’s dicks into their hands again, this time stroking a little harder.

“Ah, yeah, that’s better,” Dog gasps.

“Yeah it is,” Sean moans in response. “I fucking love your dick.” His stroking is making a squelching noise I can hear all the way in the tunnel.

“And I love your hand on my dick.” Dog’s eyes roll back and he looks up at the ceiling, mouth open in an expression that’s half smile and half gasp.

The boys work furiously, clearly conscientious of their impending work shift. Sean looks unbelievably hot, his muscles flexing, jeans down around his knees. Dog, who has stepped out of his shorts and is completely naked, looks pretty good himself.

“Ugh, oh! Here it comes!” Sean eventually exclaims. He grunts, his eyes squeezed shut and his face turning read. “UGH!” Dog keeps stroking, but points Sean’s dick slightly to the side. A stream of semen erupts in a long arc, landing in a white streak on the hard floor of the room. Sean grunts and groans as four more shots join the first.

Sean goes back to work on Dog, who soon climaxes. His breaths grow rapid and shallow, the telltale signal that a guy is about to finish. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he pants. A forth ‘yeah’ is drowned out when Sean pulls Dog into him, kissing him deeply. Dog thrashes and moans, and his cock erupts, Sean’s hand holding it firmly between their two bodies. Dog’s load lands in Sean’s pubic hair in sticky globs.

The two boys kiss for another moment, grunting and moaning into one another’s mouths, before parting lips. “You’re so beautiful,” Sean says. Dog smiles and, either because of the compliment or post-orgasm bliss, blushes.

Dog grabs a towel from what I take to be his shelf and wipes up Sean’s load. He pulls on his shorts and then offers Sean the towel.

“No way,” his friend says with a grin, “I’m wearing your spunk for the rest of the day.” Foregoing the towel, he pulls up his underwear and pants, stowing his cum-covered boner without cleaning it.

The boys rush to put everything back as it was. Barely ten minutes have passed when they turn to leave the room. It’s at exactly that moment that I accidentally kick the wall, my leg cramping and involuntarily flexing.

SHIT!

Both Sean and Dog turn and look at the vent; I silently duck to the side. They’ve clearly heard me, and I feel like I’m about to pee my pants.

Sean crosses the room, I don’t dare look but I assume he’s investigating the noise. “We’re gonna be late,” I hear Dog say. Yeah, Sean, scram. You’re gonna be late.

“I know, but this stupid air conditioning makes noise all night long. Every time I fall asleep it rattles. I swear I’m going to fucking lose it.” A loud clang sounds from right next to me. I think Sean has physically thrown something at the vent. “Whatever.” He says, annoyed.

The boys leave the room and I breathe a sigh of relief.

My heart slows, and I realize there’s a slight moistness in my underwear. But it’s not pee. I’m…uh…well, I got a little excited. Not all the way, but enough so that there is a small wet spot on my fly. I’m flipping rock-hard in my jeans.

“Fuck it,” I say to myself, rapidly pulling down my fly and letting my boner pop out (Oh sweet, glorious freedom!)

Unlike the boys, I don’t have anywhere to be. But this doesn’t stop me from stroking my own six inches just as rapidly as they’d done theirs. “Oh, yeah, wow, oh my god,” I moan to myself as I stroke, exposed in the open, granted abandoned, tunnel. It was exciting. No, it was AWESOMELY exciting.

It doesn’t take me long. “Ugh, ugh, ugh,” I grunt, letting my semen shoot onto the wall near the vent in soggy splats. It takes three or four minutes for me to catch my breath, and I remain hard as steel.

I need seconds, but decide against it and stow my penis back into my pants, feeling a little sad about putting it away. Another metallic thump sounds from down the tunnel, startling me again. Sean is right – that is fucking annoying.

I head back to the point where I’d entered the emergency tunnel leading to this area. I felt bad about leaving my load dripping down the wall, but I didn’t have anything to clean it with. It makes me feel like such a vandal!

It’s a ten-minute walk to my dorm. I have the afternoon off, so I head there. Nobody is around when I get there, either in our common living area or the bathroom. I wash my face in the sink. My hands are actually shaking, probably an after-effect of the excitement, and the adrenaline from almost getting caught.

“Cool,” I say to mirror Devon.

I stare at myself. I guess I’m a pretty okay looking guy. Maybe a little pale, even though I grew up in a sunny climate. I’ve always thought of myself as a little too skinny, although Reid has been taking me to the gym regularly and that, along with my age, is helping me fill out. My hair is naturally medium brown, but I love playing with it. Right now it has a blue streak in it. I don’t know, I figured being on a space ship, somebody needed blue hair.

If I were honest with myself, I’d say that my best feature is my eyes. I’ve always been happy that my face is cute and boyish, with intense, almond-shaped dark eyes. From a really early age I’ve been able to use those to my advantage – and believe me, use them I have.

Now I gazed into those eyes, wondering about the boy on the other side of them.

What I’d seen this afternoon was a surprise, but it wasn’t shocking. Guys our age fooled around, I knew this. And in the end we’d ended up on a really interesting ship. It had been the Friday before a holiday weekend, and a lot of people – both at the school and in town – had been away. Besides this, the ship served a really small town and the school, an area that had shrunk since they’d built the escape vessels. As a result, we were well under capacity, with just over five thousand passengers.

And they were almost all college guys.

Go figure – put a space ship next to an all-boys school, throw an evacuation and you’ll end up with a ship demographic that leans fifteen-to-one in the masculine direction. This was the case here, and since we were on a voyage that could potentially take the better part of two decades, it meant either a lot of guys needed to go gay, or there’d be a lot of calluses. I think Sean and Dog are just the first sign of what life on this ship will be like. I didn’t know if they were straight before, or if they’d consider themselves gay now, but I thought a lot of guys would probably eventually pair off like they apparently had.

The thing was, I didn’t think I’d have much of a problem with that.

Truth be told, I wasn’t that experienced with sex. The girl I mentioned, Allie, had been the first person I dated, actually. I don’t know, not many of my classmates liked my dry, sarcastic humor (I guess) and I always thought that people found me a little weird. I was shy in secondary. I mean, I was a bit of a class clown, but I was shy in asking people out.

Allie had been my first “real” date, and then my first “real” girlfriend. I’d enjoyed our post-date activities, the fumbling with the bra strap (Who designed those things?!) and making out. But it wasn’t the fireworks I’d expected.

This didn’t lead me to a bunch of soul-searching or anything. It wasn’t like the possibility you might be gay wasn’t covered in Personal Development and Health, a mandated class for pre-teens. I’d thought about it then, and later on. Through high school I’d thought I was definitely bi-sexual.

But seeing Sean and Dog – that did something to me. Even though they were across the room, even though I was only watching. My insides had felt like they were exploding, I was on fire. When I’d come, it had hurt my eyeballs.

“I think I’m gay,” I said to mirror Devon.

Mirror Devon doesn’t seem to care, he just stares back at me. But it’s not mirror Devon I’m concerned about. Well, I mean, yeah it is. Because I am concerned about myself.

Will I spend the next two decades alone, living like some wretched medieval monk, never having sex? Or was there a Dog out there for me? Not a canine pet, I mean like Sean’s Dog. If so, how would I find him? How would I know whom to ask out? And would I be doing it because I was really gay, or just because I was surrounded by almost only men?

And if I dated, what would my friends think? It was acceptable to be gay, of course, but that didn’t mean that friendships wouldn’t change once you said you were. Would Reid be scared of me, thinking I wanted to lay him? Did I want to lay him? He was awfully cute. Was I cute? To Reid? To anybody?

Did I want to lay anyone, for that matter? I mean, really fuck? What Sean and Dog had done seemed hot. Wow, I mean hotter than hot. But actual sex…I didn’t know. Could I do that? Could I have it done to me?

Mirror Devon looked like he wanted to puke. Life was confusing. “You look as bad as I feel,” I said to him.

I was dizzy. I’d just wanted to spend an afternoon sneaking around, spying on some friends. Maybe they’d have pot, then the next day I could confront them and ask them to let me smoke too. Like I said – space equals boring. But I’d stumbled on something else entirely.

And now my brain was buzzing with questions, all of them circling and colliding with one another deep in my head, like a hundred little pellets being fired in all directions. And in the middle lay the sticky, black glob that was the most confusing, most scary question of them all:

What next?



To be continued



Author’s end notes:

If you read this far – thanks! Here are some notes about this chapter, just some trivia that you may (or may not) find interesting.

Soundtrack: I associate a song with each chapter. Compile them, and you’d have a soundtrack to the story. The song for chapter 1 is Underwear by Pulp.

The San Diego house is a real place. I didn’t grow up there, but I used a real house I stayed in for several months when I was 18 as the inspiration for Devon’s childhood home. It was in the Mission Hills neighborhood, and was a place I will always remember fondly.

Devon’s name was indeed chosen for Devonshire, England.

Like Devon, when I was 14 I attached a clothespin to a cat’s tail out of boredom. I don’t think I foresaw the destruction to follow.

The sex scene is this chapter isn’t taken from anything specifically, but it does remind me of classic porn, where a voyeur will watch on as boys get it on. Examples are His Little Brother or Little Brother’s Coming Out, both by Nova films.









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                            Back        Forum Discussion        Next