Author’s Note

When I first sat down to write this story, five or six scenes instantly came to mind. I shall not spoil anything, but the second half of this chapter was one of those. It’s been in my mind from the very beginning.

To recap the story so far, Devon is a college student who finds himself on a space ship following the destruction of Earth.

Devon begins questioning his sexuality after spying on two friends mutually masturbating. He spends the next couple of weeks trying to spy on other guys with limited success. Later, when a flat mate wanders off to an unoccupied flat drunk and passes out, Devon takes advantage of the sleeping boy. Fortunately for Devon, Charlie seems to have been too drunk to remember anything, despite the fact that Charlie woke up while Devon was messing around with him. But unfortunately for Devon, someone was spying from an emergency access tunnel.

And that brings us up to chapter four. Enjoy!

Space Ship Boys

Chapter 4 – The Great Day

Ever notice how great running is for thinking?

I had, from the time I was in junior high. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t classify myself as a “runner,” those determined individuals who pant and dash and gasp in twenty-five kilometer increments. I just like the occasional jog when I need to clear my head, and today is one of those days.

The heat wave of Thursday behind us, and Friday having been spent rehydrating, things seemed to return to normal by Saturday morning. That is, everyone was sleeping in, as teenagers will. But not me – I woke up at six-thirty, and my mind immediately began racing over the events of the past several weeks. So I decided a jog would do me good.

My dorm is in Area 23, located in the forward starboard section of the ship. The halls in the living areas are a little cramped for jogging, but if you go down a couple of floors to the center of the spherical vessel, wider hallways lead into The Commons, one of the most open areas on the ship. Here’s where I always start my runs, setting my wristcom to pace me.

I jog down the wide hallway, thinking about what my parents were doing right now. I knew they’d evacuated safely – ship manifests were being compiled and made available on the network. But communicating between hundreds of vessels accelerating to near light speed was tricky. Someday we may have the ability to send messages, but for now all we had was a list of survivors from the various ships. Thankfully, my parents’ names were on it.

The hallway leads into the forward concourse. The ship is a sphere just over eighteen hundred meters in diameter, the exact center occupied by the main lobby of the commons – a vast domed space, the most open area of the ship. From here extend the forward, port and starboard concourses, long three story spaces that run through the ship. The first floor in the concourses is dedicated to recreation – parks, cafes, amphitheaters and things like that. The second and third floors are designed to house various stores and services for residents.

I liked to run on the second floor. Most of the spaces were unoccupied – they’d be opened over time as needed – so there were usually fewer people to weave around. Not that there were many out at seven on a Saturday morning.

I increase pace, shifting my thoughts to the sexual events of recent weeks. I’d eventually calmed down from the initial high I’d experienced encountering Sean and Dog, ultimately deciding that roaming the emergency access tunnels looking for guys to spy on was a generally bad idea. Then I’d had the entire encounter with Charlie, and that had me a bit confused.

I pass the halfway point of the forward concourse, running by one of the newer additions to the space – a mini golf course. The course was situated throughout a park and grove of magnolia trees that had recently been planted. Cool.

The thing about my experience with Charlie was that it raised more questions than it answered. Running into Charlie passed out like that had been fortuitous, and it had allowed me to explore a newfound part of my personality. After that night, I could safely say that, yes, I was gay. Or maybe bisexual. But probably gay, and that was something that felt good to figure out. Man had it felt good to figure out.

Still, I’d done it by taking advantage of a drunk boy. That was fucked up, right? It had been a big risk. What if Charlie had been angry about what I’d done? What would have happened if he’d gone and told everyone in the flat that I’d molested him? It could have been bad. Fortunately, Charlie had apparently been too drunk to remember anything, and I’d dodged a bullet.

I run past a small cluster of café tables. There is no café up here – at least not yet, but someone has positioned these tables on the second floor to provide a nice view of the park. A crewmember, a woman called Linda who I recognize from the food lines, is sitting at one of the tables, sipping a cup of coffee.

“Good morning,” I say cheerfully, slowing my pace as I run past.

She looks up to me, seeming a little surprised that I’d greeted her rather than just run by. “Well, hi. How are you?” Her tone is surprised, but chipper.

“I’m good. Couldn’t sleep, so I’m jogging. It’s nice down here in the mornings.” I reach over to stretch my side, which was cramping a little.

“Yes it is, and getting better all the time. The trees are nice.” I nod in agreement. The commons had been rather sparse when we lifted off, but it was one of the first areas scheduled for improvement. Improvements were being made each day, starting largely with covering the first floor space in trees or plants or grass. The farms produce all the oxygen we need, but making the commons look more natural was aesthetically nice, if not totally necessary. Linda sips her coffee, and then says, “I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name. You seem familiar, though.”

I smile, and reply, “Don’t worry about it. There are five thousand of us, and only two hundred of you. I’m Devon Chasen. I work in Food Services. You come through my line sometimes.”

Linda snaps her fingers. “That’s it! Sorry, busy days and all that.”

“I hear that,” I say, bending to reach down to my toes to stay loose. “We’re getting one of the wheat farms running, and I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life. But whatever it takes to get us where we’re going, right?”

“That’s a good attitude,” Linda says. “Some of your shipmates haven’t been happy with the work. We had to utilize the brig for some of them, did you know that?”

I did. Some of the passengers, primarily guys who had been older students at the college, had started refusing some of the work. They claimed that tasks should be doled out according to seniority. It was an old and stupid story – those with seniority in any society often feel like they should be allowed the choicest positions with the least amount of work. In this case, I think they wanted shit detail passed on to all the younger guys – like me and most of my flatmates. Jerks.

It wasn’t long after this became a popular sentiment amongst the older boys that they seemed to elect a leader – a guy named Steven Caine who, I was unsurprised to discover, was the very same guy who had complained about the work that first day of shit detail. He was also the guy I knocked in the nose when he got involved with the confrontation with Reid on evacuation day. Somehow, I was really starting to dislike that guy.

And so was most everyone else on the ship. We depended on one another for survival, and for someone to proclaim they were too good to work was like saying they didn’t feel that anyone around them had a right to food, water or oxygen. People had started calling Steven’s group “The Dicks,” and I’d taken to the nickname right away. It fit.

Ultimately, Steven and his friends had outright refused to work, earning them a trip to the brig. “Yeah, I heard about those guys,” I answer Linda. “Serves them right. That guy Steven is just about the biggest asshole in the world. Anyway, I should let you drink your coffee, and I need to get back to my run before my heart rate drops too far.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Linda says. “It was good talking to you, Devon. Have a nice run.”

“You too!” I exclaim, then realize what I’ve just said. “I mean, have a nice drink. Or whatever. Ha, um…yeah. See you later.”

I jog off, leaving Linda laughing at the way I’ve tripped all over my words. Linda seemed nice. We didn’t see members of the permanent crew too often. Getting the ship fully operational was a massive undertaking, requiring extremely long hours.

There were about two hundred crewmembers, mostly reservists in Space Force, who resided in the upper military sections of the ship and oversaw its operation. They’d been assigned to EV5997 even before launch, back then caring for what was officially designated as a dry-docked vessel. This had meant maintaining the ship, but also caring for a lot of the plants and animals that had been housed on the ship, kept there permanently for the day they’d be an essential part of life after takeoff. Now the crew had taken on a whole new list of duties, and I didn’t envy them for their lengthy list of responsibilities.

I wonder briefly if the idea of being on a ship with 4,500 college boys is appealing for Linda, or horrifying. Maybe a little of both. We’re sexy, but also annoying, if you know what I mean.

My run ultimately takes me to the place where the forward concourse opens into the spacious grandeur of the main lobby.

The largest open space on the ship – and trust me, living on a space ship you start to appreciate open space – the domed ceiling of the lobby hangs seventy-five meters from the floor at its highest. The concourses are relatively open, but the main lobby is stunningly open, the walkways that lead into the space from the various concourses wrapping around the walls to and looking down into gigantic domed room.

Like the concourses, the lobby has been adorned with trees and various other plants. I remember back to those first days in space when the room smelled…odd. Like a new car, but a musty new car. Some of the first shit details had involved lugging trees and plants up from the farm areas, transforming the lobby from a musty unused room into the thriving heart of the ship. Now it smelled fresh and green, and the air was cool and damp against my sweaty skin.

The main lobby is dotted with seating areas – couches arranged around square coffee tables, or in some cases recessed seating in an octagonal pattern. This is a place to hang out, meet with friends, or just watch people. And there’s something comforting about how open the room is. There are already several dozen people milling about despite the early hour. I jog by past several of them, nodding in greeting as I run.

I decide that I’m feeling pretty good, and want to add the port concourse loop, which adds another fifteen hundred meters to my workout. I can take it. This route takes me by the hospital, which has an entrance on the second floor. I decide to stop in and see if my friend Conner is around.

The hospital is one of the few service areas to be allotted three floors in a concourse. The second floor, which I enter now, is the entrance for the clinic – where you go if you sprain an ankle or accidentally eat paint.

Fortunately, I don’t have a sprained ankle, but I don’t find Conner at work either. Instead I run into another friendly face – Ian Whedon, one of the guys we’d given a ride to on evacuation day. He’s dressed in a set of navy blue scrubs. He seems rather shocked to see me, all sweaty in my workout gear. “You okay?” he asks. “If you hurt something, we can get you checked in.”

“Nah,” I answer, “I just stopped by to see if Conner McLaglan was here. You work here?” I ask, somewhat dumbly. The scrubs indicate that he does. That or he has a really odd fashion sense.

Ian doesn’t seem to notice anything wrong with the question, though. “Yeah,” he answers, smiling, his pale blue eyes making me a little uncomfortable. They’re that color of blue that seems almost translucent, like the Mediterranean. I always find eyes like that a little off-putting, plus he’s relatively cute. “I got assigned as a nurse, which is cool because it’s what I requested,” he explains. He says it’s close to what he was studying at school, and that he really likes working in the hospital. Then he informs me that Conner isn’t working today, he has it off.

I thank him for the information and congratulate him on getting the job he wanted. I tell him about some of the things happening in Food Services before heading off.

I enter the final leg of my run, thinking some more about my life since we’d left Earth. Seeing Ian in his scrubs, the way the fabric hung off his lean frame, brought me right back to the place I’d been over and over for the past couple of weeks – thinking about guys.

When I think about the whole thing with being gay, I consider that I knew that guys experimented in their teenage years, although I hadn’t ever done so before leaving Earth. And now I had to wonder why that was. If I looked back, I’d never played doctor on a weekend sleepover or tried kissing one of my friends just to see what it was like. At first I question whether this might mean I’m not as gay as I might think. Then I have to ask whether I just had crappy friends. I mean, my boyhood friends weren’t bad guys or anything, but when I thought about it I realized I’d never felt very close to any of them. Until I met Reid and Patrick, I wouldn’t really call any of my past friends “best friends.” In fact, I hadn’t really searched the ship manifests to see where they were now. This made me feel a little lonely. But then, Reid and Patrick are great friends, and that makes me feel better.

But it also makes me feel a little trepidation. If Reid and Patrick were truly my first close friends, what would my being gay do to those friendships?

I stop running, realizing that I’d been sprinting harder and harder through the concourse so that I’m now completely out of breath and feeling like I might puke. That’s enough worrying for one day, I think. I message Conner to see if he really has the day off. He does, and we decide to hang out later.

* * * * *

Walking to Conner’s flat, I’m determined to have a relaxing day off. As it turns out, Conner has the same thing in mind, and the afternoon is one of the first times I truly enjoy myself since leaving earth.

Conner greets me at the door with his trademark wide smile. He’s wearing a raglan t-shirt and cargo shorts, an outfit I’ve frequently seen him in. He’s a hard worker, he’s pre-med after all, but he’s also one of the most laid-back, authentic guys I’ve ever known, which is one of the reasons we became friends back on Earth.

“My flatmates are all out today,” he says as we enter the living room of his flat. “I thought it might be fun to just hang, unless that sounds boring to you.”

“No, that sounds great, actually,” I reply. “I could use some down time.” I tell him that I still feel a little zonked from the heat wave, which he responds to by insisting that I drink at least two liters of water today. I laugh, but then he goes to the kitchenette and returns with a large bottle, handing it to me with a certain air of doctoral authority.

We settle in the main living room. Conner’s flat was in Topside, an area of the ship that mostly housed guys who had been older students at the school. Most Topside flats only have three bedrooms, compared to five in ours, so they were shared by fewer guys. The living rooms and bathrooms were smaller, though. “We could watch a movie,” he offers. I shake my head vigorously, recalling the lockdown TV-marathon. When I tell him about it, he laughs at my emphatic no.

“Ok, so no movie. I have a new video game we can play. It’s kind of cool.”

I’m not sure whether video games are really his thing. But I love them, and I suppose the offer might have something to do with Conner knowing this. I graciously accept. It’s a silly racing game, and before long we’re causing general chaos on the virtual streets, giggling at the comical graphics that appear each time we fender-bend. I beat him five games to three, which he jokingly claims is the result of some elaborate conspiracy between me, the game designers and Belgium. Just as I’m getting hungry and tired of the game, Conner gets up and flips off the TV.

“Ok, so I have a total surprise for you,” he grins, scooting off towards one of the bedrooms. I follow him, curious. His room is about the same size as ours, and four of the bunks appear to be “lived in,” although the room is considerably neater. He’s rummaging around in a trunk under one of the beds. I can hear objects clunking around against one another, but his back is to me and I can’t see into the storage space.

“What do you have in there?” I ask. “Because it better not be copies of ‘Bring It On Home.’ ” Chris and Peter had subjected my room to the overproduced sports film and two sequels during the lockdown.

“Those terrible soccer movies? No way. Oh, here it is,” He’s grabbed hold of something and stands up, but his back is still to me. “Ok, so close your eyes.”

What? “No way,” I protest. “Just show me.”

“Nope, not unless you close your eyes,” he insists, turning around, but making sure to hide his secret object behind his back. His eyes seem a little extra green, sparkling with a bit of boyish mischief.

“Well, I’m not closing my eyes, so you can just put whatever that is back.” I cross my arms over my chest, taking a firm stand.

“Ok, I will,” he says, calling my bluff. “But I can guarantee you that you’ll be interested in it.” He turns to put whatever he has back into storage and curiosity gets the better of me.

“Fine, fine,” I relent. “I’ll do it. My eyes are closed.” I theatrically put my hands over them. I can hear him moving around, slowly at first, probably making sure I’m really not looking. Then I sense him really close to me and feel him grab my left hand and pull it away from my face. I keep my eyes squinted shut, as he wants. Conner has large hands, and they feel warm against my wrist. Suddenly, something round and thick is placed in my left hand. It’s distinctly plastic and has some give to it. Conner tells me to open my eyes and I do, not believing what I find in my grip.

“No way!” I exclaim, getting immensely excited and jumping about three inches off the floor. “No fucking way!” I’m instantly giddy and Conner flashes a huge smile, obviously quite happy his surprise was well received. He’s handed me a jar of old-fashioned creamy peanut butter, one that seems pretty full.

“I brought it with me and I’ve been hiding it. I only use it for special occasions, but I thought we could have sandwiches today.” I could understand why he’d want to ration it. There wasn’t peanut butter on board – an early problem in one of the farms had killed all the peanut plants. There were a lot of guys who would probably do anything for a spoonful of the stuff, and I was struck by the value of the gift Conner was offering. We were friends, sure, but I didn’t feel deserving of sharing his peanut butter.

I shook my head as my smile faded into a frown. “Oh, no, Conner I couldn’t. I mean, it sounds great, but you should save this.” “For someone else” was the unspoken end to that sentence – I felt he should save it for sharing with a better friend than me, and maybe on a special occasion. I hand the jar back to him.

Conner frowns and looks confused. “Aw, c’mon Devon, you’re my best friend on the ship,” he says. “I wanted this afternoon to be just like a lazy day on earth, and for me that means peanut butter sandwiches. Besides,” he lowers his voice to a whisper, as though we’re sharing a secret of vital import, “I probably wouldn’t ever share it with my flatmates, or even let them know I have it. They’d probably sneak in and steal it later.”

I can’t think of a counter to his argument, and my stomach is rumbling. I really want the peanut butter, but I also see the bigger meaning it has for Conner – sharing it will be like a ritual that seals a bond of friendship between us, like becoming blood brothers.

“Well…” I answer, dragging the word on for several seconds. Conner’s eyes are pleading with me, and although I’m going to say yes I enjoy prolonging it a bit so I get the full effect of the puppy dog look, “…okay. Deal. I’ll share with you.” Conner claps his hand and immediately flashed me another of his huge smiles. I laugh at the way the peanut butter has turned us into two silly little kids.

He produces four slices of bread from the small flat refrigerator. When he hands me a knife, I spread a thin layer of peanut butter on my bread, making sure to use the minimum amount. Conner does the same, and then proclaims my bread “pb deficient” before putting another large glob on it. I dab my forefinger in the peanut butter and then lick it off. My mouth instantly waters at the familiar, satiny taste. Oh my god, this may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten!

We munch down our sandwiches, too absorbed in the deliciousness of the food to speak. At first, I consume mine in tiny nibbles, determined to make the sensation of the meal last as long as possible. Then I figure a large bite of peanutty goodness is better than a teeny one, and lay into my sandwich. Conner does the same, smearing a small smudge of brown peanut butter over his upper lip. We eat in silence, occasionally smiling at each other, and the meal is over all too soon.

Afterwards, we talk about how great the peanut butter tastes and Conner stows his secret stash back in his trunk. No wonder he hides it – I might even sneak in here and steal the rest. Trust no one! Somehow, I feel like we’ll be talking about this particular sandwich ten years from now, sitting around with friends, ruminating over our greatest meals of all time, the plain peanut butter sandwich shared on the 99th day of our voyage ever remaining in my top ten.

The rest of the afternoon goes just as well. It’s funny how you sometimes have a natural connection with friends and everything seems easy. Conner is like that with me. From the day we met in the courtyard of one of the science buildings back at school, we always just got along.

We play a trivia game on one of the consoles – this time Conner trounces me. Then we trade some MIPs we’d stored on the ship drives. We chat about his studies in the medical center, and he explains how it differs from the medical classes on earth. He’s fast-tracked to be a doctor in only a couple of months. I tell him about my training in Food Services, and about the farm areas I’ve been working on. As a doctor in training, Conner isn’t assigned to farm work and he says he’s never been to the crop areas of the ship. I promise to show him around some time.

It’s near the end of the afternoon that I learned something new about my friendship with Conner.

We’d been chatting about the plants on board, and I’m talking about some of my favorite weird plants. Conner is smiling and nodding. I’m not sure if he’s finding this boring or not, but if he is he’s being a good sport about my botany talk. Suddenly, I realized that a certain flower I’m describing was the same as one that grew outside my house in San Diego, and an image flashes through my mind of me playing under a large magnolia tree in our front yard. I loved playing there on spring afternoons, often while my mother prepared dinner in the kitchen. I pause for a second then shift gears and start talking about oak trees. Someone who wasn’t a good listener might not have noticed my change in demeanor, but Conner is a perceptive guy.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he cuts me off. I stop talking. “What was that?”

I know what he’s talking about, but I choose to pretend I was just concentrating. “What was what?” I ask, feigning ignorance.

“You were talking about the new trees in the forward concourse, and then you stopped, but I could see you thinking about something. I could see it in your eyes.”

“Oh, yeah, I was trying to remember the scientific name of those trees. I forget, I must be getting old.” I’m not sure he’s going to believe that, and as expected he doesn’t.

Conner punches me in the arm and it stings a little, even though it was clearly not meant to hurt. “You are such a liar!” he laughs. “I’m not buying it. Something was bothering you, tell me what it is.” He folds his hands on his lap and reclines against the arm of the sofa, clearly waiting for me to elaborate. He looks both a little mischievous with his wide grin, but also concerned and ready to listen.

I’m close to Reid and Patrick, and we talk about almost everything. But we act like boys around one another and make fun a lot, so I’m always careful not to talk about stuff that’s too personal with them. With Conner it’s different, though. He has a personality where you can tell right away he’ll never be judgmental or hurt your feelings. Maybe it’s because I’m so at ease with him, or maybe he bought my eternal loyalty with a peanut butter sandwich, but for some reason I decide to tell him about how I’ve been sad lately thinking about San Diego, which leads to a general outpouring of my memories, feelings and all the crap that’s been going on since we left earth.

I confide in him the scene with Reid at the departure station and how he might have died if I hadn’t been there to force him into the escape capsule, and how that has made me scared of losing him ever since. I’m not even sure where that comes from, and I’m not sure I consciously realized that I was afraid for Reid’s safety until I start talking about it. I babble on about my bad dreams and the constant nightmares I’ve been having.

I don’t tell him about any of my weird sexual behavior, though. Conner’s a bit reserved – and straight. Although I’m sure he wouldn’t judge me, what I feel I need to talk about this afternoon is the other stuff, some of which I hadn’t even realized was bothering me. He sits next to me and listens attentively, nodding every now and then and letting me get everything off my chest. I feel like I babble on for hours, even though it isn’t quite that long. Eventually I wind down, short of breath from my long speech. I have to admit that I feel better. Kind of like when you walk around all day with shoes that rub your feet wrong and then finally take them off.

“So anyway, I guess I obviously have a lot on my mind. Clearly I’m about to go totally insane,” I finish. I’m afraid I’ve laid too much on Conner. I’m not the only one who lost a home.

“Wow, no, don’t worry about it,” he reassures me. “That was a lot to take in, but I’m glad you got it out.” He stumbles around his words. I’m sure he thinks I’m a total spaz now.

“I know, I’m sorry,” I apologize. “I don’t know where that came from. I totally ruined our carefree afternoon.” I toss a wad of tissue across the room in frustration.

“No, no, it’s not that. I’m just trying to think of something to say that doesn’t sound like a lame greeting card.” He looks thoughtful for a moment and picks something up off the side table. It looks like a little Japanese-style lantern with parchment windows and a yellow string at the end, and he twirls it off the end of his forefinger while he talks. “I guess I’d say the important thing is that we’re all alive. I mean, I know that’s the standard speech after a tragedy, and it sounds really weak. I guess what I should say is that you’re here, and I’m here, and I think that shows that not everything will always be bad. Maybe things will start to seem better some day.

“As for the nightmares, I don’t think you’re going crazy. It’s been a weird couple of months. You talked about being worried that your friend Charlie has been drinking a lot and you said your friend Chris seems angry all the time. Maybe we’re all a little messed up because of what happened. And maybe we all show it differently. I don’t think a few sleepless nights is too much to worry about.

“I mean, this whole situation is ridiculous. Five thousand college guys flying through space in a giant ship – it’s totally ludicrous.” He hangs the little lamp back on its stand. “It’s a weird new reality. I know where you’re coming from, but I think things will get better. At least, I hope they get better. And if you need to talk, I’m always here.”

“Thanks,” I tell him. “I really do like that we hung out today. And thanks for the peanut butter. You’re a good friend, and I hope I didn’t come off as too much of a psycho.” I still feel bad about venting.

“You’re welcome, and thanks for hanging out,” he replies, his green eyes sparkling. I get the sense that playing video games and eating peanut butter was a good reprieve from studying to be a doctor. He claps his hand on my shoulder; it’s big and comforting. And that’s when I realize something. Things are so easy with Conner because I almost think of him as family – like a brother. When I’m around Conner it feels like I have family on the ship. And suddenly, I feel a lot better than I have in a long time. I think he’s right – things will get better eventually.

After the sudden discharge of almost every single emotion I’d avoided for the past three months, we decided to do something a little less intense and played another three rounds of Conner’s racing game. I decide to let him win two out of three because he’s been such a friend today.

I throw the third race in the final round. I let him hit me with a cow manure bomb – yeah, it wasn’t the most mature game in the world. He whizzes past the finish line, yelling in victory. In mock protest, I slam on my brakes and turn the car around to race down the wrong way on the track, thereby preventing the computer from ending the game. I start making crude jokes about the oncoming drivers in a silly voice I thought fit my little fat driver. Conner laughs at me, which makes me start laughing so that I can’t finish my jokes. In the end, I give up and just giggle. It’s a pretty good end to a great day. Yeah, maybe things will be ok.

After spending the afternoon with Conner, I meet up with Reid and Patrick in the cafeteria for dinner, and although the selection of food is still limited to pre-packaged slop, it’s a good meal.

The guys have spent all afternoon playing baseball down in Bottomside, the recreational area of the ship, and I get a sense that the exercise has done them good. Reid gets a little testy if he’s locked up for too long. And it’s probably a good thing he burned off some excess energy – tomorrow the two of us have to report for our quarterly medical scans, one of Reid’s least favorite things. He’s not griping about it yet, however, so I figure he’s either forgotten or doesn’t want to think about it. I don’t mention it, not wanting to ruin his good mood.

As I fall asleep later that night I think about things. Things on the ship seem like they’re coming together. Work is ok; the crap detail is still a little annoying, but a lot of the work we’re doing with the farms is exciting and cool, and then Zane helps make cooking fun. I have Reid to fill the role of athletic friend, and recently he’d mentioned including me in some of his gym routines. Patrick is the nerdy friend whom I can talk science and science fiction with, which is cool. Today I also figured out that Conner is like a big brother – not that he’s that much older than me, but we can talk about stuff and not feel weird about it. And all the other guys I see daily – Chris and Beck and Charlie and Nick and Jacob – they’re all pretty fun to be around too. Whatever else may happen tomorrow, I suddenly realize that I have better friends today than I have at any point in my life, and that make me feel a whole lot better.

* * * * *

“Ok, time to get up, Reid. I know you’re awake, there’s no use playing sick today.”

At first I wonder why Patrick is calling me Reid, but as I wake up and my brain starts to function I realize that he’s not talking to me. Duh.

My eyes slowly adjust to the light, and once I can open them without squinting I see that Patrick is trying to rouse Reid, who is doing his best to roll up into a ball in his blankets. It’s just before seven, but I know the reason that he’s trying to stay in bed isn’t because of the early hour.

The second thing I notice is that I’d tossed my sheets off at some point in the night. I’d gone to bed wearing only a pair of yellow briefs with brown striping, which I’d found amongst my evacuation clothes. I’d hardly ever worn them – they were slightly too large for me, but they made comfy sleeping shorts. The only problem now was that I was displaying a massive sleepy-time boner in them.

Another roommate, Nick, is up and dressed for work. “C’mon, Reid,” he says, grumbling, “Get up. It’s like this on scan day every damn time.” Looking over to me, he says, “Good morning, Devon. You got him today?”

“Uh, er…good morning,” I mumble, tossing my blanket over my tented underwear. If Nick noticed, he doesn’t give any indication. “Um…yeah, I’m on Reid duty today,” I answer.

Today was scan day for Reid and myself. Being in space, there was the potential to soak up some extra radiation despite the shielding on the ship. Once every two months each of us went through an extensive full body scan that removed any extra radiation. It also checked us out, measuring all our vital stats. At the end of the scan we’d be all radiation-free, and we’d get a report on any vitamins we were low on and things like that.

Overall it was a pretty painless process. You scooted into the scanner, which was basically a long white tube, and you dozed off for two hours while the machine did its thing. Other than feeling a little tingly around the lips, all the scan involved was lying back and letting it do its thing. No big deal.

At least, it wasn’t a big deal if you weren’t massively claustrophobic, like Reid was.

For Reid, scan day was about the worst thing in the world. The white tube you slid into was rather confining, even to me. For Reid, it was terrifying, which was why his four roommate all helped get him to medical on scan day.

“Ok, fine,” Patrick gripes. “You can pretend to be asleep still if you want. But then don’t blame me if you get to medical before your sedatives kick in.” Doctor Moreno, the doctor assigned to the permanent crew, had prescribed Reid some sedatives to take before going in for a scan. I think he found this preferable to having three staffers hold Reid down to give him a shot, which is what happened the first time Reid was scanned, when Dr. Moreno had insisted that as an adult Reid could handle two hours in the scanner. He hadn’t.

Patrick’s threat works, Reid immediately sits up and takes the pills from him, washing them down with a glass of water beside his bed. He was supposed to take one, but we’d started giving him two. He hated the scanners that much.

“Wake up so you can go back to sleep,” I joke, amused at the irony of getting the guy up just to knock him out with pills. Reid gives me a wry smile as I hop down from my bunk and head to the showers.

I like scan day, personally. It’s actually pretty relaxing, lying there while the machine runs its cycle. I take an extra hot and extra long shower just to get into the mood. When I’m done and dressed, Reid isn’t in our bedroom. Nor is he in the living room. I wonder if he’s run off to hide, which actually isn’t too unlikely. But I find him in the kitchenette in the rear of the flat. It’s a small space, offset from the rest of the living area, just large enough for a small refrigerator and some minor food storage. Mostly we used it for making morning coffee, which sounds pretty good to me now.

I toss a pod into the coffee machine and select one of my customized drinks. My body tingles as the hazlenut chocolate raspberry malt soy latte begins filling my mug. Reid is looking a little pale, grasping his own cup tightly with his hands.

“You going to be okay?” I ask, slightly concerned that he’s going to try making a run for it after knocking me unconscious. My responsibility today was to get him to medical and into the scanner. Needless to say, I’d drawn the short straw.

“I’ll be fine,” he says. “I’m going to try and do this today without being a pain in the ass.” His breath smells a little sharp, and not at all like coffee.

“What the hell are you drinking?” I ask.

He looks to his cup and then gives me a guilty smile. “Uh…gin. I figured it might help.” He explains that Charlie had helped him procure the liquor.

Once he’s finished his “breakfast of champions” we head to medical. Reid looks a little more relaxed, which is good.

I chat about work in Food Services and about my afternoon with Conner, hoping to keep the conversation light and Reid’s mind off the scan. By the time we get to the main lobby, the majestic domed space feeling as impressive as beautiful as it always does, Reid is looking a little too relaxed.

“You okay there?” I ask.

Reid grins at me, the grin of someone who drank three shots of gin and took a massive dose of sedatives for breakfast. “Feelinprettygood,” he mumbles, slurring his words. He leans back, apparently trying to get a better view of the ceiling. He almost falls over, and I have to grab him to keep him from toppling over. He leans on me, and I figure we better get him to medical before I end up carrying him.

We get about halfway across the lobby when a concerned voice startles me from behind. “Oh my god, what happened? You need help getting him to the hospital?”

I turn, slowly, managing Reid’s weight, which he’s apparently decided that I can handle about half of. The voice belongs to Ian, who’s dressed in scrubs, apparently on the way into work. His pale blue eyes are wide with concern. “No, he’s okay,” I try to explain. “Just a little sedated.” I tell Ian that it’s Reid’s scan day, and then I explain about the sedatives and gin.

“Well, I can’t say that it was a bad idea on Reid’s part,” he laughs. “I was one of the guys trying to hold him down last time. He’s really strong, and he gave me a pop to the nose for my efforts.”

“Sorry, popen the nob,” Reid says, possibly trying to apologize to Ian. He’s looking quite drunk and high.

Ian helps me get Reid the rest of the way. As we stumble along, two boys trying to get a third to walk straight, we chat about Reid. “I remember evacuation day,” Ian says. “Poor guy…he gets through that just to have to do these scans all the time. Well, he seems well prepped today. Fortunately, being sedated and drunk shouldn’t be a problem.”

We make our way to the port concourse and then into the hospital, where Doctor Moreno and Conner direct us up to the third floor and room twenty-seven. Conner looks slightly bemused by Reid’s condition, Doctor Moreno less so. “If he needs a little sedative, that’s fine,” the doctor gripes, “but there’s really no reason he needs to be drunk on top of it.”

I shrug. “Don’t look at me,” I say, “I’m just carrying him.”

Reid and I leave Doctor Moreno, Conner and Ian on the first floor, taking the elevators up to three. Here a small maze of hallways takes us to the scanner sections, which is mostly empty this time of day. Still, there are several guys heading in or out of the various rooms. I locate twenty-seven, a three by six meter space with two tubular scanners sitting against the rear wall. There’s a sole lonely chair in the room – the only furniture other than a small wardrobe that sits between the two scan units.

The wardrobe contains the garments we have to wear while taking the scan – these wretched little paper robes. They’re itchy, and they smell a little weird. Plus they tear really easily, so you have to be careful with them.

This proves a little easier said than done when it comes to getting Reid dressed for the scan, mostly because the moment he sits down on the scanner bed he passes out, snoring loudly. Wonderful.

I sit him up enough to pull his t-shirt off over his head. Reid is a great looking guy, there’s no doubt about that, and as I disrobe my muscular buddy I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m annoyed at being assigned Reid babysitting duty. On the other, stripping him is a perk I can’t argue with.

Still, I’d felt a little bad about what I’d done with Charlie, and I remember well the fear I’d had following that night, that Charlie would remember what I’d done and be angry. Alienating Charlie was one thing, but there was no way I’d risk that with Reid, who was my best friend. So I try and offer him a little modesty by slipping the paper gown over his torso before pulling off his pants.

In some ways I succeed, in others…not so much. I manage to get the robe over his chest, and it’s easy enough to take off Reid’s socks and shoes. His shorts and briefs likewise slide off easily, albeit not without offering me a tantalizing peek at Reid’s…well, his manliness.

I notice immediately that he has smallish balls in a pretty tight sack. At least, his balls look like they might be smaller than mine, which aren’t huge. I can’t really tell. His scrotum looks fuller than mine is, so it’s hard to tell. I consider squeezing to get a better estimate, but then I think better of it. I look his dick over too. It looks pretty long, even totally limp. Right now it’s off to the side, and I have to say it runs a fair couple of inches along his left leg before tapering to a small pink head.

I suddenly feel a little guilty about staring at my friend like this, and cover him with his gown. There are these little paper boxers you can put on with the gown, but I decide to forego the process of trying to get those on him. The gown comes down mid-thigh, covering everything it needs to.

Once the sleeping Reid is dressed and ready, I position him on the scanner bed and start the scan. I watch as Reid’s body slides up into the machine, stopping just as his hips pass the threshold of the scanner opening. The machine begins whirring and buzzing, running the programmed scan. Reid seems to be totally zonked out, thankfully, so I move over to my machine.

In my case, I decide to wear only the little paper boxers. The scan always makes my skin warm and tingly, and I like the way it feels to be topless in it. I disrobe and then slip on the shorts that went with Reid’s top, climbing up into the other scanner. I look over at Reid before starting my scan. He seems fine, so I set the appropriate program, along with some music to listen to during the scan. When I press the button and lie back, the machine moves me up into the confining tube, whirring away and starting the playlist I’d selected. I doze off, happy to have nothing to do but lie here for a couple of hours.

About an hour into the scan, I’d started wondering why chickens were so dumb when I’m startled back to reality. Someone has come into the room. I hear the door open and then click shut, and I can hear footsteps. Unfortunately, the only view I have into the room is through the narrow opening at the mouth of the scanner. I can’t see much.

I assume that it’s just an orderly come in to check on us. I don’t blame him – Reid was a terror the first time he was scanned. And sure enough, the third person in the room moves over to Reid’s unit. I hear them clicking some commands into the computer console, probably checking Reid’s stats. If I weren’t stuck in this tube I’d tell him not to bother – the fact that Reid isn’t screaming bloody murder is an indicator that he’s asleep and doing okay.

I focus on the song that’s playing. It’s a groovy song that I rather like, a little funky and really cool. My scanner moves into a new phase of the scan, my bed sliding out into the room a little so that my legs are moved out into the cooler air of the room, which feels refreshing. My machine starts thumping away and a new sensation moves down my body. This part of the scan feels like someone is moving a series of rolling pins down your back. It’s not bad – kinda like a massage. It actually feels really good, and it makes me laugh out loud.

The other guy moves over to my unit, probably to check on me. I still can’t see that much, but I can tell that he’s walked over to the control panel of my unit.

I go back to listening to the song. It makes me think of Beck, our audiophile flatmate. And that makes me think of Charlie, Beck’s roommate. And Charlie makes me think of sex, and about the way I’d wanked him off the other night, and about how hard my boner had been this morning when I woke up. It twitches now, as if agreeing that it had been really hard this morning.

I’m suddenly very self-conscious about being in this scanner, mostly naked with some random guy standing over me. With only the paper shorts on, I feel a little vulnerable and exposed.

I don’t want to bone up with this guy standing over me, so I immediately concentrate as hard as I can on thinking about other things – baseball, pumpkin pie, sub-Saharan Africa. It kind of works, and I applaud myself for my ability to keep things “hangin’ low.”

Of course, as soon as the phrase “hangin’ low” passes through my mind, I immediately think of peeking at Reid’s flaccid penis and another twinge of sexual energy passes through my body. Again, I try to focus on something else – anything else – and figure I can win this battle for at least as long as it takes for the orderly to take his readings and leave. My dick is still 99% soft – it’s lying up against my abdomen and as long as I stay relaxed it shouldn’t go erect or anything. That’s when something completely unexpected happens.

I don’t know if the orderly had noticed that my dick had flexed a couple of times, or if he took this as a cue, but out of nowhere he reaches down with his free hand and firmly runs his forefinger down the shaft of my dick through the shorts. Well that’s not going to help me stay soft.

I’m shocked by both the boldness of the move and the sensation that immediately races up my abdomen, across my nipples, and into my chest. I jump about two inches off the table, and it’s only through sheer force of will that I keep from trying to sit straight up, which would have resulted in a significant knock on the head, seeing as how the wall of the scanner was only six or seven inches from my face.

About a zillion thoughts run through my head. First, while I can’t see much, the other guy in the room has stepped close enough to me so that I can part of him. Just his shorts really, but the fact that he’s wearing a pair of brown cargo shorts and a blue tee-shirt tells me that he’s not a nurse. He’s probably one of the other scan patients. Which makes me wonder what he’s doing in here.

I wonder again when he touches me again, palming my package in his cupped hand. I gasp. He jerks his hand away, as if burned when he touched me. I’m pretty sure he’s just gauging what my reaction will be. Hell, I’m wondering what my reaction will be.

Mostly I sit still, waiting to see what he’ll do next. There’s not much I can do – I’m stuck in this stupid scanner until it either runs its cycle or I call out for an emergency stop. Having someone sneak in and feel me up feels odd, but it’s not really an emergency. I think about how I’d try to explain stopping the scan to Doctor Moreno.

While I weigh my options, mystery guy puts his hand on my lower tummy. It feels large and warm, which is somewhat surprising because my skin is already so warm from the scan.

He starts petting my stomach in a circular motion – I guess you’d say massaging it – first with just his left hand then with both. It actually feels quite good, as one might imagine. I moan a little. I’m not sure that he can hear my contented sigh above the noise of the scanner, which is working away regardless of the massaging, but I’m sure he can feel me relax and squirm a little to his touch.

I’m usually a little ticklish, but not today, and I decide to let him rub my stomach as much as he wants. It would be nice if he could massage my chest – I’m sore from lifting crates down in the stores. But I’m still halfway in the machine, so the best he can do is the upper parts of my abdomen. He changes his stance, pivoting his hips so he can massage me a little better. He strokes my stomach in downward motions, pressing firmly into the abdominal muscles the run in a v-shape towards my groin, stopping each time just above the base of my pubes.

The massage and my squirming have caused my dick to flop around. I’m not completely hard, although the massage feels really good. But I can feel that my cock is significantly heavier than it was a moment ago. With each stroke my abs flex and I can feel my dick bob from side to side – at first content to be pointing toward my feet, but then starting to lift a little in small, rhythmic spasms.

If this was just a massage I might get embarrassed, and maybe even mortified, but the mystery guy started the rubdown by touching my dick, so I’m pretty sure he’s not upset that I’m hardening up on him. As if to answer this unspoken suspicion, he lengthens the arc of each stroke so that his fingers trace their way far down my abdominals, pushing under the waist of my hospital shorts and coming to rest just above the base of my shaft. Each time he does this my penis gets a little harder. On the fourth stroke I flex all the muscles of my lower body simultaneously, and blood rushes into my increasingly excited dick. I go from mostly hard to fully hard in a couple of seconds, my cock tenting the flimsy paper boxers significantly.

My friendly masseur is not oblivious to my increasingly aroused state. He tenderly takes the tent in my shorts between his forefinger and thumb, rubbing up and down very, very lightly. The act takes things distinctly into the realm of the sexual, and I groan.

One of the things I’ve always noticed is that when I become aroused, my body seems to scream “Get naked! Get naked!” Although the paper boxers aren’t too confining, I suddenly want them off. I reach down and start to push the waistband down my hip, but my “molester” gently grabs my hand and pushes it away.

I immediately feel embarrassed. I’d thought this other guy wanted me to be aroused, but slapping my hand away made me doubt this. Maybe I’d offended him?

Turns out, he wants me aroused and naked, he just wanted to do it himself. Like I’ve said, the hospital garments are made out of some kind of paper. They’re sturdy, but not indestructible. My masseur grabs either side of the boxers and pulls them firmly apart, tearing a makeshift fly in the crotch. I feel the cold air of the room hit my dick as it springs out into the open. It feels…great.

I hope that the guy will immediately grab my dick and start stroking it, but he doesn’t. First he reaches up and pulls his baggy blue t-shirt off. I hope he’ll bend down so I can see who he is, although the anonymity is exciting. He doesn’t. But I can see his lower chest and stomach; he’s thin and pale with a hairless, muscular build. He looks like he may be tall, although it’s hard to tell. Overall, it’s not a lot to help me figure out who this is – thin, muscular, fit, pale. This narrows it down to about fifty percent of the guys on the ship.

Still, I have to wonder who this is standing above my scanner molesting me. I go through a quick mental list. I’m pretty sure it isn’t any of my flatmates – I think I’d recognize one of them since we’d seen one another topless on many occasions. Nah, it’s clearly one of the scanner patients. Somebody who just got done and decided to pop his head in here. He found me, mid-scan and nearly naked, and decided to feel me up, a lot like I’d done to Charlie. Things had worked out, and now I was lying here with my boner popping up into the air.

Once the mystery guy has tossed his top aside, he steps closer to me. My penis throbs – it wants to be touched, skin on skin, to be caressed and fondled and stroked. I don’t have to wait long to get my wish, although my masseur doesn’t go straight for the shaft. As he resumes touching me, he replaces his previously firm strokes with the lightest of light touches along my inner thigh, just barely grazing the soft skin there and tearing a larger hole in the hospital underwear. This time I do become ticklish and squirm a little, but he doesn’t stop, continuing to make small circles along my thigh with his warm fingers, slowing as he gets higher along my leg. Each touch is lighter than before, and I’m amazed at how horny this is making me. He ends with an impossibly light stroke to my scrotum, a touch that sends tingles throughout my entire teenage body.

I momentarily wonder if he’s going to end it here and walk away. I want to yell “Please don’t stop!” but I restrain myself. He seems to sense the way I’m feeling, though, and he responds by using all five fingers to graze my entire scrotum in the same feather-light strokes he’d been using on my legs. Holy fuck, I’ve never been touched quite like this, it’s like my entire body is on fire. My abs and chest contract as a wave of pleasure ripples through me. I can feel my dick harden to an almost unknown tension and it spasms, sending a torrent of precum out of my slit and down my shaft. It wants to be touched more than ever now, and the light strokes, although they feel quite awesome, are going to become torturous if he doesn’t start touching my dick pretty soon.

I think it’s instinctual to want to give someone pleasure when they’re making you feel this good, so I reach out with my right hand to try and find the other guy’s dick in his baggy shorts. I don’t have the best range of motion since I’m still stuffed up in the machine, but I can move it around a little. My hand lands a little higher than I intend, falling against a naked stomach. With his fingers still circling my balls, I decide I don’t have the dexterity in this position to do much, so I stick my hand, as best I can, down the front of his pants.

I am rewarded with two things. First, as one might expect, I find a turgid cock in the humid confines of the guy’s shorts – he’s not wearing underwear, so a hot, hard shaft immediately greets my hand. Secondly, he takes the hint and goes from massaging my balls to stroking the base of my penis. It drives me wild and puts me in immediate sexual overdrive.

I grab the waistband of his shorts and tug downward. They don’t come off all the way, but they come down far enough so that a thick dick springs out into the open. It’s pale like him, with the exception of a rosy pink helmet and pinkish balls, which are quite large and sway seductively in the open air. In response he strokes me harder, his hand sliding up and down the shaft of my super-excited penis, which by now is totally covered in slippery boy lubrication. The scene is unbelievably hot and I’m losing my mind with pleasure. I want to just sit here and let him do me, but I also want to feel his dick. I reach out for it, but he pulls back at the last second. Still, I’m able to grab the pink head in my fingers as he repositions himself, and notice that it’s hot and dry as it slips through my fingers. He gasps, a deep, throaty sound, and it’s actually the only noise he makes during our entire sex session.

He wraps his long fingers around the wrist of my probing hand, and then takes my hand in his, intertwining our fingers. His is still warm, but it’s also slick with the precum I’ve been expelling. It’s this one brief moment, us holding hands, that is the most intimate of the afternoon. And then it’s over, and he gently places my arm back at my side. I get the message – he doesn’t want anything in return for beating me off. Hey, I can dig it.

And I especially dig it when he goes back to touching me. He takes me in one hand and begins stroking my penis in long, steady reps. It’s great, even though I’m so horned up he could probably just slap the bottoms of my feet for a while and I’d cum. But the full stroke is what I really want and it’s what he’s giving me with adept skill. I almost shoot right away – I am seventeen, after all, and someone other than myself is touching me. Somehow, though, the sheer intensity of the whole thing is keeps me from coming, and I just revel in the waves of ecstasy that pass through my body with each stroke.

He goes faster and faster, at one point grabbing my wet shaft in his left hand and rubbing the wet head of my dick in circles on his palm. This drives me crazy too, and I’m visibly writhing. This is nothing like when I jerk off. It feels unbelievably good, but I’m also almost in pain from the sheer intensity of the pleasure. My heart is beating fast and hard, and I can feel that beads of sweat are starting to form on my forehead, chest and stomach. It’s getting warmer and warmer in the tube of the scanner – almost like a sauna, and that adds to my sexual excitement.

It’s right when I feel like I can’t take any more that my masseur goes for the end. He grabs my shaft in his hand and begins rapidly beating it up and down. It’s the basic jerkoff known to every thirteen year-old boy, the classic grand finale that does the trick every time. With each motion, I can feel his fingers move over the head of my dick. Each time this happens sexual pleasure explodes throughout my body and runs to the deepest core of my being.

He’s jerking me like this for a minute when he does something I’ve never tried before. Just as the pleasure is building to intolerable levels, he takes his other hand and grabs my balls. Well, I’ve tried that before and it feels awesome, but what he does that’s different is that all of a sudden he reaches under my scrotum and exerts pressure there. It presses more blood than ever into the shaft of my dick and seems to flip some sort of switch in my head – all of a sudden I’m cumming.

“Ugh, fuck, god!” I manage to exclaim as I’m overtaken all at once by one of the more powerful orgasms of my life. I buck on the table, and this time I do manage to accidentally smack my head against the ceiling of the scanner. This doesn’t deter me, though, and my entire body tenses as my dick begins to throb and convulse. My first shot flies straight up into the air, followed by several more. The mystery guy continues vigorously stroking me throughout my powerful orgasm, my semen flying here and there in thick, sticky globs.

As I finish, I immediately begin falling into the blissful sleepy haze that usually follows sex. I wonder if I should reach out and try to return the favor again. As if to answer me, the other boy pushes his pants a little further down and begins to beat himself off in a rapid motion. His hand becomes a blur, moving up and down the shaft of his thick dick faster and faster. His rosy balls flop around as he strokes, his sack looks extra sexy flying in the wind as he masturbates. I’d kind of like to fondle those balls – they look like they’d be fun to play with.

And that’s when I notice something. Now that the other guy is mostly naked, although I still can’t see more than his lower torso I can see that he has a tattoo on his lower abs just above his left hip. It appears to be a small black rose, although from this angle I can’t tell for sure. It’s definitely a flower, though. The black tattoo is rather striking in contrast to his pale skin.

I don’t get much of a view, though, since he finishes off pretty quick. After jerking for about twenty seconds he starts cumming. Since he’s standing right over me, the semen shoots out onto my stomach in warm sticky globs, which I find both sexy and kind of gross. He ejects four or five globs of semen and then slows his thrusts and finishes. His dick looks pinker than ever – it’s hot, but also kind of cute.

I worry that he’s going to leave the mess, which someone might come in and see, but he doesn’t. He pulls up his shorts before taking a cloth from his pocket, which he uses to gingerly wipe up all evidence of our tryst. First he mops up his pool of cum from my tummy, which tickles, then he dabs up my semen, which flew all over the place. He also pulls off the remnants of the ripped paper boxers, which were completely destroyed by now. Once he’s done cleaning up, he sets the soiled cloth on the scanner bed next to me.

And just like that, the unexpected sex is over. I’m not sure what I expected – that maybe he would stick around to reveal who he was, but he doesn’t. He puts his shirt back on and then steps away from the scanner so I can’t see where he is in the room anymore. A few seconds later I hear the door open and close, and I take that to mean he’s gone. I consider jumping out of the scanner and following him, but the combination of the sex and scan has made me groggy, and I figure I should respect that he doesn’t seem to want to make himself known to me. Still, how am I supposed to find him again? It sure would be fun to explore this a little more. I’m thinking about this as I drift off to sleep for the remainder of my scan.

I wake up from my nap an hour later when the scanner finishes, moving the bed into its starting position. It’s a bit of a rude awakening – I was having nice dreams. For a moment I’m disoriented, and I wonder whether the whole anonymous sex incident was part of my dream. It might have been, except that I’m naked on the bed, and unless I ripped my paper shorts off in my sleep it means the whole thing really did happen.

Reid is also awake, and although in other circumstances I might be embarrassed to emerge from the scanner totally nude, he’s sitting on the floor staring at the wall, which I take as a sign the tranqs haven’t quite worn off yet. I walk over to the closet and pull out my clothes. It feels awesome to be naked, but I can’t exactly walk across the ship like this. Hmm, or could I? Nah. I put on my clothes, albeit a little reluctantly.

“Hey bud,” I say to Reid while pulling my t-shirt over my head. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“Mmm, nobsuebad,” he mumbles unintelligibly. I’m not certain whether he’s saying it wasn’t too bad, or if he means it was awful despite the tranqs and alcohol. Either way, at least the medicine kept him asleep the whole time. I notice that he’s already dressed, so obviously he was awake enough to get out of the scanner and put on his regular clothes.

“So, ready to get out of here?”

“Yeah, msfs grek pfr.” I have no idea at all what that means, but it must be agreement because he stands up wobbily and heads for the door. I almost follow him when I spot the only item I’ve left in the room – the cum rag sitting on the edge of the scanner bed. Oops, better not leave that behind.

I walk over to the scanner and pick it up. It’s already crusty and turning yellow in spots – gross. I didn’t look at it in detail before, but now I notice that it’s a sock. Hey, it’s my sock!

My missing sock.

The sock that was stolen out of the room after I wanked Charlie off.

I’m not a dense guy, but I’ve just woken up so it takes a second for me to put two and two together. What I know is that my socks were taken at some point after I left the room where I’d jacked Charlie off, and the pervert that had spied on us had left one of them behind. Now the other one had been left behind by the anonymous guy from this afternoon. Flipping hell – the guy from this afternoon was the phantom wanker who had spied on Charlie and me! Ugh, he did it to me again!

I kick the side of the machine in annoyance and the scanner makes a whirring noise, as if pissed to have some kid knocking it around. I laugh a little, partially at the scanner and partially at the fact that there is some guy running around the ship who both managed to spy on me jerking another guy off then actually sneak up and jerk me off without revealing himself. Since I’ve been spying on guys for a while now I can’t complain, but I have to admit to myself this guy had some balls to take it as far as he did – big pink ones at that.

“Hey, are we going or what?” I jump when Reid sticks his head back in the door. He sounds impatient, and I take that to mean he’s coming off the meds and will get a little cranky about the whole ordeal.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming.” I stuff the sock into my jeans pocket. It’s gross, but I don’t want to lose a pair socks I’d brought from Earth. I may sound silly, but they’re mine, and they’ll wash.

We take the elevator down to the first floor, running into Ian and Conner on our way out.

“Hey guys,” Conner says. “How’d it go?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Reid grumbles.

Ian chimes in. “That bad, huh?”

“He’s just being a baby,” I say. “He’s always cranky after a scan.” Reid shoots me a dirty glare. “What? You are,” I say defensively. “But he slept through the whole thing, no problems. I did too.”

Conner nods and then explains that he and Ian are on their way upstairs to grab some lunch. “Wanna come?” he asks me.

Food sounds good, but Reid looks pretty annoyed. I figure I should take him home. “I’d like too,” I reply, “but I better take Reid home. We overdid the tranqs a little.” Ian says he understands, and when we get to the main elevators in the main lobby we part ways, Conner and Ian taking the elevator up to Topside and us walking toward the forward concourse and our flat.

The trek back to the room is quiet. Reid is still groggy, although he manages to make his way without support. I’m also a little sleepy – the scanner always does this to me – but I’m also a little pensive. It was fun being jerked off, but now that I realize it’s someone who has been spying on me I’m a little thrilled by it and a little scared. I mean, I suppose he must like me in some fashion if he’s following me, but it’s also a little creepy. Again, I can’t complain too much. I basically did the same to Charlie, and if I’m not a psycho killer my phantom friend probably isn’t either.

The rest of the afternoon is quiet and lazy. Reid naps most of the day, first in front of the tv then later in his bed. I don’t sleep, but you get all warm and tingly after a scan (and wank), so mostly all I feel like doing is sitting around. In the late afternoon Chris and the guys come in from work and watch tv for a while, then Beck gets home and cranks up his music. Charlie comes out of his room and plops on the couch next to me for a while and we chat about work and the food and the ship and stuff like that.

I feel a little weird around Charlie now, I notice, even thought he doesn’t seem to remember anything from that night. However, he knows I was the one who came and drug his butt up to his real room, and ever since he’s been friendlier to me. Not that he wasn’t friendly before, we just didn’t talk all that often. Now we talk more, and we’ve even started hanging out.

Eventually, most everyone heads out for the evening. It’s Saturday night, and usually people go see a movie or hang out in bottomside. I don’t really feel like going anywhere, though, and pass up on several invites. Instead I look in on Reid, who’s gone from napping to full on sleeping. The scan has left me a little wiped too, so I find an unused tablet and pull up a book. I figure I might as well get some reading in, and head back out to the living room. By nine o’clock everyone is gone in the flat and it’s just me trying to get into a novel someone had recommended.

Around eleven, Patrick comes into the flat and stands in the doorway, looking at me reading on the couch. He’s filthy, and I realize he’s just come in from work.

“What?” I ask, becoming a little self-conscious at his staring.

“Nothing,” he says, sounding exhausted. “It’s just that I’m usually the one sitting alone in here on a Saturday night reading a book.”

I smile at his observation. Yep, I guess I am playing the role of Patrick tonight. He explains that he worked late in one of the areas where they’re trying to establish a new farm. I tell him he looks like he brought half the topsoil with him and he laughs and heads to the showers.

Once he’s gone, I find that I can’t get back into my book because I’m again thinking about everything that’s happened over the past several weeks. The spying, stumbling on Sean and Dog, then running into Charlie. And now my new sneaky friend, who’d somehow tracked me down and molested me – not that I minded.

But it all makes me think. Lately I’ve been thinking that I need someone to confide in about the feelings I’ve been having. I thought about Conner or Reid, but they’re both a little too straight-laced for me to feel comfortable with when it comes to sex. Now I’m realizing that I should talk with Patrick about it. I trust him to give me honest advice, and I know he’s an open-minded guy that wouldn’t be put off by much of anything. While I feel closer to Reid, and even Conner in some ways, Patrick has a level-headed coolness that makes talking about stuff like this seem doable.

As if on cue, Patrick emerges from the bathroom in his robe, freshly showered and looking a lot less haggard. He heads back from his room when I stop him.

“Hey, Patrick,” I call from behind my book. What the heck am I doing? When I said I wanted to talk to him, I didn’t mean right this minute. Then again, maybe it would be best to do it now. We’re alone. It’s private, and maybe by tomorrow morning I’ll have lost my nerve.


“Can I talk to you? I mean, about something important?” There must have been something in my voice, because Patrick’s face goes from curious to concerned. He crosses the living room and sits down in the chair next to the couch where I’m lying. Something about him being closer makes me start to lose my nerve, and I tell him never mind, that he looks exhausted and I’ll let him get some sleep.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t buy this and insists that I tell him what’s bothering me. “You know,” he says, “to be honest, I’ve been a little concerned about the way you’ve been acting lately. Does this have something to do with that?” Great, in addition to being a weirdo, I’ve apparently started acting obvious about it. That really makes me self-conscious, and I tell him to go to bed.

“C’mon, Devon, you obviously need to talk about something,” he says. “And I’d say you’ve needed to talk about it for a while now. You know you can tell me anything – so what’s going on?” He crosses his legs under the robe, obviously settling in for whatever I’m about to say.

“Well,” I begin reluctantly. I consider coming up with some elaborate, silly story to throw him off. Maybe say I saw some guys getting high in the engine area. Or I could talk to him about being worried about Charlie. But no, I’ve already decided I need to confide in someone about my recent activities, and that Patrick is the best choice.

He’s right when he says I can tell him anything. Although I don’t feel the brotherly connection I feel with Conner or the boyish friendship I feel with Reid, Patrick is a great friend, and I know he’d continue to be a great friend even if I told him I was a mass murderer bent on taking over the world. I just need the bite the bullet and say what I’ve got to say.

“The thing is…I mean…what I want to talk about is…” The more I stumble on my words, the dorkier I feel and the more it seems like we’ve been sitting here for hours. You know what? Fuck it. I’m just going to say it.

“Patrick, I think living on this ship is making me gay.”

There it is, out in the open. The infamous “g word.”

Patrick sits back against the arm of the chair and takes a deep breath. I feel like throwing up.

To be continued…

End notes:

Thanks for reading! Whether you are reading this right after it has been posted or three years later, I’d love to hear what you think. I try to respond to all emails. You can email me at

Soundtrack: I associate a song with each chapter. Compile them, and you’d have a soundtrack to the story. The song for chapter 4 is Ladyshave by Gus Gus. I always loved it, and when thinking about what Devon might be listening to right before his kinky encounter, this instantly came to mind.

Conner’s video game is a reference to Mario Kart.

I came up with this chapter after landing in the emergency room due to food poisoning. They ran a series of tests to rule out anything more serious, and one was a scan in the MRI machine. And yes, even with food poisoning I dream of boys sneaking a wank and things like that.








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