He existed only for a moment. It was the time when he would be out in the morning, looking for a way to go about picking mushrooms. It would come strong, the opposite-of reduction that happens to you when you close your eyes and you stop existing for a moment. Yeah, it was the opposite-of-reduction, his eyes were open, his hands were open. Hovering just above another plump mushroom.
I mean, could you really say that any of us truly feel alive apart from the incessant breathing that overtakes you after you have lain in bed for a night or two and the sleep won’t come. So you breathe deeply, more deeply than the last breath until you are sucking in all the air in the room and your beloved is almost suffocating. Or maybe you are pretending to snore so that your husband won’t notice that you can’t bear it any longer and you want to fly free from this skin that you have worn for such a long moment. It’s so itchy, time for a new one!
As we were saying, he existed in that moment. He knew that the entirety of creation continued to move simply for him and it was a reassuring thought. The feeling changed. His fingers trembled over the mushroom. His hand was shaking like it had been too much this morning to get out of bed to put on his gray shoes full of holes and his green flannel. Like the opposite-of-reduction, the shivers also passed but his head still hurt and he was sore all over. He knew that the mushroom would be good for an omelet so he broke it from the earth and put it in his plastic bag.
He started walking back to the little house where he slept with his man. Petunias lined the undergrowth and small lawn that he crossed on his way to the back door. As he pulled the door a few times to get it unstuck, a thought occurred to him, Dekos will be awake it’s nearly 6:00 AM. So he started to organize the morning routine in his brain because if he didn’t do it now Dekos would be pissed and late to work. He went into the kitchen and started to wash the dishes, Dekos was showering upstairs. He nearly cut himself chopping the onions but it was okay he realized just in time. The tea was ready, the omelets and toast came out just as Dekos thundered down the stairs. “Good morning Hot Stuff!” Dekos planted a kiss and slapped his ass. It woke him up a little bit but he was still groggy. Not sleeping for the past hundred nights had made him oblivious to every morning interaction. At one point in his life, he would have been incredulous, especially at the calling, “Hot Stuff.” Now it was habit. It took him a moment to form the words and respond with the proper level of emotion and weak smile.
“Good morning! Breakfast is ready, I got some mushrooms for the omelet. We didn’t have any chamomile left so I made green tea instead,” he replied, and then he gave Dekos another kiss and put in some tongue for good measure, “What do you want for dinner?”
“I thought we were going out?” “No I’m at home anyway, I should cook. We can save a little more that way,” he replied with a weak smile. “Are you sure? I can come home early and help.” “No no it’s better for me.”
“Okay, okay, you know I love the way you cook that chicken!” Dekos laughed and he almost felt slightly warmer because of it. His body was starting to wake up a little, there was some more blood in his lips. “Good, but then you have to wash the dishes,” he demanded.
Breakfast was quick because Dekos ate quickly but somehow still managed to leave three minutes after he should have. He sat at the table and looked out the small kitchen window as the black car pulled out of the gravel driveway. He was tired, too tired to nap even, so he picked up all the dishes, washed them and dried them with the old towel that always smelled like garlic. Maybe he would apply for another job today. He was not expecting them until twelve, which would guarantee that Dekos would not come back and discover their arrival. So he went to his secret drawer and drew out the chalk and the chocolate. He prepared his robes and his dagger and his ropes, unfolding ten pairs on the bed that he shared with Dekos.
The shower was too cold but he spent some time there anyway. He thought about how every night he would be too tired fuck but Dekos would draw it out of him and how he would pretend to moan like ten winds. They would both be covered in sweat and Dekos would start to snore like it had been a marathon. Yet for Dekos it was nothing. Dekos was twice his size. He would feel empty and drained but still too tired to sleep and would lie awake or wake up every two hours because he was sweating more in Dekos’ bear hug and it was uncomfortably warm. He wouldn’t even try to move because he’d have to wake Dekos and it would be more effort. Dekos would want to fuck again and he would not be able to resist given his size and exhaustion.
Even though he felt like his bones would crumble, whenever Dekos touched him his body responded with longing. Like right before picking that mushroom, he would feel the opposite-of-reduction, permeating everything. Sometimes, when they were more rough and it hurt, he still didn’t want Dekos to stop. He would cry and cry and the first time Dekos stopped as soon as he started to cry but he gripped Dekos’ forearms and said, “keep going, I need this.” That time Dekos was too disturbed to continue. Then, Dekos hesitated the next few times. But now it had become habitual for them and Dekos would even get let out some aggression this way. It was healthy! Dekos was always sweet and gentle afterwards. Dekos would give him a massage and bring him tea. He would read poetry to him and make him laugh, but only a little bit. Not even Dekos could make him guffaw.
The shower stopped. He put his robes on and drew the Proper Circle on the closed bedroom door and waited for their imminent arrival. Ten knocks. He twisted the handle and,
“You could have told me that this side would be this cold! You younglings are so inconsiderate, always assuming that your environment is the only one that exists, Vessel.” He looked at Merei quietly and said, “good afternoon.” “Is that how you really hope to greet your elders, Vessel? In lower case letters?” She said incredulously and waved a tentacle at him before gathering her steaming self and sitting on the bed (which would most likely stain afterwards, her ink was of the permanent variety). Darkness and wind beyond the door but it closed quickly before any of it could get into the bedroom. “And how is Delara?” he asked politely (but not politely enough for Merie). “As well as it can be,” she snapped looking up at him with vexed eyes. Her skin was yellow and green, she had three tentacles (not four like other Delarans, he suspected that one had been cut off in the War) neatly tucked away and she wore a beautiful blue blouse with a black skirt. He had tried to shake her tentacle once but had only come away with a considerable amount of ink on his face. Ten knocks. “Good Day Vessel,” the captain muttered as he stepped through the door. He was wearing the fine suit of a commissioned officer, with gold lapels. He was carrying a rifle as usual and his sword was also in its proper place on his hip. He usually greeted people in capital letters and often used formality to veil the fact that he, too, was a human. He took a knee on the floor and closed his eyes. His left hand, gloved, was wrapped around the pommel of his sword. It was a large sword with a silver hilt. The characters on it were in some obscure dialect of the captain’s home world.
Ten knocks. “Hiya Vessel!” Dr. Sanders called as it gracefully walked up to Merei and bowed, twice. Then it arched down and kissed her slimy feet.
“Salutations Ancient Mother Merei!”
Sanders always groveled to Merei’s fancy, the bastard. It only slightly annoyed him that the beastly Dr. Sanders did so. Dr. Sanders was a creature from the planet ZhouyXhouy. It had long arms with white flesh the color of an ocean fish that does not believe in the existence of the sun. The face was long and its snout the same fishy white with long sharp teeth. It stood next to Merei, watching him with warmth in its eyes. Dr. Sanders was naked as usual. Its large penis dangled as furiously as any extraterrestrial penis would. The head was the color of a pomegranate. He prayed that Dr. Sanders would not get an erection today.
“Now that all three of us are here, shall we begin, Vessel?” asked the captain politely. “Of course Captain,” he replied. He strode to the closet and brought out a deck of cards. They all sat cross legged on the floor, except for Merei, for whom the captain had moved a chair. He was not allowed to play with them just yet, so he sat on the bed and watched the game commence. Halfway through the captain was beating The Ancient Merei and Dr.
Sanders was in last place.
“Vessel, we desire chocolate,” Merei commanded just as she put down The Blue Card. He got off the bed, changed into his serving robe, picked up the chocolate and knelt before her chair. A tentacle came down slowly and waved around as Merei decided what looked best. Droplets of ink flew all over the carpet as she scooped up a dark chocolate truffle with caramel. It was decided that Merei had won, so she would determine his fate today.
“May please I clean up before you proclaim?” he asked Merei politely. “Very well.” It took him half an hour to get the ink off the bed and carpet but everything smelled like borax and baking soda and it was not so bad. He knelt before them as they stood in front of the door. As custom, Merei was in the middle as the Pronunciator and the other friends flanked her. Dr. Sanders smiled at him, showing all of its teeth.
“I have decided to make you an offer,” Merei started, “if you allow us to eat your husband, we will re-skin you and give you a place with Dr. Sanders. You can work as an apprentice with the captain.”
It was slightly surprising, usually they asked him for some blood. Then he remembered how when he had asked Dekos for fifty dollars to get new shoes how Dekos had laughed at him. “The ones that you have are perfectly fine!” he had said in a nonchalant way. The bear hugs would stop, the snoring would stop, the ass slapping would stop. But the laughing would also stop as would the massages and tea and he couldn’t do that to Dekos’ mother, she was too sweet of a woman. So he said, “May I please have time to mull it over?”