Pig-Boy and The Insectorator - 11. Tiny Hugs and A Big Decision
The dark of night lingered when David rode away from his home on Saturday morning, and he was thankful for the strong headlamp on his e-bike. Dawn light silhouetted the mountain when he turned onto the logging road. As he rounded the last hairpin turn before the park boundary, he felt a sound in his head like rushing wind. Zhiv was nearby!
The sun inched over the mountain’s rim and bathed David and the road ahead with light. Hundreds of starlings surrounded him and flew alongside. He recognized the bird nearest himself. Lilili flew closer and landed on David’s shoulder. The rest of the flock raced forward. Then they cavorted overhead, a vast swarm that changed shape like an amoeba. A chorus of voices in David’s mind sang, “Vizh, Vizh, Vizh!”
Zhiv was waiting in the woods. David secured his bike to a tree, and Zhiv helped him remove his clothing. They embraced. David trembled while Zhiv’s arms held him close.
Zhiv said, “You’re cold.”
“No,” said David. “It’s not cold; it’s excitement. I missed you so much, and I’m so happy to be with you now, I can hardly stand it.”
“Me too,” said Zhiv. He kissed David’s cheek and then the tip of his nose. “You’re so beautiful,” he said, “I want to kiss you all over.” He pulled back and looked into David’s eyes. “But we have a long climb to make and many friends waiting for us up in the meadow.”
They separated and gathered David’s clothes. Zhiv knelt and carefully examined each of David’s feet. “Your feet are still soft and tender,” he said, “so I carry the pack.”
They walked through the woods, for the most part without speaking. Zhiv slowed and held up his hand as they neared a deep, rumbling buzz. “A bunch of people want to say hello.” The buzzing noise increased, and honeybees surrounded them. At first there were only a few, then hundreds, then thousands. “Don’t be afraid,” Zhiv said. “Just be careful. They’re small people and delicate, and we’re big and clumsy.”
Bees began to land on the boys. Within a minute, a humming mat of the little creatures coated each boy. David looked down. The bees were warming, vibrating, and covering him, so there was scarcely an inch of skin visible. It was like a thousand tiny hugs and felt so good his penis became fully erect. Bees covered it, crawling up and down. The vibrations of their wingbeats penetrated deep within his body, so he felt he was a part of the hum.
David looked over at Zhiv, who was similarly bee-clothed. “This is weirdly nice,” he said.
“Close your eyes and think them,” said Zhiv.
David found that when he was able to lock onto the bees’ hum, he understood them, as if they were a single animal. It was a wordless understanding, a shared happiness of being together.
“They’re wonderful,” said Zhiv, “but we have a meeting to attend.” He raised his arm and pointed to a nearby tree. The bees lifted off the boys and swarmed onto the tree.
“The night before last, I had a beautiful dream,” said David, as they resumed their trek. “I dreamed I was swimming with the trout, and you were there. We flew up into the sky together, surrounded by starlings. Then we kinda melted together. It was the most beautiful feeling that kept bursting and flowing between us. I couldn’t stand it, but I wanted it to go on forever.”
“It wasn’t a dream,” said Zhiv. “It was you and me, together, in the mara. For me too, it was just like you said. I woke up swimming in the lake with the fish. I could breathe underwater and swim like a trout. It was wonderful. You were there too, and we swam together and held onto each other. Then, without doing anything, we shot out of the water and up into the sky. We hung there, way up high, with the mountain and the lake far below.”
“Yeah,” said David. “It was exactly like that.”
“And I had that wonderful feeling too,” said Zhiv. “The best feeling ever! And now I know your name, your inside name, and all the animals know it too.”
Zhiv stopped and turned. When David came up to him they wrapped their arms around each other. “Vizh,” said Zhiv, into David’s ear.
“That’s me? I heard it that night and from the starlings this morning too.”
“Mmm. Vizh. That’s you. The trout in your lake heard it first and shared it with everyone else. The trout think you’re a trout, just like the starlings think I’m a starling. Everyone in the mara knows your name now, though many of them have never seen you. They’re dying to meet you. Let’s go!”
When Doreen rose from bed Saturday morning, she loaded the coffeemaker and turned it on. Then she made the rounds of the house, collecting laundry. She planned to put the first load in and then relax with a cup of fresh-brewed coffee before breakfast.
David’s bathroom yielded some towels, and she emptied the dirty clothes hamper in his room. When she took the sheets from his bed, she noticed a stain on the bottom sheet. She felt it between her thumb and forefinger. The sheet was stiff where it was stained, about where David’s groin would be when he was asleep. She sighed and smiled.
Doreen loved having a boy-child, but the stain signaled the beginning of a new stage in his life. Though she accepted it as part of the natural order, it saddened her to see a sign his boyhood was passing.
When the laundry was in the washing machine, she joined Pete at the kitchen table for coffee. They discussed what to have for breakfast. Pete was still adjusting to vegan meals. They settled on a tofu scramble and some vegan sausages.
“David here?” asked Pete.
“No, he’s long gone. He left a note; said he was going up the mountain again, but he’d be back for supper.”
“He’s getting to be a real outdoors kid. We should plan a camping trip later in the summer; go to Yellowstone or someplace like that.”
“That’d be great,” agreed Doreen. Then she said, “Pete?”
“You know I change the sheets on our beds every Saturday?”
“I have noticed that.”
“Well, there’s a stain on David’s sheet today.”
“Okay, I’ll have a talk with him. No more food in bed. No more eating cherries under the covers. It’s hard work for your mom to get those stains out.”
“Pete! You know what I mean. It’s not a food stain.”
“Oh, I was afraid of that.”
“Yeah, it’s time for The Talk.”
“I thought modern kids got all that stuff off the internet or in school. Do you think it’s necessary?”
“Yes, I do. And it’s something that should come from you. You men have all got the same equipment, and you can explain it better. He probably gets a lot off the internet and at school, but because we never talk about it, we don’t know what he knows. There’s a lot of information floating around, but there’s lots of misinformation, too.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to him. I'll tell him what I think he needs to know and make sure he understands that he can come to us if he has any questions.”
“And do it soon. That stain means we’re already a bit late. Okay?”
“Okay. I’ll just have to sit down first and figure out what I’m gonna say. So, sometime in the next week or so. You got any ideas?”
“Well, I don’t know exactly what boys do, though I've got a pretty good idea. I don’t want him to feel guilty or dirty about puberty or playing with himself. It’s natural and normal, especially at his age. He’s getting a massive supercharge of hormones now. For me, the most important thing is that he shouldn’t feel guilty, or wicked, or anything bad about sex. There’s still too much of that around.”
Doreen moved over beside Pete and wiggled under his arm. He hugged her, and she said, “Pete, I’m loving raising David so much. It makes me sad it’s going so fast. Right now, he’s a happy kid, and I want him to keep growing up feeling that way and not get bogged down worrying about sex.”
“You know, he may have some questions about girls, about how their parts work. If he asks me, I might just send him to you, so don’t be surprised if you have to give some girl input into The Talk.”
River woke up first. He felt good until he realized how close he and Jude were. While asleep, they had entwined their arms and legs, and their faces were barely an inch apart. It felt good, but it was way too gay. Fuck! It was GAY! Screaming Fairy Gay! If anyone came into the room, he would die. He rolled away to the far side of the bed and stared at the wall until he dozed off again. He came awake when Jude pulled him over. River found himself facing the other boy’s crotch. Jude’s penis was erect and bobbing against his nose.
“Let’s just do it, man,” said Jude, “before I piss myself. And I’m starving, too.”
River forgot about his worries and engulfed Jude. He sucked with abandon, happy to have his mouth full of penis. His own penis was being slurped and tongued.
They had fried chicken and pop-tarts for breakfast. River thought it was great. Jude’s family had a whole separate fridge for soft drinks and beer. When the boys had eaten and drunk their fill, they retired once again to Jude’s room. They planned to play video games until it was time to leave for Jana Mountain. Jude said they should let their jizz build up to be ready for sex when they met with David McFairy that afternoon.
The long ride had tired Melissa. She was glad when she arrived at Stacy’s Animal Sanctuary and was able to give them the chicken she had rescued. Stacy, the owner-operator of the sanctuary, brought her a cool drink. She insisted on hearing the details of the rescue. Melissa was still full of sorrow from what she had seen. It was a great relief to describe her experience in the chicken barn to a sympathetic listener. They watched Melissa’s rescued hen take her first tentative steps out into the sunlight.
“It’ll be a few days before she realizes that she’s free now,” said Stacy. “If you come back in a week or so, you’ll be amazed at the change. What’s her name?”
“I don’t know. I doubt she has a name.”
“All the animals here have names. It helps us to remember that they’re individuals, like we are. Let’s call her Melissa. I’m sure she’ll be happy and proud to share your name.”
“That would be nice,” sniffed Melissa, and began to cry again. “When I see her like this, it makes me feel good, but it also makes me remember the thousands I left to suffer. How can humans be so cruel? How can we let this happen?”
David and Zhiv topped a hill that overlooked the high mountain plateau. They saw a multitude of animals in the meadow surrounding the grove of aspens where the lake nestled. Goats and sheep shared the grass with their wild relatives, deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Four horses raced up the hill to greet the boys, whinnying as they came, a black, a bay, a gray and a pinto. Brown sparrows and red-headed house finches fluttered around them and landed on their shoulders. Rufous hummingbirds flashed green and vermilion and filled the air with their deep thrumming buzz.
A stream of affectionate greetings filled David's mind. He was deeply moved by the overflowing welcome he and Zhiv were receiving. A crowd of creatures capered around them as they walked down the hill. Erg and Berky paced alongside. Belnit, the stag, a doe and two fawns joined them. Skunks, snakes, coyotes, marmots, and foxes moved nearby. A crowd of voles flowed over the grass like a small carpet. Eagles, hawks, mallards, woodpeckers, and owls swooped overhead. David felt his face aching from smiling so much, but he couldn’t help it. The joy was overwhelming.
In the aspens, a cloud of butterflies danced around them as they walked. When they came out of the trees to the shore of the lake, Zhiv sat down cross-legged. David bent to sit beside him.
“No, no,” said Zhiv. “You should go greet your family.” He pointed to the lake.
David looked, and beneath the surface of the water he could see many trout waiting. In his mind he heard, “Vizh!” and felt himself drawn into the water. He lay down and the fish surrounded him so closely, he didn’t have to swim. He surrendered to their kisses and caresses and they carried him out into deeper water. David dived and played with them until he was tired. They carried him to the shore, and he crawled out onto the rock and flopped beside Zhiv.
“Can you hear the mara?” asked Zhiv.
David focused on what he was seeing and feeling inside. It was such a deluge of images and sensations that he couldn’t make sense of it. “It’s too much,” he said.
“Don’t worry,” said Zhiv. “I’ll tell you later.”
“I’m starving,” said David.
“Mmm,” murmured Zhiv, but David could tell that he had immersed himself in the mara and its multitude of voices. He dug food out of his pack and ate. He fed Zhiv, who accepted whatever David pushed between his lips. He chewed and swallowed it without seeming to notice the oddity of it. It was like feeding a baby. David took care to prepare tasty mouthfuls. He tore sandwiches into pieces and bit chunks from apples. Orange segments were easier, but the simplest were grapes. He popped them, one by one, into Zhiv’s mouth.
For a few hours after eating, David sat beside Zhiv. Many small creatures approached them. David took care to greet each with a look and a caress. With each, he tried to see them in his mind as well as with his eyes. But when he opened his mind completely to experience the mara, the voices were too many. It was like trying to listen to a single violin in the midst of a symphony.
In the afternoon as they hiked back towards David’s bike, David asked what the mara had discussed.
“It’s not like a human meeting. In the mara, everyone talks at once or whenever they feel like it. They don’t say much but they say it over and over. Then, after a while, there are groups that are saying the same thing. It's not a thousand voices all singing different songs, then. It’s like they come together in two or three songs and then in one song. When that song becomes very strong, the meeting is over.”
“What was today’s final song?”
“It made me sad. I understand it. I understand why, but it’s sad,” said Zhiv.
“What is it?”
“The mara decided that they have been patient too long. Time is running out. They have hoped that humans would change, but humans are just too stubborn. Conditions are getting worse every day. Humans have no respect for the planet or other animals. Although even the simplest insects can see that the world is out of balance, humans are too stupid.
“The animals hope to make life harder for humans. That might force them to start thinking about the way they act. Whenever and wherever they can, they have agreed to fight back. They’ve sworn to work together to defeat humans. This is what’s new. It’s a big change and may make humans think about what's happening.”
“What kind of change?” said David. “I don’t really understand.”
“If a human beats a horse or shoots a squirrel, scorpions will sting him, and dogs will bite him. If a human attacks one animal, he attacks every animal, and they’ll all fight back.”
“Wow,” said David.
“The mara doesn’t come up with detailed plans, because that’s not the way animal brains work. That’s a human thing, but the mara can arrive at a big idea, a big simple idea, and that’s what they’ve done. In the past, every kind of animal only took care of itself. Most of the time, every animal only defended itself. The animals realized that was one of the reasons humans were dominant. They could pick on one kind of animal at a time. They could set one animal family against another, one animal against another.
“The big idea from today’s mara is that all animals should stand together. All animals should defend each other against humans. It’s a great idea. They’re overjoyed with it. It’s already spreading far beyond this mara.
“They’re determined. They see that many will die fighting, but if they don’t try to overcome humans, they’ll die anyway. They only want to live in peace, but they feel desperate.”
“What about us? Are they going to attack us?”
Zhiv stopped and turned to David. “No, no. They’ve accepted us as animals. They know who their friends are. You and me, we're in the middle of this,” he said. “When humans want to speak to the animals, they can speak to us, and we can translate to the mara. When humans are ready to listen to other creatures, then we can tell them what the mara wants.”
Zhiv paused, rested his arms on David's shoulders, and then said, “I can’t do this alone. I need your help. We need to use our human brains, so when humans are ready to listen, we can speak for the animals.”
While David cycled down the logging road on his way home, he thought about Zhiv’s words. He knew he had to understand better how humans were acting, and how that affected the natural world. He felt ignorant and saw he had a lot of work to do before he could help Zhiv. People in many different bodies, not only humans, needed him.
David was so engrossed in these thoughts, he failed to notice River and Jude blocking the road until it was too late to evade them. They forced him to turn onto an overgrown side-track and rode beside him until they reached a gravel pit excavated in the slope of a hill. There they laid their bikes down and pulled him off his.
“You guys are crazy!” David protested. “This is crazy. Let me go!”
River went behind him, pulled his pack off, and bent his arms behind his back. Jude produced a roll of duct tape, tore a piece off, and gagged David.
“You talk too much,” said Jude. “We’re here because we like you, and we think you need some help. Just relax, and nobody’s gonna get hurt.” He knelt in front of David, grasped one foot, and pulled the shoe and sock off.
“But before we start,” said Jude, as he ripped off the other shoe and stocking, “we need to find out if you’re really a boy. You’re so girly, it’s hard to tell.” He reached up and undid the button and zipper on David’s shorts. David struggled, but couldn’t free himself. River held him tightly. Jude pulled David’s shorts and underwear down to his ankles.
“Well,” said Jude. “He’s got a pecker so he must be a boy.” He lifted David’s penis with his index finger. “It’s not a very big pecker. In fact, it’s a small pecker. What do you think, River? Is that a pecker or a girly clitorius?”
River looked over David’s shoulder. “Jude, this is too much. I don’t like it. I thought we were just gonna talk to him?”
“Don’t chicken out on me. We ain’t gonna hurt him, just have a little fun.”
“Yeah, but, I dunno…”
Jude pointed further along the wall of the pit and said, “Take him over there.” River forced David to walk away from the bikes, leaving his shorts behind. Now he was naked from the waist down. Jude tossed his shorts and underpants into the boulders scattered at the edges of the gravel pit.
Jude came over and stood in front of David. “You see, we know you’re gay, and we know all gay boys like to suck cock and get fucked in the bum. So, we’re gonna give you what you want.”
Jude reached down and encircled David’s scrotum with his hand. “Now, I could hurt you real bad, if I wanted,” he said, “but I don’t wanna hurt you. River’s gonna let go of your arms, and you’re gonna take your T-shirt off. You’re not gonna try anything stupid because I’ve got a good hold on your boy parts down here, and I’m not gonna let go.” He curled his fist tighter around David's genitals and nodded to River. David took off his T-shirt, so he was naked.
River gripped his arms again, and Jude released his scrotum. Then he grabbed David’s penis and squeezed and stroked it. David’s mind shrieked with anger, disgust, and fear, and he cried aloud behind his gag. He kicked out at Jude and tried to twist away. He felt River’s grasp on his arms loosening.
River pleaded, “Jude, let’s let him go. This isn’t any fun.”
“Shut up, chickenshit!” What Jude might have said next was lost in a shout of pain and surprise, as a bird stabbed his cheek. Starlings filled the air.
The birds dived at Jude and River, darting and pecking at them with their sharp beaks. Then a swarm of yellow jacket wasps buzzed in from all directions. They landed on any bare skin and pierced it with their stingers. River released David’s arms, and he bent over and picked up his T-shirt. Jude and River were frantically ducking attacks from starlings and swatting at wasps.
David saw rattlesnakes slithering from crevices at the edge of the gravel pit. He tore the duct tape from his mouth and shouted, “Look out!” Then he ran towards where his shorts had been thrown. He pulled them on and sat on the ground to put his shoes and socks on.
Jude and River flailed their arms against the starlings and yellow jackets. They failed to see the serpents. Two of the rattlesnakes sank their fangs into the fleshy parts of River’s legs below his knees. He screamed in agony. Jude saw a rattler sidling towards him and raced to the bikes. He mounted his and fled from the pit, pursued by angry wasps and starlings.
River was half-sitting, half-lying on the ground, shouting and crying. Wasps and starlings hovered over him. One of the snakes was still fastened to his leg. River was shaking that leg, trying to get rid of the viper. The other rattlesnake was coiled on a nearby pile of rocks. He rattled, ready to strike again.
David leaned over his bike, picked it up, mounted it, and flicked the power switch. A cry made him turn his head towards River. The boy’s screams of pain and terror echoed off the walls of the gravel pit. He struggled with the rattlesnake and tried to pull it away from his leg. David hesitated for a second, then dismounted. He laid his bicycle down and walked towards the sobbing boy. He concentrated on the starlings, wasps and snakes, and mentally thanked them. He asked them to stop attacking River. By the time he reached River, the rattler had released the boy and was moving away. The wasps and starlings dispersed.
River tried to get to his feet.
David put a hand on his chest and held him down. “River, listen to me: You just got bitten by rattlesnakes. The worst thing you can do is get up and run around. The best thing you can do is lie still, so the venom doesn’t spread so fast. Try to be calm. I’m gonna get my phone out of my pack now and call 911. They’ll send an ambulance here right away. They know what to do about snakebites, and you’ll be okay. The snakes won’t bite you again. Just lie quiet. Okay?”
Mastering his sobs for a moment, River nodded.
David slipped his pack off and extracted his phone and a napkin left over from lunch. While squatting beside River, he dialed 911 and gave them all the information they needed. Five minutes later, an ambulance was speeding towards the gravel pit.
David concentrated on the remaining snake. The rattler uncoiled and wriggled back into hiding among the boulders. David smoothed River’s hair off his forehead and stroked his cheeks. Then he used the napkin to wipe River's tears and clean up the mucus that had bubbled out of his nose.
River was crying and moaning in pain. “It hurts. My legs hurt so bad.” He trembled and started to throw up. David gently turned him onto his side.
When River’s stomach had emptied, David wiped the vomit from around his mouth. He stroked the other boy's forehead. “Try not to think about the pain,” he said. “Think about my hand on your forehead. Relax and be peaceful. You’re gonna be okay, River. Help is on the way, and everything is gonna be okay.”
River’s breath slowed. David continued to stroke his face and hold his hand while they waited. His skin felt cold and clammy.
When they heard the ambulance siren, David said, “River, listen! If anybody asks you who was here with you, say you don’t know my name. I don't want to have to explain to my mom and dad why I was here with you. I can't lie to them if they ask me. It’ll be better for both of us if you don't tell anyone my name. Then nobody will ask me what happened here, and if you don't tell them, nobody will know. You understand?”
River nodded. “Okay,” he said.
I write in order to be read, and I hunger for feedback - negative, positive, or indifferent. Please share your thoughts on this story in a review, a comment or send me a personal message. I will reply.
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