A Stranger's Boots, part 4: The void
Ben lays it all out for Mike.
The voice in Mike’s head – Ben – convinces him to go out drinking with his friends again. This time Mike doesn’t get completely blasted. His friends make jokes about making sure he gets home okay but tonight Mike doesn’t need the help.
On his way home, Mike hears from Ben for the first time all evening. That was fun. Your buddies are cool. A little too yuppie, but good guys.
“You saw them?”
Yeah, I heard everything too. I wish I could have had some beers with you. Feeling yours kick in was almost as good.
I’m going to book a psychiatrist tomorrow, Mike thinks.
Fuck, man, I wish you’d relax. You’re making me uptight too.
My brain is definitely inventing this, Mike thinks. This guy says fuck as much as I do.
At home, Mike plans to get undressed and go right to bed, no TV, but the undressed part doesn’t happen. The bed looks too inviting. This time there’s no one to take off his boots for him. He sleeps all the way through the night.
He wakes up to profound darkness. No street lights peeking through the blinds. No red numbers glowing on the clock next to his bed. He blinks his eyes. Are they open? He stretches his arms and legs, rubs his eyes, scratches his balls. But he gets nothing back. He can’t feel his muscles crackling, his eyes clearing, or his balls tingling from a really good scratch. He turns to one side. He doesn’t feel the bed beneath himself. He can’t locate his body in space. He’s floating, but it doesn’t even feel like floating.
Getting anxious now, Mike wonders – Am I paralyzed? Did I have a car accident and I’m locked in? His stomach drops and adrenalin kicks in, making his pulse race, at the thought of being like this forever. Except he has no stomach, or adrenalin, or pulse. He tries to reach out with his hands but there’s nothing. He looks carefully around the darkness, trying to find a pinpoint of light, a variation in the blackness, anything.
He remembers the voice he’s been hearing. He calls out into the void. Hey. Ben. Are you there? Ben??
He’s in the void for a long time, thoughts spinning and turning in on themselves. He’s terrified. An hour passes, maybe a day. There’s no way of knowing. His mind can’t maintain the effort of panic. Out of exhaustion he calms down. He doesn’t know what else to do but wait for something to happen. One thing that Mike is certain of – he is not in control. Of anything. So he floats, and waits.
Mike feels hands on his body, pulling him. It’s the first physical sensation he’s had since he found himself in the dark. But he still can see only… darkness. And it’s still profoundly silent. Then something blunt and firm enters his hole. It’s too big to be a dick. It’s a hand. It’s going in with some force, stretching his hole too fast, beyond anything he’s ever felt before. He tenses up, anticipating pain, but there’s none. The object keeps getting wider, and his hole keeps stretching. Any second I’m going to be ripped in half, he thinks. But then the object going into his hole gets narrower, letting his hole shrink a little around it. But then the wide part gets to the first turn and Mike grunts soundlessly as the object forces its way past. It settles into his gut with a thunk. He’s into me past his elbow, Mike thinks. He’s read about that, but he never thought it was physically possible.
But feeling no other part of his body, still seeing and hearing absolutely nothing, Mike decides he is hallucinating. My brain is imagining that I’m being fisted, he thinks. Of all fucking things to imagine. Or I’m in a coma and someone really is fisting me. He is amused at the notion. I’ll be on the news, he thinks. Comatose patient assaulted by unauthorized visitor.
And then it happens again. A smooth, blunt object entering his hole. But the first object is still buried deep inside him. This second object is being inserted alongside the first. Maybe. It doesn’t seem physically possible. Now I’m hallucinating that I have two holes, he thinks. If this were real, that could be pretty cool. The second feeling is identical to the first. The widening, the sliding, the narrowing… and then the thunk again as the unseen hand, forearm and elbow settle deep into him. So deep that Mike can imagine he feels the guy’s fingertips in his chest. And still there is no pain. Impossible.
The feeling of being stuffed full, chest pushed out, belly distended, is not that comfortable. But he’ll take it, after all this time feeling nothing. Now that he’s filled, there’s something to hold onto, propping him up. Gone is the feeling of drifting and formlessness.
Mike feels himself being compressed from the outside, wrapped in something tight. A leather straitjacket, maybe. Any time he’s had the opportunity, Mike has let someone put him into heavy bondage. It’s like a drug. The immobility and complete loss of control is intoxicating. He’s getting into this hallucination now. He feels the jacket being tightened around him starting at his throat, and then inch by inch all the way to his feet. It’s not a straitjacket, it must be a full mummy suit. He can now feel his body again, not just inside but out. He’s confined but supported, immobilized but embraced. And very, very turned on. If Mike could feel his dick it would be rock-hard.
Then Mike hears Ben again: “Hey buddy.”
Is that… you? Ben? Am I dreaming this?
“Relax, buddy, everything’s fine.”
But I can’t see anything. I can’t move.
“I can explain,” Ben says.
“Let me tell you how I died. I was on my motorcycle, someone turned in front of me, and I went flying. The last thing I remember is… “ – and here Ben’s voice seems to crack a little – “I’m face down on the pavement. There’s a pool of my blood right in front of my face, getting bigger. ”
But you didn’t really die. You’re talking to me.
“Everything went black. I couldn’t feel my body. I was alone in the dark. You know what that’s like now. I figured I was in some kind of limbo, between the earthly life and the afterlife. But it went on and on.”
Am I in that place now? Did I have an accident?
“Hold on, dude. One step at a time.
“I stopped hoping I would ever leave the void. Then out of nowhere I felt my body again. I was being moved around, pulled back and forth. There were other… weird feelings. Then… there was a little hole in the darkness. I went toward it. I squeezed part of myself through it. I could see and hear a little bit. On the other side of the hole there you were.
“You checked yourself out in the mirror and that’s when I saw you wearing my boots. Then I figured it out. My body died on the pavement that night but whatever was left of me was in the boots.”
You’ve been… haunting the boots?
“Stupid word, but okay. Whatever you want to call it.
“I was happy you liked the boots. I figured you might wear them a lot. Then I wouldn’t be alone. I’d still be a pair of boots but I wouldn’t be lost and forgotten. When you jerked off I could feel it. I missed that feeling. Jerking off is the best.” Ben laughs. “Boots really turn your crank, eh? I didn’t know that was a thing.”
Definitely a thing…
“I thought that I’d ended up on the feet of a guy like me. But you don’t eat meat? Or drink? I was like, this could suck. I didn’t know what I could do about it, though. I’m your boots. Boots don’t have a say in what the guy does. The boots just follow him around.
“When you were standing in front of that tattoo shop, I was like, oh man, this guy would look a lot better with some ink. And then you decided to go in. You were kind of lost, you didn’t know what to do, so I gave you some strong hints. It worked out. It’s a good tattoo.”
You shouldn’t have done that. I never wanted a tattoo.
“You did, or you wouldn’t have gone inside. That was you. It worked out, didn’t it? You feel like a bad-ass. Don’t try to shit me.” Ben laughs.
But I’m not religious.
“Jesus changed my life, man. You should open your heart to him. But we’ll have plenty of time for me to tell you about him.”
Then you made me eat meat…
“Didn’t mean to. You were standing right there and a big juicy cheeseburger sounded so fucking good. I started to figure out that I couldn’t control you, but if I felt strongly about something, it sort of leaked into you. Dude, that burger was amazing. We have to go back there. I want onion rings next time.”
Then you got me drunk, made me smoke, get the mohawk…
“Don’t blame me for all that. You’ve wanted to hang out with a crew like that, get a little drunk and rowdy, be a bad boy. I don’t know why the fuck you don’t let yourself do that. Those guys really like you.
“And the haircut – all you, my friend. Okay, I thought about how much I miss having a bald head. Or any head. But the guy made a good call. The ‘hawk is great. The porn-stache is hilarious. But awesome. You wanted that barber to take over. I could tell. I felt a little weird eavesdropping when you were flirting with him –”
Flirting. Now there’s a stupid word.
Ben laughs. “Okay… When you were negotiating a butt-fuck with him?”
There’s no other kind of fuck between two guys. I’m guessing you’re not gay.
“Yeah, not into guys. Not my thing.”
Okay, this is a lot of backstory but I still don’t know what the fuck is going on. Am I dead? You’re going to have to spell it out for me.
“Didn’t you feel me putting you on just now? My feet going in and lacing you up? You’re my boots now. I’m the man, and you’re the boots.”
Oh my god.
“Hey, it won’t be so bad being my boots.” Ben wiggles his toes inside the boots and massages the leather with his hand. Mike draws a sharp breath – if he could breathe – at the intense sensations moving through him. Ben laughs. “Haha, nice, you like that. Look at me, I’m turning on a gay guy. First time for everything.”
How can something like this happen.
“The second time you wore me… You were barefoot. Skin against leather, nothing between. The connection was strong. The bridge between us got wide. And then you fell asleep still wearing me. I had the whole place to myself. So I cruised across – from the boots, into your body. The more of me got into your body, the more of you crossed the bridge into the boots.”
A bloodless coup.
Ben laughs. “You’re a pretty funny guy. I’m going to put you on when I need a good laugh. I bet you’re good at cheering people up.”
This isn’t funny. You stole my body. What gives you the right…
“Like I said, didn’t mean to. Just kinda happened.”
Bullshit. You wanted to be alive again.
“Can you blame me? Then I got scared it would end. If you woke up you could have crossed over and pushed me out. You had the home-field advantage. So I took the boots off before you could wake up. And I haven’t worn you in a while.”
So that’s why I’ve been…
“Yeah, out there in the void.”
How long have I been inside the boots?
“I dunno… a while.*
Bullshit. You know how long.
A long pause. “About a year.”
You’ve GOT to be kidding me.
“I meant to trade places with you after I had some fun, but…”
You fucking bastard. You stole my body and locked me out of it for a YEAR?? What have you been doing with my body all this time? With my LIFE?
“Doesn’t matter. You’re a pair of boots now. I’m the guy, you’re the boots. All you need to know is…”
Tell me what you’ve done.
“You’re not going to like it.”
“I quit your job. I started working at a bar. I moved. I sold your Vespa and got a motorcycle. I answered your phone calls for a while but people got all weird. Then I…”
Fuck you, Ben. Just fuck you.
“I know. I’m sorry. It was just too good…”
Leave me the fuck alone. Take off the boots. Throw me in the incinerator. I don’t want to be your boots. You’re an asshole.
Not sorry enough to give me my body back.
“I guess not,” Ben says quietly.
Take me off. I don’t want your feet in me.
Ben says nothing. Mike feels Ben unlace him and take his feet out. Empty and unsupported, Mike floats in the void once again.