The Reflex: Chapter 2

By Cris Kane - criskanestories@gmail.com
published February 14, 2020
Summary

James vows to send back the Reflex system, but VIC lures him into another workout.

When the sun filtered through the blinds the next morning, James’ eyelids were the only part of his body that could move without pain.

Turning his head to look at his clock radio sent shooting pains down his neck. Moving his arm to swat the snooze button required agonizing effort. When his nine-minute reprieve ended, he just let the clock keep buzzing as he cantilevered his body onto its side and rolled face down. He lay atop the bed motionless, nose buried in his comforter, for what seemed like half an hour. By the time he made the effort to move again, the buzzing of the clock had petered out, as if declaring that getting James out of bed was no longer its responsibility. James clawed his way to the edge of the mattress until gravity did its work, tumbling him to the hardwood floor with a heavy thud.

Staring at the ceiling, James couldn’t recall ever feeling this sore. He wished he could fill his bathtub with Ben-Gay and wallow in it for a week. What had he been thinking? How had he allowed himself to be goaded into cramming what felt like a month’s worth of exercise into a single night by that goddamn virtual trainer? Fuck VIC with his sadistic smile and his cheerful demeanor and his gladiator’s arms and his gorgeous dimples… As he envisioned VIC, James felt his cock squirm, its sore head adhering to his stomach with a crust of dried cum.

Eventually, James forced himself to crawl to the doorway, where he grabbed the doorknob and pulled himself to his knees. From that position, he scuttled to the bathroom, where he gripped the edge of the sink and hoisted his body to something approaching vertical. The way that every molecule of his body was screaming in agony, he thought he might look at least slightly swole, but the guy in the mirror was just as out of shape as the one he’d seen every morning for the past five years. Due to falling asleep sweaty, James was experiencing extreme bed-head, his hair shooting out in multiple directions like that of an anime hero. His bleary red eyes reacted angrily when he flipped on the bathroom light, pleading for another twelve hours of rest.

When he finally maneuvered himself into the shower, the pelting of scalding water brought some relief to his aching muscles. He lathered up his hair and let the suds cascade passively down his body, not having the energy to scrub himself. He wondered why his feet were moving so sluggishly, until he realized he’d forgotten to remove his socks, the waterlogged wool now weighing him down with two soggy anchors.

He lumbered out of the bathroom naked, allowing himself to air-dry. In the harsh glare of morning, the state-of-the-art machinery which had overtaken his living room looked like gleaming futuristic torture devices. James was furious that Carson had imposed this burden upon him. James hated when someone gave him a book, as it was essentially sentencing him to devote a dozen hours of his life to a story which he hadn’t chosen to read. The way James saw it, this was many degrees of magnitude worse. By saddling him with a Reflex system, James’ alleged friend was essentially saying, “You’re such a miserable slob that I’m willing to fork over thousands of my own dollars and force you to exercise just so I don’t have to look at your flabby ass any more.” He was tempted to call the Reflex company right now and demand that they haul this junk away immediately, but he was already running late for work. He would have to wait to make arrangements to return the equipment when he got home tonight. At least he got one good wank out of his encounter with VIC.

The workday was even more of a slog than usual. When his co-workers asked why he was moving so slowly, James offered that he might be coming down with the flu. He found that less embarrassing than explaining that this smoking-hot guy who didn’t actually exist had persuaded him to do way too many sit-ups and it had nearly killed him.

Mid-morning, James felt a vibration in his trousers, and knew it must be Carson, checking on how things had gone. In the old days, James could have let a text from Carson go unanswered for hours, but after his Reflex remix, the new Carson did not tolerate being ignored. As it happened, James had a few choice things he wanted to say to Carson today, so he was eager to answer. He had to stand up from his desk chair and wriggle in order to extract the phone from his pocket.

James still wasn’t used to the profile photo Carson used for his texts. For years, Carson’s online identity had been a picture of Goku from “Dragon Ball Z”, so it remained startling that his formerly geeky friend now used a beefcake photo of himself, jacked arms crossed over his hairy, shirtless chest, with artfully-mussed hair and two days’ growth of stubble framing what was, if you examined it closely, still a fairly geeky face. Cosmetic fillers had smoothed out his pockmarked cheeks, aligners had brought order to his teeth, and a procedure which Carson never acknowledged had given him a much sleeker nose, but James could still see remnants of the dork he’d met at a college mixer when they were both still actively pretending to be interested in girls who weren’t interested in them.

“howd u hit it off w vic” asked Carson.

“I can hardly move,” James replied, discovering that even the muscles required for texting had been overtaxed by last night’s activity.

“haha yah vic dives rite in”

“I’m going to call the company and ask them to take it back.”

James had barely hit send when his phone vibrated with an incoming phone call accompanied by that same studly image of Carson. James knew he had to answer it to avoid pissing off his friend, but he also didn’t want to have this conversation in his cubicle where his co-workers could overhear. With the agility of Frankenstein’s monster, he forced his semi-paralyzed body to walk to the stairwell.

“What the fuck do you mean you wanna send it back?”, Carson exploded once James finally answered. This volatility was another feature of Carson 2.0 that wasn’t present in the original model.

“It’s just too much, Carson. It’s too big for my apartment. It takes up my whole living room.”

“Maybe that’s a sign you should get a bigger place.”

“Gee, thanks. You gonna pay for that too?”

Carson dodged the question. “You can’t give up after one night. I know how much you were saying you wanted to try it out. Besides, it’s a thirty-day trial period. Money-back guarantee. If you really hate it that much by the end of the month, you can send it back then. It won’t have cost me a cent.”

That stopped James in his tracks. “Seriously?”

“Yeah! I’m sure told you that.”

“You never said anything about any trial period.”

“Pretty sure I did,” Carson said with confidence.

He didn’t.

Still, James figured it couldn’t do him any harm to hang onto the Reflex system for a little longer, especially if it was free. Nothing said he’d have to exercise. He could just turn on the unit and treat VIC as the world’s sexiest screensaver. “Okay, I won’t send it back for now.”

“Awesome! You won’t be sorry. You may hate me now, but I guarantee you’ll be on your knees thanking me soon enough.”

James doubted that.

By the time James left the office, most of the stiffness had left his body, but he had no intention of inflicting another Reflex workout on himself. He swung through the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way home and looked forward to vegging out in front of the TV and starting that Netflix show. When he entered his apartment, the logo on the Reflexion screen was still glowing, and a pictograph of an envelope was pulsating below it. James considered ignoring it, but his curiosity was too strong. He took a seat on the weight bench and gestured in mid-air to open the message, while his other hand plunged into the McDonald’s bag for a fistful of fries.

James had assumed that clicking the envelope would reveal a pop-up ad, but instead it woke up the entire screen. And even though he hadn’t said the magic words “Hey, VIC!”, there stood VIC, big as life in his Reflex gear, standing post on his private beach, just where James had left him the night before. “Hey, James! How was your day?”

“Id wuff fine,” James mumbled, stuffing his mouth with fries so VIC wouldn’t see them. He felt like he’d been surprised by the presence of an unwanted roommate he’d been hoping to avoid.

“Uh oh,” VIC said in a playfully scolding tone. “Do I smell McDonald’s french fries?”

James said, “Maaaaybe?”, wondering if the Reflex system included an olfactory sensor or if the system had just intuited the presence of french fries from the presence of the McDonald’s bag.

“Don’t sweat it, man. We all deserve a cheat day, now and then. Even me!” James was tempted to ask what virtual food VIC scarfed down on his virtual cheat day. “Guess that just means I’m gonna have to push you extra hard tonight to work off those calories. You ready to get started?”

“Actually, I didn’t mean to bother you. I was just logging on to see the message that was blinking.”

“Oh, that!” VIC gestured, and an ad floated in front of him depicting various items of Reflex logo apparel. “I thought you might be interested in some of our Reflexwear. They’re the most comfortable workout clothes I’ve ever worn.”

James shook his head, amazed at how aggressively they kept trying to get him to spend more money he didn’t have, first on upgrade packages, now on merchandise. “The workout clothes I’ve got are fine.”

“Seriously, man, you really gotta try this stuff. It feels so natural, you hardly even notice you’re wearing it. And did I mention that it’s free?”

“Well, I guess that’d be okay.” Even though he knew this was likely a ploy to lure him into buying more later, James wasn’t about to pass up some free clothes.

“Great!” VIC swept the pop-up off the screen. “I’ve just placed the order. The package should arrive tomorrow.”

“Don’t you need to know what sizes I wear?”

“I already got all your measurements in the system, my brother.”

“Oh. Right. Do you have my address?”

VIC tapped a finger to his temple. “All up here. Now, tonight, I thought we’d concentrate on cardio, try to burn off some of those tasty fries. What do you say?”

James gazed at the McDonald’s bag, just out of reach, and could feel his Big Mac growing colder and less edible with each passing second. He glanced at the screen, fully intending to inform VIC that he really didn’t feel like exercising tonight, but found himself mesmerized by the coach’s baby-blues. His resistance dissipated. He just couldn’t say no to the big lug. “Let me just go get changed.”

“Excellent!” VIC shot index-finger guns at James and told him “I’ll just hang out here ’til your ready.”

James excused himself to the bedroom, where he stripped out of his work wardrobe and dug through his dresser for exercise clothes. All of his t-shirts and baggy shorts suddenly looked drab and ordinary compared to the sharp styling of the Reflex products that VIC wore. James chose a white v-neck tee, blue running shorts, and sneakers, then checked his appearance in the bedroom mirror. He brushed back his bangs and sighed, wishing he looked better for VIC.

He shuddered. Where had that idea come from? What made him think he needed to impress what was essentially a cartoon character, no matter how convincingly human, no matter how hot? It was like he lost all capacity for rational thought the moment he heard VIC’s voice or saw him onscreen. He’d always found it strange how drastically Carson had changed, not just his body but his personality, once he got sucked into Reflex. It was almost like he’d joined a cult, and James was certainly not going to let himself fall for anything like that. He had to stop this now, before things got out of control. He vowed to walk into the living room, unplug everything, and call Reflex to haul away the whole setup.

James marched back to the living room, but he stopped in his tracks when he saw VIC onscreen with his back to James, wearing nothing but red Reflex-brand bikini briefs which cupped VIC’s heretofore unseen ass. Whatever James had planned to do so urgently evaporated from his mind as he took in the sight of VIC’s broad back tapering downward to an impossibly narrow waist before widening to a glorious pair of muscular glutes. James gasped and said, softly and breathily, “Oh, my fucking fuck.”

VIC turned around and acted surprised to see James. “Oh, hey, you’re back! Ready to get started?”

James became aware that his jaw was hanging slack and all moisture had disappeared from his mouth. Unable to speak, he pointed toward his mouth, then pointed toward the kitchen.  He hustled to the refrigerator, took out a bottled water and guzzled down its entire contents. He grabbed another to keep him hydrated during the workout and returned to the living room.

On the screen, VIC had now seated himself on a beach towel and was slathering his skin with lotion. “Hope you don’t mind. I figured, while you’re doing your cardio, I could work on my tan.”

James remained aware enough of the absurdity of the situation for questions to form in his mind. How exactly did VIC get a suntan? Why would he need suntan lotion? But it seemed pointless to worry about such logic when VIC’s torso was now on full display, unencumbered by his usual tank top. His solid shelf of pecs featured nipples that were larger and further off-center than James had imagined when he had mentally undressed the trainer last night. His perfectly defined abs numbered eight rather than six, and the lumps contained within his snug red trunks were easily distinguishable as a substantial pair of balls and a semi-rigid shaft. James was mesmerized.

VIC snapped his fingers and called out, “Yo, James! You sure you’re feeling okay?”

James shook his head and laughed nervously. “Yeah, totally.” He crossed the room and climbed onto the stationary bike, where the control panel was dark. “Uhhh….VIC? How do I start it?”

“Just leave everything to me,” VIC said with a grin and a wink. As if VIC had willed it mentally, the panel on the bike lit up, showing an image of a mountain trail bordered by lush vegetation. A flashing message urged James to start pedaling. James holstered his water bottle, placed his feet in the stirrups and pushed down. His thighs instantly felt sore, not having recuperated from last night’s exertion. Still, he didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of VIC.

“You want me to put on a playlist for your ride?” VIC conjured up a long list of options which scrolled in the air in front of him.

James spotted one that seemed appealing. “How about the best of Queen?”

“Excellent choice!” VIC lay back on his towel and closed his eyes, informing James, “Your ride will take about half an hour. If you need me for anything, I’ll be right here.”

The slow opening passage of “Don’t Stop Me Now” emerged from the surround speakers. The image on the control panel began to move in synchronization with James’ pedaling. The designers at Reflex had created a totally convincing 3D environment to give James the illusion that his bike was in motion en route to the edge of an active volcano, but James was ignoring all of their painstaking work. He could not pull his gaze away from the bigger screen on the wall with its largely static image of VIC, simply stretched out for a nap. When the Queen tune ramped up to full tempo, James gripped the handlebars and rose on the balls of his feet, accelerating his pace to match the music. VIC was bait pulling James forward, like a carrot dangling on a stick, always tantalizingly out of his grasp. James was unaware that his sense of determination was being fueled by the subliminal appearance of motivational slogans like “PUSH IT” and “GO FOR IT”, appearing for tiny fractions of a second and strategically located precisely where James attention was focused, which in this case was VIC’s spandex-clad crotch.

Mercifully, the song slowed down and the virtual bike route became a leisurely beachside path, giving James a needed respite. Had he attempted to maintain his previous pace for the entire half hour, it would have been a race to see whether his quads or his heart would have exploded first. James eased back onto his seat and coasted through “You’re My Best Friend”, noticing that VIC’s lips were moving in sync with the lyrics. When the virtual trail grew more rugged and the music shifted to the jagged rhythms of “Dragon Attack”, James leaned into the challenge, finally allowing his eyes to drift away from the landscape of VIC’s body and focus on the obstacle-ridden route ahead. But midway through the song, VIC rolled over drowsily, announcing “Gotta turn, so I won’t burn.” Lying face down, he extended his arms behind his back and tugged his waistband down until the upper half of his buttocks was exposed. “I fuckin’ HATE tan lines, don’t you?” James’ concentration was broken. His feet slipped off the pedals, which spun wildly in reverse, and his speed dropped to zero.

“Everything okay, buddy?”, VIC asked without lifting his head.

“Yeah, fine. Everything’s fine,” James assured him. Embarrassed, he repositioned his shoes on the pedals and gradually regained his momentum as the trail onscreen grew precarious. He did his best to concentrate on the little screen, only glancing at VIC nine or ten times a minute.

As the route headed into its final, most treacherous portion, James’ spirits began to flag. His leg muscles seemed to be turning to granite. His knees felt like they had caught fire. Panting heavily, he squeezed his water bottle directly into his face to keep himself from overheating. Sensing that his services as James’ hype man were needed, VIC pressed himself upward and somersaulted into standing position. Idly brushing grains of sand from his skin, he began to bark out instructions. “Come on, James! You’re almost there. Feel that burn! Tighten that tush!” The encouragement gave James a temporary boost, but after a minute, he started to sag again.

“I know what you need,” VIC announced. “Some competition!” The image of the trail on James’ control screen was transferred to the giant screen on the wall, giving James a much greater feeling of being immersed in a different environment. A few seconds later, VIC emerged from the left side of the screen, whizzing along on his own bicycle and effortlessly passing James. The coach looked over his shoulder, offered a “thumbs up”, and declared, “Race you to the top!”

The double-whammy of VIC’s exhortations and the operatic section of “Bohemian Rhapsody” provided just the impetus James needed to fuel his second wind. He tapped into an unexpected reservoir of energy, legs pumping furiously as he navigated the rugged terrain, his eyes riveted on VIC’s hypnotically undulating ass cheeks. The red fabric stretched taut across VIC’s butt acted like a toreador’s cape to inflame James’ passion. With a snort, James summoned his inner bull and rose up, pounding the pedals to push himself up the hill as Queen’s magnum opus reached its crescendo. The speakers were shaking the walls of his apartment, but James was delirious. In his mind, he had now been transported to the tropical paradise, and his only goal was to prove that he had just as much stamina as his coach.

“That’s it, man!”, VIC shouted. “Keep pushing! Harder! Harder!”

James bit down on his lower lip as he willed his legs to pump furiously. Incredibly, the distance between them began to shrink, and as he reached the lip of the volcano, James passed VIC, the trainer and his bike vanishing in a blur at the far right edge of the screen. Only open trail and an easy downhill slope lay ahead of James as he heard VIC’s voice growing fainter behind him, repeatedly shouting “You did it!” James closed his eyes and slowed his pedaling, coasting to a halt as the music decelerated and Freddie Mercury declared that nothing really mattered to him. James grabbed his shirt by the collar and yanked himself free from the soaked fabric, tossing it to the floor with a splat. He lowered his head onto the control pad and let his arms hang limp, amazed by what he had accomplished.

The music faded away, replaced by the sound of two hands clapping, first slow and respectful, then building in intensity. James lifted his head and saw VIC in his usual post on the shore, only now he had released his hair from its ponytail, allowing it to fall past his shoulders and flutter in the breeze. He had lost his briefs and stood completely naked. His erect cock, thicker and longer than any dick James had encountered in real life, pointed directly upward and was pinned against VIC’s sweat-dampened abs. “Congratulations,” VIC said, lowering his hands to his hips and posing like some pornographic superhero.

James swung clear from the pedals and attempted to stand, but his exhausted legs collapsed underneath him. He slithered across the floor toward the Reflexion screen, tugging down his shorts in the process and exposing his own modest but fully engorged erection. His cock only grew larger and more inflamed from the friction as it brushed across the nap of the carpet. James clawed desperately toward the wall, finally flinging himself toward the screen, his torso pressed flat against the glass as he licked the image of VIC’s massive hard-on. James’ cock unleashed a white geyser which splattered across the smooth surface and gradually trickled down to the floor. Looking blissful, James toppled backwards, his chest rising and falling dramatically as he replenished his system with oxygen. He knew he wouldn’t be moving from this spot for hours.

Looming on the screen above him, VIC smiled with a sense of accomplishment. He had instantly regained his standard-issue tank top and shorts, and his hair was back in its default ponytail. In a businesslike tone, he informed James, “I’ll add a bottle of Reflexion Screen Cleaner in that package for tomorrow. No extra charge.”

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