Arctos: Second Life Thrift – Part 1 (Patreon Early Access)

There’s a new story up for Patrons! If you support me at the $5 level or higher, you can find it here. For everyone else, here’s a sneak peek. It’s got two parts, I’ll post the first part next week, and the second part the week after that, but Patrons will get early access to them both, today and tomorrow!


Well, he’d made it. Life as a single dad wasn’t what Brian had signed up for, and raising his son all these years while holding down his job had been a struggle, but the moment that he’d been aiming for was past–his son, Tim, was off to college, a find young man himself now, and Brian found himself sitting in his now much emptier house wondering, “Now what?”

He’d been ecstatic at first. Privacy! Time to finish the projects in the garage he’d started, but that had always been delayed because of Tim’s school work, or extracurricular activities, or community service work. But that eagerness lasted about a month, when the depression set in. The projects were still sitting there. Brian was spending more and more time after work just sitting in front of the TV, a microwave dinner in front of him with a beer or six, drinking and wondering why his son didn’t call him more often. Is this all he had now? He thought back to when he was younger, and all the things he’d wanted to do, a life he’d pictured for himself before his family had taken over so much, but it was hard to remember any of it. It was a ghost, really, lingering in the corners of his mind, haunting him. 

He didn’t remember how he stumbled on the web site. An online ad, probably, for some service provided by a company called Arctos, and after clicking through a few links, he’d found himself poking around an online thrift shop. It was called Second Life Thrift, which seemed like rather intense branding for some second hand clothing. But one thing kept dragging his attention back, day after day–this biker jacket. It was well worn but still in decent condition from what he could see. He’d always wanted to own a motorcycle, but it had been cast off, just one dream like so many others that he’d never managed to fulfill, too busy making sure his son was provided for. But what was stopping him now, exactly? He dropped a mention of it to his son in a phone call, and Tim laughed at the thought of his dad wearing a bunch of leather and riding around on a bike. But rather than snap him out of it, it only made Brian consider it further. The price was a bit steep for second hand, but it wasn’t like you could find stuff like this at every thrift store. One night, after a couple of extra beers, he pulled the trigger on it. More likely than not he’d wear it around a bit and then it would gather dust in a closet somewhere, but at least, for the moment, he’d feel like he had control of his life again. Maybe it would pull him out of this funk, at least.

It wasn’t until he perused the confirmation email, and noticed that it had been divided into three shipments, that he realized he hadn’t just bought a leather jacket–he’d bought an entire lot of second hand goods! No wonder the price was so steep. There was no inventory of what was included, but he did figure out that the shop wasn’t so much a thrift store, as a front of estate sales. All of the goods belonged to one guy, apparently, who was, sadly, no longer alive. A bit morbid, really, but at least the name made more sense now. No wonder the shop didn’t advertise that more extensively.

A few days later, the first shipment arrived. He wasn’t quite sure what he’d been expecting, but three sizable boxes were left for him while he was at work, and he dragged them into the house. They were numbered from one to three, so he decided he might as well start with the first one. He broke the tape, opened it up, and coughed a bit from the smell–leather, but also…well, he wasn’t quite sure what the musk was rolling off the contents of the box was. He pulled the first item out, and found himself looking at the jacket he’d thought he was buying all along, so at least he had that. It…stank a bit. He’d have to get it dry cleaned at some point, but he couldn’t quite resist the desire to try it on. He did, and was a bit annoyed to find it was too big. That was the problem with buying stuff over the internet, he supposed, you never quite knew what size you were getting. If everything else was this big, well, a lot of it would be going to the dump today. Underneath the jacket was a bunch of denim jeans, all of them unwashed as far as he could tell, and covered with dirt and stiff with unidentifiable stains. He pushed them away, not really wanting to touch them, and pulled the next box over–only to be further disgusted–sitting there, right on top of the second box, was a pair of clearly soiled briefs. He didn’t move them, but under those he could see other clothes, socks, more underwear, some t-shirts, and the stench was…well, his eyes weren’t quite watering, but it wasn’t good. The third box didn’t have clothes at least, but it’s contents were no less disappointing. On top, wrapped up in some bubble wrap, was a clock, surrounded by a neon sign that said, “It’s always drinking time!” and below that, was a humidor well stocked with a collection of cigars.

Brian wasn’t much of a drinker, and he’d never smoked a cigar in his life. Still, he might be able to sell them and get the cost back for what he’d paid. For now, though, all of this was going out to the garage where it wouldn’t stink up the rest of the house, and left the jacket on top of the boxes with the rest. He’d try wearing it again after he got it cleaned up.

The rest of the evening passed normally, aside from the fact that Brian couldn’t quite shake the sensation that he wasn’t alone in the house. It wasn’t the first time he’d felt jumpy since his son had left for college, but this was different, somehow. Like there was something around him, something poking around his house, poking at him too. He probably just felt weird after going through the boxes–after all, he had a dead guy’s stuff sitting out in the garage, why wouldn’t he feel weird? He turned in a bit early, worried that he might be too unnerved to sleep, but he didn’t have trouble at all–but once he was out, that was when the dreams started.


Want to know more? Support me over on Patreon to get access to this, and plenty of other content as well!

New Patreon Exclusives!

Hey everyone! I have a couple short bits over on patreon that are new! First, there’s an alternate version of the next interactive chapter ready for folks to read there. I’ll have the public one ready in a few days as well. There’s also a new suggested story featuring some odd stuff–a lot of inanimate TF, superheros, living condoms, etc. What’s not to like? You can check that new tale out here. Thanks for the support as always! You can find more details out about my patreon here.

Early Access: The Pig Squad

Hey all! Here’s a new story for patrons to enjoy. I’ll post it publicly for everyone else in a week. A squad of troublesome motorcycle cops have been selected to undergo a new re-training program to help them become a more cohesive, cooperative team. However, one of the cops thinks that the doctor running the program might have some ulterior motives behind the strange training sessions. Here’s a sample from the story to whet your appetites. If you want to read the whole thing, you can find it over on my patreon page.


Week One: 

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that the squad had some issues, alright? But we weren’t any worse than any of the other squads in the state patrols, I can tell you that. Harrison could get a little rough with folks out on the highways. Everyone knows that Klein is a racist, though he can keep it in usually. Ricci does his best as sergeant, but his heart isn’t really in it. His dad was a cop, so he had to be too, you know? Sure, the lawsuits look bad, but most of them got settled easily enough. Hell, I’ll point you to five squads in this state with records worse than ours, but hell, one high profile chase goes wrong, and suddenly we have to do something about it. Something being, of course, this fucking psycho bullshit re-training.

I heard from Lewis that this is all because the quack doctor is some friend of the governor’s brother or something. Someone’s always greasing someone’s shaft, right? So the whole squad has to spend five fucking weeks off patrol, and instead we’re locked up in a classroom all fucking day long, with this old fuck prattling on and on at us, making us watch these boring ass movies about how we can work better as a team, how we can better serve the community, it’s all a bunch of horseshit. I’ll tell you this right now, after one week, I’ll gladly get the squad to shape up just so I don’t have to sit through this trash ever again.

And now, we have to keep a journal too, whatever. Something about helping the doctor assess the course’s effect over time. Well here doc, when you read this in a few weeks, here’s what I want you to know. You’re a fucking piece of shit quack, with no fucking idea what it takes to be a police officer. How about that for a baseline? Five weeks from now, we’ll all be back on our bikes, laughing about what a fucking waste of time this all was, and you’ll have your chunk of government money–that’s what this is all about I bet.

What else was there–oh right, the drugs. We have to take these pills too, apparently. Don’t know what they are, but they give them to us at the start of the day, and make sure we all take them. Harrison got found out when they tested our piss for it on Wednesday–he’d been hiding the pill under his tongue and spitting it out later. Had to have a “private” session with the doctor about that. More bullshit I think. At least they’re feeding us well–though without going to the gym, I look a little flabby. Wish they’d give us some time for physical activity at least–then this wouldn’t be quite so mind numbingly boring. We even had to watch a bunch of videos over the weekend at home–they were so dull I can’t remember a thing about them. Whatever–nothing else to fucking report this week, other than to say, go fuck yourself Doc, you fucking queer. As for me, I’m heading to the strip club with a couple of other guys from the squad. I know I could use a good fuck right about now, after a week of this shit. Just four more to go.


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Patron Exclusive – The Department of Magical Corrections

There’s a new suggested story up for patrons to enjoy, based off some suggestions I received in the box and on discord from the last month. This one is a bit supersized, but it was a lot of fun to write–I might end up toying with a longer version of it at some point, but we’ll see. Here’s a sample for everyone who isn’t a patron–if you want to read the whole thing, you can find it here.


“Now serving number 351.”

Aiden looked down at the ticket in his hand–367–getting closer at least, this place was worse than the damn DMV. He heaved a sigh and adjusted himself on the squeaky metal chair he’d perched himself on in the waiting room. The temp in here wasn’t that hot, but he was still sweating all over, as was the norm for him now, and he adjusted some of the rolls of fat hanging off him, trying to get comfortable, but the fact was, he hadn’t been comfortable once in weeks now, ever since Jerry had cast that dang spell on him.

Jerry, having been born with no real affinity for magic what-so-ever, and no friends or family with much talent aside from a minor prestidigitation or two had never really given it much thought. Then, after college, he’d moved states for a new job, and ended up living in an apartment complex next to Damon. Damon and Jerry had hit it off, and Damon had taken to boasting about his magical ability, showing off a few spells around his place, and that was when Jerry’s wheels had starter turning.

See, Jerry had never been very happy with his body. He was rail thin and tall, and had never been able to put on much muscle. Damon, one night, talked about how he’d taken a course in transformation magic in school and aced it, showing up for the final as a buff muscle stud, and so Jerry had asked him to cast it on him. Damon had balked, and made some excuses at first–that it wasn’t exactly illegal but highly frowned upon, and that it had only been one course. Jerry had pressed the issue though, and offered him a good chunk of cash, and so Damon had relented–but the spell hadn’t quite gone as Jerry had hoped.

“Now serving number 356.”

He’d gotten bigger sure–but all of it had been fat, and there had been some other unfortunate side effects to go with it. He was so hairy now that he couldn’t even see his skin in the places where it was most thick–across his chest, down his back and in his ass crack. His beard and hair would grow almost an inch a day, forcing him to shear them off nightly, and by morning he’d have a solid bread again no matter what he did. He’d freaked out, of course, and Damon had promised to fix him, but it would take a couple of days to figure out. So Jerry was resigned to wait–until two days later, when some guys had knocked on Damon’s door and arrested him for using magic without a licence! He’d never even gone to school for any of it, apparently–he was a fraud. Jerry had followed after them, huffing and wheezing, knees aching under almost 400 pounds of flab, and asked the wizards arresting him what to do. All they’d done at first was laugh at him, Jerry dressed in some tight boxers since none of his clothes fit him, and nothing he’d ordered had shown up yet, standing in the apartment parking lot looking like a hairy beach ball. In the end, they’d told him it would probably wear off in a few weeks–but if it didn’t, he’d have to come here, to the department of magical corrections, where bad spells got sorted out by professionals.

“Now serving number 363.”

He scratched his hairy pit again, and tried to reposition himself on the metal chair. The clothes he’d bought online had ended up still being too small for him, but he’d refused to buy more, since he’d held out hope he’d be back to normal soon enough. But he hadn’t gone back to normal. He’d begged off work for a week, telling the office he was sick, but was too ashamed to tell them what was really happening. A coworker had come by to check on him, found him there, looking like a hairy, fat stranger, and freaked out–he’d gotten a call from his boss the next day that he was fired. So now he was also unemployed. Walking anywhere was exhausting, sweaty, and hurt his knees and back–and the stares. He hated the way people stared at him the most, like he was some sort of freak. The hunger too–he was hungry all the time, and while he tried to resist it the best he could, he was eating more these days than a small family–he’d weighed himself the other day and discovered he was even fatter. It wasn’t going away on its own–and so, he was here. Waiting, and hoping, someone would fix him.

“Now serving number 367.”

That was him. Jerry hauled his ass up and went to see if someone could get him out of this mess.


Want to read the whole story? Support my writing and become a patron today. You’ll get access to this story, and many, many more over the last few years, along with other exclusive content.

Patreon Bonus Story: Fast Food and Snake Oil

The suggestion box is back open, and that means a new short story each week based off the suggestions of patrons! This week’s bonus story can be found here. Thanks, as always, for your support, especially in this rough time. Here’s a teaser for everyone else, for an idea of what you’re missing.


Hugh read the email, and felt the dread welling up in his throat. He’d been furloughed for a month at this point. The owner of the small firm where he worked had promised to bring everyone back on once this dang lockdown was over with, but the fact is, revenue had dried up. They hadn’t been in the best of positions at the beginning of the year, and the owner was cutting his losses, and shuttering the whole company. 

Now what? Unemployment? Hugh had heard from a number of folks that no one could even get through to figure out where their benefits were. Rent was due, and other bills–what the hell was he going to do? There had to be something.

Hugh had always been a worker–this last month just sitting at home, doing nothing at all but watch TV, he was bored out of his mind. He could at least be doing something–he wasn’t afraid of some dumb virus, and at least it would help him pass the time. After a couple of days, he found a job working at a local fast food joint. Most of the employees had quit recently–not a surprise really, but the franchise owner was a bit desperate. Hugh had worked at places like this when he was younger, to get him through high school and college, so he decided, why not? It was just temporary–once the economy was up and running again, he’d find something else and land on his feet, just like he always did.

He ended up working the restaurant on the day shift with another guy named Billy. He’d started working at the place a few months before all of this mess started, and he was one of the few employees to stay on. The work was dull, in all honesty, but at least he didn’t have to clean tables or mop up bathrooms after customers. One of them would take orders, and fry, the other ran the grill, and during the ample downtime, they struck up a bit of a friendship. 

Billy was a simple guy. He lived in a trailer park not too far from the restaurant, and didn’t have the college degree, or even a high school diploma to his name. He was funny though, and quick witted–but pretty large, and rather hairy. His uniform didn’t quite fit him, and as the first couple of weeks passed by, it was getting easier and easier to see his belly hanging out from the bottom of the shirt–at least no customers could see it through the window. When Hugh asked him about why Billy hadn’t quit, he told him it was because he wasn’t afraid of the virus. “I bought these immunity boosters from a guy I know. Work great! I’ve never felt healthier–I’m not going to catch this thing.”


If you want to read more, you can find the whole story–and many more like it!–over on my patreon page.

Early Access: A New Teddy

I have a new commissioned story up, and Patrons can access the full version of this story now over on my site! Otherwise, it’ll be posted publicly in a week or so. Here’s a taste, if you’re curious.


…Sometime in the middle of the night, Toby woke up. He wasn’t sure what had disturbed him–a sound, something touching him, or even just a bad feeling–but he opened his eyes, and found something looming over him in the dark. “Fuck Kyle, what the fuck are you doing in my room?” he asked, reached over and turned on the light he had on his nightstand, but it wasn’t Kyle standing there–it was a giant teddy bear.

It was easily seven feet tall, and larger than any man Toby had ever seen before. He had no idea what it was doing there, and it was just standing over his bed, looking down at him. The strangest part was that the bear’s front had a massive rip down the front, and the inside was…hollow. There was no stuffing inside of him, and yet somehow the bear was standing up perfectly fine. It had to be some kind of prank or something by Kyle, right? Was this because he wouldn’t pay him rent? What kind of weirdo did something like this anyway? The bear was standing between him and the door. He got up out of the bed, and the bear slowly moved with him, his beady eyes following him as he moved. Was Kyle controlling the thing? Was he inside it? He couldn’t be inside of it–the thing was empty! Toby didn’t want anything else to do with this place–he’d move out tomorrow, he didn’t care where he’d go, but before he could get out of his room, the bear grabbed him from behind in a hug, and started stuffing him into it’s hollow body, through the rip in it’s guts.

Toby screamed and tried to pull away, but thick threads from inside the bear’s body shot out, wrapped their way around his hands and arms, and tugged them backwards, drawing them up into the bear’s own arms. More threads wound their way around Toby’s neck, choking him, forcing his head up into the bear’s head, while the bear’s arms, with his own arms inside of them, hoisted up his legs and dropped them inside the bear’s cavity. Still screaming, he looked down and saw that the threads were zipping across the cavity, sewing him up inside the bear’s body while he struggled to get free. 

As soon as the cavity was stitched up, everything went dark–and then, the fluff that had been mysterious absent inside the bear’s body began to appear. It started at the feet, crowding in around Toby’s legs, and began to fill up in a matter of moments. At first he could still move around a bit, but the more fluff there was, the harder it was for him to move at all–and soon the pressure became crushing–more intense than should have been possible from light fluff like this. It was like the skin of the bear was starting to shrink, pressing in against him on all sides, the fluff pushing up to his neck, and then above his neck, and then surrounding his entire head, choking him. He held his breath for as long as he could, tried to struggle, but he couldn’t feel his arms or his legs anymore. There was just…fluff, as the bear shrunk down further and further, choking him out, making it impossible to breathe. His tongue was like cotton. Was it that he couldn’t see, or had his eyes dissolved into the same fluff as the rest of him? “This has to be a dream,” was the last thing he thought to himself, clinging to that hope as he passed out…and then he woke up.

Preview: Horny Hugh #1

Here’s a snippet from a new commission I finished last week! Patrons can already access the full story over here–everyone else, it’ll be publicly available next week!


Evan knocked on the door of Hugh’s apartment, and after a couple of moments, it opened up. Hugh looked through the crack of the door, and then pulled Evan inside and shut the door behind them both.

“What the hell is up with you?” Evan asked, “You spend all morning blowing up my phone, saying I have to come to your place, and you won’t even tell me why–now you’re yanking me around like this is some spy movie or something.”

Hugh was wearing a pair of sweatpants, which wasn’t unusual for him, and a hoodie with the hood up–which was definitely odd. He didn’t say anything right away–he and Evan had been friends for ages, and he was the only person he could possibly talk to about…well, about what he’d seen in the mirror when he’d woken up this morning. “Look, promise me you won’t freak out.”

“Dude, no one fucking says that unless what you’re about to show me is really fucking weird–now what’s going on? It can’t be that bad, can it?”

Hugh took a deep breath, and then he pushed the hood back, and showed Evan the horns that had appeared, growing out his temples, when he’d woken up this morning. They were small, or at least, that’s what Hugh had told himself all morning as he struggled to not freak out about it. They were about an inch tall, with a sharp point–not quite sharp enough to draw blood, unless he gave someone a hard headbutt with a running start or something.

“What the fuck?” Evan asked.

“Please–you’re the only person I could show this to, please, I don’t know what the fuck is going on here,” Hugh pleaded.

Evan was, he had to admit, a bit freaked out, but he was also, well, curious. He reached out to touch one, and Hugh pulled away. “What?”

“They’re…tender, is all.”

“Did it hurt?”

Hugh shrugged. “I…I had this dream. I don’t really remember it all that well, but…yeah, it hurt, in the dream, and when I woke up, I was thrashing in my bed, my pillow was torn to shreds, and I had these fucking things sticking out of my head. I don’t know what the hell to do–should…I mean, if I go to the hospital, are they just going to treat me like some kind of freak?”

“Can…Can I touch them? I’m just curious. I’ll be careful.”

Hugh bent his head down, and let his friend cautiously stroke one of the small horns with a finger. It wasn’t quite smooth, more like unsanded wood–but definitely bone. The flesh at the base was still a bit red and inflamed from what he could see, but it didn’t look like there was any infection.

Hugh, however, felt something rather strange when his friend touched them. Something he couldn’t quite explain. Thus far, aside from an ache around the horns where they’d burst through his skin in the early morning, they hadn’t really done anything–but when Evan touched them, he felt something. He felt connected to him for a moment–he could see…inside him, somehow. Just a flash, really, but it was disconcerting, and he pulled away after a moment.

“Did I hurt you?” Evan asked.

“No–No, I…would you take me to the hospital? I…I don’t want to go alone.”

Together, they left the apartment and Evan drove him to the hospital to get his new horns checked out, and on the way, all Hugh could think about was that strange sensation, how he’d almost been able to see Evan’s…thoughts. More than his thoughts though, deeper than that. Like…his dreams, or desires, or something like that. It had just been for a moment, but he hadn’t been able to focus on it for long, but it had been tantalizing, because he was sure he’d been about to see something that Evan had never told him about–and Evan didn’t keep many secrets from Hugh, about anything.

Evan and Hugh had known each other for years. They’d met in college, and when they’d graduated, they’d both stayed in the city, though they worked at different companies. Neither of them had been very lucky in love or relationships. They’d tried dating each other for a little while, but it hadn’t worked–thankfully, their friendship had been stronger than that little mistake, but they were still closer to each other than anyone else they knew in the city they lived in. Hugh though…he’d seen something…he didn’t know, there inside Evan. A secret even his friend had kept from him–hell, maybe even a secret he was keeping from himself. It was tantalizing. There in the waiting room, he couldn’t stop thinking about it, wanting to see more, wondering if he could come up with some excuse to have Evan touch them again, so he could see it.

Thankfully, the oddity of his condition meant they didn’t have to wait long, and they were taken back to meet with a doctor. His horns were examined, samples were scraped off–which was more painful than Hugh was expecting it to be. Tests were taken, blood was drawn, but after several hours of being poked and prodded, no one had any idea what was happening to him, and he didn’t seem to be in any danger, so he was sent home, and told to come back if anything changed. Hugh was frustrated–but the same thing had happened each time someone had touched his horns–though the gloves the doctors and nurses had always worn dulled the effect somewhat. He could see into their minds, see their…desires. He knew that’s what they were. With the doctors, it had been…like looking through privacy glass at something in another room. The curiosity was killing him, and he had to know what he was experiencing, and the easiest way to do that, was to get Evan to touch his horns again. 

Thankfully, Evan seemed to be suffering from the same curiosity. Ever since touching the horns, he’d been unable to get the feeling out of his mind. They were just so unlike anything he’d ever touched before. They stood by the apartment door, neither of them sure what to say, since the trip to the hospital had left them both with more questions than answers. Eventually, playing it as cool as he could, Evan asked if he could touch them one more time. Hugh was ecstatic, but didn’t let on to his own relief. He bent down, Evan touched his horns again, and this time Hugh felt everything….


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Caption: The Fetish Box

This is the first half of a caption story for $5 patrons and higher suggested by a supporter! You can find the whole story over on my discord server. If you want more details, you can head over to my patreon page, and sign up!


When he’d signed up, this wasn’t quite what he’d expected. It was one of those monthly gift box services, but the gimmick for this one was that each month, the company would send you a gift box centered around a different fetish each month. It seemed like a weird gimmick, but Allen had always had a little bit of a wild side when it came to sex–but nothing too wild, he supposed. He had some leather gear, he’d had a few BDSM sessions with a local dom, things like that. The minimum order for the company was three months, and the price wasn’t terrible. He’d signed up, and figured he’d get a laugh out of it if nothing else.

It was a week later when the box arrived. He’d found it waiting in his apartment mailbox, and while not small, he had no trouble hauling it upstairs to where he lived. He opened it up, and inside, all he found was a note, a bottle of pills, and a set of goggles–like swim goggles, but with the lenses blacked out somehow.

He looked at the note, but the thing looked like gibberish to him–just swirly patterns all over the paper. The only text he could make out told him to put on the goggles, and then he’d be able to read the rest of the note. He did as the note said, pulled the goggles on–and that was the last thing he remembered clearly, beyond a sudden flash of swirling colored light.

When he could finally manage to pull the goggles off, he looked at the clock, and saw it was close to ten at night–he’d been staring at…at whatever that was for the entire afternoon and evening. The message on the paper was readable now, somehow–and he saw that the first fetish he’d received was…gaining.

It couldn’t be serious, right? But the hypnosis in the goggles would make it impossible for him to go long without eating, and the feeling of a full gut would be profoundly erotic. The pills, taken over the next month, would permanently alter his metabolism, and make sure he never could be thin again. Allen wasn’t it great shape, but he certainly wasn’t fat–he’d never wanted to be fat a day in his life! But then his stomach growled, and he found himself drawn into the kitchen, where he stuffed himself silly for the next several hours. Lying on the couch, surrounded by wrappers, groping his swollen belly and stroking his cock off, he was horrified, and yet more aroused than he could ever recall being in his life. He fought it, but he took a pill, downed it with another soda, and then shot another load, wondering just how large he might be at the end of the month.

Patreon Exclusive: Hog Musk Poppers

This story is based off a suggestion from a patron earlier this month. A young man purchased a curious brand of poppers, and doesn’t notice that the more he uses it, the more he seems to be changing. The one person who definitely notices, however, is the man running the shop where he purchases them. Here’s a little taste of it–but if you want to read the whole thing, you have to support me on Patreon at the $5 level or more!


The bell over the door rang, and Wade looked up from the porn magazine he was flipping through behind the counter, over at the man who had come through the door. He smiled behind the magazine, while the young man made a show of walking around the store, looking at some things. He’d ask about what he was really looking for soon enough. Eventually, he made his way up to the counter, reached into his pocket, pulled out a little bottle and set it on the counter. The side of the bottle had a picture of a cartoon pig on it, with the words “Hog Musk” next to it.

“Hey man, I was…in here a few weeks ago, and I bought some of this stuff,” the young man said, “I…how long does it usually…last?”

“What do you mean?” Wade said, “that’s a bottle of leather cleaner.”

“No, I…” the young man rubbed his face with one hand, and scrunched his eyes up, like he was trying to focus. “How…long are they good for? Like, fresh?”

“Depends on how often you open the bottle,” Wade said, “How…often have you opened it up.”

The young man looked a bit shifty, “I…I guess I might need another one.”

Wade nodded, got a bottle off the shelf behind him. The young man paid for it and left. Wade just smiled and went back to his magazine. He’d be back soon enough.

***

The bell over Wade’s door rang. He was in the middle of restocking the condoms, looked up, and it took him a moment to realize it was the same young man from a few weeks earlier. He was bigger for one thing–more muscular. The first time he’d come into the shop, he’d been in good shape–lean and slender, obviously a little vain. It looked like he’d switched up his workout a bit, because he was bigger. Thicker all over, with a layer of scruff across his face. 

“Hey, can I help you?” Wade asked, and went to the counter, the young man skipping the pretext and heading right for him. He got close, and Wade caught a whiff of the musk rolling off the young man as well–he smelled like a locker room that hadn’t been cleaned in a few days at this point, but the young fellow didn’t even seem to notice.