Carter woke up in bed. His bed–the same bed he was always in, the bed in his father’s house where he’d been sleeping since he was a kid. He…held out hope, every time, that it might be somewhere else–that…he might be someone else, but apparently not yet. That’s what a lot of people didn’t understand about the place, he supposed–or what they wouldn’t understand about it. What people like his dad wouldn’t be able to understand. Normal people. People who were happy–or even those who weren’t happy. Maybe just at least content. Content with the world as it was. But for Carter…this world was terrible. He didn’t fit into it, no matter how hard he’d tried, no matter how well he could pretend…he knew there had to be something else out there. And then, he’d found Pigtown.
That, or Pigtown had found him. Online first, in chat rooms, on old websites. No one knew exactly where it was–unless you knew where to find it. You had to want it, or maybe you had to want something that was there, or maybe it was the place that wanted you first. All the stories said that if you found it, and you went long enough, eventually you wouldn’t be the same person who entered…but Carter was finding out the reality was a bit more complicated than the myth. Sure, the first time…the first time was a rush. You never left the first time the same as you went in. He’d been this skinny little twig of a kid, nervous as hell, standing around in the dim light with all these hulking men smoking cigars and wearing leather, and after that first drink shoved into his hand, the first kiss, the first fuck in the dark–he’d woken up the next day, back in his bed, and he’d been different. Thicker, hairier, with a constant insatiable need to smoke. Not a bear exactly, something more like a muscle cub, but the most important thing, was that it was difference. Progress, according to a certain scale.
But he’d still been here. Here in the same life, going to college, living with his dad–but now, somehow, he was more miserable. He had to hide so much more from everyone. If anything, he felt even worse than he had been before going–and the only place he ever felt better, was there, at Pigtown. He’d started to wonder if it was a grift–if the bar didn’t want things to get better, if it just wanted to eat him alive. He knew it could, he’d seen some of them in there, the ones who didn’t leave anymore, or couldn’t leave. They weren’t…anyone anymore. They were whoever you wanted them to be, whoever the bar wanted them to be. He didn’t want to lose himself though–he wouldn’t let that happen.
Changing after that first time wasn’t impossible–there were other guys at the bar who’d experienced it, and unless they were all lying…he’d get there eventually. He’d become who he wanted to be one day, even without Pigtown, though it would make it easier. It was then, as he lay in bed, thinking about this, that there was a sudden snore beside him. He looked over, and realized, with a bit of horror, that he wasn’t alone in his bed–beside him, rolled away under the covers, was the back of…well, someone else, still sleeping.
“Fuck,” he said, quietly, wondering what in the hell he was going to do. His dad was home, and he always got up before Carter, especially on the weekends. Now he had a stranger, from Pigtown, and he had to try and sneak him out of the house before his dad asked any horrible questions, or did something even more awkward, like invite him to eat breakfast with them. He got up, and threw on some boxers–hoped that the man would stay sleeping for a bit longer–and went out to scout the house, and see where his father was. With luck, he might be reading the paper in the backyard, and give him a longshot chance to sneak this guy out without being seen.
The house, however, was empty. His dad was probably running errands or something, thank goodness. He ran back upstairs, but stopped himself before shaking the man awake. He…knew that face, didn’t he? Was it someone he’d fucked around with before, in the bar? Someone he’d woken up with? This wasn’t, after all, the first awkward morning-after he’d had, but it was the first time anyone had come home with him. He couldn’t worry about this–it didn’t matter who it was, all that mattered was that he got this fucker out of his house as quickly as he could, before his dad got back from wherever he was.
“Hey, Hey!” he said, giving the man a shake, “Get up–you gotta go.”
The man gave a grumble, and rubbed his eyes, before blinking them open. “W-Where…what the fuck…”
“Yo, get up, get your clothes on. My…housemate can’t see you here.”
The man didn’t seem to be listening. He was just…kind of shaking, looking around the room, trying to understand what had happened. “I…I don’t…I didn’t want…” before he could get anything else out, he leaned over the side of the bed, and puked his guts up onto the carpet beside the bed. It was…grey. The guy must have been eating ash–Carter had puked shit up like that before himself, in the mornings after he got a little extra carried away. He sighed, touched the guy’s shoulder, and he flinched away from him, and scooted back away from him, wiping his bearded lips. The man looked at him again, his eyes focusing a bit better on him, and they went wide with shock. “C-Carter?”
Fuck, they did know each other, but from where? “Look, we can catch up later, you have my number, but you have to get out.”
“What the fuck–was that…was that you?” he said, “You…they…you fucked me, you…fucked me, and–and I wanted it, and…” He rolled over to the other side of the bed and tried to puke again, but his guts were already mostly empty, so he just heaved a few times.
Carter was mostly confused. This was the first time someone had reacted so badly after waking up–with him at least. He’d been pretty freaked out like this the first time–had it been this guy’s first time last night? But then how had they known each other? Gears clicked and whirred, and the realization came to him. He tried to deny it. It couldn’t be him. He’d been working late, and he’d left before he’d gotten home. Had he followed him? How had he even found it in the first place? Wasn’t…wasn’t his dad straight, anyway?
No, it couldn’t be his dad, it couldn’t be him…right?