Few things in art can survive the light of day. Samuel always worked best at night, often by candlelight, sketching and drafting and musing. He would be satisfied, until he woke up and saw what he’d done in daylight, and almost always trash his work from the night before. The nights held potential and mystery, but there was no space for that under the sun. On Friday morning, the light came in through the studio window, worked its way across the floor as the hours passed, and landed on Samuel’s face around eleven in the morning. He sat up, head throbbing from a hangover unlike anything he’d experienced in his life, looked around the studio, and wondered if any of that had been real.
It couldn’t have been real, there was simply no way. He tried to think back, and pinpoint the moment when things had last seemed reasonable. Bringing that boy back from the bar, probably. He must have fallen asleep while he was sketching on him, and imagined the rest of the night in his mind. There was no other explanation, other than all of that actually happening, and there was no way that could be true. His stomach growled. There was nothing in the way of food here in the studio, but plenty of places around would be serving lunch. He got himself put together, mostly, but struggled with his reflection in the mirror. It was the light, of course, shining there on him now, showing every little wrinkle and mar. He’d never liked himself, never felt comfortable in his body. Too much of himself to manage, none of it settling on his bones ideally. His art helped push out that frustration and desire, but it wasn’t enough. He couldn’t fix himself, after all.
He ran his hands under his shirt, feeling his belly there, his paunch, his tire, then worked around to his ass, which was far smaller. He thought about how it had felt, moving that man’s flesh in his dream, and tried it–but nothing happened of course. It felt foolish in the daylight, even trying. He got himself put together, then headed downstairs and out onto the sidewalk, looking for something to eat.
He found himself retracing his steps from the night before, after he’d left the boy in his dream, and was struck by something by the end of the block. Everything from his dream, it was a perfect memory. Usually dreams didn’t have that sort of detail, but he could recall all the shopfronts, the street names. He felt something squirm in his gut, shaded by the building looming over him. There was a deli he liked if he turned left, or if he kept going straight, there was a cafe a few blocks further, past the alley where his dream had happened. He continued straight, picking up his pace somewhat, that squirm in his gut growing stronger.
He came upon it, across the street, and just stared at the wall, at what was growing from the wall, what was inside and a part of the wall. The sunlight was falling on it, and he could see the bricks expand and contract slightly, like it was breathing, like it was alive. A hole in the wall, an ass suspended among the brick, it was there. It was there, and he’d made it, it hadn’t been a dream, and in the light of day, he found himself feeling sick, the squirm growing stronger now. He stumbled to a trashcan and tried to vomit, but nothing would come forth.
He might have gone closer to investigate it further, but before traffic cleared and he could jaywalk, another man passed the alley, sniffed the air, and was pulled in. Samuel watched as he dropped his pants without hesitation, slid his cock in, and gave the hole a good pounding. In a couple of minutes he finished, pulled his pants back up, and continued on his way, shaking his head, as if trying to push off a dream. The hole shuddered, leaking something viscous onto the asphalt below, and then stopped, waiting for another man to use it. Samuel watched the spectacle in horror, but when it was finished, discovered he was hard as a rock, knowing what he’d done, and he fled down the street towards his apartment.
He had to leave. He didn’t know where he would go, but it wouldn’t be long before someone discovered what he’d done, and if they found something to link him to the scene, he didn’t know what would happen. Was it murder, if the wall was alive? Was it manslaughter? Something else, some crime no one had named as of yet? He didn’t think of Parker, in his hurry home. He’d forgotten all about their fight the day before, how he’d planned on breaking up with him, none of that mattered anymore. Parker didn’t matter. Samuel couldn’t tell him, couldn’t show him what he’d done. It was only when he’d stepped into the apartment, and caught the scent of Parker’s unmistakable gym aroma–though it was much stronger than it usually was–that he recalled all of it. He had no way of making a clean escape while he was here, he’d just have to pack a bag, tell him he was moving out, and do his best to not give him the sense that Samuel had done something horrific.
He steadied himself, rounded the corner to the bedroom, and found himself faced with something else, something so preposterous that it made his own acts from the night before outright plausible. Parker was sitting on the edge of the bed, or at least, it was someone who vaguely reminded Samuel of Parker. The massive bodybuilder was easily twice the size that Parker had been when he’d left the apartment the day before. He’d added a foot in height, and every muscle was thick and corded, skin riddled with stretchmarks. There at his feet, were two blobus things that Samuel could only surmise had been men at some point. Their limbs were atrophied and withered, they seemed to move simply by undulating their amorphous flesh. But there was something else, something behind him, a shimmer in the air, where the light coming in wavered and writhed about.
“There you are, I was beginning to wonder when you’d show your face, coward,” Parker said.
“Parker? What…what the fuck happened to you?”
“Don’t worry about me, you fucker–get the fuck over here, it’s time I showed you your fucking place.”
Samuel wasn’t about to take a step closer, and yet, his feet betrayed him, shuffling him forward. He could smell it now, the musk. It was intoxicating, rolling off of Parker’s body in waves. He could almost feel it pulsing in the air, in time with the wavering of the light, with the heaving of the blobs sucking on Parker’s feet. It was all tied together, it was all tied to something, something behind him, but it was too bright, he couldn’t see it, he couldn’t bear it. The closer he got, the foggier his head became, his own breath heaving now in the same rhythm. He’d stepped inside the painting suddenly, become a part of it, the light wavering not just behind Parker but all around him. With one hand, he pushed, felt the boundary there, pulled it apart, and he saw it again, for a moment. That beast, that brute looming behind Parker that he’d seen in the restroom, but it was so much closer now, so much thicker and vibrant and alive, swelling up and taking up his entire vision for a moment, before he was able to push it away, before it could see him too clearly.
But looking at Parker, he could still see it, see it inside him, throbbing there, pulsing and brewing and swirling. He was close enough to touch him now, and Parker allowed him to do so, Samuel running his hands over his hot skin, the muscle thick and taut and solid, his cock snaking around Samuel’s thick waist, nearly three feet long now, and tightened around him, pulling him closer still. The musk was heady and humid, oppressive on his lungs, one of Parker’s massive hands closing around Samuel’s throat, tight enough to make him gasp a bit, vision tunnelling as he fought for air. The other hand tore off Samuel’s clothes, leaving him in tatters, the massive cock now hunting for Samuel’s own cock, ready to latch on and drain him of whatever he could find, leaving him as just another suckling thrall–only for Samuel to reach down, take the cock in his hands, and Parker felt something run through the flesh of his cock, a shudder, and it cramped, the muscles running along the shaft seizing up and convulsing, making Parker shout in pain.
Samuel pulled himself free of Parker’s grasp, took the cock from around his wrist, and ran his hands over Parker’s thigh, the same pulse radiating out from his palms. “So much flesh…” Samuel muttered to himself, eyes bright with something between greed and lust. He looked up at Parker, but beyond him–Parker took a swing at him, furious at the resistance this pudgy loser was showing him, that no one else had been able to muster, only for Samuel to grab it in his hand, and his arm went limp. Beyond limp, the bones in his body had simply melted away, leaving a floppy arm hanging at his side. The sensation was somewhat painful, but more nausea inducing, and Parker grabbed at the limb with his other hand, horror churning in his gut.
“I saw you,” Samuel said, “I saw you, but I thought you were something else–but you were mine all along, weren’t you? You were…trying to show me…”
What happened next, Samuel couldn’t quite recall. His hands had simply followed some arcane knowledge, some deep, hidden desire buried in his mind. Parker was no longer a man to him, no longer anything beyond raw material, flesh to use in bringing forth his vision. Parker found his body contorted and twisted, stretched and molded, and when Samuel was satisfied, frozen in place–mostly. When Samuel stepped back to assess the work, Parker tried to howl back at him, scream or shout or anything. His mouth was frozen in an open roar, teeth now sharp, jaw dislodged, and hanging too wide, brow thick and heavy, eyes dark. His muscles were further inflamed, but tensed–unable to release from their contraction, permanently cramped, trapping Parker in pain from every part of his body. The only bit of him that still moved was his cock, wrapped around one of his thighs, balls churning and pumping out a load every few minutes. It drooled down to the thralls below, who were now attached to Parker’s body, a part of him, growing out of his feet and calves, fighting for the pleasure and sustenance of their master above, oblivious to their new fate.
It wasn’t perfect. It was never going to be perfect, but it was there. A portrait, he realized. A portrait of the Parker’s he’d always seen, the simmering rage, the greed, the lust, the envy, the size, all of it. There in the light, he’d created it openly, under the sun. He opened the blinds, no longer afraid of the light, or of Parker. Parker was his now, would always be his. Anyone could be his, from now on. He called Rod again, and this time, the proprietor answered.
“Yes? What is it Samuel?”
“I…I did it. At least, I think I did. Twice. I–”
“Say no more, not over the phone. Where are you?”
“My apartment, with…I…”
“I’ll be over soon, stay there, understand?”
“Yes…yes, of course.”
“Do not talk to anyone else, understand. No one…will understand, not yet.”
“I don’t understand it myself.”
“Of course you do. You always have.”
Rod hung up on the other side of the line, and Samuel took his time admiring Parker, making a few small edits here and there as best he could. He could grasp his power now, but his control wasn’t particularly fine-tuned. He remembered, as a child, how he had fumbled with paints, trying to make the blobs of watercolor do what he commanded, unwilling to be patient and wait for it to dry. He pulled away again, worried he was making it worse, ruining the raw force of it as it was, and retreated to the bathroom, where he again looked at himself, pulled away the remaining rags, and again laid his hands on his body.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He was unprepared for the disappointment, and utterly flummoxed by the rage that welled up within him immediately. He went out to the bedroom, stared at Parker again, at the portrait of Parker, really, and thought about melting him down into a puddle of goo on the floor, but pulled back. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that he couldn’t mold himself.
Rod arrived, Samuel answered the door, tears still fresh in his eyes. Rod just pushed past him towards the bedroom, took in the sculpture there, and gaped in awe. “It’s…beautiful, you did see it, you saw it too…”
“What is it? What is it I even saw?” Samuel asked, “And why can’t I change myself? What the fuck did you do to me?”
“What indeed, Rod?”
The two of them looked over at the third voice, and there, in the darkest corner of the room, bending enough light around him to create a veil of twilight in the room, was Shadow.
“I knew I had smelled something of that before, last night. I didn’t think there could be another one of you, not without going deeper.”
“Neither did I,” Rod said, “I’d heard you were loose again, Shadow. It’s nice to see you. To what do I owe the pleasure of your visitation?”
“Has he shown you the other one yet?”
“Other one?” Rod said, and looked over at Samuel.
“I tried to call you earlier. I…last night, I made…something else. Down the street from Depot, in an alley.”
“The authorities are already investigating it.”
“No need to be so concerned,” Shadow said, “I find this one rather fascinating, and I have a feeling he will be enough to take some of the attention of the precinct off of me for a moment or two–or longer, if we can strike a deal. I want a house, Rod. I want protection, for me, and my shades.”
“Fucking hell Shadow, that’s asking a fucking lot,” Rod said.
“You can do it.”
“Of course I can do it, but…fuck, what are you offering?”
“Storage. In the darkness. I assume you wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise of the little artist’s debut gallery showing sometime down the road? Give me my house, my legality, and I’ll care for this one’s creations in the meantime.”
“Houses have rules, Shadow. You can’t just go around freeing any shade you feel like, you won’t be…you, if you have a house.”
“Change is a way of life, here in Pigtown,” Shadow said with a shrug, “I can change too.”
Rod rubbed his temples for a moment, eyes squeezed shut, then heaved a sigh. “Fine, I accept. Say you accept, Samuel.”
“I don’t, I mean–”
“Just fucking say it!” Rod said.
“I accept! I…I guess…fuck,” Samuel said.
“Where is it, the other one? Exactly?”
“I know where–I watched him craft it.”
Rod turned to Samuel, took his hands in his own, and Samuel felt the same chill of his own flesh in Rod’s–he knew, somehow, he wouldn’t be able to change him, no matter how hard he tried. He wasn’t flesh–he was something else. Samuel found himself wondering if he, too, was made of something else. “Don’t make anything else, not until I get this sorted. No more than a day. Alright? Just…stay here. I can’t tell you how important you are, you aren’t ready to understand, but I’ll explain as much as I can soon.”
Samuel nodded, and watched as Shadow stepped up to Parker’s portrait, Rod joining him in his veil of twilight. The darkness condensed, then disappeared, and both of them were gone, along with his art–and Samuel felt a visceral tug of anguish, seeing it gone. He panicked, but regained control of himself before he could leave. He sat as still as he could until he realized how hungry he was still, and devoured everything he could find in the kitchen, starved for something he couldn’t explain, a hunger he’d felt ever since he’d first lusted after a man, a carnal, fleshy hunger lodged in his gut. It was unfurling, into what he didn’t know, but as scared as he was, the beauty of its movements deep inside him held him rapt through the day and the night, until Rod’s return.