“Read This and Tell Me What You Think”
by Eric Del Carlo
Harris held the sheaf out to me, the shivering pages betraying his anxiety. I blinked, nonplussed.
“Read this…” he said, a raw breathlessness in his voice, “and tell me what you think about it.”
“Harris?” I made his name a term of blanket confusion. When he’d texted a half hour ago, I had guessed I was being invited over for a pre-party screw. Harris kept odd hours. Our sex life reflected that. We’d been seeing each other about a month. Harris was a writer. Or he wrote, anyway.
“It’s a Halloween story,” he said. “Read it.”
I was used to the many expressions of weird Harris could conjure. He’d had some things published, short works that appeared in online horror journals and dark fantasy anthologies. I’d read a few of his stories, even though the genre had never grabbed me. He wasn’t bad.
I looked at the papers he was still holding out to me. He continued to tremble. I saw that these pages weren’t even printout. He had written on them in longhand, with very dark ink.
“Harris,” I said, but this time it was a resigned sound. I took the manuscript and sat in a maroon chair in his front room. I knew how squirrely he could get about his writing. If I tore through this, maybe I could still convince him a quick fuck was in order before we were both supposed to attend a Halloween do at a friend’s house.
At first the cursive writing was beyond me. (Why the hell hadn’t he written this on his computer?) But somehow the archaic sigils and rhythms of such lettering came back to me. Evening was coming on. Harris snapped on a lamp, and yellow light made the ink look like ichor.
I realized with the first few lines that this was a horror story. More, a ghost story. Yet more…it was a bit racy.
I glanced up to give Harris a wry look, but the lamplight was stark, throwing the rest of the room into murk. Harris actually seemed to waver in a middle distance for a few seconds. I read on.
The story’s protagonist was a paranormal debunker, a man with a web show. He had entered a supposedly haunted house, and now he’d gotten separated from his crew and was wandering an upper floor, alone. Or–not alone, if the spectral footsteps and disembodied moans around him were anything to go by.
But, oddly, erotic images kept flashing in his mind. They were scenes from his own sexual past, and Harris hadn’t skimped on the explicitness of the descriptions. The character was gay and evidently had a prolific carnal history. Flashbacks of gropings, jerkings, suckings and fuckings all came streaming through his mind. It was a libidinous phantasmagoria.
By the time I turned one of the loose pages, my own hands were shaking, much as Harris’ had. The paper felt strange. It was too thick, too textured, almost what I imagined parchment would be like.
The man in the story was now being inundated by his memories. Every stolen caress, every seeking tongue, every jamming cock he’d ever encountered flooded over his being. His arousal overtook him. His flesh raced with phantom sensation. His cock swelled mightily.
My own member was uncoiling in my slacks, I found to my dismay. Instinctively I shifted in the chair, trying to hide it. Was it unseemly to be turned on by porn your boyfriend had written? The question seemed too complex to fathom right now.
Around me the room appeared even dimmer. But I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the pages. Harris’ calligraphic scrawl drew my gaze along. The sweep of the letters was seductive. The arabesques of dark ink captivated me.
The debunker in the tale, still on the house’s upper story, couldn’t endure the demented stimulation another instant. His body raged. The very atoms of his spirit shuddered with malevolent excitement. In a frenzy he started to tear away his own clothes, while the eerie moans grew louder.
My cock was tenting my pants. Shivery beads of sweat had popped out on my flesh. My clothing was a raw, chafing prison. I too had to free myself.
Wordless grunts escaped my throat as I awkwardly scrabbled at my apparel, while holding the manuscript pages in one hand. My eyes continued to devour the salacious words. The erotic narrative was like nothing I’d read before–like nothing anybody had ever read, I suspected distantly.
I kicked away my shoes, raked my slacks down my legs, gasping as my throbbing cock sprang free. I wrangled myself out of my shirt. Harris was nowhere to be seen. Nothing was to be seen, in fact. Only the austere lamplight, the pages and my now naked body remained in my reality.
I fell to the floor, bringing the precious papers with me of course. In a fever I read more of the words. Like a white-hot engine my libido raced dangerously. I lay on the carpet, each fiber stimulating a tiny square of my flesh. My cock drizzled precum. My balls hummed with deranged joy.
Writhing, I consumed more of the manuscript. Pages fell away. I strained to see the words past the tears of sexual rapture in my eyes.
Somewhere in this delirium I saw the handwritten words on the papers begin to flow. They twisted and thrashed as I myself was doing. Liquefied, they poured off the page, onto my fluttering hands. The dark ink squirmed up my forearms, retaining its letter shapes.
I was still experiencing the story. But now the chronicle was being absorbed through my skin, seeping into my bloodways. I pulsed with the protagonist’s carnal agonies. I breathed his lustful euphorias.
The parchment-like pages dropped. I rolled on the floor. I cried out, inarticulate sounds offered up against the eloquent, lucid, devastating expressions Harris had put to paper in his own hand.
On dusty floorboards the paranormal debunker convulsed, drowning in eroticism. Was there no hope? Would these evil joys kill him? I had to know. I had to…
The ghostly moanings became lunatic cackles. At long last something solid touched him. A hand–a hand reaching somehow through a membrane between worlds, a ghost’s hand made flesh by the vigor and hysteria of the man’s sexual display–that hand made contact with the man’s naked agonized body.
And with that touch came…release. A titanic relief of the built-up madness, a spewing, spunking paroxysm of assuagement, pulling him inside out with its force. His seed rained everywhere, and his howl of gratitude shattered cobwebbed windows and rattled the dust-foul chandeliers throughout the haunted mansion.
I grew slowly aware of the thick stripes of come cooling on my skin. My eyes were open, but the lamp no longer shone so glaringly. The room had resumed its standard dimensions.
But I was lying nude on Harris’ front room carpet. His pages were scattered around me, along with my clothes. My bare skin no longer carried the twining stain of his ink.
Harris knelt alongside me. His pretty face still looked anxious, but his eyes were warm. His hand remained on my chest, where he had touched me.
He smiled a writer’s nervous smile. And asked, “So…what did you think of my story?”
Eric Del Carlo has contributed to numerous Circlet Press anthologies over the years. His non-erotic science fiction has appeared in Analog, Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Unfit Magazine and many other publications. Contact him at facebook.com/eric.delcarlo