Bernard had hoped to walk home with Jules after the meeting. Alone instead, he continued to think back to the night of that first demonstration. He hardly paid attention to his route home, enjoying the quiet streets, absorbed in his memory. That first demo had left his head swimming, and not only because of seeing Jules for the first time. Like everyone else, he knew the history PERM taught: In 2018, scientists had discovered a wormhole, and in 2019, they located a parallel world with plenty of petroleum. The fuel panic of 2020 led to the plan to migrate to this new world by 2050.

In the official history, the heroic pioneers of PERM decided to stay on Earth, and then made the brilliant discovery of harnessing the power of etheric energy from sex, which led to the people voting for PERM to assume perpetual power in order to safeguard the health of the planet. In the official version, life is wonderful because PERM is forever on guard against anyone who might threaten the balance that brought peace and happiness to the whole world.

But the speakers at the demonstration claimed that PERM had nothing to do with the discovery of etheric energy. What Bernard heard instead was that PERM had come to power in 2052 by spreading rumors, creating a panic that only they could calm. They said that men who missed petroleum planned to seize all the etheric sex energy for themselves and create a new hyper-oppressive power structure. PERM claimed the only way to stop the Petroleum-Lovers was to have a strong revolutionary force take control, otherwise the Petroleum-Lovers would take the new energy away from the people who created it. This was a brilliant strategy, because it led many well-meaning people to support PERM, not realizing that the supposed threat was nonexistent. Best of all, anyone who opposed them or even questioned the existence of the threat must be in cahoots with the Petroleum-Lovers who wanted to take over, making effective opposition to the plan impossible. Hence, those who cared about freedom were forced underground, leaving PERM free to consolidate their control. Naturally, this was made easier by the pretense that they were defending the new sexual freedom, spreading joy and seeking a renewal of balance in the world.

If the speakers Bernard had heard at the demonstration were to be believed, all the best things about their world —the male sex cults, the gay role in culture, the separate spaces for women—had been established before PERM took over, and PERM's leaders had merely exploited their potential to keep people happy ever since. But the speakers had also warned that no good had ever come of such a concentration of power: The result might be crimes against humanity, or even a widespread loss of sex drive.

The speeches had made him think of the secret cache of old books his great-great-Uncle had hidden when PERM first took over, and which his own Uncle had since given to him.

"We don't know why he saved them," his Uncle confided. "But it has been the custom to pass them on to the next Uncle ever since, and now it is your turn."

Apparently most of the Uncles had not read the books, but Bernard had. He liked to think he had a secret "vice," a word he found in one of the books. Fortunately, the Great Uncle had preserved an old dictionary, too, so he could make sense of the rest of the books. Language had changed over the generations of the PERM regime. Bernard felt as if he possessed a secret vocabulary, and he found that sometimes the old words fit his thoughts best.

"We're screwing our way to Armageddon!" he muttered out loud.

"I beg your pardon?" A voice in the dark asked.

Bernard flinched reflexively. "I didn't say anything," he replied to the darkness.

"Yes, you did. I heard you. You mentioned Armageddon. You've been reading the old books."

The hairs on the back on Bernard's neck tingled. His face felt flush and hot. He hoped it wasn't visible in the weak glow of the Guide Lights.

"I said, 'I'll lose my way if I don't keep my head on'."

"Then I'm afraid I must beg your pardon again. Because it sounded as if you said, 'We're screwing our way to Armageddon'."

"Who are you?" Bernard asked. "Why can't I see you?"

"I'm afraid I've been taking advantage of your presumptions. You're looking too high. I'm down here."

Suddenly, from out of the gloom, a face hovered into view, about chest high, and then a pair of shoulders, arms, and finally a body, sitting erect in an old-fashioned wheelchair.

"Good God!" Bernard ejaculated. It was Militant Mike.

"My, but you do have a Biblical turn of phrase. Are you sure you haven't been reading the old books?"

"Damn you!" Bernard cried. "You scared the hell out of me." In his confusion he didn't know whether to cry with relief or scream with rage. "How dare you play with me like that! You know damn well what would have happened to me if I had been caught speaking Old Book!"

"I'm sorry, child." The concern and remorse were plain on Mike's face. "Please believe me, I didn't mean to frighten you. But I couldn't see who you were either, in the dark, and I didn't feel I could give myself away without some idea of who you were. I'm at a bit of a disadvantage, as you can see ..." Here he seemed to grope for the right words. "I didn't intend to end up here. I was trying to ... go somewhere else."

"Where?" Bernard asked bluntly. Under any other circumstances his question might have been more circumspect. But after all, it was Mike who had ambushed him, intentionally or not, and he felt he deserved an explanation.

"I'll explain later," Mike replied. "But first, may I ask you, were you alluding to the Old Books?"

"Fuck you," Bernard said. Now he was angry.

Mike smiled. "I haven't heard that word since I was a child. Back when we used to watch TV. Do you even remember TV?"

Bernard just glared, sullenly. He wanted to leave, to go home. He was tired. And yet somehow he felt rooted to the spot.

"Look," Mike said. "I'll explain about the wheelchair. But first I want to show you something in my library. Have you got a few minutes?"

"It's late," Bernard demurred.

"A few minutes, that's all," Mike said. "It's not far. Come on, sit on my lap."

Bernard stepped back a foot or two, but before he could protest any further, Mike had rolled forward and with a powerful arm scooped the young man onto his lap.

"Aiiyyeee" Bernard squealed with pleasure and alarm.

"Shhhh" Mike whispered in his ear. "You'll wake the Sluggards."

Bernard was momentarily disoriented, partly by the use of the old forbidden slang, partly by the fact that he was lying supine in Mike's arms like the Pieta (Forbidden art! Oh, more guilty pleasures!), partly by the fact that the ancient wheelchair had now picked up speed and was hurtling through the dark—the boulevard's Guide Lights were just a blur—and partly by the warmth of Mike's sweet breath on his face and throat. His breath smelled of lemon and ginger. Bernard inhaled and felt as if he had breathed in a kind of essence of Mike.

Then they were speeding through the dark silent streets. The Guide Lights must be farther apart in this neighborhood.

"I thought you lived just a few doors away," Bernard said. "Are you lost?"

"Shhh," Mike said. "Keep still." Remarkably, this seemed like a very good idea. Suddenly, Bernard didn't want to talk. He didn't care if Sluggards and Nabodies heard him recite every line from every Old Book. What could they do? They'd never catch him on Mike's chair. God, this chair was fast. The sidewalk flew past. Occasionally they passed a light in a doorway or window, but mainly they just flew in the dark. How Mike navigated was beyond understanding.

Bernard felt the cool evening fog on his face and the warmth where his back, shoulders, and thighs pressed against the heat of Mike's body. Bernard wanted to melt into that heat. He felt the tension and alertness leave his body as he dissolved into delicious, langorous, laziness. Bernard gazed up into Mike's face. Mike looked very serious, concentrating on something. He seemed to be looking at the Guide Lights, which for several minutes now had been increasing in amplitude.

They were getting brighter and brighter, until finally Bernard could see nothing but the lights. They seemed to surround the two men and the wheelchair to form a sort of tunnel, and he felt that he and Mike were somehow dissolving into the lights, like particles of some great beam of energy. As if for the first time, he recognized that in fact he was light, nothing but light, that light was what he was made of. Of course, he must always have known this; it was more that he was remembering a long-forgotten fact, a truth that had somehow fallen out of his present recollection. He heard Mike murmur above him, and he looked up. Mike was light, too, a thousand miles away but also within easy reach. Bernard wrapped his left arm around Mike's right shoulder and pressed his face against Mike's firm chest. Mike's left pec was like a small mountain. Whatever his neuromuscular compromise (what was it, exactly?), it clearly did not involve his arms or chest. But why wasn't he wearing a shirt? Well, that made sense. They didn't need clothes, now that they were made of light. That was when Bernard noticed that he was naked, too.

From where his head lay pressed against Mike, his eyes fell upon Mike's nipple, where it protruded, pink and inviting, from the furry expanse of a glorious chest. Bernard couldn't take his eyes off it. It was like a beautiful flower, begging to be sucked. Bernard's tongue reached for it hungrily. He began to suck and bite. The nipple responded by growing firm and erect. Bernard sucked more, brushing it with his tongue, caressing it with his lips.

"Please," Bernard whispered. "Please."

"Yes," Mike answered and his huge arms lifted Bernard to where he had a better purchase. "Take it."

That was all the invitation Bernard needed to suck and bite even more greedily. Although his expression never changed, Mike's hands responded by wandering up and down Bernard's back, bottom, and thighs, pressing, petting, and kneading.

"Oh, please. Please." Bernard murmured.

Mike's hand circled Bernard's cock, slowly increasing the pressure until he carried Bernard just to the threshold of pain, and then just as slowly released him. Then the heat of his hard muscular hand was on Bernard's cock, stroking and fanning until Bernard gasped and begged him to stop. That was when he saw Mike smile, as he leaned forward to press his lips against Bernard's, his tongue reaching in. Bernard's mouth opened to receive him.

Next he felt himself being lifted, up, up, higher, and higher. How was that possible? Mike held him, almost crushing him in his arms. He pushed Bernard's legs apart and reached between them. Suddenly Bernard heard his own voice begging Mike to take him, begging Mike to let Bernard take all of him, begging him to let Bernard feel his cock inside him. Then Mike was already in, thrusting and grunting like a wild animal. Bernard screamed in exquisite pain as Mike pounded his ass. Bernard screamed his pleasure and his fear. Suddenly, Mike stiffened and thrust, and then spasmodically thrust again. He stiffened and groaned and then groaned again. Bernard came like a small rocket, shooting come up on to his own chest and belly. He wailed and then sighed and then collapsed back into Mike's arms.

He must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he knew, a bright overhead light forced open his eyelids and he raised his head to see that they were in the lobby of a building, though not one he had ever seen before. Mike gave him a little shove, and suddenly he was on his feet, fully dressed.

"Huh? What? Huh? What just happened?" He stammered and blinked at the light.

"We're here, that's all," Mike said. He had a sly grin on his face. "You wanted to see my library, didn't you?"

© 2005 Seamus Lester Hussey
Header design by Tom Metz


Read Episode IV of
The Professor of History
in the November issue of BENT


Seamus Lester Hussey, who admits to suffering from far too much education and far too many ideas, has been pondering the transformative power of fiction. He assures you, dear reader, that if you are not careful, the inhabitants of the future will take over your life, they way they have already taken over his.

Don't wait.
Let us know what you think of this BENT feature.



BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/September 2005