By AbsMan420


If you expected dumb ol' Mike Milliano to explain the growth-rate of local real estate or the sudden value of property in this traditionally rural area -- you know, the BIG picture -- you were expecting far too much. All Mike Milliano understood was that he had work framing houses for the next twenty weeks, and that it paid enough for him to live through the construction worker's off-season. Other than that, all Mike Milliano cared about was his pick-up truck, his next beer, and what little pussy he could find in this shit-ass flyspeck of a town.

He knew this area well, where he grew up. As a boy, Mike and his buddies used to come up here and ride their dirt bikes. It'd been unspoiled land then, lightly forested. If anybody'd actually owned it, he didn't know who -- maybe one of the few farmers that had dotted the landscape in those days -- didn't matter. Now here he was as an adult, clearing that same land, building houses for snotty rich folks who had no history, no connection at all.

He tried to pretend he wasn't feeling nostalgia when he slipped away during his lunch hour to walk through the nearby woods. Real men controlled their emotions. Now, sitting at the base of an old oak tree that overlooked a steep, forested slope, Mike Milliano smoked a cigarette and reflected.

He wasn't a big man, although he wasn't in bad shape -- working construction kept him fit enough, if he'd hadn't been losing his battle with beer -- but nothing like when he'd played ball in high school. Now, a soft gut rolled over the top of his jeans, and though it bothered him, he did nothing to change it. He still had good, thick arms, and showed them off when he could, but he'd definitely lost his edge.

He'd kept his attitude, though. A gruff, unforgiving, obstinate man, he fought as often as he fucked. And he got the same peculiar satisfaction from each. Smirking, Mike removed his well-worn baseball cap and wiped his forehead with the back of one heavily callused hand. Nothing in this old forest but memories, he thought. Time to head back to work.

As he was about to stand, a particular flower caught his eye. Now, Mike Milliano was not the type of guy that normally noticed plants -- to him, flowers were just another tool to get into some chick's pants -- but this was like nothing he'd ever seen before. The way it was shaped, it looked like a big dick stickin' up out of the ground. Tube-shaped, like a Venus Flytrap a little, but with the gentle curve of its blossom, it looked exactly like a half-erect cock. A big cock, no less -- the flower was about a foot long.

The base was a deep red, which veined its way up until it reached the soft pink "head" -- which was really just a little fold of petal over the end of the bud. When he got close enough, he noticed the half-exposed bulb in the ground, appearing as the flower's swollen ball-sac. He snorted a simple laugh. It's a shame he didn't have a camera -- none of the guys would believe this -- a flower that looks like a dick. He could probably make something off a picture like that.

He caught the fragrance in a couple of steps -- frankly, it smelled like old sex, sort of pungent and spicy. All that did was increase his amusement -- it didn't just look like a big ol' dick, it smelled like one, too.

Squatting down next to the plant, careful that his workboots didn't accidentally crush it, Mike Milliano leaned in. Certainly, he'd never been this close to a real dick -- and hopefully never would be -- but he almost couldn't help thinking of the image. Suppressing the slightest bit of a gag, Mike brought his mustachioed face close to the bud.

It moved -- twitched -- he'd swear it. How could...?

Suddenly, the flower before him seemed to burst -- no, actually, to burp -- to cum? -- and a good amount of pollen dusted Mike Milliano's nose, mouth, and mustache. He couldn't help but breathe it in, to taste it, dry and powdery, coating the inside of his mouth and nose. His first instinct was to gasp, which made him breath a little more of it in; he pulled his head back a bit, and brought his hand to his mouth.

Brushing the pollen out of his mustache with his thick fingers, he mumbled, "Fucking plants." This close to crushing the stupid flower with his boot, he thought better of it. He could still come up tomorrow and take a picture of it -- a picture of a plant that looks like a guy's package would be worth somethin' -- THEN he could crush the shit out of it.

Besides, it wasn't like the silly thing hurt him -- it just launched pollen in his face. Mike Milliano laughed only because no one else was around. His pride was hardly on the line over a fucking flower.

Still brushing the last of the shit from his face, he hiked out of the forest and went back to work.


"I'm tellin' ya, Smitty, I feel fuckin' awesome! I ain't felt this good since I played ball in high school!"

Smitty gave a non-committal grunt and took another swig of beer. Sitting there on the tailgate of his truck, he'd watched Mike Milliano put up an entire lower floor of a house by himself in less time than it took a crew of four. Impressive, but why work that hard, especially now, well after five o'clock, after the rest of the crew had gone home?

Mike Milliano stepped off the foundation and walked toward Smitty's truck. There was something different about him, but Smitty wasn't sure what. He looked... well, he looked BIGGER than normal. Heavier. He looked like he'd packed on about ten pounds of muscle since lunch.

The thought was so stupid that Smitty put it out of his head.

"I don't know what the fuck it is," Mike said, unconsciously adjusting his balls. "I mean, I feel fuckin' great!"

Smitty tossed him a beer from the cooler which he caught with a casual ease. He DID look bigger. His arms hadn't been that dense, had they?

Mike Milliano popped the top of his beer and took a healthy swig. When he brought the can down, he studied his foreman, as if he debated telling Smitty some heavy shit. "Do you think I look bigger?" he asked, flexing his muscles to illustrate. "I think I've gotten bigger, Smitty."

Smitty grunted again. "I was just thinkin' the same thing," he said.

"It's weird," Mike continued, rubbing his free hand over his torso. "I don't know why, but it's like, all afternoon I could FEEL myself growing, getting stronger, gaining energy. I can't describe it -- it just feels so fuckin' great!"

"What do you think caused it?" Smitty asked. "Have you come into contact with anything unusual?"

Mike Milliano paused. Literally, he stopped feeling himself mid-stroke. The look on his face was confused, contemplative -- which was not an often-used adjective to describe Mike Milliano. "You know, come to think of it," he said, "I did." He touched his fingers to his mustache, pinching his lip.

Smitty leaned forward. "What?"

Mike Milliano was broken from his thought. He looked at Smitty and smiled. "You'll never believe it if I just tell you," he said, suddenly walking toward the forest behind the building project. "C'mon, I'll show ya!"

Smitty snorted a laugh, but followed, not forgetting to take an extra beer with him.


"It looks like a big cock."

Mike Milliano laughed. "That's what I thought." He squatted down on one side of the flower -- Smitty did the same on the other. "And the way that root there is exposed?" Mike continued, pointing it out. "It looks like the thing's balls."

The two of them laughed together, in that juvenile humor kind of way that men share. Smitty took a swig of beer. "So, what's that got to do with you lookin' bigger?"

Mike Milliano was quiet, but intense, like he was exposing his secret -- like he was confessing a great sin. He even leaned in toward Smitty, as if someone were eavesdropping in the middle of the forest -- as if the flower could hear them. "Buddy," he said, "I think I'm having a reaction to this thing's pollen."


"Seriously, man," Mike continued, rubbing his hands together. "I was lookin' at this plant at lunch today, and it spit all this pollen in my face. I think this," he said, flexing his left biceps, "is what happened because of it."

Smitty snorted. "That's crazy, man."

"Maybe," Mike Milliano muttered. "But you asked me if I'd come in contact with anything unusual, and this is the only thing. Look, there's one way to find out for sure. You sniff it."


"Sniff it," Mike said. "If it happens to you, then we know it's the plant. If not, then it's somethin' else -- but I think it's the plant. It's gotta be. So, sniff it. What's the worst that could happen? This?" He flexed his upper-body in a quick Most-Muscular shot -- he HAD gotten bigger. Maybe even bigger in the fifteen minutes since Smitty'd first noticed it. "It feels fuckin' great, Smitty."

Smitty rolled his eyes. "This is stupid," he said, but it didn't stop him from leaning in to smell the flower. On the off-chance that Mike Milliano wasn't kidding, Smitty wanted to cover his bet. No man would mind havin' a build like that, especially if he didn't have to work for it.

He put his face right up next to the flower's "cock-head" -- the fold of petal over the tip -- and breathed deeply.


The plant sat there, inanimate, unconcerned. If it could show less interest, Smitty couldn't imagine how. Worse, its fragrance was hardly pleasant. Frankly, it smelled like stale cum. "Okay," Smitty said, sitting up. "What's the joke?"

Mike Milliano shook his head. "It's not a joke," he said earnestly. "I swear to you, man. I just leaned in like this..."

Then, as Mike Milliano pushed his cap back and brought his head close to the blossom, the thing reacted. The flower seemed to shift toward him, as if it recognized him. Just as Smitty saw the movement, but before he could speak a warning, the flower shot a huge wad of dusty pollen right into Mike Milliano's face.


But Mike Milliano's reaction was exactly the opposite of what Smitty was expecting. Instead of coughing and trying to expel the pollen, Mike Milliano was trying to get all of it inside -- he snorted the dust caked in his mustache, licked it off his upper lip and the fingers that he used for brushing. He was trying not to waste a bit.

Smitty thought he looked like one of them heroin addicts handling their fix. What the fuck...?

"Yes!" Mike Milliano shouted, standing, holding his arms out at his sides and flexing his back. "Oh, YES!"

Smitty bent down at the plant. This time, when he leaned in close, the blossom seemed to turn away, as if it were snubbing him. When he looked back up, watching his crewman and buddy go from pose to pose, he realized -- with no small amount of homophobic horror -- that Mike Milliano had an erection. Smitty could see its outline plainly beneath Mike's tightening jeans. Obvious.

When he flexed his abs, hands behind his head, Mike Milliano's eyes rolled back and his hips bucked uncontrollably. When he groaned, a growing wet spot appeared in the crotch of his jeans, proof of his orgasm. Mike Milliano smiled. "Oh, yeah," he purred, his voice relaxed. "Feels fuckin' great." He reached down and adjusted his package, touching the soaking stain in his pants. Mike Milliano didn't seem embarrassed at all.

He just looked at Smitty, squatting there next to the plant, and kept on smiling.


Ironically, it was the seams tearing open in Mike Milliano's jeans that broke the moment. "I better get the fuck home before I'm drivin' naked," he said, fingering the tear, studying it as if proud instead of amazed. The mass was becoming more and more evident in his thighs. He walked over to Smitty, adjusting his gait to accommodate his new size, and offered a hand.

Smitty was speechless. There was now no denying that Mike Milliano had changed. Still in the same grungy baseball cap, but now his t-shirt was too tight, too form-fitting for even a guy in construction, showing a body normally produced through military obsession -- rock-solid abs and bulbous chest, round, wide deltoids and sloping traps. Listen, his pants were still tearing from the growth in his legs -- each step, each flex, opened them a little further -- the seams couldn't contain the mass.

From Smitty's angle, squatting there looking up at Mike Milliano, there was no way to avoid seeing Mike's package, either. It seemed to Smitty that even THAT was growing -- a thought he would've considered ridiculous only a few minutes ago. How long before the fly gave out? Or before Mike Milliano spontaneously orgasmed again? The thought horrified Smitty. Mike Milliano's balls were the size of eggs.

Even as Smitty reluctantly took the offered hand and allowed Mike Milliano to pull him to his feet, he briefly toyed with the idea of destroying the plant -- stamping it into the ground -- just a fleeting thought that he might be actually SAVING his friend from something, though he couldn't imagine what. Instead, he asked, his voice a little shaky, "Are you okay?"

Mike Milliano hadn't released Smitty's hand after helping him up -- the moment was becoming uncomfortably long for two straight men -- then Mike Milliano put his free hand on Smitty's neck, intimate, like he was getting ready for a kiss. He had that look in his eye. "I'm sorry the plant doesn't like you," he said. "But I still do."

He winked, then Mike Milliano released his grip and started to walk out of the forest, leaving Smitty standing there stunned, unable to move. Smitty said, "Mike?" and Milliano spun around, still smirking, clearly enjoying the affect he was having on poor Smitty. "Are you okay?" Smitty asked again slowly, a little more deliberately.

Mike Milliano laughed, and flexed his upper-body, straining the already-burdened t-shirt. "Never been better," he said, and motioned with his head. "C'mon."

Smitty tried not to look at Mike Milliano's thickening ass as he followed him out of the forest, but the sound of the tearing material kept drawing his focus.


Okay, he didn't have a great body -- he never had, not even at his peak -- and he wasn't particularly handsome, either. Frankly, he'd heard a few too many jokes about his hairline recently. As Smitty stood in front of his bathroom mirror, all he could see were faults and weaknesses.

Why didn't the fucking flower want him?

It didn't make any sense -- well, NONE of it made any sense -- but the idea that a plant could somehow be particular, that was ridiculous. That the flower would react to one person alone, the idea that the flower could know the difference between one person and the next was baffling. That it could make a guy more muscular was laughable in itself.

But what did Smitty know about botany? He couldn't even keep a houseplant alive. He was content to simply drink his beer and watch his collection of adult video -- not that he found much comfort in either at the moment. He couldn't stop thinking about that damn plant! It'd SNUBBED him. How could that have been?

As Smitty stared in the mirror after his shower, assessing his physical weaknesses for the millionth time, he began the comforting process of rationalization.

Skipping ahead -- there's no need to bore anyone with Smitty's leaps of logic -- here's where he finally arrived: it wasn't that the plant didn't want him. No. What happened was, he'd sniffed the plant, or brought his head into proximity, whatever begins the process, and Mike Milliano just happened to have his face in the way when the plant expelled its pollen. If Smitty had just kept his head there a little longer, HE would've gotten the pollen. HE would've been the one growing more muscular.

It wasn't that the plant was particular. No. Smitty just hadn't shown enough patience.

What he needed was another chance. He needed to go alone, without Mike Milliano tagging along. He needed to give the plant the proper amount of time. A fair chance.

For sure, if he sniffed the plant again, and waited long enough, he'd get the pollen.

He'd get the growth.

So then, at the first hint of light in the sky, Smitty headed toward the site. Purposely, he wore loose-fitting clothes -- he wanted to make sure his jeans stayed ON through his growth. Not like the way Mike Milliano's had exploded just as they'd reached Mike's truck, exposing his gross size and obscene new package. Worse, the way he seemed to revel in it -- Mike Milliano had hardly been shy about showing his erection when it'd happened.

Maybe Smitty couldn't admit it outloud, but in truth, he was jealous. He couldn't believe how jealous he was.

It kept him awake throughout the night -- it motivated him now.

When he pulled into the building site, he was surprised to discover that he had a partial erection himself. The sky was pink, the forest a dark silhouette before it. Smitty impatiently smoked a cigarette as he waited for the sun to crest the horizon, to give him enough light to see. He didn't know these woods as well as Mike Milliano did -- he'd grown up in the next town over.

Finally, Smitty flicked his butt to the ground and crushed it beneath his workboot. He could see well enough, certainly well enough to find a flower. He hiked into the woods the same way he and Mike Milliano had yesterday afternoon.

He stayed to the path, even if it was a little dark. The shadows of the forest heightened the sense of mystery and excitement. Smitty couldn't believe the power of his erection.

Because of the lack of light, he heard the scene before he saw it. It sounded like a man's low moan, like the approach of orgasm. What the hell...?

Smitty was careful, hiding behind a great tree and taking a safe peek. The sun had risen enough to cast light into the small glade where the plant grew, so he could see all too easily. And what he saw horrified him. And because he could so easily see, the image was all too clear. Burned in his eyes, it would stay with him forever.

There by the flower, naked but for workboots and baggy gym pants down around his ankles, knelt Mike Milliano. He was gigantic. Bigger than the bodybuilders in the magazines, more virile than the wrestlers on TV, Mike Milliano must've weighed three-hundred pounds, his musculature grown to unbelievable proportion, thick and heavy.

But what stunned Smitty was what Mike Milliano was doing. He was kneeling before the plant, his massive legs on either side of it, with his cock buried deeply in the blossom. He wasn't fucking it -- that probably would've killed Smitty -- but it seemed like the plant was giving him head. It looked like Mike Milliano's cock fit perfectly in the foot-long, curving flower, and the moans coming from lips sounded like a man getting the best blow-job he'd ever had.

His huge chest heaved. He rolled his head, his eyes closed, his mouth slightly open, lost in apparent ecstasy. His muscles still grew, and he softly flexed them in turn, his pecs, his biceps, his wide, wide back.

Smitty couldn't move -- couldn't react -- all he could do was watch, try to process what he was seeing. It was almost too much. He watched helplessly as Mike Milliano's tempo increased.

But when Mike Milliano suddenly stood, holding his arms out to his sides and flexing his entire body, every single over-grown muscle at once, when Mike Milliano threw his head back and suddenly orgasmed, screaming, shooting rope after rope of cum from his huge foot-long cock, coating the forest floor, Smitty found the strength to run.

He didn't stop until he was back in town, at the local diner, where, because of the look of absolute horror on his face, the withered old waitress Sharlene gave him a shot of whiskey from her personal stash below the counter.

He had to have two more before he had the nerve to face going back.


Mike Milliano knew what he had to do -- the thing had a funny way of communicating with him, like with pictures and feelings -- images. He couldn't describe it -- he certainly couldn't understand it. But he didn't need to. All he had to do was protect it, not understand it.

He adjusted the pouch of his boxer-briefs to give better support to his balls, pulled up his baggy gym-pants and headed back to his truck -- Home Depot would be open soon enough. Stepping over the wilted flower, flattened and dead, unnecessary, Mike Milliano left the forest.

Some of the other workmen were arriving on the site as he drove away. He waved to them with a much more muscular arm than he'd had yesterday -- he'd be back, and they'd get a clearer understanding of what had happened to him.

He hadn't slept last night, either. Between the muscle-growth and the spontaneous orgasms and the cocaine-like buzz that had flooded his entire being, Mike Milliano had no time for sleep. The buzz had kept him from being concerned -- instead, it had been more like an exciting, wild ride -- the fulfillment of an adolescent dream. A comic-book transformation turned real. He'd had no fear. Why should he?

He'd continued to grow throughout the evening, able to feel himself thickening, gaining mass. Look at him! Thank God he'd found that flower! Around midnight, the growth-spurt slowed, and finally let off. By that time, he'd weighed over two-hundred fifty pounds, and if he'd been paunchy before, there was no evidence of bodyfat on him now. His abs were incredible, drawing the eye to his narrow hips, which in turn lead to his dominant package, his unbelievable cock, his huge balls.

That'd been when he'd noticed the shape of his new semi-erect cock, the slope -- it had been exactly the same as the plant. As a matter of fact, his cock could probably slip perfectly inside the blossom...

He couldn't stop thinking about the plant. As his buzz had faded, he'd thought about it more and more. "Third time's the charm," he'd thought, beginning his own process of rationalization. He hadn't felt the need to be any bigger -- not that he would mind -- but what he really wanted had been the fuckin' buzz the thing had given him. It had been so strong, it'd reminded him of the crash after doing too much coke -- the impossible desire for more.

Finally, Mike Milliano hadn't been able to take it. At four o'clock in the morning, after endless posing and modeling and hand-jobs to pass the time, he threw on his baggy gym-pants and workboots, grabbed a flashlight, and left for the forest.

The moon had offered a surprising amount of light, so Mike Milliano had found his way through the construction site easily, the frames of half-built houses rising like prehistoric skeletons in the dark. He'd parked a little way further down the road than normal -- he hadn't wanted anyone to see his truck if they'd driven by. He hadn't even used the flashlight until he was well into the forest -- he hadn't wanted anyone calling the police because they'd seen someone lurking around up here. That would've been an unnecessary complication.

He'd found the flower effortlessly -- he hadn't even needed the flashlight -- he'd known exactly where to go. There, waiting for the pre-dawn light, the dew had already begun to form on its bud -- that huge and beautiful cock, as perfect as the one Mike Milliano now had. He'd walked toward it as if hypnotized, with a stupid grin on his face, a loving and adoring look in his eye, his gratitude as powerful as his erection. He'd left the flashlight on the ground, spotlighting the plant like the star of some Broadway show.

On his hands and knees, Mike Milliano had opened his mouth wide and took the blossom in. He hadn't cared what it looked like, a grown man taking what looked like a cock in his mouth, because he hadn't wanted to miss a bit of pollen. He'd wanted the whole hit. If he'd looked like a fag doin' it, then he did.

And the plant had responded. In time with Mike Milliano's breathing, it'd launched its pollen. Every bit had gone into his lungs -- the blow job-like position had been a good idea. A cock in his mouth had seemed surprisingly natural.

If he'd thought the buzz was intense before, it'd been nothing compared to what he felt at that moment, when the growth had begun. The feeling of gaining mass -- of thickening -- had overwhelmed him. He'd sat up on his haunches, enjoying it. Looking down at the flower, and at his semi-erect dick hanging almost next to it, he'd realized that he WOULD fit exactly inside the blossom -- his dick had gotten that big.

The idea had seemed so right that, before his buzz-addled brain could stop him, he'd instinctively followed it. He'd slipped his cock into the velvety softness of the plant. Mike Milliano had been right, his cock had fit perfectly.

He could feel the flower's stamen tickle his piss-slit. He could feel it slip inside. He could feel it growing up into his cock -- into his balls -- but he'd shown no concern.

It'd felt so fucking good.

And then, it'd come into him -- the Symbiote, the creature itself, the whatever-it-was that had been living in the bulb. Mike Milliano had been able to feel it come up through his cock, slippery like a snake, and make its way down, settling in the base of his balls, curling around his nuts, somehow connecting to him.

And he'd understood.

Images -- feelings -- a history had unfolded in his mind. It'd shown an explosion, massive, on a planetary scale -- spores in ice, hurtling through space -- hibernation, a deep, long, empty sleep -- a hundred years, a thousand, immeasurable -- cold -- then, entering THIS planet's atmosphere, the re-awakening -- taking root, beginning to search for a host, a Protector. It had all come into Mike Milliano's mind in an instant -- the Symbiote had spoken to him.

A defenseless creature, the Symbiote would find a host organism willing to serve as the its Protector, keeping the delicate Symbiote safe. In exchange, the Symbiote would advance the Protector to his genetic limit, maximizing his abilities, his strength, and his sexual potency as well.

Mike Milliano had seen the trade-off as more than fair -- he'd been only too glad to accept the Symbiote completely -- and so they'd joined together.

The Symbiote had given him the best orgasm of his life, then -- Mike Milliano shot his seed all over the forest floor. Hopefully, he thought, they thought together, it would take root.

Now, in his truck driving to Home Depot, gently cupping his balls so the Symbiote would be more comfortable, Mike Milliano ran over the list of things he had to buy to give the Symbiote what it wanted.

Mike Milliano knew that great rewards were coming.


Finally the sun was completely up, so Smitty couldn't put it off any longer. He was the foreman -- he HAD to go to work. Whatever he'd seen, whatever he'd thought he'd seen, it was only one man, and Smitty had a responsibility to the REST of the crew.

It didn't stop him from calling the lead carpenter on his cell. No, Jonas hadn't seen Mike Milliano at all that morning, though some of the other guys said they'd seen him driving off earlier. Smitty said he was on his way and hung up, surprised at his level of relief. He'd wanted a better body, true, but what he'd seen in the forest that morning thoroughly horrified him -- and not just the homophobic part. He didn't want anything at that price.

It took Smitty about fifteen minutes to drive to the site. He spent that time debating whether he was glad or not that the plant hadn't picked him in the first place. What had it done to Mike Milliano? And where had he gone?

He parked his truck next to the trailer that served as their make-shift office -- the crew, at work on various buildings, waved or hollered "Morning!" -- everyone greeted the foreman. And everybody was busy -- they were working awfully hard this morning, Smitty noted -- someone must've seen him coming and gave the word. Nobody on this team busted their ass until the coffee was gone or the boss was present, and maybe not even then.

Then he saw it, back by the edge of the forest, Mike Milliano's pickup, black and shining like new in the morning sunshine. Where was...? Smitty approached the truck cautiously, looking around the site -- the only movement were the men working. The only sound...

"Smitty!" A deep, heavy bass. A voice he'd heard but never heard. Smitty turned around, as saw him coming out of the forest.

It was Mike Milliano, for sure -- or it had been Mike Milliano once. Smitty had never seen a man as large, as muscular as the beast that walked toward him. Mike Milliano's face, yes, but heavier, the jaw so much wider -- he still wore that stupid baseball cap, which meant his head hadn't grown, but that was the only thing. His neck and traps were so swollen that he looked almost cartoony.

Even in the baggy gympants, the size of his legs was obvious, as well as the size of his genitalia. Yet even with the difficulty of getting his thighs around each other, Mike Milliano moved with an athletic gait, like a warrior. He wore a sleeveless t-shirt that didn't begin to cover his abs, that could barely contain his mountainous pecs. And his arms -- good Lord God, his arms! Bowling balls for biceps, hocks of hams for forearms -- his hands, his thick fingers were filthy, as if he'd been digging in the dirt.

Smitty hoarsely whispered, "Mike?"

Milliano smiled, cupping his balls through the thin cotton material of his gympants. "And more," he said, his voice deep -- his neck was so big, no wonder it had dropped in pitch.

"What's that thing done to you?"

Mike Milliano went from pose to pose, displaying those ridiculous muscles. "Completed me," he said, again adjusting his package. "What do ya think, Smitty? We're fuckin' amazing, aren't we?"

Smitty motioned to Mike Milliano's dirty hands. "What are you doing, Mike?" he asked. "What's going on?"

Mike Milliano gestured for Smitty to come closer. "C'mere," he said, then sighed impatiently. "We're not gonna hurt ya, Smitty. We just wanna show ya." He cupped his balls one more time. "We promise."

Smitty tentatively stepped toward the giant and his pickup truck. Mike Milliano brushed the excess dirt from his hands as he waited, then gestured for Smitty to look in the bed. Smitty sighed, and finally did.

"Our seed took root," Mike Milliano said proudly.

There, in the bed of the truck, were almost a dozen clay pots, each of them filled with a plant exactly like the one that Mike Milliano had shown him yesterday in the forest. "Oh my God," Smitty said, as the panic of realization started in the pit of his stomach.

But before he could even really react, one of the plants -- not the one closest to him, he noticed, a strange detail to remember -- which he would, for the rest of his life -- one turned toward him, literally, as if taking aim, and then shot a load of dust and pollen that hit Smitty square in the face.


"Yes!" shouted Mike Milliano.

He would scream -- Smitty breathed in to scream -- but coated his throat with even more of the stuff. Oh, shit! Oh, shit!

"We just want to re-populate," said Mike Milliano simply. "We're not gonna hurt anyone."

Panicked, Smitty ran. And as he ran, he tried to wipe the shit off his unshaven face. But it proved impossible -- it was gritty. It stuck. Trying to get it off just got more of it in. Smitty went to the first person he could find: Jonas. The nearly-obese head carpenter was working on the foundation of House Six, the one nearest the forest. Smitty called to him. "Jonas!"

Jonas turned, and Smitty's horror rose a notch.

Jonas had the remnants of pollen in his thick black beard. He smiled, and licked a little more of it off his upper lip, from beneath his mustache. "Morning, Smitty!" he said amiably. "Hey, you wanted to know. Milliano got here about fifteen minutes ago, right after you called. But I see you've already found him."

"Oh my God..."

Jonas smiled again, unconsciously adjusting his balls beneath his overalls. "Yeah, I know," he said. "I'm really startin' to feel it now, Smitty. And Milliano's right. It's pretty fuckin' amazing!"

Smitty almost cried. He ran from guy to guy, searched out the whole crew, all eight of them, but Mike Milliano had gotten them first. Every single one of them had been blasted by that damn pollen -- and not one of them seemed the slightest bit concerned.

And the thing of it was, after about a half hour, Smitty wasn't concerned, either.

As a matter of fact, by the end of the day, he was feeling so good that he was more than happy to take the potted plant home with him. He actually felt kind of protective of it.

He let it ride in his lap to keep it safe. •

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