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Pollination: The Series
|In the tradition of television shows based on movies -- i.e. "M*A*S*H," "The Odd Couple," "Planet of the Apes," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" -- I now present "POLLINATION: The Series!" The truth is, I never intended to write a sequel to my original story "Pollination" -- I liked the ending for what it was, and wanted to leave anything further up to the speculation of the reader. Is it the lady or the tiger, you know? So with this, I went in a different direction, as you'll see in the story. I've set up a template for the future adventures of our Symbiote friends, but left the integrity of the original story alone -- like a TV show based on a movie, eh? Enjoy this then, the "pilot" episode, and let me know what you think.|
|When he got on the plane, there was an audible gasp from coach class. This guy
was gigantic, bigger than them bodybuilders in the magazines, larger than any
human most of these rural-West Virginians had ever seen. That he could even
squeeze down the narrow aisleway was miraculous -- he had to go sideways for
the width of his shoulders. When he finally got to his row, the look on his
seatmate's face flickered between envious lust and uncomfortable fear.
This massive giant slid down into his seat, barely, barely fitting in the space -- his shoulders still crowded his seatmate. He apologized to the man sharing the row, his voice a deep, sexy rumble. "We didn't think it was gonna be this difficult," he said. Despite his size, his face looked like it belonged to a teenager, fresh and innocent. "We didn't realize how large we were." He adjusted his balls as if it were no big deal, and even there he was ridiculously over-developed. The nerdy-little man he shared a seat with couldn't believe the size of this monster's cock, barely hidden beneath a too-thin layer of pants. With a member like that, it was no wonder the boy spoke in first-person plural.
The big teen smiled. "Like what you see?" he asked, lightly touching himself. Even the smallest, most insignificant muscle was pumped to exaggeration -- his fingers, his forearms. He was just perfect. A fantasy.
His seatmate looked shyly away, stuttering. "I... I..."
The muscle-giant laughed, as the plane ran the tarmac. "We know," he said. "Feels good, too." He kept one hand on his balls the entire time, cupping them, supporting them -- almost protecting them. Maybe they were so heavy it was uncomfortable to let them hang, his seatmate reasoned, preparing the fantasy to which he'd masturbate later.
And then they were taking off, G-forces pulling even this heavyweight back into his seat. He looked suddenly uncomfortable, like he was trying to "pop" his ears by yawning. Must be the altitude -- "Do you need some gum?" his seatmate managed to choke out, reaching into his breast pocket, when the huge muscleteen began screaming.
He tore out of his seatbelt, frantically grabbing his balls, one hand on the side of his head, and stood, his painful screams strengthening.
The flight attendants ran to him, even with the difficult slope of the floor during takeoff. "Sir? Sir!" They called. "What's the matter? What's happening?"
Then, as the pilots leveled off at their cruising altitude, this huge bodybuilder's eyes rolled back in his head, and there was this heavy, low-pitched bursting sound, like a balloon had popped. His screaming suddenly ceased, and the ridiculously over-muscled boy fell to the floor.
He was dead.
As the other passengers started screaming themselves, and the attendants strove to regain order, the teen's former seatmate looked over at the body and saw the liquid stains of blood soaking the front of the muscular kid's pants.
It looked like his balls had exploded.
Less than ten hours later, Wolf Murdock's cell-phone chirped in the pocket of his black trench coat, waking the agent. Grunting deep in his throat, he wiped his face as he sat up on the edge of the bed, feeling how badly he needed a shave. "Coming," he mumbled, as if the phone could hear him.
A clumsy, stumbling little physical bit later, he fished the phone out of his coat, draped over his bedroom chair. "Murdock," he said in a tone betraying his state.
"Sounds like you had a hell of a night." His partner, Tully. She had a way of projecting her opinions, her judgements -- her hidden subtext -- even over the phone.
"Early morning's never been my best time. What's up?"
"How soon can you get down here?" she asked. "I got one I think you should see."
What a way to start the day -- his supposed day off, as a matter of fact -- a dead body on an empty, gin-soaked stomach. Murdock walked to the bathroom and turned on the hot water in the shower. "Gimme an hour," he said, and hung up on Tully.
To rebel, he didn't shave.
"Apparently, the victim had some sort of convulsion during the take-off of a small commuter plane. The airline had no idea what was going on -- they assumed heart-attack -- but I think from the appearance of the corpse that the cause is more like altitudinal pressure."
Murdock and Tully walked across the tile workfloor of the medical wing, the click of her heels echoing in the empty room, a staccato counterpoint to the legato squeak of his sneakers. Somehow, as always, she looked fresh and clean and perfectly manicured -- exactly the opposite of him.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "His heart burst?"
She sighed, and swung open the door to the examination room. "Not his heart," she said, and motioned him inside.
The corpse was huge, lying there -- Frankenstein's monster, the Cardiff Giant, a brainless robot from a Bugs Bunny cartoon -- Murdock flashed through all these images in a heartbeat. Naked but for a towel covering its privates, the corpse's extreme muscular development was obvious. "Big boy," Murdock said. "So, we're thinking steroids?"
"He doesn't show any of the classic signs of obvious steroid use," Tully said, circling the victim on the table, pulling a fresh set of gloves from the instrument table. "No acne on the face or body, his abdomen isn't distended. If he'd been taking steroids," she said, snapping the gloves on her hands, "I won't know until I do the bloodwork."
"So then, why am I here?" Murdock raised on of the corpse's arms, and bent it like it was flexing its biceps. Murdock flexed his own in comparison. Tully's dry look made him lay the arm back down. "Are we thinking aliens?"
She motioned him to the same side of table where she stood, then pulled back the towel, exposing the corpse completely. He almost vomited when he saw the condition of the corpse's genitals -- like any man, it made him weak in the knees.
Within the hour, he was on a hopper-flight to West Virginia to investigate.
Tully had stayed behind to do the autopsy -- she'd call him when she had any information. In a way, that was preferable to Murdock -- he enjoyed doing leg-work by himself. He could follow his hunches without needing to explain himself.
His hunch here was that this guy -- Robert Ray, though his friends referred to him as "Robbie Ray" -- had gotten himself into some kind of weird drug, maybe something that he'd injected straight into his balls, and it'd killed him. Simple as that. Murdock suspected some kind of steroid -- Robbie Ray's driver's license listed the guy's weight at one seventy-five, and the license was issued less than a year ago. Tully said Robbie Ray's corpse weighed over three-hundred and ten pounds. Somehow, Robbie Ray had gained enough muscle to almost double his bodyweight in less than year.
Didn't take an FBI investigator to figure there was an outside influence involved.
At the airport, he rented a car -- a sub-compact, of all things -- and began the long trek to Robbie Ray's hometown, dead in the middle of nowhere, far enough from an urban center that Murdock couldn't imagine how a man like Robbie Ray had gotten ahold of a drug as sophisticated as what Murdock theorized.
Maybe it WAS aliens...
A one-light crossroads of a town, Murdock checked into the Main Street Motel because the name tickled his quaint-ness. After a shower and a quick shave, he set out to find a diner, and then the Sheriff.
Fortunately, the two came together. When Murdock asked the old-gal behind the counter, whose bright red name-tag announced her as "Sharlene," she jerked her head toward the side booths, while she filled his coffee cup. "He's right over there, love," she said. "Hard to miss a man as big as Sheriff Lane."
Sure enough, seated there in the corner booth, making short work of a short-stack and a side of eggs, his uniform a dead giveaway, was the Sheriff, heavily-muscled himself. Though nowhere near the size of Robbie Ray, he was big enough to make one question how natural he might be. He wore his uniform tight, stretching over his voluminous, blocky chest, showing the flatness of his abs, even sitting down, and his arms, barely -- barely -- a heart's beat away from bursting through his sleeves of his tan uniform.
Murdock took his coffee with him.
"Is everyone in this town a bodybuilder?" he asked, standing at the Sheriff's table.
The Sheriff looked up from his plate, finishing his mouthful. "Do I know you?" he asked, after he swallowed. A strikingly handsome middle-aged man, rugged, his thinning blonde-gray hair was cut in a tight flat-top, down to the skin on the sides. Meticulously groomed, Murdock noted, he obviously took great pride in his appearance. Maybe to the point of vanity.
Murdock flashed his ID, showing his badge. "Agent Murdock, FBI," he said. "May I sit down?"
"Sure," the Sheriff said, nodding to the other seat. As Murdock settled himself, the Sheriff asked, "What brings the FBI to Bum-fuck, West Virginia this morning?"
"The death of one of your local boys," Murdock said, sipping his coffee. "Name of Ray. Robbie Ray."
The Sheriff reacted, jerking his head the tiniest bit. The news obviously surprised him. "Robbie Ray?" he asked, his eyes becoming intense in their gaze. "Where'd this happen? When?"
"I'm sorry to be the one to tell you," Murdock said. Sharlene appeared with his order, placing it in front of him and disappearing just as quickly, not even asking if he'd need anything. Both Murdock and the Sheriff were quiet while she was present. After she was back behind the counter, Murdock continued. "Last night, he boarded a flight bound for Atlanta and suffered an apparent heart-attack during takeoff."
The Sheriff was quiet, his big arms resting on the table, a look of concern and confusion mixed with disbelief on his face -- Murdock was certain his reaction was genuine. The Sheriff shook his head. "That's a damn shame," he said. "He was barely more than a boy, just graduated high school."
"Pretty big boy," Murdock said, cutting into his sausage. "He weighed over three-hundred pounds." He took a mouthful.
Sheriff Lane looked even more confused. "Robbie RAY?" he asked. "Agent Murdock, you got somethin' wrong. Robbie Ray weighed a buck-fifty if he was lucky. He was one of the skinniest kids I'd ever seen."
Murdock stopped chewing. "Sheriff, when was the last time you SAW Robbie Ray?"
"Three days ago," the Sheriff said. "The day before him and that construction crew he worked with went up missing. What the hell's goin' on here, Mr. Murdock?"
Murdock took another quick mouthful before he retrieved his briefcase. "I don't know, Sheriff," he said, "but I have some pictures to show you."
As the Sheriff studied the photos of Robbie Ray's corpse, Murdock finished his eggs.
"So, Sheriff, mind if I ask you a personal question?"
They walked along the abandoned construction site -- no, not just abandoned -- deserted. Jobs were left half-finished, building materials left out and untended. There were no personal tools lying around, Murdock noted. Wherever these guys had gone, they'd taken their stuff. No sign of foul play.
The Sheriff peeked into different half-built buildings and even allowed Murdock to enter the company trailer, the temporary office where the foreman worked; but aside from the standard furniture, discarded paperwork, and a couple of dead potted plants, there was nothing to find. No clues about what had happened to them at all, no hints about where they'd gone, nothing.
Now, they walked along the edge of the forest on the outside perimeter of the site, taking one last sweep. The Sheriff was an even larger man than Murdock had first surmised -- maybe because half of him had been hidden by a table when Murdock first approached him at the diner. Over six-feet, Murdock guessed the Sheriff weighed between two-forty and two-fifty, and his large frame looked like it could handle more weight easily.
He looked like a professional wrestler, or at least projected that kind of energy. He sure did like wearing his uniform tight -- lucky it was polyester, he would've burst out of cotton. As it was, it could barely stretch over the man's heavy muscle. Along with the black boots, sunglasses and cowboy hat, Sheriff Lane looked a little more like a porn-movie character than an officer of the law in West Virginia.
"Go ahead," the Sheriff said, a man of few words. "Ask."
They kept walking -- Murdock secretly enjoyed all this open, unspoiled land, even with the blight of this dead construction site here -- city-folk always did. "Well, I wouldn't be much of an investigator if I didn't ask the obvious question. I'm here looking into the death of a man who seems to have gained almost two-hundred pounds of muscle in a matter of days and the first person I meet when I come to town is the bodybuilder Sheriff. Tell me that's a coincidence."
The Sheriff cracked the edge of a smile -- it was the most emotion Murdock had seen from the man yet so far -- he grunted instead of laughing. "It's a coincidence," he said in his deep voice. "And a shitty coincidence at that. I've been into bodybuilding since I was eighteen -- that's almost thirty years, Mr. Murdock -- and some kid comes along and gains more weight in three days than I have in my whole life." The Sheriff removed his hat and wiped his forehead. "I wouldn't call that very fair."
Murdock nodded. "What about a gym? Is there a gym in town where Robbie Ray could've gotten connected with some kind of steroid?"
The Sheriff shook his head and put his hat back on. "No gym," he said. "Not within fifty miles. The only place to lift weights around here is my garage -- as a matter of fact, the construction crew we're lookin' for did the renovations for me. They put in the skylight, the extension, laid the new floor -- it's a damn nice job. You should come by and see it."
Murdock laughed. "I'm afraid I don't have the patience for weight-lifting."
"It's not patience, Mr. Murdock. It's discipline."
Murdock conceded. "Then I don't have the discipline. I'm afraid the only way I'd ever become a bodybuilder is if there WERE some kind of magic steroid that did it instantly, some comic-book transformation that required no effort on my part. What about you?"
"What about me?" Sheriff Lane asked, subtly adjusting his balls in his pants -- so tight, they seemed painted on. Murdock couldn't imagine how the Sheriff dressed the way he did -- swear to God, it looked like his uniform was shrinking as time went by -- and it left nothing to the imagination! Not that the Sheriff had anything to be embarrassed about there, Murdock noticed -- his package was no small thing. Some men had all the luck. Murdock's jealousy surprised him in its force.
He formed his question carefully. "I guess what I'm asking is: what would YOU be willing to do to get a body like yours?" he asked. "Or a body like Robbie Ray's?"
The Sheriff stopped walking and faced him, suddenly serious. Murdock couldn't help but be a little intimidated -- the Sheriff looked even bigger when he was angry. "Mr. Murdock," he said, his voice low, intense, "The only way something's coming into my body is if it were grown in the earth --organic, natural -- and that includes magic steroids." Maybe he realized he was leaning in a little close, maybe he'd made his point and decided to back off, whatever. The Sheriff stood straight, then added, "Do I make myself clear?"
"I don't mean to insult you," Murdock said. "I'm just trying to get some answers."
Sheriff Lane nodded slightly, crossing his arms, making sure Murdock saw their impressive size, making sure Murdock knew who was really in charge around here. "Well, you got one," the Sheriff said. "And you hardly insulted me at all. Let's get out of here, Mr. Murdock -- there's more valuable places to spend our time."
Reluctantly, Murdock agreed, and he and the muscular Sheriff drove back to town. The last thing the Sheriff said as he dropped Murdock off at the Main Street Motel was, "You should really come on over and catch a workout -- at least check out my little gym. The light in the afternoon is incredible." Then the Sheriff smiled, the first true smile Murdock had seen on the man's face, his rugged, strong jaw -- damn, that man had a heavy jaw -- but then, so had Robbie Ray. "You might also find out how wrong you are about working out. See you later, Mr. Murdock. You have my number if you need it."
Murdock waived him off and went to his room, where he found a little surprise waiting.
Housekeeping had been in -- the bed was turned down, the bathroom was clean, the towels were fresh -- and someone had left a gaudy flower arrangement on the table by the window. Murdock laughed -- small-town niceties. Nobody must ever visit this place. The flowers smelled kind of nasty, actually, even from a distance -- it reminded him of old sex a little, stale and musty. He opened the window behind the arrangement to air the room a bit.
Flopping back on the small sofa, he pulled out his cell phone and called Tully.
"Hey, it's me," he said when she answered. "I'm hoping you've learned something."
"Not very much," she said. "Bloodwork showed absolutely nothing unusual. There was a slight elevation in his testosterone level, but nothing indicative of steroid abuse. The cause of death, though, wasn't the obvious. Aside from his testicles, his pituitary gland also burst -- that was what actually killed him. I'm still suspecting atmospheric pressure, but I've never seen anything like this. I wish I had more to tell you."
"What's the pituitary gland? What's that do?"
"The pituitary gland's main function is the secretion of growth hormone, and Robbie Ray's was clearly working overtime, but I don't have any evidence of outside influence. Well, there is one strange thing..."
"Anything, anything," Murdock said, rolling his eyes. "Any lead on why an eighteen year old kid would gain two-hundred pounds of muscle in three days. Make that make sense to me, Tully."
"Well, I don't think it's terribly unusual, given that he worked in outside construction, but there was an awful lot of dust in his lungs. It looks like plant pollen -- we're analyzing it now."
"Pollen...?" Murdock suddenly looked at the flower arrangement sitting on the table by the window. All this talk today of organics, and plants...
Empty flowerpots in the foreman's trailer...
Murdock's conspiracy-theory mind-set clicked into gear. "I'll call you back," he said to Tully and clicked his phone off, dropping it on the coffee table.
Slowly, cautiously, he approached the arrangement, studying it.
Potted, not fresh cut -- one main plant and a lot of decorative spray accenting. It was one of the ugliest flowers Murdock had ever seen.
It looked like a big cock.
Flashing on "Invasion of the Body-Snatchers" and "The Outer Limits," Murdock began theorizing. Because of his video-based paranoia, before he got too close to the plant, he went into the bathroom and grabbed a washcloth, dampening it quickly beneath the cold water. He held the washcloth over his nose and mouth as he went in for a closer look.
He'd ever seen anything like it, though its long, tubular blossom reminded him of a Venus Flytrap, except it looked so much like a porn-star's cock. The bulb that produced the blossom lay half-exposed in the dirt, itself resembling a nut-sac.
As he brought his face closer to the flower, he could swear he saw the blossom move, take aim almost. Before he could react, the flower shot a cloudy wad of golden pollen directly at Murdock's face. It was like it coughed, or burped -- it just expelled the dust, hitting Murdock directly in the washcloth.
He backed away from the plant quickly, actually frightened. Holding his breath, he pulled the washcloth from his face and folded it in on itself, to save the sample. In the bathroom, before he even tried to breath, he washed his face and hands thoroughly.
It was some kind of PLANT that had done the boy -- some kind of quasi-botanical invasion -- although Murdock suspected there was some kind of human hand behind it -- plants didn't arrange themselves with decorative sprays. Was there some kind of evil, bodybuilder-florist in this town, or was the conspiracy broader than he first thought?
He pocketed his cell-phone, leaving the room -- leaving the plant and the pollen sample behind -- and got directions to the Sheriff's house from the man at the front desk. Only three blocks, it was easier to walk.
And instead of calling Tully, he dialed Sheriff Lane.
"Mr. Murdock, I'm surprised to hear from you so soon. What's up?"
"Sorry to bother you, Sheriff," Murdock said, walking at a brisk pace, panting a little, "but I'm on my way to your house right now. I think I finally understand what's going on around here." He crossed off of Main Street and went up the tree-lined Oak Ave.
"You do? Really?" asked the Sheriff. "Excellent. We... I look forward to seeing you, then."
"Actually, Sheriff, if you look outside your window, you'll see me approaching your house right now." Murdock walked up the shrub-lined path that led to the side door. As meticulously groomed as the Sheriff, so too was his landscaping. Between his lawn and his body, when did the man find time for the law?
His cruiser was parked in the driveway, which was how Murdock was certain the house was his, an old three-story Victorian with a wrap-around porch, bi-tone gray with white shutters. The garage sat back catty-corner from the house -- "renovated" didn't even begin to describe it. Shaped like a miniature barn -- there may have been a name for this style, but Murdock didn't know it -- the top third, the part under the peak, had been replaced by glass. Several sky-lights ran down each side of the roof. It must get great light. The garage-door had been replaced by a new wall -- no windows on the street-side. The only entrance was on the house-side of the garage, and that covered by a screendoor.
Murdock rapped twice on the side door of the house as he turned off his phone.
The Sheriff's deep voice came from behind him. "I'm in the garage, Mr. Murdock."
He heard the screen door open as he turned toward the sound. There stood the Sheriff before him, not ten feet away. Or what had been the Sheriff.
Murdock was too late.
Sheriff Lane was gigantic -- unbelievably gigantic. As big as Robbie Ray had been -- and then some. Where Robbie Ray had been a lifeless corpse on a slab, Sheriff Lane was a living, breathing, vital being. His muscle was swollen past the point of possibility, exaggerated by his failing attempt to wear his uniform, where even the polyester was giving up the struggle. The buttons on his shirt had each popped, exposing the deep cleavage between the halves of his impossible pecs -- his badge balanced on the ledge where the nipple had already lost its grip. His shoulders and back couldn't be contained much longer -- as it was, the seams were unraveling.
His pants fared better -- but only a bit. He stood at attention, his legs spread wide, showing the thickness of his thighs and his solid, over-blown calves. He still wore his boots and gun-belt comfortably, which meant that only his muscles had grown, not his waist or his feet.
Well, that wasn't entirely true. The tightness of the pants also displayed the size of the Sheriff's package, on par with what Robbie Ray's had PROBABLY looked like. His thick cock had pushed itself halfway down his left thigh, and was no doubt responsible for the split in his pant's left seam. And his balls -- unlike Robbie Ray's -- were easily the size of oranges, maybe even grapefruit, well-formed and obvious.
He wasn't wearing the cowboy hat, but it looked like he still could. As a matter of fact, his head looked almost too small for his body. But for the widening of his jaw to accommodate his bull-neck, it would've. The Sheriff actually looked more handsome, if rugged, working-class muscle-heads were your type.
He looked content.
"Holy shit," Murdock said, taking an involuntary step back.
The Sheriff smiled. "We're finally complete," he said, flexing his arms, tearing the sleeves. "What do you think?"
Murdock was speechless -- a first. "Oh, my God..."
Laughing, the Sheriff said, "You were the one who said you wanted it like a comic book." He flexed a most-muscular, and the sound of his shirt tearing up the back preceded his triumphant yell. "Well, how's THAT for 'The Incredible Hulk?'" He reached across his body -- like Lou Ferrigno -- and tore the shirt from his torso, throwing it to the ground, exposing muscles that dwarfed anything seen on campy, 70's tele-drama. All he wore now were his pants -- and they were barely hanging on -- his boots and his gun-belt.
"You sent the plant..."
The Sheriff nodded. "I'm surprised you didn't bring it with you," he said, adjusting those massive balls. "Most guys get very protective of..." He suddenly paused, and looked at Murdock suspiciously. "You didn't get pollinated," he said simply.
Murdock shrugged. "In my line of work, you get suspicious of innocent gifts. I've seen 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' thanks."
"This isn't like that," the Sheriff said, with a quick flex of his pecs. "They're plants, yes, but they don't understand concepts like good and evil. Morality is a human attribute. They simply seek to re-populate an almost extinct species. It's their only goal, not the subjugation of the human race. Does that make sense to you, Mr. Murdock?"
"Oh sure, today it's re-population, but tomorrow it's domination. An army of guys like you would be pretty formidable."
"If they controlled us, which they don't." Sheriff Lane began walking toward him, his massive thighs navigating effortlessly around each other -- he had the grace of an athlete that matched the size of his muscles, not the bulky burden of a bodybuilder. "We work together, Mr. Murdock," he said, touching his balls. "It's a symbiotic relationship."
Murdock ran then -- who could say why? Maybe it was years of harboring paranoid, alien-invasion fantasies that finally broke him, who knew? He just... couldn't TAKE it anymore. So he ran.
But Sheriff Lane had been transformed into something specifically designed for superior performance -- he was a PROTECTOR -- his body was now capable of feats that would've seemed impossible before the symbiosis. With only two steps for prep, he literally leapt over his cruiser, somersaulting in mid-air and landing gracefully on his feet, right in front of the panicked Murdock. Smiling at his own accomplishment, he caught the fleeing investigator with one gigantic arm.
"Going somewhere, Mr. Murdock?" he asked, walking back to the garage, carrying the struggling Murdock with him.
"Stop it!" screamed Murdock -- where the hell were the neighbors? "I don't want it! I don't want it!!"
The Sheriff chuckled. "Yes, you do," he said. "You said so, yourself. Your words now are just your fear."
"No!" Murdock continued, helpless against the iron-strength of the Sheriff's physique. He could see the Sheriff's pistol, inches from his face. "NO!!!"
"We need intelligent men, Mr. Murdock," the Sheriff said, opening the screen door and tossing Murdock into the garage, "not just construction-crew yokels with no ambition beyond their own sexual satisfaction. You'll understand better in a few minutes." He shut the main door then, and locked it, standing guard outside the screen. Murdock could see him through the glass.
He banged on the door for a couple of seconds, already realizing the futility in it.
"Damn it," he mumbled, then remembered the cell-phone in his pocket --he fished it out. A weak signal, but at least something. He pressed Tully's number. When her service answered, Murdock muttered a swear and turned around. "Tully, I need you to..."
Then he saw it -- them.
Everywhere -- on every bench, every weight-rack, every shelf, every clear inch of the floor -- anyplace that might've offered a horizontal resting space. Dozens -- hundreds of pots: clay, plastic, and metal, coffee cans too, anything that could hold dirt, bowls and tin-foil broilers, everywhere Murdock looked. The plants. Dozens. Hundreds.
Sheriff Lane's converted gym was the perfect greenhouse -- the skylights caught the afternoon sun and reflected it warmly throughout the space, a golden yellow incubator for the row after row, pot after pot of cock-shaped flowers.
Flowers that now took aim.
"Holy shit," groaned Murdock, dropping the phone, which broke when it hit the ground, snapping plastically.
A burst of pollen hit him square in the forehead, golf-ball sized, but with the consistency of loosely-packed dirt. He snapped his head back in reaction and chuckled nervously. "Missed me," he said to them, wiping his forehead with the back of his arm.
Then he was hit in the shoulder, from another angle, then another, in his lower abdomen. And then the barrage started. One after another they pummeled him, like a batting cage gone awry. Murdock might've opened his mouth to scream, but sound probably couldn't get out, the layer of pollen became so thick so quickly. The front half of his body was coated with a good inch of the stuff, making him look like he was struggling with his footing against a yellow-orange blizzard, like frosting on a living snack cake. He finally collapsed, falling over backwards.
A couple of last minute volleys hit him in the face, but by then it didn't matter.
He'd stopped holding his breath a while ago.
The train pulled into the station with none of the ceremony that would've greeted it only a century ago. Everybody flew these days -- always in a hurry -- and nobody appreciated the Romantic atmosphere provided by a train. He'd forgotten himself -- it'd been a long time since he'd traveled for pleasure and not business, this case or that. And flying was out of the question for them now, anyway.
Like the others, he'd felt an urge to play Johnny Appleseed, to spread out, to take root. They'd learned their lesson from Robbie Ray, now traveling only by ground or water. Several had just driven off in their trucks, packed up their trailers and their mobile-homes and left for parts unknown, which for a couple of the guys was just outside their own county.
They had much more confidence now that they weren't traveling alone.
Sheriff Lane had at least had the foresight to arm them all with cell-phones before they left, so they had some way of keeping track of each other. In person, they could sense when a man harbored a Symbiote -- and a Symbiote could sense another from quite a distance away -- the outer limit seemed to be about twenty miles.
But the Sheriff had little confidence in their success. "You can't blame the Symbiotes for taking advantage of an opportunity," he'd said, "but now we have the chance to be a little more particular. The smartest move those guys made was giving a plant to me -- to us." He'd chuckled. "I still have trouble thinking in first-person plural."
He'd stood guard outside his converted garage during Murdock's entire transformation, enjoying the deep colors of sunset. When the neighbors would walk by, he'd wave congenially. They'd wave back -- remembering that the Sheriff was a big man, but not realizing quite HOW big. Many had never seen him without a shirt -- he was almost always in uniform -- so they had nothing to compare him to. It was possible that he'd ALWAYS been that big.
Like most small-town people, they didn't talk about it until they were behind closed doors.
He'd heard Murdock's struggle, his moans of resistance. Incomprehensible to Sheriff Lane -- even more so now -- but he'd resisted the impulse to peek through the small window on the door, even when he'd heard the sounds of tearing material -- the "Incredible Hulk" fantasy more common than anyone had realized.
It would be good to have someone of Murdock's intelligence with them. He would know better than the Sheriff how to deflect the government, the army, many of the threats that would greet them at later stages of re-population. Robbie Ray had been a costly mistake this early, bringing attention when they'd least needed it. True enough, it had brought them Murdock, but that was the only silver-lining. At its worst, it had given evidence to a possible adversary.
From inside the garage, when Murdock had moaned again, a little more lustful than the last, Sheriff Lane had been able to sense the symbiosis, the acceptance. He'd smiled, but still didn't look. He'd felt safe about unlocking the door, though.
He'd heard Murdock's orgasm, and hoped Murdock wasn't wasting the seed, but was distracted suddenly by the beginning of his OWN erection, his sense of discipline failing him slightly. He'd thought those construction-bozos had simply been weak, but if this was how they'd felt when the Symbiotes were in close proximity to each other, it was no wonder that the guys had been having sex constantly. It would be hard to resist.
Murdock had stepped out of the garage only a minute or so later.
Much improved, though the agent had had a quirky handsomeness before with his lanky, unreliable physique. Not that looks had mattered to Sheriff Lane, or to the Symbiotes themselves -- they required their Protectors to be heavily-muscled warriors, not handsome ones -- but, as they said in cartoons, "it didn't HOIT."
Murdock had grown significantly, close in size to the Sheriff himself, maybe twenty pounds lighter -- Sheriff Lane still wanted to believe that his years of bodybuilding hadn't been in vain, and had given him some sort of advantage with the Symbiote. Still lightly dusted in a fine powder, heavier around his mouth and nose, Murdock had been wearing only his boxer shorts when he'd stepped out of the garage, decorated with little spaceships. Only because his fly had been buttoned had they offered any support at all.
Like all of the guys, Murdock kept one hand on his package to offer comfort to the Symbiote. He was going to need a different kind of underwear. The Sheriff himself was going to have to start wearing a cup under his uniform if he'd wanted to continue going about his duty -- more likely, given his current size, he'd need a cod-piece. For the moment, the two of them stood there facing each other, each in the same pose -- one hand offering support to one's balls -- two huge musclemen caught in the act of mutual appreciation.
"How do you feel?" the Sheriff had asked.
Murdock had smiled. "For the first time in my life, the idea of an alien invasion excites me."
Their coupling had felt even better than their initial symbiosis. Murdock hadn't considered himself homosexual, but the closer he'd gotten to the Sheriff -- or, really, the closer their Symbiotes had gotten to one another -- the greater the feelings of pleasure, of growing lust that they'd felt. Attraction and physical pleasure had been alien to the Symbiotes, but they'd noted the effects it'd had on their Protectors. As the Symbiote fed him more testosterone, more adrenaline, more hormonal stimulation, Murdock knew he'd only want other Protectors as partners from there on. No other coupling would ever offer this impact.
As he and the Sheriff had pressed their packages together, getting the Symbiotes as close as they possibly could without crushing them, their massive erections rolling against each other's torsos like logs on a flume, as they had held each other's hips and gently thrust against each other, the Symbiotes allowed them their orgasms.
The flood of their cum had erupted between them like a muscular volcano, like a geyser shooting up between the shelves of their chests, mixing together until it had become one liquid -- one single seed.
They'd caught it together, cupping it carefully in their hands and then carried it to the backyard garden. After planting it there wordlessly, they'd gone into the house and plotted Murdock's necessary disappearance, and formulated their first actual plan.
Though they both felt the desire, it had been important to the Sheriff to deny the impulse for sex -- he'd seemed to define denial as discipline, determined not to succumb to the same fate as "lesser men." Murdock couldn't have agreed more, if for slightly different reasons. He'd known that his new-found sexuality was a manipulation of the Symbiote, and he'd wanted to believe that the creature had no influence over him if he hadn't allowed it. (None of their human failings seemed to affect the Symbiotes at all, who were patient enough to wait-out their Protectors' rationalizations.) Still, Murdock and the Sheriff gave in twice, and Murdock learned a new love of being fucked up the ass by a dominant top.
By the next morning, the product of their initial coupling had taken root in the garden. Neither of them had been surprised to discover that something different was growing there -- different than what either of them could've produced separately. Clearly the same species, but what must have been the next evolutionary step up. What Murdock and the Sheriff had faced in the garden that morning was the obvious drone to their worker bees, royalty to their peasantry, something simply greater than them both.
The same sort-of plant, but half-again as tall as the ones in the Sheriff's garage -- a cock of such size and girth that even transformed men such as the Sheriff and Murdock thought it impossible. The bud would easily come up to a normal man's knee, and be about as thick as his leg. The base of the flower was a dark-bluish purple, which veined up the sides until it reached the soft lilac head -- even its bulb had been bigger -- a fantasy man's fantasy cock.
It would take the right man to Host this.
With great care, in the light of the rising sun, they'd re-potted it in a plastic, traveling pot -- a little wider at the base -- and made the decision about what to do with it. Using a roll of stiff butcher's paper that the Sheriff had in his kitchen -- though God only knew why -- they wrapped it, put a bow on it, and stapled it at the top, making it look like it had just come from the florist's -- a gift for some long-absent mother or girlfriend.
It sat on the floor in front of the train-seat next to Murdock now. He was one of only three people in this car -- maybe he'd scared the others away. On the other hand, he WAS traveling AWAY from civilization rather than toward it, no doubt more people rode in the other direction.
This was the last stop before his destination -- a small town in Kansas called "Garden City." He picked the name because it tickled his quaint-ness -- he did that a lot. They needed land, somewhere in the farm-belt, where they could plant and grow and go un-noticed. The name of the town couldn't matter less to the Symbiote, so Murdock got to assert his own sense of humor.
"Cimarron!" the conductor shouted, sticking his head in the door. He looked at Murdock, as he had done so many times on the trip, sort of lusty, but afraid. It was obvious to Murdock that the man had never seen anyone with a build like his -- lots of people stared at him, even dressed in baggies as he was. He hated to admit he liked it -- vanity was so not him -- but he also recognized the need for anonymity at this stage. It was hard to hide with a body like this.
"We'll be stopped about ten minutes at Cimarron, sir," the conductor said to him. "If you want to step off the train again. Get some air. Maybe stretch a little..."
Murdock smiled -- the conductor HAD been watching him, keeping track of him. Maybe he'd even seen what Murdock did. Kept doing.
"Thanks," Murdock said in his low, sexy voice, winking. He stood then so the conductor could get a good look at his incredible mass, then stretched his back, flexing ever-so discreetly. He was starting to like being a flirt. The conductor probably had an erection when he ducked his head out of the doorway -- Murdock sure hoped so -- at least he was flustered. That was a nice reward, too.
Murdock chuckled, surprised at how much he enjoyed his new body -- it was like a teenaged, comic-book fantasy. Although maybe the Symbiote was controlling that, too. Oh, it didn't matter.
He stepped off the train into the bright, Kansas sunshine. Though the Symbiote loved the light, Murdock wore heavy sunglasses because it bothered his eyes. He wasn't used to the midwest.
The train station was built close to the Arkansas River, and with his athletic ability, Murdock easily jumped the twenty feet down to the base of trestle. His feet landed lightly, gracefully, the muscle of his legs supporting his massive upper body. Stepping to an over-grown area, he quickly lowered his pants and pulled out his gigantic cock.
The Symbiote allowed him orgasm immediately, and he shot his seed all over the ground, turning around and hitting as much land as he could. He'd done the same thing at every stop along his journey -- Dodge City, Kinsley, even Osawatomie -- left his seed behind in some out of the way place near each train-yard. Maybe the new flowers would be found, maybe they wouldn't. If so, well then, all the better. It might also serve as a distraction from what he and Sheriff Lane were really up to. If not, it didn't matter. They'd have their army soon enough.
Two leaps, and a tuck-flip, and Murdock was standing on the platform again. Through the window of the train, he could see the Great Plant was safe, and that was all that mattered. He'd been given the responsibility to find the Host, though he didn't think his chances of finding one would be very good in Back-water, Kansas -- but Sheriff Lane would be under too much scrutiny soon to keep it secure.
Tully alone would dog the Sheriff until he went crazy. Fortunately, Murdock had planted several distracting leads to keep her busy. By the time she found him, it would be far too late.
"All aboard!" the conductor shouted, and Murdock headed for the train. "Next stop, Garden City! Garden City, all aboard!"
That he could even squeeze down the narrow aisle way was miraculous -- Murdock actually had to go sideways for the width of his shoulders. When he finally got to his row, this massive giant slid down into his seat, fitting much more comfortably here than he would've on a plane. He checked on the well-being of the Great Plant again, and went over his thoughts again about what kind of farmer he needed to find.
With his strong hands, he reached down and lovingly supported his balls.
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