Roommate, The (by Xyggurat)
|"Professor McTague! It's Dane Jackson!"
I hammered on the door to Professor McTague's office. It was painted a washed-out periwinkle like most of the other doors along the hallway. I turned my back on the door and scanned the hall in both directions. All of the doors were numbingly same, and all were closed. It was a popular rumor that an architect known for his prison designs was responsible for the layout of the school.
A single clock hung a good way down the hall, its white face starkly announcing that it was 5:30. I sighed. Most professors who taught day classes left at 5:00. The hour certainly explained why the school had been so empty. I had completely lost track of time during the shower and subsequent confession.
My shoulders stiffened with a sudden chill. With the campus so sparsely populated, no one would be able to stop Jason if he were around. He would force himself onto me, and I would yield. He was so strong, and I would make him stronger. And bigger: I would watch his biceps swell, pulsing slowly out of their softball size and expanding agonizingly toward something more powerful—an overripe orange, a small cannonball. I'd see the pouch of his crotch bulging out with new obscene growth, straining with his pornographic slab of meat. He would tower even higher over me, becoming even more glutted with that malevolent masculinity he now embodied. His pectorals would heave with the pleasure of growth, the dark wifebeater I'd seen him wearing lately offering a crackling refrain as it struggled to contain his mounting size, and...
I took a deep breath and pushed panic into the back of my mind. It did not yield easily. My hands and feet were tingling as if they had been asleep. It took a moment to realize I had a tremendous erection. I turned to scan the hallway. Even though it appeared no one else was around, I was thankful for the jeans I was wearing and my diminished manhood. Had I been normal-sized, I would've been tenting ridiculously.
The creaking of Professor McTague's door behind me banished my erection almost instantly. The blood that had swollen my boner seemed to rush right into my face. I was blushing furiously as I spun around.
Professor McTague was taller.
No, wait. I was a little shorter than when we had first met. It took my senses just a moment to readjust to this change in perspective, but not nearly so long as it should have. It's a testament to the miracle that is humanity that we can adapt so easily to such massive change. That thought made me uncomfortable. I didn't want to adapt to this situation.
"You're not looking well," the professor told me. My face flushed again as his dark emerald eyes scanned over my body. His gaze was as frank as the observation, not at all lewd or sexual. He simply took every inch of me in with his eyes, smiled, and said, "Come in, and relax."
I did, and Professor McTague locked the door behind me. I suppose I had expected a tiny office as was customary for adjunct faculty members to inhabit. Most were little more than cubbyholes pocking the grey faces of the halls, crammed with the gear of professors who time-shared the same cramped space.
Professor McTague's office was not an office at all. In one corner, a small desk housed neat stacks of paper organized into unmarked trays. He had a laptop. It looked functional but not excessive, a real academic's computer complete with a series of animated Da Vinci sketches fading in and out of a black screen saver background. The office space segued unceremoniously into a small laboratory area, with a gathering of beakers, tubes, and various other articles that looked ripped from a mad scientist's lair arranged atop a compact white counter whose support was pocked with drawers. I watched, fascinated, as some violet fluid worked its way through one of the tubes before combining with a clear solution in an Erlenmeyer flask. The liquids swirled together and became a dazzling electric blue.
"Fascinating, I know," Professor McTague deadpanned. He was seated at his desk, and had set up a comfortable if utilitarian chair directly opposite it. "I can watch reactions for hours. But that's what makes me a geek, I suppose."
"You don't look like a geek," I said thoughtlessly, sitting at a single gesture of his right hand.
He chuckled. His laughter had a lilting quality that came from true mirth. It made me feel better just to hear the sound.
"I know it's cliché , but you really can't go around judging books by their covers," he said once he had finished.
"Sorry, it's just—"
"No, no," he waved the explanation away. "Believe me, I understand. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I'm surprised at what I see."
"I know what you mean," I offered. I instantly wanted to take it back.
He leaned forward and considered me. For eyes of such a deep shade, his were piercing. They were raptor's eyes, and could have been unsettling if he let them be. Professor McTague didn't make me uncomfortable at all. I felt about as relaxed as I could be in my situation. In the spaces between moments of thought, I could almost forget about Phil's sweat-slicked torso, the individual abdominals flexing and relaxing as he breathed. Almost.
I folded my hands in my lap.
"At the risk of a perpetual loop, I know you know exactly what I mean," Professor McTague said.
I started to laugh, but something in his expression stopped me short. "I don't think—"
"—that anyone knows what you're going through. That situations are spiraling out of your control, and that you're losing touch with who you used to be."
A breath of relief. It probably sounded like a sigh. "Yeah, that's it exactly, professor."
"Does anyone else know what your roommate is doing to you?" His expression of concern didn't change a bit.
I blinked. "What?" A note of hysteria had crept into my voice.
"Does anyone else know what Phil is doing to you, Dane? This is very important, so I need you to answer."
Answer? I didn't want to answer. I wanted to get up and out of here. But I answered. "Yes. Just two people. A kid that I met at the gym today—"
I didn't let my surprise at his intimate knowledge show. "Yes."
"No more, you're certain?"
"As far as I know."
Professor McTague leaned back, rubbing his eyes. "I'm sorry for forcing that on you, Dane."
Weakly, I began. "No, it's... it's good that someone else sees what's happening. But how do you know all of this?"
"Part of what's happening to you is my fault. Please, though. I hope you'll stay calm. I'm not the one you need to worry about, and I do think that I can undo the damages that have been done to you."
Calmness was the last thing on my mind. I was brimming with a thousand questions, all of which were buzzing around in the sudden light of hope in my head. If I could just be normal again, all of this would go away. I wouldn't be acting so strangely. I could move away from Phil, transfer colleges if need be—
"Whatever you need from me, I'll do it," I told him.
"We can't get you back to normal yet," he responded. My hopes crashed and sunk. "Look, I promise things will get better. But you need to understand some things. I'm not sure what you know, so... is there anything you can think of to ask?"
Instantly: "What's happened to my roommate?"
The professor held my gaze for a long moment. "Phil is the host of a symbiote."
Professor McTague chuckled politely. I was glad someone was finding this amusing. "Actually, a lot like Venom. Except your roommate's no Peter Parker and his symbiote isn't evil. Not specifically, anyway."
"You could've fooled me, Professor," I snapped.
"If you'd like you really can call me Liam," he offered. Evidently sensing my burgeoning lack of enthusiasm for these proceedings, he dropped the bomb. "I have a symbiote, too." I stiffened. "But you must trust me. I am not going to harm you in any way."
Reluctantly, I relaxed back into my chair. "So," I accused, "You're like Phil."
"No, not at all," he assured me, spreading his hands openly. "I said you were right about the symbiotes being like Spider-man's Venom. These symbiotes adapt to fit their hosts' deepest desires. They work at a cellular level to create an ideal environment in which they can thrive and, eventually, reproduce. They're really quite ingenious. Unless a host has a very strong will, they will use him or her to breed in the most convenient way and damn the consequences." He spoke very slowly, as if trying to reach a particularly ungifted student.
I pressed on. "So, this isn't really Phil. It's just something inside of him, making him do this."
Liam closed his eyes and shook his head. "I'm afraid not. The symbiotes do not control minds. They don't even have brains in the way we think of them. Before encountering a host, the symbiote is just a bunch of cells running on impulse and instinct. It's only once it interfaces with a human brain that it gains a level of intellect. Phil's symbiote isn't on the same level as mine. Maybe it's incomplete, some form of mutation, but it doesn't seem to have the full range of abilities mine does. It's difficult to say for sure. So much guesswork is involved in a situation like this.
"As for the chance of mind control... I believe that the human brain is too complex for a symbiote to alter so thoroughly. It's more likely that Phil's has tapped into his urges toward megalomania, dominance, all sorts of mental garbage. Otherwise, though... this is your roommate's fantasy."
I held up a hand to stop him. "Hold up a second. You said something about the symbiotes reproducing."
He nodded. "That's the brilliant part of Phil's symbiote. I think his symbiote has been experimenting, and it's found a clever way to work through your roommate. You've seen how it's changed him, making him grow stronger, taller, more virile, more masculine. Phil's symbiote has also given him the same power I have with my voice, to make people act just by giving them commands. It's transformed his semen into a mechanism that can wreak massive changes like the ones that have been visited upon you. Look at how you've changed. You're smaller, weaker, attracted to his power, filled with unbelievable libido. And the important part? Your semen makes people grow."
"I don't see—"
"You're the perfect feeder for anyone Phil's symbiote chooses to share itself with. They'll be the ones with a thirst for vengeance, a feeling of being wronged by the big guys. They'll shrink honest fellows like you down and turn you into subservients, then use you to become irresistible and invincible. It'll change the order of things."
I had to ask. "What does your symbiote do, Professor?"
He shrugged. "Do you want to see the real me?" he asked. I nodded.
Abruptly, Professor McTague rose from his desk. He stripped off the dark sweater he was wearing, leaving only a sleeveless t-shirt on underneath. That soon joined the sweater on the floor. As he untied his shoes and undid his belt and trousers, I was surprised at how nicely he was built, with the lithe muscles of a swimmer or runner. His legs encouraged the latter possibility. They were very well developed, his quads almost filling the legs of his green boxers. He also had quite a bulge. Professor McTague was hung!
I forced myself away from that particular thought, even as I was struck by the vision before me: a lithe, sun-browned man in his late twenties standing before me in his boxers. A dark treasure trail bisected his lower abs, which were just as finely-drawn as his upper.
He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. At least, that's what I thought at first. Ever so slightly, Professor McTague began to expand. His legs lengthened ever so slightly, stretching the muscles to a size more fitting to the rest of his body. The rounded pectorals on his chest thickened and bulged outward, reforming into tight squared muscle that protruded slightly over abs that were not quite so perfect and perhaps a bit hairier than before. A small patch of dark hair also sprouted from the center of his chest. His shoulders broadened, and his biceps and triceps began to bulge outward a bit, losing definition in exchange for size. Finally, his coloring began to change. His skin was getting lighter, his body hair slightly darker, until it was all brown with faint auburn streaks. The only part of Professor McTague that shrunk was the noticeable bulge in his boxers. It looked a lot more average now.
"And here I am," he said, in a voice that was slightly deeper, a little coarser. Coarser was the way I would describe most of the new Professor McTague, with regard to how I had known him all along.
Or Liam, I corrected, as I looked at his face. He was, at most, my age, with a straight nose, small ears, and a blue-black growth of beard that sharpened his features. He had a very bluff, honest look to his face. His eyes were still a dark emerald.
He put a hand on one of his pectorals and flexed it. The muscle bounded noticeably.
"Okay, maybe not exactly me, but I was pretty close to this before I changed into Professor McTague," he said. "It's hard to remake your body without idealizing a bit."
A few weeks ago, I would have been out that door and on my way to a drug test. At the moment, all I could manage was, "Wow. So, why did you change?"
"I was a student here when I first encountered a symbiote by accident. Mine has revealed to me that they're definitely terrestrial in origin. I think they're man-made. This one latched onto me while I was camping near Camp Pendleton. Maybe it was something the military was working on and decided to ditch; I don't know. At any rate, I figured that I had to keep an eye on things here. You see, Phil is completely my fault."
"I'm getting used to trusting you. Go on."
"My symbiote made me smarter, stronger, sexier. I had a good body because I worked out, and decent looks because of genetics, but it gave me confidence and irresistibility. I'd always been a good student in Organic Chemistry before, but I was literally making breakthroughs in every single class. The symbiote also made me clever enough to realize I should keep everything under wraps. We need privacy, you see.
"So, I finally convinced it to reproduce itself. It came out in my semen, and I tried using my smarts to discover exactly what these creatures were. I'm not entirely sure how, but one day, the spawn got away."
"Storm drain," I told him. "Phil fell into sewage. There was stuff all over him."
"Grey?" Liam asked. His features were shifting back into his older countenance.
He frowned. "Well, that explains some of it. The symbiotes aren't yet adept at surviving outside of the human body for too long. Mine was ill when it entered me. Maybe Phil's was... damaged somehow. As soon as it entered him, my symbiote felt it. So I assumed this guise, and used my powers to get myself this office and a teaching job. I convinced my family I was going to Tibet."
I looked at the clock on his wall. Time had not, after all, frozen. "I need to go pretty soon," I said, "But can you change me back to what I was first?"
Professor McTague shook his head. His features were back to normal. "No, I can't. We need to use you to get at this rogue symbiote, and bring it down. Things are going to get worse before they get better."
Resigned, I nodded. Liam started herding me toward the door.
"For now, just head back home. Phil's not at your room yet, but I can tell he's in the apartments. We'll meet when you have the time. I'll tell someone I need some paid leave so I can spend more time at the office." With a falsely cheery smile, he offered, "Hours are 6 AM to 5 PM. Good luck, Dane."
My smile, at least, was genuine. "Thanks, Liam."
"Oh, and... before you go. This is my command to you: do not, under any circumstances, tell Phil about me or the fellow you met today. You will fight against his control as best you can, but not so that he suspects something is wrong." He nodded. "There, now. You should be armed, if lightly. Good luck. Again."
I set off down the hallway. Despite where I was heading, I felt remarkably good.
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