Smokin' New Life


By daviek

After one hit on the "special" cigar Bryan had given him, Billy's head was spinning. He hacked and coughed the first time the acrid smoke got even remotely close to his lungs, eliciting mild laughter from the rest of the guys. Nick, his roommate, Travis and Bryan, along with a handful of the other guys, talked him through his virgin cigar experience.

In truth, Billy really liked it. His stomach and throat didn't quite as much, but Billy was excited that he was becoming a part of something bigger than himself. He had never really had many friends growing up, at least not that weren't exactly like him--nerdy and without much self-confidence. He spent the rest of the night loosening up and getting to know the guys, even in spite of his typically reserved nature.

When midnight had long come and gone, Nick, still clutching a stogie between his pearly white teeth, put his arm around Billy's shoulder and began to lead him out of the house. "C'mon, bro, you got a big day tomorrow." Billy had NO idea what Nick was talking about, but kept his bewilderment to himself.

The walk home across campus was uneventful, and both guys settled in and passed out, Nick in nothing but pink boxers. Billy put on an old science olympiad t-shirt, some pajama pants and crawled into his bed, head still swimming from all of the nicotine and smoke.

During the night, Billy had a really bizarre dream. He saw himself, but from the outside. He was...different, somehow. Physically. But the combination of the cigar smoke and the beer or two he downed at the house made his memory fuzzy.

When Billy awoke in the morning, he rolled over and felt something odd. He put his hand to his cheek and encountered dense, short stubble. "What the fuck?" he thought, since he had never been able to grow more than a smattering of wispy peachfuzz before. His hands moved to his hair, and that was different too. It was much shorter than he was used to, and didn't at all feel like the oily, sweaty mop he had grown up with.

This was enough to prompt Billy to jump out of bed and rush for the bathroom he and Nick shared with the kids next door. When he flipped on the light and looked in the mirror, his heart stopped. This wasn't him. It was a stranger.

This guy had a jet black buzz cut, arresting green eyes and two day stubble that Billy had dreamed of maybe SOMEDAY having. This guy had legitimate muscle, pecs and abs and bis that came in stark contrast to the rail-thin, slightly flabby frame Billy knew. This guy looked like a swimmer; Billy remembered looking like a starving refugee.

Billy darted back into his room and shouted for Nick to wake up. "Dude," he yelled, though not quite the word he was reaching for. "Nick, fuckin' wake up man!" His confusion continued to deepen as he tried to rouse his friend.

Nick eventually rolled over and opened his eyes. "Yo, bro, look at you! Told you it was gonna be a big day!" Nick stood up out of bed, morning wood tenting his pink boxers to an obscene degree. "So what do you think, man?"

"You knew about this?" Billy said, his voice resonating a lot deeper and smoother than the high-pitched trembles he remembered. "What the fuck is going on here, bro?"

"It's like we said, kid," Nick said, circling Billy and examining the changes, "you're one of us now." •

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