His phone rang and he checked the number before answering. “I said I’d call.” He started before Bobby could speak.
“I couldn’t wait, come over.”
“Come over, I need to see you. I’ve a huge meeting tomorrow, I need to be inspired. Come over this afternoon. Just a few hours…”
“Maybe I’m not in the mood.”
“You’re a teenager, you don’t need a mood. I’ll be good to you…”
“You’re not busy, you’re home alone. A few hours, you’ll be home before anyone knows you’re gone.” Bobby paused. “What’s wrong, you don’t normal need this much convincing.”
“Riley asked Georgia to the prom. I know, don’t laugh.” He winced at how teenaged angst that sounded.
“I’m not laughing. I know how deep in puppy love you are with him. I was still falling for straight boys in college. I get it. Come over and I’ll make you feel better. I’ll put on a speedo.”
That made Noah laugh.
“See? You’re feeling better already.”
“Okay, but only for a few hours. I need to take a shower first.”
“Don’t, shower here, I’ll wash your back.”
The lusty tone to the older man’s voice made Noah grin. “I’m sure you will. Okay, I’ll be over soon but really only a few hours and I have to get home, not all day.”
Noah’s parents knew he had a friend named Bobby but they assumed he was from school. They didn’t ask too many questions, and since Bobby was a friend it wasn’t a lie. It wasn’t like they just had sex, Bobby talked to him and really seemed to listen. They watched movies and ordered in food and, yes, had a great deal of sex. Neither one pretended they were anything more to each other than what they were and it worked well. At the very least it gave him the motivation to put on real clothes and leave the sofa.
Bobby’s arms tightened around his shoulders as the older man moaned into Noah’s hair. He always tended to get clingy as he came and it sometimes was difficult for Noah not to laugh. It wasn’t Bobby’s fault that being pulled so close and almost smothered reminded Noah of being a teddy bear, but the mental image had crept in and refused to leave. The man sighed softly as his arms started to relax.
“Oh….to be young again…”
“You’re not….not that old…” Noah forced the words out around panting breath.
It made Bobby pull away enough to brush Noah’s loose hair back from his face. “Yeah but you, what? Came like four times?”
“You okay? You’re getting wheezy.”
“Geesh…what did you…and my mom….do? Conspire to…to nag me about my asthma today? Been…been forever…”
“Yeah well your mom hadn’t just finished fucking you into the floorboards the last time you had an attack. You okay?”
“Fine…” And it wasn’t a lie, he was wheezy a little and it took him longer to catch his breath but he could breathe. He groaned a little and arched back out of Bobby’s arms. The older man let him go and Noah let his body drape down over the arm of the sofa to lay across its cushions.
“Need showers again.” Bobby suggested as he stepped away to work the condom from his rapidly softening cock.
“Mmm hmmm.” Noah agreed, a hand pressed to his chest as he lazed in happy comfort. A shower and some snuggling and maybe a nap all felt like very good ideas. It certainly made facing his parents seem easier and he was glad he’d agreed to come over.
He cracked open his eyes and turned to where the tv had been on but muted beside them. The video cut from a picture of military troops with rifles standing on a roadside to a serious looking and Noah thought, kind of frightened looking, news reporter at a desk. The video instantly switched to a young woman, her make up and hair flawed when generally news reporters were flawless. She stood outside of a parking lot and Noah cranked his head to read that it was a mall in Arizona.
Instead of cars, the parking lot was filled with people on blankets, some with IV’s in their arms. A few tents dotted the area and occasionally someone moved in what looked like a biohazard suit. The reporter seemed upset and she waved to the parking lot and the camera panned to show hundreds and hundreds of more people all laying around, waiting and sick. The woman seemed to be in a hurry and she quickly walked to the side, the camera followed her and zoomed in around the corner of the mall building. There, at the edge of the camera’s range to focus on, was more people in blue biohazard suits, tossing darkly wrapped bodies into the back of a covered truck from a pile of bodies that were stacked up like cordwood.
“Jesus….remote…Bobby….” Noah struggled to wiggle off the sofa but he was having trouble coordinating his movement. His lungs felt tighter too and he scrambled for the remote as he started to wheeze more.
“Noah? Where’s your inhaler?”
“I’m…I’m fine…I…” He got the sound back on.
“We’re told to stay within a small section for reports but there aren’t too many of us left. Most of my colleagues have joined the ranks of the sick in the last few days and hours. The official report is still a very low death toll but as you can see they’re filling trucks with the dead. This will be the fourth or fifth truck that has left this facility today alone. Things are dire here, there are reports of looting in Phoenix and some people are saying this is the end of the world. I’ve even heard rumors of people trying to sneak past the quarantine, some caught and turned back and there are even reports of some people being fired upon. No one’s cell phone is working and internet connections and land lines also appear to be down, we’re only able to reach the outside with a direct satellite uplink.”
Noah was gasping for breath now but he couldn’t look away from the television. Bobby had hurried across the room to where Noah had tossed his jacket and patted down the pockets until he found the inhaler. He hurried back to the sofa and pressed it into Noah’s hands and when Noah didn’t instantly use it he nudged the younger man until he did.
“Things here are not what is being said and people are frightened. We have some reports of some smaller towns becoming graveyards in the last week and worse there are reports that this virus isn’t just killing some people but driving them mad, turning them loose to rape and murder their neighbors. There was a young girl of maybe sixteen brought in here last night absolutely brutalized and she was raving about her boyfriend being a monster. They quickly shuffled her away and issued an order not to mention it. The media has been tightly locked down and we are under martial law right now. Everyone, as you can see, is in biohazard suits except for a handful of local police that have already been exposed. There are clean zones established for the medical and military personnel and the rest of us locals are being kept back from those areas by hundreds of feet. We’ve had reports that anyone with previous law enforcement or military experience are being recruited and, as you can see here, they’re being armed as well.”
“Hey, you know the rules. Back to the designated media area.” The man the camera panned to shouted, the shotgun he held was enough authority to back him up.
“This might be the last time we get to broadcast out as opposed to simply documenting what’s happening here. Things aren’t what is being told, things are bad here, really bad and people are frightened.” She struggled to get her words out quickly.
“You’re broadcasting? You’re not supposed to be broadcasting.” The militia man hurried over and pushed the woman out of the camera’s view.
“Things are bad here, it’s not what they’re saying!” She shouted as she was brushed aside.
“Give me that, give me that!” The man demanded and the camera swung around widely as he pulled it from the cameraman’s grasp.
“We still have a free press!” The cameraman protested but the camera was ripped away. There was the sounds of shuffling and shoving as the camera swung around, someone cried out in pain before the feed went black.
Noah took another pull from the inhaler. “How did they manage to broadcast?” He glanced up to Bobby as the desk anchor came back but there was a very long pause where they sat sitting as wide eyed and frightened as Noah felt before they escaped to a commercial break.
“Who knows, a sat phone maybe?”
“Do you think that was real? That couldn’t have been real, it has to be a hoax.”
“Why?” Bobby petted a hand over Noah’s hair.
“Because they said…they said it was okay…” He took another pull off the inhaler just for good measure.
“Rumors are all over the web.”
“Why would they lie?”
“You know, being naïve is cute, but your parents have done you a disservice. The world isn’t a good place, Noah. I wasn’t lying when I said the world was going to end. My meeting tomorrow is on how to manage a pandemic for our workplace, telecommuting, scenarios and shit like that.”
“But it’s contained, it won’t get here.”
“Do you really believe they can shut down a whole state? Cover every back road and country crossing?”
“Jesus…I need to go home…”
“What difference is it going to make if you’re here or home?”
“I…” He stood up and looked around but his clothes were in the bathroom, he’d need another shower anyway. “I just have to go home.”
Bobby slipped his arms around Noah’s shoulders as he hurried by. “Stay…” He whispered into an ear. “We could all be dead tomorrow, stay and live with me today…”
“That’s not funny!” He threw the arms off and pushed away.
“Who’s laughing? Do you know how many people died during the 1918 flu pandemic? They think it could have been as many as 100 million people. It had a fifty percent infection rate and killed people fast. It was only a matter of time before a new flu made the rounds. I mean, in 1918 there was only like a billion and a half people globally, so 100 million dead is huge, that’s like close to like 700 million dead now.”
“You’re not making me feel any better.” He hurried to the bathroom and got the shower turned on as he gathered up his clothes.
“What? It’s just facts.”
“Facts? Just facts? It’s not just facts to those people being tossed onto trucks!”
“It’s a long way away. They’ll get it under control before it spreads too far.”
Noah shook his head and got under the water. “You said yourself it’ll spread.”
“And they’ll have a vaccine in a week’s time.” He stepped into the shower and wrapped his arms around Noah’s more narrow shoulders. “It’ll be okay, science to the rescue.”
“You really think that, or are you just saying that to make me stay?”
“I really mean it. Do you think I’d be going to work if I thought I was going to be getting some virus by doing so? You know what a selfish prick I am.”
“So stay…” Bobby massaged at Noah’s shoulders, rubbing the worry and fear away. “Take a nap with me, we’ll order a pizza and watch something other than the news. Deal?”
It felt good to be touched. Sometimes Noah thought the only person alive that cared to touch him was Bobby. His father had stopped hugging him when he was ten and had been caught making his GI Joes kiss and his mother had never been a touchy feely person. He’s only close friend had ever been Georgia and she’d stopped trying to hug him when he flinched away from it once when they were thirteen. Bobby may only touch him looking for sex, but that was better than nothing at all.
“Yeah, deal, but I’m still leaving before it gets too late.” Truth was, Bobby may have just been a friend and casual lover, but that was better than sitting home, all alone, with no one around.