In bed, Ant fell asleep immediately and just as quickly began to snore. Mike lay there thinking about being a little kid. The way fireflies looked bouncing off his window. He’d always wanted it. When his mum read him Jack and the Beanstalk he had felt sorry for the giant. The same went for the wolf in Red Riding Hood. He felt for their hunger. Not that he had grown up hungry. Not at all. His was a decent, comfortable middle-class home. His parents had never so much as sent him to bed without supper. But his earliest autoerotic efforts had involved picturing himself shrunk down into a little person, a homunculus, struggling in the belly of a domineering giant.
When he was thirteen, he transferred his lust to boys, and the fantasy went away briefly. Soon after he came out when he was seventeen, he fell in love. Tumbling about in a sleeping bag with his first boyfriend, he could not get aroused without imagining himself being shrunk down and swallowed head first, whole, eaten alive. Of course, he didn’t say anything. For years, he suffered; it was every bit as much a part of him as being gay; he could not help but imagine being shrunk and eaten head first by every man he looked at. Since an open mouth and gaping throat were tantamount to sexual organs, the sight of a man laughing or even yawning could be torture. He once found himself with an erection in a nice restaurant after a beautiful man in a corner booth belched loudly.
He was not naíve to the masochistic implications of his fantasy, but punishment alone did not sustain Mike. He had no qualms about being handcuffed or ball-gagged, but he was too shy to ask another man to share his real fantasy. He had no trouble begging like a dog, or being hog-tied and beaten on his ass with fists, but he often found himself with stray thoughts… the half-moon mousehole in the wall, the zig-zaggy chase, the snare, and the moment when cat dangles mouse over fanged maw… He tried to imagine, instead of the mouse escaping, the cat getting the mouse, the mouse succumbing, the cat taking the creature into its mouth, but each time his imagination failed him: the mouse clobbered the cat over the head with a giant mallet, and he would find himself with welts rising on his bare back, a steel bit cutting into his gums, and he was lost, a five-year-old boy, identifying with the hunger of the cat but only because he wanted to be the food: the mouse, the object of hunger. He wanted to go through the blinding airless sacrifice, the bilious baptism, to become the eventual heroic turd. He didn’t expect anyone to understand.
Then there was a one-night stand a few years back. He was out of town at a voice-over artists’ convention, after a night of copious tequila, he shared the fantasy. It seemed to turn on his friend. Mainly, because the chap seemed to enjoy having power over Mike in this way, he described in great detail how he would dispatch Mike to his bowels and what would happen to Mike in his stomach, and then, come morning, how he would shit him out. Still, despite the fun, he didn’t think that this other man had believed that Mike was, in every way, fully prepared to be digested.
The next morning over breakfast Ant and Mike didn’t speak. Then Mike went off to record a commercial for a syrup that stopped flatulence. Over the next week it was as if he’d never told Ant. He was frustrated. Their sex life continued as usual. And then at dinner, a week after he’d brought up Tweety and Sylvester, he told Ant that he was serious, that he wanted to be devoured.
“I don’t want to bloody eat you. Quit being disgusting.” Of course, Ant wasn’t eating. He was picking at his green beans, sipping a Coors Light. Somehow, the fact that Ant wasn’t eating made Mike more desperate. The more he didn’t eat, the more Mike wanted Ant to eat him.
“You have to listen to me.”
“I want you to devour me.”
Mike told Ant that his desire to be eaten alive as a little man was not a fetish but that, in every way, he was prepared to be digested. This was how he was wired. It consumed his thoughts. It was implacable. Ant listened and said okay. He had no problem with it. It was cool. Then he got up and left Mike to do the dishes. He was going to shower. When Mike finished the dishes, he went into the bathroom, where Ant was standing on the bare tile, naked, toweling himself off. His skull was steaming, glistening from a fresh shave. He moved to the sink and began rubbing lotion onto his scalp.
“I don’t think you’re listening,” Mike said.
Ant put the lotion down on the counter, tossed his towel over the shower- curtain rod, and stepped around Mike, who was sitting on the edge of the tub. Mike followed into the bedroom and watched Ant dress. Ant glared at him in the mirror, buttoning his trousers.
“Are we bloody going or not?”
Fine. So they went into town on the tube. Mike found himself standing under an ad for the same product he’d barkered on the radio that morning. The farting syrup. He did not want to go out. He was about to jump off at the next stop when Ant said, “so are you a cannibal then, is that it?”
Despite himself, he laughed, and that relieved Ant. The idea of humans cooking and eating other humans was revolting to him. And though he was compelled by the idea that there were animals out there sharks, snakes that could eat a man whole, the whole point, for him, was to arrive at the intestines alive and blissfully conscious. He had dated a few who misunderstood. One who Mike thought might understand, a skinny writer, had woven a long narrative with a nebulous “native island peoples” who dragged poor shipwrecked Michael (Mike objected to being called Michael) to a great ceremonial cauldron where his captors chanted camp songs while Mike, bound by rope, stood in the cauldron up to his knees in a reeky broth of julienned island roots and malodorous herbs, blinking and coughing from the smoke, while the boyfriend took special pleasure in prolonging the boiling of the water until finally Mike sank, strengthless, into the pot, where his flesh turned lobster red and came off in chunks and was then dished out in rough-hewn coconut bowls. For the grand chief were saved the most delectable portions: Mike’s heart, liver, and, naturally, his steaming, exsanguinated cock and balls. Mike had been disgusted. It was not at all what he’d had in mind. No, Mike said, he was not a cannibal. For the rest of the ride he stared at his siphoned-off reflection in the handrail.
At the bar they were back at Miff’s Mike described the kind of scenarios that went through his mind.
“But that’s impossible,” Ant said. Yes, Mike said, he knew that. Jesus, he wasn’t a fucking dolt.
But Ant was caressing Mike’s back. “So what’s my role?”
When they got home, Mike started to prepare. He wanted it perfect. He didn’t want to rush anything. That was the whole idea a great deal of imagination was required for his mind to fall for what he wanted it to fall for, and that would take some patience. He took a shower, shaved, clipped his nails. He put on music in the bedroom, lit vanilla candles. He checked the batteries and put the flashlight on the nightstand he had never even looked down Ant’s throat! With a towel around his waist, he went to the den and found Jack and the Beanstalk on the shelf next to his high-school diary, a diary that recorded the anxieties of a desire beyond the possibility of requital in the world of natural law. And yet now, with Ant, his beloved, maybe it could happen. He believed if he was patient enough, if Ant was patient, they could make a beautiful verisimilitude, and Mike would finally have those needs met. He was as excited as a twelve-year-old boy with a dirty magazine and the poolhouse to himself. With the book, he went to turn off the light in the kitchen, where he found Ant sitting at the table, still wearing his suede coat, eating leftover french fries. Mike shrieked. Startled, Ant dropped a fry, streaking the knee of his pant leg with mustard.
“You’re not supposed to eat!” Mike was now crying shrilly.
“This ruins everything!”
Another week passed before Ant asked Mike, while watching Animal Planet, whether the python chowing the rat gave him a woodrow. Not so much, but he let Ant give him the handjob anyway; just as the next night he accepted Ant’s happy fellatio while viewing a re-run of newly hatched turtles being swallowed alive by gulls. Still, it depressed him, because Ant had not really heard him. Watching the dirty gulls throw back their heads, distended throats bobbling, something snapped. He envied the baby turtles. He wanted so badly to be small he mashed his face into Ant’s stomach, begging to be swallowed, eaten, digested. He sobbed fitfully, until he was out of breath, whipped, and Ant helped him get undressed and into bed and then heated him a bowl of tomato soup, which Mike ate propped up with all four pillows.
The next morning, before 8:00, Mike got a last minute call to replace a James Earl Jones sound-alike who had suddenly come down with stomach flu. They wanted Mike to do God for a new pretzel-flavored snack. He’d never done God, but he’d done Satan once for a branch bank, so he figured that’s why they thought of him second. It was the sort of gig that could have taken 30 minutes, but the producer was a real auteur type hoping to use the radio spot to get into television ads, so Mike had to redo God a hundred times until he got it right.
After, he had a pint alone. Underneath it all, Mike was a pretty conservative guy. He was also, despite it all, realistic. Though he did sometimes catch himself fantasizing about developments that would allow him to shrink, for the most part he knew that his fetish but he hated that word, and it wasn’t really a fetish was alone in the realm of his imagination. Still, he would have done anything to make it possible. There was that movie where some scientists were shrunk down and then flew around in a tiny little spaceship performing nano-repairs on blood cells, but that was not his cup of tea. It was too clean, and the spaceship didn’t venture much into the shit pit, and besides, the special effects bored him daffy. No, there was nothing he could do to actually shrink. He was sure that science would eventually get around the shrinking problem, but probably not in his lifetime.
He was embarrassed; he was going to tell Ant to forget the whole shrink-me-down-and-eat-me thing. Maybe he would see a therapist. It was stupid. He would just have to learn to quash the infantile obsession. He would tell Ant forget about it.
But by the time he got home he was unable to speak above a throttled whisper (having played God all day). Still, his nose worked, so he could smell the nutmeg and hot papaya chutney and coconut rice, curried beef, adobo, fried plantains, papaya-orange chicken and conch chowder simmering. The whole apartment was engulfed in sweet, fiery Caribbean aromas. The table was crowded with colorful steaming dishes and swishy looking drinks with tiny umbrellas. Before Mike hung his coat, Ant, wearing a blue-ruffled apron, came out of the kitchen with a fresh cocktail and by his arched eyebrow Mike could tell it was not his first. Ant gave Mike the drink but withdrew the tiny umbrella. He twirled it coquettishly near his ear and said, “Won’t you be my wee Mary Poppins?”
“You cooked a feast.” Mike sipped the drink.
“But I’m not hungry.”
“You’re never hungry.”
Ant fluttered the umbrella across his teeth, and then said, in a weakly voice, like someone caught being too serious who wants to take it back but can’t find the right way to joke their way out of it, “I’m only hungry for your measly little body.”
“Oh then,” Mike said.
Mike helped him off with the apron (in his anxiety, Ant had double-knotted), and then they both undressed. Leaving their clothes piled by the dinner table, Ant took Mike by the hand to the living-room couch. Mike could feel Ant trembling, so he straddled him, took the reins so to speak, took ahold of his jaw, forced it open, and probed the inside of his mouth with his fingers. He asked if it was okay if he got a flashlight. Ant said it was fine. Mike got the flashlight and for a long while, like a dentist or spelunker, he studied the soft pink flesh, the restless tongue and swirling slick hole of his lover’s throat, punctuated by uvula. The smell of alcohol metabolizing put him in a giddy swoon. When he felt Ant recoil, he straddled him tighter, forcing him back, and pushed the jaw up and down, testing it like a puppet’s mouth. “Tell me how you’ll eat me.”
“I want to devour you whole.” Ant whispered it, chokily, like someone unaccustomed to saying “I love you.”
“First make me small and devour me. Eat my whole body. Talk to me and tell me how you’ll eat me. Describe it slowly.”
“Tell me how you’ll shrink me first.”
“Use a potion. Tell me you spiked my drink.”
“I spiked your drink.”
“And now what?”
“Now you’re a wee thing.” Ant’s voice sounded wee.
Mike pawed at Ant’s mouth until he unfurled his tongue to his chin. Mike kissed and licked the long pink-blue tongue from tip to middle.
“Now tell me how you’ll suck me down like a chocolate toy soldier.”
“Tell me slower.”
Ant did so, somewhat mechanically, but with valiant pacing, he told Mike how he took his naked little body between his lips and chewed on him and swished him around in his mouth, all slow like, before letting him slide down his throat like a raw oyster, and Ant was just starting to warm to the story, establishing character, readying Mike for the descent into his belly, but as soon as Mike hit the epiglottis, it was over. He came on Ant’s arm. Afterward, they curled up with cold conch chowder.
In the beginning, Mike didn’t mind doing the double-duty of, as it were, feeding the story lines for Ant to, as it were, regurgitate.
“Would you do tiskity-tisk?”
“Would you tisk-tisk?”
“And then tisk?”
Mike didn’t get impatient. He understood that Ant was like a newborn; he had to be guided, gently, through this unfamiliar thing. Eventually, though, he didn’t have to ask for it every night. Ant started to like it on his own, even initiating. He had never had anyone look into his mouth like that. Had never had anyone press their ear to his gurgling stomach. Letting Mike be himself made him extra beautiful to Ant. It became what he wanted also. So, he began to take over Mike’s story lines, he took over the story-telling, at first just taking cues, then inventing all on his own, as he saw that the turn of events he made up surprised, and therefore excited Mike even more. Because it was impossible to act out, because they could only engage the fantasy in the imagination, they became more intimate than lovers who remain trapped in the plausible and tactile. He never made the mistake of eating before a session. He began to live for the sheer pleasure of making up stories. He was better at it than he thought.
For Mike, it was like coming out for the second time. He had never been happier. It was incredibly exciting to do this unusual thing, and yet, after a while, not unusual at all, as if they’d always known how.
Ant’s narratives became so convincing that Mike felt like he really was a piece of struggling meat. Each love session was like a waking dream for Mike. Ant retold Jack and the Beanstalk, tweaked the story just so, so that the giant caught Jack, stripped him naked, rolled him in butter, and sucked him through his lips like a green bean. He built up the chase through the giant’s castle, the field of giant turnips, and down the beanstalk so nicely that it was all Mike could do but weep with euphoria once the giant swept him up in his fist and kneaded him into a bolus on his tongue. He made a great burlesque of Tom getting Jerry. Just as Tom caught Jerry, the cat would rip off the mouse’s little costume to reveal that Mike had been inside a little man in a mouse suit! Brilliant! He did the same with Tweety. Each time, Mike was the homunculus.
Though Mike had imagined these fantasies for himself a thousand times, he never imagined them the way Ant did. It made him feel out of breath, like, he couldn’t believe he had confessed this, had asked for this, the most important thing, the thing that made him whole, he couldn’t believe that he had gotten what he wanted, and with such refreshing plot lines.
He wanted to know more, so the next day he biked to the library and checked out Encyclopedia Americana, v. 4, IAGíINY. It was a reference book and therefore not supposed to be checked out but the clerk behind the counter was hungover or insubordinate or merely had other things on his mind and Mike got away with it without knowing that he was getting away with anything. Later that night, instead of watching TV, Mike and Ant read about the INTESTINAL TRACT. Mike fell asleep while Ant read outloud about the ileocecum. When he woke much later the light was off, but Ant was still reading, under the covers with the torch.
“Did you know that the small intestine alone is seven metres in a human being?”
No, Mike did not know that.
“And the jejunum is deep red because of the heavy blood supply. That’s what makes it warmer.”
“Yeah. Believe it or not, the peristaltic movements are slower in the ileum than the jejunum. Actually, peristalsis is most vigorous in the jejunum.”
Soon, the encyclopedia accompanied their sessions like a copy of the Kama Sutra, and Ant’s narratives became increasingly detailed, true to nature, even tedious. The chase scenes down the beanstalk or mousehole became shorter, more perfunctory, a naked pretense to get to the alimentary canal. At first, Mike was enthralled with the big words like amylase and carboxypeptidase. He also liked that Ant had made himself erudite enough to absorb Mike into his bloodstream. It was like phone sex at the microscopic level. “Now my darling chyme, you pass into my duodenum, splash around in my bile, stew in my gastric juices. You are slowly suffocating in my airless stench. Your eyes sting from the hydrochloric acid. Can you feel my pancreatic enzymes hydrolyzing your fat molecules and breaking down your proteins into polypeptides?”
Sometimes just being swished around on Ant’s tongue, braised with saliva, was enough to bring him off. But because Ant increasingly insisted on real-time (the passage of food through the small intestines alone took three to six hours), Mike luxuriated in Ant’s Ring Cycle, he surrendered to the deep longitudinal massaging convolutions through the velvety inner walls of the small intestines, drifted from the duodenum into the hot, pulsing jejunum, then into the decidedly less sanguine warmth of the ileum, where he felt giddy anticipation toward the trip into the large intestine. This was always announced with a splash of mucous as he entered the cecum. Roomier, the cecum. He felt the loss of electrolytes. But before he could dwell on that, the churning, kneading walls pushed him out and upward elevator-like (ascending colon), until leveling out and conveying sideways as if along a belt (transverse colon), all the while being pressed in with dying bacteria, then down (descending colon), where he came out with a zippy loop-de-loop, a roller coaster flip, a twist like a crooked cursive signature (sigmoid flexure!), and found himself peeking into Ant’s chambered rectum. Ant said that, in fact, there were three chambers, each segmented as if by a half-drawn curtain in a Victorian parlor, which Ant pedantically informed him were the “valves of Houston.” After a while, the glut of these details underwhelmed Mike. The more accurate the depiction of the viscera, the less visceral was the experience. Ironic? Still, it was baking hot, and the torque intensified as he was graduated from one chamber to the next in a tightly packed, sweltering, dehydrated mass. Generally, the feeling at the end was that he was about to be made into pasta.
Mike had made contact with another guy like himself. Online, of course, he’d found a handful of others who felt the same obsession, just a few, and finding the others had helped him define himself in this way, and had even given it a name, vore. Sean lived in America. He, like Mike, was a vore. Sean had fantasized for years of a Dr. Seuss creature with a trapdoor in his stomach. It was pre-anal. From the same age that Mike began suffering the unendurable fantasy of Tom gulping Jerry, Sean had fantasized about being shrunken down and swallowed whole by the Mop-Noodled Finch who would later let him exit via the striped-fur hatch in his belly. Sean was getting his PhD in linguistics at an Ivy League university. He wrote stories for the vore Web site he’d created, Big Gulp, and Mike read all the stories, some of which made him long for the more romantic straightforward stories Ant used to tell before he’d gotten his hands on the encyclopedia.
Sean’s stories thrilled Mike. He came up with devices that neither he nor Ant had ever thought of. There was one story that Sean wrote about being shrunk after swimming in a radioactive lake. Mike found that some vores wore oversize clothes to give themselves the illusion of being shrunk. Some of them were into giant two-hundred-feet-tall women, but those were macrophiles, and really when it came down to it the vores, being overly preoccupied with being swallowed, had nothing to do with the macros, though, inarguably, there was some crossover, especially with the furries, who Mike understood even less than the macros. He browsed the personals on a macrophile Web page:
I am a six-inch man. Feel my tiny erect penis under your foot. With your GIANT hand pick me up and keep me in a dollhouse. At night I see your GIANT hands come thru the windows. I pretend to be asleep. You spread my legs apart with two GIANT fingers. I sleep naked. With your GIANT index finger you rub my penis up and down. Then holding my naked body in your hands you stroke me with only an index finger and thumb. Don’t let my size fool you! I can do things and go places others cannot. I want to be your little sex toy.
But Mike did not want to be a little sex toy. This was not the same thing. He did not fantasize about being a little person and sneaking around under ashtrays or wrestling dust bunnies. He was obsessed with the human intestines. He wanted to be shrunk and eaten and blown out in fecal ejecta. Still, reading Sean’s stories gave him new ideas.
Spiking water was one of Ant’s favorite devices, but Mike was tiring of it, and he thought it’d be nice to try something new. He also felt that Ant had become too obsessed with the alimentary photorealism. He was letting his research show too much. Valves of Houston? Come on, Mike thought. But when he brought it up, Ant was wounded.
“Wot, now you don’t like vivid details?”
“I do. Of course. Details are good. It just feels it bogs me down. It just feels clinical.”
“I see. Since when?”
Mike told Ant that he just meant that he wanted to get back to the storylines like in Jack and the Beanstalk.
“I’m giving you plenty of that stuff. There’s potions, shrinking potions.”
“That’s another problem. Maybe there’s too many shrinking potions.”
“You don’t want me to spike your water?”
“Maybe just not every time. It’s too predictable. Maybe you could just use different foreplay.”
“I don’t know, maybe like, um, you could shrink me down with radiation?”
“Wot, like an atom bomb?”
“Or like an accident. A spill. We could be at a beach and I go swimming, but what we don’t know is that the lake is full of radioactive sludge.”
“Where’d you get a bloody idea like that?”
That’s when Mike told Ant about the new stories he’d read and how it might be fun for Ant to read some of Sean’s stories. Mike went to go print one off, but when he came back Ant had left the room. He found him in the kitchen, cooking a giant hamburger with a thick slab of cheese melting over the top.
“Aren’t you going to make me one?”
“Make it yourself.”
“You know what?” Mike cried out. “You’re a fucking prima donna!”
“Why don’t you just go crawl up this Sean’s buggerhole!”
Before Mike knew it, Ant got fat. He knew it had happened before. He knew the stretch marks were scars from Ant’s last relationship. From when he’d gained a million pounds and then lost it all just before he’d met Mike. When Ant got jealous he pigged out, and he couldn’t stop. He just became really fat really fast. He started to smell funny. And then he left. One afternoon, Mike went to record an ad for an animal shelter, and he came home to find a lukewarm pot roast in the oven and a note on the table.
You’re bloody fucking crazy but I’m sorry I can’t eat you in one piece. It just can’t be done. I wish, right? xoxo, Ant.
Mike put the letter in his diary but didn’t bother to refrigerate the pot roast. For three days he didn’t eat and walked around the city waiting for Ant to come home or call. On the third day he was too weak to get out of bed, so he only lay there, listening to raindrops on the window, reading his high school diary. What he read seemed foreign. As strange as it probably had sounded to Ant in the first place. It was ludicrous. He no longer had any desire to do the fantastic voyage. He wanted a normal 1:1 scale life. He wanted a conventional vanilla ice cream sex life. All he wanted was to have Ant back. Maybe it was thinking about vanilla ice cream that got him out of bed.
He went to the kitchen where he had to hold a napkin over his nose and mouth to take the grayish pot roast out of the oven. Gagging, he set it on the table, and then got a knife and fork from the drawer. He managed to eat half the roast before he vomited, went clammy, and passed out cold. An hour later Ant returned, carrying a pastry box with a lavender bow. He rushed Mike to the hospital where they pumped his stomach for six hours straight. Every last trace of toxic pig was removed from his intestines, and the doctor said he’d be okay if he took the antibiotics for two months. When he left the hospital, leaning against Ant’s plump arm, he felt weak but cleansed. He even felt the stirring of appetite when Ant promised to fix him a cup of broth when they got home. The overdue fine on the unreturned encyclopedia was astronomical but no one ever noticed.
Jay Kirk and Nerve.com