“Why would you just give up your Bishop like that?” I asked, staring at the chessboard in amazement.
“Why don’t you take it and find out?” Vesko asked, the corners of his mouth turning into a grin. Vesko was originally from Bulgaria, and his accent always made anything he said sound so confident and sophisticated. I looked into his eyes, which were partially obscured by his long, silvery hair.
I knew it was a trap, but I walked into it willingly. I had to - how could I resist? I’d never beaten Vesko in a chess game before, and this might be my only chance to gain the edge. I captured with my King, my hand shaking as I let go of the piece.
Vesko quickly leapt in with his Knight, putting me on the defensive. I moved my King back, but the move, his Queen joined the battle, too. I had nowhere to go, and the seemingly trivial pawn Vesko had sacrificed his Bishop to attack had been my last line of defense. I’d be mated in two moves.
“You win,” I said, slumping down into my chair.
“Don’t feel so bad, I’ve got about 150 years of practice on you,” he reminded me. Save for his silver hair, Vesko had all the features of a man in his early twenties, yet he had confided to me that he was actually far older. Exactly how much older, he wouldn’t say.
Of course, I hadn’t believed his story right away. We’d been college roommates in our freshman year, and in the five years we’d been best friends, he hadn’t aged a day. I was still young looking, of course, but I’d be lying if I said I looked exactly the same as I did as a teenager. Not only did Vesko look the same, he showed me pictures from years ago - decades ago - in which he never seemed to change. Not only did he manage to keep his youth and build up skill in games like chess, he was also always the best in class, and the most charismatic person I’d ever met. It wasn’t fair.
“Tell me how you do it,” I said. It was about the hundredth time I’d asked, so I certainly didn’t expect an answer.
“Tell me how I do what?” Vesko asked nonchalantly, as he rose from the table, flopping down on the sofa a few feet away.
“How do you stay young? What makes you an immortal?” I asked.
“If I had known you’d be this insistent, I might not have told you that I am one.”
“I would have figured out something was up,” I insisted.
“Your eyes would have seen what you wanted to see. People don’t accept things they don’t understand. You didn’t even believe me until I showed you proof, remember?”
“Still, why can’t I know? We’ve been best friends for almost five years now,” I reminded him.
“That’s true, we have been. Why ruin a good friendship with a few trivial details?” His voice, always smooth sounding, issued those last two words with contempt.
“Aha! So you think our friendship will be destroyed if you told me! That’s new!” I said, seizing on the detail.
“Just...forget it,” Vesko said.
“Could you forget it, if you were in my shoes?” I asked.
“If I was you, I’d badger myself senseless until I got my answer,” Vesko admitted. “But you’re not me. I’m hoping you are smarter than me. Just drop it, Joe, okay?”
An uncomfortable silence hung in the apartment for a few minutes.
“I can’t,” I said softly. “I can’t drop it. I just have to know. Besides, our friendship is going to drift apart anyway.”
“Why do you say that?” Vesko asked.
“Think about it. You’ve met my family, my friends. They know what you look like today. What happens when you look like this 20 years from now? They’re going to have the same questions that I do. You’re going to have to just vanish, if you want to keep things a secret...”
“Alright,” Vesko said. “Alright, Joe. You’ve got me. I’ll tell you.” He paused for a moment. “I’m a thief.”
“What did you steal?” I said, sounding confused. “Reversitol, or telomerase, some kind of anti-aging drug?”
“Use your head, Joey,” he said. I cringed a little. I always hated when he called me that. “Those drugs have been in clinical trial, what a few years? How could that be the answer?”
“What did you steal, then?” I asked, becoming exasperated.
“Time. Life. Youth. Call it what you will. I took it from others and stored it up in myself,” Vesko explained, speaking as calmly as though he was talking about picking a man’s pocket.
“How is that even possible?” I asked, scratching my head.
“How doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m a terrible person. I’m worse than a thief. I’m basically a murderer.”
“I take life that isn’t mine. I live on stolen time, and so others are robbed of the time that’s rightfully theirs.”
“Well...why don’t you pick someone who doesn’t have much time left?” I suggested.
“Like a death row inmate? A young man stricken with a terminal illness? I’m not a monster, Joey. Those were my first targets. But...how can I explain this...” Vesko paused for a moment, burying his head in his hands. “Fate is a cruel mistress.”
“I see,” I said, though I didn’t. “What did fate do, exactly?”
“I can’t change the future,” Vesko explained. “If someone is to die tomorrow, all the time I’ll get from them is one day, even if they are in perfect health.”
“Well, what if you took one day from a different person, every day?” I suggested. “Nobody would notice it from the end of their lives.”
“Nobody except me,” Vesko said. “I tried that, too. If I took one day from someone, it was the day they got to dance at their granddaughter's wedding. Or they’ve played the lottery all their life, and they die the day before they are to win it, because I interfered. People don’t just die on any day, you know. The loss of even a single moment could be the tragedy of a lifetime.”
“So...what do you do?” I asked, my head swimming. It was all so confusing. Each question asked only seemed to raise two new ones.
“Every few years, I wander the streets, and find a random homeless person, take a few years from them,” Vesko said softly. “I hope nobody misses them.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Ever wonder why homeless people seem to age faster? Now you know,” he said.
“Do you...do you feel guilty about what you’ve done?” I asked.
“Yes! I’m consumed by it!” he said. He turned away from my gaze, and I could see tears streaming down his cheeks. “I should probably stop, right? Just allow myself to age and die, naturally, like everyone else.”
“Of course not,” I said. “You have knowledge from the ages. When the world is ready for you, you could answer so many questions about history because you were there. You’re our link to the past. Continuing your life is worth more than some random person.”
“That’s a nice way to look at it,” he said, drying his eyes. “Still, I don’t want to just hunt random people anymore. The last time I did it, I made a promise to myself never again to drain another human being, not without their consent.”
Those last words were spoken so softly that I couldn’t help but assume they were of the utmost importance. “So, as long as you did have their consent - you’d be OK with it?” I asked.
“Yes,” Vesko said. “But who would willingly offer themselves to me? Nobody would ever do that” he said, looking up directly at me.
My heart pounding furiously. I suddenly felt as though the next few moments would be the most pivotal of my life. A sense of grim foreboding, but also possibility, gripped my mind.
“I’ll do it,” I said.
“You will?” Vesko asked, his voice still and calm. He didn’t at all seem surprised, as if he had suspected such an answer. “Why?”
“Because I don’t want you to die. And I don’t want you to live with the guilt,” I said. “Take me, I insist,” I found myself saying.
“That’s...very generous of you,” Vesko said, his eyes drifting from me back to the chess board. “How much time do you want to donate, as it were? Think carefully before you answer.”
“As much as you can store up, I suppose,” I said.
“You’d give me permission for that, without asking how much that is?” Vesko said, raising his eyebrow a little.
“What are friends for, right?” I said. “Besides, Vesko. Look at me. I was never showered with romantic attention, never picked first for the sports times, never achieved academic success, at least, never in the way you did. Wouldn’t my life energy be better spent with you and your magnificent journey, rather than mediocrity and disappointment in my own skin?”
“As you wish,” Vesko said, looking away. I thought he was trying not to cry again, so I stepped closer a little, wanting to comfort him. He held up his hand, causing me to stop, and a pleasant, heady feeling came over me.
It was difficult to describe - the feeling of a warm blanket on cold toes? The embrace of a parent after nightmare? Hearing that a test has been cancelled? None of those did it justice. More than anything, it was a kind of all encompassing relief, a relief that made me feel weak in the knees. I fell to the ground in short order.
I could only assume this the “theft” as Vesko put it, though it hardly seemed like a robbery with my expressed permission. Perhaps that’s why he turned away, he didn’t want to see me.
I pulled out my cell phone and turned on the self-facing camera function, eager to see what was happening myself. Like I suspected, I was growing older. I could see a couple of strands of gray hair appearing near my widow’s peak, and my skin had a more weathered, rough look to it. The faintest hints of bags appeared under my eyes. Still, I thought, I looked good - a distinguished late 20 something, I thought. Would it stop now?
No. Nor, really, did I expect it to. If it was just a few years, Vesko would never had made such a big deal out of my request. I knew what I was getting myself into.
The fuzzy, warm feeling grew in intensity, as I contemplated that thought and witnessed my hairline retreating on my cell phone. I knew what I was getting myself into, I repeated.
Thirty was gone, I thought as I gazed at my own reflection, and 40 was fast approaching. My hair became thinner still, and I could see through to my scalp in a few spots. My shirt felt a little tighter in the stomach, as I felt the beginnings of a middle-aged gut filling in. The hints of wrinkles had only deepened, with my eyes gaining a tired look and my mouth forming little creases near the corners. My thin neck was thickening, and even my hands felt bloated and clammy. A few more freckles appeared on my arms and hands, as though decades of sun exposure was hitting my skin all at once.
What had I done?
Trembling, I looked up at Vesko. He was, once again, staring at the chessboard. My jaw dropped - revealing a mouthful of increasingly yellowed teeth in my reflection - as my mind began to piece together the puzzle.
In the game, Vesko had tricked me by sacrificing his Bishop. It looked like he was lost, but in reality, he needed me to fall right into his trap to achieve his own victory. I knew what I was getting myself into, I said to myself a final time, and understood the true meaning.
A faint dusting of age spots appeared on my forehead as I turned back to Vesko. Gentle, caring Vesko. A man who might be a smooth talker, but I knew could never be a thief or a killer. Consent, I realized, wasn’t something I could give him to absolve his conscience. Consent was what was required to do what he had to do to survive. The entire story was a ruse, a lie crafted to make him sympathetic enough to earn my permission.
My hair had receded even further, forming a large bald spot near the top. I could feel my paunchy gut spilling past my shirt. This was why Vesko so strongly discouraged me from asking questions, I realized. He didn’t want this for me, but knew once his secret was revealed, there was only one way the conversation would go.
And so did I, I thought, as I saw little ripples of wrinkles consume the ever-growing expanse that was my upper forehead. In the chess game, I knew Vesko’s ploy was a trap, yet I walked into it willingly. My intuition was always right.
How old was I now, I thought? Fifty? Sixty? I wasn’t sure. I knew that the process wasn’t stopping, though. The sides of my eyelids began to droop while my ears sagged a little, the hair inside them growing a little more prominent. I knew this was a potentially risky idea, I thought, but I did it anyway. Why? Because I believed what I said about Vesko’s life being superior to and more valuable than my own?
Yes, I thought, that was part of it. I felt a sense of satisfaction as my knees and back grew stiffer, burdens I knew I was bearing in Vesko’s place. But that was only part of the story. Part of it was just curiosity. I hated a mystery. Knowing he had a secret that he would not share had eaten away at me, and I just had to find out everything.
And even when I knew what the price might be, I thought as I saw the hand holding the phone grow wrinkled and weak-looking, I knew I had to pay it. What was happening was a supernatural, and I couldn’t resist it. I had to know what it was like. This might have been my only chance to experience true magic in my entire life, and my youth was a small price to pay in that regard.
The image on the phone seemed to blur a little, and I could tell that my eyesight was starting to falter as I slipped further into old age. I couldn’t imagine missing even a single moment of this process.
“Vesko,” I croaked out. My voice was surprisingly gravelly and frail. He looked at me fearfully, as though he expected me to beg him to stop. “Mirror,” I said.
He understood, running to the bathroom and returning with a handheld mirror. Now I could continue to see what was happening in the best possible detail.
I nearly dropped the mirror when it was in my hand - I couldn’t believe that there was this old man staring back at me! The gray and white streaks had almost completely overtaken what was left of my wisp-like hair. My skin seemed far more translucent, and I could see some of my broken veins showing through. The wrinkles around my eyes were so intense and sunken, it looked like they were black holes.
Looking down, the rest of my body was changing too. The frame which had grown flabby and paunchy in my middle age had shifted, withering away into a skeletal-like state as my muscles began to atrophy. My wrists looked jagged and bony, while my fingers looked like decayed claws with their yellowed and cracked fingernails. I could feel my joints pop and sear with pain as arthritis began to set in, but I didn’t care. My feet felt cold and numb, and I wondered if I’d be able to walk without the aid of a cane - or maybe, a walker. If I tried to stand, I though, I’d probably look a few inches shorter, too. Not only would my back be stooped over, but I’d read that the spine itself compresses with age. Time, I knew, was stretching, squeezing, and shortening me into the body of a little old man.
The warm cocoon of pleasantness that had covered me when the process began was becoming even more intense. Was this what it was like to be on hard drugs, I wondered, or maybe what Heaven was like? I had never been religious, but as my own mortality hurtled towards me, I could suddenly appreciate the appeal that much the more.
My mouth felt increasingly dry, and as I swirled my tongue around, I could feel my teeth first loosen, then disappear. When most of them were gone, I felt a hard, plastic sheet in their place. Dentures, I thought? Or maybe implants? I wasn’t sure.
“You’re very brave,” said Vesko, finally speaking. “Most are crying, screaming, or begging by now.”
“Never,” I said. What other changes could my body have in store? I was eager to find out. Just how far could this process go?
The last few patches of hair began to fade away from my scalp, leaving it wrinkled, bare, and spotted. The rest of my face looked similar, the age spots spreading so much that the skin resembled a dried up prune. As if to compensate for my hair loss, the hair on my eyebrows and ears grow even more prominent, reaching almost comical proportions.
My breathing - already rapid - was growing more shallow, due to what I suspected was diminished lung capacity brought on by my advanced age. I could feel myself wobble as little as my hips grew unstable from my position kneeling on the floor. I tried to support myself by shifting my weight, but my knees wouldn’t hold, either. Finally, I collapsed on the foot of sofa next to Vesko. He glanced at me for moment, then offered his arm, helping me up.
“Arp,” I feebly grunted, as moving seemed to sap all of my strength. Vesko picked the mirror up from the floor, and handed it to me, but I dropped it. My hands were so weak and clumsy now, I thought. I was lucky that the mirror didn’t break, or I would have faced seven years of bad luck. At my age, I suddenly realized, I can’t afford to wait that long for things to look up!
Vesko picked the mirror up a second time, and held it in front of my face for me. My features seemed even more withered somehow, shadows of themselves. I was clearly moving from merely elderly to ancient, from senior to superannuate. My eyelids looked like a thousand little creases melted together, the eyes themselves having lost since lost their youthful glow. Now, they were yellowed and bloodshot. My neck was full of sagging, shapeless skin, while my shoulders and collarbones seemed to protrude from my shirt, the flesh that once hung upon them rapidly shriveling.
How old was I now? 80? 90? How much more of my time, as it were, could Vesko possibly take? I was past the life expectancy already.
As all the muscles in my face began to atrophy as well, I could see my cheeks become saggy, partially falling onto the gaunt frame of my face. My eyebrow muscles seemed to droop as well. The ends of my chin formed little jowls, melting in with the sagging skin of my neck. Tiny tears in my now ashen skin appeared, tears I knew my older body would be unable to heal before additional ones appeared. I glanced down at my hands and noticed small bruises next to the age spots. I knew the elderly were far more susceptible to skin abrasions.
The entire world seemed to grow a little duller. My eyesight was getting still worse, causing everything to have blurred edges. My hearing was fading too - originally I could hear Vesko’s shallow breathing, but now the room was as silent as the grave. Even my sense of smell had grown fainter: I could no longer smell the dank odor of this terrible dorm apartment. At least that one was a relief.
“I am finished,” Vesko said at last. He looked the same, though next to me, he looked more youthful than ever by comparison. “You are 100 years old, I’d guess.”
“One...hundred?” I said, wheezing a little. “Wow!” It was amazing what had happened. My euphoria, however, was fading as I realized what kind of situation I was in. How could I care for myself, as feeble as I was? “Vesko...Vesko...” I began. “What...will I do?” I asked meekly. “How...will I live?”
“Not a thing, don’t worry about that. I’m going to care for you, it’s the least I can do, to honor your sacrifice on my behalf,” he said. “Let me go get you some soup, that should be easy enough for you to ingest.”
I gazed at him as he hurried away. I knew his gesture was genuine, yet I could also tell he felt guilty.
I looked down at myself. I sure looked silly wearing a skull shirt and jean shorts. I’d need to go purchase some beige slacks, brown socks, and a yellowed shirt as soon as was possible to look like a proper old man. I took a peek down my shirt. My pectoral muscles had started to decay and sag, giving me minature, deflated “man boobs.” Little freckles and sun spots decorated my torso, and even my chest and tummy hair had turned white.
My knees ached, and I wondered how long it would be before I acquired a rocking or a reclining chair. Now that the warm glow has dissipated, I also noticed how old the room suddenly was. Perhaps it was due to my circulation becoming poorer with age, I thought. I should invest in one of those plush throw blankets to warm my old bones.
“Tomato, your favorite, right?” Vesko said, a few minutes later. He held a silver spoon, and lifted it to my mouth, preparing to feed me.
I cautiously took a few bites. The taste seemed bland somehow, as though my taste buds had eroded with age as well. Swallowing felt a lot more difficult, and I could feel my stomach grumbling as soon as the soup hit.
When I’d had my fill, I waved his arm away, and he set the soup down. “Don’t...feel guilty,” I said, coughing a little.
“But, I tricked you,” Vesko said. “I lied.”
“I know,” I said. “It’s okay.”
“It is?” Vesko said. For the first time ever since I’d known him, he looked genuinely confused.
“Yes,” I said. I took a long, deep breath, hoping I could get through the next sentence without wheezing or coughing. “Helping you live...has been the greatest honor of my life. I truly am a happy man.” I concluded, then burst into a small fit of coughing.
Vesko grasped my hand, and looked down at his feet. I could see tears coming down his face once again.
“So you really think your sacrifice was worth it,” Vesko said.
“There was no sacrifice,” I replied.
Did you enjoy this story? Then check out my Male AP/WG ebook, Becoming the Handyman. Clifton has hired a handyman to fix his pipes - a fat, oafish, low-class bum named Frankie, who talks his way into moving in. Every day, Clifton starts to become more like Frankie - he's getting older, losing his trim figure, and he's becoming low class. This is an erotic transformation tale with homoerotic themes.