This is another story (like The Boy who Stood Still) that doesn’t offer any pat explanations for the hero’s situation. Just accept that everything he tells you is true - from his (fixed) point of view. Also, please bear in mind that what may sometimes look like incorrect grammar is due to his unique state of mind. Hopefully you’ll soon figure out what I mean by that.
I am standing here, stark naked, holding my cock and grinning....
What I mean to say is this: I’m standing, naked as I said, poised upon my right leg as if in mid-run, looking down at the bronze figure of a fighting cockerel that I’m holding in the crook of my right arm, grinning triumphantly and raising my left hand in a gesture of victory.
How do I know it’s a fighting cockerel? I don’t know. I just do, somehow. And the idea of cock fighting, and blood sports in general, fills me with revulsion. It sickens me to be associated with such a thing. But that is not nearly the worst that is happening to me, as I soon discover.
How am I getting here? Some time ago...a few hours, I think, but it’s hard to tell, for reasons I am explaining shortly...I am waking suddenly as if from a pleasant sleep to discover myself standing here.
But as I look at the arm that holds the bronze bird I can see, impossible as it seems, that my arm also looks like bronze.
I tell myself that can’t be true, that flesh and blood can’t become solid metal...yet no matter how I try to deny the evidence of my eyes, I can’t move my arm, any more than if it really is made of bronze. No matter how much I might want to hurl the wretched bird away, it’s fixed in place.
And when I try to move my other arm, my fingers, my head, my mouth, my tongue, my legs, my buttocks, my stomach, my back, my facial muscles, even my penis, the story is always the same: I can’t.
Oh, God. I can’t move. I can’t move. I can’t move!
It can’t be true...yet it is. I can’t move a single muscle, no matter how I try. I can’t make a sound. I am completely...helplessly...rigid and inanimate.
I’m not even breathing, yet somehow I remain alive and conscious, able to see, hear and feel. It’s impossible, unthinkable, unbelievable...but my senses continue to tell me what my brain doesn’t want to accept.
My entire body is fixed in place. I am a bronze statue.
That is, assuming I am ever anything but a bronze statue to begin with. I am certain that I must be a living, breathing human being before now, but I can remember nothing about my past existence. I don’t know how I am getting here. I can’t understand what is happening to me.
As for my present situation...I am standing on a pedestal in the hallway of what seems to be a country house. When I try to move my eyes I can’t feel them moving, but my point of view does change, only in sudden jumps rather than continuously. In this way I can move my viewpoint just enough to see paintings hanging on the wood-panelled wall opposite, ornate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and plush carpets on the floor. The hallway is brightly lit, but it’s hard to tell whether it is daylight or artificial light.
Out of the corner of my eye, I can make out what appear to be more statues further along the hall, and I can’t help wondering if they are also frozen human beings like me.
There is also a tall clock standing against the opposite wall between two paintings. The clock looks very old, and is very finely constructed. The case is made of dark timber with hand-carved panelling and decorations. The dial is made of brass with ornate filigree patterns at its corners and elegant Roman numerals around its face.
The clock ticks quietly, its pendulum steadily counting the seconds, completely indifferent to the fact that its efforts are wasted. Tempus Fugit, reads the inscription above the dial, but it is impossible to tell how much time is flying.
The clock face is naked. It has no hands!
And yet...the clock is ticking. Why does someone go to the trouble of winding a clock with no hands?
Perhaps it’s some kind of joke. Perhaps it’s a joke at my expense. I can’t move; although I’m alive I am effectively frozen in time. And although the clock is also “alive”, it can’t show the movement of time either.
And so for what seems like hours (obviously there’s no way to be sure) I can’t do anything but listen to the clock’s meaningless ticking and contemplate my situation.
Tempus Fugit, I think. Time flies. Perhaps it’s a pun. Cockerel, cock, clock, tick, tock. A fighting cock. Time flying. Cock fight. Clock flight. I’m locked tight. It’s not right....
No: it’s not right, what’s happening to me. Not fair. I’m trapped, helpless, imprisoned in an inanimate shell. Nobody has the right to do such a thing, to condemn a fellow human being to such helplessness. Who could be doing it, and why? Why? And why me?
And who am I anyway?
For a while I consider the possibility that I may be nobody...that I may in fact be a bronze statue that is somehow becoming conscious. But surely that’s even more impossible than a man turning into a statue. And I have vague memories of things I am experiencing before, things that I could not possibly know about if I am always being a statue. The roll of the ocean beneath a ship’s deck. The overcrowding, noise, frustration and excitement of a big city. The taste of a fine wine. A shimmering curtain of aurora borealis. The hum of machinery. The scent of a rose and the sting of its thorns. And one final recollection - fleeting yet unmistakable - a quiet whisper and a farewell kiss....
No. I am once a living man, I’m sure of it. And this bronze statue, this inanimate body that I am trapped within, is not that of a man but an adolescent boy. If only it is alive, rather than just a pretty piece of metal, then it is being the kind of body to die for: handsome, lithe, strong, healthy and bursting with youthful vigour. If only it can be alive!
I can’t remember much, but if I strain my memory I vaguely recall that before I am becoming a statue and waking in this place, I am past my prime and less than perfectly fit. But at least back then I am able to move. If only I can remember where.
But it’s so hard to think about the past. My thoughts are constantly drawn back to the present, to the clock that tells no time. It is as if time has ceased to have meaning, as if I am trapped in the here and now.
If the past is hard to contemplate, the future is even more so. Am I still standing here a month, a year, a century, an eternity from now? A statue cannot come to life, or so I believe until now, and if that is true then I can never escape.
But then, until now I believe that a man cannot become a statue either, so perhaps there is hope. Perhaps what is done to me is someday being undone. Until then all I need to do is be patient.
From time to time my point of view is drawn back to the bronze cockerel. The sight of it no longer disgusts me. It is only a symbol, after all. The cockerel’s feathers are cast in exquisite detail, and I can’t help wondering if it is a real statue, or a living bird that is being frozen like me. I gaze into its bronze eyes, trying to catch some glimmer of consciousness that might be flickering behind them, but I can’t see anything there.
The clock keeps on ticking. I suppose the spindles that once hold the hands are still turning, and if I can look at them through a magnifying glass I may be able to make out some irregularity, some asymmetry or faint marking, that allows me to tell their positions and thus figure out how much time is passing between observations. Of course, that’s no help to me in my present position.
I notice that the clock doesn’t chime. Even a handless clock is useful if its chimes still work. I am convinced that the chimes are being removed deliberately, like the hands.
That leaves only one method for telling how much time has passed. Since the clock is ticking, and I can (somehow) hear perfectly, all I have to do is count the ticks. Once I am counting three thousand, six hundred ticks, an hour is passing.
Except that it doesn’t work. Every time I try to count the ticks I am becoming distracted. My thoughts keep going back to the cockerel, to the paintings, to contemplation of my helpless existence...and then I realise I’m not counting and have to start again. Counting by sixties and trying to keep a running tally of the minutes proves just as futile, so in the end I give up.
It’s as if someone doesn’t want me to keep track of the time.
After another indeterminate period I begin to hear footsteps approaching, and a man’s voice. This is the first sign of human life I am hearing since becoming a statue, and I am relieved to know that I am not completely alone in this place. The man seems to be describing some paintings further down the hall, and I realise he must be conducting a guided tour of the house.
After a little while the guide steps in front of my pedestal, accompanied by a small group of people. “One of the latest additions to the house’s sculpture collection,” he tells them, “is this full-size replica of The Winner of the Cockfight’, based on the original bronze by Jean-Alexandre Falguière in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.”
Needless to say, his commentary tells me nothing about where the house is, who owns it, or who might be responsible for freezing me like this.
While he speaks I am staring hard at each of the visitors, in the forlorn hope that at least one of them perceives the living soul behind my cold metal eyes. Needless to say, none of them does. Even if they do, what can they do to help me?
“This sort of sculpture was very popular in the late nineteenth century,” the guide continues, “but if you want my humble opinion I’d say that it’s just an excuse for lots of underage nudity, and the reference to cock fighting only makes it even more tasteless. Still, if the price is anything to go by, there’s obviously still a market for that kind of thing.”
The tourists are all studying me intently. Some of them are taking pictures. Tasteless or not, my appearance clearly interests them. I am profoundly embarrassed that all these people can see my nakedness and I can’t cover myself.
Yet why should I feel so ashamed? It’s not really my nakedness they are looking at, after all. It’s the statue’s nakedness. It’s Falguière’s beautiful bronze boy they are admiring - and his proud cock, of course. Perhaps the visual double entendre is deliberate (in which case, cock fighting may be a sexual metaphor).
“Now, moving along,” says the guide, “we see an altogether more mature piece of art....” And move along they do, and are soon out of sight and hearing. None of them seems to notice the clock with no hands, and the guide does not mention it either.
And that is for a while my sole contact with humanity.
At least their presence gives me a clue to the time of day. Tour groups only visit houses during work hours, which means it must be some time between 9 AM and 6 PM - most likely somewhere in the middle of that range, say 11 AM to 4 PM.
Well, that at least narrows it down to five hours or so. Not that I’m really any better off knowing, but at least it gives me something to keep my mind occupied for a while.
After yet another indeterminate period a man in servant’s livery, complete with spotless white gloves, arrives in the hallway at a brisk trot. He gives me a brief glance, as if to make sure I am not being stolen. Then he removes a small key from his pocket, opens the tall front panel of the handless clock and carefully winds up its driving weights. Then he closes the panel, locks it, pockets the key and departs as briskly as he arrived.
But then, what is happening to me is no less bizarre. It feels as if I’m in a René Magritte interpretation of Alice in Wonderland.
Still, if the servants are abroad then the house must now be closed to tourists, so I know that evening has arrived. From time to time the occasional liveried figure flits up or down the hall, but none pays me more than a cursory glance. Eventually they stop passing and I assume that it must be night, although the light in the hallway remains unchanged.
I am standing in this rigid pose for what seems to be the better part of a day now, but I don’t feel the slightest bit of cramp or fatigue. In physical terms I feel perfectly healthy - apart from the fact that I’m helpless.
Much later another visitor arrives. He is a handsome man in his mid-thirties, wearing a dressing gown and slippers. Perhaps this is the owner of the house. To my surprise he steps right up to me and looks me in the eye.
“So it’s true then,” he mutters, studying me carefully from head to foot. “Well, maybe it’s better this way. Maybe....”
Then he steps forward, places a hand upon my right elbow - the elbow that’s holding the cockerel - and says: “I had to do it, do you understand? I had no choice. Considering the alternative...dammit, I just couldn’t stand losing you, not again, not after.... I just couldn’t!”
As he speaks he gently caresses my arm, which begins to tingle in a strangely pleasant way.
I’m astonished: He knows I’m alive! Is he the one that is turning me into a statue? His words seem to suggest it, although their full meaning is lost on me. He seems to think I remember my past life, and I have no way to tell him otherwise.
And while I struggle to understand the implications of what he is telling me, I find myself becoming increasingly distracted by his touch. After a moment he removes his hand from my arm, but the tingling continues to become stronger. It’s not uncomfortable - just the opposite, in fact - and I find myself wanting more. Fortunately he soon obliges.
“You know I’ve always loved you,” my visitor tells me. As if to demonstrate this, his hands move to my chest, where his caresses produce even more pleasant sensations. I wish I can hug and caress him in return, but of course that’s impossible.
“I wish I could take you away from all this,” he tells me, as his hands slowly explore my stomach. Wherever he touches me he leaves behind sensuous tingling sensations that continue to grow and develop.
“I wish I could take you somewhere better. I wish I could give you a real life, instead of this...this half-life. I can’t imagine what it must be like for you.”
He surely can’t imagine the pleasure his hands are giving me. But perhaps he can, because he says: “I’m sorry that I can’t give you all the things I wanted to. But at least I can give you this.”
With those words, he slips out of his robe and stands naked before me. He has a superb body, lean and lithe - not unlike a more mature version of my statue-body - and I wish I could throw myself upon him here and now, and make love all night on the thick carpet. (After all, they don’t call it shag pile for nothing.)
But since I can’t throw myself upon him, he has to throw himself upon me instead.
He embraces my smooth metal body and strokes my back and buttocks , and every place he touches me instantly becomes inflamed with pleasure.
Over what seems like several hours he continues to embrace and fondle me in every conceivable position. My rigid pose makes things a little awkward for him - he almost trips over my raised leg once or twice, and at one point he becomes so enthusiastic he almost knocks me over. But he persists in spite of these setbacks, and with every passing minute my pleasure increases. There is scarcely a square inch of my bronze skin that he doesn’t touch, and my whole body is burning with ecstasy. I want to howl with pleasure.
And he is howling, several times, in the throes of orgasm. What are the staff thinking if they hear him? Probably they are trained to be discreet. After each orgasm he leans against me, taking care not to overbalance me, and tells me how much he loves me, how sorry he is for what happens to me, and how he is doing everything in his power to make me happy from now on.
If he is only making me half as happy as I am now I am content. My only regret is that he does not tell me my name, or his name, or how I come to be a statue, or why. He seems to think I already know these things. But he does not even cry my name during orgasm.
Afterward he takes a silk handkerchief from the pocket of his discarded dressing gown and carefully wipes his semen off of me before starting again.
At last he leans against me, exhausted, and says, “I’ll come back tomorrow night. I’ll come back every night. You know, making love to you as a statue is an incredible experience. I just wish you could feel what it’s like for me.”
If he thinks the experience is incredible for him, he can not believe how much more incredible it is for me. I am experiencing something like a never-ending climax. But if I think it isn’t getting any better, I am mistaken.
And just before he leaves, almost as an afterthought, he reaches out a hand and strokes my cock.
No, not my bronze fighting cockerel. I mean my penis.
My penis is small and flaccid, incapable of erection, but that doesn’t matter. Being touched just there, even for such a brief moment, causes my entire body to flare into unimaginable ecstasy. For long hours it goes on and on and on, making it impossible to think, to understand or remember. It doesn’t matter. I am in heaven. Time does not exist. The clock does not need hands, and the only hands I need are my lover’s.
At last my ecstasy finally fades away. I am able to think once more, but my memory of the previous day is completely erased, as if it is never happening. I struggle to remember, but I cannot. There is no past or future. There is only now. I can only think in the present tense.
And then I forget even that I am forgetting, and so I stop trying to remember.
I don’t know who I am or how I am getting here or why I can’t move a muscle.
I am standing here, stark naked, holding my cock and grinning....
From Borgio the Besieger on 31 July 2002, referring to the story’s appearance on the Grey Archive site:
I read your story named The Here and Now and I must say
it is quite good. Not a single typo that I noticed and the whole present tense gives a perfect atmosphere.
Another Unsolicited Testimonial...
From kami on 5 August, 2002, also referring to the story’s appearance on the Grey Archive site:
i just wanted to take the time to tell you how much i enjoyed here and now. i can not stand alot of the mindless works that come upon sites like the greyarchive, just something to jerk off to and nothing else. i really appreciated the thought that went into this story.