VRansomwear – Chapter 2

VRansomwear

By POW

CHAPTER 2

Colin stayed in the changing room for about forty-five more minutes before working up the nerve to leave. He regretted now that the day had been warm; his clothing consisted of baggy jeans, a T-shirt, socks, and sneakers. No matter how he arranged things, there would still be a lot of exposed rubber. Of course, his face was covered by the rubber, too, so that gave him a certain anonymity. Still, everywhere he went he would be a freak.

That realization was what finally drove him out: he was only a few blocks away from Times Square. If there was any place where a freak could blend in, it was there. Especially ten days before Halloween.

He put on everything he could and packed the few other items into the gym bag. Easing the door open, he slipped into the empty hallway and started down the stairs. Here in the early afternoon the locker areas only held a few people; rush hour was when all the commuters from New Jersey and Pennsylvania would swarm through on their way in or out of the city. Now there were only a handful: a white woman in her fifties, a dark young guy, Latino or possibly Arabic, a Wall Street wanna-be in an expensive suit, and a father with his daughter of about six. Colin emerged from the stairwell and strode through the hall with more confidence than he felt.

The six-year-old stared, of course, but that would have happened without the rubber. The rest ignored him in that practiced way New Yorkers have. He kept his own eyes forward… not that any of them could see his eyes… from their point of view his face was a blank mask.

Something flickered in his peripheral vision, drawing his eye involuntarily. Floating over the Wall Street wanna-be’s head was a thought balloon that read “Isn’t wearing underwear!” followed by a blushing smiley emoticon. He studied the floating sign as he walked past, trying not to be too obvious about looking at it. Clearly it had to be a creation of the suit, or whatever software was controlling it, but the illusion was perfect. He felt as if he could have reached out and plucked it out of the air as he walked past the man, who studiously pretended Colin wasn’t there. The sign was off-white with a blue border, rounded corners and blue text, and it swiveled to face him as he went by. With each step he told himself he wouldn’t look back once he got to the door, but the moment he reached it his resolve failed him: he turned half-around and glanced over his shoulder. The sign was still there. And three of the other people in the room had joined the little girl in staring at him. He resolutely faced forward again and emerged into the day.

He turned left out the door and headed along 36th. Past 8th Ave, one more long block to 7th. There were a handful of people either walking or standing on 36th and about a quarter of them had little white signs floating over their heads. A guy climbing out of a cab had one that read “Had Cheerios for breakfast”. Further along the street he passed a woman who was labeled “Waaaay too much makeup!”… and sure enough, that was indeed what she was wearing. Another guy’s sign said “Not as rich as he pretends to be”, and there was a young teen marked “English: B- Math: C+ Science: B+”. It was disorienting – his eye kept flicking to these labels, unable to not read them.

Left on 7th Avenue and now the street was even busier. Off in the distance, tiny signs hovered, illegibly small. As he neared, they swam into focus, bearing their cryptic and unverifiable commentaries… “Go Yanks!”, “Could sure use some coffee”, “Is skipping his cousin’s bar mitzvah”. All were the same off-white color with blue borders and text. Sometimes a sign would wink out of existence; other times a new one would pop up somewhere with a jittery little animation that attracted his eye whenever it happened.

He collected a few stares on his journey, but was otherwise untroubled. Half a dozen short blocks later, there was Times Square, and at last he didn’t stick out quite so obviously. In a crowd made up of Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Papa Smurf, Minnie Mouse, and at least three Elmos, he fit right in. He stood off to the side, leaning against a building, and stopped to think.

A game, the giant had said. A game with no explanation and no obvious rules. What the fuck? What was he supposed to do? And more importantly, how long was it going to take before he could earn his thousand points and kick the suit to the curb where it belonged?

He tried to block the floating signs out of his attention, but they kept catching his eye as people wandered by, wafting over their heads. He saw his first repeat: “Had Cheerios for breakfast”; all but one of the rest were more of the same generic babble. The one that hit home came from a kid who stared straight at him while his mom or nanny or whoever dragged him along by his arm, and it read “Is wondering who the rubber guy is supposed to be”.

Cheap party trick, Colin fumed. The signs were all total make-ups. Their sole purpose seemed to be to distract him, to get in his way. Whatever AI was controlling the suit must have enough facial recognition ability to detect when someone is staring his direction, and inserts that particular thought balloon about the rubber guy just to mess with him.

As he mused, he became aware of a presence coming up on his right side. He glanced over and saw that it was the Greek god from the changing room. Colin looked out at the crowd, but no one else seemed to notice the god, even though he loomed a head taller than anyone else around and was dressed the same as before, which was to say not very dressed at all.

“You seem to be in need of assistance,” the god’s voice boomed in Colin’s ears.

“Yeah, no shit,” Colin muttered.

The god took one step closer, standing just beyond Colin’s reach. It was jarring – the guy looked just as real as every other person he could see, and yet he had to be a construction, right? The way he had appeared and disappeared in the changing room, he couldn’t possibly be real, and yet the illusion of having his arm gripped and squeezed had been very, very convincing.

“I can provide help, for a price.”

Colin chewed on this for a moment, then spoke aloud. “What help? And what price?” A man walking past clearly heard Colin’s words and resolutely ignored them, quickening his pace ever so slightly.

“For five points, I will give you a hint on how to use the suit’s interface and what your goal in the game is. For twenty points, I will give you explicit instructions.”

“But I don’t have any points. Do I?”

The god stared at him… or so Colin assumed. The mirrored shades made it hard to tell which direction he was looking in. But Colin felt stared at. Finally he spoke. “You are allowed to incur some debt.” There was a slight emphasis on “some”.

Colin thought another minute more. One of the Elmos had hopped and skipped his way near to where Colin was standing, but at the sight of the rubber-suited figure he started bobbling his way back toward the rest of the cartoon conglomeration.

“I’ll take the five point hint.”

The god continued staring impassively.

“Yo, I said I’ll take the five point hint!”

The god turned to survey the passing traffic.

“Hey, buddy…” Colin reached out and snapped his fingers, hoping to get the god’s attention. The snapping didn’t work because of the rubber gloves, but he got the god’s attention in a way far beyond his expectations. In two swift strides, the figure had closed the gap between them. One massive arm reached out for Colin’s neck and grabbed it. Colin could feel the fingers and thumb wrapping nearly all the way around his throat. They squeezed and Colin very quickly felt the blood start pooling in his head. He reached up to try to dislodge the god’s hand but it was like trying to move a steel beam with a dandelion stem. Though he could feel the god’s impossible, can’t-be-real fingers very clearly through the gloves covering his hands, he could not move them in the slightest. Breathing was impossible; speech was out of the question.

The god held him there for long seconds while he clawed ineffectually at the phantom arm. Red haze started to creep in around the edges of his vision. As he was nearing the point of passing out, the god released him. Colin bent forward, coughing and gasping as cool clean air surged into his lungs. The blood began to flow in his brain again and the haze slowly receded away.

The god waited until he had halfway recovered, then boomed “I tire of your insolence. This lesson I give you at no cost: demonstrate proper respect. The next lesson will come at a price.”

Colin coughed a few more times, enough to draw the attention of a few people around him, but not enough to elicit any offers of actual help. He took a moment to collect himself, and when he could speak again, it was to say “Sorry, uh, your majesty. May I please have the five point hint?” A long pause. “Your worshipfulness?” Your royal jackass-ship he added, but only in his head.

The god glared at him for a long moment, then said “Sir.”

“Sir,” Colin echoed. Then “May I please have the five point hint, sir?”

A yellow number zero descended from above him, scrolling down smoothly and discreetly, small and partially transparent so that the building behind it was visible through it. As he watched, the zero morphed into a -5. It held its position a few seconds, then slid silently back up into nonexistence. Meanwhile, the god’s voice boomed in his ears.

“To bring up the interface menu, look down and right, then blink twice about half a second apart. To activate a menu choice, look at it and blink. To clear the menu, look up quickly. Demonstrate this now. Find and choose View Score from the menu.”

Colin did. He goofed up the first time, moving his whole head. It turned out that what mattered was just his eyes – whichever way he was facing, he needed to slide his eyes down and right and blink twice to bring up the menu, which materialized into view, hovering translucently over the street scene before him. After that, it was very easy to navigate. He found the View Score choice and activated it. The yellow number -5 slid back into view overhead for a few seconds, then disappeared. When he had cleared the menu away, the god continued speaking.

“To earn points, you must seek out Leathermen. Leathermen are identified by red thought balloons.”

The sparkling light show began again and in a few seconds there was nothing but air where the god’s massive bulk had once been.

 

Twenty minutes later, Colin was striding purposefully uptown. He had figured out how to turn on the overview map, which was now gently riding over the lower left portion of his field of view. Currently it was at about 10% opacity, which was the setting it took when his vision was focused far ahead. If he glanced down at it and focused his eyes close, it would darken to 90%. There were a half dozen deep red dots on it, some standing still, others slowly moving about. He was headed for the nearest of the burgundy splotches, a short hop west on 46th.

White thought balloons drifted past as he moved, a bit easier to ignore now. They weren’t so very different from the ads plastered all over every available building, bench, and bus, really. Every once in a while one caught his eye and delivered its message to his brain. One actually made him chuckle: “Regrets turning down that fifth slice of pizza” over a spectacularly large individual. The rest were fast becoming just white blurs.

All but one. Up ahead he saw a thought balloon that was not the familiar blue-on-white, but instead white-on-burgundy. As he neared, it grew a white border and some text. The map in his peripheral vision showed his own blue dot nearing the red dot, an exact match for what he could see with his own eyes… or what he appeared to be seeing with his own eyes. The text, when he drew near enough to read it, said simply “Leatherman”. All he could see was the sign, though, because it stood above the heads of the crowd.

He worked his way around the last few bodies and found himself standing mere steps away from his target, and saw that the label was 100% accurate. The man was dressed head to toe in leather, from the black jacket all the way down to the equally black boots. Here and there were glints of silver. He was leaning against the door of a theater, closed now in the afternoon hours. One leg was supporting his weight while the other was angled over the first, kicking languidly at the ground. He wore a hat and sunglasses that hid his eyes; his beard was short and thick and flecked with grey.

Colin’s eyes flicked upward, expecting that his score would now rise, since he had found his target. But nothing happened. People continued to pass by on the sidewalk. The leatherman continued to lean idly against the wall. Colin’s sense of purpose started to fade into a mess of indecision.

He took a step toward the red-signed figure. “Hey, uh…” That was as far as he got before a blast of pain jolted his crotch.

“SHIT!” Colin squeezed his eyes shut and curled inward on himself, but there was no way to reach his balls! The pain had stopped, at least. It had only been a brief blast, but from what? It felt as if a massive hammer had slammed into his balls, but he could not figure out how that could have happened. He opened his eyes to look and there, hanging front and center in his visual field, were flashing red letters: DO NOT SPEAK TO THE LEATHERMAN!

OK, message received. He would not try that again any time soon. He inched closer to his target, wary that getting too close to the man might set off another alarm. But he was allowed to approach until he was right in front of the guy. It was impossible to see the leatherman’s eyes, but the face showed he was clearly aware of Colin’s presence, watching him from behind those sunglasses. Still nothing from the suit’s display.

Then, as if it realized his hesitation, the suit gave him a clue. A fat red arrow appeared, in outline only, hovering over the leatherman’s chin and chest, pointing downward. Colin glanced downward, then back up, then down again, looking at the ground for some sort of clue. After a few moments he felt a gentle nudge in his right hand, the merest suggestion of pressure directing his hand forward. He looked back up at the arrow and it suddenly all came clear to him.

“Aw, no wa… FUKKK!” The moment he had carelessly spoken, another hammer slammed into his balls and sent him crashing to his knees. Electricity, he realized, pawing at the rubber covering his groin. They wired the suit up with electricity, and they’re gonna zap my balls every time I don’t do what they want. But what they wanted him to do… that was just wrong.

He got back to his feet. The leatherman was still watching him, totally indifferent. He glanced over his shoulder, where people continued to stream past in both directions, willfully oblivious to his plight.

Gritting his teeth, he reached out and placed his right hand on the leatherman’s crotch. When that seemed to have no effect, he gritted his teeth and squeezed ever so slightly. He could feel… shapes… beneath his fingers and tried not to think too hard about it. The leatherman responded with nothing more than a brief nod, one small movement of the head down and back up. And then, at the top of Colin’s vision, the yellow -5 score number descended and, with a cheery little animation consisting of the words “Leatherman Tagged!” in a joyful dance, morphed into…

a minus four.

That was it?!? He tracked a guy down across Times Square, felt him up, and earned one lousy point for it? How carelessly he had spent five of those points just to learn a few tidbits of information about how to use the suit! It would take him the rest of the afternoon just to climb back up to where he started! Suddenly a thousand points seemed impossibly far away.

He pulled his hand back and stalked off a few paces. The leatherman continued to stand there as if he had occupied that spot since the theater was built and would continue to be there long after it was gone.

He took a couple of deep breaths and was able to calm himself down. He didn’t yet know the game’s scoring system, after all. It could be that the first leatherman he found was worth a point, but that later ones might be worth more. There might be other ways to score points in larger quantities that would become clear as he went along. It might still be possible that he could be home and out of this suit by the end of the day. The only way to know was to try.

Off he went. According to his map, the next closest leatherman was a short distance uptown, at the corner of 46th and 8th. He set off, not quite jogging, but definitely walking briskly.

He reached 8th Ave, turned right, but before he had gone one short block along, he had to slow down. It was too damn hot in the suit! According to his phone, it was now almost 3:00 and the day had warmed to 72 degrees. Comfortable if you were wearing shorts… not so much when clothed all over in thick, sunlight-absorbing black leather. There was plenty of shade, of course, with the sun so low in the sky, so that only rarely did he emerge into the space between the shadows of buildings and take the sun’s heat directly. Even so, the heat his body was generating was enough that he could feel the sweat oozing off him with no place to go. And carrying the gym bag didn’t help.

He wanted out. He wanted this fucking suit off his body and his fucking life back.

One more block, walking now. The map showed him nearing a dark red dot; his vision showed him coming up on a fire station and sure enough, there was a red sign floating above an individual who was too far away to make out clearly. He drew closer, and the words on the sign swam into focus:

Pyridor
Firefighter Leatherman

The leatherman was walking slowly back and forth in front of the dark opening where the fire engines sat. He was dressed in what was basically a firefighter’s uniform, but with leather making up much of the outfit and with the same speckling of gleaming metal bits the last one was wearing. Colin stepped up next to him, matching his pace. The leatherman ignored him. They reached the far wall and the leatherman paused. Colin moved to stand behind him so that when the leatherman turned around, he came full up against Colin. The fireman / leatherman stared down at Colin – like the others, his eyes were concealed behind reflective lenses, so Colin could only guess where he was actually looking – and cocked his head. Staring. Waiting.

Gritting his teeth, Colin reached out and placed his hand on the front of the leatherman’s tight black pants. He held it there for a few seconds, and then the chipper little animation started up again. He watched as his score rose from -4 to -2. Two points for a themed leatherman, one for a plain, maybe? Or maybe 1 for the first, 2 for the second, 3 for the third…?

He dropped his hand and moved out of the path of Pyridor, who resumed his slow, swaggering pacing. Colin stood back a bit and watched. No one else on the street walked into or through the leatherman, but they never needed to alter their paths to avoid him either. After a few minutes, Colin was no surer than before whether the leatherman was real or a virtual construct.

He stopped at a Sbarro to buy a slice of pizza and two Pepsis for now and a bottle of water to save for later, and to use the restroom. His pointing and pantomiming of his order earned him puzzled looks from the clerk and the other customers, but no comments, which was just as well – he wasn’t sure if he’d be punished for speaking to non-leathermen and wasn’t about to risk a jolt to find out. (Later that evening, he would discover by accidentally blurting out some words that it was OK to talk to normal people. Only leatherman required the silent treatment.) Then it was back out to the street to hunt down his next target.

 

At 1:30 AM, a tired, sweaty, and very dejected Colin was heading uptown on the A train. A blinking glance upward pulled down his score: 17 points. Some blinking through menu commands brought up a log of how he had achieved that figure.

Time                     Event                                                                                       Points / Balance

Friday
2:25 PM Start 0 0
4:14 PM Hint purchased (-5) (-5)
4:46 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 (-4)
4:58 PM Pyridor (Firefighter Leatherman) Tagged 2 (-2)
5:21 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 (-1)
6:03 PM Blueball (Police Leatherman) Tagged 3 2
7:12 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 3
7:18 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 4
8:00 PM Sargeox (Army Leatherman) Tagged 5 9
8:47 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 10
9:38 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 11
10:11 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 12
10:20 PM Grizzle (Bear Leatherman) Tagged 2 14
10:50 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 15
11:52 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 16
Saturday
12:34 AM Leatherman Tagged 1 17

Half an hour after that, he had given up and caught the train for home.

The long-ish delay between the Police Leatherman and the next tag was the point where he discovered that while it was possible to re-tag a leatherman he had already tagged once, he would not earn any points for it. Each tag had to be on a new leatherman to be worth anything. He learned from this event that after being tagged, a leatherman’s color in his display would change from red to a red-tinged grey, and knew not to bother chasing down the grey ones in the future.

Sitting on the train, he ran through some math in his head. To earn 20-some points in the game had cost him eight hours of pounding the pavement, massive aches in the muscles of his legs, and vast quantities of sweat that he could still feel sloshing around him whenever he moved. To get to a thousand would take… a hundred… no… divide the… aw, fuck it.

Too long.

He slogged the two blocks from the station to his one-room apartment, managing to make it in his door without being spotted by any of his neighbors. All he wanted to do was kick back, rip off the boots and let his feet breathe… but that was impossible. The boots would come off, but his feet were as trapped as the rest of him. Despairing, he sat on the toilet to drain his bladder (since standing was not an option) and then collapsed into bed.

Sleep was difficult. Even with the blankets off, the thick rubber trapped his body heat and kept him too warm all night long. He tossed and turned, sleeping some but spending long stretches in a twilight half-slumber, aware of his discomfort but trying to disregard it in the hope that by staying still and keeping his eyes closed, sleep would eventually overtake him.

Morning did not brighten his outlook any. He went into the bathroom and gazed at his reflection in the mirror. Thick black rubber, head to toe, with odd gleams of metal and plastic over where his eyes would be. The idea of going back out there, hunting around the city for imaginary leathermen to gain another paltry 20-some points… it was impossible! He had hoped to be done with this nonsense after a few hours! At the rate he was going, it would take weeks to win his freedom. He couldn’t do it. There was no way.

A sudden rage seized him. He started tearing with his gloved hand at the lock at his throat and the zippers it constrained. The results were unimpressive. No amount of pulling had any effect; the rubber was strong enough to resist his strongest efforts, which were pretty weak because he couldn’t get a good grip through the gloves. Calming a bit, he realized that there was more than one way to pick a lock. Sometimes the best way to open a lock was not to open the lock at all…

A minute later, he was back in front of the mirror, having dug a pair of scissors out of the junk drawer. Carefully, he stuck one arm of it into a tiny gap where the hood and body zippers met. The angle was awkward, but he was able to maneuver his right hand around to the right position so that he could start squeezing the two handles together, when…

<zzzzzzzzzzzttttt>

The blast to his balls went on for five seconds that felt endless. A red haze of pain clouded his vision, and he collapsed to the floor, the scissors clattering harmlessly into the sink. He couldn’t even find the breath to scream.

Finally, it stopped, but the red cloud in front of his vision was still there. Slowly, gradually, he realized that it wasn’t his vision at all: it was a warning message pulsing at him, saying “DO NOT TAMPER WITH THE SUIT”. It flashed at him for long seconds while he whimpered quietly in his throat, then gradually faded away. Colin sat up and sobbed quietly to himself.

Five minutes later he gathered himself together, stood up, and walked back into the main room where find the Greek god standing, arms crossed, in the center of the apartment. “You,” he said.

The god stared at him from behind his mirrored lenses. Colin stared back for a few moments than blurted “What? What do you want?” Then, seeing the god’s arm come whipping toward his throat, he added a quick “Sir.”

The god’s arm slowly retreated. “You try my patience with your lack of respect,” the deep voice boomed. “But you will learn.”

The massive body turned and took two slow steps, crossing the room to the lone window that looked out across a two-foot gap to the neighboring building. He gazed out. “If you wish to get out of the suit, learn how to play the game. Or don’t. The choice is yours.”

Colin was pissed. Rage bubbled close to the surface. He struggled to keep it from boiling over, but exhaustion overcame his self-control and he snarled “I don’t want to play this fucking game! I want this fucking suit…”

That was as far as he got. Halfway through the first sentence, the god spun around to face him and twirled one arm around in a complicated gesture. Colin found himself suddenly unable to move his body. His muscles still worked, still tried to respond to his commands, but the suit had lost all flexibility and was now as rigid as steel. Only the small muscles, like those controlling his eyes and mouth, were still able to function normally.

With his ability to move compromised, so was his balance. He began to teeter forward, but the god made another motion with his arm, as if he were trying to shove Colin sideways from ten feet away. It couldn’t possibly have worked, and yet it did – Colin found the suit driving his muscles to topple him to his side, where he landed on his bed, rolling onto his back as soon as he hit and choking off the word “suit” as he uttered it. He tried to stretch out his arms to cushion his fall, but they had somehow drifted upward without him noticing until they were crossed over his chest, and there they remained.

The god took three giant paces to where he lay and loomed over him. Still without touching Colin, he moved his hands as if to untwine the pretzel shape of Colin’s arms. Colin felt them obeying, uncrossing and moving down to cling to his sides. He tried to resist and found that he could, but it cost him all his strength to do it. The moment his effort flagged, the suit drove his arms in the direction it wanted them to go, and no amount of force could move them back up. Then the god squeezed his hands together and Colin’s slightly-spread legs obligingly came together in a straight line.

Colin shouted wordlessly, helplessly voicing his anger and frustration. The god held up a finger toward Colin’s lips, not touching them but making his desire for Colin’s silence clear. Fuck that. Colin continued to rage and rail, attempting to toss and turn on the bed but always rolling back to lie prone. He saw the god making yet another gesture, this time squeezing one fist closed. He felt the result immediately – the suit began to constrict around his chest and stomach. He sucked in a breath and clamped his mouth shut. The squeezing intensified. Long seconds passed while he fought to prevent air from escaping out his nose and mouth, a battle he eventually lost explosively.

Once the air was gone from his chest, there was no way to bring it back in. He writhed helplessly on the bed, able only to suck in tiny, unsatisfying breaths. The suit was too powerful to resist. Blackness began to close in from the edges of his vision. He continued to struggle, thrashing more and more feebly as his strength waned. Throughout, the god’s hand remained clenched, as if Colin’s entire body were merely a toy in his gigantic fist. The black haze closed in, and the world drifted away…

He awoke to find the god looming over him, the giant head and massive shoulders filling his entire vision. He began to squirm again, and the god squeezed his fist once more. Titanic pressure returned to crush his chest. Despairing, Colin fought helplessly again until consciousness drifted away a second time.

Half a dozen more times the process was repeated until at last Colin awoke and, instead of struggling, lay still, exhausted. He couldn’t have moved a muscle if he had tried, but this time he did not try. He had given up fighting. He was an insect pinned for display, a mote, a speck of dust before this all-powerful being filling his entire universe. He knew on one tiny level that this reaction was caused by the lack of oxygen in his brain, making him vulnerable to this kind of quasi-religious experience. On another much larger level, that didn’t matter a bit. All that mattered was that in front of him was a god who had total control over his entire life, right down to the level of whether he would get to take a breath in the next minute or not. His own will was a secondary concern; what captured the whole of his attention was the overwhelming desire to do whatever the god wanted him to do so that he wouldn’t get punished again. He stared into the god’s face, awaiting whatever instructions the god might choose to convey, content to lie there forever if that’s what it would take.

After an eternal instant, the god did speak. “Today’s lesson: submit.” The voice reverberated in his ears. “Heed me well: when you see me, you will submit to me by kneeling in my presence. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir” Colin breathed.

“You will respect the leathermen you encounter. You will submit to them as you submit to me. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir.”

The god held his position for a long minute before saying “Then I grant you the freedom to move.” He backed away. Colin lay still at first, then, almost belatedly, realized what he was expected to do with his newly-restored mobility. Tentatively, expecting to meet resistance, he tried moving his arms and was nearly stunned when they obeyed him. He pushed himself up off the bed, then, obediently, knelt down in front of the god. He stayed there, not moving, for long minutes, keeping his gaze down at the god’s feet. He waited.

“You demonstrate that you can learn,” the god said. “I offer you another hint, then, this one at no cost. Do you wish to hear it?”

“Yes, please, Sir.”

The god leaned down, as though to whisper a secret though the voice boomed as loud as ever in Colin’s ears. Colin kept his eyes firmly aimed downward. “Tagging is one way to earn points from a leatherman. There are other, more effective methods.”

With those words, the god – or at least his feet, and presumably the rest of him – began to dissolve into shimmering bits again.

 

Colin had felt shaky after the experience of the morning and had huddled up in his apartment, downing some tasteless cereal and emptying his bowels when the need arose. That process turned out to be clean and simple – the suit did not interfere at all and the hole was large enough to get his fingers through to wipe. By about noon, he felt ready to face the pursuit of more leathermen.

The day was cloudy and cooler, and Colin was able to choose clothes that made him less conspicuous. His jeans wouldn’t stretch to fit over the legs or waist of the rubber suit, but he found a pair of sweat pants that would. He debated pulling on a T-shirt, then decided not to – his ultimate aim was to cover his entire upper body with a hooded sweatshirt, and putting the tee on under it just seemed like an extra layer of insulation he didn’t need. So that was all: sweatshirt, sweatpants, suit-boots. No need for underwear, even. He left the gym bag home and took along a smaller knapsack instead.

Before leaving, he called his boss at Jimbo’s burger place. He was supposed to work 4:00 to 10:00 tonight and there was no way he could show up in his impossible-to-remove rubber suit. His boss was unusually accommodating – Colin told him he was sick and that if his boss could find a sub for him today, he’d gladly make it up next weekend. Then he was out the door.

The subway trip had been easy enough to manage. Most of the people around him barely noticed him. Only those who looked him in the face did double-takes and stared worriedly at the black mask they saw there. He tried to keep his head down as much as possible and resolved to wear a scarf next time… if there was a next time! He was hoping that, armed with the clue that it was possible to extract more points from leathermen, perhaps he would be able to finish this disaster today. Tomorrow at the latest.

In the back of his mind, ideas were churning about what sorts of actions the “other, more effective” ways of earning points from leathermen might be. He didn’t let it reach the front of his mind. These were all virtual constructs. They had to be. What he was probably going to have to do would be gay in real life, but it this wasn’t real life, it was just a game. So it wasn’t really gay. No one else was really involved. He just had to keep it compartmentalized from his real life, get it over with, get it done.

And so here he was back at Times Square, trolling for leathermen. The first one he found was in the same place as one he had tagged yesterday, but the color was full red today. Apparently it was OK to tag a leatherman twice if you did it on different days. He reached out his hand and touched the leatherman’s crotch and watched his score rise to 18.

Then he wasn’t sure what to do next. Speaking was obviously out of the question – he remembered that lesson from yesterday vividly. The leatherman wasn’t giving him any clues, either. He just stood there. The two of them stayed for long moments while people passed them by on the sidewalk, the leatherman showing no interest in Colin at all. This, more than anything, convinced Colin it was a CG character – what other guy would show no response to a total stranger who dick-grabbed him on a public street?

Well, he had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but on the subway trip he had planned out what he would do if the leatherman didn’t give him any cues. Slowly, he got down on his knees in front of the leatherman, pointing his eyes downward to the sidewalk. Respecting the leatherman just like the god had taught him to.

He had to wait longer than he cared to, but it was the right approach. The leatherman reached down under Colin’s chin and lifted it up so that Colin was gazing into the leatherman’s face. The leatherman nodded his head toward a door, released Colin’s chin, and walked to the door. Colin got up to follow.

He lost sight of the leatherman inside, but there was only one way to go, down a hall that turned a new corner every few steps. At the end of the third corner, the leatherman was there. As he neared, a message flashed up in his display.

The leatherman wishes to touch your chest. Permit this?
Yes   No

Colin blinked the Yes control and the leatherman reached his hands up to rub his palms across Colin’s chest and belly. Colin could feel the fingers as if they were on his bare skin, as if the man’s hands had somehow passed right through the sweatshirt and the half-inch thickness of rubber. The illusion was unbelievably convincing. Colin reminded himself that there wasn’t really another guy there feeling him up, that he was alone in this hallway, that anyone else who came by would see Colin standing still all by himself. There was no way anyone else could tell that he was experiencing the sensation of rough, masculine hands sliding up and down his ribs. He swallowed hard and tried to pretend they were his girlfriend’s soft, gentle fingers instead…

It didn’t work. The visual of the square-jawed, stubble-cheeked leatherman inches from his face was impossible to ignore.

The hands paused over Colin’s nipples, then he felt his tits being compressed between thumbs and sturdy forefingers. The pressure was strong but not unbearable, but it continued to increase until it became uncomfortable, then borderline painful. Against his will, Colin let out a little gasp. The leatherman released him, stepping back with a satisfied expression.

The score swooped into view and morphed from 18 to 22. So… a chest-grope was worth four, it seemed. Better than one, certainly, but still not going to get him to a thousand very fast.

A different movement flickered at the top of his vision. It was the white writing on top of the leatherman’s thought balloon. Colin had gotten to the point where he was tuning the balloons out whenever he saw them, like the omnipresent ads scattered all over the city, but the flickering motion of the change caught his eye. The text that used to say simply “Leatherman” now was longer and in smaller type. It now said “Wouldn’t mind having his own tits tweaked”.

Ah. So that’s how it worked.

Colin reached out his hands, gingerly touching the leather-clad torso. He mimicked the movements that had been performed on him, rubbing his hands up and down along the front and sides. Unlike the imaginary sensations of bare fingers on his own chest, what he felt through his own fingers was the texture of leather, not skin. Still, he groped and caressed, and found that the leatherman’s shirt had two tiny flaps positioned right over the nipples. He manipulated his thumbs and forefingers inside and gave the meaty tits a squeeze, gripping steadily tighter until the leatherman sighed a contented sigh. Four more points richer, Colin dropped his hands to his sides.

Another short pause, another message box.

The leatherman wishes to touch your cock. Permit this?
Yes   No

Yeah, good luck to him with that. Colin’s dick was locked up so tight nothing was going to touch it. Sure, why not? He’d gone this far… might as well see what a dick-grope would earn him.

The leatherman moved in and placed his palm over Colin’s crotch. The sensation was… strange. Like with his chest, where the leatherman touched him it was as if the suit wasn’t there at all. He felt what seemed to be bare fingers on his cock. And yet, looking down, he could clearly see that his cock was still firmly behind a solid wall of rubber (and a thin layer of fabric), pointing downward in its tiny tube. But if he closed his eyes or looked away, he would swear the guy… no, the imaginary guy, the make-believe guy… had fished it out and was fondling it between his fingers and thumb. It felt… it felt…

To his horror, Colin realized his dick was trying to get hard.

There was no way, no way it could, but it sure felt real. He looked down again and the hand was still flat up against the sweatpants and the smooth rubber beneath. But with his eyes closed, his cock was steadily rising, now gripped by a firm, masculine hand that started to slide smoothly along the shaft’s length…

This was too much. He almost spoke aloud and backed away, but clear as a flash he saw what would happen if he did. The current would blast his balls and make him crumple to the ground, and by the time he recovered, the leatherman would be gone and he’d have earned nothing from the encounter. Swallowing his pride, he forced himself to stand and take it, trying hard to concentrate on anything else at all besides how goddamn GOOD it felt to have his cock stroked…

To Colin’s relief, the leatherman released his grip and stepped back, and the score indicator swung down and morphed merrily from 26 to 32. So six points for that. Still not great, but better than chasing around all day. He glanced up at the leatherman’s thought balloon, which now read “One good turn deserves another.” Clear enough. Was this something he really wanted to do? On the one hand, no, of course not. On the other hand… it was all pretend, so what difference did it make?

Colin reached forward and pressed the leatherman’s crotch, same as for a tag. He held his hand there and moved it around a bit, but apparently whatever he was doing was not good enough. The leatherman reached down and unzipped his fly, reaching in and shifting his junk around until it hung out through the open gap. He engulfed Colin’s hand with his own and guided it to the semi-hard dick now available for use. Colin gingerly wrapped his fingers around it. He could feel the meaty cock stiffening against his fingers. He squeezed a bit, then began to rub it back and forth.

The sensation was weirdly like jerking off, only backward because the dick was pointing toward him instead of away. And of course it provided no stimulation to him at all. But the mechanics were… very familiar, and not all that uncomfortable. He grew bolder, squeezing a bit harder, and the leatherman responded with a soft moan and a look of urgent satisfaction on his face. Colin stroked for a short while longer, then the leatherman pulled away. He tucked his engorged dick back into his pants (though Colin couldn’t tell how he fit it in there) and zipped up again as Colin’s score indicator registered another six points. Then he slapped Colin solidly on the chest three times, with the flat of his palm, strode past him around the corner, and was gone.

By the time Colin had returned to the street, there was no sign of the leatherman, either visually or in the on-screen display. He checked his score log to see what that episode had bought him.

Saturday
Time Event  Points Balance
12:34 AM Leatherman Tagged 1 17
2:13 PM Leatherman Tagged 1 18
2:17 PM Received Tit-Tweak from Leatherman 4 22
2:18 PM Leatherman Tit-Tweaked 4 26
2:20 PM Received Dick-Grope from Leatherman 6 32
2:22 PM Leatherman Dick-Groped 6 38

So twenty points in ten minutes. Not bad! Confidence restored, he was off through the Times Square crowd to find more leathermen.

 

At 1:00 that morning, riding back home on the train, he was both satisfied and disappointed with the day’s haul. His score had climbed to 121 points, which was a major improvement over the previous day. But it was still only a tenth of the way to freedom, which meant that if he kept the pace up, it would be over a week before he was out of the fucking suit. A week was an impossibly long time. He just couldn’t conceive of being trapped inside for that long.

He reviewed his progress. He had learned that the “novelty” leathermen would deliver more points for the same activities. He had come across another Grizzle and a new kind, an “Impaler (Russian Leatherman)”, a square-jawed, blond-haired wall of a man who looked like he had stepped out of a Soviet propaganda poster. Tagging the Grizzle was worth 2 points, twice the value of a plain leatherman, and the other two actions were worth 5 and 8 points. The Impaler had an even better multiplier: 4 for a tag, 8 for tits, and 12 for dick. However, neither of them had been interested in reciprocating, only receiving. So he had earned a total of 39 points from the two of them, half what he had been hoping to bring in. Still, 39 points was 39 points.

The plain leathermen were more likely to go both ways, so even though the point rate was smaller, he could earn twice as many per interaction before they dismissed him and walked away. And damn if he wasn’t starting to look forward to the times when one of them would give him a hand job, and he could actually get some enjoyment from his locked-up cock…

So 121 points, he mused as he stepped into his apartment. Not bad. But tomorrow he would need to step it up again. Maybe even make it the rest of the way to 1,000…

For the next part, click here

To start at Part 1 click here

Metal would like to thank the author, POW, for sharing this story with Metalbond Prison Library readers!

 

Disclaimer: This story is a purely fictional account. Any relationship to any real person living or dead is coincidental. The narrative contains non-consensual male-on-male sex and torture. It is intended for mature readers who wish to view such material, and for whom it is legal to do so. The author in no way condones or promotes such acts in real life.

Copyright © 2016 by POW. For spam prevention, an animal name has been added to the author’s e-mail address. Remove the animal name to get the actual address: POWauthor zebra at yahoo dot com. This story may be freely copied and distributed so long as it is copied in its entirety, unchanged, including the author credit information and disclaimer. Other POW stories are available at https://powauthor.blogspot.com. The author welcomes feedback.

 

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