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Published by EVERNIGHT PUBLISHING ® at Smashwords


www.evernightpublishing.com




Copyright© 2018 Xondra Day



ISBN: 978-1-77339-645-3


Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs


Editor: JC Chute



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


QUENCH


Xondra Day


Copyright © 2018


It’s been six months since I’ve seen anyone.

Most of the world’s population died in the great influenza outbreak, five years ago. Whole countries were wiped out, and there were very few who were immune to the vicious strain that hit out of nowhere and killed within hours of onset. Few, that is, except me.

After the virus, something in the atmosphere changed. The rivers dried up along with the ponds, and to this day the size of the ocean decreases every year. My hometown, which used to have a population of twenty-thousand, now resembles a dustbowl.

Most days, it isn’t fit to go outside. When the winds pick up, it’s best to stay put and wait it out. On clearer days, I scavenge for any remnants of food and water. I’ve been lucky so far. Isolation has been my advantage. The town’s in the middle of nowhere and has been largely untouched by outsiders looking for supplies. Maybe there’s no one left? That thought has crossed my mind more than once. There’s no way of knowing. There isn’t any electricity and the phone lines went down ages ago, along with every other type of communication.

I was twenty when the influenza hit. It happened so fast: My parents died within hours of each other, and my sister six hours later. Within a day, everyone in my town was dead. I was left alone–– lucky. I guess. I didn’t see it that way initially, though, and the first year was the hardest. I remember sitting in my bedroom listening to the silence of the night, feeling the stillness of everything around me. It never occurred to me that the seasons were changing, and there wasn’t any rain. Everything was still lush at that time, and I tried to go on about my daily routine. I was alive in a dead world, and if the influenza didn’t get to me, surely the loneliness and isolation would.

Imagine not having another living soul to speak to.

Imagine empty streets and buildings surrounding you.

I didn’t want to live. I wanted to die like everyone else, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Without anyone to share your life with, is life even worth living?

There’s a supermarket not far from where I live, and I can get there in twenty minutes on my bike. The place is huge and there’s enough food and water there to last me for at least another ten years. That’s only a rough estimate, of course. There are other supermarkets in town I’ve scoped out. Needless to say, starvation isn’t something I have to worry about … yet.

Today, the first thing I have to do before venturing outside is cover my mouth and nose. The dust blowing around isn’t good for the lungs, but combined with a pair of sunglasses, I’m well protected from the harsh elements that have transformed the world into a wasteland.

The streets are passable except for the odd abandoned vehicle, which I maneuver around easily. Some streets are partially covered in sand. Everything keeps shifting. The more frequent the windstorms, the worse it gets.

As I ride, I pass many storefronts. They’re relics of the past, and I can’t help but get the feeling that there are eyes hiding in the shadows of those darkened stores, staring out at me from the empty shells that used to be busy with life. I know there aren’t, but the feeling is still there almost every time I ride past them.

It feels strange to walk up and down empty aisles as I do my shopping. And I have a list. I always carry a list with me. I’m organized like that. It doesn’t take me much time to get what I need and with everything tossed in my backpack, I’m off again before it deteriorates outside. There’s almost always a storm brewing, and here in the vast parking lot, I can tell by the orange tint of the sky it is going to be a bad one.

The first thing to do is cover the windows and doors. Dust has a way of permeating everything when it gets inside, and I combat this daily to try and keep the house as clean as possible. By six in the afternoon the wind has picked up, and I can no longer see the house across the street.

A school friend of mine used to live in that house. The last time I saw him, he was heading off to college in another state. I often wonder how Joel fared. It wasn’t like we were best friends or anything, but something about him still stands out in my mind. Perhaps because he was my first crush.

I knew I was gay when I was twelve. Before then, I was just ‘different’––that’s how I thought about myself, in my mind. Girls held no appeal for me. I was friendly enough with them and them with me, but when it came to actually liking them in a physical way, I knew that was never going to happen.

I remember going to Joel’s house after school some days. His mom was a wonderfully perky woman who liked to bake. She made killer chocolate chip pecan cookies. We’d stuff ourselves with them while we sat and played video games.

I’d like to see Joel again.


****


Dinner isn’t much that night. Beans straight from the can is a common meal for me, and afterwards it’s time to settle down on the couch with a book. Reading by candlelight sometimes makes my head hurt, but it isn’t the dim lighting that’s giving me a headache tonight. It’s the howling wind battering the sides of the house.

The book is far from interesting, and after forcing myself to turn the pages for thirty minutes, it’s time to give up and go to sleep. Sleep comes easily, and I’m better off for being out of it.

“Is there anyone there?”

At first it seems like a dream. I always dream about people. I dream I meet someone else alive, and the thrill is overwhelming. Then I wake up, and it’s back to the nightmare of my reality.

“Hello? Is there anyone there?” This time the voice is louder and I’m definitely awake.

“Who’s there?” I yell back. This can’t be happening. This can’t be real. I’ve gone mad. I’m imagining this. Everybody in this town is dead…

“Let me in, please,” the voice pleads. “I’m suffocating.”

The front door isn’t locked. Locks are another useless relic of the past. “The door’s open.”

It’s a man dressed in jeans and a leather jacket. His head is covered and I fight the urge to laugh. From the neck up, he looks like a mummy. “Christ,” I mutter, and walk to him. “Sit down, before you fall down.”

“I’ve been walking for days.” He’s trying to explain things to me, and I’m not listening to him. I’m more enthralled with the fact that there’s another living person sitting on my old, battered couch.

“What’s your name?” Not that names really matter. I’m so out of touch with being social. I have to relearn the ropes again.

“Don’t you recognize me, Bryan?”

It’s there right on the tip of my tongue. It can’t be, can it?

“Joel?”

“It’s me, man.”

Joel. This is fucking fantastic and my mind won’t stop spinning with excitement. “How? When?” I’m literally bursting with questions. “I figured you’d be dead like everyone else!”

Joel tosses his head wrap to the side of the couch. “I wished I was, many times.”

“Me too. How did you manage to survive the influenza?”

“I’m immune, I guess, like you. After that shit ended and I was alone, I thought my life was over anyway. What’s life when you have no one to share anything with? Think about it.”

That hit home for me. His words were true.

“After the initial shock wore off, I decided that traveling around and keeping my mind busy would be the best thing. I stopped in a bunch of towns along the way for varying amounts of time. I knew I’d come back home eventually, but just knowing that my mom and dad were gone … that was a harsh thing to face.” He smiles. “But now I’m here and wow, I’m so glad to see you again.”

Inside me there’s this intense urge to hug Joel. His eyes are just as I remember them, a pale blue that reminds me of a clear summer sky before the world went to hell. And his dimples are just as I remember them. Sitting next to him on the couch, I reach over and touch his left forearm. “I had to do that. I had to confirm in my mind that you’re really here in the flesh, and not some crazy figment of my imagination.”

“I’m real as real can be,” Joel said. “It’s good to be back in the area, even under circumstances like this.”

“Are you hungry? What I’ve got is pretty basic, but whatever’s there is yours.”

“Thanks, man, but I’m good for now. I’m exhausted and I could use some rest.”

“There’s a mattress on the floor along with some blankets. I’ve pretty much lived in the living room since the outbreak. It’s yours,” I replied, pointing to it.

Soon Joel is asleep and snoring softly, and I can’t help but stare at him. He looks angelic, his eyelids fluttering and his lips twitching. I wonder what he’s dreaming of.


****


The storm ends overnight and when dawn comes, I’m still awake, staring at Joel. I feel like a stalker, but I’m totally enthralled with the thought of him traveling all that way to be here. I wonder what he’s seen and experienced during his journey to get back home. It must have been extremely hard. I admire his strength and determination.

“Morning,” he says, stirring under the covers. “I think I passed out right away last night.”

“You did,” I agree. “I think when your head hit the pillow you were gone.”

“The storm’s stopped, I gather?”

“Yes, but another one won’t be far off.”

“Remember Reverend McGary and his pool?” A broad grin forms across Joel’s lips. “What I wouldn’t do to be able to dive in right now like we did when we were kids. That thing was the bomb.”

Reverend McGary lived five houses down from us. His pool was the envy of every kid on the block. The good reverend and his wife never had any kids of their own and they were like second parents to us. During the summer months after school had let out, we’d spend many an hour at their place swimming while Mrs. McGary stuffed us with fresh lemonade, cakes and other goodies. They were good people. “I can almost smell the chlorine,” I kid. “Those were the days.”

“It’s too bad the world went to hell. If there’s such a thing as hell, this is how I would picture it. Mankind fucked the world, and in return the world fucked them back. It’s either that or God getting back at us for making such a mess of things here on Earth.”

“I don’t believe in God.” It’s true. My faith dwindled long ago.

“Can’t say that I blame you.”

“I’ll make us something to eat. You must be starved.”

Joel nods. “I could certainly eat.”


****


“I’d like to see the house.” Joel wipes his mouth and takes a sip from his bottle of water.

“Sure.” We get ready and head across the street to the house Joel grew up in.

The front door is almost impossible to open and sand has managed to cover most of the front porch, but Joel manages to get it open with a few powered nudges with his shoulder. “I think I got it,” he says, as he twists the doorknob and the door finally gives way.

A layer of thick dust covers everything. Joel’s mom used to keep the house immaculate, and to my left I spot a family picture. It’s hard to see the actual photo through the grime covering the glass. Joel removes it from the wall and brushes it off. “This place is like a time capsule,” he says, glancing at me and then back at the picture. “Everything’s like it was the day I left.”

I follow Joel as he moves through the rooms slowly. I can’t imagine what’s running through his mind and when he gets to his parents’ bedroom upstairs, he hesitates outside the short door. “They’re still in there. I’d better not.” He moves away from the door and heads to the end of the hall. I know it’s his bedroom. I give him time to be by himself and decide it’s best to wait downstairs for him.

When Joel comes down, his eyes are red and I don’t ask any questions. He grabs the framed family photo from the hall table where he left it before heading upstairs earlier. “I’m taking this,” he informs me. “It’s all I have left of them, besides my memories.”

“Memories last forever.” I wince. It’s such a cliché.

“Indeed. Let’s get out of here.”

Outside, the temperature is high and the air dry. Strangely enough, it’s a clear day. We stand in the street side by side and I watch as Joel looks up at the sky. I wonder what I can say to help him feel better. It’s obvious he’s emotional and rightfully so. It’s the first time he’s been home. I’m glad I’m here for him. Neither of us has to be alone ever again.

“What did you think when all of this started?” asks Joel. He glances at me over his shoulder and stares down the empty street. “I mean, in the beginning, what was it like here?”

I think for a moment before responding. I do remember the first days being hectic. People were in a massive panic and it spread so damned fast, like nothing I’d even witnessed before. Chaos overtook the streets when people realized what was happening and that there was nothing they could do to stop it. The hospitals were overrun. But ultimately, we were already a dead society. “It was quick. People started to drop all over town. Death came soon after the onset of the flu symptoms. Then there was utter chaos and panic as some tried to flee. I don’t know where they thought they were going to. Maybe they thought they could get away from it. Mom and Dad died, and soon so did everyone else.”

“It was surreal,” Joel adds. “Like some fucked up movie. Only it wasn’t. It was real and there was no escape. I think I went mad for a while. I totally vegged out. There was no reason to live. I thought about suicide. The only thing that stopped me was fear. I was a coward, but I guess I didn’t really want to die. It would have been so much easier if I fell ill like everyone else.”

“Everyone and everything dies around us, including the world as a whole, and we’re left behind. There have to be others. We can’t be the only survivors. Maybe not here, but somewhere in the world there must be more than just the two of us.”

Joel shrugs. “I didn’t encounter anyone on my way here. There was only dirt and desolation, nothing more. I kept my eyes and ears open, trust me. And when I saw that glimmer of light through your window, even though you had your windows covered, it was the first time I felt joy since I can’t remember when. Up to that point I thought my emotions had died like everything else. Hope had become a fantasy for me and my dreams were barren.”

Joel’s words touch me. I want to hold him and tell him that everything will be okay as long as we stick together from this day onward. “It’s getting too hot. Let’s go back inside.”

Joel nods. “Sure. I could use a drink.”


****


We fill the rest of the day regaling about days gone by. It’s good to talk about old times. Joel brings up names of people I’ve long since forgotten about.

“Do you remember Veronica Sanders?” he asks.

“I do.” It’s not unknown to me that Joel dated her during our senior year in high school.

“I really liked her. I lost track of her after we graduated, and I always meant to contact her. And then there was Kyle Rudd.” Joel half grins. “He was one hell of a funny guy. Kyle told the silliest jokes.”

“Kyle was always the class clown. He married Cathy Blake and they had a kid together. They stayed here in town. Lived a couple streets over.” Kyle was a great guy.

We’re both sitting on the mattress on the floor and surprisingly the air inside the house is relatively cool. Without electricity running the air conditioner, the days can become unbearable inside from the high temperatures. With the windows covered, keeping the sun’s rays out, I manage well enough.

I lie back on the mattress and stare up at the ceiling. I eye the crack running the full length of the living room. The house is showing its age. “Did you have anyone?” I ask, venturing to find out more about Joel and his life before. “I mean, a girlfriend … or anything.”

“I dated a lot when I first moved away. I shudder to think about some of those bad dates.” Joel’s eyes light up as he reflects and laughs, shaking his head. “Nothing ever seemed to work out or… fit. I had some shit dates. And don’t ever trust those online dating sites.”

“I know the feeling,” I reply.

“It took some time for me to really figure myself out and what I wanted. The one thing I didn’t want to do was disappoint anyone like Mom and Dad.”

“None of us ever want to do that.” I hold my breath waiting for Joel to finish what he has to say. Is it possible that he’s like me?

“Then I found someone I liked a lot and that’s what propelled me to admit that I was, in fact, gay.” He looks down at me with a raised brow. “What do you think about that?”

“What do I think about you being gay? Well, I’m okay with that because…” I stop and fight back a grin. “I am too.” It’s out.

“Are you serious?”

The grin flows across my face. “I am, very. Trust me, this is nothing new for me.”

“When did you know?”

“I knew early on,” I reply. “I actually had the biggest crush on you growing up.” My cheeks grow hot as I admit this.

“You never said anything.” Joel flops down on the mattress next to me.

“I was far too scared. I couldn’t fathom telling anyone back then. Can you imagine what it would have been like to come out? It would have been hell. It was much easier to hide it.”

“This town wasn’t the most open-minded,” Joel admits. “It’s one of the reasons I was so eager to move away and start my life elsewhere. But you stayed here, why? As soon I could, I hit the road.”

“Dad wanted me to go into the business. You know how proud he was of the car dealership. He built it from the ground up and was doing well with it. I wanted to make him proud.”

“And I bet you succeeded with it. Your dad was a great guy. He was always fun to be around. And your mom made the best banana bread. I loved being at your house.”

“He was and she did. Now I have this intense craving. Thanks for that.” I playfully nudge Joel in the side. “Banana bread. And fresh brewed coffee. I’d kill to have my coffeemaker back. French vanilla, damn, I loved that flavor.”

“I miss the small things too. I miss getting up late on Sunday morning and being lazy all day, lounging in my pajamas. I miss fast food and the Net.”

I roll my eyes. “I spent so much time online. I really miss the television and my stupid cell phone that never really worked after I dropped it in the toilet by mistake.”

Joel snickers. “That’s rich, man.”

“I forgot about ice cream. I loved ice cream!”

“Now you’re killing me. Rocky Road was the best ever.”

“And anything with caramel,” I add. “Lemonade… nothing quenched my thirst like lemonade on a hot summer’s day. With lots of ice.”

“Sex,” Joel says.

“What about it?” I ask. I wonder if he’s hinting at it. I can only hope. After this long dry spell, I’m feeling the need.

“I miss it too.”

Silence. What to say? “Are you hungry?” My stomach rumbles. I feel embarrassed and awkward.

“Sure.” Joel looks away from me. “I could eat.”


****


Canned tuna and vegetables are tonight’s nibbles. It’s satisfying to sit and not eat alone. Afterwards, we bunk down for the night.

“Sleep next to me,” Joel says. “It’s more comfortable down here than on that couch. I feel guilty for taking your bed and there’s plenty of room for the both of us.”

I’m indifferent to where I sleep. I say nothing and settle into place next to him under a thin blanket. After nightfall the air’s a little cooler. I’m thankful for that. Through the darkness of the room, I search for the right words to say without feeling like I’ll come across as a dumbass. “I’m glad you thought enough to confide in me.”

“We’re possibly the only two people in the world,” Joel replies. “I figured the chances of you sending me away were slim. That’s what I hoped, anyway. It’s better to be upfront and honest from the start. To be anything otherwise wouldn’t be right.”

He’s right. Honesty is best. I roll on my side away from Joel and that’s when it happens. I feel his arm curve around my waist. His touch is gentle. His fingers find their way under the hem of my t-shirt and then he’s toying with my belly button. He doesn’t say anything, just presses against me, and I can feel his cock, hard inside his jeans, against my ass.

This is too much. My senses are on overload. Inside I want this to happen. I want Joel to touch me. “That feels nice,” I mutter.

I roll on my back and Joel’s hovering over me. My eyes have adjusted to the dark and he’s grinning at me. I reach up and guide him to me. Our lips meet and we kiss for the first time. I fall into his kiss and I’m taken away in his arms.

“That’s awesome,” says Joel. His lips are still touching mine as he speaks and he’s grinning again as his nose rubs against mine.

“It’s been far too long.” I want to kiss him again and again.

We remove our t-shirts and chest to chest, skin on skin, we move together in unison like a well-oiled machine, gyrating together. I want Joel, I need him.

Joel moves down under the blanket and then he’s fumbling with the fly on my jeans. I’m ready to burst, and it takes a lot of deep breathing and concentrating not to lose control. I want this to last for as long as possible.

“Fuck,” I mutter when Joel takes me in his mouth. The feeling is sensational. I’d forgotten how good a blowjob can feel. I twine my fingers in his hair and guide him along. “Oh, man. Keep doing that.”

Joel grunts and takes me deeper into his mouth. He reaches up and tweaks my nipples, which produces more than a few moans from me. He’s a man on a mission.

“You like that?” Joel’s holding my throbbing cock in his hand.

I nod my head quickly. “I love it.”

Joel releases my cock and stands up from the mattress. I watch him as he strips off the rest of his clothing. He has a killer body, all lean and muscled. There’s a dragon tattoo covering his right pectoral muscle. “Nice tatt,” I comment.

“Thanks.” He tosses his clothes to the side of the mattress and squats down to help me out of my jeans and briefs. “These have to go for what I have planned,” he warns, adding a sexy wink.

Joel straddles me and reaches back to slap my hard cock against his bare ass. I’m ready to bust a nut right there at that moment in anticipation of what’s to come next.

“I want you to fuck me,” Joel says. “I want to feel you inside me.” Joel opens his hand and shows me a small tube of lube. “It’s slightly past its expiration date.” And there’s that sexy grin again. “But it still works.”

I don’t doubt him. “That’s what’s important.”

Joel lubes my cock and guides it between his cheeks until it hits the right spot and I grunt as I enter him slowly. He’s tight. The friction’s delicious and I press into him as he pushes down on me, taking me all the way inside his hot ass.

“That’s it, fuck me nice and slow. You’ve got a big cock. I like that.”

Joel’s words titillate me. I love dirty talk. We merge into a hot seductive rhythm. Joel’s in control and it’s obvious that I’m pleasing him from the little noises he’s making as he rides my cock.

I hold Joel by the hips and my eyes are shut. I bite down on my bottom lip, and I can feel my balls tighten. I’m ready to come, and I can’t hold out any longer. “Oh,” I warn. “I’m going to shoot!”

“Come in my ass,” Joel says. His voice is breathy and filled with lust as he grinds his hips against me. “Do it. Come in my ass.”

It happens and I see stars. It’s intense, and I revel in the feeling, enjoying every single second of it. When it’s over, I gasp in orgasmic afterglow with my softening cock still tucked inside Joel’s ass.

“I’m coming.” I open my eyes and see Joel jacking his cock. He squirts across my chest and then leans back slightly, fighting to catch his breath. “That was…” He pauses. “We have to do this again.” Joel climbs off me. He’s next to me and there’s that sexy grin again. “Now I want a cigarette.”

“Some of the stores in town still have them.” I don’t smoke myself. “But they’re a little dry, I bet.”

“I quit before the outbreak,” Joel admits. “But damn, that was great.” He runs his hand across my chest.

“It’s bad for you anyway.”

Joel laughs. “So is this world.”

Point taken.


****


We sleep soundly throughout the rest of the night, and I’m the first to wake. I look at my watch and see it’s nearing six in the morning. I’m an early riser.

I can hear the wind howling outside. The house shakes slightly and when I look out the window, I see nothing but clouds of dust blowing around. The storms never last. It’ll be over in a couple of hours. We’ll have to stay inside until then.

In my former life, I’d go to the kitchen and put coffee on to brew while I make breakfast. Bacon and eggs with thick slices of toast would be on the menu, and I imagine making that for Joel and bringing it to him in bed wearing nothing more than a smile. It’s a nice thought.

I sit on the couch and watch Joel sleep. I never thought I’d have him in my life again.

“Morning.” Joel sits up slightly and rubs his eyes. “What time is it?” he asks.

“It’s six.” I flash my watch at him.

Joel sinks back into the mattress. “Come back to bed. I want you next to me.”

I get up from the couch and crawl into bed next to him. Joel embraces me in his arms and I’m content and dare I say… happy.

“This is nice,” Joel says. “I like cuddling you.”

“You’ll get no complaints from me. You can cuddle me all you want.”

“Good, that’s what I want to hear.” Joel pulls me closer to him. He kisses me, and I know what he wants. I’m more than willing to give it to him.


****

Two weeks have passed since Joel’s arrival. We’ve fallen into a routine together, and I think I’ve fallen in love with him. I haven’t said it yet, but he knows. I can see it in his eyes whenever he looks at me and I know he feels the same.

“I did like you,” Joel says one night after we’re in bed, discussing the day’s meager events.

“What?” Am I missing something?

“Back when we were kids. We were fifteen and I knew I was gay then, even though I was late coming out.”

“I never knew.”

“Like you said, it would have been difficult to come out around here.”

I nod. “That’s all another life and another world. You were always in my heart. I thought of you often.”

“We’re together now,” Joel confirms. “It was a long journey, but we’re here. Fate finally brought us together. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing how we managed to come back together again under such extraordinary circumstances. It was a one in a million shot.”

Joel’s right, and I thank my lucky stars that everything’s turned out like it has. I’m no longer alone. I’m content for the first time in years. Outside, all’s silent. The storms have died. We’ll live another day. We’re two men in love. We have each other, and nothing else matters.


The End



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