For Phillip McKinley, life in the rural town of Verdance seems textbook
perfect on the surface: he's captain of the high school football team,
dating the girl most of his buddies wish was theirs, and forced to endure
the usual problems of popular, attractive eighteen-year-old guys. But
Phillip, like the mysterious new arrivals to Verdance who take up residence
at the local haunted house late one rainy night, is a young man with
secrets. Phillip's deepest desires manifest in the form of Julian, the
shaggy-haired youth now living up at Hindenwood House.
Julian's crafty guardian refuses to let Phillip anywhere near his charge -
though the attraction the two come to feel for one another could be the key
to victory in a devastating secret war whose opening shots are creeping ever
closer, and stopping an invasion that could soon engulf the world.
When the lights went out in Verdance, they usually stayed out. That was one
of those facts of life you just accepted living in the shadows of Wolf Hill.
Not much ever happened in the little town. The summers were hot, the winters
cold, and in between the two extremes as the weather shifted, you could
expect some pretty nasty storms to knock out the power. And when the lights
went dark, it wasn't uncommon for them to stay dark.
The storm that Phillip McKinley would always remember as having started it
all had swept in on a sticky Saturday night at the end of summer, right
before the start of school. He'd planned on hanging out with a bunch of his
boys and had told Patti he didn't feel well to get out of their date, which
was as much the truth as it was a lie. The storm rolled in with towering
thunderheads and a violent cannonade soundtrack to match. His dad and
Vivienne - Phillip couldn't bring himself to think of Viv as 'mom' or even
'step mom' as she wasn't ten years older than he was - were over at some
friend's party, sipping cocktails with trendy names and bright colors the
human digestive system hadn't been designed to process.
Because of the weather, Tommy Toscano, who would most likely back him up as
quarterback on their last season of football together at Verdance High, was
the only guy who made it to the McKinley house. And he didn't come empty
Phillip knocked back one of the beers in the six-pack and exhaled his
frustration. "This sucks," he sighed.
Tommy checked his cell for the fourth time since entering the dark house.
"No duh, shithead," Phillip absently responded. "No power, no movies, no
video games, and no TV."
"Please stop trying to cheer me up," Tommy grumbled, draining his bottle.
"I'm so bored right now, it's tragic."
Phillip finished his beer. He considered reaching for another, but stopped
himself. Alcoholism had taken his mother, and the disease ran in his genes.
More so, he feared a second one might loosen him up, and when Phillip got
loose, he started to talk. By the third, he'd be revealing his deepest,
darkest secrets to his sometimes best friend, who would probably be
revealing his own by that point. No, the risk wasn't worth it.
Phillip folded his arms. "Dude, I'm gonna call it an early night. No use
waiting for the juice to come back on, and I'm seriously pissed off enough
as it is."
"You for real?" Tommy huffed.
"I'm sorry, man. I just need to hit the rack early. Let's hang tomorrow."
Tommy gathered up the last of the beer and trudged to the front door.
"I'll call you," Phillip said, noting the irony as Tommy again checked his
cell phone on the way out.
He considered lighting a candle. Viv had dozens of them scattered around the
place. Unfortunately, none were simple, pleasant scents, like blueberry or
peppermint or vanilla. No, hers had mystical, winsome names like Heart's
Desire, Summer Sorbet, and Ocean Foam, though they all smelled to Phillip
like dish soap.
Defeated, Phillip trudged up the stairs to his bedroom at the back of the
split-entry house, navigating the way on memory. The air in the room was hot
and musty, owing to a pile of dirty clothes in one corner and the sealed
windows, done so out of respect for the house's central air conditioning.
Phillip plodded to the nearest window, which looked out across the side yard
and at the dark windows of the Miller house next door. He lifted it and a
wave of hot, moist air billowed into the room. Phillip instantly started to
sweat. The second window faced the old Hindenwood place near the
pine-studded summit of Wolf Hill. Phillip pushed the other energy efficient
More wet air surged in, infused with the exotic summer smells of mowed lawn,
flowers, and a trace of the chemicals from the Miller's in-ground pool.
Phillip used to hop the fence and swim there late at night, until Harold
Miller installed a sensor light and he'd gotten caught, which had led to no
small amount of embarrassment along with plenty of grief from Vivienne, the
Phillip peeled off his damp t-shirt and wagged it under his arms, stirring
the piney scent of sweat and the dregs of the deodorant he'd slapped on
during a day that already felt lifetimes in his past. Losing the lights, the
power, and the gadgets instantly crippled modern human society, devolving it
back to the cave, he thought, a sour smirk twisting the corners of his
prickly, unshaved mouth. If the lights stayed out long enough, men would be
making fires by rubbing sticks together and then clubbing one another over
the head with them.
Phillip sighed out a swear and unhooked his shorts, letting them drop to his
hairy ankles. He absently scratched at the meaty fullness of his balls,
accessing them through the elastic leg band of his boxer briefs. He decided
to do what most bored males throughout all of human history have done when
confronted with too much time and not enough distraction: masturbate. And he
didn't plan to think about Patti Collings, his trophy girlfriend, while he
did. No, thanks to the one beer and the musky warmth in the air, the smell
of his own maleness surrounding him, Phillip embraced his deepest of
For months now, he'd come to accept the strange, dark desires teasing him in
his dreams and tempting him when he was around his friends, dating back for
as long as he could remember. They weren't the automatic sentence to eternal
damnation that a lot of supposed authorities on the subject of morality
would have him believe. One overcast morning the previous June, he'd simply
rolled over with the usual morning wood and had rubbed one out into a dirty
sock. In the accompanying fantasy, he'd envisioned what it would be like to
mount the ass of his fellow man, while reaching around and stroking the
fuckee in this too-sweet-to-believe vision. He rode the sock to a climax
equally as magnificent as the one he mentally blasted between said fuckee's
Just like that. There had been no great revelation, no brush with mortality
that shook him to his core, no message delivered by signs and portents. But
there had been undeniable magic in accepting the truth that Phillip desired
what he desired, and he could live with it, defend it if he must. Even if he
wasn't about to shout out the truth to the world while bent in a huddle on
the football field, Phillip was now feeling more comfortable in his own skin
than he could ever recall. He was gay.
Unlike the rest of his teammates who loved to brag, Phillip was also a
virgin. Not counting all the tall tales and fables of sexual conquest he'd
concocted in the locker room over the past few years to keep his friends'
Phillip's imagination drifted back into the delicious territory that had
kept his cock stiff nonstop, all summer. Dropping to his knees, he licked a
finger, let it wander between his naked legs, along that patch of sensitive
skin between his balls and asshole, and eventually dipped it into his most
private place. His flesh there was hot and moist with sweat. After a few
gentle circles, he withdrew it, licked it. This was what the asshole he'd
some day fuck would taste like.
His cock leaked. Phillip ran the same pointer finger and its thumb along the
straining head, over the gummed-up slit. Wetness coated his touch. And that
was what he would feel when he thrust in, forcing the other young man's cock
to fuck his grip. Phillip tasted himself. He liked what he liked, and he
liked it way too much. Certain tight-assed hypocrites on the tube, in the
locker room, and worse - in his own living room - had bullied him over the
years with their jokes and their dogma into believing it was evil, aberrant
behavior. That any man who felt the way he did was marked as one of the
living damned; that he was really only here among the chosen people to burn
oxygen en route to an eternity of burning in hellfire deep beneath the
surface of the earth.
"Fuck that," Phillip grumbled.
Anything that felt so right could not be wrong.
He tossed back his head and opened himself up to the possibilities. Could he
suck another dude's cock? Why not? He'd certainly imagined his erect length
vanishing down enough unshaved throats in recent weeks. Oh, but the idea of
mounting, of fucking.and not just with his cock, but his tongue, his
fingers. Hell, what about using his big toe? A new fantasy for Phillip to
jerk his dick to materialized in the shadows. He would fuck an asshole with
his big toes. The concept was too sweet to deny, so simple and yet more
complex than even Newton's Law of Gravity and Einstein's Theory of
The equation's power doubled, tripled, quadrupled toward infinity when you
added the notion of love into that mixture of wild, passionate sex. For
while Phillip's dick ached for release, more than anything, his heart ached
to be captured. That was his biggest secret of all. He wanted sex and
romance, in equal parts. He wanted.
The dark room shifted out of alignment with the normal world. Phillip
tensed; his naked flesh, glistening under a sheen of fresh sweat, tingled
with pins and needles in anticipation of what would soon engulf him. The
orgasm, aimed at the floor and something he'd pulled from the clothes pile
(a t-shirt or boxer briefs - thankfully, Phillip did his own laundry),
started among the trigger of nerves that lined the underside of his cock.
But as had happened so often that summer, it cycled outward in concentric
waves, inviting parts of his body to join in he hadn't dreamed capable of
such arousal. His nipples, his asshole, his throat, ears, and toes all
responded, seeming to climax with his erection. He stifled his moans, only
to have his clamped lips merge with the other gleeful participants in what
promised to be a hell of an orgasm.
Tingles rippled over his face. The nape of his neck followed, along with the
sensitive pits beneath his sports-toughened guns and the hairless undersides
of his wrists. His entire body was consumed by pleasure as his balls pulled
up tightly around the base of his shaft, and his cock unloaded.
The room's landmarks gradually re-solidified among the shadows. Phillip's
erection went from white-hot and itchy to slightly sore in his stroke-hand.
Reluctantly, he released it. The eruption, and the knowledge that there
would likely be another, had helped to lighten his mood. Phillip felt
himself smiling in the darkness. The secret about the true nature of his
sexuality quickly retreated, however, as another took its place.
Through narrowed eyes, Phillip caught sight of a single light, golden and
radiant, burning through the brooding darkness of the forest at Wolf Hill's
It was a light where none should exist. Hindenwood House had sat vacant
since the McKinley family moved to Verdance and, so far as Phillip knew, for
years before that. Sometimes, kids went there to hook up and party because,
through the generations, the brooding Victorian manor had become legendary,
the local haunted house. The perfect place to feel up your hotty and tap
her. Tommy had done so to his, or so he claimed. Tommy was a stud, and
Phillip believed him. He'd checked out his equipment enough times in the
locker room after football and on sleepovers to know Tommy had the goods to
back up the bragging.
Was it kids up there, the glare of a headlight, a glow stick or a
A shiver rippled through Phillip's insides. Mimicking his climax, it started
at his ears and didn't stop until its concentric waves reached his toes,
causing them to curl into the carpet's pile. That light was glorious. It
couldn't be kids messing around, bored out of their skulls and looking to
get into trouble during a blackout. The light was pure, and all too brief,
vanishing seconds after appearing.
Phillip hunched down at the window sill, aware of the full, throbbing weight
of his reawakened erection. He waited and watched the darkness, hoping to
see if the light would return. It didn't, but for most of the night and as
long as he managed to stay awake, he occasionally heard noises, as though
somebody was up there, moving things around at Hindenwood House.