Damien & Greg, Episode 9: “Black Glitter”

Damien and Greg rolled up to what was the hottest new gay club in town, Club Clove. They were dressed in their best club gear. Damien wore his black leather harness with matching pants, while Greg wore a black mesh shirt and tight silver pants. It was chillier than expected outside, but they didn’t mind. It would feel good after a night of dancing and drinks.

They could hear  the music thumping  as they approached the front door. They couldn’t wait to shake their asses to Lady Gaga. It didn’t matter what the song was; every one was a banger. 

After being carded by the bouncer, they entered and were immediately greeted by the flashing rainbow lights and Axe body spray smell. They felt the all-around good vibes pulse with the beat of the music. It was going to be a good night.

Greg made a beeline to the bar and ordered a vodka cran. The cute bartender mixed his drink with elegance and a smile. Greg winked at the shirtless twink as he slid him a dollar tip. Despite the loud music, he heard Damien sigh behind him.

“Could you not flirt with the staff?” Damien groaned. 

“What? Service with a smile deserves congeniality,” Greg said coyly. “Don’t be jealous. Bartenders always expect the customer to flirt with them.” He leaned in and groped Damien in the goods. “I belong solely to you, Dames.”

Damien couldn’t help but grin. He didn’t have to worry, or at least not right now. Three more vodka crans later might be a different story.

“YAAAASSSS GAWWWWD!” screamed a high pitched voice from further down the bar. A thin man in big platform shoes stomped toward them. He wore body glitter all over his bare chest and sported a black feather boa, which he flailed about liberally. “Look what the queens dragged in! Damien and Gregory!” He stooped down and hugged Damien, successfully transferring the glitter to his chest. Gregory managed to avoid it.

“Divinity, it’s good to see you,” Greg said, standing behind Damien. “Long time, right?”

“Yaaasss. Where have you bitches been? It’s like you got boring once you moved in together.” Divinity pouted as he gazed down at them. “But it figures you’d crawl out of your nest for this.”

“It’s not every day a new gay club opens up,” Damien said. “Of course, we had to check it out. Looks fun.” 

“Well, let’s go dance!” Divinity grabbed Damien’s hand and led him to the dance floor. He ignored Greg’s irritated stares.

The three of them danced vigorously among the crowd. The DJ was spinning some great hits by Lady Gaga, Britney, Lizzo, and some old school Whitney. 

Greg sipped his vodka cran while he watched Divinity dance with Damien. He always knew Divvy had a crush on Damien and was bitter he got him first. He supposed he could allow the poor boy to flirt, just as long as he knew he couldn’t touch. 

Tired of watching the shameful display, he decided to get another drink. As he passed through the crowd, he noticed they were all wearing black. Usually, that wouldn’t have stood out to him, but tonight, he thought it strange. Was it a black party? He hadn’t seen anything about a theme in the ad he received. It was probably nothing.

He ordered his second and third vodka crans and made his way back to the dance floor. He carefully navigated back to where he left his friends but found there were no longer there. “The fuck?” he muttered. I knew I shouldn’t have left Damien alone with that bitch! His mission was clear, find Divinity and rescue Damien from his thirsty clutches.

The bathroom was first on the ‘Where’s Damien’ tour. Being a hot spot to do unspeakable things in private, it was only natural to start there. Greg pushed open the door and found two men making out by the farthest urinal. For a brief moment, Greg thought the guy against the wall was struggling, but the moans told him otherwise. 

Greg checked the stall to find no one in it. The bathroom was a bust. Maybe Divinity had taken his boyfriend to the back patio. So, he shoved his way through lurkers and arrived at the back patio. 

The cool night air felt good on his face. The patio was just as packed as the inside. With all of the people wearing black, it was hard to distinguish one person from the next. Again, he thought it was odd how everyone almost looked the same. Black slicked back hair, tight black shirts if they wore one, and black pants of variable shininess. Was this a goth bar? Come to think of it, he had seen some folks in white face paint. It had to be a goth bar.

Without spilling a drop of his drinks, he waded through the crowd. He eventually made it to the back of the patio and stood on the raised platform. He peered down into the sea of Gothness to find Divinity and Damien were nowhere to be seen. 

“Did that tramp kidnap him?” he spoke aloud. “When I find them, I’mma cut her.”

He was about to jump back into the crowd when he felt someone come up behind him. Before he could spin around, a hand with a cloth was already pressed to his face. He struggled briefly before his body fell limp, dropping his drinks. His last thought was how pissed he was for wasting those $7 drinks.

Greg awoke with a pounding headache. His vision was blurry, but he could tell he wasn’t alone. The lighting flickered, making it difficult to get an accurate idea of how many people were standing in front of him. He heard the popping and crackling of a fire nearby. He felt its heat like an oppressive blanket, coating him from head to toe. His tight pants didn’t help with temperature control.

“Ahhh, the tributes are ready,” said a formidable sounding voice. “Let us begin.”

A slap across his face helped Greg wake up. His eyes blinked in response to the tingling sensation in his right cheek. A buff leather-clad man stood in front of him, his face glistened with sweat. In another instance, Greg would have remarked on the man’s stunning resemblance to Freddy Mercury. Tonight, all he had was, “You punk bitch! Try that again and see what happens!” He went to return the slap but found his hands were bound above his head. His arms were so numb he hadn’t realized.

Behind the leather daddy, a large group of similarly dressed men stared at Greg and beyond him. This prompted him to look to either side of him. Divinity and Damien were bound to wooden stakes, just like him. This harkened him back to that scene in Attack of the Clones with Padme, Anakin, and Obi-Wan were tied up in the Petranaki Arena. Just who were these guys?

“You’re probably wondering who we are,” Leather Daddy said in a condescending tone. “Heh, well, I’m sorry. I’m not about to monologue and tell you about our secret society of vampires and our ritual to sacrifice normies to our Vampire Queen once a year to appease her. No, sir. We’re just going to kill you outright and let your blood nourish our queen.”

“Oh, my gawd. I just had the weirdest dream.” Divinity was coming to. “I was dancing with this stud muffin, then these leather daddies grabbed me from behind and gave me the rogering of my life.” He stared ahead and frowned. “Oh. Not a dream then?”

“Silence!” Leather Daddy said. He slapped Divinity open-handed. “Begin the bloodletting ritual.”

A lackey broke from the crowd brandishing a knife that looked like it had been used in dozens of rituals. The steel was stained red. He approached the three captives and eyed each of them, deciding which one to cut first. He glimpsed at Damien and nodded. 

Greg caught this and struggled to get free. “If you touch him, I will kill you!” Though he didn’t know how he was going to accomplish that since he was tied up. He didn’t have a chance to stick a lock pick in his mouth before he was chloroformed. Padme had the foreknowledge she was going to be sacrificed. So, he opted to continue struggling impressively. If Damien woke up before being gutted, Greg wanted to appear like he put up a fight.

In a dramatic twist of his wrist, the rope his hands were bound by snapped. The rope fell to his feet, allowing him to lower his hands. “Are you kidding me?”

Leather Daddy saw this and shouted to his lackey to apprehend the prey.

Greg freed his hands from the ropes and swirled it over his head menacingly, imagining himself to be Wonder Woman with her lasso. “Come and get it, bitches.” 

The lackey moved in for the kill, but was quickly subdued with a slap in the face from the rope. 

“Get him!” Leather Daddy shouted. “We must kill them before midnight!”

The group of lackeys ran toward Greg, ready to pounce. Once again, if this had been any other situation, this would have been welcomed. Tonight was not the night.

“Greg! Run, get help!” Divinity shouted.

Greg scoffed as he managed to weave his way through his attackers. “And leave you alone with my boyfriend? You wish!” 

“Bitch, I don’t want your man!” Divinity rolled her eyes. “But I could have him if I wanted.”

“Gurl, are you high?”

“Shut up, both of you,” Damien moaned as he came to.

Greg knew the rope wasn’t going to hold them off for long. He ditched it and ran for the bonfire off to the side of the enclosure he found himself in. He found two sticks that had a sufficient amount of fire on them and gripped them. He swung them about like a duel wielder showing off. He grinned as the lackeys hesitated to approach him.

Greg didn’t waste any time. He beat them within an inch of their lives. Setting them on fire was a bonus. The lackeys burst into ashes on impact, letting out an anguished scream as the wind carried them away.

Damien and Divinity watched with their mouths agape as Greg took out the rest of the lackeys, leaving Leather Daddy left. The ferocity in his eyes was nothing Damien had ever seen in his boyfriend before. He noted to himself he’d do well to remember this.

Greg aimed one of the fiery logs at Leather Daddy and took joy in seeing him piss himself. “Now, you tell your Vampire Queen not to come for me unless I send for her! Capiche?”

Leather Daddy nodded and feebly muttered his agreement before he ran away, screaming into the night.

After he dropped the logs, he untied Damien and Divinity. 

“MY HERO!” Divinity draped both of his arms around Greg and gave him a kiss on the lips. 

“Get your nasty old paws off me, bitch!” Greg said, shoving him off. “You’re lucky I don’t just leave you here, wherever here is.”

“Yeah, you should’ve asked him for directions before you scared him off,” Damien said, hugging his man. “You were so fierce. So brave. So-”

“Butch?” Greg grinned as Damien nodded. 

“Is it bad that I’m so turned on right now?”

“Not at all,” Greg said, pulling him close. “Wanna?”

Divinity scoffed. “I’m gonna go call us a Lyft.” Taking this as his cue to leave, he left the enclosure, leaving the two lovebirds to do whatever. “Ugh. Is this a quarry? What the actual fuck! Don’t they know how hard it is to walk in gravel in these shoes? Ugh!”

Damien & Greg, Episode 8: “The Devil’s In The Basement”

“Psssst!” Damien was jolted from a dead sleep. He removed his sleep mask and looked around the bedroom for whatever was leaking. The bathroom light was on at Greg’s insistence, so the bedroom wasn’t dark. There didn’t appear to be anything that should be leaking. He looked over the edge of his side of the bed and found Bertram curled up, sleeping peacefully, silently.

“Pssst!” 

This time it came from outside of the room. Damien sighed and rolled his eyes. “Look, whatever this is, I’m not in the mood.” He slid his mask back over his eyes and proceeded to go back to sleep. 

He was on the cusp of unconsciousness when he heard, “PPPPPSSSSSSTTTT!” right in his left ear. 

“WHAT?!” Damien tore the mask off his face and sat up. He looked to see if he woke up Greg. Of course, he didn’t. Bertram, on the other hand, was awake. He whimpered as he looked up at his daddy. Damien turned to look at the chupacabra, only to find a man wearing a red tuxedo standing right beside him. “The fuck!”

The red man grinned at him politely. “There we are. I thought you’d never wake up. Now, if you will kindly follow me to the basement, I have some things I need to discuss with you.”

Damien had questions. Who was this guy? Where’d the hell did he come from? How’d he get in the house with Bertram tearing him apart, or at least howling? He asked none of those questions. The question at the forefront of his mind was, “What basement? We don’t have a basement.”

The red man chuckled. “Sure you do; otherwise, I wouldn’t have asked you to go down there.” He offered a hand, which Damien oddly accepted, and helped him out of bed. “Now, if you’d follow me.”

“Wait, who are you?” Damien finally asked.

Another chuckle escaped his mouth as he spun around dramatically. His eyes turned yellow with snake-like pupils as he said, “I’m Deviel, your basement demon. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Of course, we have a basement with a basement demon. Must be Tuesday, Damien thought. It was not Tuesday.

“What’s in the basement?”

Deviel only giggled in response. He led them out of the bedroom. Bertram attempted to follow, but a stern glare from the red man caused him to stay with Greg. This worried Damien. If even a bad bitch like Bertram was afraid to cross this guy, then maybe he shouldn’t either.

They went down the staircase and into the kitchen. Damien did a double-take when he saw a door by the fridge that hadn’t been there before. In fact, the kitchen appeared to be bigger than it was before. How had he not noticed that door before now?

Deviel opened the door and guided Damien down into the basement. A pulsing red light filled the space, giving it a hellish aura. It was warm down there as well. They felt the heat the second the door opened. The humidity caused Damien’s eyelids to stick to his eyeballs each time he blinked. Ugh, it’s like Florida, he thought.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Damien was surprised to find he did, indeed, have a basement; it was full of stuff he didn’t recognize. He wanted to ask who this stuff belonged to, but the shiny seven-foot red crystal sticking out of the floor in the center of the room demanded his attention.

“What the fuck is that?” Damien asked, his voice squeaking with shock. “How did this get here?”

Deviel glared at him. “You ask too many questions, man. I didn’t come here to be interviewed.”

“Then what did you come here for?” Damien realized he asked another question and flinched at Deviel’s withering stare. He made the gesture of zipping his lips and returned his attention to the massive crystal.

Damien estimated it had to be seven feet in diameter if his math skills were still sharp. As he examined it further, there appeared to be something humanoid suspended deep within, like a mosquito in amber. It quickly dawned on him what Deviel wanted.

“That’s you,” Damien said, making sure it wasn’t phrased like a question. “You somehow want me to set you free.” That didn’t make sense, did it? Deviel was clearly standing before him in all his red glory, almost blending in with the crystal’s light.

Deviel saw the questions on Damien’s face and scoffed. Even when he said nothing, his questions were annoying. “Yes, that’s me. I can only project my essence outside the crystal within the house. To truly be free, I need you to release my body from its prison.”

Damien arched a brow as he realized something the red man said. “You need me?” He grinned when he saw Deviel’s face sour, confirming his claim. “So, unless I take complete leave of my senses, you’re stuck in there.”

Deviel crossed his arms and pouted. “Yes,” he said grudgingly. 

Damien knew this guy was bad news and had to have been imprisoned for a valid reason. So releasing him was obviously not happening. Still, curiosity tugged at his reasoning. 

“How would I go about freeing you if I wanted to do that?” 

Deviel’s expression turned hopeful. “You would have to recite a spell. It’s simple, really. How’s your Latin?”

Damien raised his hands and shook his head. “Oh, no. I don’t fuck with Latin.”

Deviel moaned as he realized his hopes were in the process of being dashed. “The Latin isn’t even the hardest part! It’s the bleeding that’s hard. But if it’s the language you’re hung up on, I can spell it out phonetically. You were hooked on phonics as a child, right?”

“I’m sorry. I wish I could help you,” Damien said, ascending the stairs.

“But you can!”

Damien stopped just to say, “Correction. I wish I wanted to help you.”

Deviel’s eyes glowed bright yellow, and the crystal’s light intensified as he shouted. “You’re just gonna leave me down here?”

“Yup.” Damien was at the top of the stairs now. 

“I swear on Lucifer’s little black horns, I will haunt you! I will torment you until I bend you over my knee, and make you free me.” 

“Don’t threaten me with a good time.” And with that, Damien shut the door. He heard the devil man scream curses at him in some infernal language. He didn’t have to guess what names he was being called. He also didn’t have to care. He had to get back to sleep and hopefully finish his dream about horseback riding with Neil Patrick Harris shirtless in a cherry orchard, then maybe even another kind of back riding later.As he petted Bertram and got back into bed, Deviel’s threats echoed in his head. He’s gonna haunt me? Bring it. I’ve been haunted by worse things than you. He put his sleep mask back on and drifted off to sleep. NPH was waiting.

Damien & Greg, Episode 7: “Bad Dog II”

Greg was excited beyond measure when Damien pulled into the parking lot of Cedar Heights Animal Shelter. He had finally talked Damien into allowing him to get a dog. Guilting him about Max’s demise had a lot to do with it. He hoped Damien would have a much harder time dispatching the dog if it was alive.

The first thing to greet them was the sound of excited barks. Greg’s heart grew two sizes. He didn’t waste time pulling Damien through the aisles of kennels, commenting about the possibilities of each pupper. Damien just wanted to be done as soon as possible. The overwhelming smell of dog poop was starting to get to him.

“I want that one!” Greg squealed. 

Damien peered into the kennel and saw the poor raggedy dog staring up at him with piteous brown eyes. It looked like it hadn’t been fed in weeks. Its bones were visible through its thin brown-black skin. The spinal bones seemed bigger, pointier than usual. He got a bad feeling about it.

“Are you sure, babe? It looks kinda-”

“He’s precious!” Greg crouched down and placed his hand through the gate. The dog instantly got up and licked him. “See? He knows I’m his human. He’s perfect. We’re getting him.”

Damien wanted to object, but he knew the Max Incident of 2020 would be thrown in his face again. Plus, if it got him out of the shelter with all of its poopy smells, so be it.

They filled out all of the necessary paperwork and paid all the fees for shots and registration. Before long, they were heading home with ‘Bertram.’ He sat in the back seat and panted happily. Damien didn’t like the way the dog was looking at him like he was lunch. He convinced himself he was being paranoid and continued driving.

“Welcome home, Bertram!” Greg said, allowing the dog to cross the threshold. He hugged Damien and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you, sweetie! This is going to be good, you’ll see.”

Bertram made himself at home on the couch. Neither of them had the heart to tell him to get off. They simply sat on either side of him and cuddled with him.

The next week with Bertram had gone pretty smoothly. There were no accidents, no acting up, no late-night barking. It was as if Bertram really was the perfect dog. While Damien worried slightly about Bert’s hairlessness and thin build, he was pleased with Greg’s selection.

Damien accompanied Greg and Bertram on their many walks. At first, he didn’t notice it, but with each passing day, he saw more and more flyers about missing animals tacked on every light post and telephone pole. His mind instantly wanted to correlate Bert’s appearance with the animals’ disappearances. Still, he told himself he was looking for connections where they didn’t exist. Still, he was suspicious.

Greg had insisted on having a doggy door installed on the porch door to allow easy access to the backyard. Damien thought it would also provide Bertram easy access to the outside world. The wall in their backyard wasn’t as high as he’d like. The dog could leap over it with no problem. He had no proof this was happening, but tonight, he’d get to the bottom of it.

After Greg went to bed, Damien woke up when he heard the doggy door flap shut. He got dressed and stealthily snuck downstairs. He looked out the window above the kitchen sink to see if Bertram was doing his business. Since it was dark, he couldn’t get a good glimpse. It didn’t help Bertram could blend in seamlessly in the shadows. He sighed as he decided he would have to get closer.

He quietly opened the porch door and stood in the backyard. He could plainly see that Bertram was not doing his business. He was nowhere to be seen. 

“I hate being right,” he said under his breath. 

He stepped into the grass, and that was when he felt something crunch beneath his shoe. He took out his cell phone and used it to illuminate the ground. He gasped when he found he was standing on a bone of some kind. Greg didn’t feed Bertram bones because he feared he’d choke on them. So, Damien knew the bone shouldn’t have been there. He lifted his foot further and found he was standing on a half-buried corpse of what appeared to be a small squirrel. Not only had the bones been extracted, but all the blood was gone.

“Oh, no…” he moaned as he gazed at the rest of the yard. Knowing what to look for, it was easy to see the other half buried graves of exsanguinated animals.

A howling from nearby shook Damien from his shocking revelation. It wasn’t the howl of a cute little puppy dog. It was the howl of a predator, something dangerous, like a wolf, coyote, or… “Chupacabra?” It couldn’t be, but his instincts told him he hit the nail on the head.

Without hesitation, he jumped over the wall and ran down the back alley toward the direction of the howl. You’re crazy, you know that right, he thought. Only people of a specific population would think running toward an evil creature was a good idea. Still, if he could save one little lost kitty from a gruesome death, it’d be worth it.

The alley emptied onto Alder Ave, which was a cul de sac. In the center of the loop stood Bertram on his hind legs, which looked like something out of Aliens. Bertram turned to him with eerie black eyes that seemed to bulge out of his skull. It lowered to all fours and snarled at Damien.

Damien raised his hands to show he meant the dog no harm, which was a lie. He planned to do it lots of harm. “Hey, Bert, it’s me, Daddy Damien. It’s okay, boy.” He wasn’t sure if Bertram was buying what he was selling. The chupacabra didn’t appear to be moved by Damien’s voice. It crept forward, slime dripping from its gnarled lips. A guttural growl emitted from deep within its throat. Damien continued to talk sweetly to it.

“Who’s been a naughty boy? Huh? Who’s been a bad dog?” Damien slowly backed away, deeper into the alley. Was he trying to lure it back home? He supposed he was. “Who’s a naughty boy? Is it you?” Another growl was given in response. “You’re not a bad boy, are you? No, you’re not! You’re a good boy. Good Bertram.”

Bertram haunched lower to the ground, his leg muscles taut and ready to pop. Damien knew an attack was imminent. He cursed himself for not bringing anything to defend himself. He was done for, part of a complete breakfast with a side of orange juice. Even if he bolted down the alley, he’d be dead before he reached the house. He had no choice but to surrender. 

Damien got down on his knees and closed his eyes. He prayed to the great Goddess above that someone would find his body soon and let Greg know he loved him. He shook as he waited for the impending attack. That attack turned out to be a sloppy lick on his face. He risked opening his right eye and saw Bertram was happily licking him, his tail wagged enthusiastically like a whip. 

“You’re not going to eat me?” Damien asked. Bertram barked happily in response. “Shhh, we don’t want to wake the neighbors.” Happy he wasn’t going to be eaten, he got up and petted Bertram on the head. Relieved that he wouldn’t have to explain to Greg how he killed yet another dog, he led Bertram home. 

Greg was waiting for them in the kitchen. He was happy to see them both unharmed. He gave them both hugs and kisses.

“So, uhh, I guess Bertram is a chupacabra,” Damien said. He expected to see a look of shock on his boyfriend’s face, but there was a severe lack of surprise.

“Yeah,” Greg said plainly, rubbing Bertram behind the ears. “Come on, let’s go to bed.” He led them upstairs to bed.

So, the animal disappearances continued until the neighbor ran out of animals. At that point, Greg resorted to buying animals from PetsMart every couple of days. As long as Bertram wasn’t killing people, Damien supposed the ‘dog’ could stay alive. Greg appreciated this muchly. So did Bertram.

Damien & Greg, Episode 6: “Trolled”

Damien and Greg were driving down the Interstate from their monthly trip to Costco when they needed to stop for gas. Damien pulled into the first gas station he saw, which was some out of the way place called Sass and Gass. It looked like the typical gas station a white woman in a horror movie wouldn’t want to be caught dead. Greg said as much, but Damien insisted he didn’t want to take the chance of running out of gas before they could find a QT or an Arco.

“And that’s why we’re going to be horribly murdered by some creepy troll or something,” Greg said as he opened his car door. 

“Where are you going?” Damien asked. 

“I need some water or something.” Greg put on his rainbow face mask. “I’m parched. My throat is so dry.”

Damien chuckled as he stuck his debit card into the pump’s reader. “If you hadn’t been talking the entire way down, your throat wouldn’t be so dry.”

“Har de har har.” Greg flipped him the bird as he made his way into the dirty shop.

With the least amount of physical touching, Greg opened the door to find the shop was just as dirty inside as outside. The shelves were stocked with off-brand options that looked like they’d been there since the first Bush’s administration. He hoped bottled water didn’t have an expiration date. 

The door slammed shut behind him, alerting the shop owner to come out of the back office. To Greg’s surprise, the owner was an actual troll, complete with the floppy hat, scruffy beard, and warty face. He supposed it was 2020, and bridges were so stereotypical. 

Greg didn’t take offense to the guy being a literal troll. What he took offense to was the fact that the troll was not wearing a mask. This caused him to raise an eyebrow. Not one to mind his own business, Greg thought nothing of confronting him.

“Excuse me, sir,” Greg said as he sidled up to the sale counter. “I couldn’t help but notice that you forgot your mask in your office.” The troll’s dead brown eyes glared at Greg menacingly, but Greg wasn’t shook. “You might want to go back there and get it. You know, just for the sake of your customers’ health.” 

The troll scoffed, letting his rank breath permeate the air. “I ain’t got no mask,” he said. “I hate ‘em anyway. They don’t fit over my nose.” He pointed to his rather bulbous and warty nose. 

Greg nodded in agreement that finding a mask to fit his nose would be difficult, but it was no excuse. “You know you could use alternatives. There’s got to be something out there for trolls with enormous noses. You just have to take the time to look.”

The troll shook his head vehemently. “Nah, I don’t believe in masks.”

This really got Greg’s heckles up. “It’s not like the fucking tooth fairy. Masks exist, and the threat is real. You can’t just be walking around maskless, possibly infecting everyone who comes in.”

The troll doubled down. “If people don’t want to come in, they don’t have to.” 

“You know, you’re right,” Greg admitted. He took one last look around and decided not to get the water after all. If the troll wasn’t going to wear a mask, he sure as hell wasn’t going to sanitize the shop. No one should have to put up with that nonsense, and he decided he would make sure no one would.

Greg approached the door and saw Damien was on his way inside. With a dangerous glint in his eye, he winked at him as he locked the door. Damien recognized that look as slowly backed away.

“Hey, what are you doing?” the troll asked. He came out from behind the counter and stared at Greg like he was crazy. “You can’t do that.”

“Really? Because it looks like I just did.” Greg took a step toward the troll, whose name was Fred, according to his name tag. “As a store owner, you have the right to refuse service to anyone. As an American citizen who doesn’t want to get sick, and who is considerate enough to think of someone besides himself, I have the right to make sure no one else gets sick.” 

Fred did not like the look in Greg’s eyes, so he took a step back. “Stay back, man! I don’t want any trouble.”

Greg popped his neck and his knuckles. “Oh, I’m afraid that ship has already sailed, Fred.” He shoved a display of off-brand Doritos onto the floor. Fred flinched as the metallic shelf clattered. Greg calmly bent down and picked it up. Not being a muscular man, Greg had no trouble lifting the small wire frame shelf. He didn’t know exactly what he was going to do with it, but he hoped Fred didn’t know either.

Fred raised his hands in anticipation of having something thrown at his face and backed away. “Look, man. I’m sorry! I’ll go in the back and see if I have something.” He awkwardly shuffled back into the hot dog stand, and then back into his office. 

The sounds of Fred grunting as he searched the office for anything resembling a mask pleased Greg. He looked behind him and saw Damien’s concerned eyes just above his camo mask. He gave him a reassuring thumbs-up, which Damien did not find reassuring.

“Okay!” Fred called out. He stepped out of the office with his hands raised, as if he was being robbed. He had managed to find a dirty towel which he tied around his head, properly covering his nose. “Okay, I have a mask now. Please don’t hurt me.”

Greg was satisfied. He dropped the shelf, allowing it to clatter on the floor again. He waited until Fred was behind the counter before he moved to the door. He slowly unlocked it. “That’s better.”

Fred’s shoulders relaxed once he was sure he wouldn’t be beaten within an inch of his life. “What can I help you find?”

Greg turned to Fred and winked. “Oh, nothing. I was just browsing.” He opened the door and strode outside.

Fred slumped down in the chair behind the counter, glad the combative customer was gone. As relieved as he was, he didn’t dare take the towel off. He didn’t want to encounter another pro-mask Karen. As he watched Greg and Damien drive away, he began reconsidering his uncle’s offer of guarding a bridge in the next town over.

Damien & Greg, Episode 5: “Fry Hard”

On a particularly dull Saturday afternoon, Greg found Damien sat in the living room with his feet propped up on the ottoman watching the Food Network. As usual, he held a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, pretending he was eating the food the hosts were making. Greg never understood the appeal of watching people make food instead of making it themselves. Pinterest existed for a reason.

“Really, Dames?”

“Hey. I don’t give you shit about the Kardashians,” Damien said, throwing a Dorito at him. “Go away and do something constructive with yourself.”

Greg caught the chip and promptly ate it. “I mean, if you want some really good food, I can whip up something three times as tasty than what they make on these shows.” He posed confidently in front of the screen. “Real talk.”

Before he could make it to the kitchen, Greg felt himself being pulled against the TV screen. Then a second later, he was finally pulled through and into the screen. A flash of static blinded him, and then all was darkness.

The faint sound of a drum roll echoed in a black space. As the drums crescendoed, lights faded into existence to reveal a stage similar to an Iron Chef competition. All of the modern cooking appliances were present on both sides of the stage. The studio audience applauded as the host entered from the wings. He was a poor man’s Ted Allen in Damien’s opinion. 

It was then that Greg realized where he was. He was trapped in an episode of Iron Chef or something. Before him stood a beautiful grey granite countertop full of bowls, utensils, and the like. A cold chill ran down his spine as what was about to happen dawned on him.

“Good evening, folks, and welcome to a very special episode of Extreme Cooking Challenge!” the smarmy host said. The audience cheered. “I am your host, Tad Alan.” He walked over to Greg, who looked very nervous. “Tonight, we have a challenger who believes his cooking is on par with our celebrity chefs.” The audience let out a long, collective boo. 

A massive screen lowered in front of the stainless steel refrigerators behind them. A projection of Greg’s face appeared on it. “I mean, if you want some really good food, I can whip up something three times as tasty than what they make on these shows. Real talk.” The replay of Greg’s boast caused the audience to jeer. 

“Let’s see if Greg Jones can put his ladle where his mouth is!” Tad patted Greg on the back and walked over to the opposite of the stage. “Greg will be facing off against world-renowned chef Heather Sturgis!” The crowd cheered as a happy blonde-haired beauty walked on stage. She waved at everyone and smiled. “Now, you know the rules…”

“No, I don’t,” Greg interjected. “I don’t watch this crap.”

Tad gave him a stern look. “You have fifteen minutes to prep your dish, and forty-five minutes to make it and present it to the judges.”

Greg nodded his head. “Seems simple enough.”

“And if you fail to either complete your dish or fail to impress the judges, your boyfriend will be deep-fried in a vat of oil!” 

Tad pointed to above them just offstage. A spotlight revealed Damien, bound and gagged, dangling in a cage over a large vat of boiling oil.

“You sick bastards!” Greg shouted.

Tad brought Heather and Greg together like boxers before a match. “I want a good, clean cooking area, and frequent handwashing. Get ready. Get set. Go!”

Greg and Heather separated and ran to their respective fridges. Greg quickly scanned the ingredients inside: eggs, salmon, chicken, a couple of steaks, various vegetables, milk, and an array of seasonings. He didn’t understand why they would put seasoning in a fridge, but he supposed he should be happy they were there at all. He knew the type of people who watched these shows.

Greg’s eyes darted around from item to item. The possible dishes he could make were numerous. He couldn’t decide what to make. Decision paralysis was always one of his flaws. Frustrated, he grabbed some chicken breasts, some butter, brown sugar, and a handful of seasonings. He rushed back to the countertop and deposited the ingredients. He stared at them and decided he needed some olive oil as well.

On the way back to the fridge, he tried his best not to look at Damien. The air caught in his throat as he heard Damien giving him support through muffled grunts. Even under threat of being deep-fried, his man was supportive. This touched him more than it should have at the moment.

Olive oil acquired, he began making his famous To Die For Chicken. It had better be good; otherwise, Damien is going to die, Greg thought. 

He made the brown sugar sauce and preheated the oven to 375. If he only had forty-five minutes to complete the dish, the chicken wouldn’t be baked enough when the timer went off. He’d have to make the temperature hotter and run the risk of drying the chicken out if it’s too hot. For Damien, he’d gladly take that risk. He upped the temperature to 420.

He hated the touch of raw chicken, but he sucked it up long enough to season the chicken before adding the brown sugar sauce. He washed his hands to rid himself of the slippery sensation and slipped the tray of chicken into the oven. It was all over but the baking.

Greg nervously glanced at Heather and saw that she had been done for quite some time. What the hell did she make, soup? He didn’t put it past her; she didn’t have a loved one’s life on the line. Soup was a safe bet. He kicked himself for not thinking of it first.

Forty-five minutes arrived sooner than expected. Tad and Heather flirted with each other while they waited. Greg felt sick to his stomach to watch them. He wished he could have done that with Damien. 

“Alright, folks! Time is up! It’s time to see what Heather and Greg cooked up!” Tad said to the audience. They cheered at the mention of Heather’s name, but nothing when Greg was mentioned.

Tad approached Greg first as the chicken was being pulled out of the oven. He frowned when he saw the blackened chicken breasts. “That looked like charcoal, Greg. We could use it to start a campfire.” He gave a condescending chuckle as he waved his hand before his nose. “But, we’ll let the judges sort that out.”

As Tad approached Heather, Greg snuck a glimpse of Damien in the cage. Their eyes met. He saw the hope and disappointment in his lover’s eyes. Greg’s heart sank instantly. He wanted to apologize for failing him. He knew Damien wouldn’t blame him; he knew Greg did his best. Greg also knew that his best wasn’t good enough this time. He felt ashamed for making such a bold boast at Damien’s expense.

“That looks delicious, Heather,” Tad said in an over the top manner. “And now, let’s get this plated and given to our three celebrity judges: RuPaul, Alex Trebek, and Stacey Dash!”

Greg took the breasts from the tray and plated it for the judges. He admitted that they looked a tad bit overdone, but he prayed to the TV Gods, the judges liked them.

Tad gave the judges the plates and said something or another that Greg ignored. All he could do was stare at Damien. Nothing else mattered right now. His mind began scheming ways to free his love should things go south. Should? More likely, when.

Greg heard something that sounded like the sad trumpet from The Price is Right. He knew instantly that his chicken did not pass the test. 

“Well, Heather, it looks like you’re tonight’s winner,” Tad said.

“Oh, I’m so happy y’all like it! The recipe’s been in my family for generations and-” Heather said, but Tad cut her short and walked away. She just smiled to save face.

“Aww, geez, Greg,” Tad said with a grin too big to be genuine. “Looks like your dish didn’t quite live up to the hype. You know what that means. Your boy toy is taking a dip in some canola oil.” He turned to the audience and goaded them to cheer for Damien’s demise. “Sad to see it.” He was not. 

A clanking of metal sounded from above as Damien’s cage was slowly lowered toward the bubbling vat. His eyes widened in terror as the heat rose to meet him.

“Tonight’s oil is brought to you by Cornelia Canola Oil! It’s light and boils to perfection. Find it at your local grocery store today.” 

Greg saw Tad had somehow produced a bottle and snatched it from him. He quickly opened it and splashed its contents in Tad’s face. The audience gasped as Tad’s screams echoed throughout the studio. 

With the bottle in hand, Greg ran backstage and assaulted anyone who stood in his way on the catwalk. He frantically searched for the winch controlling Damien’s cage. A beefy man stood between him and the controls. He was going to regret it.

The beefy man beckoned to him. Greg didn’t have to be told twice. 

Greg collided with the man’s gut and bounced off into the railing behind him. The chain to Damien’s cage was right behind him. If he could reach it…

A hand on his shoulder pulled him away from the rail, causing him to drop the bottle on the floor. The oil spilled from it, coating the catwalk with canola goodness. This made Greg grin. 

Under normal circumstances, Greg would have had no chance of moving a man of Mr. Beefy’s size. The oil made it much easier. Greg spun around and gave Mr. Beefy’s shirt a tug in the right direction and sent him over the rail and down into the bubbly pit below. His screams were almost as delicious as whatever Heather made.

Greg went to the controls and pulled the cage up to the catwalk. He opened the cage and helped Damien out. 

They didn’t have time to celebrate. Security was already on its way up to apprehend them. Greg and Damien carefully made their way to the other side of the catwalk and ran down the stairs. The door leading out of the studio was just in front of them. Once they were on the other side, they found themselves back in their living room. Greg shut the door just in time to hear the security guards slam into it. The door locked; there was no way they could enter.

Greg watched the door while he untied Damien. The door remained intact. They were safe now. Damien took a deep breath as his gag was removed.

The TV was still on, showing Rachael Ray talking about EVOO. Without saying a word, Damien shut it off. 

They both collapsed on the couch and sighed. Neither said a word for a good five minutes before Greg turned to Damien and asked, “You hungry?” He was promptly trounced with a couch cushion. 

Damien & Greg Episode 4: “And You Were There”

Greg stood on his side of the bed to hang the dreamcatcher above the headboard. When he was satisfied that it was perfectly aligned with where his head would be resting, he stepped down to admire his handiwork. “I feel so butch,” he joked with Damien, who approved. “Okay. Hopefully, this will stop the nightmares. I’m so sick of waking up scared shitless.”

Damien moved to Greg and hugged him from behind. “I hope so, too. You know that I’m here with you when you wake up.”

Greg nodded while enjoying Damien’s warmth. “That makes waking up worth it.”

“The sooner you go to sleep, the sooner you can wake up to see my beautiful face.” Damien chuckled as the two of them crawled into bed.

While Damien was out the moment his head hit the pillow, Greg spent thirty minutes awake, anxious about the dreams he might have. He resisted the urge to get a glass of water and willed himself to sleep.

Greg opened his eyes and found himself in a cornfield on the pitchest night he’d ever seen. He hated cornfields with a passion. Where there was corn, there were children, and those children were evil. His heart quickened, so did his breathing. He spun around, looking for a way out, but all he saw was corn for miles. No end in sight. Then he heard childish giggling. His skin grew cold, and the hair on the back of his neck stood up on end. They’re here. He was amazed by how quickly they showed up. Run!

He took off running ahead of him, but not too fast because he didn’t like being smacked in the face by corn stalks. Without looking back, he heard one of the demon children running behind him. It giggled with sadistic glee, its mind full of sinister intent. He tried to run faster, but the ground seemed to grow stickier and thicker, rending his feet useless. 

“Shit!” Greg cried as he sunk into the ground. The little girl walked in front of him so she could see the fear in his eyes. Her overalls were covered in dirt. The sickle she carried was also dirty, with the addition of fresh blood dripped from the tip. “Go away! Shoo!”

He winced as the girl raised the sickle in the air to strike, but before she could land the killing blow, she was suddenly hit in the face with a baseball bat. The girl exploded into a cloud of blood mist. 

“You alright?” Damien stepped out of a row of corn and helped Greg up. 

“You’re here!” Greg hugged Damien so tightly, he was sure he was going to crack ribs. “How are you even here?”

Damien lifted Greg’s head and smiled. “Who cares? Let’s just get you out of here.” 

“Wait, do you want to… you know?” Greg was so turned on by his rescue. If this were a horror movie, this would be the perfect time to make love before dying at the hands of the big bad, but Damien didn’t seem to agree. “Fine, let’s get out of here.”

Hand in hand, the two ran through the cornfield, which slowly morphed into a maze. They didn’t comment on it; they just went with it. The sound of giggling children surrounded them. They were closing in. They took one right turn too many and came to a dead end. 

“We have to go back,” Greg said. He turned to retrace his steps, but four children of the corn showed up to impede their egress. “Trapped like rats!”

Greg wanted to hide behind Damien and be rescued again, but deep down, he knew he couldn’t just hide. He decided to stand his ground, but with what? He looked at the bat in Damien’s hand and snatched it.

“What are you doing?” Damien asked, concerned.

“Don’t worry, babe. I got this.” Greg took two steps forward as he readied the bat for action. “Who wants some?”

Damien couldn’t believe how quickly Greg’s demeanor had changed. Mere seconds ago, he was ready to pee his pants, but now Greg looked like he’d had enough. He smirked and took a step back to watch.

The children weren’t scared. They had been tormenting Greg for weeks and knew he wasn’t shit. They dared him to make a move. That was a mistake.

Greg harkened back to his Little League days, gripped the bat, and swung away. The first little boy exploded into a fine mist of redness. The three other kids gasped in surprise and took a step back. They witnessed the mad look in Greg’s eyes and decided they needed to be somewhere else. 

They turned to run, but Greg did not let them escape. “You done messed up, A-A-RON!” he screamed as he chased the children down. “Fuck your corn, you little bitches!”

Damien raised a brow at this line but was ultimately impressed. He listened to the screams of the corn children as if he were a Top 40 hit. 

When the last demon child had been beaten into nonexistence, Greg returned to Damien bloody and tired. He hugged his boyfriend and closed his eyes. He was tired and was ready for a nap. He wasn’t sure if sleeping within a dream was a thing or some kind of Inception bullshit, but he didn’t care. As the cornfield melted into the ground, his consciousness drifted out into the dreamscape.

Damien woke up to find he was back in bed. He looked over at Greg to see if he was awake. His sweet prince was sleeping peacefully with a smile on his face. He leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. “You did it, babe. Sleep well.” He gave the dreamcatcher one last glance before going back to sleep.

Damien & Greg Episode 3: Bad Dog

The dog’s cold golden eyes stared at Damien as Greg held the stuffed toy up to his face. His first instinct was to bat it away, but he didn’t want to risk offending Greg, and for some reason, the dog itself.

“Isn’t he the cutest thing ever?” Greg squealed like a child. 

The dog was anything but cute in Damien’s opinion. Sure, in theory, it looked like a dog should. Still, its coloring was a hodgepodge of bright reds, blues, and purples in a Frankenstein’s monster patchwork pattern. Its eyes were the most haunting things he’d ever seen on something that was supposed to be a children’s toy. Something was dead and menacing behind them; he could feel it. 

“I hate it,” Damien said before he could stop himself. 

Greg frowned as he took the dog away to look at it himself. “Well, I love him. He’s coming home with us, aren’t you?” He pressed the dog’s plastic nose up to his and said, “Yes, you are! Yes, you are!”

Damien resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Sometimes he marveled at Greg’s ability to be a sucker for every cute stuffie he saw. His boyfriend might be thirty years old in body, but twelve in spirit. The house would be filled with stuffed animals if Greg had his way.

Now, the two of them sat on the couch at home watching The Office for the umpteenth time. Greg felt the dog, which he named Max, needed to join them under the claim it didn’t want to be alone. 

Why would he say that? Damien shivered at a thought he wasn’t sure was plausible. Could it be suggesting things to Greg, controlling him? He dismissed the idea, but with each passing day, it became more believable. 

There was never a time Greg was without Max. They couldn’t go anywhere without him, to the grocery store, to game nights with friends, even to the bathroom. Max was always within arms reach. It was frightening how much a stuffed animal had changed the vibe of their house, their relationship. When Greg insisted Max sleep in bed with them, that was the last straw.

“No, Greg! Just no!” Damien shouted one Friday night. “This has been going on for two weeks! I put up with it because I love you, but this is ridiculous!” Greg’s face saddened, which would typically soften his resolve, but not tonight.

“But he gets cold when he sleeps alone,” Greg pouted, holding Max close to his chest. Max’s cold, dead eyes seemed to be glaring at Damien.

“He doesn’t get cold! He doesn’t sleep! He’s not even a he! It’s a toy!” He returned the dog’s glare, hating it more than he hated anything in his life. He saw that Greg was also resolute, so he issued the ultimatum: “Either you sleep with me, or you sleep with it, but not both!” 

It was apparent Greg felt conflicted, but Damien ultimately wound up sleeping on the couch downstairs. How could he have lost to a stuffed toy, an inanimate object? Why would Greg choose it over him? There was only one answer: Max was possessed and controlling Greg. He decided Max had to go. First thing in the morning, he’d see to it.

Confident that life would return to normal in the morning, he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. It was short-lived due to the feeling he was being watched. He opened his eyes and found Max sitting on his chest, his eyes staring down at him with golden eyes full of hate. 

Damien stifled a scream as he shoved the dog off him. He sat up and leaned over to see if Max was still there. He wasn’t. A cold chill ran through his body. Had he rolled underneath the table, or under the couch? It didn’t matter. He had to get him and Greg out of the house.

“Greg! Greg!” he called out. He sighed as he realized how futile it was. Greg could sleep through anything. He once slept through a 7.9 earthquake, only to wake up confused by why everyone else was so panicked. There was no waking him.

Scared to put his feet on the tile floor, Damien carefully stood on the couch cushions and leaped to the nearby recliner. He struggled to keep his balance but managed at the last second. He heard Max scuttle around somewhere unseen. 

“Fuck this!” He leaped from the recliner and made a dash for the staircase. He gasped when he saw Max was already at the top. He stepped back and clutched his chest. With his path to Greg blocked, his game plan went from saving themselves to killing the abomination.

As he backtracked into the living room, his mind spun with questions: What could kill this thing? I don’t have the number of a priest, so an exorcism is out. Can I set it on fire? No, it was probably born in hellfire. Then it hit him. 

He ran to the kitchen and flicked on the lights, or at least tried to. The light bulbs popped and sizzled as they blew out. It didn’t matter. He knew what he needed and where it was.

He bent down and opened the dishwasher and pulled out the red plastic bowl he liked to use to toss salad. When he stood up, Max was standing on the counter. He didn’t bother to stifle his scream this time. With a home run swing of the bowl, he knocked Max off the counter into the dark corner by the fridge. 

Damien used this time to turn on the faucet and fill the bowl with water. If Max was made from hellfire, he was going to douse the motherfucker out. When the bowl was full, he let the faucet continue to run. 

He spun around and scanned the kitchen for any sign of the demonic toy. “Where are you, Max? You’ve been a bad boy. You hear that, you bastard? You’re a bad dog! Very bad dog!” 

He usually subscribed to the thought that antagonizing the evil thing was a bad idea. Still, he hoped to coax it out of the shadows if he pissed it off enough. It was proving to be a great plan. He could hear Max growling from somewhere. Was he in the pantry? In the tea cabinet? He couldn’t stand by the sink forever. He had to make a move, even if it was wrong. 

Damien approached the pantry door and heard the growling intensify. He wondered if it knew what he had planned. He swung open the door and splashed the water inside. Max howled and hissed as smoke rose from the middle shelf. 

“Ha!”

His celebration was premature. Max lunged out of the middle shelf and gripped Damien’s neck, its plush mouth clamped around his windpipe. He grabbed the dog and stumbled backward in a cartoonish fashion, flailing about, struggling to detach the beast. He made his way to the sink, right where he wanted to be. 

With the strength of an ox, he tore Max off of him and quickly dunked the mutt into the sink of water. The dog wriggled and sizzled as it soaked up the dishwater. 

“Die, fucker! Die!” Damien said as he held the beast down. 

Max struggled for a good minute before he finally grew still. Damien didn’t want to take any chances and held him down for another two. When he was sure Max was dead, he drained the water and turned off the faucet.

 With the water all gone, the garbage disposal beckoned to him. He raised an eyebrow and grinned. Sure, the pipes might be clogged, but he’d gladly pay a plumber to unclog them.

He took more pleasure listening to the sound of a soggy stuffed toy being torn to shreds than an adult should, but he’d sleep better knowing the fucker was dead. With the deed done, he triumphantly marched upstairs to sleep with his boyfriend.

Dedicated to Brent Nielsen

Damien & Greg: Episode 2: “Save Greg!”

Damien pushed the wooden beam off his chest and stood up. The entire west side of the tavern wall was gone. The other patrons moaned in pain as they stood up to behold the wreckage. They all were lucky to be alive. 

“That dragon came out of nowhere,” the tavern owner said. “You’d think someone outside would have screamed or something.”

Damien agreed, but it was late evening. Anyone with half a brain cell would be inside, not wandering the streets. Dragon attacks were increasing now that Sir Galahad had bought the farm. The raspberries he grew seemed to be attracting them.

There were no raspberries in the tavern. What had this dragon wanted? It was then he realized not everyone in the tavern was accounted for. 

“Greg!” Damien searched the wreckage for any sign of his boyfriend, but there was none. The dragon stole him. “Dammit!” 

What was he going to do? He knew he had to save Greg, but how could he expect to go up against a dragon and live? What was to say the dragon hadn’t eaten Greg already? No, he couldn’t think like that. Greg was alive; he had to believe that, otherwise, what was the point of this adventure?

Damien turned to his fellow humans and picked up the biggest stick nearby. “Folks! For too long, we’ve been harassed by dragons. No more, I say! No more!” The tavern folk cheered. “This dragon dies tonight!” More cheers. “Who’s with me?” Dead silence. He frowned and shook his head. “Fine. You folks go burn down the raspberry farm then.” The cheers returned as the folk gathered the wreckage with the intent to use them as incendiary devices.

Knowing he would have to face this dragon alone, he stepped outside through the hole it created and gazed toward the Green Mountain where the dragon lived. It would be a long journey on foot. He wished there was a bus or some kind of ski lift. Time was of the essence.

Damien heard the sound of clopping hooves behind him. He saw an old man riding a white horse approach him. Finally, something is going my way. 

The man was about to ask him if he needed a ride, but Damien pulled him from the horse and took it for himself. He climbed onto the horse and took off into the night.

He rode for three hours before he finally reached the top of Green Mountain. The horse was so tired, it collapsed the moment Damien jumped off its back. 

A massive cave stood before him. It was dark and smelled of death and mint. He gagged despite telling himself he had smelled worse. With no weapon, he strode inside as noisily as he could. He wasn’t trying to be stealthy; he wanted the dragon to know he was coming for it and his man.

The tunnel was long and winding. After a few minutes, Damien reached a point where the ground slanted downward. He arrived at a set of stairs which led to a torch-lit cavern filled with piles of gold coins and… beautiful men wearing nothing but flimsy loincloths. 

What a slut, Damien thought. Upon closer inspection, the men were slathered in some kind of oil that made their skin glisten in the torch light. 

On top of the highest pile of gold sat the mighty red dragon. Its eyes zeroed in on Damien as he made his way to the bottom of the stairs. “You are trespassing,” it said in a booming voice. “The punishment for that is-”

“…death, whatever. Where’s Greg?” Damien had scanned the oiled men and saw Greg was not among them. Those he was only too happy to look again, just to make sure Greg really wasn’t hiding in there somewhere. “I know you have him.”

“Damien!” Greg’s voice came from above them. Damien looked up at the ceiling of the cavern to find a golden cage. His boyfriend gazed down at him, his eyes pleading for help.

The dragon’s face was smug as he watched their anguished expressions. “Oh dear, it seems I got your boyfriend. I’m such a naughty boy. Whatever will you do?”

Damien didn’t want to admit that it was a good question. He didn’t really have a plan. He just stormed in and expected what? He could ask for a trade, but what did he have that the dragon would want more than Greg? 

“I can see it on your face, you want a trade,” the dragon said.

What, can this dragon read minds or something?

“Yes,” the dragon replied. “I know you called me a slut. Isn’t that rude, boys?”

The well-oiled captives nodded and murmured their agreement with the statement.

“Your man is the best thing I have ever laid my eyes on. You had better have something worth trading if you want him back.”

Damien racked his brain for something, anything. And then it hit him. A smirk came to his lips. “You like raspberries, right?” From the glint in the dragon’s eyes, he knew he had gotten his attention. “At this very minute, the townspeople are burning the farm. Gee, it might already be gone. It was three hours since you left.”

The dragon licked its lips. The very thought of having to find another raspberry farm so close to the end of the season was more than he could bear. The next farm was at least two hours away in dragon miles. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

“You really have my balls in a vice, human.” The dragon reached up and grabbed the cage. He placed it before Damien and opened it. The two men embraced and kissed as if they had been separated for years instead of hours. “There. You have your man back. You tell those bastards to start replanting those raspberries this minute, or I’ll eat them up.”

Damien promised he would as he and Greg left the cave. Once he was sure he was out of the dragon’s telepathic range, he thought, fuck those guys. He was going to enjoy reading about their crispy deaths in the paper later.

Damien & Greg: Episode 1: The President of Space

Greg’s eyes snapped open as the sudden urge to pee overwhelmed him. He instantly regretted the two glasses of water he drank before bed. He carefully got out of bed, mindful not to wake his partner, Damien, and shuffled to the bathroom in his maroon bathrobe and pink bunny slippers. 

The door was closed, so he felt around for the doorknob. Upon opening the door, he waited until he shut the door behind him before turning the light on. Instead of finding what one would usually find in a bathroom, Greg found a large, dimly lit conference room with several people seated around a black oval table. 

Before Greg could even ask, “What?” a man in a black suit and tie swooped in out of nowhere and handed him a manila folder.

“Sir, we’re ready to begin the negotiations,” the man said. “The Argosians are very anxious to get underway. The Frellians are hungry, so I took the liberty of ordering from Bellduci’s. They loved the shrimp scampi you got them last time.”

None of these words were making sense to Greg. He was still groggy, his eyes not quite ready to be functional. He was hoping to retain his drowsiness while he peed, but as he was escorted to the table, it dawned on him that he was expected to do a thing. 

His eyes had finally adjusted to the lights hanging somewhere above the table when he sat down at the end. He wished they hadn’t. He gazed at the people seated with him and discovered they were not, in fact, human. Aliens? The hell is going on? 

He must have been staring because the two sets of aliens on either side stared back in bewilderment. To his left were creatures that looked like giant piles of snot with chunks of pineapples for eyes. To his right were creatures that were giant elephants, literal elephants, but dressed like Babar characters. This had to be a dream. Though the critical question was: which ones loved the shrimp scampi? 

“Mr. President?” the suited man asked, a hint of embarrassment was evident in his voice.

Greg turned to him and whispered, “Can I do this after I pee?” He frowned when the man shook his head. “Fine.” If he couldn’t pee until it was done, he’d get this over with as quickly as possible.

He turned to the snot creatures and slammed his fist on the table. “You, fallopians! What do you want?”

“Frellians, Mr. President.” The man coughed into his hand to better aid the correction.

The four Frellians jiggled and gurgled in unison while an automated voice translated from above. “We want the Argosians to stop flying in our airspace without proper clearance.”

The elephant people trumpeted their offense. “We owned that planet before you invaded it; therefore, it is our airspace to use as we see fit.”

The two species argued while the computer voices clashed, often cutting in and out. Greg was impressed, but also somewhat disappointed the conflict wasn’t more dramatic. There had to be a clear cut way to solve this issue quickly.

“Frellians, is it true you invaded their planet?” Greg leaned toward them, hoping to look impressive, but was actually an attempt to keep his bladder from releasing.

“We travel the galaxy seeking weak planets to conquer,” the lead Frellian said. “They weren’t using it to its full potential, so we took it.” The Argosians trumpeted their disagreement, but Greg silenced them with a raise of his right hand. “The planet is ours now, therefore our airspace.”

Greg turned to the Argosians and nodded, allowing them to plead their case.

“Your conquering of our planet has disrupted our established trade routes,” the lead Argosian said. “It is a vital junction which supplies materials vital to our empire of planets. Denying us the use of our own space will cripple our economy, as well be a detriment to our people.”

Suddenly all eyes were on Greg. From the intensity of their stares, they were waiting for a judgment. What did he care who used whose airspace? Why did he have to decide who used it? Where was his toilet? 

Sensing the suit was about to urge him to say something, Greg cleared his throat to sound presidential. “Where I’m from, possession is nine-tenths of the law. Frellians, you currently own the planet, the airspace is yours.” He saw the Argosians’ trunks twitch with irritation.

 “But, the Frellians are impeding the lives of the Argosians, which I can no longer abide. I hereby declare the Frellians must allow trade to continue, but on appointed days chosen by the Argosians. No more than three days. Don’t get greedy.” He saw both parties were about to object, but Greg slammed his fist again. “My decision is final. Make it work.”

With that, he stood up and tossed the manila folder to the suit. “Peace out!” He marched back to the door he entered without looking back. He gripped the handle and hoped it would take him back home. As he opened the door and stepped through, he closed his eyes and prayed. With the door closed, he opened them and sighed in relief as his precious toilet was present. 

He quickly opened his robe and took the most glorious pee he’d ever had. He let out a pleasurable moan as his stream flowed from him like the Nile, hitting the water like thunderous applause.

He shook and tapped, then flushed. As he washed his hands, he heard Damien ask if he was okay. He was better than okay; he was empty. All he had to do was prevent an interstellar war. Not bad for a night’s work. He just hoped he wouldn’t have to do it again any time soon. It was then he realized he was thirsty.