Herb Roasted Chicken (mm mc)

Copyright © 2003

NOTE OF INTRODUCTION: This story was created with several very deliberate references to the television series DAWSON'S CREEK. If you did not follow the series, you will still be able to enjoy the story. But for the record, each one of these characters is based on one of the many beautiful boys who appeared on that series. Enjoy.Synopsis: Two college psych majors use a new hypnosis method to ensnare smooth young freshmen boys.

The Cast:
     Vic played by CHAD MICHAEL MURRAY
     Herbie played by JORDAN BRIDGES
     Jamie played by JAMES VAN DER BEEK
     Acker played by JENSEN ACKLES
     Carson played by KERR SMITH
     Rickie played by GREG RIKAART
     Coffee played by ADAM KAUFMAN
     Bry played by BRYCE JOHNSON

     with Henry played by MICHAEL PITT
        and Julian Hardcourt played by CHRIS DEMETRAL

View the dream cast for Herb Roasted Chicken"I've told you a million times already, this stuff just doesn't work on me."

Vic ran his hand through the lionlike mop of hair atop his skull and shook his head. Taking a deep breath, he tried to get through to his lab partner again. "Lookit, Herbie, I realize you're all excited about this and all, but if we don't get serious about our thesis like right now, we're can both kiss our final grade goodbye."

Herbie put his hands on his hips, and lowered his round face in a show of frustration. "Vic, just hear me out one more time, I really think I can convince you." At saying that, Herbie's face split into a broad grin, his face reddening, making his dark hair seem brighter by contrast.

"What?", Vic demanded. "What's so damn funny all of a sudden?"

Herbie waved his question away. "No, no, it's nothing. I'm cool." Herbie turned back to the notes he'd scrawled all over the marker board of the class they'd been using for their study period. He referred briefly to the pages of his binder to check their accuracy. Vic liked to kid Herbie about his binder, with it's pasted-on image of an old Coca-Cola ad of a barefoot farmboy in a straw hat, trudging merrily along with a homemade fishing pole slung over his shoulder. Herbie had a thing for the whole farmboy image. Vic made a show of staring at the binder's cover, made a face that seemed to say, "Hyuk!" Herbie ignored him.

"It's really simple, man. I can't believe nobody else ever thought of it before." He grabbed up a yellow marker and began to highlight the previous notes he'd written out in black. "The body gives off a certain amount of heat, right? 98.6 and all that, yadda, yadda, yadda. It's a proven fact that when the body gets warmed just above that temperature, it tends to get tried, sleepy. Sleep is a natural trance-like state used in hypnosis."

"Okay, see, that's not exactly accurate, right there", Vic interrupted.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever, you know what I mean", Herbie shooed the comment away. "Now, by simply defining the precise warmth, temperature, whatchacallit, of the human brain and focusing an artificial heat source safely on it--" Herbie circled his sketch of the human brain and scratched out "X"s over various points. "Trance states deeper than any ever before achieved are possible. Hypnotherapy, using the mind to overcome almost any illness, shit-- even flat-out brainwashing and mind control--!" Herbie looked back at his fellow student and began to giggle.

Vic tossed his folder onto the floor. "Okay, that's it. We both know this little fantasy of yours will not only never work, it can't possibly be proven. We'd need all kinds of funding and test subjects and time to run a set of complete WHAT the fuck is so goddamn funny?!"

Herbie pulled a chair over to Vic and sat down. He spoke through his broad grin. "So this could never work." It was a statement--a challenge--rather than a question.

Vic looked exasperated. "Well, duh!"

Vic leaned in close. "And what if I told you it already has, and that I could prove it to you?"

"That I'd like to see."

The snickering Herbie jumped across the small classroom to his knapsack and pulled out a pretty sizeable mirror. He had wrapped the 11x14" looking glass in a couple towels so as not to break it. He handed it to Vic.

"What's this, since we have no cash we're gonna use a mirror to reflect sunlight to get the heat you were talki--holy shit!" Vic saw his reflection and for a moment didn't recognize himself. Strapped across his nose was a rubber chicken beak of the kind found in novelty shops, and atop his head was a huge red rubber glove forming a mock rooster crest.

"What the hell is this?? When did you do this?!"

Herbie laughed out loud. "Dude, isn't it awesome?? You didn't even know it was there!"

Vic just stared at his own reflection in disbelief. "Herbie, I'm serious, when did you do this?"

"A while ago. Christ, I can't tell you how hard it's been to keep from just busting out laughing while you've been sitting there all serious, looking like Chicken Boy. Damn, you look priceless."

Vic was astounded. "B-but, I ran my hand through my hair. I felt my hair, I know I did!"

Herbie pointed at him, saying, "You thought you did. I implanted the suggestion that you not notice your, um, accoutrements until you saw your reflection."

"This--this is amazing. I still can't get over how--" he stopped. "Herb, tell me I didn't walk all the way over from the quad looking like this."

Herbie waved his hand. "Nah, nah. Just since you got here."

"In the room?"

"Welll...in the building, anyway."

Vic blanched. "Oh, shit. Across the lounge and six flights up. Muther fucker, I though that kid on the stairs was flirting with me. He was just staring at my--my chickeness! You asshole!"

"So take it off, I'll explain how you got that way."

Vic set down the mirror. "Well, you've got my attention now, if nothing else, I--" Vic continued to sit there, his arms resting comfortably atop his lap. He looked down at himself.

"Well?", Herbie prompted. "Go on, try to take 'em off." Vic caught the operative word: try.

Vic's arms remained in his lap. It looked for all the world as if he were just sitting there. There was no strained effort visible, no bulging muscles or popping veins. Vic looked at Herbie, eyes wide. "What the hell is this, did you paralyze me, too?"

"Try to take off your beak and stuff already", Herbie said again.

"I AM trying! I can't move my fucking arms! I'm really, really trying to lift my arms and absolutely nothing is happening. I can't move my arms. You did paralyze me, you bastard."

Herbie picked a pencil from his backpack. "Hey Vic, think fast." He lobbed the pencil at Vic, whose hand shot up and caught it easily.

Vic leaned forward, looking at the pencil in his fist. With his other hand, he reached over with no effort and began to turn the pencil over in his hands. "What the hell..."

Herbie leaned back against the teacher's desk, folding his arms and crossing his ankles. "I only told you that you couldn't remove your chicken stuff until I gave you the signal to. I never said you couldn't use your arms for anything else."

"But dude, you just told me to take the stuff off, why didn't that--??"

"That wasn't the signal."

Vic got up, chicken paraphernalia still firmly on his head, and walked over to the marker board. He stared at the scribblings that had seemed ludicrous to him only moments before. He tapped the board with his index finger and turned to Herbie. "So, you say it's all done with heat, huh?"


The flyers were posted just about everywhere that freshmen boys tended to hang out. Vaguely worded but sufficiently descriptive to be enticing, the flyers offered the possibility of amusement, and more importantly, quick cash, for freshmen interested in taking part in a senior psychology thesis study. After being posted for only an hour or so, the flyers were already getting the attention of the more adventuresome as well as perpetually broke incoming boys.

Herbie worked with Vic in distributing the flyers to select potential subjects throughout the quad. "What about him?", Vic asked, pointing out a lone freshman, battling with a pile of new textbooks he was trying to keep from dropping all over the sidewalk.

"No", Herbie said flatly. "Not him."

"Why not? He's obviously a frosh. Check out the confused look, the whole lost puppy thing he's got goin' on." The boy in question kept darting his eyes about, searching in vain for some more experienced student to come to his aid as he fought to manage his book load. "Looks like he'd be plenty susceptible to suggestion."

Herbie looked at the boy again. He was cute, in a bookish, nerdy sort of way. Tall, if a bit gangly. Dark hair, glasses, sweater vest. But no. Not this one.

"He's not what I'm looking for."

Vic raised an eyebrow. "You mean he's not what we're looking for."

"Hmm? Oh, yeah. Sure. We. We're in this together, right."

Vic was bothered by what sounded to him to be more than a mere slip of the tongue on Herbie's part, but he let it pass. "Why is he not what we're looking for?"

"Loner. I'm looking for couples."

"Couples? I thought you said you wanted to keep this strictly boys at the outset. Are we recruiting girls now, too?"

Herbie quickly shook his head. "Not that kind of couples. Buddies. Pals. I've got this whole best friend interaction thing worked out that I think will really help the experiment."

Vic felt that unease creep back in on him. "Why didn't you ever tell me about this? You never mentioned doing this in pairs befor--"

"It just came to me last night", Herbie cut him off. "Didn't think I needed to call you up since I'd be seeing you today anyway." Vic started to speak again, dissatisfied with Herbie's cavalier attitude about keeping him in the dark about this new development, but Herbie stopped him before he could begin, nudging Vic in the arm. "There. By the big tree."

Vic looked to where Herbie was pointing and saw a couple young college boys leaning against the large shade tree on the lawn. One was blond, with a strong chin and honest eyes. He had a small camcorder slung over his shoulder and a well-worn paperback text on Film Noir. The other was a bit taller, with sandy-brown hair. He had the face of an angel and a few folders marked with an angel's work. Student Help Line guidelines, Community Center activity planner, and Students Against Drunk Driving pamphlets. The two boys were clearly good friends, as they joked and laughed together openly. The blond film student was holding out his palm and fingering some loose change, shaking his head at the dismal total. His angelic friend held a thin leather wallet in his free hand, and playfully upended it to reveal how empty it was.

"Bingo", Herbie said, his voice a soft purr of anticipation. Before Vic could say anything, Herbie was already halfway across the grass toward the shade tree. He trotted along behind him.

Herbie planted one palm upon the tree trunk and leaned into the two boys' personal space as if it were the most natural thing in the world to him. "Gentlemen", he said, sounding both official and deliberately corny. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name's Herbie, and this is my associate, Vic."

Vic rushed up to stand beside his partner in arms. "Hey."

The two boys exchanged puzzled looks. "Um, hey. I'm Jamie", the blond film buff said. "This is Acker." The dreamboat tossed off a quick wave in greeting. "And actually, we were just leaving", Jamie said, beginning to back away.

"Looks like you two guys are a bit strapped for cash", Herbie said casually. The boys stopped at that, turning to face Herbie again. Herbie handed them a flyer. "But I could help you with that." Jamie raised an eyebrow and Acker shrugged. What was the harm in hearing him out?

"What would we have to do?", Jamie asked.

Herbie gave his pitch, and Vic stood beside him looking official and supportive.

Not twenty minutes later, Herbie and Vic were lingering outside one of the more popular frat houses. Vic was staring off toward a nearby park when Herbie poked him in the ribs to get his attention. Herbie jerked his head toward a small gathering of young freshmen departing the fraternity. Vic realized their next targets would be impressionable and eager-to-please hopeful frat pledges.

"Which ones?", Vic asked.

Herbie pointed at a couple of guys who had broken off from the rest of the crowd. "Them."

The twosome were walking together, caught up in a lively debate about a bright yellow sheet of paper one of them was waving around encouragingly while the other eyed it with disdain. The one showing signs of trepidation was half a head shorter than his companion. A boyish face, with a thick bush of brown hair. His smiling pal had a more aquiline face that gave him a slightly older appearance, but his bright smile and beautiful eyes projected youth and vibrancy.

"Problem, fellas?"

The duo looked up to realize they were about to walk smack-dab into Herbie, not realizing that he'd deliberately placed himself directly in their path. "Oh, sorry, man. Didn't see you", said the shorter one.

"Too busy spewing out groundless arguments", the tall kid remarked.

Vic had sneaked up behind the tall kid and plucked the yellow paper from his hands. "Heeey. Frat party. This weekend. You guys invited to consider pledging? I thought rush week was long over."

"It is", the tall guy said. "I'm trying to get Rickie here to join my frat. We got an opening when one of the guys had to move."

"Party's a great way to meet the brothers", Vic said, handing back the party announcement.

"See, that's what I keep telling him!", the tall guy heartily agreed. "I only just pledged this year, but it has been awesome! I keep telling him!"

Rickie added his two cents. "Carson, I'm not into the frat setup. That's your thing, fine, okay. But I'd rather be involved in something--I dunno, more important. Something scholastic, that will have some lasting effect--"

"Funny you should mention that", Herbie said, sticking one of his flyers in Rickie's face. Rickie took it, reading it over curiously. He began to nod slowly.

Carson edged in beside his friend. "What? What is it?" Rickie showed Carson the flyer, and flashed his buddy a winning smile. Carson crooked his head to one side, and began to nod.

It was well after lunch when Herbie and Vic came upon the final two applicants to their hypnotic six-pack. Vic was sufficiently tired at that point that he almost walked right past them, but a book one of them held caught his eye.

The two boys, both exceptionally handsome, sat on the steps of the science building. One with magazine model features and brown wavy hair, the other with a corn-fed farmboy face and short golden tresses. They were flipping through an old, worn and foxied paperback book and having a good laugh at its contents.

Vic was quick to dart over to a nearby park bench where Herbie was having little luck persuading a couple of jocks to read his flyer. Vic grabbed him by the arm and jerked him away from the aspiring athletes with a curt, "'Scuze us."

The boys on the steps continued to laugh. "And get this part here", the brown-haired one said. "I love this part. 'And thus the extensive studies show us that more study is indeed called for in this field.' How hilarious is that?"

The farmboyish one scoffed. "What, that's it? That's all it says?"

"The conclusions are inconclusive. I other words, they take 126 pages to say they know dick-all about the subject."

Farmboy reached for the book, fiddling around to find the opening pages. "When was this thing written, anyway?"

"'55, I think." The wavy-haired boy flipped to the start of the book. "'52. Even worse." A shadow fell over the pages and the two boys looked up to see Vic and a somewhat irritated Herbie blocking their light. The wavy-haired boy squinted up at them. "Um, you guys need to get by?"

Herbie was about to say no, when Vic pointed to the book they were holding. The paperback had a cream-colored cover, with sun-faded pink swirls circling its face, surrounding an illustration of a floating eye. The title was written in boldfaced, black block letter. HYPNOTISM. Ace paperbacks. 12 cents. Herbie grinned. Vic raised his eyebrows and craned his neck toward his friend as if to say, "See?"

Herbie smiled and pointed to his chest. "Herbie. My associate." he gestured to Vic, who held up a hand.


The boys on the steps looked at each other, pondering this odd and sudden introduction. Then, the brown-haired boy said. "I'm Kaufman. Everyone calls me Coffee."

The farmboy added, "Bryce. Bry."

Herbie nodded toward the old paperback. "So. You guys are interested in hypnotism?"

Vic returned to Herbie waving a small notebook. "Got 'em. They'll be there along with--", and he flipped back one page, "--Jamie and Acker, and Carson and Rickie. Looks like we're set." Vic noticed that Herbie, who'd begun pulling down some of the flyers now that he'd met his initial quota, had just shooed away another student. He looked familiar. "Who was that?"

"Another would-be participant. I got rid of him."

"Howcum? If he's interested, we could always--"

"He's one kid. I want couples." Herbie quickly rephrased, saying, "I mean, for what I want to do, an even number is best. We're good to go. Let's not get greedy."

Vic watched as the tow-headed lad walked away. He looked back longingly at Vic, waved a solemn goodbye, and tossed the flyer he had into a nearby trash bin. Vic was about to suggest Herbie double-check with the kid to see if he had a friend who could join him and then sign them both up, but the nagging familiarity of the boy's face distracted him. "I swear to God I know that kid."

"You should. You obviously haven't noticed that he tends to follow you around everywhere. Has for the past year now."

"He has?", Vic was genuinely surprised. "He's not a senior, too? He's kinda small."

"Sophomore. And I'm serious, that kid is sportin' wood for you, Victor." Herbie added the flyer he just took from the central announcement board to his stack of retrievals. "Harry, I think his name is."

The light bulb came on over Vic's head. "No, it's Henry! I remember him now. He sat next to me in Survey of World Lit. Total spaz. Isn't he majoring in industrial engineering or like that?"

"Like it matters." Herbie shuffled his stack of leftover flyers. "C'mon. We got about ten more of these things to round up so we're not overbooked for our big event."

"I'll take the East end of campus", Vic suggested. "We can meet at the cafeteria." Before departing, Vic looked down the quad again and saw that Henry was gone. He considered going to look for him. He let it go.


The day came that Herbie and Vic had been waiting for. The classroom they'd been using for their previous meetings was set up to accommodate the six student subjects. They all sat in a row of chairs before an adjustable a-v cart which Herbie rolled up before them. Vic was unwinding the extension cord so the cart could be plugged in. As Herbie hefted a large instrument case over to the cart, Vic whispered to him.

"We promised we were gonna pay these guys, right? How much do we even have left in our nonexistent budget to cover that?"

Herbie smirked as he flipped open the latches on the large case. "Don't worry. After this session, I don't think money will be foremost on their minds."

As Vic plugged in the cord, he saw a large duffel bag tucked into the far corner, behind a desk. "What's in the duffel?"

"You'll see. All in good time."

Before Vic could ask what that cryptic remark meant, Herbie turned to address the six boys. "Guys, I wanna thank you again for volunteering for this project and I appreciate you all being on time. Rather than bore you to death with all the little details, let's get right down to it, shall we?" Herbie lifted a large metal device out of the instrument case and set it down heavily upon the a-v cart. It landed with a solid thump. All the boys leaned forward in their seats trying to decipher what it was.

The machine was housed in the metal body of an old opaque projector, circa 1974. The kind that school teachers used when projecting text pages onto a pull-down screen before the advent of the less cumbersome dry marker overhead projectors. The body of the former opaque had been painted brilliant fire engine red. A series of small, oblong blue lights seem to pulse with steady blinking along the back edge of the machine. A row of evenly-spaced metal ridges, not unlike those found in the nozzle of a hair dryer, only far bigger, were mounted into the nose at the machine's front end.

"This", Herbie announced, anticipating their questions, "is the device with which we will undergo our experiments. This is, for all intents and purposes, our very own hypnosis ray gun. So to speak."

"What, are you serious?", Carson scoffed. "You honestly expect us to believe you're gonna--what, zap us into a trance with that thing?"

"This is a joke, right?", Jamie asked with a nervous grin.

"No joke", Herbie said. He turned to Coffee. "You were reading that old hypnosis book when we met. You're interested in the subject?"

Coffee looked a bit nervous to have the attention focused onto him at this tense moment. "Um, yeah, a little. I studied it in high school. I don't know if maybe I wanna go into psychology as a major or not yet, but--"

Herbie held up a palm, stopping Coffee's explanation. He didn't need to hear it. "You already know that our understanding and use of hypnosis has come a long way from the fumbling guesswork you found in that half-century old paperback." Herbie patted the top of the machine. "Well, prepare to be amazed at how much farther it's come in just the last few months."

"Oh, I get it!", Rickie said loudly. "It's a scam! It's one of those studies where they set you up in a ridiculous situation and see how much you're willing to believe, just 'cause an authority figure is speaking. Or how much you'll be willing to do in any given set of circumstances." Everyone turned to look at Rickie. "He's not studying hypnosis, guys. He's studying us!"

Vic crossed his arms. "How's that?"

"He's a psych major!", Rickie protested, pointing at Herb. "They're all into this kind of head games shit." Herbie glared at him, clearly annoyed. "Bet you want us all to leave now, seeing as how I've gone and contaminated your data and everything."

Bryce, with a far less aggressive tone of voice, added, "His attitude not withstanding, Rickie does have something of a point. How can we be expected to believe that ray gun of yours even works?"

Herbie rubbed his chin, nodding slowly. He then began to flip switches along the front of the projector, beneath it's nose. The machine began to emit a strong hum and from inside there was a steady chugga-chugga-chugga of a mechanical rattle. All the boys grew very quiet. Herbie said softly, "You're right. He does have a point. Say, Vic?"


"Smile." Herbie spun the cart in Vic's direction and fired the projector directly into his eyes. Vic was caught completely off-guard. And well he should have been, as this was most certainly not part of the plan. But at that moment, Vic had no complaints.

Vic felt wonderful. He no longer recalled where he was or what he was doing. He was simply floating. His body warm, his mind at ease, his only concern was hoping that this remarkable sensation in which he had been immersed would go on. He had never before felt such an overwhelming urge to simply relax and submit, to accept and follow any commands, to be utterly cooperative and happy. For a moment, harsh and intense moment, Vic felt a twinge of something else. Something from long ago...no, something that was happening at that moment, something wholly unpleasant. He felt a wave of terrible discomfort flood through him, but he knew he had to ride it out. He had to experience it. It was what he was supposed to do.

Then once again, Vic felt wonderful. So much at peace, so happy to simply go along, to do whatever he was told, to be whomever he was asked to--

And then, Vic was wide awake, standing in the center of the classroom, feeling only a bit flushed but otherwise fine. Then he saw the six boys. They were staring at him wide-eyed with their jaws hanging open. Vic was slightly disoriented. How had he gotten over here? He was standing opposite the a-v cart. Now he was some twenty feet across the room. When had he moved? He turned to ask Herbie what had just happened, but Carson spoke first.

"I'm in", he said. Carson held up a sheet of paper for Herbie to collect.

Acker was next, "Me, too." He held up a paper as well that Herbie took from him.

Vic recognized the papers as the consent forms that were standard with student volunteer testing and exercises. Each boy had to sign one to participate in a psych class project of this kind.

Coffee and Bry handed their papers in, too. Jamie looked for a moment at his signature on the page and then handed it to Herbie. "Well, even if this isn't some advanced hypnotism, at least it could potentially show me how you got such an incredible performance out of your friend here. If that was just acting."

"Acting? What's he talking about?", Vic started to move toward Jamie to ask him to explain. Something felt wrong.

Of all the boys, the only one smiling was Rickie. "Dude, there no way that was acting. Unless this senior here really had the guts to tell six strangers four years his junior about hat terrifying 8th-grade camping experience." Rickie laughed heartily as he handed his paper to Herbie. Herbie thanked him and slipped the permission forms into a manila folder.

Vic was fuming. He turned to Herbie. "You didn't. Tell me you didn't."

"Didn't what? Put you under with our heat-induced hypnotizer and make you relive your terrible experience of how all those other boys scared you at 8th-grade summer camp?"

"That was the most humiliating experience of my life, Herb!", Vic spat through clenched teeth. "Nobody but you even knows about that!"

"And that's obvious. Which is why I made you relive it for these fellows. To prove that this machine really does work, we really are engaging in hypnosis research, and that this is by no means a scam."

"That whole summer camp thing must've sucked though, man. Those guys making you believe a bear got into your cabin.", Rickie said, trying to contain himself. "I mean, being so scared by that prank that you pissed yourself in front of the whole campground. Shame you had to relive it." Rickie pointed at Vic's crotch, snickering.

Vic looked down and saw the entire front of his pants were saturated. Just as when he was a frightened 13-year-old boy at summer camp, he'd wet himself again, nearly emptying his entire bladder on the spot. His crotch, and the entire inseam of his pants were soaked with piss.

Vic hauled off and slugged Herbie hard on the arm. "Asshole!"

Herbie grabbed Vic by the shoulder and turned him away from the group. Whispering, he said, "Vic, buddy, I am sorry about the waterworks. I only wanted you to fess up something these guys could see you'd never willingly tell anyone on your own. I really didn't mean to project you that deeply into the scenario." Vic's expression softened just enough for Herbie to go on. "But we've got 'em, now, bro! They KNOW we're genuine, that this is the real thing. Your sacrifice will so not be in vain."

Vic stepped away from Herbie. He was still clearly upset, but Herbie had just saved himself from a pounding. Herb addressed the group. "While my partner steps out to clean himself up a bit, I will prepare you six for the beginning levels of our experiment. Are you all ready?"

He was met with a chorus of easy shrugs, a few "sure"s, "okay"s, one "Hell, yeah" and punctuated by Carson remarking, "This ought'a beat the hell out of any frat party."

Vic stomped toward the door to get to the bathroom. As he made his way out, he heard the machine chugga-chugg to life and saw Herbie take aim at the half dozen subjects. Vic was quick to turn away and continue out into the hallway. He didn't want to risk getting a face full of hypno-beam again.

Vic was out of the room for the better part of fifteen minutes. He'd been able to wipe off most of his accident, thankfully. His pants were still sopping wet, of course, but he'd managed to clean himself up before a stench established itself. He stood in the men's room, naked from the waist down, trying to blot the moisture out of his jeans--and his boxer briefs--with wads of brown paper towels. He'd never wished so intently that the university would spring for air dryers.

By the time Vic returned to the classroom, clad in drenched but clean pants (he'd tucked his underwear into his pocket), all six boys were deeply under, staring with wide, glazed eyes into the beam of Herbie's brain roaster.

Vic made his way around the outskirts of the classroom, taking care to give the heat projector a wide berth. Knowing what it capable of, Vic didn't want to risk even a cursory glance. He walked cautiously around the room to come up behind Herbie as he manned the device. Herbie had dimmed the lights, making the heat beam easier to see. Once standing safely behind the a-v cart, Vic noted that the beam seemed to be nothing more sophisticated than a red-gel stage light, or perhaps a simple heat lamp. Although at certain angles, Vic could see the air waver and ripple in the path of the beam, like the air above a highway on a July afternoon. It was apparent from that beam that this was more than a simple heat lamp.

It was equally apparent when Vic looked into the eyes of the six boys. Each of them stared straight ahead with blank expressions. Their shoulders were slumped, their arms hung limp at their sides. Their mouths were open, jaws hanging slack, and their breathing was very deep. In through the nose, out the mouth. And each boy breathed in perfect unison with the other. It was as if their minds were not only under hypnosis, but linked to one another.

Vic stood beside Herbie, who nodded slightly to acknowledge his friend's return. Vic studied the six subjects, and saw that their slack jaws were moving slightly. They were all repeating something, over and over. Their voices were so soft that Vic couldn't determine what they were saying over the steady hum of the heat device. They were saying something about themselves, it seemed. That they were stricken? Was that it?

Vic whispered to Herbie. "How goes it?"

"So far it's been textbook", Herb whispered back. "They're responses to everything have been classic."

"You run through all the basic tests?"

"Yup. All the deepening exercises. Forgetting names and numbers, being unable to move limbs, the levitating arm bit, all that. I even through in some other stuff. No way anyone's faking it."

Vic frowned. "Well, I sure know I wasn't."

"Yeah, but you had the benefit of being previously conditioned", Herbie said casually.

That caught Vic off-guard. "What, you mean just that time you made me put on that stupid chicken beak and stuff? That's what you mean, right?"

Herbie didn't answer, but kept staring at the entranced boys. He licked his lips, looking as if he'd let something slip. Then he said, "They appear to be taking post-hypnotic commands really well, too."

Vic looked at Herbie with concern. "Whoa. Are we ready to try that this soon going in? What kind of commands did you have in mind? Did you already implant them while I was gone? Did they take?"

Herbie smiled at Vic. "Let's find out, shall we?"

Herbie shut down the machine's beam, leaving the six boys staring blankly ahead at nothing. "Gentlemen", he said to them, "you will retain everything I've given you as instructed. Some things you will remember in complete detail, others will remain submerged in your subconscious." Vic frowned at that. What was he doing? "You know this is as it should be", Herbie said soothingly.

All the boys mumbled in reply, "...'s as it should be..."

"Very good. Sleep until I count to three and the lights come back on when you will awaken feeling refreshed and fine." Herbie signalled for Vic to get the lights. He was beside the switches in a moment. "One...two...three." Herbie signalled Vic, who hit the lights. As soon as the room was fully illuminated again, the boys' expressions shifted from blank to sleepy. They blinked their eyes, stretched. Rickie rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. Acker shifted in his seat as if he couldn't get comfortable. Bry was running his hands over his thighs as if his legs had fallen asleep and he was trying to get the feeling back. Coffee sat looking thoroughly satisfied with the experience.

"How does everyone feel?", Herbie asked.

"I feel great", Jamie said, all smiles.

There were nods all around at that. Carson looked at Rickie, as if suddenly realizing how he felt. "Yeah, he's right. I feel, well, pretty fantastic. Like I'm riding a runner's high or something."

Bryce, the biggest of the six, leaned forward, adding, "Yeah, it's like that. I feel like I do after a really good workout."

Vic seemed to relax a bit. Maybe this was going to be alright. He was half dreading a series of humiliating revelations from the lot of them. Herbie signalled to Vic, pointing to the duffel bag on the floor. Vic retrieved it, finding it surprisingly light considering how stuffed full it looked. He tossed it to Herbie.

"Now that you've been nicely relaxed, I want to keep you that way. Now you get dressed in something loose-fitting and comfortable, in order to better preserve your tension-free state." Vic knew Herbie was full of shit. Once put under and brought back out with suggestions intact, it really didn't matter much if the six boys were made to sit on pine cones. Properly implanted, the suggestions would stick.

Herbie unzipped the bag and pulled out a handful of rolled-up blue jeans, all very worn, faded, and looking incredibly soft. Acker looked at the stack of denim as Herbie piled them up on a chair, and commented, "Um, I'm already wearing jeans, man." Herbie lifted up one pair and let them unroll to their full length. Rather than simple jeans, they were bib overalls. Acker shrugged. "Oh. Okay."

After the bib overalls were out of the bag, Herbie pulled out two stacks of straw bird's nest hats, of the Huckleberry Finn variety. There were two stacks of three, one hat fit into another. Vic rolled his eyes. Herbie and his whole farmboy thing.

"Now, I want you guys to ditch the clothes you have on now and get into the overalls and straw hats." The boys simply nodded, acting as though this were the most normal request in the world. "You can pile your clothes over there", and Herbie gestured to the instructor's desk across the room.

Without hesitation, the six boys began to undress, showing no more signs of discomfort than if they were in the locker room at the gym or after playing a team sport. Bry paused only a moment as he was yanking off his shirt. "Do we keep our shirts on, or--?"

"No shirts", Herbie told him. Bare-chested." Bry nodded and cast off his shirt easily, then let his pants drop to his ankles. Vic watched wide-eyed, with no idea of where this was going.

"Do we keep on our shoes?", Jamie asked.

"Barefoot", Herbie announced. Jamie nodded, kicking aside his shoes and socks.

Rickie was in the process of pulling off his underwear, his thumbs hooked in the elastic band of his shorts when he stopped himself. "Umm...sorry, I was about to just yank off...guess you'll want us to keep these on, huh?"

"A farmboy wouldn't. Disrobe completely", Herbie said, pretending to be preoccupied with something on his clipboard. Vic was quick to toss the bib overalls to the boys as they casually stood there naked, still as relaxed as they could be.

"Feel free to help one another into those bibs", Herbie suggested. "They have side buttons and those straps can be tricky." At the suggestion, all six boys turned to one another and began assisting their neighbors with their outfits. A couple of the overalls even had old-fashion rear drop seats that the boys made sure were properly fastened over their friends' bare buttocks. Jamie reached over to make sure Acker's side buttons were fastened. Rickie helped Carson make sure his bib straps weren't twisted and buckled on tight. Bryce actually stepped into the rumpled pant legs, arms out at his sides like a nude crossing guard, as Coffee lifted the overalls up onto him and secured them in place. Herbie then handed each boy his frayed and tattered straw hat. And as a surprise even to Herbie, each boy then turned to his friend and gently placed his hat atop the head of his companion.

Vic leaned in to Herbie. "What's up with the hillbilly attire, Herb? We never discussed putting them in costume."

Herbie grinned. "Kinda look like they'd be right at home in a chicken coop, huh?"

Vic scrunched his brow in confusion. "What?"

As the six freshmen adjusted their unfamiliar farmboy costumes, Rickie wise-cracked, "Good thing nobody pissed themselves, did they?" The group laughed, but then everyone stole at quick glance at his crotch.

Herbie pulled up a chair and turned it around backwards as he took a seat, resting his arms on the chair back. "No, no. You know that's not why I called you here today. I summoned you for something far more important than that. You all have something you need to tell me, to tell each other. Something that's been pent up for far too long." Herbie made a gesture with both hands, arms outstretched to either end of the boys' line of chairs. "Circle." On cue, the boys pulled their chairs into a rough half-circle formation, facing one another as well as Herbie. Vic watched in fascination. Where was he going with this? Herbie's face looked earnest. "Who wants to go first?" The boys looked at one another nervously, then down at their feet. "Come on", Herbie chided. "Someone has to say something or I'll pick one of you at random."

With great trepidation, Jamie raised his hand. "I-I guess I'll go. He looked at the group and said, hey everybody, I'm Jamie." The group nodded and recognized him. The boys had taken on the look and attitude of a support group. "I guess I've been, well...having these feelings for a long time. Like as long as I can remember. I think that's what drew me to love film so much. You know, as an escape from reality, from what I was feeling."

Coffee chimed in, agreeing. "I know what you mean. Only with me, it was what drove me to an interest in psychology. Especially hypnosis. To try to get inside my own head, figure out what was going on. Where these feeling were coming from." More nods from the other boys. Bry patted Coffee on the shoulder, and actually rubbed his back before drawing his hand back. Coffee gave him an appreciative look.

Vic had no idea what to make of this. What the hell was going on? Had Herbie convinced them they all shared an addiction of some kind?

Acker said, "I've had these feelings for so long that I think I was maybe born this way. I've even considered asking Jamie to do a documentary on it. I was gonna volunteer to be the subject."

Jamie looked at Acker with kind eyes. "Dude, you never told me that. God, that's great, man." Jamie rested a hand on Acker's thigh.

Vic approached Herbie and grabbed his elbow. Herbie saw Vic silently mouthing his concern. "What the fuck?" Herbie waved him away and turned to Carson. "Cars, did you do your assignment?"

Carson suddenly looked very, very frightened. "What? I mean, yeah, I did, but--"

"Why don't you share it with the rest of the group?"

Carson's face blanched. "What, you mean right now? It's way too soon, isn't it? I though--I just thought that you wanted me to write it for you to read. You never said anyone else would find out--"

"I think it would do you a world of good to share it, Carson." To the group, Herbie said, "Carson wrote a poem about what he's been feeling, and I think it would be greatly beneficial for all of us to hear it." Everyone looked hopeful and interested, but poor Carson looked as if he were going to be sick.

"Please. Can't we do this another time?"

"Why don't you stand up, Cars?"

Carson ran his fingers through his hair, his arms visibly trembling. "Oh God..."

Rickie had lost all traces of his flip manner and said softly, "It's okay, buddy. I'm here. We're all here for you."

Carson grinned at him meekly, then stood up. Fumbling, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. Vic watched in amazement. Had Herbie really ordered this kid to write a poem while he was under? If so, how had he slipped it into his costume pocket so quickly? As Carson unfolded the page, it was clear to Vic that is was not a poetry homework assignment, but a yellow carbon receipt of some kind, from the financial aid office, by the look of it. Probably one of Herbie's. Carson was holding it upside down, but he looked at it so intently that it was obvious that what he was seeing was not an inverted receipt. No one else seemed to notice either.

Carson stood, holding his imaginary poem, and quivered. He swallowed hard, then looked to Herbie for assistance. Gently, Herbie said, "Go ahead, Cars. It'll be okay."

Carson licked his lips, took a deep breath, and began. "Today. By Carson McPheerson." He looked up at Herbie again, who nodded at him. Go ahead. Carson coughed unnecessarily to clear his throat and proceeded.

"Today. Today was a day. The world got smaller, darker. I grew more afraid. Not of what I am, but of what I could be."

Carson's eyes darted around the circle of chairs. All eyes were on him, anxiously awaiting the next line. He found breathing difficult, but went ahead anyway.

"I loosen my collar to take a breath. My eyes fade. And I see... the bird. The image of perfection. His frame squat, his beak smooth. And I keep thinking, What am I so afraid of?"

Carson ran one hand through his hair again, adjusted his straw hat, and blinked his eyes. He was not going to cry. He could handle it. He could feel the corners of his eyes moisten, but was determined to hold back the emotional torrent. With cracking voice, he continued.

"I wish I could escape the pain, but these thoughts invade my head. Bound to my memory, they're like shackles of guilt. Oh, God, please set me free. Free to cluck. Free to peck."

Carson began to sob. He wasn't strong enough. He tried to get out the next line, as the tears flowed. "Free..free to lay...eggs..."

Carson tossed aside his imagined poem and blubbered. "God, I'm so sorry. I can't do this." Carson turned to run out of the classroom and into the hallway, but after only two steps into his sprint, he stopped short. As if of their own accord, his legs jerked behind him awkwardly. His bare feet scraped along the floor, back and forth. "Oh Christ", Carson sobbed. "Not here!" Carson's knees bent and he hunkered down, losing a good two feet from his height. He tried to grasp at one of the chairs, to force himself back to his full height, but his hands too had a mind of their own, and his arms bent at the elbows, yanking backward as if attached to strings. Carson balled his hands into fists, trying to fight it, but his fists simply locked into his armpits. He began flapping his arms, his legs still scraping the floor, his body stuck in a squat.

Herbie stood up. "What are you, Carson?"

Carson was weeping openly. "Don't make me say it!!"

"You have to. It's the only way. Say it."

With an outpouring of emotion, Carson screamed, "I'm a CHICKEN!!" In between sobs, he started to cluck. "Bawk! Buck-buck-buck-bakawwk!!" Vic was incredulous.

Rickie leapt from his chair and was at his friend's side. "Carson, it's okay. I know what you're going through, I swear to God I do!" Carson just clucked back at him. "Dude, I'm a chicken too!" Rickie looked at the group. "It's true. It's what I am. It's what I always have been! It's buh-kawwk!!" Now Rickie was gone, too. He was trapped in the squat he'd dropped to so he could tend to Carson. Now he was flapping his elbows and scraping his feet on the floor.

Herbie eyed the remaining four. "Anyone else?"

Coffee stood up. "My name is Parker Kaufman, and I'm a chicken. I've always known, since the first grade, that I was different. That I buk-buk-buk-buhKawwwrk!!" then Coffee was gone. Down on his haunches he went, fists in his armpits, clucking away.

Watching his friend chickenified, Bry stood up next. "I can't go on lying anymore, either. For years now I've wanted to reveal my true self. To release my inner poultry. My name is Bryce, and I'm a chicken." With that he let out a big squawk, "BUCK-buhKAWWWK!" and fell to his haunches and joined his friend.

Herbie turned to prompt Jamie and Acker, but found he didn't have to. Both were already standing. And holding hands, to boot. "We've known it too", Jamie said. "We've known this for a long time."

"Since we were kids", Acker agreed."

"And good God, it's so good, so liberating, to finally find others who are like us."

Acker beamed. Then, in unison, they proclaimed, "We're chickens!" And just like that, the duo let go of each other's hands and joined their barnyard brethren down on the floor, squatting, scratching, flapping, bucking and clucking.

Herbie put his hands to his mouth. This exceeded all expectations. In less time than he could have hoped, he'd reduced a group of half a dozen adorable freshmen college boys into a brainless bunch of chickens. What's more, they liked it this way! They were all clearly having the time of their lives acting like chickens, intermingling with others of their species. Herbie was having a ball, too, just watching them. Victor, however, was not. Vic grabbed Herbie by the arm. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm having some fun with this project, what the hell does it look like I'm doing?"

"By making these guys believe they're chickens? What the fuck is up with that? This isn't psychology, it's infantile."

"It's classic, is what it is!" Herbie peeled Vic's arm off of him. "Lookit. What is the first thing that's expected from just about every stage hypnotist's act? To turn some poor shlub into a chicken. Especially if it's some self-respecting, overly-dignified business guy who's a little too full of himself. Am I right?"

Vic paused. "Yeah, I guess, but this isn't a stage act, Herbie--"

"No, no, it isn't. Stage hypnosis is the lowest form of the art. But! Imagine the effect it'll have on this project if we start out showing how this bold new procedure which looks like nothing more than an advancement in stage hypnosis can in fact be applied in far more substantial--", and he grinned, "--and lasting ways."

Vic raised one eyebrow in suspicion. "What ways?"

"There's more than one type of chicken in the world, Vickie ol' pal."

The room was alive with laughter. All six boys, still attired in their overalls and straw hats outfits, roared with delight. Herbie smiled approvingly. The only one not smiling was Vic, who watched silently, leaning on the a-v cart.

"Man, how awesome was that?!", Rickie cheered. "I have never felt anything like that, ever!"

Jamie smiled at his friend Acker, who smiled back, shaking his head. "It was pretty incredible."

Bryce patted his denim bib against his chest. "I can't get over how good these costumes feel. They are so damn comfortable. And it feels so good to kick off my shoes. And you'd think I'd feel cold without a shirt on, but I don't."

"Yeah, I know!", Carson agreed.

Coffee looked awestruck. "You were spot on with this one, Herb. I don't think there's ever been an application of hypnosis quite like this. Geez, I want to study it!"

Herbie waved his hand to establish order. "Well, let me complete my own study before you go off writing any papers on it. Now it's data collecting time. From left to right. Reactions? Comments?" Herbie went around the circle several times, jotting down an endless stream of excited reactions from his group of volunteers. All of whom, as he'd predicted, had forgotten completely that this was a volunteer-for-pay situation.

"I swear, while I was down there on the ground, all hunched, I really did believe that I thought I was a chicken", Jamie gushed. "Like I had been my whole life and that I'd just been hiding it."

"Man, me too", Acker said.

Carson was rubbing his face, still getting his bearings. "When you had me read that poem, holy crap. I really felt like I was exposing my deepest, darkest secret to everyone in this room. I was so scared. And at the same time, so totally relieved. To be able to finally, I dunno--come out and say I was a chicken." He let out a big laugh just upon hearing those ridiculous words out loud.

Rickie smiled brightly. "At first when you started reading that, whatever it really was that you--that we all-thought was a poem, I felt my heart pounding. And was all like, oh, please don't let him just be gay or something. Let him be a chicken like me, so I won't be the only one here." Rickie also laughed, Carson laughed harder.

"That's just what I thought!", Coffee blurted out.

Bry shook his head. "With me it was the opposite. I was all like, please God, don't let him start clucking or I'm gonna lose it and there'll be no turning back."

The whole group exchanged recollections and hearty laughs. Herbie scribbled note diligently, nodding his head and saying, "Good, good, that's good. What else can you remember?" Vic still wasn't sure what to make of it all, but some of his reservations began to subside in the face of the happy, clearly unharmed, subjects.

The question and answer period went on for about another half hour and a good time was had by all. Everyone seemed eager to come back and take part in further exploration of Herbie's fascinating new contraption. Herbie set aside his copious notes and said, "okay, we're almost done for the day. There's just one more thing I need for us to do--kind of a formality to make sure you guys are all okay--and then you can go." The boys nodded, happy to oblige. "Okay, everybody stand up." They did. "Now turn and face each other in sets of two." They did that too. Jamie faced Acker, Carson faced Rickie, and Coffee faced Bry. Then Herbie went to each boy in turn and whispered something in his ear. He moved rapidly, not allowing any time for one boy to ponder what was being whispered to his partner before he heard it himself. But as each young freshman's eyes glazed over and his breathing deepened, it was apparent to Vic that Herbie was calling upon a post hypnotic trigger.

When Herbie whispered the last trigger key to Bry, the room was deathly quiet. Vic watched carefully, his trepidation returning. Herbie returned to his chair and sat back. Softly, he said, "Begin Phase 2." Gingerly, each boy reached out and took the hands of his friend's in his. Then they shuffled close to one another, their bare feet making no sound upon the tile floor. Vic watched wide-eyed as their programming played out for the next five minutes or so. He began to speak, but Herbie shushed him quickly, warning in a harsh whisper, "We don't know what damage could be done if you interrupt the process before they've run fully through their commands. Sshhh--!"

So Vic let the commands run their course. But he placed a hand upon Herbie's arm to gain the hypnotist's attention, and in hopes of stopping what was going on. Leaning in close, Vic whispered in Herbie's ear. "How much of all this are these guys gonna remember, anyway?"

Gently, Herbie pried Vic's fingers off his arm. His mouth twisted into a malicious grin and he whispered back his reply. "Enough."


The six boys were once again lucid, and finding their hypnotic predicament of only moments ago hilariously funny. They all gathered up their belongings, some ducking into the nearby men's room just outside the classroom door to change back into civvies.

"Herbie, man, that really was incredible", Coffee said.

Jamie concurred. "Seriously, that was an incredible experience, Herb. Thanks for involving us in all this."

Carson couldn't suppress his ear-to-ear grin. "I'd have to say it was the best time I ever had making a complete ass of myself."

"And just think", Bryce laughed, "we did it all without the aid of beer!"

Rickie was already changed and absently starting to stuff his worn overalls and straw hat into his backpack. Realizing he was about to blithely make off with Herbie's props, he yanked the bibs back out and held them up for Herbie to see. "Um, what do you want us to do with these?"

Herb was busying himself with his hypno-machine, flicking switches and activating the cooling fan, and only glanced over his shoulder at Rickie. "Hang onto them. You'll need 'em for future sessions. You know, if I decide this is working okay. For when you come back tomorrow."

Rickie shrugged, stuffing the bibs back into his backpack. Carson tossed his own overalls to his friend, who added them to his bulging book bag. Herbie tended to his notes and appeared to be scanning his collected data as the half dozen boys shifted back to their everyday freshman college boy mode and, two at a time, made their way out. Their general mood was cheerful and light, smiles and offhand jokes shared among each other. Everyone seemed eager to return for another session, anxious to see what fun awaited them next--little knowing they'd not have long to wait. A few more words of gratitude and farewells were extended to Herbie, who offered curt nods in acknowledgement as he tried to suppress his own smile.

Through it all, Vic stood leaning against the far wall, arms crossed, one foot planted against the bricks behind him. The departing freshmen hypnosis subjects seemed not to notice him. Vic watched them through squinted eyes, his brow furrowed in clear irritation. He huffed out seething breaths through his nose, his lips pressed closed in a tight line.

After the last of the freshmen chicken boys had gone, Vic turned to stare angrily at Herbie, who had begun shuffling his papers and started to hum, pretending not to notice his friend's glare.

Jamie and Acker walked into the tiny off-campus apartment still riding high from their experience with Herbie's project. They were periodically laughing and talking up a storm, both of them carrying his own pair of worn overalls in one fist. Acker was currently in the lead in the race of gushing recollection as Jamie reached for the lights in the darkened flat.

"And when that light was on us, I was just thinking, God, this is such bullshit, even though I felt so relaxed. Then the next thing I know, Carson's gone all confessional and my legs are bending and I'm going down on my haunches. Before I can stop, I'm wondering all 'Whoa, am I really doing this?' and I go to push myself back up, only I can't--"

Jamie finished the thought as he turned on the lamp on a nearby table. "--yeah, because now your hands are all balled up in your armpits."

Acker beamed. "Exactly! And I go to say something, and it's all this, whatever, chicken noise, and I'm thinking, okay, any minute now I am going to stand up and walk out of here."

"Only you can't", Jamie continued for him. "And then with that poem, and the whole lifelong dream of being a chicken thing, it's like--Jesus."

"Yeah! And all of a sudden, I get this chill up my back and I'm all, 'Holy shit! How did he know I always secretly wanted to be a chicken? Has this guy been spying on me or what?' it's like he got into my head or something, like he knew who I was, who I'd always been inside--"

Jamie grinned. "And it wasn't until he brought us out of it that we even knew that those were just suggestions, that none of it was real."

Acker shook his head, still smiling. "Yeah, and as scary as all that should have been, as creeped out as I know I should be, all I can think of is---"

"---trying it again?", Jamie finished his sentence for him again. "I know what you mean. The way it makes you feel all so relaxed, so happy, so...I dunno, fulfilled or something."

"Makes you kinda forget we pretty much made asses of ourselves on scientific record or whatever."

The two boys laughed again, unable to come down from the rush of both their shared experience and the resulting afterglow. As the laughter subsided, the two young men stared at each other for a bit, neither quite certain why they felt unable to move on. Quietly, Jamie said, "Hey, thanks for the company, but the way. You didn't have to walk me all the way back to my apartment."

Acker perked up, apparently glad for something to say. "Oh, no worries. My dorm room's not far from here, pretty close by, actually, and this side of campus can be pretty spooky at night when you're going alone. So it's cool."

They stared at each other again. Was something supposed to be happening here? Why wasn't Acker leaving? Why wasn't Jamie asking him to?

Jamie held up his overalls. "Hey, it's funny how that guy had us take our costumes home with us. I don't know what's up with that."

"Yeah, right. I guess he wants us to keep track of 'em ourselves or something like that."

Jamie kept eye contact with Acker. "Yeah, something like that." They stared some more. Then, softly, Jamie said, "You know, you looked pretty good in yours."


"The overalls. The whole shirtless, barefoot farmboy thing. It suited you."

"Oh, you think so? Hey, hey, thanks. You looked pretty okay, too. Kinda, well, natural like that."

"Well, they're really comfortable is the thing. That's probably why he asked us to wear 'em for all our sessions. So easy to relax in 'em. You know." Jamie took a step closer to Acker.

"Right, right. They're pretty comfortable. I mean, I thought so, too." Acker took a step closer to Jamie.

"So you going back for the next phase?"

"Oh, definitely. I mean, sure, whatever."

A pause.

"You wanna put 'em back on? The overalls?"

"I will if you will."


In moments, the two college freshman shucked off their garments and leapt back into their faded denim bib overalls. Their street clothes lay in a heap in the corner. For a few minutes, there was only the two shirtless, barefoot boys standing before each other, silently staring, nothing audible but the sound of their breathing. Each one taking the other in, the bare shoulders, smooth arms, strong chests disappearing beneath the baggy, loose-fitting faded denim bibs, the soft trousers barely hiding their semi erect members, their strong calves protruding from the wide-cuffed pant legs.

Acker swallowed. "You look good. You look wholesome. " His voice fell to a whisper. "Almost pure."

Jamie licked his lips. "You too. Like you're untouched. Natural. Unspoiled." Jamie inched closer to Acker. "Can I--?" He licked his lips again. "Would you let me...touch you?"

Acker nodded mutely. Jamie tenderly touched his fingertips to Acker's bare arms and traced the length of them from wrist to shoulder. Acker's breathing became more rapid as he did so, coming in sharp, sudden gasps, too quiet to be indicative of panic. Acker stepped up close to Jamie, letting his hands slide easily around the other boy's waist. Lightly, he fingered the loose overalls and slipped his fingers between the twin brass buttons on either side. Underneath the soft denim he felt the smoothest, softest skin with firm muscles beneath. Neither boy's farmer pants could hide his erection now.

"You're not wearing underwear either", Acker commented.

"Country boy style", Jamie offered.

Both their breathing was becoming more ragged. Jamie reached his hands up and ran his fingers through Acker's hair. Acker reached down and massaged Jamie's behind. They stepped forward once more, pressing their chests together, their bare feet stepping one gently atop the other, rubbing toes and soles against each other.

As Acker kneaded Jamie's thighs, he wheezed out, "Oh God, what are we doing?"

Jamie buried his face in Acker's hair, drowning in his scent. "I don't know, I have no idea."

Acker ran his hands over Jamie's back, massaging him with eager fingers. "I'm not gay. You know I'm not gay. I just need you to know that."

Jamie was kissing Acker's neck, his tongue running up and down, licking the spot behind his ear. "Me neither. I don't know what this is, what's happening, but I can't help it. Can't stop myself."

Acker's hands gripped at Jamie's waist and torso, firmly massaging the smooth skin they found there. "It feels so good, so right." He began kissing Jamie's bare shoulders.

Jamie started nibbling Acker's ear. "Like we're meant to be together. Like we're supposed to be like this." The two boys grew more intricately entangled, each feeling indescribable sensations rush through their hearts and minds, as if all their previous trysts with the opposite sex were mere preludes to this, the true attraction they were supposed to feel, with this, the only true partner they could ever have.

Jamie and Acker kissed passionately, hands gripping shoulders, fingers rubbing through hair, hands running down arms, grasping hands and interlacing fingers. With some effort, they pulled their mouths apart, temporarily freeing their tongues to speak. Jamie gasped, "I want this. I want this so bad. Do you want this? Tell me you want this."

Acker wheezed out between breaths, "More than anything. Let's do this, I am so ready to do this, please."

The two freshmen returned to each other's mouths, falling backwards upon the overstuffed couch, kicking aside extra pillows and discarded class folders. Jamie peeled back Acker's bib straps, exposing his bare shoulders, and began to pull off the rest of the overalls even as he worked to squirm out of his own. Acker reached up to grab Jamie's furious hands and still them.

"Let's leave them on."

Jamie stopped in his tracks, while Acker deftly unbuttoned Jamie's fly and freed his fiercely erect penis, already dripping with precum. Jamie smiled, then released Acker's member as well, and the two boys collapsed, one atop the other, where they would remain until morning, muscles working, hips thrusting, mouths probing, until both they, the couch, and the overalls would be completely and totally saturated.

"I did not sound like an ostrich!"

"Dude, you so did."

Carson and Rickie entered the room in the frat house, kicking aside overturned empties and mounds of neglected laundry to get the door open.

"I was bucking like a chicken", Rickie insisted. "You heard me. You heard all of us. The psych class guy turned us into chickens. I was bucking like a chicken. End of story."

Carson smiled, snickering. "A sick ostrich. The rest of us were chickens, you sounded just like a sick ostrich."

"How can you even say that? You're just pissed 'cause he made you go first." Rickie feigned a serious voice. "Today. Today was a day I had to decide between white meat and dark meat. Not which one to eat, but which one I am..."

Carson went on unperturbed. "It was kind of this honking noise, like from the back of your throat." Carson jiggled his Adam's apple with his forefinger for visual effect.

"No, seriously", Rickie said. "How could you even notice what the hell I sounded like? You thought you were a chicken, for cris'sakes. I thought I was a chicken. That was the whole point."

"Yeah, I did", Carson said, dropping his backpack to the floor. "And as I sat there, all hunkered down and flapping my elbows, I kept thinking, God, what is UP with that one chicken down there, he sounds like an ostrich or something."

Rickie had to laugh despite himself. "Like you even know what an ostrich sounds like. When have you ever heard an ostrich?"

"Discovery Channel."

Rickie kicked off his shoes. "Thanks for letting me crash here tonight, Cars."

"Da nada. My roommate's gone for the next couple days, he won't care if you take his bed. Besides, we feathered friends have to stick together. Even if we are different varieties of the same species."

Rickie tossed a wad of dirty socks at Carson as he cleared off the bed. "Asshole."

Carson pushed the pile of textbooks atop his own bed onto the floor between the bed and the wall. For a brief moment, all that was heard was the sound of clothes, papers, and the odd paraphernalia being pushed to the floor to make room for sleeping.

"You know, the ostrich egg is the world's largest single-celled organism", Carson said. "But I guess you know that already, having lived in one and all."

"Will you shut the fuck up already?!" Rickie was already getting undressed, and he snapped at Carson with his shirt.

Carson had peeled off his shoes and was unbuttoning his shirt when he eyed the ceiling and pursing his lips thoughtfully, and added, "And you know, the ostrich bark alone wouldn't have been so bad, but your stance was all wrong, too."

Rickie stopped in mid-zip as he was undoing his fly. "Stance? What stance?"

"Your chicken stance. The way you squatted down, flapped your arms. Totally off."

Rickie turned around. "Okay, now I'm positive you're full of shit. I will have you know that my squat was of premiere chicken quality." He pulled back the sheets of his bed, then turned back to Carson. "You really think it was off?"

"C'mere, I'll show you." Carson walked to the center of the small room, kicking aside a soccer ball and a rumpled pair of jeans. He took a stance with his feet shoulder width apart and motioned for Rickie to join him. "Come on. Over here."

"You're serious."

"Sure", he said, patting his thighs. "Come on, it'll be fun."

Rickie shook his head, but he crossed the room to stand beside his friend.

"Now imagine you're turning into a chicken. Or you think you are", Carson prompted.

"Shouldn't be too hard", Rickie said dryly.

"Squat down with me", Carson said, going slowly down on his haunches. Rickie rolled his eyes, but complied. "Now get your hands up under your arms, like you're miming having wings." Rickie did so, trying to fight a growing smile. "Annnd, as you feel your butt come to rest on the back of your heels, let loose with your cluck."

"This is ridiculous. I can't do this."

"Sure you can! Come on, it's easy, you just did it like an hour ago, and with gusto. Come on, I'll do it with you."

"We're gonna wake up the whole house."

Carson furrowed his brow. "This house? They're probably all unconscious in a drunken stupor, and that's just the ones who could find their way home. Now cluck with me, poultry boy."

Rickie bit his lower lip, then cleared his throat. "What the hell...BraAWkk-bawk--!"

"Ya see? Right there! That's your whole problem!"

Rickie looked stunned. "What? That was a perfectly good chicken cluck."

Carson shook his head, still squatting, still with his hands shoved into his armpits. "You had way too much throat going on. It was all gargly and stuff. Not chickeny enough."

"Am I actually arguing the quality of my chicken impressions with you? Are you high?"

Carson looked over at Rickie, a thought coming to him. "It might work better if we were back in the overalls."

Rickie opened his mouth as if to argue the lunacy of the suggestion, but closed it again, weighing the idea. Then, "Get your backpack."

In another moment, the two college boys had plundered Carson's backpack and were pulling on their faded blue overalls. A few seconds later, the twosome were squatted back in position, wearing nothing but their bib overalls, prepared to give their chicken clucking the old college try. Rickie shook his head side to side, trying not to burst out laughing.

"Come on, man", Carson said, grinning. "This is serious business."

"I can't believe we're doing this", Rickie said. "You go first. Show me how it's done."

"Well, it's really quite simple", Carson said, adopting an air of sophistication that made Rickie snort out a truncated laugh. "First you effect the correct posture. Very important." Carson straightened his back, giving his elbows a quick flap. "Lift your head high." He raised his chin about an inch. "And let fly. Buuuuccckk-buk-buk-buk-bA-KAAAWWK!!" After Carson had finished what should have been a side-splitting performance, he remained in his squatting posture, his eyes focused on the horizon, a look on his face that could only be described as pride. And just a hint or surprise.

Quietly, Rickie said, as he too sat hunched down with his arms bent as wings, "You did that really well."

Carson looked to Rickie, pausing as he made eye contact, and swallowed before answering. "Thanks."

Slowly, the two stood up, facing each other, easing their arms out of their bent positions. After a moment, Carson ventured, "Is it hot in here?"

Rickie nodded vigorously. "Um, yeah, yeah, it is a little warm. At least I think so." He moved to slip his hands into his back pockets, found only a drop-seat flap there, and let his arms flop awkwardly at his sides. "Uh, good thing we switched to these overalls then, huh?" He looked at the floor. "A lot cooler this way."

"How do you feel right now?", Carson blurted.

Still looking at the floor, Rickie said, "Like there may be some great, big underhanded post-hypnotic suggestion lurking inside my brain that's going turn me back into a chicken any second if I'm not careful."

Carson touched Rickie's shoulder, causing him to look up. "I know what you mean."

Rickie breathed a sigh of relief. "You do? That's great, 'cause for a minute there I thought I was just being--" Carson's kiss cut Rickie off. Carson took Rickie's face in his hands as Rickie let out a muffled cry while his arms moved ineffectually in the air. Then he allowed himself to be lost in the kiss, his arms finding Carson's shoulders, holding tight and probing his friend's mouth even as he tried to regain his bearings.

The boys remained liplocked as Carson guided them over to one of the beds, he wasn't sure which one, it didn't matter, and flopped them down upon the haphazard tangle of sheets and blankets. Rickie reached up and slid his hand under Carson's bib, rubbing his smooth chest with his palm. Carson continued to hold Rickie's face with one hand, the other finding it's way down to Rickie's hips, to knead and massage the top of his leg. Rickie pulled his hand free from Carson's denim bib and clutched his shoulders, his hands then moving up his neck to run his fingers through the hair on the back of his head. They kissed intently for five or ten minutes before Carson pulled back, looking down into Rickie's eyes.

They lay there, staring into one another's eyes for a while, until Rickie spoke. "Thanks. For showing me the right way to cluck like a chicken, I mean."

"Anytime." Carson smiled, and to his extreme joy Rickie smiled back. "So. Buck-buck."

Rickie nodded. "Yeah. Buck."

The two rolled over onto their sides and kissed again, with greater passion than before. Hands pulled at the overalls straps and each stripped the other to the waist. As they pressed against each other, mouths locked, arms forming a tight embrace, their movements forced their overalls down an inch or two more, bringing their considerable erections out into the open. In seconds they were pressed together, hips thrusting, legs intertwining, the temperature in the room rising with their sexual heat.

In another three and half minutes, the two friends' mutual explosion would christen them both with the largest orgasm either boy had ever experienced. Come morning, Carson's roommate would most definitely care that someone had borrowed his bed.

Bry and Coffee made their way down the dimly-lit hallway toward the cramped dorm room they shared. Bryce still wore his battered overalls, having put on only his shoes after being brought out of his trance. His shirt, pants, and socks were wadded into a ball under his arm.

"Can't believe you actually wore that dorky thing back here", Coffee remarked.

"Why not? It's comfortable as hell. Feels really good--kinda, I dunno, liberating, I guess."

"Pshyeah, whatever."

Bry stared at Coffee as they approached their room. "You should know what it's like to wear something that's unconfining, you with the size quadruple-extra-large shirt and the circus tent pants."

Coffee unlocked the door and pretended to bar Bry's way with his arm. "Do not mock the pants, man."

The roommates ambled into their dorm room, squeezing a bit to fit through the tiny entrance way. Bry kicked off his shoes the moment he was past the threshold and went barefoot. He proceeded to open a drawer in his bureau and shove his wad of extraneous clothing inside, then forced it closed, after poking back down any protruding fabric.

Coffee looked over toward the phone, saw no blinking red light. "No messages."

"You tired?", Bry asked him.

"Not really, no. You'd think we would be after everything."

"I know! When we were under, I was so fucking relaxed. I felt so, so, it was weird, like I was so at peace, so comfortable. And these overalls--! Damn, they just accentuated the whole experience, I may never wanna take 'em off."

"I reserve the right to tell you when you're getting ripe", Coffee said, plopping down on the end of his bed.

"How could we feel so calm, so relaxed, and so damn pumped at the same time?"

"I have no clue. You gonna take a shower or something? Cause if not, I might slip in there--"

"You don't look very relaxed", Bry said.

Coffee suddenly looked very self-conscious. "What? No. No, I'm relaxed. I'm really relaxed. I'm mellow."

Bry walked over to his friend. "Did you have as much fun doing all this as I did? I mean, I pretty much agreed for both of us that we'd be back. If you'd rather bow out, I'd understand. I could tell 'em you're not coming back, if you were embarrassed by having acted like a big chicken and all that--"

"No! Don't do that!", Coffee snapped. Then, more calmly, "No, it's cool. I really did have a good time. It was fun. And like I said, I'm relaxed. But I'm pumped, too. Whatever. Like you are."

Bry eyed Coffee suspiciously.

"So, um, how do you feel?", Coffee asked. "Cause it's probably just how I feel. Probably."

Bry moved to the edge of the bed. "Scooch over."

"Why? What are you doing?"

"Just trust me." Coffee slid over a few inches, and Bry sat down beside him, and began massaging his shoulders, something that at any time in the past would have sent either men scurrying away somehow seemed perfectly normal now. "I know from relaxed, and buddy, whatever you're feeling, it ain't relaxed." Bry began to knead the top's of Coffee's arms first, sliding his hands easily over his shoulders next, his thumbs then slowly working his friend's back.

Coffee groaned pleasantly and felt the tension leaving his body. He began to slump a bit, despite himself. "Oh. Ohhh, man. Uh, oh, damn, Bry, that's great."

"See? Now this is relaxed, man. This'll undo whatever kinks you may have knotted up here--" Bry stopped when his fingers hit metal. "What the hell?"

Coffee jumped forward, off the bed. "Okay! All better! Great backrub, dude. Gotta shower now. Talk to ya in a minute."

Bry reached up and grabbed Coffee's shirt tail, lifting his oversized tee partway off him. There was faded blue denim underneath. "You asshole! I knew it! I knew that felt like a bib strap buckle under there!"

"No, wait! I can explain--it was just easier to throw my clothes on over the top of it than to go through the trouble of changing over there, I just--"

But Bry had yanked off Coffee's shirt to reveal the snugly-buckled denim overall bib sticking out of his enormous pants. Bry tossed the shirt onto the bed and crossed his arms, staring hard at Coffee. "Uh-huh."

Coffee shuffled his feet. "Well, they are comfortable."

Bry snapped his fingers and made a "c'mon" gesture with two fingers. "Strip."

Slowly, and feeling strangely exposed, Coffee peeled off his elephant pants and then pulled off his shoes with his heels. He held onto the trousers for a moment before extending his arm and letting them fall to the floor. He stuffed his hands into his faded denim pockets and stood there, across the room from his best friend, dressed identically in worn bib overalls only. Shirtless, barefoot.

"So what now?", Coffee said after a moment of silence.


"What do we do now? Neither of us wants to take off our bibs, we both feel incredibly good. What next?"

Bry felt like an actor who had all eyes upon him and suddenly realized he'd forgotten his lines. "I'm not sure." He too put his hands in pockets. He wasn't sure why, but his heart was racing.

Coffee rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. After another quiet moment, he said very quickly, "I dare you to cluck like a chicken."

Bry's eyes bulged and to his dismay, he felt himself get an erection. "What? No!"

"Dare ya."

"You are fuckin' crazy, man. I only did that before because I was hypnotized."

"Yeah, so do it now when you're not."

"No, you do it. You do it first, then maybe."

"Double-dare ya."

Without thinking about it, Bry stepped closer to Coffee. "The guys in the next room would hear us."

"So? They'll just think I'm mocking you for being a wuss. Which is pretty close to the truth." Coffee took a step closer to Bry.

"I am no wuss. Lookit how I dress. I'm a strapping country boy who won't lower himself to--"

"Chick-ennnnn...", Coffee chided.

Bry burst out, "BAWK-buck-buck-buck-baKAWk!", and instantly, his hand darted out and pressed firmly against Coffee's crotch.

Overcome with surprise, Coffee whispered sharply, "What are you doing?!"

The first response that came to Bry's mind was, "I have no idea!" But the words didn't come, so he moved up close to his friend and gently began to squeeze his package. Then softly, he whispered back, "Now you."

Coffee simply spluttered at first, unable to make any coherent words or sounds. Then Bry began steadily massage Coffee's member through the denim overalls and move it slowly in a circular motion. Coffee started shuddering with pleasure, through still incredulous over what was happening. He looked into Bry's eyes, and found his roommate's expression was just as shocked and nervous as his own.

Bry licked his lips, then repeated, "Now you. Cluck like a chicken, man."

Very quietly, and with great effort, Coffee was able to get out, after two more failed attempts, "...uh, uh, uh...bu-buh-buh...buck-buck-buck-ber-kawwk--!" Immediately, Bry released Coffee's member and grabbed his head, kissing him intensely. He had no idea what he was doing, what had prompted it, or why he was unable to stop. He only knew that it felt indescribably good and so very right.

Coffee tried to pull away, but Bry held him tight, and soon Coffee pressed forward, against his chest, giving in to their embrace. Coffee reached one hand around Bry's back to hold him, and the other hand he slipped down the front of Bry's overalls and reached to grasp his friend's rod just as had been done to him moments before.

"Mmh!!", Bry cried in a high pitch as Coffee made contact down below, squeezing and caressing him through the soft denim trousers. Bry then reached back down himself and regained his hold on his friend. Together, the two went down on their knees, still locked in a kiss, pulling and tugging at one another with increasing ferocity.

Bry reached out blindly to his side and yanked the blankets off of his bed. As if sharing the same thought, Coffee did likewise with his own bedspread, tossing them in a bundle on the floor beside them. Then the two barefoot boys gently lowered themselves onto the blankets, quickly losing themselves in their kiss, their members throbbing with imminent orgasm, their groping hands continuing to work their magic as if of their own accord.

Vic crossed over to Herbie as he was winding up the cord from his machine. Vic leaned on the cart that held the machine, trying to look somewhat threatening, but unable to hide the tinge of fear in his eyes. "Tell me it's temporary. Making these straight boys think they're gay. It's temporary, right?"

Herbie went on winding up the cord, turned down the machine's cooling fan a notch. "It's temporary."

Vic let out a breath of relief. "Thank God."

"It's temporary in that eventually they'll grow old and die. In that sense, everything is only temporary. But I'm no philosopher. It's a psych class project." Herbie grinned, picking up the case for his machine.

Vic began to ask if his friend was kidding, but could see by his expression that he was not. What exactly had they started? In anticipation of Vic's unspoken question, Herbie loaded his machine into its case and said, "Same time tomorrow. You'll see what comes next."

Herbie locked up his device and hauled it out with him. Vic stayed behind in the room for several more minutes. He did not want to simply follow him.


"So what's the camera for?", Carson asked, pointing to the video camera Herbie was setting up on a tripod before six empty chairs in the college classroom.

Herbie didn't even turn to address him. He continued adjusting the tripod and camera, saying, "One of the requirements of the thesis. I have to have videotaped data as well as written data. All part of the deal." Carson made a satisfied expression to indicate he accepted that explanation.

"To prove he's not just making up all his info", Acker joked.

"Something like that", Herbie said, stepping away from the camera, making sure the recording remote was working.

Acker loitered about with the other five boys who had dutifully reported for their second session of Herbie's project. It was now Day 2, and both he and Jamie seemed most at ease, having gone so far as to change from their slacks into their overalls in the men's room down the hall before entering the classroom. Carson and Rickie appeared a bit preoccupied, but were relatively relaxed, considering they were going out of their way not make eye contact with one another. Both Bry and Coffee were visibly uncomfortable, appearing anxious and jumpy.

Vic stepped beside Herbie, leaning over to whisper to him. "Herb, shouldn't we ask them about what happened yesterday? I mean, after they left the session? What the experienced, what they did?"

"I know what they did", Herbie said, not bothering to lower his voice.

Vic took Herbie by the arm. "Yeah, but don't you think they need to know why they did what they did? Don't you owe them that much?"

This time Herbie did lower his voice. "You wanna tell them we hypnotized them with implanted suggestions to go gay when they're alone with each other, be my guest."

Vic's eyes darkened. "What's this "we" shit, Herb?! I didn't even know what you had in mind until you'd already done it!"

Herbie smirked. "Tell them that. Far as they know, we're a team. And aren't we?"

His ire rising, Vic tightened his grip on Herbie's arm. Herbie looked down at Vic's hand and leveled a warning glare at him. Pulling his arm away from Vic's grasp, he said to the group, "Okay, gentlemen, I'll need you to get suited up in your overalls and straw hats. Just like last time. Let's go."

Jamie and Acker changed fairly quickly, since all they needed to do was shuck off their shirts and kick off their shoes. They made a playful bit of putting their straw hats on each other's heads. Carson and Rickie changed slowly, pulling their overalls out of the duffle bag they'd brought along. Both of them hunched over to remove their trousers simultaneously, not realizing they were moving in perfect unison. They both looked up at the same time, their eyes meeting as they were bent over, their pants down around their ankles, their legs bared. Carson moved forward just a bit, his face coming closer to Rickie's his lips parting. Then they both started, as if remembering where they were. They turned around and continued dressing with their backs to each other.

Bryce and Coffee stood watching the others change for a moment before they too began to remove their everyday clothes and step into their worn bib overalls. Their movements were stiff, almost mechanical, as if their bodies were operating on autopilot. Their eyes, however, were wide and sharp, watching the other boys follow their orders to change and take their seats.

Bry whispered to Coffee. "We're gonna tell him, right? We're gonna tell him that we want out, right? We do not want a repeat of last night's little sexual fiasco--"

"Shut up, man."

Bry reached over unconsciously and adjusted the buckle on Coffee's right bib strap. "I'm serious. Before this goes too far and we wind up on the floor clucking our brains out again. We gotta tell him. We're out. Done, finished." Bry put the straw hat on Coffee's head and took a few moments to make sure it was titled in a rakish fashion most becoming his friend. He then turned to approach Herbie.

Coffee gently touched Bry's bare shoulder with his fingertips, stopping him. Bry turned to face him. "What?" Coffee lightly set the twin to his straw hat on top of Bry's head, tapping it into place. Bry smiled. "Hey. Thanks."

Bry and Coffee looked at each other for a moment. They could hear the scraping of chair legs along the classroom floor as their comrades took their seats. The sound seemed so distant. Bry could feel his breathing becoming a bit heavier. Coffee looked so damned adorable in this country boy outfit. Softly, Bry reached out with his hand and traced his friend's arm from the shoulder down to the wrist. He took a step closer to him, feeling the tips of their toes touching. It sent a sudden thrill through him. Bry reached up with his other hand and softly, gently, curled his fingers around Coffee's neck. He could feel the warmth of his friend's body heat under his hand.

Coffee then took Bry by the shoulders, hurriedly turning him around to face the rest of the room. The four other boys sat impatiently in their chairs, with two vacant seats on the far right of the lineup. Vic leaned against the far wall near the door, arms crossed, looking oddly irritated. Herbie cleared his throat from behind the camera. "Anytime you guys are ready", he said.

Coffee and Bry shuffled nervously to their seats. Carson and Rickie scooted their chairs over an inch or two as if trying to gain a bit more distance from them. Jamie and Acker kept grinning.

"Same drill as yesterday, fellas", Herbie said. "This is an exercise in relaxation and information absorption through hypnosis conveyed by way of the natural vehicle of warmth. I'll fire up the little heater here and we can get started."

"Um, before we get started, I'd like to say something."

Herbie looked at Bryce, who'd spoken. Vic also perked up a bit, interested to hear what the boy had to say. Carson and Rickie looked at him askance. Jamie and Acker looked only mildly interested, anxious for the exercise to get under way. Herbie stuck his tongue into his cheek, looking perturbed. "You need a quick recap of what we did yesterday?"

Bry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "No, no it's not that--"

"What, then?"

"We can't do this anymore. Take part in your psychology experiment." The rest of the boys looked at him accusingly, wondering if Bry were taking their vices into account with his statement. Seeing their expressions, Bryce quickly amended, "I mean, Coffee and me. We're dropping out. Isn't that right, Coff?" Bry looked to Coffee for support.

Nodding, Coffee said, "Yeah, we decided we're dropping out of this whole thing. Sorry."

"We're not even coming today", Bry added with new confidence.

Herbie walked up to him. "So, you're just gonna up and quit? Not even coming today, huh?"

Bry smiled. "Nope. We're just stayin' home." He looked at Coffee, proud of their show of solidarity, but Coffee's face fell and he put his head in his hands. Bry was confused. "What?'

Herbie just smiled. But Vic said, "If you're not coming today, what are you doing here?"

Bry started to answer, then realized the idiocy of it and shut his trap. He looked back to Coffee and whispered loud enough for all to hear, "Dude, we're already HERE!" Still cradling his head with one hand, Coffee reached over with the other and took Bry's hand, interlacing their fingers. Bry just sighed heavily, resigned to whatever would come next.

"If there are no further delays", Herbie said, "please face forward, and keep your eyes on the little orange light."

And they were alone. Bry and Coffee were suddenly in the room by themselves. Everyone else, even Herbie's machine, was gone. The session was over and they had remained behind to talk things over. Or at least they must have. Memory was a bit fuzzy after their day's session.

"How--how long have we been just sitting here?", Bry asked, looking around the empty classroom.

"I--I'm not sure", Coffee answered, rubbing his eyes. "We were looking at the light on Herb's machine, I remembering feeling really nice again."


"Relaxed. You know. You must have felt it, too. Like last time. All warm and comfortable and you start to get just a little worked up and excited. You can feel yourself getting hard even as you kind of sink into your chair--"

"Okay, yeah! I get it! We both felt that! We don't have to relive it!" Bry stood up, feeling a little embarrassed that his words came out harsher than he had intended. He began to pace around a bit, feeling the cool surface of the floor under his bare feet. he was trying to remember where he had left his clothes. He reached up to take off his ridiculous straw hat, but no sooner was it off his head than it felt...somehow wrong to remove it unless he had his street clothes on hand to change into. He put it back on his head.

Coffee stretched in his seat, feeling as if he'd just awakened from a very invigorating nap. He found himself staring at Bry's ass. Even under the baggy drop-seat of his bib overalls, he could tell Bry worked out and that his magnificent butt was well-sculpted.

"So what do you make of it?"

Coffee was taken off-guard. "Huh?" he quickly shifted his gaze a bit higher, taking his eyes off Bry's posterior. "Make of wh-what?"

Bry turned to face him. "Of this. Of us waking up alone here with everyone else gone. What's up with that?"

Coffee smirked. "You'd rather we wake up clucking like chickens?"

"No", Bry said defensively, realizing too late that Coffee was joking.

"Maybe", Coffee surmised, "we were under so deeply this time that it took us longer to come out of it all the way. I hear that can happen."

Bry shoved his hands in his pockets. "Yeah?"

Coffee leaned forward, resting his arms on his thighs. "Oh, yeah. We could've been woken up right along with the other four guys, Jamie, Acker, Carson, and Rick. But if we were more zonked, we could have been acting like we were wide awake before we were really fully conscious. Like a sleepwalker."

"You weren't kidding when you said you were into this stuff."

"Enough to know that much, anyway." Coffee stood up and walked over to Bry. "I also know that I feel great right now." He stepped even closer. "And I know you do too--"

Bry took a step back. "Coff, don't. I--I can't do what we did before. Last night was a fluke or something--"

"A fluke that felt great."

"Yeah, but that doesn't make it real. Like when you're drunk or something--frat guys have at it that way all the time when they're wasted. It doesn't mean they've, you know, joined the other team or anything. We were just high from the hypnosis is all."

Coffee's eyes were warm and tender. "Maybe. But I think I remember reading something about deep hypnotic trances awakening submerged...even repressed, feelings you may not know you have."

Bry looked very uncomfortable, but this time he didn't back away when Coffee closed the gap between them. "God, Coffee, I'm confused. I--I don't want to feel this, but--I, it's like I can't help it."

"I know what you mean." Coffee ran gentle fingers over Bry's shoulders, playing with the straps on his overalls bibs.

Bry closed his eyes, his hands slowly emerging from his pockets, reaching over to finger the brass buttons on either side of Coffee's waist. He began to unbutton Coffee's overalls even as Coffee was unbuckling Bry's bib straps. They moved closer to each other, their toes touching, their knees bumping lightly together.

Coffee let Bry's straps tumble back over his shoulders. He then gently lowered his denim bib, running his palms over Bry's smooth chest. Bry traced the edges of Coffee's bib, fingering the buckles clipped around the corner buttons, which he unfastened easily, letting both bib and straps fall to reveal hairless, firm abs.

The two pressed their chests together, ran their hands across one another's smooth backs. Bry rested his chin on Coffee's shoulder, whispering softly, "I don't want this. I don't want to be gay."

Coffee whispered back. "I know. I don't either. But I want you."

The two began to kiss. Lightly at first, then more passionately, going from closed mouths to open, lips probing and feeling the moist warmth inside the other. Slowly, the two began to drop to their knees, as if being lowered on a lift. On the way down, their hands stroked bare backs, waists, arms, and shoulders. The intensity of their kissing increased. Once down on their knees, they began to kiss with abandon, feeling their heat rise.

"We can't do this", Bry panted in between kisses. "We're not gay."

"We can be", Coffee gasped back, beginning to kiss Bry's neck. "As long as we're alone, as long as no one can see. We can be gay, It's just between you and me."

Coffee's hands reached down underneath Bry's unbuttoned bibs and kneaded his ass, his lips suckling Bry's neck. Bry tried to answer his friend, but found he had no voice. Before he began to kiss the side of Coffee's head, stroking his waist, he merely offered a weak nod to signal his agreement.

"Buk-KAWK!" Carson's senses came into sharp focus. His own squawk had apparently brought him around, as when a sleeper's snoring grows too intense. He was squatted down on his haunches, directly in front of Rickie, who was similarly posed, but with a glazed look in his eyes. Down on his haunches, arms bent, knuckles stuffed into his armpits, Rickie remained in his chickenesque posture, blank eyes staring into space.

Carson lowered his arms from their "wing" position, resting one knee down on the floor, feeling the tension leave his legs as he adjusted his posture. He looked at the mesmerized Rickie. He waved a hand before his empty eyes. No response.

"Hey, Rickie", Carson said. Nothing. Then again, a bit louder, "Rickie." Nada.

Carson gave Rickie's knee a gentle push, and raising his voice a notch, said, "Rick!"

Rick's eyes came into focus. "BYUk-buk-buk-ba-KAHWK!" His elbows even flapped slightly, like chicken wings.

Carson laughed. "Dude, you still sound like a sick ostrich."

Rickie was back. "Fuck you! I do not! I'm a full-fledged chicken, pal! And don't you--" he paused, lowering his arms, coming out of his squat. "--forget it..." He looked around the room and then back at Carson. "Cars, where is everybody?"

"Search me." Carson stood up, offering Rickie a hand as his friend also got to his feet, slowly working the kinks out after being down in that uncomfortable position.

"How long do you suppose we were out?"

Carson shrugged. "No idea. Long enough for the others to clear out of the classroom, evidently. You think this is all part of the experiment? Leaving us behind posed like chickens and everything, or maybe just a little prank--?" Carson turned to see Rickie trying to work a cramp out of his leg. "Here, let me help you with that."

Before Rickie could respond, Carson was down on his knees behind him, massaging Rickie's calf under the soft denim pant leg. "Oh, you don't have to do that, Cars. I appreciate it and all, but--" and then he felt the strength of Carson's fingers firmly working the stiffness from his muscles. "Ohh, maannnn...that feels great. Thannnkss."

Carson continued rubbing the one leg, then moved on to the next. Rickie almost protested, having a cramp in only the one leg, but then let Carson continue. Rickie rested his palms on a nearby desk and leaned forward a bit, allowing Carson's hands to work their way up his claves to his inner thighs, gently applying more pressure with his massage. Rickie let out soft moans of satisfaction as Carson's nimble fingers worked their magic.

And then Carson's hands reached Rickie's ass. Rickie felt his mouth spread into a wide grin as Carson attentively kneaded his rear. Then he heard a couple sharp snaps and felt a cool breeze across his cheeks. Carson had opened Rickie's rear drop-seat.

"Cars, what the hell are you doing??", Rickie said, twisting around as much as he could, with Carson's firm hands holding his butt in place.

"Buddy, you really do have a magnificent ass", Carson said, chuckling. He then gave his buddy's rump a playful slap, his laughter increasing.

Rickie twisted away, breaking free of Carson's hold. "Okay, smartass, let's see how yours measures up!"

Carson danced away, all smiles, letting out a sneer of, "Ohhhh, no!" The two played a bit of octopus arm wrestling, with arms flailing and hands grasping, until the smaller Rickie was able to duck under Carson's long reach and snag his wrists. With a quick flip, Rickie spun Carson around to bend him over the same desk he himself had been leaning on.

Carson, more amused than concerned, spat out through snorted guffaws, "Alright, alright, you got me! Go ahead and have a look, poultry boy!"

Rickie was down on his haunches, yanking at Carson's backdoor flap. "That's poultry man to you, chicken little." Carson felt the brass snaps give way as Rickie popped them open, and felt the cooler air against his ass. Then he felt the warmth of gentle fingers pressing down against his smooth flesh. "Well ol' buddy", Rickie said, "your ass ain't half bad, either. In fact..." and his voice faded off.

Over his shoulder, Carson, still a bit giddy, remarked, "Yeah, all I'm missing is a nice feathery tail, huh?" Rickie said nothing. "Hey, Rick? Whattaya think? Am I all set to start laying eggs, or what?"

Then Carson felt his friend's finger probing into his ass. The finger was moist, slick, apparently having been into Rickie's mouth before going into Carson's hole. Carson gasped sharply. "Uhh! Rick!" His voice was a hoarse whisper. "Whu-whuh--what're you d-doing??"

Rickie said nothing back, save to whisper a reassuring, "Shhhh." Rickie's fingers dug in deeper. Two digits, then three. Then--omigod--four? Rickie massaged the inside of Carson with careful, tender strokes, sending electric jolts of pleasure through Carson's body. Carson gripped the edge of the small student desk, his knuckles going white with his tightening grasp.

The fingers that had not entered Carson delicately played at the skin around the outside, touching, tickling. Carson's jaw was locked in an open position, his eyelids fluttering even as his gaze turned involuntarily upward. His own erection was growing in size and heat, and he could feel its stiffening shaft pressing against the desk under the soft denim of his overalls.

Then, Carson felt the wetness, running up his back. Rickie was licking Carson's backside, starting just above where he had inserted his fingers and riding up as far as the skin exposed by the open drop-seat would allow. Carson let out a high-pitched whine as he inhaled sharply, his legs tensing, his arms trembling.

Rickie kept on playing with Carson's posterior even as he paused in his tongue play, commenting, "Cars, you're finger lickin' good. Want me to keep going?"

It was all Carson could do to form a coherent thought, much less answer Rickie. But he twisted his head to the side, his flushed face straining to spit out a sentence. Eyes watering, Carson nodded ever-so-slightly, whispering, "...yes, please..."

Jamie and Acker both blinked. They stared at each other for a moment, still shirtless and in their beat up overalls and straw hats. A quick glance told them they stood in the corner of the classroom, near the instructor's desk.

"Where is everybody?", Acker asked.

"Dunno", Jamie said. "Are they all gone?"

"Looks like it. How'd we get over here?"

Jamie shrugged, looking around the room and stuffing his hands into his front pockets. "Not sure. We were over in our chairs...I remember feeling all sleepy like when we went under before."

"I was holding your hand."

"Right. We were holding hands. Then what?"

"I have no clue. Think we were told to forget this session? I mean, programmed to or whatever?"

Jamie cocked one eyebrow. "That would explain a lot. Aren't most peoples' memories a blank after being hypnotized?"

"I think I've heard something like that, yeah." Acker grinned, ignoring the fact that they each remembered most of their first session. "Only one thing to do now, I guess."

Jamie smiled brightly. "Lock the door."

Jamie bounded across the room in giant leaps, hopping over desks and scrambling to the doorway. His kinetic bouncing, combined with his country boy wardrobe, made him appear more like a giddy farmboy than a first-year college student. He was giggling as he stuck his head out the door into the hallway, quickly craned his neck around, and upon deciding no one was around, yanking the door shut and locking it closed.

He spun around to see Acker zipping about the room, racing back from the side exit door in the far corner that was opposite the main hallway entrance Jamie had just locked. "All clear", Acker said, smiling. Jamie leapt over another couple desks as Acker dashed across the floor, his bare feet sliding up to meet Jamie's.

The two met in a tangle of arms that quickly became an eager embrace. At first it was all just stroking and hugging, then came the kissing. Quick, ravenous, hungry. They paused briefly to catch their breath, both their foreheads resting together, the brims of their straw hats curling upward against each other. Hands resting upon one another's shoulders, Jamie and Acker panted softly.

"This is so not what I had planned", Jamie said. "I was gonna keep all this bottled up until later. Not come out until after graduation, ideally. Senior year at the earliest. Not before then, and certainly not this soon."

Acker ran his hands down Jamie's smooth arms. "You think you're surprised? I didn't even know that I was...you know. That way. I mean, I thought about it every once in a while. But I just figured it was a phase or something. Random thoughts. Nothing that really meant anything. But these feelings...oh, God these feelings..." Acker slid his hands around to Jamie's back, drawing him closer. "It's just that I never expected..."

Jamie pressed his chest to Acker's, resting his cheek against his friend's. "...to fall in love."

Acker clutched the back of Jamie's head, his fingers sliding under the straw hat. "Is that what this is? Is that what I'm feeling? Is that why I can't stop thinking about you, all the time, Jamie? All day, ever since last night?"

Jamie's lips pressed against Acker's ear. "It must be. I feel it too. Constantly." Lightly, Jamie nibbled at Acker's earlobe.

Acker started to caress Jamie's back with his palms. He slipped his hands under the soft denim of the overalls and let his hands slide down to knead Jamie's buttocks. They could each feel the growing warmth of each other's bodies, hear the gentle pant of their breathing.

Very quietly, Acker whispered. "I need to get you out of these clothes."

"Me, too", was all Jamie said in reply.

In an instant, the two boys were literally tearing their overalls off one another. They each grabbed the other's hat and tossed it to one side, to have it careen off the dry erase board on the far wall. Jamie fussed with undoing Acker's bib strap buckles, but Acker simply grabbed Jamie's straps under his thumbs and pulled them to outward, yanking them off Jamie's his shoulders. One the bib straps were either unbuckled or slid off, the rest of the loose-fitting farmer pants flopped to the floor with no trouble.

Their passion fired by their nakedness, Jamie and Acker kissed eagerly, mouths open and tongues probing. They stumbled backwards to bump into the instructor's desk. Jamie kneaded Acker's shoulders and Acker reached around to grasp Jamie by the waist and hoist him up onto the desk. Acker was quick to join him there, pushing his friend down onto his back so Acker could straddle him. Acker and Jamie kissed furiously, arms rubbing and stroking smooth, taut skin. As they wrestled, their deft fingers reached between them to seize both the moment and one another's manhood. Their mumbled professions of love were lost amid their moans of pleasure.

Unbeknownst to the amorous Jamie and Acker, a mere fifteen feet away, Carson and Rickie experimented with their newfound interest in anal play. And unbeknownst to either couple, on the far side of the room, Bry and Coffee remained liplocked down on their knees, lost in their own embrace. Each couple had been given the suggestion that all other occupants of the room had left. Each couple had also been given a certain leeway to follow wherever their passions might lead them, feeling a certain sense of security knowing they were safely sequestered away and unobserved.

Through it all, Herbie kept the camera running. This day of the experiment had proven very productive indeed, as each couple had far exceeded expectations.

Vic looked daggers at Herbie as everything that unfolded was captured on video. Herbie finally felt the weight of Vic's stare and turned to meet his withering gaze. The psych major only shrugged. "It's for my research."


Jamie and Acker lounged about in the men's room, Jamie sitting atop the counter, flipping through his film class notes, Acker fussing with his hair in front of the mirror.

"You now, if you ever need a stunning male lead for one of your film projects, I'm usually available", Acker said.

Jamie frowned, rearranging his notes from class. "Yeah, I'll keep that in mind if I ever do a movie entitled "The Night Of The Swelled Head".

There was a flush from one of the stalls and a kid walked out, stuffing his shirt tail back into his pants. He gave his hair a cursory glance in the mirror and departed. He was followed by a boy who'd been washing his hands in the sink next to Acker. He shut off the faucet, dried his hands using far more papers towels than the task required, hawked a loogie into the trash can, and departed.

Jamie slammed his folder shut. "He the last one?", he asked in a stage whisper.

"Think so", Acker said, and gave the restroom a quick once-over to make sure. "All clear", he announced. "You?"

Jamie was already at the door, which had a flip-latch deadbolt on the inside. "Door's secured." Jamie zipped across the floor and retrieved his backpack from where he left it under the sink. Both he and Acker began to strip, stealing quick kisses in between tearing off garments.

Jamie, naked in an instant, leapt into the worn overalls and straw hat he'd been carrying around with him in his back pack. Acker was just as quick getting undressed, but with no farmboy gear to speak of.

"Where's your bibs?", Jamie asked.

"Didn't bring 'em."

"Ah, well. I'm sure lots of country boys spend their day in the buff, provided its warm enough out and the farm is sufficiently secluded." With that, the two boys were at each other. The nude Acker grabbed tight to Jamie and pushed them both against the wall, kissing, fondling. With one hand, Jamie groped to his side to find the counter. Then, his scrambling fingertips found his film class folder. With a mad swipe of his hand, Jamie sent the binder and all its contents crashing to the floor. He then grabbed Acker by the shoulders and hauled him up onto the counter and on top of him.

"You know what would be even better", Acker gasped in between kisses, "is if we were doing this in a real barn. Or a chicken coop."

Jamie reached around to knead Acker's buttocks with eager fingers. "Barn's better. Less stinky. I'll set up a shoot there for film class. We can do a feature on the aberrant sex lives of wayward farmhands."

Acker began kissing Jamie's neck. "Sounds good. You can direct, I'll produce."

Jamie reached down and grabbed Acker's nether regions. Acker gasped in surprise. "Well then, as your director, I'm telling you to produce." Acker clutched Jamie's forearms, his body heat rising rapidly which Jamie could feel pressing against him, growing fast. Increased production, it would seem, would not be a problem.

Carson walked into his room to find Rickie flopped on the bed, watching his TV. Carson stood in the doorway, wanting to go in and lie next to him but uncertain if he should. "Hey", he said.

Rickie looked up at him, all smiles. "Heyyy." He patted the bed beside him, inviting Carson to come join him. Carson did, telling himself he simply wanted to see what his friend was watching. It was a repeat episode of Dawson's Creek. The young group was at their prom, on a small yacht booked for the occasion.

"I love this part", Rickie said.

Carson's eyes bulged a bit and he pursed his lips. "You do? This part?"

"Didn't used to. But I do now."

The sequence in question had male characters Jack and Toby exchanging their first big onscreen kiss. It was a major event in television history and Carson, even though he never had much time for the tube, could see why. The two boys kissed with emphatic passion, for two seconds, three, four, five...

Carson squirmed a bit on the edge of the bed. "I-I-I don't really think that was necessary. I mean, the camera could've pulled away. You don't need to show that on TV."

Rickie smiled, pressing the mute button on his remote. "You don't?"

"No, it's kind of gratuitous. A ratings gimmick. Maybe it bothers me so much just because I'm straight. That's probably it--" Carson's protestations were cut off as Rickie kissed him. Carson did nothing to stop him, and it certainly lasted longer than five seconds.

Rickie began to guide Carson down upon the bed, when Carson placed two firm hands upon his friend's chest and pushed away. "We can't do this, man. I don't know if I can--I said I was straight, right? You heard that."

Rickie placed a hand on the side of Carson's head. "Cars. I promise you, we are not being televised."

Carson took a deep breath. "Well. I guess it's okay, then."

They returned to their embrace, now with Carson as the more aggressive partner. As the two went down upon the mattress, Rickie hit the power button on his remote and tossed it blithely over his shoulder.

Coffee rounded the corner of the library to find Bry already deep within the recesses of the more obscure shelves on the second floor. "Hey. How's the ol' research paper goin'?"

Bry smiled brightly. "Better for seeing you. I could use some help."

Coffee walked up to Bry, looking him over. "We're practically twins." The two were both dressed in their bib overalls. Coffee wore a red T-shirt under his, Bryce has on a red, yellow, and white plaid shirt. They both wore tan Timberland work boots.

Bry just smiled at his remark. Like Coffee, he'd found it increasingly difficult to go without his bibs on, especially after their private session after the last session for Herbie's project, when everyone else mysteriously disappeared. Bry found it easier not to dwell on that part of it. "Um, Coff, I may have...overreacted a little to your suggestion that we, well...you know, pursue our, um, more physical aspects of our friendship."

Coffee brightened. "Really?"

Bry traced one of Coffee's bib straps with his index finger. "Really." He leaned in and kissed his friend, who kissed him back, placing one hand gently behind Bryce's head. After several moments the broke off their kiss. Coffee was smiling widely, Bry was looking around to see if anyone had seen them. No one had. No one was around in this area of the library.

"So, what are you doing your report on?", Coffee asked.

"I haven't really decided yet." Bry pulled a few volumes he'd collected from a nearby step stool. "I've got stuff on the Great Depression, commentaries on The Grapes of Wrath and other Depression-era literature, advances in agriculture, and the inspirational success story of Colonel Sanders."

Coffee laughed. "You did notice something that all these have in common, right?" Bry looked down at his collection and grinned. Every one of them had photos or illustrations of men in overalls on their covers.

Bry held up the paperback on Colonel Sanders. "This one's different, anyway."

Coffee took the book from his hand. "I'm not sure I want to do a whole lot of reading about eating my own kind." Coffee kissed Bry again, this time with more passion than before. Bry was taken aback by the passion of Coffee's embrace, and let the other volumes slip from his fingers to tumble to the floor.

Bryce placed a firm hand upon Coffee's chest and pushed him away. Coffee's eyes were wide with concern, until Bry caught his breath and said, "Just to clarify. I'm not gay. And neither are you. Right?"

Coffee smiled. "No way. We just both--have a thing for good-looking college kids in denim."

"Yeah", Bry smiled, "I can accept that."

The two returned to their embrace and shuffled backwards to lean against the bookcase set into the wall for support. Neither Bryce nor Coffee could recall research being this much fun back in high school.

Herbie stepped down from atop the toilet seat where he was perched, thinking as he did that Acker ought to check inside the stalls as well as underneath them when checking to see if the coast was clear to make out with his new boyfriend. As quietly as possible, Herbie swung open the stall door and walked over to the two newly-gay college boys. Quietly, he said, "Hey."

Jamie and Acker twisted their heads suddenly, alarmed by the noise, by the fact that they'd been caught. Before they could say or do anything, Herbie shined a beam into their eyes. Like the beam from Herbie's modified opaque projector, this was a focused source of heat, making the air ripple in its wake. The beam came from a palm-sized, circular module Herbie held in his hand. It was a small, travel-size version of his hypnosis heat beam.

When the beam connected with Jamie and Acker, Herbie simply said, "Here, chick-chick-chick." As the light from the beam faded, Jamie and Acker looked back at each other with renewed enthusiasm. As they ravaged each other anew, Jamie began to tear away his overalls and go naked. Acker helped.

Herbie made his way toward the door, completely unnoticed by the two enamored chickens, who had already forgotten that he'd been there at all. Herbie let himself out, taking care to lock the door behind him. Another student was fast approaching the men's room when Herbie signalled him to stop. "Out of order", he said, thumbing towards the door.

"Awww, man", the student whined. "Really?"

"Pretty bad backup in one of the johns. You don't wanna go in there right now." The student nodded in quick agreement and sprinted off to find other facilities. Herbie shook his hand a bit, which stung from being in close contact with the miniature heat beam. He checked its gauge and saw it had a little more than two-thirds its charge left. He wrapped it in a small oven hot pad he'd brought with him and moved on to his next stop.

His departure was observed by a tall, bushy-haired blond boy at the end of the hall.

* * * * *

With all the ruckus and goings-on at the frat house where Carson lived, it was a simple matter for Herbie to just saunter in and say he was going upstairs to see Cars. The boys whooping and hollering at the foosball table just waved him up.

When Herbie reached Carson's room, it was easy to see how even the most unusual of affairs could go undetected. Even with his ear pressed against the door, Herbie could hear nothing but the overwhelming din of the rest of the house. He knocked, but got no response. He knocked harder. Still nothing.

Gingerly, Herbie opened the door and peered inside. Carson and Rickie were there all right, on the bed, in their overalls, drop seats down, going at it full boar. Carson wore his straw hat and moaned ecstatically as Rickie plowed him from behind. Rickie's hat sat rakishly atop the television, which had the sound muted. Back to back episodes of Dawson's Creek. Huh.

"Oh, God, Rickie!", Carson groaned out. "Bring it! Buck-buck-buck-buKAWK!"

"That's it, man!", Rickie sneered. "Cluck, you chicken!"

Herbie had to put his hand over his mouth to suppress a laugh. Since both boys had their backs to him, Herbie saw no reason to announce himself. He simply removed the handheld heat device from his pocket and fired two beams at the back of his subject's heads. Instantly, they froze in place, falling silent. Further proof it was the heat and prior conditioning that provided control, not simply the sight of the beam. Herbie made a mental note. He also spoke his trigger words softly but clearly. "Here, chick-chick-chick."

As he left the room, closing the door behind him, Rickie and Carson were already back at it with increased vigor. No one in the frat paid any attention as Herbie left. No one except the tall bushy-haired guy hanging around outside the house, just down the street.

* * * * *

It took a little searching for Herbie to find Coffee and Bry. He knew they'd be in the library, but wasn't sure exactly where. A good fifteen minutes after he'd started looking for them, Herbie found the duo in their complementary country boy attire, making out in the stacks on the second floor. They looked so darn cute together that Herbie was almost tempted not to disturb them. Almost, but not quite.

"Excuse me! But there's no gay make-out sessions allowed in the library!", Herbie hissed. Coffee and Bry whirled around, horrified, and caught Herbie's heat beam full in the face. The two boys sank a little deeper into each other's arms as the beam relaxed them, opening their minds to further conditioning. Herbie stepped up close to the bumpkin duo, keeping the beam focused on them. "Here, chick-chick-chick", he said.

Then, as he was about to step away, deactivating the beam and heading for home, he saw all the research material on the floor beside them. It was obvious in an instant what was on their minds. With a sly grin, Herbie whispered to Acker. "Hey, why don't you do your research paper on the Overalls Revolution of the 1920s?"

Mechanically, Acker said to Coffee, "Hey, Coff, why don't we do our research paper on the Overalls Revolution of the 1920s?"

With glazed eyes and thick voice, Coffee answered, "What a great idea, Acker."

Herbie shut off the beam and departed, its temporary charge nearly depleted. Coffee and Acker came back to life, kissing each other with increased passion. After another few minutes of making out and heavy petting, Coffee gasped out, "Hey, Acker...what the hell is the Overalls Revolution of the 1920s?"

Acker, now working on Coffee's neck and nibbling at his ear, said back, "Who the fuck knows? We'll look it up later."

The two wrestled in one another's arms and fell backwards onto the carpeted floor. Outside, Herbie made his way home. His departure was observed by the bushy-haired boy. A bushy-haired boy named Vic. And Vic decided that he and his hypnotist pal were going to have words.


"Just what the fuck do you think you're doing?!"

Herbie looked up the opaque projector/heat beam with which he'd been tinkering. Victor stood in the doorway of the classroom the two had been using for their thesis experiment, his boyish features filled with an adult rage. "Right now I'm screwing back on this outer panel", Herbie said innocently. "Why?"

"Don't get fucking cute with me", Vic snarled. "I saw you last night. I saw what you did, how you visited each one of our test subjects. What the hell were you doing? What was that little disc-thing you were carrying with you?"

Herbie picked up his handheld device from off the a-v cart and admired it. "Fantastic little doohickey, isn't it? It's a palm beacon, of sorts. I found out that after initially programming our subjects with the large device", and Herbie patted the top of the projector for emphasis, "we can reinforce and enhance the suggestions and command triggers with just this little dealie." He stroked his chin, considering it. "It just takes so damn long to recharge, is all. I wish it held more juice at one time. But I'll work that out later, I suppos--"

"What does chick-chick-chick mean?", Vic demanded. "I heard you say that last night in the library. Is that a command trigger? What does it do?"

Herbie twisted his mouth in a satisfied smirk. "For our little freshman chickens, 'Here, chick' is an irresistible order to intensify their feelings for one another and their actions in expressing it. Each 'chick' raises the displays of affection a notch. So 'chick-chick-chick' would multiply their newfound homosexual feelings by a factor of three."

"Jesus! Are you insane?", Vic said, blanching.

"I'm thinking of going for five next time. With the first one said in a real high voice. You know, like 'Heeeere, CHICK-chick-chick-chick-chick!!' Like that. With a sharp emphasis on the last one. What do you think?"

"I can't let you get away with this, Herb. I mean it. I'm telling you to stop the experiment right now. You have to."

"And why's that?"

"Hell-O! Because it's wrong! You can't just rewire innocent kids' brains and make them your fag boytoy entertainment! Call it off. Bring them in here for the next session and undo the damage. Fix it and then destroy that goddamn machine."

Herbie's voice took on a hard edge. "Not gonna happen, Vic."

"You will shut this thing down, Herb. Two days into this and it's already gotten this far out of hand? What the hell happens next if I let you run with it?"

"Stick around and you'll find out."

"No, I won't. Because you're stopping it. Right now."

"And if I don't? What? You'll kick my ass?"

Vic let out a deep breath. He could easily kick his friend's ass, but that's not the way he wanted this to go down. "I'll report you. I'll tell the school what you're doing. I'll expose this whole thing. Even if it means me going down for it, too."

Herbie got right up in Vic's face. "You just do what you have to do, then."

Vic watched as Herbie went back to adjusting his precious machine. Vic wanted to say more, but knew his friend long enough to tell there was no longer anything he could say. Vic went to the door and at the threshold, he turned around. "It's not too late. You can still stop this."

Without looking up, Herbie answered, "Can, but won't. Do what you feel is right, Vic."

"I will, Herb." And so he did.

Victor walked boldly up to the university's main administrative offices. He must have had a very purposeful air in his stride, because he half-noticed a few people watching him as he went by. Vic entered the front office and passed a junior classmen carrying a takeout coffee cup who almost did a spit take for some reason. Vic muttered to himself, "They shouldn't let the ADD students do work studies."

Vic made his way to the head secretary's desk. "Excuse me, but it's urgent I speak to someone." The secretary held up one finger to silence Vic and indicate he should wait, as she kept he head down and her eyes focused on her desk.

The secretary, an aging woman who'd been with the college so long it was now as impossible to determine her age it was to remove her, was busily scrawling a note of some kind. Her cat-eye spectacles slipped down her beaklike nose at regular intervals, to be shoved back into place by finger with brightly-painted nails so thick they looked as if they could cut glass. She finished her note, tore it decisively from its pad and slammed it authoritatively down on a nearby spindle. She gave the note one last look, possibly to ascertain that it wasn't about to make an escape from it's memorandum harpoon, and then turned to face Vic.

Her face shifted from staunch to exasperated when she laid eyes on Victor. "Dare I ask?"

Vic was a bit put off by her tone. "I need to see Chancellor Hardcourt."

"Oh, do you, now?" She shoved her glasses back up her nose.

"Yes, I do! It's very important. It involves something going on in the psych building."

"I don't doubt that much", she sneered.

Vic was getting annoyed. "Look, I'm not kidding around here. Is the chancellor in his office?"

The secretary stood. Frail as she was, her demeanor projected the power of the dragon at the gate, who'd rather fight to the death than let any visitors pass unannounced or uninvited. "Sonny, you are not going back there. I don't know what your problem is, but Mr. Hardcourt is a very busy man."

"Lookit, I realize I don't have an appointment, but this can't wait. He needs to hear about this."

"Well, tell you what, young man. Why don't you write me a little note", and she slammed down a pen and a scratch pad, "and I'll see to it that the chancellor gets it. Then you can go skipping off to wherever it is you came from and let us big city folk handle your little problem."

Vic was thoroughly pissed now. What the hell was this bitch's problem? "Look, Mrs.--" and he leaned down to read her name plate, "--excuse me, MISS Churlimann, but perhaps I haven't made myself clear in stressing the urgency of--" At that, there was the sound of people approaching from beyond the reception area.

Vic stepped back to see none other than Chancellor Hardcourt and two other men in suits approaching. Vic stepped forward to intercept them.

"Don't you dare bother him, young man! He's in conference!", Miss Churlimann brayed.

Ignoring the secretarial harpy, Vic leapt forward to block the chancellor's path. "Mr. Hardcourt, I really need to speak with you, sir. It's extremely important."

The chancellor, a tall dignified man with dark gray hair, looked at Vic. The two men on either side of him, both younger and shorter, also looked at Vic. Stared, actually. The chancellor looked Vic up and down and then looked over to Miss Churlimann. "Henrietta, what's the meaning of this?"

"I tried to stop him, sir. If you'd come out of your office only two minutes later..."

"What is everybody's freakin' problem?!", Vic blurted. "Can't a damn student even speak to the guy whose supposed to be here to help the damned students??"

Mr. Hardcourt looked hard at Vic. The room had gone silent. In a very even voice, the chancellor said, "Okay, son. You have one minute to state your case. Although you should know that I'm within my rights to have you thrown out of here on the grounds of dress code violation alone."

Dress code? Vic didn't understand, but feared he would. He looked down at himself. He was barefoot. And he was wearing very old, faded bib overalls, pant legs rolled up to mid calf in wide cuffs. Oh, shit.

"I realize we don't require any kind of uniforms or the like at this university", Hardcourt observed, "but some amount of decorum is called for, even in casual dress."

Vic whirled to catch his reflection in the glass of the office partitions. Sure enough, he was dressed only in the overalls. Not only barefoot, but shirtless. With a big straw hat on his head. He looked back at the chancellor in abject horror. "Sir, I can explain this."

"Really? Because I'd love to hear this."

When had Vic put on the farmboy outfit? How long had he had it on? Trying to maintain some composure, he said, "Sir, this is not how I got dressed this morning. I swear it!"

Mr. Hardcourt frowned. "Really. So...what, you accidentally tripped on the way over here and fell into a Tom Sawyer costume? Is that it?"

Vic had no idea where to go from here. "We have to forget my costume for now, sir. Just trust me on this, please! I'm here to warn you about someone I've been working with on a senior thesis project. He's gotten out of hand, he--"

Hardcourt held up a hand. "What is this project?"

Suddenly, Vic felt his mind go into overload. A rush of images filled his thoughts. All of the adorable young freshman, dressed like innocent farm boys, down on their haunches, fists in armpits, elbows flapping, bucking and clucking. The words spilled from his mouth unbidden. "He's turning people into chickens!!" At that, Vic lost all control of his motor functions and dropped to a squat and became a chicken himself.

"BuhKAWKK! Buck-buck-buck-BaKAAAWWWKK!!"

"That's it", the chancellor growled. "Get this idiot out of here."

Inside, Victor was screaming at the top of his lungs, trying desperately to tell everyone in earshot that this was not his doing, that he'd been hypnotized, that none of this was what he wanted to say or do. But on the outside, Vic just kept on acting like a big chicken, unable to stand upright, unable to stop bobbing his head and clucking insanely. Two security men were on hand in an instant, having been summoned moments earlier by Miss Churlimann. The burly guards easily picked up Vic by his flapping elbows and carried him out of the building and tossed him onto the lawn.

"The hell with all the metal detectors", one guard said. "They ought'a install an early warning system to ward off dumbass fraternity initiation pranks."

"You got that right", said the other, closing the doors behind them.

Vic tried to get up off the lawn, but found he couldn't. At least he couldn't get any farther up than his haunches. Frustrated and humiliated, Vic tried with all his might to stand up on his feet, to pull his knuckles from his armpits. To shut his goddamn mouth. But it was no use. He just kept right on squatting, flapping his elbows, scratching his bare feet along the grass, squawking his heart out.

Herbie stood leaning against the side of the building. He had his arms crossed, a look of smug satisfaction on his face. "Oh, Vic, Vic, Vic. Did you really think I'd leave you in any kind of position to upset my project once I got it going? Silly boy." Vic wanted to run up to Herbie and strangle him, but all he could do was trudge over to him while still on his haunches, clucking furiously.

"You see, Victor, you've got it all wrong. I'm not out of control. I'm in control. Total control. Of my experiment. Of my boys. And oh yes indeed--of you, too." Herbie took his handheld heat beacon out of his pocket. "And I think you need to be reminded of just who's in charge here, Vickie old boy. Herbie tossed the handheld device playfully in the air, sending it spinning before catching it again.

"See you on the other side, chicken boy", Herbie said. And then Vic saw a flash of crimson light bursting from Herbie's palm. And he felt a tremendously soothing wave of heat flood over his mind.

And then nothing.

Vic suddenly found he was able to stand upright again. In fact, he already was. It was time for a serious confrontation with Herbie. If need be, he would kick the kid's ass. He would smash his stupid brain-roasting machine and would then kick his ass. He would smash the fucking thing over Herbie's head if he had to. Vic stood with resolve to set things right, but his stalwart attitude was derailed when he noticed how dark the world around him was.

It had been mid-afternoon, outdoors, and all was bright and clear. Now his surroundings were dark and dreary and the air smelled of stale smoke. The background noise of the campus had been replaced by the dull thud of taped music. An angry female voice snarled out "I hate myself for lovin' you". Vic looked up and was met by a row of smiling faces.

Perhaps "smiling" was too charitable a description. More than half a dozen bodybuilders and biker boys leaned against a bar and eyed Vic hungrily. They were clad in all the recognized clichés of leather vests, chest harnesses, buckled armbands, loose-fitting chains and leather biker caps. Arms with bulging biceps ended with gloved, calloused hands that fingers shot glasses raised past hairy chests to unshaven lips to be gulped down in a heartbeat and followed by a low rumbling belch.

One of the men, with a thick black caterpillar moustache crawling across his upper lip and dangling down either side of his jaw down to his chin, extended his hand toward Vic and curled his index finger inward. With a harsh crackling voice, he growled, "C'mere, boy."

Vic tried to take a step backwards in escape, but his feet seemed rooted to the spot. No, not rooted, weighted. Vic looked down at his feet scuffling lamely across the floor to see he was wearing a brightly-polished pair of heavy steel-toed work boots. They seemed to weigh almost as much as he did. He wasn't going anywhere.

Spotting the shoes led to the pants, which made Vic inhale sharply. He was wearing extremely tight-fitting black leather pants that left nothing to the imagination. As his hands touched the pants to verify their existence, he saw that both his wrists were strapped tightly with black leather manacles bearing thick D-rings and held in place with tiny padlocks. It was then Vic saw his shirt.

To top off his ensemble, Vic was wearing a skintight white wife beater tee, and even upside down, Vic could make out the words silk-screened across it in bold, block letters. "COCK HUNGRY". He gasped, suddenly having trouble breathing.

"Don't make me say it again, boy", the man at the bar snarled. He curled his finger inward again and then pointed to an empty stool at the bar that one of his compatriots had just vacated. "Come. Here."

Vic turned to run, but only ran into the massive, tattooed chest of one of three bouncers that barred his way. Each of them also wore leather pants and wrist manacles but it was obvious that they were prey for no one. The lantern-jawed giant with the Marine regulation haircut put a powerful, meaty hand on Vic's shoulder and said under his breath, "There is a serious penalty in this establishment for false advertising, son." He tapped Vic's shirt logo for emphasis.

"And teasing", said a bald monster behind the bar.

The bouncer turned Vic around and with one quick shove sent him over to the bar, weighted shoes be damned. Vic grasped the bar's edge as he slammed into it, and as he gasped for breath, he saw his reflection in the mirror behind the bar. His blond hair, usually unruly anyway, had been furiously moussed and spiked extensively, the tips of his hair stained pink with a brightness that came only from temporary dye. Vic's face fell. "Oh, perfect."

The mustached gorilla held Vic by the neck and said low, "Glad you think so, boy." His smile showed nicotine-stained teeth and terrible portent.

Vic trembled under his grip and said quickly, "Please, there's been a terrible mistake."

The man slammed Vic's head against the bar. The impact wasn't that hard, but it was executed so cavalierly that is was obvious that it could've been. "SIR!", he shouted. "A boy addresses his betters as Sir!"

Vic's eyes began to water. Squinting them tight, he squealed, "SIR! SIR! Please, Sir, I'm not supposed to be here. This-this isn't really me. I'm not like this! I don't want to be here, SIR!!"

The man gripped Vic by the shoulders and said to one of his companions, "Boy finally gets the guts to recognize who he really is, then when he gets here he chickens out."

The man two stools over clicked his tongue. "Typical."

The man yanked Vic up off the bar and one of the other men (Vic couldn't tell which one) clasped a thick leather dog collar around his neck and locked it in place with a padlock that slapped heavily against the back of Vic's neck. "Don't worry, boy", the man said, although he pronounced it "buh-HOY". "You showed you had the balls to come in here (heAH), I ain't gonna let you back out now and run on home to your boring little white picket life (laIFF)."

With a harsh clink, the man fastened a stout leash to the front of Vic's collar. He then shoved Vic back down onto the bar and said, "You ought'a thank me, boy! THANK me, son!!"

With his voice at least two octaves higher than he remembered it, Vic cried out, "Yes, Sir! Thank-you, Sir! Thank-you SO much!" The man gave the leash a quick tug. "SIR!!", Vic added quickly. He was nothing if not a fast study. The other men whooped and hollered as the man yanked Vic away from the bar by his leash. Just as Vic was jerked away, he saw written upon all the rumpled napkins and matchbooks strewn across the bar the name of this fine establishment. In a frenetic font was scrawled the legend "Rough Trade". With his heart in his throat, Vic knew he was about to find out exactly what that name meant.

Vic stood in the doorway of the classroom, bracing himself against the frame to keep upright. There were bags under his eyes, his normally bushy hair was matted down by something with the consistency of syrup, his shirt was torn, he wore no shoes, and a thick chain hung round his neck, held in place by a small but formidable-looking Master padlock. Herbie turned to look at him.

"Well, you look like shit. Had an exhaustive night out, did we?"

Fire burned in Vic's eyes and he said through clenched teeth, "You little fuck. You have no idea what I've been through tonight. We are finished. And so help me God, if you try any of your hypno shit on me again I will wring your little ba-Cawk!" Vic's face switched from outraged to horrified. Herbie just stared at him, his mouth a half-smile.

Vic tried to compose himself. Pointing a condemning finger at his friend, he cleared his throat and said in a low hiss, "I am warning you, Herbie. I will bbbUuckk-buck-buck! Ba-KAAWKK!" Vic slapped a palm over his mouth, but it was too late. He continued to buck and cluck like a chicken from beneath his hand. "brrk-brkk-brk-baKarrk--!"

Slowly, Herbie walked over to his former friend and confidant and lifted one finger towards him. Vic shook his head in protest of what was coming, but Herbie continued. He pointed first at Vic, then at the floor, indicating that Vic should shrink down. Without hesitation, Vic squatted down onto his haunches, his hand pulling easily away from his mouth as both hands formed loose fists that slipped into his armpits.

Vic continued to shake his head. Quietly, he whispered, "No, no, no, no...Herbie, you can't. You can't do this to me, please, man. We're friends, we're supposed to be frien--"

Herbie placed a finger over Vic's lips and locked eyes with him. A curt nod was all that was needed, and when Herbie took his finger from Vic's mouth, Vic was softly clucking away, unable to stop himself, unable to pause, utterly humiliated. "...buckbuckbuckbuckbuckBakAWk... buckbuckbuckbuckbuckBakAWk..."

Herbie crossed his arms and looked down at his handsome friend the chicken. "Did you really think I'd let you stop this project once I got it running, Vic? Did you really think I was that fucking stupid?"

Vic continued his clucking, but his eyes grew wider with fear. "Look, I knew you weren't going to see this through with me, not all the way. So early on I took the liberty of enhancing your programming a little. I figure, why waste the opportunity to work with such an obviously susceptible subject, right? You go under easier than any of the freshmen we're using combined, Vic!"

Vic kept on clucking, hanging on Herbie's every word.

"But I saw how you looked when I started turning all those yummy but misguided hetero kids gay. And you proved my suspicions correct with your little lecture. So I made sure that any time you attempted to say anything against me, your voice would revert to a chicken's. And hey, that's not all I can revert on you, Vickie." Herbie leaned in close to Vic, pressed a finger to his lips to stop his clucking, and said, "Hey. Buddy. You remember your first wet dream, don't you? Stain those sheets, did'ja?"

On hearing the phrase, "stain those sheets" spoken by Herbie, Vic shot a mammoth wad of semen into his pants. He shot upward convulsively onto his tattered shirt and spurted over the top of his tight leather pants. Vic's forced clucking continued, but now with high shrieking tones prompted by his intense orgasm. Both boys watched intently as Vic's shirt and the front of his pants grew moist and sticky. Vic's eyes were wide with horror, Herbie's with satisfied malice.

"Now here's the deal", Herbie said, beginning to pace. "I still need you, Vic. I need a partner to cover the workload and I'm too far along to train somebody else. Not that I'd ever find anyone as easily controlled as you are, anyway. So I'm giving you a choice." His eyes still on Vic, Herbie snapped his fingers and pointed toward the ceiling. Vic's clucking ceased, and Vic found he could rise up out of his hunkered squat. Gingerly, Vic rose to his full height. He still had his knuckles stuck in his armpits, though.

Herbie walked over to Vic, and gently lowered Vic's arms to his sides as he explained. "You can continue working with me, and avoid any more unpleasant nights spent being the bottom boy to gay leather masters and skinheads--provided, of course, you allow me to implant one more posthypnotic suggestion to keep you in check."

Vic shook his head vigorously, his lips sealed tight, preventing him from communicating any other way.

Herbie's mouth split into a smile without warmth. "Don't have a breakdown, Victor. It won't be another time-bomb sabotage. In fact, I want you to be aware of everything I tell you to cement it in your brain." Vic stared back at Herbie intently, unable to do anything else. His arms remained at his sides as stiff as a tin soldier's. It was infuriating. Though slim, Vic was ripped like a bad report card and could easily take Herbie apart, if he could only move.

"All you have to do", Herbie said, "is willingly submit to my control. Just say two words. 'I submit'." Vic's mouth formed a tight thin line and his brow wrinkled. "It's either that", Herbie said quickly, seeing his resistance, "or you get used to spending most of your time as a chicken." Vic's eyes went wide again. "Think about it, what would it be like if I implanted commands so that at random intervals you'd go poultry without warning? In the middle of class, on a date, at a job interview, marching down the center of campus during lunch hour..."

Vic began inhaling sharply through his nose, as if he were going to hyperventilate. Herbie got right in Vic's face, using his hands as visual aids, waving first one, then the other. "Just choose, Vic. You submit. Or you become a chicken. Pick one." Vic felt something wet against his bare foot, and realized the thick semen on his leather pants had dribbled down his leg, reinforcing his understanding that he was by no means the one in control.

Vic swallowed hard, then said flatly, "I submit."

"Good choice", Herbie said, placing one finger firmly against Vic's forehead. "Go silent, go deep."

Vic felt all the tension leave his body. He felt as if he were falling backwards, yet somehow falling within himself rather than to the ground. The aches and pains of his previous night's misadventures faded away and his mind seemed to drift on an anesthetic cloud. Relaxation rippled gently through his body, down his chest and torso, into his legs, across his shoulders and arms. From a great distance, he heard Herbie's voice.

"Vic, can you hear me?"

Vic nodded.

"Open your eyes."

Vic opened his eyes to see Herbie staring at him, looking even more confidant than before. "I want you to be aware of everything I say to you, Vic. You will accept it completely, believe it utterly, and remember it for the rest of your days. Do you understand?"

Vic nodded.

"Vic, from this moment forth you will never speak ill of me, and will work only to further advance the project. Do you understand?"

Sluggishly, Vic nodded.

"Repeat your new command."

Partly a whisper, partly slurred, Vic repeated back, "I will never speak ill of you and will work only to further advance the project."

Herbie took Vic's head in his hands, and firmly pressed his thumbs into his brow, and said, "Indelible seal. This command must never be broken--"

Vic finished, "--can never be disobeyed."

Herbie let go of Vic and said, "Sleep." Vic did, slumbering soundly standing up, until Herbie said, "One, two, three", and snapped his fingers. Vic's eyes fluttered open, and his freedom of movement was returned to him. But he felt altered somehow, he remembered the command and knew without a doubt that it was very real and imbedded within his subconscious beyond removal. He looked at Herbie with both contempt and fear.

"Got something to say to me?"

Vic swallowed, then looked at the floor. "I can't, sir."

Herbie smirked. "I know. Now you better get home and get cleaned up. You're a mess." Vic turned to shuffle out, defeated. He got no more than a few steps into the hallway when Herbie called after him, "Oh, and be here tomorrow morning at 8:30. I want an early start for the next phase of the project. And wear your white sleeveless tee, you look so cute in it."

Vic felt a swell of fury within him, which was extinguished as soon as it began. Almost under his breath, he said as he departed, "Yes, sir."


The lecture being held at the university's main academic hall sounded intriguing enough, and any freshman students would garner extra credit for attending. The guest speaker was renowned with a reputation for making even the driest subjects interesting, so that was a bonus, right there.

Something else that was already interesting was the arrival of some of the students in the foyer outside the auditorium. It's been said that there's no such thing as coincidence, but if that's the case it would be difficult to explain all six of Herbie's newly-gay chickens arriving for the lecture at exactly (or nearly) the same time. And all of them wearing their bib overalls.

Jamie and Acker came in first, walking very close together. Jamie had on a white polo shirt under his bibs and wore white deck shoes with no socks. Acker was a bit bolder in that he wore no shirt under his overalls, only a red bandana tied around his neck. The bandana matched his red canvas hi-tops. Jamie nudged his boyfriend as they entered the foyer. "Hey, look who's here."

Coming across the foyer from the opposite side entrance was Carson and Rickie. Carson wore a wife beater beneath his bibs, Rickie had on a striped shirt. Carson wore his pant legs rolled up above the ankle and had sandals on his feet. Rickie wore running shoes. "What kind of a coincidence is this!", Carson said, shaking Jamie's hand. "Guess you guys are gunning for the extra credit for lecture attendance, too." The boys nodded. Then Rickie snapped his fingers rapidly to gain their attention.

"Looks like we're not the only ones."

In walked Coffee and Bryce from the rear entrance, also both in their overalls, but with nearly identical red and blue plaid shirts and tan work boots. They entered holding hands, laughing together, oblivious of the other four boys already there.

"Yo! Bry! Coffee!", Carson hollered. The duo looked over and saw them all standing there. With bright smiles and a wave from Coffee, they came over to complete the group.

"How wild is this, huh?", Bry observed. "All of us guys being here at the same time for the same lecture."

Acker was eyeing the group of them suspiciously. "Um, that's not the only coincidence, either, in case you haven't noticed."

Bry looked at him askance. "What else?"

"Am I the only one who noticed that we're all wearing overalls?", Acker said, a little exasperated.

The group looked at one another, the light beginning to dawn. "Not only that", Carson added, "but we're wearing the overalls. We're all in the overalls that Herbie gave us as part of that hypnosis experiment thing. And now we're all wearing them on our own."

"If it is on our own", Jamie said cryptically. "Anyone starting to wonder if maybe we'd been influenced to do this? Dress ourselves up like country chickens?"

"You mean country boys", Acker corrected him quickly.

"Right, right", Jamie conceded, shaking his head. "That's what I meant. Boys. Not chickens."

The creepy factor had just gone up about ten notches for all of them. Rickie attempted to break the tension. "Hey, at least we're not all wearing straw hats too, right?"

Coffee and Bry removed their back packs in one swift movement and unzipped them to reveal their hats readily on hand. Carson jerked a thumb back toward the rear parking lot. "Ours are in the car."

Jamie sighed. "I almost walked out of the house wearing mine. Acker had to yank it off my head."

Acker slipped his arm around Jamie's shoulder's. "If not for the fact that I prefer to wear the hat and nothing else, I might not have thought to take my own hat off, much less Jami--"

Rickie interrupted, partly because he'd already gotten too much information on Acker's home life. "Hang on a minute. Nobody here is wearing socks, are they?" He looked at the rest of the boys. Slowly, all of them shook their heads. Carson looked down at his bare toes, visible through his open sandals. "We're all ready to kick off our shoes and go barefoot any minute, aren't we?", Rickie asked, unnecessarily. It was becoming obvious to all of them that something was not right.

Jamie spoke softly, but his words carried considerable volume. "What's being done to us?" Again, they all exchanged looks. Bry squeezed Coffee's hand tighter. "What is it that we've agreed to in being part of this experiment?"

A small group of kids passed the six boys as they made their way into the main auditorium. The girls in the group stared and giggled. One of the passing boys smirked, and drawled out a verse from the old song Thank God I'm A Country Boy, adding a cartoonish twang to his voice. "Lafe on the farm is kinda laid ba-aack--!"

"We need to get to the bottom of this", Jamie said. "But I'm not so sure we can do it here." Another cluster of students passed by, staring and making snide comments.

"Agreed", Carson said.

Rickie jerked his head toward a back hallway that led to a backstage tech area. "Guys. Back this way." Once in the hallway, the six country boys were more or less obscured from the view of passersby. "This should provide us with a modicum of privacy, at least for a little while."

"So what's happening to us?", Acker asked no one in particular. "We're all wearing our hypnosis session costumes, apparently not caring who sees them, for the most part. We're going barefoot--"

"Or more", Jamie added.

"--or more", Acker agreed. "What else is happening to us? Are any of you doing something that you never did, or maybe wouldn't have done, prior to the sessions with Herbie?"

The boys all looked at one another nervously. They knew what the biggest change in them had been, and it certainly was not wearing hillbilly costumes. But no one present was ready to admit what that change was. Carson cleared his throat.

"Well...there has been one thing that's, um...maybe a little unusual", he started.

"Oh, I don't know if it's all that important", Rickie said quickly.

"No, what is it?", Jamie asked, eager to hear someone say it, if only so that neither he or Acker would have to say it first.

"Whatever changes are happening to us", Coffee said, "isn't this the perfect place to find out? At this lecture? We don't have to all sit together, so we won't look like the farmboy brigade or anything. But we could find the answers we need right here. We can compare notes and discuss particulars later, can't we?"

"Good call, Coff", Bryce said, beaming. He lifted up Coffee's hand and kissed it. They had been holding hands since they first entered the auditorium, and had yet to let go. Jamie just realized that he hadn't even noticed.

"Hey, wait a minute", Jamie said. "Are you guys, like--together now?"

"Oh, yeah", Coffee smiled. "This beautiful bumpkin is my boyfriend now. Aren't you, honey?"

Bry leaned down and kissed Coffee on the lips. "You betcha, farm boy."

"Dudes! That is so cool!", Carson gushed. "Congratulations!"

"Guys, that really is awesome news", Jamie said. And then he put his arm around Acker's shoulders. Acker fit his arm around Jamie's waist and drew him close. Acker rested his head against Jamie's, taking in the scent of his hair.

"Ohh, man, Jamie, what is that in your hair? Smells fantaaaasstic."

Jamie smiled, squirming a little under Acker's attention. "Just strawberry shampoo. hey, stop it."

"Can't. You smell too good, Jamie. You're delicious." Acker began to rub his nose against Jamie's temple, kissing him intermittently.

Carson let out a low breath. He noticed that he was sweating a little. "Guys, is it hot in here?"

Rickie placed a palm against Carson's chest, running his fingers across the bare skin of his pecs exposed by the wife beater. "You're always hot, chicken boy. Really, you are so...fucking...hot--!" Rickie leaned in and kissed Carson's chest.

"Oh, oh, oh. Rickie. Don't do that, man. You know I'm fucking helpless when you do the chest-kissing thing. Ohhhhh, yeahhh--!" Carson threw his head back and took in a deep breath, riding the sensation of his boyfriend's attention.

Coffee and Bry had gone from holding hands to being in one another's arms. "Looks like we're not the only happy couple here", Coffee said.

"Looks like", Bry agreed. Then the two were all over each another, hands running along the edge of their bib straps, chests pressed bib to bib, lips locked with tongues probing each other's mouth.

"Let's get out of here", Jamie said, his hand reaching up to stroke Acker's face.

"Not enough room in my dorm room", Coffee gasped in between kisses.

"Or at the frat", Carson said, his hands running through Rickie's hair as his boyfriend kissed his chest, neck, and face.

"I have an apartment", Jamie offered.

"Let's go", Acker said.

The sextet--now with stress on the sex--made their way off, arm-in-arm, to Jamie's apartment. All thoughts of investigating their strange transformation forgotten in the heat of, well, being in heat. At the end of the hallway, Herbie stood holding his handheld heat projecting device, which was now drained. He let out a slow breath. "That was close."

He pocketed his handheld device, burning his hands on it only once while slipping into its hot pad envelope. Herbie made a note to rework the handheld's casing to make it easier to hang on to after use. A bit overheated or no, it did it's job. As did Herbie, who'd uttered no less than six "chick-chick-chick"s this time around to ensure his boys would be sufficiently distracted. Inwardly he smiled, and made his way back out of the side hallway and toward the main foyer. There a girl with outlandishly long brown hair was seated on the rug in front of the soda machine, touching up her lipstick.

"You find your friends?", she asked as Herbie passed.

"Hm? Oh, yeah. Yes, I did. Thanks."

"Soon as you asked if I'd seen any fellas all wearing bib overalls, I knew just who you meant. Kinda hard to miss all together like that, aren't they?"

Herbie nodded. "Yeah, I guess they are. Not sure how they got by me."

"So what's up with the farmer pants thing they got goin' on?"

"That? Oh, I think they belong to some sort of club."

The girl had already lost interest, watching herself puckering and unpuckering her lips in her compact mirror. "That's cool. Say, you know how long this lecture thing is supposed to last? I'm waiting for my friend who's supposed to go to it for class. But she just kinda steps in, hangs around long enough for attendance and to get the gist of what's going on, then skips out."

Herbie nodded, tuning her ramblings out. He opened the door to the auditorium just slightly, enough to peer inside. The gust speaker was already in full swing, having only just gotten started. He already had slides up and there were at least two easels with charts and graphs visible from where Herbie was standing.

"And this is a prime example", the speaker said in a strong, stentorian voice, "of ethical practices of a hypnotherapist, or rather, complete lack thereof. It was 1955, and the young heiress had been seeing the therapist for only a few sessions before he suggested she try hypnosis. Not two months later, the young lady was insisting she was in love with him and prepared to elope." He clicked his remote to project a new slide with photos of the parties involved.

"Luckily, her family intervened and it was discovered that the therapist had already had the impressionable heiress sign over all of her monetary assets to him in the event of here death. He had already booked a honeymoon in a tropical locale, and later confessed to disposing of the young lady in a cliff diving accident or through some other exotic means to abscond with her money." There were a variety of gasps from around the room as the next slide showed a newspaper clipping of the nefarious hypnotherapist being carted off.

"While this is a rather extreme example, it sets the stage beautifully for our talk this afternoon about the potential abuses of hypnotherapy since it's introduction many years ago. Whether your major field of study lies in Psychology, Criminal Law, or Ethics, I've no doubt you'll find this information most informative--"

Herbie closed the door and stepped away from the auditorium. Yes, it was most definitely a close call. He had no wish for his freshman chickens to sit in on that lecture.

"Well? They gonna take long?", the lipstick girl asked, still sitting on the floor, cross-legged. Now she was brushing her hair.

"Looks like it'll be a while", Herbie informed her.

"Damn! And we were gonna go to the mall! I need new shoes." Then she looked at Herbie as he made his way toward the exit. "So what are they talking about in there anyway?"

"Oh, nothing all that interesting. Nothing you'd want to know about--unless you happen to be in that field of study, anyway." With that, Herbie slipped out before the slightly vapid coed could think to ask what field of study that was.

Herbie and Vic sat together in the classroom where their adventure had started. Sitting together being a relative description, since Herbie sat confidently back in a desk and Vic leaned forward, his shoulders slumped with his arms resting on his thighs.

Herbie was reviewing his videotaped hypnosis sessions on the class's VCR. He twirled the remote control blithely in one hand as he watched the former six straight freshmen, now three gay couples, put into a deep trance then reduced from respectful college students into clucking poultry. He continually rewound the tape to admire his handiwork again. He was on his sixth viewing. Atop the desk beside him was a variety of black and white 8x10 photos featuring the six young chickens. The stills captured poses ranging from innocuous to humiliating to erotic. The stack was well-thumbed.

Vic was dressed as he had been told to dress by his new master, Herbie. Vic was clad only in faded drop-seat denim bib overalls. He was barefoot and shirtless, the only other item of clothing on him was a bird's nest straw hat atop his head. He looked like a hillbilly bumpkin. Admittedly, the outfit showed off his wonderfully taut physique, his defined arms and toned chest. But his eyes looked dead and defeated.

Vic sighed as Herbie watched the video again and again. Reaching up and removing his straw hat. Vic reached over to set it in the seat of the desk to his left, atop the back pack which held his shirt and shoes which he would put back on after parting company with Herbie. With Herbie's permission, of course.

Herbie glanced over at Vic just as he was about to let go of his straw hat as he set it down. Herbie cleared his throat loudly. Vic looked over at him, a bit startled, and saw Herbie incline his head forward a bit, his eyes focused intently on the straw hat. Vic realized he had made a big no-no. He wasn't told he could remove his straw hat.

Quickly, Vic put the hat back on his head, lowering his head a bit in supplication. "I'm sorry, sir."

Herbie grinned. "You're forgiven." Then, readjusting himself in his seat, he added, "This time."

The two sat in silence for a bit longer, then Vic got up the nerve to ask what he'd been meaning to ask for days. He looked up, pushing his hat back on his head. "Um, Herb, I've been meaning to ask you--"

Herbie shot him a venomous stare. "How's that??"

Vic flinched a little. Rapidly, he rephrased. "My apologies. Master Herbie, sir, I was wondering if it would be okay to ask you a question. Sir. If it's alright with you."

Herbie smiled, satisfied with the reworded groveling. "Why of course you can ask me a question, Vic buddy. Anything I can do to help one of my boys."

Vic swallowed, biting his tongue to hold back the remarks he so badly wanted to say. Instead, he said, "Thank-you, sir. I was just wondering, if maybe you could tell me...why are you doing this?"

"Because seeing the tapes of these boys going chicken turns me on."

"Not the tapes. I mean, all of it. Why turn innocent freshmen boys into...well, you know."



Herbie sat in silence for a moment, his smile gone. Then he pointed the remote at the VCR and jabbed the pause button. He tossed the remote atop his stack of photos and turned to face Vic. "Okay, you wanna know why? You really wanna know?" Vic, still trying to be cautious, nodded slowly.

Herbie sat staring at him for another moment. Then, "How long have you known you were gay, Vic?"

Vic was suddenly more flustered than he'd been even when he awoke from a trance state in a leather biker bar. "What? I never said I was--how did you--wh-what makes you think I'm gay?"

Herbie just stared at him hard. "You know, hillbilly, I can take your voice away for a helluva lot longer than a few minutes. I wonder how your grandkids would feel about a grandpa who bucks and clucks?"

Vic blanched, and looked down at his bare feet, curling and uncurling his toes. Herbie leaned over and rested his elbows on Vic's desktop. Softly, he said, "I've known you were gay since we first met our freshmen year. It's one of the things that attracted me to you. That, and the fact that you're so damn cute. I know it and you know it."

Still looking at his feet, feeling terribly vulnerable, Vic mumbled back, "I--honestly, I haven't thought much about it. I've been, y'know, so caught up in my studies and working toward my degree and all that I haven't really taken the time to explore my true feel--"

Herbie poked Vic's neck with his index finger and Vic let out a loud, harsh squawk. "B-KAWWK!! Buk-buk-buk-BUH-KaawwkK!" Vic jerked away, then looked with horror at Herbie, who still held up his index finger, only now he waggled it back and forth in a sign of playful admonishment. Ah-ah-ahhh.

Vic let out a deep breath, and looked his master in the eye. He whispered, "I've known for sure I was gay since the seventh grade." He swallowed again, hard, staring at Herbie.

Herbie sat back in his chair. He continued as if nothing had just happened, as if Vic had simply answered the question honestly from the beginning. "I knew there was something different about me since I was in the first grade at only five years old. It wasn't until the sixth grade that I started to figure out what it was."

Herbie turned back toward the screen, looking at the video picture held motionless before him. Speaking as if to no one, Herbie continued. "I grew up watching all the normal kids. All the straight kids with their straight lives, doing whatever they wanted, having whomever they wanted. Never having to constantly keep their guard up, or keep their feelings a secret."

Herbie chewed his lower lip. "And all those beautiful, handsome boys were all around me. I could look but never touch. The football players, the drama club actors, the debaters, the brainiacs, all of them having at least a handful of gorgeous guys in their midst, none of whom I could ever approach." Herbie turned back to look at Vic, who sat as still as the paused video frame. "I finally met a gay guy when I was in my junior year of high school. It was at the student film festival. I was an usher. He was in his last year of college, his little brother had a film in the competition. And this college guy picked up on who I was--on what I was--right away. And you know what he said that made me?" Vic shook his head slowly, eyes wide in anticipation. "Chicken. That was what they called young inexperienced gay kids, he told me. Chicken. I was a fucking chicken."

Herbie turned back to the screen, which had lost it's frozen image and reverted to a flat blue screen. The reflected color gave Herbie's features a ghostly quality, as he addressed the empty room. "And even though I'd never heard the term before, I knew this guy was right. I was a chicken. Afraid of who I was, of what I felt, of anyone finding out about it." Herbie let an angry breath out of his nostrils, seething.

"And I looked at all those beautiful boys. And I ached for them. And I wanted to take them and change them to be more like me. To make them a bunch of chickens. In every sense of the word. Now tell me you've never felt that way. Tell me you didn't ever want to put the unattainable within reach, through whatever means."

"Yeah, but I would never--"

Herbie shot Vic another angry look.

Vic felt a hefty weight on his chest as his heart grew heavy and he slumped in his chair. He knew it was true. More than once he'd longed for a straight boy and hid his feelings away out of fear and cowardice. Lowering his chin, Vic looked up at Herbie. Feeling more exposed than he ever had before, he answered his master.

"Yes, sir. I'm a chicken, too."

"I know you are, Vic. And thanks to me you'll stay that way. Now be quiet while I watch my vid."

And Herbie jabbed the remote at the blue screen, bringing back the moving images of humiliated hypnotized freshmen boys. Vic spent the remainder of their time together sitting in silence, staring down at his overalls, his bare arms, his bare feet, feeling the comical hat resting on his head. As humiliated as he was, he had the unshakable feeling that for the first time in his life he was being true to himself.


The following day, Vic returned to the classroom dressed in what appeared to be his normal clothes, but with a back pack slung over his shoulder.

The instant he crossed the threshold, Vic dropped his back pack and yanked off his sleeveless gray sweatshirt to reveal the bib and buckles of his overalls. He kicked off his shoes and went barefoot. He then unzipped his back pack, pulled out his straw hat and put it on.

Vic despised his costume and the implanted suggestion that compelled him to keep it on, particularly whenever he knew he'd be in the presence of Herbie. He was at least somewhat grateful there had been no command to wear the bumpkin outfit 24/7, even when out in public. The worst of it for Vic was that as soon as he was shirtless, barefoot, and in his overalls and straw hat, he felt a sense of completion. As if this were how he was meant to be. He did his best to shrug off the feeling and walked the rest of the way into the classroom. He only made it three feet inside.

Vic stared at the classroom, or rather what it had now become. Herbie had transformed the room into a veritable barnyard, using scene flats (probably pilfered from the theater department's scene shop), hay bails, chicken wire, and sawdust. All around the room, the six hypnotized boys strutted about on their haunches, barefoot, shirtless, and bumpkinized, bucking and clucking like chickens. And looking as happy as Vic had ever seen them.

Herbie was busy manning his equipment, and this time that did not mean his opaque hypnotic projector. He had three video cameras set up around the room, capturing the entire scene from different angles. Not a moment of these boys' humiliation would go unchronicled. Herbie was currently busy behind the center camera, with which he was focusing on tight close-ups of each of his chickens in turn.

Vic was tempted to turn and run, both because he really didn't want to be subjected to the ongoing degradation of these six boys of whom he was growing increasingly fond--and because the more his fellow hypnotized chickens continued their avian behavior, the more of affinity he felt for them, and the more he felt a growing compulsion to squat down with hands in armpits and join them. Vic began to back up, attempting to slip back out of the classroom (Herbie's wrath over his absence be damned), when Vic felt his enormous erection tenting the front of his soft overalls.

Vic looked down and saw his arousal before he truly felt it. But that was not long in coming. Something came over Vic at that moment, making his head feel light. He could swear that he could feel his heart beating so strongly inside his chest that it pushed out against his denim bib. Vic looked at Jamie, his blond hair protruding from beneath the brim of straw hat, his eyes shining with so much innocence and good intentions. Jamie had a better build than his usual baggy clothes let on, which his bare, flapping arms revealed quite nicely. Vic saw Acker, whose strong chest stretched out his overalls bib and begged to be touched. Acker's smile was so bright and full, even as he clucked like an idiot, that it almost lit up the room. Vic gazed at Carson, who was easily the tallest of the group. His bobbing head and jerking elbows looked ridiculous, but his muscular frame, his powerful legs, and his penetrating eyes made Vic want to jump down onto the floor and kiss him. Beside Carson, the comedic Rickie was completely lost in his role as a human fowl. Vic had never found Rickie all that attractive, but his good humor radiated from him, and his boyish face projected a playfulness that made Vic's penis twitch. Vic's eyes fell upon Coffee and Bry, a couple so perfectly made for each other. Both of them were so adorable, so clean and wholesome. Coffee with his deep brown eyes and Bry with his fresh-scrubbed face made Vic ache to fuck the both of them.

Vic's head reeled. He couldn't believe he was losing his self control over a roomful of college boys acting like chickens. Involuntarily, Vic reached down and began to stroke himself through his overalls. He wore no underwear, as per Herbie's instructions, so he could feel the soft, gentle brush of the cotton overalls against his warm, pulsing member. Vic took in a ragged breath that caught in his throat. His fingers felt a dab of wetness upon his pants as his penis dripped precum. God, he couldn't just let himself whack off right here while watching these poor boys. Worse, in front of Herbie...

Vic felt the only ways he could prevent giving in to this bizarre fetish that was clouding his mind was either to make a run for it (which no longer seemed an option, as his legs were locked in place), or to join his fellow chickens. Trembling slightly, Vic sighed as he let his legs bend at the knees. Slowly, he allowed his knuckles to curve upward toward his armpits. He was on the verge of tears even as he felt his erection throb and press against his loose-fitting farm pants. At least as a brainless chicken, he wouldn't be able to play with himself over this perverted barnyard charade. He wouldn't drop that final degree into personal degradation. Vic realized that he had to surrender and become like the helpless chickens, or get off on their plight and become like Herbie. No choice at all.


Victor's rear had almost come to rest on his heels as he assumed the chicken posture when Herbie's voice snapped him out of it. "Vic, c'mon over here!" Herbie waved Vic over to him, acting less like the dominating master he'd been of late and more like his old friend. The summons jarred Vic out of his state of surrender and he straightened up and walked over to Herbie, making his way around the edge of the room to avoid the strutting of the chicken boys.

"Was wondering when you'd get your ass here", Herbie said.

"I'm sorry if I'm a bit late, sir", Vic began.

Herbie waved the apology away. "Whatever, whatever. Forget it. I just wanted to show you--" he paused, rethinking that remark. "--well, I just wanted to show somebody my latest advancement. Dig it." Herbie held up a small yellow toy chick between two fingers. It was the kind found in novelty shops, particularly around Easter time. The body of the chick was soft faux down, but the underside was a plastic strip with a heat sensitive meter. Resting the chick in your hand, it begins to chirp when your body heat registers on it's meter. Vic looked at it, not sure what to make of it.

"Um, I think those have already been invented, Herb."

Herbie looked at Vic with distaste. "Not just the toy, idiot. Watch what I do with it." Herbie rested the tiny chick in his palm. Within ten seconds, it began to chirp. As the chirp sounded, a change came over the clucking and scratching boys. They all froze in place at the sound, each stopped in mid-motion like a broken film strip. But only for a second. In the next instant, Herbie let go of the toy chick and they reverted to being college boys. But they were college boys with ravenous gay sexual appetites.

Jamie was quickly tackled lovingly by Acker. He rolled Jamie onto a hay bail and unbuttoned his fly, reaching in and aggressively jerking Jamie off, much to the blond boy's delight. Rickie had similar designs on Carson's crotch, only he had pulled Carson's member out and was slowly and attentively sucking it. Carson ran his fingers through Rickie's hair, sliding them back and forth under Rickie's straw hat. Coffee and Bry were wrestling together in the crook of one of the barn flats, groping one another with abandon. They truly looked like two farm boys having a roll in the hay. After a few moments, Coffee unfastened Bry's bib and tossed the straps over his shoulders, giving Bry full access to his dick. Bry then unbuckled Coffee's bib straps and flipped him over onto his stomach, massaging Coffee's ass and preparing to enter him from behind.

Vic watched in fascination and horror as the boys went from adorable chicks to amorous chickens. Herbie glanced at Vic, saw he'd gotten the reaction he wanted, then held his hand out in front of Vic's face. Herbie placed the toy chick back into his palm and the chirping sound filled the room again. It took a moment or two longer to register this time, most likely due to the increased concentration in what they were doing, but the boys heard the chirping trigger and froze again. Acker froze in mid-stroke while yanking on Jamie's cock. Rickie froze with his open mouth only a fraction of inch over Carson's penis, which remained held in its erection. Bry was caught in mid-thrust just as he was about to plow into his boyfriend Coffee from behind. Herbie looked at Vic, who stared at the sight with slack jaw and an expression of disbelief.

Herbie then let go of the peep chick, tossing it blithely to one side, and the six boys were once again transformed into chickens. Without doing anything to adjust themselves, the hypnotized boys returned to their respective haunches and began bucking and clucking as if they'd never been interrupted. But it was blatantly obvious that they had, as Jamie's penis still hung firmly from his open fly, as did Carson's massive erection, and both Coffee and Bry clucked about with their bibs and buckled straps flopping around them as they moved.

Herbie picked up the chick toy by the head and showed it to Vic. "Complete. Control." He sneered, adding, "I've finally got these beautiful little freshmen exactly where I want them. They can be real chickens. Or I can make them gay chickens. Their lives. My decision." Herbie watched as the boys went about their business acting like happy farm birds. "It's beautiful, isn't it? But this has to be just the beginning, man. Six to start is fine, but I've gotta have more. The question is, do we expand our six nuggets to a nine-piece meal? A dozen eggs? Or maybe a fifteen-piece family size bucket?"

Vic could feel himself quiver with the fear of Herbie's growing addiction to controlling others. With a quake in his voice, he said very quietly, "Herbie, please, I really have to ask you, as your best frien--"

Herbie cut him off, waving the toy chick right under Vic's nose. "Want to see if this will work on you? I can make it, you know. With the right trigger." Vic swallowed hard, feeling a tremendous lump in his throat. Herbie's eyes were penetrating and hard. "These guys here", he went on, darting a quick glance in the direction of his makeshift barnyard, "have absolutely no clue what they're doing. Clucking, fucking, it's all the same to them. They're caught in their own little world."

And Herbie's eyes seemed to grow darker. "But you. For you, it might be more fun to have you aware of everything you were made to do. You'd just have no will to stop it. Humiliating yourself as a chicken, sucking off some kid--off you'd go, all consciousness, no control. Sound like fun?"

Vic held his breath and swallowed again. Very slightly, he shook his head. "...no, sir..."

Herbie shrugged, pocketing the toy chick. "Well then, maybe we won't do that. Not today." Herbie watched the clucking boys through his video camera, most still very exposed, which he found even more arousing. Vic stood by in silence, afraid to move or make a sound. Then, Herbie said, "You can go if you'd like, Chicken Victor. I won't be needing you for the rest of this session."

Vic nodded, feeling relieved at being spared the fate his of enthralled fowl brethren, feeling ashamed of himself for feeling that way. He navigated the outskirts of the classroom again, avoiding both the chickenized boys and the view of the cameras. At the door, Vic bent over to pick up his shirt and shoes as he made his exit. Herbie's voice stopped him just as he touched the doorknob.

"What was it you wanted to ask me, anyway?"

The question made Vic grow warm, and it was not due to any kind of hypnosis ray. Herbie knew damn well that Vic was trying to ask his friend to put a stop to his experiment. He merely wanted to rub in the fact that Vic could never say it. Inwardly, Vic fumed, outraged at his own impotence in being able to stop Herbie's rampage. If this continued, no good-looking frosh would be safe from Herbie's gay transformation ray. But Vic knew that he was powerless, save for the compulsion to further Herbie's demented endeavors.

And right there, Vic stopped.

Slowly, he turned to face Herbie, who stood towering over the helpless chickens of his makeshift hypnotized coop. The two former best friends made eye contact. Herbie's eyes flashed with malice, Victor's with a soft compassion and newly discovered understanding. Their gaze lingered long enough for Herbie to wonder what Vic was thinking, when Vic jerked his head toward the doorway.

Before Herbie could wonder if that meant what he thought it did, Vic turned and walked to the door. Once at the door, he put his hand on the knob and looked back at Herbie. With one hand, he jerked four fingers inward, signaling Herbie to join him in the hallway.

Herbie watched his friend and newly-inducted slave leave, his shoes and shirt still in one hand, along with his back pack. He hadn't put his outer clothes back on before going outside. Intrigued, Herbie followed his charge, saying to the six chicken boys, "Carry on, fellas."

In the hallway, Vic stood with his hands in his pockets, his shirt and shoes tossed carelessly onto the floor atop his pack. Herbie looked at him questioningly. "Yeah? Whattaya want?"

"I have a favor to ask."

Herbie frowned, letting the lack of "sir" address slide for the moment. "Like what?"

"I want to be the one to induct some more boys for the experiment. If that's okay, sir."

Herbie paused, uncertain what to make of this. "Why?"

Vic laughed slightly, looking up at the ceiling. "Why? Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? Never speak ill of you, further the experiment? Let's face it, boss, you've got six very well-trained chickens on their way to being flawlessly conditioned as fags."

"I know."

"So, like you just said, are we gonna stop at six?"

Herbie took a step forward. "That's not what I meant. I mean, why would you want to go so far as to suggest that? You were against me mind-controlling these cute freshmen from the start. Do you honestly expect me to believe you've done a 180 all of a sudden?"

"It's not all of a sudden, Herb. It's been a slow progression, and I'm tired of fighting it." Herbie hooked his thumbs in his pockets, shuffled his bare feet on the tile floor. "Like I could lie to you, anyway."

Herbie still wasn't convinced. "Just to be on the safe side." Herbie pressed his thumb to Vic's forehead, and uttered the phrase, "Chicken Vic, speak only the truth to me, at all times, no exceptions."

Vic's head jerked back a bit, his eyelids fluttered and he inhaled sharply. He felt the rush of the reinforced control washing over him, a little more of his own willpower being stripped away. As humiliating as it was, he felt a rush of sheer pleasure come with the domination, and he felt himself get an erection.

Herbie let go of Vic's forehead, and Vic's head nodded forward. Vic reached up and touched the spot of his brow that was still warm from Herbie's touch. He let out a slow breath, and let his hand slip upward from his brow to adjust his straw hat.

"Now let's try it again", Herbie said, crossing his arms. "Why do you want to help me recruit more boys now?"

Vic locked eyes with Herbie, his expression resolute. "Because it's time. Not even so much for them or the experiment, but it's time for me."


Vic took a step back, his arms spread out wide at his sides, taking a slow turn with wide steps. "Look at me, Herbie! Look at what you've reduced me to! I look like a hayseed, I fall to my haunches in supplication to you--someone who, before all this hypnosis business, whose ass I could've kicked without breaking a sweat--and you forced me to live up to the fact that I am a great, big, undeniable fag who has been cowardly hiding out in the closet."

Unconsciously, Herbie uncrossed his arms. He wasn't prepared for this level of honesty, this kind of cutting self-deprecation. "Go on."

"I will. Right now I gotta admit, I am embarrassed as hell to be seen like this. Shoeless, undignified, ridiculed. I mean, you like the hat?" Vic flipped the brim of the wild bird's nest atop his head, making Herbie grin slightly. Vic took a step forward, coming up nearly chest-to-chest with Herbie. "But I swear, I feel more honest, more true to myself, more...God help me...more complete like this", and he pressed his hands to his bibbed chest, "than I have ever felt in my entire life."

Herbie blinked, a bit overwhelmed. Vic turned around, pointing toward the door to the classroom filled with clucking hypnotized freshmen. "You may have taken something away from them. You may have turned them into something they're not. But you gave me something back. You helped me see myself for who I really, truly am."

Vic's hands dangled at his sides, as if he didn't know what to do with them. While he searched for his next words, he traced the straps of his bibs with his thumbs, then reached behind him to put his palms in his back pockets, found only the drop-seat flap, let his arms hang loose at his sides again. He swallowed, regaining his voice.

Looking at Herbie, Vic said, "Maybe I am just a slave right now. Maybe I am a stupid hillbilly or a brainless chicken." Herbie opened his mouth to say something, and Vic moved quickly forward, preventing him. "And maybe that's okay. Maybe that's what I'm meant to be right now, where my head's supposed to be at. I don't know, but it feels right. It really does." And he lowered his chin, as well as his voice. "But you made me realize one very important thing. I'm gay, Herb. I really am and I always have been. And I know damn well that is what I'm supposed to be."

Herbie didn't know what to say. He had not expected any kind of turnaround in his slave at all, much less one as heartfelt and total as this. He began to respond to Vic's outpouring of sincerity, when Herbie's eyes darted down the side hallway, widening at the sight of someone approaching.

Vic turned his head to see where Herbie was looking, and saw two lovely young coeds coming down the corridor, arms loaded down with books. Herbie reached out to take Vic by the arm and deftly slip him back into the classroom, concealing him behind the closed door. Before he could make contact, Vic stepped right out into the middle of the hallway.

"Mornin', ladies! Lovely day for study and all that, huh?"

The girls paused for a minute, not sure what to make of the clearly out-of-place bumpkin in the middle of the ivory halls of higher learning. They exchanged nervous glances, then simply giggled and walked around him.

"Hope you have a great day, darlin's! You're looking quite beautiful, ma'ams!" Vic tossed off a friendly wave, and the girls picked up their pace, muttering playful remarks about Huckleberry Finn.

Herbie was shocked. "Don't you give a shit that they just saw you??"

Vic spun on his heel, back to face his master, all smiles. "Why should I? This is who I am now! This is me! Fuck anybody who can't accept that."

Herbie twisted his mouth to one side, biting his lip. "So this whole endeavor to recruit new boys for my project is all part of some journey of self-discovery? A noble new beginning?"

Vic shoved his hands deep into his pockets. "Wellll...that, and there are some freshmen boys I spotted earlier this year who are cute as hell and I wouldn't mind fucking." He rocked back and forth on his heels, offering an innocent smile and raised eyebrows.

That, Herbie could accept. Herbie stood as tall as he could, and announced formally, "Victor the Chicken!"

Vic stood at stiff attention, his palms flat to his sides, his bare feet together. "Sir! Yes, sir!"

Herbie grinned. "Go recruit me some boys."

"With pleasure, sir." Herbie patted Vic on the shoulder and walked back to the classroom door. Vic stooped over and picked up his back pack, shirt and shoes. He turned to make his way down the hallway just as he was, without camouflaging his outfit. Halfway down the hall, he stopped. He turned, and called back to Herbie.

"Hey, Herb!"

Herbie stuck his head back out into the hallway. Vic just looked at him for a moment, then said, "Herbie, could you look at me for a second? Not as my master, or my controller or anything, but as the guy who used to be my best friend. Could you just do that for a second?"

Herbie wasn't sure what Vic was getting at, but he nodded, taking in the sight of the slim, muscled farmboy before him. Then, with lowered voice that ached with sincerity, Vic said, "Thanks, man. For helping me come into my own. Methods aside, I can't tell you what you've done for me." Vic's eyes appeared to moisten and he sniffed, licked his lips. "Thank-you."

Herbie simply gave him a curt nod, clearly uncomfortable by the open show of affection and gratitude. Quickly, he ducked back into the class. Vic heard the door lock behind him. Turning back to leave, Vic caught his reflection in the window of a door leading to another corridor. He paused, taking in the sight of himself as a stupid hick. He let his belongings drop from his hand to the floor and stood there admiring his comical image.

And Vic smiled. A wide, self-assured smile of a beautiful young man who's found his place in the world. To his reflection, Vic whispered, "I really have found myself. Now I know exactly who I am and what I have to do." He snatched up his things and made his way quickly to the stairwell leading to the outside world. "And I have you to thank for it, Master Herbie."

He sprinted barefoot and shirtless down two flights before quickly yanking back on his sweatshirt and shoes and hiding his hat in his bag.


Henry was 5'9" of longish golden blond hair, lifeguard's chin, innocent eager eyes, and 146 lbs of good intentions. He had a bit of a crush on Vic, and was also an industrial design major, which is exactly what Victor needed.

Henry was hunched slightly over, staring at Herbie's heat-injector mind control device, which Vic borrowed (or "stole", if you prefer, since Herbie had no clue that he'd taken it) following the conclusion of the latest freshmen henhouse menagerie get-together. It was clear Henry had never seen anything quite like it. As evidenced by his saying to Vic, "I've never seen anything quite like it. What is it, anyway?"

"That's not quite as important as making another one. Can you do it?" Henry gave Vic a quizzical look rife with doubt. Vic went on, encouragingly, "I mean, that's what you do, right? You create machines and stuff? You take it all apart and put it together or improve it or like that. That's all I need. For you to figure out exactly how this thing works, what it does, and then build me another one just like it. No biggie."

Henry gulped, clearly aware that such an undertaking was indeed a biggie, whether or not Vic knew it. "That's not exactly what I'm learning to do, you know."

As a matter of fact, Vic did not know. "What? You're an industrial designer, right? This is an industrial piece of...I dunno, something or other...I need you to decipher its design. Fits the job description."

"Hardly. That's an industrial engineer. And I'm not even a real industrial designer yet, it's just what I'm studying to be. I'm gonna, one day, design the look, the casings, the shape and general outer form of different machines and stuff for both function and pleasing aesthetics."

Vic crossed his arms, pondering. "So that's different, huh?"

"Yeah, that's different."


Henry ran his hands over the outer casing, fingers moving skillfully across the surface, with a delicate precision more reminiscent of a young pianist than a mechanic. He then peered inside the side panel, letting out a low whistle in admiration of what he observed within. He grinned then, seeing how various components fit together and functioned in unison. His attentiveness was not lost on Vic.

"So can you do it, then?"

Henry turned and looked at Vic, a smile starting to spread across his face. "Yeah, I think I can pull it off. What's this thing's primary function have to do with?"


Henry rubbed his chin. "Now that makes sense, given the heating coils and interior cooling system in there." Henry looked at the machine again, then back at Vic. "Weirdest thing, though, almost all the parts used are really pretty common. This is, like, a real Radio Shack do-it-yourselfer, whatever it is. I mean, it may do something really sophisticated, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't need advanced micro circuitry or a plutonium core to do it."

"So you can do it, then?" Vic leaned forward hopefully.

"Yup. Think so, anyway. How fast do you need the copy?"

"Fast. Soon. I kind of stole this one and need to put it back before it's missed."

Henry smiled. "One condition."

"Name it."

Henry suddenly looked a bit uncomfortable. He fiddled with the side panel on the heat-inducer, ran his fingers along the length of its cord, flicked specks of lint off its casing. "Umm...well, it's nothing technical, or like that. I mean, I have everything I need here at the school shops as far as parts and equipment go. We have some cool tools and--"

"Henry. What?"

Henry looked up at Vic like a little kid asking exhausted parents for a fifth ride on the Ferris wheel. "Will you go out with me?"

Vic's face burst into a brilliant smile. Had the question been posed at the start of the semester, Vic would have spewed forth a string of denials, excuses, and put-downs before turning and stalking out of the room. But this was not the start of the semester, and a lot had happened since then.


Henry's face lit up. He was going back in line for the Ferris wheel. "Really??"

"Really. It'd be my pleasure."

"Cool! Well, we have a deal, then!!"

Henry stuck out his hand for he and Vic to shake on it, which Vic ignored. Instead, he bent down and kissed Henry ever-so-delicately on the forehead. Henry felt his heart skip a beat. Vic stepped back, heading toward the door. "Just remember to keep things all hush-hush. Mum's the word." He put an index finger to his lips.

Henry nodded, looking as if he'd swallowed his tongue. "Uh-huh."

"And I really appreciate your help, man. Really."

Another nod. "uh-huh."

"So. Pick you up tomorrow night at eight? Dinner and a movie, on me?"

A faster nod. "Uh-huh."

Vic gave Henry the thumbs-up, and slipped out the door. The sound of the closing door was punctuated by the sound of 146 lbs of flesh impacting dully with the mechanicicals lab floor. Henry had fallen backwards off his stool.


"No shit, huh? This is the real deal?"

Vic grinned and leaned forward as if sharing classified information. "I shit you not. The real deal."

The two drop-dead gorgeous fraternity hopefuls mimicked Vic's actions, leaning in close and lowering their voices to a conspiratorial whisper. Of course, the matching propeller beanies each of them were forced to wear detracted ever-so-slightly from their natural good looks. The brunette said quietly, "So if we go ahead and volunteer for this whole, whatsit, farmboy initiation thing, we'll earn major brownie points with the brothers?"

Vic grinned again. "Thaaaat's right."

The brunette turned to his beanied buddy with the jet black hair and whispered gleefully, "Dude, they'll show up with the other hopefuls and bam! you and I will already be there, ready to go, in costume and everything! We will SO be in!"

The black-haired boy looked over his shoulder to see if they were being watched. Confident that they were not he spoke to Vic (despite the fact that he only looked one way and any number of vantage points for spying were left unchecked). "So, before we go off to this joke shop for the straw hats and pick up some bib overalls at the Farm & Fleet, how is it you know all about this? You're not pledging."

The brunette gave Vic a careful glance. "Heeeyyy...that's a good point."

Vic smiled. "Let's just say I know what you're going through." He held up his fist and shook it in an intricate pattern, waving his fingers, tapping his nose and tossing off a salute.

The boys were astonished. The black haired pledge said in a low whisper, "The secret pledge salute of submission..."

The brunette turned to his friend, grasping his arm. "Dude, there is no way he could know the salute unless--!"

Vic interlaced his fingers and flashed his smile. "Unless I'd pledged once, too." The two boys slowly nodded in agreement, not taking into account that as Vic first approached them, they'd been sitting at this picnic table studiously practicing their moronic salute in plain sight of the entire quad, all passersby, God, and the whole world. New pledges. Sheesh.

Vic got up and repeated softly. "Just be at the classroom like I told you. And keep it to yourselves, guys." Vic reached out with his index finger and gave the brunette's propeller a playful spin. They nodded eagerly.

Vic walked away confidently, allowing himself one backwards glance at the overzealous pledges practically bouncing on their seats, arms waving wildly as they chatted. Vic knew that every pledge in their frat was going to know about Herbie's classroom hen house inside the next half hour.

But better not leave anything to chance.

* * * * *

In the drama club dressing rooms, Vic leaned against a mirrored counter laden with makeup kits and ripe with the stench of old grease paint. One bulb refused to cooperate with its illuminated brethren and fizzed and blinked in the lower left-hand corner. Seated directly in front of it were three remarkably handsome young drama students and potential theater majors. The round-faced blond with the dazzling blue eyes spoke with clear enthusiasm. "Grapes of Wrath? Are they really gonna do that play? The whole thing? All four hours?"

Vic waved his hand in what he hoped was an all-encompassing gesture. "The unabridged version. Whole nine yards. I'm serious."

The threesome looked at one another with newly-twinkling stars in their eyes. "We'll be there for read-through, definitely", the sandy-haired one said, nodding.

Vic leaned forward, one hand on the counter. "Here's the thing, though. It hasn't exactly been cleared with the head of the department yet. Not the acting coach, not the drama committee. So we kind of need to keep this on the QT."

The boys exchanged intense glances and two of them crossed their arms defiantly. "We know how that goes, believe me. Anytime we want to do something challenging, something important--"

The sandy haired one continued, "--something of literary quality--"

The blond finished--"and socially relevant, they always back out. If I do another Neil Simon comedy, I'm gonna go bugfuck."

Vic smiled. "But if we invite the heads of the department to a major read-through, along with say, a few prominent students and some college administrators..."

"They won't be able to turn us down!", the blond practically cheered.

Vic nodded in agreement, winking at them. As he turned to depart, he said, "Oh, one more thing. It would really hit home harder if the read-through was done in costume. But I don't have the straw hats, bib overalls, that kind of thing. Would you guys--?"

The lanky boy, who up till now had been silent, spoke up. "I'm in charge of cataloguing the wardrobe room this semester. Leave that to me. We'll be decked out."

Vic nodded, looking impressed. Softly, he said, "All right, then."

* * * * *

The basement area set aside for the Fine Art students' weekly meeting o' relevance was dank and grimy. But then, so were the fine art students in attendance. Vic had just sat through the two and a half hour droning and communal whining which fell under this week's topic of "Attaining Global Mindset and Inner Compassion Growth Through Role Reversal, Emphaticalism, and Social Understanding". For the love of God.

Vic had worn his dingiest black T-shirt and spent most of the meeting nodding and looking concerned from his vantage point in the back of the room where he was actually scoping out guys. After the majority of those in attendance had filed out, including the scary chick with the hair resembling a fright wig and the naugahide dress held together with safety pins, Vic waved down the only three passably attractive guys.

The one wearing too much mousse looked intrigued. "Is this like when the celebrities sleep on heating grates or in the gutter to better relate to the homeless?"

Vic nodded, trying his best to look socially concerned. "It's all about leaving our personal comfort zones and being willing to place ourselves in a position of social disadvantage." It sounded sufficiently thick with horse shit that he hoped the three overly-liberal kids would go for it. They did.

"Like the starvation banquet!", the leather-jacketed guy in combat boots offered.

Vic had no idea what the fuck that oxymoron could possibly mean, but let it pass since he didn't want to know. Instead, he nodded again, his expression dour. "Not unlike that, yes."

The kid with the fluorescent orange hair and seventy-two pin back buttons spoke for all of them, asking, "What do we need to do?"

Vic tried to look as serious as possible, using all of his willpower not to burst out laughing. "Well, for this exercise, your attire will be assigned to you as befits the cause. And you have to realize that this would entail a considerable amount of risk to your personal pride and potentially set you up for public scorn and derision."

Their faces lit up as if he'd said he would be handing out complimentary hundred dollar bills. Moussey said firmly, "Whatever we have to do to raise the social consciousness, man. Whatever it takes."

Vic nodded, his face a slight frown. "Good, good. What we're looking for is commitment here, not just lip service."

"Walk the talk", orange hair said.

"That's right", Vic agreed. "Walk the talk. You in?" The art students nodded vigorously. "Okay, then." Vic drew them all close together. "Do you realize that there is an entire society of people in the Ozarks who are practically forgotten and discarded by modern society in general? Hills people. With nothing other than a pair or two of overalls to their names and a straw hat in terms of possessions." The three concerned boys looked horrified. Vic shook his head. "While we all sit here, ignorantly soaking up all the niceties of a technologically advanced lifestyle, with it's TV dinners and Playstations and RC Cola, these poor mountain people are left with--"

Vic shook his head, rubbed his eyes. "I'm sorry, guys, ya gotta give me a minute, here." He inhaled sharply, his lower lip quivering. The boys looked at each other and nodded in approval at their new angst-ridden comrade. They were sure as hell in.

* * * * *

"Moonshine? Real moonshine??"

Vic smiled at the large boy in the letterman's jacket and nodded. "Yep. Real moonshine. Made from a still out back of my grandpappy's farm up North, no less." He wiggled his eyebrows at the silliness of the name "grandpappy" and the eight party boys who were gathered around him laughed.

"Seriously, guys, this party is gonna kick some major, major ass. And this stuff looks like water, smells like honey, but damn, it packs a punch way better than anything you've ever had, I guaran-damn-tee it. Oh, here, let me get that for you", Vic leaned over and offered a light to a slender kid's joint.

The kid inhaled deeply, the tip of the joint glowing bright red, and he held his breath in, nodded his thanks. A trim lad next to him set down his Foster's can and said, "I dunno, man, I've been to parties that had some serious shit going down. Like that one where they spiked the punch with ecstasy?"

Vic pointed at him. "I was there", Vic lied. "Had some. It was okay, but this moonshine stuff will blow you outta the fucking water if you thought that laced punch was as good as it gets." The guys looked at one another, all of them desperately eager to inhale, snort, swallow or chug-a-lug the next big thing to cop a great high.

The big guy who looked like a halfback said, "So this is what, a moonshine party or something, then?"

Vic pursed his lips. "Not exactly. It's actually called a backwoods party. You all heard of a Greek party?"

Five of the guys started chanting, "Tog-a! Tog-a! Tog-a!!"

Raising his voice to cut them off, Vic said, "A backwoods is like that. Only instead of togas, you wear beat up denim overalls. And like, nothing else." He leaned back, a knowing smirk on his face. "Unless of course you want a big straw hat. Those are accepted, too." The guys looked at one another, eyes wide and jaws open. Lude remarks were exchanged and high-fives slapped.

One kid was still skeptical. "So that's all we get, though? Just this moonshine stuff?"

Vic eyed the stoner sucking down on his joint. "Ohh...that and a few other things in keeping with the theme of the party. Like maybe a little...loco weed."

The boys started yelling out incomprehensible things like "Dude! DUUUUDE!! Duh-HUUUUUUDDE!!!!" and the tired old "Par-TAY! Par-TAY!!"

Vic held up his hands. "Just one thing, though." The group began to simmer down, Vic's tone indicating a condition that could undo their revelry. "We need a place to host it. I've been kicked out of my place for being too loud. Among other things. Any suggestions?"

The eight party boys started a conga line (or a stoner's approximation thereof) around Vic, chanting out the name of their frat. "Chi! Iota! Kappa! YEAH! Chi! Iota! Kappa! YEAHH!!"

* * * * *

Vic's day had been busy but productive.

By sunset he had gathered a veritable army of unsuspecting attractive young college boys to be subjected to Herbie's mind-warping heat-directing chickenifying hypnosis machine.

Of course, by this point the men's choral group thought they'd be auditioning for the Tom Sawyer musical Big River, the social studies boys believed they'd be taking part in a reenactment of a famous social experiment, and that one kid who was actually majoring in the History of Fashion As Art was convinced it was a grand exploration of fashions prevalent during the Industrial Revolution.

And there were plenty of others who'd been equally ensnared to don bibs and go barefoot, all with equally contradictory and utterly spurious motivations. Vic was compelled to never say a word against Herbie and further advance the project. There had been no stipulation about lying through his teeth to others to meet that end.

Vic walked along one of the many pathways on campus, feeling just a bit spent from the day's escapades, and aching to tear off his hoodie to reveal his overalls bib and bare arms, as well as to kick off his shoes and go barefoot. The cravings to go around dressed like a inbred hillbilly were becoming increasingly difficult to fend off, to say nothing of the sheer comfort and pleasure that consumed Vic whenever he finally submitted. The night before he actually caught himself clucking softly as he drifted off to sleep.

To combat the compulsion to countrify himself, Vic concentrated on the number of inductees he'd recruited during the day. Head lowered, his index finger held tight to his lower lip, Vic began to calculate the sheer volume of beautiful boys he'd rounded up and snared in his web of deceit. There was the two frat pledges (and however many others they may have told), the three drama students, as well as the three art fucks. Then there was the eight party boys--who became an even dozen by the time he'd left them. Vic went down his mental list, adding the choir boys, the various students from different majors. His tally was up to nearly three dozen boys when he ran right into another student going the other way.

Their mutual impact wasn't sufficient to knock either of them down, but it came close. Before Vic could say anything, thrown off balance as he was, the student he'd almost tackled blurted out, "Sorry! Sorry, my fault! That was my fault!" The student had been walking with his eyes buried in a college class schedule catalog.

Vic knew his own daydreaming made him less than faultless, and answered, "I'd say we're both to blame, pal. Neither of us was really watching where he was--" Vic was taken aback by the vision of the young man before him. Even in the fading light, it was clear to see that he a very handsome guy. He wasn't particularly tall, but he stood with an air of confidence that made him appear taller. His hair lay loose atop his head, but was far from unkempt. His face was round and boyish, but with deep, knowing eyes that spoke of an old soul. Vic stared at the student with the catalog, unaware that there had been a gap in what he was starting to say and the last word of his sentence. "--going."

The young man shrugged. "Guess you're right at that." There was something familiar about him. He had that look about him Vic associated with character actors on TV programs whose actual names were not so important in identifying them as the last role they played. Vic had seen him before, more than once, but was uncertain where or when. The boy nodded amiably to Vic and began to walk around him to continue on his way. Vic wasn't about to let him.

"Sorry, but I know you, don't I? From class?"

He smiled at Vic. "No, but I get that a lot." The smile brightened his face and made him appear five years younger. It also accentuated his eyes. That was what gave it away.

"Yes!", Vic said with enthusiasm. "The Dean's son! Julius, right?"

The boy kept his smile, tucking his catalog under one arm. "Julian, actually. And it's the chancellor's son."

"Right, right! Julian Hardcourt! You spoke at some student function or other I attended." Vic scrunched his brow. "Wish I could remember which one."

Julian gave a friendly laugh. "I get roped into a lot of those. And if it makes you feel any better, they aren't a whole lot more memorable for me. And you are--?"

Vic caught himself, realizing he was being a bit rude. "Oh, geez! Sorry." He extended a hand. "I'm Victor. Everybody calls me Vic."

Julian took Vic's hand in a firm shake. "It's a pleasure, Vic. Happy to bump into you. Or nearly so." He smiled again, radiating a personal warmth that Vic found inviting.

Vic gestured to Julian's catalog. "So, you giving another talk, like on scheduling or something?"

Julian clenched his jaw for a second, inhaled through his teeth. "I wish. I need another elective or extra curricular activity or one hell of a special thesis-level project to participate in. And I need it fast."

Vic tilted his head, confused. "Why's that?"

"Requirements to maintain my scholastic awards, which pay my tuition. I thought I had all my bases covered this term, but I appear to have miscalculated by one."

"I thought the chancellor's kid would get a free ride."

"Yes, everyone thinks that, including the student loan boards, who all told me to walk west until my hat floats when I asked for money for school."

Vic laughed at that. "So you do the Dean's List thing--"

"President's List, actually", Julian corrected. Then, "Sorry. Matter of pride."

Vic waved the comment away. "So you do the President's List thing, keep your grades at a constant high, keep a record with the financial aid department--"

"--and they submit my name for scholastic awards in the form of paid tuition for another term.", Julian said, completing Vic's train of thought. "Except that I was just informed that in order to receive the Dykema Grant, I still need one more activity to qualify."

Vic looked at the diminutive Julian. "I thought only the upper classmen were eligible for that kind of stuff. You're not a senior, are you?"

"Junior. But Juniors are eligible if no seniors fit all the criteria. Like maintaining a 4.0 average."

Vic let out a low whistle. "Impressive. So, what do you want to do? For your activity?"

"It's not what I want to do so much as what's available", Julian said, sounding discouraged as he pulled his catalog back out and flipped through it. "And it's slim pickings right now." Column after column of entries in the catalog were blacked out with marker, illustrating in an instant just how slim those picking were.

A light bulb came on over Victor's head. "Say, Julian, didn't you say one of the things you could do to qualify for your grant was to participate in a big project? It doesn't have to be your project, does it?"

"No, just as long as I take part in it. Why, what'd you have in mind?" Julian began to smile again, sensing that Vic could provide the solution he was looking for.

Vic looked at the chancellor's son, his small stature, his boyish face and good looks. Before his eyes, Vic's imagination faded out Julian's khakis and jean jacket and placed him in worn bib overalls, shirtless and barefoot, a tattered straw hat atop his head. Instantly, Vic got a tremendous boner just picturing it.

Vic forced a smile, trying to ignore the erection fighting to burst his drawers. "I have this friend who's in the middle of a major psych experiment right now. It's his senior thesis project."

Julian's face lit up. "A big project?"

"The biggest."

"So, does this friend of yours need any help with it?"

"All the help he can get. The whole setup is kind of a behavioral study. You're assigned certain clothes you have to wear, interact with other test subjects, everything he does is all recorded. All you have to do is show up and do what he tells you to do. You don't have to prepare anything or do any extra studying. Just be there. He really only needs...warm bodies."

Julian looked ecstatic. "Oh man, that is just what I need! I have a full plate as it is with my other classes. This guy doing the project, is he easy to work with? Some of the Pysch majors can be a little uptight."

Vic felt his face spreading into a wide grin, his eyes glazing over a bit. "Herbie's great. I've never known anyone so willing to put so much into his work. And he's had me help him out with it, too, and he's really been very attentive and instructive for me. He pays a lot of attention to me, and all the volunteer subjects, really. I can honestly say that getting involved in this project has given me a whole new outlook."

Julian was visibly impressed. "Wow. Sounds like you really think highly of this Herbie fella."

Vic felt his smile lock into place. "I couldn't say a word against him if I tried."


Vic was feeling pretty pleased with himself. Things had not only gone well, they had exceeded all expectations. He was working to further his master's great project and had found an abundance of cute young college boys as fodder for the almighty heat-inducing hypnosis machine. Vic had such a spring in his step that he was again sorely tempted to kick off his shoes and go barefoot (but then, that temptation was becoming increasingly difficult to resist anyway).

In any case, Vic was feeling certain that things could not have been going better. Until he walked into the mechanics labs to find Henry hunched over what was supposed to be the duplicate heat-inducer device.

The underlying base frame was in place, but the casing was set aside, leaving the inner workings fully exposed. Of course, the idea that the tangle of wires, cables, and coils could ever end up "working" at all seemed more than a bit ludicrous at this stage. Vic stopped in midstep and stared. He gulped. And things had been going so well.

Henry twisted around to look at Vic. His face was smudged with grease and oil, his hands were filthy. A twisted wad of wiring was wrapped haphazardly around his right arm. He held a screwdriver in one hand, a pair of needle-nosed pliers in the other. He held a miniature soldering iron between his teeth, its cord spilling out onto the table and down to the floor. The guts of the inducer were spread over the length of two wooden work benches, looking remarkably unlike the organized interior of the original device.

Vic felt the color draining from his face. Henry spat out the soldering iron. "This is coming along a lot better than it looks, I swear."

Vic walked over to Henry in a daze. He had risked punishment by his hypno master by stealing his machine, he had recruited who knew how many unsuspecting young men to be handed over to said master, and his trump card was strewn six ways to Sunday all over the college mechanics lab. Henry started furiously yanking cords and connecting plugs, twisting exposed wires together and snipping excess fringes.

"This'll work, this'll work, I promise you this'll work", he said, muttering like a Rain Man handyman as he fought to complete his design before Vic dropped over from coronary thrombosis. A few twists, snips, and attachments later, and Henry jumped off his stool and wiped his hands on a soiled rag. "And that should do it!" He looked to the paling Vic for approval. He didn't get it.

"You've got to be kidding, right?"

"What?" Vic gestured to the mass of electrical spaghetti piled up on the table. "Oh, oh that! Well, it looks a little bit more...um, unbridled...than the original, but you gotta trust me when I say that the function will be just the same!" Henry smiled and nodded. "Yup."

Vic stared at it unblinking. Then he said in a monotone, "Prove it to me."

Henry tossed aside his rag and said cheerily, "Gladly!" He then moved up to the machine, such as it was, and after pulling aside a pile of wires, found the 'on' switch. With great flair, Henry waved about his index finger, hovering over the button. "I give you--the backwards engineered Victor machine!" And he flipped the switch.

To absolutely no result.

Vic stuck his tongue in his cheek. "It is plugged in, isn't it?"

"Yes! Of course it is!" Then Henry squatted down and looked under the table, frantically searching out the extension cord and following it to the outlet. He then came back from under the table. He repeated, "Yes, of course it is!"

Vic closed his eyes and let out a defeated sigh. The two stood there in silence for a few moments, then Vic opened his mouth to speak. He didn't get a word out, though, because someone else beat him to it.

"That thing's never gonna work, Henry."

The two boys turned to see a tall, muscular third-year student with short black hair and two days growth of beard. He wore baggy coveralls smudged here and there with grease. He pointed to the nonfunctional mess atop the work benches. "No way that's gonna work."

Henry became very defensive. "What the hell do you know, Dobberstein! This is a work in progress! For all you know I only just started it! Maybe it's not finished yet! You ever think of that, huh?! All I have to do is make with a little diagnostic action, and it'll work just fin--"

Dobberstein walked over to the machine and, fixing Henry with a hard stare, took hold of two plugs on the machine. With firm yanks, Dobberstein pulled up a red wire with a matching plug and its twin, a green wire and plug. He held the red up and said, "Positive feed." He then likewise held up the green and said, "Negative feed." He then reattached the wires into the opposite sockets they'd been plugged in to. As he did so, he narrated his actions. "Positive input. Negative input." He then reached over to the other side of the machine and flipped the 'on' switch.

Instantly, there was an all-too familiar hum as the circuits began to warm up, followed by the soft chugga-chugga-chugga of its components humming to life. Dobberstein raised his eyebrows, smirked, and walked away.

The two boys just stood and stared at the perfectly functioning mess of wires. Softly, Henry said, "Told you it was plugged in."

Vic grabbed Henry's head and kissed him on the temple. Luckily, this time when Henry fell over, Vic was there to catch him.


The classroom Herbie had been using for his hypnosis experiments on the six newly-gay boyfriends had been unofficially dubbed the Chicken Coop. Herbie was there with the three couples, all of whom were seated in a large semicircle, waiting for Vic to arrive.

Herbie was growing impatient and irritated, frequently glancing at the clock to check the time. The chicken boys didn't seem to mind Vic's tardiness, however. Herbie had commanded them to recite a reinforcement mantra (not that they really needed it at this point), and thus Jamie and Acker, Carson and Rickie, and Coffee and Bry all sat contentedly in their overalls and straw hats, each couple holding hands, reciting the same words in perfect unison with one another as if on a recorded loop.

"I'm nothing but a chicken. I'm a gay young man and I'm sitting beside my boyfriend who is nothing but a chicken, too. Herbie is my master and I am wholly his to command. I'm nothing but a chicken--" Repeating the banal phrasing was relatively meaningless, since their programming had become so well engrained, but Herbie's ego was gratified by hearing these strapping young freshmen continually refer to him as their master. As each boy mechanically ran through his recitation, he did so with a glazed expression in his eyes, a dopey grin on his face, and a stiff member in his pants, kept that way by the mere skin to skin contact of holding his boyfriend's hand.

Finally, the door opened and Vic stuck his head in, a full fifteen minutes late. Herbie shot him an angry glance, his mind already filling with ways to hypnotically humiliate his friend in punishment for his tardiness. "Sorry I'm late, sir", Vic said.

Herbie stormed up to the door, seeing Vic attired in his usual disguise consisting of his street clothes tugged over the top of his bib overalls, with a bag in hand, no doubt with his straw hat inside. Herbie was about to snap at Vic, ordering him into full costume, when something else occurred to him.

"I thought you said you were going out to find new volunteers."

Vic smiled a playful smile. "Oh, that I did. And I have them right here, all suited up and ready to go." Herbie's face softened slightly as he looked expectantly at Vic. "Allow me to introduce the latest additions to your vital thesis experiment in hypnosis." And with that, Vic flung the door wide open and stepped aside to reveal the new recruits that he had brought along to participate in Herbie's big mind-control experiment.

Both of them.

Herbie's eyes twinkled when he saw the two new chickens, standing there all smiles, already dressed in denim overalls, straw hats, and nothing else. And as Herbie eyed their crotches, he could see they really did wear nothing else.

Quickly, Herbie stuck his arm into the room and snapped his fingers once. Instantly, the six chickens ceased reciting their mantra. Herbie looked back at the two eager freshmen waiting in the hall. One was a brunette, the other with hair of black. They both had the freshly-scrubbed, hopelessly giddy look that only came with youth and inexperience. Neither could have been older than 18.

"So who do we have here?", Herbie asked.

Vic answered in a stage voice, "These two fine gentlemen are pledging and are here to present themselves early for the Farmboy Initiation Test. So they can get a head start on the rest of their fellow pledges." Vic fairly sprained his neck jerking his head to the side and winking to convey to Herbie to go along with the cover story.

Herbie picked up on it just fine. "Ah, yes! Good, good! Very commendable, you two. Shows real initiative. We like that in our pledges." The two boys chuckled, very excited to get the jump on the other freshmen who were also eager to begin a life of debauchery and inebriation. Herbie gestured for the duo to enter the classroom. Or rather, the Chicken Coop. "If you two boys would be good enough to take those seats which complete the circle of farm boys, we can begin."

Quickly and with obvious excitement, the two pledges dashed over and took their seats as Herbie wheeled over the heat-inducer. The brunette looked over at the smiling and slightly dazed Jamie and Acker, then at the other couples. To his buddy, he whispered, "Dude! Howcum they're all holding hands? What's up with that??"

Panicking, the black-haired boy answered, "Dumbass! It must be part of the test! God, don't blow this for us, man! Here!" And with that, he took his friend's hand, interlacing their fingers. "Now don't let go until they tell us to!"

"First thing I need you lads to do is concentrate on this little lamp here", Herbie said, indicating the nose of the projector. The boys nodded, anxious to begin.

The brunette cocked one eyebrow as Herbie brought the machine to life, the sound of its chugging inner workings filling the room. "Umm, what does that thing do, anywa--" That was as far as the boy got when both he and his companion were left with blank expressions and vacant eyes.

"Just breathe very deeply, boys. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Let yourself go and just relax", Herbie prompted them. The boys did as bidden, their shoulders slumping and the corners of their mouths turning up slightly in silly grins of pleasure. In the rest of the circle, the six chicken initiates began to feel the same effects as the two new recruits. As the beam inducted the youngest boys, it reinforced its hold on the others.

Vic walked up to Herbie, keeping his voice low so as not to disrupt the proceedings. "Sir, I am really, really sorry for my tardiness. It took forever to get them into their costumes. But I have good news."

Herbie watched as the two boys' hands grew limp and they let go of their hold on each other. "These kids may be able to get us a bigger facility to serve as the Chicken Coop", Vic whispered.

Herbie looked at Vic with surprise. "These kids? Really? How?"

Vic looked over at the boys as they began to slowly slide off their chairs, as if they're bodies were steadily liquefying. "They're pledging with Chi Iota Kappa. They think they can get us their whole damn frat house."

Herbie looked impressed, but skeptical. "Chi Iota Kappa. That's one of the newer fraternities to this campus, isn't it?" The two boys had slid all the way off their chairs and settled onto their haunches. Their heads were bobbing back and forth, their noses pecking at the air.

Vic smiled. "Very new. A very young frat, filled with very young and fresh frat boys. Might be fun to do a hypnosis show for one of their brothers-only house parties, huh?" The two newcomers now had their knuckles shoved deep into their armpits and were flapping their elbows.

Herbie tried not to show how pleased he was, but he was pleased. He'd long fantasized about an all-gay fraternity. Or more specifically, an all-straight fraternity made gay. "You've done a fair job your first time out, Vic."

"Thank-you, sir", Vic beamed. "I really appreciate that." The boys were now clucking loudly, their sharp eyes projecting that they truly believed they were chickens.

"Now there's just one more thing you need to do", Herbie said. He produced a large accordion folder and yanked off it's elastic strap. He slid out a stack of papers for Vic to see. There were forms, notes, and a variety charts and diagrams.

"Uhh, what's this?"

"The final forms for my thesis project."

Vic scrunched his brow. "Your--?"

Herbie make a derisive sound. "Okay, "our". Relax, you're listed as my assistant. Anyway, we still have to show something at the end of this semester. These are all the straightforward notes documenting what I've done--or at least, the Reader's Digest condensed version, sans any reference to making straight boys gay, or chickens, or anything like that. Enough techno babble and psychological fluff to make for a winning presentation without giving away what this project was really about." Vic nodded, not sure why Herbie was showing him this.

"I need you", and Herbie pushed the folder against Victor's chest, "to type it all up and cast it into presentable shape. I'd like to see the first draft by the middle of next week."

Vic looked down at the folder with a crestfallen expression. "Yes, sir", he mumbled, trying to sound dejected. In fact, this was the most wonderful assignment Herbie could have given him. It was an effort not to show it.

As Victor sighed, thumbing through the cluster of notes, the two new chickens fell to floor in each other's arms, kissing one another passionately. The other six boys had all followed suit and had gotten off their chairs and down onto their haunches, acting chickenish.

Herbie glanced back at Vic, and as a precaution, jabbed a forefinger against Victor's brow. "Vic, you will do nothing whatever with that paper to sabotage the work I've done here. In no way is your work on what's in that folder to reveal a single thing I've accomplished."

Victor's response was mechanical and stiff, but spoken with conviction. "Yes, sir. I will do nothing whatever with this paper to sabotage your project."

Herbie nodded, satisfied. The two boys, still under the full beam of the projector, were now a flurry or arms, each reaching under the others' bibs to get at his friend's dick. Behind Herbie, Victor grinned broadly, anxious to get busy on the task that lay ahead.


Vic knocked on the classroom door to gain Herbie's attention. Herbie sat on the edge of the desk, flipping through some of his notes. He looked up to see Vic standing there, smiling. Vic wore only his faded bibs cuffed up to mid-calf and slip-on deck shoe flats. Herbie smirked, knowing that showing up like this, minus the camouflage of a shirt over the top of the overalls, was a clear sign of Victor's final surrender.

Herbie got up and approached him. Victor looked around the room, which had been returned to its original pristine classroom state. "I think I miss all the barnyard paraphernalia, sir."

"Yeah, well, even with this room being at the far end of this wing and only used once in a blue moon, we'd have been discovered eventually. It was less trouble than you think to clear the room out with eight hypnotized slaveboy chickens ready and willing to serves as a strike crew, whether or not they knew what they were doing."

Victor nodded. "And to run everything back to the drama department's scene shop."

Herbie scrutinized Vic. He hadn't been with the other chickens when the move was made. How did he know that was where the scenery went? Vic caught Herbie's look.

"I mean, I'm assuming. That is where you got all that stuff, right? I figured you want to put it back before it was missed." Herbie pursed his lips and made a "hmm" sound, considering it. "I've got your stuff ready", Vic added quickly, presenting Herbie with a thick binder.

Herbie took the binder and flipped it open. As he began to turn pages, giving Vic's secretarial handiwork a cursory glance, he commented, "Nice outfit by the way."

"Thought you'd like it", Vic beamed.

"You always did look better without a shirt. You come all the way over here like that?"

Vic smiled. "Yup. Have a T-shirt, but it's stuffed in my side pocket. Just feels better this way."

"So where's your straw hat?"

"That comes later", Victor grinned.

Herbie was about to ask what that remark meant, when the pages he was turning finally registered with him. "Holy shit, Vic. This--this is fucking incredible."

Vic bounced a bit on the balls of his feet, relishing the approval. "Look at this here", he said, indicating different entries. "Every one of your notes has been typed up in archival format with dates, times, research, the works. And see here", he flipped forward to a tabbed page, "this is a variety of suggestions and suppositions on how your research may be put to use to better benefit the field of hypnotherapy." Victor began to get even more excited. "Oh, oh, oh! And there's this--", and he turned pages rapidly to find a new section, separated by a cardboard divider. "This is a run-down of all those patients who could never be treated by hypnosis before, those unresponsive to being hypnotized, ADD kids, even epileptics, who could potentially get successful treatment using your device."

Herbie nodded with approval. If everything Vic had done was this impressive, Herbie was not only looking at graduation with honors, but possibly a hefty research grant. "Very nice work, chicken boy." Herbie considered allowing his favorite slaveboy a hypnotically-enhanced orgasm or something as reward.

"If you like that, you're really gonna like this", Vic added, handing a white 9x12 envelope to Herb.

"What's this?" Herbie opened the envelope and pulled out a variety of impressive-looking documents. It took a moment for him to register what they were, and what their presence represented. Then--"Holy shit!"

"I've started the process of registering your heat-projector machine for patents and trademarks at Library of Congress", Vic smiled.

Herbie flipped through the pages, scanning them quickly. "And everything's in MY name! My name alone! You're not even mentioned."

"Wellll...let's call a spade a spade, Herbie. This whole thing was your baby from the start. I took the liberty of doing my own thesis on the side. Next to yours, it's pretty lame, but this way nobody's crowding you out of the spotlight." Herbie was about to say something else, but Vic spoke first. "Annnd, you're gonna want to see this." He held out a smaller, gold envelope, of about 5x7", it's back flap sealed with a single red die-cut sunburst sticker.

Herbie took the envelope and opened it up. Inside were a variety of very tastefully-printed invitations. Silver foil ink, embossed on gray speckled card stock. "Are-are these announcements for a presentation of my final thesis?" Herbie saw that was exactly what they were. "These invitations are addressed to the heads of the university! The provost, Chancellor Hardcourt--" he flipped through them. reading names-- "who the hell are all of these people??"

Vic leaned in, looking at the invitations. "Just a handful of impressively influential folks from around the city. If you're going to have your praises sung, it should at least by people whose voices could open a few doors for you."

Herbie didn't know what to say. He kept looking at the invites over and over, then something occurred to him. "There are no dates on these things."

"Oh, those are just the original draft copies the print shop made for my approval", Vic said off-handedly. "The real invitations have already gone out."

"They have?? When am I supposed to give this thing?!"

"Soon." Vic saw Herbie's look of concern and waved it away. "Don't worry, you have plenty of time. Here are your notes--" and Vic handed Herb a small stack of 3x5 note cards that ran through his speech step-by-step. "Now", Vic said, a wicked glint in his eye, "you wanna see where I hang my hat?"

Herbie eyed him suspiciously. "Meaning--?"

"We got the Chi Iota Kappa frat house. Some of the guys are over there already. Wanna go see 'em?"

"Hell, yeah!" Herbie could not have been happier. All of his cruel fantasies and twisted dreams seemed to be coming true.

Vic stepped back and with a grand gesture opened the door for his master. "Well, let's go, then!" Herbie strode out of the door with his head held high, anxious for what awaited him. And for the first time in months, so did Vic.

The duo made their way across campus rapidly. Victor pulled on his T-shirt over his bibs for the journey. Upon arriving at the fraternity house, which was a nice two-story job, Herbie and Vic found the two new young fratboys, the brunette and the black-haired boy, standing sentinel on either side of the doors, in full bumpkin regalia of bibs, bare feet, and straw hats. As Herbie made his way up the walk, they actually saluted.

"Master Herbie", said the brunette.

"Welcome to Chi Iota Kappa", said the other. "Our home truly is your home." The two boys reached over to the double-door entrance and opened them wide for their commander and chief to enter. He did so, with a regal, approving nod, and entered. And immediately wished he hadn't.

"What the fuck is all this??!", Herbie cried.

The frat house of Chi Iota Kappa (or the Chicken Coop, as it was now affectionately called) was wall-to-wall with shirtless bibbed barefoot chicken boys getting it on in every nook in cranny of every room. There were close to fifty young chickens in plain sight--in the living room, the entrance hall, on the stairs, in the kitchen--and Herbie could hear others running around upstairs. Vic closed the doors behind them and indicated the various scenes of debauchery unfolding all around them. Frat boys now in the guise of farm boys made out on the couch, behind the furniture, on the coffee table, under the coffee table. Those who weren't engaged in kissing, fondling, or more aggressive pursuits squatted their way along the floor, bucking and clucking like the chickens they believed they were.

The variety of boys, in both physical appearance and personality, was staggering. There were scrawny goth kids with wild, dyed black hair, tightly-muscled athletic kids with military crew cuts. Kids with thoughtful eyes under wire-rimmed spectacles and stringy, unkempt hair clucked alongside freshly-scrubbed, freckle-faced boys with hair neatly parted and gelled in place. Impressively-built frat boys in bib overalls made out with underweight bookish lads in straw hats. From all walks of campus life, these boys had been dressed as farm boys and remade as gay chickens.

Herbie didn't think there were this many freshmen in any given fraternity, and realized they had to have been recruited from all over campus. Possibly even other campuses, as there were literally over a dozen faces in view that he did not recognize. Then he noticed something else. Not all these boys were young freshmen, either. Given just a cursory glance, Herbie placed their age range from 18-20. Maybe a few a year or two older, to boot.

Herbie heard a surge of uncomfortable groaning coming from about twenty feet away, which stood out from the cacophony of joyous clucks and moans. At end of living room, a gorgeous straight boy with the build of a football player and the face of a 22-year-old wrestled in vain against the hold of a small army of younger, scrawnier hillbilly chickens. The other boys held the upper classmen down on an overstuffed chair as an additional boy focused a hypnotic heat beam on him from its projector. The older jock was buck (buck, buck) naked, and writhing against what was being one to him. With this many converts, subtlety was no longer a major concern.

The naked athlete pushed against the chair, whose cushiony upholstery gave him little purchase. "No!", he cried. "NO, let me GO, you little fuckers!" The beam began to do its work rapidly, however, as one boy whispered inductions into the jocks ear and he slowly stopped fighting it. As boys held tight to his wrists and ankles, others gently and lovingly stroked his chest and thighs. Another boy wormed his way into the mix and squeezed in between the jock's muscular legs. Leaning forward, the newcomer began to suck the jock off. The jock's head thrashed slowly form side to side, his resistance fading.

"N-no...'m not gay...'m not a chicken...'m not a chick...chick...buck. Buck-buck-buck! Berrrawwwk-buk-buk-buk-Buh-KAWWWK!!" Herbie saw that a rumpled pair of stonewashed bibs and straw hat awaited the older jock inductee, tossed over a chair back nearby.

Herbie whirled on Vic, his eyes wild with confusion. "HOW did the heat projector get here? We just left it back at the classroom! It couldn't--! Not all these guys, not in so little time--!" At that moment, an adorable young freshmen farm boy with strawberry blond, curly hair ran right into Herbie, knocking his over and sending his victorious presentation cards flying all over the carpet.

"So sorry, so sorry, was going to meet my new chicken boyfriend and I didn't see--" The adorable lad looked up and recognized the person with whom he'd collided. "Master Herbie!" His eyes were like saucers. "Oh, sir, oh master, I am SO sorry, let me get these for you!" The boy moved at lightning speed to collect the fallen note cards.

Herbie leapt to his feet and fired daggers at Vic with his eyes. "EXPLAIN yourself, you miserable little--!"

"Um, well, Master Herbie, sir", Vic said calmly, kicking off his shoes, "you're the one whose due to do some explaining. Like, to the provost, the chancellor, the head of the Psych department, um...the mayor."

Herbie looked at Vic blankly. "Whuh--what--?"

"Just some of the guests coming to hear your fabulous thesis presentation. Did I forget to mention? You're scheduled to give it here. In about, oh--" and Vic looked at his bare wrist, pantomiming checking the time on a watch, "--three minutes."

"WHAT?!!", Herbie screamed. "You can't be serious!!"

Vic shrugged. "Well, y'know, give or take a minute."

Herbie stood there aghast, with his mouth hanging open, trying to say something, but only spluttering. Vic yanked off his shirt and lobbed it across the room to flop behind a chair occupied by two chickenized frosh making out.

Herbie looked about frantically at the rampant sexual chaos, then whirled around to look past a slender doorside window where he spotted his special guests' cars arriving. To Vic, he blabbered, "This can't be happening! I had everything worked out! I had control of you!"

Vic grinned. "You still do, boss. And I followed your orders to the letter. Never said a word against you. Everyone here thinks you're practically a god." Vic turned to face the room. "Hey, guys! This is Herbie, my master!" Vic pointed at Herbie eagerly. "He's responsible for ALL this!"

Every boy in the crowded room turned and whooped and hollered in glorious approval. A small huddle of barefoot boys in straw hats who appeared to be football scholarship students cheered out in unison, "You RULE, Herbie!!", then went back to their four-way.

Vic smiled at Herbie. "And as you can see, I sure as hell advanced the project."

Herbie's heart was in his throat. "You--you shouldn't have been able to interpret my commands this way--I altered you, I changed you at a core level-- you-you're--"

Vic's smile was so bright it was brilliant. "Hey, I'm just a fag slave, Master Herbie." He then snatched a straw bird's nest hat from a nearby stack of them, cheerfully plopped it atop his head and announced, "And I am what I was meant to be--an inexperienced, cute young gay man. I'm a chicken."

With that, Vic spun around and threw himself down on the carpeted steps beside none other than industrial design student Henry, who, like everyone there, was also dressed in faded bib overalls and nothing else. Reaching over to take him in his arms, Vic grinned, "C'mere, you little chicky, you." Henry was delighted to oblige and the two made out on he steps, happily stroking and caressing one another as they did. And as an added bonus, since Henry was already lying upon the steps, he had no risk of falling if he swooned.

And just like that, Herbie's former partner in crime, Vic, was gone. He was now just another one of the many poor innocent college boys that Herbie had subjugated to his will by way of his devilish machine and his evil scheming. Herbie was on his own.

The doorbell rang.

Herbie inhaled so sharply that the room's temperature dropped. Seeing no easy escape (all the exits were blocked by chicken boys making love like hillbilly satyrs), Herbie looked once more to Vic. "Chicken Vic! I command you to hel--"

There was a strong knock at the door. Vic looked up for a moment, grinned, and said, "You really ought'a get that, sir. I think it's for you." Then went back to kissing Henry.

The door opened and the college chancellor stuck his head in. "Hello? Is this the fraternity house for Chi Iota Kappa--WHAT in GOD'S name--?!!"

An august gathering of five men and two women stood in the doorway. Herbie looked at the cluster of authority figures in abject terror. "Chancellor Hardcourt! Why-why what a surprise, you being here! Can-can you believe this insane depravity? I-I-I just can't imagine what's going on here! We should leave this place immediately, call campus security--!"

"Cut the act", Hardcourt said with venom. "Herbert, did you or did you not send out these invitations to your--" and he referred to the card he held in his hand, "--glorious moment of triumph spitting in the face of all of you academic and authoritative morons."

"What? Let me see that!" Herbie grabbed the invitation and read with mounting horror.

You are cordially invited to witness my glorious Moment of Triumph as I enslave hordes of incoming university students and spit in the face of the tyranny of you academic and authoritative morons. My newly-gay homosexual army of brainless young chickens will stand as testament to my POWER and help me gain my rightful place as a master of men's minds and God of Psychological Warfare. (Please bring no presents, your attendance is the only gift I require.) Punch served afterward during Q & A session.

"We all got one", said a thickly-built balding man with and expression that deterred disrespect. Herbie had no idea who he was.

"And you are--?"

"The Chief of Police."

Herbie gulped, hard. Then, very softly, he said, "I believe I can explain all this. You see, what started as an innocent psychology class experiment was taken over by my twisted and power-hungry lab partner, Victo--"

"Unc!" Herbie's feeble backpedaling was interrupted by a gloriously handsome boy with a body like an Olympic gymnast and a smile straight from a toothpaste ad. Like the rest of the coop, he was in bibs and straw hat and nothing else. He spoke directly to the police chief. "Man, you just gotta tell my dad how awesome this frat is! I am so glad I'm legacy--if he hadn't made me pledge, I never would have found my true self!" With that, he grabbed hold of a nearby boy who had simply been walking by, and planted a tremendously passionate kiss on him. The boy was so taken by the experience that he threw one arm around the other and led him off to do who knows what. Over his shoulder, the first boy said to the chief, "Later, Uncle Dwayne!"

The police chief looked at Herbie with burning coals where his eyes had been, and said through clenched teeth. "That...was...my... nephew."

Herbie offered a meek smile. "Handsome lad."

Before the police chief could reach over and wring Herbie's neck, two more deliriously happy farm boys appeared. They both looked remarkably similar, not so much that they could pass for twins, but it was very clear that they were at least siblings, no more than a year apart in age. "Heeyyy", the first one said, acting a bit drunk, although there was no smell of liquor on his breath, "you have got to give this guy here", and he pointed at Herbie, "some kind of commendation or something."

The brother draped an arm affectionately around his sibling and added, "If it wasn't for ol' Master Herbie, we'd have probably kept right on searching everywhere for happiness--"

And the first brother finished the thought, "--and never realized it was right in front of us the entire time." And the two boys shared a delicate kiss.

The university provost looked at the sharp-dressed woman beside him in the red blazer and tasteful jewelry. "Mayor Wilkins, aren't these two--?"

The mayor answered, looking stricken. "The county magistrate's sons."

Herbie closed his eyes and felt his stomach drop by twelve inches. "Incest. Nice touch."

The provost chastised the loving brothers. Pointing to the first one, he said, "But you're dating Jude Phillip's daughter!"

The brother shrugged. "She'll get over it. When you find true love, nothing else matters." And he looked into the eyes of his sibling. "Does it?"

The brother smiled back at him. "Nope. And if she can't deal, we'll just revert to chickens and cluck until she gets the hint and goes away." The two waved politely to the mayor and the provost and returned to the party going on behind them.

Herbie looked at the infuriated counsel before him and wondered how it could possibly get any worse. He didn't have long to wonder.

"Dad!" A delighted farm boy threw his arms around the chancellor and gave him a big hug.

The chancellor pulled the affectionate boy away and gasped, "Julian? Is that you??"

"Sure is, Dad. In the flesh. The bare-armed, barefooted lot of it." Then, leaning in close, Julian adjusted the brim of his straw hat and said in a conspiratorial tone, "Dad, I gotta tellya, this whole need for participation in a thesis study is the best damned idea you've ever had for maintaining incoming grants. This thesis experiment is AWEsome. It's opened up a whole new world for me!"

Chancellor Hardcourt looked his son up and down, trying to take his transformation in. "Yes, yes I see that, Julian..."

Another boy, a slender junior with dirty blond hair, tapped Julian on the shoulder. "Yo, Jules. Zack's gonna show a bunch of us in the other room the best way to give head. You comin'?"

"You bet!", Julian beamed. Then, to his father, he said, "Gotta go, Dad. Wouldn't want to do any less than take full part in this experiment. Gotta set a good example!" And he spun on his heel and left, giving his father a full view of his firm little ass, which stuck out as his rear drop seat swung unbuttoned behind him.

The chancellor looked at Herbie and said in a low tone that portended great violence, "Tell me why I shouldn't let Police Chief Barnabus beat you to death right now."

Herbie had nowhere to go. "You-you can't possibly believe I'm responsible or all this! What proof is there, other than the ramblings of a bunch of college kids who are OBvisouly terrible confused and unwell!"

The mayor held up a folder. "How about the copies of your original research notes you sent us along with each invitation?"

And the provost indicated a large envelope he carried. "Or the copies of your patent application forms?"

"Oh! And you'll need these videotapes", offered the adorable lad with the strawberry blond curls. He zipped in, handed four VHS tapes to the chancellor and then ducked out again before Herbie could say anything. "And these photos!", and the lad tossed over a packet of Herbie's 8x10 stills and was gone again.

"I-I-I--", Herbie blubbered. "This is all some massive conspiracy perpetrated to frame me! I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THIS!!"

The strawberry blond kid leapt up and hollered, "Let's hear it for Herbie, who changed our lives and helped us find your true selves!"

The entire household came alive with cheers, as every barefoot, shirtless boy jumped up and down in a grand ovation to Herbie. Straw hats were tossed in the air, some boys even paused in the midst of kissing, fucking, or blowing one another to add their voices to the cheer. Then, as one man, every boy went down on one knee, removed his hat (those who had one), placed his hat--or hand--over his heart and chanted in full, strong voice.

"I'm nothing but a chicken! I'm a gay young man and I'm here beside my boyfriend who is nothing but a chicken, too! Herbie is my master and I am wholly his to command!"

Herbie wanted to collapse in on himself and disintegrate. "You...you can't possibly tell me that you believe all this..."

Chancellor Hardcourt grabbed Herbie's wrist and pulled out the speech cards which he still held in a viselike grip. The Chancellor looked at the first card and simply said, "Mm-HM!" He showed the card to the mayor and the police chief, who both nodded grimly.

"What? What's it say??", Herbie grabbed back the card and read:

My Thesis Presentation~
How I Used My Evil Heat-Generating Hypnosis Ray To Make Young Boys Turn Gay
Part I: The Initial Enslavement- Introduction
a. Why gay farm boys get me hot/perverting the innocent
b. ritual humiliation in hypnosis/the chicken fetish

Herbie's eyes bulged. These were not the cards Vic gave him back at the classroom. What sleight of hand trick had switched them? Then he realized. "That kid! The curly-headed one! He bumped into me and knocked me down! He must've switched the cards! These are NOT my cards!"

The chancellor looked sternly at Herbie. "Which kid?"

"One of the ones who was turned into a faggot chicken by hypnotic heat projector, jackass!!" Herbie clasped his hands over his mouth, but it was already too late. He looked back at Vic, who was still sprawled on the steps, arm-in-arm with Henry. Herbie mouthed one word at his former partner and best friend. "How?"

Vic mouthed back, "You said don't mess with the report. You never mentioned your notes, cards, or anything else." He smiled, waved a goodbye with fluttering fingers.

Herbie lowered his head as the police chief grabbed him roughly from behind. "It'd be a very good idea if you come with us, young man." And with that, they carted Herbie off. The provost and the chancellor discussed sending someone over to help clean up the mess and se if they couldn't find a way to undo the damage that this deranged young psychopath had done. Henry and Vic watched them go.

"He sure doesn't look very happy", Henry observed.

"Ah, well", Vic mused, "he should get plenty of that forced gay man sex humiliation he's so fond of where he's going."

Henry looked at Vic. "Guess they're gonna be sending people over here to round everyone up and assess the situation pretty soon. We better get busy."

"Yes", Vic agreed. "Busy but organized. Can't go running around like chickens with our heads cut off." Henry rolled his eyes and the two headed for the basement.

The cement floor in the basement of Chi Iota Kappa was uncarpeted. It's furnishings were sparse, and what accommodations there were, had been at least thrice-owned and were now held together with duct tape. But for this afternoon it fulfilled its purpose, providing a moderately safe haven away from the anarchy that was going on a flight above, and effective in partly muffling the sound.

Vic and Henry descended the wooden stairs and found the original six chickens seated around the room. Jamie and Acker were together on a hideous green-striped couch, Carson and Rickie sat on two sorely overused mismatched kitchen chairs, and Coffee and Bry shared a gigantic beanbag. Vic was thrown for a moment by the sound of Henry's voice droning on as they came into the room. He soon realized the voice was coming from a tape recorder set atop two milk crates.

"Again, you will remember how you were before you met Herbie. You will recall everything about who you were, how you felt, how you thought. The more you think about it, the easier it is to recall everything. You are fully aware of how you've spent the past months--"

"How goes it?", Vic asked.

Bry reached over and turned off the recorder. He shrugged, looking a bit uneasy. Everybody in the cramped room looked uneasy.

Carson leaned forward with his elbows on his thighs, massaging his temples with his fingertips. "It goes as well as can be expected", he mumbled.

Vic looked around the sparse room and realized that Henry's makeshift heat projector was still in use upstairs. "You guys can undo all of your hypnotic conditioning without the heat thing?"

"They've already been doing the heat projector thing", Henry clarified. "Now it's just a matter of some reinforcement."

"Henry's been working with us for the better part of a week", Acker said. "Damn near around the clock."

Henry stuffed his hands into his pockets. "I realize my voice isn't the best thing to listen to over and over, but since Vic couldn't do anything to help you guys--"

Vic rested a hand on Henry's shoulder. "You did fine."

Jamie ran his hands through his hair. "God, what we've been through all this time--! Can you fucking believe it??"

"Well, you look more like yourselves, anyway", Vic noted, indicating that all the boys were back into their own clothes and out of the hillbilly attire. "Is it all coming back to you? Who you really are, I mean?"

Jamie let out a derisive laugh, more of a snort, and put his head in his hands. "God, I do. I'm a guy who likes boys." Vic looked very worried and turned to Henry, who seemed as confused as he was. Jamie looked up and saw their concern. He brushed it away with a dismissive wave. "Oh, no. My mind's not still herb-roasted, if that's what you're thinking." He sighed. "I've known there was something different about me since I was little. Like summer-after-kintergarten little. I started to get an inkling of what was different about me around third grade, knew for sure by the time I started junior high. And I've been trying to hide it ever since." He looked up at the rest of the group. "Herbie may have forcibly put me into a situation I never wanted, but now that I'm out, I'm not going back in the closet of my own free will. I'm gay."

There was a moment of silence, then Acker spoke up. "But I'm not."

Jamie looked back at him, trying to appear hopeful. "You know it wasn't my idea to--you know, with you--" Acker nodded. Then Jamie asked, "Still friends?"

"Always." The two tapped knuckles on it.

"Well, I am certainly not gay", Carson said. "I may have gotten into it right along with everyone else, but I am so glad to have my own straight urges back in place. I am just a straight boy who was acting gay. That's all." Carson looked at Rickie.

"Well don't look at me! I'm straight, too!"

Carson smirked. "That's a relief, 'cause you're so not my type."

Vic walked over to Coffee and Bryce, who were still sitting very close together. "How about you guys?"

Coffee looked up, still seeming a bit frazzled. He had one hand wrapped tight around his chest, the other rubbing his shoulder. "I'm not sure. I feel like I'm back to my old self, but--"

Bry continued the sentence. "--We're not real sure what that means."

Vic looked at them questioningly. Coffee said, "The hypnosis made us do a lot of things, but the feelings we shared were real. I know it."

Bry nodded. "Me, too."

Vic raised an eyebrow. "So you guys were both gay already?"

Coffee thought about it. "I don't know for sure. It really never came up. We've been buddies forever, but--the time we spent forced to act out the role of lovers, it felt so--"

"--right", Bry said. Then, softer, he added, "I guess we have a bit of soul searching to do." He ran his hand gently over Coffee's shoulder.

"In the meantime, it might be a good idea to stop dressing alike, if only to avoid getting our asses kicked", Coffee suggested.

Vic smiled. "Good idea."

Carson pointed toward the ceiling. "So what about all the dozens of chickens up there?"

Vic looked at Henry, who explained, "A whole lot of them are on timers, in a way. They'll revert back to who they really are on their own. A bunch of the frat boys and jocks will think either it was a prank that they got a kick out of, or that they'd lost a bet or something. I doubt they'll go searching for Herbie to break his legs or anything."

Acker twisted his mouth into a sneer. "Pity."

Rickie said, "But if everybody just magically switches back on their own, what will they have to pin on Herbie?"

"Oh, well a handful of the kids will have to be reverted like you guys were", Henry clarified. "It can be done over several reversal hypnosis sessions. Like the police chief's nephew, the magistrate's kids, the chancellor's son. And those first two frat boys. They really think they're gay right now. Um, and chickens, too. They should be more than enough to get Herbie locked up."

Vic patted his ally on the back. "Thanks heavens the stalwart Henry thought there was something fishy about those flyers we were handing out and decided to investigate by following you guys around."

Rickie's eyes widened. "No shit, really?"

"No, but that'll be my story when they ask how I found out about everything about the experiment and snapped you out of it."

The general commotion going on above went up a notch in volume as the heavy trod of adult feet romped about the house, trying to contain the many boys who were flapping about, clucking like chickens. Other stern voices hollered for sex-crazed boys to get off one another, and break up their depraved farm boy sessions.

"Geez", Vic mused. "You'd think they'd never been in a hen house before."

View the dream cast of Herb Roasted ChickenEpilogue: FLYING THE COOP

A month later, Vic was lounging on the twin bed of Henry's single dorm room. All around him were piles of hay, a small hayloft door painted bright red with a bold white "X" frame, an old metal milk can, and a variety of photos of chickens and roosters. Henry entered from the hallway and Vic grinned. "I love what you've done with the place."

Henry smiled back. "I figure there's one or two things the theater classes will never miss. Besides, you sure seem to fit in." Victor was dressed in a new pair of stonewashed bib overalls, and a crisp new straw hat he'd picked up at a novelty joke shop. he was barefoot and shirtless, as he had been for so long before his liberation from Herbie's mind control.

"Well, I wasn't kidding Herbie when I said I felt at home like this. It's just nice to enjoy it without the mind-control mental manacles."

Henry mounted the tiny bed and sat astride his boyfriend. "Say that three times fast." Ever so gently, he kissed Victor on the forehead, then on the lips. Looking in his eyes, Henry said, "Aren't you going to ask me about the progress of my patent?"

Vic rubbed Henry's arms. "How's the progress of my patent?", Vic said, mockingly.

"Looks like it's gonna go through."

Vic sat up, hugging Henry tight. "Henry, that's great! When did you find out?"

"Just a little while ago. Looks like the Henry's Heat Hypnotizer will be ready for medical testing by spring. I say we go celebrate. But if we do, you gotta wear shoes."

"Deal", Vic agreed. He pulled Henry close to him and kissed him long and lovingly. After several moments in their embrace, they slowly separated and Vic said, "Man, I am so glad I came out. And I am so glad you were there waiting for me." Henry raised one eyebrow, looking impish. Vic wondered what that meant. "What?"

"I'd like to know how you stopped Herbie's patents long enough for mine to go through, is all."

Vic raised an index finger. "Ah! I merely showed him application forms for patents. I never said I sent them in."

The duo rubbed noses. "My design's way cooler looking, anyway", Henry bragged.

"The advantages of being an industrial designer", Vic commented. "You just redesign the outer casing, which, if I may say so, looks far spiffier yellow than red."

Henry kissed him again. "What say we go out and get to that celebration?"

Vic yanked off Henry's shirt. "I've got a better idea. What say we get to that celebrating--" and he reached over to the side of the bed and produced a second straw hat, which he placed upon Henry's head. "--but we do it right here, farm boy."

Victor began to tickle Henry, who giggled like a hyena under the assault. "Off with them cords!", Vic teased. "Into some bibs!" Henry protested to no avail, until the laughing, tickling, horse-playing boyfriends tumbled off the side of the bed and into a mound of hay. They saw no reason to pull themselves out of it for another hour and a half.

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