Stephen Ayres© All rights reserved.

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Dark Place:

Aus Schwärzung Heraus

A hand reached in from beyond the darkness. Alex instinctively put out his own hand. The stranger gripped Alex's forearm, pulling strongly. A masculine, Germanic voice called out, “Come with me if you want to live.”

Alex was free of the dark limbo He was naked, standing in a dimly lit locker-lined corridor. Even through a mental fog, Alex recognized his saviour as Alfred Steinhammer. This was not the leather wearing action hero or smart suited politician of later years, but Alfred at his 235lb bodybuilding peak. Oiled, depilated, and heavily tanned, Alfred wore only a skimpy black posing pouch.

The seven times Mr Olympia, every inch the Austrian Oak, grinned toothily and demonstrated his famous side chest pose. He stood side on, one arm by his side, hands clasped tightly together. Turning his chiselled torso slightly frontward, Alfred puffed out his chest, powerful arms tensing against each other. His huge pumped muscles, fed by a network of engorged veins, gunned into massive ripped magnificence. Embarrassed, Alex looked down at his own saggy unfit body. Sure, both men had large breasts but Alfred's were solid muscular pectorals whereas Alex's were flabby man-bags.

“What is this?” mumbled Alex. “Where am I? I was just pissing in the sea and then...that place. What the hell was that place?”

Alfred relaxed his stance, quizzically rubbing his chin, “You should be thanking me. I could have left you there.”

“I know, I'm sorry. Thanks...thank you. Really, I'm grateful, really really grateful. I thought I was never getting out of there. It just went on and on. Thought I was dead. As I said, one minute I'm pissing in the sea and then … whatever that was.”

“You are not dead any more, but you cannot stay here. The door to the outside, you must go there now.”

Alex noticed a doorway of intense white light at one end of the corridor. He was sure it had not been there a moment ago.

“Your future is there,” said Alfred. “You must be strong. Go through.”

“Strong, ha.” Alex shook his body, his fat flesh jiggling. “Just look at me.”

Alfred flexed his right arm, displaying the muscular peak of his biceps. “Come on Alex, feel the muscle. Put your hand there.”


“No more questions. Trust me, just do it.”

Alex reluctantly rubbed a finger across the top of the muscle. Alfred nodded his approval, “Now you will tell me how it feels. Come on.”

“Err...smooth, definitely smooth. Not oily at all. I thought it would be oily,” Alex felt awkward and pulled his hand away.

“You are not trying,” barked Alfred. “Feel the muscle, squeeze it. What does it tell you?”

Alex obeyed, seriously this time, using his whole hand. “It's solid. Vein's a bit rubbery, but the muscle is solid. It feels strong.”

“Ja, you have it now,” nodded Alfred, relaxing his arm, his toothy grin returning. “The muscle is strong, but my real strength come from here,” Alfred tapped the side of his head. “You must first strengthen your mind to focus on your goals, to break through the barriers. Only then can you make the body strong. The mind is first. You must make the mind strong.”

“Thanks for that,” said Alex, leaning back against a locker. “I guess there's no hope for me then. Look, instead of the very creepy male rubbing, couldn’t you just tell me what’s going on. What is this place?”

Alfred gave him about two seconds before reacting. “Come,” he growled, gripping Alex's arm, hurrying him along the corridor, “you must go now.”

Alex became nervous as they neared the doorway. He tried to resist, his bare feet skidding and squeaking along the vinyl floor. “This is shit,” he complained. “Why should I trust you anyway, you're an actor AND a politician. I'm dead. Admit it, I'm dead.” Alex inhaled deeply, shaking his head. “Go into the light. I've seen enough films to know what that means. That's Heaven through there. And Heaven's probably that bloody dark place? I'm not going back there again.”

“What are you, some kind of choirboy?” mocked Alfred contemptuously.

“No … I just need to know what’s going on. Was it my Julia, my ex-wife? Did she kill me, or have me killed?”

“How would I know? This is all in your mind. I am not me. I am you imagining me. It is reality out there, and I am your guide.”

“You mean this is all in my head?”

“Ja, you are imagining you're here with the me that you are imagining.” Alfred's voice was cold, humourless. “Now go out there. Stop being a girlyman. Show them what you've got. Show them all.”

“Show who? What do you...?”

Without warning, Alfred shoved Alex into the doorway. Alex cried out feebly as the corridor vanished, his world now brilliant white, “No, please, I’m naked!”

Stephen Ayres: Copyright 2008