But to start it all off we need to get me into the system. That’s why we’re at the Bellhaven Mall, sitting in Mark’s car. He’s carefully parked it where there are no security cameras, just in case they check. Once I give the go ahead, Mark gets out of the car and walks toward the mall entry. I wait two minutes, then I get out and head the same way.
The purpose is so that Mark can “find” me, a lost virus victim, wandering the mall without his caregiver. It’s not unusual for a reluctant carer to dump a kid at the mall. It shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows.
I find Mark near the mall entrance. I’ve already done my best to think about the saddest events of my life, to work up some fake tears. It’s tough but I think my eyes are red enough to be convincing.
Mark gives me a little nod, putting his hand on my shoulder and asking loudly for those around us to hear, “Are you lost buddy?”
And now it’s time to really get into character. We decided that the younger I pretended to be, the more likely people would commit abuse around me. But there was a limit to how young I felt I could convincingly act. And I needed to be old enough that they wouldn’t just leave me in a crib in an institution. I needed to see the whole system, including foster families. So we decided I would pretend to be about three years old, mentally.
I gave Mark an exaggerated nod. “Uh-huh!” I answered, with a little sniffle.
“It’s okay buddy, let’s take you to security so they can find your Mummy,” Mark said, taking my hand and now leading me through the mall.
I’d been dressed to look like the right age of course. A red and white striped t-shirt, baggy blue board shorts with no pockets, so no wallet or ID of course. My shoes were velcro sneakers with Minions yellow and blue socks. On my back was a minions backpack, a child leash dangling from it. Inside all they would find is empty juice boxes, cracker crumbs, a pack of crayons and a ratty old teddy bear.
Mark delivered me to mall security. A ruddy faced middle aged man in a brown rent-a-cop uniform looked me over with disdain.
“I found him wandering around all by himself. He clearly looked lost and pretty upset,” Mark told him.
The man nodded. “Did you see anyone leave him?” he asked Mark.
“Not your fault,” the mall cop said. Then he turned to me, looking at me like a moron, like I was clearly too thick to understand him as he asked, “Did your Mummy or Daddy bring you here?”
I did my best to look simply scared and confused, just as he would have expected. I nibbled on my thumb and twisted my body about, saying nothing.
The mall cop frowned but didn’t seem surprised by my silence.
“What’s your name?” he asked next.
I decided to give him an answer this time, but a brief one.
“Dabey,” I told him. We decided it would be safe to use my own name, since it was very common anyway.
“Davey, that’s good,” the mall cop told me. “What’s your last name Davey?”
I blinked like it was the toughest question he could have asked. Then I said, “Me Dabey,” and gave him a little smile.
He sighed. “Okay buddy, that’s okay. Do you know what your Mummy’s name is? Or your Daddy?”
“Mummy!” I replied quickly now, smiling innocently, like this was clearly the right answer.
The mall cop rolled his eyes and I had to fight the urge to chuckle at his suffering. He turned to Mark and said, “Thanks for bringing him in. Looks like we’ll have to get the cops in on this one so if you wouldn’t mind sticking around…”
Now it was Mark’s turn to look upset. “Hey sorry man but I actually have a date that I’m already going to be late for and I did my duty bringing the boy here. He’s safe now and I’m not gonna be able to tell the cops anything useful. So sorry mate, but he’s your responsibility now.”
And just like that Mark turned and left the security office without looking back at me. I was on my own now.
The cops arrived half an hour later. I was less than impressed by their response time, especially as I’d been given nothing but a piece of paper and the crayons they found in my bag to play with. It was tough having no phone, no kindle, nothing to actually entertain myself with. I drew my best scribbles nonetheless, focusing on making them believable.
The police officers were a male and female patrolmen, wearing full blue uniform and high-vis vests. They took the mall cop’s statement, then the female officer, a pretty young blonde, knelt down to the table I was scribbling at and gave me a big smile.
“Well hello there Davey,” she said. “My name is Shawna.”
I looked up at her and stopped scribbling for a second.
“What you drawing there honey?”
I looked back at the messy scribbles. They didn’t look like a single recognisable thing.
“Is a bunny,” I said, pointing to one red scribble. “Daz a monkey,” I explained, pointing to a green one.
Shawna responded very positively, telling me how good an artist I was. It was painfully condescending, but at least she seemed genuinely nice.
“Davey, that’s your name isn’t it?” she asked next.
I nodded, acting shy still.
“Good boy. Now, do you know what I am?” she asked.
I shook my head.
“Well I’m a police officer. It’s my job to keep little boys nice and safe and get them home with Mummy and Daddy,” she explained.
“Po-eese offercer,” I repeated, like I was sounding it out, badly.
She nodded, ignoring my terrible diction. “Exactly. Now, Davey, if you can answer a few questions for me, it would really help. That sound okay to you?”
I nodded, but of course I didn’t actually answer any of her questions. No, I don’t know Mummy and Daddy’s names, no I don’t know my street or phone number. No, I don’t remember what Mummy’s car looks like or what colour it is. Finally Shawna gave up and told me we were going to take a little ride. She acted like it should be very fun and exciting, riding in a police car, so I smiled and tried to look excited too.
Shawna sat in the back seat of the car with me, doing up my belt and everything. It was so weird being led by the hand, having someone do everything for me. But I kept up the act. We were almost there.
Sure enough the police didn’t drive me to a station. They drove to the nearest emergency juvenile facility, basically a modern orphanage. These were places they put kids until they could place them in foster care. Sometimes that was overnight. Other times it was weeks or even months. That wasn’t what they were meant to be for, but it happened far too often.
I had seen these places before, but never as a client of course. The facility they took me too was standard design. It was cold and sterile looking on the outside. Inside there was a big front desk where they processed new arrivals. The cops explained my situation to the woman on duty. She was about forty years old, overweight with brown hair cut short.
“What’s his mental age?” the woman asked the cops.
“We don’t know for sure. But he seems about two to me, maybe a young three,” Shawna answered.
The woman frowned. “Two and three are quite different,” she told the cop.
I felt like frowning too as I’d apparently been acting a bit too young damn it.
“Is he in nappies, pull-ups or undies?” the woman followed up.
Shawna shrugged. “Well, we haven’t really checked that.”
The woman nodded in my direction. “Well, have a look then,” she said.
Shawna and the male cop didn’t look comfortable, but she did as asked. I did my best to look totally unconcerned as the woman pulled up my t-shirt, snaked a finger into my shorts’ elastic waist and pulled it out. I shouldn’t care who saw my undies of course. Little boys had no sense of privacy. That was a big part of the problem of course.
I was wearing little boy underoos. They were white with navy blue piping and dinosaur prints. Shawna looked them over. It was so strange to have this woman gazing at my underwear while I just stood there. It wasn’t foreplay after all. She wasn’t interested in what was inside of them, she was just checking to see if I was toilet trained.
“He’s in undies,” she called out, no need to be discrete for a little boy.
The woman nodded. “Right, probably three then, or at least close to it,” she declared. “I’ll take him from here.”
Shawna let my shorts and shirt go, but before she went she did give me a little hug. It was nice, being held in her warm arms and I automatically let my arms close around her, returning the gesture.
“You’ll be safe now Davey. You’re going to stay here for now and we’ll look for your Mummy so you can go home really soon,” she told me as she hugged me.
I didn’t say anything back. It was kind of nice not to be expected to.
Just like that the police officers left me with the woman, Shawna giving me a little wave as she left. I waved back, wiggling my fingers little kid style.
“So, Mummy left you then. Couldn’t have a little tyke cramping her lifestyle anymore?”
The woman had come out from behind the desk and was addressing me coldly, not expecting any response of course.
“Well it’s not your fault of course, nothing you could have done. Some women just can’t deal with the responsibility.”
For a moment I had assumed she was angry at me, but now it was clear she was angry for me. She’d seen too many boys abandoned this way.
“Okay Davey, my name is Miss Devine and I’m in charge here, do you understand?”
I nodded right away.
“Good. Now as long as you be a good boy, follow all the rules and do as you’re told, we’ll get along just fine. Can you do that? Are you a good boy Davey?”
Another nod. “I good boy.”
She smiled. “Excellent, now let’s get you up to your dormitory,” she said, taking my hand.
Now the real test began for me. From now on I’d be around people who were used to dealing with virus victims all day long. They knew how a mental three year old behaved. They would be tougher to fool than a mall cop or even the actual police.
Miss Devine tugged me along by the hand with no real regard for my comfort. I nearly tripped over twice and she just pulled me along harder. We hurried upstairs and along a carpeted hallway. I could hear people in the rooms to our left and right. My guide took us to the third door on the right and I saw the sign on the door said Dormitory 5.
It was bigger than I had expected. What I had thought was a bedroom turned out to be a sort of playroom and bedroom. There were several beds along each of the walls, left and right, but the middle was a large carpeted area designed for play. A table sat just to the left of the centre, a place for snacks and meals to be eaten. And along the wall, five small red plastic potty chairs. Well, small but not as small as they could have been. They were clearly meant to fit adults.
Miss Devine immediately made eye-contact with the only other independent adult in the room. She was blonde like Shawna, her hair in braids. She looked to be in her twenties, thin and pretty in fact. It was obvious that she was in charge here as she was wearing normal looking clothing, a blue jumper and jeans with sneakers.
“Anne, this is Davey. The police have just dropped him off. He was abandoned at the mall this afternoon. He appears to be toilet trained, at least during the day,” Miss Devine told the woman as she walked over to us.
Anne didn’t look pleased at all. “Another one? Jesus, we don’t have any more space,” she argued.
“You think I want this? What choice is there. Some b-i-t-c-h is out there living the dream again and we’re here to clean up the mess. That’s all there is to it,” Miss Devine replied.
“I know that, I do. It’s just… it’s too much for me to keep an eye on them all as it is. And what about those new clothes?”
“I told you, we had to make cuts to the laundry budget. They’re not going anywhere so it doesn’t really matter anyway does it? Of course not. Now, I have to get back to the front. I have faith you’ll be able to handle things here Anne. Don’t underestimate yourself.”
Then she looked over and me and said, “Davey, this is Anne. She’s going to look after you. Remember what I said about being a good boy for her. I don’t want to hear anything bad about you from her. Is that clear?”
I nodded silently.
Miss Devine let my hand go, spun on her heels and was gone without another word.
Anne gave me a sad smile and put her hand on my shoulder. “Welcome to our little family Davey. I’m sure we’ll get along really well,” she told me.
I did my best to look assured, nodding.
“Great! Now, let me show you where you’ll be sleeping,” she said.
As Anne led me to an empty bed I took in the other occupants of the room. I counted nine other men and women, all looked after by this single young woman. I made ten of course. There appeared to be five other men and four women in this room. What gave me pause was that most of the men were just wearing shorts, a couple in ratty, stained looking t-shirts, but the rest topless. The women were no better, in simple skirts or shorts, two of them topless, their boobs jiggling free as they crept on the floor on their hands and knees.
As we walked I pointed to them and asked, “Why they nakey?”
Anne shrugged and said, “Well, we just want you boys and girls to be nice and comfy.” It was clearly a lie. They were suffering a shortage of appropriate clothing, and the ability to keep them clean. It was like a third world orphanage here.
We reached the bed and Anne gave it a pat, telling me to sit on the light blue duvet. I did as directed and she looked down at me and said, “Well Davey the thing is right now we can’t actually clean your nice clothes if they get all dirty. And we don’t want them getting all ruined do we?”
I had to shake my head.
“No, that would be very bad,” Anne agreed. “We want those clothes nice and clean for when Mummy comes to get you. Won’t that be nice?”
“Uh-huh!” I agreed with a bright smile, though I was afraid I knew where this was going.
“Yes, exactly. So we better take them off now before you join the others playing. You know how messy we get when we play.”
Now I frowned and crossed my arms like an angry toddler. “Wike my cwodes. Big boy cwodes,” I tell her.
Now Anne nodded seriously. “Yes I can see that. You’re a very big boy aren’t you?”
“So you’ll be a good big boy and help me keep your clothes clean then, help me pack them away nice and safe.”
“What I gonna wear?” I asked, really nervous now.
“Well I have some nice shorts for you, just like the other boys.”
I wondered what would really happen to my clothes. Probably they’d be passed on to some mentally older boy, or perhaps they would be saved for me, to be worn only when a social worker visited or I needed to be taken outside somewhere.
Anne made quick work of ripping the velcro of my sneakers open and peeling them and my cartoon socks off. I obediently raised my arms while she slipped my t-shirt over my head, then held my breath as she yanked my shorts, again exposing my silly little boy undies.
Just like that, in mere seconds really, I was rendered practically nude. As part of the prep work for this I’d had the treatment that rendered virus victims childishly hairless for months at a time. So my body was now just as smooth as the others. I watched Anne pack my clothes and shoes into a plastic bag, then she smiled at me and said, “See, isn’t that better?”
I shrugged, feeling so, so embarrassed to be standing there in my underoos. Here was this pretty young woman and she was seeing me nearly naked and I couldn’t even attempt to cover up. Even my blushing, and I had to be blushing, could be giving me away. It was actually a relief when she helped me step into the new baggy board shorts that were to be my only uniform from now on.
Anne could see that I was uncomfortable and she put her hand back on my shoulder and said, “Oh Davey, it’s okay honey. Tell me, how old are you sweetie? Do you know?”
I shook my head. “I ‘unno.”
“Well I think you’re probably three. Does that sound right to you honey?”
I nodded, glad she guessed right. Well, happy that I seemed to be acting three right.
“Well there’s no reason for a boy your age to be feeling so modest. I think you’re as cute as a button,” she said with a warm smile. “Now, why don’t we go say hello to your new playmates. Does that sound okay to you?”
I nodded. “Kay.”
She took my hand and led me over to where the other kids were playing. “Everyone, I want you to look at me now please. Jenny, eyes on me please. Good girl. Okay, I want you all to say hello to Davey. He’s going to be staying here too.”
“Hi Dabey!” the whole group of mentally regressed men and women chorused.
“Jamie, can you show Davey your toy trucks,” Anne prompted a ginger haired boy in his twenties.
The young man nodded and began excitedly showing off his Tonka trucks to me. I did my best to seem interested, dropping down onto the carpet next to him. Anne left us to play and the others returned to their games. I was just another one of the kids now, just another little boy playing on the floor. I’d pulled it off, they all thought I belonged here.
So was there abuse in the orphanage? Well, that was actually harder to say than I might have expected. On the one hand any outside observer surely would have been horrified by the conditions we were living in. If I had burst in here with a camera crew we’d have got exactly what we were looking for, scenes that would shock our viewers, drive the ratings up and embarrass the employees.
Here nearly a dozen young men and women were being kept nearly naked on a perpetual basis. We were expected to toilet together all at the same time, sat on the five potty seats in two groups, forced to pee or poop while the other five watched, waiting their turns. What little dignity we had disappeared during these episodes, as our shorts and undies were stripped away en masse and we were left to play completely nude while awaiting the potty seat and then afterwards until everyone was done. With only a single proper adult in the room it was the most efficient thing to do, and of course toddlers didn’t have the awareness to be embarrassed by such treatment. I’d heard of things like this about orphanages in third world countries before, but not here.
But Anne was doing her best to keep us clean and entertained. We got walked through a shower once a day for a cursory scrubbing. It didn’t do much for the hair though and so I, like the other boys, was given a very short hair cut that first day. The girls hair just got matted and dirty though. Anne did her best to keep the peace, fix the boo-boos and make us feel cared for. She had a guitar and she would sit there playing it and singing to us while we all gathered around her on the floor. I could see she really cared about us.
The food wasn’t great, but it was sufficient, though only just. No one would be getting fat here, that was for sure. Milk and juice were served in small boxes with straws, provided by charities mostly. The food itself was probably not that great for nutrition and there was nowhere near enough in my opinion. But no one was going to starve here either.
I had been there for three days and I was beginning to think we should just abort this mission and try again in a different location. The story here wasn’t really scandalous enough to stand by itself. But then our dormitory got a new addition.
Another young man had been abandoned by his carer, but he was different from the others and that obvious as soon as he arrived, led by Miss Devine. For starters he was dressed, well, like any normal adult man. He was wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants with sneakers. But nothing about the clothing was very childish. The t-shirt was plain light blue, the sweats were navy and his sneakers had laces.
I guessed him to be around thirty, a bit overweight, short black hair. He wasn’t happy to be here at all.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” he snapped upon seeing the rest of us.
It was potty time and it hadn’t even occurred to me that we were all naked of course, myself included. I suddenly felt a wave of shame. After the first twenty-four hours I’d largely adjusted to the lack of clothing, to the shameful potty times. We were inside after all, the others were all morons with the exception of Anne, and she was used to it. But having a stranger, a competent one, see me like this, woke up my modesty.
“Anne, this is Tommy…”
“It’s Thomas,” he corrected.
Miss Devine ignored him. “And he’s three years old.”
“No, I’m clearly not!” he argued. “I have the virus, but I’m not three yet. They say it could be six months before I get back to that level.”
“Legally he is three years old,” Miss Devine continued, ignoring his protests.
“Only because my bitch girlfriend insisted on getting my legal status changed right after I was diagnosed. And then she went and backed out on the whole thing and ran off. But I’m still perfectly capable of looking after myself. I don’t need to be here with… them,” he spat with utter disgust.
“Honey you’re here because you are legally a minor and can’t be living on your own. If you petition the court they’ll tell you the same thing. The virus is unstable, it may be six months, it may be much less. It’s too dangerous for you to be out there all on your own while you lose your mental faculties. Let us take care of you,” Anne explained to him in her kind, even tone.
Thomas calmed down a bit, but he didn’t look happy. “I get that, I do. But why can’t I be put with older kids? What on Earth am I going to do with them? I’ll go nuts with boredom.”
“Sounds like someone needs a booster,” Miss Devine said.
Thomas’ face utterly blanched. “Don’t you fucking dare!”
“Language Tommy,” she snapped back.
“Hey, hey, hey, don’t worry mate,” Anne intervened. “We don’t have the funding for that kind of thing anyway.”
Thomas calmed down again but said, “So, why not an older room then?”
“The other rooms are already too full,” Miss Devine answered. “You’ll just have to make do here for now.”
“If something opens up I’m sure we will try to move you,” Anne added. “And this will only be temporary anyway, until a foster home becomes available or a guardian volunteers to take you.”
“One of my friends will agree. You just need to let me contact them,” Thomas urged.
“Of course. I’m sure we can help you with that,” Anne agreed.
Miss Devine rolled her eyes but Thomas couldn’t see that. And with that she left the room.
“Well, let’s get you a bed,” Anne told him.
Thomas nodded, then asked, “Why are they all bare bottomed like that?”
“It’s potty time. It helps a lot of them to avoid accidents and saves on messy clothes.”
“I’m not taking my clothes off, understand?” Thomas insisted.
“Of course not,” Anne said with a chuckle. “I trust you’ll be able to keep yourself clean.”
Thomas nodded gratefully.
“So what can I do then? I don’t see anything but baby toys.”
“Well I have some games on my phone. You’re welcome to play them until dinner time.”
Thomas shrugged. “I guess that’s a start. But that’s probably going to get boring pretty fast.”
“Well, we’ll deal with that when we come to it,” Anne said, taking out her phone and unlocking it. “Here, try this one,” she said, handing it to him.
Thomas sat down on his bed and started playing the game. Anne returned to potty duty, checking to see if the current set had done their business yet, cleaning them up if they had, encouraging them to make pee-pees or poopies if they hadn’t yet. Meanwhile I kept glancing over at Thomas. He really was engrossed in that game, whatever it was. For a solid half an hour he didn’t move from that spot. His fingers just kept working the screen, his eyes locked on it.
As time wore on though I noticed that Thomas was looking sleepier and sleepier. His eyelids were drifting slowly shut, even as he played the game. Finally Anne seemed to notice this as well. She walked over and sat down next to him. But Thomas didn’t seem to even notice her arrival. He just kept playing the game while she brushed a finger through his hair. Still no reaction from him at all.
Anne put her hand on his shoulder and leaned right up against him, whispering something into his ear. And just like that his whole body seemed to go limp. The phone dropped to the carpeted floor as his arms fell into his lap like wet rags. His eyes closed and his chin dropped to his chest, his shoulders slumping, mouth hanging wide open.
None of the other kids seemed to notice anything. I had to pretend to be oblivious as well, playing with a toy school bus, driving it around in circles. But really I was watching what was happening to Thomas with awe.
Anne put her arm right around his shoulders and was speaking to him too softly to hear anything she said. Thomas remained totally limp, eyes closed, drool hanging from his gaping mouth now. Ten minutes passed, maybe fifteen then Thomas opened his eyes again, his head jerking upwards, righting itself. He blinked the sleep away as Anne rubbed his arm.
“Feeling better honey?” she asked him.
To my surprise Thomas nodded.
“Okay, let’s get you more comfy then,” she directed, standing him up.
And then the really stunning part came. Anne began to strip him of his adult clothing, same as she’d done to me. But with all his complaints earlier I was sure Thomas would resist. He didn’t though. He just stood them, totally compliant as she slipped off his shoes and socks, his t-shirt and even as she pulled down not just his pants but his boxer shorts as well. And just like that he was as nude as the rest of us, and when he turned around to face us there was another surprise. Thomas was fully erect. His penis wasn’t shaved bare like the rest of us either. But I wondered how much longer that would last.
“Okay Tommy, are you ready to potty like a big boy?” she asked him a condescending sing-song voice.
And the newly naked man grinned like an idiot, nodding and declaring, “Tommy big boy!”
Anne took his hand and led the newly naked man right over to an empty potty, helping him sit on it. He sat there, gaping at us, drool still running down his chin, hanging from it in a single shining bead. But he couldn’t tinkle in the potty of course, not with that stiffy. Instead he poked at it, toyed with it innocently, his erection bobbing about, smacking against his lower stomach, leaving a little precum there.
“My doodle big!” Tommy suddenly announced. “Doodle bounthy!”
I blinked in shock. The other boys laughed and clapped their hands. The girls just giggled and poked out their tongues at our silly new playmate.
Anne chuckled and had to cover her mouth. “Well, maybe you should play with the others for a bit. You can use the potty when your doodle gets soft.”
And now Tommy actually smiled. He grinned and nodded. Then he joined us one the floor and just like that he was one of the boys. Anne packed his clothes into the same kind of bag mine were in, leaving him with the rest of us. He was just another naked toddler man now, left to play with the simplest of toys.
Astonished by this sudden transformation I crept over to Tommy, watching as he pushed a toy police car around the carpet, down on his hands and knees, his penis still hard, still swinging free between his thighs, the head bobbing against his tummy.
“Tommy, what happened? I thought you were a big grown-up?” I whispered to him once I was right alongside.
The man looked at me with a slack expression, then he turned and dropped onto his bare bottom, sitting with his feet pressed together. He still held the toy car in one hand, and pulled curiously at his own bare toes with the other while he answered me.
“I wad big. But I gotta boo-boo. I wad gettin widdle,” he explained.
“Yeah, I know, you have the virus…”
“Da baby viwus. Makes widdle,” he agreed, wiggling his toes against each other.
“Right, but you said that was six months away, remember?”
Tommy looked at me with utter confusion on his slack face. “Waz six monts?”
I couldn’t believe how complete his dumbing down seemed to be. He’d lost his numbers, he’d lost his understanding of time.
“It means a really long time,” I explained.
Now Tommy understood me. He nodded and said, “Uh-huh! But Anne hewped it be faster. Got awll widdle. Big boy stuff gone bye-bye.”
“But I thought you didn’t want it to be faster. Didn’t you want to stay big, wear your big boy clothes?”
Tommy shook his head. “Nuh-uh. Widdle’s funner. Imma nakey boy now!” he said with clear pleasure, pulling his whole foot back and forth.
And that was all there was to it. Tommy wouldn’t be contacting any friends to be his guardian after all. He wouldn’t have known how to use the phone to call them. He was no different to the other kids now. Soon he’d be sent off to a foster family and he’d be just as helpless as the others. They’d never know he hadn’t even had a booster.
There was a story here, that was clear. But was it enough? No, probably not. After all Tommy did have the virus, he was regressing to toddlerhood anyway. All they did was speed it up without his consent. And since he was a minor and in their care perhaps they didn’t even need his consent. Legally they probably could have compelled him to have a booster if they had the funding. Was the hypnotic treatment any different?
No, I couldn’t call it off yet. I needed to see where this led.
I had been in the dormitory for a week when Miss Devine came back for me. I was being moved to a foster home. Well actually three of us were, including Tommy. He was taken first in fact. They brought him a new outfit to wear. Of course he couldn’t be dressed in his old adult clothes. No, he was given a faded old Wonder Pets t-shirt and some jean shorts. No shoes though, not even a pair of sandals or jandals.
I waited to see if they would give him a reversal trigger, wake him up from the toddler mentality they’d put him in. After all that had probably been a mercy, stuck in this place for days on end, nothing but toddler toys for entertainment. But now he was leaving, heading out into the world. There’d be no more chances to wake up from this. And he might still have half a year, maybe more, with a functioning mind.
Anne gave him a cuddle and a kiss on his forehead.
“Okay Tommy, say bye-bye to your friends,” Miss Devine cooed to him.
“Bye-bye!” Tommy chirped with a silly smile, waving his arm up and down in an exaggerated wave.
They didn’t give him any reversal trigger. He padded out of the room on his bare feet, happily babbling to himself as Miss Devine led him along by the hand.
Two hours later it was my turn to have a cuddle and kiss from Anne, to give my best fake bye-bye wave to the others and be led away. At least I was given new clothes to wear. The dormitory was like a cacoon, a safe place. It would have felt very wrong to be shirtless outside of it. But the clothes they gave me weren’t the ones I came in with. In my case it was a red t-shirt with an anthropomorphic puppy playing basketball on the front. That and a pair of cut-off jean shorts that clearly had several previous owners.
At least the puppy on my shirt had basketball sneakers. I wasn’t given any shoes to wear this time.
“Weh my sneaks?” I asked, when Miss Devine pronounced me ready to go, once my t-shirt was on.
“Oh you won’t be needing those honey. You look plenty comfy in your bare feeties,” Miss Devine brushed off my question.
And just like that we were off. Miss Devine handed me off to a woman in business attire, a name badge on her lapel identifying her as an Oranga Tamariki case worker named Melanie Esdale. She looked me over and seemed satisfied with my attire. No comment was made about my lack of footwear. I had the feeling no child left this centre with a pair of shoes. She simply took my hand and led me out of the building, buckling me into the back seat of her car.
Melanie was pleasant to me, but not really warm. This was her job, she was professional, but probably far too overworked to really take an interest in her clients anymore.
“You’re going to like your new home Davey,” she told me. “You’ll have brothers and sisters now and a Mummy and Daddy to look after you.”
“Weh my Mummy?” I asked her.
I could see her frowning in the rear view mirror. “Oh, we’re still looking for her baby. But your new family will look after you until we find her.”
“Who my new famiwy?”
“Well you’re getting a nice, big new family honey. You’ll have a big brother and there’s two boys about your age. And a little sister as well. I’m sure you’ll all be best friends in no time,” she assured.
It was a good hour drive from the orphanage to my new home. And as we went I noted that we were headed to the south of the city. That was to be expected. Most of the foster families were relatively poor and the south was the lower class area of the city. Sure enough she took an exit that led us into one of the poorest suburbs in the city. We passed through the rusting industrial areas and then into the sprawling rows of state houses built in the 50s and 60s to house the workers. They had mostly been sold off to private owners now, but they didn’t live in these dumps. No they rented them out to people who got government accommodation supplements. They were home to minimum wage slaves, unskilled labourers, single mums on the benefit and gangsters.
It was on one of these streets that Melanie pulled over and parked the car. It was exactly as I feared. The houses here had peeling paint, rusted metal roofs, front yards overgrown with weeds, fences broken and falling over. A gaggle of three small children, probably four or five years old, were running wild along the footpath. Two of them were shirtless, wearing only shorts while the third wore a t-shirt and undies. They ran right out into the road a moment later, not even thinking to look for traffic.
But the most ominous sign about what I was in for was the man on the footpath right in front of us. He was squatting in the middle of the pavement, wearing a blue t-shirt that appeared to be two sizes too small for him. He was wearing that and a pair of childish underoos, dirty ones with a hole visible on the bottom. The fellow was thin and young, probably not over twenty-five. His hair had been cut so short it was practically shaved. His body was hairless too of course, smooth all over. He was staring at us, at the parking car, with a slack, vacant expression. Was that drool shining on his chin?
Melanie got out of the car and looked right at the half-naked young man. Was she upset? Was she going to write up a report about this clear neglect? There was no sign of any supervision, the man-boy was alone out here, on the street.
She smiled and walked right over to him. “Well hello there Evan, what are you doing out here sweetie?” she asked him in a bright tone.
Evan giggled and smiled. It was a big, dumb grin. “Eban makin’ pit-chures,” he answered, showing her the red chalk in his hand.
Melanie nodded and made a show of looking over the scribbled chalk drawings he had made on the pavement. “Oh, yes I see, that’s very good,” she enthused.
Evan continued drawing for her, and it was clear that Melanie wasn’t concerned by his lack of pants, his lack of supervision at all. She didn’t comment on it, didn’t look worried and made no attempt to take him back into the yard. And of course she wasn’t. Those three kids were on their own playing in the street. It wasn’t like a lack of supervision was unusual here. And Evan’s lack of pants was no different to that of any toddler. No one was giving him a second glance.
Melanie came around to my side and opened my door. “Here we are sweetie. Let’s say hello to your new brother Evan,” she said, undoing my belt and taking my hand.
I stepped onto the warm pavement, feeling it gritty and rough under the bare soles of my feet. Yes I’d been barefoot a solid week now, but that was inside, on a soft carpet. This was very different. This was not something I was used to at all. I didn’t like it, not one bit. It felt dirty and uncomfortable and was an instant sign to anyone looking that I was a child and not worth paying attention to.
Evan meanwhile had dropped onto his knees, scribbling hard with his red chalk. His t-shirt only came halfway down his back, it was so small for him. I could see the bumps of his spine halfway up. And the soles of his feet were on display now and it was impossible to miss how black they were, how callused the heels and the toes looked. That didn’t bode well at all. This boy was filthy.
“Evan, say hello to your new brother, Davey,” Melanie told him.
Evan spun around, sitting on his bottom on the pavement, legs crossed in front of him, gaping up at me. He blinked and began to chew on the chalk, right on the side he’d been rubbing all over the dirty footpath.
“Don’t be shy honey, say hello,” Melanie prompted again.
“Hi,” he said from around the chalk.
“Good boy,” she praised. “Well, Davey, can you say hello too?”
“Hewwo,” I said.
“Lovely. Now, let’s see where Mummy and Daddy are.”
Melanie led me inside, leaving Evan to continue his drawing on the footpath. The yard was overgrown, a rusting trampoline taking up half of it, a swing-set with not a single intact swing sat opposite. The front door was blue with mostly glazed glass. There was no bell, so Melanie knocked.
“Hello, hello!” she called out.
“Just a sec,” came a reply from within. And soon enough we were greeted by a middle aged woman in a hoodie, some track pants and fluffy slippers.
“Hello Mrs Williams. This is Davey, your new foster child,” Melanie announced.
The woman gave a small smile, but I didn’t think it looked genuine. She smelled of cigarette smoke and wasn’t wearing any make-up. Her hair was dark blonde but I suspected it was coloured and the roots appeared to be darker.
“Thank you for bringing him,” my new mum told Melanie. “I’m sure I can handle things from here.”
“You don’t have any other questions?”
“I read all the info Matthew e-mailed through to me. I should be fine. If I have any issues, I’ll be in touch.”
Melanie nodded. “Well then, Davey, you behave for your Mummy okay. I’ll be checking up on you really soon.”
I was honestly shocked by how quickly this whole transaction went down. It was like she was dropping off a washing machine, not a child. And she didn’t even mention the half-naked man-boy playing unwatched on the footpath! Just like that she spun on her heels and walked back to her car, giving me one last wave before she disappeared.
“Okay Davey, come with me and we’ll see where you’ll be sleeping from now on,” Mummy directed, taking my hand.
“Lady go away,” I said, pointing to the departing social worker’s car.
“That’s right honey, you won’t be seeing her again for awhile. She only comes by to drop off more kids. Not that I mind, more kids is a bigger cheque for me and Daddy. Not that you understand that anymore. Money don’t mean a thing to you, does it silly boy?” she mocked.
I stayed silent, not wanting to retort and give anything away.
“I wonder what you were before the virus. Hmm? You remember what you used to do for a living when you were all grown up? Something smart?”
“Worked at da bank,” I lied.
She snorted. “Ha! Well, isn’t this quite a long fall for you. Don’t imagine you ever would have expected to end up living out here in Clendon Park. Well, you’re in good company. Evan out there, he was a lawyer before. Can you imagine that silly little boy all dressed up in suits and everything?”
I already hated this woman, lording it over these poor children, laughing at their plight. But I could see why she was bitter. The house was worse on the inside than it appeared from the outside. There was mould on the walls making the paint peel. The carpet was dirty and toys were abandoned all over. Piles of laundry sat unwashed and the rubbish bin was overflowing. An ashtray on the table next to the couch in the living room was utterly filled with cigarette butts.
And there in the living room I met two more of my new siblings. There was a man and a woman playing on the floor. The woman was sat on her bottom, cradling a baby doll in her arms and pretending to feed it a bottle. She was wearing nothing but a big crinkly white diaper herself, so it was funny that the baby doll was actually better dressed than her. She was a pretty woman, probably late twenties, her light brown hair tied into pigtails. She was thin, her breasts not exactly small, but not what I’d call too big either.
The man was older than her, probably a bit older than me actually. He was wearing a yellow t-shirt and a thick pull-up. His hair had been cut very short, though a bit longer than Evan’s at least.
“Say hello to your brother Paul and sister Hannah,” Mummy told me.
I didn’t actually say hello, and it didn’t seem like she really expected me to. The pair did look up at me though and I saw the curiosity in their eyes.
“Who dat?” Paul asked, pointing at me.
“This is Davey. He’s your newest brother,” Mummy told them.
Paul smiled. “Him pway?”
“I’m sure he’ll be happy to join you once I have him settled,” she answered.
The girl said nothing, choosing to chew at her dolly’s hair instead, blinking up at me with wide, empty eyes.
“Hannah don’t speak much yet,” Mummy explained as she led me out of the living room. “But I see you still have some words, don’t cha?”
“I gots words,” I answered.
She chuckled. “Well that’s something then. Can’t stand it when we get the non-verbal ones. They tend to cry all the time.”
The bedroom turned out to be even worse than I thought. They put all five of us in one room with just three beds. That meant I would likely have to share with a kid who wasn’t toilet trained, on a bed likely not properly washed after each accident.
“It ain’t much, but you’ll get used to it,” Mummy told me when I frowned. “Like I said, Evan used to be a lawyer. He was used to real fancy stuff. Now he shares a bed with his brother, runs around naked or half-naked most of the day and y’know what? He’s happy as a clam. Paul used to be some sort of engineer. He still loves building towers with his blocks, but that’s about it. And he’s a smiley little guy too. And Hannah was studying to be a teacher. Now she just seems to want to be a mummy to her dollies. Simple minds, simple needs.”
“Weh Daddy?” I asked.
“He’s workin’ buddy. Rent don’t pay itself. You’ll meet him later tonight.” Mummy seemed to think a moment. “And now that you’re here we need to go buy some food so Mummy can have dinner ready when Daddy gets home.”
I watched as she got the other kids ready for a trip to the supermarket. Evan was finally called inside. He continued sucking on his chalk while she slipped a pair athletic shorts up his legs. She put Hannah in a simple short-sleeved purple dress, no bra or anything. Paul got a pair of cut-off jean shorts quite similar to mine, though longer, falling to his calves. Neither his t-shirt nor Evan’s were long enough to cover their tummies though.
“Okay, now you all stay close to Mummy, remember. No running ahead or you’ll get a smack,” she warned.
We headed out of the house, I assumed to get in her car. But instead we turned down the footpath and started walking right past the cars parked nearest on the street.
“Weh da car?” I asked.
“Daddy’s got the car honey,” Mummy answered. “We get to walk. It’s good for you.”
I hadn’t expected that. I looked at the others, who despite her warning were already starting to skip ahead of her, giggling and playing. As they surged ahead I was able to see that Paul and Hannah had black, tough soles on their bare feet, same as Evan. They probably made this walk to the supermarket every day, making their feet tough as shoe leather. No wonder they were so dirty. But my feet were tender and after only twenty feet or so I already could feel that the hot pavement, the loose pebbles, the even sharper and hotter roads we’d need to cross, would be a nightmare for me.
“Mummy, my feets is soft,” I complained. “Gwound too hot ‘nd ouchy. I need sneaks.”
Mummy frowned and for once she actually seemed sympathetic. She stopped walking and put her hand on my arm. “Let me have a look,” she said, nodding to my feet.
I lifted my right foot up, so she could see. She looked closely at my sole, then ran a finger along it, making me giggle involuntarily.
“My goodness, those are soft. You must have just had the virus I guess. I’m sorry sweetie, but this is something you’ll need to get used to. Shoes just aren’t in our budget. Sure we could get real cheap ones but they’d fall apart in no time and need replacing. And good ones are just too expensive when you kids just don’t really need them,” she explained.
“But I need ‘em,” I told her, pleading.
She rubbed my shoulder kindly. “No sweetie, you don’t. I know it’s hard giving up all that grown-up stuff. But that’s the way things are. You’re little now and you need to get used to that. Little boys have no more use for shoes than they do a phone or a wallet. Your feet will toughen up soon enough and then you’ll be able to run ahead just like your brothers and sister and you won’t even notice the ground anymore.”
And with that she took my hand and started walking again. I had no choice but to go along with it. I did my best to stick to the grass alongside the footpath, but when we crossed the streets it was terrible. They paved the roads here with the cheapest tarseal and it was gritty and sharp to walk on, not to mention pitch black and thus scorching hot in the sun.
It was a real relief to be in the actual supermarket on their cool, smooth floors after a twenty minute walk. Evan sat in the trolley Mummy got, his feet pressed tightly against the wire mesh. The rest of us just kept a hand on the trolley and walked along with it. Touching things we weren’t meant to earned a quick smack on the back of the hand or the top of the head. Obviously I avoided that, but Hannah and Paul each got a few whacks.
We all had to help carry the shopping home. But we took a different route, much to my chagrin as my soles had only just begun to fully recover when we had to go all the way back. Our new route took us an extra ten minutes out of the way.
“Why we goin’ dis way?” I finally asked.
“We need to pick up your big brother Harry at school,” Mummy answered.
The school was a hive of activity. We arrived just at 3PM, as the hundreds of primary schoolers were being dismissed for the day. All along the gates mums were waiting to collect their kids and many had also brought along little siblings. Some were sitting in prams, others ran around playing games while they waited for big brothers and sisters.
The children leaving the school were all wearing the same uniforms. It was a sea of teal polo shirts or navy jumpers and black shorts or skorts. A little under half the kids also wore black sneakers or Roman sandals, but the majority were barefoot. Some carried the shoes they’d been sent to school with, others either had them in their bags or hadn’t bothered with them at all.
Despite the uniform clothing there were big differences between the children. It wasn’t just the mix of ethnicities, of short and tall, thin and fat either. No, it was a huge mix of ages as probably a quarter of the kids were physically adults. These bigger kids were mixed in with all the others though. Groups of friends walking and playing together would have three or four little kids and two six foot tall adults all acting like equals.
Indeed that was the case as two kids made their way straight towards us. One was a small ginger boy with a freckled face. His jumper stuck out the top of his oversized school bag and the six year old was riding a little razor scooter in bare feet. Riding right along next to him was a much bigger boy. He looked to be thirty or so with short brown hair. He was tanned with broad shoulders and a solid build. But in a matching teal polo shirt and baggy black school shorts he looked utterly boyish. He was also riding a beaten-up looking razor scooter in bare feet.
“Who’s that?” the older boy asked Mummy, stopping his scooter right before us.
“This is your new brother, Davey,” Mummy told him.
“Wow, you get another new brother?” his little friend asked.
Harry nodded. “Yeah I get heaps of ‘em,” he answered, sounding oddly happy about that situation.
“Cool,” his buddy agreed.
“How old is he?” Harry asked.
“About the same age as Evan honey. He’s a little brother,” Mummy told him.
I expected he’d be disappointed with that. He was probably hoping for a new playmate, a partner in crime. The last thing he would be wanting is another toddler around the house.
But to my surprise he actually seemed pleased with this. There was no sigh, no frowning. He looked utterly delighted to be honest.
“I gotta go,” his friend told him.
“Okay Brad, see you tomorrow,” Harry replied.
“So, you ready to go too?” Mummy asked him.
“Uh-huh! I’ll lead the way!” he answered, pushing off and racing ahead on his scooter.
He spent much of the walk home doing tricks on his scooter, zipping well ahead, then turning back. It was on the final block that he looked at me funny, riding all the way back to where I was dawdling along after the others. I wasn’t hurrying ahead the way the other boys and Hannah were as they tried to keep up with their big brother.
“You okay?” he asked me.
I understood what he meant. I was walking strangely now, my soles raw and feeling burnt. I shook my head. “Feets hurt. They ouchy,” I told him.
Harry stepped off his scooter and walked along next to me. “You musta just got little huh?”
I nodded silently.
“It’s okay, you’ll get used to it. My feets got all ouchy like that when I first got little too. But now look how tough they are!” he said, breaking into a sprint, glancing back at me to be sure I was watching.
I appreciated that he was at least trying to comfort to me. I was worried he would be nothing but a bully, obsessed with being bigger than the little kids. So far he seemed kind.
I was so relieved when we got back home. It was a dump but it was a relief to be standing on grass, even if it was overgrown. Mummy went inside but told us to stay out there.
“Why?” I asked, tired of being in the hot sun.
“Cuz kids need to be outside as much as possible, get that good air and everything,” she answered, before going in and closing the door behind her.
It seemed obvious to me that she just wanted us out of her hair. She was leaving four helpless kids basically unsupervised in the front yard. Meanwhile she would be watching TV or on her phone, or perhaps just taking a nap.
With the only adult gone the kids set to playing with the toys abandoned in the yard. Hannah crawled around the grass on her hands and knees, babbling nonsense to herself, her nappy visible to everyone. Paul and Evan kicked a little red soccer ball around. Then Harry walked over to them and said, “C’mon boys, don’t you want to be more comfy now we’re home?”
The two young men stopped kicking the ball around and nodded. Evan didn’t need any further instructions. He grabbed the waist of his shorts and yanked them and his underoos down in one motion, stepping out of them and leaving them in a pile in the grass. Paul watched this, nibbling on his thumb.
“Want brother’s help?” Harry asked the other boy.
Paul blinked innocently, then nodded. Harry slipped his thumbs into the boy’s waist and yanked his shorts and his pull-up down too.
And just like that both of the young men were naked from the belly-button down. That didn’t last long though. Harry wasn’t satisfied with taking their shorts. He guided Paul’s arms into the air and slipped his t-shirt off as well. Then he turned to Evan and said, “C’mon buddy, jaybirds don’t have t-shirts do they?”
Evan stopped poking at the ball with his toe and looked back up at Harry.
“No-oh, jaybiwds all nakey,” he answered.
“That’s right,” Harry cooed, stepping over and basically directing Evan’s arms into the air before yanking his light-blue t-shirt off as well.
“There, doesn’t that feel so much better?” he asked.
Evan smiled and nodded right away. And I was even more surprised to see that Harry then put his arms around the now nude man-boy and cuddled him very tight, rubbing his back and even pecking a little kiss on his cheek.
With that the two nudists went back to playing with their ball, kicking it and running around the yard oblivious to their nudity now, even as their flaccid penises swung and jiggled about as they played.
Harry watched them with real intensity, smiling to himself, looking very satisfied. What was going on here?
Then Harry turned to me and asked, “Would you like to play ball with the others Davey?”
His voice was very kind, like an adult would talk to a small child.
“I dunno,” I answered, acting shy.
Harry stood right in front of me and put his hand on my arm. “It’s a lot of fun. I promise you’ll like it. I know Evan and Paul would like it if you played too.”
The two boys stopped long enough for Evan to call, “Uh-huh! Dabey come pway wid us!”
I shrugged and said, “I guess.”
Harry nodded, pleased I was looking less reluctant.
“Good. But before you play we should get you out of these clothes, so you don’t get them all dirty,” Harry told me.
He wanted me naked too, I could see the eagerness in his eyes, the anticipation. Something was wrong with this. Why would a six year old be so keen to have his toddler brothers running around nude? And why didn’t his mannerisms fit his age now? Six-year old boys didn’t talk that way.
I shook my head and scowled. “Dun wanna,” I told him, acting shy.
Harry wasn’t giving up though.
“Oh come on now, you can’t be crawling around in the grass with your nice clothes on. And you’ll be so much more comfy without them. Look at Paul and Evan. Don’t they look happy with their doodles all nice and free?” he urged.
I made a show of looking at them, but there was no way I was stripping down out here, in full view of the street. And especially not with this creepy man urging me to. I decided to compromise instead.
“I take off my shirt,” I offered.
Harry frowned a moment but then seemed to accept this as a first step. “Yeah, okay, let me help you,” he said, pulling my t-shirt up over my head and throwing it in the grass.
“There now, doesn’t that feel much better?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Is okay.”
“You’ll see soon buddy. It’s much better to have no clothes on at all,” he told me.
“You takin’ your clothes off too?” I asked him.
But Harry shook his head. “Nah, I’m too big buddy. I go to big boy school now. I can’t be running around nakey-bummed like a little boy. But you’re little now, so you can do it and no one will mind. You’re the lucky one,” he assured me.
I decided not to argue the point. Instead I joined Evan and Paul in kicking their ball around. Harry just sat down on the front steps and watched us. He watched our every move. As the two nudists’ penises knocked back and forth between their thighs Harry was clearly enjoying the show. I wondered if he knew why he was excited by this. Little boys were often confused by such sexual desires, but Harry seemed to know exactly what he liked. It just didn’t feel right.
Mummy didn’t make dinner that night, she got takeaways instead. I got the feeling that was the normal situation for this family. We all ended up sitting around a table covered in fish and chips laid out over the now unwrapped brown paper they came in. It was finger food, so perfect for the poorly coordinated young men now filling up on the greasy, salty food. They ate as much as they could, chewing with mouths wide open, lips and fingers dirty from the cheap tomato sauce provided.
Paul and Evan were still naked of course, their doodles brushing against the table as they leaned over it to grab more food. It was so unhygenic, so disgusting, but I couldn’t say a thing of course. Mummy didn’t seem the slightest bit concerned when they came back in from the yard that way. Instead she had simply stripped Hannah out of her dress before dinner, leaving the young woman in just a nappy once again. And Daddy, when he arrived home from work just before dinner, didn’t give their state of undress a second glance.
No Daddy didn’t seem interested in kids at all, not even me, not even the new addition to the family. He just asked Mummy, “How old’s this one?” upon seeing me playing with the toys on the living room floor in just my shorts.
“He’s three, like the other two,” Mummy told him simply. “Name’s Davey.”
He just nodded and then went to the fridge for a beer, plopping down on the couch and casting Netflix from his phone onto the TV. It never ceases to amaze me that people living in such trashy accomodation still made sure to afford beer, a smartphone and a big TV.
“Mummy, Davey’s gonna get his shorts all messy with sauce. Shouldn’t he take ‘em off like the other little kids,” Harry suddenly pointed out.
What was going on here? He really seemed to want to get me out of my clothes like the other boys. Was it because it made him feel like a big boy to be all dressed while the rest were naked? Maybe this was about asserting his dominance as the oldest boy.
Mummy looked over at me and just shrugged. “He’s keeping himself clean so far,” she said, not even bothering to actually ask my opinion on the matter.
Harry didn’t look happy but he kept eating. I was glad that Mummy reacted that way but I needed to be careful not to stain my clothes with the tomato sauce. It was clear that getting messy would lead to Mummy stripping me to my undies before any meal, as with Hannah. And sure enough there was a big splash of the red sauce running down her left breast now. But the bare-boobed young woman didn’t seem to notice or care.
After dinner we were ordered into the back-yard, a small area with some grass but a lot of bare dirt, surrounded by rotten, falling down fencing. There was the frame of what was once a swing set, but all that remained of the swings were rusted chains. Now the kids simply used it for climbing around on. Hannah was quite a sight as she wrapped her legs around one of the poles, pressing up against the metal with her bare chest and her nappy.
For a bit Paul and Evan played another impromptu and poorly organised game of tag. But they stopped when Harry called out, “Uh-oh, looks like Evan’s feeling a bit happy!”
I looked up from where I was sitting in the small patch of grass. At first I was just glancing out of curiosity, but then I saw what Harry meant. Evan was fully erect, his bare penis standing straight up, bouncing against his tummy as he ran around. He wasn’t embarrassed at having his arousal pointed out though. No, he was still smiling as he stopped running and looked down at his stiffy. He gazed at it thoughtfully for a moment, then actually poked it, letting out a little giggle.
Harry went over to his side and, to my utter shock, he wrapped his fingers right around the shaft of Evan’s erection. The toddler-brained man just grinned at this massive invasion of his privacy, totally oblivious to how wrong this was. All he seemed to know was it felt good and that must mean it was a good thing.
Harry actually looked right up at me then and said, “Look how big Evan’s pee-pee is, Davey. Does your doodle get all big sometimes, just like his?”
I nodded silently, too shocked to speak even if I wanted to.
“That’s right,” Harry told me with a smile. “Doodles get all big when you’re feeling good, when you’re extra happy. And when that happens you know what you should do?”
I shook my head.
Harry giggled. “You come show it to me silly! I know just how to make it feel extra nice, make it feel so, so good. If you’re a good boy I’ll help you make squirt-squirts like this,” he explained, beginning to stroke Evan’s penis up and down.
I was frozen in place, too awestruck to do anything. And I didn’t even know what I should or could do anyway. Was I meant to intervene? Was this abuse or just a big brother helping his toddler brother feel good? Was this just what naturally happened between loving brothers when they had little boys’ minds but fully adult, sexually mature bodies?
Certainly Evan didn’t seem to mind his brother’s manipulations. His eyes were glassy, his breathing heavy, a smile playing at his lips. He nibbled on his fingers with one hand and rested the other on Harry’s shoulder, letting out little grunts as he neared climax.
Paul didn’t look disturbed either. He’d stopped playing and sat bare bottomed in the dirt, watching the show. Even Hannah seemed entranced by it, playing with her feet idly while watching.
But it was the way Harry helped his brother that made me more concerned. This wasn’t juvenile exploration of each other’s bodies. He didn’t look clumsy or curious at all. He was expert, he was gentle and comforting as he manipulated the man’s stiffy. And that was when I became certain Harry was a malingerer, a faker.
Of course I’d heard of such things before. They’d caught a handful of fakers, but it was rare. Some experts believed it was much more common than we’d like to think. Of course I was a malingerer too, but I was doing this for good reasons, in order to protect the vulnerable mentally regressed boys and girls. This young man was obviously malingering for his own purposes.
On the one hand this was terrible, but on the other it finally justified my investigation. Here I finally had a real story. No, it wasn’t exactly the one I had come for, but it was juicy and it was important. This would get good coverage and it might well lead to more safeguards, more systems to stop such exploitation.
Evan grunted louder than before, his eyes rolling upwards as spurts of white goo shot from his doodle, landing in the dirt and on his own toes.
“That’s it Evan! Good boy, get it all out for me!” Harry urged him, still stroking away as the naked man’s body spasmed and he came.
Paul giggled at the show and Hannah actually clapped her hands. I had no doubt they’d seen this before, probably many times.
Harry cleaned his hands crudely in the grass afterwards, smiling at me and saying, “You see how good squirt-squirts feel Davey. So you let me know when that doodle gets all big, all happy, okay?”
I didn’t answer, not even a nod. But he didn’t seem to care, he went back to playing with his toys, pretending to have the mind of a six year old. I crept over to where Evan was now playing with some colourful rings, sliding them up his arms and legs.
“Does Harry give you squirts a lot Evan?” I asked him quietly.
The man gave me a dumb smile and said, “Uh-huh! Hawwy makes my doodle skiwt. I’m a siwwy boy ‘nd I make lotsa messes.”
I just nodded and gently patted his back. Poor boy was too far gone to understand any of this. It was up to me to do something about it. But should I act now, or wait to see how far it goes? Was Harry doing other things? What about his friend? What if his playmates were like him and there was a whole network of malingerers? I needed to stay quiet and wait to see how deep this went.
There were no stories to be read to us at bed time, no tucking in and kisses on the foreheads. Mummy and Daddy simply announced it was time to get our butts in bed. No one changed into pyjamas or anything, no one brushed their teeth. Evan and Paul climbed into bed together, still nude, cuddling up under the covers. Hannah got her own bed and that just left one bed, which of course meant I was sharing with Harry. Ugh, this was the last thing I wanted.
But it got worse. Harry smiled at me as I walked into the room. He was already stripped down to his underoos. They were Spiderman themed, made for grown men with little boy interests. But then, to my surprise, he yanked them down and kicked them away. Frankly I was even more surprised to see he was completely smooth down there too, all his hair removed just like the toddlers. I wondered if he had done that to fit in, or if it had been done to him and he’d simply had to keep his mouth shut to keep his cover.
It was also impossible to miss how aroused he was. Obviously getting to sleep in the same bed with me had him very excited.
“Ready for beddy-byes?” he asked me.
I frowned. “You said big boys dun go nakey,” I reminded him. “You all nakey,” I pointed out, the way little kids often feel the need to state the obvious.
“Haha, yeah I sure am. Big boys can’t run around outside nakey. That’s a no-no. But in the house, especially for beddy-byes, it’s fine. I’m not that big yet, I’m only six,” he explained. “C’mon, it’s okay to get nakey for sleeping, you’ll feel much more comfy,” he urged me.
But I shook my head. I took off my shorts but left my underwear on, climbing into the bed.
Harry shrugged and climbed into the bed next to me, pulling the sheets over us.
“Let’s be cuddle-buddies,” he urged, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me close to his naked body so that our skin was pressed together.
I felt so awkward, so uncomfortable, but what could I say? I felt his penis brush against my bare thigh. He pecked a kiss on my cheek too.
“Aren’t you my cuddle-buddy?” he whispered to me.
I said nothing, just laid there uncomfortably stiff, sweating with worry.
But Harry wasn’t deterred. A second later I felt it, his hand slipping into my undies, this fingers brushing my soft penis, tickling it.
“Come on Davey, let big brother help you feel good,” he cooed.
I shoved him roughly. “No! Dazza bad touch. I tell Mummy!” I snapped.
The hand withdrew instantly, like he was burnt. Harry looked scared now, for the first time since I’d met him. “No, no Davey, you can’t say things like that,” he warned me.
I just frowned at him. “No touchin,” I repeated.
He nodded now, showing me his hands. “Okay, no touching. I’ll share with the other boys okay? You get your own bed, but we keep this our secret, okay?” he bargained.
I nodded. “Kay.”
Satisfied, he climbed out of the bed, padded across the carpet and climbed in with the other boys. They were happy to be cuddle buddies, they weren’t going to complain. They just didn’t know any better.
Harry didn’t say anything to me the next morning. He just got dressed in his school uniform, got handed his bag with a basic packed lunch from Mummy and headed out the door. It seemed like he was doing his best not to look at me even. He was clearly worried about what I would say to Mummy. Would I just let it slip out, what he’d done the night before? Would he be found out as a malingerer? He must be terrified.
Once he was gone the rest of us “kids” were basically left to our own devices, left to play with the simple toys available or to wander around the house, yard and even out onto the street with barely any supervision. Mummy at least put t-shirt and undies on the other three and provided me with shorts as well as a t-shirt when I asked.
“You’re a shy boy,” she chuckled as I put on the clothes. “We’ll see how long that lasts.”
Of course she thought it was only natural I’d soon be stripping down. That’s what her other boys were like. Evan’s undies only stayed on for about an hour, then he yanked them off and tossed them into the grass as we played in the front yard. Mummy saw that when she came out to smoke another cigarette but she just gathered up the discarded underwear and took it back inside with her. It was like she figured she’d tried to clothe the man-boy, she’d done her part and if he didn’t want the clothes, so be it.
It was a very, very boring day. How many times can you play the same insipid games and still keep your sanity? I was in desperate need of a bit of actual mental stimulation when I noticed Mummy had left her phone on the couch when she went to get something in the kitchen. There was no lock, so I just swiped the screen and found myself looking through her apps, for something that might have news. Amazingly she did have a news app. Probably came pre-installed. I tapped it and scanned through the day’s top stories.
There wasn’t really much happening, but I was just so happy to be reading anything. It was a lot tougher being surrounded by toddler-brain idiots all day than I had expected. I could hear them screeching and giggling as they played in the other room right now. So there was no real peace and quiet but that was fine. I usually read the news on my phone while sitting in cafes or crowded buses.
“What you doing there?”
The voice jolted me out of my reverie and I looked up to see Harry standing right over me, back from school.
My heart leapt into my throat. I was in the middle of scrolling through a piece of dense text. What on Earth would a toddler care about the latest Brexit news? Why would a toddler be trying to read anything, at all? I had to think fast.
“Wan’ pway games!” I sulked, poking at the screen without coordination now.
Harry smiled and I couldn’t tell if it was because I sounded so dumb or because he’d caught me.
“Well that’s not the right app, silly!” he told me, leaning down and taking the phone. He tapped at it a few times, then handed it back to me, a bright child’s game now lighting the screen. “There you go Davey, much better,” he said before leaving me alone again.
I let out a big sigh of relief once he was gone. That was much too close. Perhaps I should call Mark right now, bring him in to end this charade. Did I really need more dirt? I probably had most of what I needed for a story and I wasn’t sure I could take this life for much longer. My feet were now totally raw and sore from running around barefoot, I was bored silly and being talked down to like a moron was really starting to get to me.
Yeah, I had what I needed. Tomorrow I would get a message out to Mark, give him my address and tell him when to make the pick-up. I thought about sending him a message right now on this phone, but that would have been risky. If Mummy found the message before the pick-up I’d be in hot water.
It was still a warm and sunny evening when Daddy got home from work. Mummy sent the other kids, except for Harry, out to play. I started to get up to follow them but Mummy said, “No, you wait here Davey.”
I wondered what was going on. Mummy was looking at me oddly, like I was dangerous, like I might bite.
“Wanna go pway,” I told her, pointing at the others who were now happily skipping outside, Paul and Evan’s bare bottoms disappearing out the door.
She shook her head. “You can play soon Davey, but first we need to talk about something.”
Daddy came into the room and he had another man with him. This fellow looked more professional than the people normally seen in this area. He was thirty-something, skinny and dressed in a smart casual shirt and chinos. Daddy didn’t look happy either. The man nodded at me and said, “This is him then?”
Daddy nodded. “Yeah, he just arrived yesterday.”
The man nodded. “Anything unusual?” he asked.
It was Mummy who answered now. “He’s real shy.”
“He’s quiet? That’s often the case with new children,” the man noted.
But she shook her head. “No, I mean shy about his body. The other boys all run round bare bottomed most of the time, but he keeps his undies on. I mean, I didn’t really think much of it before. It just, it seems… different.”
Now I was getting worried again. What was this about? Who was this dude? And why were they talking about me like I wasn’t even there?
“Anything else?” he asked.
Mummy seemed to think a moment. “Well he has really soft feet. He kept asking for shoes for a little walk to the supermarket and Harry’s school. But I just figured that’s because he got little very recently. Now though… I don’t know.”
The man nodded and then gave me this odd smile. “Hi there Davey,” he greeted, finally actually speaking to me. “Can you tell me how old you are?”
I chewed on my lip, trying to look innocent and confused.
“I don’ memba,” I mumbled.
He nodded, walking closer to me now. “Can I have a look at the bottoms of your feet buddy?” he asked.
I shrugged, and sat down on the floor, feet in front of me, nibbling on my fingers. The stranger knelt down and took my right foot in his hands. He ran his finger along the sole and I couldn’t help but giggle at how that tickled.
“Very soft,” he noted to Mummy and Daddy.
“Who you?” I asked him.
“I’m Kevin. I’m just here to make sure you and your new family are all happy,” he assured me. Then he stood up and said, “Well the best thing in these situations is simply to make certain the process is complete. Sometimes, it’s quite rare, but they can have these flashes of adult thoughts, usually only in the days after the virus but this will stop those.”
The man pulled a syringe out of his pocket and said, “This is MEV Type 3A, so it shouldn’t make too much of a difference. It will probably pull him down a little bit though. I find it generally leaves the patients just under average three year old level, more like two and a half. But it should completely remove those body shyness issues, so that will help him feel more comfortable with his brothers.”
I couldn’t stop my eyes from going wide at the sight of the booster. It didn’t matter that I had never shown virus symptoms, that thing would have the same effect on me regardless. Instantly I shook my head and said, “No! Dun wan’ it!”
Kevin frowned and said, “It’s okay buddy, it isn’t a jab, it just goes in your nose and you sniff. No ouchies, no boo-boos at all.”
Fuck, this was not good. If I had that booster my career as a journalist would be over. There would be no reporting my story, I wouldn’t be able to write it, to even explain it to anyone. I’d be stuck here with this foster family for real. I had no choice but to blow my cover.
“Stop! I don’t need a booster, I don’t have the virus at all,” I told them. “I’m a reporter, covering abuses in the state care system, I’ve been undercover.”
For a second there was a look of surprise on the gathered adults’ faces. But it was nowhere near as shocked a look as I expected.
“He was telling the truth,” Daddy said.
“What?” I asked.
“Harry told us you were faking. I didn’t want to believe it, that someone would fake this to get close to vulnerable children but he was right,” Daddy said angrily.
“Get close to… what?! I’m a reporter!” I insisted.
It was Mummy who snapped, “A reporter who likes touching boys pee-pees?”
“Harry told us about what you did to him, what he saw you do to the others,” she spat at me.
“He’s lying! He’s the one who’s been touching the other boys, masturbating them right in the yard! I watched him do it to Evan yesterday. He tried to touch me in bed last night!” I yelled.
But Mummy was shaking her head. “Harry’s just a little boy himself, but with adult urges and needs. We can’t blame him for experimenting with his brothers, they don’t know any better. But you… you are sick!”
“He’s not a little boy! He’s the faker, that’s my story! Harry has been faking from the start. Give him the booster, see how he reacts!” I insisted.
Mummy looked even more furious. “Just get it over with,” she urged.
Kevin nodded at her and said to Daddy, “Hold him please.”
Before I could do anything Daddy had me in his arms, my own arms pinned behind me. I struggled mightily against him, but he was much bigger and stronger than I was. As I struggled I could see Harry standing there, looking fascinated rather than horrified.
“Fuck you!” I yelled at him. “Fuck all of you! This isn’t right, just make a phone call and check who I am! I can fucking prove it all!”
Kevin took the protective tip off the syringe, ignoring my pleas.
“Stop thrashing so much, you’re going to get your wish,” Mummy said.
“When it’s done you’ll be able to play with your brothers pee-pees to your hearts delight. No more sneaking around, no more lying. You won’t even know how to lie anyway. No one will mind your explorations because you’ll just be another one of my bare-bottomed baby boys.”
I kicked my bare heels against Daddy’s legs, but he wasn’t letting go. I moved my head left and right but then Daddy and Kevin put their hands on it, holding it still.
“No! No!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
But he forced the syringe up my nostril and I felt the spray blast into my sinus. He held it there a moment, preventing me trying to blow it out, then he slipped it into the other nostril and repeated the process, depressing the plunger all the way. I felt the second, final spray shoot into my sinuses and then it was over.
“All done,” Kevin told Daddy.
“How much longer do I have to hold him?” Daddy asked, and I could hear the strain in his voice.
“You can let him go now, he can run but he won’t get very far now,” Kevin answered.
And with that Daddy’s arms released me.
I sprung free, gasping for air. “You stupid bastards!” I shouted. “It was him! It was always him!” I told them, pointing to Harry.
“Enough of your stories Davey,” Mummy said. “Harry has been with us for months. He’s a good boy and soon he’ll be a good big brother to you.”
They were idiots. I couldn’t look at any of them a moment longer. I turned and stormed out of the house, into the front yard where Hannah was pretending to breastfeed a dolly. It was easy as she was topless now, sitting in the grass in just a pair of pink pull-ups. Evan and Paul were in the driveway rolling Matchbox cars along the pavement. Both were completely naked now, their bare bottoms wagging about as the crept along.
I didn’t want to be here with them. I didn’t want that to be me. Two joggers passed by, glancing over the fence and getting a clear view of the two naked men, but not showing anything more than a bit of pity or perhaps amusement at their silliness, at how dumb and innocent they were now. I didn’t want people looking at me like that. But where could I even go? How long did I have before my mind dimmed to the same very simple level as theirs. I’d been given such a strong strain of the virus. I was going to be just as dumb as those two. It was impossible to actually imagine. How could I really be reduced to that?
I felt a sort of fuzzy tickle in my head. It was a real physical sensation, like a headache beginning, but not painful. It was starting. God that was fast. And it was spreading so quickly, this fuzzy sensation, this buzzing, tingling feeling. It seemed to begin at the front of my head, just behind my forehead, and to spread backwards and then up and down. It didn’t hurt at all, but it was scary of course.
Evan and Paul stood up, with Evan grinning ear to ear and blowing a raspberry as he began to run barefoot along the driveway with Paul quickly giving chase. Their soft penises jiggled wildly about, bobbing against their smooth legs as they giggled and ran about. They were oblivious to their reduction. How could they be so happy this way? And worst of all they were at Harry’s mercy. And now I would be too.
The fuzzy sensation that had filled my head suddenly exploded into shooting tingles of pleasure. My eyes went wide and I actually moaned out loud. It was like having an orgasm, only just in the head. I felt so, so good even as I could feel my thoughts getting scattered, my knowledge and intelligence being so completely reduced. It was actually happening, I could feel it. And it was going so quickly, being taken away forever and ever. I’d never be smart and independent again. I’d never write another article. I’d never even be able to live independently, to make my own meals. I would need someone to look after me. It was so humiliating. And worst of all I would be stuck here, with this white trash family, total bogans. Stuck with people who thought it was okay for their kids to run around naked, who thought they didn’t even need to own a pair of shoes. How long until my feet were hard and permanently dirty like theirs?
A warm hand closed on my shoulder as I stood at the front fence.
“There we go, no more need to pretend,” came Harry’s voice, speaking softly, comforting me.
I shook my head. I hated him. I was angry at him. The emotions were raw, but the words were leaving me. Every second it got harder to put thoughts together, to remember how to speak clearly.
“I so angry,” I managed to say to him.
He shushed me. “No more of that now. Just a few more moments and it will all be done. I’m going to take such good care of you. I love all my little boys. I’m not upset you tried to ruin everything. Well, I am, but that was the old you, grown-up David. He’s going to sleep now. I won’t be upset at little Davey at all.
“So no more pretending to be little. You really weren’t that good at it anyway. Acting all shy, all nervous. You won’t be shy in a moment. You’ll be just like the others, a lovely little nudist.”
I shook my head. I wanted to explain to him why I needed to keep my clothes on. But the words weren’t there, the ideas weren’t there. It was important for some reason, but I couldn’t recall why. And the pleasurable tingles made it so hard to focus.
Harry looked in my eyes and smiled. “Yes, I can see you’re almost there now. It’s all in the eyes you see. That’s why you failed before. The eyes of a little boy, they’re just different. They’re sort of empty. You can just see the simple little mind behind them.”
I was very confused. The words were too big, too fast.
“I think you’d like to play now, wouldn’t you?” Harry asked me brightly.
When he said play my head lit up even more. There was so much pleasure. I definitely wanted to play. I found myself nodding.
He smiled again. I liked seeing his smile. For a second I felt a weird, confusing feeling of anger, but it passed just as quickly as it came on. Smiles were nice.
“But we can’t have you getting your clothes all messy when you play,” Harry told me.
It made sense. Harry seemed so smart, so certain. It made me feel safe. I shook my head because he was shaking his.
He giggled. “That’s right, so we should take this shirt off,” he directed, guiding my arms up and then slipping the shirt off over my head.
“That’s much better!” he said.
“Beddah!” I echoed, hopping on my toes. His happiness made me feel happy.
“And we should take these shorts and undies off too,” he added, touching the waist gently.
Another wave of anger hit me and I frowned. It was so strong. But where was the feeling from? I didn’t know. I squirmed, feeling funny, feeling confused.
“Look at Evan and Paul. They’re all nakey. Shouldn’t you be nakey for playing too?” Harry pointed out.
I looked over at my brothers. They were naked. A strong, warm wave of pleasure swept through my head. The anger vanished.
“Uh-huh. Dabey nakey,” I agreed. Brothers were naked. Harry was smart and nice and he said I should be naked too.
He slipped my shorts and undies down.
“Feet,” he said, and I stepped out of them one at a time.
“There, isn’t that so much comfier?” he asked me, patting my bare bottom.
It did feel good. I felt so free.
“Yeth,” I answered. My tongue was so heavy and slow now.
“Good boy!” he praised. I felt all nice and warm inside. I was a good boy.
“I think you’d like to be a jaybird, wouldn’t you?” he asked.
“Wazza jay-bud?” I asked.
“It means you’re nakey whenever you’re home. Just take everything off as soon as you can!” he told me brightly.
I liked how he said it, the happy tone. And I liked how I felt right now, all free with the warm sun on my skin. Yes, this was definitely how I wanted to be from now on. I didn’t need clothes at all.
“Dabey jay-bud!” I agreed, nodding, clapping my hands.
“Okay, go play with your brothers then jaybird,” Harry told me, giving me a gentle push towards the driveway.
Play! Yes, I was going to play. I felt the warm, gritty pavement under my soles. I liked the sensations. I joined Evan and Paul. They let me have a toy car too. We played with the cars. Then Evan poked me in the bum and ran away. I chased after him. I like chasing! I’m a silly boy.
At bed time Harry climbs into my bed. I’m tired from playing and ready for night-nights. It was a busy day. I got little today. I remember that I was big, but not what that was like. All the big boy things went away. But playing was fun, so I’m sure it’s okay to be little too. I think little is better than big.
“Are you my cuddle buddy?” Harry asks me.
Of course I am! I love getting cuddles. I put my arms around him and pull in real tight. He’s nakey now too, just for beddy-byes though. He’s too big to be nakey outside. That’s for little boys. That’s one of the nice things about being little. It feels so nice when our skin touches, so warm and close.
I feel Harry’s hand touch my pee-pee.
“Is that a big happy pee-pee I feel?” Harry asks me.
It feel wonderful when he touches it.
“Uh-huh. Happy pee-pee,” I agree.
“Can big brother help that pee-pee feel extra good?” he asks sweetly.
“Yef!” I urge. I want to feel gooder.
Harry’s fingers close around my pee-pee and he rubs it, up and down. Ohhh, it feels so, sooo good. I cuddle even tighter next to him, breath into his shoulder, moan as he makes me feel so good. I love big brother so much. It gets better and better, my toes clench and then, ooooh, I making sticky squirts, all over our tummies, all over the bed. And Harry holds me close, cuddles me so perfectly and rubs the back of my head.
“That’s a good boy, getting all those stickies out. I promise I’ll take care of you just like that every single night.”
I have the bestest big brother in the world.