mind-wiper

    Ben wasn’t pleased with the way his former best mate, Eric, was treated by his girlfriend turned caregiver. Before he contracted ACDV Eric had been a well groomed, metrosexual guy who was about to start law school. His parents had raised him with good manners, taught him the value of appearance. He was the kind of guy who spent an hour getting his hair just right in the morning. 

    But when he caught ACDV all that changed overnight. Eric’s dad had died a couple years earlier and his mum just wasn’t young and fit enough to want to take on a grown toddler. So it was agreed to let his girlfriend, Claire, take care of him.  Claire had a very different style of parenting though and it pained Ben to see the changes in Eric’s behaviour that he knew would have horrified his mate if he’d had his mental faculties.  

    Obviously the days of styling his hair for an hour and wearing flashy ties and designer jeans were going to be over, that was a given. But Claire took things much further. She let Eric wear whatever he felt comfy in, insisting children didn’t need to conform to societal norms yet and Eric was a child now. She even threw out every last pair of his shoes, even his jandals. “Boys are much more comfy in bare feet anyway,” she told Ben. 

    And of course Eric didn’t complain, he couldn’t. The poor young man had lost all his manners, all his grooming and dress sense. He was soon running around the main streets of the town in his bare feet, dropping to his hands and knees to look under tables, and cars or just to roll around on the filthy ground, giving everyone a good look at how tar black the soles of his feet had become.

    It wasn’t just his clothing either. Please and thank you left his vocabulary. Eric was a wild, feral little boy now. He would tear around the supermarket, screeching and giggling and knocking things off shelves, bumping into other shoppers and continuing on like they weren’t there. And Claire just smiled and said, “Boys will be boys.”  

    But certainly the worst part was his total loss of body modesty or awareness. Claire encouraged him to streak around the house and yard in his birthday suit all summer. She called it a perk of toddlerhood he needed to indulge in. But poor Eric, his adult sensibilities stripped from him, had no concept of boundaries, of public and private and he took to regularly stripping down in public. Usually his nudity was at least brief since Claire at least insisted he keep undies and shorts on and would chase him around and re-dress him. But if it was the park, or a public fountain, or a beach, she’d strip him naked herself right there in public view.  

    Now it wasn’t like he was the only grown-down virus victim playing in the buff in public. No he had good company in that. But it wasn’t like that was the norm either. On a beach with a dozen grown-downs Eric might have one or two bare naked compatriots, at the park, maybe one other big tot would be toddling about with free bouncing boobies or a pee-pee.  But the point was it wasn’t required and it marked poor Eric out as particularly juvenile, a very immature and wild little tyke.  

    But despite all that Ben didn’t say anything to Claire about her parenting. He wanted to remain close to his friend, help out when he could and he knew Claire didn’t take criticism of her parenting well.  So he kept his mouth shut. 

    But he kept it shut a bit too long. That’s how he ended up in a bad position one afternoon when his day long fever and sore throat suddenly escalated to serious mental fog and confusion. Lying in a hospital bed at A&E, his head a fuzzy mess, he at least knew that he was in big trouble.  It had been a relief when he’d seen his mum standing outside his room. But she was there with Claire and Eric. At first Ben had felt even better, seeing his friends there. But then he could see his mum was very upset, and in the end she left and it was Claire and Eric who came into the room. 

    “Hi there sweetie, look who’s come to visit,” Claire had greeted him. 

    Ben hadn’t liked the way she spoke to him in a juvenile way. But his head was so foggy, he knew what was happening, he understood he had the virus, that the feeling in his head was only going to get worse, much worse. And in how long? Did he even still know how to tell time? He’d looked at the clock on the wall and, though it took him a long time, he managed to read it and felt a bit better. 

    “I’m not little like him,” Ben had insisted, pointing to Eric, the twenty-four year old man who was standing there shirtless and barefoot in some neon green board shorts, a toddler leash on his wrist connecting him to his carer while he innocently picked at his nose.  

    Claire had seemed understanding. She hadn’t antagonised him, just took a seat on the bed at his side and let Eric drop down on his hands and knees to play with a toy car she’d brought to distract him. 

    “I know honey. But Ben, you know you’re going to be, very soon. And when that happens, you’ll need someone to take care of you.”

    “I got my mum,” Ben had told her. 

    But she’d frowned. “I’m sorry Ben, but your mum isn’t really up to caring for a boy your size. I had a talk with her about it just outside.”

    Ben felt apprehensive, more than usual. He knew it was his emotions getting harder to control. Soon his behaviour and maturity would devolve as well, joining his simplifying intellectual abilities. He was going to lose all his manners and grooming too. He didn’t want to be a dumb feral little boy like Eric! He needed his mummy, she’d make sure people didn’t point and laugh at him for being silly, make sure adults didn’t roll their eyes and mutter about him being a dirty little brat.  

    “Where’s mummy gone?” he’d demanded. 

    “She needed some time to absorb what’s happened sweetie. It’s tough on her too. But the good news is she was happy to take up my offer, to look after you and Eric, make sure you aren’t pulled apart. Won’t that be lovely dear? You get to be buddies and brothers now!” 

    While the thought of being brothers with his best mate was appealing, especially in his vulnerable state, the idea of being cared for by Claire was terrifying. He didn’t want to be wild and free, he liked wearing shoes, he certainly didn’t want anyone seeing his private parts! 

    “Claire, I don’ wanna be like Eric, okay?!” he snapped. 

    Claire frowned and nodded, brushing a hand through his hair. “I know baby, you don’t want to get all little. I know it’s scary, but I can’t stop that. What I can do is make it fun for you. You get to be little all over again, and that means everything will be an adventure for you. We’ll have lots of fun, I promise.” 

    Ben shook his head. No, she didn’t understand. He had to explain that he meant he didn’t want to run around in nothing but a pair of shorts, if that, in public. But when he tried to explain, when he opened his mouth, the words weren’t there anymore. In horror Ben realised his intellect was dropping again, dramatically. He opened and closed his mouth in terror, straining his muscles, needing to tell her, to explain, but totally incapable of doing so. 

    And then it was too late. The terror of the intellectual regression faded as his maturity, his behaviour regressed as well.  All at once his muscles relaxed and the feeling of Claire’s hand stroking his head became heavenly. It felt so good to have that physical contact. Benny wanted more. He opened his arms towards the pretty lady. Even though he knew her, she suddenly seemed so much bigger, so totally in control. She’d keep him safe, she’d love him. And sure enough she accepted his need for a hug and pulled him into a big, tight cuddle. Oh yes, and her hand was on the back of his neck and it felt so, sooo good. 

    The next morning, after the doctors finished their observation period on Benny and declared him stable, Claire was able to take him out of the hospital. Benny held her hand as they walked through the lobby. He didn’t want to get lost. He accepted that Claire was in charge of him now, he yearned for her guidance. She carried a bag filled with the clothing and possessions he’d entered with. It had his watch and his iPhone, his wallet and belt, the checked shirt and khakis pants he’d been wearing when admitted, his Adidas sneakers and socks. As they neared the sliding doors Claire stepped to the side and dropped the bag into the rubbish bin. Benny wouldn’t be needing any of those things again. All he wore for their trip home was what she’d brought him that morning, a simple pair of cotton underoos decorated with Goofy prints, covered by a baggy pair of blue board shorts with big red flames down the sides. Benny didn’t have a shirt or shoes to wear anymore and the twenty-four year old didn’t seem to miss them either.  

    **

    It was a lovely warm day to go to the beach. Benny was having lots of fun. As soon as they arrived Mummy had set up a nice towel for them to lie on and broke out toys for him and his brother to play with. Grown-ups were just lying around on their towels, reading books and stuff. Boring! Benny couldn’t believe he used to be so boring like that. How could anyone just sit still when there was so much space to play!  

    But before they could go skipping away to dance in the waves and roll in the sand Mummy stopped Eric and slipped his shorts off him so he was nakey bummed. How wonderful! Benny hurried over to Mummy and yanked down his own shorts cuz he was big and knew how to undress himself. 

    “Benny get nakey Mumma!” he chirped, kicking the shorts away. 

    Mummy giggled and told him, “You sure are! Look at that silly pee-pee bouncing around.” 

    Benny hopped up and down to make pee-pee even more bouncy. He was a very silly boy! The grown-ups couldn’t go nakey-bum. They had to keep undies on. Benny felt a rush of happiness at knowing he was just a little boy and he didn’t have to wear clothes if he didn’t wanna. And just like that he took off, running helter-skelter all over the beach, screeching his glee.  

    Later he and Eric dug holes in the sand and were joined by a grown-up man who helped them dig. He asked them questions about being little but Benny found them confusing. He didn’t have enough words to understand big person questions now. The man seemed to see that and moved on after a bit. But not long afterwards Benny noticed Eric squatting down and feeling his pee-pee. He crept over and looked at his brother’s willy. It was getting big. He was having a good time. Boys like them got happy pee-pees when they had a lot of fun. 

    “Gots all happy,” Eric told him, gently fondling it.  

    Benny nodded and wanted to help brother, make him feel good. “Goza wub wike dis,” he instructed, reaching over and taking Eric’s big pee-pee and rubbing it harder, faster.  Brother liked this, breathing faster too, closing his eyes after a moment.  Grown-ups nearby looked away, clearly uncomfortable. Benny didn’t notice. He was just making his brother feel good, the same way they often helped each other during or after bathy time.  The fact they were in public meant nothing to him. His mind had been wonderfully unburdened of such concerns.  

    It took a minute or two before Eric make his stickies. Then the happy brothers held hands and toddled back across the sand to show Mummy the lovely mess Eric had made.     

    mind-wiper

    Liam knew there was something off with the village as soon as he arrived. He’d been studying the tribal region for his Master’s in Anthropology for years now, spending the last three months in the field.  He’d seen a number of remote tribes, spent hours trekking through the dense rain forests. But this one was different. 

    For the most part only the old men still walked around in loin cloths with painted skin and all the other stereotypical effects.  Most adult men still went shirtless as a concession to the relentless heat and humidity, but they wore Western style shorts and flip-flops.  Sure it was common to see most of the little kids running around the villages completely unclothed, but no one over the age of five.  Except here. Except in this village. 

    Liam noticed it right away, it would have been hard not to. Fully grown, adult men were walking and running about the narrow jungle paths, darting between thatched huts, chasing each other around the fire pit all completely nude, their bare penises just swinging free, their bare feet dirty and hardened on the soles so they could climb trees with the same nimbleness as the small children who usually partook in such games.  

    It also became very quickly apparent that these men were little more than oversized children themselves. They played the same games because intellectually they were all about two to four years old.  Bare breasted women cared for them the same as they would normal children, like this was all perfectly normal.  

    It really intrigued Liam. He tried to get them to explain how this had come to happen. Were the men always like this? Did they raise youngest boys to remain children? Was it part of a ritual? 

    He didn’t really get any satisfying answers. 

    “They are happy boys,” one tribal woman explained to him while a thirty-something man lay across her lap, feeding from her bare boobs, milk dribbling down his chin while he tugged idly at his small, soft penis. 

    “But they’re clearly not boys,” Liam pointed out. 

    “Boys come in all sizes,” she told him with a smile, running her hand through the nursing man’s wild hair. He murmured pleasantly, his glassy eyes totally lacking in any comprehension of the conversation.  

    Talking to the men themselves was also useless. They giggled at him and tried to steal his pen and paper pad, growing bored of his questions and wrestling each other in the dirt at his feet.  

    Finally, after a week in the village, he was granted an audience with the chief, a wrinkled old man with no hair left on his head, wearing only a loin cloth.  The ancient chief sat propped up in a simple chair, right beside the fire, somehow cold even on this hot day.  

    “You are wondering about our boys. You ask many questions,” the chief noted. 

    Liam nodded. “Yes, I’m sorry to intrude. I only seek to gain knowledge about your people, to understand you better.” 

    The chief nodded. “We are a simple people and we prefer to keep to ourselves. The outside world is cruel. I keep my people happy here.” 

    “But you must need some contact with the outside, for medicine and technology?” 

    The chief shook his head, frowning. “That is what some of the men thought. They left the village, went to the cities. They brought back dangerous ideas. They had been corrupted. So we cleansed them. We made them innocent again.” 

    Liam’s eyes widened. The chief was admitting that this had been done to these men. They’d been rendered mentally incompetent somehow, stripped of their abilities. 

    “You made them innocent?”

    “Yes. They are but boys again. That is why they do not wear clothes. Clothing is the first step to manhood. Little boys have no need of clothing, no need for privacy. Everyone who sees their nudity knows they are not men, even from far away, there can be no mistake,” he explained. 

    “But… how?” Liam asked, truly amazed. 

    The chief smiled. “It is ancient magic. Few alive today know how to use it.” 

    Liam jotted down his notes, feeling ecstatic. This would really make his thesis. He could head back to civilisation, to his university, right now and have his degree in a couple months.  

    As Liam began to pack away his notebook the chief leaned forward, his hand flat under his chin. As Liam looked up the man blew a strange powder right into the young man’s face. 

    Liam coughed and shuddered in surprise.  

    “What the hell?!” he snapped. 

    “We prefer to keep to ourselves. I did tell you that,” the chief explained.  

    Liam felt woozy already. His vision blurred, his whole body got tingly. “Wah.. What is this?” he slurred, finding he couldn’t even stand up. 

    A woman sat down beside him, put her hand on his shoulder. He looked over at her, finding the topless young woman very attractive. But to her right was one of the naked men, squatting in the dirt, nibbling his thumb and picking at his toes. 

    “It’s going to be okay dear. Your brother is here to watch your transition,” she explained to Liam.  

    His brother? Liam looked again at the drooling, empty-eyed man squatting to their side. No, he couldn’t be like that! He had an education! He was smart, he was civilised. He couldn’t stay here with some backwards tribe, never mind as a dumb little kid.  

    “I… I need to write about this. I have to go…” he pleaded. 

    “Shh. Shh. Your days of writing are over little one. It’s time for you to be happy. Time for you to play. We’ll get you out of these awful clothes, you’ll feel so much cooler, so much more comfortable.” 

    He wanted to keep pleading, but whatever he’d breathed in was getting stronger. His head was swimming. Her words didn’t make sense anymore. He couldn’t focus at all. He looked around frantically and couldn’t recognise anything. He couldn’t remember where he was, or what any of these things were. It was terrifying for a moment, and then even fear slipped away, his anxiety calming. He focused on the warm hand on his arm, yes, the pretty lady. Such a big, pretty lady. He liked her. He knew that.  And he didn’t know much at all. 

    **

    A month later Liam was happily climbing a tree when he saw the strange White man walking into the village. The man looked concerned, looked confused. Liam found his clothes interesting to look at. Should he go over there? 

    No, he was having too much fun climbing. He giggled and used his tough bare feet to grip the tree bark, scooting forward, his penis brushing across the tree. It actually felt kind of nice. He liked climbing trees. He was so good at it now his feet were tough like the other boys, like his brother’s.  

    “Liam! Is that you?!” 

    The White man was there by the bottom of the tree now. He was calling up to Liam, but he wasn’t sure what the man was saying. He didn’t know many grown-up words, he was too little. Liam leaped down out of the tree, landing nimbly on his bare feet. His pee-pee flopped around, so silly. He didn’t even consider his nudity before the fully clothed man. He didn’t have any clothes. He was much too little for man clothes. So there was no shame, no flicker of modesty, his penis always hung free this way, it always had as far as he was concerned. 

    “Liam, I came to find you when you didn’t come back,” the man explained. “Everyone was so worried. I can’t believe it’s actually you! What happened to your clothes buddy?” 

    Liam picked at his nose as the strange man talked. Then he leant very close before grabbing onto the black thing hanging from the man’s neck. It was strange, Liam wanted to have it. 

    “Liam, ow! Don’t pull the binoculars like that!” the man shouted, pulling away. 

    Liam smiled and giggled at the man’s ouchy expression. He hopped up and down in delight. The man looked very worried. Liam wasn’t. He hopped back onto the tree. He could show the man how good he climbed. He scooted back up the bark, looking down just in time to see the wrinkled old chief tap the strange man’s shoulder then blow some powder in his face when he looked. He felt happy. Somehow he knew he was getting a new playmate.