The Berries Ch. 1

The Berries (by Mafisto)

Chapter 1 of 3
[Non-celebrity pictures inspired this story. Alternate fantasy celebrity casting: Matt Keeslar as Mark, Paul Walker as Kevin, Nick Stahl as Keith, Marcus Schenkenberg as Dayton, Jeremy London as Jeremy, Rick Shroeder as Rick, Shane West as Jim, James Franco as Gary.]

Carrying a small cardboard box, Professor Xavier Feldon entered room B-92 of Newbury College closely followed by Mark Brooks, his teaching assistant. The students inside, slouched over their seats, were sweating and suffocating due to the chronic stuffiness of the room; at the sight of their biology teacher and his blond sidekick they revived and somewhat straightened their posture, immediately intrigued by the mystery of what was in the box. For the last six weeks, Biology 391 (“Flora of the American Northeast”) as taught by Feldon had not broken any records in pedagogy, and the students were alert for anything that could potentially alleviate their boredom.

Keith, the dark-haired, freckled cynic of the class, whispered to the ever-brooding Dayton at his left: “He probably planted a seed in a box of earth and he wants us to watch it grow during the entire class.” If it amused Dayton, it did not register on his magazine-cover face. At the opposite end of the classroom sat Jeremy, who was as perpetually cheerful as Dayton was perpetually sullen. Although he was considered the class geek, just a notch above the exasperating Cynthia Coleman in the social order, he had none of the stereotypical oddities associated with the title, only a fresh, eager face and a much exploited gullibility.

“What’s in the box, Professor?” Jeremy asked, fidgeting beyond what the situation called for.

“Close to Harriston,” Feldon said, giving no hint as to whether or not he was actually answering Jeremy’s question, “a few miles from here, there’s an area with an unusual ecosystem for the Northeast. Not only is there a rich variety of uncommon plants in its hills, its woods, its river and its lake, but also many unique species. It’s a sort of ecological paradise, and it’s also extremely picturesque with crystal-clear falls and gigantic trees.” Mark, the TA, nodded in agreement; the students listened with anticipation.

“You sound like a travel brochure,” said Rick, a boy with cropped blond hair sitting next to Jeremy. A wave of laughter came and went, and Rick reclined in his chair with a satisfied smile.

“Unfortunately,” Feldon continued, “it is private property. The company who owns it built a compound on the edge of it. The company is called ‘Tests, Inc.’ and it’s not quite clear what they do exactly; with a name like that you can only wonder. I’m not even sure they’re using the land, and we’re talking about a huge estate. It does not really matter anyway. I had a long conversation with Ms. Julia Dreyfuss, a representative of their company, and she gave me permission to bring some students there for a field trip.”

The students became quite noisy in their enthusiasm with the news. This was the summer term and it was a torture for them to spend their days inside especially when the sun was shining.

“There is some bad news, however,” said Feldon, as soon as he could be heard again. His words silenced the room. “I can only take eight people in addition to myself. Ms. Dreyfuss was extremely strict on this. Because of his role as TA, Mark is obviously coming, so this means only seven students.”

Feldon stared silently at the mass of disappointed faces, letting the news sink in.

“What will happen to those who don’t go?” asked Gary, a usually quiet student in the front row.

“I’m organizing another field trip for them, to Muldoon Park, which is still a great place.”

This seemed to relieve the students, who had been mainly looking forward to a day outside. From the back row, Kevin Reynolds, a student who had accumulated some fame for his exploits in the Newbury soccer team, asked: “How will you decide who goes?”

For a moment, Feldon gazed dreamily at Kevin’s wheat-colored hair and forest green eyes; the soccer player exuded a natural well-being he had imported from his native small town in Nebraska. Feldon then picked up the box he had placed on his desk and said: “This box contains slips of paper on which Mark and I wrote each of your names. Mark will draw seven slips from the box… You can figure out the rest.”

“Shouldn’t you choose the seven who have the best grades in your class instead?” asked Cynthia. The rest of the class booed emphatically.

“Isn’t that remark a little self-serving, Cynthia?” asked Jim, a student who, although his mother made a fortune with her best-selling historical romance novels, was casually dressed in a faded blue T-shirt and ripped jeans. Jim kept an unusually low profile for the rich boy on campus. Cynthia just winced at him.

“Although it could be argued that the best students would be better prepared for this trip, it could also be argued that they need it the least to succeed,” said Feldon. “Everyone here has a fair chance.”

Professor Feldon was in fact lying — he had already chosen those he wanted to accompany him. An unremarkable gay man in his late thirties, Xavier Feldon enjoyed teaching, primarily for noble reasons — to share his passion for knowledge with others — but also for less noble reasons, like the position of power it gave him over younger men. He had never revealed his sexual orientation in school — like many teachers, he was, to his students, asexual. He knew he was only a mediocre teacher, and that he failed to convey his passion for biology to his students; he also knew he was mediocre in his social life, and failed to attract the men he was attracted to. Lately, his resentment at both kinds of failure had built up, and he had started to indulge in sexual fantasies involving his best looking male students. The field trip idea had originated with the best of intentions, but while planning it, the natural surroundings of the event became a favorite setting for such fantasies. Soon he could not imagine the trip without Kevin or Dayton, and gradually the positions filled up until there were none left for arbitrary students. Of course, he did not anticipate that anything happening in his fantasies would actually take place there; but the sex-deprived teacher hoped that spending a full day outdoors in the company of his sexiest students would fill his memory with moments he would later be able to reshape into exceptional fantasies.

Feldon handed the box to Mark. The broad-shouldered TA took it and waited.

“Draw seven slips and give them to me.”

Mark drew the folded slips of paper, counting them aloud, “1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7,” and then gave them to Feldon. He placed the box back on the desk. Feldon unfolded the first slip. “Jeremy Shields.” He put that paper back in the box, while everyone looked at Jeremy, who was all smiles. “Keith Brown.” This time, it was the dark-haired cynic who became the focus as Feldon once again discarded the evidence in the box. “Dayton Flemmings.” The model-to-be just shrugged, as if he could not care less. “Rick Ferguson.” The class clown with cropped blond hair did a proud little happy dance on his seat. “Kevin Reynolds.” The all-American athlete winked at his audience. “Gary Tate.” The reserved young man in front simply nodded. Cynthia seemed on the verge of exploding in her seat. “Jim Dole.” Cynthia threw her arms in the air, and stole the focus from Jim, who readjusted himself in his seat.

“It figures,” Cynthia said. “No women. Isn’t that a little weird?” she then asked with suspicion.

Of course, Feldon had read the names he wanted to read and not those on the slips. The slips being back in the box, there was no way to tell.

“Sorry Cynthia,” he said, rather bluntly, “but probabilities don’t always result in a politically correct distribution.” He ignored her reproving look. “The trip will be all day Friday. We will meet at the college’s archway at 7:00 AM sharp. The trip to Muldoon Park will be next week. Now, let’s start this class.”

Two rented red minivans, one driven by Professor Feldon, the other by Mark, arrived at the ‘Tests Inc.’ gate around a quarter to eight. The huge bleak compound could be seen beyond, and Feldon was more than relieved it wasn’t their destination. The petite, dark-haired Ms. Dreyfuss was waiting for them, looking strict and serious. She took Feldon aside, gave him a stack of photocopied maps of the area, and explained which road to take and where to park the minivans.

“I bet this woman owns a few whips,” said Rick. “She has Feldon wrapped around her little finger.”

Fifteen minutes later, two groups of yawning students got out of the minivans and took in the fantastic view from the top of the hill. It was a glorious summer day, with only a few clouds in the dark blue sky. The sun shone without shame, and although the heat was not scorching, it was still quite hot. Fortunately, a gentle breeze cooled the air to a comfortable warmth.

Professor Feldon distributed the maps, and explained the layout of the area. “Okay, the thin lines are the major trails, and the dotted lines are the minor trails. You should stick to the major trails as the minor ones may have vanished in places. As you can see, the hill we’re on is covered with lots of woods, where you should find red and silver maples, Atlantic white cedars, eastern red cedars, and fraxinus nigra or black ashes. Down here, at the foot of the hill, is a fantastic spot, a lake with three small falls around it, here, here and here. The small opening here is where the lake slowly empties into a river; so despite the fact that the water is mostly still, there are some strong undercurrents. The water is clear enough for you to find specimens of algae and underwater plants. Remember that algae are no longer considered plants because they lack true roots, stems, leaves, and embryos. You can swim in the lake if you want.”

“Were we supposed to bring our bathing suits?” whispered Gary. “Did anyone bring his?”

It turned out that none of them had. Feldon cursed himself for having forgotten to mention it.

“It’s too bad we won’t be able to bring back any underwater specimens,” said Jeremy.

“You can dive in your underwear if you want them so badly,” said Keith. After Jeremy rejected the idea by shaking his head, Keith added: “Anyone willing to strip so that Jeremy gets his precious algae?”

Feldon scanned their faces eagerly, but to his disappointment no one volunteered. All prudes. “In any case,” he said, “you’ll find ferns and herbs growing on the edge and shallows of the lake, like water clover, of the family Marsileaceae. Inside the woods close to the lake, you’ll find a few clearings with small burnet, vanilla grass, which is extremely rare, and western wheatgrass, which you find almost exclusively on the west coast. Here is a large flat rock where you’ll find fantastic mosses.”

“Yeah, mosses!” yelled Rick, enthusiastically.

While they all laughed, Feldon fetched a box of Ziploc plastic bags of various sizes from one of the minivans and distributed them to the students. He then said: “Let’s divide you in three groups. Gary and Jim, group 1. Rick and Jeremy, group 2. Kevin, Keith and Dayton, group 3. Each group must gather specimens of unique or uncommon plant life for the Northeastern US. You’ll be evaluated by the rarity as well as by the total number of different specimens. We’ll meet at the lake in three hours for lunch. Any questions?”

“What’s for lunch?” asked Jim, smiling.

“Gourmet food. Ham and cheese sandwiches, chips, Coke, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dessert.” Dayton and Kevin winced in horror. These two were obviously into healthy eating.

“Let’s go!” said Feldon, and the three groups of students headed towards the woods.

Feldon and Mark each fetched a folding chair from one of the minivans and sat in the shade to grade papers. After about half an hour, Feldon got up and stretched. “I’ll go try to find them and see how they’re doing. Stay here in case one of them comes back and needs assistance.”

He took the main trail going down the hill. He tried a few of the major trails on the hill but found no one there. Near the bottom of the hill, he saw boot prints heading forward on one of the minor trails, so he followed that. He soon found Rick, who squatted on a rock, surveying the small clearing around him.

Feldon had once overheard Rick talk about his father, a retired U.S. Army general, and figured Rick had probably turned to comedy as a sort of release from a strict, military-style upbringing. Yet, Rick’s meticulously cropped blond hair, as well as the dark brown army boots and khaki fatigues he was wearing now, betrayed his ongoing veneration for the military.

“Where’s your partner Jeremy?” Feldon asked.

“He went skinny dipping in the lake in search of algae,” said Rick, using his soiled white T-shirt to wipe his brow. “No, seriously, he went further down the trail in the woods. We’re supposed to meet here in half an hour; we separated to gather more specimens. I should have stayed in the woods, it’s so hot here.”

“So, did you find anything interesting?” asked Feldon.

Rick brandished two bags. “We found a mushroom with a red cap and a white stem, and those are the nuts of a black walnut tree…”

“Be careful with that emeric mushroom. It is poisonous.”

“There go my plans for lunch… We also found really weird berries. I don’t have them here, Jeremy does. They’re like huge blackberries but blue. They taste sweet and juicy. Too bad we didn’t find that many.”

Feldon flinched. “You mean you ate some? That’s really dumb, Rick, they might be poisonous.”

“We ate just one each. I do feel a little buzz, but nothing painful. Jeremy said it was probably safe.”

“Jeremy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Tell me immediately if you start to feel…”

“What’s that?” interrupted Rick, pointing to somewhere behind Feldon.

Feldon turned around. “What’s what?”

“I saw some kind of glare in the woods behind you, now it’s gone.”

“Nice attempt to change the subject.”

“It was as if the sun hit something in metal… Anyway. It’s much hotter than it was an hour ago. Are we really staying the whole day? We’ll be roasted by the middle of the afternoon.”

Feldon was still angry about Rick’s negligence, so the ungrateful remark infuriated him even more.

“Rick, it took a great deal of effort on my part to organize this trip, so if you’re so hot, take off your T-shirt, hell, take off your pants even, but we’re staying the whole day!”

A weird spasm appeared on the student’s face. “Sir, yes sir,” he said flatly. He stood up, mechanically stripped from his sweaty T-shirt, folded it neatly, and laid it on the rock.

Feldon did not appreciate Rick’s sarcasm, but he calmed down as soon as he saw Rick’s damp bare chest. He had not expected Rick to be so muscular, but obviously the boy worked out regularly, especially his pectorals and shoulders. Thanking the sun and the flash of irritation that had made him snap, Feldon tried not to stare at the hairless torso. Then Rick unexpectedly said, “I’m still hot,” and bent over to unlace his boots. Feldon discreetly moved behind him and gazed at the white of Rick’s briefs exposed above his fatigues, until it vanished when the now bootless Rick stood up, his back to Feldon.

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to walk without your boots, Rick?” asked Feldon. “You could…” He stopped when a larger area of white popped into view, tightly stretched around Rick’s curvy ass, as the boy’s fatigues fell to his ankles. “What are you doing, Rick?” asked Feldon, as Rick calmly stepped out of his fatigues, and then folded them as meticulously as he had his T-shirt.

“I’m taking off my pants as you told me to,” answered the blond student, turning around to face Feldon. Feldon tried to focus on Rick’s brown eyes and not on the bumps in the student’s briefs.

“Rick, that was an angry comment,” said Feldon. “A joke. I did not mean for you to literally…”

“Well, it doesn’t matter. I enjoyed doing as you told me to.”

Was this more sarcasm from the prankster of the group? Or did Rick suspect Feldon was gay? Maybe Rick was trying to expose him; if so, maybe Feldon should expose Rick’s prank first…

“You enjoy doing as I tell you to? Take off your briefs then,” Feldon said, smiling bitterly.

There was that spasm again on Rick’s unusually serious face, then he said “sir, yes sir,” and grabbed the waistband of his briefs. Feldon, shocked, was about to interrupt him when Rick froze. “I can’t,” he said, as if he was confessing the worst failure of his life. “I would be too embarrassed to show myself naked.”

Feldon’s world made sense again. “Nice prank, but I guess I caught you with your pants down, Rick. Now put your pants and boots back on.” Feldon deliberately left out the T-shirt. What was that spasm on Rick’s face again? He had almost bit his lip this time, before repeating his flat “sir, yes sir.”

Appalled by Rick’s irreverence, Feldon did not wait for him to get dressed before he headed further down the trail and entered the woods. Feldon hurried on in the direction where Jeremy was supposed to be. He found the overenthusiastic young man picking up a mushroom. The na├»ve student turned to face him with his trademark smile as he slipped the mushroom in one of the plastic bags.

“Professor! So glad you’re here. What kind of mushroom is this? It isn’t poisonous, is it?”

Jeremy looked particularly pure and chaste with his dark hair neatly combed, his innocent smile clearly sincere, his red shirt carefully ironed and his beige khakis miraculously unsullied; yet, he was proudly holding a bag that contained what looked like a perfectly shaped penis.

The tense Feldon had a brief fit of giggles. “I’m sorry,” he said. Feldon forced a serious look on his face. “No, the phallus impudicus is harmless. I’m more concerned about those berries you found with Rick. Those may be poisonous. That was dumb of you to eat anything you were not sure about.”

Jeremy produced a bag with five plump berries. “Look at them,” he said. “Aren’t they just a variety of blackberries?” The egg-sized berries indeed looked juicy and tasteful. Their globules were half the size of grapes, and of a translucent blueberry blue. Feldon had never seen anything like them.

“You have only five left?” he asked. “How many did you find?”

“Seven. There is no more. We’ve looked all over. The seven we found were spread out and each of them was hard to find. I guess they are extremely rare.”

“Give me the bag.” Feldon saw the same type of spasm on Jeremy’s face that he had on Rick’s.

“Sure, Mr. Feldon,” Jeremy said so eagerly that he sounded like a caricature of himself.

Feldon snatched the bag, remembering the flat sir-yes-sir’s Rick had been uttering. He looked at the berries suspiciously. Were they responsible for Rick and Jeremy’s strange and extreme behavior?

“Jeremy, how do you feel?”

“All right. I have this little tension inside my head, like a small headache, but everything else is fine.”

“Unbutton your shirt,” Feldon said, determined to get to the bottom of this.

This time, the spasm was accompanied by a brief, whispered moan. “Sure, Mr. Feldon,” said Jeremy with an acute enthusiasm completely inappropriate for the context. He carelessly untucked the shirt from his pants, and detached it so hastily a button flew off. The flaps of his red shirt opened to reveal his lean, flat, almost prepubescent chest, and he smiled as if he had accomplished the most amazing feat in the world.

“Jeremy, you will not be shocked if I do a little experiment with you?”

“I don’t think so,” Jeremy answered, in a normal tone of voice. “Go ahead.”

“Open up your pants,” Feldon said. If this was not well interpreted…

Jeremy shuddered and bit his lower lip. “Sure, Mr. Feldon,” he said eagerly. He detached and unzipped his khakis with such a broad smile that it unsettled Feldon for a moment.

Feldon felt it was safe to stare at the brandless white boxerbriefs his student was proudly displaying; the long tubular form shamelessly tugged within pleasingly surprised him. Was it growing harder?

Jeremy sat at the foot of a tree, completely comfortable with his shirt and pants open.

“Jeremy,” asked Feldon, trembling, “don’t you mind my seeing you like this?”

“What do you mean, like this? Like what? I don’t mind. Is everything ok?”

“You seem a bit… hmm… excited,” said Feldon, pointing to Jeremy’s crotch.

“Yeah, I know. For some reason, each time I do what you tell me to, I get kind of… excited.”

Feldon felt a sudden rush. Was that the reason for the spasms in Rick and Jeremy’s faces? Were the berries they ate making them feel sexual pleasure when they were given an order? He needed further proof, some outrageous behavior. Without thinking, he fetched the bag with the penis-shaped mushroom.

“Lick this mushroom clean,” he said, shocked by his own words.

Jeremy whispered another moan and said “Sure, Mr. Feldon,” so eagerly that Feldon grew instantly hard. As Jeremy took the vegetal dildo out of its bag, the front of his boxerbriefs stretched into a cone-like shape. When Jeremy stuck out his tongue, Feldon started to shake, and when the student started to avidly and innocently lick the silky penis, first with broad strokes, then using the tip of his tongue to reach the finer areas, Feldon had to exert phenomenal self-control so as not to cum.

Jeremy then put the mushroom back in the bag and said: “It’s clean, now.”

Feldon blurted out: “Show me your penis, now!” His sense of reality was quickly fading. Wasn’t it completely inappropriate to ask such a thing from a student? He did not know anymore, and who cared?

Jeremy was moaning and twitching at the command. “Sure, Mr. Feldon,” he said, so eager to please. His hands immediately pulled forward the waistband of his boxerbriefs, and Feldon got a flash of his thin patch of dark pubic hair. But then Jeremy froze, as Rick had done. “I can’t,” he said, completely distraught. “I can’t show you my… I would be too embarrassed.” The waistband snapped back.

This sent Feldon into an instant panic. “Do you mind that I asked you to do that?” he stammered.

“No!” Jeremy said, almost insulted. “It felt great! I mind that I can’t do as you told me to.”

“Well, Jeremy, refasten your pants and go back to your exploration. I will keep those berries.”

“Sure, Mr. Feldon,” came the expected answer, and Jeremy stood up and struggled to reattach his khakis despite his hard-on.

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