Ian signed up for the clinical trial without a second thought. He couldn’t pass up getting paid to sleep (or at least trying to sleep—the trial was testing a cure for insomnia, after all). When he first checked in at the sleep research center, he found it weird they were going to use hypnotherapy, but at this point he was willing to try anything for a good night’s rest.

Dr. Laud was built like a brick, with shoulders that went on forever and enough bulk to counterbalance a rhino on a see-saw. So it surprised Ian how gentle and warm his voice was, and how quickly its deep, resonant tones would send him into velvety oblivion.

The trial was only a month long, and its end felt too soon for Ian, who’d experienced the best sleep he’d had in years. But Dr. Laud told Ian he was eligible for the center’s next study, which was going to look at the effects of exercise and exertion on sleep. Ian signed all the paperwork then and there.

Two years later, a gay strip club opened in town. Its name was OUT LAUD. Ian’s friend Tony went to go check it out with his friends. Ian would’ve loved a place like this, Tony thought. He wondered where his friend disappeared to two years ago.

All the performers were muscled like Greek gods, and wore themed costumes. There was one performer in athletic gear going by the name of JOCKBOY, and to Tony’s shock his face was a dead ringer for Ian’s. Tony had to talk to JOCKBOY. He snuck backstage and tried to talk to the big hunk, but to his frustration, the guy insisted his real name was JOCKBOY, and he was nothing but a big dumb muscle slut. The commotion attracted the attention of a broad-shouldered middle aged man, who simply said “JOCKBOY, sleep,” and Ian immediately collapsed against the wall. Tony panicked. What the hell is going on?

The man put his hand on Tony’s shoulder.

“You look agitated, young man. But I can help you relax.”