Although the eight hours long journey nearly killed me, Alazne insisted that we should eat a proper meal instead of heading directly to our spa hotel. Initially I was worried that admitting to Alazne that our spa isn’t located in Gijón, but in the somewhat nearby Avilés, the same distance away from Gijón as Donostia is from Irún, would have soured my girlfriend’s mood, but now I wonder whether I’ll be able to tolerate that taxi ride without bursting into tears. Before I know it, Alazne takes me by the arm and drags me into the closest restaurant, located across the street from the cement monster of the bus station. Once we get inside and leave our luggage aside so it won’t block the exit, my ears ring from the babel of the many people who had the same idea as Alazne. Most of the spaces between the dining tables are occupied by suitcases and backpacks. However, the aroma of the combo plates will end up making me drool as if I was inching my face closer to my girlfriend’s pussy. The bartender points to a small unoccupied table, and we hurry to claim it for ourselves.
While we wait for our own combo plates, a waitress, who is in her late fifties and has the attitude that we are guests in her house, brings us a jar of water and two glasses. I gulp an entire glass of water, and I feel the liquid course through my esophagus and fill my stomach with cold. I want to swallow the glass whole, even though it might shatter and pierce my internal organs.
“This is the best water I have ever tasted,” I tell to the waitress. “May you enjoy a long life.”
“Oh my,” she says, somewhat bewildered by my efforts to flatter her, but then she grins. “What a long ride it must have been!”
“We came from another dimension, and we may never be able to stand the journey back.”
“You look like a pair of lovebirds. Are you on your honeymoon?”
“Every day is part of our honeymoon,” Alazne says. “And we’re celebrating.”
The waitress gives us a knowing smile. I’m surprised that she’s so welcoming of same-sex couples, then I remember that my girlfriend doesn’t know that I’m a woman inside of this man-corpse. I hang my head low. I have to tell her everything, and then she’ll break up with me.
The waitress leaves to attend another table. I can barely hear the voices around me anymore, while my vision risks getting blurred by tears. Alazne rests her arm on the back of my chair and gives me a concerned look.
“My love, are you okay?”
My willpower reserves have been in a dire situation for quite some time now, and any showing of affection from my girlfriend may end up breaking down the dam.
“I’m just tired, Alazne. Tired of wearing this mask.” I stare at my masculine face in the mirror behind the bar. “Tired of hiding from you.”
Alazne rubs my back.
“The food is going to taste real good, I bet,” she says in an understanding tone.
“You will taste much better than any food.”
“Yeah, I have waited a lot as well. We will digest the food on our way to the spa, and then we’ll have a room all for ourselves. If some pervert has installed cameras there, we will give them what they wanted.”
I kiss the top of her head, and then I sigh. I need to get ahold of myself. I feel like at any moment I might rip apart the skin and flesh of my face with my nails and declare to Alazne that she has been a lesbian all along, she just didn’t know it. But I’m terrified by the prospect of losing my safe mode as a man.
Our combo plates finally arrive. A fried egg, fried potatoes, two breaded fillets, a serving of red peppers. I can almost taste the oil already. We pick up our cutlery and dig in. It’s delicious, even better than I could have expected in my dreams. And the food will also give me enough energy to drag my decaying frame to the spa hotel. I take a deep breath and exhale the thought of having to find our way there.
More patrons, plenty of them carrying luggage, keep entering the restaurant and realizing that all the tables are taken. I feel sorry for them; first they risk their lives traversing the spaces between the cities, and now they can’t even be fed. Alazne and I will likely have to stand up as soon as we finish our meals.
“This is so good, isn’t it?” my girl says while the morsel of egg she’s lifting to her holy mouth drips yolk. “The way I make it at home will never taste as good. And not because of the salt.”
“It’s so strange that we can travel hundreds of kilometers from where we live and the people of that new world know how to fry an egg.”
“I know, right? Well, the Romans managed to propagate their culture as far away as the British Isles. Even after Christianity hijacked the Roman Empire and then they let in the barbarians who ended up sacking Rome, some isolated people in the British Isles that still considered themselves Romans built their villas in the characteristic style.”
“So,” I say in between bites, “the only thing the British managed to keep from the Romans was the language. English is a bastardized version of Latin.”
“Well, there was some Viking influence too.”
I eat a whole slice of pepper.
“None of that matters anyway, because the Roman Empire never existed. It was fabricated to make modern people believe that our civilization hasn’t always been this shitty.”
Once we finish or meal, it’s time to leave. We drop our cutlery into the plates and stand up, ready to leave the restaurant and brave the indifferent outdoors.
“Let’s go then, stupid world,” I say as I shoulder my backpack.
We drag our suitcases along. Once outside, I pull out my phone and I’m about to call the local taxi company, a number I had looked up before we embarked in this doomed journey, when I realize that there’s a taxi parked on the opposite side of the street. The driver is reading a newspaper. I point at it for Alazne, and we cross the road.
“Now comes the bad news, my gorgeous queen,” I say. “Turns out that the spa hotel isn’t located in Gijón, but in Avilés, a somewhat nearby city. So it’ll take us around twenty five minutes to get there.”
“That isn’t bad at all. I’m actually pretty excited to see Avilés. It seems very… quaint.”
The driver has already noticed us approaching his domain, and has closed the newspaper.
I speak over my shoulder.
“You have no clue how Avilés is like, right?”
“Not a single one.”
The outskirts of Gijón, at least in the route that our driver has taken, are a disturbing panorama of obscenely tall smokestacks expelling grey plumes. Some of the silos, or I assume they are because I can only make out their cylindrical shape and their lack of windows and stories, are taller than residential buildings. In between more electric poles than usual, some elevated gas pipes connect with an enormous industrial complex.
“What do you think about this ravaging of nature that your compatriots are engaged in?” I ask to our taxi driver, sitting next to me.
The guy might be in his late thirties. His hair is already half grey, and has thinned awkwardly over his forehead. His eyes are dark and alert. He seems eager to smile cordially, likely used to dealing with all kinds of random people. Also, he hasn’t shaved in at least a couple of weeks.
The driver doesn’t understand me at first, but when Alazne translates what I said, he smiles.
“It’s the same in all places where industry thrives,” he says in a heavy Asturian accent. “We are just very good at it.”
I can’t help myself and chuckle with a sinister undertone.
“I’m sure that’s true. One day people will drink foul-tasting, soot-colored water, and before you know it your daughters will be born with horns.”
The man chuckles. His eyes now remind me of those of a shark, expressionless and indifferent. Maybe the people around these parts have sex with fishes regularly.
“Oh, I suggest you to avoid drinking the tap water anyway!” the driver says.
“I’m sure the damage is already ongoing. Thank you for the advice, fish-man.”
The driver turns on the radio, maybe to listen to some radio host, or maybe so I will be disuaded from speaking to him further. The music that comes out is some sort of heavy metal song, all angry yelling and wild guitar playing. I thought the driver was about to change the dial, but he’s nodding along to the growling.
“What the hell is this?” I ask.
“It’s… Asturian black metal,” he answers in a tone which mixed embarrassment and pride.
“I see that you people have retained your feral roots. It’s heart-warming.”
He laughs, seemingly forgetting that I am a vile monster deserving only of his contempt.
The taxi is about to pass under an ancient bridge covered in ivy. They have fenced its floor, maybe because stupid people ended up falling. I’m about to wonder whether the Romans were responsible, but the driver opens his Asturian mouth.
“So, where do you guys come from?”
Alazne is quick to reply.
I interrupt her by answering in English.
The driver narrows his fish eyes at me.
“My husband is feeling silly,” Alazne says, seated on the back. “We are from Hondarribia, right next to France.”
“Ah, your Spanish is excellent,” the driver says, amused.
I suppose it’s refreshing to have someone with genuine courtesy and poise for a change.
“How do you like our province so far?” the driver asks, but only looks through the rearview mirror at my girlfriend.
I answer him honestly.
“It’s been a nightmare of endless highways delimited by such wild vegetation that one isn’t even allowed the insufficient distraction of enjoying the view.”
The driver laughs.
“Sir, if you want to enjoy the view, you gotta get off the highway, take some minor roads. These ones were built for the sake of speed, they don’t care if you enjoy the view or not.”
“It doesn’t help that whenever a view opens up, the sky includes huge artificial clouds tethered to smokestacks, and I have to wonder if I’m going to develop cancer in the few days we’ll spend here.”
“Maybe you should have stayed in England,” the driver says with a smile.
“You may as well tell me to get the fuck out of your country. But no, your homeland is lovely, even though I have no doubt that the Apocalypse will start here. I’ll have to get used to this dread. You guys sure enjoy your industry, though, just look over there. What are those huge orange cranes? Why don’t you just leave things in peace?”
“I’m sure you guys have used plenty of the items that these factories produce. They need to get made somewhere.”
I roll another lie to the tip of my tongue.
“I’m from a place called… Leiza, in England. Lush, rolling green hills and fields of flowers. In the perfect days everything was pink and yellow. That’s how I imagine your landscape should be.”
“Yeah, well, we work with what we have. If we didn’t build factories and dig up the earth’s resources, then there wouldn’t be food to feed the millions who live around, or the cars they drive to explore our nation’s beauty.”
“You have a point. But I’m not going to like it.”
We pass by a commercial center called parqueAstur, written with the first letter uncapitalized and the second word joined to the first. They just have to make everything annoying. Anyway, some big letters and billboards are announcing Brico Depot, McDonalds, Carrefour. I notice the large and white box-like building of a Decathlon. I recognize this place from having seen it in pictures as I was planning the trip. I don’t think I ever came here with my parents during my original life.
The driver enters a roundabout and then exits it through a rural road that will wind up until it reaches our spa hotel. These are the fancy outskirts of Avilés: isolated parks, expensive-looking restaurants, houses with yards. Alazne keeps looking out of the window, enjoying the serene view.
After the taxi climbs up through a long road with nothing but grass fields on each side, we suddenly enter into a housing development made out of vaguely Victorian homes, all seemingly identical. They are surrounded by fences and hedges, so only ghosts will be able to snoop into the activities performed in the yards. I guess that whenever someone gets rich enough in Avilés, they escape to these parts so they can finally stop surrounding themselves with their fellow human beings.
The driver had turned off his radio, thankfully, and I try to listen whether any voice escapes from the houses, but they remain quiet. There are like a hundred of them, and most look unoccupied. Maybe I should sell Asier’s house in Hondarribia and move out here. I’m sure Oleksiy wouldn’t find out. I don’t know how we’d bring Kateryna with us, though.
The taxi turns a corner, and a few seconds later we get a full view of the spa hotel. Alazne says ‘wow’, and I’m impressed as well, because this place looks more imposing in person. It’s a mainly steel grey building bent forwards in the middle. I don’t know anything about architecture, but I can tell someone spent more money than I will ever see in designing and constructing this hotel so it would look like some futuristic academy in a sci-fi movie.
The taxi drives us to the entrance of the hotel, passing by a still fountain. We get out of the car and I have to shield my eyes as the sunlight reflects on the fountain’s surface.
Once the driver opens the trunk of the taxi, Alazne insists on pulling out our luggage while I handle rewarding the man for his hard work. I use Asier’s credit card, as I’m running the most successful identity theft and credit card fraud scheme in history.
Once his POS terminal charges my card, I take it out and put it back into my wallet gracefully.
“Well, thank you for the effort I just rewarded with money,” I tell the driver.
“Thank you for the entertaining ride.” He leans subtly towards me as if to speak confidentially. A hint of sympathy glistens in his shark eyes. “You look like you need a break, dude.”
I look over my shoulder. Alazne is standing next to the two suitcases, and when our gazes meet, she smiles widely. I smile back, then turn to my new friend that I will never see again.
“Oh, you have no clue. I’m not even a man.”
The driver’s eyes widen; he likely would have never predicted hearing that answer. Then he bursts into laughter. He crouches to get into the driver’s seat.
“Alright, just have a good stay at the hotel.”
Alazne gawks up at a flax-colored chandelier that hangs from the few stories tall ceiling. It looks like the toy Slinky if it got narrower in the process of falling. While my girlfriend remains spellbound by this expensive place I’ve dragged her to, I’ll deal with the suited man behind the reception’s desk. I ring the call bell, even though the guy is already there. He looks like he’s in his mid twenties. I miss some of our conversation because I wonder how a young guy ends up working here when he doesn’t look like a model.
Shortly after, the elevator leaves us at our floor. Alazne and I sigh in relief, then drag our luggage towards our room. It has taken ages to reach our destination and we almost died along the way, but this is it: we’ll own a new room for a few days, and the only other person who knows we are here is dead.
Once I insert the key card into its slot, which allows us to turn on the lights and other electric devices, Alazne closes the door behind us. The immaculate bed has a black headboard and bedspread, as well as black pillows. Near a corner there is an armchair that wouldn’t feel out of place in any grandparents’ house, and it’s facing the bed, as if some of the patrons enjoy sitting and watching while others do the real work.
As I pass by the bed to check out the view, I hear Alazne collapsing onto the mattress.
“I’m never leaving this bed,” she declares.
“Sounds like a plan to me.”
I pull the curtain aside. I find myself overlooking a golf course so large that on that mostly empty space they could have fit nearly a hundred more of those fancy houses with yards. The conscientiously cut grass changes coloration along with the waves in the ground, from a pickle green to a lime green. Apart from some amorphous sand traps, they even created an artificial lake near the center of the field. The only players whose details I can make out from this window are three middle aged men that are gathered near a flag pole. I have never understood golf, but I guess that when people become rich they need extravagant hobbies to distract them from knowing that no matter how much money they accumulate in the bank, they will still die.
When I turn around, Alazne is standing up from the bed.
“I’m ashamed for breaking my promise so quick,” she says as she smiles, “but I need a shower. And I mean a shower in which my main purpose will be to clean my body thoroughly, not orgasm under the warm water. So I will take a shower alone. But when I get out you are going in, my love. I will wait for you in bed.”
“That sounds like the best news I’ve heard all day.”
As my girlfriend walks towards the bathroom, she shoots me a hungry look over her shoulder that wakes up my dick. Alazne closes the bathroom door, then I hear running water from the sink faucet.
I wish I was merely horny, but I can’t shake the dread that has been haunting me since Kateryna revealed that her laptop contained her suicide note. I take a deep breath, and then walk around the room while examining each object made available to us as paying customers. I open the cabinet under the television, which I doubt we will ever switch on, and I find the minibar as well as a safe. On a small coffee table they left open a book that suggests tourist destinations in Asturias. I end up pulling out my cell phone, glancing at the screen to make sure that I haven’t received any calls, and then I leave it on the cabinet. As I look up, I find myself staring at my reflection in the glass of a framed painting. I have, or Asier has, the eyes of a hurt man. The pain is carved onto my forehead, in a unsightly scar that everybody sees.
I cannot go through with this. I’m not strong enough.
I slump on the armchair. I hear Alazne humming in the shower, along with the sounds of water splashing. I space out, and the next thing I know is that I’m staring at my cell phone, which is resting on top of the cabinet. It’s a possessed doll that will move at any point. Oleksiy and Hadeon must have read their sister’s suicide note. Believing otherwise is wishful thinking. Why haven’t they called me already, then?
Would they go to the police with the note? As far as the police knew, Asier was a bereaved fiancé who lost a woman who must have had some screw loose. Although Kateryna couldn’t have been more cryptic about what exactly she wrote on that damned suicide note, I have no doubt that she blamed Asier for her death. Wouldn’t the police want to arrest me if they read the contents of that note? And what would I do, explain that I’m a long dead ghost wearing Asier’s body? Maybe the doctor’s note about my supposed memory loss would help my case, but who knows. I don’t fear going to prison because I am terrified of finding out how a prisoner endures his day to day in this part of the world; I suspect I would hang myself, wiggle out of the body in my ghost form, and maybe figure out if I can possess other fresh corpses. But what would happen to Alazne? I would subject her to a grief that might consume her.
Alazne comes out of the bathroom. She’s naked, and the sight of her pale body, those pink nipples, the pubes and her slit, makes my heart beat louder. She’s drying with a towel her light brown hair, now darkened as many wet locks cling to each other.
I manage to smile properly. I don’t want to worry her nor ruin the mood. I get up from the armchair, I approach my beloved girlfriend and I place my hands at the sides of her waist. Her skin is smooth, warm and still moist. She smells like liquid soap and shampoo. I bend over and I kiss the side of her neck. In a few seconds she grabs my chin with her right hand and pulls my face close to hers so our mouths can meet. I feel her heart beating through the soft skin of her lower lip. As soon as I taste her hot saliva and her tongue slides along mine, I no longer care about anything but making love to the woman with whom I want to spend the rest of my existence.
When I look down at her hard, round nipples, I open my mouth like a hungry baby, but I don’t get to taste them yet. Alazne cups my head with both hands and looks straight into my eyes. Her eyeballs are glistening, and she’s smiling lovingly.
“Clean that bear body of yours, my love,” she whispers. “I will lie on my back and anticipate how you are going to hold me in your arms while you fill me.”
I suspect that if I remain in this room a few seconds longer I will devour Alazne as if I hadn’t heard her, so I turn around and I start unbuttoning my shirt. Once I get in the bathroom I realize that Alazne has brushed her teeth with one of the new toothbrushes they left for us, so I imitate her. Shortly after I’m scouring my skin with a sponge that came in a package. I pay extra attention to my genitals, to make sure that no sweat nor musky residues remain from the nightmarish journey. All along I keep imagining myself sucking on Alazne’s nipples or tonguing her throbbing clit, so I’m as hard as can be.
I dry my skin and hair until I’m sure I won’t drip any water, and I return naked to the room. Alazne is lying on her back, her shoulders propped up with two black pillows, and she has folded her legs and spread her knees apart to grant her a better access to her clit, which she’s caressing slowly. The inner lips are slightly swollen and have turned a darker shade of pink. A few drops of transparent liquid glisten at the top of her inner folds. Alazne lifts her dreamy gaze as she bites her lower lip, and then she looks down at my erect cock.
“You look so big and manly, all naked and hard just for me,” she says in a low, alluring voice. “Come on. Come closer.”
I walk up to the side of the bed as I caress the length of my cock.
“Yeah, Alazne, I’m a big, tough guy, now with extra swollen muscles, just for you. So you can feel yourself powerless and captive as I plunge this thick cock into your holy pussy.”
As I inch closer into climbing on the bed, Alazne reaches towards me with her left hand, while with her right she keeps rubbing her clit in circular motion. She licks her lower lips. Her nostrils are dilating. Her hazel eyes are shining with eagerness and lust.
“It’s been a long ride,” she says hoarsely, “and I need to feel you.”
I swallow some excess saliva, then get on the bed. My knees sink in the matress as I position myself so Alazne can rest her heels on my lower back. Her pussy, already drenched, is emanating its enticing smell which makes me want to forget about any foreplay, but I have dreamed about the next time I would get to taste those hard nipples, so I lean in towards her right breast. Alazne cups it and squeezes it slightly, granting me easier access to that round nub.
“I wish they were full of milk so you could drink it all,” she says.
“Soon they will be full of milk and I will want you to share it with me too.”
Alazne’s eyebrows tremble as if some sudden sensation had spread through her body.
“Yeah? Do you want my breasts to grow and for my nipples to protrude more?”
I breathe on her nipple as my free hand slides down from her thigh, working my way towards her ass cheek, which I grab tightly.
“I want what you want, Alazne. You have already made it clear.”
She chews on her lower lip as she looks down at me expectantly.
“Please, I need to feel your mouth,” she whispers.
My lips meet her nipple as my tongue begins to trace its shape. I suck gently on it. My whole mouth fills with her taste as I flick my tongue against the nipple. I sense her other breast becoming heavy from neglect, so I move my free hand from her ass to fondle her left breast. The flesh spills out of my hand as I mold it, and Alazne’s back arches.
“More, please,” she begs.
Alazne has closed her eyes and is breathing heavily. I suddenly feel her grasping my hard cock, which is hovering above her pubes. It sends a shiver through my spine. She slides her hand along the length of the shaft, firmly enough to keep me hard but not intending to make me come.
In between licks and sucks I pant for breath.
“My love, whenever you want you can just fill me with your cum,” Alazne whispers pleadingly. “I can’t wait to feel that warmth inside me.”
I slowly remove my head from her delicious breast. Alazne brings me up to her mouth and gives me a long, slow kiss, pushing her tongue into my mouth. Her saliva tastes like mint toothpaste, along with her personal, creamy taste.
I look her in the eyes from so close that the tip of my nose touches her cheek.
“Do you want me to impregnate you so we can become a family and be together forever?”
Her mouth opens wide in delight, as she realizes that I’m eager to give it to her. She nods.
“I want it so bad,” she murmurs. “I want to grow round with our baby and for you to take care of me, and one day hold our baby and be a loving family until we die.”
“I’m not just saying,” I whisper hungrily. “I will fill you with my cock right now and I will shoot my cum deep inside you.”
Alazne closes her eyes again and moans. She lowers my dick towards her pussy as she writhes in ecstasy. I feel my glans sliding along her lubricated labia. I enter. Her warmth surrounds my cock, hugging it. I lower my body so I can hold on to the underside of her shoulders, and Alazne crosses both her arms and her legs around my torso, like a monkey clinging to her mother, to pull me in deeper. I plant wet kisses on her neck as Alazne lets out whimpers of pleasure. I keep pulling out until only my glans remains inside of her, and then I thrust back in, all in one go. She follows my rhythm to buck her hips against mine.
“Harder,” she whispers. “I love you so much.”
“I want to take care of you and make you happy for as long as I exist,” I say, breathless.
“Yes, let’s grow old together and die together.”
“I will give you everything you ever wanted.”
I don’t fuck her harder. I want to savor every thrust, feel every little muscle inside her as it expands and contracts around me. I want to look at the love of my life in the eyes as I come in her womb. I free my right hand from under her shoulder and turn her face so I can lick the drool trickling from her mouth.
“Look at me,” I ask her.
She complies. I observe every detail in her hazel irises. An emerald star around her dilated pupils, like a little sun. It’s ringed by a lemon-colored halo mottled with black specks, and that blends with a fern green as it moves away from the pupil. And then I feel the rising sensation in my cock. It’s coming, there’s no stopping it. With every thrust of my hips, every little push with my thighs to force that little bit more of movement from my legs, I feel my orgasm creeping up on me.
“I need your cum,” Alazne moans.
“I’m giving it to you.”
She plunges her tongue into my mouth as the first warm jet of semen squirts out of my cock, bathing her insides. With every spasm, every muscle twitching in ecstasy, I feel at home. Although I feel I’m about to pass out, I keep thrusting, squeezing out every drop of semen so it can merge with her insides.
My body is about to collapse on her, but Alazne manages to roll me to the side so I rest my weight on the mattress. She has barely loosened our embrace, she’s caressing the back of my legs with her heels as she keeps kissing me and running her fingers through my hair. In between little moans of pleasure she calls Asier’s name. I want to speak, but I can’t find the breath.
“Thank you,” she whispers as if about to break into tears. “It doesn’t matter who you used to be, you are someone new, and we belong to each other.”
I close my eyes as our tongues probe each other and our saliva mingles. I’m submerged in warm water equalized in temperature with my body, as I slowly sink to the dark bottom. The liquid is filling my lungs. When I exhale I feel it getting pushed out through my trachea. I want to curl up and sleep until the end of time.