As I stop typing to take a sip of my coffee, I look out the window at the mostly empty parking lot in this dark evening. A row of unkempt vegetation hides whatever lies beyond the confines of this industrial park. The only sound besides mine comes from distant traffic, and isolated offices workers that finished their overtime and fire up their car’s engine to head home.
A familiar thought pops up in my mind: I never signed up for being an adult. It just kind of happened, and took me by surprise.
The rows of code await me back at the monitor, but they only make me feel tired. The cold sandwich I ate for lunch barely worked as fuel. I hoped that I’d get to compile the code before I left, which would have lessened my anxiety enough that I’d get some decent sleep tonight.
Who would want to handle such workloads? Psychos. People who thrive on stress and anxiety. But I guess I chose this kind of life, or fell into it.
Little by little I’ll amass enough money to finally quit and find a more relaxed job, one without a supervisor who assigns me so many tickets that I feel the need to stick around long after my coworkers have left, just so I won’t drown in stress the following morning. Fortunately, nobody waits for me back at my small apartment. I return home late most workdays, then I remain exhausted and uncommunicative until I crawl under the sheets and fall asleep. I wouldn’t be able to even take care of a cat.
I find myself slumped in my chair. Without noticing it, I’ve started browsing the internet idly. After I stare blankly at a couple of recommended YouTube videos, I look up porn. I have merely scrolled through the thumbnails featuring voluptuous, big-breasted actresses and well-hung actors when I get anxious and look around in case any of my coworkers, or my supervisor, would appear suddenly and witness me diddling myself, although they’ve never appeared the previous times. I’m the only idiot who willingly works overtime, to organize myself or because I’m too stupid to resolve my tickets fast enough.
My coworkers must be enjoying their time off. Jordi is likely hanging out with friends, or watching a gory movie by himself. Jacqueline may be fucking whatever impressionable twenty something year old she offered herself to recently. I would return to a cold, dark apartment, so I may as well stick around at the office and rub my pussy.
But I’ve barely gotten through the foreplay in one of the new videos when I give up. I remain dry, a cold emptiness is spreading in my chest, and my throat is tightening. I want to return home. I want to lie face down in my bed, burying my face in the pillow. I want someone else to do my dirty chores so I can go to sleep. I need to cry, I need to cum. Likely both at the same time, as usual. I don’t know what I want, never have known. I just go along with whatever comes.
I yearn to quiet the voices in my head with pleasure. The more intense and painful the orgasm, the better I feel afterwards. More calm, empty. Less alone. But maybe I should start doing other stuff besides masturbating. I haven’t read a non-programming book in years. Maybe I should invite Jacqueline over to play board games. I haven’t even unwrapped the last ones I bought months ago. Or maybe I could convince one of my coworkers to have a talk that doesn’t involve tickets, complaints, anxiety and regret.
I take a deep breath. I haven’t progressed in my tickets nearly as much as I intended, but I deserve a rest. No, I don’t think I deserve a rest, but I want one. A rest so long that I won’t wake up in a week, or a month. Or years. A bear-like hibernation would be nice, as long as I wouldn’t wake up older and withered away. Just a sleep’s reprieve from the constant busyness of my life would suffice for now.
I considered board games…? I need someone to eat me out, not play games. With a warm, wet tongue flicking my clit, there would be no more tickets and deadlines and endless hours spent on boring tasks that nobody cares about anyway.
Five minutes later I’ve pissed, put on my jacket, grabbed my work bag and headed out into the cold night air. My fingers are tired from typing all day. My pussy is tingling, ready to burst open again. My mouth is salivating at thoughts of hot semen filling me up to overflowing. I’m horny enough to fuck anything that moves. Any male or female has the potential to destroy my current relationship with boredom and frustration. I can feel the warmth gathering beneath the fabric of my pants, and the growing pressure accumulating in the depths of my cunt. I need to get home. Where was my car?
My second-hand, eclipse grey Renault Laguna is waiting right where I parked it, in front of a multicolored row of garbage bins. As usual, my gaze falls upon the long scratch of scraped paint over the passenger door, the same eyesore since some motherfucker keyed my car months ago. I can’t be bothered to fix it.
I only start relaxing once I leave Donostia behind and I’m driving fast along the highway towards Irún. My right hand rests against the steering wheel while the other reaches for my right breast. The nipple hardens underneath my palm. I have neglected them for a couple of days already, and they’re begging for attention. I lightly pinch the tip and roll the flesh around with the tips of two fingertips.
I can barely make out the tall, wild trees that have grown near the boundary of the asphalt, except when my car whizzes past the streetlights, which are tall and erect like thin cocks. I enjoy driving on the highway. I can go so fast that if I wanted I could charge into the barrier of a toll plaza, and the crash would crush my brain before my thoughts could register my demise. But I’ve always been a pussy, so this car will likely end up as a third-hand, aging ruin that some poor guy will wear down until my loyal car becomes a pile of rust under the sun.
Many shades of blackness surround me, except for oases of light that reflect off the asphalt. I’m skirting Oiartzun. This stretch of the highway is elevated, and tall trees are blocking the view of the apartment buildings except for a few dozen lighted windows, but I distinguish the electrical substation built on top of a hill. The radio is playing one of the popular songs that I only recognize because Jacqueline tortures us with her musical choices at the office.
Something buzzes against my hip. It takes me a moment to realize that it’s my phone instead of a vibrator. Nobody calls me, so it must be spam, or else my supervisor wanting to bother me with some nonsense against which I’d rather protect myself with plausible deniability. However, whoever wants to contact me is insisting repeatedly. By the time the Jaizkibel mountain blocks the horizon, framed by the leafy trees on both sides of the highway, I figure that if someone wants my attention to this extent, at least I’ll figure out who it is.
I twist my torso awkwardly to reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. Is this the excuse I need, that I got distracted and I didn’t notice I had turned the steering wheel until I was milliseconds away from crashing into the highway divider? I’d likely survive that, though. I may only fuck up my legs, and then I’d have to deal with those consequences.
Instead of a number or letters that I would comprehend, the phone’s screen is displaying a row of mutating characters that briefly reminds me of assembly language, except that I don’t recognize any of the changing symbols.
Spooked, and fearing that I might crash for real, I press the red button to refuse the call. I place the phone besides the gear lever, but as soon as I take my gaze off the device, it buzzes again. My heart races. I slow down the car to glance at the screen: it’s the same mutating row of strange symbols. But now the screen changes as if I had accepted the call.
I reached for the phone when a staticky voice speaks inside my head.
“You need to know too, Leire.”
The voice was calm, but it made my skin crawl as if a foreign parasite was controlling me with alien words, or a tumor was sprouting inside my brain, consuming it from within.
My sight goes dark, and in less than a second I lose connection with the rest of my senses. I’m falling into an abyss. Stars and galaxies form and explode in their own myriad complexities while I’m being sucked into an infinite void without a beginning nor and end.
* * *
When I regain some sense of reality, everything looks hazy and blurry for a few seconds. I’m slumped in my seat. As I recall my recent memories, I shoot up and reach for the steering wheel. Although I thought that I had blacked out for a single second that felt an eternity longer, the car has stopped. I expected to smell gasoline fumes and burnt rubber, but it smells like old plastic and fast food wrappers. The orange dashboard lights are casting shadows over my body, making it look like it’s covered with a layer of dust.
What the fuck happened?
My heart is beating hard, and when I twist my neck to look out of the window to my left, a twinge of pain in my brain makes me grimace. My Renault Laguna is parked sideways across a one-lane, patched road, between a row of two-story workshops only identified with numbers and, behind the car, a fence behind which there’s another two-story building, that may contain offices. Its wall features nasty streaks of rust that come down from bulky air conditioning units.
This place must be located in the outskirts of a city. After I blink a few times I recognize, past a couple of transmission towers, the silhouette of the Jaizkibel mountain. From the angle and how close it looks, I must have somehow driven into Irún, my destination, although I had passed out.
I rub my eyes. No, I don’t have the faintest idea what happened. Why am I here? How come I haven’t crashed my car? And why is it parked so weirdly angled?
After I open my eyes and take a deep breath, I find myself staring at a sentence laid across the dashboard, as if it were a sticker, in bold letters, and it says WE’RE FUCKED.
I must have gawked at it for ten seconds. I blink. The phrase continues to shout silently at me. I reach with a trembling hand and try to peel off the sticker, but as soon as my fingertips make contact, the phrase blinks out of existence.
My head feels heavy. A nasty headache is spreading from somewhere deep in my brain to cover the inside surface of my skull like insects trying to bite their way out. I need to get out of the car and breathe fresh air. When I reach for the handle of the door, my hands slips on its surface. No, not on the surface of the handle. It’s like the handle had ceased to be a three-dimensional object, although it still reflects the dashboard lights properly.
My throat is closing, and a ball of anxiety is expanding inside my chest. I recognize a panic attack. I push the door, but it resists as if it’s welded to the frame. I grab the steering wheel to twist my body and push the door with my foot, but as soon as the wheel turns, a loud scraping noise coming from outside freezes me. On the other side of a rusted fence, the leaves of one of the skinny trees are shaking as if a strong wind had blown through them.
By instinct, I turn the steering wheel a few centimeters more, and now that I’m staring at the tree, the patches of discoloration on its trunk evidence that the tree is rotating. The leaves are trembling, and the scraping noise seems to come from the base of the tree, as if its roots were twisting beneath the ground.
Cold sweat is dripping from what feels like every inch of my skin. I pull my hand away from the steering wheel, but a sickly feeling leads me to try to switch the headlights on. The nearby cone of light that a streetlight was projecting disappears. The headlights of my car remain switched off. When I twist the cap of the lever to the previous position, the cone of light coming out of the streetlight returns, making the asphalt shine.
It’s starting to rain. Drops of water are falling onto the hood of the car. If I can’t get out, at least I’ll drive to a more familiar spot, where I’ll try to figure out whether my car functions can actually control outside objects, or if I’ve finally lost my mind like I suspect.
As the fingertip of my thumb hovers over the start button to fire up the engine, I hesitate. Will something else ignite instead? I imagine an explosion going off, one only strong enough to blow up my limbs and leave me lying on the asphalt, fully conscious. But I take a deep breath and I push the button.
The engine starts up, sounding like an eager dog. I lean back on my seat, and I realize that the handle of my door has regained its volume. I grab it, then open the door so forcefully that I almost fall on the asphalt because of the momentum.
I’m standing in the increasing rain, I can breathe the cold October air. Rainwater is running off the branches of the trees behind the fence. It’s darker than it should be even though I’ve worked overtime. For how long had I blacked out? And how the hell did I drive to safety? I hide my face in my hands. I need to get home, and to sleep properly for once in months. Something is definitely wrong with me. Maybe it’s stress that’s been accumulating for too many years now that it’s reaching critical mass and it’s about to explode.
It takes me a few minutes to gather the strength to crouch back into the driver’s seat of my Renault Laguna and grab the steering wheel. Now that the engine is running, turning the steering wheel only affects the expected wheels. Maybe that’s all it ever did. I’ll drive home carefully. If one of these days I should end up crashing my car and dying, I want it to happen while I’m fully lucid and sane.
I’ve never driven my car this prudently to reach my apartment at Luis de Uranzu street. My neck and arms are stiff as I hold on to the steering wheel. Cold sweat trickles down my spine. Once the cinnamon brown bricks of my apartment building appear at the end of the street, I drive down to park at my usual spot next to the garbage container. I turn off the engine and sit motionless for a few seconds.
I swallow, then hold my breath. I reach for the steering wheel with my right hand. I close my fingers around the shitty plastic, and as I turn it less than a centimeter counterclockwise, the apartment building in front of me stirs with a groan like during an earthquake.
I let go of the steering wheel. In two balconies, the hanging plants are trembling. In random windows the shutters roll up, and the inhabitants look out to figure out what kind of tremor they experienced. A bearded man in his fifties, wearing sweatpants, comes quickly out the front door into the drizzle, then turns and stares up at the facade as if expecting a long crack to be running along it.
“You felt that, right?” he asks nervously to one of the the neighbors that are peering out of their windows with surprised expressions.
“We all did, for sure!” a middle-aged woman answers. “Was that an earthquake?”
While the neighbors jabber about the experience, the sound of breaking glass echoes in my mind. Images of crumbling concrete fill the sky as pieces of masonry fly off. I need to get home. I reach for the handle of my door, but it has been reduced to a texture again. How did I solve that last time? I fired up the engine. I’m staring at the handle as I press the start button on the dashboard, and the volume of the handle pops up.
Maybe I’ll ask my supervisor whether I can take some time off to figure things out. But I don’t want to talk one on one with that slimy prick. The way he tries to glance down at my breasts, although I never wear anything that shows cleavage, makes me squirm. And whenever he opens his mouth close to me, his breath stinks of cigs.
I get out of my Renault Laguna, then stretch my arm back inside to turn off the engine and then take out the key card out of its slot. I slam the door shut. I’ve had more than enough. At least a few hours of sleep, that’s all I need.
Once I’m safely locked away inside my small apartment, I’ve only walked into the hallway, its walls painted an ugly egg nog yellow since maybe the seventies, when I feel something moving out of the corner of my eye, like someone’s watching me or spying on me. I turn quickly. I could swear that a black shape had slipped behind the door. I hurry to it and swing it close to look behind. Nothing, nobody. Just shadows playing tricks on my broken mind.
Minutes later I’m brushing my teeth as I stare in the mirror at the bags under my eyes, which make me look ten years older in the warm yellow glow of the bathroom lamp. I sense that a black mass is peering out of the sink strainer. My heart races. I glance down and I see it clearly for a moment: a fluid mass darker than black. It gets drained down the sink as if sucked out.
I sway in place. My shoulders droop. In the unwashed mirror, those eyes staring back look old, tired and empty.