At eleven o’clock, I lift my sweaty hand from my mouse and I get up from my chair. I gulp, then turn to Jacqueline. Her perfume is a floral scent with a hint of spice and citrus that reminds me of a garden full of flowers and fruit trees. I hadn’t intended to ogle at her now, but I’m in a vantage position to peer down the cleavage of her skater dress. That pink lace bra barely holds together the generous mounds of titflesh that are pushing against the cups of the garment. The day I’ll end up standing on tiptoes and with a noose tightened around my neck while my heart pounds away violently, urged by my survival instincts to find reasons to keep living, the word ‘breasts’ will flash in my mind in capital bold letters. Tits are the symbol of power that I crave to possess, the source of strength that gives life when everything else fails. Their presence will ward off evil spirits that lurk outside of our shelters looking for a chance to invade them. If I let go of breasts, what would I have left to hold onto except for a life of loneliness and despair?
“Uh… Jacqueline,” I say weakly, “I’m going to get a coffee. Do you want one too?”
She was absorbed in browsing external hard drives on Amazon, and when she gazes up at me and processes my offer, she seems pleasantly intrigued, because I had never offered to get her anything. Jacqueline rubs her lower lip with a fingertip as one corner of her mouth raises in a smile. Her eyes, two pools of blue ice floating above a mountain lake, sparkle while she looks at me from under her lashes. I wonder if she can sense the heat rising off my skin.
“Sure, sweetie,” she answers softly with her voice dripping honey. “A latte.”
As I turn to walk away, Jacqueline reaches for the sleeve of my sweater and pulls me back with a gentle tug.
“Leire, maybe Jordi wants a coffee as well?” she suggests with a coy little grin.
I blush crimson. I pivot towards my male coworker, whose existence I had forgotten until a couple of seconds ago. Our intern draws upon his deep reserves of patience and forbearance to deal with my awkward self.
“It’s alright, Leire. I’m still running on the coffee I drank a couple of hours ago.”
A few minutes later I’m warming my right hand with a steaming cappuccino while I witness how Jacqueline’s pouty lips close around the rim of the plastic cup that I lovingly brought to her. When she opens her eyes, her pupils were turned my way. A jolt of electricity runs through my body. Jacqueline gives me a big smile, which accentuates her dimples. I fail to withstand her gaze as my heart beats fast, so I pretend that my work requires my undivided attention, which, to be fair, it does, as I’m struggling to program through my tasks. However, I want to watch Jacqueline surreptitiously through my peripheral vision. She keeps sipping the hot liquid that is slowly seeping into her tummy, making its way through the crevices of her fleshy anatomy. I should have drooled into her coffee.
That was a knowing smile Jacqueline threw my way, so she realizes how wet she can make me. I must be blushing in her presence like a little girl caught with a handful of candy bar wrappers. But someone stalked by a sentient horse can’t be sure of anything, except that I need to relieve the burning sensation in my crotch.
I’m working on a failing unit test when I realize that my coworkers are stretching their legs, eager to breathe the cold October air instead of the stale atmosphere of this office that reeks of sweat and bad coffee. Somehow I have reached the lunch break without losing my mind.
I take a deep breath as my coworkers chat. A pair of feminine hands grabs my shoulders and rubs them briskly, in circular motions. The hair on my nape rises.
“Are you coming with us?” Jacqueline asks me from behind.
I’m about to shiver in pleasure at the touch of her fingers gliding across the flesh of my neck and shoulder blades through my sweater and shirt.
“I-I’d love you witness you two getting tipsier as you prattle about sex, but unfortunately I have to catch up on work.”
I don’t retain her answer. While my coworkers walk towards the entrance of our office, I try to admire Jacqueline’s butt in the reflection of my monitor, but the tail of her cardigan hides her posterior. Once they’re gone, I sigh heavily. Although I attempt to resume my task, waves of lust keep running down my spine. I’m both aroused and ashamed, as if I had just been caught diddling myself.
I slip away to the bathroom. Inside, I check that all the stalls are empty. I’m refreshing my face with cold water when a shadow falls over me, and I end up staring at Spike’s bulging eyes in the smudged mirror. His huge, elongated head is blocking the fluorescent light. My eyes are drawn to the oval of pink flesh underneath the flaps of skin that cover the horse’s groin. His stench reaches me, overwhelming my nostrils.
This piece of shit horse opens his drooling mouth to speak, but I interrupt him eagerly.
“It’s the ladies bathroom, Spike. Then again, whoever castrated you also gave you a vagina, huh?”
I fail to push out a mocking chuckle. If anything, I fear that my eyes may overflow with tears. I have to remain strong, but I just want to cry and scream at the same time.
“Sorry for bothering you,” Spike says.
“You couldn’t be any further from sorry, freakshow. You’re a hideous horsemanoid creature, a disgusting pile of bones and filth who eats human corpses and craps out garbage. Just shut your deformed muzzle before some random person walks in here. Why do you keep disappearing suddenly, anyway?”
Spike lifts his snout, which causes a long strand of drool to fall onto the tiles. His bulging forehead crinkles.
“It takes a sustained effort to maintain a stable reality and hold on to the illusion of a coherent world.”
“Is that what happens when you devour people alive?”
I guess his explanation made sense. If I were a horse, it’d be impossible to get a good night’s sleep. I’d dream of being chased or torn apart by wolves or other predators, or even worse, by an angry mob that screamed “Horsemeat! Horsemeat!” as they beat me to death with clubs or rakes. So understandably, horses prefer to stay hidden whenever possible. It’s easier to live alone than to be constantly tormented by terrifying visions.
In any case, a wave of nausea is rising in my throat, and my temples are throbbing. I clutch at the sink as I swallow my foul-tasting saliva.
“You should take a shower every once in a while, you know?” I mutter.
“Everything is getting too confusing. Leire, you need to listen, because I’m trying to tell you something important.”
I turn off the tap and rub my damp hands against each other. I hear footsteps approaching from the hallway.
“Well, you are doing a terrible job at it, and I couldn’t possibly care about anything a stinky equine would want to tell me. I won’t give you the opportunity for any of your cells to inject their genetic material into mine, if horses could be said to possess any form of DNA whatsoever. I won’t let you eat my brain either, so there’s no point talking to me, okay, Spike?”
A woman enters the restroom, but I lower my head and sneak away while the intruder opens a stall. I hurry towards my office as I hear Spike complaining in a high-pitched voice like a honking goose. He must be losing it from the irritation of having been left alone with his stench and vengeful thoughts.