Jacqueline drives past another row of four-story-high, designer apartment buildings for the well-off, past the walled headquarters of the Basque Nationalist Party. The road descends in the stormy darkness of this morning towards hilly neighborhoods of Donostia that I had never seen. The windshield wipers work frantically while the radio plays a pop hit about love and heartbreak. I can’t stop thinking about Jacqueline’s pussy as it clings tightly around my brain like an iron band, squeezing all the blood out of me.
I want to lick her cunt. I want to eat her out until she cums on my face. But she doesn’t seem inclined to allow it as she drives. Right now I can’t even hold on to her waist, nor stroke her breasts through the thin fabric of her blouse. My fingers are cold, so cold that they hurt.
“Time flies when you’re having fun, and all that,” Jacqueline says anxiously as she taps at the steering wheel. “Our office is a six minutes drive away, yet we’ll arrive late.”
Jacqueline covers my left hand, which is resting on my thigh, with her hand that should be focusing on the gear shift. Her thumb strokes my knuckles and squeezes them softly.
“Don’t worry about me,” I say. “Please, concentrate on the slippery road and what’s ahead of us.”
She returns her right hand back to the phallic gear shift. The road curves on an elevated path in front of a cornflower blue building complex that resembles a hospital. A few lights shine from its windows. On top of the building that acts as the main entrance, a metallic-looking block features the words ‘Matia Fundazioa’.
My mind remains stuck in a feeling of jamais vu, so maybe I’ve been dreaming ever since I dared to invite Jacqueline out on a date, back when I was lying in bed and masturbating. Maybe I was dreaming even before I grabbed my cellphone from the nightstand and called her. Am I truly the kind of person who invites another human being out on a date, let alone a woman?
Hundreds of raindrops slide up the slope of the windshield until the droning wipers push them away. I gaze at formations of clouds that resemble tentacles. They are stretching through the sky while their suckers grasp for more water to drown us in. We are riding inside of a giant aquarium with water splashing from above. Still, some dark, solid-looking patches of cloud are streaked with light and color: the sun is peeking out over the horizon, ready to strike with its sharp, venomous fangs.
“I thought you’d be freaking out, Leire,” Jacqueline says. “You always make sure to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the shift starts.”
I sigh deeply.
“Can’t say I care about much at the moment.”
Jacqueline turns her head towards me. She grins. The raindrops on the windshield make the lines of her face shimmer.
We are descending along an arching road lined by trees, some of them that reach up to the sky, others that squat low and heavy like fat men on the verge of a seizure. The asphalt is slick, like wet glass. On the left side of the road I recognize the graffitied, rain-weathered roof of the Lugaritz Euskotren station.
Past the approaching roundabout loom two twin towers, both tortilla brown and with external elevator shafts like blocky cigarettes. One of those towers contains the Regional Treasury, where years ago a hired goon waltzed in and blasted away the security guard. Afterwards he set a fire that got rid of plenty of documents, which likely included incriminating ones that someone wealthy had wanted gone.
Once we reach the end of the street, I avert my gaze from the signpost that features the name of the business park where we work, and I end up staring at the multicolored playground built in the middle of a manicured lawn. The rainwater cascades down the horizontal beams of the swing sets, creating tiny waterfalls.
Jacqueline continues driving up the slope towards our office building, past the last vestiges of civilization.
“I don’t want to work,” I blurt out.
“I know, baby,” Jacqueline says as she presses on the gas pedal.
“I don’t want to work,” I repeat in a low voice. “I just want you.”
A small, sad smile forms at her lips, but her eyes gleam in the gloom of the early morning. She squeezes my left thigh softly through the tights she lent me. A shiver runs down my spine.
“You are so cute when you’re clinging to mommy like this,” Jacqueline says sweetly. “You’ve grown up into such an adorable little thing.”
I feel myself blushing, so I clear my throat.
“Just because your face glows like a lightbulb that shines all over this place called ‘reality’.”
“In any case, we must earn some money so we can have fun in our spare time.”
The Audi is following a corridor of overgrown vegetation that hides the view of everything except that gaping maw up ahead, an underpass beneath the highway. On the other side awaits the business park, our destination, where hundreds of people gather at least five days a week to waste their lives away.
My heart beats faster and faster. The feeling of being adrift in the middle of the ocean overwhelms me.
“I-I mean, why have I suffered through so much nonsense at the office, although I hate my life? How does time fly so fast when all I do is get worse every day? I feel like a zombie that sleeps and shits. When will this misery end?”
Jacqueline shoots me a hurt look that makes me hurry to stammer an apology.
“Baby, you are breaking my heart!” she complains. “Haven’t you enjoyed the time we’ve spent together? I love having sex with you.”
“Me too! But the memory already hovers over my life like a hazy glimpse of some remote, otherwise unreachable Shangri-La.”
“How can you say that? You were eating me out fifteen minutes ago!”
I close my eyes and rub my forehead as if I could wipe away all my troubles.
“I’m… not really sure what’s happening inside me right now. I should have shut my mouth. I struggle with existential crises on a regular basis, but they usually lack an audience.”
Jacqueline purses her lips.
“Well… If spending the night with me has made you reconsider what was lacking in your life, I guess that’s a good thing.”
Once we pass by the green afro of a tree, a view opens up of the two story high, rice white box that we consider our office building. Its only splash of color corresponds to the row of garbage containers, from festive colors to earthy ones, arranged in a row next to a perennially closed garage door. A few cars, white, black or silver, are vying for the remaining parking spots.
“Why are these people suddenly trying to occupy our turf?” I ask.
“They always do at this hour. They likely work in other offices of the building.”
“Ah, our fabled neighbors.”
Jacqueline pulls up her Audi. The engine dies down, the wipers cease their incessant droning, the radio stops playing music, and we’re left with the sound of heavy raindrops pattering against the roof of the vehicle. But near the entrance of our office building and the row of garbage containers, the murky morning disguised that a bumpy, fluctuating carpet of darkness has metastasized over the sidewalk. I’m trying to focus on the black mass through the overlapping curtains of raindrops when Jacqueline places a hand on my nape.
“Grab your umbrella, sweetie. At least we can try to arrive before Ramsés does. I’d hate it if he caused you trouble because I’ve kept you busy.”
She offers me an affectionate smile, then she exits the Audi and opens her umbrella. I follow her example, but as soon as I expose myself to the elements, the cold air hits me like a slap. The wind is blowing the rain sideways.
While the canopy of my umbrella blocks the upper half of my sight, I follow the hem of Jacqueline’s coat to cross the parking lot. She steps onto the narrow sidewalk in front of the entrance, and her boots pass through a few shadowy, bunny sized blobs that are hanging out on the drenched pavement as if it was their farm enclosure.
I stop so suddenly that I nearly topple over. I blink repeatedly. The creatures hop and wobble around on six legs, but their bodies remain blurry in the visual equivalent of a poorly tuned radio station.
My heart sinks. Jacqueline fucked me so good that I must had assumed that my brain would no longer need to populate this world with hallucinations to keep me company. But instead, these faceless, blobby creatures have proliferated.
“Leire, what’s wrong?” Jacqueline asks from the doorway of the entrance. Her long black hair is fluttering in the wind.
One of the blobs, that resembles a giant slug, crawls towards my sneakers. Its gelatinous, slimy body is covered in bumps and protrusions.
The anxiety, my most faithful companion ever since I was a child, is spreading its tendrils throughout my chest. I grab my umbrella tightly with both hands. How did it truly feel to lie in Jacqueline’s arms after she emptied herself in my mouth? Its echo is dwindling, and soon enough it’ll get reduced to an insipid memory. Nothing, no matter how pleasurable, can compete against this dread when it insists on growing more powerful with every passing second.
Ah, that’s it! I’m horrified that I’m about to waste more hours of my life programming so my boss can pocket the earnings, which tests the endurance of my cracked mind, so in the process it leaks these hallucinatory horrors into the world like a car expels fumes from its tailpipe. I shouldn’t worry about it.
A hurried man approaches the entrance. Jacqueline steps aside, but once the worker disappears inside the lobby, she walks up to me cautiously and lifts the canopy of my umbrella to look into my eyes. In the reflection of her cobalt blues, I see an unruly child that’s likely to wander off into traffic the moment her loving mommy lets go of her hand.
Doesn’t the world get more insubstantial with every step we take? The windows of the surrounding buildings are breaking into fragments, their walls crumbling into dust.
A gust of wind shakes my umbrella. I straighten my back and shrug dismissively.
“Sorry. I was suddenly bludgeoned by the realization that my best years are behind me, that I have little to look forward to except for decades of meaningless drudgery. Hard to handle in a gloomy day like this.”
Jacqueline’s eyes twitch. I can’t help but notice the wrinkles around them, like the furrows on the surface of an old map. Despite her age, those decades haven’t managed to wear down her beauty and vitality, or at least not enough for her to be considered old yet.
“You’re going to be just fine, sweetie.”
She was midway through reaching to stroke my cheek when a woman wearing a bulky coat rushes past us, so Jacqueline abstains from public displays of affection.
“Please, don’t listen so closely to what comes out of my mouth,” I say. “Let’s get going.”
I’m careful to step over the wobbling alien bunnies; otherwise, my traitorous mind would eagerly recreate how it would feel to crush them under the soles of my sneakers.
“What are you doing?” Jacqueline asks, confused by my behavior.
I hurry to block the entrance in case any of my hallucinations intends to follow us inside. I close my umbrella, and as I shake the rainwater off its fabric, I attempt to assuage my beloved’s concerns with a carefree laugh, but it comes out shrill.
“Just casually stepping over monsters.”
One of the fluorescent lights is buzzing faintly like a dying insect. Jacqueline raises an eyebrow at me. She was already peeling her lips open when I take her hand and pull her towards our office. The world hasn’t ended yet, so there’s still time for me to avoid sinking into the swampy depths of my rotten mind.