The stench of rotten eggs has blocked my nose, and an acidic taste lingers in my throat. Instead of standing in the pitch-black corridor, I should be lying on the floor and vomiting my guts out.
I grope blindly for the light switch, sliding my fingertips over the bumpy wallpaper. I locate a smooth, familiar shape. As my hand hovers over the switch, my heartbeat pulsates in my throat. A thousand shades of darkness await me on the other side of the beam of illumination.
During my absence, my apartment must have gotten infested with pests, mutated ones that grew resistant to bug spray. If I had been cursed with rats, I could learn to cohabitate with them. Although they would feast on my furniture, scratch my monitor’s screen with their claws, and make the crumbling plaster crackle as they gnawed through the walls, I could come to love those tiny, long-whisked furries. They would lie on my lap while I petted their fuzzy bellies. I would let them suckle from my bosom. I would take care of their offspring until they learned to fend for themselves. My biggest threat would consist in sleeping with my mouth open, as I may end up choking on a rat.
When I was younger and stupider, I used to dream about being a cat. I would cuddle up with a warm blanket and sleep at my leisure. My claws would dig into the hardwood floor while I basked in the sunlight. I would hide away in dark crevices. I would slink through tall grass in search of prey to kill and devour. Whenever anyone approached my hideout, I would hiss at them and spray them with a ferocious flow of piss. But I have grown old and wise. My eyes burn and my hands shake. I wish that I had never returned to my apartment.
What if I flip the light on and discover that swarms of invertebrates have overrun every corner of my abode? Dozens of cockroaches, those love children of giant beetles and flies, are clinging to the wallpaper of the corridor; they are scrunching themselves together as if intending to coalesce into a single exoskeleton. The floor is covered by a carpet of centipede corpses, their gray bodies bent at awkward angles from the holes they drilled into their own carapaces to escape into oblivion. The toilet bowl is coated with a layer of slimy slugs. The bathtub is festering with bluebottles that must have laid their eggs before they drowned in the mildew-ridden water. A lone scorpion scurries out of the bathroom, its stinger raised in the air. The desiccated carcass of a cat-sized tarantula is sprawled over the kitchen counter, and the penny-colored paste that the critter contained has seeped down the drawers. The bedroom has turned into a nest of spiderwebs, living tissue of sticky gossamer strands, and thousands of arachnids are crawling over my sheets as their eyes flash like alien stars. In my wardrobe, clusters of wasps are feasting on my hoodies and sweaters. At least a dozen ants are marching across the hardwood floor towards some unknown destination. Once the horde of invaders sniffs out my disdain, they will throng to my frame and burrow into my flesh in droves. The scurrying arachnids will embed their legs in my bones, and my hair will become a mass of cockroach antennae.
My limbs are turning into wings, my fingertips and toenails are growing into scythes. I hate insects and arachnids, and I’m sure I’m despised by them. As the only exception, a female praying mantis is one of the most beautiful creatures on Earth; she looks like an artist’s rendition of an angel, with her translucent wings and those bulging eyes that resemble fern-green gems. Otherwise, I never learned to like the creatures that I find horrifyingly disgusting.
As a child, I witnessed my mother transform into a black widow spider. She had consumed a bowlful of canned peaches, and she was lying on her bed. Her abdomen swelled until it split open, revealing her viscera and a single black egg as big as a pigeon. It hatched: a huge black widow crawled out of the eggshell, then it sprang at me. Its fangs poked into my skin and broke through my sternum and sank into my heart. The venom erased every good memory, and although I continued to live, I forever wished I hadn’t.
I’ve hesitated in this opaque darkness for so long that the world may have ended. I shake my head as if I could dislodge all the filth from my mind, and I steel myself for the upcoming war between insects and a human. As soon as I find a machete, or maybe a hammer, I’ll manage to massacre any number of creepy-crawlies.
When I flick the light switch on, the corridor gets filled with light as if a flashbang had burst into it. I squint my eyes at the glaring brightness, and when they adjust, the illumination provided by a single flyspecked lamp reveals a hellscape: my apartment. Instead of an insectoid invasion, I find myself facing the eggnog yellow wallpaper. It drags me back to an era during which people believed in a future of prosperity and plentiful sex; if they had envisioned our harrowing present crammed with vermin, they would have chosen different colors for their walls.
As I rub my gummed-up eyes to recover from the assault of light, I hear a muffled rumbling that comes from the living room: the snoring of some hibernating beast. I totter towards the source, tracking the noise as well as the stench of festering flesh.
I peek into the living room. The moonlight pouring through the window traces the contours of the room’s bleak contents: the haphazard pile of board games that occupies the gap in the middle of a birch wood cabinet, and two empty ramen cups I left on the coffee table. A boulder of meat and bones is lying across the sofa, snoring heavily as it dreams of slaughter.
Some foe of mine must have discovered my terror of whales, and has heaved the beached carcass of one of those fiends of the deep into my apartment. My enemy may have timed the build-up of gases inside the bloated corpse so it would reach its peak at the moment of my entrance. The blast will obliterate me in a Big Bang of entrails.
My heart is a drum about to burst, but I shan’t face my death in the dark. I flip the light switch on.
The bulky mass of a sleeping horse has occupied my sofa. Its malformed skull has caused its eyes to protrude as if they were about to pop out of their sockets, and its long, droopy ears look like they’re melting. The muzzle is drooling mucous saliva onto an oily puddle on the hardwood floor, maybe due to the phlegm this beast accumulated from gobbling up my rotten foodstuffs. The strands of hair of its shaggy mane seem clotted with mud and blood. Its forelegs are retracted and atrophied as if evolution had forgotten to uproot them from its torso. His horse dick and balls have been removed and replaced by a jagged scar like a sword wound.
Although the living room stinks as if I had dived into a full dumpster that everyone forgot for a decade, and any glimpse of this horse-mongrel would suggest he has escaped from a nightmare, I loosen the grip on my nostrils and grin like a child. Only one castrated horse that I know would cloister himself in my apartment: my personal equine stalker, Spike.
Author’s note: this is just half of the scene I’m working on, maybe even less, but I won’t be able to write at all tomorrow.
Spike’s last appearance was back in November of last year, precisely on the 20th chapter of this idiotic tale. At least that’s the last I remember of the guy.
I have kept track of word counts. This novel is already about 125,000 words long, and it will easily go as high as 160,000. It’s a good thing that I will only release it as an ebook that nobody will buy; if I bothered to produce the physical edition, like I did for a couple of books I wrote in Spanish like four years ago, I would hate to carry such a brick around.
I’m on phone duty this whole week, and my next week is six workdays long. I hate it all.