“Holy shit! Spike! I haven’t seen you in ages! Are you alive?!”
Spike grunts as his sleep is shattered by the joyous tone in my voice. I consider tickling his exposed anus to stir him awake, but the horse’s long-lashed eyes flutter open. He lifts his cumbersome head off the armrest, and the fleshy ridges of his nostrils quiver as he snorts a gust of snot.
Good thing I didn’t dare touch any part of his anatomy; I could have contracted untold plagues.
“It’s okay if you’re dead,” I say.
Spike jerks his body into an upright position, then he lowers his head to wipe the rheum from his eyes with his front hooves. It looks like he’s crushing his eyeballs into his skull.
I rest my fists on my waist and I nod approvingly.
“You look good! Your face is getting longer. But dude, you’ve never stunk worse! Have you passed the time farting up a storm?”
Spike shakes his head vigorously to jumpstart his brain, as if he had been soaking it in a tub of toxic waste. Otherwise he remains silent.
I press my index finger against my nostrils, and I realize my predicament.
“I was supposed to grab a bunch of clothes to store them at my girlfriend’s apartment, but how am I going to wash this stench off the fabric?”
Spike glares up at me through his eyelashes. Those moist, black eyeballs reveal a madness as deep as my own.
I’m taken aback by his malice. Can I blame him, though? I must have awoken him during the sweetest part of his slumber: visions of bloodshed and decapitation, of nipples carved out by vile blades, of mares slithering through a pool of entrails.
“I may be dead,” Spike grumbles.
“Maybe you’re just dreaming that you’re dead. Or maybe you’re one of those creatures whose hearts have been removed for medical reasons, then replaced by a fake organ made of silicone.”
As he taps on the hardwood floor with his right hind hoof, he dilates his nostrils, which are shaped like a fat, upside-down comma, and he takes a deep breath.
I contain a fit of nervous giggles.
“I swear, I must be the most weak-minded human who ever lived. A single afternoon without Jacqueline, and my brain fills her absence with hallucinations. Alright, I may as well take advantage of my derangement!”
I skip to my pile of board games, a collection of colorful cardboard boxes with exotic names: Terraforming Mars, Dead of Winter, Pax Pamir, Viscounts of the West Kingdom, 51st State, Labyrinth, Shadowrun Crossfire, Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, Through the Ages, Twilight Struggle… Their illustrations promise hours of fun, but nearly half of the games remain wrapped in plastic. Except for Renegade, their exposed upper sides are also coated in a layer of dust that resembles lustrous velvet.
“How about this time we get through more than a turn in Renegade? Our old nemesis, Shadowcluster, remains undefeated.”
“I’m done playing games with you, Leire,” Spike says bleakly.
I was about to lift Renegade’s box off the top, but I hear Spike’s hind hooves clack on the hardwood floor as he heaves himself off of the couch. When I turn around, a horse-shaped demon is towering over me. His lips are grey and decayed; they must taste like the dried-out meat of a slug. A hot, fetid gust of exhalation blows into my face. It’s the stench of a corpse that has been rotting in a well for a century.
“I had expected you to neigh in delight,” I say weakly. “You would turn your back on an activity that offers a temporary relief from reality? Are you trying to tell me that you prefer to live in the stupor of insanity?”
I make the mistake of holding Spike’s gaze, and I feel myself getting sucked into the frothy whirlpool of his delirium.
“Everything is going to shit,” he mutters in a hoarse, guttural voice, “and you are out there having sex.”
He must have waited for me in my living room, but these last few days, instead of returning home from work, I escaped my routine to get fucked over and over by the goddess of depravity. I wish that Jacqueline was here.
“W-well, does anything else matter when you’re having sex regularly?”
Spike lets out air explosively through his buttery teeth, which causes a gout of drool to squirt from his mouth and splatter on my pile of board games. Wobbly, he staggers back while his horse tail swishes along the floor. His chin drops to his breast, then he closes his eyes as if he were worn out from looking down upon mankind for far too long.
“I guess not, Leire. Sex is the only thing that matters.”
Spike averts his gaze; his shoulders are starting to tremble with repressed sobs. He must have been stewing in his insane horse thoughts for days, alone in my dreary apartment.
“You don’t understand how one’s life changes after Jacqueline has ravaged your body,” I say carefully. “She’s only been missing from my life for a single afternoon, but it’s like trying to breathe after someone has slit my throat.”
Spike’s lips curl up in a snarl, and his dark nostrils twitch like a dilated asshole. He shakes his girthy head dismissively.
“Don’t patronize me, Leire. I know how it feels to be you, I can read your mind. And you are a bad person.”
Why can’t my brain conjure up hallucinations that wish the best for me? I could have been given visions of a long marriage and a family, but I’m cursed with treachery instead. The mute parts of myself that dwell in the depths of my subconscious must spend their existence pleading silently for me to self-destruct. When will anyone apart from Jacqueline treat me as if I deserved to feel good from time to time?
“Yes, I’ve done bad things, I know,” I say icily. “I’m a bad person. But, Spike, isn’t it true that we all do bad things sometimes? I don’t think it matters whether we’re good or bad as long as we do our best to be happy with whatever little time we’ve been granted by our fickle universe. That’s why I’m trying to get my life together and have fun while I can.”
“Yeah, that’s a bunch of horseshit,” Spike snaps. “You’re so obsessed with pleasure, you live like a child.”
My teeth clack in frustration. I’m tired of this horse’s bizarre behavior. I’m tired of waiting to feel Jacqueline’s arms around me again.
“For your information, I was the one who asked Jacqueline out on a date. I was masturbating in bed when I came out with the idea, so I called her! Would a child dare to do that? Would a child want to spend time with someone they love on their own terms, or would they want to live a life that’s completely based on their parents’ whims? And you probably want to sabotage my sex life to steal my turn at the board games!”
The old, cracked horse merely stands there as he breathes into my face like a toxic bag of spoiled roadkill.
“No, you’re wrong, Leire,” he whispers. “You are like a child because you’ve never been loved.”
His acid words seethe through my brain and clench my heart. I’m the daughter of a man who shat me out in jail after another inmate fist-fucked him. When he died, I was thrown into a dumpster on a snowy night. I believed I would perish to pay for the sins of my father, but instead I was scooped out of the dumpster by a crackhead who first tried to snort me and then took me home. This woman, who insisted that I called her mom, was too strung out to care for me, so I was left alone to fend for myself from the age of seven. A couple of years later, mom was murdered by a cop who found her dealing drugs. My father, my mother, both dead from stupidity, sin, or the ravages of this insane planet. After a year of living in squalor, I was passed around to different foster families. One of my new sisters beat the shit out of me whenever I wanted something, so I hid in my assigned closet and masturbated. I became addicted to it because it took away the pain. Another foster family threw me out after I ate the last slice of a chocolate cake. By the age of thirteen I was sleeping in the hallways of a psychiatric ward because I’d become convinced that I was a ghost. My only friend was a psychotic squirrel that hoarded nuts in a cardboard box.
In truth, I’ve forgotten most of the details that would allow me to understand who I am. I only remember how it feels to have love taken away, to be hungry for it, to yearn for it, to cry in vain for it. I was abandoned. I can’t forgive them for failing to take care of me. And now I’m being condemned by a horse.
I feel like a scab, oozing blood and pus for all to see. No wonder I’m a reckless woman who’s never had the ability to take responsibility for anyone, even herself. I’ve only had one true love in my life, and that’s Jacqueline. She’s my mommy and my lover and my closest friend. Without her, I would revert to my natural state as a lab experiment who shouldn’t have been.
Author’s note: it has taken me about a week to work through this scene, because I couldn’t get it to flow right. I ended up splitting the scene into three parts; this is the second one, and I may be able to finish the third one tomorrow.
The issue is that I’m working full-time. I have never been able to concentrate properly at work to write, because I’m surrounded by technicians and the general chaos of working at a hospital, and besides, writing is something you need to do alone. However, whenever I’m working the morning shift, I can only write for about two or two and a half hours in the afternoon, but I tend to be so exhausted, mentally drained from merely being around human beings for hours upon hours, that I can end up dreading the act of writing; getting through any sentence may involve wrenching the words out of myself. As expected, it took me waking up at eight in the morning on a Saturday, and spending most of the day on my writing, to finally shape this thing.
For me, writing is as physiologically necessary as sleeping. I need to write to stave off the tide of meaninglessness that the rest of reality forces me to sink in. I never know if the next period of depression is going to catch me at my lowest. So I’m dreading the day when I finally end up with a permanent contract at my job or any other, which would also pile up more responsibilities on me.
Anyway, I’ve been feeling the itch to play board games. Every day of this week, right after dinner, I’ve grabbed one of my game boxes and I’ve had a good ol’ time. Yesterday was Viscounts of the West Kingdom, and tonight Marvel Champions. I’m also waiting to get back to Arkham Horror; they’ve changed their distribution method, and they’ll release a whole expansion box with an entire campaign based upon Lovecraft’s story ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ (link to the expansion’s page at the BGG). The fuckers used to sell each campaign mission individually, which ended up making the campaigns much more episodic because they couldn’t rely on the player having any of the other cards.
So yes, Leire is into board games because I’m into board games. She’s also into other stuff because I’m into that other stuff. Here’s a secret, though: her urge to masturbate is my urge to write. Mostly. But writing about writers is fucking lame.