The tingling at the base of my brain suggests that if I closed my eyes and allowed myself to relax for a few seconds, I’d pass out on my bus seat. Would I suffer through another nightmare here, stimulated as I am by the vibrations that travel through this plasticky seat and into my groin to spread between my viscera?
Since I left Jacqueline’s apartment this morning to face the hellish outside world once again, my skin has remained untouched. I need her to kiss me and lick my wounds, then squeeze me in a warm, tight embrace and whisper sweet words into my ear. I want to forget that I’m doomed to keep working even though my muscles cry in agony from the fatigue and pain. If Jacqueline ravaged me with her fingers and her tongue, I would also forget about the monsters that lurk beyond the veil, that their jaws may close on me and tear me to pieces, that their demonic semen might drown me in a gloopy flood.
My pussy jerks like a fish on land as my clit throbs again, demanding a rubbing motion. Why can’t public transports provide their users with vibrators? If those in charge worry about their clients getting flashed by a stranger, they should install some partitions, then buy disposable vibrators and allow the passengers to pull their trousers and panties down. I’d love to spend the journey to and from work pleasuring myself. Ah, to be cradled by the soothing drone of the engine while my toes curl, the fingers of my free hand dig into my thigh, and a detached cock slides in and out of my sopping insides. I would feel like a medieval queen inside her curtained carriage, who otherwise would be sipping champagne while she strokes some ornate dildo. As I fucked myself, my sticky juice would soak into the seat beneath me; a gesture of gratitude that would mix with the stale remains of what hundreds of previous users leaked. It would become a communal ritual like those walls covered in chewing gum, or that fence where couples hang locks to symbolize their commitment to each other.
I stare out the window right as the bus turns a corner. A view of Mount Igueldo opens up. The setting sun, which is hovering above the left flank of the mountain, dazzles me like a spotlight. The sight from this angle of that amusement park perched on the mountaintop is my cue to stand up; my stop is just ahead. Jacqueline should be waiting nearby, so I must snap out of my daze and behave like a human being, lest I worry my beloved.
As I scramble towards the exit, I spot that a pair of toned legs in cinder-colored tights are standing next to the bus stop, framed against a clump of miniature palm trees. I have started to salivate when I realize that those legs have been wrapped around my face. I lift my gaze to find my girlfriend’s cobalt-blues staring back at me. She beams, widening her plump, rose-pink lips, and dimpling her cheeks. She shifts the shopping bag that she was holding on her right hand to her left one, which was already holding a bag, then she waves in greeting. I straighten my back and greet her with a timid smile.
My body feels heavy and sluggish. When I stumble off the bus, the crisp November air engulfs me and refreshes my lungs. My breath comes out in a white puff.
A tiny human is standing next to my girlfriend, soaking up the waning sunlight. Although less than twenty-four hours ago this child had been frolicking in an Ice Age forest, now she resembles a preppy kid who attends a private school for girls. She’s wearing mid-calf leather boots, navy skinny pants, a wool sweater with a pattern fit for a ski resort, and a lemonade-pink scarf that hides her chin, all of them brand new. Her chestnut-brown hair, woven in two loose braids, gleams as if Jacqueline had washed it with a shampoo and conditioner combo. She reminds me of those videos in which a flea-ridden homeless man gets a makeover, because some rich socialite wanted to bestow upon him the chance to enjoy a life of luxury, and the fairy tale continues until the bum comes across a crack pipe.
The child narrows her slanted eyes, which shine with a bright luster, to shoot me a knowing look, even though she’s as clueless as a baby bird: until today she had never seen a bus. She also has no clue what kind of floor she’s standing on, who are the two women that have become her self-appointed guardians, or how she ended up thirteen thousand years in the future.
I can’t handle this strange mixture of affection and shame. I open my mouth to greet the girl, but what the hell can I say to her other than some version of ‘I’m sorry’? And should I treat her like a person or like a dog?
“Ah… Hello, forest girl.”
The child steps forward, then flings herself onto me like a rag doll. When I catch my breath and cup the back of her head, she stands on her tiptoes and hugs my waist, nestling her face into the velvety surface of my corduroy jacket. I want to warn this pristine child against touching me; it’s like dunking her hand in toxic waste.
“How’s our little savage doing?” I ask in a voice thickened and raspy from lack of sleep.
Jacqueline lets out a crystalline laugh.
“This little girl is very chatty, as well as easygoing and curious,” she says in a slight French accent that I recognize from my dreams. “Don’t you think she looks adorable in that outfit? I’ve had to contain myself from smooching her all morning.” Jacqueline pets the girl on the head. “Isn’t that right, sweetheart? Too bad you can’t understand anything I’m saying.”
The child pulls away from our embrace, but her small hands still cling to my jacket. The way my girlfriend spoke clarifies that she still appreciates me even though I failed to perform the most basic of duties after I woke up from my nightmare, such as giving her a morning-after kiss or having her roll over and let me lick her pussy.
Jacqueline sports a grin that I wish I could bottle up and preserve inside me as an antidote for loneliness. The golden light of the late afternoon is bathing her queenly features in a honeyed glow. She has gathered her raven-black hair in a braided ponytail, that is draped over her shoulder like a waterfall of silk. She’s wearing a fitted, night-black turtleneck sweater tucked into a plaid skirt, and over those, an unbuttoned, dark sienna peacoat. Her breasts, that seem fuller and more buoyant than usual, are shadowing half of her tummy, and begging for a squeeze. Compared to her, I’m a tramp who wears her dad’s clothes and stinks like a dumpster.
Jacqueline resembles a wealthy mom who would come across me as I hugged my knees and cried in the rain, only to invite me into her mansion and offer me a cup of water. She would guide me to take a warm shower to wash off the scent of rotting garbage. When I stepped out with water dripping from my body, she would be waiting for me in a net nightie, ready to dry me with a fluffy towel. She would cradle me in her arms squeezing her meaty breasts between us, which would intoxicate me with their warmth and scent. She’d call me a pitiful creature who needed her help.
She would tighten her grip around my shoulders as her slippery tongue snaked inside my mouth. She would drag me to her bed, and while the feather-softness of her silky hair, as well as the weight of her breasts crushing my ribcage, distracted me, she would shackle my arms and legs to the bedposts. She would rip open her nightie, straddle my face and lower her well-oiled pussy on my mouth.
The taste of her nectar would make my senses reel and my eyes roll back into my head. I would lap at her clit for hours while she petted my head and her nipples leaked jellied milk globules on my cheeks and forehead. Her body would convulse into a series of rhythmic contractions as I gagged on her geyser-like squirts. She would coax my body to expel its most intimate, bitter excretions, and when I felt fully humbled, she would whip me with her strap-on cock and pound my asshole into submission.
With the passing days my hands and feet would go numb, then bloated and gangrenous. My brain would be burning hot, my guts would be churning with bubbling lava. While the flesh of my extremities sloughed off the bone, my tongue would wear down like a lollipop against the woman’s throbbing, steel-hard clit. Her cream would cause me to regurgitate a slimy mess that I would have to swallow and vomit again before it disappeared down my throat, like a cow grazing on toxic grass. One day her juices would overflow from my digestive system into my lungs, and I would start drowning with my nose buried in her pubes, inhaling the pungent scent of her sopping insides: the bitter tang of jasmine flowers crushed under a woman’s heel, mixed with the sweet scent of strawberries. The woman’s naked body would come into focus: a face smudged with charcoal, two silver-white eyes like those of a skull, and a black-as-night tongue lolling out the side of her mouth. Her hair would be a patchwork quilt of reds, whites, and purples, streaked with carmine blood.
I would spasm with a paroxysm of coughing, and retch up a glob of pus that would splatter against the woman’s unshaven thighs. My breath would rasp from my scorched lungs and dribble in a gray stream into my nostrils, but she would burst out in a wailing, orgasmic laughter, then she’d pinch my nose shut. As my brain boiled and blistered in my skull, a white light would explode behind my eyes, and my mind would crack open like a pistachio. I would die knowing that my saviour never loved me as much as I loved her.
I would be reborn in the Ice Age, where I’d be greeted by our adopted daughter’s tribe as a returning heroine. We would all ride on a giant snowball into the future.
After I shake my head to banish the images that have sequestered my senses, I can barely pass enough air through my dilated nostrils. My face feels hot despite the nippy weather. As I shift my weight on my wobbly legs, I rub my thighs together, which elicits a sensation that I can only describe as a dry orgasm.
I risked losing my limbs to frostbite back at that boreal forest, so I want to remain warm outside, but at least I’d like to bring Jacqueline’s knuckles to my lips so I can give her a chaste kiss. However, both of her hands are busy holding shopping bags.
“Jacqueline,” I start in a ragged voice, “this is one of those times that I wonder how come someone as hot as you can exist.”
She bites her lower lip, then takes a deep breath as she burrows into my pupils with her gaze.
“Tell me later what has crossed that dirty mind of yours, darling, and you’re gonna get it. If you can stay awake, that is. I was surprised that you didn’t pass out on the bus and missed the stop. In any case, I’m so glad you are okay, my baby. I’ve been worried about you this morning, you know?”
My mouth is gummy. I lick the saliva that has gathered at the corners of my lips.
“W-why would you be worried?”
“Well, for one thing, this morning you ended up in the Ice Age,” she says with motherly patience.
I was about to lift my right hand to rub my eyebrows, but a small hand is holding mine. The child I kidnapped has wrapped her fingers around my palm. They feel so thin that I could snap them like twigs.
“Yeah, that’s… a thing that happened,” I say. “I can’t believe we have a kid now.”
Jacqueline brushes my free hand with hers, as well as with the handles of the bag she’s holding.
“I can hardly believe it either, but it’s all real, honey.”
When I rub the wild child’s palm with my thumb, she smiles up at me, showing me her healthy choppers. Her eyes are brimming with trust, and I feel like I’m peering into the heart of Mongolia. We must protect her; the world will ruin her otherwise.
“A-anyway, I drank two more coffees after the ones I texted you about,” I say wearily. “Their caffeine is solely responsible for holding me up. If I fail to sleep through this night, I may not wake up tomorrow.”
Jacqueline expels a tiny cloud of white vapor through her teeth.
“Now it feels cruel to ask you this, but I intended to bring our girl to the nearby La Tahona so she could taste pastries for the first time. They won’t do much harm except to your waist, will they?”
My stomach growls. I’ve barely eaten anything since I woke up at four in the morning, except for a ham sandwich and a handful of nuts at the office.
“Sure, why not. I wouldn’t want to deprive our suddenly adopted daughter from the teeth-rotting wonders of modernity.” I hold up my free hand towards Jacqueline, palm up. “But give me one of those damn shopping bags first.”
We turn our backs on Ondarreta beach to cross the road while we escort the Ice Age child like a couple of deranged bodyguards. We stroll along the sidewalk past a Santander and a Kutxa banks, between the façade of a building and the outside tables of a coffee shop, where the patrons are wearing coats and breathing out white steam above their coffees and croissants. Our child’s fingers intertwine with my own.
My eyes are burning from the lack of sleep. To avoid taxing my brain, that would take notice of every passerby in case they are hiding a knife, my gaze slides along the pavement made of hexagonal tiles, which is dirtied with streaks of dog or human piss. A glob of phlegm glistens at the center of a tile; some dickhead believed that subjecting me to the sight of his discharge was less harmful than swallowing it.
A Kaiku delivery truck, likely full of pasteurized cow milk, attempts to pass us by on the one-lane road, but the traffic slows it down. Its engine is expelling a monstrous gurgle that drowns out our foosteps and even a nearby conversation. The truck lets out a loud tsk as it changes gears, then the engine roar swells and the vehicle leaves us behind. Its exhaust dissipates like the smoke of a dragon’s breath.
I have clenched my teeth, and my heart is pounding in my ears. That noise felt like an invading army scaling the walls of my mind to demolish everything left inside. Our child is squeezing my hand; she’s grimacing as she stares at the shrinking truck with wonder and apprehension.
We have gotten used to nasty stuff that we shouldn’t have tolerated. In the past, while strolling along any street, I would have only heard footsteps, the lively chats of passersby, children’s laughter, distant barks, and at the most a clatter of hooves from some wandering horse. We would have been spared the horrid din of traffic, as well as the music, usually fucking reggaeton these days, that some bastards blast out from their car stereos because they feel good when they annoy people. Our stomachs would wince at the first whiff of fumes from a motor vehicle. The ruckus that human beings create evokes the image of an eye-patched warlord that’s holding a rifle in his free hand while masturbating on a throne of corpses, ready to unleash bullets and semen on the masses. In the end I had to face that I can’t control the sound of the world around me, that I can barely control my own life; I had to bear the ugliness and misery, and I know very little except for the mysteries of my own stupidity.
I must have reached my limit, because my senses are tuning out the sounds and smells in order to save me from drowning in them. My field of view narrows down until it gets reduced to my lover and our sudden child. My brain is questioning why the hell am I walking around when I should lie down on any surface, close my eyes and let myself drift off to sleep.
I take a deep breath and picture myself far away, in a temperate forest populated by beasts that would only be big enough to bite off my fingers, and if I befriended them, I could sink my head in their furry bellies and let their heaving breaths carry me away to dreamland. I’m tired of pretending to be civilized.
When I notice that a hand has rested on my shoulder, I stumble on my feet. Jacqueline has stopped and turned to face me. The awning of the closest store reads ‘Tahona,’ and a vertical advertisement sign hanged on the wall displays two baguettes. Behind the closed sliding door, the inside of the patisserie is bathed in the kind of dim, warm light that would befit a cozy living room or a study.
Jacqueline leans in close to my face, and her white breath breaks against my nose and lips. I inhale her fragrance; it smells like the blackness that engulfs you when you fall asleep.
“You are carrying it, aren’t you?” she whispers.
I have to repress a cough, because the lingering stench of the truck’s exhaust has been burned into my lungs.
“Carrying what? The weight of this world? The weight of my past and my guilt? My life has been little else than a bloody cycle of pain.”
Jacqueline glances down at the breast of my corduroy jacket.
“I meant the dangerous tool that previously belonged to a horse.”
“Oh, of course. I wouldn’t forget it at work as if it were an umbrella or my wallet.”
I consider unbuttoning my jacket, but that would look more suspicious, so I probe through the fabric the solidity of Spike’s revolver.
“You needed to check if you had it with you?” Jacqueline asks, concerned. “You weren’t sure?”
“The stuff and people in my life are known to blink in and out of existence.”
Jacqueline sighs, then she swipes a lock of hair away from my face.
“Well, let’s make sure we don’t give anyone cause to call the police.”
Author’s note: today’s song is “Velouria” by Pixies. I’ve been listening to Pixies so much recently that it probably constitutes a midlife crisis.
This chapter is about 3,100 words of three characters (two deranged, one their adopted daughter from the Ice Age) moving from a bus stop to a pastry shop located 200 meters away. That’s how I roll.
Recently I’ve thought about why I’m so impatient with novels (I’ve always been impatient with them, but it gets worse the more I age) although I devour mangas, and why my stories feel so different to most others I come across. I think it comes down to the fact that I want the vicarious experience of here-and-now through an interesting POV character throughout an entire story. A visual medium like manga, which offers much more leeway than movies or shows, allows the reader to feel like you are kind of hanging out with the characters in specific places and figuring stuff out with them as they experience their surroundings. Also, manga authors have no choice but to research each location and object involved, because they’ll need to be depicted on the panels. It’s hard to imagine that a series as hard hitting for me as Asano’s “Oyasumi Punpun” could have happened in any other medium. The closest an author of novels has come to that, that I remember, is Murakami, although he has put out plenty of shit.
If you are as interested in sexual debasement and/or torture as the demon that commands Leire’s subconscious seems to be, you may want to read my narrative poem “You Choose Who Owns You”, that I wrote back in August of last year.
I exploited a neural network to generate images related to this chapter: here’s the link.