“Will you stop laughing already?” the blob demands in a voice viscous as dripping sludge.
My chest and back are heaving, my facial muscles are contracted in a rigid grin that bares my teeth, while tears jump from my eyes. A piggish snort interrupts the guffawing, and after a few dry gasps, I manage to straighten up.
“The abomination talked.” I wipe away the tears with my thumbs, including the little beads stuck in my lashes. “Of course it talked. That’s just my luck.”
“I’m neither an ‘it’ nor an ‘abomination.’ I’m a sentient being, an intelligent lifeform, just like you.”
“Of all the slimy blobs in this world of horrors, I had to come across one that mastered the art of speech. What an inauspicious fate.”
“You are as rude as usual,” the blob says gruffly.
Blood is rushing to my head, making it throb and ache. Simulations bubbling up from my subconscious are crowding up behind the shut sphincter of my mind, competing for my attention; I get a glimpse of myself sinking my fingers with a glugging sound into the squidgy goo, which looks like the oozing viscera of a decomposing whale, to seize whatever passes for this gutter-mouthed freak’s neck and throttle it while screaming obscenities. I clench my fists, and the tendons in my hands creak in anticipation. I also picture myself hurling a mountain-sized iceberg at this monstrosity to pulverize it.
This is what I have become: a grown woman talking to a gargantuan glob of black sludge stuck to a wall. And yet that blob has the gall to call me rude. At which of those bulging eyeballs should I glower as they bob back and forth in that viscous, wobbly mass? If eyes are windows into the soul, I’m facing one sordid, abject fiend who has earned every curse that may be heaped upon him.
I fold my arms and force myself to take measured breaths.
“I resent your tone, sir,” I say through a tight throat that feels scraped raw, “as I resent the rotten stench emanating from your bloated body.”
“I stink, huh?”
“It reeks of decaying garbage. No, it’s more like the stink of rotten eggs mixed with raw sewage. A putrefying miasma I wouldn’t be able to wash off even if I jumped in a pool of acid.”
“The fact that you can breathe is a small mercy in this world of filth you call home.”
“Are you speaking from experience?” I chuckle nervously. “You must have spawned from filth yourself. I swear, if there were a contest for the most hideous creature on Earth, you would be one of the frontrunners. But I will spare myself from imagining such a pageant so I can retain what little self-control I possess. Your appearance is an affront to human dignity.”
“Alright, trash-talker. You don’t have a clue how hard and unpleasant it was to manifest over here.”
A peal of thunder ripping across the sky makes me snap my head upright, and drowns out the blob’s words. Goosebumps erupt down my arms while the rumble crackles as if some heavenly douchebags were setting off firecrackers.
“Who invited you anyway?” I demand to know. “And who would invite in an intergalactic vagrant who knows nothing of etiquette?”
“What makes you think I need your permission?”
Sweat trickles down my nose. My heart is hammering so hard I’m afraid it will tear free from my chest and fall to the carpet with a splat. My carotids must be swollen and purple.
“You are a parasite,” I growl through gritted teeth. “An invader. A sewer-dwelling species from some unheard-of dimension. Do the countless worms twitching in your flesh take note of the venom in my voice?”
“They do indeed, and they’re getting a kick out of it. As are the trillions of germs swimming in your intestinal flora.”
“Don’t you dare speak to me of my digestive system. I will gut you like a fish and flay you alive!”
The blob’s bulging eyeballs, plump blisters about to burst in spurts of pus, quiver as he sniggers. It makes me picture a chorus of gargling frogs.
“Leire, you’re a bully. A bully with no sense of proportion and a pathetic personality to boot. You excel at bullying others as well as yourself.”
My forehead is moist, my hair sticks to my face, and my shirt clings to my back and breasts. I tremble with the impulse to hurl a chair or a bookcase at the interdimensional, septic abomination who continues to spew his invective even as I struggle to contain my wrath.
This is why I don’t socialize, why I’ve kept to myself for most of my life: this world of misery is filled with nauseating vermin who delight in humiliating me. I thought I had left behind me the hostility oozing from every corner, the spiteful whispers of untold monsters, but now I’m confronted with an invader whose rudeness and perversion outstrip my own. A real piece of shit, so to speak.
I need to bury my face in mommy’s breasts.
Author’s note: today’s song is “Angela Surf City” by The Walkmen (as well as this live version).
I keep a playlist with all the songs mentioned throughout this novel. A hundred and one songs so far. Check them out.
Do you want to see AI-generated images inspired by moments from this chapter? No? Here’s the link anyway.
A few neural networks can now create realistic voices. Listen to them act out this chapter.
This chapter kicks off a new sequence titled “A Monstrous Ignoramus.” The previous sequence kind of did me in; I don’t want to end up again in a situation in which I will only upload a chapter every couple of weeks, but given how obsessive I am, that means posting short chapters more often. Whenever I get down to editing the chapters together into an epub file, I’ll merge plenty of them anyway.
In other news, I’ve been hooked on beta blockers due to my heart issues. My hands and feet are perpetually cold, my heart rate rarely goes above 60, and I feel somewhat physically detached from my surroundings, although not mentally, which is perfect; the serotonin reuptake inhibitors I used to take ages ago turned me into a zombie. These days I would probably come off as even more boring than usual, but thankfully I haven’t talked to anyone in person (other than waiters, servers or whatever they prefer to call themselves these days) ever since my last contract ended. Beta blockers apparently also work to prevent migraines (they terrify me), and help with anxiety in general. Perhaps I should have been taking them all along. What other drugs should I become dependent on?
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