As if I had been transported to a movie theater in an inverted dimension, humming fluorescent lights are shining down from the ceiling, and the opposite wall has been covered with a three-dimensional black canvas made of gooey tar in which floats the audience: a score of world-globe-sized eyeballs with sewage-colored irises and pupils that dilate and contract as they glare at me, the protagonist of this demented pageant. The scene is swirling like a lava lamp; when the floor seems to tilt and I teeter, the eyeballs swimming about in the blob’s expanse of gelatinous muck, which keeps rippling and squelching, follow me with their gaze as if they were scanning my mind to pry it apart.
My bowels gurgle, my stomach turns somersaults. A wave of nausea, accompanied with an unbearable chill, floods over me as if I had ingested a bucketful of diarrhea.
At the back of my throat forms a knot of spoiled meat marinated in bitter bile. My esophagus clenches around it as if trying to reject an intruder, but the knot threatens to rise further. Although I swallow it down, hot saliva fills my mouth with an acidic and coppery taste. I tighten my clammy right hand around the grip of the revolver, lest I drop it, and I raise my left hand to cover my mouth while my ribs heave with spastic coughing. A geyser of vomit is about to surge up my esophagus.
Fuck, I’m retching! I can’t heave my guts out onto the aluminum-gray carpet; I would ruin the austere and sterile elegance of our office. But mainly I’d dread explaining such a stain to our porcine overlord. I can already hear that piggish braggart’s hoarse rasp issuing from his slobbering snout, calling me a dirty slut. Maybe he’d force me to pay for the cleaning expenses.
As my eyes water and my cheeks bulge, I rush to Jordi’s wastebasket and drop to my knees. When I attempt to grab its sides to pull the basket closer to me, I bonk the wire mesh with my revolver. Doubled over, I groan with pain, then puke a torrent of yellowish and thick vomit that contains scraps of my internal organs as well as gobbets of liquified intestines, while my nostrils spew a poisonous froth of gastric acid that inflames my sinuses. The vomit is splattering onto the corralled rubbish: crumpled papers and tissues, disposable coffee cups, ballpoint pens, wooden stirrers, plastic bottles, sandwich wrappers, empty cola cans, polystyrene containers, dead insects, dirty syringes, tied-up condoms, and murder weapons.
My eyelids are twitching and my skin has broken out in goosebumps as I retch again and again like a sickly goose. The walls of my throat and mouth are burning, my tongue has caught fire. The fangs of my tears are carving holes into my cheeks. Splatter, gag, spit, puke, regurgitate, spew, barf, drool, swallow, pant, cough, retch, breathe, gag, belch, groan, puke, splatter.
I have become a churning cauldron of filth and corruption, and my mouth a spigot that discharges a flow of sewage in an excruciating exorcizing ceremony. I’m alone and lost in a wasteland of viscous misery. I need to find my way back to mommy’s womb. I shut my eyes tight to retreat into my shadowy mind-theater, and I render a close-up in candlelight of Jacqueline’s vagina. I see every pore of its satiny skin, the sweet pink labia glistening with her cream and my saliva, the engorged rosy nub that protrudes from beneath its hood of flesh. But her holy pussy stares back with hatred. The umbilical cord has been cut from my navel, and instead it has coiled around the trigger of a machine gun poised to annihilate me. The cord gets yanked taut so that the machine gun pumps round after round of flaming lead slugs. They rip open my bowels and stomach, turning my flesh into tatters and pulp. They pierce through my heart, my lungs, my spine. My cranium bursts in a bloody fountain that scatters my neurons into the void.
After the spate of uncontrollable fits, at last the urge to puke subsides and the acid recedes from my sinuses, although my stomach remains a quaking ball of nerves. A long stream of ochery matter dribbles over my chin and splashes onto the sodden morass that has covered the heap of garbage like with a toxic tarpaulin.
I spit out foamy saliva until I’m sure that I have hurled away all the spoiled remains inside of me. My face is numb and flushed with heat; I rest it against the cool rim of the wastebasket. I keep panting, and fever-like chills are setting in.
I sit back on my heels. An insectoid buzzing has filled the space between my ears as if a wasp were beating its wings inside my skull. But the vibrations are coming from my brain, that keeps thumping like a kettledrum, causing my mind to whirl with dizziness. Arachne, blessed be Her name, lodged in some knot of my neural matter the ability to weave narratives from random sensory inputs, and it’s translating, as if using the sticky silk of my psyche to bind my awareness, the echoing noise into voices that are chattering gibberish.
A shiver slithers down my back like an icy serpent. I keep getting racked with chills. I’m soaking wet, hot and slick with sweat that has covered a rash of goosebumps. A salty drop from the ones that have beaded on my brow rolls down into my right eye. It stings; I squeeze my eyelids shut.
My sinuses are caked with mucus, and I can barely breathe through my nostrils. A blessing, because the air is laden with a stink that makes me feel like I have wandered into an abandoned slaughterhouse during a stifling summer day, only to find myself amidst piles of shit and steaming cow carcasses. I barely distinguish the sickly-sweet stench of my vomit from this oily reek that could knock a gorilla out. A small-boned lady like myself, who rolled low on endurance, should have suffocated already, but I guess that my lungs adapted to breathing fetid miasmata thanks to Spike’s intrusions, as well as the one time I confronted that bunnyman bastard while I avoided gazing down at his torpedo-sized cock. These days I can handle any stink, any degree of madness, even the specters of guilt and self-loathing that accompany this odor of decay, because that’s what I am: a creature of putrefaction, a human plague, a biochemical nightmare spreading throughout this cursed world.
I lean on the edge of the desk for support, then I push myself to my feet. I stagger away on my rubbery legs. When I straighten up, my skull feels as heavy as a block of lead.
Vomit has spilled out of the wastebasket, leaking through its wire mesh. The viscous mixture has spread its corrosive contagion over the carpet in splattered streaks. They look like a spiderweb that has been sprayed with a gunky, yellowish-brown sauce. The acidic filth gleams dully under the fluorescent lights as it soaks into the gray fibers.
Why didn’t Jordi put a trash bag in his wastebasket? I should grab handfuls of paper towels from the bathroom to mop up the mess. I picture myself on all fours as I rub, rub, rub the stains with ferocious pressure, although I’d prefer to rip out the carpet and bury it. I also imagine myself pressing my lips to the synthetic fibers and lapping up the sickly-sweet substance with my tongue, which causes my gut to heave. For now I’ll have to erase from my mind the gooey stew that has soiled my boss’ carpet, or at least I’ll have to convince myself that I stained it with easier to explain liquids, like coffee from a clumsily dropped cup, or blood from a stomped-on rat.
I wipe my mouth with the back of my trembling right hand, that still holds the revolver. My heart is churning blood like an over-revved engine. The paroxysm of puking has coated my tongue with the taste of an overripe banana dipped in battery acid. I’m lightheaded and drained as if my body were struggling to knit back together its ruptured tissues, and my psyche, that is traversing the narrow border between consciousness and delirium, risks wafting away toward the all-encompassing darkness.
Fat drops of rain keep thudding, thudding, thudding against the windowpanes like the rapping of a thousand tiny knuckles, ghost kids waiting for someone to let them in. Thunder crackles, and the fluorescent ceiling fixtures flicker, as stroboscopic flashes tint the desk, swivel chairs and computer screens with lily white and iceberg blue. The barrage of lightning must be lashing apartment buildings, splitting their roofs, widening cracks in their walls to force open the seams of their bricks and surge through. Jagged spears of electricity will strike the targets inside, charring both furniture and flesh until they explode with a sizzle and a pop in puffs of ash and vaporized skin. As the smell of burning meat, hair, fabric, wood, plastic and rubber drifts down on the storm’s wet breath, the ceaseless rain will engender an apocalyptic deluge that, in its rise, turning the streets into raging rivers, will sweep away like toy boats in a bathtub the burned-out cars, smoking bricks, cracked masonry, uprooted trees, wrecked furniture, blackened bodies. Those who escaped into dreams will wake up to find themselves soaked under their blankets. Donostia, located during pre-Roman times in the domain of the Varduli, reduced in one fell swoop to a wasteland of ashes and mud, will vanish under an expanse of grasses, plants and flowers grown on their own amid birdsong.
The Stygian blob has settled in this dimension like a bloated turd that refuses to get flushed away. Its slime-slick bulk, a mound of quivering folds scattered with tumorous protuberances, squelches as it pulsates obscenely like some spasming uterus. From its underside hang half-congealed cords of goo in a stringy lacework. I refuse to count how many eyeballs are bulging on the gelatinous lump of grime and disease, in an orrery of sentient planetoids that have glued their bloodcurdling stares to my face. The corneas are glistening like made of pliant glass. Those eyeballs are judging me, scolding me, singling me out as a creep, a degenerate, a pervert, a sluglike fiend unworthy of breathing the same air as them. Their loathsome glares gnaw at me, scratch me, pinch my nipples, pry at my labia, bruise my clitoris.
My brain is boiling like a cauldron of tar. My clammy and feverish skin has become a hotbed of tickling spiders that are crawling around behind my ears, down my neck, under my armpits, inside the crack of my ass. What else could I expect from the confining, decaying sack of flesh and guts that I call my body? This hellscape must have been devised by Arachne Herself. Does She want to extract a sacrifice from me? Has She set the test up so that I must murder the blob or go mad? I shouldn’t have to tolerate being stared at by any creature against my will; that alone warrants a little murder. Besides, I’m dying to shoot this dick-substitute at anything that breathes.
I hug the revolver with my sweaty palms, locking my fingers together around the wooden grip. If I squeezed this hunk of metal until my hands hurt, the revolver wouldn’t get squashed. Is that how it feels like to have a dick, once the penis, engorged with blood, has swollen out of its velvet sheath, and has blushed with a crimson hue that rivals the brightest flowers in their blossoms? If I were a guy and I possessed a thick, meaty cock, I’d show it off proudly like a royal scepter. I would parade it around, flaunting its majestic magnificence. I’d stick my dick in any available orifice, even if that meant stuffing it in the gaping maw of a snarling dog, or sliding it between the pages of a novel as a bookmark.
I raise my revolver to eye level and aim at the center of that gelatinous mass, the inflamed carbuncle, the pus-oozing blight, the inescapable festering festering festering. The blob wobbles like a water balloon about to burst. Its eyeballs roll in sync, shifting their gaze to the revolver’s barrel, that looks like a toothpick poking up against this tide of nightmare.
My skin prickles with goosebumps under a film of sweat. The blob understands that the device I’m holding can dole out death.
I try to keep the revolver steady, but an undulating vibration courses down my spine, and my forearms start to tremble. Who cares about this slimy intruder’s sentience? Plenty of primates could recognize themselves in a mirror, yet they also deserve to die.
I curl my forefinger around the trigger. The revolver’s hammer is cocked, its cylinder loaded with bullets. I’m a motherfuckin’ gunslinger, a badass with a mighty six-shooter and a pair of leather chaps. All my life I have wanted to murder somebody. After I blast that slime-skinned, flesh-waddling, eyeball-plagued horror to bits, a splash of rain will quench the flames in my brain.
Author’s note: today’s songs are “Black Math” by The White Stripes, as well as “Brave as a Noun” and “People II: The Reckoning,” both by AJJ.
I keep a playlist with all the songs mentioned throughout this novel. Ninety-five songs so far. Check them out.
A couple of neural networks were kind enough to render moments from this scene (for a price). Check these out too.
Some years ago I dared to attend a few writing courses (never again), and one of the writers suggested that my stuff was like verbal diarrhea. He meant it as a compliment.