I used the fantastic, AI-based program xVASynth to generate five minutes of my poem ‘Dinosaur Apocalypse’, and I uploaded it to YouTube.
You can find the rest of this poem through this link.
I used the fantastic, AI-based program xVASynth to generate five minutes of my poem ‘Dinosaur Apocalypse’, and I uploaded it to YouTube.
You can find the rest of this poem through this link.
A new version of xVASynth got released, and I figured, why not force one of those voices to recite my poem ‘Sasquatch Goddess’?
The process turned out to be more annoying that I expected, so I just generated two minutes of it.
You can read the rest of the poem through this link.
I can’t escape, I can’t refuse to shoulder this unfair workload as the leading programmer of the only company that hasn’t discarded me because I’m a lunatic. Now that my mind has surrendered for a while to the nightmare that my life has become, it has ceased to struggle every time I stop adding new lines of code, so in what little remains of the workday I’m accomplishing more work than I had since it started. But my brain aches and burns from overexertion. Sweat is dripping down my forehead onto a keyboard covered in smudged fingerprints. My breasts and nipples are itching under my hoodie. My pussy is also on fire and needs relief desperately. I want to cry as I curse myself for having failed to masturbate before coming to work today.
As if inhabiting my festering body wasn’t enough of a punishment, I keep typing while I ignore the black shapes that dart in my peripheral vision. They are shadowy, indistinct blobs, the negative images of living beings whose absence has punched holes in reality, leaving behind pitch-black voids. Sometimes they approach me slowly like marauders stalking prey, but most often they appear suddenly, and shortly after they fade away. They must be phantoms created by my mind to torment me.
I hear shadowy whispers inside my head, I feel them draining more and more of my energy with every passing minute as if I were covered in leeches. This is a hellish world of shadows and nightmares, and it’s slowly killing me because that’s all I deserve. Nobody cares for me, nobody loves me, nobody wants to help me out of this hole of despair that is eating away at my sanity.
During a pause to wipe the sweat off my face, I look over my shoulder expecting to stare back at a deformed horse’s eyes, but that equine stalker has disappeared. Now that I think about it, I haven’t caught a glimpse of him since I exited my supervisor’s office in defeat. Maybe Spike was a manifestation of my growing urges to kick someone’s skull in, and now that I’ve capitulated, that horse has abandoned me without saying goodbye. I had complained so much about him and insulted him as creatively as I could muster, but that horse was willing to talk to me instead of treating me like a wage slave whose duties unfortunately can’t be automated. He treated me like a person worthy of respect, and now I might never see his ugly mug again.
My fingers are numb and trembling from stress. The keys are sticky and wet with perspiration and tears and snot and semen and blood. About an hour from the end of the workday, my mind is so worn down that it refuses to understand the lines of code I force it to read. I can’t think of anything besides how badly I need some release for this unbearable tension building inside of me. I need something real, tangible, and palpable. I need a dick deep inside of me, one thick meaty pole full to bursting with cum to fill up the empty spaces left behind when my thoughts are depleted.
I slip away to the bathroom, which is thankfully empty, and I lock myself in a stall. As soon as I have collapsed onto the toilet seat, I start shaking uncontrollably. A few tears trickle down my cheeks. The pressure from the built up tension causes it to force its way out of the small openings in my eyes.
I squat over the toilet bowl as if trying to dig out an impure substance that has seeped through the cracks of reality to infect my insides, and then I release a stream of piss as if a floodgate had opened somewhere in my lower abdomen. I hunch over while my piss hits the water, and the tears that run down my face drip onto the cold porcelain of the bathroom tiles. My body shakes and shudders with each sob, and my stomach knots up into painful cramps.
After I empty my bladder, I rest my elbows on my knees and I take deep breaths as I sniffle. The knot in my abdomen loosens somewhat. Once the last tear drops away, I grab toilet paper to blow my nose. I open the stall door.
I find myself staring at a pair of white, thigh-high stockings that are hugging two shapely legs. A fleshy bit of thigh is showing between the welt of the stockings and the dark grey skirt. Wait, I recognize these appetizing legs, and also the cream white blouse tucked into that skirt. The gilded buttons shine in the bathroom lights, as well as the pearly pendant that draws my attention to a large pair of breasts that I want to sink my face in.
I wasn’t ready to face Jacqueline’s concern as she observes my red eyes, my swollen eyelids, my tear soaked cheeks. My hands are trembling. I squeeze the tissue soggy with snot to control my pulse rate. As I walk up to the sink, I open my mouth to brush away my pain, but Jacqueline has brought a hand to her chest, and I see myself through her glistening eyes: a broken woman who’s barely hanging by a thread.
“I-it’s nothing,” I say under my breath. “It all felt like too much for a moment.”
Jacqueline smacks her lips. I turn the sink tap on to wash my face, but my coworker steps forward and runs her soft, warm hand across my cheek to comfort me. Despite her beautiful face and those pearly white teeth, she can’t hide her crow’s feet and the marked nasolabial folds that betray a lifetime spent smiling. I find myself leaning into her hand as Jacqueline strokes my damp cheek.
“Oh, baby,” Jacqueline coos. “It’s okay to cry to release your feelings, and there’s no shame in needing someone to talk to when things get rough and tough.”
I wasn’t ready for her touch nor for that soft tone meant to comfort me. A warm tear slips past my shivering bottom lip. I turn my head away, but Jacqueline cups my chin and turns it back. With her other hand she wipes the wetness from my cheeks. After she steps closer, she wraps both arms around me as if she was embracing a frightened child. When I return to my senses, Jacqueline is running the fingers of her right hand over my scalp while she whispers in French into my ear.
I’m overwhelmed by the snuggly feeling of Jacqueline’s embrace and her large breasts pressed against mine. Our nipples would touch if it weren’t for the fabrics that separate them. I bask in the warmth that radiates from her tits, those two soothing cushions in which I want to sink. They are breasts with a soul. I wish they would crush me into submission, that she would hold me tight enough that my ribs would break and my lungs would get punctured from the pressure of her breasts crushing inwards against my ribcage.
I raise my hands to hug Jacqueline back. My breathing has become shallow and rapid, and a shuddering sensation ripples throughout my trembling frame as my coworker’s fingers play with the hair at the nape of my neck. I take a couple of deep breaths to calm myself down, but it doesn’t work because Jacqueline’s scent is overwhelming, a mix of her perfume, shampoo, deodorant, sweat, and other bodily fluids, a strong aroma that makes my legs weak with a desire to slide down to her crotch and bury myself between those plush mounds until my eyes roll up into their sockets.
Jacqueline is so close to my skin that her bacteria must be jumping ship. I picture the millions of microorganisms that inhabit her vagina as tiny, pink cells squirming in a thick mucus soup inside of a gelatinous, fleshy pouch. Her vaginal secretions are a rich source of nourishment for those microscopic creatures, which multiply rapidly in a moist environment such as hers. My imagination takes flight; I can feel each individual cell moving within its own bubble of fluid, and I am seized by an intense urge to taste some of that delicious liquid.
As Jacqueline strokes my back gently with both hands and presses her breasts more firmly into me, I imagine her vagina opening up like a flower with petals of slippery jelly stretching wide and welcoming me into a hot steam bath of gooey juice. A tingle starts at the tips of my nipples, and it spreads quickly throughout my breasts and down my stomach towards the waistband of my pants. Then I feel a gush of wetness between my legs that threatens to soak through my panties onto my thighs.
Jacqueline coos, “It’s alright, honey. I know you’ll make it out of this alive because you have such an amazing brain in your pretty skull. It’s going to be fine…”
I sigh. I close my eyes and bury my face in her neck. Does Jacqueline notice how hard my nipples are getting? Are they digging into her flesh through our bras, my hoodie and her blouse?
I’m so cozy, like a baby in its womb. When was the last time someone offered me such a caring gesture? No one is interested in talking to a person whose head is a mess of strange thoughts and feelings they can’t understand, especially someone who is clearly suffering like a zombie trapped within a cage of its own making.
I’m feelizing woozy as if drugged, and the troubles that had threatened to crush me seem lighter and bearable. I wish I could stay forever with this woman’s arms around me, with her breasts pressed against mine, with her warm breath on my face and her fingers massaging away my discomfort.
When Jacqueline pulls back slightly, signalling that the embrace has ended, my heart skips a beat, and I want to beg her to continue consoling me. Her blue eyes stare into mine with genuine concern.
“It’s true you work too much,” Jacqueline whispers. “I wish I could tell you I would convince our boss to hire someone else to help with the workload, even an intern, but he won’t. Most of it goes to pay the bills of this place so he can keep the miracle going. That’s just how it is. But you can rely on me, Leire, for everything. I’ll keep you strong, alright?”
I nod weakly. My mouth has filled with saliva. Jacqueline smells so good, she’s so warm. She’s a beautiful angel with a kind smile on her lips, ready to give me a shoulder to lean upon. A beacon of light amidst my dark days.
Jacqueline accepts my silence for a few seconds as I look deeply into her eyes. Then she tickles me gently on my chin, and leans in to kiss me on the forehead. Her lips linger on that spot just above my brow line, a kiss that sends a jolt straight to the base of my spine and a warm glow to my cheeks.
“You’re a good girl, aren’t you, sweetheart?” Jacquelines asks softly. “You just need a break, a vacation, or a boyfriend, and everything will be fine, won’t it?”
She must notice that I’m breathless, and how much I’ve blushed. I’m holding back the urge to shove my tongue into her mouth. If we were alone in this building, with no one to interrupt, I may do something drastic.
Jacqueline’s blue gaze dances over my countenance. The tip of her tongue pokes out for a moment before disappearing again behind those lovely white teeth.
“Ah, you are so cute,” Jacqueline says, then she brushes a lock of my hair behind my ear. “Listen, just do the most you can during your regular workdays, and then head home for your well deserved rest. If Ramsés can’t organize himself better, you shouldn’t have to suffer for it. You will do that today, right, head home along with us?”
Jacqueline’s gentle voice struck me with an unexpected wave of melancholy. I feel like a child I had never been, one that could rely on someone who would lend her a hand when she was helpless, without asking anything in return except for a little bit of love. I lower my head and narrow my shoulders. I have been forced to play a cruel game for too many years, pretending to be someone else than the child who once fell by the side of the road and never managed to stand up again.
My thoughts are muddled. Jacqueline reaches to turn the sink tap off, then she guides me out of the bathroom as she rubs my neck.
“Let’s go back to our desks now. You already have my number, right? You can call me when you feel like this and you want someone to comfort you.”
A warm sensation flows through the pit of my stomach while I rack my brain for any excuse that would keep Jacqueline by my side.
As soon as I enter my supervisor’s office and I close the door behind me, I’m struck with the usual envy that arises in me when I see this bastard’s workspace. I wish I didn’t have to work, but because I’m forced to, I’d prefer if I owned my own office in which I could sit with the back of the monitor facing the door, so I wouldn’t spend my workdays suspecting that my coworkers are spying on my browsing habits.
Behind the expensive desk made of dark wood, Ramsés, sitting on his leather executive chair dyed blue, was shoving a potato chip into his mustached mouth when he noticed I had entered his office without knocking. He calmly wipes his fingers with a tissue and closes the drawer of his desk that likely contains his stack of vending machine snacks. The early afternoon October sun is pouring through the tall windows and lighting Ramsés from behind, thinning further the already sparse hair growing out of the top of his head, making the graying strands look like the remnants of moldering straws. An enormous picture on the wall depicts the Pyramids of Giza, I guess partly because my boss’ parents knew in advance how big of a dickhead the guy was going to become.
Ramsés swivels his chair towards me and deploys a cordial smile with his lips and his thick mustache. I despise how this man stares at me, with a conspiratorial glint in his eye as if we shared some private joke, or sin. It makes my skin crawl.
“Leire,” Ramsés says. “Is this about your new ticket?”
I’m controlling my breathing, and hiding my rage behind a mask of professionality. Shouting at this prick as soon as I open my mouth would hurt my point. You can’t let them know you’re angry and afraid, they will use it against you and exploit you for what little value is left in your soul.
“Yes,” I say in a raspy voice. “I have to shoulder a whole new contract when I haven’t had the time to finish the previous ones.”
Ramsés runs one hand across his mustache. His nostrils flare slightly as if sniffing something unpleasant, then he purses his lips and nods a few times. He stretches his arm towards the stylized chair, made of matching dark wood and leather dyed blue, that is facing the front of his desk.
“Please, sit down. Let’s talk about this.”
He won’t agree to argue unless my ass is occupying his chair. When I sink into the leather, I have to look up at Ramsés, whose executive chair is raised partly for this purpose. His eyes are boring into me as he leans forward and places both hands atop his desk.
I wonder if the desk is hiding that my boss’ erection is protruding menacingly, and if he has coated the underside of his desk in years of dried cum. This guy keeps his suit jacket buttoned even when he’s sitting, and the buttons are struggling to contain his bloated belly. That body must be so hairy and sweaty.
I shift my weight uncomfortably in the chair as I force myself to keep holding my boss’ gaze.
“I’ll get right to the point: you are sending me way too much work. It’s stressing me the fuck out. I’m always anxious, but these past days I’ve been feeling particularly vulnerable, so I can’t handle this workload any longer.”
I had looked away to figure out how to word my point properly, and when my gaze returns to Ramsés’ face, I catch him ogling my breasts although my hoodie should be disguising most of the curves and bumps of my body. The sight of him, or any living creature for that matter, looking lasciviously at my boobs triggers a wave of anger that threatens to overwhelm my rational mind and cause my body to respond to it with uncontrollable arousal. This is the last thing I need; now my body is screaming that it needs to be fucked and filled with cum by a man, and because of that, my mind is urging me to spread my legs and accept a cock inside me. I frown and grimace, but Ramsés offers me what he likely believes to be a pleasant smile.
“I noticed that today you weren’t resolving your tickets at your usual pace. You are feeling vulnerable, you said? Is it just stress? Maybe you’ve caught a cold? It’s October, after all.”
My immune system has struggled for years; I survive on a diet of cold sandwiches and I suffer from chronic insomnia. However, unless the Chinese have fabricated a virus that can make people hallucinate horses, I’m merely losing my mind. In addition, my boss’ foul-smelling breath has reached over his desk and invaded my nostrils with the stink of cigarettes. I wonder how many cigs a human being has to smoke a day that his breath always smells foul. Maybe he smokes to hide that his normal breath smells like a sewer rat’s anus.
“No, I’m not sick,” I assure him, controlling my tone. “I’m stressed out because I’ve been sent too much work lately, and I’m frustrated because I can’t complete any of it on schedule. Ramsés, you know I’m even working overtime because I can’t get enough done during the regular workday! This stuff is too much for my brain to process anymore.”
I hate how whiny I sound, but if my boss didn’t want me to bitch about this shit, he shouldn’t send me so much work.
Ramsés rests his hands on the desk and he shoots me an aloof look. He’s probably thinking what a fool I am for having allowed myself to be trapped in a workplace where a stinky horse keeps talking in my ears for hours on end and fills my mind with worthless thoughts.
“Leire, you know I prefer that my employees refer to me as ‘sir’,” he says condescendingly.
My stomach clenches as I feel bile rising in my throat. This guy thinks that since his dick is bigger than mine, he’s entitled to treat me like a servant. He’s got no idea how hard and fast I could ride his cock if my pussy wasn’t currently stuffed full of a vibrator. He’s a piece of shit and deserves a punch in the nose.
“There’s a clear division of labor,” Ramsés adds, “and I’m the one who will suffer the most if this venture fails, not to mention that I’m paying your wages at the end of every month.”
As I stare through the shiny floor, I swallow the bitter taste in my mouth and try to regain control over my accelerated heartbeat. The murderous confidence with which I had burst into my boss’ office has fizzled out as if it had been a mirage in a desert. All that remains is my empty shell, into which I wish I could sink and disappear forever.
“You’re right, sir,” I answer reluctantly. “Sorry for calling you by your name when speaking about work issues. That’s inappropriate conduct for an employee.”
My voice had grown hoarse as I spoke, and the heat in my cheeks had spread to cover my entire face. Ramsés watches me intently with those creepy eyes of his as a shudder runs down my spine. He takes pleasure from making me squirm under his power, he enjoys watching me cower beneath his gaze and strain against my chains. He is going to take advantage and fuck me until he leaves me gasping for air with cum dripping between my thighs.
When did I cease to be a human being? My integrity had been chipped away concession by concession: by submitting to an inferior position within an organization; by agreeing to do things outside of my job description; by choosing to shut up when I should have complained; by staying around to work overtime when I should have refused to handle such workloads; by becoming obsessed with an unhealthy addiction—masturbation. Every time I woke up before the sunrise and got into my Renault Laguna to drive to the office, I should have stripped naked and run into the woods while shouting incoherently. Instead, whenever these days anyone touches me or talks to me, I have to fight the urge to fall to my knees in front of them like a submissive slut. I don’t know why I exist anymore.
Ramsés wants me to submit again by consenting to have sex with him, but he doesn’t realize that his cock is already inside me. His cum marks his territory. His will holds me captive like some kind of demonic possession. How far does this submission go? Will Ramsés fuck me so badly that I will be reduced to nothing more than an object of desire and lust for him? Is this submission an expression of gratitude towards him for having hired me at all, an admission of defeat, or a surrendering acceptance that Ramsés owns me completely?
My boss is smiling at something dark that’s inside my skull, a foul thing that’s eating at my soul like an infection. He’s the one who created this abomination, an eternal nightmare where nothing is real except for tormenting visions of pain and death. He’s a master at using his cock like an ice pick to stab deep into my brain. But I still need his greasy self, because he provides the money that allows me to live in this world.
When I dare to look back up again, Ramsés seemed to have been waiting patiently for me to engage him again, because he raises his eyebrows and sighs like a father who needs to placate his unruly daughter.
“Leire, I can’t blame you for feeling stressed. Everyone except the very rich have every reason to be worried these days, and most of the income I get from the contracts I secure goes to paying the bills of this office along with your wages.”
“What? But this place is tiny, and you only have two programmers, one of them an intern!”
“Yes, that’s how bad it’s gotten,” he replies dryly. “The economy has turned sour due to the recession, and there are also too many competitors. Clients can easily hire a team from Eastern Europe that’ll give them a product for a fifth of what we can afford to charge. These are dark days, Leire. We can either accept the reality of our situation and help turn things around, or give up.”
I run a hand over my face as I take a deep breath. I’m getting dizzier, weaker.
“Sir, this new contract will involve me programming in Python,” I say in a voice drained of energy. “I haven’t touched that language in months, so I’ll need to read up on it on my spare time, but I lack any. I’m working overtime because I can’t progress in my tasks fast enough otherwise, and my weekends pass in a blur because I’m so exhausted I can barely do anything but sleep. This is just no way to live.”
Ramsés looks towards his framed diploma hanged on the wall, as if he’s considering my words, but when his dark eyes stare back into mine, they seem indifferent.
“You are my best employee, Leire,” Ramsés says in a calm but firm tone, “a great programmer, and I’m very grateful for your dedication, but life isn’t supposed to be easy. Achieving important stuff has always been a struggle. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised that you are having such problems coping with the workload, given your talent. That suggests to me that your personal life might be hindering your productivity. I know you return to an empty apartment. Do you socialize enough in your free time? You aren’t seeing someone, right?”
I let out a desperate chuckle. Even if I had a boyfriend, which is none of this bastard’s business, how would I maintain a domestic life when I work overtime most weeks, and by the time I get home I only want to sleep?
“In my free time? Did you hear what I said?”
Ramsés interlocks his fingers over the desk and leans forward with an intense look.
“When you don’t socialize with your colleagues or with friends, soon enough you get burned out, unhealthy, and emotionally unstable. Is that not the case?”
“N-no! Of course not!” I protest as I try to regain control of myself.
“What you need is some excitement and fun in your life, someone who waits for you to return home exhausted after a long, hard day at work, and makes you feel alive again. Isn’t that what everybody should strive for?”
I’m sinking into the chair as I struggle to prevent my hands from trembling. Ramsés must be convinced that people can put up with whatever bullshit life throws at them, and perform at high level most of the time. Maybe I’m the exception and most human beings just breeze through life although they complain and joke about retiring, while I feel like I have to wade through mud at every step. I’m so exhausted and sick of it all that I fear I may cry.
My boss is observing me silently, trying to figure out if I’ll break down under his gaze and become a quivering mess of emotions.
“Leire, you are clamming up again, waiting for me to just agree with you,” Ramsés says with a hint of amusement. “I think that you need to learn how to be more flexible and open to suggestions, and to face that most of the time things aren’t going to be easy. There’s no point being bitter because life is harsh and cruel sometimes. Just try to relax, loosen up a little bit. If you make the effort and keep fighting until you reach an objective, then eventually things will change. You are a good programmer, as I keep telling you, and you should feel lucky, even privileged, to be a part of this company. We are special in ways that I bet no other company in the world is. And you can rest assured that I will take care of you.”
My stomach hurts, partly because this guy keeps me on a steady diet of his shit and his poison. I’m forced to tolerate his foul-smelling breath as he dismisses my valid complaints that cause me weekly to consider throwing myself off a cliff. Ramsés must realize how miserable I am, and yet he placates me with that condescension. He’s verminous and vile, he is scum and filth and trash like me and everybody else on Earth, a sadist who uses and abuses everyone under him for profit. He’s likely also a rapist.
I want Ramsés out of my life forever, and preferably dead too. He will continue fucking with us because nobody will shove a steaming hot iron between his ribs until he screams so loud that the whole industrial park would hear him begging for help. How I wish I could get away with murdering him, or anyone I dislike for that matter. But alas, this is reality and nothing will ever be simple and nice except maybe for Ramsés himself and his ilk.
It feels like my skull is caving in, and everything inside is melting away like ice cream left in the sun. Soon enough there won’t be anything left of me but an empty husk of flesh and bones cradled by an endless void of nothingness. I picture myself leaping at my boss and pushing a knife into his heart while whispering to him in French, “tu n’es pas réel“. I envision him lying dead on a pool of blood, my knife sticking out of his chest, gaping holes where his eyes once were, and his eyeballs stuffed up his asshole.
I stare at my boss as I sustain a pasted smile. I loathe every aspect of the man I’m facing. I despise his entire species. I wish with all my might that the ground would swallow him up in a sinkhole of mud and vomit. I hope that the planet erupts in a fiery explosion as a result of the sheer magnitude of the anger built up inside me.
I struggle to speak due to how heavy and thick my tongue feels.
“Sir, maybe you could consider hiring a new programmer.”
Ramsés eyebrows twitch, and he shifts his weight in his executive chair as he studies my expression.
“You mean you want to quit? You’re quitting?”
“No, I need the money. What I meant was that you could hire another programmer, not just an intern like Jordi.”
A look of annoyance overcomes Ramsés’ clear intent to remain calm and in control. His lips curl upward slightly, revealing a glimpse of teeth, as he replies.
“I’d hate to lose someone as talented as you, Leire, so I’m glad I misunderstood you. Regarding your suggestion, I’d love to hire a second programmer, and a third, and a fourth. I’d hire a legion of them if I could! But I can barely afford the three of you with the contracts I can secure, so we’ll have to soldier on for now.”
I nod stiffly as I raise myself to my feet as if my legs had aged decades. I’m already turning away when I speak, but I regret it; now that I’ve exposed the curves of my ass, I suspect I’ll catch that look in my boss’ eyes, like a rapist who just caught a glimpse of a woman walking alone at night in a park.
“Well then, I’ll keep at it heroically.”
Ramsés leans back and smiles smugly.
“You meant it sarcastically, but that’s the spirit. We are in this together, Leire. Don’t hesitate to come talk to me whenever you want, alright? I’ll always have time for you.”
I can feel tears forming at the corners of my eyes as I walk out of my boss’ office and close the door behind me. I stand there unsteadily while my shoulders droop and a lump forms in my throat. My gaze falls upon the table where my coworkers sit facing my way, partly hidden behind their monitors. Jacqueline stares at me with curiosity, her pale face framed by smooth, raven black hair.
Once again, my rage had fizzled out as I faced my beastly boss, and now I need to restrain an intense sadness. I was born defeated. I’m struggling pointlessly through a life that only serves as a punishment for crimes I have forgotten committing.
Five days a week, sometimes six,
As the train carries me back home,
When I’m passing through Belaskoenea,
The train leaves behind an old brick wall
And a view opens of a working-class street,
At the end of which you used to live.
Every time, a hollow ache fills my chest
Because you will never be here again.
Their walls are dirty with downward streaks
From decades of rain releasing the grime.
I forgot in which of those apartments you lived,
But I had sat against the wall, on dried piss stains,
For the chance to hear you play the guitar.
I avoid remembering my past;
My brain bombards me regularly
With everything that I’ve done wrong,
Or that has gone wrong on its own,
So I don’t need to put any effort
To recall those series of painful moments
That involve failures and disappointments,
But nothing that feels like happiness.
Through writing I create new memories,
Which feel stronger than the real ones,
As if I were hacking into my brain
To take advantage of its primitive functions.
Even when I am at work, or trying to sleep,
Your ghost now haunts my desert spaces.
You make your presence known every day
By leaving traces on my mind.
I close my eyes and I return to that day
When we sat in front of each other in a restaurant
As we shared our first meal on top of Monte Igueldo.
I took a photo of you that I would have cherished
For a thousand lifetimes.
I remember when I woke up early in the morning
And I walked up to the second story of our house
To enjoy my warm coffee on the balcony
That overlooked the neighboring, wavy countryside.
I remember when I witnessed you walk down
Towards the library at Hondarribia’s old town
To join the attendants of a writing course,
And how proud I felt because you had dared.
I remember you sleeping next to me on a bus
That was taking us on an eternal journey.
I feel your warm hand in mine
As the sights of Cantabria pass us by.
I remember when we took a walk at night
While cold, thick raindrops fell on our heads.
We stood in front of a wooden fence
And we gazed upon the distant lights
Of an industrial city you had never seen.
Tears ran down your face, and you told me
That all the pain had been worth it
Because we ended up right there.
The back of my eyes burn
And I have trouble breathing
And I want to hide in the dark
Whenever I recall what I did to you.
In one dream, you and I were alone together
On this silent island floating through space.
We talked about our lives, shared stories,
And discussed how we could change.
Away from reality, away from the world
Where humanity gathers to destroy itself,
Those who live inside their imaginations
Are always alone.
My life has become a small room
Without windows or doors.
In this little cell of emptiness
There is only noise and pain,
And no one inside except an echo
That repeats itself over and over.
I’ve never missed the skin I got to touch
Like now I miss yours.
How much longer do you plan to stay?
Please, just leave me alone,
Disappear from this rotten world.
I can’t afford to keep crying anymore.
In the end, it’s a good thing‘The Shitty House at the End of the Street’ by Jon Ureña
That you never existed;
Reality never got the chance
To ruin you.
Once the lunch break ends and the three of us return to our small office, the deformed horse is sitting awkwardly on my seat. As he pants heavily, he’s trying to balance himself on his horse ass while the atrophied front legs dangle. The horse turns his bulky head to stare at me with his dark, empty eyes. My anxiety shoots up as I wonder whether Spike had snooped on my internet history, but I realize that even if he intended to spy on me, his hooves are unsuited to handling a computer mouse.
I ball my hands into fists as my teeth clench by themselves. I stride up to Spike’s side and I glare at his drooling horse face.
“Get out of here, you freak of nature!”
Spike tilts his head slightly as if confused by my words. This damn horse seems drugged half of the time. It’s not only physically repulsive, but mentally disturbed too. I grab the back of my chair and shake it violently, sending the horse toppling onto the floor. He lands hard, and he rocks his body around until he manages to get up slowly onto his two hind legs. He limps away as he shakes the dust off his mane. I might feel sorry for him if his stench wasn’t this unbearable. At least take a bath in a river once in a while!
“Who are you berating?” Jordi asks casually as he sits at his assigned workstation.
Shit, I had forgotten that I share this space with my coworkers. I shouldn’t have accompanied them to waste a significant part of my daily salary on a combo plate that my intestines will struggle to break down. I can only regain my energies when I’m alone, but I squeezed most of my reserves on arguing with Jacqueline. Now I’m wide open, I can’t properly regulate my unhinged nature. And that horse is still lingering in the corner of my vision.
After I sit down wearily, I expect our intern to be weirded out by my outburst, but his thin, freckled face looks curious. He’s staring at me strangely through the lenses of his glasses, like he’s peering into a crystal ball.
“I have been infected by an acute form of schizophrenia for almost two years now,” I say with a stupid smile. “My condition is incurable.”
“And yet you can focus on reality enough to keep a full-time job, huh? That’s commendable.”
I can’t help but chuckle nervously. My mouth is dry.
“I appreciate that, Jordi. Nobody had realized how much I struggle to seem like a normal person. I guess I was normal enough until a year ago, when my entire family died in a car accident. Since then I’ve become a recluse. I spend every day at home, and every night, and even when I sleep, I am being watched by a horse that wants to become my friend. It has a strong stench and it’s constantly following me, and it’s deformed and castrated, so I can only imagine that it must be a demon.”
“I don’t know any demons,” Spike says behind me.
Jordi narrows his eyes and looks to the side to give my deranged outburst some thought. What is this strange elation warming my chest? I feel proud that I have opened up about the fact that I’m sick and losing my mind? I’m so exhausted that I must have slipped into my self-destructive mode, and I will eagerly pursue any path that leads me closer to my inevitable doom.
As I was about to apologize, Jacqueline pats me on my right shoulder.
“Sweetie, we are the ones who should have gone easy on the wine, remember?”
The hint of concern in Jacqueline’s voice makes me avoid her gaze. Her motherly instincts have glimpsed through my nonsense and spotted the black, rotten core of despair lurking beneath it. I straighten my back as I hurry to compose myself. I don’t want Jacqueline to be disgusted with me, for her to understand that my mind has been irreparably shattered.
“Do you want me to solve a couple more of your tickets?” Jordi asks me.
I shake my head and my hands, then I roll my chair closer to the keyboard.
“No way! You already help me too much, and I have to get used to this new world order. You are the one getting exploited as an intern while Jacqueline and I earn real salaries, so no need to burden yourself further. That’ll only lead to resentment! No, I’m more than capable of taking care of all my problems.”
My coworkers’ stares burn my cheeks for a few seconds as I scroll up and down my code in the IDE window. Please, don’t you fucking look at me. Just leave me work in peace. I need to catch my breath and center my brain.
Fifteen minutes later I’m sweating. My belly is filled with an unpleasant warmth as it struggles to digest the fatty foods I shoved inside me. My heart pounds with anxiety. I want to go home, and cry along the way. I’m so lonely. Nobody understands what’s going on with me, including myself. Why do they think that it is okay for them to just keep their mouths shut and look away when I am suffering? People that were supposed to love me never gave me anything but pain.
Jacqueline is one of those. She is probably the worst of them all, because she can see right through everything. She knows exactly how much of a monster she has created in me. She is evil incarnate. She is trying to destroy me from within, but she won’t succeed. Not while I still have my sanity intact.
Spike’s unbearable stench envelops me. It stinks as if he was rotting inside his skin.
“You are exhausted, Leire,” he whispers in my ear, which sends a shiver down my spine.
No shit I’m exhausted. I don’t need a horse to tell me that. I want to reply to my stalker, at least tell him to fuck off, but I don’t want to disturb my coworkers further.
“I can smell your desperation,” he continues, “your desire for death, but you are not ready yet. We must learn how to live, or else we will remain forever trapped between life and oblivion.”
Spike’s words are like a bucket of ice water dumped over my head. How could a person live on if her mind has been crushed by madness? Where does my mind go now? There’s nothing left on this side of life except a pile of rubble and a smoldering fire that refuses to die out.
This is why people are afraid of horses. They might try to kill you one day if they are hungry enough to devour you whole. And I can tell Spike is always hungry. He smells it on you like an aroma of roasted meat wafting through the air at a barbecue party.
I’m sure this horse will continue talking and I’ll just bite my tongue, unless I figure out a way to communicate with him that Jacqueline won’t notice. I open a Word document, then I point at the blank page so my stalker realizes my intentions. Spike’s drooling chin is hovering close to my right shoulder. His breath is heavy and smells like rancid butter mixed with moldy cheese and rotten eggs.
“Are you writing me something?” he asks.
You are not real, I type.
“Hey, don’t say that,” the deformed horse complains. “I am very much real.”
No, you are not.
Should I relent? Would replying to Spike only make him more disruptive, as if I were acknowledging the ghost haunting my house? Maybe it’s better to pretend that he doesn’t exist at all, and let my mind focus on other things, like my work. But what work can someone do when they have lost all hope and purpose in living anymore? We’re all dead anyway. The world we knew has disappeared without a trace, replaced with an endless, empty void. What kind of sense would it make to keep going when there’s no reason for us to do so? A horse should realize that. All that awaits a broken mind is a dark eternity of nothingness.
“I know that I am quite hideous,” Spike says, “but I am still alive and kicking.”
Back when I was a child, I went on a school trip of which I only remember the moment when I passed by some horses hitched to a post, and the teachers insisted that we should stay away from the beasts. They mentioned than on an earlier trip, a girl had approached one of the horses from behind to pet it, and the horse had kicked her in the head, caving her skull in, killing her instantly. Ever since, I knew that horses were evil creatures hungry for blood.
A black shape darts by at the edge of my vision. I only move my eyeballs to search for it, but there’s nothing in front of me apart from my computer monitor, a pillar that holds the roof, and further away, the door left ajar that leads into my slimy supervisor’s office. My body feels sticky with sweat, and I’m hearing the faint echoes of remote, unintelligible voices in my head.
“We have to talk about something important,” Spike says solemnly. “We made a mistake. Few people know it yet, but it might get out of hand. A lot of powerful people would murder to get their hands on the wound we opened. You need to help us, Leire, or everyone may die or become insane before our eyes.”
My mind is racing as fast as my heart. I’m finally going crazy. I’m a danger to myself and to society. What can I do? I have always been broken, so this descent was inevitable. What choice do I have but to let this madness take over my entire existence?
I hunch over as I type frantically.
Fuck off with your horse nonsense! I’m losing my fucking mind over here. Stop talking to me at work!
“This may be an inconvenient time,” Spike says. “I’ll try later, then.”
I grit my teeth. The air that I inhale through my flared nostrils smells like it’s burning.
Horse, you are a monster, a disgusting creature, I punch on the keyboard. Go away and stop bothering me. You are a disgrace to horses everywhere. Get out of my sight and never come back. Your stench is unbearable. Ever since you arrived, I can’t concentrate, and my mind keeps wandering to all sorts of perverted things.
“Your mind was already filled with sexual depravity,” the horse retorts.
A bead of sweat slides into my left eye, and that cornea burns as I blink madly. The heat is unbearable. Sweat drips down my forehead onto my hands.
GO AWAY, I type. FUCK OFF. GET OUT OF MY LIFE. LEAVE ME ALONE. FUCK YOU. JUST STFU. GO TO HELL. UGLY. FILTHY. DISGUSTING. DEFORMED. PSYCHOANARCHISTIC MONSTER. HORROR SHOW MESSENGER FROM THE GRAVESTONES OF INSANE PAST PRESIDENTS AND GENOCIDES THAT ARE BURIED UNDER THIS CITY’S SANDSTONE HOUSES. IGNORANT ASSHOLE. TAKE YOUR DIRTY HOLLOW COCK WITH YOU WHEN YOU EXIT THROUGH THE EMERGENCY DOOR INTO THE AFTERLIFE.
I am breathing heavily, trembling with rage as a wave of nausea hits me, accompanied with dizziness. This can’t continue any longer, or else it will devour everything around it and turn this office into an inferno of hellfire and brimstone, and maybe even destroy Donostia itself, and everybody who lives within its borders, and perhaps beyond its reach, and possibly this world and all of its inhabitants will cease to exist altogether, and this is why I am trying desperately to find a way to communicate to this equine abomination, this horrible, repulsive, and obnoxious monstrosity, this stinking stallion of unspeakable filth that has found its way into my life like some sort of foul demon.
I rest my elbows on the table and bury my face in my hands as I steady my breath. Has Jacqueline noticed how much I’m losing it? I need to be alone, I need to sink in the silent darkness by my lonesome self.
My computer plays the notification that I have received a new email. I freeze. Finding an unread email in my Outlook inbox is like someone calling me frantically because he’s killed someone and I need to hurry over there and help him dig a hole to bury the body before the police finds out about the crime. My adrenaline is pumping wildly, and my fingers are numb as they hover above the mouse.
The email is a Service Manager notification indicating that I’ve been assigned a new ticket. This one involves programming in Python and working on the client’s Django server, that is using GraphQL. I’ll need to automate SQL queries, fetch images, and develop a whole widget to upload images and to write associated comments. A new contract that my boss has secured.
I feel like I’m lying face down in mud while some jumps on my back. I don’t want this job. I want to go home. I want to curl up in bed. I want to sleep. I want to forget.
A couple of minutes have passed since I read the message, and I still haven’t moved. I’m staring blankly at the screen. My skin feels hot as if it were sunburned all over. When I finally lift my gaze off the monitor, it falls upon the half-open door to my supervisor’s office. Every time he seeks such contracts and he states the boss equivalent of ‘sure, my full-time programmer will develop this in no time’, he must be aware that he’s forcing a burning hot poker down my throat, and yet he continues doing so without remorse or guilt. Hell, he likely fantasizes with forcing something hot down my throat every day of his life.
I stand up slowly as I take a deep breath. My heart is beating so hard it’s painful. I’ll walk over there and make that fucker pay.
When our lunch break arrives, I’ve gotten used enough to a drooling horse looking over my shoulder that I have resolved a couple of my tasks, as much as I would have achieved in those cursed days when a migraine blindsides me. I look forward to spending an hour at my workstation eating a cold sandwich and watching YouTube videos. But my coworkers have stood up to leave the office, and Jacqueline places a hand on my shoulder.
“Come with us, let’s have lunch at the place where we usually go,” she says, slipping into a thicker French accent. “You shouldn’t be alone today.”
I’m deflated, exhausted, and a horse keeps staring at me. I may as well follow my coworkers into some tumultuous restaurant that will drain the remainder of my energies. I nod, then stand up slowly.
“How nice,” Jordi says with a smile. “I’ll get to spend some time with my senpai.”
Once we exit the office building, I’m careful to lag a bit behind my colleagues. I have shoved my hands into the pockets of my hoodie, and I’m squinting at the midday sun although it’s October. While we follow a walkway lined with leafy trees, I hear Jordi and Jacqueline laughing as they gabble. They make it seem so easy.
Our destination is a popular restaurant located in a building with a crystal facade that resembles a wavy mirror. The owners must be rich; they feed every worker in the nearby office buildings that doesn’t spend the so-called lunch break in front of their desk by their lonesome. As soon as Jordi pushes the glass door open, the din from the dozens that are already enjoying their meals threatens to scrape my nerves raw. The conversations are loud enough to drown out the clatter of cutlery against plates, but none of the patrons seem bothered by the noise. Most of them are either wearing business suits that look freshly ironed and pressed, or casual clothes worn with care.
The interior is decorated with panels of dark wood. A huge illustration behind the bar, that covers most of that wall, shows a team of rowers during some competition, the sea foam frozen and tinted yellow by the sunset, making it resemble a giant’s golden shower. The tables are homely, the kind you’d expect at your grandparents’ living room.
A cheerful middle-aged woman seats us at a square table so small that our plates will touch each other. Jordi and Jacqueline are regulars, so I let them worry about all the details. But even if we had come here for the first time, I’d prefer if they handled everything while I sat quietly. The world is a big game board and I’m missing most of the pieces.
As I peruse the menu, I have a hard time focusing on the options because I’m reflecting on the absurdity of spending a third of my daily salary on my lunch, and then I realize that I had forgotten entirely about my horse stalker. I shoot up in the chair. I guess the horse disappeared to wherever hallucinations go when the mentally ill originator forgets about them. Have I lost it so much that I can just brush off a bipedal, castrated horse that insisted on talking to me?
“What kind of wine would you prefer, Leire?” Jacqueline asks, seated in front.
“Wine? Is that what you do on your lunch breaks? I’m surprised you don’t get drunk and fall asleep at your desks.”
Jacqueline smiles widely. “You’re very funny. We’ll get our usual, then. White wine from Álava.”
I’m unused to dealing with Jacqueline in an informal setting. She could pass for someone’s mother with that air of nurturing maturity of hers. And I’m trying hard to avoid plunging my gaze into the low neckline of her blouse.
When the waitress arrives to hear our orders, she glances at me with curiosity before addressing Jacqueline and Jordi in a friendly tone. My coworkers order in five seconds. I haven’t weighed my options, but I want to get through this lunch break as soon as possible, so I pick one of the combo plates. Jacqueline and Jordi continue their conversation while I hunch over, zone out and wring my hands. I feel like an outsider in a group that’s been together for years.
Shortly after, a waitress brings us a pitcher of water with a lemon slice floating inside, along with a bottle of white wine. She looks at me with a critical eye, which startles me. What the hell have I done to her?
Jacqueline pours some white wine into her glass, swirls the contents, then takes a sip.
“He was gentle and patient, and eager to learn,” she says as she lifts a corner of her mouth and narrows her eyes, pleased with herself.
“Who was?” I ask for whatever reason.
Jacqueline licks the wine off her lips and points at Jordi with her pinky.
“Jordi asked me about my recent date. A sweet young thing, fresh out of college. He even showed me his guitar and played me a couple of songs. He seduced me properly, although he didn’t need to bother! And he was a master of oral.”
I sigh, then shift my weight nervously. The images of a drooling horse get replaced with Jacqueline splayed on a bed covered in black velvet, as she runs her fingers through the hair of a kid who’s lapping at her juices. My pussy tingles.
“Is this what you guys do during our lunch breaks,” I ask hoarsely, “go on about your sexual escapades?”
Jordi pours himself some wine.
“I want to know. It’s entertaining.”
This is why I don’t go out much. Too many weirdos like these two. They’re just as strange as the stalking steed.
“You see?” Jacqueline says. “He wants to know, and I love to tell my stories.” She tilts her head at me. “Does it bother you to hear about sex, Leire? I didn’t take you for a prude.”
My stomach churns. Do not be fooled by her air of maternal kindness, I tell myself. She’s a predator, a vampire that thirsts for a whiter kind of bodily fluid.
“Me, a prude?” I ask in raspy voice. “You have no clue who you are talking to. I just hate that I’m not the one getting fucked.”
I regret my words as soon as they jump from my tongue. Jordi chuckles, but Jacqueline nearly chokes on her wine, then she giggles for a few seconds. She places her warm hand gently over mine.
“Instead of being envious, sweetie, you should get out there and seduce some guy,” Jacqueline says. “That way, we can both be happy!”
When she lifts her hand, my own feels cold. Her smile is now a sickening reminder of the horrible things she’s capable of doing, like making my crotch uncomfortably sticky. She’s no longer a woman, but a depraved crone.
“Maybe you should stop bragging about how many twenty something year olds you get to fuck, particularly when our intern is involved,” I suggest as my heartbeat quickens. “Do you want him to keep picturing you in sexual circumstances? You can bet that this horny little puppy is already jerking off thinking about you.”
“What can I say? If it gets him off, count me in. Isn’t that right, honey?”
“Hell, you could fuck each other if you wanted. One day you’ll end up doing it just because you may as well. Do you know how awkward that would make working at the same table? But go ahead, just give him a taste of what you’ve got down south! See what he thinks of you after that.”
Jacqueline giggles. She leans towards me and opens her mouth, but the waitress interrupts us to place our meals before us. As I stare down at my two eggs, three breaded loin chops and a load of fries, I realize my mistake: I’ve trained my stomach to survive on cold sandwiches, to the extent that my organ may have shrivelled. But the scent does make me salivate, so I’ll force myself to finish my meal that I will have wasted a significant percentage of my daily salary on. I reach for the salt and pepper shakers and pour a dash of black and white crystals onto my plate.
Jacqueline has ordered grilled fish with potatoes, bathed in a sauce that smells spicy. She brings a morsel to her mouth and chews on it delicately as she narrows her eyes at me. After she swallows, she wipes her mouth with her napkin, smudging her lipstick.
“Since you’ve brought it up, I’d be fine with teaching Jordi a thing or two, but he’s not interested. Ah, if only men were like women, huh? They wouldn’t need us to teach them anything. We’re all mistresses of lovemaking.”
I stop shoving fries into my mouth.
“Speak for yourself. Also, what the fuck, Jordi? What kind of relationship you two have? And what kind of man are you that you don’t want a sexy mommy like her?”
Jordi rests his elbows on the table and turns his palms calmly towards the ceiling.
“I’m just not into sex. I’ve never found it interesting on a personal level. I like hearing about Jacqueline’s adventures from a human perspective, you know?”
“No, I have no clue what you are talking about. How could anyone not be interested in sex? It’s the only way to reliably escape from the nightmare of being alive. Even masturbation is enough, most of the time, to make the pain go away.”
As soon as I stop talking, I feel the heat in my cheeks. I pretend I’m eager to swallow more of my eggs, then I wash it down with a sip of lemon-flavored water. A waiter walks past carrying a tray with plates of steaming hot meat. His ass is big enough that I’d fill my hands with it.
For whatever reason, I continue talking.
“Look, it doesn’t matter if you have a dick, a vagina, a rod, a strap-on, a cunt, a snake, a tail, a horn, or even a pair of wings. The whole point is to enjoy the act because it makes you forget that you remain here, and that there is a world out there in which people get eaten by wild animals every day.”
Jordi clears his throat, then pushes his glasses up.
“Anyway, I’ve been learning a lot about myself and my tastes since I started working at our beautiful company, but sex hasn’t entered the picture yet. Maybe one day I’ll find someone with similar interests, who knows. I’m not in a hurry to explore that aspect of life.”
My heart is thumping as if I just ran uphill. Jacqueline looks back at me and shrugs. She lifts the wine bottle and attempts to fill my glass, but I move her hand away. She pouts.
“You need to loosen up, sweetie.”
“No, thank you, you can get drunk by yourselves, which I’m realizing you have done regularly during the workday. No wonder you two assholes look so content all the time. If you keep drinking, you might forget that you are going to die someday, that your life is meaningless, that our company will eventually lay us off and we are too old to start over. Sooner or later, we’ll be left alone to face the rest of the universe!”
Jacqueline laughs, then she pours herself another drink. She studies my reaction as her lips curl into a naughty smile.
“You need to get fucked, Leire.”
My nostrils flare and a flush spreads across my cheeks. Jacqueline smirks. She must think she’s won.
“How nice. I could have spent my lunch break watching prank videos of people farting on YouTube, but instead I followed you so you could tell me to get fucked.”
I take an angry bite of a greasy fry. I’m mad because she’s right. I want a good cock inside me, and I also want to rip Jacqueline’s blouse open and munch on her tits. But mainly I need to get through this fucking workday without losing what remains of my sanity.
Jacqueline takes a swig from her wineglass, then she licks the rim as she smiles at me again.
After the deformed horse talked to me, a nervous chuckle escapes from my mouth. My brain comes up with the notion of reaching for the imaginary horse’s coarse coat and poking it to prove I’m merely losing my mind, but before I dare to stretch my arm, a chill runs down my spine. I sense the evil this beast possesses. I can almost taste its putridity.
I turn towards the sink mirror, which reflects the impossible horse accurately. It may mean little; after all, my brain also made up that I could rotate external objects by turning the steering wheel of my Renault Laguna. Human brains are mysterious and powerful enemies.
The horse steps closer. A strong stench wafts up from its body. It reeks like rotten meat mixed with urine, feces and rotting vegetables. Its round, black eyes are boring into me through the mirror, as if trying to peer into my soul. I can feel the heat radiating from the bulky body, and I’m certain that if it got any closer, I would catch its raspy, foul breath on my tongue.
“My name is Spike,” the horse says in an eerie whisper. “I am your friend.”
I take a deep breath, then I splash my face with cold water to cool down my racing heart. After I raise my head again, for a split second my reflection resembles that of a bloated corpse decaying before my eyes. A large and gaping hole has opened over my nose, exposing an empty cavity where my brain once rested. I blink and the mirage is gone, but in those frantic eyes staring back at me there’s no sanity left to grasp on.
“You are a woman,” Spike continues. “And you are sick.”
I wipe away some water from my eyes. My hands are trembling.
“No, I’m not engaging with a non-existent horse.”
“Are you not aware?” Spike asks. “Your life is pointless.”
I stand straight as if preparing for a battle or to run away from a predator. Everything in the bathroom seems real except for the bipedal horse. How did a monster like it end up living inside my head? Why does it stink like a pile of garbage? Something must have gone wrong with my body, perhaps some kind of malfunctioning device installed in my head.
Spike takes another step towards me. His warm breath tickles at my neck. Every hair on my arms stands erect as if warning of danger.
“Leire,” the horse whispers again, and it sounds like a plea for salvation. “Please be with us. We are kindred souls.”
I lean towards the mirror and pull down each eyelid to examine my sclerae, then I raise my head to look down the black holes of my nostrils. It’s pointless; whatever is causing such events likely resides deep inside my mind.
Spike’s gaze remains locked on mine through the mirror. In its bulging, black eyes and its drooling muzzle I see a beast obsessed with the smell of blood and sex, and now it’s time to pay the price. I picture it grabbing at the front of my hoodie and pulling at the fabric until it tears, revealing the soft curves of my breasts and the pink nipples underneath. I envision its hot breath on my exposed flesh, my nipples stiffening and poking out at its touch. But why would this horse go through such trouble when its dick is gone?
I rub my eyes and take a deep breath. That’s enough. I’m a functioning adult whose life consists on resolving tickets and programming website widgets so I can earn enough money to buy food and pay my bills. This nonsense is just an illusion that’s about to fade away.
I walk out of the bathroom and march down the hallway towards my office door, but a rhythmic clicking of hooves follows me. My heart pounds as if it were going to jump out of my chest. I almost run until I reach my office, then I close the door behind me and lean on the frame as if ready for an assault. Jordi and Jacqueline are typing or clicking away at their workstations, and my assigned seat remains empty, waiting for my ass to occupy it.
I swallow to loosen my throat, then I walk to my seat and sit down carefully. I have barely rested my right hand on the mouse when I hear the office door opening. The horse’s stench reaches me before I hear the clicking of its hooves. Frozen in my seat, I roll my eyeballs towards Jacqueline, but she hasn’t reacted to the conspicuous presence of a bipedal horse invading our space. That’s good, so I’m just crazy after all.
I shake my head. I manage to write a line of code when I feel the horse’s eerie presence towering over me as it stands behind me, slightly to my left side. I swivel slowly in my chair and I find myself staring up at the horse’s round, black eyes and its horrid, gaping maw filled with its massive, drooling tongue and sharp teeth. The hooves of its folded, atrophied front legs are glistening in the light of the computer monitor.
Why a horse? Do I harbor a fetish for them about which I have remained ignorant? And if that’s the case, where’s the dick? Or is it a metaphor for something else? A horse is a mammal with a long history of domestication and breeding that started with a wild ancestor of Equus ferus caballus. It’s a stupid animal that eats grass and shit, and that can be exploited for transportation, war, and entertainment purposes. A horse is also an erotic symbol for desperate middle-aged women and pre-teens.
I can’t fault Spike for all that drooling; the trauma of being castrated is too much for any psyche to bear. Still, why should I have to deal with such mutant freaks? A weirdo like that should be locked up in an asylum, because its existence is nothing more than a curse that will sap the strength of anyone that encounters it.
The horse tilts its head as if listening to the sound of my heartbeat pounding at my temples. Then it lowers its head towards me. When its mouth open wider, displaying its yellow teeth, its hot breath warms my face. Its wet tongue slithers across my cheek, leaving an unpleasantly salty trail on my skin. It felt as if a bolt of lightning were shooting through my body.
I try to be calm as I turn my head towards my work, but I can’t stop smelling Spike’s stink, like that of a rotting corpse mixed with urine and feces. I’ve barely struck a few keys when the horse nuzzles its muzzle against my temple, and its coarse hair rakes across my skin like barbed wire. Then its rough tongue brushes aside my bangs and laps at my forehead like it’s an ice cream cone. I’m getting nauseated, but I can’t even shoo the hallucination off without freaking out my coworkers.
My hands are trembling, and I have broken into a cold sweat. I only notice that Jacqueline is addressing me when she rolls her chair towards me.
“Leire, you are pale as if you were about to vomit. Are you sure you aren’t sick? Maybe a fever?”
“Could be,” I say in a thin voice. “It’s likely contagious, too.”
“Hey, don’t joke around with such things.”
I give her a dismissive hand wave as I avoid holding her blue gaze.
“I’m fine. I just… I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately…”
I dare to glimpse at Jacqueline’s eyes. They are filled with pity and compassion for poor old me. She leans forward to stand up dramatically, and her breasts swell pushing at the buttons on her cream white blouse. They are begging to be fondled and sucked. After Jacqueline stands confidently next to me, she smacks her lips and pats my hair gently.
“You even forgot that you intended to get yourself a coffee,” she says, amused. “I’ll buy you one. Latte, right?”
I nod and smile wanly. As Jacqueline walks away from me, her fingertips slip from my hair enough to touch the skin of my temple. My heart flutters, and I barely contain a warm shudder. My nipples stiffen under my hoodie while I picture those voluptuous breasts swaying from side to side as the click of her heels fades away down the corridor. Fucking Frenchie, if you go through the trouble of disturbing me like this, why don’t you just shove your hand down my panties? Don’t leave me so horny that I can hardly breathe.
As I eat breakfast and then take a shower, I look out for possible black shapes scurrying around. None appear. After I get dressed and leave my apartment, the sight of my Renault Laguna strikes me as ominous, but as I fire up its engine, nothing explodes. Still, during the long ride to the industrial park located in the outskirts of Donostia and that contains my office building, I’m surprised that none of the functions of my car ruined the lives of strangers. I keep telling myself that I hallucinated every bizarre event that disturbed me yesterday. I probably didn’t even pass out. But I’m unconvinced, so I refuse to test whether my car remains imbued with uncanny powers.
At ten minutes to eight, I reach the street in the industrial park where I always park my vehicle. The buildings are blocky monsters of crystal, steel beams and patched slabs of grey and seafoam green to add some artistry to the soul-crushing activities taking place inside. Two cars are maneuvering to occupy spots in the parking lot to which I’m headed, but as usual I park in front of the multicolored row of garbage bins. I always feel at home near trash.
I turn off the engine, and I reached absentmindedly for the handle when my hand slips on the surface of the door. The handle has become a two-dimensional object again. My body goes tense as a feeling of dread seizes me by the throat. I feel an urge to run around while screaming incoherently.
I bury my face in my hands and take deep breaths. Alright, so I remain crazy. This world doesn’t give a shit that I’ve snapped, I’ll have to amass money anyway, if only to afford therapy again. Maybe there’s something wrong with one or both of my frontal lobes. That should cause hallucinations and other strange events, for sure. In any case, I have no choice but to play by the rules of these delusions until they’re gone.
Now I need to start the engine so the car will allow me to open the door. Once I step onto the asphalt, I stretch my arm to turn off the engine and remove the key card from its slot in the dashboard. After I slam the door shut, I straighten my back and breathe the morning October air. I’m ready for yet another exhausting workday filled with tickets to develop boring website widgets. But I’d get busy working on similar stuff as a freelancer, except that I would be the one receiving calls from deranged customers at odd hours. While I remain an employee at my boss’ company, he deals with all the clients.
When I enter our office in the second floor, Jordi is already occupying his workstation, a couple of meters to my left at the same table. He’s sitting there like a lump of clay waiting to be molded into whatever form his master desires, or maybe I just picture it that way because he’s our intern. His expression is vacant as he scrolls through a news feed. He’s wearing another copy of his chosen uniform: white shirt and black pants. I’ve never gotten used to him being conspicuously younger than me, and treating me deferentially. Despite his unkempt red hair, his glasses and his thin and pale face speckled with freckles, his movements are precise and confident, so maybe he’s got a big dick. I wonder if he would lick me dry if I ordered him to do so.
After I plop down on my seat, Jordi turns his head towards me and smiles.
“What’s up, Leire?”
This kid’s voice sounds almost musical, which likely soothes and reassures others whose brains aren’t this fucked up. I just purse my lips and shake my head, too disturbed still to behave like a normal human being. Jordi’s gentle gaze studies me.
“You look more worn than usual,” he says. “Are you okay? Are you not sleeping right?”
I pretend that I badly need to tidy up my workspace as I wait for Windows to load. To be fair, my desk is cluttered and messy, piled up with notes that I wrote while coding away in a trance state. Why does Jordi care, or pretend to? I’m just a random programmer that will one day either quit or get replaced by a stranger. But I guess that Jordi would also feign interest in the private life of my replacement.
“Yeah,” I say wearily, “I had some kind of breakdown last night and it’s taking a toll. But I’ll be fine. Plenty of tickets are waiting for me to resolve them, anyway.”
Jordi raises a brow, then leans closer.
“Leire, you work too much. You should stop and relax more often. Take care of yourself first before worrying about everything else.” He pauses briefly then adds, “And don’t forget to eat healthy food. Your brain is what makes your code sing, remember?”
My stomach growls loudly as I roll my eyes internally at his silly platitudes. I suppose he means well, but his advice irritates me, so I sigh and mutter only half aloud, “yes, yes.” Then I try to concentrate on getting comfortable until the damn computer finishes loading all the programs.
“I’ll handle a couple of your tickets, alright?” Jordi says.
The kid is browsing my active tasks on Service Manager. It makes me feel naked.
“If you want to do my job, knock yourself out, as long as I get paid the same amount.”
“You really aren’t in any mood today, are you?”
“To put it this way, if I had a gun you’d witness me opening a hole in my skull.”
Jordi snorts, then nods knowingly.
“Yes, the line is so thin, isn’t it? I could just grab a pen, stab someone in the eye and then my life would be ruined. Sometimes it feels so easily to slip over that precipice…”
The kid trails off and looks thoughtful, but I have given up on paying attention to my surroundings. I want to lose myself in coding and forget that my life has been crumbling steadily for years. I have barely revised yesterday’s work in Visual Studio Code when the characteristic clicking of heels approaches us from behind.
“Hiya guys!” Jacqueline says cheerfully. “How are you today?”
“Just the fucking worst,” I answer sullenly.
She laughs, Jacqueline’s default reaction whenever she encounters anyone who’s having a bad day. Her smile infects our intern, and likely brightens the atmosphere, but my brain is impervious to her influence. My skin prickles uncomfortably.
Jacqueline’s dark hair is pulled back in a ponytail. She’s wearing a cream white, low-cut blouse with gilded buttons, tucked into a dark grey skirt. A pearly pendant hangs between her large breasts, which are enticing enough to make most men drool uncontrollably, or me for that matter when I yearn for a mommy to nurse me back to sanity. Today her legs are also clad in white stockings that show a bit of her shapely thighs.
Jacqueline is carrying two cups of coffee. She sets one down next to Jordi’s keyboard, then she pats his head. After she places the remaining cup next to her keyboard, she bends over to turn on the radio that will play her preferred music until the workday ends. I get a good whiff of her floral perfume mixed with the scent of warm milk and sugar.
After Jacqueline sits down, I thought I would get to concentrate on my code, but her piercing blue eyes are staring at me. They look like a summer sky dotted with clouds of white cotton candy. They glow warmly; last night she likely milked a much younger guy dry. I feel like she’s rubbing it in my face, but I remind myself that our clerical worker is pushing forty five, evidenced by the wrinkles she tries to hide, and that none of those hundreds of men have settled for her childless self. In a few years, twenty something year olds will consider Jacqueline a middle-aged woman, so the available pool of booty calls will diminish by thirty percent or so.
Jacqueline narrows her eyes at me as she sips her coffee.
“So how’s it going, sweetie?” she asks softly.
Her voice, including that slight French accent, should clear away all of life’s troubles and woes.
“You know, just the usual nightmare,” I reply curtly. “Nothing special.”
Jacqueline’s lips curl upwards ever so slightly. When she studies me this closely I can’t figure out if I want to tell her to knock it off or if I want to shove my tongue into her mouth.
“Another sleepless night, huh?” she guesses.
I slept more than usual, likely because yesterday’s hallucinations and the general panic drained my energies.
“Not everybody can always seem as happy as you, Jacqueline.”
“I wish I could transfer some of my happiness to you, Leire,” she replies with a soft laugh. “But alas, that would require a miracle.”
In a couple of minutes my coworkers understand that I’d rather be alone, so they stop talking to me, but my hands still tremble as I struggle to get in the zone. How come these two are always at least content, anyway? How does anyone wake up at six and a half in the morning five days a week to come sit at an office to fray their nerves for hours, and then manage to smile? Everyone around me seems to be able to cope with life, while I struggle with every little task.
Jacqueline takes a sip of her coffee. She’s working in an Excel spreadsheet, entering numbers, copying data and pasting it elsewhere, changing values, erasing lines… She works slowly, but she’s very thorough in every step that she performs, and saves her work frequently.
If only I was programming a video game or a VR experience, maybe I’d come to work eagerly. I’m sure I’d end up crashing my car on the highway because my brain was brimming with exciting ideas to implement. But I don’t want to hear yet another HR employee telling me that she’s sorry, but that she doesn’t believe I’d fit in a team environment. Can’t I just find a job that doesn’t make me want to die? Is there such a thing? Do companies exist for people like me?
My fingers fly across the keys and such fragmentary thoughts fall apart. As the minutes pass, from the jumble of incoherent nonsense that life is made out of emerge patterns that I can comprehend. My brain operates faster and faster until the problem becomes manageable, a series of steps that lead me towards success.
I’m not crazy. There’s nothing wrong with me that can’t be fixed by medication or suicide. I live alone in Irún, that’s why I’m depressed. Without adding hallucinations, my city is hopeless even for young couples raising children, and I’m a thirty year old who expects to die alone.
I hadn’t noticed that I had lifted my gaze off my computer screen, and it has fallen upon my supervisor Ramsés, who is walking past our table towards his office. He’s carrying his laptop bag and he has dressed his paunchy body in his suit jacket and slacks, as if he’s coming to a fancy restaurant instead of to sit behind his desk and do paperwork and call clients. He smells of expensive cologne and soap. His mustache is trimmed so precisely that one could use it for shaving one’s legs, not that I’d ever want that ugly bastard near my bare skin. He looks like a parody of himself.
Ramsés catches me looking his way, but before our gazes meet, I hunch over and pretend that my code can’t wait. I get the feeling that he’ll call me into his office soon enough to discuss some details of my tasks, and I’ll have to tolerate his gaze slipping down to take note of every curve that I cover with my hoodies and sweaters. I wonder how often he strokes his fat cock while thinking about me. Maybe he pictures himself fondling my ass cheeks and pinching them so that I squirm and moan like a slutty whore. Or maybe he fantasizes about forcing me onto my knees and shoving the head of his dick deep into my throat.
Once Ramsés enters his office and leaves the door ajar, I take a deep breath and force myself to return my attention to the keyboard. I try to overcome the wave of dizziness that has suddenly overwhelmed me. Maybe I should see a therapist again, then drug myself with anxiolytics… No, they prevented me from thinking coherently, and from caring, and I need to pay the bills. So many bugs on the backlog that either myself or Jordi will have to squash. I can’t allow my swirling thoughts to distract me anymore.
At around twelve, I find myself rubbing my thighs together. I need so bad to masturbate. I worry whether my coworkers can smell my arousal. I should be able to rub my clit just a bit while I picture myself grabbing a handful of large breasts, firm mounds of flesh heavy with milk, their texture smooth and silky. Or a pulsing, veiny cock that fills my hand. I want to spit out a load of cum in a face full of hair, or into a mouth with wet, full lips, to feel the warmth of her tongue and her throat as she swallows the salty seed. Please let me climax, damn it! Anything to escape this hellish life, which has become too vivid to ignore any longer.
I slouch to rest my elbows on the table and cover my eyes with my sweaty palms as a bout of uncontrollable trembling threatens to shake me off of my chair.
Jacqueline’s caring voice washes over me from my right.
“Take a break, Leire. You are working too hard.”
“Thanks for noticing,” I mutter. “Yeah, I need a coffee.”
She smiles sympathetically as she bores holes into my eyes with her blues. I picture myself grabbing a black coffee from the machine, then returning to my seat, unbuttoning Jacqueline’s blouse and squeezing her breasts to sweeten my beverage with her tit milk. If we were married I’d spend most of the day sucking her tits while she stood at her vanity mirror admiring herself.
I hurry out of the office and down the hallway towards the bathroom while I try to steady my breath. I need to be alone. Could I get away with locking myself in one of the stalls and rubbing one off? Or better yet, I could dare to enter my supervisor’s office and tell him that I’m taking the rest of the day off because I’ve been having nightmares. He might even give me money for groceries or something. No, I’d rather stick around and remain miserable and horny than interact with that prick.
Why do I need to touch myself so badly? Should I eat something instead? Yes, yes, eat something salty and oily to lubricate my channel. I’ll think later about eating something, though, because now it’s all about nipple stimulation. Go ahead, suckle those nipples one more time, please! A little more pressure, a little harder, fuck!
After I burst into the communal bathroom and close the door, I wonder whether anyone will come in while I splash my face with cold water. I’ll also need to wash away the sticky residue between my legs. Any of the women from the neighboring offices may ambush me, and then she’d push me into one of the stalls, bend me over and shove her thick strap-on inside me while she squeezed my tits and her tongue lapped away at my ear until her strap-on shot plastic cum deep into my cunt. Afterwards we could lick the sweat off each other’s skin or go back to her place where she’d feed me her cream pie for dessert. That would definitely help me forget about everything for awhile.
My heart is pounding on my chest while I wash my hands and my face furiously. A stall door squeaks open slowly. I must have bothered someone while she was taking a shit. I casually look over my shoulder and find myself staring at the head of a horse, that is peeking out of the stall’s entrance. Its nostrils flare wide, accentuating long hairs that trail below its muzzle like whiskers. Its ears droop low, almost touching its neck. Its grey lips curl back to reveal sharp teeth and black gums.
I freeze as I gape at the vision. Its amber eyes lock onto mine as if reading what lurks within me. Maybe tired of waiting for me to react, the horse’s hairy hooves click on the tiles as it steps out of the stall. My heart pounds against my ribs. The horse is standing on its two hind legs; his front two are retracted and atrophied, like vestigial limbs, but the healthy legs aren’t adapted either for walking like humans. Instead, the horse walks hunched forward, and its hind legs move only enough to support the weight of its bulky body.
Drool is dripping in thin strands from the beast’s chin. There’s a sutured wound where the dick should be.
“Hello,” the horse says.
As I stop typing to take a sip of my coffee, I look out the window at the mostly empty parking lot in this dark evening. A row of unkempt vegetation hides whatever lies beyond the confines of this industrial park. The only sound besides mine comes from distant traffic, and isolated offices workers that finished their overtime and fire up their car’s engine to head home.
A familiar thought pops up in my mind: I never signed up for being an adult. It just kind of happened, and took me by surprise.
The rows of code await me back at the monitor, but they only make me feel tired. The cold sandwich I ate for lunch barely worked as fuel. I hoped that I’d get to compile the code before I left, which would have lessened my anxiety enough that I’d get some decent sleep tonight.
Who would want to handle such workloads? Psychos. People who thrive on stress and anxiety. But I guess I chose this kind of life, or fell into it.
Little by little I’ll amass enough money to finally quit and find a more relaxed job, one without a supervisor who assigns me so many tickets that I feel the need to stick around long after my coworkers have left, just so I won’t drown in stress the following morning. Fortunately, nobody waits for me back at my small apartment. I return home late most workdays, then I remain exhausted and uncommunicative until I crawl under the sheets and fall asleep. I wouldn’t be able to even take care of a cat.
I find myself slumped in my chair. Without noticing it, I’ve started browsing the internet idly. After I stare blankly at a couple of recommended YouTube videos, I look up porn. I have merely scrolled through the thumbnails featuring voluptuous, big-breasted actresses and well-hung actors when I get anxious and look around in case any of my coworkers, or my supervisor, would appear suddenly and witness me diddling myself, although they’ve never appeared the previous times. I’m the only idiot who willingly works overtime, to organize myself or because I’m too stupid to resolve my tickets fast enough.
My coworkers must be enjoying their time off. Jordi is likely hanging out with friends, or watching a gory movie by himself. Jacqueline may be fucking whatever impressionable twenty something year old she offered herself to recently. I would return to a cold, dark apartment, so I may as well stick around at the office and rub my pussy.
But I’ve barely gotten through the foreplay in one of the new videos when I give up. I remain dry, a cold emptiness is spreading in my chest, and my throat is tightening. I want to return home. I want to lie face down in my bed, burying my face in the pillow. I want someone else to do my dirty chores so I can go to sleep. I need to cry, I need to cum. Likely both at the same time, as usual. I don’t know what I want, never have known. I just go along with whatever comes.
I yearn to quiet the voices in my head with pleasure. The more intense and painful the orgasm, the better I feel afterwards. More calm, empty. Less alone. But maybe I should start doing other stuff besides masturbating. I haven’t read a non-programming book in years. Maybe I should invite Jacqueline over to play board games. I haven’t even unwrapped the last ones I bought months ago. Or maybe I could convince one of my coworkers to have a talk that doesn’t involve tickets, complaints, anxiety and regret.
I take a deep breath. I haven’t progressed in my tickets nearly as much as I intended, but I deserve a rest. No, I don’t think I deserve a rest, but I want one. A rest so long that I won’t wake up in a week, or a month. Or years. A bear-like hibernation would be nice, as long as I wouldn’t wake up older and withered away. Just a sleep’s reprieve from the constant busyness of my life would suffice for now.
I considered board games…? I need someone to eat me out, not play games. With a warm, wet tongue flicking my clit, there would be no more tickets and deadlines and endless hours spent on boring tasks that nobody cares about anyway.
Five minutes later I’ve pissed, put on my jacket, grabbed my work bag and headed out into the cold night air. My fingers are tired from typing all day. My pussy is tingling, ready to burst open again. My mouth is salivating at thoughts of hot semen filling me up to overflowing. I’m horny enough to fuck anything that moves. Any male or female has the potential to destroy my current relationship with boredom and frustration. I can feel the warmth gathering beneath the fabric of my pants, and the growing pressure accumulating in the depths of my cunt. I need to get home. Where was my car?
My second-hand, eclipse grey Renault Laguna is waiting right where I parked it, in front of a multicolored row of garbage bins. As usual, my gaze falls upon the long scratch of scraped paint over the passenger door, the same eyesore since some motherfucker keyed my car months ago. I can’t be bothered to fix it.
I only start relaxing once I leave Donostia behind and I’m driving fast along the highway towards Irún. My right hand rests against the steering wheel while the other reaches for my right breast. The nipple hardens underneath my palm. I have neglected them for a couple of days already, and they’re begging for attention. I lightly pinch the tip and roll the flesh around with the tips of two fingertips.
I can barely make out the tall, wild trees that have grown near the boundary of the asphalt, except when my car whizzes past the streetlights, which are tall and erect like thin cocks. I enjoy driving on the highway. I can go so fast that if I wanted I could charge into the barrier of a toll plaza, and the crash would crush my brain before my thoughts could register my demise. But I’ve always been a pussy, so this car will likely end up as a third-hand, aging ruin that some poor guy will wear down until my loyal car becomes a pile of rust under the sun.
Many shades of blackness surround me, except for oases of light that reflect off the asphalt. I’m skirting Oiartzun. This stretch of the highway is elevated, and tall trees are blocking the view of the apartment buildings except for a few dozen lighted windows, but I distinguish the electrical substation built on top of a hill. The radio is playing one of the popular songs that I only recognize because Jacqueline tortures us with her musical choices at the office.
Something buzzes against my hip. It takes me a moment to realize that it’s my phone instead of a vibrator. Nobody calls me, so it must be spam, or else my supervisor wanting to bother me with some nonsense against which I’d rather protect myself with plausible deniability. However, whoever wants to contact me is insisting repeatedly. By the time the Jaizkibel mountain blocks the horizon, framed by the leafy trees on both sides of the highway, I figure that if someone wants my attention to this extent, at least I’ll figure out who it is.
I twist my torso awkwardly to reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. Is this the excuse I need, that I got distracted and I didn’t notice I had turned the steering wheel until I was milliseconds away from crashing into the highway divider? I’d likely survive that, though. I may only fuck up my legs, and then I’d have to deal with those consequences.
Instead of a number or letters that I would comprehend, the phone’s screen is displaying a row of mutating characters that briefly reminds me of assembly language, except that I don’t recognize any of the changing symbols.
Spooked, and fearing that I might crash for real, I press the red button to refuse the call. I place the phone besides the gear lever, but as soon as I take my gaze off the device, it buzzes again. My heart races. I slow down the car to glance at the screen: it’s the same mutating row of strange symbols. But now the screen changes as if I had accepted the call.
I reached for the phone when a staticky voice speaks inside my head.
“You need to know too, Leire.”
The voice was calm, but it made my skin crawl as if a foreign parasite was controlling me with alien words, or a tumor was sprouting inside my brain, consuming it from within.
My sight goes dark, and in less than a second I lose connection with the rest of my senses. I’m falling into an abyss. Stars and galaxies form and explode in their own myriad complexities while I’m being sucked into an infinite void without a beginning nor and end.
* * *
When I regain some sense of reality, everything looks hazy and blurry for a few seconds. I’m slumped in my seat. As I recall my recent memories, I shoot up and reach for the steering wheel. Although I thought that I had blacked out for a single second that felt an eternity longer, the car has stopped. I expected to smell gasoline fumes and burnt rubber, but it smells like old plastic and fast food wrappers. The orange dashboard lights are casting shadows over my body, making it look like it’s covered with a layer of dust.
What the fuck happened?
My heart is beating hard, and when I twist my neck to look out of the window to my left, a twinge of pain in my brain makes me grimace. My Renault Laguna is parked sideways across a one-lane, patched road, between a row of two-story workshops only identified with numbers and, behind the car, a fence behind which there’s another two-story building, that may contain offices. Its wall features nasty streaks of rust that come down from bulky air conditioning units.
This place must be located in the outskirts of a city. After I blink a few times I recognize, past a couple of transmission towers, the silhouette of the Jaizkibel mountain. From the angle and how close it looks, I must have somehow driven into Irún, my destination, although I had passed out.
I rub my eyes. No, I don’t have the faintest idea what happened. Why am I here? How come I haven’t crashed my car? And why is it parked so weirdly angled?
After I open my eyes and take a deep breath, I find myself staring at a sentence laid across the dashboard, as if it were a sticker, in bold letters, and it says WE’RE FUCKED.
I must have gawked at it for ten seconds. I blink. The phrase continues to shout silently at me. I reach with a trembling hand and try to peel off the sticker, but as soon as my fingertips make contact, the phrase blinks out of existence.
My head feels heavy. A nasty headache is spreading from somewhere deep in my brain to cover the inside surface of my skull like insects trying to bite their way out. I need to get out of the car and breathe fresh air. When I reach for the handle of the door, my hands slips on its surface. No, not on the surface of the handle. It’s like the handle had ceased to be a three-dimensional object, although it still reflects the dashboard lights properly.
My throat is closing, and a ball of anxiety is expanding inside my chest. I recognize a panic attack. I push the door, but it resists as if it’s welded to the frame. I grab the steering wheel to twist my body and push the door with my foot, but as soon as the wheel turns, a loud scraping noise coming from outside freezes me. On the other side of a rusted fence, the leaves of one of the skinny trees are shaking as if a strong wind had blown through them.
By instinct, I turn the steering wheel a few centimeters more, and now that I’m staring at the tree, the patches of discoloration on its trunk evidence that the tree is rotating. The leaves are trembling, and the scraping noise seems to come from the base of the tree, as if its roots were twisting beneath the ground.
Cold sweat is dripping from what feels like every inch of my skin. I pull my hand away from the steering wheel, but a sickly feeling leads me to try to switch the headlights on. The nearby cone of light that a streetlight was projecting disappears. The headlights of my car remain switched off. When I twist the cap of the lever to the previous position, the cone of light coming out of the streetlight returns, making the asphalt shine.
It’s starting to rain. Drops of water are falling onto the hood of the car. If I can’t get out, at least I’ll drive to a more familiar spot, where I’ll try to figure out whether my car functions can actually control outside objects, or if I’ve finally lost my mind like I suspect.
As the fingertip of my thumb hovers over the start button to fire up the engine, I hesitate. Will something else ignite instead? I imagine an explosion going off, one only strong enough to blow up my limbs and leave me lying on the asphalt, fully conscious. But I take a deep breath and I push the button.
The engine starts up, sounding like an eager dog. I lean back on my seat, and I realize that the handle of my door has regained its volume. I grab it, then open the door so forcefully that I almost fall on the asphalt because of the momentum.
I’m standing in the increasing rain, I can breathe the cold October air. Rainwater is running off the branches of the trees behind the fence. It’s darker than it should be even though I’ve worked overtime. For how long had I blacked out? And how the hell did I drive to safety? I hide my face in my hands. I need to get home, and to sleep properly for once in months. Something is definitely wrong with me. Maybe it’s stress that’s been accumulating for too many years now that it’s reaching critical mass and it’s about to explode.
It takes me a few minutes to gather the strength to crouch back into the driver’s seat of my Renault Laguna and grab the steering wheel. Now that the engine is running, turning the steering wheel only affects the expected wheels. Maybe that’s all it ever did. I’ll drive home carefully. If one of these days I should end up crashing my car and dying, I want it to happen while I’m fully lucid and sane.
I’ve never driven my car this prudently to reach my apartment at Luis de Uranzu street. My neck and arms are stiff as I hold on to the steering wheel. Cold sweat trickles down my spine. Once the cinnamon brown bricks of my apartment building appear at the end of the street, I drive down to park at my usual spot next to the garbage container. I turn off the engine and sit motionless for a few seconds.
I swallow, then hold my breath. I reach for the steering wheel with my right hand. I close my fingers around the shitty plastic, and as I turn it less than a centimeter counterclockwise, the apartment building in front of me stirs with a groan like during an earthquake.
I let go of the steering wheel. In two balconies, the hanging plants are trembling. In random windows the shutters roll up, and the inhabitants look out to figure out what kind of tremor they experienced. A bearded man in his fifties, wearing sweatpants, comes quickly out the front door into the drizzle, then turns and stares up at the facade as if expecting a long crack to be running along it.
“You felt that, right?” he asks nervously to one of the the neighbors that are peering out of their windows with surprised expressions.
“We all did, for sure!” a middle-aged woman answers. “Was that an earthquake?”
While the neighbors jabber about the experience, the sound of breaking glass echoes in my mind. Images of crumbling concrete fill the sky as pieces of masonry fly off. I need to get home. I reach for the handle of my door, but it has been reduced to a texture again. How did I solve that last time? I fired up the engine. I’m staring at the handle as I press the start button on the dashboard, and the volume of the handle pops up.
Maybe I’ll ask my supervisor whether I can take some time off to figure things out. But I don’t want to talk one on one with that slimy prick. The way he tries to glance down at my breasts, although I never wear anything that shows cleavage, makes me squirm. And whenever he opens his mouth close to me, his breath stinks of cigs.
I get out of my Renault Laguna, then stretch my arm back inside to turn off the engine and then take out the key card out of its slot. I slam the door shut. I’ve had more than enough. At least a few hours of sleep, that’s all I need.
Once I’m safely locked away inside my small apartment, I’ve only walked into the hallway, its walls painted an ugly egg nog yellow since maybe the seventies, when I feel something moving out of the corner of my eye, like someone’s watching me or spying on me. I turn quickly. I could swear that a black shape had slipped behind the door. I hurry to it and swing it close to look behind. Nothing, nobody. Just shadows playing tricks on my broken mind.
Minutes later I’m brushing my teeth as I stare in the mirror at the bags under my eyes, which make me look ten years older in the warm yellow glow of the bathroom lamp. I sense that a black mass is peering out of the sink strainer. My heart races. I glance down and I see it clearly for a moment: a fluid mass darker than black. It gets drained down the sink as if sucked out.
I sway in place. My shoulders droop. In the unwashed mirror, those eyes staring back look old, tired and empty.