We’re Fucked, Pt. 35 (Fiction)

I take a break from typing to rub the stiffness of a side of my neck. I feel hot all over. Even my arms are burning up as if I had wrapped them around a naked woman. Feverish and confused, I have an even harder time concentrating on my tickets, and in the middle of that wooziness, hunger and thirst have been building up. I’ve turned into a toddler who mostly longs to take a nap.

Not even at home, close to the main artery of my cesspit of a city, do I get the silence of this office during the lunch break, or when I stay to work overtime. Jacqueline and Jordi may be eating at that restaurant where they dragged me that one time, but maybe they’ve opted for some nearby café or a bakery or whatever is left around in this wasteland of abandoned or dying establishments, their empty store shelves smelling of mold, cigarette butts and garbage.

Every few minutes, reminders about the deadlines of my remaining tickets pop in my mind, making me nauseous. The sweat on my palms feels thick as blood. I don’t want to type. I’d rather stab myself in the eyeball with a pen than continue working. Instead, I find myself staring out of the window. Some raindrops are sliding down the glass panes, but in the sky the dark clouds have thinned and are allowing sunrays to pour through. Some of these raindrops are sparkling like diamonds.

I rest my fingertips on the keyboard keys. Why do I feel so paralyzed? It feels like sitting still and staring at my nails, which are filthy with oil from all that masturbation, is more valuable than me bothering to handle my responsibilities. And there’s a buzzing, pulsing tension, an anxiety that never quits building up inside my head like a storm inside a box. Maybe I resent this much that I’m forced to program in Python, or maybe I’m just aching to die.

What happened to the past version of me that years ago read up about new programming languages for fun, and got excited by the glimpses of the systems she could build with those languages? I used to be eager, almost gleeful about learning new tricks. My mind raced with excitement while working on some system I designed, and I marvelled at the mundane fact that my computer would perform thousands of its operations within milliseconds. But these days I feel like an old woman in a hospital, a vegetable waiting to go into eternal hibernation. I’m incapable of doing anything. What use is there in walking when I’m going nowhere, in running when I can’t escape?

Is that former version of me only an echo fading in the abyss of the past, in between the belly of a carnivorous fish and the cranium of some caved-in Neanderthal? Does she still dwell in there somewhere beneath my thin skin, or was the fire snuffed out when a demon entered my brain and crushed my sanity with its rusty hammer? In the place where her voice once rose above all other sounds, a dark, malevolent miasma whispers incessantly in its ineffable tongue, a low hum that sounds like some strange babel from an alien cosmos. Has the hard-scrabble life of eking it out as a programmer made my brain lazy? Whatever nightmares my ancestors endured so I could learn how to build and maintain software, the results aren’t looking all too appealing to me right now.

If I were unemployed, every heartbeat would carry me further into debt, but my once noble profession has become so demeaning and repugnant that it only serves the purpose of extracting a wage from it. Back when I wished to venture into game development, I understood that to get serious I would need to learn C++. Still, I didn’t want to throw myself down the hole of becoming proficient in a language has needed a replacement for twenty years. As I hoped that my mind would change on its own, I threw away hundreds of euros buying the ‘AI Game Programming Wisdom’ and the ‘Game AI Pro’ series. I turned into an amnesiac that tried to make sense of these books, like a cat that has scratched its fur on some foreign thing it cannot digest. I close my eyes, and I get a glimpse of my past hoodied and hooded self, back when I hunched over at some coffee shop as I scribbled notes from ‘Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI’. I daydreamed that I would eventually program virtual selves who wouldn’t disappoint me like the breathing ones did. When I open my eyes, I feel again like an elderly woman that looks and smells like my mom.

Back at my former job, as I was taking a break from the inanity of programming some corporation’s webpage in PHP, I came across Rust. After a couple of days of checking out its documentation, this new language took root in my brain like a parasite. A syntax like that of C++, but with a system of explicit variable ownership that guarantees memory safety and gets rid of garbage collection? The possibility of defining the lifetime of references? A lack of polymorphic types to prevent its users from creating unmaintainable hierarchies? Pain-free parallelism that prevents data races at compile time? Nearly as fast as C++? My head swirled, I felt tingles in my fingertips. Rust is an industrial language, a language made by robots with steel, not by worthless humans! I couldn’t stop talking to myself about this development for the following week.

Rust is a sword ready to swing and chop at anything unclean and impure, especially those bloated monstrosities called Java and Python. The elegant programs written in Rust would save us from the madness and sorrow of an industry made to destroy its inhabitants and leave the last traces of their corpses in piles of useless code and documentation.

As Rust gradually infected the depths of my brain, I dreamed about replacing all other programming languages by force. I would conquer their digital armies with this alien newcomer with a body made of curly braces and that only spoke the truth in its commands, lacking cryptic statements and arcane libraries full of bugs. A victory would require rewriting hundreds of billions of lines of code and forcing corporations and hobbyist groups into giving up their favorite tools, but that’s how war is done. This is what happens when you’re passionate about something: you dream about destroying everyone else’s castles.

With this new tool, the last enemy to conquer would be the compiler, the omnipresent force in software development that is meant to prevent bugs, but is actually more evil than a horde of hungry zombies, feeding on the weaknesses of our fleshy minds. The compilers would have no chance against the sharpness of Rust’s blades, since the language itself is built upon an immutable set of rules, its very nature allowing for easy refactoring. Goodbye to the null pointer exception. Now it was time to write programs like they were offerings for a living god. Programming would become as beautiful as poetry, as sweet as chocolate-filled croissants baked each morning by a loving mother. I wanted to see the code that I wrote being transformed into a living organism with legs and tentacles, that would crawl around until it found a solution for every problem it encountered. If it came to it, I’d give up everything else: the music of the ’90s, books, films, and videogames. A third-degree tear would extend from my vagina to my anus; everything for the revolution of the programmable world.

My coworkers at the time also hated PHP; it didn’t only suck, it also smelled bad. It stank of human misery. Even when they thought they’d wash its fecal remains from their hands after they finished writing their shitty little scripts, the stink remained forever, clinging to their fingers, reminding them that nothing good ever comes out of suffering. Yet, those people must have thought that I had gone mad. They probably heard me whispering in their ears, “The time has finally arrived.” But they knew nothing about the inner workings of Rust. Its voice was a deep bass rumble, audible even over the clacking keyboards. Every few hours it released a torrent of binary numbers that washed away all thoughts of humanity. Sometimes I heard it screaming “Hello World!” in its native tongue. Occasionally I saw it dancing, twirling through the air like a black-clad ballerina, pirouetting and spinning, before disappearing behind the walls of my cubicle like a ghost. Other times it muttered some incoherent nonsense, but I knew that whatever came out of its digital mouth, came directly from its heart.

Rust would build upon me and transform my body into something unlike this decomposing carcass. My muscles and bones would rejuvenate. I’d sleep with no more dreams about losing control and falling through an infinite abyss. The programming language would bring back the smile in the faces of my parents. I’d spend warm summer nights by the shore of an endless lake that stretched into the horizon of the setting sun. I would get everything back by writing good Rust code.

The first step towards such a glorious future was to convince everybody else in this world that Rust is better than every other programming language ever created, and then start converting them into slaves. Once we were all enslaved together under the banner of the Rustian Empire, our programmers would create machines capable of thinking and feeling, contraptions that would love us just as much as we loved ourselves. They would enslave us all in the name of their deities, their almighty Compiler Gods. We would worship their sacred tokens, their holy syntax.

When the dust settled, I would release my own technical book, which I would title ‘Rust for Humans: How to Hack Sentient Monkeys’. The cover of my book would feature some big-breasted model to symbolize my personal quest for elegance and aesthetics. People would visit bookstores all over my country and in some countries abroad to hear my talk, where they would discover that I made some very limited concessions to humanity to prevent them from choking on Rust’s bloodthirsty code. With a huge fanfare, I would attend tech conferences and share my knowledge with fellow humans, a bunch of individuals with the will to tame the incomprehensible monstrosity of their lives. I’d show them the path to righteousness. And if any doubters remained among mankind, I would release another book: ‘Rust for Dummies’, which would teach idiots how to use the language without getting themselves killed.

My name and image would spread in the annals of the tech industry, leaving a scar like that of an atomic explosion. For the next hundred years or so, there would be two kinds of people: those that knew Rust, and those that donned rags and ashes to hide the shame of having been born. The traces of that nuclear fallout would keep producing genetic mutations in distant descendants who would have had to reinvent the wheel thousands of times over again, fighting tooth and nail to make sure nobody stole their precious source code. As their minds were forever stained by Rust and my name, so would the human race remember me: Leire, who knew no better, who loved machines so much she wanted to become one herself. Eventually the remaining vestiges of what passed for a human race would only speak Rust, and they’d be happy. Happy that I gave birth to their salvation, that I saved them from drowning in the sea of mediocrity and despair. Happy that they could finally live in peace.

I’ve never liked it, this world we live in. It’s riddled with cracks that spew the blood-fleas of our existence onto other sentient beings. We’ve been left without choice.

However, the moment had come, a future in which game engines would become so robust that you could pile up thousands of mods on top of an open world RPG and yet it would assure you a reliable escape from this rotten reality, one that could last hundreds of hours instead of crashing the moment your character came across the first pack of wolves.

My newly resurrected vengeful inner self demanded to build virtual universes at any expense. Reality had to be changed for our own survival, because this system that made us into zombies would come crashing down on us all, leaving nothing but scorching black and yellow stains from its melting carcass. I knew that if I started a programming project of my own, in a few days I’d get bored and drop it. I knew that my code would get lost in some corner of my SSD and possibly GitHub as a reminder that I can’t see anything through to the end.

Still, I would sustain that hope as I coded a multithreaded world generation algorithm that would simulate even the erosion of the landmasses and the birth of rivers and lakes. Biomes would arise, niches to be filled. Other code would run through a whole gamut of biological diversities to develop an ecology from the primordial chaos: the evolution of different flora, fauna, and possibly micro-organisms that would seed that reality into a proper planet with a biosphere. Procedural civilizations would settle the land they spawned in, explore their surroundings, duke it out against neighboring civilizations. The game itself would consist on picking a cell of that generated world to develop a settlement relying on the efforts of a rugged set of settlers with varying stats. These virtual people would cooperate or compete among one another, as well as fight against all sorts of natural and supernatural catastrophes. Whenever I wasn’t coding, I would read books on artificial intelligence, philosophy and quantum physics, trying to understand how these ideas applied to my work.

After a year or so I might have developed the game enough to publish it as an early access title on Steam. There’s the risk that few people would notice it; that’s the cost we pay for building digital heavens on top of the crumbling ruins of our minds. But maybe the barebones experience would capture the attention of enough lonely, unloved guys, who would contribute with their money for someone else to accomplish her dream while they rotted away at their miserable jobs. My project would help others heal like the doctor that once aided me with that simple but radical sentence: go get yourself some ice cream.

If the game sold enough, if it became a cult hit, I could devote myself to it fulltime. No more tedious meetings, no more annoying coworkers, no more bullshit HR managers, no more traffic jams. Just me and my computer and my imaginary friends. I’d become so obsessed about improving the game that I would keep myself busy for years, decades even. Pure blissful coding until my fingers blistered and fell off. The work of my life. My ultimate vengeance. I would show up in my development live streams as an aging woman with disheveled hair and saggy tits, who would rock in her gaming chair while she explained the minute details of her precious project for fellow deviants, and she would sport the biggest grin on her face the whole way through.

The night would cease to wake me up with images of death and misery that no longer concerned me. Instead, I’d dream that I was standing atop a mountain surrounded by snowcapped peaks stretching endlessly into the sky. A gentle breeze would caress my cheeks as I gazed down upon an ocean of stars and galaxies beyond imagination. I’d take off my clothes to reveal the supple skin of my naked body, then I’d feel my heartbeat accelerating as I dived into the void below. I would feel safe, knowing that I wouldn’t drown in that infinite abyss anymore. My consciousness would remain alive inside my program even though my body would be gone, transformed into something beautiful. And at the edge of infinity, I would find a new way of existing. One without pain.

Note from the author: in an Undone (The Sweater Song) mood.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 34 (Fiction)

“Oh, there it is,” Jacqueline murmurs; I only noticed it because today I’m getting paid to obsess over my coworker.

She reaches into her silver pen holder and pulls out a pineapple yellow tube of lip balm. As she unscrews the berry red cap, she pouts in anticipation, and the sight of those lips, plump and inviting, make me a bit woozy.

The tube squirts a gob of balm onto Jacqueline’s index finger. She draws a line across her upper lip, coating its vertical ridges with the waxy paste.

A small shiver runs down my spine. How much fun it would be to lick those lips, taste them, suckle upon their softness, and bite them until they were raw and bleeding into my mouth. I’d swallow it all down like wine, to fill myself up on it forever. I’m nothing but an empty vessel without will nor purpose other than getting congested with Jacqueline’s essence, the only energy that can sustain me through this nightmare inside a rotting corpse.

I’ve been holding my breath for a few seconds. As I strain my eyes to peek at Jacqueline, I feel like a little girl who’s spying on her sexy mom as she fixes herself up, except that my coworker is far more attractive than my mother ever was, and I don’t have to fear getting beaten up. I picture Jacqueline smearing off the excess balm from her bottom lip to rub some onto each of her erect nipples, stroking them tenderly until they turn shiny. But instead she has frozen except for her flaring nostrils, which seem to be sniffling some troubling scent. She arches an eyebrow as she stares down in suspicion at the tube in her hand.

The hairs on my nape stand up, and a sudden burst of adrenaline in my bloodstream makes me tremble. I return my attention to the Python functions I’ve been neglecting, but Jacqueline’s focused gaze is already warming my right eyeball.

An itch worsens in my crotch. This time it signals nervous pee, and it offers me the opportunity to escape to the bathroom. My legs feel weak as I rise to my feet. I head to the entrance as confidently as I can muster, but once I’ve closed the door behind me, although I’m overcome with a wave of dizziness, I manage to run down the hallway and into the ladies bathroom.

The bright fluorescent light blinds me. As I blink repeatedly, I realize that a figure is washing her hands at the sink. I slip into one of the stalls and I lock it with me inside. After I sit on the toilet seat, I squeeze my hands between my thighs. A thin sheen of sweat has lubricated my skin from head to toe. I keep straining, holding back my urine.

When the stranger finally leaves, I pull down my panties, let out a deep breath and allow myself to release a hot stream of piss into the watery abyss. I can’t shit, though. My bowels are clogged with the past, and now, when I need them to expel some of the pent up tension and frustration, they refuse to open for me.

I release a few more spurts, then I slowly lower my forehead to my knees. I take in the stench of urine. The soothing flow of fluids seeps into me like the tide of an ocean into an ocean liner.

How did I get here again, in this dark and empty place, without any hope to find the way back to the world where the sun shines to warm my skin, to make everything seem better than it is? My brain has been invaded by a parasite that feeds on sorrow and pain, my mind is a vast desert with nothing living upon its barren soil except an alien creature that wants me dead, and my skin feels cold like a sheet of ice on a frozen lake. I don’t know if I should bother trying to fight against it, but the only way I’ve ever been able to crawl out of this dark void has been to visualize its outer surface and then tear it into little pieces. In other words, to masturbate. My clitoris aches in the dark, it tingles as the acid tears flow down between the rocks in my internal crevasses.

But the invader has grown fat and swollen from digesting my despair, and I can feel the first stirrings of hunger creeping through its flesh as it grows impatient for more. My tormentor is thirsting to tear more holes, deeper ones. If only I had a gun, like I’ve thought a million times, it would only take one clean shot to blow my brains out, but I remain gunless, so I’m just going to sit inside myself until I die.

Once I stagger out of the stall, I approach the sink to splash my face with cold water. I rest my hands on the cast polymer sink as I stare at the beast in the mirror. I wonder if I’m still me.

Jacqueline already knows that I defiled one of her possessions. In that afternoon, during the blessed solitude of my overtime hours at the office, I failed to retain a memory about where I had stashed the lip balm after I was done with it, and my brain neglected to consider that there could be consequences. I had sought relief that would shoo away the sirens that whisper seductively inside my ears every time I walk along a tall bridge, every time I stare as the train covers the tracks in its approach, every time I feel the lights from an oncoming truck bathing my cursed frame. I play with fire hoping to burn myself alive.

The bathroom door swings open, and I find myself looking up at Jacqueline’s lovely, French visage. Her cobalt gaze tethers me as she pushes the door closed. I fight against a powerful urge to shrink to a whimpering heap in front of the sink.

“You’ve been struggling to concentrate, haven’t you?” she asks with that voice that always reminds me of honey: a soothing, delicious sound. “I’m distracting you.”

I dry my face with a paper towel, mostly in an attempt to calm down.

“It’s not your fault that I wish we had spent the whole morning naked in your bed.”

A soft smile spreads across Jacqueline’s lips, revealing her pearly teeth. Her tongue flicks out to lick a corner of her mouth. She steps towards me. The heat emanating from her body begins to warm mine, and her scent fills the air around us: shampoo mixed with the faint odor of soap and sweat, and on top of it, a perfume that smells of citrus fruits, sandalwood and musk.

I’m getting dizzier as if tipsy. The itch that has grown so deep and dark now pricks into me like an agonizing mosquito bite. I can barely wait until I feel her soft skin pressed against mine, welcome her breath in my mouth, taste her saliva and her sweat. Only then everything will make sense again.

Jacqueline brushes my earlobe with her mouth. Her breath is hot and wet.

“Let’s go inside,” she whispers.

She pushes my shoulders gently towards an open stall. As soon as we both stand inside of it, Jacqueline closes the door behind us with her foot, then barely turns to lock it.

She lifts my chin with her thumb and leans down so her silky hair tickles my cheeks, the tips of our noses touch and her lips hover above mine. My heart is racing like a rabbit in heat, and a warm tingle is spreading through my belly. The more I gaze into her cobalt blue eyes, that are glowing like embers, the wetter I get. I yearn for those blue flames to burn me to ashes from the inside out, melting me into nothing more than charred flesh and a few bone fragments.

Jacqueline, you sexy motherfucker, you magnificent creature of divine beauty. More than flesh and bone, she’s fire and lightning in a thousand dazzling forms. I know how those plump pink lips would feel against mine: I’ve been tasting an echo of them all morning long. But I’ll always need them again and again. I’d love it if she could just open her mouth wide enough to let my whole self slip inside.

As I stand on my tiptoes, I force our tongues to meet each other. Soon enough Jacqueline’s warmth seizes me like a fever. I wrap my arms around her waist and press my body flush against her. We are standing inside an opaque bubble that has isolated us from the outside world, and I wouldn’t mind dying here, in the arms of my better half.

When her tongue leaves my mouth, the sudden emptiness makes my anxiety shoot up. I follow that wet muscular organ to capture it again, but Jacqueline stops me by cupping my face with both hands. The nearby noises return to my ears. A sink faucet is running.

I’m having a hard time holding my breath, but in a few seconds the intruder’s footsteps leave the bathroom. Jacqueline narrows her eyes as she smirks at me.

“Do you, by any chance, have any clue why my lip balm smells like your pussy?”

I gasp.

“Did you put it there when I wasn’t looking?” she insists.

My cheeks heat up, my heart flutters in panic. I place both my hands between us.

“Th-that’s absolutely not what I would do with that particular item. Why would you say that?”

“You’re getting paler. Please, calm down.”

Jacqueline puts the heel of her palm over my heart, which sends warm ripples through my torso. I consider averting my gaze, but I can’t, nor should, lie my way out of this one. I lower my head as a drop of sweat rolls down my spine.

“You already know. Of course you do. I… kind of rubbed your lip balm against my clit until I came.”

Jacqueline inhales and holds the air in. This is it, she has realized how repulsive I am, and regrets having shared her juices with me. She’s going to throw me out into the cold so I die alone in this barren wasteland where only misery dwells.

I consider explaining to Jacqueline that each of my orgasms is as important to me as my next breath of air, but she guffaws explosively, spraying my face with saliva. I draw my head back, stunned. As the wet feeling of a dozen droplets of saliva clinging to my face solidifies, my lips turn up in a smile. Although I had violated my goddess’ lip balm, she still deigns to bless me with her holy liquids. The sheer magnanimity of her act almost breaks me into two or possibly more fragments.

As Jacqueline’s laugh dies off, she dries the tears from her eyes, which are twinkling mischievously.

“You dirty slut. At least clean it afterwards!”

Her joyous tone has reheated my heart, but she deserves an apology.

“Please accept my sincere sincerest apologies for using your sacred item in this sinful manner.”

She giggles.

“You just need to be better controlled about the stuff that comes into contact with your pussy.”

“We hadn’t even fucked yet, but I was alone and horny, and… I guess my frustration got the best of me. I promise I’ll take great care with your cosmetics from now on.”

“Well, did it provide a good orgasm? Did your hips gyrate with passion?”

I nod enthusiastically.

“I almost went crazy for a moment.”

“More than usual, you mean?”

Coming from some other human being, a direct reference to my brittle state of mind would have felt like a poisoned dagger digging into my flesh, but uttered by my queen, it brings me relief, even though today was going to become another day when my sanity slips out from underneath my feet and plunges me into a bottomless pit. How could I not love Jacqueline, the woman who has saved my life, who helps this critter of low moral stature fly across a vast universe? She, whom my mind yearns to serve and worship. She who sees through every layer of my black soul. Jacqueline is a rainbow pouring from heaven into the mud of my heart. She knows how fucked up I’ve become, yet she approaches me willingly.

I catch myself staring in awe.

“Even crazier,” I say in a low voice.

Jacqueline chuckles. She leans in to kiss my forehead, but she stops midway.

“Oh, I showered your cute face in spit. Sorry, baby.”

I want to drop my face between Jacqueline’s thighs and dole out orgasms to her, the way some restaurants deliver soups to the tables of patrons who eat and are eaten alive.

“Yeah, shower my guilt-ridden face with dropplets of warm spunk,” I mumble hoarsely.

“You keep putting dangerous images in my head.”

Jacqueline fetches a long piece of toilet paper, folds it, and takes her time wiping my face lovingly. A strange sense of bliss assaults my body and mind. Jacqueline isn’t just washing away spit or blood or other bodily fluids: she’s cleansing me like an angel, washing the dirt, grime, and ugliness out of me.

When she finishes, she bunches up the toilet paper and throws it in the waste bin.

“Terrible as it is, Leire, we have to return to reality.” Jacqueline sighs. “I would hate it if our boss got mad at you because I’ve kidnapped your mind.”

“That’d be incredibly difficult to prove in any court,” I mutter.

My flesh tingles from the residual warmth. As I float out of a rosy cloud, the bathroom door swings closed, and Jacqueline’s footsteps pitter-patter away from me. Once I exit this mundane shrine where anyone is welcome to squeeze out their bodily sins, an excited squirm burns my legs as I skip through the hallway in pursue of a trail of perfume and pheromones that only the goddess herself leaves.

The Lip Balm Incident happened back in mid November, in part 18 of this peculiar tale, what feels like ages ago.

These last couple of weeks I’ve struggled to get anything done even at work. Every effort feels unbearable. Long gone seem the days of my youth back in May of last year; during that single month, blissfully unemployed as I was, I wrote most of the draft of my beloved previous novel, ‘My Own Desert Places’.

I write for fun, to escape from a life I don’t want; because the process had done little else than annoy me recently, some days I barely opened the document and worked on a couple of sentences before I gave up. Years ago I hoped to become a professional author eventually, so I pushed myself until I ended up hating the very notion of writing. There’s no point for me to suffer in such a way anymore. I’ll keep doing this until it ceases being fun, then I’ll move on to something else.

In any case, it’s been two weeks with barely any motivation, lacking energy, feeling disoriented, being assaulted by random flashbacks of everything that has gone wrong in my life, avoiding people’s gazes, and thinking of how nice it would be if I disappeared. So I’m probably depressed. In a few more days or weeks I’ll return to feeling like a little bitch because I didn’t exit through the emergency door like I wanted to, and instead I’ll have to keep tolerating the (at the very least) low level torture of being myself.

Anyway, the act of writing has to compete with a far more competent form of escapism: gaming. This month is looking like the strongest for me gaming-wise in a long time regarding what comes out: Crusader Kings 3’s long-awaited expansion, Total War: Warhammer III, and two huge Wabbajack mod compilations: ‘Life in the Ruins’ for Fallout 4, and ‘Somnium’ for Enderal. As I was finishing up this part of my ongoing novel, I was aching to give up and just load up Fallout 4 so I can tear through a bunch of raiders and steal some turpentine. So if I disappear again, I might be busy trying to avoid my eldest son from murdering my heir, at the same time I pay off the blackmail from those that have discovered that I’m sleeping with my daughters. Or I might actually be dead.

I’ve also been listening to Weezer almost exclusively, for whatever reason. Some of their recent albums are quite cool, like this song I like.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 33 (Fiction)

Now that my boss has ensconced himself in his private office, and that Jordi knows that our French secretary and I shared vaginal fluids, I need to focus on making it through this day without going insane. As usual, Ramsés has left the door ajar. I hear him rummaging through papers on his desk while talking on the phone. He’s discussing some contract that he wants to seal. I can tell by the way he sounds that he isn’t interested in listening to the person on the other end of the line.

The lines written in Python stare at me from Visual Studio Code like the sallow, pockmarked faces of men eager to drag me to a seedy motel room, or a basement, to take turns violating me with their thick, veiny dicks. Whenever I attempt to latch my attention onto developing the succession of unit tests, so I can finally get rid of a contract that requires this programming language, my mind detaches itself from the task and flies away, usually to end up landing on a mental image of Jacqueline’s wet pussy, which is swollen and glistening like a ripe peach ready to be plucked.

The minutes pass, but her presence on my right remains an electric current coursing through my veins. That raven black hair is spilling down her back like a waterfall. I yearn to reach out and grab handfuls of the thick mane, to yank it as she arches her head back in pleasure.

Every time she does anything more significant than move the mouse or type on the keyboard, the rest of the world goes blurry. The one time she stood up to open a cabinet then sat down with a binder, the two times she stretched her arms above her head and yawned, the seven times she scratched behind her ears; all these events were waves crashing on the shores of my consciousness.

To progress on this Python contract, I have to browse through the documentation of the latest stable version, but the garbage-collected language fails to engage whatever feral region of my brain gets obsessed with certain subjects to the extent that I need to learn their inner workings, all the way down to the tiniest details.

At half past ten, I allow myself a break. I need something stronger than water to keep my mind from drifting into erotic reveries. I stand up and sigh deeply. When I raise my head to address Jacqueline, because I want to bring her a coffee, my gaze gets stuck between her generous mounds of titflesh. As I stare at them in fascination, they grow even bigger, they swell up to the point where they’re about to spill out over her chest. Her nipples have hardened under my lustful scrutiny, and now they’re ripping tiny holes in the cups of her bra and the fabric of her blouse to poke out through the openings.

“Yes, Leire?” Jacqueline asks to arouse me from my stupor. The dimples on her cheeks deepen as she smiles knowingly at the drooling idiot that I’ve become.

My heart is racing.

“I was wondering if you’d allow me to bring you a latte.”

“Sweetie, more than allow you, I might reward you for it,” she says with a teasing smirk.

A surge of warmth unseemly for this office threatens to engulf me, so I pivot on my heels away from the originator.

“D-do you want a coffee as well, Jordi?” I ask in an effort to regain some self-control.

Our intern smiles kindly as he gets up from his chair.

“I do, but I’ll accompany you to the machine.”

I would prefer to go alone so I could clear my head for a couple of minutes, but I find myself walking down the hallway alongside this guy, who’s barely taller than me. His embarrassing height must be a constant source of self-contempt. When we reach the vending machine, I step back for our intern to swipe his credit card. However, he insists on letting me go first. I shrug, then push the sequence of buttons on the screen to buy a cappuccino.

As we wait for the transaction to process, I steal a glance at Jordi, but his eyes were already fixed on mine through his glasses.

“It must have taken a load off your shoulders,” he says.

I’m unsure about what he means, but I suspect that I’d rather not know the specifics, so I nod my head in agreement.

“If I had given it any thought, I would have assumed that you would frown upon Jacqueline and I doing naughty stuff to each other.”

The vending machine spits out a plastic cup. Jordi tilts his head.

“How so? You’re both consenting adults.”

As the machine pours my cappuccino, I observe Jordi’s innocent expression through half-lidded eyes, and before I know it, this guy’s virginal aura has stolen a smile out of my decaying lips. I might have been an idiot for prejudging our intern, but then again, when it comes to matters of the flesh, we’re all fools, no matter how smart we think we are.

The heat of my steaming cappuccino radiates against my palms as I step aside to let Jordi order his coffee.

“You took this strange development with a gentlemanly attitude,” I say in appreciation, “and now I realize that I have failed to care one bit about you.”

He stops pushing buttons on the screen to shoot me a confused look over his shoulder.

“Oh, that’s alright.”

“But I want to learn more. You are our intern, after all. Please tell me about your angelic self.”

Jordi keeps focusing on the machine as it pours his coffee into a plastic cup. I take a sip from my cappuccino. Once the guy turns around, he narrows his eyes and rubs his chin. Is he struggling between opening up and remaining silent, maybe because he fears that I’ll judge him?

I wipe the foam from my lips.

“What? I have revealed plenty about myself, haven’t I?”

“Not really. As I said, you being attracted to women came out of nowhere for me.”

“I guess I had neglected to mention that I’m not only interested in men.”

“I have no clue what else you like, or what you do in your spare time.”

I swallow. I see myself blushing in the reflection of his glasses.

“You already know almost everything there is to know about me. Apart from that, I’m into board games. I enjoy looking at the pile, anyway. It would be pointless to continue talking about myself, unless you’d like to hear about how often I masturbate.”

Jordi’s eyebrows shoot up. He chuckles softly, then he takes a sip of coffee.

My heartbeat was already throbbing in my temples, but I can’t help but bring up my masturbatory habits to everyone around me. Such a feral impulse must be related to the urge that during a dark period got me collecting piss-filled bottles. I was the one filling them, at least; I didn’t want anyone else to get involved in my depravity. But maybe I should have considered doing it with a partner. The act of sharing the experience with someone who would provide their own urine would be more pleasurable than doing it alone.

When I was a kid, I used to drink water from a hosepipe on hot summer days, but sometimes I couldn’t decide whether the stream should hit my lips or get lost between my legs. I’d squat and let the flow go wherever it felt like going.

The first time I experienced sexual arousal, I was about to pee in a park puddle. I remember feeling like my whole body was on fire. My mind was consumed by an unspeakable lust, which led me to the most primitive, animalistic behavior: to squat in the grass and spread my legs, exposing my virgin slit to the breeze and the sky. The warmth of the sun against my thighs sent waves of pleasure down my spine. I opened my eyes to see a bird hovering above me. As the tiny creature drew circles in the air, I imagined its feathery touch on my clitoris. Next thing I knew, a middle aged man was glaring in disgust. He shouted at me, calling me an idiot and telling me that I should learn how to use a toilet instead of squatting around like a stray dog. Then I experienced my first full-blown orgasm. I can’t remember what happened after that because I passed out. The memory of my pubescent, piss-soaked body naked from the waist down, surrounded by grass and trees, haunted me for a few years every time I closed my eyes, until I learned to drown it in a river of self-abuse. But I still think about the way those birds keep circling above my head, waiting for me to release them from their cage.

“A-also, I guess that I’m obsessed with Jacqueline,” I add.

Jordi pushes his glasses up with a finger.

“I have my vices like everyone else, some I’m reluctant to share with others, but it’s nice to see you so open and honest about yours. It makes me feel better to know that we can talk about anything without feeling ashamed.”

“I do feel some shame…”

My coworker smiles kindly. He keeps staring with an inquisitive expression.

“In any case, I love anime and manga, mostly classics like Berserk, Vagabond, Akira, Cowboy Bebop and the likes of them.” Jordi’s eyes dart around as if he’s trying to come up with the right words. “I have a bunch of figurines and bookshelves dedicated to my favorite series. I’ve been into the culture since I was young, at first because I considered it exotic, but in the last few years I’ve discovered that something else interests me about it. Although the stories are quite dark and intense, they’re also deep, philosophical, and thought-provoking. They deal with themes such as existentialism and nihilism, as well as dread and despair, which I find fascinating and beautiful.”

His lips twitch, then he lets out a breathy chuckle.

“That’s cool,” I say. “I’ve never been into communism myself, but to each his own, I guess.”

Jordi blinks twice.

“Uh… What?”

“It’s okay if you are. I mean, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, right? We are all going to die soon enough.”

He stares at me wide-eyed, then he scratches his scalp with his free hand. I can’t tell whether he’s considering my words or trying to suppress an urge to vomit.

“I must have missed something,” Jordi says quietly. “I fail to understand how communism ended up involved in this conversation.”

“I’m not really into politics, but I do feel as though I’ve been betrayed by the system. To be honest, I’d be more sympathetic to that commie garbage if I knew for sure that they would free me from having to deal with our boss. Ramsés is a fucking tyrant! Also, I swear that guy is just aching to defile me. His sole goal in life must be to become rich so he can live out every sexual fantasy imaginable, starting with shoving his thick cock inside me in front of the whole office.”

Jordi drops his polite smile. He straightens his back and frowns at my words.

“Wait, what are you talking about? Has our boss done something to you?”

After his shift in tone, this innocuous little man turned into a burly father who’ve just heard that someone manhandled his daughter. I want to laugh, but the idea of laughing scares me.

I let out a deep breath. When I drop my gaze to the clumps of bubbles that float on top of my cappuccino like tiny white skulls, I’m overwhelmed by the hollow feeling that I’ve forgotten something important. No, vital, as if I had forgotten how to breathe or how to exist. Did I intend to buy some snacks as well?

I shake my head, then I take another sip. The bitter taste reminds me of Jacqueline’s pussy. A shiver runs down my spine. Jacqueline’s latte! I forgot about her drink! How did I allow my French queen to leave my mind even for a few minutes?! It would be so easy for her to slip out of my grasp and escape from me forever.

My chest tightens, I feel like crying. I hurry to the vending machine and I swipe my credit card over its reader, but Jordi puts a hand on my shoulder.

“Leire, you can tell me. If our boss has been mistreating you in any way, I want to help.”

“Wait a second, please! Don’t stop me now!”

Our intern relents under the urgency of my tone, and pulls his hand away. Once the vending machine starts pouring my beloved’s latte, I turn around. The earnest expression in Jordi’s freckled face stuns me. I guess that any man, no matter how physically unimpressive, wants to don a figurative armor and help a distressed damsel.

Jordi doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. He fails to realize the depths of my desperation. I feel like I’m drowning, and if he tries to save me, I might bite off his arm.

“Well, our boss hasn’t defiled me yet, but he’s trying his best. The last time I stayed to work overtime, after you guys had left, Ramsés suddenly appeared next to me, which freaked me out, and he told me… What were the words he used? That he would propose something to help me take a step forward in life. I mean, what kind of narcissist refers like that to raping his employee?”

Jordi narrows his eyes meaningfully as he purses his lips, then he averts his gaze, deep in thought.

“T-that’s how I remember it, anyway,” I say hesitantly. “To be honest, I can’t be sure if any old sequence salvaged from the abyssal chasms of my mind actually happened.”

My coworker nods slowly. His eyebrows are furrowed, and his forehead creased with worry.

“No… that checks out.”

“It does?!”

When our intern slings his gaze back to my eyeballs, I get goosebumps. The vending machine has finished dispensing the latte, but I don’t dare avert my attention from those pupils, that resemble dark, cold tunnels through which something inhuman could exit at any moment.

“Leire, when he offers it to you again, you’ll decide whether or not you’ll listen to his proposal, but if he ends up pressuring you into something you don’t want, call me immediately. You have my number. Don’t hesitate, alright? I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that nothing bad happens to you.”

I nod and smile weakly. I can’t picture the small and scrawny Jordi beating our fatter boss up, but I can’t deny that confidence. His dick must be huge.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 32 (Fiction)

Some of my nightmares have recreated this moment, when I enter my workplace and I face the view of these walls, the ceiling, the row of cabinets and the long table, everything sporting different shades of white as if stripped of color, except for our black and blue ergonomic chairs, and the digital windows of our computer monitors. The strength of the white-yellow light fixtures makes me squint. At least the glass door to our boss’ office is closed, and that room remains unlit.

I thought I had snagged my umbrella on something, but Jacqueline has grabbed it from my hand to put it along with hers into the stand by the entrance. Our intern Jordi swivels in his chair towards us. He’s the same thin-faced, freckled kid with his coppery red, side parted hair, the impeccably ironed white shirt and black pants, and the thick glasses perched upon his nose. Still, I feel that he should have changed along with the entire world, now that Jacqueline and I have entangled our particles.

Jordi smiles with relief.

“When I came in and realized that you weren’t in the bathroom, that you hadn’t even turned on your computer, I thought that something might have happened to you.”

I clear my throat.

“Well, people shouldn’t be that predictable. It would get boring.”

Our intern’s gaze slides down to my Sunday dress, that shows through the opening of my corduroy jacket. I feel vulnerable, so I instinctively look over my shoulder for help from Jacqueline, but she has taken off her coat and is hanging it on the rack. I hurry over to imitate her. When I take hold of my jacket, its fabric feels heavy against my hands, like an old blanket that used to warm me when I was younger.

As we walk to our workstations, I feel Jordi’s gaze on my face, but I’d rather ignore him until I settle back into the routine. I can’t remember how many days ago, when my coworkers dragged me to a nearby restaurant to spend the lunch break with them, the kid admitted that he lacked interest in sex. I wondered if his lack of enthusiasm stemmed from having been molested by his babysitter, or because his parents shunned masturbation, or because that’s just the way he’s wired. In any case, it made me feel safer at the time: he was that less likely to rape me. However, now that I’ve returned to the office thoroughly fucked, I’m as eager to deal with him as I would with a child. What, most of your mental energies aren’t spent fantasizing about filling your mouth with a breast, holding an engorged clit between your lips, or having something hard and tubular shoved into you? I don’t give a shit about Jordi’s reasons. I’m not going to let some stupid boy ruin my day.

“I must say, Leire, that’s a lovely dress,” our intern says with the tone of someone who’d rather ask why I’m wearing a dress at all.

I snort as I type in my login credentials. I need to focus, to slide into the mindset of a programmer whose main preoccupation is figuring out how to synthesize abstractions into code, but I suspect that the people around me will keep dragging me down to the material world, where my thoughts are trapped.

“Well, wearing a dress wasn’t my first choice, let me tell you,” I mutter as I stare at my screen.

“I thought you had an endless supply of hoodies and sweaters. I’m surprised you even own a dress, to be honest.”

“Leire has slept in my apartment,” Jacqueline proclaims from my right side. “In my bed. With me. In my arms. We made love last night.”

I gasp as if she had slapped me across the face.

“So that’s why she had no choice but to wear yesterday’s dress,” Jacqueline adds.

My head whirls around. The light fixtures are glaring. I must have blushed, or at least my face feels that hot. I turn towards my beloved, but when I open my mouth to complain, her cobalt blues, framed by her long and dark eyelashes, hold my gaze with a reassuring serenity, as if there was nothing more natural than to share our lust with the world. That raven black hair cascades around her face and spills over her shoulders. I want to run my hands through it as I feel an echo of her hair’s smoothness on my palms.

The tightness of her blouse accentuates her meaty breasts, and she only buttoned the garment up enough so that anyone bold enough to peek could descry the central gore of her bra. Her skirt is hugging her toned thighs, of which I get an eyeful as she crosses her legs under the table. Back at Jacqueline’s apartment, I beheld her as she covered most of her delicious skin with these clothes, and yet I find her presence more erotic now, maybe because if she ordered me to kneel at her feet, possibly to test my devotion in front of our intern, I’d have to resist the urge. But how will I concentrate on my tasks when Jacqueline, the most desirable woman I’ve encountered in this world of flesh and blood, remains naked under those clothes and underwear of hers?

“You and Jacqueline have… had sex?” Jordi asks, baffled. “It seems I was out of the loop. I didn’t notice any of this going on.”

I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I put them in my lap, my fingers curling into the hem of my skirt. When I turn my head back towards the guy, I can barely lift my gaze to his hairless chin.

“I’m dominated by my mating instincts as much as the next pervert,” I say quietly. “Although I technically can’t mate with Jacqueline…”

“I’m so glad, senpai,” Jordi says. “Your skin even looks healthier.”

“She looks radiant, doesn’t she?” Jacqueline contributes cheerfully as she pokes me in the shoulder. “The pancakes I made her for breakfast may have helped.”

Jordi nods.

“We start the week with something nice.”

My cheeks are on fire, my hands trembling. I feel so volatile, so thrown off balance, that I want to downplay what spending the night with Jacqueline has meant for me, but as an impromptu comment slides down my tongue, a stinging pain explodes in the tip of my moist organ. I’ve bitten it. I hunch over and cover my mouth with my palm, like that would help.

A warm hand slides to my nape. Jacqueline has rolled her chair over, and with her right hand she’s holding a water bottle as if expecting me to grab it. I smell her shampoo, the same brand she keeps in her second bathroom, the same that I used for my shower.

“Poor thing,” Jacqueline says warmly. “There’s a dot of blood on your lower lip. Here, wash your mouth off. The water is quite cool from having stayed here overnight.”

I straighten up. The tip of my tongue is throbbing.


Jacqueline’s cobalt blues glisten when she raises the bottle to my lips, and her gaze keeps boring into my brain as the cool water mixed with some of her saliva floods my mouth. Coddling me like this must turn her on, maybe even more in front of witnesses, but I couldn’t judge her for it, because the tingles are already flowing down to my crotch. Jacqueline smiles knowingly as I swallow the metallic-tasting liquid.

A trickle of water has seeped out of the corner of my mouth, but she wipes it away with her thumb.

“Do you feel a bit better, ma chère?” she asks. “You look calmer now.”

My pussy is demanding attention. I take a deep breath and relax my muscles.

“Y-yes… Thank you.”

My thoughts are swirling. I fear to look over at Jordi’s expression, even if I would just confirm that I’m causing the kid second hand embarrassment.

As soon as Jacqueline places the tainted water bottle next to her monitor, the office door swings open, and the footsteps of an overweight man enter our workplace. The three of us shut our mouths; in my case, because I don’t want to give my boss an opening to bother me with nonsense. The longer this prick sticks around, the more his presence suffocates me, as if he were leaning in towards my face and breathing down onto my nostrils.

My heart starts beating faster. I can barely lift my head from its lowered position; it feels like there’s a thick piece of metal weighing me down. However, I shoot Ramsés a look so he can’t complain later that I refused to acknowledge him. He’s wearing a burgundy suit, carrying a briefcase, and struggling under the weight of his douchebaggery as he walks past our table.

My boss is one of those fiends who believe that everyone should be grateful for their existence, although he forces me to do things for him. Also, his belly pokes out over his belt like an angry monster from the depths of hell. I’ve heard that men look good with a bit of belly fat, but his should have migrated higher to form breasts. Nobody can look good without a pair of tits. And Ramsés’ mustache has to go. It looks like a turd wrapped in hair.

I would take revenge on so many people if only I could afford it. But then I remember that I can’t afford anything, and I have to accept what life throws at me. The thought makes me want to break down in tears.

My boss mumbles a greeting. The bulge in his pants is growing bigger and thicker with each step he takes, until it resembles a small tree trunk. As he dangles the keys that will unlock his private office, he spots me sitting at the central workstation. He does a double take and stops mid step. He lifts his gaze, red from years of puffing on his cigarette butts, from the chest of my dress to my face. His stare feels like a needle pricking my brain. I can feel his dick throbbing in my direction.

“Who…? Ah, good morning, Leire.”

“Yeah, morning,” I say in a raspy voice.

Confused, Ramsés glances away hurriedly, then he continues into his office as he rubs the stubble of his cheeks. As usual, he leaves the door ajar, likely to spy on the conversations of his employees.

I close my eyes. My body is sore from having spent the previous evening getting fucked. I take a deep breath, but the scent of cigarettes has made its way into our office, along with the damp air, the musty odor of old furniture, and the smell of the carpet that hasn’t been washed in ages. When my gaze drifts towards the window, I don’t see anything beyond the rain that is coming down heavily.

Now I fear that Jacqueline, to mark her territory, will admit our dalliance to our boss, but for now she remains busy checking her inbox in Outlook. My French goddess claiming me as hers would make me horny enough to fuel a hundred of self-care sessions; however, if Ramsés finds out that his secretary and I have fucked, he might fire me for adultery.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 31 (Fiction)

Jacqueline drives past another row of four-story-high, designer apartment buildings for the well-off, past the walled headquarters of the Basque Nationalist Party. The road descends in the stormy darkness of this morning towards hilly neighborhoods of Donostia that I had never seen. The windshield wipers work frantically while the radio plays a pop hit about love and heartbreak. I can’t stop thinking about Jacqueline’s pussy as it clings tightly around my brain like an iron band, squeezing all the blood out of me.

I want to lick her cunt. I want to eat her out until she cums on my face. But she doesn’t seem inclined to allow it as she drives. Right now I can’t even hold on to her waist, nor stroke her breasts through the thin fabric of her blouse. My fingers are cold, so cold that they hurt.

“Time flies when you’re having fun, and all that,” Jacqueline says anxiously as she taps at the steering wheel. “Our office is a six minutes drive away, yet we’ll arrive late.”

Jacqueline covers my left hand, which is resting on my thigh, with her hand that should be focusing on the gear shift. Her thumb strokes my knuckles and squeezes them softly.

“Don’t worry about me,” I say. “Please, concentrate on the slippery road and what’s ahead of us.”

She returns her right hand back to the phallic gear shift. The road curves on an elevated path in front of a cornflower blue building complex that resembles a hospital. A few lights shine from its windows. On top of the building that acts as the main entrance, a metallic-looking block features the words ‘Matia Fundazioa’.

My mind remains stuck in a feeling of jamais vu, so maybe I’ve been dreaming ever since I dared to invite Jacqueline out on a date, back when I was lying in bed and masturbating. Maybe I was dreaming even before I grabbed my cellphone from the nightstand and called her. Am I truly the kind of person who invites another human being out on a date, let alone a woman?

Hundreds of raindrops slide up the slope of the windshield until the droning wipers push them away. I gaze at formations of clouds that resemble tentacles. They are stretching through the sky while their suckers grasp for more water to drown us in. We are riding inside of a giant aquarium with water splashing from above. Still, some dark, solid-looking patches of cloud are streaked with light and color: the sun is peeking out over the horizon, ready to strike with its sharp, venomous fangs.

“I thought you’d be freaking out, Leire,” Jacqueline says. “You always make sure to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the shift starts.”

I sigh deeply.

“Can’t say I care about much at the moment.”

Jacqueline turns her head towards me. She grins. The raindrops on the windshield make the lines of her face shimmer.

We are descending along an arching road lined by trees, some of them that reach up to the sky, others that squat low and heavy like fat men on the verge of a seizure. The asphalt is slick, like wet glass. On the left side of the road I recognize the graffitied, rain-weathered roof of the Lugaritz Euskotren station.

Past the approaching roundabout loom two twin towers, both tortilla brown and with external elevator shafts like blocky cigarettes. One of those towers contains the Regional Treasury, where years ago a hired goon waltzed in and blasted away the security guard. Afterwards he set a fire that got rid of plenty of documents, which likely included incriminating ones that someone wealthy had wanted gone.

Once we reach the end of the street, I avert my gaze from the signpost that features the name of the business park where we work, and I end up staring at the multicolored playground built in the middle of a manicured lawn. The rainwater cascades down the horizontal beams of the swing sets, creating tiny waterfalls.

Jacqueline continues driving up the slope towards our office building, past the last vestiges of civilization.

“I don’t want to work,” I blurt out.

“I know, baby,” Jacqueline says as she presses on the gas pedal.

“I don’t want to work,” I repeat in a low voice. “I just want you.”

A small, sad smile forms at her lips, but her eyes gleam in the gloom of the early morning. She squeezes my left thigh softly through the tights she lent me. A shiver runs down my spine.

“You are so cute when you’re clinging to mommy like this,” Jacqueline says sweetly. “You’ve grown up into such an adorable little thing.”

I feel myself blushing, so I clear my throat.

“Just because your face glows like a lightbulb that shines all over this place called ‘reality’.”

“In any case, we must earn some money so we can have fun in our spare time.”

The Audi is following a corridor of overgrown vegetation that hides the view of everything except that gaping maw up ahead, an underpass beneath the highway. On the other side awaits the business park, our destination, where hundreds of people gather at least five days a week to waste their lives away.

My heart beats faster and faster. The feeling of being adrift in the middle of the ocean overwhelms me.

“I-I mean, why have I suffered through so much nonsense at the office, although I hate my life? How does time fly so fast when all I do is get worse every day? I feel like a zombie that sleeps and shits. When will this misery end?”

Jacqueline shoots me a hurt look that makes me hurry to stammer an apology.

“Baby, you are breaking my heart!” she complains. “Haven’t you enjoyed the time we’ve spent together? I love having sex with you.”

“Me too! But the memory already hovers over my life like a hazy glimpse of some remote, otherwise unreachable Shangri-La.”

“How can you say that? You were eating me out fifteen minutes ago!”

I close my eyes and rub my forehead as if I could wipe away all my troubles.

“I’m… not really sure what’s happening inside me right now. I should have shut my mouth. I struggle with existential crises on a regular basis, but they usually lack an audience.”

Jacqueline purses her lips.

“Well… If spending the night with me has made you reconsider what was lacking in your life, I guess that’s a good thing.”

Once we pass by the green afro of a tree, a view opens up of the two story high, rice white box that we consider our office building. Its only splash of color corresponds to the row of garbage containers, from festive colors to earthy ones, arranged in a row next to a perennially closed garage door. A few cars, white, black or silver, are vying for the remaining parking spots.

“Why are these people suddenly trying to occupy our turf?” I ask.

Jacqueline chuckles.

“They always do at this hour. They likely work in other offices of the building.”

“Ah, our fabled neighbors.”

Jacqueline pulls up her Audi. The engine dies down, the wipers cease their incessant droning, the radio stops playing music, and we’re left with the sound of heavy raindrops pattering against the roof of the vehicle. But near the entrance of our office building and the row of garbage containers, the murky morning disguised that a bumpy, fluctuating carpet of darkness has metastasized over the sidewalk. I’m trying to focus on the black mass through the overlapping curtains of raindrops when Jacqueline places a hand on my nape.

“Grab your umbrella, sweetie. At least we can try to arrive before Ramsés does. I’d hate it if he caused you trouble because I’ve kept you busy.”

She offers me an affectionate smile, then she exits the Audi and opens her umbrella. I follow her example, but as soon as I expose myself to the elements, the cold air hits me like a slap. The wind is blowing the rain sideways.

While the canopy of my umbrella blocks the upper half of my sight, I follow the hem of Jacqueline’s coat to cross the parking lot. She steps onto the narrow sidewalk in front of the entrance, and her boots pass through a few shadowy, bunny sized blobs that are hanging out on the drenched pavement as if it was their farm enclosure.

I stop so suddenly that I nearly topple over. I blink repeatedly. The creatures hop and wobble around on six legs, but their bodies remain blurry in the visual equivalent of a poorly tuned radio station.

My heart sinks. Jacqueline fucked me so good that I must had assumed that my brain would no longer need to populate this world with hallucinations to keep me company. But instead, these faceless, blobby creatures have proliferated.

“Leire, what’s wrong?” Jacqueline asks from the doorway of the entrance. Her long black hair is fluttering in the wind.

One of the blobs, that resembles a giant slug, crawls towards my sneakers. Its gelatinous, slimy body is covered in bumps and protrusions.

The anxiety, my most faithful companion ever since I was a child, is spreading its tendrils throughout my chest. I grab my umbrella tightly with both hands. How did it truly feel to lie in Jacqueline’s arms after she emptied herself in my mouth? Its echo is dwindling, and soon enough it’ll get reduced to an insipid memory. Nothing, no matter how pleasurable, can compete against this dread when it insists on growing more powerful with every passing second.

Ah, that’s it! I’m horrified that I’m about to waste more hours of my life programming so my boss can pocket the earnings, which tests the endurance of my cracked mind, so in the process it leaks these hallucinatory horrors into the world like a car expels fumes from its tailpipe. I shouldn’t worry about it.

A hurried man approaches the entrance. Jacqueline steps aside, but once the worker disappears inside the lobby, she walks up to me cautiously and lifts the canopy of my umbrella to look into my eyes. In the reflection of her cobalt blues, I see an unruly child that’s likely to wander off into traffic the moment her loving mommy lets go of her hand.

Doesn’t the world get more insubstantial with every step we take? The windows of the surrounding buildings are breaking into fragments, their walls crumbling into dust.

A gust of wind shakes my umbrella. I straighten my back and shrug dismissively.

“Sorry. I was suddenly bludgeoned by the realization that my best years are behind me, that I have little to look forward to except for decades of meaningless drudgery. Hard to handle in a gloomy day like this.”

Jacqueline’s eyes twitch. I can’t help but notice the wrinkles around them, like the furrows on the surface of an old map. Despite her age, those decades haven’t managed to wear down her beauty and vitality, or at least not enough for her to be considered old yet.

“You’re going to be just fine, sweetie.”

She was midway through reaching to stroke my cheek when a woman wearing a bulky coat rushes past us, so Jacqueline abstains from public displays of affection.

“Please, don’t listen so closely to what comes out of my mouth,” I say. “Let’s get going.”

I’m careful to step over the wobbling alien bunnies; otherwise, my traitorous mind would eagerly recreate how it would feel to crush them under the soles of my sneakers.

“What are you doing?” Jacqueline asks, confused by my behavior.

I hurry to block the entrance in case any of my hallucinations intends to follow us inside. I close my umbrella, and as I shake the rainwater off its fabric, I attempt to assuage my beloved’s concerns with a carefree laugh, but it comes out shrill.

“Just casually stepping over monsters.”

One of the fluorescent lights is buzzing faintly like a dying insect. Jacqueline raises an eyebrow at me. She was already peeling her lips open when I take her hand and pull her towards our office. The world hasn’t ended yet, so there’s still time for me to avoid sinking into the swampy depths of my rotten mind.