In my dreams I’m floundering about in a morass of slime.
The following images are related to chapter 86 of my ongoing novel We’re Fucked.
I have posted many other entries with generated images. Check them out.
“Will you stop laughing already?” the blob demands in a voice viscous as dripping sludge.
My chest and back are heaving, my facial muscles are contracted in a rigid grin that bares my teeth, while tears jump from my eyes. A piggish snort interrupts the guffawing, and after a few dry gasps, I manage to straighten up.
“The abomination talked.” I wipe away the tears with my thumbs, including the little beads stuck in my lashes. “Of course it talked. That’s just my luck.”
“I’m neither an ‘it’ nor an ‘abomination.’ I’m a sentient being, an intelligent lifeform, just like you.”
“Of all the slimy blobs in this world of horrors, I had to come across one that mastered the art of speech. What an inauspicious fate.”
“You are as rude as usual,” the blob says gruffly.
Blood is rushing to my head, making it throb and ache. Simulations bubbling up from my subconscious are crowding up behind the shut sphincter of my mind, competing for my attention; I get a glimpse of myself sinking my fingers with a glugging sound into the squidgy goo, which looks like the oozing viscera of a decomposing whale, to seize whatever passes for this gutter-mouthed freak’s neck and throttle it while screaming obscenities. I clench my fists, and the tendons in my hands creak in anticipation. I also picture myself hurling a mountain-sized iceberg at this monstrosity to pulverize it.
This is what I have become: a grown woman talking to a gargantuan glob of black sludge stuck to a wall. And yet that blob has the gall to call me rude. At which of those bulging eyeballs should I glower as they bob back and forth in that viscous, wobbly mass? If eyes are windows into the soul, I’m facing one sordid, abject fiend who has earned every curse that may be heaped upon him.
I fold my arms and force myself to take measured breaths.
“I resent your tone, sir,” I say through a tight throat that feels scraped raw, “as I resent the rotten stench emanating from your bloated body.”
“I stink, huh?”
“It reeks of decaying garbage. No, it’s more like the stink of rotten eggs mixed with raw sewage. A putrefying miasma I wouldn’t be able to wash off even if I jumped in a pool of acid.”
“The fact that you can breathe is a small mercy in this world of filth you call home.”
“Are you speaking from experience?” I chuckle nervously. “You must have spawned from filth yourself. I swear, if there were a contest for the most hideous creature on Earth, you would be one of the frontrunners. But I will spare myself from imagining such a pageant so I can retain what little self-control I possess. Your appearance is an affront to human dignity.”
“Alright, trash-talker. You don’t have a clue how hard and unpleasant it was to manifest over here.”
A peal of thunder ripping across the sky makes me snap my head upright, and drowns out the blob’s words. Goosebumps erupt down my arms while the rumble crackles as if some heavenly douchebags were setting off firecrackers.
“Who invited you anyway?” I demand to know. “And who would invite in an intergalactic vagrant who knows nothing of etiquette?”
“What makes you think I need your permission?”
Sweat trickles down my nose. My heart is hammering so hard I’m afraid it will tear free from my chest and fall to the carpet with a splat. My carotids must be swollen and purple.
“You are a parasite,” I growl through gritted teeth. “An invader. A sewer-dwelling species from some unheard-of dimension. Do the countless worms twitching in your flesh take note of the venom in my voice?”
“They do indeed, and they’re getting a kick out of it. As are the trillions of germs swimming in your intestinal flora.”
“Don’t you dare speak to me of my digestive system. I will gut you like a fish and flay you alive!”
The blob’s bulging eyeballs, plump blisters about to burst in spurts of pus, quiver as he sniggers. It makes me picture a chorus of gargling frogs.
“Leire, you’re a bully. A bully with no sense of proportion and a pathetic personality to boot. You excel at bullying others as well as yourself.”
My forehead is moist, my hair sticks to my face, and my shirt clings to my back and breasts. I tremble with the impulse to hurl a chair or a bookcase at the interdimensional, septic abomination who continues to spew his invective even as I struggle to contain my wrath.
This is why I don’t socialize, why I’ve kept to myself for most of my life: this world of misery is filled with nauseating vermin who delight in humiliating me. I thought I had left behind me the hostility oozing from every corner, the spiteful whispers of untold monsters, but now I’m confronted with an invader whose rudeness and perversion outstrip my own. A real piece of shit, so to speak.
I need to bury my face in mommy’s breasts.
I keep a playlist with all the songs mentioned throughout this novel. A hundred and one songs so far. Check them out.
Do you want to see AI-generated images inspired by moments from this chapter? No? Here’s the link anyway.
This chapter kicks off a new sequence titled “A Monstrous Ignoramus.” The previous sequence kind of did me in; I don’t want to end up again in a situation in which I will only upload a chapter every couple of weeks, but given how obsessive I am, that means posting short chapters more often. Whenever I get down to editing the chapters together into an epub file, I’ll merge plenty of them anyway.
In other news, I’ve been hooked on beta blockers due to my heart issues. My hands and feet are perpetually cold, my heart rate rarely goes above 60, and I feel somewhat physically detached from my surroundings, although not mentally, which is perfect; the serotonin reuptake inhibitors I used to take ages ago turned me into a zombie. These days I would probably come off as even more boring than usual, but thankfully I haven’t talked to anyone in person (other than waiters, servers or whatever they prefer to call themselves these days) ever since my last contract ended. Beta blockers apparently also work to prevent migraines (they terrify me), and help with anxiety in general. Perhaps I should have been taking them all along. What other drugs should I become dependent on?
In the late 40s, shortly after she sold the rights to her first book Strangers on a Train (as far as I remember, Hitchcock basically swindled her), Patricia Highsmith worked for a couple of weeks at the toy department of a store, where she met a stunning woman: a poised, rich-looking, beautiful blonde who asked for a toy for her daughter. The author sold her some doll and learned the woman’s address, because the store would deliver the toy there. More importantly for Patricia, she had come to realize something: she was in love at first sight with a woman. That was a problem for many reasons, one of them that she was dating a guy.
At home, in feverish two hours, Highsmith wrote the entire treatment for the story that would end up becoming The Price of Salt / Carol, a novel she would have never considered writing before. The author grew a fever shortly after; some kid at the store had exposed her to chicken pox. She had to quit her job. Since that day at the store, she only came close to the stunning blonde once: Patricia visited New Jersey and stared at the married woman’s home from a distance, as she likely wished that she could belong to that place.
This book follows a nineteen-year-old girl named Therese Belivet. Her parents abandoned her, she grew up in some sort of boarding school, and now she works at the toy department of a store, although she wishes she could become a stage designer. She’s dating a guy called Richard who’s a bit of a dilettante: he wants to become a professional painter, but he has little talent and doesn’t apply himself. He’s mainly trying to avoid his destiny of working at his family’s business.
One day a poised, rich-looking, beautiful blonde enters the toy department wanting to buy a present for her daughter. After the transaction, which included a pleasant interaction between them, Carol forgets some item at the store. The protagonist does something that the author likely wouldn’t have dared to do: she mails it to the woman’s residence along with some words to remember Therese by. Carol, touched, asks her out for lunch, which sets both women on a path of degeneration (a quote included later on features a rebuttal from this Carol character about such notion).
Carol is getting divorced because she doesn’t love her husband, and some months ago had a fling with a long-term female friend of hers. Now she risks losing her daughter because her husband, who is a no-nonsense business guy, wants full custody due to Carol’s lack of moral compass (mostly because her lover was another woman).
Given that Carol is based on an idealized love-at-first-sight, the author could have put her on a pedestal, but Carol, in the narrator’s words, is “a woman with a child and a husband, with freckles on her hands and a habit of cursing, of growing melancholy at unexpected moments, with a bad habit of indulging her will.” I found her quite compelling. In contrast, the protagonist felt somewhat vague until the last quarter of the story.
The bulk of the story consists of a roadtrip that both women take heading West. Therese loves Carol, but suspects that she may be a convenient distraction for the older woman, who has enough to worry about with the divorce. Meanwhile, her husband has money to spare to figure out how his estranged wife may want to enjoy her trip with a barely twenty-year-old girl.
Highsmith puts us then-and-there along with her protagonist: we are never sure of anyone else’s intentions, or even what’s going on some of the time, because Therese herself doesn’t know. Carol has lived a complicated life up to that point, and at times I felt as superfluous to Carol and her former lover Abby’s conversations, as well as those between Carol and her husband, as the protagonist herself did, which I consider a point in the novel’s favor; most of what I ask from a story is to make me step into the protagonist’s POV and live vicariously through them.
Patricia’s writing felt somewhat meagre throughout the first quarter of the story, maybe in part because she had never written anything like it (Strangers on a Train was her first novel). The prose improves consistently until the end.
As I mentioned in my review of one of the author’s most prominent biographies, supported by at least one of Patricia’s friends who was a psychiatrist, Patricia Highsmith seemed to be on the autistic spectrum. Her anxiety and sensory issues are on full display during the scenes at the toy department, and throughout the story, the protagonist’s (and author’s) inability to properly read people or even understand her own impulses come into play. The author’s obsession with the real-life Carol, as well as the less prominent behavior of Therese towards the fictional one, are characteristic of autism as well (and I know plenty about that).
This afternoon, after I finished the book, I sat down to watch the movie adaptation released in 2016, starring Rooney Mara as Therese and Cate Blanchett as Carol. Blanchett was wonderful as her character; unfortunately, whoever wrote the screenplay manipulated the original in idiotic, and for me infuriating, ways. Instead of a stage designer (in the novel she gets paid a couple of times to work as one), movie Therese wants to be a photographer even though she barely has a camera; it makes her seem like a dilettante. Her boyfriend, Richard, just works at the same store and lacks any dreams or artistic sensibilities. Far worse yet: following the recent tradition in the media of shitting on men, that has become the norm in Western society for the last twenty years or so, the main male characters are depicted as obnoxious, brutish and irrational. Patricia didn’t write them that way. I couldn’t get past the midpoint of the movie for that reason.
Patricia Highsmith chose to publish this novel with the pseudonym of Claire Morgan, and afterwards she started frequenting gay bars in New York, where she became a local legend. I recently watched a short documentary about Highsmith that mentioned that the lesbian ladies of New York referred to Patricia as the White Wolf, because of her ravenous appetite, the fact that she was white, and that she hunted monsters for coin. Patricia mentioned in her diaries, using different words, that she got enough pussy to last her several lifetimes.
I’m a guy and I can’t consider myself a lesbian even if I wanted to (although Patricia and I seem to have the same taste in
dommy mommies women), but this story made me experience again that unique gift of written fiction: the author captured through words alone two real human beings that remain as alive and young as they were now ages ago, and that will, one supposes, go on loving each other endlessly.
Here are the quotes I highlighted:
Therese’s lips opened to speak, but her mind was too far away. Her mind was at a distant point, at a distant vortex that opened on the scene in the dimly lighted, terrifying room where the two of them seemed to stand in desperate combat. And at the point of the vortex where her mind was, she knew it was the hopelessness that terrified her and nothing else. It was the hopelessness of Mrs. Robichek’s ailing body and her job at the store, of her stack of dresses in the trunk, of her ugliness, the hopelessness of which the end of her life was entirely composed. And the hopelessness of herself, of ever being the person she wanted to be and of doing the things that person would do. Had all her life been nothing but a dream, and was this real? It was the terror of this hopelessness that made her want to shed the dress and flee before it was too late, before the chains fell around her and locked.
There was not a moment when she did not see Carol in her mind, and all she saw, she seemed to see through Carol. That evening, the dark flat streets of New York, the tomorrow of work, the milk bottle dropped and broken in her sink, became unimportant. She flung herself on her bed and drew a line with a pencil on a piece of paper. And another line, carefully, and another. A world was born around her, like a bright forest with a million shimmering leaves.
I feel I stand in a desert with my hands outstretched, and you are raining down upon me.
Was life, were human relations like this always, Therese wondered. Never solid ground underfoot. Always like gravel, a little yielding, noisy so the whole world could hear, so one always listened, too, for the loud, harsh step of the intruder’s foot.
Therese frowned, floundering in a sea without direction or gravity, in which she knew only that she could mistrust her own impulses.
Happiness was like a green vine spreading through her, stretching fine tendrils, bearing flowers through her flesh. She had a vision of a pale white flower, shimmering as if seen in darkness, or through water. Why did people talk of heaven, she wondered.
If she ever had an impulse to tell Carol, the words dissolved before she began, in fear and in her usual mistrust of her own reactions, the anxiety that her reactions were like no one else’s, and that therefore not even Carol could understand them.
Between the pleasure of a kiss and of what a man and woman do in bed seems to me only a gradation. A kiss, for instance, is not to be minimized, or its value judged by anyone else. I wonder do these men grade their pleasure in terms of whether their actions produce a child or not, and do they consider them more pleasant if they do. It is a question of pleasure after all, and what’s the use debating the pleasure of an ice cream cone versus a football game–or a Beethoven quartet versus the Mona Lisa. I’ll leave that to the philosophers. But their attitude was that I must be somehow demented or blind (plus a kind of regret, I thought, at the fact that a fairly attractive woman is presumably unavailable to men). […] The most important point I did not mention and was not thought of by anyone–that the rapport between two men or two women can be absolute and perfect, as it can never be between man and woman, and perhaps some people want just this, as others want that more shifting and uncertain thing that happens between men and women. It was said or at least implied yesterday that my present course would bring me to the depths of human vice and degeneration. Yes, I have sunk a good deal since they took you from me. It is true, if I were to go on like this and be spied upon, attacked, never possessing one person long enough so that knowledge of a person is a superficial thing–that is degeneration. Or to live against one’s grain, that is degeneration by definition.
It was Carol she loved and would always love. Oh, in a different way now, because she was a different person, and it was like meeting Carol all over again, but it was still Carol and no one else. It would be Carol, in a thousand cities, a thousand houses, in foreign lands where they would go together, in heaven and in hell.
Originally written in September 2016, posted on Goodreads.
A few years ago I found a quote (I love quotes), by a certain Amy Hempel, that intrigued me:
“I read about a famous mystery writer who worked for one week in a department store. One day she saw a woman come in and buy a doll. The mystery writer found out the woman’s name, and took a bus to New Jersey to see where the woman lived. That was all. Years later, she referred to this woman as the love of her life. It is possible to imagine a person so entirely that the image resists attempts to dislodge it.”
I wondered who that mystery writer could have been, and I also identified with a mind that would daydream an entire life out of a moment and follow that obsession. That “mystery writer” was Patricia Highsmith.
While I was reading her This Sweet Sickness, about a loner unable to connect with people and who obsesses over a woman he loves, to the point of building a complete second identity, I identified with it, and how it was told, in a way that suggested that the writer was the kind of peculiar I was; hardly anyone knows about the depths of social blindness, isolation, anxiety and obsession (and attached maladies like obsessive-compulsive disorder and chronic depression) like autistic people.
Patricia Highsmith was a retiring, silent person with a tremendously dark interior world, who could not properly connect with anyone, who loved certain people when they were away but needed space when they were close. She considered herself to have a man’s brain, but didn’t want a man’s body, and was attracted to women, but didn’t particularly like them. She was a masochist who consistently “chose” to love women who bossed her around and hurt her. She smoked and drank so heavily that those vices destroyed her body, although, curiously enough, didn’t seem to have affected her mind. Her instincts didn’t align with the human world around her. She was hypersensitive to noises and being touched. She was clumsy and awkward. She was at her best while daydreaming or writing, but fell into horrible depressions the moment she came back to herself. She was never at ease with the world.
Almost everything about her screamed Asperger’s to me, but I can’t be objective about it. It was weird that nobody else caught it, until one of her friends did, as mentioned in this biography:
“In hindsight, I think Pat could have had a form of high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. She had a lot of typical traits. She had a terrible sense of direction, she would always get lost and whenever she went to the hairdresser’s she would have trouble parking even though she had been with me lots of times. She was hypersensitive to sound and had these communications difficulties. Most of us screen certain things, but she would spit out everything she thought. She was not aware of the nuances of conversation and she didn’t realise when she had hurt other people. That was probably why her love affairs never lasted very long, because she couldn’t overcome the difficulties in communicating. Although she didn’t really understand other people – she had such a strange interior world – she was a fantastic observer. She would see things that an average person would never experience.”
She wasn’t a recluse, however, like some journalists called her. She kept plenty of friends, travelled and invited people over, people who tolerated how weird she was. She never made it as big as she deserved mostly because she didn’t care to belong to a “writer’s community,” didn’t like to expose herself to the public (she considered interviews humiliating), and her stories usually failed to offer hope or platitudes.
Patricia was also a misanthrope who disliked or even hated way more stuff and people than she liked. She got in trouble for her opinions regarding black people, religion, and Israel. Having been born clearly different, she was a hardcore individualist that intended people to take responsibility for themselves. During the last half of her life, and having been on the brink of bankruptcy, never knowing if the next book was going to sell, she was very stingy with money, but in her will she left her millions to a writer’s retreat she spent a few weeks in while writing her first novel. She died alone in Switzerland, in a home designed as a bunker.
Despite all of her issues, reading about her has made me aware of a hole in the world, the kind that opens when a real human being goes away. I look forward to learning more about her, and about myself, while reading her stories.
The following is a poem that Patricia wrote during her last years in Switzerland:
At dawn, after my death hours before,
The sunlight will spread at seven o’clock as usual
On these trees which I know.
Greenness will burst, dark green shadows yield
To the cruel-benign, indifferent sun.
Indifferent will stand the trees in my own garden,
Unweeping for me on the morning of my death.
Same as ever, roots athirst,
The trees will rest in breezeless dawn,
Blind and uncaring,
The trees that I knew,
That I tended.
I thought about this review because I’m finishing Patricia’s The Price of Salt, a prolonged daydream set in the 50s about dating that woman from New Jersey that at the most she saw a couple of times. In a significant part because Patricia reminds me so much of myself, I can’t think of any other dead writer that I would want more to be still alive and healthy.
Here are some quotes I highlighted from this biography:
After reading Burgum, [Patricia Highsmith] wrote in her cahier that, like Kafka, she felt she was a pessimist, unable to formulate a system in which an individual could believe in God, government or self. Again like Kafka, she looked into the great abyss which separated the spiritual and the material and saw the terrifying emptiness, the hollowness, at the heart of every man, a sense of alienation she felt compelled to explore in her fiction. As her next hero, she would take an architect, ‘a young man whose authority is art and therefore himself,’ who when he murders, ‘feels no guilt or even fear when he thinks of legal retribution.’ The more she read of Kafka the more she felt afraid as she came to realise, ‘I am so similar to him.’
If [Patricia Highsmith] saw an acquaintance walking down the sidewalk she would deliberately cross over so as to avoid them. When she came in contact with people, she realised she split herself into many different, false, identities, but, because she loathed lying and deceit, she chose to absent herself completely rather than go through such a charade. Highsmith interpreted this characteristic as an example of ‘the eternal hypocrisy in me,’ rather her mental shape-shifting had its source in her quite extraordinary ability to empathise. Her imaginative capacity to subsume her own identity, while taking on the qualities of those around her – her negative capability, if you like – was so powerful that she said she often felt like her inner visions were far more real than the outside world. She aligned herself with the mad and the miserable, ‘the insane man who feels himself one with all mankind, all life, because in losing his mind, he has lost his ego, his self-ness,’ yet realised that such a state inspired her fiction. Her ambition, she said, was to write about the underlying sickness of this ‘daedal planet’ and capture the essence of the human condition: eternal disappointment.
[Patricia Highsmith] had experienced at first hand many of Ripley’s characteristics – splintered identity, insecurity, inferiority, obsession with an object of adoration, and the violence that springs from repression. Like her young anti-hero, she knew that in order to survive, it was necessary to prop oneself up with a psychological fantasy of one’s own making. ‘Happiness, for me, is a matter of imagination,’ she wrote in her notebook while writing The Talented Mr. Ripley. ‘Existence is a matter of unconscious elimination of negative and pessimistic thinking. I mean, to survive at all. And this applies to everyone. We are all suicides under the skin, and under the surface of our lives.’
Early in 1967 Highsmith’s agent told her why her books did not sell in paperback in America. It was, said Patricia Schartle Myrer, because they were ‘too subtle,’ combined with the fact that none of her characters were likeable. ‘Perhaps it is because I don’t like anyone,’ Highsmith replied. ‘My last books may be about animals.’
As some people turned to religion for comfort, so, Highsmith wrote in her notebook in September 1970, she took refuge in her belief that she was making progress as a writer. But she realised that both systems of survival were, however, fundamentally illusory. She wrote, she said, quoting Oscar Wilde because, ‘Work never seems to me a reality, but a way of getting rid of reality.’
It seemed to me as if she had to ape feelings and behaviour, like Ripley. Of course sometimes having no sense of social behaviour can be charming, but in her case it was alarming. I remember once, when she was trying to have a dinner party with people she barely knew, she deliberately leaned towards the candle on the table and set fire to her hair. People didn’t know what to do as it was a very hostile act and the smell of singeing and burning filled the room.
Those close to [Patricia Highsmith], particularly her family, often commented on how Highsmith’s vision of reality was a warped one. In April 1947, she transcribed into her notebook what was, presumably, a real dialogue between herself and her mother, in which Mary accused her of not facing the world. Highsmith replied that she did indeed view the world ‘sideways, but since the world faces reality sideways, sideways is the only way the world can be looked at in true perspective.’ The problem, Highsmith said, was that her psychic optics were different to those around her, but if that was the case, her mother replied, then she should equip herself with a pair of new spectacles. Highsmith was not convinced. ‘Then I need a new birth,’ she concluded.
[Patricia Highsmith] was overwhelmed by sensory stimulation – there were too many people and too much noise and she just could not handle the supermarket. She continually jumped, afraid that someone might recognise or touch her. She could not make the simplest of decisions – which type of bread did she want, or what kind of salami? I tried to do the shopping as quickly as possible, but at the check-out she started to panic. She took out her wallet, knocked off her glasses, dropped the money on the floor, stuff was going all over the place.
Throughout her life, Highsmith looked for women whom she could worship. Sex was far from the most important factor in any relationship; rather, it was this near-divine quality for which she yearned.
The artistic life is a long and lovely suicide precisely because it involves the negation of self; as Highsmith imagined herself as her characters, so Ripley takes on the personae of others and in doing so metamorphoses himself into a ‘living’ work of art. A return to the ‘real life’ after a period of creativity resulted in a fall in spirits, an agony Highsmith felt acutely. She voiced this pain in the novel via Bernard’s quotation of an excerpt from Derwatt’s notebook: ‘There is no depression for the artist except that caused by a return to the self.’
As soon as [Patricia Highsmith] had stopped work, she felt purposeless and quite at a loss about what to do with herself. ‘There is no real life except in working,’ she wrote in her notebook, ‘that is to say in the imagination.’ It was in this state that she observed that only one situation would drive her to commit murder – being part of a family unit. Most likely, she thought, she would strike out in anger at a small child, felling them in one blow. But children over the age of eight, she surmised, would probably take two blows to kill. The reality of socialising with anyone, no matter how close, she said, left her feeling fatigued.
As the new year began, [Patricia Highsmith] felt completely paralysed, incapable of reading or picking up the phone. ‘I can feel my grip loosening on my self,’ she wrote. ‘It is like strength failing in the hand that holds me above an abyss.’ She wished there was a more awful-sounding word for what she was feeling than simply ‘depression.’ She wanted to die, she said, but then realised that the best course of action would be to endure the wretchedness until it passed. Her wish was, ‘Not to die, but not to exist, simply, until this is over.’
Faced with the prospect of a black depression, Highsmith once again retreated into fantasy, dreaming about an affair with the actress Anne Meacham, whose picture she had seen in a magazine publicising her role in the Tennessee Williams’ play, In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel. After the disasters of recent years, she reckoned that the safest option was to escape into romantic imagination. She reviewed her failures over the past five years and concluded that ‘the moral is: stay alone. Any idea of any close relationship should be imaginary, like any story I am writing. This way no harm is done to me or to any other person.’
[Patricia Highsmith] was an extremely unbalanced person, extremely hostile and misanthropic and totally incapable of any kind of relationship, not just intimate ones. I felt sorry for her, because it wasn’t her fault. There was something in her early days or whatever that made her incapable. She drove everybody away and people who really wanted to be friends ended up putting the phone down on her.
[Patricia Highsmith] was a figure of contradictions: a lesbian who didn’t particularly like women; a writer of the most insightful psychological novels who, at times, appeared bored by people; a misanthrope with a gentle, sweet nature.
I hope you like slimy blobs; otherwise this whole sequence must have been damn near unbearable. I have become a fan of blobs myself. Maybe when I die I will get reincarnated as one. I despise goblins, though.
The following images are related to chapter 85 of my ongoing novel We’re Fucked.
I have posted many other entries with generated images. Check them out.
Darkness had washed over me like a foggy, polluted river. I had heard the keening cries of the naiads, I had felt their icy fingers glide along my naked skin, and shortly after, even verbs and nouns had been swept away. But the world returns in a torrent of sights and sounds and scents, dazzling me with white light.
My knees wobble, and I stumble like a toddler. I’m standing on my feet although I was lying on the carpet.
A dull pounding pulses at my temples. Rain is pelting the windows, and deeper in that white noise I discern sounds like those of wind blowing through the ruins of ancient temples. A siren howls in the distance. Thunder booms. On the ceiling, a flourescent tube is flickering with a buzz and a crackle as it emits a fitful glow.
The putrid stench of corruption has penetrated my clothes, has oozed through my pores to infiltrate my body. My blood must be turning into a sludgy sap that will clog my veins and arteries, that will bloat my belly and mar my skin with scabby lesions. I will gasp my last breath while black slime oozes out of my mouth, then I will succumb to septicemia and end up like a bag of filth and offal left to rot in an alley.
Sweat has bathed my body in cold dread. I’m sticky, sticky, sticky. My hair is matted to my forehead. My skin sticks to my clothes, my clothes stick to me. I’m sinking in crude oil.
I want to duck under a showerhead and let it spray my hair and face with ice-cold water. I imagine myself gasping for breath while the cascade streams down my chest and breasts and trickles between my thighs, raking them with the icy bristles of its flow. Goosebumps will erupt all over my skin, and my nipples will harden to firm peaks. The chill will make me shiver uncontrollably, as well as yearn for the merciful embrace of death. I envision myself kneading and massaging my clit as the pussy juices slick my fingers.
After I step, sopping wet, out of the shower, I’ll gargle with mouthwash to get rid of the acrid taste of puke. But what if trying to wash myself only spreads the slime and makes it stickier? No matter how hard I scrub, even if I scour my body with bleach, I’ll never clean this alien ooze off my hair, skin, and private parts. I will remain forever contaminated by the blob’s nauseating exudate.
I’m swaying on my feet, my heart is racing, and the edges of my vision have gone fuzzy. A tremor of hysteria shakes my whole being. My consciousness is struggling to escape from its chrysalis of flesh and bone; I’ll end up staring down at the back of my head as if from a hovering camera in a third-person videogame. Although this may be the right time for a panic attack, I better flush my system of these filthy thoughts.
I groan with anguish. When I hunch over and attempt to hold my head, I bonk my right temple with a chunk of metal. It hurts, but the pain drives out the demons of panic. What the hell am I holding? Ah, the revolver remains grasped in my right hand as if fused. That forefinger, curled around the trigger, feels stiff like a dried piece of tree fungus.
Wait, my right hand is okay?! I still feel the aftershock of the revolver’s kickback that tore my hand off as if it were a twig in a typhoon. The severed ends of tendons and ligaments had dangled from the bloody stump of my wrist. Also, how the hell am I standing? A burning pain, the sizzling trail of a red-hot soldering iron, had seared down my spine from the nape to the coccyx, as if someone were chopping up my spinal cord with hedge clippers.
If I could evoke such pain through daydreams, over the years I would have given myself countless traumas, and maybe an early-onset stroke. Was that a hallucination, an illusion brought on by the blob’s vile ichor?
I had taken a break from programming to speak on the phone with Jacqueline, my beloved queen, the most precious gemstone in my crown. Knowing that in a few hours I would return to her arms justified wasting the afternoon at the office. But I cut the conversation short, I willingly stopped the flow of Jacqueline’s melodic voice, because this bloated lump of glop, this wretched pile of protoplasm from which dangle tentacles of viscous discharge, oozed out of some cosmic sewer to intrude upon my life and plunge me into madness. My vision is swimming with phantasmic eyeballs whose moist scleras, white like milky quartz, gleam in the fluorescent light, and that stare unblinkingly because their eyelids must have been bitten off by ravenous frogs. If this revolting blight had a mouth, it would suck the flesh off my bones.
The office has become a bubble sliced off from the universe, a bubble filled with static and a dense miasma, kept inflated by a steady supply of insanity, and that has trapped me with the other inhabitant of this space: an alien abomination. I must be crazy to withstand the presence of this intruder, that looks as if a titanic demon had followed a no-fap regime for centuries, until one day, high on bath salts, as his bulging balls threatened to burst, he pumped out the load of rotten, gelatinous cum all over a wall. He then threw at the gooey splatter, like sprinkles, several serial killers’ collections of gouged-out eyeballs. That demon likely ended up in heaven for having fulfilled his purpose: unleashing a massive discharge of jizz.
This defilement of our white-walled office shan’t be forgiven. I’m going to exorcise the demonic emission in a swift and violent way, with my loaded revolver. Wait, didn’t a couple of bullets from my weapon already reach and mutilate their target?
The sight of the silvery revolver in my clenched fist should make me feel invulnerable, as if I could solve the ills of the world with well-aimed shots, yet I feel like I grabbed a venomous snake by the tail. A chill rushes through my spine. This damn gun is an instrument of chaos! Maybe the skull and bones engraved in the frame, between the grip and the cylinder, were a warning. I should have known better than to trust a horse’s offering, but this thing was too shiny and beguiling to pass up.
Have I become a slave to this inanimate object, a traitorous implement that must be scorned and banished to outer space? I shamble to my workstation and stretch out my trembling right arm to part ways with the weapon. A blaze of adrenaline has been pouring into my clitoris, and long ago reached a peak, but it must have come to a lull: even though my nethers are desperate for friction, my sense of self-preservation allows me to place the revolver beside my keyboard and mouse.
A numbness pervades my right hand as if a serpent were twisting tightly around that forearm. My pale skin is growing wrinkles now that I’ve hit my thirties. A single thwack of a butcher knife would chop off those four thin fingers. When I order them to wiggle for me, I fear that through my daredevil antics I have severed the connection between brain and hand, but those four fingers flex and straighten out, obeying me like whipped hounds.
I bring my hand to my puckered lips and kiss its clammy, dead-white palm. I kiss its smooth back, then the knuckles one by one. I lick its nails. The hand must have been starved for affection, because it shivers as I suck on its index finger, that grows slippery under my tongue. I love you, right hand! I never thought of proclaiming it to you. Until I met Jacqueline, and for about twenty years, you were the only one that loved me, on whom I could rely to assuage my loneliness. You were also the only one who could beat me at board games. For all you gave and gave, I never asked what you wanted, what you needed, or what you dreamed of. Maybe I didn’t care enough to know.
A flood of tears gushes down my cheeks. What did I ever do to deserve to have hands? I’m a slug writhing in the gutter where life has left me. I’m a fiend, an outcast cursed with the stigmata of filth and failure, who must be sacrificed to avert an apocalypse. I’m a dick. A freak. A freakish dick freak. My family died because of me. I should give this revolting blob a big hug, cradling its oozing flesh, and thank it for providing me with another dose of the crushing, suffocating burden of self-loathing.
What the hell am I saying?! Why would I conjure up empathy for this monstrous heap of goo sent forth from some galactic abyss? I’m the victim of a psychic assault! My brain is being conquered by tentacles entwined around it like the vines of a strangler fig. Although I should have donned an industrial-strength hazmat suit merely to gaze upon this menace, let alone withstand the oozing filth’s neurotoxin, I must summon the courage to fight back. Will I grab that abomination with my bare hands, shove it into an airtight container and drag it to the nearest incinerator? Should I toss it into a boiling cauldron, to be boiled alive in its own foul juices? Is it edible? Will I dine on its fricasseed eyeballs?
A faint hum, the pulse of millions of microscopic parasites swarming in the black blubber, resonates within me as I pick up a noise coming from the infested wall, that oily and carnal mass: a deep, rhythmic chugging. Intermittent spasms of frantic activity ripple over the blob. Will it blow a colossal fart with the aim of ruining my sanity? No, the sputtering makes me picture a clogged gutter that has gained sentience and is trying to speak through muck and gunk.
My muscles are tensed, my ears pricked up. I’m assaulted by the din of the blob’s gurgling snores, like those of a hibernating beast snuffling and blowing mucus in its slumber, about to cough itself awake.
A full-body tremor overtakes me, followed by a shot of rage that ignites like gasoline. My teeth grind as my head spins.
“F-fuck off, you slime-coated turd!” I shout, hoarse from vomiting. “Prepare yourself for obliteration!”
I grab a pen. I fling myself towards the target with a single stride, as well as a frenzy-fueled fury, and hurl my ink-tipped missile. The pen hits an eyeball sideways, a few centimeters over its cornea, and clings to some oily membrane as if glued. I hold my breath. The writing implement slides down the slick curve of the cornea and drops into a puddle of gloop.
That eyeball’s pupil, dark as a bottomless hole, contracts to glare at me.
“Yeah, just throw random shit at me, why don’t you,” the blob says in a viscous and dank voice, like wet concrete. “And fuck you for making me come down here, Leire.”
I shake, I quiver, I shake worse. My vision blurs. Am I about to faint, apart from pissing myself?
A surge of laughter wells up within me and racks my body as I burst into a maniacal cackle.
I keep a playlist with all the songs mentioned throughout this novel. Ninety-nine songs so far. Check them out.
Do you want to see moments from this chapter depicted by a fancy neural network? Then visit this link.
This chapter concludes the sequence titled “Cumlord of the Abyss,” which is only the first half of the “saga” (I don’t know how else to call linked sequences) involving this bizarre blob.
I don’t think I have ever written a series of chapters this hard to put together; they required lots of freewrites (virtually one for each paragraph) that included detailed descriptions of hard to picture stuff. Plenty of outlandish references. The process wasn’t altogether joyful. Of course, I’m obsessive to a pathological degree (autism and OCD is a nasty combination), so it took me entire writing sessions to get through two or three paragraphs. I vastly prefer scenes that mostly feature two characters shooting the shit with each other.
Anyway, the next chapter will kick off a new sequence, titled “A Monstrous Ignoramus.” It will feature lots of insane dialogue, to which I always look forward.
The smooth, clawlike trigger presses against the pad of my forefinger. I tighten that digit slowly, then squeeze. The hammer falls with a snick as the firing pin strikes the primer. A ring of sparks, like those churned out when a lighter’s wheel grinds against the flint, spreads outward from the gap between the frame and the cylinder, then the revolver’s muzzle blows a puff of cigarette-adjacent smoke that scatters in the air.
My heart throbs violently as I stare dumbfounded at the sleek frame of my weapon, that gleams alabaster white under the fluorescent fixtures. Shit, why didn’t the revolver spit out a bullet? Is it jammed? Did the firing pin come damaged? Should I have oiled some mechanism? Maybe I should have carried the revolver to the woods, high up on Mount Jaizkibel, and tried it out against a tree trunk. As far as I know, revolvers should just work; I’m not holding a particle accelerator.
I pull the trigger, which causes the hammer to spring back. Once the cylinder rotates to align its next chamber with the barrel, the hammer snaps forward and clunks as if the bullet primer had been struck by a mallet, yet the revolver remains dead like rusted machinery.
I must overcome the revolting monstrosity that dares to pollute my space with its filth. I have to make this fucking gun shoot!
I clutch the revolver in a white-knuckled grip, then I squeeze and squeeze and squeeze the trigger. The cylinder clacks as it rotates and rotates chambering bullet after bullet. Although the hammer falls with dull snaps as the firing pin punches into live rounds of ammunition, it may as well be striking ghost bullets.
Are my hands shaking? No, the revolver is trembling like a tuning fork, a vibration that gets transmitted through my palms and up my arms, then races along my spine. The weapon starts emitting an ominous, high-pitched whirring sound; I picture an electrical panel bursting with frayed wires that would zap like a moth even the gloved electrician tasked to repair the mess.
I flip the revolver around and peer down its bore, a black hole encircled by the metallic ring of the muzzle. It offers me a top-down view of a turbulent, undulating pool of brass-colored liquid metal, whose waves spread in alternating crests and troughs as they slam against the walls of the chamber. The bullet must have cohered to a quantum state.
Should I wrap my lips around the barrel and blow? No, whenever the bullet snaps out of its state and becomes a solid projectile, I better be aiming my revolver at the wobbling mass of tarry putrefaction instead of my own face. I turn the quivering gun toward the audience of glistening sclerae, sewage-colored irises and deep black pupils.
I shake the revolver. With my left hand I smack the barrel as if it were a disobedient mutt. A drop of sweat dangles from my nose.
“Damn you, bullet! Quit your insolent game of quantum tag and collapse to an eigenstate already!”
While the revolver vibrates madly, its electric whirring worsens to a keening squeal. A tingling sensation like a static shock shoots up my right arm, then from the trigger a snakey white bolt of electricity, outlined in lilac, crackles as it arcs to lick my forefinger.
A deafening bang rocks the office, shaking the air around me and vibrating my eardrums, which makes my ears ring. From the barrel’s mouth erupts a puff of smoke, followed by a glowing, ember-colored blast that trails a stream of flickering sparks like red dwarf stars.
The revolver kicks against the palm of my right hand like a rearing horse trying to tear itself free from the reins. Its force shoots through my wrist with a sharp sting, then my forearm complains as if a white-hot shard of pain had ripped across the slow-twitch fibers.
The bullet hurtles down the barrel and flies out of the muzzle. It streaks across the office until it plows into the blob’s bloated blubber with a hollow thwack, piercing that oozing mound of black mucus like a hypodermic syringe stabbing a vein, to explode deep within the amorphous heap of putrescence. The flabby mass heaves and wobbles from the impact. Its jiggly flesh is rippling as if slapped by a giant, while the white reflections of light that mount the oily, concentric waves waver and distort. Those bulging eyeballs bob and roll about in the gunk, jostling each other. The blob lets out, as if from a mouth entombed in a quagmire, an unearthly bellow of anguish, deep and guttural. A hole bursts open in that deformed belly, a hole with a slimy rim that splays out like a black and gooey flower, and that reveals the blob’s gelatinous innards: a slithery mass of vermicular guts that squish and wriggle. A belch of foul gas rushes out and swirls around me; it stinks of rotten meat, vomit, farts, and sushi. The abomination erupts in a frothing gush of gloop, spewing mucous intestines in all directions, that as they break apart into globules of tapioca-like goop, they splatter over the carpet, the desk, the monitors, my clothes, and my face, in a caustic snowfall.
A gunshot blast rips apart the air around me, and its concussive wave beats upon my eardrums like a wrecking ball smashing into a brick wall. My ears pop, my brain quakes. A billowing cloud of powder smoke wafts from the muzzle, followed by a blossom of yellow-orange flame.
My right hand explodes with stabbing aches as the revolver’s kickback snaps apart my phalanges and metacarpals. The shooting pain surges up my forearm, reverberating to my elbow, while the shockwave ripples tendons and muscles along my arm until the force slams into my shoulder, where the joint dislocates with a crunch.
A bullet cleaves its way through the air. The blob is twisting and thrashing, its blubbery skin frothing and flailing like the sea in a stormy gale, and the hole in its mass is spurting slime-laced foam, when the bullet plunges like a meteorite into the sclera of an eyeball. The outer layers of the globe, white as a boiled egg, tear off, giving way under pressure, and out squirts a tongue of pulpy, pinky-gray jelly.
An ear-splitting gunshot punches my eardrums, sounding as loud as if the revolver’s barrel had been ripped open by dynamite. The muzzle flares a vivid yellow-orange, then a vortex of gunpowder-laden smoke rolls out along with a jet of fire, in an eruption of shrapnel-like debris.
My right arm has gone numb except for a stinging, tearing pain. Bone fragments poke out of my hand like spikes, and the fingers, seized rigid, are curled in a claw around the revolver’s grip. Blood spills from the wounds, dripping in long strings. The recoil of this gunshot jerks my wrist with a grinding wrench and makes it crack like a twig. That force also knocks me off my feet, launching me backward.
A bullet cuts through the air while leaving a trail of silver smoke in its wake, until it slams like a train into a wall a couple of meters away from my boss’ office door. The brick behind the lily-white paint bursts into a pinwheel of shimmering dust, into a shower of chips, splinters and shards.
An explosion rocks the office as if a howitzer had fired an artillery round in front of me. The rippling roar shakes my bones and makes the windows rattle, penetrates my eardrums in a spike of pain and tears them apart. A red flower of flame spurts from the muzzle of my revolver as if from a flamethrower.
The fingers of my right hand are curled and rigid, like the legs of a dead tarantula, around the grip of my weapon, and my wrist is drooping at the joint, when the revolver’s kickback tears my hand off. Still clutching the handgun, my severed hand flies toward the ceiling. Blood jets out from the stump of my wrist in a crimson stream.
A corona of red flame is spiralling around the bullet as it hurtles toward the ceiling, slicing through a cloud of gunpowder smoke. The bullet smashes against a ceiling fixture, that shatters in a puff of white haze and a cascade of sparks and glass shards. A cracked flourescent tube tumbles down like an icicle.
My ears are ringing when a shockwave emanates from the runaway revolver in a rush of superheated air. The reverberating force pounds my skull, slams into my chest, ripples through my limbs, and scatters papers, pens and paperclips around the office. A horizontal mushroom cloud expands from the gun’s muzzle and ignites into a licking white flame.
Flung backward through the air, I’m sick with whirling vertigo as my mind spins like a top in a cyclone. Jagged bones, along with pinkish-tan tendons and ligaments pulled to shreds, protrude from the degloved and bloody flesh at the end of my right forearm.
A scarlet tail corkscrews after a bullet that is whizzing across the office like a fiery comet. It wallops a hung picture frame, perforating a hole in a photograph of Bunnyman and I at a birthday party. Cracks have spread out from the impact point and crisscrossed over each other in a spiderweb of glittery fractures.
An immense power is released in a single pulse. Its shockwaves resound through my cranium with an infrasonic warble that bends my bones like rubber bands. My teeth rattle, my eyeballs throb, a fountain of blood spurts from my nose. A nova-like flash lights up my field of vision, then from the muzzle of the revolver bursts a star-speckled spiderweb.
A bullet breaks the air around it apart into a glowing rainbow, while the projectile’s path deforms into outward-undulating ripples of lilac-colored distortion like those cast by a mirage, turning the contour of a ceiling fixture sinusoidal. The bullet busts through a windowpane, catches an upward gust, ascends like an accelerating rocket, drills a hole in the night sky, and shatters a solar panel of a space station orbiting high above the Earth.
I slam into the backrest of a swivel chair, knocking it over, then I crash to the floor, hitting the back of my head hard. The blow sends a jarring jolt of pain through my vertebrae; I feel my spine crack, crunch, and snap. My legs fly straight back like a ragdoll’s, and when they fall to the carpet, I lie sprawled out flat on my back in a tangle of limbs.
My brain feels swollen as if someone were pumping embalming fluid into my skull. My chest heaves, gasping for air. The smell of gunpowder smoke has mingled with the coppery scent of blood and the blob’s putrefying stench.
White light wavers in my foggy vision while in front dances a swarm of red specks. But the maelstrom of a black hole yawns at the center of my gaze, and light itself falls in a spiral down that drain, which leads to an endless night.
I’m floating in the silence of the void.
I keep a playlist with all the songs mentioned throughout this novel. Ninety-seven songs so far. Check them out.
Have you had trouble picturing today’s nonsense? I paid a neural network to depict plenty of moments from this chapter. Here’s the link.
This chapter was by far the hardest to write of a sequence that by itself has been the hardest to write in recent memory. I’m tempted to pull an “Inio Asano after Oyasumi Punpun” and never do this kind of shit again.
Working on this sequence of my novel has meant that for weeks I have spent at least an hour every day feeling queasy, thanks to my fruitful imagination. So congratulations to me, I guess.
The following are images related to chapter 83 of my ongoing novel We’re Fucked.
I have posted many other entries with generated images. Check them out.
As if I had been transported to a movie theater in an inverted dimension, humming fluorescent lights are shining down from the ceiling, and the opposite wall has been covered with a three-dimensional black canvas made of gooey tar in which floats the audience: a score of world-globe-sized eyeballs with sewage-colored irises and pupils that dilate and contract as they glare at me, the protagonist of this demented pageant. The scene is swirling like a lava lamp; when the floor seems to tilt and I teeter, the eyeballs swimming about in the blob’s expanse of gelatinous muck, which keeps rippling and squelching, follow me with their gaze as if they were scanning my mind to pry it apart.
My bowels gurgle, my stomach turns somersaults. A wave of nausea, accompanied with an unbearable chill, floods over me as if I had ingested a bucketful of diarrhea.
At the back of my throat forms a knot of spoiled meat marinated in bitter bile. My esophagus clenches around it as if trying to reject an intruder, but the knot threatens to rise further. Although I swallow it down, hot saliva fills my mouth with an acidic and coppery taste. I tighten my clammy right hand around the grip of the revolver, lest I drop it, and I raise my left hand to cover my mouth while my ribs heave with spastic coughing. A geyser of vomit is about to surge up my esophagus.
Fuck, I’m retching! I can’t heave my guts out onto the aluminum-gray carpet; I would ruin the austere and sterile elegance of our office. But mainly I’d dread explaining such a stain to our porcine overlord. I can already hear that piggish braggart’s hoarse rasp issuing from his slobbering snout, calling me a dirty slut. Maybe he’d force me to pay for the cleaning expenses.
As my eyes water and my cheeks bulge, I rush to Jordi’s wastebasket and drop to my knees. When I attempt to grab its sides to pull the basket closer to me, I bonk the wire mesh with my revolver. Doubled over, I groan with pain, then puke a torrent of yellowish and thick vomit that contains scraps of my internal organs as well as gobbets of liquified intestines, while my nostrils spew a poisonous froth of gastric acid that inflames my sinuses. The vomit is splattering onto the corralled rubbish: crumpled papers and tissues, disposable coffee cups, ballpoint pens, wooden stirrers, plastic bottles, sandwich wrappers, empty cola cans, polystyrene containers, dead insects, dirty syringes, tied-up condoms, and murder weapons.
My eyelids are twitching and my skin has broken out in goosebumps as I retch again and again like a sickly goose. The walls of my throat and mouth are burning, my tongue has caught fire. The fangs of my tears are carving holes into my cheeks. Splatter, gag, spit, puke, regurgitate, spew, barf, drool, swallow, pant, cough, retch, breathe, gag, belch, groan, puke, splatter.
I have become a churning cauldron of filth and corruption, and my mouth a spigot that discharges a flow of sewage in an excruciating exorcizing ceremony. I’m alone and lost in a wasteland of viscous misery. I need to find my way back to mommy’s womb. I shut my eyes tight to retreat into my shadowy mind-theater, and I render a close-up in candlelight of Jacqueline’s vagina. I see every pore of its satiny skin, the sweet pink labia glistening with her cream and my saliva, the engorged rosy nub that protrudes from beneath its hood of flesh. But her holy pussy stares back with hatred. The umbilical cord has been cut from my navel, and instead it has coiled around the trigger of a machine gun poised to annihilate me. The cord gets yanked taut so that the machine gun pumps round after round of flaming lead slugs. They rip open my bowels and stomach, turning my flesh into tatters and pulp. They pierce through my heart, my lungs, my spine. My cranium bursts in a bloody fountain that scatters my neurons into the void.
After the spate of uncontrollable fits, at last the urge to puke subsides and the acid recedes from my sinuses, although my stomach remains a quaking ball of nerves. A long stream of ochery matter dribbles over my chin and splashes onto the sodden morass that has covered the heap of garbage like with a toxic tarpaulin.
I spit out foamy saliva until I’m sure that I have hurled away all the spoiled remains inside of me. My face is numb and flushed with heat; I rest it against the cool rim of the wastebasket. I keep panting, and fever-like chills are setting in.
I sit back on my heels. An insectoid buzzing has filled the space between my ears as if a wasp were beating its wings inside my skull. But the vibrations are coming from my brain, that keeps thumping like a kettledrum, causing my mind to whirl with dizziness. Arachne, blessed be Her name, lodged in some knot of my neural matter the ability to weave narratives from random sensory inputs, and it’s translating, as if using the sticky silk of my psyche to bind my awareness, the echoing noise into voices that are chattering gibberish.
A shiver slithers down my back like an icy serpent. I keep getting racked with chills. I’m soaking wet, hot and slick with sweat that has covered a rash of goosebumps. A salty drop from the ones that have beaded on my brow rolls down into my right eye. It stings; I squeeze my eyelids shut.
My sinuses are caked with mucus, and I can barely breathe through my nostrils. A blessing, because the air is laden with a stink that makes me feel like I have wandered into an abandoned slaughterhouse during a stifling summer day, only to find myself amidst piles of shit and steaming cow carcasses. I barely distinguish the sickly-sweet stench of my vomit from this oily reek that could knock a gorilla out. A small-boned lady like myself, who rolled low on endurance, should have suffocated already, but I guess that my lungs adapted to breathing fetid miasmata thanks to Spike’s intrusions, as well as the one time I confronted that bunnyman bastard while I avoided gazing down at his torpedo-sized cock. These days I can handle any stink, any degree of madness, even the specters of guilt and self-loathing that accompany this odor of decay, because that’s what I am: a creature of putrefaction, a human plague, a biochemical nightmare spreading throughout this cursed world.
I lean on the edge of the desk for support, then I push myself to my feet. I stagger away on my rubbery legs. When I straighten up, my skull feels as heavy as a block of lead.
Vomit has spilled out of the wastebasket, leaking through its wire mesh. The viscous mixture has spread its corrosive contagion over the carpet in splattered streaks. They look like a spiderweb that has been sprayed with a gunky, yellowish-brown sauce. The acidic filth gleams dully under the fluorescent lights as it soaks into the gray fibers.
Why didn’t Jordi put a trash bag in his wastebasket? I should grab handfuls of paper towels from the bathroom to mop up the mess. I picture myself on all fours as I rub, rub, rub the stains with ferocious pressure, although I’d prefer to rip out the carpet and bury it. I also imagine myself pressing my lips to the synthetic fibers and lapping up the sickly-sweet substance with my tongue, which causes my gut to heave. For now I’ll have to erase from my mind the gooey stew that has soiled my boss’ carpet, or at least I’ll have to convince myself that I stained it with easier to explain liquids, like coffee from a clumsily dropped cup, or blood from a stomped-on rat.
I wipe my mouth with the back of my trembling right hand, that still holds the revolver. My heart is churning blood like an over-revved engine. The paroxysm of puking has coated my tongue with the taste of an overripe banana dipped in battery acid. I’m lightheaded and drained as if my body were struggling to knit back together its ruptured tissues, and my psyche, that is traversing the narrow border between consciousness and delirium, risks wafting away toward the all-encompassing darkness.
Fat drops of rain keep thudding, thudding, thudding against the windowpanes like the rapping of a thousand tiny knuckles, ghost kids waiting for someone to let them in. Thunder crackles, and the fluorescent ceiling fixtures flicker, as stroboscopic flashes tint the desk, swivel chairs and computer screens with lily white and iceberg blue. The barrage of lightning must be lashing apartment buildings, splitting their roofs, widening cracks in their walls to force open the seams of their bricks and surge through. Jagged spears of electricity will strike the targets inside, charring both furniture and flesh until they explode with a sizzle and a pop in puffs of ash and vaporized skin. As the smell of burning meat, hair, fabric, wood, plastic and rubber drifts down on the storm’s wet breath, the ceaseless rain will engender an apocalyptic deluge that, in its rise, turning the streets into raging rivers, will sweep away like toy boats in a bathtub the burned-out cars, smoking bricks, cracked masonry, uprooted trees, wrecked furniture, blackened bodies. Those who escaped into dreams will wake up to find themselves soaked under their blankets. Donostia, located during pre-Roman times in the domain of the Varduli, reduced in one fell swoop to a wasteland of ashes and mud, will vanish under an expanse of grasses, plants and flowers grown on their own amid birdsong.
The Stygian blob has settled in this dimension like a bloated turd that refuses to get flushed away. Its slime-slick bulk, a mound of quivering folds scattered with tumorous protuberances, squelches as it pulsates obscenely like some spasming uterus. From its underside hang half-congealed cords of goo in a stringy lacework. I refuse to count how many eyeballs are bulging on the gelatinous lump of grime and disease, in an orrery of sentient planetoids that have glued their bloodcurdling stares to my face. The corneas are glistening like made of pliant glass. Those eyeballs are judging me, scolding me, singling me out as a creep, a degenerate, a pervert, a sluglike fiend unworthy of breathing the same air as them. Their loathsome glares gnaw at me, scratch me, pinch my nipples, pry at my labia, bruise my clitoris.
My brain is boiling like a cauldron of tar. My clammy and feverish skin has become a hotbed of tickling spiders that are crawling around behind my ears, down my neck, under my armpits, inside the crack of my ass. What else could I expect from the confining, decaying sack of flesh and guts that I call my body? This hellscape must have been devised by Arachne Herself. Does She want to extract a sacrifice from me? Has She set the test up so that I must murder the blob or go mad? I shouldn’t have to tolerate being stared at by any creature against my will; that alone warrants a little murder. Besides, I’m dying to shoot this dick-substitute at anything that breathes.
I hug the revolver with my sweaty palms, locking my fingers together around the wooden grip. If I squeezed this hunk of metal until my hands hurt, the revolver wouldn’t get squashed. Is that how it feels like to have a dick, once the penis, engorged with blood, has swollen out of its velvet sheath, and has blushed with a crimson hue that rivals the brightest flowers in their blossoms? If I were a guy and I possessed a thick, meaty cock, I’d show it off proudly like a royal scepter. I would parade it around, flaunting its majestic magnificence. I’d stick my dick in any available orifice, even if that meant stuffing it in the gaping maw of a snarling dog, or sliding it between the pages of a novel as a bookmark.
I raise my revolver to eye level and aim at the center of that gelatinous mass, the inflamed carbuncle, the pus-oozing blight, the inescapable festering festering festering. The blob wobbles like a water balloon about to burst. Its eyeballs roll in sync, shifting their gaze to the revolver’s barrel, that looks like a toothpick poking up against this tide of nightmare.
My skin prickles with goosebumps under a film of sweat. The blob understands that the device I’m holding can dole out death.
I try to keep the revolver steady, but an undulating vibration courses down my spine, and my forearms start to tremble. Who cares about this slimy intruder’s sentience? Plenty of primates could recognize themselves in a mirror, yet they also deserve to die.
I curl my forefinger around the trigger. The revolver’s hammer is cocked, its cylinder loaded with bullets. I’m a motherfuckin’ gunslinger, a badass with a mighty six-shooter and a pair of leather chaps. All my life I have wanted to murder somebody. After I blast that slime-skinned, flesh-waddling, eyeball-plagued horror to bits, a splash of rain will quench the flames in my brain.
I keep a playlist with all the songs mentioned throughout this novel. Ninety-five songs so far. Check them out.
A couple of neural networks were kind enough to render moments from this scene (for a price). Check these out too.
Some years ago I dared to attend a few writing courses (never again), and one of the writers suggested that my stuff was like verbal diarrhea. He meant it as a compliment.