We’re Fucked, Pt. 51 (Fiction)

I step closer to Spike, although he stinks like shit and rancid death, and I glare into those protruding eyeballs that are the color of storm clouds.

“Do you want me to cry, you horsey cunt?” I sneer, my voice sounding like a rusted-out door. “Do you want my tears so you can feel superior? Get your fill then! Witness my pathetic self in all its ugliness! But I can make you cry too with this little mouth, and I don’t mean biting down on your tongue to fill my oral cavity with blood! Although you dared to call me a child, I’m an adult who will make the best of her life despite having been born in hell! How would you know what it means to be human anyway, huh? You’re a horse-shaped demon. You don’t even have a pussy! Life must have been so easy for you, spending your whole day eating hay and having your legs stroked. And you called me a bad person! What about all those times you chased me through the city’s streets? As I attempted to reach a shelter, you would snatch me up and throw me onto your back, then you carried me in circles as I flailed to keep my balance. You galloped and galloped even though I begged for mercy! Every one of our encounters ended up with me returning home covered in mud and shit and bruises. You even tried to strangle me on occasion.”

Spike stares down at me like a deaf, silent beast who doesn’t understand why the strange human keeps scrunching her face and making wild shapes with her mouth hole. Then he smacks his lips and speaks calmly.

“You can’t use stuff that has never happened as an argument in your defense.”

“It may have happened. Who can be sure? What I intended to convey is that it matters little whether you’re bad or good, even if you are a horse, a whale or a worm. I’m just a whore who needs a hug. But soon enough I’ll get to kneel at the altar of the goddess of depravity, and one of these days I may never have to masturbate again! Now, trot off to your grave, you deplorable ungulate! Lie down in that hole and get buried in your own shit, you stinking corpse!”

Spike hangs his head low and sighs.

“Like me, Leire, you’ve been dead since you were born.”

His words hit my face like a sharp punch. I step back until the pile of board games blocks my escape.

“Stop saying things that hurt!”

Spike averts his gaze, running it over the eggnog yellow wallpaper of the living room, as if he himself were hoping to find an exit and return to his horse paradise, to the love of hooves and the never-ending gallop.

“You are lucky, regarding Jacqueline I mean,” he utters in a mournful tone. “I’ve never experienced such intimacy. I never would have, even if I had existed for centuries.”

Until a moment ago, I wanted to slap him across his stupid horse face, but now I’d rather hug him so hard that his eyes would burst from their sockets and his ribs would shatter. I’m left with nothing but the taste of shame.

“Spike, don’t sell yourself short. You pretend to be an ordinary horse, but you are the one true horse, because nobody else will ever speak to me with such disrespect. Do you remember all the good times we spent together? I would ride you along the seaside, play on the beach and use sticks as lances to fight pirates. We swam with dolphins in the ocean, we bit into seashells, we cooked seafood, we sank in quicksand up to our noses, we explored caves beneath ancient castles, we wrestled goats then shot them with crossbows. You once told me that you would die for me, that you would always be my faithful horse. Those days will never end, they will remain with me forever.”

“Yeah, none of that happened either,” Spike murmurs in a voice that is breaking apart.

“In any case, when you come out of your horse trance, you’re still Spike. I don’t think anyone is really the master of their life except Jacqueline. As for me, I can only act out of desperation.”

Spike’s lips tremble while he struggles to formulate a sentence, as if he had to wrench the words out, but he gives up and teeters away, nearly toppling over the coffee table.

I want to brush the dirt and caked blood off his mane, then place my hand on his round belly to feel the coarse coat as well as the blood pulsing through him. I’d let him lick my fingers one by one with his warm, viscous tongue, which must smell of rot and death. But I fear that any physical contact with this creature would transform me into an equivalent equine abomination.

I take a tentative step towards Spike’s trembling, scarred back.

“I can see that you’re very depressed, and I’m here for you if you want to open up about it. Let me tell you that, although you stink like rotten dung, you surely are one of the most impressive horsemen in history. In fact, you’ve never been a horse for me, Spike, but a unicorn in disguise.”

His hind legs twitch, his shaggy tail jerks around in a way that reminds me of a puppy, then he tilts his bulky head back and lets out a blaring neigh, raw and deep and full of grief, the first note of a requiem that will be played over the grave of our civilization. I’m astonished at how readily my pal can transform into a beast that could have only crawled out from the underworld.

As my eyes get watery, I stagger to the sofa and I plop down. A throng of words is jostling in my throat, and I want to claw them out as if they were wasps trapped under my tongue.

“The world has become a twisted place,” I say in a brittle voice. “I wish I could return to my distant childhood, to those brief moments in which nothing mattered except for how the warm light bathed my body and how the birdsongs filled my soul with a gentle harmony. But ever since, I’ve never been able to shut my eyes to the truth: we’re trapped in an insane asylum with no escape route, surrounded by demented monsters. We have ended up at the mercy of blackguards who consider themselves human beings, although they’ll provide us with a hundred thousand ways to suffer, to be humiliated, and to die in our own homes.”

I’m enveloped in Spike’s fetid, sickly stench, but I take a deep breath, then I wipe away the salty streaks on my cheeks.

“Who knows if I was born with a chance to become a normal person,” I continue. “When I was little, I felt like something was missing inside of me. Then one day I realized that it was my humanity. I understood that I could never become a girl or a boy, and instead I grew up into a verminous slug that crawled along the cracks of this world. How could I have the slightest notion of what it means to be a human being, when the most basic things have been stripped from me? If Jacqueline hadn’t diverted my destiny, I would have shambled through the rest of my life like a mindless corpse with a hungry heart and empty guts. In my final day, lying in bed and covered from head to toe in dried piss, feces and semen, I would have wasted my last energies masturbating until my heart gave out. What I mean to say, Spike, is that I understand your plight perfectly well: every second feels muddy and heavy as if you were wading through a swamp, and you’d do anything to drown out the agonized squeals from your festering subconscious.” My voice has been choking and cracking, but I take a deep breath and I brace myself to continue, because I must explain to Spike how utterly hopeless he is. “If I ever get my hands on a computer that runs on real horses instead of the synthetic ones that the humans have shoved into their pathetic machines, I’ll transfer every treasure in my mind onto it: memories and feelings, programs and board games. Then I’ll abandon this insane world where people run around with their heads cut off, and from my eternal shelter I will contact you so you can join me in paradise. But for now I remain trapped in this cage of flesh and bones, hopeless and terrified of dying alone as you are of turning into one of the insane horses that roam through the night. So I can’t save you from your pain. I had only been able to stifle mine through masturbation, which requires a functioning set of genitals.”

When I gather the strength to look up, Spike is standing near the coffee table. His drool-soaked lips quiver as he stares at me unblinkingly with those bulging, crazed eyes of his. I’m overwhelmed by the harrowing thought of becoming another victim of an equine rampage, but he’s wobbling like a drunk guy on a rooftop.

“Throughout my life, I always did what I was expected to do,” Spike says in a thin, dry voice that reminds me of dead leaves fluttering in the wind. “Maybe I believed that self-sacrifice was noble. Maybe I believed that by following the rules, I was making the world a better place. I performed my duties with nary a complaint, I wore myself down to the bone like a workhorse, and what did I get in return?”

I hoped that Spike had intended that as a rhetorical question, but he’s prolonging the silence. I shrug and look down at my pitiful hands.

“Please, don’t stare at me with those bulging eyes or I’ll scream. You know we are the slaves of some colossal evil, and we’ve never had any choice but to obey monsters. And then there are all these ghosts, the voices and visions that assail me as my brain torments me with a relentless stream of horrors, which I wish I could ward off with a hammer. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, Spike, is that people are merely bags of flesh and bones that contain all sorts of shit. No one is an exception, except for Jacqueline. As for you and I, we’re freaks of nature, abominations that have been thrust into solid frames.”

Spike shuts his eyes tight, and as he shakes his head, a string of drool flings towards me and sticks onto my corduroy jacket.

“Nobody ever cared about me,” he mutters, “let alone love me. I was always treated like an outcast. For my entire life I was only valued for what I could provide for others, and even then, they noticed me reluctantly. Once I was gone, most of the people of whom I was fond forgot me and carried on with their lives. So what was the point?”

I swallow the lump in my throat. I scoot closer to the edge of the sofa cushion and I press my hand against my chest.

“In the name of your filthy, scarred, decomposing hide,” I say earnestly, “I want you to know that from now on I’m going to work towards a world that makes sense, a world that won’t contain a single thing that could make me think of death, rape or destruction.”

Spike shoots me a look of incredulity as the thick vein that stretches down his neck squirms like a squid’s tentacle. His hind legs must be struggling to keep him upright, because he staggers backwards towards the window, making his hooves clatter on the hardwood floor. He takes a deep, tremulous breath.

“If only you weren’t all talk, Leire,” he says bitterly. “So many times I’ve tried to warn you about what’s about to happen, hoping that we could prevent it together, but I couldn’t get you to care, or even to listen. I shouldn’t have volunteered to convince you. What the hell did I know about anything? I’ve always been helpless. I waited for someone to come and whisk me away. I just wanted… to be special somehow.”

“You are special, Spike. You are my friend.”

As he stares at me befuddled, his lips part slowly in a grimace of anguish.

“Is that worth anything?”

I hang my head low. A pulsating darkness spreads from the center of my chest. I should have known better than to open my heart even to this horse. Now I want to lie down on the floor, hug my knees and sob uncontrollably.

Spike sways as he widens a demented smile, but a single tear rolls down his bony jaw.

“In the end you were right, Leire. Everything is rotten to the core. Why would I care about our future? The whole world can go fuck itself.”

A ropey strand of saliva dribbles from his muzzle onto the silvery barrel of a revolver precariously perched on top of his frontal hooves. The weapon has a checkered wood grip and deep shade in the flutes of its thick cylinder. The frame is engraved with a skull and bones. He must have also coated the bullets with rat poison.

I sit bolt upright as a storm of screams racks my skull.

“Spike, where were you hiding that gun?!”

He gazes at me with a mournful, almost apologetic expression. His front hooves fumble to tilt the barrel upwards, but as he attempts to pull back the hammer, the revolver springs from his grip, lands with a thud on the coffee table and slides off onto the hardwood floor.

I gawk at the inert weapon that’s lying close to my sneakers. I imagine the click-click-click of the hammer’s firing pin striking the primers, and the thunderous blasts of gunfire, and a bunch of bullets ejecting into the air like a metallic bouquet of flowers. I also picture the self-inflicted wounding of a bullet to Spike’s craggy face. Not even a horse would have survived such an assault.

My breath comes in heaving gasps and my pulse is thumping in my veins. Spike’s hoofsteps clattering against the floor snap me out of my daze: he’s tromping towards the window. When he reaches it, he leans his forehead against the windowpane and lets his shoulders droop.

In the moonlight, my friend has become a shadow in the shadows, the silhouette of a horse made of darkness and of the cold chill that clings to its presence. When I squint I can almost make out a saddle and stirrups and the buckles of the leather straps.

I’m struggling to come up with words, but Spike lets out an ear-piercing howl. He slams his head against the windowpane, shattering the glass. Blood-dyed shards and bits scatter over the floor like hail. A cold draught comes in through the empty window frame, curling the curtains.

Reality has mixed its essence with equine blood. The abominable potion must be seeping through all dimensions, leaving behind a residue of madness and despair.

I leap off the sofa. Spike has turned towards me. The ragged fur coat of his elongated face is drenched with red, and glass shards are embedded in his forehead. As he sways on his hind hooves, he splits his lips open, showing his dagger-like incisors, and spits bloody foam.

Spike lifts an atrophied, trembling foreleg. He angles that hoof so it points at the groove of his chin. I see myself reflected in his black eyes, that are wide and puffy with sorrow as they leak copious tears.

“Bang,” he says.

Spike throws himself back, somersaulting through the empty window frame, snagging his hide on shards of glass still attached. He disappears into the night. A gasp later, I hear a muffled, sickening splat of flesh and bone.

“Spike!” I yell.

My legs feel numb and slow, but I race over to the window. I clutch at the edge of the frame and I lean out.

On the street below, a large pool of dark blood is spreading under my friend’s broken body and splayed limbs. His black eyes, that have rolled back in his mangled head, are staring at the night sky.

The cold October wind whips my hair around my face. My heart is about to burst. I want to crumple on the floor. I cradle my head in my trembling hands and I listen to the roaring in my ears.

Spike had made himself small to escape his pain, but there are no bottoms of despair so deep that they can’t be reached. I should tell myself that he’s found peace and solace in death, that he has nothing left to fear. I should feel elated because he has been liberated from his prison as I wished to free myself from mine. But instead I’m weeping for my friend and for all other horses who have died like this; for every poor soul who’s being crushed under the clattering hoofsteps of despair; for this world that has become a crumbling madhouse of horrors; for everyone, because one day we will all disappear in an endless black void, never to be seen or heard again, never to feel the warmth of the sun, never to hear a melodious song, never to smell the sweet aroma of a mother’s milk, never to feel the delicate fingertips of a loved one caressing our skin.

The metallic-tasting darkness has started to lap at my consciousness like black water swirling through a sewer grate. It will become a cool shadow enveloping my flesh, a dark mist settling in my mind. Soon I will be sucked down as well.

I pull out my phone from a pocket of my jacket, but as I try to remember the emergency number, I realize that talking to a professional about this debacle would end up with me dragged to a psych ward. What else can I do now but abandon Spike down there, to be picked apart by carrion birds and scavengers?

My friend’s body convulses. His limbs twitch. Inch by inch, Spike rolls over and retracts his legs. Although chunks of his flesh and bloodied hide are plastered across the pavement, he pushes himself onto his hind hooves and raises his mangled head. As if being pulled by invisible strings, he takes a faltering step, then another and another. While he wheezes out inky blood-foam, and blood gushes out from his wounds like a red rain, my old friend continues shambling down the street into oblivion.

Author’s note: this chapter concludes the sequence that started back in chapter 43. Plenty of far crazier stuff to come in the 12,500 words of notes left to render.

Tomorrow I’ll start a six-workdays-long week. Most if not all of my coworkers will be absent due to a strike. I was going to go to work anyway because I’d rather not get involved with that stuff, but in any case I’ve been forced to work as the token “guy that needs to be present at the office in case some nasty shit happens”. My boss even gave me an official note that states that if I decide to stay home anyway, I would be prosecuted for a criminal liability. I work at a hospital, after all. So tomorrow Monday I’ll be on phone duty as well as handling whatever stops working in our hospital complex and in nearby outpatients clinics (we serve like half of the province). Apart from this madness, I’m also the sole technician for next Saturday.

So this may have been the last chapter for a while.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 50 (Fiction)

“Holy shit! Spike! I haven’t seen you in ages! Are you alive?!”

Spike grunts as his sleep is shattered by the joyous tone in my voice. I consider tickling his exposed anus to stir him awake, but the horse’s long-lashed eyes flutter open. He lifts his cumbersome head off the armrest, and the fleshy ridges of his nostrils quiver as he snorts a gust of snot.

Good thing I didn’t dare touch any part of his anatomy; I could have contracted untold plagues.

“It’s okay if you’re dead,” I say.

Spike jerks his body into an upright position, then he lowers his head to wipe the rheum from his eyes with his front hooves. It looks like he’s crushing his eyeballs into his skull.

I rest my fists on my waist and I nod approvingly.

“You look good! Your face is getting longer. But dude, you’ve never stunk worse! Have you passed the time farting up a storm?”

Spike shakes his head vigorously to jumpstart his brain, as if he had been soaking it in a tub of toxic waste. Otherwise he remains silent.

I press my index finger against my nostrils, and I realize my predicament.

“I was supposed to grab a bunch of clothes to store them at my girlfriend’s apartment, but how am I going to wash this stench off the fabric?”

Spike glares up at me through his eyelashes. Those moist, black eyeballs reveal a madness as deep as my own.

I’m taken aback by his malice. Can I blame him, though? I must have awoken him during the sweetest part of his slumber: visions of bloodshed and decapitation, of nipples carved out by vile blades, of mares slithering through a pool of entrails.

“I may be dead,” Spike grumbles.

“Maybe you’re just dreaming that you’re dead. Or maybe you’re one of those creatures whose hearts have been removed for medical reasons, then replaced by a fake organ made of silicone.”

As he taps on the hardwood floor with his right hind hoof, he dilates his nostrils, which are shaped like a fat, upside-down comma, and he takes a deep breath.

I contain a fit of nervous giggles.

“I swear, I must be the most weak-minded human who ever lived. A single afternoon without Jacqueline, and my brain fills her absence with hallucinations. Alright, I may as well take advantage of my derangement!”

I skip to my pile of board games, a collection of colorful cardboard boxes with exotic names: Terraforming Mars, Dead of Winter, Pax Pamir, Viscounts of the West Kingdom, 51st State, Labyrinth, Shadowrun Crossfire, Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, Through the Ages, Twilight Struggle… Their illustrations promise hours of fun, but nearly half of the games remain wrapped in plastic. Except for Renegade, their exposed upper sides are also coated in a layer of dust that resembles lustrous velvet.

“How about this time we get through more than a turn in Renegade? Our old nemesis, Shadowcluster, remains undefeated.”

“I’m done playing games with you, Leire,” Spike says bleakly.

I was about to lift Renegade’s box off the top, but I hear Spike’s hind hooves clack on the hardwood floor as he heaves himself off of the couch. When I turn around, a horse-shaped demon is towering over me. His lips are grey and decayed; they must taste like the dried-out meat of a slug. A hot, fetid gust of exhalation blows into my face. It’s the stench of a corpse that has been rotting in a well for a century.

“I had expected you to neigh in delight,” I say weakly. “You would turn your back on an activity that offers a temporary relief from reality? Are you trying to tell me that you prefer to live in the stupor of insanity?”

I make the mistake of holding Spike’s gaze, and I feel myself getting sucked into the frothy whirlpool of his delirium.

“Everything is going to shit,” he mutters in a hoarse, guttural voice, “and you are out there having sex.”

He must have waited for me in my living room, but these last few days, instead of returning home from work, I escaped my routine to get fucked over and over by the goddess of depravity. I wish that Jacqueline was here.

“W-well, does anything else matter when you’re having sex regularly?”

Spike lets out air explosively through his buttery teeth, which causes a gout of drool to squirt from his mouth and splatter on my pile of board games. Wobbly, he staggers back while his horse tail swishes along the floor. His chin drops to his breast, then he closes his eyes as if he were worn out from looking down upon mankind for far too long.

“I guess not, Leire. Sex is the only thing that matters.”

Spike averts his gaze; his shoulders are starting to tremble with repressed sobs. He must have been stewing in his insane horse thoughts for days, alone in my dreary apartment.

“You don’t understand how one’s life changes after Jacqueline has ravaged your body,” I say carefully. “She’s only been missing from my life for a single afternoon, but it’s like trying to breathe after someone has slit my throat.”

Spike’s lips curl up in a snarl, and his dark nostrils twitch like a dilated asshole. He shakes his girthy head dismissively.

“Don’t patronize me, Leire. I know how it feels to be you, I can read your mind. And you are a bad person.”

Why can’t my brain conjure up hallucinations that wish the best for me? I could have been given visions of a long marriage and a family, but I’m cursed with treachery instead. The mute parts of myself that dwell in the depths of my subconscious must spend their existence pleading silently for me to self-destruct. When will anyone apart from Jacqueline treat me as if I deserved to feel good from time to time?

“Yes, I’ve done bad things, I know,” I say icily. “I’m a bad person. But, Spike, isn’t it true that we all do bad things sometimes? I don’t think it matters whether we’re good or bad as long as we do our best to be happy with whatever little time we’ve been granted by our fickle universe. That’s why I’m trying to get my life together and have fun while I can.”

“Yeah, that’s a bunch of horseshit,” Spike snaps. “You’re so obsessed with pleasure, you live like a child.”

My teeth clack in frustration. I’m tired of this horse’s bizarre behavior. I’m tired of waiting to feel Jacqueline’s arms around me again.

“For your information, I was the one who asked Jacqueline out on a date. I was masturbating in bed when I came out with the idea, so I called her! Would a child dare to do that? Would a child want to spend time with someone they love on their own terms, or would they want to live a life that’s completely based on their parents’ whims? And you probably want to sabotage my sex life to steal my turn at the board games!”

The old, cracked horse merely stands there as he breathes into my face like a toxic bag of spoiled roadkill.

“No, you’re wrong, Leire,” he whispers. “You are like a child because you’ve never been loved.”

His acid words seethe through my brain and clench my heart. I’m the daughter of a man who shat me out in jail after another inmate fist-fucked him. When he died, I was thrown into a dumpster on a snowy night. I believed I would perish to pay for the sins of my father, but instead I was scooped out of the dumpster by a crackhead who first tried to snort me and then took me home. This woman, who insisted that I called her mom, was too strung out to care for me, so I was left alone to fend for myself from the age of seven. A couple of years later, mom was murdered by a cop who found her dealing drugs. My father, my mother, both dead from stupidity, sin, or the ravages of this insane planet. After a year of living in squalor, I was passed around to different foster families. One of my new sisters beat the shit out of me whenever I wanted something, so I hid in my assigned closet and masturbated. I became addicted to it because it took away the pain. Another foster family threw me out after I ate the last slice of a chocolate cake. By the age of thirteen I was sleeping in the hallways of a psychiatric ward because I’d become convinced that I was a ghost. My only friend was a psychotic squirrel that hoarded nuts in a cardboard box.

In truth, I’ve forgotten most of the details that would allow me to understand who I am. I only remember how it feels to have love taken away, to be hungry for it, to yearn for it, to cry in vain for it. I was abandoned. I can’t forgive them for failing to take care of me. And now I’m being condemned by a horse.

I feel like a scab, oozing blood and pus for all to see. No wonder I’m a reckless woman who’s never had the ability to take responsibility for anyone, even herself. I’ve only had one true love in my life, and that’s Jacqueline. She’s my mommy and my lover and my closest friend. Without her, I would revert to my natural state as a lab experiment who shouldn’t have been.

Author’s note: it has taken me about a week to work through this scene, because I couldn’t get it to flow right. I ended up splitting the scene into three parts; this is the second one, and I may be able to finish the third one tomorrow.

The issue is that I’m working full-time. I have never been able to concentrate properly at work to write, because I’m surrounded by technicians and the general chaos of working at a hospital, and besides, writing is something you need to do alone. However, whenever I’m working the morning shift, I can only write for about two or two and a half hours in the afternoon, but I tend to be so exhausted, mentally drained from merely being around human beings for hours upon hours, that I can end up dreading the act of writing; getting through any sentence may involve wrenching the words out of myself. As expected, it took me waking up at eight in the morning on a Saturday, and spending most of the day on my writing, to finally shape this thing.

For me, writing is as physiologically necessary as sleeping. I need to write to stave off the tide of meaninglessness that the rest of reality forces me to sink in. I never know if the next period of depression is going to catch me at my lowest. So I’m dreading the day when I finally end up with a permanent contract at my job or any other, which would also pile up more responsibilities on me.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling the itch to play board games. Every day of this week, right after dinner, I’ve grabbed one of my game boxes and I’ve had a good ol’ time. Yesterday was Viscounts of the West Kingdom, and tonight Marvel Champions. I’m also waiting to get back to Arkham Horror; they’ve changed their distribution method, and they’ll release a whole expansion box with an entire campaign based upon Lovecraft’s story ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ (link to the expansion’s page at the BGG). The fuckers used to sell each campaign mission individually, which ended up making the campaigns much more episodic because they couldn’t rely on the player having any of the other cards.

So yes, Leire is into board games because I’m into board games. She’s also into other stuff because I’m into that other stuff. Here’s a secret, though: her urge to masturbate is my urge to write. Mostly. But writing about writers is fucking lame.

Review: ‘Atomised’ by Michel Houellebecq

When I started reading the book, I thought I was delving into a lesser work of this author, but turns out that this is an alternative title for Houellebecq’s possibly most famous novel, ‘The Elementary Particles’.

An uneven novel. I’d rate the first four-fifths of it three and a half stars, and the remainder four and a half stars except for the epilogue, which I found completely unnecessary. There are flashes of brilliance throughout.

I hadn’t read anything of Houellebecq’s, although I harbored the uncomfortable suspicion that I would identify with plenty of his stuff, mainly because my own works involve sexual matters. And for the most part, it has been the case. This was one of the bleakest, most horrifyingly truthful novels that I’ve ever read.

The narrative follows two half-brothers. Michel is asexual, anhedonic, incapable of connecting with human beings, and eager to lose himself in scientific research, which he does in a dispassionate way. Bruno is controlled by his need to fuck as many 14-to-25-year-old girls/women as possible, which he mostly fails to do because he’s plain-looking, generally powerless, and has a small dick. The author suggests at some points that Bruno is something of a symbol for modern European men.

We’ve barely understood anything about the protagonists’ current life in their forties when we are provided with the history of their whole lives up to that point. Such info dump of backstory annoyed me, and I nearly ditched the novel; I have very little patience left these days. Their parents were dissolute morons wholly incapable of raising children, and who later on fell into the whole New Age nonsense, lived in communes, etc. At least their mother did; I don’t recall much about their fathers except that they frequented whorehouses. Bruno himself was sent to a boarding school, where he was not only bullied but also raped regularly.

We meet Michel’s childhood sweetheart, Annabelle, a gorgeous blonde girl who loved Michel in an innocent way, but unfortunately the guy’s brain was incapable of forming proper connections with human beings. In their teen years, she eventually gave in to the attentions of older guys who only wanted to fuck her. For many years, she continued on the common doomed course of seeking wholesome love from men who intended to pump and dump her.

Bruno failed to fuck the teens he lusted after at the same age, and in general was ignored by everyone. He studied to become a teacher, possibly because he still lusted after teenage girls, but he didn’t last long at the job. The author goes in depth about how Bruno jerked off under his desk while ogling his female students, and almost came to blows with a black student because he was dating the white, blonde girl he lusted after the most. Witnessing that relationship also convinced Bruno to write a few pamphlets that went on about how black people are inferior, which he failed to publish, but in truth he just resented that the girls he liked went for stronger guys with likely bigger dicks. In his last day as a teacher, he tried to get an arab student to jerk him off, but she just laughed and left the classroom. He checked himself into a mental institution. Once he walked out of it willingly, he spent most of his free time trying to figure out what kind of groups that he could snake his way into would allow him to fuck as many holes as possible.

We follow one of those outings in depth. Somewhere in the backwoods of France, a group of aged New Agey types spend their days gathering for spiritual workshops and shit like that, which Bruno spends his time mocking internally as he attempts to figure out who would open her legs for him. There we meet Christiane, who ends up becoming his romantic interest. In contrast with Annabelle, the only parts of Christiane I believed were the beginning and the last we know of her. Bruno meets her in a swimming pool, where she’s fucking some other guy. When the other guy leaves, Christiane swims over to Bruno and gives him a blowjob. Although Bruno would prefer a teen, he’s happy to start an extended sexual relationship with this forty-something-year-old who wants to have sex with him and is inordinately understanding and accommodating. That’s for me what I couldn’t buy about her character: Bruno opens up about his crusade to fuck as many underage girls as possible, as well as his antics as a teacher, but Christiane just rolls with it. This reeked of wish fulfillment on the part of the author.

For the first four-fifths of the tale, we barely follow Michel, the other protagonist; most of the times that the narrative focuses on him, we get into abstract digressions that attempt to connect the narrative to the zeitgeist at the time. My brain has a hard time handling abstractions; unless a text produces sensorial impressions, it mostly goes over my head. In any case, Michel lamented that at this point of scientific progress huge breakthroughs seemed almost impossible, and most of his research, related to improving the genetics of cows, involved routine computer work.

What this review doesn’t represent very well is the atmosphere of the novel, which is permeated with the lack of hope and meaning very familiar to many citizens of Coudenhove-Kalergi’s empire (the so-called European Union), a despair that has been steadily growing for as long as I can remember. Christiane, Bruno’s sexual partner, resents that her small town somewhat close to Paris has become a dangerous place due to mass immigration from Africa and the Middle East; she can’t take leisure walks around town, and she mostly hurries home because she presumes she’ll be safe there. As many have attested, including myself in my city, that’s one of the first stages; later on come the rapes at the entrance of the apartment buildings, and the break-ins. This novel was published at the tail end of the 20th century; living in this continent has only gotten worse since.

Europeans have been systematically humiliated, forced into a submissive mindset, by obscure authorities that have decided to replace us and that bankroll our extinction with the money they steal from our paychecks; just a few days ago the local newspaper in my province published that the welfare checks of those “in risk of poverty” have been raised. They earn almost the same as I do by working my ass off. Not only you can enter Europe illegally and have access to that paycheck, but those people are prioritized, and the more children they have, the more money they receive. All of that fosters the sense in many Europeans that there’s little point in doing anything, because we won’t have a future. The media is generally publicly funded, so they support this situation; even in private newspapers or stations, it’s well-known that you almost need to be a card-carrying supporter of certain political parties to be able to be employed there. The citizens that complain are routinely censored if they speak publically. Elon Musk got in some trouble with European authorities recently because he supports free speech for his Twitter (that’s his image anyway), and European politicians said the equivalent of, “We don’t do that stuff here.”

The author comments through Bruno that Western men feel the need to buy into the whole “liberal humanism” stuff merely so women will fuck them, therefore failing a civilization-wide shit-test, because those same women more often than not consider such men weak. I’ve never pretended so, even when some groups I found myself in cheerfully demanded to buy into their ideology just to be there. The media dictates what constitutes a “good person” and most human beings want to align with that, because they are terrified of social suicide. In general, human beings make my skin crawl, so I’ll happily remain alone.

All the parents in this novel are unable to connect with their kids; as the children grow up, they fall prey to the political influences hammered into them in the schools and the media, and some of them also hang out with shady groups, so they quickly turn into strangers. The parents are acutely aware that they’ve forced their kids to exist in a world that is progressively worsening. The kids were also produced out of a biological urge; one of the sentences in the book, that for me summarizes not only this story but modernity in general, says, “It’s a curious idea to reproduce when you don’t even like life.”

The author also goes on about the current role of religion in Europe. Most are unable to believe in any of it (in fact, growing up I knew a single christian in school; she was epileptic and believed she saw God during her seizures. These days, however, I know that my former philosophy teacher had to change his curriculum due to the influx of muslim students), and there’s the sense that the religion we’ve been left with is unsuitable in general. In the novel, when one of the protagonists, I can’t recall which, goes to a catholic wedding, the preacher goes on about how the couple will serve the god of Israel. The protagonist does a double take and says something to the effect of, “the god of Israel? Are they jews?” The author doesn’t follow that thought for long, but yes; thanks to Constantine of the Roman Empire we abandoned our own stories (and lost many of them; the christian mobs destroyed most libraries and even burned private collections. This is a good book on the subject), and for the last 1,700 years or so we’ve been dedicated to perpetuating the heritage and in-group priorities of a whole different set of people. Of course many are still brought into it from birth, so they never escape that cage.

The last one-fifth of the story gets brutally real, and I don’t want to spoil it too much. Annabelle is a salient point; Michel’s former childhood sweetheart meets him again after decades. She’s now in her forties and utterly miserable. The poor girl had only wished to love, but found out the hard way that no matter how intimate you get with someone, that doesn’t mean that they love you or ever will. For some time she had refused to get into personal relationships, afraid that her fragile heart would get hurt to the point that she wouldn’t want to continue living. Now that she has met the anhedonic, asexual Michel again, she considers that maybe she’ll have her last shot at a real, long-lasting relationship, and possibly even start a family.

As an overarching theme there’s the sense that aging is possibly the worst curse of mankind as sentient creatures, that in a blink you’ll find yourself too old to love, too old to even reproduce, that beyond the distractions you’ll find as you fumble in search of meaning, you’ll have little else to do but wait until your body inevitably betrays you sooner or later. You fear that death won’t come quick, but instead will present itself as some lingering illness that will torture you with constant pain until you cease to exist. One of the dialogues near the end of the book says it well:

“Humor won’t save you; it doesn’t really do anything at all. You can look at life ironically for years, maybe decades; there are people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end, life always breaks your heart. Doesn’t matter how brave you are, how reserved, or how much you’ve developed a sense of humor, you still end up with your heart broken. That’s when you stop laughing. In the end there’s just the cold, the silence and the loneliness.”

I like this novel, but I suggest that you shouldn’t read it if you are very sensitive and already depressed, because you’ll find yourself feeling much worse.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 49 (Fiction)

The stench of rotten eggs has blocked my nose, and an acidic taste lingers in my throat. Instead of standing in the pitch-black corridor, I should be lying on the floor and vomiting my guts out.

I grope blindly for the light switch, sliding my fingertips over the bumpy wallpaper. I locate a smooth, familiar shape. As my hand hovers over the switch, my heartbeat pulsates in my throat. A thousand shades of darkness await me on the other side of the beam of illumination.

During my absence, my apartment must have gotten infested with pests, mutated ones that grew resistant to bug spray. If I had been cursed with rats, I could learn to cohabitate with them. Although they would feast on my furniture, scratch my monitor’s screen with their claws, and make the crumbling plaster crackle as they gnawed through the walls, I could come to love those tiny, long-whisked furries. They would lie on my lap while I petted their fuzzy bellies. I would let them suckle from my bosom. I would take care of their offspring until they learned to fend for themselves. My biggest threat would consist in sleeping with my mouth open, as I may end up choking on a rat.

When I was younger and stupider, I used to dream about being a cat. I would cuddle up with a warm blanket and sleep at my leisure. My claws would dig into the hardwood floor while I basked in the sunlight. I would hide away in dark crevices. I would slink through tall grass in search of prey to kill and devour. Whenever anyone approached my hideout, I would hiss at them and spray them with a ferocious flow of piss. But I have grown old and wise. My eyes burn and my hands shake. I wish that I had never returned to my apartment.

What if I flip the light on and discover that swarms of invertebrates have overrun every corner of my abode? Dozens of cockroaches, those love children of giant beetles and flies, are clinging to the wallpaper of the corridor; they are scrunching themselves together as if intending to coalesce into a single exoskeleton. The floor is covered by a carpet of centipede corpses, their gray bodies bent at awkward angles from the holes they drilled into their own carapaces to escape into oblivion. The toilet bowl is coated with a layer of slimy slugs. The bathtub is festering with bluebottles that must have laid their eggs before they drowned in the mildew-ridden water. A lone scorpion scurries out of the bathroom, its stinger raised in the air. The desiccated carcass of a cat-sized tarantula is sprawled over the kitchen counter, and the penny-colored paste that the critter contained has seeped down the drawers. The bedroom has turned into a nest of spiderwebs, living tissue of sticky gossamer strands, and thousands of arachnids are crawling over my sheets as their eyes flash like alien stars. In my wardrobe, clusters of wasps are feasting on my hoodies and sweaters. At least a dozen ants are marching across the hardwood floor towards some unknown destination. Once the horde of invaders sniffs out my disdain, they will throng to my frame and burrow into my flesh in droves. The scurrying arachnids will embed their legs in my bones, and my hair will become a mass of cockroach antennae.

My limbs are turning into wings, my fingertips and toenails are growing into scythes. I hate insects and arachnids, and I’m sure I’m despised by them. As the only exception, a female praying mantis is one of the most beautiful creatures on Earth; she looks like an artist’s rendition of an angel, with her translucent wings and those bulging eyes that resemble fern green gems. Otherwise, I never learned to like the creatures that I find horrifyingly disgusting.

As a child, I witnessed my mother transform into a black widow spider. She had consumed a bowlful of canned peaches, and she was lying on her bed. Her abdomen swelled until it split open, revealing her viscera and a single black egg as big as a pigeon. It hatched: a huge black widow crawled out of the eggshell, then it sprang at me. Its fangs poked into my skin and broke through my sternum and sank into my heart. The venom erased every good memory, and although I continued to live, I forever wished I hadn’t.

I’ve hesitated in this opaque darkness for so long that the world may have ended. I shake my head as if I could dislodge all the filth from my mind, and I steel myself for the upcoming war between insects and a human. As soon as I find a machete, or maybe a hammer, I’ll manage to massacre any number of creepy-crawlies.

When I flick the light switch on, the corridor gets filled with light as if a flashbang had burst into it. I squint my eyes at the glaring brightness, and when they adjust, the illumination provided by a single flyspecked lamp reveals a hellscape: my apartment. Instead of an insectoid invasion, I find myself facing the eggnog yellow wallpaper. It drags me back to an era during which people believed in a future of prosperity and plentiful sex; if they had envisioned our harrowing present crammed with vermin, they would have chosen different colors for their walls.

As I rub my gummed-up eyes to recover from the assault of light, I hear a muffled rumbling that comes from the living room: the snoring of some hibernating beast. I totter towards the source, tracking the noise as well as the stench of festering flesh.

I peek into the living room. The moonlight pouring through the window traces the contours of the room’s bleak contents: the haphazard pile of board games that occupies the gap in the middle of a birch wood cabinet, and two empty ramen cups I left on the coffee table. A boulder of meat and bones is lying across the sofa, snoring heavily as it dreams of slaughter.

Some foe of mine must have discovered my terror of whales, and has heaved the beached carcass of one of those fiends of the deep into my apartment. My enemy may have timed the build-up of gases inside the bloated corpse so it would reach its peak at the moment of my entrance. The blast will obliterate me in a Big Bang of entrails.

My heart is a drum about to burst, but I shan’t face my death in the dark. I flip the light switch on.

The bulky mass of a sleeping horse has occupied my sofa. Its malformed skull has caused its eyes to protrude as if they were about to pop out of their sockets, and its long, droopy ears look like they’re melting. The muzzle is drooling mucous saliva onto an oily puddle on the hardwood floor, maybe due to the phlegm this beast accumulated from gobbling up my rotten foodstuffs. The strands of hair of its shaggy mane seem clotted with mud and blood. Its forelegs are retracted and atrophied as if evolution had forgotten to uproot them from its torso. His horse dick and balls have been removed and replaced by a jagged scar like a sword wound.

Although the living room stinks as if I had dived into a full dumpster that everyone forgot for a decade, and any glimpse of this horse-mongrel would suggest he has escaped from a nightmare, I loosen the grip on my nostrils and grin like a child. Only one castrated horse that I know would cloister himself in my apartment: my personal equine stalker, Spike.

Author’s note: this is just half of the scene I’m working on, maybe even less, but I won’t be able to write at all tomorrow.

Spike’s last appearance was back in November of last year, precisely on the 20th chapter of this idiotic tale. At least that’s the last I remember of the guy.

I have kept track of word counts. This novel is already about 125,000 words long, and it will easily go as high as 160,000. It’s a good thing that I will only release it as an ebook that nobody will buy; if I bothered to produce the physical edition, like I did for a couple of books I wrote in Spanish like four years ago, I would hate to carry such a brick around.

I’m on phone duty this whole week, and my next week is six workdays long. I hate it all.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 48 (Fiction)

The scrolling, corn yellow text of the LED screen displays the word ‘station’ in Basque, in Spanish, in French, and in English. We are approaching Gaintxurizketa, but I must take the screen’s word for it: the world outside has drowned in a coal-colored blackness. I discern the faint shapes of skeletal trees.

Seated opposite me, a woman in her early forties, who’s sporting a few grey hairs and wearing a duffle coat over a turtleneck sweater, has crossed her arms and hidden her eyes with sunglasses to doze off, although a reprobate slumped near the exit door, of whom I can only see the shaved head, is blasting reggaeton through his phone’s speakers. Even this late, most of the seats are occupied; the train must pick up those that work the afternoon shift.

Inside this container with plasticky, frost white walls and bent grab poles that reflect the artificial light, the passengers look drained and dazed as if they were woken up in the middle of the night for an adventure. However, a nearby trio of college-aged girls have been babbling for half of the trip. The only one seated facing me whom I can see fully is wearing a loose sweater and ripped skinny jeans. The artificial light dances in her long, neartly parted, chestnut brown hair. She’s flaunting the lively eyes and the easygoing smile of those too young to realize that the world is aching to spear us through the heart. People like her represent temporary smudges on the canvas of reality, dirty little stains of light, but they brighten up this otherwise cold wasteland.

The girl’s gaze locks on mine, and her smile wanes as if I had offered her a front row seat to watch a stranger lose her mind. After she shifts her weight, she leans towards her friend and speaks in a hushed tone, but she has miscalculated the volume, because I understood her: she mentioned that I look sick. Soon enough I’ll have to tune out the whispers of my fellow passengers.

I am sick, though. Sick at heart and sick to the bone. This world has drained all color from me, and I’m growing more fragile every day. I’m a cracked critter who was already crumbling before she boarded this train of madness. I wish I had gotten accustomed to a steady diet of psilocybin and psilocin, but instead I’m haunted by otherworldly visions synthesized by my brain as it slides slowly down the event horizon of a black hole.

I want to lean back in this rigid seat, shut my eyes and feel how the living nightmare recedes into a dull throb. However, only the naïve expose their unconscious self to these human beasts. I take a deep breath and focus on the isolated light sources that zip past our train in the encroaching darkness.

Such rides used to make me envious of the lives I came across. I would have loved to lose myself in the colors that played in so many strangers’ irises, to figure out what strange beauty lit them up. On many nights I wished that someone would lean close to me and whisper magical words into my ear while the train rocked back and forth with its steady motion, but instead I suffered the unrelenting screams of my own mind. I wanted to grab strangers and shout that I love them, that they shouldn’t feel bad because they’re alive, that I should be the one to disappear instead.

Thankfully, now that I’ve tasted Jacqueline, all other human beings become blurs in my peripheral vision. Their faces feature two dots where eyes should reside. Their mouths are uninviting voids. When they speak, their words sound like a hollow mockery of human speech.

Nobody, nothing can compete with my depraved queen. I need the touch of her fingers as they comb through my hair, I need the pain of her nails digging into my back while I grind myself against her warm anatomy. When she kisses me I feel a taste of the end of all things, like a cup of bitter, caustic liquid that if I drank it I would turn into a black bird. I’d commit any evil to make love to her again.

Blood rushes to my pussy, bathing it in a velvety tide, as my genitals pulsate to the beat of my jittery heart. I yearn for mommy to rub out with her wicked, wet tongue every one of my worries, blanking my mind and memories like those of a newborn baby. My right hand trembles as it struggles to overcome my resistance; if I let go, it will grip my sex in a vice-like hold.

I press my knees together and rub my thighs against each other. I should give in to my urges. Why would these public transports vibrate and sway seductively except to seduce perverts into pulling down their trousers and relieving their tension on the spot? People only reveal their true nature while naked from the waist down and molesting themselves. Those who would resent your public display of self-love weren’t meant to stick around, and who knows, through your bravery you might find the unique souls who would cherish your true self.

I bet that if the sapped office worker seated opposite me, whom life has worn down to the extent that she naps on the train, awoke to find my trousers and panties bunched up around my ankles, and me lost in the throes of lust as my oiled fingers polished my throbbing clit, her heart would flutter like a hummingbird’s wings. While the wheels of the train clacked against the track in an ethereal hymn, she would gawk at the spectacle and slowly remove her sunglasses. Inch by inch, a child-like smile would crack the mask glued to her face that had helped her endure an everlasting routine of stress and disappointment. Once the mask shattered she would burst into hysterical giggles, which would make her breasts jiggle like two pudding cups filled with caramel. Having witnessed someone escaping the suffocating walls of a cage, the office worker’s soul would flare up as if she were born anew. While the juices bubbled out of my groin, I would grin back, tightening the string of saliva that linked my mouth to my crotch. I would rejoice in the knowledge that thanks to my bravery, someone else’s heart warmed up in such a hibernal night.

I’m freeing the top button of my trousers when a recorded voice announces that we are arriving to Irún. On our right, past some leafy greenery, the working-class apartment buildings of López de Becerra street, with laundry draped over the balcony railings, loom ominously, sending the first signal that those witless enough to seek residence in this city will soon find themselves like critters that have fallen into a septic tank, helplessly flailing their limbs in the slurry to avoid drowning in shit.

I wipe my forehead. I’m dripping with desire; I must reek of sweaty vagina. I shove my right hand in the pocket of my corduroy jacket to caress the casing of the external hard drive. I can bask in the knowledge that tonight I’ll plug the drive into my computer, lie in bed and diddle myself at my leisure as I enjoy a nostalgic look back at our encounters.

Once I disembark at the platform along with the rest of the damned, I hurry up the stairs to reach the Colón promenade. The cold wind that was blowing in Donostia has followed me over here, seeking refuge under my clothes. My bowels are rumbling, my limbs feel heavy as stone slabs, my breasts seem to have lost a cup-sized chunk of flesh. I steel myself for the eight minutes long walk to my apartment, during which I’ll need to elude thugs, drunks and other vermin, sights more revolting than any slimy blob lurking at the entrance of my office building.

After I cross the bridge over the railways, I venture through a sidewalk in which only two people can walk abreast. A pigeon lands on the pavement next to me, and the street lights glimmer in the bird’s eyes as if it intended to make conversation with a friend. I hurry past darkened apartment buildings like mausoleums where the living are entombed. I scurry across the cracked pavements and narrow roads. I’m a mouse sneaking around a maze of underground chambers, afraid of being spotted by some sinister vagrant. I’m shaken by an urge to pull down my trousers and hump some rusty lamp post until the skin of my vulva peels off. In the infinite blackness above, the moon’s craters are crammed with trash and corpses.

I pass the dirty brick wall of the Uranzu market as well as the homeless men that roam around it like a pack of stray dogs. When I lift my gaze, I certify that the cinnamon brown building I chose to inhabit still stands at the end of the street in its grimy, monstrous glory, although one of these days it will collapse under the weight of its own decrepitude like some gargantuan stalagmite.

While I make a beeline for the front door, a lanky familiar figure exits the building: a neighbor in his early fifties who looks like a grey-haired teenager. He’s lugging bulging garbage bags to deposit them in the container across the road.

I’ve spotted this guy dozens of times when I returned from my self-imposed overtimes, because he made a habit of throwing out the trash at night. He should consider throwing out his clothes as well. He must have been present during the few tenant meetings I dared to attend, although I wouldn’t have retained anyone’s face from the terrified glances I shot at the gathered beasts with whom I’m forced to share this hovel.

As the guy passes me by, he pierces my face with his gaze.

“Hello, hello,” he says.

I lower my head and nod. I pull the keys from my pocket, but when I reach with my free hand to grab the handle of the front door, I find myself holding air. Only the escutcheon remains, as if the handle had been unscrewed. Stunned, I gape at the absence.

I’m suddenly sniped by a memory: my mother is fumbling with a handful of keys to open the front door of our old apartment. She’s swaying from side to side. Her jacket is half off and her skirt is hiked up to her hips, exposing her knickers. She smells of piss and sour milk. I’m dancing around her while I laugh and repeat, “The lock’s busted! The lock’s busted!”

My lanky neighbor has returned from his nightly mission and is standing nearby, trying to get my attention. I step aside and shoot him a wary glance in case he wants to persuade me to get naked. I’m in no mood for a session of sex on demand from any brute.

“Someone stole it,” he says in a resigned tone.


“The door handle. Someone stole the damn thing.”

I narrow my shoulders and tremble at having to interact with this creature.

“Well, I didn’t do it,” I mumble.

The guy chuckles nervously; his crooked smile suggests that he can’t tell if I was joking.

“I wasn’t accusing you. I know none of us did it.”

“Who on earth would steal a door handle?”

The guy smacks his lips and shakes his head.

“Oh, don’t get me started. They do it for the same reason they steal copper wire, copper pipes… Unfortunately some local fence must be buying that stuff from the thieves.”

A black market for door handles. I’m living through the apocalypse.

“Wh-what should I do?”

My neighbor draws his head back, then he lets out a bitter chuckle.

“You? What the hell can any of us do? Call the cops?”

The city that welcomed the disaster of my birth has decided to add yet another torture to my life.

“I should start sleeping with a knife under my pillow,” I utter gravely.

“Good luck! If you defend yourself, you’ll end up in jail.”

I shudder.

“You’re right. If I had a knife, I would cut my own throat.”

My neighbor wipes his forehead with the sleeve of his jacket.

“Have you heard that a couple of nights ago two men broke into an apartment in Lekaenea street?”

I picture the scene: the victim had just moved into the block, and he had yet to buy most furniture and knick-knacks. The thugs failed to find any valuables apart from underwear, so they went into his kitchen and ate a couple of olives and a baguette. Then they set fire to his fridge.

The guy nods at my puzzlement.

“The police arrested them only to make a report, and thirty minutes later the criminals were caught trying to break into another apartment!”

“I hope nobody died in the fire.”

“I swear, this city is turning into a war zone. Let’s hope that those responsible also end up disappearing, if you know what I mean!”

Against my better judgement, I must empathize with one of these humans when they peer through the façade of society and flinch in disgust at the festering rot that hid beneath.

“These streets have degenerated into anthills, and any wrong step will make us slide down their insectoid nightmare.”

My neighbor knits his brow and squints as if his brain had gotten stuck processing my words.

“They are working you to the bone, aren’t they?” he says carefully. “I hope you get some rest.”

My fingers tremble as I tighten my fist around the key ring. Why do these strangers care about whether I have a good weekend or rest enough? I’m a lost soul in a sea of wickedness, and nobody on earth can reach me. I’ve spent most of my life wishing that I could sink into the ground and disappear. If the sight of my worn-out self bothers any human being, they should pretend I never existed.

“I suppose that I’ll sleep at least a couple of hours,” I mutter icily.

I unlock the front door. The absence of a handle weighs me down as I push my way in. The lights of the hallway switch on automatically and shine mercilessly at me, as if they had been expecting this chance. I wish that my neighbor had waited until I disappeared out of sight to enter the building himself, but his footsteps are following me. The guy says goodbye. I mumble incoherently over my shoulder. At least he takes the elevator instead of ogling my ass as I drag myself up the stairs.

Now that my neighbor has retreated to his garbage-filled world, I must focus on the task at hand. I’ll need to fill a backpack with enough changes of clothes for a couple of weeks, but tomorrow I’ll meet with my beloved for our date, and it shouldn’t seem like I’m moving into her apartment. There, Jacqueline and I will talk for hours, we will shower together, we will sleep in the same bed. I will stay away from this hellhole for days at a time. However, my body feels like it’s been beaten up, so for the rest of the night I’ll just grab a snack and masturbate myself to sleep.

When I reach the landing to my apartment, I trudge until my tingling fingertips touch the door that separates the outside world from my sombre shelter. I rub my eyes and try to shake off my lethargy.

Why do I push myself so much? I must believe that I deserve to spend my limited life depleted, or maybe I’m doing myself a favor; who knows what illusory maelstroms my mind would weave if left to its own devising while healthy and invigorated?

I shove the door open, scoot inside, then close it with my ass. As I stand in the pitch-black corridor, I’d prefer to imagine that I’m floating in the void of space, but this mustiness reminds me of a crypt.

I make the mistake of taking a deep breath; a putrid stench assaults my nose and spreads in my head like some deadly neurotoxin. I cough, then gag on the acrid air.

When the coughing subsides and the bitter taste of vomit lingers in my mouth, I resort to pinching my nose closed. Has someone broken into my dreary sanctuary to kill themselves, and their abandoned carcass has been rotting for days?

I’ve been recalled to work, this time until September, potentially longer. Except for my bank account, this development represents a disaster. I revise every scene over and over until I turn each of them into an experience, a process that takes me many hours. When I’m working a morning shift, which will be the case for the rest of this month, I can only devote at the most two hours and a half to writing in the afternoons, and that’s assuming that I don’t find myself so drained after the meaningless toil that I’ll want to doze off the moment I sit down. And assuming that I don’t end up swamped in another period of tarry depression. So until mid-September, I should consider myself lucky if I deliver a single scene every week. No vacations either for this old boy; I’m the guy who subs other workers so they can travel around with their families, or whatever normal human beings do.

I’ve worked in Donostia/San Sebastián at all of my jobs except one, so I’ve experienced this train ride hundreds of times. If you walked down the street on the right at this exact moment of the video, you’d come across the apartment building where Alazne, the co-protagonist of my beloved previous novel, lived. I have to promote my stuff from time to time, although one of these days I’ll likely edit that crude blurb.

Some thieves did steal the door handle of my apartment building as well as of other nearby buildings. Twice. But that’s a minor absurdity in comparison to many crimes that have been perpetrated around here. Just recently, the main suspect of a series of murders involving GHB has turned himself in. He was living in my hellhole of a city; most criminals want to stay this close to the border so they can step into France whenever the heat gets too hot. Bless Schengen!

Anyway, we are nearing the end of the current sequence of events in this stupid novel, and the story will only get crazier from here. I hope you are enjoying it so far, and if you haven’t, why the hell are you reading this?

We’re Fucked, Pt. 47 (Fiction)

As I stand at the beginning of the downward slope that will lead me from the business park where I work to the Lugaritz train station, but that will involve me dragging my sore body through the cold night, hurrying from streetlight to streetlight along a route likely frequented by scurrilous strangers, I realize that I have signed up for a tortuous ordeal of Homeric proportions.

Didn’t I own a car, a Renault Laguna? Why did I abandon my trusted mechanical friend, that only intended to save me from having to degrade my legs by walking all the way down this dark and forbidding road? That’s the kind of villain I’ve become: someone who betrays a loyal partner, condemning it to become a rusty pile of scrap.

Now, as my breath puffs in white plumes, I’m forced to trudge through the bitter cold with my hands stuck in the pockets of my corduroy jacket, stepping on the remnants of puddles that may have contained human blood. Even as I slog through the underpass towards the distant tower of an apartment building, the freezing wind ruffles my hair and pricks my exposed skin, causing the wounds in my heart to bleed afresh. Why did I abandon the safety and warmth of my office for this arctic adventure?

In the stretches between the lemon-colored cones of light that the streetlights cast on the pavement, the world is plunged in a dense darkness. I’m forced to progress between a row of parked cars and the overhanging branches of a dense thicket, that exudes the pungent smell of rotting leaves and that likely hides prowling predators like sabre-tooth tigers and feral vampires. Amidst the shadowy gloom, over the sound of my footsteps, the wind whistles, and from the trees comes the rustle of their branches as they sway back and forth. The world seems barren, drained of life except for those of us that have become more ghost than human, but if I closed my eyes I would still see the many people I’ve hurt: the friends I abandoned, the lovers that I used and discarded, the strangers that I slashed open with my claws. I wish I could listen to the melancholy hoots of the owls as they flew across the stars in their nightly hunt, and the howls of the wolves as they roamed the darkness searching for prey. But as much as I long for the company of other creatures of the night, I must stick to the sidewalks to avoid having a pair of fangs sink into my spine.

At this stage of technological advancement, I should be able to teleport to my apartment with some app on my phone. How have we human beings kept busy for hundreds of thousands of years, or however long we’ve been burdened with these soggy lumps of jelly-like fats and tissues inside our skulls, that we have failed to research a way to jump from a point of spacetime to another instantly?

As I trudge through this netherworld while the wind buffets me from behind, I spot the round road sign indicating a speed limit of 30 kmh, the harbinger of the bend of the road that leads into the first residential community on this side of the outskirts.

A sudden burst of light blinds me as if someone had pointed a flashlight at my eyes. I blink and shield my vision, but it takes me a few seconds to adjust to the source of such brightness, that is hovering over the sidewalk three meters in front of me. The ivory white glow is pouring as if through a jagged hole in an invisible wall.

I close my eyes and shake my head to dissolve this hallucination, but the light passes through my eyelids. I shift left, towards a parked car, and the light disappears. I sigh in relief. When I step back to the center of the sidewalk, the light returns.

“What the hell is this?” I mutter. “A will-o’-the-wisp? The spirits of those who were murdered by crazed vampires?”

Now that my eyes have grown accustomed to the light, the trees and parked cars have become silhouettes cast in an eerie and dismal grey. I take a deep breath, then I inch closer to peer through the luminous crack. As I lean in, it breathes a tropical warmth on my face, and my nose is flooded with the pungent odor of sea spray.

Unknown colorful shapes flicker in the ivory white radiance, as if I had come out of a tunnel into the daylight, but when I focus my vision, I find myself staring at a lime green field. On the right side of the frame, a grove of palm trees stands tall. Their trunks are striated diagonally, and their fronds, that resemble feathery fingers, are bending in the breeze. In the distance the field breaks off, and a sapphire blue sea extends to the hazy horizon.

I feel like I’m inside a painting displayed in an art gallery, where the patrons would spend hours admiring such a vibrant work of art framed in gold.

On the left side of the view, about twenty meters away from my standpoint, twenty fair-haired men and women, teenagers and a few children are hanging out near an unfinished edifice made of cyclopean stone blocks. The men are wearing wool tunics, the women linen undergarments and strap dresses that reach the ankles. They are barefoot.

Their gazes are following the movements of a man maybe in his mid-twenties, who’s wearing a red baseball cap, a pewter grey T-shirt and khaki cargo pants. The breeze carries his warm voice, but I can’t make out the words he’s uttering. He’s holding a metallic staff in each hand, and with the right one he’s directing through the air a megalithic, rhino-colored block of stone, that is floating as if weightless. The man tilts his right staff to aim at an unfinished wall on which blue lines of light seem to depict the outline of the missing blocks. As the floating block descends, once it touches the blue lines of light, the block rotates until its shape matches the outline, fitting with the adjoined block like a puzzle piece.

When I gape back at the urban magician, he’s chaperoning the crowd of viking-looking folks in a direction close to my standpoint. I gasp, stumble backwards and fall on my ass. The light has switched off; I’m staring unblinkingly at the darkness of a cold October night.

My arms and legs feel numb and heavy as if they were made out of cement, and my thoughts are flying in circles. When was the last time that a hallucination disturbed me this much? It felt like I was intruding into a scene that I would be prosecuted for witnessing. Wasn’t my mental health supposed to improve, now that Jacqueline is taking care of me?

I let out a long sigh. I should give myself a break. I’m an unstable monster who festered in a hole of solitude and despair for most of her life, only to have been rescued by a mommy eager to hold me tight against her formidable bosom. I’ve been deprived of Jacqueline’s presence for an afternoon of overtime, so my broken brain has slipped over into psychosis.

I crawl away from the spot where the tear in reality was hovering. Deep breaths, Leire. You just need to follow the route that will get you home.

Author’s note: this chapter ended up being the shortest in the entire novel so far. I somehow still have 13,000 words of notes waiting for me to render them into the remaining chapters. The number has kept going up consistently, which in part is a good thing (I must really want to experience this whole story, because my subconscious keeps coming up with notes for it), but on the other hand I’ve been dealing with this madness since October of last year.

I finished watching ‘The Northman’ like three hours ago. Tremendous film, one of my favorites in a while. A well-researched movie set in AD 895, when people thought very differently, and the actors don’t behave like they were picked from a LA street. Also, those two moments involving a valkyrie gave me chills.

A coworker has told me that they are setting up a three-months-long contract and it will start in a week. They’ll likely call me for it. Ever since I’ve known that, I’ve felt antsy and like my time is running out. I should spend most of my waking life writing, but I became an adult plenty of years ago and adults are supposed to do meaningless, exhausting shit to add more money to their bank accounts at the end of the month. Can anyone pay me a living wage just for existing, so I can focus on my obsessions full-time? I’ll provide regular massages and sexual favors if you don’t mind that they’ll come from a bearded, unkempt crazy person.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 46 (Fiction)

When I push open the front door of my office building to step into the night, the door leaf shoves away a bucketful of the shadowy, bunny-sized blobs that for about a week have thronged the sidewalk. I resent that through the course of my pointless existence I’ve come to hurt more living beings, until I remember that these blobby, gelatinous abominations have long spilled onto the parking lot and they’ve proven themselves impervious to being run over by a car, which would otherwise be the most efficient way of obliterating them. I wish I could witness the windshield and windows of some car crisscrossed with a trail of glimmering blobs, because this sidewalk has become an obstacle course that should encumber the workdays of every local office worker. However, these wobbly slugs only exist because I’m hallucinating.

As I trudge in the opposite direction of the row of multicolored garbage bins, that the blob creatures have climbed and turned into their abodes, I clutch my salami sandwich to my chest and huddle deeper into my corduroy jacket. The brisk wind, a vile and vengeful force of nature, is tearing at my clothes. It carries the scents of grass and soil, hints of freshness that the city can’t hold for long. Although I turn my head to one side then the other, the wind does its best to tousle my hair. It’s also cooling the layer of sweat and stale arousal produced by my recent masturbatory exertions, as well as my terror.

I’m about to shiver; I doubt that I’ll last more than five minutes outside. When will the temperatures improve? What’s going on with the weather in this cursed country? It’s been October for months!

I wish I could stand instead in front of a bonfire, with my eyes closed and my arms spread out so the blazing flames would lick at my skin. If it were for me, the entire province would become a festival of fire. I’d listen to the crackle of wood and the sizzle of flesh. I’d let the hot smoke enclose me in a foggy cloud that would slowly lift me into a private pocket world of peace and solitude. Wishing to become the tastiest, most succulent piece of meat on the planet, I would step forward onto the burning, baby-sized logs. I would savor the pleasure of a fire that would make my flesh glow like a feast of crisp bacon, and my face blaze like a beefsteak. As I cried out with abandon, and greasy fat dripped out of my pores, I would capitalize on the opportunity to chew on mouthfuls of my own charred skin and tendons.

Besides the wind and fire, another force intends to hurl me into oblivion; the dark, deep waters are calling to my blood and to the bones that rest within the hollow of my skin. Its salty liquid will enfold me, smothering me with its freezing embrace, while my hair swells towards the surface. I can almost feel the dark sea’s tentacles rushing into my lungs to rid me of all my fears. My eyes will grow so wide and my mouth so open that a giant squid will suck out my last breaths, and my executioner will be accompanied by a blue-green humpback whale. The more I’ve tried to fight the dark sea, the stronger its waves have become. The only escape would be to turn off my mind and let the glacial liquid flow through my veins.

However, I have to deal with reality, the nemesis of dreams. I’m a low-wage employee in an office building designed to block all the sunlight. The only sun I can bask in, I make it with my own hands.

My stomach gurgles. I remember that I’m holding the sandwich that I bought from the vending machine: bread of an unidentifiable origin, and salami that may have come from a cow. Wearily, I lower my sore body to the dirty sidewalk maculated with ancient chewing gum. I sit cross-legged, then lean back against the granular wall of the building. I rip open the casing of the salami sandwich. After I crumple up the plastic wrapping, likely made from the skin of some oceanic creature, I consider tossing it aside, but I end up shoving it into a pocket of my jacket; the world has already putrefied enough for me to contribute to its entropy.

As I chew on the soggy, blood-spotted meat, I focus on the details: the dry and fluffy white bread and the saltiness of the salami. I didn’t expect to be surprised by the flavor, because the meat has already rotted in my mind, but for a few seconds I feel like the most well-fed creature that has ever lived, which would have contributed to soothe my senses unceremoniously dredged by a wind of horror, until a recurrent intrusive vision visits me: I find myself gnawing on a giant, yellowish-white worm that will force my jaw apart.

A pig. The salami has come from a pig, one that was born of the flesh of another pig, and that was butchered by a third pig. All of them died or will die so I would taste their rotting flesh while I felt sorry for myself, but that’s alright, because I’m a pig as well. We remain united in an eternal circle of pigdom.

My breath steams in the cold wind, that tries to disperse my feeble satisfaction by fluttering at my hair and my jacket. If I had any control over the situation, I would turn into a human windmill. To prevent the wind from reaching my flesh, my arms would spin at an endless, ceaseless pace.

My fingers are getting numb. I’m waiting for a cold, nasty drop of rain to splat on my head. Soon enough I’ll have to endure another torrential storm and a clammy, bitter wind, like the ones that threatened to ruin my first date with Jacqueline. The rain will come down in a deluge so thick that it will dim the streetlamps. Nature rarely ceases to torture me, like a secret admirer that wants me to achieve my full potential as a miserable wretch.

The night is filled with reptilian hisses as the gusts torment the thicket on the opposite side of the road. The gibbous, pockmarked moon casts a faint glow on the sky. I gaze at its rough, cloud grey layer of dust, and at the polished, steel grey patches that reveal the metallic hull of the observation post built by aliens who got bored of us millennia ago.

A movement out of the corner of my eye makes me glance to my left. One of the bunny-sized blobs has disengaged from its gang, and it’s wobbling towards me on six legs as its feelers sway like the tentacles of an anemone. I dread that it might be looking for shelter in the shadow of my jacket.

I wipe the layer of salty grease off my lips with the palm of my free hand. As the gelatinous beast comes closer, I try to discern in its blurry frame any eyes or a slavering mouth, but I guess that it senses the world through its squiggly tentacles. Although I want to hold my breath, I continue with my meal; I need the nutrients to fuel the survival of my brain.

The blob bumps against my ankle. After a moment of awkward confusion, the creature stretches its front feelers to probe the bottom hem of my trousers. Maybe a stink of sweat, blood and salami pours out from the opening.

I wait to feel any teeth pierce the fabric and reach my skin, but the blob turns and jiggles along my side as if to circumvent the obstacle, except that in that direction it will hit the wall. I place my left hand palm-up on the creature’s path. As it edges closer, I scoop the blob up.

I had expected my hand to pass through this unholy hallucination, but instead my sense of touch reports its faint presence: the squidgy skin, the bottom and side feelers fluttering on my palm, how it shifts its weight as it shivers and squirms in apparent bewilderment. It’s oozing a mucous slime.

I sigh with relief.

“As hideous as you fuckers are, I bet you aren’t suffocating in depressive self-disdain, hounded constantly by the compulsive urge to release your existential terror through aggressive self-diddling. And that’s me at my current best! Before Jacqueline rescued me, I found this struggle meaningless. But who could take pleasure in the idea of living when there’s no one to love, or to love you? What can you do when your world is empty, when all you perceive is your shit and the shit of others?”

The blob’s feelers twitch as it listens to my words, and I know that it will come to love me, once it stops considering me a food source.

“I was condemned to endure as the empty, hollow shell of a human being, like my mother,” I continue. “I couldn’t feel my skin, I couldn’t taste my tongue, I couldn’t feel my stomach rumbling. I couldn’t smell, couldn’t hear, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything at all. I had nothing but the hope that someone would come to my aid, maybe a sexy magical pixie. At times I considered getting on my hands and knees to worship some crack in the sidewalk. You understand, right? You were granted the gift of life, yet you have turned your back on the world and have given up, therefore becoming the perfect example of how we humans have degenerated. We have ceased to know who we are and who we were. We’ve transformed into gelatinous blobs that blunder around blindly, mindlessly.”

I pet the unholy abomination, and its tentacles respond with gentle wiggles.

“To be frank with you,” I continue, “I couldn’t wait to be dead. I was eager to find my way out of this prison of meat, to turn myself into a squishy, pink puddle of gore, and just rot away. But then this alien, this fucking alien, with her massive tits and her bubbly smile and her plump, soft lips and her twinkling cobalt blues, appeared for me. She stuck her hand down my throat and pulled me out. So in the end, my rescue came in the form of a giant spider-woman with the head of an ouroboros, and I’ve spent my current life exploring the insides of her belly. If she had come to me as a slug-like blob, I wouldn’t have wanted her. I would have dismissed her as an itchy nuisance to be crushed. But she held the power to change the game for me, to take me out of that sorry, loveless world. She’s a tender mother, a sexual mistress of the universe. I can’t fully comprehend her, but I can trust her to give my life meaning, to make me feel real again. As long as I have my mommy, I’ll keep on living, I’ll keep on fucking.”

The blob shudders. A large, slimy glop trickles out of an anus-like orifice, as if to symbolize its passage into my world, its transformation.

“I know all this might sound weird to you,” I continue, “but it feels like my skull has become a furnace in which only a white-hot light of thought remains. What I meant to say is that even a nauseating blob like you deserves to live free, without fearing that someone will snatch you and your pals up to turn you into exotic soap.”

My abominable companion shimmies off my palm and plops onto the sidewalk, then it scutters under the bridge of my crossed legs.

“Alright,” I say. “If you have any concerns, I’ll be more than happy to talk to you about my feelings.”

My nose is leaking brain fluid, my teeth are about to chatter. I heave myself to my feet. I intended to wolf down the rest of my sandwhich, but I’m only holding two half-eaten slices of bread. The salami has landed on the dirty sidewalk. The slimy blob has crawled over and it must be feasting; its feelers wriggle excitedly as the salami slides under its gelatinous body and disappears as if absorbed.

A glob of protoplasm is resting on my left palm. I wipe it on my trousers.

When the blob wobbles back towards its companions, the previous spot of the sidewalk has been cleared of salami, ready to accept cigarette butts and glass shards, ready for grass and weeds to grow through its cracks like mold or the long hair of homeless people, to better fit in with this overgrown, overpopulated garbage dump of a world.

I shove the slices of bread into my mouth, then I narrow my shoulders and eyes against the cold wind as I head to the front door.

What did my rotting brain intend by assembling such abominations? No, I should focus on my work. I’ll allow my unhinged subconscious to conjure up whatever symbols it requires to express its perverse delusions, to channel its homicidal urges.

What would the extent of my psychosis matter? There are no rules. We have no god to judge us, no heaven or hell to frighten us and make us suffer. Nothing will keep the world in a state of balance, no magic will prevent us from turning the earth into a smoldering cinder or the entire solar system into dead balls of ice. It’s just a matter of time.

I only needed a single person to accept me as I am. The rest of the planet may as well burn.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 45 (Fiction)

I want to squeeze the external hard drive between my thighs and rub my pussy with it until my leaking juices ruin its internal electronics, but instead I open the drive in the Explorer window and check the contents. When I read the name of the second folder, I do a double take. Why would there be a folder named ‘Misc’ next to the one that contains all the videos that Jacqueline filmed of us?

I open the extraneous folder. The window displays MKV files labelled from one to eight. As the operating system generates their thumbnails, they reveal that the videos feature naked women other than Jacqueline and I. They seem to be pleasuring themselves.

I double-click on the first one. I’ve barely registered the stranger’s long locks of buttery blond hair when I realize that I’ve lain on the same flamingo pink comforter.

I feel a small earthquake in my gut. My blood runs cold while I gawk at the video, unable to register the woman’s languorous movements except as the random shifting of colored shapes.

Why would this woman have been masturbating on camera in Jacqueline’s bedroom? No, I already know my girlfriend has fucked through the equivalent population of an entire apartment building, or neighborhood, or city. She’s an omnivorous sexual beast who thrives on the pleasures of the flesh. But why would she include the videos of those people in the external hard drive she intended to give me? She must have copied the folder deliberately; she named it in relation to the one that contains the videos she recorded of us fucking.

My stomach tightens with dread. Was Jacqueline trying to hurt me, to humiliate me?

I pause the video, then I roll my chair back and take a deep breath. Tomorrow, when I meet my beloved again, she’ll bring up the contents of her external hard drive, even the videos she included of other women. I suspect that she’ll ask me if I enjoyed them. My girlfriend wanted me to watch, so I’ll have to endure my jealousy and go through the recordings.

I restart the video and focus on the screen. This blonde, possibly of Swedish descent, belongs on a Californian beach from back in the seventies. Her tanned skin gleams in the soft lighting. She’s lying on her back while she strokes her long, sand beige legs, then she moves her hands up to her chest and fondles her breasts. She rubs between her fingers the pink nipples that poke out from her pink-brown areolas.

I hear myself breathing hard as I stare at those swaying tits. I imagine her sensitive little nubs bursting with pleasure as she squeezes and pinches them.

The blonde slides her legs apart, displaying her shaved, honey-colored pussy. As her fingers circle the clit, she reminds me of a cat rubbing her whiskers with her paws. Her head lolls back for a while, then she gazes up at the camera through half-lidded eyes. She licks a corner of her mouth in a twisted smile as she spreads her swollen, moist labia for the audience.

The rest of the clip consists of the blonde in a trance, arching her back, grunting and producing swishing sounds as she fingers her pussy. The way her crotch has been dripping onto the comforter, widening a darkened patch, makes me wonder how many women’s fluids that fabric has absorbed.

I close the video, then rub my eyes with my palms. My skin has heated, a drop of sweat is rolling down my back, and my crotch is tuned to white noise. I’m running a fever that only an orgasm can cure. I’d also like to eat chocolate ice cream.

I attempt to breathe through my nose, but it takes me a few seconds to calm down. Are women like this Swedish blonde the kind of supermodels that Jacqueline got used to fucking? Compared to that babe, I’m a runt. Her curves are the stuff of legends, while my body looks at best like the result of shoddy genetic engineering. I can’t compete with such women. I don’t even want to compare myself to them, it hurts too much. I’m just a simple spinster with simple needs: I like breasts. Big, round, juicy breasts with pointy nipples. I want to grab them, fondle them, suck them. I want to sink my face between two colossal mounds of tit-flesh, then squeeze them together so their milk gushes into my mouth until my stomach bursts.

In the second video, someone has shifted the camera tripod closer to the headboard of Jacqueline’s bed, to focus on the upper half of an Asian woman’s body. She’s lounging back against a collection of fluffy, faux fur pillows. The turquoise one held my head during my first date with Jacqueline, when I lay sideways on her lap.

I’m admiring the woman’s glossy, dark black hair, gathered in two loose ponytails that cascade down her naked chest. Her breasts are small and firm, but they stand out like two exotic fruits.

She laughs, which startles me. She grins as she speaks to someone behind and a bit beside the camera.

“Oh yeah, I love to watch them squirm,” she says in Spanish.

Although she keeps talking, I can barely retain the words, as if I caught part of a familiar song on the radio but I would need a long moment to recognize it. I must have missed some context, because the woman is relating eating broccoli to anal sex.

She bends over and reaches towards the center of the mattress. Her fingernails are painted a shiny wine red. When she lies back on the pillows, she’s wielding a wand-like device. She turns it on so it vibrates, then she cycles through the settings until the massager buzzes in an alternating pattern.

As if someone had asked a question, the woman smirks and answers that she’ll have to cut it off in twenty minutes, because she has left potatoes cooking in the oven. She shifts her ass further up on the mattress, revealing a dense nest of pubic hair. She grabs a bottle of lube from the nightstand, then she opens the cap and squirts a dollop onto the head of her massager.

My palms have turned clammy, and my nipples are growing erect. I fast forward through the video; I fear that Jacqueline will appear and join this Asian streamer that is hotter and more confident than me. Thankfully, the remainder of the clip consists of the woman chatting with her audience, or writhing in pleasure as the vibrator glides around her erogenous zones.

I get off my chair and pace around the office to calm down. My warm pussy is aching for attention; this must be the longest that I’ve stared at videos of such attractive ladies without pleasuring myself. I shan’t allow them to seduce me.

Once I dare to sit down and continue torturing myself, I double-click on the third video. A girl, whose body only technically could belong to an eighteen-year-old, is lying on a lemonade pink quilt, a familiar one that features unicorns in a variety of energetic poses, drawn like they would appear in a storybook. Her smooth, pearl white skin spattered with freckles clashes with her wavy mane of burgundy hair. The cluster of tiny brown spots across her cheeks would by themselves make her heart-shaped face look flushed. As the only garment she’s wearing, she has enveloped the lower half of her slender legs in knee-high, striped socks, that are white and hot pink.

Lost in pleasure, the girl is biting her round lower lip or releasing high-pitched moans. A trickle of drool dribbles from a corner of her mouth. Her nipples are hard little stones. Her ass twitches as she heaves herself with the heels of her feet, arching her hips off the mattress, to ram a candy red, jelly dildo into her drenched pussy, making squelching sounds, smearing her juices across her thighs.

Although the wall behind the bed is covered in a green screen that, through computerized magic, has been turned into the bedroom of some debauched duchess, the quilt alone reveals that this video was recorded in Jacqueline’s spare bedroom. I can’t hold that thought; I’m transfixed by how the girl’s coastal cartilages and her abs protrude from her slim tummy as she wriggles and breathes raggedly.

The girl leers sideways at the camera. When she parts her lips, a curtain of saliva slides to a corner of her mouth.

“So fucking good,” she purrs. Her breath is coming in gasps. “I think I’m gonna cum. Don’t you wanna see me cum?”

A drop of sweat slips into my eye, irritating it, and I realize that my right hand has pushed into my panties and is sinking two fingers into my soaked hole. My heart is racing, my legs are shaking. This girl is a goddess of porn: beautiful enough to make me nauseous, so depraved that my clit throbs.

“Wh-what should I do?” I mumble.

The girl smirks as a glob of saliva dangles from her lower lip.

“Whatever you want! Suck your own tits. Finger your ass. It’s all you, baby girl.”

I whimper. The musky scent of my arousal is driving me wild. My pussy is squeezing hard enough to cut off circulation to my two fingers and turn them necrotic.

The girl moans and gasps. Her glazed eyes are rolling back. Her clit has become a bumped-up nub: hard and distended and sticking up. As she thrusts the dildo inside her, the squelches of her pussy and her juices mingle into a muddled, wet sound.

“Yes, keep playing with yourself until I cum. Oh, fuck! I wanna see your fingers in your pussy while I cum on my dildo!”

Her intoxicating voice turns a light switch on in my brain. I’m aware of every quantum of the electricity coursing through my body and of the blood pumping through my heart. The hair on my nape is bristling, my free hand is gripping the edge of my seat. A drop of sweat slides from my nose and lands on the girl’s open lips, a glistening bead that her tongue lazily sucks into her mouth.

Jacqueline must have made a million euros solely from this lady’s videos, whose pussy I’d love to bury my face in. I’d probably lick her asshole too. I wish I could be an astronaut instead of such a pervert, but I can’t get myself out of this mess.

The girl pumps the dildo faster and faster in a jerky rhythm. Her eyelids flutter, she lets out little groans of pleasure. Her face morphs into an expression reminiscent of a bucking horse.

I’ve lost all sensation in the fingers of my right hand. My pussy has sucked it in up to my wrist, stretching my insides into a tangle, and keeps inching toward the elbow. I feel like my waist is being torn in half.

The girl’s moans and groans have escalated into wails. Her whole body shudders and contorts, and her muscles contract in spasms, as she releases the pent-up pressure by spraying her girl-cum all over her thighs. The hot, acidic fluid dissolves the skin of her inner thighs, that ooze blood. She gasps for air as the spasms of her orgasm keep wracking her body. Her wails transform into gurgling sounds, her eyes turn pitch black. The girl rolls her head back, and from her open mouth gushes a torrent of semen that paints her face and hair daisy white.

Panicked, I yank my right hand back, and with its wet index finger I push the button that turns the monitor off. I jump to my feet then stagger away from the desk. I make the mistake of closing my eyes; the girl is out cold, lying in a pool of bubbling cum, her neck twisted. If I killed this maiden with my maladroit masturbation, I’ll never forgive myself.

I’m drenched in sweat, my heart is beating in my throat, and my nostrils dilate with the deep breaths I’m forced to take. I stare down at my small hand, its slim wrist and thin fingers coated in juice. I rub my sore digits to stimulate them lest they grow more numb and fall off.

Am I in a pimp-fucking, pimp-dating situation? Did Jacqueline convince these women, and girls, to come to her apartment and masturbate so she could take a cut of the profits by selling the videos online? With such goods, no wonder she could afford to move to a quiet neighborhood in the hills of Donostia. She can probably afford to buy Luxembourg.

Did Jacqueline share the videos with me because she sought my approval? Does she want an accomplice?

I wipe the juice from my fingers on the backrest of Jordi’s chair. I need a break, and a shower. I want to crawl into a large, comfortable bed, but I’m far from any home.

I’ll buy a sandwich from the vending machine and leave the building for some cold air. Maybe I’ll forget about Californian blondes, haunting Asian beauties, redheaded teens, and monster-sized jelly dildos.

Author’s note: I’ve listened to Nine Inch Nails as I wrote part of this chapter, that turned out to be maybe the most sexually explicit of all the chapters I’ve ever written, which is saying a lot for me.

Yesterday I was forced to remember that I was shat out into this shitshow exactly thirty seven years ago. Naturally I spent the entire day bummed out. I went out to print some dividers for the Marvel Champions card game, then I forgot to take back the pen drive from the store. I tend to forget everything if I don’t write it down or attach it to my body somehow; my brain doesn’t work very well. Then I sat at a coffee shop and studied for an hour or so, because I have to pass a heavy public examination in a few months that will determine if they’ll keep calling me to work. Not that I want to work, but you know how it is.

I’m enjoying Marvel Champions quite a lot. Far less mathsy and punishing than the Lord of the Rings LCG, and less infused with dread and chaos than the Arkham Horror LCG (AH used to be my favorite, but I grew to dislike the way you constantly feel like you’re treading water. Besides, if you leave a campaign for a while and then return, you feel lost). Marvel Champions, their third LCG, takes the best parts of both games and streamlines the general experience. They also decided to add plenty of particular cards for each hero, which gives them a lot of personality. I’m not a big fan of superheroes, particularly what Disney is doing to Marvel as part of the overall marxification of Western culture, but it’s still about superpowered people punishing bad guys, which is cool.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 44 (Fiction)

A stone with jagged edges has lodged in my throat, but I manage to let some words tumble out.

“Anyway, why am I in the office at this hour…?”

Ah, I was supposed to wrap up a couple of tickets. What a drag!

I swig down the rest of the bitter latte, and as I return to my workstation, I drop the cup into the trash can. I plump down on my chair. I switch from YouTube to Visual Studio Code, then I scroll to the unfinished Angular function I was working on before the regular workday ended.

My monitor’s light becomes the only illumination in the office as the night descends on Donostia, and presumably on the rest of the country.

My concentration has gotten increasingly cloudier. I’m stuck in a portion of the code. I arch my back and stretch my arms over my head. When I open my eyes, my gaze rests on the external hard drive that I hid under the screen. Did Jacqueline cram in there all the recordings she took of us having sex?

As I stare at the black, flattened cuboid with rounded corners, my breath thickens and my heart starts pounding harder. Why am I wasting my time programming when I could be watching Jacqueline and I fuck?

I jump in my chair and hurry to connect the hard drive to the computer. Its screen shows that the drive contains two folders: one named ‘Us’ and the other named ‘Misc’. Inside the ‘Us’ folder I find a dozen MKV files identified by the date and the camera that filmed them, referred to as Camera A and Camera B. I won’t tarnish the recordings by playing them on Windows Media Player, so I download VLC.

I take a deep breath, then I double-click on the first video, recorded during our first date. In the center of the frame, the ass that belongs to my past self is sinking into Jacqueline’s flamingo pink comforter. I’m wearing the garment I bought for the date: a high-waist, tiered dress with puffed sleeves and a green floral pattern. On the edge of its square neckline, resting against my pale skin, the brass medallion glints in the white ring lights that the cameras were staring through.

I’d like to say that the woman in the video looks like a virginal maiden who spent her whole youth secluded in an attic only to be rescued by a loving, sexy mommy, but my past self seems dazed, almost drugged-out. Those sunken eyes are underlined with puffy circles, the result of a lifetime of stress and terrible sleeping habits. The four puncture wounds from the fork I plunged into my neck stand out as if I were flaunting them.

I cringe. Who could find such a wretch attractive? And why is she licking her wet lips lasciviously? Was I ogling Jacqueline’s tits?

I checked out the video to get horny, but this resembles the recording of a therapy session at some psychiatric hospital. It will end with the flesh of my past self bruised and cut up, covered in dirt and semen.

I jump to a position much further ahead in the video. My past, naked self is lying sideways on Jacqueline’s lap. She has covered her thighs with a turquoise toss pillow so I would rest on it, but at the moment my beloved is holding the back of my head while I suck on her right breast. The doughy tit-meat, that shines with sweat and saliva, is bulging against my cheeks. With my face buried in the fleshy mass, I couldn’t notice back then that Jacqueline’s narrowed, alluring eyes observed me lovingly as she massaged my scalp with a slow, circular motion.

“You look so relaxed, Leire,” Jacqueline coos. “Like a baby about to fall asleep. But not just any baby, my very own little Leire. You are the best breast-sucker, you know that? I’ve never seen a woman suck a pair of tits with such dedication. Have your fill until you are satisfied.”

My heart is about to burst out of my chest. My past self continues to suck Jacqueline’s titty trying to extract every bit of sweetness from it. She slurps with an insistent, urgent sound, like the crackling of a fire.

From that first date of ours, I remember the exertion of my tongue’s movement, the hard nipple’s protrusion into my mouth, and the little noises that vibrated through Jacqueline’s chest as she breathed deeply. After I close my eyes, I can recreate in my mind how it felt to trace the wrinkles and bumps of her hardened areola with the tip of my tongue. I experience the intoxicating contact of her warm hand as she caresses my neck.

“Your mother couldn’t protect you from this wicked world, baby,” Jacqueline croons in a pitying tone. “But I can, and you will let me. You know why? Because I’m the only person that can save you. I will help you. I will heal your wounds and wash away your tears.”

I take a deep breath, inhaling the sweaty scent of her breast.

“I can’t stand to be here anymore,” I mumble against her hardened nub. “I don’t deserve to be alive. My whole life is a lie, it’s been a lie from the beginning.”

Jacqueline sighs. She slides her left hand up along my thigh, then she squeezes a handful of my butt cheek.

“Oh, baby. You are not sick, you are not weak. You are simply a victim of a world that is not ready for you yet. I will teach you how to become what you want to be.”

I’m about to drool, so I swallow the excess saliva. I need to loop my arms and legs around Jacqueline’s warm, solid body again, and while I hold on tight, some helpful soul should weld my skin to hers with a blowtorch.

“Leire, I know about your life,” Jacqueline says in an ominous tone. “Your parents were clueless, but they did the best they could with someone as rotten as you. And that makes you angry, doesn’t it? To know that the couple that gave birth to you were so stupid. You think they should have been able to see what was coming for you. You are angry at them for their incompetence, and at yourself for having been born worthless. I understand. You feel ashamed that you can’t blame your parents entirely because your life turned out to be shit, but they are as guilty of their own weakness and ignorance as you are of your endless cowardice. We all have been forced to play the roles that our parents decided for us, but do you intend to hold on to that role for the rest of your life?”

I can’t read her face because she’s embracing me tight. I’ve turned squishy in her arms, and she seems to enjoy my trembling: she’s swaying with me like we’re dancing.

“If you don’t want to be the timid, sickly little girl that your parents made of you,” Jacqueline adds, “then I’ll become your mommy. I will help you get your revenge. You will learn to use your tits and your cunt as weapons that can defeat and even castrate your enemies. I will show you how to seduce your father so that you can destroy him for ever putting his dick into your mother and making you into this pathetic creature. I will show you how to fuck your brother so that he’ll feel powerless against you. You can flaunt those beautiful, sexy assets to humiliate your sister in order to drive her away from you forever. You will learn to weaponize your body to cause the suffering that otherwise people would have inflicted upon you.”

I groan, then I cough to clear my dry throat.

“What the fuck am I doing?” I wonder out loud.

When I open my eyes, the video version of my beloved has slid a finger down the crease of a pussy that during that first date entirely belonged to me. I need to feel an echo of Jacqueline’s fingers plunging in and out of my human frame.

I lift my ass off the chair to pull down my trousers, and as I ease my panties down, I feel the fabric stretch at the top of my ass crack. My pussy breathes free like it has so many times during my self-imposed overtimes. I smile, savoring the sensation. I can almost taste the orgasm that for a few blissful seconds will blind me and wipe out my thoughts.

My past self clenches her thighs around Jacqueline’s wet hand as she strokes my clit. Her cobalt blues are glimmering like a pool of dark water. An orgasm builds up in the collection of cells I inhabited back then, and the whole frame quivers and twitches as if in the throes of a seizure.

I’m imitating Jacqueline’s caress with my right hand. My free hand moves up and down my chest, mashing my tits together so they spill into a mounding mass. But when the monitor’s speaker plays my recorded moans, orgasmic cries like the dying breaths of a wounded beast, a jolt akin to an electric surge shoots up my spine. I hit the space bar to stop the video.

I stare unblinkingly at the frozen picture while a bead of sweat rolls down my forehead and my heartbeat dies down. I sit upright and rub my face. For a moment I fear that over the background hum of the computer I’ll hear someone else’s breath as that person, likely a guy, stands close, watching me.

I can hardly stand these warm pangs of guilt and regret. I’m a disgusting, shameless slut. I’ve turned into my mother.

A few seconds of reflection would have been enough for me to realize how far I’ve gone and how low I’ve sunk. Although I feel Jacqueline’s absence like I lost a limb, how did I dare to disrespect her by chasing with my fingers the fleeting heaven to which she sent me effortlessly with hers? I should be saving myself until tomorrow, when I’ll get to snuggle in her arms like a doll. Besides, I stuck around at the office to work overtime, not masturbate.

I pull my trousers up, then I shake my head and slap my cheeks to get rid of the warm-blooded stains of my arousal. After I switch to Visual Studio Code, I try to concentrate on the blinking cursor at the end of an instruction. I’ll transform my brain into a code-colored jellyfish and save this afternoon from my desperate thoughts.

I type quickly to elicit the fabled flow state from my discombobulated subconscious. When I program, I become the captain of my ship, which I steer away from the rocks of runtime exceptions and from the infinite horizon of the programming sea, where no ship has ever dared to venture. It’s been a long voyage, and I’ve gained plenty of experience along with my shipmates: the compilers and debuggers. The virtual machine also helps, I suppose.

I make the latest unit test pass and move to committing the changes to the repository.

“Commit?” my programming soulmate, Git, prompts me after I type my commit message. “I’m a sea creature that needs a port of call to rest in.”

I take a deep breath as I revise the commit message; my pig boss snoops on these. But I delete it and write a new message: ‘I’m a sea creature that needs a port of call to rest in’. I like the sound of that. Romantic. If I had come up with that line, I’d have used ‘seal’ instead of ‘sea’, due to the sexual connotations, but Git, who’s a kind of sea creature himself, knows best in this domain.

“What’s a port of call anyway?” I ask.

Git looks at me quizzically, widening his opaque, obsidian black eyes, as if he were contemplating this question for the first time. He laughs and crosses his arms over his belly.

“A port is a place where ships dock, where they can unload the goods they brought from faraway lands. When a ship is docked at a port, it’s safe from storms, and the crew can rest until they sail again.”

“I’ve figured out my port of call, then. My current destination is unexpected masturbation.” I sigh. “My masturbatory habits have gotten in the way of my work. What should I do about that, Git, old pal? I’m desperate for relief.”

Git strokes his scaly chin. I always abhorred the odd texture of his outer covering; it’s made out of scales of different colors and sources stacked on top of each other. In truth, his scales must be made from the fabric of the seabed. The ones on his chin are a soft white that jazzes up to a sky blue towards the edges. When he furrows his brow, his scales darken and thicken until they become black as night, making his face look like a hole caulked with teeth. But what can I say? I must accept Git as he is, for as far as I know he lacks any human ancestors, and can’t die no matter how many stones I throw at him.

Git holds his claws out.

“I recommend that you turn yourself into a sea creature.”

I grimace, then I consider his wisdom. After all, some quality of water makes me feel like it will ease my throbbing clit, and that’s exactly what I need right now.

“Alright, what kinds should I consider? Octopuses? Merfolk? Turtles? Sharks?”

“If you turn yourself into a seaman, your masturbation will become the ship’s port of call, and your rest will be its destination.”

“You make some sense. But can’t I become a seawoman instead? Don’t they have the most magnificent breasts?”

Git scowls as if he was chewing on grit, making his face look like a puckered orifice.

“I’m afraid that won’t work logistically.”

Crap. I had already warmed up to such a wild future.

“How about octopuses? They’re awesome, they have eight arms. You could combine four octopuses together, which would give you an octopus with twenty eight arms.”

Git smacks his lips disdainfully.

“If you ask me, octopuses are only suitable for scaring young children and arousing people with a fetish for tentacle rape. Besides, octopuses mate with the rhythm of the waves, and the only way to stop them is by shaking a rock into their den. They’ll never learn to master their urges like humans.”

I should shake a rock against my clit. It’s worth a try to relieve myself from my unending horniness.

“That doesn’t sound bad at all,” I say dreamily.

“Do you want to spend your whole existence trying to eat every other octopus you come across? In the octopus world, that’s a law, not a suggestion. I recommend you don’t become an octopus, woman.”

“Okay, how about octopuses with eight heads instead? That’s surely more than enough.”

Git furrows his scaly brow.

“Octopuses don’t even have two heads. Look, I don’t know what you’re trying to say, but you aren’t making any sense.”

I give him a break. Git’s claws are made for scratching, not typing. He must harbor some serious resentment after a lifetime of dealing with that disability.

“So it’s back to masturbating, then? I have no chance of surviving in the middle of the ocean, that’s why my port of call is masturbation. It’s all I have to keep me sane.”

Git laughs. The mirthful sound echoes around my office like a rainstorm, and the way his body shakes makes his scales sparkle like in the time of the dinosaurs, when life was better and the air clearer.

“I’m afraid that masturbating when you are in a programming state of mind will lead to errors. You need to find a way to program without your brain being flooded with thoughts of pleasure.”

“Can you offer any advice unrelated to transforming myself into a sea creature? I’d be grateful.”

Git narrows his eyes as he gazes into the faraway horizon.

“You could masturbate on the train while you’re commuting home.”

“The train?”

“The one that takes you to your apartment in Irún.”

“Oh, I can’t do that! I hate crowds. People make me nauseous. Besides, I’ve had enough of being stared at or touched by human beings. The only person for whom I make an exception is Jacqueline.”

“Oh well.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I thank you for your advice, my dear Git! But I’d rather keep masturbating at the office than on the train.”

Git shrugs.

“As a sea creature, I’m not qualified to make the decision for you. Besides, the best place for masturbation is the ocean.”

I raise an eyebrow.

“The ocean? Are you serious?”

Git nods slowly as his expression turns wistful.

“Masturbation is in truth an oceanic activity. But if you want to explore such depths of pleasure, you first need to learn how to be at peace with the world.”

I attempt to picture a landlubber like myself achieving such a feat. Should people masturbate while swimming?

“Who am I kidding,” I mutter morosely. “I’ll never be at peace with the world anyway. I’ll have to figure out some other ways of exploring the depths of pleasure, so I’ll know what’s like to climax like a creature of the deep.”

I doubt Git paid attention to any of my words. His smile suggests he’s in a reverie involving underwater masturbation.

“Often you even come across an unexpected friend,” he blurts out.

I frown, unsure of what he’s implying.

“Are there unexpected friends for unexpected masturbation?”

“Indeed. Whales!”

I envision myself rubbing my clit while sinking in the blue. Suddenly, a whale’s gravitational pull makes me flounder about in the churning water. The whale’s massive head emerges from the darkness. I struggle to swim away, but a whale doesn’t let go of a human it sees as prey. It just keeps laughing at you while you get sucked into its gargantuan maw.

“I don’t want whales!” I cry out.

Startled, Git draws his head back.


“I-I don’t like their eyes.”

Git stares at me for a few seconds, then he nods sagely.

“If you are afraid of cetaceans, I can give you a stick to scare the whales away. It has the ability to shoot waves.”

“A stick?” I ask in disbelief. “Is that supposed to be a weapon? Do you mean a gun?”

“It’s a wave stick. Anyway, when you’re at your most vulnerable in the midst of your usual masturbation routine, close to the moment of release, that’s when you’ll discover your unforeseen friends.”

After I shiver from head to toe, I bury my face in my hands and take a deep breath.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I think I’m done with the fucking ocean, thank you very much! But clarify this for me: the world’s largest mammal is a whale with a penis, right?”

“A sperm whale, yes.”

“Alright, moving on. I was supposed to commit my recent changes and push them to the repository.”

“Indeed. This is the moment of release.”

My face is flushed as the blood rushes to my cheeks. I imagine a sperm whale leering at my breasts, inching ever closer to licking my nipples. I shake my head to break the spell.

“Will you help me or not, Git?” I ask in quavering voice.

His lips curl into a satisfied smile as the smell of his body oil wafts towards my nose.

“Do you want to commit in the future or do you want to commit in the past?”

I hold my breath, then I let it out in an exasperated breath.

“Past, obviously! Way before I was born.”

Git nods, then he stretches his back in a dramatic pose.

“Done! Congratulations!”

My muscles relax. I’ve survived another nightmare. I want to hug him, but I restrain myself; his serrated scales are covered in a layer of fish-smelling oil.

“Thank you, Git. You’re a true lifesaver.”

Git beams, flaunting his pointed teeth.

“Glad I could help. A human with so much potential deserves to reach the surface.”

“You could help me a lot more, though. Your wisdom is invaluable.”

“You’re being polite,” Git says as he rubs absentmindedly the oil off some scales of his arm. “I’m a sea creature. I know very little about human problems.”

“I’ve long ceased to be a human being,” I say somberly. “I’m merely a programmer who often needs to rest after her long and intense voyages. So thank you for being my home port.”

Git lowers his head, then he turns on his heels. The scales that cover his back show off a treasure trove of dents and marks. As he shambles away, I step forward and struggle to formulate an apology for the unforeseen hurt I’ve caused him, but he stops and looks over his scaly shoulder at me. A teary glow emanates from his obsidian black eyeball.

“I’ve never been to the ocean,” he says hoarsely.

I’m shocked by this revelation, and the depth of his trust in me.

“Neither have I. The closest I’ve come to the ocean is when my mother took me to the beach a few times in my childhood. That place was the end of the universe as far as I was concerned. And the only reason she brought me there was because I had to pee.”

Git smiles sadly, then he sighs.

“I hold out hope, though, that one day the two of us will taste that brine.”

My friend waves goodbye. As he leaves, his body shimmers with the ever-changing patterns of light on his oily scales.

I lean back in my chair and gaze at the screen, that displays my current commit: thirty or so lines changed in a couple of files. When I take a deep breath, the air tastes salty. An odor of rotting fish stings my nostrils.

I need to think about how to decouple the functions involved in asynchronous user authentication so I can write unit tests for them, but my brain refuses to cooperate. I roll my chair back and stretch my arms.

I should make my way to the bathroom and wash my face with cold water. Maybe I’ll splash some on my neck. I feel like a layer of sand is stuck to my feet.

When I open my eyes, my gaze rests on the external hard drive I hid under my monitor’s screen. Why am I wasting my time programming when I could be watching Jacqueline and I fuck?

Author’s note: I’ve been on a funky mood ever since my last contract ended. Mostly dazed, though. I should start studying for my public examination, but there’s too much writing to be done.

I may have been inspired to go on a tangent because I recently discovered Caroline Konstnar and her ‘The Jellyfish Song’. I’ve also enjoyed this unrelated skit as well as this sillier and shorter video.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 43 (Fiction)

Jordi is checking the contents of his briefcase and Jacqueline is putting her designer coat on, both preparing to leave the office for the day. Although I’ll stick around to work overtime, they are spreading their vibe, making me feel like the weekend has already started.

My beloved wraps her red scarf around her neck, then she leans in towards me and hands me an external hard drive.

“Here, so you won’t miss me tonight,” she whispers furtively. “Along with its USB 3 Micro-B cable, in case you don’t have one.”

I know what any external hard drive associated with my girlfriend contains, but I would have figured it out due to the look she’s giving me: that of a pervert sharing naughty stuff with a fellow connoisseur. A sudden heat ripples across my skin.

“And call me tomorrow morning, alright?” Jacqueline adds.

I want to thank her for the gift, but I’m blushing, so I just nod. I grab the hard drive and slide it under my monitor screen to hide it from prying eyes.

As Jacqueline straightens her back, Jordi joins her at her side. An anchor grey, heavy wool coat covers his impeccably ironed white shirt and black pants. In the reflection of his glasses, my shy self looks like a criminal about to crack.

“I hope you manage to rest enough this weekend, Leire,” he says with a warm smile.

I’ve whined repeatedly about the soreness in my muscles, and our intern is the kind of guy that cares about other people’s pains. I shrug and smile like a kid that emptied out the cookie jar.

“I doubt I’m going to let her rest enough,” Jacqueline says proudly, “because we are going on a date. But she’ll be alright.”

“Nothing to worry about, then,” Jordi says.

Our boss exits his den and locks the door behind him. My shoulders tense up. I lower my gaze and pretend that I need to brush dandruff from my keyboard. I must appear insignificant to dissuade him from approaching me and putting a hand on my shoulder, or patting me on the back, or groping me in nastier ways.

As Ramsés passes by our table, he wishes us a good weekend in the monotone voice of someone too busy to care. I’m glad he seems as eager to part ways with his employees as I am that for a couple of days I’ll be free from his enslaving ways. However, he still takes time out of his afternoon to glance at me. I feel naked.

When the last of our boss’ footsteps vanishes, I exhale in relief.

Jacqueline’s gaze turns from the front door to me as if she had expected our boss to return and annoy us again.

“That’s our cue to leave.”

She squeezes my shoulder, then both my coworkers head to the exit. Before the door closes, she shoots me an ardent look through the gap. I smile back at her.

Until tomorrow, my sexy, glamorous queen.

I slouch in the chair and close my eyes, but my mind presents me with a vision of that fiendish boss of ours moving his greasy hand down my back, then daring to fondle my tits. My cheeks burn with shame, and a rage surges up inside my belly. How many times has he forced me to visualize him fucking me into submission? He’d get on top of me, smack his lips and drool on my face. I can almost feel his weight pushing me down. His fat cock would plunge into my womb until he filled it with a messy load of baby batter. Then he would order me to clean him with my tongue. He’d make me relish in the humiliation.

I wish I could punch that bastard in the face hard enough to dislodge his brain, but I’ve never hit anyone in my life. I’m afraid I would get punched in return. Besides, I’m a pitiful shell of a person, ill-equipped for murder. I’m only armed with these skinny arms and legs, and a rabid swarm of depraved thoughts. To the majority of people, I must be almost unrecognizable as a human being, so the most frightening thing I could do is reveal myself to them.

I’m in deep shit, a deep shit in which I’ve sunk my teeth and claws as far as I can. I shouldn’t have to sit at my workstation five days a week and endure this torment. I guess I need to find some other job that doesn’t involve me having sex with the boss. Ramsés would replace me in a matter of weeks; plenty of women out there would love to be manhandled by that dirty pervert.

I’ve begun to sweat. I rub my face with both hands, then I sigh deeply.

“I’m alone,” I say to the empty office.

I listen as the doors to other offices along the hallway open and shut. Streams of footsteps march out eagerly. On the parking lot, a bunch of car engines start up.

I scroll through YouTube idly while the business park closes for the day. Once the world has quieted down, I stand up wearily and leave to get a coffee from the vending machine. Now that I’m pushing my body to walk, its muscles and bones complain of soreness and exhaustion. I feel as if I’ve been dead for a month. Last night instead of sleeping I took two long naps; I woke up in the middle of the night to pee, but when I returned to Jacqueline’s bed, her eyes were glowing like beacons of desire. They seemed to be asking for proof of my devotion. I ended up with my face buried between her thighs, blowing my breath into her hot vagina. The wetness came flooding out of her and spilled down my face and throat. If both of us had fallen asleep then, I wonder whether I would have suffocated or drowned.

Lost in a reverie involving pussy juices, I only notice that a straggler is passing by because the guy clears his throat. He caught me yawning. I cut it short awkwardly, then I lower my gaze to the faded vinyl floor, that reflects the fluorescent bulbs. Over the last few years, this floor has received plenty of my sweat and other bodily fluids. I should apologize to it.

“Have a good weekend,” the guy says.

What business is it of this stranger if I’ll enjoy my weekend?

“Yeah,” I reply hoarsely.

My body shudders as I imagine the stranger’s rough hands groping my naked flesh. He’ll stroke my breasts, my hips, my belly, my inner thighs. He’ll then plunge his swollen cock deep inside me, and I’ll welcome it with all the gratitude of a filthy slut. His frantic panting and my whimpers will be muffled by the sound of my skin smacking against the vinyl floor.

I shake my head to make its demons dizzy, then I suck in air and quicken my pace.

When I make my way back to the office while holding a hot latte, I lock the door behind me. The fluorescent lights are beaming their pale glow on the three computer screens. I stare at the daisy white walls and ceiling, the porcelain white desk that seats three people, the row of three frost white utility cabinets, and the cloud grey worn carpet that some arcane presence vacuums regularly under the cover of darkness.

Regarding the furniture, only the three futuristic office chairs suggest that someone equipped with an ass has ever visited the room. Otherwise, this space was built for robots or monsters, or possibly robotic monsters. You could waste a thousand years here without anything of value happening, and once you disappeared, no recognizable proof of your presence would remain. It’s a lair for the undead, for those who spend their lives with their eyes closed.

I turn the lights off. I’ve never understood why people prefer such brightness at work; I need the environment to be dark enough to promote a mental state where I can concentrate for hours on end. I’d prefer it to look like midnight in the deepest dungeon.

Now that I’ve turned this room into a shrine to solitude and depravity, I saunter over to the window as I hold the hot cup of latte. I take tiny sips while gazing past my reflection in the glass. The coffee tastes as good as it smells, which is to say, like mud. But the caffeine should kick in soon enough, or at least I’ll delude myself into believing it does.

“What a crap latte,” I say to nobody, although part of me hopes that my words will reach some ghost that will possess my body and force me to quit this job.

Above the boxy, three-story high building on the opposite side of a tree-lined path, one that Jordi and Jacqueline traverse during the lunch breaks as they head to their usual restaurant, the indigo sky of this October evening lacks any looming threats, except for a couple of cumulonimbus clouds dyed tiger orange. Such a haunting sight humbles me and risks convincing me that life can be pleasant for brief periods of time.

I close my eyes. I picture myself as a hawk soaring over a field of sunflowers. The leaves are as broad as my wings, the tall stalks as thin as my legs. I’m heading towards some snowcapped mountain peaks in the distance.

I remember that I’m supposed to sit down and keep programming. I’ve tortured myself by working overtime often, so why do I feel different today? I used to stick around at the office in the afternoons partly because I can only focus and relax properly when I’m alone, but I was also reluctant to return to my dreary apartment in Irún, where I would face the heap of garbage bags, as well as the dust that has gathered on the furniture and on the pile of unplayed board games.

Wasting my evenings here I communed with my natural relationship with the world, that the voice and presence of other humans would mask otherwise: under all the noise, I was alone, always and forever alone, inching ever closer to the brink of madness. I was a speck of dust drifting in the breeze. Even those who had noticed me would forget me in minutes. Once I died, I would be gone as if I had never been born; the universe would have corrected the terrible mistake of having contained me in it.

My mother had given birth to me while she was already pregnant with another child. Instead of a gift of life to be kept and treasured for years, I was always a bastard unwanted by everyone, even my own father, who only considered me for a couple of years and then forgot about my existence. He was the kind of guy who got rid of his garbage by throwing it out of the window.

The sight of my frail body sent my mother into despair, as she was cursed with a second mouth to feed. She refused to let me suckle her breast, and she hid me away in a corner of the house like a filthy rag. I spent most days locked away in an old armoire.

When I turned seven years old, my mother gave me up to an orphanage. There I contracted scabies, and my hair quickly transformed into snakes. The boys poked fun at me for lacking a dick. The matron punished me every day, by sending me to scrub the floors with my nails while wearing a black sack over my head. I grew increasingly terrified; I knew that when I turned sixteen, I’d be sent to a whorehouse to become a prostitute for old men.

A month after my sixteenth birthday, the matron informed me that I would have to become a whore to pay for my care. I refused, but she had me drugged with a large dose of valium. I was taken away in the middle of the night and dropped off at a brothel, where I was stripped and given a shower. The doctor that inspected my body declared that my genitals were useless. As the pimp shepherded me to my assigned bedroom, I heard women screaming from the nearby rooms, but the pimp said that it meant they were happy.

I wanted to cry out in rage at this universe that had stolen my life away, but instead of doing so, I injected myself with a lethal dose of horse tranquilizer. As I lay dead in a morgue, my mother visited me and told me that I was dead. After an awkward silence, she put her arms around me and added, “I’m very sorry that all of this had to happen to you, but now you’ll have plenty of time to reflect on what you did wrong to deserve it.”

My mother kept the promise of a small headstone on my grave to mark that I had existed. It read, ‘Leire XXX. She lived only for herself, and died to prove that she didn’t matter.’ I had told them to write instead, ‘Lived like a whore, died a free woman’, but they hadn’t listened.

I was never sad to die; I was never happy to live either. In the vacuum that remained, I became a drifting piece of nonsense floating in an infinite void.

The hard, sharp edges of many memories are carved into the skin of my chest, the rough ridges of a painful wound. Now I’m a miserable whore that has to keep working until death visits her again, but in between all the pain and sorrow and regret, at least someone in that putrid world out there will wait for me to rejoin her, and when I do, she’ll wrap her arms around my rotten old self and suck the marrow from my bones.

Tonight I’ll return to the transitory apartment for which I’m forced to pay, but tomorrow I’ll go out on a date with my woman. Later on I’ll sleep in a place that feels like a home. When my eyes open in the following morning, I will take in the face of the woman that I desired since I first saw her. My heart will beat in joy, my mouth will curl up in a smile. I’ll gaze into those cobalt blues like a prisoner looking up at the sun for the first time after decades of confinement. I’ll be moved, I’ll be shaken, I’ll be amazed. My pussy will get wet; I’ll feel it throb and pulsate inside my panties.

The annoyance and loneliness of having to work overtime has become meaningful: it will free my mind from some of the pending tasks so I can think of Jacqueline that much more. No matter the nonsense that life slings at me, I can open up to my beloved, and she’ll listen.

I wasn’t a monster after all. I wasn’t born from the dirt and the mud, or the darkest recess of a cave where demons live. I didn’t emerge from an egg with a bloodied shell, nor was I formed from the decaying matter of a rotting corpse. It took nine months for a woman’s body to grow my bones and flesh, and my birth wasn’t conducted in the basement of some run-down, crumbling ruin, but in a hospital room. The mother was a human instead of some genetically engineered chimera created through an experiment that combined the cells of various animal species. I was a baby like anyone else: a daughter, a son, a sister, a brother. A human mother must have smiled down at me, kissed me, then fed me a mixture of warm milk and blood. I became a child who wanted to be held in the arms of a woman who would love me, who would cry over my grave.

Author’s Note: as I mentioned in my previous update, I’ve been working on this scene for a good while. It was supposed to be at least twice as long, but when I woke up this morning I got the feeling that I could divide it into at least two chapters, because they would feel independent enough. Getting through the final iteration has proven that point, so here’s the first part.

I’ve been listening to plenty of distinct stuff recently. Last year I listened to PUP’s first five or so songs from their album ‘Morbid Stuff’ like a couple hundred times, and songs like ‘See You At Your Funeral’ are the reason why. Very down-to-earth fellow. I also love this song by Glass Animals. As I have done for literally twenty five years, I’ve returned to the only album in Spanish, my native language, that I have ever listened to repeatedly: Los Rodríguez’s ‘Palabras más, Palabras menos’, due to songs like ‘Diez años después’‘La puerta de al lado’ and ‘Todavía una canción de amor’. The whole album is timeless, though. I even dared to listen to Joanna Newsom’s old stuff (whom I’ve long suspected to be autistic as well, not that she’d ever confirm it).

I think I went on enough in the update I’ve linked earlier about the recent nonsense I’ve had to deal with. I hope you enjoyed this one, Jen (namedropped out of nowhere!). No reason why you or anyone else would enjoy this chapter more than others; I just thought it would be fun to freak you out. Anyway, see you all later, bitches.