We’re Fucked, Pt. 20 (Fiction)

I kneel on the floor, behind the coffee table, to prepare our gaming area. I lift the lid of the game’s box and take out the honeycomb-like server tiles. They are colored red, green, blue, yellow or purple, and the partitions are numbered from one to six. The tiles incorporate a neon motif that brings up faded memories of playing early 3D games on my Pentium computer.

Spike clomps closer, likely denting the hardwood with every step of his uneven hooves. His black, bulging eyes stare as though hypnotized by some treasure, maybe his long-awaited reward for proving himself a loyal servant to his creator. An odd hint of mustiness about his dewy mane of coarse hair, as well as about his fetid coat, reminds me of mildew and rot combined with some putrid essence of mold and fungi from an infested attic crawlspace.

“Here’s the plan for the next couple of hours,” I say. “You’ll play one of the available cyberpunk runners and help me defeat an evil supercomputer that I usually refer to as Shadowcluster.”

During my first playthrough of this board game, back when I bothered to open the games I bought, I named my opponent Shadowcluster because it allowed me to imagine myself facing an AI fiend who intended to shut down my ability to reconnoitre the cyberspace. To discover what nasty secrets this supercomputer harbored deep inside its digital heart, I had to avoid getting caught in the machine’s endless labyrinths filled with traps, including robots that kill with laser beams, acid spray and poison gas if they detect intruders. As a boss fight, I clashed with a pair of mutant cats that emitted radiation fields from their paws and that could spit acidic foam if cornered.

Spike’s eyeballs roll around, which reveals an offensive lack of enthusiasm for my proposal.

“W-well, I…”

“Don’t ‘w-well, I’ me. Every time you intrude upon my life, I’m forced to inhale your fetid body odor, but you can’t do this little thing for me? I thought we were friends, Spike. If two pals can’t play a board game together, why would we even bother existing anymore?”

Spike sucks in air then releases it in a single breath of foul fumes. He lowers his gaze and shuffles his thick rump to the sofa, into which he awkwardly flumps down. I’m allowing this horse’s dirty haunches to rest on my cushions, but I suspect I’ll end up regretting it when I find myself washing skid marks.

My horse stalker remains silent as I arrange the server tiles into a configuration that provides an advantage to both players in the race against the supercomputer Shadowcluster. I assemble the circle and square tokens into distinct piles, then I build our starter decks. Five minutes later, the red avatar I chose, and the blue one I picked for Spike, are standing on the assigned partitions of our corresponding, multicolored server tiles, ready for action and looking dumb.

A red token accompanies my avatar, who specializes in overwhelming the server partitions with viruses to destroy their countermeasures. I forced Spike to choose a blue avatar, because their playstyle is centered around teleporting from partition to partition, which suits my stalker. Besides, this horse is too dumb to handle the sophisticated techniques of the green avatars, that shift tokens around, or the yellow ones, that turn server defenses into useful contaminants.

I shake Spike’s starter deck in front of his drooling muzzle.

“You’ll draw from this initial set of weak command cards, but don’t worry: this is a deckbuilding game. You like deckbuilders, right? You can spend these command points to buy stronger cards from the marketplace over here. And the new cards go directly to your hand!”

“This is one weird-ass game,” Spike mutters through his long lips.

“What, you don’t like it?! Top-notch board game design right here. A seven point eight on the BGG, high for that competitive ranking. Don’t tell me you are a Gloomhaven fanboy. Its exhaustion mechanic doesn’t make any sense!”

“M-maybe I’ll wrap my head around the rules as we play…”

Spike’s spaced out expression suggests he wouldn’t be qualified now to clomp across the living room without faceplanting, but I haven’t enjoyed a board game in ages. After I draw my five initial cards and I’m considering their combined strengths, I regain the fleeting feeling that I can affect something in the world through the power of my luck-based assets, as if I had been born into an affluent family. I look over the cards available in the marketplace, and I gasp.

“Holy shit! I can buy the Microbionix card with my starter hand! Check this out, Spike. This card offers either three leadership command points, which you can use in place of any regular command point, or else it lets you delete one spark in my partition and every adjacent one! That’s two sparks gone in one go, baby!” I hunch over to pick up the two spark tokens, then I drop them in the corresponding pile of white, round tokens. “Too bad I can’t upload a virus contaminant in this round, but this was a good start.”

After I replenish my hand of cards, I fill the empty slot in the marketplace. I reread the supercomputer’s countermeasures card to figure out if it reacts at the end of my turn, but I’m safe. I pick up both the server and the partition dice.

“Spike, pay attention. The rules order us to add an enemy defense token, called a spark, whenever each of us finishes his or her turn. That means we can’t fuck around, because before we know it we’ll face a losing battle!”

I roll the dice. I get a blue circle on the server die, meaning the blue server, and a two on the partition die, so I place a spark token on the second partition of Spike’s home server.

“Back luck,” I say. “That previous spark on the first partition of your server may slide towards the second one, and whenever you find yourself about to gather three sparks on the same partition, a guardian token gets generated!”

Spike’s thick tongue lolls out while his mouth gapes open, showing off his large, buttery teeth. He rocks forward as if he were about to collapse onto the board and its numerous tokens, but he catches himself and shuffles back into position. He slurps the thread of saliva that has been moistening the cushion between his hind legs. I thought that Spike was going to apologize for his apathy, but he remains quiet as he stares through the mosaic of server tiles into the distance.

“Hey, what’s the matter with you?” I complain. “Pay attention, damn it!”

The only answer from Spike is a wet gulp and a shudder of drool. If he fails to snap out of it, Shadowcluster may spawn a giant robotic horse that will charge at Spike’s flank, or even fire its deadly laser directly at my poor, doomed horseman’s chest, where the armor is merely skin stretched over an unimpressive muscle mass. A successful hit would cause my friend to disappear in a flash of flame.

I take a deep breath and consider how best to break through Spike’s fugue. The supercomputer must be getting impatient, and eventually will send drones into my apartment that will kill us both if they detect our presence in the living room.

“This is a cooperative game in which we must join forces against an evil AI, and I won’t let you drag me down. Shadowcluster is a serious threat to all servers connected to the network of my mind. I know that you lack enough of a brain to realize how many advantages are present during your turn, but I will patiently point out the obvious options. Along the way, you might even learn how to interact properly with human beings. So, your turn has begun! Draw five cards.”

Spike blinks, then tilts his long head to look down at his retracted forelegs. His hooves click together.

I sigh.

“Sorry, I forgot you are useless and might be developing dementia. I’ll draw the cards for you, since we are friends and everything. Alright, this isn’t a bad hand for the playstyle of the blue player. I think that your role should consist in easing movement for me as I solve problems across the board. You waddling all the way to my server would take too long and many cards, so let’s install a teleport token, shall we? Now for an exam question, how would you spawn the blue installation with your current hand? Spike!”

Silence reigns as I wait for an answer from an idiot horse who probably can’t count higher than three digits. The wiry muscles of his neck tremble as he swallows.

“I-I’m not sure…”

“I might as well be playing with a toddler.” I hold up two cards with blue command points near Spike’s right eye. “What would happen if you spent three blues at the same time?”

“You create a teleport thing…?”

I discard the two cards, then reach towards the jumble of square tokens to grab a blue one. I place it next to Spike’s avatar.

“Now you can jump from this partition to anywhere on the network just by spending an additional blue command point.” I discard the spent card, then I pick up his avatar and displace it to my server tile. As I straighten my back, the irritation makes me shake my head and grunt. “You know, this is suboptimal, in the same way you are subhuman. The best thing about playing board games with someone else should be the freedom of worrying solely about your own options, but instead I have to deal with a half-baked mule that gets distracted by his stinky self and useless appendages. This serves as a reminder of why horses are considered dumb animals rather than intelligent beings as some of us believe them to be.”

Spike mumbles and fidgets while he studies his front hooves as if they were foreign objects. His grotesque head keeps swaying while beads of sweat bedew his coarse coat.

“Are you alright, buddy?” I ask, softening my voice as if addressing an ill child.

“I… don’t feel good. It’s hard to focus.”

“Well, make an effort. You offered to play board games with me, remember?”

I order him to roll the server and partition dice by pinching them between his front hooves, but the thick keratin coverings slide and the dice fly off. One of them flicks me on the forehead, the other clatters on the hardwood floor. I can’t even complain; my forehead wouldn’t sting if I had thrown the dice myself.

I don’t bother commentating on how a new spark spawned on the fourth partition of the purple server. The gleaming surface of Spike’s black eyeballs is moistening, and his head remains tilted as if he can’t be bothered raising it anymore. The horse lets out a wet snort that echoes throughout the living room, that has become a sterile laboratory devoted entirely to research into insanity.

“Am I witnessing the start of a cycle of depression, my friend?” I ask with sympathy. “It’s okay. Horses are lovable idiots, and being gay is not a crime if one is an ungulate.”

Spike turns on his haunches towards me, likely smearing an arc of shit on the cushion under him. He’s nearly wheezing through the dilated black holes of his nostrils, and his vacant eyes, dull and glazed over like worn coins, could bore holes into mine and penetrate my soul.

“L-Leire, I shouldn’t spend so much time in this dimension at once, and I’ve already… C-could you please listen to what I’ve been trying to tell you all along?”

I rub my eyes. I’ve gone through the trouble of setting up the game only for our enthusiasm to fade this quickly. When I hold Spike’s teary gaze again, my tone hardens.

“Don’t you understand, my friend? We were blessed that the maddening complexity of our world had been condensed to the mechanics of this cyberpunk game. Whatever worries you would have waited until after we won the battle of wits against this digital entity that intended to trumpet its victory over us. You need to learn how to relax, make a dash for freedom from your horsehide prison. This society was made to wear us to the bone, and whoever gazes upon your grotesque visage can tell that you need as many wins as you can get. Besides, we are insignificant compared to the governments and corporations that make their billions off our misery. Even if horses could participate in the electoral system, do you truly believe that anyone’s vote determines who wins? You have no clue who has access to the computers where they process the results. The world will continue along on the road to ruin regardless of whether or not we defeat Shadowcluster today, or tomorrow, or in ten years. We could have sustained an illusion for the length of this playthrough, but the mirage has shattered. We have reunited with our fates as living machines that will keep grinding away in a never-ending cycle of debt slavery through wage theft. I know that you need to believe that just because you were born, the universe had special plans for you, but the only plan written in the genes of sentient beings is for them to fear how many days are left until they die.”

Spike has hung his head. His drool dribbles onto his chest and rolls down to his navel. Although I take a deep breath then pick up my hand of cards, the horse has already infected me with his gloominess.

“I’m going to play my next turn, Spike,” I mutter. “That’s what I’ve always told myself to get out of bed in the mornings. I’m strong enough to play through another fucking turn.”

I’ve just exchanged one of my cards with an advanced command card from the Hack Shack, but I realize that the miasma that had suffused the living room is dwindling fast. Before I turn my head, I already know that Spike has vanished without saying goodbye.

I force myself to finish the rest of my turn. I even replenish my hand with cards I won’t play. I lean back onto the cushions, and as I listen to the flow of nearby traffic, someone’s loud phone conversation in a foreign language, and the neighbor’s muffled and lazily dubbed TV show, I slide down the sofa so much that I fall off.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 19 (Fiction)

Since I put on my checkered, flannel pajama set and I flumped down into my living room sofa, I’ve had to contend against my brain’s urge to doze off. I need to remain alert. Hunched over, resting my elbows on my knees, I keep watch. That horse-shaped fiend will materialize in the previously empty space, then I’ll confront him and extract from him, through torture if necessary, an explanation for that floating, computerized display that had popped in and out of reality like my equine stalker.

Why would Spike film me as I was fucking myself silly, if any hint of arousal should remind him that he lost his dick? No, I shouldn’t try to figure out the motivations of a deviant, lest the conclusions contaminate my mind. That deformed horse has spied on me at will ever since he stepped out of the bathroom’s stall at work when I was enjoying a break. From that day on, I’ve endured a waking nightmare.

My stomach keeps gurgling. After the fourth or fifth time I’ve nodded off, I decide to discard my anxious, paranoid thoughts until I’ve shoved some food down my gullet to replenish the calories burned off during stress and masturbation. But when I open the kitchen door, the stench coming from the heap of garbage bags filled with rotten food, that have been allowed to fester for a week or more, hits me as if I had taken in a whiff from a sewer drain. The eggs incubating in the decaying organic matter may hatch into mutated insects as ugly as roaches, a step away from turning into vampires.

An intrusive thought startles me: I should take out the trash. But that’s assuming I can dig up enough strength to carry the garbage bags outside, stumbling along with an armful of rotting stuff as heavy as lead while I avoid being eaten alive by the hungry worms wriggling in those disgusting plastic sacks. No one ever wanted to help me with the disposal of this shit, and now I realize why: I might be harboring an epidemic of parasites that have infected my neighbors and have spread to every part of my city in the process, including my own apartment, where they lurk in dark crevices to breed and infest everything and everyone within reach.

I take advantage of my sudden urge to get rid of this festering filth, that at this point likely harbors germs like leprosy and gangrene. I put on my winter coat, I wave away and yell at the flies that buzz incessantly over the stinking mess, and in fifteen minutes I’ve gotten rid of all the bags in various trips to the container. Then I spend five minutes washing off with soap water to banish any trace of that nefarious stench lingering on my skin.

I had hoped to eat something wholesome, but most of the contents of my fridge have expired. I discover that my freezer has stocked ice cream and a couple of frozen pizzas that will inevitably go bad too, unless I store them somewhere colder than the bottom of my freezer, preferably on top of a hill in Antarctica where they’d stay cold forever while awaiting their chance to escape and run rampant throughout nature with a vengeance. I bother to place one of the pizzas on the counter, but I can’t muster the motivation to cook it.

Why am I trying to obey this decaying body’s narcissistic demands, when I have been inching closer to self-destruction for as long as I can remember? I lack a satisfying answer. This deadly game can only end with mutilation of all kinds and a descent into oblivion. I return the pizza to the freezer, but I end up taking out the rest of the serrano ham, as well as a few slices of sandwich bread that, after I pick off the mold, smell edible enough.

Tonight, sleep mostly eludes me because I keep fantasizing about strangling that damn horse and eating its insides, then spitting out the skeleton onto the ground and stomping on the remains with hobnailed boots while singing a death anthem of mine. It would be a way of getting back in touch with basic instinct and reviving my life’s purpose as the warrior who kills monsters. Anyway, I spend hours in a fitful, delirious state, unable to drift off in peace, dreaming up fighters for me to face in combat. An insect woman covered head-to-toe in thick fur except for her pink vagina. A bloodthirsty werewolf whose favorite meal consists of horse intestines cooked into delicious steaks served rare. A mantis lady eager to suck out an opponent’s soul as easily as slurping down spaghetti carbonara. An albino gargoyle that babbles blasphemous curses from his evil tongue made from crawling maggots. The combatants come from nowhere, then vanish just as fast when I kill them off in spectacular fashion. Still, those demons taught me what true pain means, because I hadn’t suffered any major trauma or grievous injury since I became a cyborg at age twelve. An AI isn’t programmed to understand human frailty as deeply as they know themselves from inside their own guts. And as a cyborg, I never had to worry about being alone, because robots can’t cry nor scream nor suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and neither do they mourn for others in vain.

When Saturday morning comes, my exhausted muscles twitch, I feel nauseous as if I woke up early from an unprofitable nap, and my mouth tastes like sour milk from an old bottle that has sat undisturbed in a forgotten corner of the cupboard. The taste generates in my brain the image of a person licking a puddle at an industrial factory floor, oblivious of the stench and pollution permeating her flesh, her mind locked in the endless pursuit of oral gratification at all costs no matter how vile, unsanitary or hazardous, because her obsession won’t stop unless someone shoots her face full of buckshot, or drives a rusty nail right through her skull until her eyes turn purple from ruptured capillaries, causing a vision of heaven to explode into colored sparks.

I barely make any progress towards releasing myself from the grip of my damp sheets, which seem glued to every inch of my body, making this soggy cocoon nearly impossible to escape. And how many times I’ve woken up only to wish I had been killed in a nightmare?

An eternity later I manage to roll off my bed. I roll up the blinds and open my curtains, then I cover my mouth with the sleeve of my pajama shirt because the other side of the window turns out to contain the worst thing ever to invade the nostrils of humanity: the outside world. Dawn has broken, but the facade of the opposite apartment building, despite the potted flowers in a few balconies, remains grey and lifeless like covered in dusty cobwebs. I open the window and stick my head out. The pale, yellow ball of the sun that rises from behind a roof looks painted in the clear blue sky as if by a kindergartener, and it barely warms this cold October morning.

I fill my mouth with soggy cornflakes while I watch on YouTube some American dad ranking board games in his basement den with his daughter. There is nothing worth looking forward to today, and as usual, every part of this rotten body is filled with a sense of impending dread. I can’t shake off the shock of realizing that someone was filming me while I masturbated. Out there, a video shows me rubbing Jacqueline’s lip balm against my throbbing clit. What if that fiend also recorded me during the previous times that I leaked my juices at the office? The more I picture that drooling horse’s child-like bulging, black eyes, the more I doubt he knows how to operate a camera, but surely he inhabits the same realm as those monsters and random objects that pop in and out of existence.

I pace my living room while I expect that horse-deviant to appear at any moment. I’m growing increasingly irritated. Spike must know that I intend to berate him, so he’s chickening out from showing his elongated mug. He likely also intends to avoid getting arrested and put on trial for stalking and voyeurism, as well as for displaying his embarrassing deformities. In any case, when did I become such a threatening and dangerous creature that I frighten even other lunatics?

A noxious miasma fills my living room, permeating through all corners of this tiny space, escaping from a new asshole ripped in reality. I wouldn’t have thought, if I had bothered to consider the possibility, that I’d be relieved to inhale a stench that could disturb a forensic pathologist.

When Spike appears next to the coffee table, he shoots me an apologetic look.

“Leire, I–“

“You took your damn time! We need to talk about that voyeurism of yours, Spike!” I stand my ground with my hands crossed over my chest as I glare at the equine pervert. “I was trying to get rid of my stress by experiencing a mystical union between myself and the higher version that I glimpse whenever I’m lost in the throes of pleasure. You sullied the memory of that holy act, tainted it with your perversion.”

Spike’s drool sways as he gears up to defend himself.

“I apologize! If I had known you were masturbating, I would have approached you another time!”

“In case you intended to take advantage of my vulnerable state, I must inform you that although I have endured through some dark stuff in this wretched life of mine, I doubt I’m ready to stoop so low as to fuck an equine freak. And why would you care about sex anyway? Do you believe that your detached dick will get hard inside the jar with formaldehyde where your tormentor stores it, likely for fetishistic purposes?”

My brain had buzzed like a hornet trapped in a jar, but as soon as I started ranting, my head felt lighter, it became easier to speak coherent sentences without stuttering, and suddenly my mouth tastes like strawberries. Still, Spike’s expression of horror makes me a bit sorry for insulting his masculinity.

“L-Leire, please! This has gotten ridiculous and far too personal and scary.”

“Do not interrupt me again, stop changing the subject and listen carefully! I can handle you appearing when I’m diddling myself, but you filming me doing so crosses a line no sane person should dare tread. Stop harassing and bullying me, or I’ll find an excuse to fire you and send you packing to some psychiatric ward.”

Spike stammers as he blinks in confusion.

“Filming? What are you talking about?”

“Don’t you know what filming implies, you deranged horse-mongrel? I’m talking about that screen that hovered in front of my bare legs as I was recovering from the anxiety-erasing orgasm that Jacqueline inspired. You want to turn me into your personal porn star, don’t you, stupid horseman?!”

Spike tries to raise his atrophied forelegs in a placating gesture, but they only flail around uselessly. I make the mistake of staring at the dumb brute closely. Those crooked nostrils, the oddly protruding eyes due to his malformed skull, remind me that Spike emerged from hell along with the rest of his kind. Who could deny that some foul miasma lurks in his soul?

“Leire, I’ve never filmed you,” he states earnestly. “I can’t even hold stuff with these stupid hooves. But an impossible floating screen is bad news! It must be related to the ongoing catastrophe I’ve been trying to warn you about ever since we first met!”

I scrutinize what passes for an expression in this horse’s deformed head. His trembling eyeballs mostly show fear of my anger, while sweat trickles down his matted and dirty coat. I should have known that he’s too innocent an abomination to be responsible for such a loathsome machination. He didn’t betray me, partly because he lacks the wit and cunning needed.

I sigh, relieved, and for the first time since I woke up on this Saturday, I feel free as only a weekend can provide for a wage slave.

“Never mind all that, then! Remember that you offered to play board games with me? I got bored with the solo variants.”

I hurry to the pile of board games that occupies the gap in the cabinet where stupider people would have set up their television. I struggle to free the coin grey and cyan box of the cyberpunk game Renegade from the middle of the pile; years of chronic masturbation have weakened my hands, turned them clumsy, and I’ve refused to acknowledge the issue to any medical practitioner that might understand anything about this rotten carcass of mine, because most people already have enough with the average stuff that emerges from my mouth as if from a hideous nightmare.

When I find myself holding the weighty cardboard box, it electrifies me with the promise of losing myself within the constraints of the game’s carefully designed rules and scenarios. For those that possess my technical mindset, these games are like drugs with waning addictive properties. I always end up getting bored of setting them up then playing against myself. After all, such games need to compete against the rapture that rubbing my clit elicits, and not even the sharpest minds can design a worthy contender to what millions of years of evolution produced, namely the beautiful flesh button between my legs, so wonderfully equipped with nerve endings to please when stimulated. Why give a shit about anything except being able to cum after squeezing my cunt lips together and pinching my clit for a while? Due to this monopoly, living creatures continue expelling offspring instead of realizing the pointlessness of perpetuating these circles of pain and despair and therefore settling for a mass die-off.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 18 (Fiction)

I shuffle back to my chair, but as I reach it, I fall to my knees, cross my forearms on the seat and hide my face. I’m as defenseless as a baby bird. Any ravenous predator could ambush me without warning, and I even lack a mother who would watch helplessly as her chick got devoured alive. Nobody would help, except maybe the birds nesting in my computer tower, that could peck at my eyes or suck my brains out with their sharp beaks. Alone, I have to feed myself with my own blood.

Although I already understood the extent of my curses, my mind continuously grapples against that horrifying knowledge lest I hang myself at the first opportunity in a Japanese forest, to end up as a heap of bones and decomposing organs that would get mistaken by some passerby for a pile of trash. I was only lucky that I confused Ramsés enough that he desisted for now, but this bastard will surely fire me because I refused to fill my womb with his foul offspring. In his mind, why the fuck would he want to retain the burned-out prude that’s hogging the workload like a parasite on the carcass of a dead deer, when he can easily replace her with an eager slut?

The ambush has rattled my brain to the core. Still, I must concentrate on programming. Slowly and steadily, my fingers stop trembling as they rest on the keyboard or press the keys down firmly. Each letter and punctuation mark illuminates the darkness with its fading light, and its clicking prevents me from being devoured by the hungry silence of the office and this cursed land infested by monsters.

My tar-like loneliness has flooded the world as far as my mind can see. I close my eyes tight and I clench my fists to dissipate the anxiety, until a fire like that of an ancient lighthouse brightens the blackness inside my throbbing skull and burns away the shadows with flames, which lick every crevice while steam rises and sweat drips from my skin, making trails through the grime that has coated me for decades. I’m back at that break in the bathroom when I broke down crying due to my self-hatred and despair, when I would have remained lost except for Jacqueline. I picture the wet heat of that woman’s lips pressed against my ear as she runs her fingers through my hair. When had I felt so cherished, and loved? While she held me in her arms and squeezed her motherly breasts against mine, nipple to nipple, she convinced me that as long as I disappeared in her embrace, none of the horrors that this world has birthed could infect me ever again.

I squeeze my thighs together. In my mind’s eye, the juices rushing to my crotch flow like a torrent on a dry riverbed. Hasn’t Jacqueline marked her territory on her side of this long table we were ordered to share? She embellished it with a framed photo collage of European capitals, a plastic rose bouquet in a bone white pot, a silver pen holder with a reticulated overlay, a red suede leather blotter with intricate patterns of golden fleur-de-lis embossing, and three different pens: a fountain, a rollerball, and one made from unicorn horn.

I roll over to Jacqueline’s domain and I run my greasy fingertips over the half-empty water bottle from which she drank this morning. And what about that pineapple yellow tube of lip balm, with a rounded cap red like a poisonous berry, whose scent reminds me of summer rain on blossoming cherry trees? That’s the kind of item a girlfriend would carry in her purse so her lips would always remain moist and kissable.

My breath is ragged as I fiddle with the lip balm. I lift it to my lips and I plant kisses on the plastic surface. I slide it cap-first into my wet mouth then I suck the tube off, while rubbing my tongue around the cap in a circular motion, as if I were licking the leftover stickiness from the hardened nub of any of Jacqueline’s nipples after she nursed our baby daughter.

The nerve endings in my pussy are sizzling with tingles like an unscratchable itch deep within; yet another reason to keep nursing mommy’s milk that flows to nourish you, little girlie. All that remains of my sanity is trapped between my legs. I unbuckle my belt and pull down my pants. While my fingers brush the damp fabric of my panties, caressing my eager labia, I briefly check over my shoulder that no one has unlocked the door and sneaked up to me. Nobody is there, not even the birds that inhabit my computer tower, or the rats nibbling at the garbage bags stacked in the corners of my apartment, or the stray cats seeking shelter in my abandoned car. I just need five minutes for this rotten world to feel like a beautiful dream as my insides writhe and throb.

I daub the rounded cap of the lip balm with my mucoid saliva, then I rub the waxy plastic up and down along every inch from my labia to my clit. I shudder, and shift my weight from foot to foot, while the tube sinks between my folds as if it were trying to crawl back to its home beneath my skin. Jacqueline has blessed this lip balm, which transforms my womanhood from a wastebasket filled to overflowing with filth due to the rot from within, an ugly reminder of a whole life when nothing could please me but ugliness itself, to a fresh flower bed of petals waiting for that Frenchie to nibble on them at her whimsy. A place for her sweet honey to drip out whenever my fertile cunt is ready for breeding.

The sudden stench that engulfs me makes me think that I’ve sharted in the midst of my heavenly trance, a bad omen sent by whatever evil lurks behind this curse. But when I open my eyes and my sight clears up, Spike the horse is standing on his hind legs a few feet away from my spread, bare legs, his nostrils flared wide at me and his head jerked back due to my own scent. His bulging, black eyes seem about to pop out of his deformed head, and his lips have curled back revealing his rotten gums. He must have realized the awkward position in which he has put himself. His atrophied, retracted forelegs tremble while the horsey abomination struggles to balance his body as if he were a newborn colt. Spike remains castrated, and his frenulum hangs in a frayed web of flesh around the void of his mutilated genitalia.

At first, my throat is too parched to make any sound other than a low groan.

“My friend, I believe you caught me at an inopportune time,” I say hoarsely.

Spike’s eyes twitch. They gleam with madness. I could swear that his ropy threads of drool are thickening as they drip onto the worn carpet.

“L-Leire, the situation is getting more dire by the day, and I feel myself deteriorating the longer I spend in this dimension.”

I consider stroking Spike’s matted mane with my clean hand, to comfort him, but I remember that his fetid hide could infect me with insanity as well as disease. Thankfully, Jacqueline can still reach me at the end of my long tunnel of despair. Blood keeps rushing to my clit as the pleasure grows. If only we were able to breed together. No matter how much horror and pain may surround us, both of our bodies would be bloated with milk, and the litter of pups would brighten the darkness of this despairing world with their innocent laughter.

“My mind is unraveling,” I whisper. “I’m so close.”

Spike’s hind legs sway like a drunkard’s during a delirious binge, but the horse’s eyes are now fixed on mine as if hypnotized. Maybe his will to live has been broken because of his rotting glandular system, or maybe his brain has gone numb from spending too many years locked inside his skull. The horse’s drool has become a gluey stream that sticks between his lips as they curl into a permanent grimace of agony.

“Y-you truly need to listen,” Spike whines. “Sorry to bother you while you are busy, but I can’t stick around for–“

“Spike, whatever nonsense you think is going on can wait until I come. And… here it is!”

My trembling voice cracks as my legs shake uncontrollably. My clit has swollen to its limit, like a mushroom sprouting purple spores to spawn new life after soaking up nourishment from rotting leaves and manure. My knees have bent at an angle to accommodate such a contorted posture: my back has arched, my butt has lifted and clenched tight, allowing my sex to spasm and pulse. The pleasure reaches a crescendo that threatens to send me over a cliff into insanity. My whole body is screeching silently for release like a beached whale desperate for salvation. I go cross-eyed as my vision whitens and tears roll down my cheeks to mix with my sweat and spit as if to lubricate my passage to heaven. A membranous ball of energy squirms inside my uterus and bursts out through my vaginal walls, then an intense stream of liquid erupts from my pussy to splash against my thighs and whatever happens to be near my gushing slit. Oh fuck yes I can’t stop cumming and cumming and all I want is to fall to my hands and knees and bow down before Jacqueline like a slave girl begging forgiveness. Fuck me! Please don’t let me lose my mind, feed me your warm milk, fill me with baby chicks who’ll grow wings made of silver glitter, and stay with me forever in this domain full of flowers that bloom with your scent.

An ecstatic explosion has blown my brain apart and scattered my thoughts across a darkened theatre cluttered with junk and trash, but I am not afraid of this gloomy place since I know that the audience is there watching my performance in silence, except for the occasional muffled snicker when I fail miserably in front of them with every word that comes out of this dumb slut mouth of mine.

Once I regain my proprioception, I’m breathing hard, I’m covered in sweat, and I’m staring at a full-screen video on my monitor. No, not on my monitor. A paper-thick screen is hovering a couple of feet away from my spread legs. The video shows a woman slumped in a chair with her back against the camera, but angled so the image features a bare thigh covered in downy hair. I get a glimpse of lush pubes above her labia, which are wet from the juices oozing out of her vagina. I regret looking up again. That’s the back of my fucking head.

I gasp. My spinal column has frozen. The slumped body on screen trembles. When I dare to lift from my thigh my wet hand, the filmed person imitates me. Her pale fingers glisten in the fluorescent light as if covered with a layer of oil.

Either I missed a mounted CCTV camera aimed at my workstation, or someone is standing behind me while holding a camera. But what the hell is this hovering screen unattached to anything?!

The hairs on my neck stand straight up as tears well up in the corners of my eyes. I clench my hands over my crotch, then I swivel my chair slowly to face the intruder. I find myself staring at Jordi’s empty chair, its seat pushed under the table. I only hear my ragged breathing and the buzzing of electricity inside the walls. When I turn around, the hovering screen is gone.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 17 (Fiction)

I think that from now on I will use this new format to increase the legibility of my prose. I should have been using it already, but I was concerned that formatting it back into its proper shape for an ebook would get too annoying. A somewhat idiotic concern, given that barely anyone has read my ebooks.

As I’m hunched over the table and perusing Python’s online documentation, a sudden racket coming from my sides disconcerts me. My coworkers Jordi and Jacqueline have stood up and are gathering their stuff to leave. My computer’s clock confirms that the workday has ended. Usually, my boss strutting out of his office at a quarter to five signals that the day’s torture is about to end, but I must have been so absorbed in programming that I missed it.

Someone switches off the radio that for the entire workday had tried to lift our spirits with its chirpy popular songs. I keep scrolling the documentation when Jordi bids me goodbye, but I feel Jacqueline towering behind me. As I turn my head to look over my shoulder, she applies pressure on my trapezius muscle with a pincer grip. Warmth spreads through my shoulders and neck.

“Are you coming?” Jacqueline asks in a mellifluous voice as she keeps massaging the tense muscle.

I lean my head back until the inverted version of my coworker’s narrowed, cobalt blue eyes stare into mine.

“Sorry, I’m working overtime today. I have to get familiar with this damn snake language, and write a whole bunch of tests…”

Jacqueline smacks her lips, then sighs.

“That’s too bad. I was looking forward to a long conversation in my car with you.”

She slides her warm hand between my jawline and scarf to caress my sensitive, moist skin, then she strokes my cheek softly as she lifts her hand away. A jolt runs down my spine and tingles spark in my lower stomach. I feel like a starving dog who smelled a steak cooking. When I recover, my heart is beating quickly and Jacqueline is walking away to catch up to Jordi, that was loitering near the open entrance. Jacqueline waves and smiles, but in a moment I find myself staring at a closed door.

I curl my toes and press my hands against my trembling thighs as I focus on regaining my composure. I can’t deal with my throbbing pussy now; unless I learn enough about Python’s updated features to assuage my nibbling suspicion that I won’t be able to complete my assignment, I will waste my whole weekend worrying. But that woman’s lingering warmth and scent has made me dizzy, and likely left a wet spot on my panties.

I shake my head and straighten my back. I’ll spend a couple of hours browsing the documentation, then I’ll rub one off and head to my lonely apartment for a good night’s sleep.

For the next five minutes I struggle to douse my dark desires; I imagine myself convincing Jacqueline to stay for at least an hour of overtime. I would lock the front door and shut the blinds tight. With only the slight possibility of being overheard and interrupted, I would kneel in front of that woman and bury my face in her soaked mound. Jacqueline would tremble and pant from my tongue’s intricate dance on her inner folds and that pink nubbin on top of her slit.

A sudden movement in the corner of my eye makes me look to my right by instinct. My boss is standing behind Jacqueline’s chair. He has pushed its seat under the table and is resting his hand on top of the backrest as he stares at me.

It takes me a couple of seconds to figure out that I haven’t been visited by a hallucination. I’m slouched as if I were melting, I’m scratching the inside of my right nostril with my index finger, and my face is likely offering the stupidest expression imaginable, the kind of dumbfounded gape that would make anyone ashamed of knowing me.

I jump in my chair.

“Ah, what the hell!”

Ramsés’ mustache widens in a satisfied smile as he holds up his right hand, palm out, in a placating gesture.

“I didn’t intend to startle you. Everyone picks their nose, you don’t have to worry about that.” His gaze slides down to my neck, and he raises an eyebrow. “What are those? Is that a wound?”

Shit, I had taken off my scarf because sweat had seeped into the fabric and my skin was itching. I rub the line of four healing puncture wounds on my neck as if I wondered how they got there. I’d prefer if he never found out about my craving for self-abuse.

“I must have gotten bitten by a couple of tiny vampires as I slept. But don’t worry about it!”

“Alright… In any case, I have stuck around because I intended to talk to you in private, Leire,” Ramsés says solemnly.

My mouth has dried up. My gaze falls down the gravity well of my boss’ crotch for long enough. The fabric of his creased, navy blue suit trousers is bulging where this bastard’s engorged, slimy cock pushes to break out. He has caught me unawares as I sat on my chair, my face aligned with the concealed mushroom head of his dick, which must be cursing the belt loop’s buckle and the fly’s zipper that are holding that monster captive.

I had only glimpsed for an instant, but when I look back up, I can’t mistake that lustful, domineering sneer, nor his drooling tongue nearly peeking out from his puffy lips. In a few seconds he’ll cup the back of my head and force me to taste his putrid saliva, a mix of cigarettes, rotting teeth and rancid meat cooked in oil.

“Regarding our talk,” Ramsés continues calmly, “back when you complained about the workload, I’ve given it some thought. I appreciate your contributions, Leire, and it’s about time I propose to you something that I’ve run by your coworkers, so you can take a step forward in life.”

Ramsés has spoken in a low voice filled with calculated intimidation, a tone meant to capture me in a trap of words. This man is a hypnotist who has ensnared many victims, someone whose power over people is based on a carefully crafted persona and a subtle mastery of body language.

My heartbeat has become a ticking bomb, seconds away from exploding and sending my blood spurting out of my arteries like a geyser of red hot lava. This man had waited to corner me until Jordi and Jacqueline left, so he could pounce freely on the isolated prey. That sheeny sweat that has coated his scalp under the thinning hair, and the dark, curved sickle shape of his eager mouth, scream that he has anticipated for a long time how he intended to ravish me.

But what kind of pervert would want a slobbering freak like me? Do I seem like some impressionable housewife that returned to the workforce only to be dazzled by the wealthy man that demands her obedience? I never manufactured situations such as my skirt getting bunched up above my waistline so my boss could catch a glimpse of my panties; a few times I even came wearing sweatpants because I didn’t bother to wash my usual outfits. I’m a low-status cockroach with abysmal self-esteem and a tendency to mumble and mutter to myself. Anyone interested in me must be a dangerous fetishist, possibly a serial killer.

“Leire, are you okay?” Ramsés asks, mocking my plight.

His dark, predatory eyes evidence that he had figured out that I’m a scared little mouse. This man could lift me and carry me under his stained armpit as if I were a child. How would I oppose him? Whatever muscles remained from exercising throughout my schooling years wasted away due to the neglectful diet to which I subjected my decaying body. Ramsés could force me into any sexual position he wished while his thick hands squeezed my breasts or his fingers probed between my legs. He must want to see me lying helplessly facedown in front of him, my ass exposed as if I were begging him not to use my anus or pussy as an ashtray. He could humiliate and degrade me at will while I cried out in pain, then he would frame the incident as nothing more than the clumsy bump of two bodies colliding during the struggle of everyday life. I might even resign myself to the assault and try to forget it, because involving the police feels embarrassing and bothersome.

Ramsés is staring down at me like a bloated king observing how ants crawl over his crown jewels. The insects multiply in his presence, they lay their eggs in his shadow and feed them to him as proof of their submission and loyalty toward a master of unlimited authority, a man of patience who can afford to wait until he gets his fill of a woman’s tears. Due to the ceaseless worship, this monster grows bigger day after day. He has anointed himself as a god in a world ruled only by beasts.

“P-propose what?” I ask in a thin, shrill voice.

Ramsés blinks twice, then tilts his head as if confused.

“Follow me and you’ll understand. This company of ours is special, and worth helping grow and prosper beyond imagination.”

He’s about to shove his fat dick in my mouth to make me choke on the filthy shaft, leaving me gasping for air, so my stomach ends up churning with his foul-smelling cum. As he steps forward and reaches for my hand, I roll the chair back abruptly, which causes me to elbow my notebook and two pens to the carpet.

“Oh, fuck no!” I blurt out as I hold my hands up to ward him off.

Ramsés’ smile drops, then he raises his mustache in a grimace of disbelief because I interrupted his victory plan. I bend over to pick up my notebook and pens. After I return my items to the desk, I take the opportunity to swivel my chair towards my PC and shake the mouse to wake the screen up.

“I-I had decided to work overtime because I wanted to advance my tasks at my leisure,” I gabble out with a nervous grin that barely lasts on my face, since the devil’s tongue has been planted deep inside my brain. “Sorry, sir, but you can’t lay something like that on me suddenly. I don’t handle change well, and I-I have to focus on what I’m doing.”

I’m breathing fast. I refuse to pry my gaze away from Visual Studio as I scroll through the lines of code, but I sense that my boss remains immobile. I can’t tell how many seconds pass until Ramsés clears his throat, then the soles of his expensive shoes squeak as he turns around.

“My bad,” he says, sounding flabbergasted. “I’ll approach you during the workday.”

Ramsés’ heavy footsteps echo as he walks away with measured strides. I hold my breath until the front door of the office closes slowly, as if my boss wanted to avoid startling me further. Silence descends upon the empty space left by the absence of that monster who tried to turn me into a sexual slave, who intends to spread his seed across all four corners of the Earth before he finally dies and is reduced from a man of infinite power to a mere corpse rotting away, likely buried in a grave right outside the gates of hell.

I exhale, relieved, but my heart pounds in my throat and I can’t stop trembling. When I manage to release some tension from my shoulders and neck, as my spine becomes less hunched and my head feels lighter, I hurry to the door, turn the deadbolt from inside with my spare key, then leave the key in the lock.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 16 (Fiction)

Ramsés’ scalp shines over his forehead, where his hair has thinned down to a patchy layer of bristles, as he reviews on his screen the React dashboard I’ve delivered. My boss squeezes his lower lip and nods repeatedly.

“I see, so the summary lists the infringements of the loaded tachograph data, and the tooltips show the rules and regulations associated with each penalty applied. The tooltips are nested, too. A nice touch.”

“I made it so they disappear when the user moves the cursor out of the frame,” I add wearily. “If I forced them to click some part of the interface to close those tooltips, they are prone to get confused.”

Ramsés narrows his eyes at me as he purses his lips. At least for the length of this meeting, my work is worth paying for.

“I’ll play around with it for a while and then send it to the client for review, but I think this is done. Good job, Leire.”

I hadn’t bothered to sit down; the scarf coiled around my neck, as well as my tired eyes, should dissuade most people from wanting me close, so I get to stand a few feet behind the guest chair. Still, the cigarette smell from Ramsés’ breath lingers in the air.

Unless the client complains about minutiae that won’t take me long to change, I will get to resolve this ticket when I return to my workstation. As usual, instead of any sense of accomplishment or pride, I’m only rewarded with a relief similar to pulling out a wood splinter from under my nail, and I’m sure that I’ll receive a Service Manager notification with another assigned ticket by the end of the day.

I was about to turn around and leave my boss’ office when he points at his own neck as if he were the one wearing the scarf.

“Nothing contagious, I’m guessing,” he says.

“I doubt it. Just a simple cold. I got hit by cold gusts as I walked back home, and I had grown accustomed to the climatized interior of my car. Because, as I said, I can’t use that old Renault of mine any longer.”

Despite my weak voice, Ramsés must have interpreted in my words a rebuke of his previous suggestion that I had made up my car’s demise to arrive late on purpose, which as far as I’m concerned it only offered an insight into the devious workings of this man’s mind. Ramsés smirks and tilts his head.

“Maybe you have chosen to commute by train because you need to keep the excuse going, until likely next week when your car gets fixed, whether or not it was broken in the first place.”

I snap my head back as a grimace contorts my features, but I hurry to blow my nose before the opportunist snot runs down further down my face. Ramsés guffaws, which startles me, and he waves a hand dismissively.

“I’m just busting your balls, Leire. Good job with this dashboard, and come see me when you can show me anything solid of that Python contract, alright?”

I fake a smile and leave my boss’ office. As soon as I’m out of sight, my jaw clenches shut and I can’t lift my gaze from the worn carpet. How come whenever I speak with this guy, I end up wishing I could shove the business end of a shotgun in my mouth and pull the trigger? To be fair, I fantasize about self-termination several times on any given day, but Ramsés knows how to push the buttons that could easily lead to a fatal result. I wish he understood how much pain he causes me just by existing.

As I pass behind Jacqueline to sit at my workstation, I sense that she raises her head seeking my gaze.

“Everything alright?” she asks.

My chair creaks as I plop my ass in it. I fiddle with my notebook and pen to avoid turning my head towards Jacqueline. How long can I keep this up? I feel so pathetic and childish. I should face her and assure her that she won’t use me like a toy to bolster her ego. But my back hurts as if I pulled a muscle in my sleep, and I feel the mounting anxiety tingling at my fingertips.

It’s only a quarter past ten. I focus on the blinking cursor on Visual Studio Code, that awaits my input. I should lose myself in the pending tickets to forget about my delusions and weird obsessions, but I keep noticing every time Jacqueline shifts her weight in her chair, sighs or clears her throat. Has she pondered about our conversation? What does Jacqueline think about me after I skedaddled from her Audi because I was too weak to face that I had been caught fantasizing about her? Does she intend to mock me because I’m desperate for her to love me? Throughout Jacqueline’s life, she has likely obtained most of what she wished. She would never need someone like me. She’s definitely not interested in helping somebody overcome their despair through orgasmic release.

I can’t bear sharing this office with Jacqueline for more months, or years, so I will have to look for another job. Maybe they’ll hire me at one of those big corporations in which rows of anonymous programmers crammed into a cramped office maintain a decades-old legacy system, possibly written in COBOL or BASIC. Back in the day I interviewed for Ibermática, and I recall the HR employee telling me that they handled Kutxa’s banking service, as if I should be impressed. I dreamed of getting hired to implement cutting-edge neural networks, or maybe become a part of any local team that developed games using C++, but that dream faded away once I realized that nobody wants an unhinged loner as an employee who might send emails about fearing that she would stab herself with a fork due to stress. Ibermática did offer me a position, but I refused; I figured that if I worked at that corporation, I would get reduced to a nameless, deranged woman in her early twenties that for at least eight hours a day sat between fat slobs who hated their lives so much that they contemplated ending themselves via stabbing or hanging. Somehow I ended up becoming a slob who hates her life, but I remain skinny because I can’t cook for shit.

If I got lucky for once, I would get hired by some company that would tell me to sit at an isolated desk, facing a wall. I would only interact with my boss, who would hand over the design documents that I would get paid to implement. I would never register any other coworker’s face, so nobody would know me deeply enough to realize that I’m a perverted lunatic obsessed with masturbation as a means of overcoming my despair about my insignificance as a human being trapped within a brain filled with suicidal thoughts.

However, I know how working at any company would end: a random coworker, someone whose face I might not recognize, would catch me crying either in the bathroom or in the hallways, or I would suffer a breakdown that would involve me running out of the office while screaming that I want to die. What well-adjusted member of the workforce would want to deal with someone who might hurt themselves or others? At the most, a kindhearted boss would suggest that I see a psychiatrist, as if those people helped instead of just stealing my hard-earned money while using me as a guinea pig for their drugs. Eventually I would either get fired or they wouldn’t renew my contract.

During a pause in which I rub my eyelids and take a deep breath, my shoulders droop, and a foul sensation spreads through my gut. I feel like I’ve done nothing but suffer because of a curse placed upon me by the gods of the underworld during my birth, that I’ve only survived so far because I must amuse some sadistic demon from another dimension.

* * *

Eleven o’clock comes and goes. I’ve been aching for a coffee boost, but I suspect that Jacqueline expects me to offer meekly to buy her one, like I did yesterday. I intended for her to notice that I wouldn’t debase myself any longer, but neither of my coworkers have mentioned coffee. At ten past eleven I’ve had enough, so I spring to my feet and I stride to the entrance of our office.

I buy a cappuccino from the vending machine. I consider returning to the office and drinking it at my workstation, but I want a break from my coworkers, as well as from human beings in general, so I go outside into the sunlit streets. The day is bright despite a few thick clouds, but the cold turns my breath white when it escapes my lips.

I walk absentmindedly towards a nearby electrical box adjoined to a row of garbage bins. I end up stumbling, and nearly spilling my coffee, because I was about to stomp on a black bunny. No, not a bunny. As the dark creature hops and wobbles around on six legs, I realize that similar entities are hanging out near the garbage bins like kittens wandering close to where their mother left them. One such entity approaches my left sneaker. As it leans in, three holes dilate in a frontal blob, as if it were sniffing me. I hold my breath. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the creature opened wide in a gaping mouth and chomped on my foot. Although I’m looking down wide-eyed at the creature, it remains blurry enough that I can’t make out the texture of its skin, as if it could blend into shadows when needed.

The creature was attempting to climb on top of my sneaker when the front door of the office building closes noisily. I find myself staring at Jacqueline, who is heading towards me while she nurses a warm cup of coffee with both hands. She’s wearing a velvet cardigan, smoke grey and with a slight sheen, over a low-cut, knee-length drape dress that seems made of satin. Her cleavage is deep enough that it displays the bridge of her bra, but I suppose that all that appetizing fatty tissue shields her against the cold. However, she is warming her long legs with black, translucent winter tights. She gifts me pink smile.
My neck trembles. I want to tear my gaze away, but with my coworker so close, I’d seem childish and weak. My heart has betrayed me as well by fluttering. I can’t deny to myself how much I want this woman, although it can only hurt me.

After she reaches me, she greets me warmly and exposes her white teeth again. A few strands of her gleaming, raven black hair fall across her forehead, covering her right eye with shadow. The sunlight accentuates her crow’s feet. I guess that at her age I won’t be able to disguise them either.

“You must want that cold to develop into pneumonia, huh?” Jacqueline says amiably.

I consider remaining silent, like back in high school when I pretended to be a mute, or I guess retarded enough, so those hormone-addled savages would leave me the fuck alone. I doubt I have progressed much since then. I sip my warm cappuccino as I squint.

“I have been always been drawn to self-destruction. But my snot is already drying up.”

The white steam of her breath wafts in my face. It smells minty and fresh. I imagine her sliding a breath mint from her wet tongue to mine.

Jacqueline’s gaze warms my cheek, and when I dare hold it, she narrows her eyes affectionately.

“You know it’s okay, right?” she asks quietly.

I gulp, then hang my head low. The creature that might have intended to bite off my foot has wobbled away towards the curb. On its way, it stops to avoid colliding with another of its kind that is headed for a trash bin. A few tentacle-like feelers stretch out of the mass of the first entity and wiggle as if to check for danger, but then it ventures forward.

I want to point the creatures out to Jacqueline, but I don’t know what would be worse for my mental health: another confirmation that my brain somehow hallucinates these abominations, or the realization that the people around me do see the creatures, but pay them as much attention as they would to doves.

I want to sit down on the sidewalk and hug my knees.

“Don’t you think… that the world has gotten strange lately?” I ask weakly while I take a deep breath.

Jacqueline lifts her face to the cold breeze, then she drinks half of her coffee.

“For sure. It’s never been more bizarre. It’s the good kind of weird, though. In many aspects, I’ve never been happier than nowadays.”

She smiles at me with a pearly white grin that reminds me too much of a vampire. I can’t tell what she means, and I feel too unhinged for cryptic talk.

“Well, that’s good for you, Jacqueline. But… what are we supposed to believe in anymore, when the most unlikely stuff suddenly becomes real?”

She chuckles. I avoid her gaze by looking straight ahead, but before I know it she’s standing in front, facing me. My eyes twitch. I can’t step back, because I was almost leaning against the wall.

“Your eyes are like saucers,” Jacqueline whispers. “So big, and round, and full of wonder.”

If Jacqueline stepped forward, her nose would brush mine. Her white, warm breath tickles my cheeks.

“I-I think that’s panic.”

“You should look up, and not just stare blindly, but really look. Up high, to the sky. Look beyond everything. What’s there, in the far distance, in the middle of the universe, is something incredible.”

“What the hell are you talking about…?”

“You shouldn’t feel ashamed because you have a crush on me,” Jacqueline adds in a reassuring tone.

She tilts her pretty chin at me with an air of mock seriousness and a knowing smirk. She must be aware that my heart is beating faster, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some sweat dribbled down my temples.

“Y-yeah…? I don’t have any control about whether or not I feel ashamed, nor can I control my infatuations.” I pause, because my throat is dry and squeaky. “All that’s left for me is to try and cope with reality as best as possible.”

I have admitted that I’m infatuated with Jacqueline, and I can’t take it back. My eyes risk getting watery. I want to run away from this business park, all the way down to the Lugaritz station, maybe to take a train to some city I have never stepped on and where nobody would think to look for me.

Jacqueline touches my free hand gently. My heart thumps and a warm sensation starts spreading throughout my body, but it feels invasive, as if the person who had cheated on me tried to get my sympathy. I pry my gaze away from her cobalt blue eyes and look down at the pavement instead. A few pieces of gum are stuck between the cracks of concrete slabs.

“For some people, getting touched is commonplace,” I say in a thin voice, “but for me it feels like a violation of my personal boundaries, and it does dangerous things. Don’t touch me if you don’t mean it.”

She strokes the length of my fingers, caressing the sensitive areas while her eyes twinkle with mischief.

“I can touch you then,” Jacqueline whispers.

This woman must have woken up today extra confident and relaxed due to the hard fucking that the tennis player gave her, and that deflates me; I wish Jacqueline belonged to me. She likely couldn’t care less about how she affects me when she flirts.

She tilts her coffee cup to gulp the rest of her latte, then she strokes my hand one last time before she lets go. She heads to the entrance of the building while her raven black hair swings with her steps.

I stand there as the October air cools the warmth that Jacqueline had imprinted on my skin. The aberrations I had mistaken for bunnies keep meandering between the garbage bins and the asphalt of the parking lot. They seem to enjoy their freedom to roam.

Jacqueline might have only used me to pump up her ego, but a fleeting moment of bliss can sustain me for the rest of the day in a similar way that abusing my clit does, even if it means fuck all.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 15 (Fiction)

Note from the author: I’ve been recalled to work. Today I endured through the usual first day of every contract: I had only managed to sleep for about an hour, so I have spent a whole workday fighting against my drowsiness while navigating through the interactions with numerous coworkers who seemingly believe I must be doing great now that I’m back at the office. My IBS has acted up worse than usual; my gut has churned and burned for the entire morning, forcing me to sneak away to the bathroom like twelve times. I wish I could transfer my mind to a robot body, because this rotten corpse I inhabit has long reached its expiration date.

In any case, I have most of this novel planned out, and I intend to continue writing it until I finish, but I suspect that the periodicity of new entries will suffer, and possibly the quality of the texts as well. But I’m assuming that anyone is actually reading this stuff, that the few likes I get aren’t just people wanting to steer attention to their own sites. In any case, I need to write to escape from the waking nightmares.

Jacqueline’s licorice black mouth smiles at me as she stands with her back against a cliff, on a background of clouds that drift like cotton balls. Her gleaming hair flows gently down past her bare shoulders, and her breasts overflow from the cups of her sleeveless, lace nightgown. I can’t look away from her cobalt blue eyes as she steps closer and wraps her hands around my back, squeezing our chests together tightly. Her scent fills my nostrils: a mix of flowers and citrus and a hint of manly muskiness that she exudes from between her legs.

When her fingers dig into my back with a fierce grip between tender affection and painful pressure, it shoots an electric shock throughout my nervous system. I shudder. Her pouty lips brush against mine softly, but then she presses hard as she cups the back of my head and forces open my mouth with hers. Her tongue slips out of her wet mouth to share her saliva, and it tastes like lemon juice and sugar syrup.

Jacqueline pulls me towards her so we tumble backwards off the cliff. We fall together into a freezing abyss lined with razor-sharp rocks and jagged, unforgiving spikes made of crystal glass. Jacqueline protects me in her firm embrace, a cocoon which shields me from the spikes that lacerate her flesh, cutting through skin and muscle tissue, as we plunge deeper and deeper.

When we crash at the bottom, the impact sends huge chunks of dirt and rock flying everywhere. A landslide of rubble and debris buries us alive beneath tons of sand and soil and mud and gravel. An opaque darkness has engulfed me. My screams echo inside my head, but Jacqueline keeps holding me tightly as my lungs fill up with silt and grit, choking me slowly to death.

I wake up with a start. My face is drenched in sweat, my heart pounds like a steam engine in overdrive. As I catch my breath, I stare wide-eyed at the darkened ceiling of my bedroom. I roll over towards my nightstand to check my phone. Four in the morning, two hours before my alarm blares. Although my window is closed and I have rolled down the blinds, I hear the ruckus of a drunken fight coming from a nearby street, as well as a dog that barks incessantly.

I sit on the toilet to pee while I rub my face with a towel. At least it’s Friday, so I can look forward to lazing around until Monday comes and I start anew.

* * *

The sunrise has tinted the numerous clouds tangerine orange as I approach the parking lot of our two-story office building. My legs tingle from the laborious exercise that trudging all the way up to this business park represents for my neglected body, and every five minutes I have been blowing my runny nose. I’ve caught a cold, I guess because I only warmed myself with a hoodie when I trekked back home in a windy October day, but at least this nasty cold allows me to justify why a scarf hides my neck. Jacqueline would notice the line of four puncture wounds, and I intend to avoid my coworker for the foreseeable future.

The office waits empty for me, as it has always done when I arrive fifteen minutes before the workday starts. I only hear a muffled buzzing of electricity in the walls and cars passing by outside. After I sit at the long, porcelain white table, I switch on my computer and I think how much more comfortably, and productively, I would work if I didn’t have to share my space with other human beings. If most people felt as anxious as I do in the presence of others, we would likely work remotely and communicate only through email, which would deprive me of the opportunity to gaze upon some delicious pair of large breasts that would drag me down a spiral of lust and obsession.

As I blow my nose with my left hand and open Outlook with the other, Spike announces his arrival with an explosion of fetid air and an abrupt clatter of hooves. I glimpse at the reflection of his bulging, black eyes in my monitor. Drool is dribbling down his chin and hangs off his jawline with gravity and weighty significance.

“Good morning, you walking disaster,” I say in a hyponasal voice due to the blockage.

“Are you doing okay, Leire?”

I look over my shoulder. The horse is standing close enough that his breath, as pleasant as the effluvia emanating from rotting organic material in a landfill, warms my face. I sneeze. Although I have warmed up to this beast, I should remember that his ugliness is an infection that can contaminate healthy tissues like cancer cells, and no amount of medication would be able to relieve that pain.

“Is that why you decided to visit me so early in the morning? To check on me?”

Spike nods. An expression of deep concern passes across the horse’s grotesque features.

“I can’t help but worry about your health after what happened yesterday.”

“My brain feels like a balloon with a hole punched in it, but I will pull through, probably. Thank you in any case.”

“Good. I won’t insist anymore today, I think… You should take care of yourself and get better soon, then maybe we’ll go see a movie together, play a board game, or something.”

“That might as well happen.”

Spike turns towards the entrance on his hind legs, as carefully as if he were operating heavy machinery. His grey tail was swishing when the horse vanishes along with its stink into another dimension, whatever else is out there waiting to swallow us all whole if we don’t stay sane. I find myself smiling. The rotten recess of my brain that generates this abomination must care enough to want me to remain alive and functional despite everything. I could have sworn that at this point every cell in my body would be begging for the oblivion of death.

Jordi and Jacqueline telegraph their arrival by filling the office with their prattle, too loud for such an early hour. I straighten my back, although my shoulders get narrower by themselves as if I were about to walk in the rain. I should remember that I don’t get paid to interact with them. I will focus on programming through my tickets while avoiding any distraction.

Jordi is wearing another black and white outfit, as if every day he expected to be interviewed for a job as an assistant.

“That’s one bulky scarf,” he says while he sits down. “Ah, you caught a cold, it seems.”

Our friendly intern always tries his best. I can’t fault him for interacting with me although I’d prefer to be left alone. I force myself to hold his gaze and smile wanly.

“Yeah, I was used to how cozy it felt inside my car, at least when it refrained from trying to murder me like a rabid dog and instead just sat still and behaved itself.”

Jordi returns my smile as he takes off his glasses and cleans them with a handkerchief before putting them back on his thin face. His eyes are as red as fresh blood and glow with an inner fire despite being surrounded with a pallid mask of skin and flesh.

I can tell that Jacqueline has swiveled her chair towards me, because her gaze is piercing the back of my head, but I pretend that I have received an email that requires my full attention.

“Good morning, Leire,” Jacqueline says with her slight French accent.

Her cadence had relayed that she understands I’m avoiding her. Jacqueline should remain for me a shapely blob at the edge of my vision, even if I sacrifice gazing upon those motherly breasts ever again, so I won’t face her smirk and tilt of her chin up in acknowledgement of the fact that she’s making progress with breaking in and gaining control of some part of my soul that she can use against me later. I already knew that I’m defenseless as a child. I must steer clear of predators.

Even the most gorgeous bodies contain the seeds of decay and rot hidden beneath layers of glamour and youthfulness, like maggots burrowing under their flesh to emerge at nightfall from the inevitable corpse those people are destined to become. Everyone is at the most a few decades away from a gruesome end as a pile of bones and excrement, and any notion that loses sight of that fact is a whisper of self-delusion.

“Yes, hi,” I reply in a thin voice, then I blow my nose.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 14 (Fiction)

The cold of October seeps through the fabric of my hoodie and penetrates the pores of my skin as the breeze blows my hair around my face. The smell of wet leaves and damp earth permeates the air, and a chilly darkness is settling over the city. I keep sniffling and fidgeting. I wish I could rock back and forth as if possessed, but I’m sitting on a hard bench between two women burdened with shopping bags, and I’m surrounded by a throng of people that wait to board the train to Irún. I feel like everyone is staring at me.

I never wanted to hear about Jacqueline’s sexual escapades. Didn’t I tell her as much, back when they dragged me to that packed restaurant for lunch? She only intended to hurt me, like everyone else does. That woman is a beautiful, ruthless predator without any qualms about devouring anyone around her to preserve and increase her power and status. She feasts upon their flesh and bones while slurping down their blood, then she pisses them out into empty wine bottles that she uses to decorate her apartment. If she ends up with nothing but dust and ashes, she’ll move back to France and start again.

How could I remain so naïve, when everything had conspired against me and everyone was trying to destroy me for reasons beyond comprehension, until they finally succeeded in poisoning my mind to make room for something new inside me, something foreign, malevolent, and hungry for human souls? Still, throughout the years I became obsessed with a few unlucky people, although I knew deep down that none of them suited me, or would want anything to do with a mentally unstable woman that constantly makes a fool of herself and has lost the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

I hold my head in my hands and I keep my eyes closed until I hear the train’s clacking wheels as it pulls into our platform. I jump up. As soon as some passengers exit, I hurry inside and find an empty seat in a group of four. I press my thighs together to avoid any contact with the middle-aged guy sitting to my left, whose right knee is jiggling up and down as he stares at his phone screen in a trance. When the doors of the carriage swing shut, a wave of heat suffuses the air inside.

I focus on the passing scenery as I swat any thought of Jacqueline away from my mind, or of my future prospects as a burned-out programmer who is barely sane. I find myself overlooking the large sports center of Fanderia, with its two football fields and tennis courts. Thankfully nobody is playing tennis in this cold night; otherwise, I’d have to jump down there and wring their necks.

I shouldn’t give my brain the opportunity to lose itself in daydreams. From now on I’ll always bring my ebook reader along. I haven’t read a novel in years. I used to love reading when I was younger, but once I started working as a programmer, other people’s fantasies began feeling too far removed from the reality of computer bugs and deadlines. Perhaps focusing on the troubles of made-up people will help me overcome my despair, or at least alleviate some of my boredom.

I get off the train at the central station in Irún. I climb the stairs and emerge into the Colón promenade, that teems with pedestrians that hurry home after work, or return from shopping trips. I walk along the bridge and gaze down at the rail yard that continues into France among gravel and weeds. The gusts keep making my hood flap around. My fingers are stiffening, my nose running.

Once I cross the tiny San Miguel plaza and reach the nearby market, at the end of the street appears the shitty, working-class apartment building where I live. As I drag my feet towards it, I gaze at the available view of Mount Jaizkibel, arched like a horse’s back and featuring two stripes of deforested land that reach to the top, to prevent fires from spreading.

I walk up to my apartment and I hurry to unlock the door as if I was being followed. After I enter my cramped nest and I push the door closed with my back, I sigh as I stare at the eggnog yellow wall of the hallway. This place never felt like a home, but its walls shield me from the outside world, allowing my body to finally give up for the day. White noise is running through my legs as a drowsiness threatens to overwhelm me.

After I pee, I put on my flannel pajamas and a tracksuit jacket for the cold, then I shuffle to the living room, where I plop down on the sofa. My gaze falls upon the pile of board games that occupies the gap in the birch wood cabinet where the previous tenants, an elderly couple judging by the paintings they left behind, likely set up the television. Terraforming Mars, Renegade, Core Worlds, Fire in the Lake. Half of those boxes remain wrapped in plastic. Part of the joy of buying board games, and that sometimes I miss more than playing them, involved waiting for the delivery person to ring my doorbell. Unfortunately, some ended up calling me during the workday, because they didn’t bother to read the delivery instructions.

I wish I retained enough energy to lose myself in the mechanics of one of those games, but I would be evading my homework. I need to download a couple of books about Python’s updated features so I can cease looking up code snippets on Google for every function, to develop that nasty contract that my boss secured. Still, does anybody pay me for the extra research? I doubt I deserve to rest, but I need it desperately.

My back slides down the cushions until the armrest holds my head. I yawn loudly. A wave of exhaustion is engulfing my mind, threatening to pull me under its dark waters. Surely I can close my eyes for a moment. Once I open then again, I will make my bed, mop the floors, wash the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, clean the bathroom…

I open my eyes. Where am I? My saliva tastes foul, and stale drool has sticked to my chin. Slowly, I sit upright and reach for my phone, that I placed on the coffee table. It’s half past eight.

I wipe my mouth with a crumpled tissue. I’m dizzy and disoriented as if half of my brain remains asleep. I want to lie back down and sleep away my sorrows and worries, but I should fill my stomach with some food, if only because I won’t recover otherwise.

Once I stand up and I stagger around, I smell a hint of horse manure and old urine. The wind has picked up and is rattling the windows. I hold my breath to avoid inhaling any horse-related particles. My ears perk up. I’m getting used to this eerie sense that someone disgusting is staring at me out of nowhere.

“Is that you, Spike?” I ask in a raspy voice.

A noxious stench envelops me, like that of a corpse that’s been left to rot in a swamp for weeks.

“You were looking for me?” the horse asks.

I turn around and flinch, as I find myself looking up at the imposing frame of a towering horse standing on its hind legs. That pair of retracted, atrophied forelegs detracts from the terror of his appearance. Under the yellow light of the living room, Spike’s elongated head is a mass of scars, and his mane is matted with thick, oily clumps of hair that resemble a tangle of filthy pubic hairs. He’s already dripping drool from his muzzle onto the hardwood floor. His belly hangs between his legs like a pregnant woman’s.

I wish I owned a bathtub, so I could fill it with warm water and scrub myself clean of this horrid stench of rotten flesh.

“Spike, your body odor reminds me that one of these days I’ll have to take out the trash,” I say. “What do you want with me?”

When this fucker draws his lips back to speak, he shows me his sharp, jagged teeth, like filed piano keys that have been smeared with butter. His throat emits an awful noise that makes my skin crawl, as if his vocal cords were made of iron bars that scrape against each other.

“I keep telling you, Leire. I need you to listen to something important.”

I sigh. Spike’s long, grey tail lolls over his hooves like an empty fur coat or a hairy, hollow penis in place of the one that this horse monster lacks.

“Again with that nonsense? Well, that’s your problem. I’m going to prepare dinner.”

As I walk to the kitchen, a clack of hooves follows me. Flies are crawling over the dirty dishes and cups that have filled the sink, and a sour, pungent smell is coming out of the trash bin. My shoulders droop. The effort to clean the kitchen alone would drain me dry.

“Your apartment is a disaster zone,” Spike says in a low rumble.

His words sting. My hand was hovering over the handle of the fridge, but I stop to glare at him over my shoulder.

“If it bothers you that much, clean it yourself! And you are one to talk!”

“Ever heard of the broken windows theory?” Spike asks.

“I doubt it, but don’t worry. Although there must be plenty of viruses and bacteria floating in the air, most of them are small enough to be filtered by the particles in the atmosphere and dispersed into the wind before they can reach our lungs or bloodstreams.”

“Many must have landed on the rotting organic material, and they are multiplying rapidly now that they can feed on that stuff.”

What the hell is this horse talking about? Why is he always making up weird shit? I shake my head as I look at the mostly empty shelves of my fridge, where some moldy vegetables and yogurt lurk in their containers. I had intended to prepare some bacon and eggs, but I guess I ran out of eggs at some point, and the remaining bacon smells rancid and spoiled. I need to buy more food soon and get rid of all this junk in my cupboards and freezer, but merely envisioning the trip tires me. Oh well. Thankfully, the slices of serrano ham don’t stink.

As the ham sizzles in the pan, I feel Spike judging me with those bulging, black eyes, so I run water on my dirty dishes and I scrub them until they shine again. The flies buzz angrily around me.

“Is His Eminence happy now?” I ask mockingly as I turn around to face Spike. “Hey, don’t lean your haunches against my dining table! If I find a shit smear anywhere in my house, I’ll fucking bash you!”

Spike lifts his snout sharply, as if I caught him lost in thought.


A fly lands on my nose. I shudder, then I swat at it repeatedly.

“Stop apologizing over and over. It makes you look weak.”

I carry my plate with fried slices of ham, as well as a glass of milk, to the living room, and I settle down on the sofa. I poke into a slice with the fork, but as I lift it towards my mouth, I find myself staring at Spike, who observes me casually from a few feet away. I must have gotten used enough to his horrid horse stench for me to think about shoving food into my mouth.

“Do you have to stare at me like that while I’m eating, Spike?!” I snap at the horse monster, who is still drooling. “Check out all those board games sitting in piles of dust! They are aching for someone to set them up, which can take up to half an hour, or even more in the case of Anachrony!”

“I would enjoy playing board games with you, but I can’t hold the pieces,” he laments.

I frown at the horse monster as I chew the salty and fatty meat. He continues to gape at me with a creepy stare from that pair of dead fish eyes. His thick tongue flutters and flaps like a horse’s bridle strap while he drools onto the hardwood floor.

Spike is so creepy and repulsive that only a pervert could find his presence appealing or welcoming, and yet a perverse part of me would like to feel his tongue licking at my nipples and his teeth nibbling at my pussy lips. At this hour, Jacqueline must already be lying on her back while a cock with a glans shaped like a tennis ball penetrates her roughly. Those large breasts are bouncing and jiggling as she moans and begs. The tennis guy finishes by blowing his load all over my ham slices.

I should have imagined that one day I might become another victim of such depravity. I will never be able to escape this sickening world. I lower my tainted plate onto the coffee table, then I lean back until I rest on the cushions.

“What’s with the thousand-yard stare?” Spike asks.

My mouth hangs open for a few seconds, until a fly lands on my lower lip. It takes off before I can smack it away.

“Do you know about my secret fetish for older women?” I say in a faraway voice. “Particularly for big-breasted, seductive, French-speaking, childless, horny women. It’s only natural for me to want to fuck them, since they’re the kindest, most nurturing, sweet, loving, sensual, and caring people that exist on this planet, and they deserve to be fucked hard, over and over again, until they die from a massive orgasm.”

“I know all about your obsession with Jacqueline, yes,” Spike says. “You may be aiming a bit too high.”

I’m appalled, but I remember that a hallucination would naturally have access to my memories and thoughts.

“Well, can you blame me? She’s tall and shapely, has a lovely smile. When she walks, those large breasts bounce and sway in a very erotic manner. Even a horse should detect the aura of sexuality and charm that radiates from her body.”

“You fell for her because she held you in her arms like she would a child, though.”

I hunch over, digging into my knees with my elbows, and I claw at my face as I grit my teeth. I hear a fly’s wings beating furiously while it circles my head. I need my screams to echo throughout this cramped apartment. I can’t bear it anymore, this constant, relentless pressure to get everything done, to achieve something beyond what I am capable of, and to keep my job in order to survive. Tomorrow I’ll have to trudge my way up to my mortifying office and face Jacqueline’s piercing gaze. She stared at me as she revealed that she knew I want her to love me.

I’m a freak. It’s impossible for me to continue living this miserable existence when all I can think about is death and destruction. I keep complaining about Spike’s body odor, but it’s far better than the putrefying stench coming from inside my own head.

I take a deep breath, then I scoot closer to the edge of the sofa.

“Go ahead, Spike,” I say hoarsely. “You’ve been trying hard to get me to listen to some garbage. I’m all ears. Speak whatever words come to mind, and let’s see if they make any sense at all to me.”

Spike perks up. Even his pitch black eyes seem brighter now that he has a captive audience.

“Wonderful! Then listen, Leire. I used to work at the same… Wait, what are you doing?!”

The tines break through the skin of my neck as I push the fork further into my flesh. A cold shiver runs down my spine, but the endorphins flood my brain, making the intensifying pain more tolerable, if not pleasant. A warm trickle of blood oozes out and slides towards my collarbone.

Spike stumbles towards me. He must intend to unleash a torrent of insane horse thoughts into my mind, but I prevent it by shooting him a menacing glare.

“Stay the fuck away,” I whisper. “I’m killing a rotten bitch.”

Blood is pooling at the base of my throat while tears form in the corners of my eyes. I can’t believe how much relief comes with a simple act as committing suicide. All the bad things in life can be left behind forever. There will be no more nightmares and delusions and hallucinations and depression and anxiety and loneliness and the excruciating feeling of being trapped in the center of an infinite maze I can’t possibly escape and the fact that my only friend is an evil horse monster who wants to eat me alive.

My vision is getting blurry as I concentrate on the fork buried in my neck. My fingers feel numb with frostbite.

“I’d say this is a cry for help,” Spike says sternly. “You are in dire straits and reaching out for salvation, and maybe, just maybe, for love.”

My lips twitch. I taste the snot that runs down my nose.

“W-well, can you help me?!”

Spike’s atrophied forelegs flail around like a pair of broken twigs.

“Help you? I came to you because I needed your help!” he shouts, his voice cracking like an adolescent boy’s. “What do you want me to do?”

I groan as my nostrils flare. I pull out the fork and throw it at the floor. It leaves a splash of blood.

“Fucking useless. Not even a crippled horse cares. You are just like everyone else. They’re always looking for an excuse to discard me, but that’s even preferable to allowing them to get close, because those people are the most likely to betray and abuse me. This is why the best course of action is simply to cease existing altogether, let the rest of the universe continue in harmony instead of having its existence threatened by my presence.”

Spike crouches to bring his horrifying horse face closer to mine, although he seems about to topple over from his awkward posture. A few veins bulge on his forehead and neck as if they could burst and send a spray of hot liquid all over my body.

“You should have been destroyed millions of years ago by a nuclear warhead,” I mutter, “you fucking pervert.”

“Press that tissue against the holes in your neck, will you? They look like the bites from a couple of tiny vampires.”

I lean back against the cushions as I obey this equine stalker’s orders. The burning in my neck feels as if a bunch of bees had stung me. How pathetic am I that I tried to kill myself in such a lazy, inauthentic way? I thought I was better than this. Whatever. I’m too exhausted to move anymore.

Hot tears roll down my cheeks as if someone was pouring hot wax onto my face. I close my eyes, but I keep hearing Spike’s raspy breathing, and by this point his fetid stench has permeated my body. I want Jacqueline to love me, although she’s a woman who is only interested in men, although I thought I was only interested in men. I need someone to care for me and protect me from falling apart.

“I-I guess I’m glad that you want to keep me company, Spike,” I slur as my chest spasms. “I know you’ve got nothing going for yourself. You’re ugly and deformed and smell bad. But at least you’re not an asshole like all these other damn humans are. So thank you for wanting to stay with me. I should reward you with some sugar cubes.”

Spike looks so sad. Maybe he really does feel sorry for me.

“Why would I want sugar cubes of all things?”

I chuckle.

“Spike, you stink of geriatric dementia. Maybe I’m offering you sugar cubes because you can’t eat anything else with those rotten teeth of yours. Although I can also tell that you are dying of thirst because of all the fluids that keep leaking from the hole where your horsecock used to be.” The pain in my neck is starting to subside, replaced by a dull headache that makes it hard for me to think straight. I take a deep breath through clenched jaws before I continue our conversation. “My brain has linked the notion of sugar cubes to the existence of horses. Who knows if that’s relevant. But have you forgotten again that you are a horse? To be fair, you are as withered and emaciated as a scarecrow, and you stink so bad that anyone would think you are a carcass rotting away in some ditch.”

Spike snorts loudly, then he shakes his head. I try to focus on his eyes as they stare into mine, but his gaze is lost in a distant place far beyond reality.

“We are both deformed horses. You are a female deformed horse and I am a male deformed horse. Our bodies are twisted and misshapen because our mothers ate strange things while pregnant with us. They didn’t care about their children, they didn’t want them. We are cursed to exist as broken creatures, doomed to suffer abuse and neglect from everyone who encounters us, including ourselves. But we can still dream of being normal and beautiful some day.”

I lie down sideways, facing the cushions, and I close my eyes tight. If only my heart could beat fast enough to keep the blood flowing in my veins, but alas, it’s a dead weight that drags me down to a place far below the surface of the earth, somewhere in the bowels of the planet where the magma burns and boils. If only I could give up on my mind completely, accept that the entire world is a nightmare, a horror movie that I’m forced to witness every single day. That’d be the only way I could survive this despair that’s consuming me like a cancerous tumor. I want to curl up into a ball and never move again.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 13 (Fiction)

Our boss left fifteen minutes ago, and the most magical moment for my coworkers has come: they finally get to escape from our mind-numbing routine. Jacqueline’s computer has shut off when she slings her purse over her shoulder and looks down at me. I remain slumped in my chair, with my fingers poised over the keyboard.

“You are going to punish yourself by working overtime,” she guesses.

Through this workday I’ve struggled with my unraveling mind, and I only performed half as well as I used to. I should finish enough of the work that has piled up, so tomorrow I can return with a clear conscience and a renewed will to work hard, to be a decent human being, to stop eating poorly, to have a meaningful life. But I stand up from my seat and stretch my neck.

“Fuck it. I’m going home.”

“Fuck it, huh?” Jacqueline repeats as she smirks.

Once the three of us exit our office building together, I take a deep breath of cold air that feels like a glass of water in a parched stomach. The weight of the fatigue has settled over my shoulders, and my spine aches dully. Jacqueline and Jordi walk a bit further as I find myself staring at the slope that starts next to the opposite sidewalk, and that is occupied by vegetation that has grown profusely. I feel that the large clump of unkempt, moss green bushes is mocking me, the fool who will try to find an empty seat in a packed train so it will carry me to my dreary nest in my maggoty hometown.

Jacqueline has stopped next to her Audi, and she observes me as if to figure out why I’m spaced out. The setting sun is tinting her hair a rosy gold, casting shadows across her mature features. She’s surrounded by a soothing aura of light fitting for such an ethereal, nurturing woman.

“You look like an angel,” I blurt out.

Her face brightens up with a smile and a blush. I freeze. I look around to locate Jordi and bid him goodbye, mainly to detract weight from the dreamy voice with which I had complimented my female coworker, but the man has already disappeared.

Jacqueline steps closer. She has narrowed both her eyes and her shoulders as she buttons up her cardigan, giving her a cozy look.

“You are gonna have to walk all the way down to the Lugaritz station, right?”

“Well, yes.”

“I’ll drive you to Amara if you want. Not any further, though. I want to get home too.”

I yearn to be inside Jacqueline, preferably headfirst, but sharing a confined space that belongs to her is an enticing start.

“I feel like I don’t have the right to ask you that,” I say controlling my tone, “but if you offer it, I can only thank you.”

“Great. No need to be that formal, Leire. And hey, check this out.”

She points at her fog grey Audi A4 Avant and presses a button on her key fob. A row of inclined bulbs lights up over the headlights, giving the car a futuristic touch. But I am used to my old, murderous car that I abandoned, so most vehicles would feel like a vast improvement.

“I’m thoroughly impressed,” I say.

Jacqueline giggles as she opens the driver’s door, then she gestures with a tilt of her head towards the passenger’s side. Before she regrets having invited me in, I hurry to the opposite door and I crouch into the car. Once both doors are closed, Jacqueline and I adjust our seatbelts. I slide my work bag onto my lap and I lean back against the foam pads of my seat. A strange warmth spreads throughout my body as if a swarm of bees was buzzing around inside me, making my heart flutter with excitement and anxiety.

The interior smells of leather and plastic, with just a hint of perfume. The metallic-looking dashboard is lighted with blue and yellow lines and curves, and it features a touch screen for plenty of the driver’s touching needs. I bet it provides a GPS system. I’ve always wanted to own a vehicle with one, but I never felt like I could afford it. How much did Jacqueline pay for this fancy ride, anyway?

As Jacqueline maneuvers out of the parking lot, I discover that a different screen behind the steering wheel displays the GPS system, and that a HUD on the windshield features a digital speedometer and a fuel gauge. How much did cars improve as I was sleepwalking my life away?

Jacqueline is circling the roundabout at the entrance of the business park when a feeling sinks in: I wish I was stuck in a time loop in which I did nothing else than sit on the passenger seat as this woman drove me around. Only I would know that we would never reach our destination.

We are speeding down the slope that this morning I had to trudge my way up.

“How about some music, huh?” Jacqueline asks.

After she presses a couple of buttons on the touch screen, the multimedia system plays one of those upbeat, popular songs that the radio station insists on replaying week after week, I guess because some executives are bribing them.

“I didn’t have enough with listening to your preferred music at the office,” I say jokingly, “so now these songs will have further opportunity to burrow into my brain.”

Jacqueline laughs. The streets are darkening quick. Two mothers push their strollers as they leave the nearby playground.

“What, you don’t like my music?”

“It’s not fair to call it yours unless you’ve composed it or learned how to play it on an instrument. But anyway, do I really seem like the kind of person who would enjoy these rhythms, or lyrics?”

“I don’t like to prejudge. But you never stated that you hate the music I put on the radio.”

“Why, to start an argument? I could tolerate it enough, the same way a prisoner gets used to regular torture sessions.”

“I did buy this car, you know, so I’ll keep playing my music.”

“Hey, I will endure it, but I assure you, it’s the mindless joy of people who were driven crazy by a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome.”

Jacqueline taps me on the arm with the back of her hand.

“What kind of music do you listen to at your leisure, then?”

I scratch my nape, embarrassed.

“Usually sad songs about how depressing and disappointing life is, I guess.”

Jacqueline fixes her gaze on my face, but I pretend that I find the white, tower-like apartment buildings interesting.

“It’s such a shame that you aren’t happy,” she says.

“I do feel full of shame. But… why would I be happy?” I ask sullenly. “I mean, realistically. When I think about what’s out there that could produce such a fabled state in me, I can’t come up with anything.”

We leave behind the Lugaritz station as Jacqueline’s car ascends the adjoined, sloped road. A young woman walking her dog stands aside on the narrow sidewalk so a cyclist can pass by.

“There’s sex,” Jacqueline says casually.

“Sure,” I concede. “As long as you come across the right person. Otherwise you just add to the hill of humiliating memories.”

“Also good music and movies, and maybe a few drinks every once in a while to loosen things up and get to know someone better. Or just a nice dinner with friends. Not to mention a big, soft bed to fall asleep in. Traveling too, depending on the destination. But we are making idle talk, aren’t we?”

I seek Jacqueline’s gaze to figure out what she meant. She glances meaningfully at me, then she focuses on the road again. We are passing through an isolated road that connects the outskirts with downtown Donostia. A wall of tall trees on both sides of the road has blackened our surroundings further, except for the hazy orange cones coming from streetlights.

“What I mean,” Jacqueline adds, “is that we both know that some people are born with a smaller capacity for happiness than others due to their genes and similar accidents of fate. The truly cursed could own a mansion in a tropical island and spend their days lounging in the sun, but they’d still be miserable.”

I wouldn’t have expected those sentences to come out of my coworker’s mouth. I lean against the headrest as a sad smile plays across my lips.

“That’d be me. I’ve always known it, so I stew in my own misery by my lonesome.”

“Does that mean that we should give up and accept that our lives are destined for misery and unhappiness? Companionship and maybe love should help, at least a little.”

“If I told myself fantastical stories that I’d love to believe, I may end up getting married, raising a bunch of kids and enduring all the noise and mess and chaos that comes with them. I’d be feeding and cleaning up and disciplining and worrying and fighting and making up. Finally I’d have to decide whether to stay or to break up, but after you push out a couple of kids, unless the other person fucks you over, would you want to become a single mom?”

“I would have welcomed being any kind of mom.”

“I don’t know, Jacqueline,” I swallow a hot lump in my throat as an aching feeling settles in my guts. “I don’t want to bother you with my opinions, anyway. You are inconvenienced enough by having to drive me around.”

She had turned her face towards her window. We are passing through a winding tunnel with grimy, graffitied walls. Her hair, drawn back in a ponytail, glistens like polished ebony wood under candlelight.

I have bothered Jacqueline, that much I can tell. I’m used to rambling to myself, usually out loud, as long as nobody can hear me. I can’t contain the flood of words once someone gives me permission to speak, and I always end up freaking them out although they thought they wanted my input, so I’ll have to restrain myself.

We have exited the tunnel into one of those serene neighborhoods in the outskirts where the well-off settle in their nests, away from the hubbub of their fellow humans. The curved front of a tortilla brown apartment building peeps out from behind a rustic wall and a slope covered with motley trees. We have reentered Donostia, which means that my destination gets closer, and soon enough Jacqueline will tell me to get out of her car.

“I will get used to walking everywhere and taking the train to cover the distances that would kill me otherwise,” I say anxiously, “including ascending the slope to our business park. From tomorrow I’ll make the trip in the opposite direction so I can take the train at Lugaritz.”

Jacqueline sighs, then she brushes a thin strand of raven black hair behind her ear.

“Why? How long will it take them to repair your car?”

“Uh… Nobody will reanimate it, because it’s totaled.”


I witness Jacqueline’s shocked expression for the first time, but she’s forced to focus on the road again, because a long, downward slope heads straight into downtown Donostia. I read in her wide open eyes a silent question: “What did you do?” I can’t blame her. For years I yearned to crash my Renault Laguna into a wall at full speed, but then I wouldn’t have gotten to sit in Jacqueline’s car, so close that she’d only have to reach out to slide her warm fingertips down my thighs.

I wave a hand dismissively.

“My car was a piece of shit anyway.”

“Well, will the insurance pay for it?”

“It might if I had it,” I admit sheepishly.

Jacqueline admonishes me with a look that makes me feel like a misbehaving girl who could hardly wait to make it up to mommy.


I shift my weight in my seat as I swallow a nervous lump in my throat. A warm flush had burst in my abdomen, and it’s threatening to flow down to my groin.

“What can I say?” I ask in a raspy voice. “I’m merely a helpless child in many respects.”

Jacqueline reaches across the center console and takes hold of my left hand with her right one. Her skin is soft and smooth, with delicate veins that show through. At the end of her slender fingers, her nails are painted red with clear polish. Goosebumps rise on my covered arms as I face the concern in her blue eyes, that air of maternal affection. I need to take off my panties and fuck myself.

Jacqueline returns her right hand to the steering wheel.

“That’s your personality, but you are far more capable than you give yourself credit.”

My heart is beating faster, and I’m getting light-headed.

“I-I might also become a zombie before long, due to a mysterious disease of which nobody has heard but that it’s slowly killing me with a variety of symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting and diarrhea and uncontrollable fits of hysterical laughter and a burning sensation that feels like someone is stabbing me with a red hot poker from within my chest cavity up to my brain.”

“Sweetie, that doesn’t sound like you should strain yourself walking down to the Lugaritz station five days a week. I’ll keep driving you to Amara. I’m following my usual route anyway, and I enjoy talking to you.”

“Thank you. I don’t recall anyone ever saying that to me.”

A view of bunched up houses has filled most of the horizon in front of us, as far as the vegetation allows me to see. I dreaded reaching the Amara station because I doubted Jacqueline would offer me a ride again, and I wouldn’t muster up the courage to ask her. Was she joking, though? She can’t possibly enjoy spending time with me.

“I’m also worried about anyone walking around after sunset,” Jacqueline adds somberly, “with all the shit that’s going on.”

“You mean the rapid disintegration of this country, along with most of Europe?”

“I’m talking about the missing people, and the murders.”

I blink repeatedly in confusion, which makes her chuckle.

“C’mon, don’t tell me you didn’t know!” Jacqueline says.

“I refuse to follow the news. I already struggle to contain my nausea.”

She shakes her head and smiles at my reticence.

“Gist of it is, entire clans have been found massacred, and many other people have gone missing. I’m sure the police are pissed, because they look incompetent these days,” Jacqueline states matter-of-factly as we pick up speed by noise barriers plastered with stickers of trees and birds of prey, I guess to prevent stupid birds from cracking their skulls by flying headfirst into the barriers.

I suspect that this delicious woman is taking advantage of my innocence, but I’ll play along like a good little victim while she gets what she wants out of me.

“That sounds like a veritable murder spree. I would be fine though, as I doubt I belong to any clan, and I avoid trekking through the woods because I’m terrified of sasquatches. But you are right, I’m defenseless. You better let me park my ass on your passenger seat five days a week. I’ll pay for your diesel, or whatever sludge this Audi slugs.”

“Just pay me with your company, sweetie.”

“Oh, you are gonna make me cry.”

The car leaves behind a futuristic building with a facade made out of pastel-colored panels, as well a pristine white Zenit hotel. I recognize the tower of a church because I saw it from the train this morning, so in a short while I’ll have to extricate myself from Jacqueline.

“So, what do you do in the afternoons?” she asks.

“Oh, you know. Sometimes I imagine myself sitting at my coffee table and opening one of the board games that have gathered dust on my shelves, particularly those whose rules I’ve never learned.”

“You are into board games, then? You play them alone?”

I sigh. I suspect that I should lie, but a suicidal instinct urges me to offer Jacqueline a peek into the abyss that my life has become. Maybe she can save me. Or maybe she can simply amuse herself until I totally lose it, jump off some roof and plunge to my death.

“I used to, years ago. Ever since I work as a programmer, by the time I get home I’m always so exhausted that I just lie around, usually on the couch or in bed, and browse the internet idly. Some days I pass out shortly after I allow myself to relax, and when I wake up, I cobble together some dinner, eat it as I watch YouTube videos, then I brush my teeth, masturbate and struggle to fall asleep.”

Jacqueline chuckles as she turns the steering wheel to circle one of the central roundabouts of the city, that features an appropriately wasteful fountain. My blood has frozen. Why do I allow myself to speak? Why do I feel that I should share private information, only to want to punch myself in the face an instant after I have revealed it?

“W-why, how do you spend your afternoons?” I ask in a thin voice.

Jacqueline purses her lips as she looks up.

“For example, I’m meeting someone in a couple of hours.”

“As in… a person?”

She covers her mouth as she laughs softly.

“Yes, Leire, a human being. What else would it be?”

“I don’t know,” I say wearily. “A horse, maybe.”

“A horse, huh? Are you a fan of horses?”

I shake my head.

“I fucking despise them. They are ugly and disgusting and they stink to the point that they shouldn’t exist on Earth anymore.”

A terrible suspicion makes my ears prick up. I check through the rearview mirror if an animal that might resemble an equine is attached to the backseat of the car, but it seems I’m safe for now.

“Okay…” Jacqueline says dubitatively. “So yeah, I usually go out.”

A droning noise is increasing in my ears as I feel my spine stiffening. A bus delays us, as well as the cars that were following us, because it needs to wait for another bus to drive out of a stop. I try to distract myself by looking out of the window, but we are close a four star hotel and to a couple dozen of strangers that are either sitting at the outside tables of a bar, or walking purposefully along the darkened sidewalk.

“I guess he’s an attractive guy,” I say in a monotone, “this person you are meeting tonight.”

“Uh-huh. He’s twenty four and works as an accountant at a law firm. He also has the body that befits someone rising in the ranks of semi-professional tennis.”

She’s driving through an intersection that passes by a decades-old palm tree. I recognize that wall that separates the sidewalk from the train tracks.

Jacqueline enjoys sex with many lovers who are willing to satisfy every one of her whims and fantasies. She’s a sexpot who knows exactly what she’s doing with that delectable body of hers. I bet that all of those men are well-adjusted and presentable, like the ones featured in the promotional videos that run in a loop on the screens of the train. I already knew this, so why do I feel this upsurge of anger that threatens to overwhelm my fragile sanity? Jacqueline hadn’t deceived me; if anything, she went out of her way to console me. She didn’t need to offer me a ride. Still, I’ve made the mistake of closing my eyes, and my mind is playing a vivid video of a tennis player ramming Jacqueline as she moans and begs him to fuck her harder. My mood has plummeted into somberness as if the sky had grown dark with clouds of doom.

Who would want to have anything to do with me? I don’t. Why would anyone ever find me attractive when all they can see when they look at my pale, skinny self is a freakish creature covered in thick layers of filth, who suffers from mental illnesses and social ineptitude, with no future prospects, no hope, all alone in this cold world, with a defective reality masking a shattered soul?

“Here we are. Look! We have a free parking spot and everything,” Jacqueline says as she pulls into a space reserved for taxis, in front of the Amara station. When she turns her head to bid me goodbye, her smile falls. “Are you crying?”

My throat has constricted. My heart pounds against the walls of my chest cavity, that feels like it’s caving in on itself due to an accumulation of pain that won’t let go of me no matter how much time passes.

“Just a couple of tears,” I mumble.

I’m tightening my right fist, because I don’t want to reach for the handle of the door with a trembling hand. Jacqueline cups my chin and turns my head towards her. I’m forced to stare into her cobalt blue eyes as she studies me inquisitively.

“You have a crush on me,” Jacqueline says calmly.

I keep myself from blinking as I fumble with the handle of my door. Once I set my feet on the asphalt, I nearly trip.

“I-I have to take this train.”

The thud of the door closing silences my coworker, who was moving her lips. I hurry into the crowded station.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 12 (Fiction)

At eleven o’clock, I lift my sweaty hand from my mouse and I get up from my chair. I gulp, then turn to Jacqueline. Her perfume is a floral scent with a hint of spice and citrus that reminds me of a garden full of flowers and fruit trees. I hadn’t intended to ogle at her now, but I’m in a vantage position to peer down the cleavage of her skater dress. That pink lace bra barely holds together the generous mounds of titflesh that are pushing against the cups of the garment. The day I’ll end up standing on tiptoes and with a noose tightened around my neck while my heart pounds away violently, urged by my survival instincts to find reasons to keep living, the word ‘breasts’ will flash in my mind in capital bold letters. Tits are the symbol of power that I crave to possess, the source of strength that gives life when everything else fails. Their presence will ward off evil spirits that lurk outside of our shelters looking for a chance to invade them. If I let go of breasts, what would I have left to hold onto except for a life of loneliness and despair?

“Uh… Jacqueline,” I say weakly, “I’m going to get a coffee. Do you want one too?”

She was absorbed in browsing external hard drives on Amazon, and when she gazes up at me and processes my offer, she seems pleasantly intrigued, because I had never offered to get her anything. Jacqueline rubs her lower lip with a fingertip as one corner of her mouth raises in a smile. Her eyes, two pools of blue ice floating above a mountain lake, sparkle while she looks at me from under her lashes. I wonder if she can sense the heat rising off my skin.

“Sure, sweetie,” she answers softly with her voice dripping honey. “A latte.”

As I turn to walk away, Jacqueline reaches for the sleeve of my sweater and pulls me back with a gentle tug.

“Leire, maybe Jordi wants a coffee as well?” she suggests with a coy little grin.

I blush crimson. I pivot towards my male coworker, whose existence I had forgotten until a couple of seconds ago. Our intern draws upon his deep reserves of patience and forbearance to deal with my awkward self.

“It’s alright, Leire. I’m still running on the coffee I drank a couple of hours ago.”

A few minutes later I’m warming my right hand with a steaming cappuccino while I witness how Jacqueline’s pouty lips close around the rim of the plastic cup that I lovingly brought to her. When she opens her eyes, her pupils were turned my way. A jolt of electricity runs through my body. Jacqueline gives me a big smile, which accentuates her dimples. I fail to withstand her gaze as my heart beats fast, so I pretend that my work requires my undivided attention, which, to be fair, it does, as I’m struggling to program through my tasks. However, I want to watch Jacqueline surreptitiously through my peripheral vision. She keeps sipping the hot liquid that is slowly seeping into her tummy, making its way through the crevices of her fleshy anatomy. I should have drooled into her coffee.

That was a knowing smile Jacqueline threw my way, so she realizes how wet she can make me. I must be blushing in her presence like a little girl caught with a handful of candy bar wrappers. But someone stalked by a sentient horse can’t be sure of anything, except that I need to relieve the burning sensation in my crotch.

I’m working on a failing unit test when I realize that my coworkers are stretching their legs, eager to breathe the cold October air instead of the stale atmosphere of this office that reeks of sweat and bad coffee. Somehow I have reached the lunch break without losing my mind.

I take a deep breath as my coworkers chat. A pair of feminine hands grabs my shoulders and rubs them briskly, in circular motions. The hair on my nape rises.

“Are you coming with us?” Jacqueline asks me from behind.

I’m about to shiver in pleasure at the touch of her fingers gliding across the flesh of my neck and shoulder blades through my sweater and shirt.

“I-I’d love you witness you two getting tipsier as you prattle about sex, but unfortunately I have to catch up on work.”

I don’t retain her answer. While my coworkers walk towards the entrance of our office, I try to admire Jacqueline’s butt in the reflection of my monitor, but the tail of her cardigan hides her posterior. Once they’re gone, I sigh heavily. Although I attempt to resume my task, waves of lust keep running down my spine. I’m both aroused and ashamed, as if I had just been caught diddling myself.

I slip away to the bathroom. Inside, I check that all the stalls are empty. I’m refreshing my face with cold water when a shadow falls over me, and I end up staring at Spike’s bulging eyes in the smudged mirror. His huge, elongated head is blocking the fluorescent light. My eyes are drawn to the oval of pink flesh underneath the flaps of skin that cover the horse’s groin. His stench reaches me, overwhelming my nostrils.

This piece of shit horse opens his drooling mouth to speak, but I interrupt him eagerly.

“It’s the ladies bathroom, Spike. Then again, whoever castrated you also gave you a vagina, huh?”

I fail to push out a mocking chuckle. If anything, I fear that my eyes may overflow with tears. I have to remain strong, but I just want to cry and scream at the same time.

“Sorry for bothering you,” Spike says.

“You couldn’t be any further from sorry, freakshow. You’re a hideous horsemanoid creature, a disgusting pile of bones and filth who eats human corpses and craps out garbage. Just shut your deformed muzzle before some random person walks in here. Why do you keep disappearing suddenly, anyway?”

Spike lifts his snout, which causes a long strand of drool to fall onto the tiles. His bulging forehead crinkles.

“It takes a sustained effort to maintain a stable reality and hold on to the illusion of a coherent world.”

“Is that what happens when you devour people alive?”

I guess his explanation made sense. If I were a horse, it’d be impossible to get a good night’s sleep. I’d dream of being chased or torn apart by wolves or other predators, or even worse, by an angry mob that screamed “Horsemeat! Horsemeat!” as they beat me to death with clubs or rakes. So understandably, horses prefer to stay hidden whenever possible. It’s easier to live alone than to be constantly tormented by terrifying visions.

In any case, a wave of nausea is rising in my throat, and my temples are throbbing. I clutch at the sink as I swallow my foul-tasting saliva.

“You should take a shower every once in a while, you know?” I mutter.

“Everything is getting too confusing. Leire, you need to listen, because I’m trying to tell you something important.”

I turn off the tap and rub my damp hands against each other. I hear footsteps approaching from the hallway.

“Well, you are doing a terrible job at it, and I couldn’t possibly care about anything a stinky equine would want to tell me. I won’t give you the opportunity for any of your cells to inject their genetic material into mine, if horses could be said to possess any form of DNA whatsoever. I won’t let you eat my brain either, so there’s no point talking to me, okay, Spike?”

A woman enters the restroom, but I lower my head and sneak away while the intruder opens a stall. I hurry towards my office as I hear Spike complaining in a high-pitched voice like a honking goose. He must be losing it from the irritation of having been left alone with his stench and vengeful thoughts.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 11 (Fiction)

The morning light streaming through the two windows brightens further the frost white ceiling and walls of our office; and the row of three powder white storage cabinets, which contain binders that Jacqueline gets paid to fill with reports that nobody reads; and the porcelain white table where our assigned PCs face the same way, forcing my coworkers to sit so close that they could glance freely at my screen, so I have to worry in case I have opened a porn site absentmindedly. The floor is covered with a carpet that is faded, threadbare, and marred in several places with old food stains that are impossible to remove.

The sound of keyboard clattering serves as the drumline to the popular songs that the radio spews out. Near my empty workstation stands Spike the horse, balancing on his hind legs that tremble as if they were made of rubber. When he lifts his long, drooling face, he shrinks away from my disdainful gaze, but despite the sadness that oozes from his bulging, black eyes, this horse remains a vile creature who has no respect for anyone’s dignity and should be exterminated with a shovel and gasoline and fire and whatever else is available, for daring to exist at all.

As I tramp to my chair, I gesture silently to Spike to move aside, but that’s as much as I will acknowledge his presence at the office, because my coworkers can’t see him. If they did, and knew about Spike’s crimes against humanity, they would scream for me to destroy this horrible beast at once.

I sit at the desk as if it were an altar consecrated for worshiping some god or goddess responsible for making humans suffer every day. Although my ass cheeks just began to get squeezed against my seat, Jordi turns towards me and throws words my way.

“You really are unlucky, Leire.”

I’m getting dizzy, partly because I have exhausted my feeble muscles and lungs ascending the slope to this business park, and also because of the heavy dose of anxiety that has been injected into my veins. I feel Spike standing close and sniffing my scent, breathing it deeply as if to inhale my thoughts straight off my mind. I can sense the horse’s desperate longing for my body. Does he want to impregnate my womb so I produce a litter of horses? Would I end up giving birth to magical unicorns? Or is Spike simply seeking the pleasure of my soft flesh and the caresses of my sweaty hands upon his coarse coat?

I clear my throat as I wipe some sweat off my forehead.

“You mean in general?” I ask hoarsely. “Or do you specifically refer to this moment?”

Jordi pushes his glasses up his freckled nose as he offers me a patient smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. As usual, his spotless white shirt is tucked inside his black pants, making him look like an angelic choirboy.

“Jacqueline told me that your car died, so you found yourself having to navigate the public transport system.”

“Yeah, I know. The train was filled with people, too. It was like a war zone. But… my life is a battlefield, and I’ve decided to join the zombie army.”

Jordi shrugs.

“Things have been calmer around here, thankfully. As your kouhai, I’ve taken the initiative to handle that ticket of yours about pushing data to a database via a RESTful API.”

I never know what those Chinese words that Jordi keeps using mean, but as long as he does my job and I get paid, he may as well speak solely in Mandarin.

“You are saving my life,” I say, then sigh. “Don’t worry, I will be firing on all cylinders soon enough.”

I switch on my computer. As soon as the monitor shows the motherboard logo, from my right, Jacqueline rolls her chair closer to mine and leans forward, placing a hand on my shoulder. I shiver at the touch of her palm that smells of soap, and I think of the horrors that might happen to my poor soul if she uses a finger to trace a pattern across my skin.

Jacqueline has tied up her glossy, raven black hair in a ponytail with a blue ribbon, and she’s wearing a loose, fog grey cardigan over a wine red, low-cut skater dress. Her threateningly large breasts are encased by a lacy, pink bra that flatters them. I get a glimpse of her polyester, thigh-high boots that hug her long legs. My heart flutters. There goes my interest in focusing on my job.

“I have never seen you this pale, Leire,” she says softly. “Take it easy today, alright?”

My brain is numb and inert as if someone had poured a bucket of cold water over my head, but I nod anyway as I stare at Jacqueline’s beautiful face.

“I guess I’ll take it as easy as I can while I work through my long list of tickets. But… how are you doing, Jacqueline?”

My question disconcerts her. I guess I never asked for her well-being. Her lips are slightly parted, revealing a hint of crepe pinkness at the corners. I wonder if her other labia sport the same coloration. I want to follow with my tongue the skin from her creamy neck down to the swell of her breasts.

“I’m fine as always, Leire,” Jacqueline says appreciatively. “Just take a breather when you need to. Don’t punish yourself.”

After Jacqueline wheels her chair back to her workstation, I keep replaying her mellifluous voice in my head. But I must look pale for sure; a fear has built up in my stomach like a lump of coal churned into a mountain range of lava by a volcano god, because my boss is likely to reprimand me for my lateness.

I have barely checked out my assigned tasks in Service Manager and opened Visual Studio Code when I hear Ramsés say my name. He’s standing at the doorway to his office. Today he chose his admiral blue suit and a spotted tie. As soon as our gazes connect, he beckons to me with his thick, hairy fingers, then he walks back into his cave.

I close my eyes and wish I was dead. After I take a deep breath, I stand up wearily and I shuffle to my boss’ office. When I enter it, Ramsés is leaning against his mahogany desk, likely to rub his hard on through his pants at his leisure, but I’m dazed by a rancid stench that permeates this office. Did my boss fart up a storm before calling me in, as a humiliation tactic?

My boss sighs as he goes around his desk. He parks his ass on the expensive upholstery of his executive chair.

“Leire, please sit down.”

I hold my breath while I eye him with suspicion, but I slowly lower myself onto the guest chair opposite his desk.

“Did you want something, sir?” I ask meekly.

Ramsés looks down at a stack of papers on his desk, then he wrings his hands together until he finally speaks with an air of authority and impatience.

“Let me put this out there: I don’t believe your car broke down.”

How dare he accuse me of lying? My blood boils at the audacity of that statement.

“Excuse me?”

Ramsés fixes his gaze on mine with a penetrating glare that makes me squirm uncomfortably.

“Yesterday you complained for the first time about the volume of work I assign you. The following day you arrive more than an hour late without notifying me that you wouldn’t come in time. I have to assume this was part of a stratagem to prove how indispensable you are.”

My mouth falls open as I stare dumbfounded at my boss. I shift my weight in the chair, but as I’m about to defend myself, a black mass peeks out from behind my boss’ shoulder and wraps itself around his neck as if to strangle him. Ramsés fails to react. The hideous form writhes and contorts like it’s stuck in viscous liquid. It has a grotesque head shaped like an upside-down bowl of spaghetti, and I make out a mouth full of jagged teeth like rows of broken glass. At the end of two vermiform appendages coming out of its head, two bulbous eyes gleam like black marbles. It reminds me of a deep sea creature.

From the thing’s throat comes out a loud squelch, but I can’t understand what it’s saying, maybe because it’s gargling on all those bubbles of thick mucus that keep dribbling from its lips.

I must have fallen into a trance as I gaped at the strange creature; my boss ends up repeating my name. As if he had spoken an incantation, the monster disappears from Ramsés’ shoulder. Drops of sticky fluid that had dripped onto his desk vanish into thin air.

“Don’t space out, Leire, please,” Ramsés demands sternly. “Is this one of your defense mechanisms to avoid facing reality?”

His tone had shifted from annoyance to concern as he observed me. He scratches the side of his face, which is covered by a dark stubble.

My brain feels sluggish and dull. I can only nod as I try unsuccessfully to wipe away the sweat that is now running down my forehead. My temples throb painfully with every heartbeat.

“You have always been strange,” Ramsés says, lowering his voice, “as expected with such a technically-minded woman, but in these last few months you’ve been… deteriorating.”

His words cut my heart deeply, because he is correct. I try to smile to dismiss his assumptions, but I fear that my cheeks will tremble and tears will well up in my eyes.

“So what, you think I’m suffering from psychosis or schizophrenia?”

Ramsés shrugs, then shakes his head.

“I don’t know. Are you? Those are heavy words. You are a good programmer, but I can’t have you being erratic and inconsistent. You know what will happen if we can’t deliver the contracts in time, the company will have to pay the penalty fee. If it gets bad enough, I won’t be able to pay any of you.”

“I get it, sir. I’ll work hard.”

Ramsés’ voice deepens as he tries to convince his employee to do the right thing, and I can’t help but tilt my chin down in a submissive gesture.

“You used to go above and beyond. I suppose you worked overtime partly because you had nothing else going on and you may as well earn some extra money. I was glad to pay you for it, but the most I can demand of you is to complete your tasks during the regular workday hours.”

I can’t force myself to lift my gaze. My shoulders droop, my eyes turn watery. Ramsés’ chair creaks as he gets up and walks around his desk. His admiral blue pants fill half of my frame of vision, and then I feel his big hand around my right trapezius muscle. He squeezes it firmly. The smell of cigarettes wafts down to my nostrils.

I stiffen. My throat is dry. I bet this man was waiting for the opportunity to fondle me. I want to jerk my body away, because I know what comes next: he will pull down his zipper, and then he will stuff his fat cock down my throat. Maybe he’s expecting me to give in willingly and reach out with both hands for his belt buckle, because I am a whore who loves swallowing every drop of salty juice from her lover’s ballsack. I’m paralyzed as I wait for my boss to grab hold of my neck, but instead he pats me on the back twice with his violating hand.

“Keeping a job must be hard for you, but whatever is going on, Leire, you need to straighten yourself up and be a proper adult.”

My chest feels tight as my temples throb. First he rapes me, then he calls me a child? And what if I am? I never signed up to become an adult. If as a newborn I had understood what nightmares this life would have entailed, I would have crawled back into my mother’s cunt.

I was never a proper human being. As a baby, my head looked like a boiled egg with a hole in the center that my parents had to feed by screwing a rubber dildo attached to a pump, which gave milk that tasted like a mixture of rotten eggs and vomit. I remember that alien cock clearly, it was bigger than a tree trunk with a snake’s head on top that threatened to chomp on mine. The rest of my body was a collection of tubes and wires connected to machines that made weird noises. The doctor said that everything about me pointed towards a malfunctioning brain, so I got put under a magical spell that turned me into a walking corpse, which nobody could recognize as a person anymore. When the sun rose, my dead eyes showed me a horrid world that made me want to cry like a little girl even though I was a grown woman, because this dimension was a scary place full of monsters that could devour a person at a single bite, and there were no adults, just a bunch of children running around with their heads empty, screaming at each other while they played with knives, guns and bombs.

All of my actions have been guided by an overwhelming urge to escape from my trauma-filled past, and my life became an endless cycle of suffering, grief and self-destruction which caused my mind to crumble. My body at least used to function properly, but now I have been reduced to a twisted wreck of insanity.

I black out. The next thing I know, I’m shuffling out of my boss’ office, barely able to focus my gaze ahead. My horse stalker was spying on me from the other side of the doorway, and he hobbles aside as I pass. Spike’s nostrils flare like they’re constantly filled with an unpleasant odor emanating from deep inside his throat, because his digestive organs are filled with a rancid sludge that stinks like rotten meat mixed with urine and vomit, all rolled into one nauseous concoction laced with sulfuric acid and a dash of ammonia, to make sure that no one could ever forget the stench that escapes out of the orifices of this horse-shaped monstrosity.

Spike lets out a drawn out groan that send shivers to my bone marrow, and causes me to cover my nose to block his breath. His hooves scrape against the carpet as he stumbles along trying to keep pace with me.

“Your blood flows through the veins and arteries of the people around you,” the horse says gloomily. “It’s a miracle that you can live among these human beings without going mad.”

Spike wants to pretend that he understands me completely, although he’s an inhuman abomination that eats people alive. I see his point, but I’d argue that I haven’t been sane for as long as I can remember. In fact, if those around me found out my true nature, they would surely never forgive themselves for having been so blind to such a grisly reality.