Archive for November, 2013

Pussywhipped

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 26, 2013 by ofherbsandaltars

Jeff didn’t make any resolutions, on New Year’s Eve. Before the clock struck midnight, he found himself out on the balcony with Rosa, her blue mohican quivering in the breeze as she shivered inside her leather jacket, smoking a Lucky Strike, premature fireworks erupting across the city skyline. Rosa didn’t believe in resolutions, because they sounded like hard work, and hard work wasn’t any fun. Rosa believed in wishes, in magic, in getting things that you didn’t deserve, that you didn’t even need, just because you wanted them. Jeff only believed in the optimism of wishes, unaware that magic, once unleashed, became wild and uncontrollable – that it could drag you to darker places than you ever thought possible…

“Make one,” Rosa ordered, checking her watch and glancing up at him with a crooked grin. “Clock goes boom in one minute – speak now or forever hold your limp dick!”

“Ok…” Jeff agreed, frowning thoughtfully. “If I have to pick something, I guess I pick love. I wish to fall in love this year.”

“Bullshit!” Rosa groaned, rolling her eyes and blowing a cloud of smoke all over him. “It’s easy to fall in love, no one needs magic to fall in love. It’s being loved back that’s the hard part.” She scowled out across the rooftops, her dark eyes narrowed, and Jeff knew she was thinking about her girlfriend Lisa, who had abandoned her two months ago, and left her with nothing but a furious new song, currently being spun out across the airwaves on the local rock radio station almost every night.

“Alright then,” Jeff conceded. “I wish to be loved in 2013. A lot.”

“Say it like you mean it!” Rosa scoffed. “Say it like you believe it!”

Jeff laughed, taking a gulp of Carling and flinging his arms out wide. He threw his head back, and hollered at the cloudy night sky,

“I BELIEVE IN ROSA’S MAGIC! THIS YEAR I’M GONNA FALL IN LOVE, AND SHE’S GONNA LOVE ME LIKE NO ONE HAS EVER LOVED ANYONE!”

Rosa whooped her agreement, and the sound of a raucous countdown began from inside the party, culminating in a rapidfire explosion all around them, glittering rainbow showers raining down from the skies as the year 2013 rolled in. Rosa grabbed the lapels of his leather jacket, and dragged him towards her for a drunken snog. Her mouth tasted like an ashtray and when his hands slid down to her boobs she shoved him roughly away, grinning widely – Rosa’s magic had begun.

 

 

When Jeff woke up on the floor of the party, dim light filtering underneath the curtains, Rosa’s sweaty sock-feet were lying next to his face, a fat guy was snoring on the sofa, and his tongue felt like a chunk of mouldy carpet. He sat up groggily, reaching out for a nearby can of Carling and taking a swig. The lager was warm and flat, and slightly gritty with cigarette ash. Rosa was sprawled out on her back, her hoodie drawn tight around her face so that only her nose was visible. He lifted her limp left arm, and discovered that it was 8.13am. Rosa didn’t stir as he dropped her hand, and he lay back down with a resigned sigh – there was no bigger bitch on Earth than a prematurely awoken Rosa. Though she was a demi-celebrity on the local punk scene, Jeff had only seen her pitch a genuine rockstar diva fit on one occasion, when he had woken her up before 11am. He could already feel the hangover from hell brewing behind his eyes, and the last thing he needed was Rosa’s highly-developed screaming talents all the way home.

As he tried in vain to get back to sleep, his head resting on a lumpy sofa cushion, he thought again about a New Year’s resolution. Rosa’s magic might have to be performed before the strike of midnight, but no one started their resolutions until the party season was over, the booze drunk, the drugs consumed, the money spent. Jeff thought about it for a long time, but he still came up empty-handed. All in all, he was pretty happy with his life. His job was ok – more than ok, really. He’d been a security guard at a swanky hotel for the past three years, sitting behind a one-way mirror in the lobby, a bank of CCTV screens to his right. No one bothered him in there, not even when he exhausted his enthusiasm for books and brought in a Xbox console. For the past fortnight he’d been working his way through the Harry Potter game, leaping around the tiny room waving his arms in the air and bellowing ‘EXPECTO PATRONUM!’ at dementors, and so far no one had said a word. So Jeff definitely couldn’t complain about his job. He couldn’t really complain about his friends either, the core two he knew from high school, the constantly shifting outer band of cheerful drinking acquaintances, and the ever-present Rosa. He’d been a bit in love with her, when they first met, and once they’d slept together on a grimy sofa in a rehearsal room, surrounded by the leftover odour of sweaty drummers, the wailing guitars of a rock band pulsating through the wall. Jeff had gone home with a permanent grin, already thinking of her as his girlfriend, imagining himself in the front row of her gigs as she sang every song to him. She was unlike anyone he’d ever met, and that night in bed he found himself fantasising about being invited into the band, going on tour around Europe, fucking in hotel rooms and flying high on a constant crackling current of raucous feedback, German beer and the intensity of their newfound love affair.

His dream had lasted 24 hours, before he called Rosa up to ask her out for a meal, a proper date, and she stated bluntly that she’d had fun, but that she was seeing a girl called Kirsty. Last night they’d had a fight, so she’d fucked a guy, a guy with a dick, just to prove to herself that she didn’t need Kirsty, or Kirsty’s vagina. But today Kirsty had come crawling back with a box of chocolates and a signed Rancid CD, and all was forgiven, so it could never happen again. When Jeff hung up the phone, he felt crushed, but he still couldn’t bring himself to hate Rosa for using him. Their friendship continued, and for the first year he held out hope that when Kirsty went away, Rosa would need him again, would come to love him, but it never happened. Then as time wore on, he realised that he didn’t even mind. Rosa would come round on a Friday night, sweaty and half-drunk from a gig or a rehearsal, dumping herself down on his sofa and resting her dirty socks on the coffeetable, where she would devour a kebab with disgusting enthusiasm, dropping mayonnaise all over her crotch.  Once she had told him in graphic detail about her current yeast infection, and the fact that she was squirting yoghurt into her cooter to cure it, but that the yoghurt would curdle in her pants until it resembled cottage cheese. She even offered to show him her ‘vag-magic cheese trick’, but he declined, and Rosa laughed herself sick – in short, much as he loved her company, it was getting harder and harder for him to see her as a sexual being, or as a girl at all.

So Jeff eventually decided that his New Year’s wish had been the only thing he truly needed – love. He needed a girl in his life, a proper girl, one who drank sticky pink cocktails and filled the bathroom with feminine perfume bottles, a girl who wore shimmery lipstick and cooked meals that she wouldn’t dub ‘Post Barf Breakfast Surprise’ or ‘Bleeding Snatch Bolognese’. This year, Jeff was going to fall in love with a proper girl, a girl who loved him back, and then his life would be complete. Smiling, he closed his eyes, and tried to block out the guttural grunting of the fat guy on the sofa.

 

 

For the first two months of the year, Jeff relied entirely on the power of Rosa’s New Year magic. He went about his business as normal, making no extra efforts to meet girls, but at all times feeling the tingling thrill of possibility. Every time he left the house, every time he entered the pub, he was waiting to meet her – the girl of his dreams, the girl who would love him back, the final piece of the puzzle. But as time wore on, he began to feel a strange sense of emptiness each time he walked home alone. No matter how much he had enjoyed seeing his friends, no matter how much he had laughed, he went home feeling disappointed, because she hadn’t been there. When Rosa made that week’s Friday night visit, she distracted him from his newfound misery with the tale of her latest conquest, who had persuaded her to buy a strap-on. Rosa had even brought the thing over to show him, and after a six-pack of beers she strapped herself into it, and they fought an energetic wizard’s duel, Rosa’s purple cock bouncing merrily with every thrust of her wand. When they gave up in fits of laughter, she asked whether he fancied letting her ‘do him up the arse’ with it, because she wanted to complete her ‘sexual triad’. Straight sex and lesbian sex were successful slam-dunks, but she’d never had gay sex – the sexual triad, she had decided, was her mission for the year. Nonetheless, Jeff declined to participate.

When she left in a taxi on Saturday night, the emptiness returned, and Jeff realised that maybe even Rosa’s New Year magic needed a bit of help. He spent the next three hours creating an OkCupid profile, agonising over a witty-yet-appropriate introduction, and finally at 4am he went to bed, proud of his magnificent creation. Over the next three weeks he surfed the site often, checking his messages religiously, replying daily and even going out on two dates, but soon the emptiness seeped back in as he realised the enormity of the task at hand. Many of the messages he received were simplistic, soulless, devoid of personality. More still were grammatical abortions, or vapid and nonsensical. A few were frighteningly desperate – communications from two shy girls with big sad eyes and a cat in every picture. The second date had initially seemed promising – she was blonde, beautiful, immaculate, wearing shimmering pink lipstick, the epitome of the Proper Girl he so longed for, but his expectations quickly fell flat. The restaurant she had chosen was full of mirrors, and instead of making eye contact she stared over his left shoulder, talking and smiling to her own reflection, until he began to wonder if she’d rather he wasn’t there at all, and like his childhood budgerigar she could chatter endlessly to her own reflected face. When he walked home alone, the sense of emptiness and disappointment was crushing, and he decided that he couldn’t bear it any longer, this constant cycle of hope and defeat. As soon as he arrived at the flat, he deleted his OkCupid account, and resolved to stop trying, before he became as desperate as the cat girls. Instead of scrabbling for dates, he resolved to focus on self-improvement, and the first item on the list was to get in shape. From now on, every Wednesday night, Jeff was going rock climbing.

At Jeff’s second rock climbing session, Rosa’s magic finally ignited. There was a girl in the group who hadn’t been there last week. She was petite, curvy and blonde, her hair in a gleaming bob, and as she climbed the wall there were frequent squeals of fear, but she made it to the top nonetheless. When she gave up in exhaustion, Jeff bailed too, following her out and introducing himself. Her name was Anna, and the conversation flowed so easily that they ended up going to Wetherspoons for dinner, and staying until 10pm. The next night they talked on the phone for hours, and when Jeff finally hung up he was fizzing with elation. Everything was so easy with Anna – she was so candid and open, and she clearly felt the same way about him as he did about her. They arranged to go for a meal on Friday, tomorrow night, and when Jeff warned Rosa that their usual session would have to be postponed, she seemed delighted by the news that her magic had been successful. She even offered to lend Jeff her strap-on, in case of first date nerves, but he declined, laughing.

When he arrived at the restaurant, it was as if his New Year’s wish had been made flesh. Anna was wearing a short purple dress, her blonde bob gleaming, her lips glossed with a subtle pink shimmer, and she beamed delightedly when she saw him, bouncing over and giving him a hug. They talked so much over the meal that their food got cold, and Anna put away most of a bottle of wine, so Jeff threw caution and sobriety to the wind and finished it off. They reeled back to his flat through the cold night air, and headed directly to Jeff’s bed. He was pleased to find that Rosa’s warning about “first fuck flaccidity” had not come true, but as soon as he had unrolled the condom onto his cock, Anna turned away from him, and shuffled off the bed, beginning to gather her clothes. When he asked what was wrong she was evasive, and he began to feel awkward, following her around the room with his rubber-clad cock bouncing in front of him, so he peeled off the Durex and dragged his jeans back on, pleading with her to stay, telling her that it didn’t matter. She suddenly burst into incoherent tears, and he hugged her awkwardly, wondering what facet of his naked body had provoked such a horrified reaction.

Finally she began to talk to him, and the whole story poured out, that she had been beaten by her cheating ex boyfriend, had only recently convinced herself to leave him, and called in the assistance of the police to evict him from her apartment. She liked Jeff, and she wanted to trust Jeff, but she had loved Seb too before he started hitting her, had loved him even after he started hitting her, and she wasn’t sure whether she should be in a relationship at all, but she was just so sick of sleeping alone, of always waking up in an empty bed. Jeff held her and listened, broke out another bottle of wine when she asked for it, and when her story reached its end he told her about the emptiness that had followed him since New Year’s Eve, the unrequited love he’d felt for Rosa, about the depression that had washed over him on that awful date, those terrible, pointless OkCupid messages, and how he would wait as long as it took for her to trust him, because he had never met anyone like her. By the end of his story, Anna was smiling again, and they finished off the bottle of wine, curling up together in Jeff’s bed. As he closed his eyes he felt blissfully happy, at the feeling of her small, soft body in his arms, the floral scent of her hair surrounding him, and he began to wish that she would never, ever leave.

 

 

By the end of the following week, Jeff’s bathroom was filled with a scattering of feminine products, lipstick tubes and eyeshadows, powder brushes and expensive shampoos. There were three pairs of high heels by the front door, along with an ever-growing collection of empty chardonnay bottles, Anna’s favourite. They hadn’t really discussed it, but she hadn’t left since she arrived on Monday night, and Jeff had no complaints. How could you be moving too fast when it felt so right? Why should he force himself to play it cool when life was short and everything was suddenly so perfect? Whenever he got home from work, Anna would be there with fresh bottle of wine, and there was no place he would rather be.

They started going out with Anna’s friends, an ever-revolving group of cheerful people who all seemed to come in couples, and Jeff enjoyed every minute, loved thinking of himself in coupled form – Jeff-and-Anna, inseparable. It was two more weeks before he got a snarky text from Rosa, and he apologised for abandoning her, inviting her out to the pub the following night. He was eager to introduce Anna, to spend a happy evening with his two favourite women, but as soon as they arrived he could tell that something was wrong. Rosa was Rosa, and Anna laughed at her crude jokes, but there was something artificial about her facial expressions, something overly bright in her laughter. At 9.30 she complained of a headache, and as soon as they returned to the flat she burst into tears. Jeff asked what was wrong, and she mumbled that she felt threatened by Rosa, that he’d never told her how beautiful Rosa was – how intimidating.

“But Rosa’s barely a girl at all,” Jeff pointed out. “Rosa’s  actually pretty disgusting, a lot of the time – wait until you see her eat! You’re feminine, and Rosa is…” he frowned, unable to find the right word.

“Bisexual!” Anna wailed, dumping herself down on the couch and slopping wine into last night’s lipstick-smeared glass. “She’s beautiful and bisexual and how can I compete with that, Jeff? How can I ever compete with that?”

“Why does that matter?” Jeff asked, completely bewildered. “It just means that she tells me horrible, offputting things about vaginas all the time!”

“You loved her!” Anna wailed, “You told me that you loved her, and I could see it, I could see it in the way you looked at her – you still love her!”

“She’s my friend,” Jeff stated firmly, sitting down next to Anna and trying to put his arm around her, but she wriggled away. “Rosa’s been my friend for years – she’s probably my best friend, but I don’t feel that way about her, at all!”

“I don’t trust her,” Anna mumbled, wiping mascara-smudged tears from under her eyes and taking a gulp of wine. “She was wearing fishnet tights and a miniskirt, just to see you, don’t you know what that means?”

“Rosa always wears fishnet tights,” Jeff protested. “Always!”

“When she’s around you she does! You’re not a girl, you don’t know what it means – she wants to look sexy for you!”

“Rosa has no interest in me!” Jeff exclaimed, his voice rising in indignation at the sheer wrongness of Anna’s assumptions, but she flinched, shuffling rapidly away from him and bursting into a fresh wave of tears, her hand shielding her face as though she expected him to hit her. It appalled him, that he was scaring her, that he was making her cry, and his anger dissolved into instant remorse.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly, reaching out to stroke her hair. “I didn’t mean to shout… Please don’t cry…”

She shuffled slowly back up the sofa, burying her face in his shoulder, and he said nothing while she cried, stewing in guilt. Finally her tears dried up, and she raised her head, mumbling,

“I don’t trust her… She used you before, and the way…the way she dresses, and the way she looks at you, she just…keeps you around, like an emergency boyfriend… I know you think it’s silly, but I’ve known girls like her before and I just…I just don’t trust her, Jeff…”

“Ok…” Jeff agreed, very reluctantly. “I won’t see her so often… But I can’t just abandon her, she’s my friend…

Anna sniffed, and poured him a glass of wine.

 

 

Jeff avoided any mention of Rosa for the next few days, but on Tuesday night he got a text from her declaring, “Gig at the Wagon tomorrow – you coming? Bring little miss wotsit along, and you can show her how you dance like a twat {*}”. Anna demanded to know what was so funny, and he reluctantly told her that he had a text from Rosa. This seemed to make her so insecure that he finally had to show her the phone, to read for herself, although he had an emergency flash of panicked inspiration when she asked about the symbol, telling her that it was a bad image of a rose – Rosa’s signature. She very reluctantly agreed to come with him to the gig.

When Jeff got home from work the following night, he was looking forward to Rosa’s gig, but his happiness dissolved when he found Anna crying on the sofa with a glass of wine. Apparently she had suffered a horrible telling off from her boss over a minor cockup on some paperwork, and by the time he had calmed her down, he knew that bringing up Rosa’s gig would be a recipe for disaster.

Jeff was forced to blow Rosa off on another two occasions due to sudden episodes of strangely coincidental weeping, and at work the next Monday he received a text from her – she had broken up with her latest girlfriend, was thoroughly bummed out about it, and in need of his company. He stared at the text message for several minutes, frozen with indecision. He still hadn’t replied by the time he got home, but when he found Anna cheerfully preparing a stirfry with the radio on, he broached the subject, asking if she’d mind him going over to Rosa’s tonight.

“I think she just needs a shoulder to cry on,” he explained. “I probably won’t be there that late. Is it ok?”

Anna stopped poking the sizzling contents of the wok, and turned around to watch him with a frown.

“I don’t trust her,” she said darkly. “She’s broken up with her girlfriend, so she’s lonely, and now she wants you to come over? It’s a ploy, Jeff! Isn’t this exactly what happened when she used you? She fought with her girlfriend and used you for sex?”

Jeff hesitated, frowning, and eventually argued,

“That was years ago, things are completely different now. She’s unhappy, and I’m her friend – that’s all there is to it!”

“I’ll come with you,” Anna stated, turning off the stove. “If she just wants company, she won’t mind.”

Jeff nodded, getting his phone out and replying to Rosa’s text.

“We’ll be there in half in an hour, ok? Do you want us to bring anything?”

His phone vibrated almost instantly, and when he opened the message he could almost hear Rosa’s infuriated bemusement.

“We? Fucking WE?! What the fuck is that?!”

“Anna wants to come too,” Jeff replied, inwardly groaning at the strangeness of lying to Rosa. “She really likes you.”

“Fuck OFF, Bullshit McGee!” whipped back the instant response. “I’m not fucking retarded, I know she hates me! I feel like SHIT, and I want to talk to my FRIEND, not some eavesdropping cunt I don’t even know! Are you an individual or just her dangling nutsack?!”

“Please Rosa,” Jeff texted back, “I don’t want to fight about this with either of you, can’t we all just go out for a drink?”

“No!” Rosa’s immediate reply snapped. “Why the hell should I have to do exactly what little miss bitchface says? You either come round here and be my FRIEND, or you go fuck yourself!”

Jeff fought to keep his face expressionless, hurriedly deleting the messages and slipping his phone back into his pocket.

“She’s gone out to the pub instead,” he lied. “We might as well just stay in.”

Anna nodded, her expression a little too knowing, and turned the gas back on.

 

 

When Jeff got to work on Tuesday morning, he found a large, unmarked envelope sitting on his desk. He opened it to find a CD inside, with the word ‘JEFF’ scrawled across it. Frowning, he stuffed it into his computer, and found that it contained a single file, called thisisyourwarning.mp3. Beginning to wonder whether this was a joke or a death threat, he clicked on it.

It turned out to be a rough recording of a heavily distorted guitar, followed by Rosa’s distinctive rasping vocal, and it quickly became clear that the song was about him. It was also pretty clear that Rosa was thoroughly unimpressed.

“If I want to see you, since you got with her

Gotta go and ask your new owner

 

So I have to wonder, what happened to your nuts?

Did she bite them off, the first time you fucked?

Do you even have a dick,

Are you a pussy now or just so pussywhipped?

 

You make me sick!

This whole fucking thing makes me sick!

Gave your soul like a trinket to a bitch!

Now you’re nothing more than her third tit, you make me sick!”

Jeff rolled his eyes, but didn’t stop the song, figuring he should at least hear the entire thing before he phoned her to defend himself. The guitar playing was becoming ever more furious and inaccurate until he heard the discordant ping of a broken string, but Rosa wasn’t going to be stopped that easily, still spitting drunken wrath into the microphone.

“You used to put your friends in front

Now you sold us out for a bit of cunt

All these years mean nothing to you

And now I’m nothing but shit on her shoe

You make me sick!

 

Why don’t you see manipulation behind her eyes?

She’s a prison camp in a girl disguise,

You make me sick!

The song finally crashed to a finish, and she whispered a stream of deranged curses at him before the recording cut out. He let out an irritable sigh, thinking that this was below the belt even for Rosa. It was definitely a hassle he could do without, but nonetheless he dialled Rosa’s number. She picked up after two rings, and demanded,

“Is this the tit?”

Her voice sounded slightly hoarse, and incredibly drunk, and he strongly suspected that she hadn’t been to bed yet. It wasn’t a good sign.

“This is Jeff,” he stated. “I got your song. I’m sorry I couldn’t see you last night, but all the same, don’t you think this is a bit much?”

“It’s not a song!” Rosa slurred. “It’s a warning!”

“A warning about what?” Jeff demanded. “What are you threatening to do?”

“I don’t have to do anything,” she stated, pausing to take a drag on a cigarette. “The magic will do it for me. We’re supposed to be friends and you can’t even stand up for me to some five foot bimbo?! If you don’t grow some nuts, the magic is going to make you very, very sorry!

“The magic?” Jeff repeated incredulously. “Go to bed Rosa!”

“I’m trying to warn you!” she exclaimed, her voice going up two octaves and cracking from overuse. “Even though you’re a fucking cunt, I don’t want this to happen to you, but it will!”

“What?” Jeff asked, rolling his eyes. “What exactly is going to happen to me?”

Wait and see,” she hissed, dissolving into drunken laughter and a coughing fit.

“Jesus christ,” he muttered, holding the phone away. He took a deep breath, and spoke into it again, stating firmly,

“Rosa, please go to bed, you’re drunk and this isn’t helping anyone. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ok?”

“You’re going to be sorry!” the phone snarled. “When it gets you you’re gonna regret fucking me over, you son of a bitch motherfuck-”

He stabbed the end call button with one finger, and Rosa’s enraged ranting cut out into silence. Putting the phone down, he stared blankly at the CCTV screens, watching the cleaner slowly hoovering one of the corridors. Even for Rosa, this was a new level of insanity – she had conquered the local punk scene and now, apparently, she was some kind of all-powerful voodoo deity. He felt bad that he was the cause of her filthy mood, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it until she’d sobered up, and he could get something out of her besides self-righteous prophecies about his impending doom.

Shaking his head, he loaded up Harry Potter.

 

 

When Jeff got home, Anna seemed in a good mood, and he tried to broach the subject of Rosa.

“I think I should go and see her tomorrow,” he suggested tentatively. “By myself – just to see how she’s doing.”

“You spoke to her today, didn’t you?” Anna demanded, zapping the TV off.

“No…” Jeff lied. “I just got a text from her, and she sounded a bit down.”

“Can I see the text?”

He hesitated, and eventually mumbled,

“I deleted it…accidentally…”

“You’re lying to me!” Anna exclaimed, her eyes instantly shimmering with the dreaded film of tears. “You spoke to her at work so I wouldn’t be there to hear! I knew this would happen, I knew it as soon as I saw her!”

“Nothing happened though – it was a five minute call, if that!” Jeff protested, moving towards her, but she jumped up and ran out of the room. He caught her up in the bedroom, finding her rapidly stuffing clothes into her rucksack, and he pleaded, “Don’t do that, Anna, please – I swear there’s nothing going on!”

“How am I supposed to know that!” she wailed, mascara trickling down her cheeks, “You just lied to me, so how can I trust anything you say now? I won’t go through this again, Jeff, I can’t!”

She shoved past him, and began running to the front door, and he was hit by a wave of sheer horror. The idea of the flat without her in it terrified him – going back to the emptiness that came before – eating and sleeping without her, waking up alone.

“Wait!” he blurted out. “Please, Anna! I swear I won’t see Rosa again – I’ll do anything you want!

She paused at the door, and turned back, dropping her rucksack and giving him a watery smile. He wrapped his arms around her, trying to dissolve the panic that had overwhelmed him, but for some reason he found Rosa’s song pounding through his head, except he couldn’t remember the words. Like a trinket to a bitch, and now you’re nothing more than… Than what?

 

 

They fell asleep entwined together, closer than ever for their falling out and the reunion that followed. Jeff drifted quickly to sleep, and found himself lost in a mundane dream about going swimming at the local pool. He was gliding languidly through the warm water when he was pulled up short by a throbbing ache in his groin, and he floated on the spot, frowning, but the pain intensified until it became a sharp slash so agonising he felt sick. He looked down to find that the water was red with blood, a thick cloud of vivid scarlet blooming outwards from his crotch, and he began to panic, struggling over to the side and hauling himself painfully out of the water. Too scared to worry about witnesses, he tugged down his sodden trunks, and what he saw horrified him so much he almost retched, the room swaying sickeningly around him. His scrotum had been shredded, emptied out, his testicles gone, and all that remained was a tattered scrap of wrinkled flesh, blood still oozing onto the wet poolside. A sudden splashing in the water cut through the pain and horror, and he realised there was a shark in the pool, its smooth, gleaming fin gliding towards him, coming closer and closer, until below it he could see the dark outline of the shark’s body, shimmering with a pink sheen like lipstick. Its tail was thrashing behind it, driving it forwards with unstoppable power, until it launched itself out of the pool, two tonnes of muscle and gaping teeth hurtling down on top of him.

He woke up with a jolt, dripping with sweat, and was relieved to see the familiar outline of his bedroom, morning light seeping through the thin curtains. He moved to get out of bed, but found himself peculiarly stuck in place. Frowning, he tried to raise his right arm, then his left, but nothing happened. He attempted to move his legs, but they were unresponsive, and he tried to cry out but there was nothing except the silence ringing in his ears, until suddenly he found himself rising out of bed, yet he wasn’t the one doing it. He was moving across the room now, swaying with the motion of walking feet, but he was nothing more than a helpless passenger. As the mirror approached, it wasn’t his own reflection he saw, but Anna’s, familiar in her sleepy, rumpled nudity, until a startling change caught his eye. Between her round breasts he saw his own face, shrivelled and deflated, dangling from a wrinkled chunk of skin that hung loosely from her smooth, youthful flesh, and the horrors of his dream came flooding back. The testicles that had been torn from him were now growing out of Anna’s chest, a loosely dangling scrotum with a haggard human face – that was all that remained of Jeff.

He screamed, but no sound came out, the softly wrinkled face in the mirror contorting horribly, and Anna stroked his scrotal body with one finger.

“You don’t need to talk,” she reassured him, “It’s better this way. We’ll never disagree about anything now, and we’ll be together forever. Isn’t that what you always wanted?”

Jeff tried to scream, to wriggle free, but it was useless, and Anna laughed, agreeing,

“That’s what I thought. We’ll be so happy together now!”

And with that, she stuffed him into a pink shimmery bra.