(Explicit Warning —Sexual Themes, Violence, Language)
“That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please… ”
The man in the hooded robe escorted Austen through the dark underground corridor of ancient stone, holding aloft a torch that licked at the vaulted ceiling. The robed man said nothing, nor did Austen say anything. The latter held his breath in nervous excitement and existential terror, and a little embarrassment. His dream was about to come true, in a certain fashion. And then his life would end, but wouldn ’t it end while he was young and happy, which was more than he could have expected if he lived a long, lonely life?
A chill breeze wormed through the wet corridor, carrying strange whispers and echoes of times bygone and unguessed. It smelled of damp earth and old bones and death. Austen shivered, trembling in his hoodie and putting his hands in his jean pockets, shrugging his shoulders up to his ears. His ears were small, and underdeveloped, and unflattering, much like his chin —or so he always thought. To compensate for these weak features, Austen ’s nose was overly prominent, long and slightly hooked. Pale blue eyes —world-weary and insomniac —stared sadly out from above that bold nose. In highschool he was called “Toucan ” because of his nose. The name stuck and when people thought of him, should they have thought of him at all, thought of him automatically as “Toucan ”. No one called him by his actual name; not even his teachers. They did not talk to him at all.
The stone passageway descended stone stairs. Austen followed the hooded man until they came to a door. It was an oddly modern door. The robed figure beckoned Austen to the door, and so Austen turned the knob, opening —of his own free will —the door and leaving the ancient, dark corridor behind. He entered a room bleached with bright white light. Eyes adjusting as he stepped forward, he heard the door close behind him and went to meet his destiny.
It was a waiting room, not unlike what he would have expected in a doctor ’s office or ambulatory care. There were somewhat-comfortable chairs arranged around a room tiled in gleaming, checkered linoleum. Some framed photos lined the walls, and paintings, depicting eldritch symbols and locations, such as the Plains of Leng and the tourist town of Dunwich and the Bermuda Triangle, and there were a few potted plants which breathed in the various corners of the room. To the far wall was a door and beside the door was a large glass window behind which was partitioned the receptionist ’s desk. To this Austen went first, unsure of himself (as always) and looking for reassurance.
“Hello, ” he said meekly. “I…I ’m Austen Blackwell. I have an appointment. ”
“Sign in, ” said the hooded man behind the window. He was busy doodling eldritch abominations on some scrap paper. Without looking up he took a clipboard up and handed through the slot in the window. A large stack of forms was bulging out from under the clip. “Take these and fill them out, signing where marked in green, and return them to me as soon as you are finished. ”
“Thank you? ” Austen said, unsure what his response should have been.
The hooded receptionist ignored him, focusing instead on drawing tentacles.
Austen signed in on the arrival sheet, just in case, and then took the clipboard with its bulging stack of forms and went to a corner of the waiting room, taking a seat as far away from the other men in the room as possible. There were several other men in the waiting room. They were of various ages and ethnicities, but all of them seemed like they spent too much time stooped over a computer or a cellphone. Several of them were stooping over their cellphones presently, or filling out the necessary forms. Some were watching porn. Austen could hear women moaning and gasping in various volumes while men grunted and groaned. Others were looking through Facebook for women.
“Rachel Pennington was such a bitch in highschool, ” someone said. “I can ’t wait to fuck her stupid. Stick my dick down her stuck-up throat and cum till it comes out her nose. See if she laughs at me then… ”
Austen wondered about these men in this waiting room; wondered if he had communicated with any of them on the online forums and 4chan. Maybe they were the faces for the familiar online names he had come to know on a daily basis. Rejectotron79. Incellularzzz. Chadbitchboy45. None of them posted photos online except when someone wanted to be roasted, and that was infrequent. Austen thought about posting his own photo in the forum, just to confirm his own worst fears (that no girl on earth would want to date him, let alone marry him and reproduce with him), but he had chickened out. He had scoured his own features enough to know, without phrenological debate, that he was a hopeless specimen. He didn ’t need strangers to tell him what he had known since he was a child.
Austen focused on the paperwork.
“Hey, ” someone said. “What ’s yours going to be? ”
Austen looked up. A large man with freckles in a fat face smiled mirthlessly down at him, his glasses white circles of hot light.
“Audrey Hepburn, ” Austen said automatically. He wanted the ginger-haired man of an indeterminate age to go away.
“Classy and classical, ” the ginger-haired man said. “But a little too skinny for me. No tits at all, either. ” He plopped down in the chair next to Austen ’s, pulling out a cellphone. “Look at mine, ” he said, grinning slimily. “They ’re to die for, man. ”
Austen humored him, hoping he would go away more quickly.
“See? ” the ginger-haired man said. “I got several. You can have several, if you want. I ’m going to start off with Halle Berry. Then go to Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and finish with Mariah Carey while she sings ‘You ’ll Always Be My Baby ’. See? That ’s how you should do it. Really go all out. With a bang. ” He smiled a far-off smile. “That ’s the way to go. Go big. ”
“Man, shut up, ” said another man in the waiting room. “Your spiel is getting old. ” This man had a black beard, likely to cover what Austen suspected to be a weak jawline, and to make him appear older and more mature. “You ’re so beta you should have been born castrated. Bragging like that, you probably won ’t even last past Halle Berry. You ’ll cream your pants before you can even stick it in. Then It will laugh at you, like all of the other girls who ’ve known you. ”
“Fuck you, ” the ginger-haired man said. “You don ’t even want to share what yours is. Probably because you ’re a pedo wanting to rape Shirley Temple. ”
“Fuck you, asshole, ” the bearded man said. “I ’m no pedo. You ’re just projecting. ”
Another man —creepier than the other two —started chuckling. “I ’m fucking Veruca Salt, ” he volunteered with a slanted grin. He was in his fifties and bald with a large pate that rose like a hill atop his head. He was overweight, his body swollen beneath his white T-shirt. “I don ’t give a shit who knows. Won ’t matter afterward anyway. ”
“You ’re a sick piece of shit, ” the bearded man said.
“A real sick piece of shit, ” the ginger-haired man agreed.
“We ’re all sick pieces of shit, ” the bald man said, unfazed. “I mean, It ’s not even human anyway, so you ’re all a bunch of sick fucks, too. It ’s like beastiality. You ’re fucking something that isn ’t human. ”
There was an awkward silence in the waiting room. Austen had tried to focus on his paperwork throughout this exchange, but now he stopped, his hand trembling as it held the pen above a list of check-boxes asking about allergies. He was having second thoughts, not just about his singular choice of Audrey Hepburn, but the whole appointment.
A hooded man appeared from within the inner door of the waiting room.
“Appointment #A4b269? ” he called.
A young man with dirty blonde hair rose, quietly, as if he could camouflage himself with silence as he hurried to the door. He followed the robed man out of the waiting room. Several of the men watched him go with a mixture of envy and dread.
“He ’s a hero, ” someone joked, breaking the silence. He whistled Taps for a moment, but lost the melody.
The bald man resumed his argument from before, leering.
“It ’s not human, ” he said, “and so all of you are basically just goat-fuckers as far as I am concerned. No better than me. ”
“It ’s not Shub-Niggurath, ” the ginger-haired man said defensively. “Genetically, it can become anything. ”
“It can mimic anything, ” the bearded man said. He scowled at the bald pedophile. “Luckily for this sick fuck, otherwise I ’d fucking slit his goddamn pig throat for abusing kids. ”
The bald fat man laughed. “Mr White Knight has a problem with me diddling little girls. ”
“I have a little sister, you asshole! ”
The bald man smiled in oleaginous self-satisfaction. “But you ’re still going to fuck that Shoggoth, aren ’t you? ”
The bearded man went silent. He stared with a heated hatred at the bald man, but his scruffy jaw could not move in defiance of what he had said. Austen watched it, rapt, feeling like he should say something on the bearded man ’s behalf, and on his own behalf, and to wipe that smirk off the bald man ’s face, but, as always, words failed him, his confidence failed him, and he went back to filling in information and signing his name in the green-markered sections.
“My little sister is not a bitch like most women, ” the bearded man said at length. “She ’s like…what ’s her name? Lucy from Narnia. She ’s not a real woman yet, and so she ’s innocent. ”
“And that ’s why I like fucking them in the ass, ” the bald man said. “Because they ’re ‘innocent ’. ”
The bearded man leapt up from his seat and dashed across the room, striking the bald man in the face. His fist was small, and his wrist weak, and the bald man was large. An audible smack slapped the air, but the bald man ’s face barely moved. He stood up and grabbed hold of the bearded man ’s head within the crook of one arm.
“If I had a picture of your little sister, ” the bald man said, “I ’d show it to the Shoggoth and fuck It while It screamed your name. You little bitch. I might even show It a picture of you and fuck you in the ass. You ’d like that, wouldn ’t you? You little faggot. ”
The bearded man struggled, red-faced and screaming in frustration and helplessness. Eventually two robed figures entered the waiting room and separated the two men. The bald man was relocated to one side of the room —smirking with great satisfaction even as a welt rose on his cheek —while the bearded man was relocated to the opposite side. The latter stared in shame and humiliation down at his lap. The robed men left.
“Hoo boy, ” the ginger-haired man sighed.
The next ten minutes passed in tense silence. Austen continued filling out the forms. It seemed like someone was playing a prank on him, so thick was the stack of papers. He was on the page about deferrals for litigation and class action lawsuits when the inner door opened again. A hooded figure called the next appointment.
“Appointment # 3R45u21. ”
The bald man lurched to his feet, waddling eagerly toward the door. He was sweating in anticipation.
“Veruca Salt ’s about to get it, ” he said, leering. He grinned at the bearded man. “I ’m going to fuck your little sister, too. ”
He disappeared through the door. A shiver of disgust went about the waiting room.
“Should be castrated, ” the bearded man said, scowling.
“Pretty much will be, ” the ginger-haired man said. “And then some. ”
“But he ’ll go out happy, ” the bearded man said, “which is more than he fucking deserves. ”
“Don ’t worry, ” the ginger-haired man said after a while. “It ’s not really anything that can feel, anyway, whatever It ’s form is. It ’s a biological construct. It ’s like a Real Doll, but fancier. More advanced. A fleshlight made by the Elder Things. It just…costs more. ”
“Yeah, an arm and a leg, ” someone else said. “And everything else. ”
The ginger-haired man nodded, his curly red hair bouncing. He then shrugged with one shoulder, lazily. “None of us could get with a real woman, anyway, They ’re too busy throwing their pussies away to Chads. Dumb bitches. ”
“Fucking Nature, man, ” another commiserated. “But at least I won ’t be ‘involuntarily celibate ’ after today. ”
“Yeah, ” said someone else. “You won ’t be anything at all, except, maybe, Shoggoth shit. ”
Another fearful silence fell over the waiting room. Austen ’s pen paused in the middle of a word. He had forgotten what he was writing, his mind baulking at untold horrors. The spell was broken all at once.
“I ’m going to fuck Tinkerbell, ” someone volunteered, maliciously.
The black-bearded man scoffed. “Man, your dick must be the size of a fucking peanut. ”
“It is, ” the other guy said. “That ’s why no girl wants it. But I bet Tinkerbell cries when I stick it in. She better. I wrote down that I want her to cry while I ’m fucking her. And It ’s gotta ’ do what you write down.”
Austen just so happened to come to the section concerning behavior. He did not know what to write —especially after hearing the guy talk about Tinkerbell —so he just wrote “Have a good time. ”
“Well, ” someone else said. “I guess if you ’re going to go, you might as well go for weird freaky shit. I mean, I ’m no Furry, but I was thinking about that one blue chick from that Avatar movie. Ya know? Or maybe one of the weird looking Star Wars chicks with the tentacles on their heads. ”
“They are fucking hot, ” someone else agreed whole-heartedly. “But they ’re not Furries. I mean, they ’re an alien race. Not the same. ”
“There are aliens that are Furries, ” someone else argued. “Chewbacca ’s race is nothing but Furries. ”
“They ’re Yorkie sasquatches, ” the bearded man said. “So, yeah, they ’re pretty much Furries. ”
“But nobody wants to fuck them, ” someone added, doubtfully. “I hope they don ’t, at least. ”
“Oh, I ’m sure somebody does, ” someone else argued.
“I think it ’s fucking nasty, ” the ginger-haired man said.
“Don ’t kink-shame, ” the bearded man said. “Mr. Mariah Carey. ”
“I ’m going with anime chicks, ” another guy said, happily. “Rei from Neon Genesis. And Lust from Full Metal Alchemist. ”
“That ’s a bit on the nose, isn ’t it? ” the bearded man said. But he was searching on his phone. “Maybe if I show It a video It can become Lara Croft. From the old games, I mean. But not the old, old games. I don ’t like triangle tits. ”
“Yeah, I ’m going for Cammy, too, ” the other guy said. “From Street Fighter. And Chun Li. That ass, man! I ’ll probably go through the whole roster of Capcom women. ”
“Street Fighter sucks, ” another guy said. “Dead Or Alive all the way. ”
“Tekken has some pretty hot bitches, too, ” another guy said.
“Metal Gear Solid has the best, ” a guy in glasses said.
“Jill Valentine! ” the ginger-haired guy suddenly exclaimed, slapping his freckled forehead. He feverishly tapped on his phone. “She ’s the polygon girl I want! ”
“Which version? ” the bearded man said.
“All of them, ” he answered. “Make a ‘Jill sandwich ’ out of them. ”
He waited, expectantly, for someone to laugh at his joke. No one did.
“Five out of five S.T.A.R.S., ” he added, glancing around with a desperate grin.
No one laughed. They were too busy scouring the internet to add to their wish lists. But Austen remained fixated on one woman and one woman only. He signed his name several more times, dedicating his life to the Old Ones and waiving all potential legal recourse his family might attempt against the Eldritch Sect. By the time he made it halfway through the stack, the man who spoke of Tinkerbell was called. He went eagerly. The remaining men watched him with a mixture of envy and dread on their faces.
“Oh hell, ” the ginger-haired man said. “I might as well add Taylor Swift to the list. I mean, you only live once, right? It ’s not like I have to listen to her sing. She doesn ’t have to make any noises at all, if I don ’t want her to. ”
“Yeah, the perfect woman, ” a new arrival said, taking a seat. “Only talks when you want the bitch to. ”
“Only, she ’s not a woman, ” the ginger-haired man said, smiling sardonically. He adjusted his glasses. “Just a biologically engineered simulacrum. None of us could get a real woman. That ’s why we ’re here. ”
Silent nods all around.
Austen finished his paperwork, then turned it in at the receptionist window. He was given an appointment number on a ticket and told to wait until he was called. He found another seat in another corner, farther from the gregarious ginger-headed man. As he passed one man he happened to glance at someone ’s phone. The man was scrolling through images of reptilian women and vulpine women and bovine women, all quasi-humanoid and naked and bestial. He felt embarrassed on the stranger ’s behalf, btu the stranger did not seem to care who saw. Even so, it made Austen feel more disgusted with himself. He sat down and watched clips of Audrey Hepburn and her various movies. He had a bad taste in his mouth, and throughout his whole being.
The bearded man was called back, and then the ginger-haired man, and various others. Refreshments were offered by hooded acolytes, as well as alcohol and drugs to “ease the normal nervousness of the appointment. ” Austen took no drugs, but he did drink water. His throat was very dry. His stomach was full of frenzied butterflies.
And then the inner door opened, and the hooded acolyte called Austen ’s ticket number.
Austen found himself frozen in his chair.
“U352j6t? ” the hooded man repeated impatiently.
Austen ’s body rose stiffly and he went to the door, feeling a strange sense of detachment from himself. It was not quite an out-of-body experience, but rather the same disembodied feeling he had whenever he had been humiliated in school or rejected by a girl he had asked on a date, his tongue fumbling over the words.
“Me, ” was all he could say.
The acolyte escorted Austen down another stone corridor leading deeper into the earth. The air became chillier, and the smell of soil stronger. The walk was long, and the corridor had a few doors along its walls, some open to reveal other hooded men sitting around, smoking and drinking and talking. Thee corridor and these rooms were illuminated by modern lighting.
At length, the corridor terminated at a single door. The acolyte opened this door and, without further ado, beckoned Austen in. Austen went in, more out of obedience than real desire, and the door shut behind him. He was alone in the room, or so it seemed. There were no exits. It was a dead end. Dark and cool, it. No trace of the others that had come before could be seen. There was a king-sized bed in the middle of the room, and nothing more.
Except yellow eyes. They glowed in the shadows of a corner. They reminded him of owl eyes. They came forward, presenting a perfect facsimile of Audrey Hepburn ’s slim, petite, and utterly graceful personage. It smiled — that small, restrained, pixie-sort of smile that Austen had seen in many of her movies —and he felt his heart melt within the credence of the illusion. Her chocolate brown hair was pinned back in a ponytail, her bangs modest above the bold strokes of her eyebrows, all accenting her lovely forehead and her elfin features. She wore a simple white blouse, a rippled Midi skirt, and a silk scarf tied around her fawn-like neck, much like on the movie “Roman Holiday ”.
“Hello, Austen, ” It said with perfect intonation. “How do you like me? AmI not simply the most picturesque idol of fancy and form? ”
“Yes, ” was all Austen could say.
It smiled with Audrey ’s small, almost-secretive smile. “I love how polite you are, ” It said, starting to strip off It ’s white blouse. “And so well-mannered. ”
He had specified It ’s attitude, It ’s dress, and her loquaciousness on the forms, but there was a note on the form that said It would respond in realtime to whatever whim or suggestion demanded of It. And so Austen spoke up.
“Not so fast1″ he said, waving his hands. “Don ’t…don ’t undress yet. I just want to…to talk for a while. ”
He took It by the hands, awkwardly, and led It to the bed, sitting It down.
“As you wish, Austen, ” It said, smiling that pixie smile that had left him staring idiotically so often when watching Audrey Hepburn ’s old films. “What would you like to talk about, dear? ”
Austen baulked. This was the same feeling of crisis he had felt whenever he had ever wanted to talk to a girl. It was like being plunged into the middle of the ocean, and not knowing how to even doggie-paddle.
“What…what do you want to talk about? ” he asked, desperately.
It titled It ’s head to the side, arching her slender neck like a curious bird. “Oh, but whatever you wish to talk about, dear! Very much so! ”
Again Austen was flummoxed. He was no Humphrey Bogart. He had no natural rapport with women, or most people for that matter.. He did not possess the cool, casual ease of conversation that Bogart, and most other Hollywood men, seemed to possess. He would have rather spoken to a hungry lion than a pretty woman. Either way, he told himself, he would have been torn to shreds, but at least the lion would seem happy about it, and satisfied.
“How…? ” he began. “How do I talk to women? ”
“Well, that is quite the question! ” It remarked, batting its eyes in mock-astonishment. “With your tongue and your mouth and your vocal cords, naturally. ”
Austen sighed in frustration. “No, I mean how do I talk to them copesetically? Competently? How do I speak to them without feeling all flustered and knotted up inside? And without fucking everything up? ”
It ’s yellow eyes never blinked fully, but It batted It ’s eyelashes again and reached for his belt buckle, starting to strip off his pants. Austen pulled away from It, standing up. Pacing back and forth across the dimly lit room, he stared at the floor.
“Is there any woman that would want me? ” he begged the air. “I don ’t even want to be me. That ’s why I ’m here1″
The thing imitating Audrey Hepburn silently watched him pace, her head rotating automatically as she followed him with her yellow eyes, like a cat watching a mouse.
“It ’s so unfair! ” he moaned. “There are guys born to look better than me and stronger than me and smarter than me! I can ’t even roleplay with you because I am still me! I don ’t even want sex! I just want to have tea with you and maybe dance together! Maybe kiss. But I can ’t dance, and I definitely can ’t kiss worth a damn! I ’ve never kissed anyone before, except my grandma! ”
It stood up, then, and took him with a powerful grip by the shoulders, pulling him to It, and kissing him. He started to cry and tried to push her away, but It was too strong. It pulled him toward the bed.
“No! ” he yelled, yanking himself away from her. “Audrey wasn ’t like this! ” He shook his head, and wiped away the tears in his eyes. “She wouldn ’t…she wouldn ’t have liked me at all! ”
Anger flashed across his face and he shoved It onto the bed, It ’s skirt undulating open to reveal pale legs and white panties.
“Maybe I should fuck you! ” he snarled. “Maybe I should just bang your brains out and let it end all at once! No one would miss me! I wouldn ’t even miss myself! ”
His anger dissolved into self-pity and sobs as he staggered back, leaning against a wall. He did not even see It take off It ’s panties and lay back, gyrating It ’s hips gratuitously. Austen glanced at the intimacy revealed —in all its falsity —and turned away.
Still crying, Austen headed to the door. The acolyte was surprised to see him.
“Sir, you cannot leave without… ” He saw Austen ’s tears and snorted. “What a beta. Go, then, you little simp. ”
Austen headed down the long corridor, weeping as he went. He came again to the waiting room. Opening the door, he saw new faces through his tears. They sniggered, cruelly, and mocked him.
“Little limp-dick. ”
“Beta bitch. ”
“Couldn ’t even go through with it. ”
“Go suck Chad ’s giant dick, you fag. ”
Austen left through the long, stone corridor eventually emerging into a moonlit night. He walked slowly, staring over his hooked nose at his penguin-shuffling feet. His belt was still unbuckled and jingled as he walked. He was too sad to care.
Austen met Becky one day while at the public library. They were looking through the Graphic Novels at the same time, and by a strange chance struck up a conversation. Neither could remember who spoke first, but they found the conversation easy and addictive. Becky was tall, and a little chubby, and had a round face with flat lips. But her smile was pretty and she was nice to him. She did not mind his hooked nose or his scrawny arms. She liked his voice, she said, and his eyes. She looked nothing like Audrey Hepburn, and Austen was all the happier for it.