Chapter 1: Eugene
Beep beep beep beep.
It’s always the same alarm that goes off to wake me up. I hate it so much that my heart skips a beat every time I hear a sound similar to it. I usually wake up around 7 AM but lay in bed for 20 minutes, dreading the moment I have to leave the comfort of my blanket and head out into the cold, dark world.
Beep beep beep beep.
Second alarm, I guess it’s time to get up. With a heavy heart, I kick my cover off and get out of bed. I get up to sit at the edge of my bed and give myself some time to do a lazy stretch so I can feel my body crack, releasing me from some of the rigidness accumulated over a night of inactivity.
Eventually, I bite the bullet and decide to get up to prepare for the day. Not because I want to, but because I’m an adult with obligations, people expect me to go to work, to have a family, to socialize – or at least attempt to – but I’d rather not. Well, that’s not true. I’d love to have a fulfilling career, a loving wife, and friends to care for, but I’ve never been fortunate in stumbling into those. One day I’ll break out of my shell. Surely I’ll be able to. Everyone else seems to be able to, so why not me too?
Pulling myself out of my thoughts, I move into my tiny kitchen to prepare myself some tea. It seems like I’ve run out of teabags. Coffee it is then. Not my favorite, but I prefer something over nothing at all, even if it makes my digestive tract work overtime. While my coffee is brewing, I decide to get dressed. A casual shirt fit for an office job will do. Not that it matters since that’s the “preferred dress code” of my professional environment. They tell you you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but everyone knows it’s strongly advised to do it as it is preferred not to get in unnecessary trouble.
By the time I put on my clothes, my coffee machine finishes squeezing the final bit of bitter flavor out of my store-brand beans. I can already tell I’m in for a treat, and so is my office bathroom when I get there. Pushing that thought aside, I head into the bathroom to brush my teeth and groom myself up a bit before heading out.
I brush my teeth and rinse my face with cold water before examining my appearance. Jup, I’m still balding. That’s definitely not going to help me in my quest to find someone to get rid of this crushing loneliness. Nor is my scrawny frame; even in my size small, my clothes look baggy. I feel like a kid being taken along to a wedding of distant relatives while all I want to do is play videogames at home. Though it doesn’t help that my name is Eugene. Who the fuck wants to date a Eugene? “Oh, I met this amazing, athletic businessman called Eugene. He’s tall, handsome, and great in bed to boot!” The only time I’ll hear that is in my imagination. My mother named me after her father, who raised her with all the love and dedication he could provide despite his measly income. I never knew him since he passed away before I was born, but mom wanted to honor him by naming me after him. I like the story behind it, but why couldn’t my grandfather have a cooler name? Like Alexander, or maybe Deathlord? I look at myself one more time dejectedly. “Why can’t you just be cooler, dude? ” I whine.
I head out to the nearest metro stop, it’s a bit more out of the way, but at least, since the gates never work there, I don’t have to hear the constant sounds it ma-
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Damn it; this is precisely what I wanted to avoid. It seems like they finally repaired the gates, so I’ll have to deal with one more annoyance in my life. At least the metro won’t be as busy on this stop, and I’ll be able to find a seat, I think to myself as I scan my card and move past the gates.
Sadly, I spoke too soon. I don’t know what the occasion is today, but apparently, everyone and their god damn mother decided to take the metro today, so comfortable seating is not in the cards today. Seating, in general, will probably be too much to hope for even.
I squeeze my way into an overcrowded wagon, brimming with absolute enthusiasm about how this wonderful day has been going so far. Not at all sarcastic, in case you’re wondering! I resign myself to my fate and just endure the day, hoping it’ll get better.
It does not get better, it seems. I just arrived at work and barely had the time to sit down, only to get called up by my manager. Eric has called in sick, and I need to pick up the slack his absence left behind. I am looking forward to combing through all his emails AGAIN! I was supposed to be the IT guy teaching the people in this firm how to optimize their use of Microsoft applications, not a glorified desk monkey. Then again, it’s not much different from being an IT monkey. It’s the principle that counts, though.
Pulling myself from yet another slew of depressing thoughts, I just get to work so all of this can be over with, and I get to go to the bathroom. Looking over our team’s mailbox, I am once again greeted by an overwhelming amount of unanswered emails, most of them addressed to Eric, of course. Eric is a great guy, friendly and outgoing but also helpful in any way he can be. It doesn’t hurt that he’s ‘so hot I could burn my tongue tryin’ to get a taste’ as our HR-officer, Casy, would say. You’d think someone in HR would know that that is considered sexual harassment, but I guess it pays to be able to acquit yourself from such allegations when you’re the only one handling them. Coincidentally, that’s also one of the main reasons he still has his job. Our big boss Eva has a bit of a crush on him, hissing away any claims of unfinished or incomplete work against Eric. In turn, she puts the brunt of the load on me, just like she did today.
I wish I could say I’m being targeted by injustice, that she’s out to get me to ruin my life, but the reality is a bit different from that. I’m merely a coward. My spine – about as strong and unflinching as my hairline – is the leading cause of my dilemma. Most of my colleagues just flat out refused to pick up Eric’s slack, but I was guilt-tripped into it. Barely that even, she just asked me if I could help out and me, not wanting to disappoint or be a bother, acquiesced. I can’t blame Eric either. He means well; he’s just not cut out for an office job. The only thing keeping him here is the money he needs to raise his daughter. I’m guessing that’s also the reason he’s absent today. It usually is.
I notice it’s already 1 PM, and I just barely finished the mails. It looks like it’s going to be another ‘dynamic lunch break’ where instead of eating lunch in peace while scrolling through my newsfeed, I get to enjoy continuing work while eating in the hopes that I actually finish up work, truly luck is on my side today! Back to the work-mines of the white-collar worker for me then.
Finishing up all the urgent tasks, I finally allow myself to relax and stretch out, eyeing our open office. Everyone seems to have left already. I take the time to prepare my backpack and head to the bathroom quickly as I have not yet gotten the chance to relieve myself of the evil curse that drinking coffee has placed on me. Much to my chagrin, I discover that the bathroom seems to be out of commission. I’m sure Dirk must have had his way with those poor porcelain thrones from the colorful sounds and smells his behind produced. Ignoring my prejudice against Dirk’s flatulence, I decide to give the door handle a try anyway as I really don’t want to go into my apartment. Jep, locked tight, any more bad luck, and I just might catch some incurable disease from touching the door.
Clenched up and defeated, I grab my bag and head out, locking the office up behind me to head into the convenience store for some dinner. Though it does not sound appealing to me right now, I’m sure I’ll appreciate it more once I’ve managed to relieve myself properly.
Powerwalking through the aisles as nature has lit the beacons within me, calling to Gondor for aid, I quickly grab a plethora of instant food with questionable nutritional value. Instant noodles, microwave pizza, you name it, I got it. I beeline it towards the self-checkout with my mission complete, refusing to be delayed by more social interaction than is absolutely necessary.
One smooth transaction later, I walk out of the store rigid and desperate for the comforts of my home but satisfied with the thought of this grueling journey finally coming to an end. The ride home was infinitely more bearable, seeing how there was no stampede of people desperate to make it to their destination. However, I did not dare to take a seat in fear of any retaliation my body might have against me.
The metro finally arrives at my stop, and not a second too soon as I can feel my body starting to cramp up from the extensive strain it had to go through. Knowing this, I sped up once more, leaving the station towards my domicile, arriving at record speed. I open the door and rush in, not even taking off my backpack. Desperate hands reach for my toilet door as I pray for salvation, twisting the knob and rushing in. As I enter my toilet room, a grim realization dawns upon me, remembering just why I go to the restroom at work and not at home.
There’s a portal in my toilet.
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