By: BC Woods
I was twenty-one and barely a man when the horror came. It has stuck with me to this day, a dark spirit that looms over my shoulder whenever a quiet moment comes over me and leaves me free to think. The shape of the horror has been burned into my mind’s background noise. It has become something that I have to see the same way I have to see a purple after-image after I stare at a bright light source. As hard as it is to see some things, still other things are harder to unsee. God, how I wish I could.
What I saw in that five by five metal shack in the oil fields will follow me till my dying day.
I had gone to the oil fields that summer to make money for college. I soon realized however that the real reason I had come was to see rock bottom. Just outside Farmington, New Mexico at an altitude of over a mile I almost died so many times I lost count. My coastal lungs could barely breathe the thin plateau air, my rainy weather complexion was scorched by the desert sun, and every day the work cramped my muscles so fiercely that I almost cried. One day I collapsed on the rig floor, throwing up as though I’d never stop. I felt death coming to greet me then. I felt it in the way my entire face was flushed with heat while my fingers and toes were corpse cold. But I got back up. I got through it. I endured. I survived.
It was the summer I used all the gas in my tank, save for the rarest life sustaining fumes. I knew who I was after that. I knew how far I could be pushed. I knew how much I could take and what I could get over.
No one could get over what was in that five by five metal room. No one human, at least. Two years later and the after-image still burns when I close my eyes. Heather… why did you have to do it? I still need to know.
It was at the end of the summer that I met Heather. I was in better shape than I had ever been in my life, having passed through the crucible of the oil rig. I was twenty-five pounds leaner than I had ever been and my muscles were iron hard. In the outside world I may not have been more than average looking, but in the oil fields I was an Adonis. It was the first time I had ever thought of myself as handsome, and the first time I had ever thought of being handsome as a curse.
Heather was an assistant to a directional driller, an outfit that helped us to drill well holes at an angle. As fate would have it, I was the one who signed her in the front gate. Dark fate brought Heather and I together. Bonded our paths so that we would walk the same horrific road.
There are almost no women in the oil fields, and to be honest women don’t belong there. There’s no pretension on an oil rig. You drill the hole. Period. If you can’t take the work you quit, do meth to make it bearable, or you go nuts. I went nuts. Everyone I worked with did meth. All my defenses were down. My natural instincts were on a bare simmer. That’s why I didn’t wince when I first saw Heather. Normal human reactions have no place in the oil fields.
Heather may have been an inch or two over five feet tall, but not much more. It was hard to tell because she sat on a pad about six inches thick most of the time. She had a body for sitting and hardly ever stood. Heather must have weighed at least three-hundred pounds, and had a face that could have terrified a thousand ships back to their lands of origin. It looked like someone had tried to extinguish a fire on her face with an ice pick. She also had the subtle odor of urine and syrup clinging about her obese fat rolls like cologne.
“Need your John Hancock right here ma’am,” I said handing her the sign in clip board. I should have displayed my disgust for her, but the rig had eroded by revulsion centers. She could have been a burn victim and I wouldn’t have batted an eye.
Heather licked her lips sensually, the tip of her tongue tasting the place where her front tooth had been knocked out. “Ooh, a smart guy huh?” She had an ugly voice, and a predatory almost malicious way of looking at a man that made him feel vulnerable and hunted.
The words “I try,” and a smile later, Heather had marked me as her property.
Everywhere I turned for a week I saw her watching me. She dropped litter outside of her trailer so that I would have to come near it to clean it up. The smell of her animal den made my nostrils burn.
“You know, BC… I have this whole double wide trailer to myself. It’s so lonely in here.”
I never responded when she said these kinds of things. I just kept picking up her trash. I guess that was enough for her. If you want someone to want you bad enough, you’ll take any little sign to mean great things.
It got worse. She would find heavy objects she suddenly needed me to carry. I picked them up and set them down in silence. I should have shut her down, but I was not myself then. Not thinking straight. Quiet was all I could muster. Heather watched me like a coyote watches a limping rabbit… waiting… breathing at me from behind her trailer window.
“BC, I haven’t seen my boyfriend in so long. I need a man so bad.” We all knew she didn’t have a boyfriend.
My face was stone, showing no emotion. All I wanted to do was drill, throw connections, and keep the machinery working. I ignored all other concerns.
I only had a few weeks left to go in the fields when I saw the terror. I can see it even now. Even as I type. Superimposed over the words like a gaping chasm into the abyss. A gaping chasm. How ironic. I see what Heather did, and I am revolted.
I was putting tools back in the locker, getting ready to get off of evening tour, and go home. My co-workers heckled me, calling me Shrek, asking if the gringo with glasses thought he was a man yet. I ignored them too. I had fought with all of them enough that they left me alone except for the taunts. Heather’s voice came over the intercom, crackling and breathy. “Can Shrek come down? I need him to give me a… hand… with something.” I grimaced at the cat calls.
I had only two weeks left on the rig. I needed to come alive again, get reacquainted with the world. To do that I needed to shut down Heather once and for all. I knew my time as a zombie had to come to an end. I walked down to the Directional Drill shack, a cramped box no more than five feet on each side, filled with monitoring equipment and a single chair. I opened the door, prepared to tell Heather exactly what I thought of her.
It was the smell that hit me first.
There was the slight odor of urine and syrup that composed Heather’s natural scent… but over and above that smell… was… something like tuna fish that been left to spoil. Something that smelled like it had come up from the bottom of the sea and beached itself at low tide. When I saw the horror, my throat clenched so tightly I could not even vomit. I knew then that there was no God. That all of creation had been an accident.
It looked like an octopus that had been crushed by a hydraulic press, or perhaps raw hamburger someone had thrown on the floor of a barber shop and picked back up. Only it was worse than all those things because it was phlegmy and gooey, and just by looking at it you could feel its horrible clinging texture. It was the texture of rape and invasion, of penetration and soiling. It was Heather’s vagina, and she was wantonly shoving her entire fist in and out of it licking her lips at me. I would have thought that a woman that fat would never have been able to crawl up on a desk and spread her legs open that far. I would have been wrong.
Heather’s lips curled back enough that I could see the hollow spot in her gums where her front tooth should have been. “Wanna give me a hand, BC?” Just like that my revulsion centers came back on-line, stronger than ever.
I more fell backwards out of the shack, than ran out of it, although I somehow managed to slam the door shut. I spent a whole five minutes just venting the oxygen in my lungs, trying to get the scent of her out of my system. I didn’t want a particle that had touched her to touch me too. So I gagged for a while, too shocked to realize this was the first time I had felt properly human in three months. Revulsion is one of the most human emotions there is.
While I did my best to talk to no one in the oil fields I found myself wanting to scream the story to the nearest person, but knew I could not. I had no friends here. No one to hold witness with me. So I suffered alone, thinking about it for days every time I did anything. In my dreams her terrible vagina wrapped around my whole body and swallowed it hole, only to queef out a skeleton a few days later, like a monster out of Norse myths.
The next day Heather was gone. Her crew was done with our rig, and just like that I knew why she had been so forward and why she had not thought to care about the consequences. She was never around the same people for longer than a few weeks. She never had to worry about repercussion. For Heather the world was a great big free for all where anything went.
In two weeks I was back in college, and the shock could have been no greater had I been tossed from an inferno into an arctic ocean. How could I care about chemistry, I used to think, when I have lived through the vision of Heather? I looked at carbon structures, fighting the urge to stand up and shout, “I have seen the abyss! I have stared into the source of all human nightmares, and I have lived!” Only I could not. There was no common experience by which my fellow students could relate.
An interesting thought, and then we may depart on separate paths. I will go back to my horror. You will live on with a muted reflection of it.
If your existence on this Earth has been greater than twenty years, a molecule of water that has passed through your body is in every cup of water drunk by every person on the planet Earth. The same is true of everyone else, dead or alive, if they have occupied space here for over twenty years.
Every time you shower, every time you quench your thirst after running, every time you water your lawn, you are using molecules of water that have been through everyone over the age of twenty. You are using particles that have been all over their bodies. So think of Heather next time you’re feeling thirsty. Think of her horror and how many of its molecules you are swallowing. I know I do.
BC Woods authors the site DunceUponATime, where he relates stories about events in his childhood, such as being attacked by a fawn, injuring himself with a sword, and his fourth grade teacher dropping dead in the middle of class. While he admits there are thousand of sites on the internet much better than his, readers are always welcome.
- How To Escape Public Humiliation
- The Best/Worst Summer of my Life
- Self Imposed Insomnia
- The Birthday Card
- Teenage Sexuality and a Pink and Black Bikini