By L.L. Asher
“So, like I was saying, the quality analysts need rundowns for each of the manufacturing products we develop. Here, slide your laptop over and I’ll show you. You just—”
“Becky, it’s after 6:30.” Bubbles rippled through Rachel’s gut. She rocked back in her chair, hoping the squeaks would muffle the gurgle.
“Oh.” Becky’s eyes darted to the clock hanging above Rachel’s desk. “Well, yeah. I guess we could go over this tomorrow.”
“The deadline isn’t until next month, anyway.” A burble skittered through her intestines. Rachel squinted at the floor.
“Sure.” Becky glanced back at the laptop. “Why don’t I just show you one—”
“Becky!” Rachel closed her laptop and stood, her slacks felt tight around her lower belly. She raised her eyebrows at Becky, who stared up from her chair, mouth hanging open. The muscles in Rachel’s neck tightened.
“I’m sorry. I’m just…” A bead of sweat dripped down her chest. “…really hungry.” Her stomach groaned as gas moved from one end of her innards to the other.
Becky’s eyes dropped to Rachel’s middle. “Well, I guess you are! Oh, I’m so sorry I kept you so long. You know, everyone always tells me I have a hard time wrapping up for the day. There’s just so much to do, you know?”
“Mmhm.” Rachel turned and packed her laptop into its case, feeling like a boulder had been crammed into her stomach.
“The thing is, though, it’s important to get these things done early. There’s so much editing that goes into these reports. So even after you fin—”
“Becky, please.” Rachel put a hand on her stomach. “I’m famished.” Her stomach roared again, and tingling panic prickled across her back as she clenched her backside.
“Ah! You’re right. Apologies.” Becky stood and rolled her chair under the desk. “Are you okay? You look really pale. Like sick.” She reached out toward Rachel’s face.
“Yep, just hungry.” She sidestepped the outstretched hand and left the office. “See you tomorrow,” she called over her shoulder.
Rachel headed down the hall, nodding to each of her staff as she passed, praying they didn’t notice her clenched cheeks and stiff-legged walk.
“Oh, hey. Rachel?” Berry rounded the corner at the intersection between a row of cubicles and stopped in front of her. He propped an elbow on a cube wall, running a hand through his thick hair.
“Oh.” Rachel cleared her throat. “Hey, Berry.” Her eyes drifted to his fingers combing through chocolate locks. Heat swelled around her throat and coursed down her body. “Is there something I can do for you?” She shifted from one foot to the other, resting her palm against the same cubicle wall. Her bloated belly pooched out, straining against the belt around her pants. She dropped her hand and shifted her weight to the other foot.
“Yeah, I’ve been talking to corporate, and we’re looking to create a new position.”
Her heart leaped into her throat, fluttering like a hummingbird.
“Oh?” She tugged at her earlobe. “How interesting. What’s the…” Her breath caught as a volcanic eruption of digestive juices quaked through her bowels, and her vision blurred. She clasped her hands together in front of her belt buckle, blinking her eyes back into focus. “What’s the position?”
She clinched again, feeling like a bulldozer was inside her rectum trying to force its way out.
“Well, we’re creating a new department, actually, and we need someone to head—” His eyes raked her body.
Heat oozed through her.
“Are you okay? You don’t look well.”
“Yeah! Totally fine! So, someone to head—” She tightened so much that her lower body shook with the pressure, but a spurt still forced its way through with a whispering whine. Rachel’s chest constricted the tendons in the back of her neck tight steel cables.
She cleared her throat again. “Actually, you know what? I’m not feeling well.” She clamped her feet and thighs together, feeling another round pounding against her sphincter. “I think I’m gonna go. I’d love to talk more about the position tomorrow though.”
She slid one foot in front of her, testing.
“Sure, of course. Get some rest.” He cupped his hand around her shoulder.
The ocean of methane inside her rescinded up into her colon with an undulating gulping gurgle. Her torso vibrated as the gas sucked back up into her.
Berry withdrew his hand. “Do you smell something?” He inhaled with an audible sniff.
Rachel darted away, rounding another corner of cubicles.
“Hey Joe,” she heard Berry say as she hurried from the scene, “can you call maintenance? There might be a dead rat in the vents or something. Jesus.”
Rachel flung herself against the stairwell door. It swung open, slamming into the brick wall behind it. She tore down the stairs, little poots squeezing through her vice-gripped anus. Sweat poured down her face and back while gas swarmed like a bubbling tornado through her core.
She stopped on the third stair from the bottom, heart pounding in her ears.
“My fucking laptop!” She turned and stared back up the steps.
Heat plumed out around her underside and the stink of rotten eggs and festering meat drifted up into her nostrils. She gagged and turned back, racing through the downstairs hallway and out the door leading to the parking lot.
Rachel sprinted to her car, fishing the keys from her purse as she ran and jammed her thumb into the “unlock” button.
She wrenched the door open, expelling more gas with the motion, and climbed in, slamming the door shut behind her
Rachel glanced at the rearview, and then pushed like she was giving birth.
Her flatulation reverberated against the doors and windows. The driver’s seat filled with damp, swampy heat. She gripped the steering wheel and closed her eyes, pushing harder, reveling in the release. Her stomach shrank and her pants loosened as she forced more air out.
“Fuck yeah,” she whispered, resting her head against the steering wheel.
The stench of eggs and meat, with a hint of French fries, clouded the car and she giggled between gags.
Rachel leaned back and rested her head on the headrest, eyes closed, rubbing her flattened abs.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Her eyes popped open, fixating on her lap. Bile burned the back of her throat. She couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
She turned her head, with slow unbearable force, toward the driver’s side window.
Berry crouched at eye level. He smiled and waved, then held up her laptop.
Her eyes darted back and forth between the two, her mind a vapid blank.
“You left your laptop,” Berry said from the other side of the window, his perfect teeth glistening in the evening sun.
She glanced at the laptop and back at him.
He stared in at her, one eyebrow raised and smirked. “Do you want it?”
She opened her mouth to say something, but the taste of eggs and fries engulfed her tongue and cheeks. She snapped it shut, fighting the urge to retch. Her gaze drifted back to the laptop.
Berry laughed. “You’re funny, Rachel.”
Then a click from inside the door.
Her eyes dropped to the door handle and shot back up to Berry.
He pulled the door open and cool air poured in, whirling over her face. He held the laptop out to her, bending back down to face her, that winning smile plastered back on his face.
“You need your—”
Berry’s smile faded into a tight-lipped pucker. His eyebrows shot up and his chin tucked up into a quivering mass of dimples.
He closed his eyes, his face scrunching up in wrinkled folds.
“Jesus, fuck, dude!” He shook his head back and forth in quick jerks and stood.
Rachel stared at his crotch, not seeing it, in wide-eyed horror. The back of her tongue felt swollen and dry.
Berry turned and walked around the open car door, back toward the office, Rachel’s eyes following him.
He stopped and turned back to the car. Rachel’s head thrust further back into the headrest, unable to blink.
“No,” she whispered.
He held the laptop over her open door. It hung inches from her face, but she could only stare at it.
Berry jiggled it.
“Take the laptop, Rachel,” she heard him say through rasping gasps
She reached out and took it, then watched Berry march back to the office not looking back. She lay the laptop on the seat next to her and closed the car door, her mind filled with a ringing buzz.
As she started the car and another gurgling quake flared from her gut. She pushed it out. The fart resounded in a warbling cacophony and filled the car with a smoky scent of meat. Rachel rolled the window down and drove off the lot.
L.L. Asher lives in Dallas, Georgia and has published over twenty short stories with Manqué, Zimbell House Publishing, Bewildering Stories, Castabout Art & Literature,The Raven Chronicles, Blood Moon Rising, Things in the Well, Fantasia Divinity Publishing, Bending Genres, Writer’s Club and the Cygnet. L.L. Asher is a member of Sigma Tau Delta and is finishing up a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in writing.
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