We didn’t know what she was doing. Hell, we didn’t know where she came from.
I heard the explosions from my cubicle. I paused and looked around the office to see if anyone else was concerned. The ambient buzz of corporate drones neither abated nor crescendoed, so I didn’t feel it was anything that concerned me. The image that flashed in my mind was that of the parking ramp: last week, while I waited for the train, I heard an astonishing explosion like a punch to the side of my head. My heart immediately started pounding, but nobody around me seemed terribly bothered. Embarrassed, I looked around and saw the restrictive netting around the five remaining levels of the car park near City Hall, as a construction crew slowly and methodically demolished it. As I studied it, trying to recall how many levels there had been, I watched a section of ramp floor sag and collapse into darkness. The noise seemed to race unimpeded directly to my ears, so clear and bold. I smiled nervously at the display, watching the demolition until my train arrived.
That’s probably why I was so nonchalant that day, when the deep rumble of an irresistibly enforced chaos inflicted upon the fragile order we mortals have built around ourselves. Buildings of concrete poured around steel skeletons, like the layers of a paper wasp hive beneath the touch of any curious animal. My city has enjoyed a throbbing hard-on for reconstruction for as long as I’ve lived here, it seems, so I didn’t think much of the angry waves of sound rattling our office windows. I was, honestly, a little impressed I could feel muted waves of percussion in my seat, in the floor beneath me. That was unusual but not enough to raise my hackles.
When Elise screamed, that’s when I bothered to stand up and look around. She’s a temp doing data entry for finance. She’s usually very focused and head-down in her work. You have to call her name a few times to get her attention, if you need her. She’s been with us for three or four months, so she’s really good at what she does, most of which is to block out the world and focus on her pile of work until it’s done. And it’s never done. So it’s significant that she, of all people, noticed something going on around her.
I started to rise, then paused and saved my work, and then I pushed my chair back and looked around the office. There were a dozen employees crowding around the huge windows on the west side. More and more people like me were standing in their cubes and checking out the action. Maurice asked me if I knew what was going on, but how could I? I saw as much as he did. Then Leland, then Freda, then Constance, all asking me just because I was the nearest standing person to them. I guess that made me feel like I had a mantle of authority to figure out, on behalf of the cube farm, what the hell was going on.
Glancing at my subjects, I cautiously strode out of the aisle, immediately bumping into the one person I’d been conditioned to avoid: our supervisor, Sherri. She turned her resting-exasperated-face toward me and was about to demand to know where we were on third-quarter domestic performance reports when there was another explosion. This one was louder and, somehow, slower. To my untrained ears it sounded like someone was setting off a sequence of small TNT charges along the length of the boulevard, maybe one or two blocks, destroying everything with mounting violence as it closed in on our office. That was enough to snap Sherri out of “I’m persecuted by a mutiny of malevolent idiots” mode, even to make her flinch as she stared at the people lining up by the windows. She glanced at me, almost like a partner, then ran off to find a spot to look from and I ran after her.
The air was full of “what is that,” “what’s going on,” “oh my fucking God” and other dramatic catchphrases. I grabbed Guy’s shoulder and peeled him away, demanding to know what was happening. “I don’t know how to describe it,” he said, urging me to a window.
“Does anyone know what’s happening? Are we under attack?” I yelled at the backs of a dozen heads but none of them could be bothered to respond. Getting angry, I peeled Allen and Glen away from the windows and positioned myself behind Brooke, who’s as cute as she is short, and finally took the lay of the land.
We’re a dozen floors up in our building, so we have a good view of downtown. There are many buildings taller than ours, but they’re all piled on one side, to the west of us, and everything north was a few floors shorter than our position. The blister of the metropolis was in the center and tapered off, like a bell curve, to the important but less-impressive businesses and corporate headquarters that sprawled like tall-grass plains to shield the shiniest skyscrapers from the encroaching suburbs. What I’m trying to say is that there was nothing to get in the way of my view of the gigantic woman.
She lay just between downtown, where thrummed the heart of capitalism, and the warehouse district, where developers were constantly razing the old culture of the city and erecting condos faster than corporate whores could procreate. She lay sprawled, slightly curled up, across several city blocks, with apparently nothing beneath her. I knew for a fact stuff had been there, like my favorite bagel place and a former cinema that was unhappily renovating itself into a “gentlemen’s club,” but these were gone. They weren’t standing, anyway: perhaps they still existed as a thin layer of powder beneath her enormous hip or gargantuan thigh. I stared down at one long shin, shadowed beneath the leg atop it, slowly grinding and sliding over the pavement as though she just couldn’t get comfortable.
I bet it wasn’t comfortable, lying upon all those buildings. All the jagged edges and pointy bits that buildings were full of. This is what I was concerned with, you see, because I could not wrap my mind around what was going on.
There was a gigantic woman lying in our city. She was clearly a woman, from her cutely ragged bobbed hairstyle down to her adorable, flexing toes, except she was too big. She was far, far too big. There was no way she could be as big as what I was staring at. In sections, I should say: I could only stare at the row of huge, wriggling toes, or shift my gaze to where the sun shone upon her calf, or look past all that, you know, really cast my gaze across her landscape to see her bare shoulder shifting cutely beneath her elegant jaw. I couldn’t see all of her at once, it was both physically impossible and mentally daunting. Just staring at her fat, meaty big toe, idly twitching eight floors above street level, threatened to break my mind.
She wasn’t naked. Somehow it would have made more sense for her to be naked, like I could accept a person erupting into titanic proportions, but not the knit sheath dress she was wearing. It slumped down her bicep, generously showing off her pale, sloping shoulder as it did her décolletage. The dress was woefully inadequate to contain her breasts, a pair of mountainous orbs that swayed and boffed against each other like boats on a restless shore. On a normal-sized woman they would have been huge, okay, but on her they threatened to cave in the second through fifth floors of the condo she lounged near.
Desperate for something relatable, something familiar, my lizard mind lapsed into biological imperative. I wished she would have adjusted her massive leg just a little, to let me peek up her knit skirt and see whether her underwear had enlarged as well. I wondered what it would be like, to live in that condo around the fourth floor, to hear the explosions and walk into the living room and see a dancing hill of peachy flesh bobbling outside your sliding glass door. And then to walk out onto your token balcony, kicking the aluminum folding chair to the grill that’s unsafe to use, and see that massive, sloping hillside of warm, soft skin rising up above you to immense collarbones like fallen logs, or to let your attention slide right down into the milky valley of her−
God, I was hard. I was surrounded by coworkers, with a raging erection. I could only hope I wasn’t stabbing Brooke in the back.
But why? I should’ve been terrified. Seeing something larger than a dinosaur, larger than a blue fucking whale in the middle of our city should have scared the shit out of me. The woman lifted her chin and her massive head swung away to regard a portion of the city behind her. She smiled. She might have been smiling the whole time, I don’t know, I was getting lost in her toes and legs and cleavage. But now I saw the corners of her lips curl up and her eyebrows arch mischievously, and my heart fell into my stomach. If she were normal-sized, if I’d been sitting a few seats away from her at the bar and she put on that expression, I would have sensed that some shit was about to go down. She had the look of someone without a lot of moral constraints who just got struck by a brilliant idea, or at least an urge she didn’t care to control.
As I watched, one massive leg slowly slid over the other. I could see immense cords of muscle beneath cakes of flesh bunch, tense, ripple with incalculable power. One cutely knobby knee rolled over its partner, one glowing calf flexed and shoved. My idle hope of getting to peer up into her crotch was shattered by the rising wail of my coworkers, and I swiveled my gaze to watch a building, normally standing at right angles to everything, slowly nod its head. The tar-and-gravel rooftop canted to expose itself to us, massive AC units wrenched and cried out, rolling away like a crumpled ball of paper. An immense wall of glistening, polished windows atomized in sequence, blowing out from the fourth floor, the fifth floor, the sixth, seventh, eighth, faster than I could say them. Poom, poom, poom, poom! The illusion of corporate stoicism shattered and the innards of screaming, falling people were exposed. It felt like slow motion, but of course it wasn’t, I was here, I was watching this, it was actually happening. But to see this much destruction, so rapid and all-consuming, my mind struggled to comprehend it. The iridescent plane of windows simply rippled away, and there were dark offices, with the staccato bursts of violated electrical systems, and the people just tumbled out of them like sand. If they screamed, if they laughed, I couldn’t hear it over the futile protest of the roaring collapse.
Distantly I wondered if the giant woman noticed this. Then I saw her stubbly pinky toe emerge, wriggling, from the cascade of ruined architecture. Debris, bricks, paneling flowed around her pinky toe, around her fourth toe. Their rounded tips glowed rosily in the late morning sun as infrastructure spilled around them in a stream. There must’ve been people in that mess, too, I’m sure. Maybe I saw them and blocked them out, or maybe I imagined them so hard that I told myself it was a memory, but I thought I saw a white blouse and a dark skirt, wheeling end over end through the air, bouncing cartoonishly off of the tip of that wriggly little toe, caroming out of control behind another building.
She smiled at this, the big lady did. She smiled as the jagged edges and sharp corners sprinkled upon the tender ball of her sole. I don’t even think she felt it: I feel like she was amused by the transformation, wrought by her mere bare foot, of an imperious building into a mound of fine sand.
My heart was pounding. My skull drained of blood, my blood turned to ice. My palms rang against the broad window as I struggled to remain upright. I didn’t even know if I was still hard, I was fighting against sinking to the floor. Men and women were sobbing all around me. Swearing gave way to pleas to gods. Cries for mercy were drowned in shrieks, uncomprehending and mindless. Our fire alarm buzzed in pulses, LED lights flashed unhelpfully behind us. On the streets, sirens wailed along the corridors of buildings. We could see the pinpricks of red and blue crawling in from the periphery, welling at this intersection or that one.
The woman’s massy head swung toward us. Not directly at us, not us in particular, but with a gaze that broad, there were a fantastic many things in her view. That, in itself, was a mercy: if I’d had any inkling that she could pick me out of a crowd and could look directly at me, seeing me and only me, I probably would have imploded in terror.
But as much as I wanted to hide from that horrible gaze, I could not for the life of my tear my eyes away. Beneath shaggy bangs her fine eyes narrowed, luminescent irises twitching with the focus of ungodly stores of energy. Below an unfairly cute button nose, her huge, full lips of dusty rose parted and grinned. Her incisors glinted, pure and savage, and these gave way to the glistening tip of her tongue that ran around her smiling lips, and I quailed at the thought of what she must be seeing now.
Men. Two stupid men were standing on a low building before us. Another idiot was on the roof two floors below us, adjacent to our building. We used to stare at people taking smoke breaks down there, marveling at how they dared themselves to stand on the ledge without a handrail. But now, why they fuck were they out here…
The man nearest us raised his smartphone, and his screen glowed with healthy, peachy flesh. The other two men likewise raised their phones, getting unobstructed shots of a fraction of her shin, a scant arc of her knee’s circumference. We screamed, oh, how we all screamed, worse than any UK rugby or football match. We were in a horror movie, screaming warnings to these clueless idiots who, trancelike, advanced upon the terror to record it. Like they didn’t think they were really there, like they were mere observers. This was what cellphone culture had produced, a generation of people who could not comprehend their participation or role in the world at large. Photographic, recording, observing from vast distances inside their own heads. We screamed at them, we pounded on the windows, but they just weren’t there at all.
The giantess’s eyes trained upon the two idiots on the three-storey building. We stopped screaming, some of us even stepped back from the windows as we pleaded against inexorable fate. Her shoulder swiveled back to allow her to rest on her elbows, displaying her colossal breasts to the city and the entire universe. One of the tiny men hopped in place, silhouetted against her pale knee—both of them, together, paltry dots against the full moon of her joint, half a block away.
I think he was cheering, the hopping guy, waving his arms and cheering. His friend was taking pictures. Neither of them knew where they were. They didn’t see the massive bare foot, sole upturned to the sky, slithering out from beneath its pair, still dusted in the ruins of commercial institution. They cheered and waved, and she smiled at them as vaguely as if she were reading a menu in another language, and an immense row of darling toes twitched eagerly and flew straight at them. Flew, like the welling tide of a tsunami, flowing swiftly with tremendous mass, unerringly to collide with their rooftop.
They didn’t turn to look. They took photos and they shouted to her, and her blind, blunt toes drove straight into the roof, sundering it like a cracker in the palm of a child. There and gone in an instant: the giantess smiled upon the bursting, swelling cloud of beige plaster, mortar, paint, masonry, whatever that building had been made of. Everything, every component instantly vaporized, and nearly instantly the roar of aggravated physics slammed into our building. It was as though the destruction of the parking ramp were taking place right inside my skull, and it looked like everyone around me was experiencing the same thing. We screamed and clutched at our ears, bending over, twisting away, and in the distance that lovely, bemused goddess only grinned.
So it went for a long, long day. She shifted, getting comfortable, getting bored and kicking out another building. Sirens, screams, fires and explosions, none of it meant anything. None of it even registered in her expression as her face swung through space, ever-seeking another distraction from the horrible onset of boredom. For she looked at least a little bored throughout the entire ordeal, grinning at this disaster or that one but never for long. When she finally did pry her thighs open and expose her inner recesses to my office, I was too shell-shocked to even notice. Nothing meant anything to me at point, just columns of flesh-colored destruction and the unrelenting countdown until another building collapsed and hundreds more perished in the passage of a moment.
That was last week. The giantess writhed and squirmed into the evening, rubbing her legs against civilization, half-heartedly scratching some ineffable itch, until just after midnight when she disappeared. Just gone. I don’t mean she got up and rose to her fearsome height and strode indolently from our city. I mean the massive boom attendant to the collapse of hundreds of thousands of liters of atmosphere, because what had been there ceased to exist. Boom, gone.
Sorry… I mean, you can’t know this, but I just rolled away from the keyboard and scream-laughed for five minutes. “Boom”: what a woefully inadequate word.
Where did she go? Where’d she come from? There are absolutely no answers. We can barely frame useful questions. The local TV stations played the national anthem for two full fucking days, no ads, no programming, just… what? A pathetic gesture of unity? The internet has crashed twice with fundraisers, mostly scams, for businesses trying to recoup their losses, for families trying to recover “a semblance of normality.” City government hasn’t begun to touch the devastation downtown. Traffic is absolutely walled off from a dozen inlets, threatening the livelihood of local businesses inaccessible even to pedestrians, as investigators swarm like irritated ants throughout the crater of those immense buttocks.
I don’t think anyone’s been to work for a week, either. Most businesses downtown have shuttered temporarily as hundreds of us tremble in our beds, scramble to find any therapist who isn’t booked out for five months, or just stock up on irresponsible reserves of booze. Local news stations are still aggregating reports, the death toll seems to multiply each evening, to say nothing of the suicides of people who just couldn’t cope. People whose minds just snapped. I’m not judging: a spectral analysis of my brain would show you rainbows of fault lines of fatigue and stress.
Brooke is staying with me. She says she can’t be alone. Her boyfriend was getting lunch at that bagel place I liked. I’m not going to suggest he was lucky, becoming a particle of a stain on one immense ass cheek within the first few seconds of this impossible event, but. He missed a lot. I envy that. Brooke can hardly speak. She accepts what food I give her, split-pea soup, sourdough toast, nothing challenging. Certainly no meat. Neither of us can look at meat without thinking of those gargantuan slabs of ripe, womanly flesh shifting fitfully−
I can’t think about it. I can’t allow myself to begin to think about this. I’m going to kill this vodka and curl up next to a very small woman.