By Sebastian Muriel
A woman is sitting at her desk working on the computer. Her eyes are swollen with sickness and her face is dry with exhaustion. She has a particular kind of smile across her face—a smile that is automatic, or rather, forced by some outside authority. It’s been 12 hours since her shift began, and her fingers began to feel feeble from the endless typing. A subversive thought began to creep into her frayed mind—the thought of rest, of going home and sleeping. The mere entertainment of rest provoked an instinctive jerk of her hand towards a whip at her side. Her hand grasped the whip and slowly lifted it. Her eyes widened with a crazed joy of anticipation—as if a divine justification accompanied this form of self-punishment. She did this to better herself, to keep herself in check, to make sure that she wasn’t transgressing. It was for her family and friends, who cared dearly about her. For her co-workers and boss. For her well-being. With an air of repressed anguish and elated wonder, she savagely whipped herself several times in the same spot on her left arm. It was gashed open now, with the bone nearly completing its rip of the remaining thread of flesh.
Holding back tears of unthinkable pain, she smiled and wiped the blood from her whip on a white sheet. This white sheet is used to log her whippings and the level of pain associated with them. Every Sunday, she turns in the white sheet to her boss for an assessment of her effort to compensate for her iniquities. The more blood splattered, the more recognition given. Those who had little blood spilled during the week were viewed as indulgent and prideful. On the other hand, those who had to be hospitalized for their loss of blood were praised and given accolades of all sorts—they were the ones who worked the hardest. The woman was proud of her whipping. She was going to improve because of this. Her peers would view her as hard-working, and she would feel better about herself. She might even get that long-desired promotion. The woman was happy. After cleaning the blood spilled on her desk, she promptly resumed working.