Ronan Cartwright

The Rat King

‘Campbell. You’re late. Sit.’

As I listen to my boss snap at me like I’m some sort of Pavlovian poodle, I slip into the chair opposite his desk and watch him gulp his coffee. He savours it, loudly, licking his lips with his reptilian tongue.

‘I tell you, that’s a fine cup of joe,’ he grins. ‘Shame you’ll never get to enjoy it. They save the real stuff for senior management, see. You pencil pushers only get capsules. They practically piss in them. Hey Campbell, wanna know what success tastes like?’

He leans forward and holds out his coffee cup at full stretch, letting it waft under my nose.

‘Sir, I wanted to check in with you about the Paris promotion? I was told we’d hear back last week and –’

‘Paris?! You?!’

He rocks back on his chair legs like a conquering warlord and screams a hellish wail of laughter.

‘Word on the ninth floor is you’ve screwed up the Henderson deal, Campbell. Just when I thought you couldn’t sink any lower.’

‘Sir, I did no such thing!’ I protest limply, scrambling my brain to remember who the fuck Henderson is and what exactly is his deal.

He clenches his fists and grits his teeth, as if ready to launch himself across the desk and smash me to smithereens. And right on cue, I feel it: the faint stirring of an erection in my underpants. Now this isn’t one of those unwelcome hard-ons you get when sharing a glass of wine with your fiancée’s better-looking sister. No – this is a pump of full-bodied adrenalin reserved exclusively for those sweet, sweet moments of unfathomable humiliation.

I brace myself for the torture to come:

‘A weakling who lets people trample all over you. That’s what you are, Campbell. Hell, you’re not good enough to shine my shoes.’

‘Be that as it may, I believe myself to be an integral cog within the company’s –’

He slams his fist down on his desk, sending a battalion of corporate plaques, trophies, and commemorative busts flying my way.

‘Little baby Campbell wants me to give him the Paris promotion – too hard for you here, is it? Too tough a boss, am I? You’re a cubicle rat, Campbell. A stinky little cubicle rat.’

He bites his teeth against his bottom lip and makes gnawing rat noises, doing his best to eat away at my self-esteem – but as I watch the veins in his neck bulge with testosterone-fuelled rage, little does he know that I’m absolutely rock hard down below.

‘You know why I don’t belong in a cubicle? How I took one look at that fucking infestation out there and said ‘Sayonara’? It’s because my big balls won’t fit in them. And the way I’m going – they’re going to have to build a bigger building for them too.’

‘So…I’ll wait to hear back about Paris?’

‘Paris is strictly BBO, Campbell. Big. Balls. Only. Now piss off and do some bloody work for once in your miserable life. Au rev-fucking-oir.’

He dismisses me with the flick of a finger, and off I trudge to my desk, listening to the water cooler gurgle its pity at me. I stare at my computer and think of ways to turn it all around – how maybe, just maybe, if I claw back the Henderson deal, Paris could still be on the cards…or failing that, promotion to a slightly bigger cubicle.

But I can’t suppress it. My groin still burns from the glorious smackdown he just gave me. I need to unload. So I do what I always do in times of trouble: I rush to the toilets, lock myself in, immediately drop my pants and jerk off to memorised porn videos, faithfully reconstructed with precision-engineered accuracy. 

There’s only one problem: every time I picture myself with a girl – be it a pornstar confused by my presence, the argumentative barista down the road or Racist Cathy from Accounts – my boss bursts into the fantasy, ripping off his clothes to expose his Herculean torso and testicles the size of bowling balls. The women rejoice with feverish delight, of course – as if Superman has just flown in to save them from my over-eager touch. Then he beds them mercilessly as I stand in the corner and watch, wide-eyed with arousal and fear.

The plot thickens. Now it’s just me and him. Mano a mano. Giant dick versus shrivelled slug. Without a single word of instruction, I turn around, squirming uncomfortably as he enters me. I wince at his disapproving grunts – I can only assume he’s disappointed that I surrendered so easily. I try to stop but can’t. Instead I listen to him tear into the loves of my life one by one – how it was too easy to bring them to orgasm when he was banging them in the boardroom behind my back – until I finish with a mad flourish, splattering the wall like a squirt gun loaded with cottage cheese. I stare at my weird graffiti and think about what I’ve done. Just like he’d want me to.

I leave without washing my hands, rubbing my gummy residue between my fingertips. I’m on my way back to cubicle purgatory, ready to zonk out on Minecraft when I see it: my boss’s mythical coffee cup, unguarded by the kitchen kettle. While his assistant searches for milk in the fridge, I tiptoe over and peer inside his chalice of power, filled with a brown swamp of boiling water. Without giving it a second thought, I stick my crusty finger into the cup, feeling the water scold me as I stir in my sticky essence.

Moments later and I’m back at my desk, watching him through the reflection in my monitor while he patrols his office behind the great glass walls that keep the vermin at bay. His assistant brings in his coffee. I hold my breath. He takes one look at the cup – sniffs at it suspiciously – then swallows. He licks his lips and smiles.

The taste of success…

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