October 6th
by maarit hara

As an actress, Tanja was used to working odd jobs on the side to support herself while pursuing her greatest love, theater. After she had had enough of the food industry: the constant flow of angry people yelling in her face, the greasy sweat blocking her pores and the aching veins in her legs after a ten hour shift at the fast food restaurant she'd been working in for over two years now, she found herself a new job as a customer service operator at the Taxi call center in downtown Helsinki.

From the first moment Tanja stepped foot into the office building, it all seemed perfect. It was exactly what she wanted: a clean office job where nobody would be yelling in her face and where there was no more hot grease boiling anywhere near her. The Taxi call center supervisor was warm and friendly and so Tanja knew she wanted the position right away and with no doubt in her mind, she signed the contract.

Tanja arrived to her first training shift at 7 am on a Tuesday morning on the first day of October. The leaves on the trees were brown and red. The air was crispy. She locked her bike to a pole at the parking lot and walked up the stairs to the office building. When inside, she headed straight into the break room and she poured herself a cup of hot black freshly brewed coffee.

"That's the first thing I also always do when I arrive", Tanja heard from behind her.
As she turned around she saw a dark, tall, handsome man standing in the middle of the coffee room. He had big, curious eyebrows, thin lips and a strong jaw. He looked a bit Eastern European. Mysterious and sexy. His hair was short and messy. He was wearing cool jeans and a black cardigan.
"Oh, yeah, I really need this" Tanja giggled.
"I'm sure you do. My name is Viktor, by the way." he smiled.
"Hi, I'm Tanja" she responded.
As they shook hands, Tanja felt a wave of tension travel through her body, from the top of her head all the way down to her toes.
"Well, enjoy your shift" he smiled.
"You're done?"Tanja asked.
"Yeah. I only work the night shift. I prefer it- it's quiet and it's only me and another person. It's much more chill." He said as he grabbed his coat from the couch and put it on.
"Oh, I see.." Tanja said.
She felt her stomach tense up as she stared at the back of Viktor's head as he exited the room. Tanja took a deep breath and thought about how she hand't had sex in over two years. "Two years"- she thought. And it wasn't out of choice. Well, it was out of choice as Tanja had had enough of sleeping with random people. Tanja yearned for more. She wanted to be loved, more than anything. And to sleep with someone who would stay, for once. A boyfriend was what she truly hoped for.
Tanja shook her head in amusement and took a big sip of her coffee. "It's not gonna happen - not here. I'm not that lucky" she told herself as she walked to her desk where the person training her was already waiting and so they began their shift.

Three weeks passed and Tanja had learned the ins and outs of being a customer service operator at the Taxi call center. She felt at ease about how simple the job was. A customer would call to order a taxi and her job was to send the request to a driver near by and that was it. Easy and not mentally or physically draining in any way. She also liked her colleagues a lot and after the shifts she still had plenty of energy to work on her acting stuff, so it was all working out just great. She would also see Viktor occasionally when their shifts crossed. If she knew Viktor was working the night shift, she would arrive a little earlier to make sure to see him and to have the change to bump into him . She would wait for him in the break room until it was time for her to sign into work.

"Whoa, you're here so early. I can tell you don't like sleeping" Viktor would tease her, which made Tanja feel giddy inside. Any attention from Viktor felt like a victory to her. At night, he would come into her dreams. Kissing her, holding her and biting her earlobes. She would wake up covered in sweat and the thought of him on top of her made her want to masturbate furiously.

"Well, you know when you know you have to get up in some hours, it's hard to sleep at all.." Tanja would respond as she felt the redness spread all over her face.
"Or maybe you're just anxious to see me" Viktor would laugh in an overly confident manner.
"Haha, you wish." Tanja would stutter as she felt her armpits leak through her tight polyester top.

One morning, at the end of October, Tanja had arrived early yet again for her 7 am shift. Like always, she walked into the break room and started pouring herself a cup coffee when suddenly she felt someone standing behind her. She slowly turned around and saw it was Viktor. He was staring at her with a beast-like look in his eyes. His mouth slightly open, breathing heavily as if he was about to feast on his pray.
"Hey..?" Tanja gasped.
"Hi you" Viktor nodded.
"What's up?" she asked.
"You wanna work the night shift together with me next week Thursday?" Viktor asked.
Tanja felt her face turn red immediately and her pulse began to rise. She could hear her own heart pounding in her ears.
"Why?" she mumbled trying to remain cool.
"Why..? Well, because Heidi normally does it but she's going on a trip and someone needs to fill in, and I think working with you could be fun.. " Viktor smiled.
"..Fun..?" Tanja thought to herself. "Omg - he wants to fuck me!" she heard her brain scream inside her head in celebration.
"Sure, I'll do it" Tanja muttered as casually as she could, pretending as if it was no big deal.
"Great, I'll let the supervisor know" Viktor said as he walked out.

Tanja felt over the moon. It was only Monday now so she still had long days and nights to fantasize about what was going to happen on that special night when the two of them would spend it together.
The whole week it was all she could think of. Would that night be the night when Viktor would admit his undying love towards her? There, at the Taxi call center, just the two of them, alone at night? Would he tell her that he felt his life change the very moment they had first locked eyes in the break room. "How romantic" she would cry. However, Tanja knew she was most likely taking things too far in her head, but that's what she always did and at this point in her life, she wasn't afraid to fall flat on her face once again. Her whole sexual and romantic life had been one big flop so far and so she felt like there was nothing to loose. Disappointment in relations to men, was all she knew, so even if her hopes with Viktor were sky high, deep down she didn't actually think anything would happen. But she was happy to realize that she hadn't given up or lost hope. She hadn't grown into a bitter 34-year old woman, but instead she felt alive, open and very much full of hope.

Next week Thursday finally arrived. The air was cold and wet. The leaves- most of them now rotting on the ground- yellow, brown, red, and purple. "All the colors of the rainbow" Tanja smiled as she locked her bike at the parking lot five minutes before her scheduled shift. The night shift ran from 10.30 pm to 7 am. Tanja and Viktor would be left alone at midnight when the last person working the day shift would collect his things and head out. Then they would have a full six hours alone, just the two of them, before the first person working the morning shift would walk in.

Tanja was well shaved and showered. She'd even plucked the hairs off her nipples and toes- something she only did when there was a high chance of sex happening in the air. Although Tanja still didn't believe anything would actually happen tonight between her and Viktor, she still felt it was part of the fun to prepare just in case it somehow miraculously did. Tanja felt excited and ready for whatever the night would bring.

She casually nodded "Hi" to Viktor, who was on the phone when she arrived and sat down to a desk, on the opposite side of the room, directly facing him. She put on her headset and logged in. Gradually the co-workers started to leave, one after the other and the incoming calls started to slow down. Tanja looked at the big clock by the call analytics screen. It was 12.06 am.
"It's just you and me now for the next 6 hours" Viktor said as he took his headset off.
" I guess so" Tanja smiled excitedly.
As they stared at each other intensely, Tanja felt the hairs on her back stand up one by one. This was really happening. She was really here. Alone. Together with Viktor. Just the two of them. All the dreams, the fantasies, everything came rushing in into her mind and she felt a hot wave travel through her body. Viktor stood up from his desk slowly, like a well built statue, full of grace and beauty.
"Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself, An eye like Mars to threaten and command, A station like the herald Mercury New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill—A combination and a form indeed where every god did seem to set his seal, To give the world assurance of a man", Tanja thought, recalling her drama school days when she played Gertrude in Hamlet and very much secretly desired the actor playing Hamlet's dad. Of course, he was taken, like all the men she felt attracted to. "They're all either married or gay"- she was used to thinking- "unavailable men are my type. " But not now. Not with Viktor. Not this time.

Like every millennial, Tanja was a master of stalking. Viktor was too cool to have a Facebook account (which made him even more desirable) and he only existed on Instagram through his art (very sexy). He was a painter and his Instagram was filled with pictures of his work only. From the tagged photos however, Tanja had been able to find out more. She had seen how he was in good terms with his mother and his two sisters (good sign) and also that he had been in what seemed like a healthy relationship with a pleasant looking girl (very good sign). Luckily, the girl's Instagram account was public and it had made it very easy for Tanja to track down all the useful information about their past relationship. The girl had posted photos of her's and Viktor's trips together: a bike trip through Scandinavia in 2013, a kayaking trip in Norway in 2014, and a hiking trip in the Alps in 2015. She'd also written descriptions under some of the photos with Viktor in them. She'd written: "Living life to the fullest with my lobster", under a photo of the two of them on top of a mountain. She'd written: "My lobster makes the best Borscht", under a photo of her looking a bit sick, in bed, and what looked like Viktors' hands, passing her a bowl of purple soup. She'd written: "Thank you for the best Birthday surprise my dear lobster, I am forever yours", under a photo of the two of them kissing a balloon floating between their faces.
All this material Tanja had found, served as hard evidence that Viktor was a great man and a perfect boyfriend. The first photo of Viktor and the girl together had been posted back in 2010, at some house party, and the last one in February 2016 at a park in Northern Finland. From the most recent photos the girl had posted, it was clear that she had moved on. She was now married to someone else and they even had a baby together. It was also clear that Viktor and her remained in good terms, as she had still liked his most recent posts and she'd even commented under a photo of one of his newest paintings that appeared to be a representation of the sky. She'd written: "I love this so much, can't wait to see the full series". To which he had responded: "Thank you. I'm happy to hear you like it". After seeing all of this, it was crystal clear to Tanja that Viktor was a complete catch. He almost seemed to good to be true. But Tanja didn't allow that to discourage her. "He was perfect and she was worthy of love" she would tell herself over and over again when the doubts and fears would creep into her mind.

"He's gonna make a move." Tanja thought as Viktor stood there staring at her.
She felt her vagina pulse and her stomach turn from the adrenaline that rushed through her spine. She inhaled deeply.
"I'm gonna go out for a smoke. I'll transfer my calls to you if that's cool with you"? Viktor said.
"..Oh.. sure, yes, no problem" Tanja stuttered nervously.
"Thanks" Viktor nodded as he strolled through the office and out into the hallway.
"..What was I thinking.." thought Tanja as she felt a wave of shame washing over her. "I'm such a fool.. I need to start being more in touch with reality", she snapped at herself as she buried herself into work- answering customer emails that had been piling up as well as taking the few calls that we're coming in here and there.

Minutes went by, then an hour. Tanja looked at the clock. 01.30 am and still no sign of Viktor.
"What the fuck..?" Tanja thought to herself. "Had Viktor bounced and left her to do all the work by herself?" she wondered. She couldn't help thinking that maybe Viktor was an asshole after all.

At 03.01 am, when there was still no sign of Viktor, and Tanja started to catch herself dozing off, she knew she wouldn't be able to make it much longer without the help of coffee. Although Tanja knew the lines shouldn't be left unattended, at this point she didn't care. Viktor was supposed to be here with her and if she got into trouble, she wasn't going to hesitate to tell the supervisor what had happened. That he had just left her there all alone. "This is bullshit" Tanja thought, as she took off her headset and headed to the break room. In the hallway, as she approached the door that led down to the staircase, she saw it was left open. As she walked up to it, she felt a breeze of cold air and noticed how the front door downstairs had also been left wide open. She quickly walked down the stairs, all the way to the entrance of the building and she looked out into the darkness. For a few seconds Tanja stood there, staring out into the parking lot, trying to see if there was any sign of Viktor, but she wasn't able to make out anything as it was pitch black outside.

Suddenly Tanja felt a panic rise inside of her. It dawned on her that she couldn't see anything what was outside but if someone was out there, they could indeed see her.
Her imagination started to shoot out images of her running for her life with a murderer behind her or a hairy monster with six eyes and a mouth full of thousands of rotting teeth and a tongue made of a millions of leeches, all out to suck the blood out from her body in seconds. Tanja's hands were shaking as she pulled the door shut. She made sure it was locked and quickly ran up the stairs and slammed the door in the hallway shut behind her as if someone was about to catch her. "I hate this" Tanja thought while trying to catch her breath. "Viktor must have just forgotten to close the doors on his way out. Or then he did this on purpose to scare me, that asshole...plus I'm just tired and I have a wild imagination", Tanja kept telling herself in an effort to calm herself down.

After a couple of minutes of reassuring herself that everything was just fine, Tanja started to feel calm again. She continued to make her way into the break room and as she entered the room, she saw Viktor. There he was, standing still by the coffee maker, with his back towards her.
"Hey" Tanja yelled, "Where the fuck have you been!?"
Viktor turned around slowly. He was holding a freshly brewed cup of coffee in his hands. His expression was blank and his eyes looked tired and foggy.
"You want some coffee?" he asked.
"Yes. I do. But where have you been?" Tanja probed.
"I was here. Making coffee. And you?" He asked with a sincere look on his face.
"But it's been over three hours." Tanja insisted.
"Whose on the lines?" Viktor asked with a sudden shift in his demeanor.
"No-one" Tanja said.
"But someone has to be on the lines at all times" Viktor responded, now filled with worry.
"I know, but you left me there alone and I was starting to fall asleep, and--" Tanja hadn't finished her sentence when Viktor was already out the break room door.
"What a weirdo." Tanja thought as she poured herself a cup of coffee. "He's a smoker - that's it. He's obviously high" Tanja realized. Tanja had enjoyed smoking weed throughout her early twenties and she could easily recognize when someone was high. Viktor's tired expression and foggy eyes, leaving the doors open, the time it took him to make one simple pot of coffee. It was all clear to her now: Viktor was a pothead.

Tanja sat down on one of the couches at the break room. "I deserved a fucking break" she thought to herself as she sipped on the delicious black liquid. She decided not to say anything to Viktor about what had just happened. She would instead act as everything was just fine until the morning shift would arrive and then she would message the supervisor and let her know everything. After all she was alone with him and even after a few weeks of stalking him and the cute small talk, she knew she really didn't know him at all or what he might be capable of if provoked. She knew it was better to let it go for now and just make it through the shift without any complications.

As Tanja finished her second cup of coffee in peace, she felt her brain starting to be able to form full sentences again. "Thank God for coffee" she thought as she headed to the bathroom. When she was finished with her business, she stepped outside the cubicle and started washing her hands. As she looked down at the soapy water running through her fingers, she suddenly felt a breeze of cold air swipe the back of her neck. She slowly rose her head up and there it was. Viktor's reflection in the mirror staring right at her.
"FUCK! you scared the shit out of me!" Tanja screamed as she caught his reflection through the mirror.
"Boo", he whispered. "Isn't this what you wanted?" he asked her calmly, full of confidence. He had that look in his eyes again- the same look as he had had that time in the break room when he had asked her to do the night shift with her. He looked like a hungry beast staring at his pray.
"What do you mean?" Tanja mumbled.
Viktor smiled as his right hand reached out slowly to touch her stomach.
"Omg.. I'm gonna come" Tanja thought, as she felt her knees go weak.
Viktor pulled her back towards him and started kissing her neck, still keeping eye contact with her through the mirror. His hands now caressing her stomach. Tanja closed her eyes as their lips met and she gave in, her tongue melting into his. He pressed against her, and his hands moved up to fondle her breasts.
"Omg, I'm gonna come" Tanja thought as she felt her nipples turn hard.
"You're so warm and soft" Viktor whispered into her ear.
"Holy shit, I'm gonna come" Tanja thought as she felt her vagina turn into a lake filled so high that it started to flow over and grow into a river.
Viktor slid his hands inside her shirt. His hands felt strong but cold. Tanja's skin got goose bumps. She exhaled deeply from pleasure as he slid his right hand inside of her pants. She felt his fingers glide inside of her effortlessly.
"Oh my FUCKING GOD!! I'M GONNA COME" Tanja screamed inside of her head. She felt like she had never been touched by another person before this moment. The sensation was insane.

Tanja began moaning as her whole body was overtaken by ecstasy. She was sure she knew now what heaven was like. Viktor ripped her clothes off and pushed her to lay down on her back as he started to eat her out right there on the bathroom floor. It was so intense that at some point Tanja felt her nails sink deep into his skin at the back of his neck and clumps of his hair come off into her hands as she was pulling on them with all her might. When his penis entered her (first her mouth and then her vagina), she felt her entire body turn into a boiling, hot, volcano ready to erupt. Her vagina was the entrance, spraying out hot lava onto the cold bathroom floor, as she came over and over again. It was pure euphoria and better than anything she could have ever imagined even in her wildest fantasies.

When they finished, he gently kissed her on the lips and said: "When we're done with our shift, I wanna take you out for breakfast."
"I'd love that" she whispered and kissed him deeply.
Tanja wanted to cry out of happiness but she kept her cool as she didn't want to scare Viktor off and ruin the best thing that had ever happened to her. As the old Finnish saying goes: "He who has happiness, should hide it". And Tanja wasn't going to screw this one up.

Some minutes later, as Tanja walked back to her desk with a big fat smile on her face, Viktor was already at his desk, taking a call.
"Oops" she thought when she saw the call statistics: Seven calls waiting in line. 12 unanswered calls. Tanja looked at the clock. 04.03 am.
"Well, It was worth it." Tanja thought as she sat down, picked up her headphones and got back to work.

For the last two hours or so, before the morning shift was bound to arrive, Tanja and Viktor shared smiles and long stares with each other. Tanja would run up to Viktor between calls, and they would make out intensely, on his desk, on the floor, on his chair, (he would also go down on her every time as he loved doing that), until an incoming call would force them apart and back to work.

"This is it" Tanja thought, "I've finally found him! Farewell to the endless lonely nights, sad days and depressing holidays. The terrible first -and at the same time -last dates, the awkward conversations about nothing, the bad kissing, the wasted hours swiping and chatting on Tinder just to find out in the end that I might as well have been writing to Sponge Bob or a diaper filled with diarrhea abandoned somewhere on a street corner. Just zero possibility for even the smallest bit of any real human connection. But that's all in the past now as this angel of a man, came into my life and showered me with happiness", Tanja smiled, feeling her heart fill with joy.

The last couple of hours flew by fast and soon the sun had already risen and the night shift was almost over. It was 05.49 am when Tanja heard someone open the door in the hallway.
"It's the morning crew" Tanja nodded to Viktor.
But as soon as Tanja had finished saying that, frantic screaming started coming down from the hallway.
Tanja and Viktor shared a confused look, as Tanja jumped up from her chair and started heading towards the hallway.
"I'll go check what's going on" Tanja said hurrying.
"I'm sorry", said Viktor.
"What?" Tanja asked as she stopped and turned back around to face him.
"I'm sorry" Viktor repeated, now with a blank expression on his face and his eyes turning foggy again.
"For what?" Tanja asked, baffled.
Viktor did not answer, but instead stood there silently, looking at her with an emotionless stare in his eyes. But as the screaming grew louder, Tanja decided to let it go, and she started running towards the hallway. When she was half way through the hallway, she saw Mirkka, a co-worker, crouched over, crying and screaming frantically on the floor by the door.
"What's wrong?" Tanja pleaded as she crouched down to meet Mirkka, trying to figure out what was going on.
"Outside" Mirkka cried.

Without hesitation, Tanja stood up and ran down the stairs. She swung the front door open and she couldn't believe what she saw. It was Viktor. Or what had once been Viktor, but was now just a lifeless body, laying motionless, dead, on the cold concrete ground of the parking lot. His lips were blue and there was a burnt cigarette laying on the ground, next to his face.

"This can't be happening" Tanja thought as she hurried back upstairs. She passed Mirkka, who was still crying on the floor, and she ran straight to the call operating room. As she arrived back into the room, Viktor was nowhere to be seen.
Tanja walked quickly over to Viktor's desk and she looked at his computer screen. The call analytics software program was open.

Tanja felt the blood rush down from her head and her face turn white as she read the statistic on the screen: Last answered call - 12.00 am.

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