[NOTE: this is the seventh chapter (click here for the first, here for the second, here for the third, here for the fourth, here for the fifth, and here for the sixth) of a psychological horror story based on an audio film of the same name by my musician friend, Cat Corelli, something I wrote up an analysis for; you can learn more about that here. Before you begin reading, though, TRIGGER WARNING: as a horror story, this one has some graphic content of a violent and sexual nature; so if you’re one of my readers with C-PTSD or other forms of psychological trauma, you may want to skip this one. As for you braver souls, though, read on…]
Alice woke up…or did she?
She found herself in the hotel room again. The radio was off.
I don’t remember turning off the radio last time, she thought.
She got up, saw herself in the mirror, and the waves of her ego’s uncertainty flattened–somewhat–when she saw her image in the reflection. She sighed in relief at it.
She turned on the radio. Agent Curtis and Inspector Trudeau were chatting…again, why on a radio program, instead of in a crime lab, or something?
“It seems to be a dead end, Agent,” Trudeau said.
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Curtis said. “I’ve got a feeling the killer will show up again.”
“Dropping bodies,” Trudeau said.
Dropping bodies, she thought. Bodies, dropping down rabbit holes, dropping into seas of dismembered body parts, dropping into black, downward spirals…
“Still, we’ll get out of this dead end only if there is another killing,” Trudeau said.
“There will be,” Curtis said. “Killers always drop bodies. That’s what they do.”
“But what if the killer isn’t quite a killer?” Trudeau asked.
Yeah! she thought. Maybe I never killed anyone. Maybe the drugs made me hallucinate the whole thing.
“Interesting theory, Inspector,” Curtis said.
“Right,” Trudeau said. “Very strange world.”
“Whew,” she sighed. “I’m safe.”
“.ecilA, pu ekaW,” a familiar female voice said.
“What?” Alice said with a jolt going through her body. “Am I still dreaming?”
“.ecilA er’uoy kniht llits uoY”
“But I am, aren’t I?” Alice’s vision blurred, then faded. Her body began dropping into that black spiral again.
“.t’nera uoy ,oN”
As those black coils spun around her dropping body, she saw a hole in the left side, a kind of window looking into a mental hospital. She saw Daniel Torrance, strapped to a bed, receiving a sedative from a nurse. He was struggling to break free of his bonds. He was screaming.
“Stop it!” he screamed in his faux German accent. “Stop it!” His body switched back and forth between his and Goebbels’. “Please, stop it! Please!” Then he slumped down on the bed.
“The sedative doesn’t work that fast,” the nurse said to a psychiatrist standing next to her. “Could he have had a heart attack?”
“Could be,” the psychiatrist said. The hole in the side of the spiral closed up.
Alice smiled as she continued falling. Daddy, she thought. Daddy, you bastard, I’m through.
“.thgir lla, hguorht er’uoy ,hO”
Lily suddenly woke up, crying. She was lying on a raft with endless water all around her, as far as the eye could see…no land in sight. The waves moved in gentle rises and falls. A fog hovered over her, greying the sky everywhere. She was in her pyjamas, with a blanket over her.
“I’m sorry,” she sobbed. “I…”
“What is it, Lily?” a familiar female voice echoed from the depths of the fog.
“I thought sleep would do it,” Lily said. “To die, to sleep…would help me escape.”
“What’s wrong?” asked the voice.
“I don’t know who I am.”
“No, I’m not. I’m Alice. I’ll show you. It’s in my purse…wait, where is it?” She looked down at her body, recognizing that of a flat-chested girl instead of that of curvy Alice. “Why…why am I in Lily’s body?”
“Because you are Lily.”
“What about Alice?” Lily looked at herself in the water. She saw Lily’s face distorted in the moving waves.
“There was no Alice. There never was an Alice. She was just a role you played. A false self. You’d played that part for so many years, you forgot it was just a role. You thought you liked being a ‘slut’…to protect yourself from the pain. But you were always Lily.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Yes, you do, Lily. Deep, deep down inside. You’ve just repressed it for so long. But here’s the thing: you can’t keep the truth away, no matter how hard you try. All of your attempts to present yourself as a ‘metal chick’ and a ‘slut’ are just armour to keep the truth from you.”
“And what is this ‘truth’?”
“‘Alice’ is a role your parents and uncle forced you to play in the series of child pornography videos they were making and selling.”
Lily’s eyes and mouth widened. She shuddered.
“You mean, my…mom…made me do it, too? I don’t remember her at all.” She got dizzy.
“I know,” the Mystery Girl said. “Her betrayal of you was so painful, you had to blot all memory of her out of your mind. The only trace of her remaining was a likeness to the Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
Lily broke down and cried. “Oh, my God!”
“Your tormentors all played roles, too, in those awful movies,” the Mystery Girl said. “Your father sometimes dressed up in lederhosen with you in a dirndl, sometimes he wore a Nazi uniform while doing a bad imitation of a German accent, sometimes he dressed as a Protestant minister while blaming you for tempting him into sin. Your Uncle Ray sometimes wore a cowboy hat and did an even worse imitation of a southern accent; sometimes he wore blackface and pretended he was Morgan Freeman. It would have been laughable, had it not been so horrifying, what they did to all of us.”
“To all of us?” Lily sobbed. “You mean, you were a part of it?”
“Well, yes and no.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m Daisy, or I used to be Daisy, the girl you saved. I’m her spirit.”
“Wait; if I ‘saved’ you, why are you a ghost?”
“Well, you saved me and you didn’t.”
“What do you mean?”
“You saved me from being used in their porno films, but they murdered me. Still, you had me die a virgin rather than raped, so that’s saving me enough, as I see it.”
“Wait…it’s all coming back to me…”
A flurry of memories flashed by Lily’s eyes: Donald and Ray Terence (for those were their real names) making teenage Lily get tattoos, dye her hair a devil red, and wear ‘metal chick’ clothes to make her look ‘Satanic’ in the porn films; Donald and Ray becoming ‘born again Christians,’ but keeping their underage porn business alive, as Donald’s wife, Wanda, insisted on keeping the money rolling in from their pervert clients; the ‘born again Christians’ reconciling their would-be faith to their crimes by making scapegoats of Lily and the other boys and girls they raped as Wanda filmed it on her smartphone.
“I remember now,” Lily said with a waterfall of tears soaking her cheeks. “Mommy found you chatting with Bunny about Stan in a café. She said you looked like ‘actress material.’ I know because I was there. Because you and I were classmates at school, I wanted to warn you and stop her, but I couldn’t–they had that much power over me.
“I gave Uncle Roy–er, Ray an overdose of sleeping pills in his bourbon one night several years ago; I wrote a suicide note, imitating his handwriting (for I’d practiced writing in his hand many times on scrap paper, then hid the drafts, for I didn’t dare throw them out; Mommy watched everything going in and out of the house like a hawk).
“In my wish to save your innocence, I now decided to use the same fake suicide plan on Daddy…but Mom found all my drafts, and realized what I’d done and was planning.”
“Yes,” Daisy’s ghost said. “Wanda found all those scraps of paper, with imitations of Donald’s as well as Ray’s handwriting. Your mom and dad were so infuriated, they went wild with thoughtless rage, and got a murderous revenge on you.”
“They gave me a choice: let Daddy rape you on camera, or he’d kill both of us. I figured him raping you was like murder, as I’d died every time he and Uncle Ray raped me,…”
“You chose death for us, your mom shouted, “Off with their heads!”, and we were killed, our bodies dismembered, driven all the way from South Dakota to the Oregon and California coasts, then thrown into the ocean, with the body parts of a few other boy and girl victims.”
“Yes,” Lily sighed, noting a leak in her raft. It started to rain. “I can sense the whole thing now, as if I’d witnessed it in life…I’m in the spirit world with you, aren’t I?”
“Of course,” Daisy said. “You’ve been here the whole time, since your dream about going from your ‘apartment’ to the dance club. Here, in the dreamland of the collective unconscious, where ghosts have access to all the knowledge–however garbled it may be shown to us–of the world, including knowing what happened to us after we were killed.”
“No wonder everything I’ve seen is so fucked up,” Lily said. “It’s all been like a dream.”
“Yeah, and I have to comment frankly on your parents,” Daisy said. “Dumping our bodies in the Pacific Ocean was such a stupid thing to do. The police could easily trace the murders to your parents. In fact, Donald and Wanda are being arrested as we speak.”
“Daddy always was a moron,” Lily said. Her body began dropping slowly into the water. The rain was coming down harder. “So, I’m dead?”
“Yes, Lily. You have to face the facts. It’s time to let go. Let go of your ego, and your suffering will end.”
“I’m afraid.” She was up to her waist in water. The rain was coming down so heavily, there seemed to be more rain than air.
“Don’t be afraid, Lily. The pain will go away as soon as you fully let go of your desire to be alive. Let go, be one with everything, and you’ll finally have peace.”
The water was approaching her shoulders now.