The next day, Detectives Surian and Thurston were sitting on a bench in a dry-cleaning store, waiting to talk with the mom and pop owners, both of them of Polynesian descent. The detectives were watching a video recording on Surian’s cellphone.
“How were you able to sneak a hidden camera into Dr. Visner’s office without him or his receptionist knowing?” Thurston asked.
“I think ‘Chloe’ used her powers to distract those two so I could get in,” Surian said, trying to fast-forward the video to the exact point where Visner’s session with Callie began. “The door to his office was conveniently left open, with neither the shrink nor the receptionist around at the time to see what I was doing there.”
“If ‘Chloe’ used her powers to help you get info,” Thurston said, “then this must be part of a trap she’s laying for us. We’d better be careful.”
“Yeah, I know,” Surian said. “We’ve always known the dangers involved in pursuing her. Let it work. We need everything we can get to learn as much as possible about her. We’ll have her hoisted on her own petard soon enough. By the way, since I’ve already watched this video recording, I know what name she goes by from day to day: Callie Seaver.”
“So, ‘Chloe’ is just her stripper stage name?”
“Yes. It’s also Sandra Brahms’s mother’s name. And Callie is Sandra’s middle name, and Seaver was her mother’s maiden name.”
“Hmm. Interesting set of coincidences.”
The store owners walked up to them.
“Hello,” the female owner said. “My name is Vanessa Yama, and this is my husband, Raymond.”
The detectives got up and shook their hands. “Hi. Detective Andrew Thurston. Call me Andy.”
“Detective Agnes Surian,” she said, shaking Vanessa’s hand. “To get an idea of what I was talking about before with you, let’s watch this video I got of ‘Chloe,’ the stripper name of Callie Seaver, during a psychotherapy session with a man named Dr. Visner.”
“They allowed you to record this?” Vanessa asked.
“No, but I think the spirit inside Callie allowed me to sneak in and put a hidden camera in the room,” Surian said.
“If Kluh helped you do that, then she has plans for you as well as Callie and the psychiatrist,” Raymond said. “Kluh is all about…bringing people together.”
“So, what do you know about this ‘Kluh’?” Thurston asked.
“Let’s watch the video first, to see if this Callie really is possessed by the demoness,” Vanessa said. “We’ll be able to tell by her manner if Kluh is controlling her.”
They all sat side by side on that bench with Surian in the middle, all of them leaning over to look at her cellphone. She pressed PLAY.
“So, what has Kluh done lately, besides almost seduce me in The Gold Star?” Dr. Visner asked Callie in the video.
“I seduced one of the two cops who have been following me,” she said. “He was fun in bed.” She giggled.
Thurston’s face went red. Surian looked over at him and smirked. Now the Yamas’ faces went red.
“Did the beast claw him to death?” Visner asked as he jotted a few notes down. “I didn’t hear anything in the news about any killings lately.”
“We’ve heard about all those killings, of course,” Raymond said. “A hairy female beast with claws slices up her male lovers during sex. That sounds like Kluh.”
“And the girl in the video sure looks like a typical female host for the spirit,” Vanessa said. “Beautiful, sexy, and seductive.”
“Kluh can change the physical appearance of the host to make her more attractive to men,” Raymond said.
“We suspect that ‘Callie Seaver’ was originally Sandra Brahms,” Surian added. “A rather plump teenage girl sexually abused by her stepfather, who was killed by the beast in Hamilton a month or so ago.”
“She wrote about trying to contact the spirit world in several entries in a diary we found in her stepfather’s house in Hamilton,” Thurston said. “She tried to contact her mother’s ghost.”
“That is how Kluh is typically summoned,” Vanessa said with widened eyes. “The demoness initially pretends to be the ghost of a loved one trying to communicate with it. She exploits the emotional weaknesses of people she wants to take over, to get in.”
“Hey, let’s pay attention to the video,” Surian said. “Watch what Callie is doing. She’s undressing in front of the shrink!”
“Callie, please don’t do that,” Visner said, covering his nose and mouth. “That isn’t just any old perfume, is it?”
“Kluh’s pheromones,” Raymond said. “Her aphrodisiac for luring you in.”
In the video, Callie was standing before Dr. Visner in only a black lace bra and panties, and in black high heels.
“C’mon, Doctor,” she said, unhooking her bra. “You’ve seen it all already. Live a little.” She removed it and shook her breasts.
“She must be Kluh,” Vanessa said, noting the black panties coming off. “This is exactly the kind of exhibitionism we’d expect from the sex demoness. We’ve seen enough. We’re convinced this girl is the host.”
Surian stopped the video, saying, “Right when it was getting interesting.” She set her phone up to get an MP3 recording of her conversation with the Yamas. “OK, what do you know about Kluh? What does she want? How’s she going to get it?”
“I remember hearing stories about a ghost named Kluh back in my childhood, when Raymond and I grew up in Tahaiwi,” Vanessa said.
“Tahaiwi?” Thurston asked.
“It’s a small, obscure island in the Pacific Ocean, just south of the Equator at the northeastern-most point of the Polynesian triangle,” Raymond said. Thurston and Surian still had confused looks on their faces. “It’s northeast of the Marquesas Islands.”
“Thanks for the geography lesson,” Thurston said. “But what about Kluh?”
“To know about Kluh, you need to know a bit about Polynesian beliefs,” Vanessa said. “Our gods are similar to those of other Polynesians, but we have a lot of local beliefs that are really different from theirs, including how we conceive of mana.”
“What’s that?” Surian asked.
“It’s a special power in all living beings, but some have more of it than others, due to political influence, success in war, or, as we in Tahaiwi understand it, due to a stronger connection with the spirit world, which unifies everything,” Raymond said.
“We Polynesians stress the duality of all life,” Vanessa explained. “Body vs. spirit, good/evil, birth/death, pleasure/pain, etc. But in Tahaiwi, mana can grow through the merging of opposites.”
“OK,” Surian said. “But where does Kluh come into all of this?”
“Well, she builds power by uniting such opposites as beauty and ugliness–for example, having a sexy body, then turning into the horrible, clawed beast. She has sex, implying the creation of life, then kills her lover, causing the end of life,” Vanessa said.
“The merging of her spirit with Callie’s body is another merging of opposites,” Raymond added. “The same is true of her merging of opposing identities: the uniting of self and other.”
“That’s what Kluh has done with Callie,” said Vanessa. “And she’ll continue to do that, again and again, until…” She paused, not knowing how to continue.
“Until what?” Thurston asked.
“It’s hard to say,” Vanessa said. “It’ll sound over-the-top. You won’t believe it.”
“Just say it,” Thurston said.
“Until she’s absorbed all life on this planet, making it all a part of her,” Raymond said. “Causing the end of everything as we know it, like the end of the world. Then, there will be a new beginning. The end of the old life cycle, and the beginning of a new one.”
“You’re right,” Surian said. “I don’t believe it.”
“Look, all you need to know is that we need to stop her before she kills again,” Vanessa said. “We’ll need to do an exorcism as soon as possible, before she gains any more power. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to stop her as it is, but we must try.”
“Yes,” Raymond said. “Let’s go over to her place right now. You know where she lives?”
“Yes,” Surian said. “Let’s go.”