Analysis of ‘Carrie’

Carrie is a horror novel written by Stephen King, his first published novel, which came out in 1974. The title character is a troubled teen, bullied by her high school classmates and abused by her Christian fundamentalist mother. She also has telekinetic powers (TK), strong enough to kill anyone who hurts her, as the people of her town, fictional Chamberlain, in Maine, learn.

A superb movie version was made in 1976, directed by Brian De Palma and starring Sissy Spacek in the title role, and Piper Laurie as the mother (both actresses receiving Oscar nominations); it co-starred  John Travolta as Billy Nolan, Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen, and Amy Irving as Sue Snell. Other film versions were made, though they weren’t as successful.

The dominant themes of the novel are bullying and abuse, the illusion of omnipotence, failed communication, and the motif of blood. Apart from these, I’ll be doing a psychoanalytic reading of the novel’s symbolism.

Much of the narrative is given in epistolary form, with passages from newspaper or magazine articles, books about the Carrie White affair (The Shadow Exploded, My Name Is Susan Snell), transcripts of an inquiry (The White Commission Report) into the tragedy, etc. This breaking up of the narrative flow into fragments, telling the story from different angles, symbolically suggests failed communication, with its starts and stops. This failed communication is much of the root cause of the bullying and abuse that Carrie suffers.

Like most victims of school bullying, Carrie is different from her classmates. This difference comes from how she’s raised by her mother, Margaret White (white as the Christian innocence she tries–and fails–to preserve), whose religious fundamentalism won’t allow her to expose her daughter to the ‘sinful’ ways of the modern world. This failure to communicate needed information leaves Carrie in a state of arrested development, infantilizing her. Psychologically, Carrie White (white as a baby’s innocence) is a baby going to school with teenagers.

This infantilizing is made clear when her mother fails to tell her about menstruation, her first period being her rite of passage, as it were, into womanhood. So when she’s bleeding in the shower during gym class, what should be a simple matter of using a tampon ends up a terrifying moment for her: all that blood makes her think she’s going to die.

Adding to her trauma are all her bullying classmates, who start laughing at her and throwing tampons at her, chanting, “Plug it up! Plug it up!” Since, as noted above, she is psychologically a baby among teenagers here, instead of this being a passage from girlhood to womanhood, she’s held back by one phase of life, passing from unborn to born, from unknowing innocence to the terrors of the real world, like a newborn baby. Thus, this naked, terrified ‘baby’, dripping wet and bawling her eyes out, is symbolically experiencing a birth trauma, or at least the triggered reliving of it.

Blood as a motif symbolizing death runs throughout the novel. The flow of blood signifies movement from ignorance to knowledge. Carrie finally learns about menstruation, and she is angry with her mother for not telling her about it; but her mother (pages 62-66) equates the blood with sin (e.g., the Tree of Knowledge, of which eating the forbidden fruit, symbolic of sexual indulgence, leads to death).

“…the first Sin was Intercourse. And the Lord visited Eve with a Curse, and the Curse was the Curse of Blood. And Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden and into the World…” (page 63) Out of the Garden of Eden and into the world of sin parallels Carrie’s bloody movement out of the world of innocence into knowledge, out of a peaceful, psychological in utero state and into birth, into the physical, painful world, a world of blood. “And then there was a second Curse, and this was the Curse of Childbearing, and Eve brought forth Cain in sweat and blood.” (pages 63-64) Again, we have an association of blood with newborn babies, curses, pain, suffering, and death (Cain, the first murderer).

Later, the pigs’ blood, first being the result of the pigs’ deaths, of course, later becomes the cause of so many deaths not only in the high school, but all over Chamberlain, too. And with the splashing of that blood all over her comes the realization that her enemies are still enemies. The outflowing of her menstrual blood is her projected destructive instincts; the pigs’ blood poured on her is that death instinct re-introjected.

With the flowing of her blood from her mother’s stab (page 250) comes her knowledge that her filicidal mother is no less an enemy than her school bullies. Margaret is all the ‘bad motherobject; not even the slightest trace of the ‘good mother’ object exists in her. After Carrie finally dies in the presence of Sue Snell, one of the few people who tried to be a friend to Carrie, Sue leaves in a state of abject horror, in a knowledge of that horror and death, with her own menstrual blood running down her leg (page 277).

In the contemporary world, with all of our advanced science, technology, and modern knowledge, being raised in a fundamentalist family is a terrible handicap. So much ignorance of today’s world abounds in such a setting; it’s like being a naïve child among a crowd of adults. This is what I mean when I call Carrie a psychological baby among teenagers. Thus, I feel justified in using her story as an allegory for the pathological infant’s psychological state.

When we see a baby, we usually think of an adorable child smiling up at us. We don’t think of the terror that a vulnerable child feels so very often, weeping its frustrations at not getting what it needs. Normally, a good enough parent (to use D.W. Winnicott‘s terminology) provides for all of the baby’s needs well enough in the beginning that the baby is given the illusion that it magically provides for itself: the breast magically appears as soon as the baby wants it.

“The mother, at the beginning, by an almost 100 per cent adaptation affords the infant the opportunity for the illusion that her breast is part of the infant. It is, as it were, under magical control. The same can be said in terms of infant care in general, in the quiet times between excitements. Omnipotence is nearly a fact of experience. The mother’s eventual task is gradually to disillusion the infant, but she has no hope of success unless at first she has been able to give sufficient opportunity for illusion.” (Winnicott, page 238, his emphasis)

With Margaret’s calling Carrie’s breasts her “dirtypillows” (page 142), thus showing that she considers the breast to be only a ‘bad breast’, it can be safely assumed that she hardly, if ever, breast-fed Carrie when she was a baby. It’s not just the milk that the baby enjoys; the texture of the nipple provides pleasure, too, so bottles aren’t always a good substitute. Thus, Margaret is what Melanie Klein called the bad mother, whose frustrating bad breast rarely if ever gave suck to baby Carrie. This willful refusal to provide her baby with a basic need shows a child neglect that would soon grow into full-blown child abuse.

This failure to provide a good enough environment can lead to pathologies in the infant, as Winnicott noted. Margaret, with her prudish attitude towards sex and the body, would have been loath to hold her child or give her any physical affection. This is more emotional neglect, aggravating Carrie’s mental pathology. Carrie’s whole problem is a lack of love, which needs to be grounded in the body.

A healthy infancy involves a child’s peaceful “going on being,” without impingements frustrating that natural, peaceful, passive continuity in life. Not only isn’t she receiving a loving, holding environment, people frequently cut into her private space, bothering her, abusing her, and bullying her. If it isn’t her classmates throwing tampons at her, it’s her mother locking her in a small closet with frightening religious icons so she can pray for forgiveness (pages 65-67), when surely she is one more sinn’d against than sinning.

A baby in such an uncaring, hostile environment goes through terrible persecutory anxiety, the paranoid-schizoid position, as Carrie is going through. When asked out to the prom by Tommy Ross, she can only assume that it’s another trick from her bullying classmates to set her up for humiliation. The impingements she regularly suffers make her want to isolate herself from the world, as Winnicott said a child would want to do: an overly-aggressive environment makes for “…faulty adaptation to the child, resulting in impingement of the environment so that the individual must become a reactor to that impingement. The sense of self is lost in this situation and is only regained by a return to isolation.” (Winnicott, page 222)

“The persecutors in the new phenomenon, the outside, become neutralized in ordinary healthy development by the fact of the mother’s loving care, which physically (as in holding) and psychologically (as in understanding or empathy, enabling sensitive adaptation), makes the individual’s primary isolation a fact. Environmental failure just here starts the individual off with a paranoid potential…In defence against the terrible anxieties of the paranoid state in very early life there is not infrequently organized a state which has been given various names (defensive pathological introversion, etc.) The infant lives permanently in his or her own inner world which is not, however, firmly organized.” (Winnicott, pages 226-227) Recall Carrie’s words to Sue as she’s dying: “(why didn’t you just leave me alone)” (page 275).

Defenceless and without the infantile illusion of omnipotence that a good enough mother provides in normal circumstances, Carrie is forced to retreat into phantasy to provide herself with that omnipotence, which is symbolized by her telekinesis. “…a rain of stones fell from a clear blue sky…principally on the home of Mrs. Margaret White, damaging the roof extensively…Mrs. White, a widow, lives with her three-year-old daughter, Carietta.” (page 3) Her ability to move things with her mind is symbolic of the baby magically making the breast appear at feeding time, when Margaret probably never did it herself. This frustrating bad mother provokes wishes for revenge in Carrie’s phantasy life, represented by her TK.

People who are abused or bullied are essentially infantilized, treated as if weak and helpless, but never given compassion: their feelings and opinions are trivialized and invalidated. Carrie’s mother shows no interest in the pain Carrie feels from having been laughed at for not knowing about menstruation, nor does Margaret care that Carrie is mad at her for not telling her about it.

Carrie’s feelings are cared for so little that even when people do care, she thinks they don’t, as when the assistant principal, Mr. Morton, tries to speak kindly to her, but keeps getting her name wrong (pages 18-19). This is also why she indiscriminately kills people all over Chamberlain instead of just killing Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan, the ones responsible for the prank with the pigs’ blood.

A few people want to show genuine kindness to Carrie, though it’s a case of too little, too late: Miss Desjardin, the gym teacher (Miss Collins in the 1976 movie, played by Betty Buckley, who also played Margaret White in the Broadway musical version of 1988), Sue Snell, and Tommy Ross. Sue, feeling remorseful over having participated in the “plug it up” teasing, wants her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the prom, to get her to mix with people and build her self-confidence (pages 95-98).

This getting insular Carrie to socialize is symbolically like a baby experiencing the transitional phase between the illusory state of omnipotence (able to summon Mother at will) and reality-testing, where the baby progressively learns to accept that Mother isn’t always there for it, and environmental impingements are at a tolerable level. During this transitional period, the baby has a transitional object (a stuffed animal, a blanket, or, by extension into adult life, creative or imaginative stimuli like the arts or religion). As Winnicott states, “The transitional object stands for the breast, or the object of the first relationship.” (Winnicott, page 236)

For Carrie, the dress she makes for the prom can be seen to represent this transitional object (recall how, when her mother sees her wearing it, she can see her breasts, i.e., note the association of the dress, the transitional object, with breasts). She bought the materials (page 107) and made the dress (a soft material, like that of a security blanket), similar to how the arts and creativity are like an extension of the transitional object into later life. This making of the dress represents aspects of the task of reality-acceptance, away from the illusion of infantile omnipotence: “It is assumed here that the task of reality-acceptance is never completed, that no human being is free from the strain of relating inner and outer reality, and that relief from this strain is provided by an intermediate area of experience which is not challenged (arts, religion, etc.).” (Winnicott, page 240)

By wearing the dress when Tommy takes her to the prom, she symbolically demonstrates the transitional phenomena of going from “me,” the isolated world of dependence on Mother when the baby sees Mother as an extension of itself, to a “not-me” understanding, based on a growing independence from Mother. Carrie’s leaving home with Tommy, in open defiance of her mother, symbolizes this separation of “me” from “not-me”. “It is usual to refer to ‘reality-testing’, and to make a clear distinction between apperception and perception. I am here staking a claim for an intermediate state between a baby’s inability and growing ability to recognize and accept reality. I am therefore studying the substance of illusion, that which is allowed to the infant, and which in adult life is inherent in art and religion.” (Winnicott, page 230, his emphasis)

At the prom, she has a brief moment of happiness, finally feeling accepted by the external world. She has even forgotten her telekinesis, since she doesn’t seem to need it (i.e., she’s letting go of her need of the infantile illusion of omnipotence). But Chris’s cruel prank (ruining her dress, her transitional object, and thus rendering impossible her transition from inner fantasy to outer reality) reminds her of her ever-present persecutors, and like a baby suffering in the paranoid-schizoid position and fighting back against a frustrating outer world in phantasy, so does Carrie get her revenge. “She was forgetting (!! THE POWER !!) It was time to teach them a lesson.” (page 220)

Having been subjected to bullying and emotional abuse myself from family and school, I find myself cheering Carrie on whenever I watch the 1976 movie and she’s using her TK to trap and kill everyone in the high school gym. “Flex.” (page 222)

But her TK doesn’t give her the omnipotence against the danger of her knife-wielding mother, who won’t “suffer a witch to live” (page 175). Nor will Margaret’s fundamentalist faith give her an omnipotent God to save her from Carrie (who kills her in the novel by slowing down and stopping her heartbeat; in the 1976 film, Carrie kills her by making knives fly in the air and stab her to death in a manner similar to the death of St. Sebastian).

Chris imagines her lawyer father can help her get revenge on the school for not firing Desjardin for hitting her (pages 77-84); and she’s bitterly disappointed to know he can’t. This spoiled girl doesn’t have the omnipotence she thinks she has. She never considers how her meanness has consequences. Even after Carrie has already destroyed much of Chamberlain, killed many of the people there, and given everyone the uncanny sense, psychically, that she was responsible for all the mayhem, Chris and Billy imagine they can kill her by hitting her with his car (pages 260-262). Instead, she kills them.

One indication of Carrie’s infantile mental state is her calling her mother, ‘Momma’, one of the first sounds a baby makes in its baby talk; hence the reason that some variation on ‘mama‘ is common in languages around the world for the first object relation most of us form in early life.

Many paradoxes can be seen in this novel (“…she was weeping even as she laughed…” page 226). Blood is associated with death and birth (remember Margaret’s words: “Eve brought forth Cain in sweat and blood.” page 64; also, “I fell down and I lost the baby and that was God’s judgment. I felt that the sin had been expiated. By blood. But sin never dies. Sin…never…dies.” page 247). There are failures to communicate, then there’s Carrie’s uncanny ability to make everyone in town know, psychically, that she’s responsible for the destruction of Chamberlain (pages 213, 229-30, 232-33, 235, 241, 244, and 256).

Also paradoxical about this story is how people seem powerful, but are really powerless, and this applies especially to Carrie. With all of her formidable powers of telekinesis, and all the death and destruction she causes just by thinking it, she is still, in her mind, just a baby: sensitive, vulnerable, fragile, and helpless. One stab to her shoulder kills her. “Able to start fires, pull down electric cables, able to kill almost by thought alone; lying here unable to turn herself over.” (page 272)

Similarly, her bullies think they’re immune to punishment when they’re throwing tampons at her, then find themselves in detention, doing exercises with Desjardin in gym class (page 74). Chris and Billy don’t think anything will happen to them after they drop the pigs’ blood on Carrie. And Margaret assumes she’ll go straight to heaven after death, even when she stabs her own daughter.

So often, we think about our own vulnerability so much that we forget about that of our enemies; and so often, this is the basis for our hurting each other, without end.

At the beginning of the story, Carrie fears bleeding to death when she needn’t; at the end, after she’s reached the height of her destructive powers, she bleeds to death for real. As she’s dying, she whines, like a baby, “(momma would be alive i killed my momma i want her o it hurts my chest hurts my shoulder o o o i want my momma…o momma i’m scared momma MOMMA)” (page 275). She is going through the depressive position, wishing to have reparation with her mother, despairing at her loss.

Though Sue wants to show Carrie love, it’s too late: psychological baby Carrie has lived her whole short life unloved, and is hated all the more after death “CARRIE WHITE IS BURNING FOR HER SINS JESUS NEVER FAILS” (page 287).

Could anything be more horrifying than wishing death and eternal suffering on a baby, a baby that was never even truly loved in the first place?

“Graffiti scratched on a desk of the Barker Street Grammar School in Chamberlain:

Carrie White eats shit.” (page 4)

Stephen King, Carrie, Anchor Books, New York, 1974

D.W. Winnicott, Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis: Collected Papers, Brunner-Routledge, London, 1992

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Analysis of ‘The Shining’

The Shining is a supernatural horror novel written by Stephen King and published in 1977. It was his third published novel, after Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot. It was made into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1980; and while the initial critical response to the film was mixed (with King especially disliking how Kubrick changed huge portions of the story), it is now considered one of the best horror movies ever made. King had a well-received made-for-TV miniseries version done in 1997, one that, naturally, was much more faithful to his novel.

His novel is a classic in the horror genre, and while his and Kubrick’s visions of the story differ so vastly, I find enough thematic material common to both that I will cite both versions in my analysis to make my point. These themes include the self-destructiveness of alcoholism, family abuse, the return of repressed bad internal object relations, repetition compulsion, and the death drive.

Though analyses of the themes in Kubrick’s film (the white man’s oppression of Native Americans, etc.) are well worth exploring, since they have already been looked into, I won’t be exploring them.

Jack Torrance has accepted a job as caretaker for the Overlook Hotel; and just as the hotel has a dark history, so does Jack. A former drinker and teacher, he has been on the wagon for fourteen months (in Kubrick’s film, five months) after having not only hit a student, George Hatfield (and lost his teaching job for it, ‘Up On the Roof’, pages 162-170), but also injured his own son, Danny (pages 23-25, ‘Watson’).

Ghosts inhabit the Overlook, which not only overlooks a beautiful mountain view in the Colorado Rockies, but also ‘overlooks’ (ignores, or doesn’t take responsibility for) the crimes that have been committed there. Jack’s connection with the Overlook–more and more complete as he goes mad in his attachment to the place, trying to ensure that he and his family never leave–shows how he is at one with the hotel. He has “always been the caretaker” (page 532, ‘Conversations At the Party’). The physical building represents his mind, with the boiler in the basement needing to be checked (to relieve the pressure) twice a day and once at night, for it symbolizes the death drive of his unconscious. There’s an interesting juxtaposition of ideas at the beginning of chapter 3, ‘Watson’, on page 22:

You lost your temper, Ullman had said.

‘”OK, here’s your furnace,” Watson said, turning on a light in the dark, musty-smelling room…Boiler’s on the other side of the wall. I’ll take you around.”‘

Jack’s anger and the furnace are mentioned side by side because they, and the boiler, are all one and the same thing. On the next few pages, Jack remembers injuring Danny for messing up his writing papers.

We learn through the course of the novel that Jack’s father had been abusive to him and his mother (‘Dreamland’, pages 335-338). Being abusive to Danny would be ‘normal’ to Jack, since his own dad’s abuse of him seemed normal: “In those days it had not seemed strange to Jack that the father won all his arguments with his children by use of his fists, and it had not seemed strange that his own love should go hand-in-hand with his fear…” (page 335). Similarly, his wife, Wendy, had a bad relationship with her mother. These bad object relations would haunt Jack and Wendy like ghosts…just as the ghosts of the Overlook will.

Wendy herself contemplates how the ghosts of her mother and Jack’s father could be among those in the hotel, when she thinks of Danny’s trauma: “(Oh we are wrecking this boy. It’s not just Jack, it’s me too, and maybe it’s not even just us, Jack’s father, my mother, are they here too? Sure, why not? The place is lousy with ghosts anyway, why not a couple more?…Oh Danny I’m so sorry).” (‘On the Stairs’, pages 491-492)

The isolation of the hotel, on a snowy mountain during a bitter winter, symbolizes the kind of social disconnect that often leads to problems like alcoholism and family abuse. In direct contrast, Danny’s psychic gift, the “shining”, as fellow shiner Dick Hallorann and his grandmother call it (‘The Shining’, page 117), connects him with people, and with the future, in an enhanced way. Jack and Wendy cannot contact the outside world (because Jack has destroyed the CB radio [‘Dreamland’, page 342], just as he’s ensured they can’t ride away in the snowmobile–‘The Snowmobile’, page 426), but Danny can “shine” all the way from Colorado to Florida to tell Hallorann of the threat to his family’s life.

The ghosts of the Overlook represent the ghosts of Jack’s past (and Wendy’s, to a lesser extent); but Danny, explicitly as such in Stephen King’s miniseries, points to the future, since “Tony” is actually Danny as a young adult (“Daniel Anthony Torrance”, page 639), advising his younger self to beware the dangers of the hotel (‘Shadowland’, pages 37-50). Thus, Tony is really Danny being a friend to himself, a form of self-compassion that can help victims of abuse to heal.

Redrum, or murder spelled backwards, represents not only the destructiveness of alcoholism–red rum, as red as blood–but also the destructiveness of looking backwards into the past, and letting internalized bad objects continue to dominate you, or letting bad old habits resurface and be compulsively repeated.

This brings me to my next point, what Freud called “the compulsion to repeat” in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Up until the horrors of World War I, he saw instinctual drives as geared exclusively towards pleasure, libido. The destruction of that war (Freud, page 281) compelled him to revise his theories and acknowledge a death instinct, what his followers would call Thanatos, which is opposed to Eros, the will to live. He now admitted that dreams aren’t always the fulfillment of wishes (Freud, page 304).

Sometimes his patients would compulsively repeat actions that seemed meaningless or without a clearly pleasurable aim, such a when an infant boy threw out a toy and reeled it back, perhaps to master the sensation of loss, as when his mother wasn’t with him (Freud, pages 284-285). Similarly, Freud treated traumatized veterans who repeated irrational acts in the form of flashbacks, traumatic dreams (Freud, page 282), and the reliving of battlefield events.

Jack’s inability to control his anger and compulsive drinking are manifestations of this death instinct and its compulsion to repeat. He was destructive and drinking before, and he will be destructive and drinking again.

The topiary animals make for interesting symbolism. Normally, the presence of plants gives us a feeling of peace, of pleasure, especially when they have been shaped into aesthetically pleasing forms, like animals–how charming. Yet the Overlook’s topiary is of animals that move when you aren’t looking (‘In the Playground’, pages 311-314). By the time Hallorann returns to help Danny, the topiary lion attacks him (‘Hallorann Arrives’, pages 617-618). So what we have are plants that are superficially charming, yet bestial and frightening when one knows them better. And since they are the Overlook’s topiary, they are an extension of Jack’s personality: charming and sweet on the surface, his ego ideal, but inside…

Then there’s Danny’s frightening experience with the fire extinguisher hose, which seems to unravel all by itself (‘Outside 217’, pages 258-262). Again, seen in light of the idea that the hotel represents Jack’s mind, we see something that, on the surface, is meant to protect and ensure safety, as a father is supposed to do. Instead, the hose, a near phallic symbol, moves surreptitiously, slithering, suggestive of a snake.

Because the hotel represents Jack’s mind, the ghosts in turn represent his internal object relations. Delbert Grady could be seen to represent Jack’s internalized abusive father, since grey-haired Grady eggs Jack on to kill his own family, just as the voice of Jack’s father, heard on the CB radio, urges him to kill them (‘Dreamland’, page 341).

The ghosts want Danny for all his psychic powers, that ability to connect with others that Jack lacks. When Danny rejects the ghosts, they go after Jack. Thus the ghosts initially represent, in WRD Fairbairn‘s revising of Freud’s id, the libidinal ego in its relationship with the exciting object; then, when Danny has rejected the ghosts, they represent Fairbairn’s revising of the superego, the internal saboteur or anti-libidinal ego, with its turbulent relationship with the rejecting object (both objects being symbolized by Danny).

Since I assume, Dear Reader, that you aren’t familiar with Fairbairn’s revision of Freud’s id/ego/superego conception of the mind, and since I further assume you haven’t read my analysis of The Exorcist, in which I discuss this revision, I’ll present the relevant quotes again here:

“…the intolerably depriving, rejecting aspect of the other person is internalized as the ‘rejecting object’, attached to the ‘anti-libidinal ego’…[,] the split-off ego fragment that is bonded to the rejecting object. We can think of it as the ‘anti-wanting I’, the aspect of the self that is contemptuous of neediness. Rejection gives rise to unbearable anger, split off from the central self or ego and disowned by it. Fairbairn originally termed this element the ‘internal saboteur’, indicating that in despising rather than acknowledging our neediness, we ensure that we neither seek nor get what we want. The anti-libidinal ego/rejecting object configuration is the cynical, angry self which is too dangerously hostile for us to acknowledge. When it emerges from repression we may experience it as chaotic rage or hatred, sometimes with persecutory guilt.” (Gomez, pages 63-64)

Fairbairn’s revising of Freud’s drive theory replaces the drive to pleasure/destruction with an object-seeking purpose, for which instinctual drives are mere avenues to seeking or dealing with objects. Fairbairn may have rejected Freud’s drive theory, including the death instinct and the compulsion to repeat, as superfluous (Fairbairn, pages 78-79), but I find both useful in explaining the symbolism of the Overlook, two ways of looking at King’s novel from different angles. Grady, the symbolic ghost of Jack’s abusive father, is pushing Jack to kill because Jack needs his father-object, regardless of whether it is good or bad for him.

Let’s consider what Fairbairn had to say about needing bad objects. “…it is worth considering whence bad objects derive their power over the individual. If the child’s objects are bad, how does he ever come to internalize them? Why does he not simply reject them…?…However much he may want to reject them, he cannot get away from them. They force themselves upon him; and he cannot resist them because they have power over him. He is accordingly compelled to internalize them in an effort to control them. But, in attempting to control them in this way, he is internalizing objects which have wielded power over him in the external world; and these objects retain their prestige for power over him in the inner world. In a word, he is ‘possessed’ by them, as if by evil spirits. This is not all, however. The child not only internalizes his bad objects because they force themselves upon him and he seeks to control them, but also, and above all, because he needs them. If a child’s parents are bad objects, he cannot reject them, even if they do not force themselves upon him; for he cannot do without them. Even if they neglect him, he cannot reject them; for, if they neglect him, his need for them is increased.” (Fairbairn, page 67)

Going back to drinking represents finding a pleasurable thing as an object to replace the meaningful objects, Wendy and Danny, that Jack needs. As Fairbairn explains, “…from the point of view of object-relationship psychology, explicit pleasure-seeking represents a deterioration of behaviour…Explicit pleasure-seeking has as its essential aim the relieving of the tension of libidinal need for the mere sake of relieving this tension. Such a process does, of course, occur commonly enough; but, since libidinal need is object-need, simple tension-relieving implies some failure of object-relationships.” (Fairbairn, p. 139-140) In the Overlook, Jack is isolated in his own mind, driving him to self-destruction and other-destruction.

Jack uses a bug bomb to kill a nest of wasps found on the roof of the Overlook, where he’s been doing repairs and been stung by one of them (‘Up On the Roof’, page 153). Danny is fascinated with the wasp nest, and wants to keep it. Wendy is unsure if it’s safe, but Jack insists all the wasps have been killed (‘Down In the Front Yard’, pages 177-178). The ghosts of the hotel reanimate the wasps that night, though, and Danny is stung (‘Danny’, pages 195-203). Since the ghosts and hotel represent Jack’s mind, the stings represent a return to Jack’s abusiveness (and self-destructiveness, since he’s the first one to get stung); and his assuring that the wasps are dead and harmless represents his denial of abusive intent, gaslighting, and his empty promise that he’ll never repeat injuring Danny.

The Overlook, Jack’s symbolic mind, full of the ghosts of bad internal objects, and with a boiler of anger that Jack must regularly “dump…off a little” (‘Watson’, page 28) to relieve the pressure, always repeats its aggressions. Kubrick’s adaptation brilliantly brings out this repetition compulsion in such symbols as rug patterns, the phrase “forever, and ever, and ever”, and Jack’s “writing project”, an endless repetition of the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Similarly, we see repetitive columns, doors, wallpaper patterns, and the sound of Danny driving his little three-wheeled bike on and off rugs and the hardwood floor, over and over again…sound-silence-sound-silence-sound-silence.

Danny refuses to believe that Jack, swinging the roque mallet, is his real father (page 639); it’s just the ghosts controlling him. But the ghosts, the hotel, and the roque-mallet-swinging madman are all Jack. Typical with abuse victims, they can’t bring themselves to admit their abusers really are abusers–it’s Stockholm Syndrome, or traumatic bonding.

Jack is supposed to be writing a play, a goal pointing to the future; but instead, he finds a scrapbook of old newspaper clippings related to the history of the Overlook (‘The Scrapbook’, pages 227-249). Now he decides, instead of writing the play, to write about the hotel: a project pointing into the future is replaced with one pointing back into the past. (In the miniseries, the scrapbook is titled My Memory Book, implying a symbolic connection with Jack’s past.)

Jack phones Mr. Ullman–the stern owner of the hotel and Jack’s symbolic superego (“Officious little prick“, ‘Job Interview’, page 3), a man who has hired him with the utmost reluctance (‘Job Interview’, page 7)–to talk to him about writing a book about The Overlook (‘Talking to Mr. Ullman’, pages 269-274). Ullman is furious with Jack for wanting to do such a thing, as he is with Jack’s impertinent attitude…just as the superego will be resistant to any surfacing of repressed, unacceptable desires.

Ullman has good reason to oppose Jack’s plan to publicize The Overlook’s shady past. It is a past filled with violence–mafia killings, a woman having committed suicide in a bathtub (“Inside 217′, pages 326-327), and Grady’s violence against his family. The scrapbook is found in the basement, Jack’s symbolic unconscious, and the violent contents represent his repressed bad internal objects (i.e., his father). The old parties represent his past of alcoholism. (“Unmask! Unmask!“) [‘The Ballroom’, page 464], Show your real self, Jack.

The ghosts of the Overlook want Danny, which means Jack needs a good internal object to replace his intolerably bad objects, a notion in Fairbairn’s therapeutic methods. Since Danny resists the ghosts, they want Jack, meaning the repressed bad objects resurface, causing mayhem. Having Danny, a good boy whose “shining” represents strong empathy and an urge to connect with others, would redeem Jack’s bad objects and help him to be a good man again, looking ahead to a future free of the past; but their evil is too great, so Jack instead spirals downward and backward into his violent, alcoholic past.

Dick Hallorann goes to great lengths to help a boy and a family he barely knows, because like Danny, his “shining” abilities give him strong empathy and an urge to connect, unlike the isolated, freezing cold world surrounding Jack’s mind, the Overlook. After Dick, Wendy, and Danny escape, we find them all together in Maine the following summer, Dick being almost like a new father to the boy. Danny and Wendy have escaped the dark, abusive past that Jack couldn’t escape, because ‘the shining’ is a light leading to a future of freedom and love.

Stephen King, The Shining, Pocket Books, New York, 1977

WRD Fairbairn, Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality, Routledge, New York, 1952

Lavinia Gomez, An Introduction to Object Relations, Free Association Books, London, 1997

Sigmund Freud, 11. On Metapsychology, the Theory of Psychoanalysis: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, The Ego and the Id and Other Works, Pelican Books, Middlesex, England, 1984

Analysis of ‘The Exorcist’

The Exorcist is a 1973 supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin and starring Ellen Burstyn (Chris MacNeil), Linda Blair (Regan MacNeil), Max von Sydow (Father Lankester Merrin), and Jason Miller (Father Damien Karras). It is based on the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty, the movie screenplay having been adapted by the author. The novel in turn was based on the real-life exorcism in 1949 of a boy (‘Roland Doe’, about fourteen years old at the time) who allegedly was possessed of a demon.

Speaking of demons, during production, there were stories of people being injured, which added to the legend of the ‘cursed’ film. Similarly Satanic stories have been told of the productions of The Omen (1976) and Macbeth.

The Exorcist is considered one of the scariest, and therefore one of the best, horror films ever made. It had a huge influence on Black Sabbath, and on Ozzy Osbourne in particular, who sat through many screenings of it. It’s particularly frightening for Christians, not only, I believe, because they would consider the supernatural events something that could really happen, but because Christians unconsciously sense how the film is an allegory of the modern loss of faith, and of the attendant harm done to relationships.

Here are some quotes:

“There’s not a day in my life that I don’t feel like a fraud. Other priests, doctors, lawyers – I talk to them all. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t felt that.” –Karras

“It’s more than psychiatry, and you know that Tom. Some of their problems come down to faith, their vocation and meaning of their lives, and I can’t cut it anymore. I need out. I’m unfit. I think I’ve lost my faith, Tom.” –Karras

“Pathological states can induce abnormal strength. Accelerated motor performance. Now, for example, say a 90 pound woman sees her child pinned under the wheel of a truck. Runs out and lifts the wheels a half a foot up off the ground – you’ve heard the story – same thing here. Same principle, I mean.” –Dr. Taney

“There is one outside chance for a cure. I think of it as shock treatment – as I said, it’s a very outside chance…Have you ever heard of exorcism? Well, it’s a stylized ritual in which the rabbi or the priest try to drive out the so-called invading spirit. It’s been pretty much discarded these days except by the Catholics who keep it in the closet as a sort of an embarrassment, but uh, it has worked. In fact, although not for the reasons they think, of course. It’s purely a force of suggestion. The victim’s belief in possession is what helped cause it, so in that same way, a belief in the power of exorcism can make it disappear.” –Dr. Barringer

Karras: Where’s Regan?
Regan: In here. With us.

“Especially important is the warning to avoid conversations with the demon. We may ask what is relevant but anything beyond that is dangerous. He is a liar. The demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien, and powerful. So don’t listen to him. Remember that – do not listen.” –Merrin, to Karras

Karras: Why her? Why this girl?
Merrin: I think the point is to make us despair. To see ourselves as… animal and ugly. To make us reject the possibility that God could love us.

The movie begins in Iraq, where religious faith is still strong, though it’s the Islamic, rather than Christian, faith. Father Merrin, who personifies Christian faith in the story, is nonetheless old and in ill health, needing to take nitroglycerin for a heart condition. When he finds an amulet, an image of Pazuzu, a demon he once exorcized in Africa many years before, he knows he must face it again.

When discussing the situation and the image with a Mosul curator of antiquities, the curator says, “Evil against evil.” (page 6 in the Prologue of the novel) If there is no God to fight the Devil, then there’s no good, in the religious sense, to fight evil; other forms of evil will have to do to stop Pazuzu. We will see the significance of this idea at the climax of the movie, when Father Damien Karras (note the pun on demon), a doubting priest, uses a decidedly un-Christian method to get the demon out of Regan’s body.

This is what makes the story so scary to Christians, as I see it. From their point of view, good comes only from the Christian God. If He doesn’t exist, then there is no real good to fight evil; there are only other forms of ‘evil’ to fight it, namely, the gods of all those ‘false’ religions: including Islam, whose God, Allah, is acknowledged by Muslims to have created evil as well as good (Allah is not a father, either–see below for the significance of this idea); or paganism, from which Pazuzu originally came. A world of only evil, without God, is Hell, a terrifying notion to Christians.

In Georgetown, Washington DC, Pazuzu has already arrived, and is making noises in Chris MacNeil’s attic. It takes quite a while for the demon actually to enter the body of Regan, her twelve-year-old daughter. Back in the early 1970s, moviegoers’ attention spans weren’t as short as are those of moviegoers today, people who always require quick thrills; more importantly, this slow buildup suggests the insidious nature of growing evil.

Father Karras, far more suited to psychiatry than to preaching, complains to another priest of his loss of faith. Even before this revelation, it is telling how he reacts when he hears Burke Dennings, the enfant terrible director of the film Chris is acting in, tell her that the writer of the film’s screenplay is in Paris “Fucking.” Karras laughs with all the others watching the filming, instead of taking offence at the bad language (page 20: “Chris…darted a furtive, embarrassed glance to a nearby Jesuit, checking to see if he’d heard the obscenity…He’d heard. He was smiling.”). Karras curses a number of times himself elsewhere in the story.

Christians fear that if we lose faith in Christ, we will turn into bestial people; we’ll lose our innocence, speaking and performing obscenities and blasphemies, as Regan does when Pazuzu takes over. Christians believe we must accept the Kingdom of God as a child (Mark 10:14-15); salvation comes not through good works, but by grace through faith (Romans 3:20-28). Despair, however, leads to damnation (Romans 14:23).

As those of us who live secular lives understand, though, the problem of evil is a much more complex one than a mere matter of falling from God’s grace and losing The Garden of Eden, then of being restored to that state of grace by believing in Jesus. MacNeil understands this need for self-reliance, since she is an atheist, as explicitly stated in the novel: “An atheist, she had never taught Regan religion. She thought it dishonest.” (page 47)

The loss of faith isn’t limited, however, to a religious one. Neither the doctors nor the psychiatrists can help Regan, leading her mother to lose faith in them. When the psychiatrists ask Chris of her religious beliefs, or of Regan’s, they suggest exorcism as a cure; though they’re careful to emphasize that, since Regan merely believes she’s possessed, the belief in exorcism, through the “force of suggestion,” can cure her. Ironically, her atheist mother now searches for priests…and the priest she finds–Karras–wants to help as a psychiatrist!

After the scene when Regan has been bouncing on the bed and has struck Dr. Klein, Dr. Taney speaks of how “Pathological states can induce abnormal strength. Accelerated motor performance.” (In the novel, Dr. Klein says it on page 126.) I watched this scene in a theatre here in Taiwan, where the locals in the audience were actually laughing at the doctor’s words. Being firm believers in ghosts, the Taiwanese found it absurd that it hadn’t even occurred to these doctors that Regan was most obviously possessed of a demon. But that’s the point of the story–the loss of religious faith is that profound in mainstream Western society.

After Karras has examined her, he has seen enough proof of possession in Regan–her speaking in languages, Latin and French, which she presumably has never studied (pages 300-301, which also include German); using telekinesis (opening a drawer with her mind); manifesting knowledge of Karras’s dead mother; imitating the voice of a derelict Karras failed to help–he tells another priest he still isn’t convinced of the reality of Pazuzu inside Regan. On page 313: ‘”I’ve made a prudent judgement that it meets the conditions set forth in the Ritual,” answered Karras evasively. He still did not dare believe. Not his mind but his heart had tugged him to this moment; pity and the hope for a cure through suggestion.’ He thinks Regan’s problem is a case of dissociative identity disorder (pages 310, 337).

When Merrin arrives for the exorcism, Karras tries to tell him about her psychiatric history, but Merrin considers this a waste of time. When Karras speaks of three personalities in Regan, Merrin–the personification of faith–insists there is only one.

Merrin emphasizes that “the demon is a liar” who “would lie to confuse” them. The priests mustn’t listen, just as Christians try not to listen to the ideas of modern science, including evolutionary theory, which show the falsity of a literal interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis.

Disproving the six-day Creation, as well as the story of Adam and Eve, is devastating to the Christian faith. If man evolved from the ape, what basis is there for believing in The Fall? How did our animal instincts for self-preservation and survival, including selfishness, the procreative sex drive, and aggression, suddenly become evil once we evolved to the species of homo sapiens? A metaphorical, allegorical interpretation of the Adam and Eve story doesn’t work, either: for Christian soteriology to be effective, the first few chapters of Genesis must be taken as literal, historical fact. If there was no historical Fall of Man, why should we believe in a Divine Rescuer who, by dying on the Cross, gave us a chance to be restored to a state of grace that hadn’t originally existed anyway? (For further reading, see Spong, 1992.)

In light of modern scientific knowledge, we must understand that continuing to preach Christian dogma and Bible stories as literal, historic fact can no longer be merely viewed as a perpetuation of ignorance; now it is just cognitive dissonance, if not tantamount to outright lying. Threatened by modern knowledge, Christians–especially fundamentalists–are compelled to project their mendacity onto evolutionists, as Merrin has projected the idea of lying onto Pazuzu. When Merrin says the demon mixes lies with the truth, this seems an almost grudging concession that Pazuzu may, to an extent at least, be right.

Even without evolutionary theory, Christian theodicies are inadequate. They try to reconcile a perfectly good, omnipotent, omniscient God with a world in which evil exists by talking about Adam and Eve exercising free will by disobeying God; even though they, originally in a state of grace and having its attendant moral wisdom, surely would have had the sense to know that by eating the forbidden fruit, they were ruining themselves. To make an analogy, merely having the free will to put one’s hand on a stove’s red hot burner won’t make a sensible person any more willing to scald his hand; nor will one eat one’s own damnation, provided one has the moral perfection to know the consequences. One would be too morally strong to give in to the temptation of acquiring god-like knowledge.

This is why it’s dangerous to listen to Pazuzu’s words, for they will destroy faith. Merrin makes the point, that it is to make us despair, to make us think we’re animal, and that God would never love us, because we’re so unworthy. And love, particularly the love of our mothers and fathers, is crucial to our mental health; for those primary caregivers of our childhood provide a psychological blueprint for all of our later relationships, which leads me to my next point.

In object relations theory, our loving, good objects–internalized imagos of our parents, which reside in our minds like ghosts in a haunted house–help us to have integrated, healthy personalities, allowing us to have happy, loving relationships. God is the ideal internalized object, the ‘good Father’, and if we lose Him, we’re helpless against our internalized bad objects. Without sufficient good objects, one experiences a splitting of the personality into extreme good and bad objects. Enter Pazuzu…into Regan’s body.

When we don’t believe we’re loved, we develop what WRD Fairbairn called a schizoid personality (not to be confused with schizophrenia, which he considered an extreme schizoid manifestation), a personality split between good and bad internalized objects, something even the most normal people have, to at least some extent (Fairbairn, pages 3-27). This bad internal object, split off from the good ones, is what the demon in Regan could be said to symbolize.

When we don’t feel sufficiently loved–as Regan must feel when her father, in the middle of an acrimonious divorce from Chris, doesn’t call Regan on her birthday (p. 48)–we begin to feel persecutory anxiety, what Melanie Klein called the paranoid-schizoid position. Hence Pazuzu, Regan’s symbolic internalized bad object, is persecuting her.

Interestingly, Fairbairn compared bad objects to demonic possession (pages 67-72). “…it is worth considering whence bad objects derive their power over the individual. If the child’s objects are bad, how does he ever come to internalize them? Why does he not simply reject them…?…However much he may want to reject them, he cannot get away from them. They force themselves upon him; and he cannot resist them because they have power over him. He is accordingly compelled to internalize them in an effort to control them. But, in attempting to control them in this way, he is internalizing objects which have wielded power over him in the external world; and these objects retain their prestige for power over him in the inner world. In a word, he is ‘possessed’ by them, as if by evil spirits. This is not all, however. The child not only internalizes his bad objects because they force themselves upon him and he seeks to control them, but also, and above all, because he needs them. If a child’s parents are bad objects, he cannot reject them, even if they do not force themselves upon him; for he cannot do without them. Even if they neglect him, he cannot reject them; for, if they neglect him [as Regan’s father has neglected her], his need for them is increased.” (Fairbairn p. 67)

Chris’s love for Regan, in contrast, brings out the girl’s sweetness, her good internal object, the ‘good mother’ imago (p. 43). While we know Regan’s maniacal, violent behaviour is caused by an actual demon, and therefore Chris considers it a mistake to have originally believed that Regan’s pathology was caused by her father’s absence, we can nonetheless see the demon as symbolizing repressed anger over her father’s absence. We are, after all, reminded of her missing father even late into the story (p. 328; in the film, there’s no mention of the father calling and wanting to talk to Regan).

Remember also what Pazuzu says: “I am no one.” (page 308) This symbolically represents what Melanie Klein called the omnipotent denial of a bad object. Indeed, is Pazuzu a real demon, or just an internal bad object?

Projection and re-introjection of good and bad objects carry on in a cycle throughout one’s life, in varying levels of intensity. Possessed Regan’s vomiting (and urinating on the rug at the party) symbolize the projection. Freud associated libido with instinctual drives towards pleasure, but Fairbairn believed libido was directed at seeking objects (e.g., looking for people to give love to and receive love from). “Actually some of the activities to which so-called libidinal aims have been attributed are activities which I should hesitate to describe as primarily libidinal at all, e.g. anal and urinary activities; for the inherent aim of these activities, in common with that of vomiting, is not the establishment of a relationship with objects, but the rejection of objects which, from the point of view of the organism, constitute foreign bodies.” (Fairbairn p. 138) Regan’s puking and pissing can in one way be considered her futile attempt at exorcising her bad objects.

If we can’t find the loving objects we need, then our behaviour deteriorates to mere pleasure-seeking, as Regan’s obscene and blasphemous acts indicate. She violently rejects the loving help of father figures, and instead behaves obscenely. Instead of wanting to be saved by God, she masturbates with a crucifix; instead of receiving the priests’ help, she wants them to fuck her, or one another; she also grabs a hypnotherapist by the balls; and she hits one of the male doctors, then calls out to them: “Fuck me! Fuck me!”

Fairbairn elaborates: “…from the point of view of object-relationship psychology, explicit pleasure-seeking represents a deterioration of behaviour…Explicit pleasure-seeking has as its essential aim the relieving of the tension of libidinal need for the mere sake of relieving this tension. Such a process does, of course, occur commonly enough; but, since libidinal need is object-need, simple tension-relieving implies some failure of object-relationships.” (p. 139-140) Similarly, addiction of any kind (drugs, sex, gambling, the internet, pornography) can be seen as an attempt to connect when normal human connection has failed for the addict.

As far as introjection and re-introjection are concerned, we can see it symbolically in Regan’s masturbating with the crucifix, her jamming and re-jamming of that thing inside her bloodied vagina, saying, “Let Jesus fuck you! Let Jesus fuck you!” Jesus is the Son of God, but He’s also homooúsios with God the Father, that is, equal to Him. When confronting Father Merrin, she says, “Stick your cock up her ass…” These two blasphemies and obscenities represent a wish for introjection of a father figure, and also symbolize the female Oedipus situation of a girl whose father is no longer part of her life. Telling her mother, and forcing her to “Lick me! Lick me!” represents a briefly inverted Oedipus conflict, and her hitting of Chris is a return to the normal Oedipus situation. Pursuit of pleasure for its own sake is all Regan has, because the acquiring of her needed loving object (her father) is impossible.

When Merrin dies at the end, faith dies. Karras desperately tries to revive him, but to no avail. Pazuzu seems awed at first by his final victory over Merrin, then he laughs in Schadenfreude. Enraged, Karras grabs Regan and beats the demon out of her–evil against evil, he punches her like a boxer. He wants to introject the demon, the bad object, not only to save her, I believe, but to punish himself for his loss of faith and absence when his mother died (his presumably dead father, by the way, is never mentioned in the movie). With the demon inside Karras, she is safe…except for the fact that Damien the demon is now eyeing her with a view to assault her…perhaps sexually. Swelling with self-hate and an urge to redeem himself, Karras shouts “No!” and jumps out the window, sacrificing his life for the girl’s. Evil against evil. Instead of salvation by faith, we have salvation by suicide, the ultimate act of faithlessness.

A weeping Father Dyer gives Karras absolution as he’s dying. Karras seems to have regained his faith (though it seems to be a belief only in devils, rather than in God; also, is his moving hand, in Dyer’s, really an expression of repentance?) while dying; in any case, his suicide still symbolizes a paradoxical salvation by faithlessness. His receiving of absolution would seem an affirmation of faith at the end of the story; but consider how Karras’s ‘exorcism’ of Regan involved no use of the Roman Catholic ritual at all. No prayers to God. He just beat the girl. ‘God’ wasn’t anywhere. No miracles came from Him; the supernatural occurrences came only from Pazuzu. Indeed, the two priests look ludicrously ineffectual as they are chanting, over and over, “The power of Christ compels you!” Does Pazuzu lower the levitated Regan by the priests’ compulsion, or of his own free will? Indeed, the demon has been toying with the priests the whole time.

When the family moves out, Chris tells Father Dyer that Regan remembers nothing of the demon. The bad internal object, that of her neglectful father, has been repressed, pushed back into Regan’s unconscious, and so there’s no longer a threat…or so we assume.

Regan projects her ‘bad father’ imago, Pazuzu, into Father Karras, and when he’s killed himself, she can feel satisfaction from that. When she quickly gives Father Dyer a hug and kiss, we wonder, for a second, will she attack him?

No, he’s safe, for she has successfully repressed her internal saboteur (Fairbairn p. 102-105), her “anti-libidinal ego [, which] is the split-off ego fragment that is bonded with the rejecting object. We can think of it as the ‘anti-wanting I’, the aspect of the self that is contemptuous of neediness. Rejection gives rise to unbearable anger, split off from the central self or ego [corresponding roughly to Freud’s ego] and disowned by it. Fairbairn originally termed this element the ‘internal saboteur’, indicating that in despising rather than acknowledging our neediness, we ensure that we neither seek nor get what we want. The anti-libidinal ego/rejecting object configuration is the cynical, angry self which is too dangerously hostile for us to acknowledge. When it emerges from repression we may experience it as chaotic rage or hatred, sometimes with persecutory guilt.” (Gomez p. 63-64)

Earlier in the story, Regan’s libidinal ego (the part of Fairbairn’s endo-psychic structure corresponding roughly to Freud’s id) is attached to Burke as a possible stepfather, what Fairbairn would have called an ‘exciting object’ (Fairbairn p. 102-105; Gomez p. 62); for she is hoping her mother will marry him, speaking to her mother of how she (Chris) likes him (p. 43-44). Then, her anti-libidinal ego, the internal saboteur, symbolized by Pazuzu, considers Burke a copy of her rejecting object/father and kills him (and since her rejecting object is inside her psyche, Regan imitates Burke’s voice and twists her head around, as Burke’s was when found dead). Pazuzu, the name of her ‘bad father’ imago, could be considered a pun on ‘Pa’. Is Pazuzu jealous of Regan’s preferring Burke to him as a father-object? Similarly, Pazuzu wants to kill the other two Fathers, Merrin and Karras.

But to return to the end of the story: having reintegrated her bad objects with her good ones, Regan has thus restored her mental health. Unconsciously, she can now accept the independent existence of her far-away father. She has given up the omnipotence symbolized by the supernatural powers of the demon, for she no longer needs to deny the bad aspects of her object relations. Now she wants reparation with fathers, so she doesn’t hurt Dyer.

Regan’s parents’ divorce amounted to a loss of faith in their marriage, resulting in the girl’s loss of faith in fathers–biological ones, possible stepfathers (Burke), Catholic Fathers, male doctors/hypnotherapists/psychiatrists, or God the Father Himself. Because the priests cannot replace her actual father any more than Burke can, Pazuzu’s first words to Merrin include, “…you motherfucking, worthless cocksucker!” What else is your father, but the man who is fucking your mother? (And leaving her, i.e., divorcing her and abandoning Regan, is fucking Chris in a different way…making him worthless to Regan.) When Merrin throws holy water on Regan, Pazuzu the rejecting object writhes in pain and has scars on her leg to show his rejection of the Father.

Killing fathers, whether potential surrogates like Burke, or religious ones like Karras or Merrin, is what Pazuzu is all about: the anti-libidinal ego that is attached to the internalized ‘rejecting object’ (Regan’s absent father). As I see it, Pazuzu is both the anti-libidinal ego and the internalized rejecting object at the same time. Pazuzu rejects fathers for the same reason he rejects God. After all, paternity is an act of faith in itself. Note what Don Pedro and Leonato, Hero’s father, say about her in a dialogue in Much Ado About Nothing, Act I, Scene i, lines 88-89:

DON PEDRO: I think this is your daughter.

LEONATO: Her mother hath many times told me so.

Or, consider a quote in James Joyce’s Ulysses: “Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten…founded…Upon incertitude, upon unlikelihood…Paternity may be a legal fiction.” (Joyce, page 266)

Our fathers, who are in Heaven (or here on Earth): hollow seem their names. This is what The Exorcist seems to be telling us…and that’s what is so frightening about the film.

William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist, HarperCollinsPublishers, New York NY, 1971

W. Ronald D. Fairbairn, Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality, Routledge, London, 1952

John Shelby Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: a Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, Harper, San Francisco, 1992

Lavinia Gomez, An Introduction to Object Relations, Free Association Books, London, 1997

James Joyce, Ulysses: Annotated Student Edition, Penguin Books, London, first published 1922

Analysis of ‘American Psycho’

American Psycho is a satirical novel written by Bret Easton Ellis and published in 1991. It is an unreliable first person narrative, in the present tense, given by the main character, Patrick Bateman, who is a yuppie living in 1980s New York City. It is an extremely controversial novel, given its depiction of increasingly brutal violence against women; this issue led many feminists to protest the novel.

A movie version was made in 2000, the screenplay written by Guinevere Turner and Mary Harron (the latter also being the director), and starring Christian Bale in the lead role. The movie removed or mitigated the novel’s violence, and rearranged much of the material: apart from that, the film was reasonably faithful.

The violence against women has led many to believe that the novel is misogynistic. Actually, the novel satirizes the superficial, materialistic life of yuppies; for while Bateman is based on Ellis’ own experience of alienation in 1980s New York, we are not meant to sympathize with Bateman or condone his actions. As a Wall Street investment banker, Bateman is a personification of capitalist greed and cruelty.

The novel begins with an allusion to Dante‘s Inferno: “ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE”. Yuppie New York City, one of the nerve centres of world capitalism, is Hell. Similarly, the novel ends with these words on a sign on a door: “THIS IS NOT AN EXIT“. Of course not: there is no hope of escape from Hell.

Bateman, in the third chapter (‘Harry’s’), is in Harry’s with his yuppie friends, Price (Bryce in the movie), McDermott, and Van Patten. A man named Preston joins them, and during their conversation, Preston makes antisemitic remarks, which Bateman chides him for (in the movie, McDermott makes the bigoted remarks). This moment, like the one in the first chapter (‘April Fool’s’), when Bateman preaches to his friends about such things as the need to end apartheid, provide food and shelter for the homeless, oppose racial discrimination, ensure equal rights for women, and promote general social concern and less materialism, represents the hypocrisy so typical of bourgeois liberals, always mindful of political correctness, but rarely practicing what they preach.

Bateman describes his possessions in his apartment in the second chapter (‘Morning’), going into detail about all of his fetishized commodities, mentioning brand names for everything (a Toshiba digital TV set and VCR; “expensive crystal ashtrays from Fortunoff”…Bateman doesn’t even smoke; a Wurlitzer jukebox; an Ettore Sotsass push-button phone; a “black-dotted beige and white Maud Sienna carpet”; etc.). So much for less materialism. His possessions are clearly very important to him, in how they are meant to reflect his social status (Valentino Couture clothes, “perforated cap-toe leather shoes by Allen-Edmonds”[page 31], Ralph Lauren silk pajamas, etc.).

Social status is important to Bateman because it’s the only way to be a part of yuppie society in New York City. During a date with Bethany, who wonders why he won’t quit his job (in the movie, it’s his girlfriend, Evelyn, who asks him), he answers that he wants “…to…fit…in.” (‘Lunch With Bethany’, p. 237) Later, he brutally kills her after she laughs at him for hanging a painting upside down. Being a yuppie is all about saving face and social conformity.

Ellis suffered in New York in the 80s, when this pressure to conform was so great. In creating Bateman, Ellis was creating, in a way, a modern version of Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man, “…a sick man…an angry man.” (Notes From Underground, page 15) Hence, Bateman’s psychopathy.

In ‘Office,’ chapter six, Bateman tells Jean, his secretary, to come to work dressed in a more pleasing manner (pages 66-67). Apart from the fact that the 1980s campaign against sexual harassment hadn’t yet picked up steam, he knows he can get away with talking to her like that because she “is in love with” him (or so he, in his narcissistic imagination, thinks–page 64). So much for ensuring equal rights for women.

When he proudly shows off his new name card in a restaurant (‘Pastels’, chapter four), and is easily outdone by Van Patten, Price, and, especially, someone named Montgomery (in the film, it’s Paul Allen–Paul Owen in the novel), whose name cards are so much more impressive (pages 44-45), Bateman feels a “brief spasm of jealousy,” then he ends up “unexpectedly depressed.” He finds that the only way he can restore his sense of ‘superior’ social standing is by picking on those ‘under’ him. In the competitive world of capitalism, how else can one cure one’s low self-esteem?

He finds a freezing homeless black man (‘Tuesday’, pages 128-132), and after giving him false hopes that he’ll help him, he speaks contemptuously to him, then takes out a knife and puts out the beggar’s eyes (in the film, Bateman merely stabs him). He takes light stabs at the man’s stomach and slices up his face. He flips a quarter at him, calls him a “nigger,” then leaves him. So much for racial equality.

I still remember how disturbing I found this passage in the novel, how graphically Ellis describes the jerking of the knife in one of the homeless man’s eyes, to make it pop out of its socket. The eye now dangles, with all the liquid dripping out of its socket, “like red, veiny egg yolk”. I found this scene even more unnerving than the Habitrail and rat scene.

Thanks to Reagan’s inaugurating of neoliberalism in the 1980s, the poverty level made a net increase by the first year of George H.W. Bush’s term. Bateman’s abuse of the beggar can be seen to symbolize capitalism’s war on the poor. Now, this cruelty to the homeless has escalated to the use of spikes on sheltered pavements, and to the criminalizing of feeding the destitute. Like Bateman, capitalism has no shame.

Bateman’s violence against women, however, is the most shocking part of the novel. Having this brutality in the novel is not the same as advocating it, though. Ellis is careful to make Bateman as blatantly despicable, even ludicrous, as possible. His ‘analyses’ of Huey Lewis and the News (pages 352-360), Genesis (after Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett left, for he “didn’t really understand any of their work,” that is, from the classic progressive rock quintet–‘Genesis’, page 133), Whitney Houston (pages 252-256), and Phil Collins’ solo career, making their commercial pop all sound like high art, are some of the funniest parts of the whole novel. It’s telling that Bateman prefers the, at best, mediocre-to-good film Against All Odds–“the masterful movie” (page 136), in his opinion–to Phil Collins’ hit song. I had a belly laugh when I read that.

So let us make no mistake here: Ellis is not glorifying Bateman in any way; therefore, he isn’t trying to glamourize violence against women. When Bateman uses a woman’s decapitated head to fellate him (‘Girls’, page 304), electrocutes ‘Christy’ (page 290, ‘Girls’), or sticks a Habitrail up a woman’s cunt (page 328), we hate him all the more for it.

Rather than see this violence as Ellis promoting misogyny, we should see it as a comment on misogyny (‘Harry’s’, pages 91-2, has a sexist discussion that, in the movie, is between Bateman, McDermott, and Van Patten)…especially of the sort directed by capitalism against the sexually exploited women and girls in the Third World, those forced into prostitution. Remember that a number of Bateman’s female victims are escort girls or prostitutes.

Since Bateman and all the other yuppies represent the capitalist class, I find it illuminating also to interpret his scurrilous treatment of his female victims allegorically. In most mythologies around the world, the feminine symbolizes nature, our Mother Earth. This is true of most ancient European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern pagan religions.

My point is that in our unconscious, we typically associate femininity with the fertile earth. Bateman’s violence against women, therefore, can be seen to symbolize capitalism’s destruction of the environment. The Habitrail incident further proves this, since Bateman has caught a rat (pages 308-9), then starved it for five days prior to having it (literally) eat out one of his female victims (‘Girl’, pages 326-9). In other sections of the novel, he injures (page 132) or kills dogs (page 165, ‘Killing Dog’). With destruction of the environment goes cruelty to animals.

Another striking theme in the novel is the lack of a sense of identity. In ‘End of the 1980s,’ Bateman says, “…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there.” (pages 376-77)

Bateman isn’t the only one with identity problems: people routinely confuse one person for another. Paul Owen confuses Bateman with someone called Marcus Halberstam (Halberstram in the movie), Bateman’s lawyer thinks he’s someone called Davis, and a mistaken identity is noted by Detective Kimball (‘Detective,’ page 273). Part of the reason for these mistakes is people not listening to one another; another part of the reason is how alike everyone seems, in dress and personality.

Capitalists often criticize communists for suppressing individuality and creativity. The hypocrisy of this is obvious when we see how capitalist commodification churns out the same kind of product, performer, movie, or song, over and over again. George Lucas once said in an interview that Soviet film-makers had more artistic freedom than he; the profit motive puts us all in chains, as it does the yuppies in Ellis’ novel.

Bateman’s lack of a sense of self sometimes leads to moments of dissociation, depersonalization, and derealization. In mid-chapter (‘Chase, Manhattan’), during a moment of extreme stress while he’s afraid of being caught by the police, Bateman’s narration briefly switches from first person singular to third person singular (page 349-51), then back again by the end (page 352) when he feels safer again and calms down. He hallucinates about seeing a TV interview with a Cheerio and having a Dove bar with a bone in it (page 386). His frequent drug use (cocaine, Halcion, Valium, Xanax, etc.) is probably a source of much of his mental instability. The run-on sentences in the novel suggest an excited narrator high on cocaine, or one suffering from anxiety attacks (‘A Glimpse of a Thursday Afternoon,’ pages 148-152).

With his tenuous grip on reality, we begin to wonder about the reliability of his narrative. These doubts lead to a big question: is he guilty of any of the crimes he claims to have committed, or has he merely fantasized about the whole killing spree?

In ‘The Best City for Business’ (pages 366-7), Bateman says, “One hundred and sixty-one days have passed since I spent the night in [Paul Owen’s apartment] with the two escort girls. There has been no word of bodies discovered in any of the city’s four newspapers or on the local news, no hints of even a rumour floating around. I’ve gone so far as to ask people–dates, business acquaintances–over dinners, in the halls of Pierce & Pierce, if anyone has heard about two mutilated prostitutes found in Paul Owen’s apartment. But like in some movie, no one has heard anything, has any idea of what I’m talking about.” Does this mean that Patrick only imagined the horrors, or have they been ignored by the world because the victims were mere ‘whores’?

Harold Carnes, Bateman’s attorney, who confuses him with a man named Davis, insists that his killing of Paul Owen is “not possible,” for Carnes says he had dinner with Owen twice (page 388, ‘New Club’), after the murder is supposed to have been committed (or did Carnes confuse Owen with someone else?). Also, the lawyer believes Bateman is too cowardly and weak to have killed anyone. Indeed, Bateman is a loser, as everyone in the story knows. Remember, Ellis never glamourizes Bateman.

Elsewhere, the real estate agent trying to sell Owen’s apartment has cleaned up the place and, seeming to know about Bateman’s crimes, she wants him to leave and never return. Eerily, she seems more interested in preserving the high property value of the apartment than in seeking justice for the victims.

This notion, did he, or didn’t he kill those people, is important in light of how he allegorically represents capitalism. Note how similar ‘mergers and acquisitions’ sounds to ‘murders and executions’ (page 206, ‘Nell’s’). To this day, people debate if capitalism is responsible for the millions who die of malnutrition every year, for the destruction of the environment, etc. America is truly a psycho nation…or is the psychopathy merely imagined, as the capitalist apologists would have us believe?

Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho, Vintage Books, New York, 1991

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes From Underground and The Double, Penguin Classics, England, this translation published 1972

Excerpt: Opening of ‘Wolfgang,’ My Werewolf Erotic Horror Novel

13450947_10154657198197289_821306896128591967_n1—Sades

The full moon was glowing among the stars, the whitest of whites against the blackest of black. Paws were patting the dirt path that snaked between the grass and trees that surrounded the estate, from whose second-floor window this lupine brute had jumped. A nose was sniffing for human flesh to eat.

Soon, it found some.

A man and his wife were walking in that very forest. He wore a suit, she a dress, diamonds, and pearls. How romantic. How bourgeois. How unfortunate.

Some nearby bushes were rustling, something hiding among them, waiting for the couple to approach. Lampposts, set far off from each other, gave just enough light for people to walk through at night, but left it dark enough to keep lurking dangers unseen. A wolf’s eyes, obscured among the leaves, were following that couple’s every step.

“This is so unlike you, Franz,” the woman said in German to her husband. “Taking me for a stroll in a forest at night.”

“Yes, I know, Frieda, but tonight I felt as if something were pulling me out here,” Franz said in German. “It’s so beautiful. I couldn’t resist.”

“I wish you had resisted,” Frieda said. Her fear was vibrating all the way to those bushes. At one point, she thought she saw eyes peering at her from them. She gasped and twitched, then looked again…the eyes were gone. Did she just imagine it? “I’m scared. Let’s…”

“Relax,” he said. “This is really beautiful. Fresh air. I’m glad we came.”

“I don’t care how pretty it is,” she said. “I still don’t like us walking about here. I can’t forget that story I read about the wolf attack here a month ago. Three people—“

“Oh, nonsense! No one ever found a wolf anywhere. Those people were probably killed by that psychotic who was arrested last week. He’d killed others in the same bloody way. He may have denied killing Wolfgang Bergbauer’s family, but I’m sure he was lying.”

“But there were witnesses who insisted the wounds were caused by claws and teeth, not knives—“

“Rubbish! They also claimed it was a werewolf, of all things. Can you rely on such testimony? It was a full moon that night, as tonight. How is that proof of a werewolf? My dear, don’t be so credulous.”

A growl vibrated from those bushes.

She froze.

The two of them looked around for the source of the voice.

They never found it, of course.

Another, louder growl.

She shuddered.

“I assure you,” he said. “This isn’t at all funny.”

A grunt.

A ten second silence, then a howl.

“Alright, enough!” he shouted. “Come out, wherever you are.”

It did.

Me.

I brought him crashing down on the dirt, his hair covered in it.

Her screams were piercing my ears as keenly as my claws were cutting up his stomach.

His liver and kidneys were the tastiest, his blood being their gravy. He screamed briefly, till my claws, having already ripped his rib cage aside, scraped against his lungs, flooding his throat with red and stopping his voice. He would then only cough blood. His intestines lay like a red snake on the grass.

I, Sades, the spirit in control of the werewolf, could sense, through my connection with the vibrations of energy everywhere, Frieda’s whole experience of terror, as if it were my own. I’ve always enjoyed that ability…it helps me to terrorize my victims better. My two spirit brothers and I could even know people’s dreams, their perspectives, and their most private thoughts, if we wanted to.

She was frozen with fear, yet shaking all over, her feet seemingly rooted to the ground. She continued weeping a few seconds longer as I feasted, then I looked up at her, licking my lips.

Our eyes met.

She fought against her panic with spastic jerks of her legs. Desperate to run, she just couldn’t.

I just stared with grinning fangs.

I’ll give her a head start, I thought. Give her a fighting chance.

Finally, she broke free of her paralysis and ran, screaming, almost falling.

I bit off another chunk or two of her husband’s flesh, then ran after her.

Be careful, the voice of Chisad whispered in my mind’s ear. Don’t let her screams come within earshot of anyone else. Too many people knew about us after the last full moon.

Chisad was right. I had to pounce on this bitch as soon as possible. Just as the full moon’s contradiction of white and black released the wolf, so could the contradiction—between my bloodlust and her urge to survive—put Chisad, Chebirüsad, and me in danger of being shot…and without a new host to enter when this one that we were in died, we three spirits would be forever exiled from the flesh! Our souls wandering aimlessly in limbo, never able to avenge the deaths of our people! Unbearable banishment!

Frieda kept running, the edge of the forest coming closer. I had to get to her before she got there and drew attention to us.

There are so many contradictions: the one between my will to kill and hers to live, and the hardly endurable one between my will and those of Chisad and Chebirüsad. But when the light of the stars is augmented with the full moon’s white, these clashing with the black backdrop of night, our three urges’ discord is also at its sharpest, bringing out the wolf. Everything is a battle of opposites.

Frieda stopped running. She hid behind a tree.

Always weeping, she thought: Please, God, I don’t want to die. Oh, Franz!

The vibrations all around us spirits guided us to her, better than our wolf’s nose, better than a thousand eyes. I went into some nearby bushes, pretending I didn’t know where she was. In this forest, Kleinwald, no one can hide from me.

I could hear her shaky breathing. We spirits knew her fear, and her thoughts, as if our very consciousness was hers. It was like visiting the inside of her head, seeing through her eyes. What fun for me!

She could feel—and almost hear—her heart pounding in her chest.

She smelled delicious, though she wasn’t pretty enough for me to want sexually; though even if she were, that prig Chebirüsad wouldn’t have let me rape her, anyway. Nor would Chisad have, so worried was he of us being caught and killed. My task was to kill quickly and run to safety, that was all.

Her eyes were darting about, left and right, trying to find me. Then she glanced over to her right, and saw my yellow eyes amid the black of the shadowy bushes. Our eyes met briefly, then mine disappeared from her sight.

Again, her eyes were racing all around her: in front, to the left, to the right, behind her.

Where is it? she wondered.

Then she looked over to her left. She saw one eye this time.

She shuddered. Then the eye disappeared.

Once more, her eyes were frantically scanning the area, but this time never finding my eyes.

She didn’t even hear anything. No growls, no beast’s breathing.

Just blackness and silence, all around her.

Where is it? she asked herself in her mind. Is it gone? Did it lose me? Oh, I hope so. I can’t take this any longer.

She kept looking around and listening, not making any noise, even breathing as quietly as she could.

No eyes anywhere.

No sounds from an animal. Not even the wind in the trees.

She poked her head around, thinking, Please, God, let that beast be gone.

With shaky, spastic legs, she slowly stepped away from the tree and back to the beaten path.

Then I jumped on her.

Her heart and lungs were the tastiest parts.
1—Chisad

With the sun starting to peek over the horizon, Sades was finally restrained, and the wolf, exhausted from running all over the town of Klein, just southwest of the city of Rosenheim in Upper Bavaria, fell asleep by some bushes near a playground in Kleinpark, on the side of town opposite the forest of Kleinwald.

But what woke up four hours later wasn’t a wolf.

Now he was Wolfgang Georg Alexander Bergbauer, 38, and naked as the day he was born.

He looked around, blinking and waiting impatiently for his eyes to focus. He felt chilly all over. Then he knew.

“Oh, shit,” he said, cupping his hands over his genitals. “Not again.”

He noticed and recognized the nearby playground, correctly guessed it was about 8:30 in the morning, and saw only a few people, no more: a mother and her baby in a stroller, and a pretty blonde, about eighteen from the looks of her (even now-passive Sades sensed her desirability). Again, Wolfgang’s intuition was accurate (she was eighteen), since my connection with the spirit world was able to guide his guesses.

He got up and started sneaking over to the girl, not because she was lovely, but because she’d left her hooded red coat on the swing beside the one she was sitting on. Stealing and wearing that woman’s coat might make him look foolish, but his nakedness made him much more of a spectacle. Besides, he was freezing.

Luckily for him, the mother pushed her baby stroller out of the playground, so if there was to be a struggle with the girl, no further attention would be drawn to him. (Actually, I willed the mother to go.) The girl was absorbed in what she was looking at on her phone. He was approaching, wincing whenever he stepped on a sharp rock, and hoping she wouldn’t hear his grunts of discomfort.

My spiritual connection to everything around me allowed me to know what the girl was reading on her phone; I read the text as if her eyes were mine. She and her mother had been exchanging text messages.

Her mother’s text message said, “Renate, where are you? You’ve been missing for the past twelve hours. We’re worried about you. Please come home and let’s fix this problem. We forgive you for being with that boy, and for what you did to your father.”

Renate’s reply was, “You’ll have to find me. I”m not telling you where I am. I’m fed up with all three of you. I’ve already fixed the problem by leaving. I’ll never forgive you for calling me a whore, nor for what Daddy did to him; in fact, I’m going to punish you all by becoming a prostitute. Bye.” After sending the message, she surfed the internet for the news.

In the next few seconds, Wolfgang was right behind her, his right hand almost on the coat. But he got curious, and looked at what she was now reading on her phone: a news story about the second wolf attack near his estate, in the forest south of Klein!

She was smiling with wide eyes as she read. “A wolf,” she whispered to herself, then thought, I love wolves. “Maybe, a werewolf?”

He gasped, drawing her attention away. She looked over at him as he snatched her coat. She grabbed it by the other side, and they began a tug of war.

“Hey!” she said, almost falling off the swing. “That’s my coat!”

“Sorry,” he said. “I need…to borrow it.”

As they struggled, she couldn’t restrain her curiosity, and she looked down at his body; her eyes widened again, impressed with the hunk of meat she saw dangling down.

“Mmm,” she moaned with a smile.

With his greater strength, he managed to wrest the coat from her. She fell off the swing.

“Hey!” she shouted, thudding on the ground.

“Thanks,” he said, running away with it.

Having not put it on yet, he looked back at her briefly, grinning at the lustful amazement in her eyes at the sight of his muscular body. Indeed, that lewd awe she felt kept her in such a trance that she forgot to scream for help. She just sat in the dirt and stared at his pretty arse.

What most fascinated her about his body, even more so than his good looks, was the deep scar scratched from his chest—on the right—down his right side to just below his right buttock, a brown swirl of four claws. Though perfectly healed, it seemed a permanent indentation in his skin.

What a sexy naked man, she thought, licking her lips. Then she said, “He must be the werewolf the locals have been talking about.” No one believes them, of course, she thought, grinning at the sight of him farther away, now wearing her coat as if he were a cross-dresser. People think those locals are crazy to believe in werewolves. But I believe. At least, I want to believe.

She licked her lips again.

If he’s the werewolf, she thought, I want him.

‘Vamps’, Chapter Seven: Twice Bitten, So Sly

The following night, I found the CNT Club; like the POUM, it was shrouded in a forest, but to the northeast of town, whereas the POUM Club was to the southeast of town, almost along the same longitude as the CNT.  Also like the POUM, the CNT Club had male vamps protecting it from Christian vampire hunters.  The original sign over the front door, Tramps, hadn’t been taken down: a red V was spray painted over the Tr, but later, CUNT, in black lettering, was spray painted over all the original letters; then the C, N, and T were spray painted again, but in white, presumably to distract one from the obscenity of the black lettering.  I went in.

Amid the loud techno music and flashes of strobe lights that coloured up and dotted the darkness, I saw the by-now-typical, perfectly curvy strippers, either half naked or fully so, giving table- or lap-dances.  One of them, a buxom blonde goddess in a white lace bra and thong, with matching fishnet stockings and high heels, approached me.  Her vamp fangs were hidden in an overbite, behind full lips with lush, dark red lipstick.

“Hi,” she sighed in a thick Slavic accent, her hand held out to shake mine.  “My name is Anna Petrovich.  Are you looking for a job here?”  We shook hands.

“Well, I’m stripping in the POUMTANG Club right now,” I said, “but if I like it better here, I might consider asking you for work.”

“We’re always looking for new blood,” she said.

“Oh, I know that,” I said.

“How many times have you been bitten?  I’d say once, from the slight mark on your neck.”

Since the mark was now practically invisible, especially in the darkness of the bar, I figured she must have psychically sensed its presence.  “That’s right, I’ve only been bitten once; but I’m eager for my second and third bites.”

“We can help you with that, if you’ll be willing to help us.”

“Speaking of help, do you know of a vamp traitor who’s telling the vampire hunters in town where you girls are sleeping?” I asked.

“We were hoping you could help us with the same thing,” Anna said.  “We’ve had three of our vamps destroyed, exposed to the hellish sun.”

“Awful,” I sighed.  “I heard it was only one.”

“Two more were destroyed today.  That’s why I was hoping you could strip for us.  We don’t have enough girls here.”

“That’s too bad.  I hate the bigotry against vamps here.  We’re not the Satanic beasts the Church says we are.”

“And the Church isn’t the pantheon of saints it pretends to be.”

Same scholarly vamp vocabulary, I thought.  So odd to hear such erudition in strippers, particularly in uneducated me, yet so cool, too.  I’m sick of men always thinking we’re all just a bunch of dummies.  “How can I help?”

“First,” she asked, looking me straight in the eyes with that hypnotic fire in hers, and stroking my hair.  “Do you trust me?”

“I don’t see…why not,” I said, my vision already blurring and my head swimming.  “I don’t trust…the Catholics here.”

“Then we must love each other.”  She kissed me on the lips.  “But first, come get to know some of us.  Come with me.”

Anna led me through the bar, and I passed by the stage, where a short, tanned stripper with slight muscle tone was doing her third song, “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back),” by the Eurythmics.

Anna and I sat at a table close to the stage.  We chatted as the nude girl onstage carried on with her floorshow.  Apart from her awe-inspiring, curvy body, she had an unusually large clitoris.  Crawling about barefoot with her legs spread wide apart and her ass pushed out, she had everything proudly on display for her rapt male audience at the tip rail.

“Who is that hot-looking girl?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s Francine Tremblay, or ‘Franny’, as we all call her,” Anna said.

“She’s the sister of Fanny in POUM,” a short, petite stripper with black hair said in a Spanish accent.  She was wearing a dark red bikini and matching high heels.  She sat beside me.

“Really?” I said.  “They’re sisters?”

“Yes,” Anna said.  “It’s a small world, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I said.  “Franny sure resembles Fanny.  Their similar names are appropriate.  I’m Erica,” I said to the Latina girl, holding out my hand to shake hers.

“Maria Gonzalez,” she said, shaking my hand.  Her fangs were showing without inhibition.

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

The song was over, and Franny got off stage without even bothering to put her clothes back on.  Not that she needed to: her nakedness was a glory to see, even for those not sexually attracted to women.

“Hi, I’m Franny.  You must be the new girl in POUM,” she said in a French Canadian accent.  We shook hands.

“Yes,” I said.  “I’m Erica George.  Nice to meet you.  You looked really beautiful onstage.”

“Thank you,” she said.  I looked over at Anna, who I already envied and admired. Being a vamp had given her an inscrutable, beautiful calm and confidence.  I wanted that coolness so badly.  “So, where are you from, Anna?”

“Russia,” she said.

“Your English is amazingly good,” I said.

“It wasn’t always,” she said almost sadly.  I assumed correctly that her vamp powers were responsible for the perfection of her grammar.

“What brought you to Canada?” I asked.

“A job opportunity here,” she said with a frown, looking away.

“Why not strip in Russia?” I asked.

“Because I thought the job would be in social work,” she said, still frowning and looking away.  Her confidence was obviously also something she’d only acquired as a vamp.  Her life before becoming a vamp had suddenly become all the more fascinating, as I could easily empathize with those lacking in self-assurance.

“Oh?  The job offer was a lie?” I asked.

“Yes.  About a year ago, these three strip-clubs were a front for human trafficking,” Maria said.  “We all got tricked into coming here, thinking we’d get good jobs.  Instead, we were made into prostitutes against our will.  Then the Vampire Revolution liberated us.”

“Yes,” Anna said.  “A vamp named Leona Trotta bit me one night after I escaped.  She made me a vamp, I returned, bit the other girls, and we killed the whole mafia family who had been holding us against our will.  Now, the strip club is our own.”

“Awesome!” I said.  “These three strip clubs are the first ones I’ve ever seen where the strippers are actually the ones in the saddle. It’s awful, though, that you were all sex slaves before.”

“I had been hoping for a good job to make money for my poor family in Mexico,” Maria said, a tear running down her cheek.  “Because of my being a slave here, I couldn’t send any money home.  My sick mother died because I couldn’t give her any money to pay for medical help.”  She began sobbing, and Anna put her arm around her.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said.  With my blossoming psychic powers, I could feel Maria’s pain quite acutely.  I almost wanted to cry, too, as if her mother had been my own.  Of course, my own mother’s death made it even easier for me to sympathize with poor Maria.

“My sister, Fantine, has an illegitimate daughter for whom she was hoping to earn money with the stripping job here,” Franny added, snarling.  “We were able to get our family in Chicoutimi to take care of the little girl, thank Empusa, but Fantine, an unpaid slave, was so distraught at not even being able to see her.  Those mafia bastards!  I’m so glad we sucked them all dry.”

“I’m glad I never had to meet them,” I said, feeling Franny’s anger.

“Well, I have to go onstage,” Maria said.  “It was nice to meet you, Erica.”  We shook hands again, then she turned around and walked toward the stage.

“Bye,” I said.

A man approached Franny.  “Can I have a lap dance?” he asked her.

“Sure,” she said, smirking, licking her lips, and contemplating all that delicious blood in him.  She went with him to a VIP Room, never bothering to put on any of her clothes.

Two more strippers approached Anna and me, one of them a golden blonde and the other a dirty blonde.  They smiled suggestively at me.

“Let’s go upstairs now,” Anna said to me.  We got up and went with the two strippers to a staircase leading up to the second floor.

“So, what does CUNT stand for?” I asked.  “I understand the Caledonia strip clubs’ names are all acronyms.”

“It stands for the Collective Union of Nudists and Transwomen,” Anna said as we began ascending the stairs.  “We got rid of the word ‘Union’ not only because it was redundant, but because we were getting flak from the Catholic community here for the acronym’s ‘obscenity’.”

“So there are transwomen here who want bites to make them physically female, too, eh?” I asked.  “Just like in POUM?”

“Yes,” she said.  “Transgender people from all over flock here to have the bodies their souls desire.”  We reached the top of the stairs and went into a bedroom, one not unlike the one I’d been in with Andrea, Christina, and Meg.  The two other vamp strippers had entered first; having only worn bras, thongs, and high heels, they’d already stripped naked and were waiting for us on the bed.  There was no need to tell me about the ritual for my second biting: we all psychically communicated this intention.

Anna removed her bra, revealing the two most beautiful, natural breasts I’d ever seen.  Each of that soft pair of giant cake balls was topped with sweet berries for nipples.

Then she removed her thong, revealing her shaved pubic region.  Next to come off were her fishnets and shoes, and she was as nude as the two vamps on the bed.  I quickly got naked, eager for that bite (not to mention the hot sex), and Anna and I got on the bed.

“Erica, meet Celina Helmer and Josie Beverley Druitt,” Anna said.  “Celina and Josie, meet Erica, a once-bitten who just started working in POUM.”

“Hi,” I said to them.

“Hi,” Celina and Josie sighed in unison.

All three of them started caressing my arms, legs, and breasts as I lay on my back on the bed.  Anna put those delicious breasts of hers on either side of my face and gently pressed them on my cheeks.  Oh, their softness and smoothness!  I was really coming to like lesbian love.

After she tickled my lips with her erect nipples, I asked, “When you…bite me, will I…Oh!…lose my will…completely?”

“Not quite,” Anna said, gently kissing my left cheek and neck.  “Only if…you’d been bitten…twice by…the same vamp…would your will…be all hers.”  She squeezed my right breast, pinching the nipple.

“Ah!” I moaned.

Josie, who also had lovely large breasts, began rubbing them against my belly as she sucked on my right breast.  Celina, with smaller, perkier breasts but ones no less tasty, had buried her face between my legs and was making my vulva as wet as her saliva-soaked mouth.

My sighs and squeals were getting higher and louder.  As I got hornier and hornier, I feared the pain of that second bite, as well as the possibility that Anna wasn’t being honest about how much control she would have over me after the bite.  Would I completely lose my will, and be made her slave for an indefinite amount of time…maybe forever?

Still, the vamps’ expert lovemaking kept me more and more excited, and that pleasure relaxed any worries I had…though in the back of my mind, it occurred to me that such a relaxation would be a perfect way for me to surrender my will to them completely.

My fear of the pain of the second bite, and of possibly losing all my will, didn’t distract me from the pleasure, though: actually, that fear increased my excitement.  My body was tensing up and shaking with anticipation of my nearing orgasm…and new vamp powers!

Finally, I let out a scream, with my eyes squished shut, and I orgasmed; with perfect timing, Anna bit me the very second of my climax.

Again, I felt the numbing daze as of one on drugs, my perception blurrier and blurrier as I felt my blood being sucked out.  I felt my will become more that of the vamps’ Blood Collective than of my own.  I just lay on my back, my head spinning.

“How do you feel?” Anna asked.

“High,” I moaned.

“No marijuana or ecstasy ever made you feel stoned like that, eh?” Celina asked, grinning.

“No,” I sighed.  “Not like this.”

“Celina has a wicked tongue, hasn’t she?” Josie asked.

“No,” I said.  “She has a…very good tongue.”

Celina laughed, always proud of her abilities.

“Do you feel more connected with us?” Anna asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“That’s because your blood is merged with that of the Collective,” Josie said.

“More and more, you’re becoming one of us,” Celina said, licking her lips and proudly baring her beautiful fangs with a sinful grin.

“You’ll care more and more about our needs, and we’ll care more and more about yours,” Anna said.

“We vamps all love each other,” Josie said.

“In mind…and body,” Celina said, kissing my belly several times.

“How do I look?” I asked, getting off the bed on the left side.  As with the first bite, my initial stupor was abating somewhat.  “That bite didn’t…hurt as much…as last time.”

“The second and third bites hurt less and less,” Celina said.  “Your third will hardly hurt at all.”

“Then you’ll be impervious to pain,” Josie said.

“A mirror is over there,” Anna said, pointing to the wall to the right of the bed.

I went around the foot of the bed and approached the mirror, which went from the floor up to a few inches taller than I.  I gazed on my frontal nudity, waiting for my blurry vision to focus.

What a difference!  I was grinning in narcissistic adoration.  My teeth, those four fangs, were sharper; my skin was whiter, but creamier and more delectable; my breasts were again larger, rounder, and firmer, like a perfect silicone job, only without silicone; and my curves were snake-like!

“How do you like yourself?” Celina asked.

“I think I’m in love with my body,” I said.

“I think I am, too,” Celina said with a lustful glint in her eye.

My eyes were welling with tears.  Vamps rule!  I thought.  Wait till Hal sees me!  He won’t be able to resist me.  I just hope…for his sake…that his love for me isn’t only skin deep.  “When do I get my third bite?” I asked.  “I don’t think I want to wait.”

“After you’ve looked around the PSUC Club for us,” Anna said.  “When you’re a thrice-bitten, you’ll fully know the danger we’re all in.”

Vamps, Chapter Six: Meeting Stella

After my lap dance with Hal, I went over to a table and sat with two of the strippers I hadn’t met yet, one a blonde, the other a brunette.  “Hi,” I said.  “My name is Erica George.  I’m the new girl.”

“Hi,” said the brunette, a short, petite beauty.  “I’m Jenny Milton.”  We shook hands.  She smiled, baring her beautiful fangs.

“I’m Tiffany,” said the blonde, who was short, skinny, and cute.  We shook hands.  “Nice to meet you.”

“I have a question,” I said.  “Why did The Candy Club get renamed ‘POUMTANG‘?  You know the sign out front is misspelled, right?”

“It’s an acronym,” said Jenny.  “The spelling is deliberate.”

“OK, what does it stand for?” I asked.

“The Party Of United Mothers, Transwomen, And Nudist Girls,” Tiffany said.

“Wow,” I said.  “That’s awkward-sounding.”

“Yeah, well, it originally was the Party Of Obscene Naughtiness, Transwomen, And Nudist Girls: POONTANG,” Jenny said.  “But the Christian community here didn’t like that acronym, so we had to clean it up by misspelling it on purpose.”

“What’s more, ‘United Mothers’ sounds more family-oriented than ‘Obscene Naughtiness’,” said Andrea, who now joined us.  I smiled up at her as she grabbed a chair and sat beside me.

“Do you all have sons and daughters?” I asked.

“In a way,” Andrea said, stroking my hair.

“All the boys we bite are like our sons, since we made them vampires,” said Jenny.

“And the girls who we’ve made vamps are like our daughters,” Andrea said.

“Hence, we’re mothers,” Tiffany said.

“I like the sound of that,” I said, looking at Andrea.  “My mom died when I was very young.  Oh, how I cried and cried as a little girl from her loss.  And then my dad changed into such a…well, maybe I shouldn’t talk about that.  It’s depressing.  But anyway, I’ve felt so empty without a mother’s love.  I like the thought that I can get that from you all.”  Especially from you, though, Andrea, I thought as I still looked at her.  (Actually, she kind of resembled my mom physically.)  After all you’ve done for me, I like to think of you as a mother figure to me.  I sensed she felt my thoughts, and was smiling her love back to me.

“I’ll be happy to be your new mom, Erica,” she said, kissing me on the cheek.  We smiled lovers’ smiles at each other.  I was really hoping for not only my second bite from her, but a second love-making; for that daughters’ love I felt for Andrea was, if you will, quite Oedipal.

The stripper onstage, Fanny, just finished her third and last song, and got off the stage.  Tiffany looked over there.  “I have to go onstage now.”  She got up and went there.

“See you,” Jenny said.

“Well, you’ve explained ‘Mothers’ in POUMTANG,” I said, “but what about ‘Transwomen’?  Are there any here?”

“Of course,” Jenny said.  “Look around.”

“Do you really think every female face you see here is physically so?” asked Andrea.  “Look carefully at those two over by the bar.”

I leaned over and strained my eyes a bit looking to my right at the two she was referring to, in glittery dresses and heavy makeup.  Indeed, I noticed Adam’s Apples protruding most inconveniently from their necks.  I also vaguely sensed their biological masculinity from the psychic vibes they were giving me, vibes of acute dissatisfaction with their bodies.

“Wow, they are,” I said.  “Why do they come here?”

“Because they admire us,” Jenny said.

“And with every bite we give them, they grow more biologically feminine,” Andrea said.  “Those two over there haven’t been bitten at all yet; I can sense it.  But they’ll be wanting it, since they’ve heard rumours, from their once- and twice-bitten friends, of what we can do.”

“I don’t understand how your bites can change them so radically,” I said.  “I thought the bites only make people into vampires, and really hot-looking ones.  How do the bites make all those other changes?”

“One of our abilities, remember, is shape-shifting,” said Fanny, who now joined us.  She sat at my other side.

“A vamp can change into a bat, for example, simply by wishing it,” Andrea said.

“As strippers, we all naturally want to be hotter looking, so with each bite, and each resulting gain of power, we immediately get sexier,” Jenny said.  “We want better looks instinctively, so those changes are more or less automatic.”

“Transwomen want women’s bodies to match their female souls,” Franny said.  “So three bites give them a free sex change operation, with none of the surgical risks.”

“That’s the beauty of being a vamp,” Andrea said.  “Our powers give us whatever we want.”

“The only catch is needing to drink blood,” I said.

“That’s right,” Jenny said.  “That, and staying out of the sun.”

“Speaking of which, where are Meg and Kristen?” Fanny asked with a frown.  “Tell me we didn’t…”

“We did…we lost them,” Andrea said, a tear rolling down her cheek.  “The vampire hunters found them.  Jim saw her ashen remains in her apartment when he went over earlier tonight, correctly sensing trouble.”

“Oh, no,” Jenny said, her eyes widening.  “Kristen gave him his third bite.  He must be heartbroken.”

“He is,” Andrea said, baring her fangs and snarling.  “He’s sworn revenge on the Christians.”

“I hope he sucks the whole town dry,” Fanny said.  “We’re not safe.”

“I’m afraid to go to sleep at dawn,” Jenny said, almost sobbing.  “I keep lyin’ awake, helpless in bed, wondering if they’ll find me, break down my bedroom door, rip open my curtains, and fry me in the sunlight.  I’m really getting scared.”

Andrea put her arms around Jenny and kissed her cheek.  “Don’t worry, baby,” Andrea said.  “We’ll be OK.  You have your once- and twice-bitten guards watching over you, don’t y0u?”

“Yes,” Jenny sobbed.  “But what if they aren’t strong enough to protect me?”

“And when are we going to find the vamp traitor, or traitors, in whichever strip joint they’re working for?” Fanny asked.

“That’s what we need you to help us do, Erica,” Andrea said to me.  She gave me a map of the forest areas all around Caledonia so I could find the CNT Club.  “Go to CNT tomorrow night and find out all you can, any hints that the traitor could be one of them.”

“Speaking of possible traitors,” Fanny said.  “Here comes Stella.”

“Who’s she?” I asked as I saw a tall, curvy, long-haired brunette approaching us in a white dress shirt, black dress pants, and matching high heels.

“Stella Lynn East,” Jenny said.  “Owner of the PSUC Club.”

“And major man-hater,” Andrea said, sneering.

“If she hates men, why does she own a strip club?” I asked.

“To suck men dry,” Stella said in an English accent as she sat down to join us.  “Good evening, vamp sisters.”  She looked at me with a grin that proudly showed off her fangs, and a sparkle in her eyes that looked a combination of deja-vu and discovery of someone long-lost.  Indeed, she stared at me for several seconds, in a wide-eyed daze, before asking, “And you are…?”

“Erica George,” I said, shaking her hand.

“A once-bitten, I see,” she said, kissing my hand.  “Oh, do let me have a bite or two.”  Now that sparkle in her eyes was one of flirtation.

I blushed.

“So, what’s the news at PSUC?” Andrea asked with a frown.  “How many more of your vamps have they destroyed?”

“Four today,” Stella said with an angry sigh.  “Oh, those bastards will never leave us alone.”  She was giving out an energy of deep hate for the Christian community, very sincere vibes: I figured she couldn’t be a traitor.

“Which ones?” Fanny asked.

“Chantale, Alexis, Mercedes, and Beth,” Stella said.  “I swear, when I find out who the vamp traitors are among us–males, I’m sure–I’ll expose them to the sun myself without remorse.  They’ll be the only vamps deserving of such a fate.”

“I’m aware of a female traitor,” I said.

“How do you know that?” Stella asked.

“I went to the Sunshine Pub today,” I said.  “Some men who killed Billie Bryson said a female told them where Billie’s apartment was.”

“Erica, the men you talked to were just that…men, and they can’t be trusted,” Stella said with a twitch of agitation on her face.  “They’re all liars.  They’d love to make us believe a female vamp betrayed us, to divide us.  Make us not trust each other.”

“How can you be so sure they were lying?” I asked.  “What they said felt like the truth.”

“I can’t honestly believe a female would betray her sisters,” Stella said.  “But a male vamp, resentful of his period of servitude to his female biters, before his third, liberating bite, would gladly betray us.  Men can’t handle female power.  They think it’s natural for them to rule over us; so when we get power over them, they have us destroyed.”

“It didn’t feel like those men were lying,” I said.

“Honey, your powers aren’t fully developed yet,” Stella said to me, stroking my hair and looking in my eyes as if I were an old lover she’d lost long ago.  “When I bite you, and liberate you, you’ll understand men’s true nature.  Vamp or no vamp, men are afraid of female power, and they’ll do whatever they have to to stop our ascent to power.  Those men lied about the traitor being female, I assure you.  Watch your male vamps, sisters.  Guido, Jim, and Jorge: they may seem trustworthy to you, but they’re not.  We’re not safe from them.”

“Jim’s out hunting men as we speak,” Andrea said.  “In revenge for Kristen.  Gino and Jorge’s helping him.  We trust them completely.”

“Why?” Stella asked, sneering.

“We don’t share your…extreme views on men,” Andrea said.

“Extreme,” Stella chuckled.  “Extremely common sense.”

“We believe men can be changed,” Fanny said.

“Men will never change,” Stella chuckled louder.  “I know from experience.”

“After a period of servitude to us, under our gentle rule,” Andrea said.  “The rein of the yoni, if you will.”

Stella had a belly laugh.  “The only way to end the rein of the phallus is by usurping it forever.  No temporary women’s rein with tame men.”

“We think it will,” Fanny said.  “We’ve seen the proof in Gino, Jim, and Jorge.  And all of the FAINGS seem loyal.”

Seem loyal,” Stella said.  “They’ll turn on you.  Give it time.”

“If you refuse to see any good in men, why do you have male vamps working for you?” Andrea asked.

“They aren’t full vamps,” Stella said.  “They’re twice-bittens, you know that.  And they know their place.”

“In other words, they’re your personal slaves,” Andrea said.

“That’s right,” Stella said, smiling.

“Look,” I said.  “I don’t like male power over women any more than you, but if you enslave men, how are you any better?”

“It’s not about being better than men, love,” Stella said to me.  “Either we control them or they control us.  When the vampiress revolution finally happens, males will be reduced to ten percent of the population, used only for reproduction, so we vamps can have a limitless supply of blood.”

“We don’t believe so radical a solution is necessary,” Fanny said.

“Agreed,” Andrea said.

“Same here,” I said.

“Very well, sisters,” Stella said, getting up.  “Have it your way for now.  Time will tell, and we’ll see which vamps’ views are proven right.  Goodbye, Erica: I hope to see you…and to bite that pretty neck of yours…soon.”  Stella gazed at me one more time, with a kind of mysteriously melancholy longing, then turned around, walked away from our table, and left the club.

“When you’ve finished looking around the CUNT Club, we’ll need you to go to the PSUC Club, too.  As much as the vamps there hate men and insist of sisterly solidarity, there’s always the possibility that all that misandry is just a cover-up, and they want us dead for some reason.”

“I do think the traitor is female,” I said.  “I felt honesty from those men.”

“Still, Erica, consider all possibilities,” Andrea said, stroking my hair again.  “Stella is right that your power as a once-bitten is limited.  Keep your mind open, for bias will limit your ability to gain access to all the enemies that will lead to the true identity of the traitor or traitors, who could be male or female.”  She kissed me on the mouth, a delicious kiss, and I felt her will vibrating through my body, making me want to seek out any traitors in CNT.

“How do you win the influence over men here?” I asked.

“After you’ve searched CNT and PSUC, we’ll give you your second and third bites, and influencing men will be easy,” Andrea said.

“Influencing men is easy once you’re a full vamp,” Fanny said.

“Yeah, just look at Tiffany onstage,” Andrea said.  Tiffany had been wearing a cute cheerleader outfit during the first song of her floorshow, grinning and giggling as she danced before her rapt audience of horny men.  Now doing her third song, she was crawling about nude and displaying her vulva and anus, in all insouciance, to a panting man at the tip rail.  “We can easily see whose blood she’s going to have soon.”

“How can you be sure he’ll ask her for table dances or lap dances?” I asked.  “Maybe he doesn’t have the money to spend.”

“Haven’t you forgotten?” Fanny said.  “We don’t sex the men up for money, but for blood.  And he has plenty of that.”

“And he won’t want a dance,” Andrea said.  “He wants sex.  We can feel his desire all the way from here.  It’s that intense.”

“He wants anal from her,” Fanny said.

“And she’ll give it to him,” Andrea said.

“Don’t you mean ‘take it from him’?” I asked.  We all laughed.

“Of course,” Andrea said.

“But that’ll hurt,” I said.

“You forget again,” Fanny said.  “We vamps are impervious to pain.”

“Actually, our vamp bodies are adapted to enjoy anal, as much as vaginal sex,” Andrea said.  “We don’t even shit anymore, since we don’t eat.  The anus is now only for sex.”

“Eww,” I grunted.

“You’ll like it, too,” Fanny said.

“Really?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yes,” Andrea said.  “In fact, anal is the best way to get men ready for a bite.”

“Either that, or doggy-style,” Fanny said.  “If a man fucks you and you’re facing him, you might enjoy it so much that you’ll open your mouth wide in sighs.  Then he’ll see your fangs and get scared.  Then, even if you bite him, his will won’t be as much at one with yours.”

“The best way to influence a man is to get him to like you as much as possible,” Andrea said.  “That’s why the best time to bite is when he orgasms, for that’s when his desire for you is at a maximum.  Then his will is all for you.”

“With your back to him as he’s fucking you, you’re free to moan and sigh with an agape mouth, and he probably won’t see your fangs,” Fanny said.

“And if you offer him your asshole, that tells him you’re a ‘bad girl,’ and you’re all the sexier for it,” Andrea said.  “That’s why when I strip for the men, I always bend over and offer the men two choices instead of just one.”

“As do I,” Fanny said.  “And as you should, too.”

Sure enough, after the song was over, Tiffany led her male admirer into a private room.  We’d hear a groan of sharp pain from him about twenty minutes later, and feel the pulling of some of his blood out of him and into the Collective Blood.

(If you liked what you just read, please sign up for my free newsletter.  A link to it is at the side of this page.)

‘Vamps’, Chapter Five: Erica Meets Her Heckler

I returned to my apartment after my long run from the Sunshine Pub and its vamp hunter patrons, a run that, thanks to the increased strength I’d got from Andrea’s bite, got me home amazingly quickly.

Sitting on my bed, I thought about my situation as a vamp, or vamp wanna-be, actually, and the threat that all those vamp hunters posed to the vamp community I was now a part of.  I was upset not only because of the danger of being destroyed by them one day after receiving my third bite, but because Andrea had changed me in a way that made me actually like myself more…and the vamp hunters were trying to take all that away.

Self-esteem was a new thing for me.  You see, I didn’t have a very happy childhood.  Though I had a fair number of friends at school, life at home in southern Ontario had become a hell ever since my mother died.  My widowed father became a morose drinker, taking out his unhappiness on me at every opportunity.  He’d call me an idiot whenever I got bad grades at school, which was usual, because I was a rebellious teenager and didn’t care about learning; so we fought a lot.

By the time I graduated from high school, he griped at me, in slurring words and bad beer breath, for not thinking about my future, that is, not trying to get better grades and get into university.  Actually, I thought about my future a lot, but not in that way: I just wanted to get out of his house and live on my own.  I was a pretty girl with a good body, so becoming a stripper looked like my best option at the time.  So that’s what I did.  I never saw Daddy again, and I have no regrets.

Of course, getting naked in front of a bunch of drunken, leering, cat-calling pigs results in its own kind of verbal abuse (and often far worse than what I put up with from that heckler my first night stripping in the POUMTANG Club).  That was when my love affair with drinking and drugs began.  Whiskey, tequila shots, you name it, I drank it.  Smoking marijuana and hash were a common pastime during high school, so as a stripper I also checked out the harder stuff: ecstasy, ketamine, cocaine…you name it, I at least tried it, if not made it a regular habit.  When I was about 24, my health had declined to the point that I realized I had to come clean.  I went to rehab, and after a painful month or so, I got better.

About a month or so before going to Caledonia, I was getting frustrated with my aging and not-so-hot-looking body.  The ad for the stripping job in Manitoba promised work “far better than any ever imagined,” so I, having nothing to lose, gave it a try and went up there.

Now that I realize what was meant by “far better than any [job] ever imagined,” I feel eternal gratitude to Andrea.  She literally saved my life; for I really had no idea what I could do as an aging, flabby, uneducated stripper.  I didn’t have the money for silicone implants or anything like that.  I didn’t even have the escape of drugs to give me solace; but the high of being a vamp, with increased beauty, strength, and even intelligence, is better than any drug, and the improvements she gave me are better than any education or plastic surgery could ever give me.

But beyond that, I was increasingly realizing that Andrea had introduced me to a much larger world.  My mind had been expanded.  I felt a psychic connection with all life around me, all thanks to the Collective Blood that I’d been more acquainted with from Andrea’s bite.  I was able to gain access to forms of knowledge that at first had seemed the domain of university scholars; I couldn’t believe the vocabulary increase I suddenly had acquired, for in conversations with people I was spontaneously–and correctly–using words I hadn’t known even existed before the bite!

That psychic connection had also increased my sense of empathy for everyone, vamp or non-vamp.  I wanted to help my vamp comrades, and also wanted to give liberating bites (for that’s how I saw them now) to all non-vamps, so they could gain the same advantages I’d just gotten.  I could feel people’s pain, frustrations, and disappointments, all from the vibrations I felt around me, everywhere in Caledonia and in the POUMTANG Club.  I was glad to search for whoever the vamp traitor was, not only to help Andrea and the other vamp strippers, but also to improve my chances of being able to help all those struggling people I had around me on the street.

And vamp hunters were ruining everything for all of us!  Bigoted bastards!  If only they knew that vampires are actually a force for good.

Back in the POUM Club that night, I went over to Andrea just before I was to go onstage.

“So, those old-timers in the Sunshine Pub scared you off, didn’t they?” she asked me.

“Yeah, they did,” I said.  “You can feel it, eh?”

“Yes, I can,” she said.  “You’re vibrating those feelings from all over your being.”

“How does that work?” I asked.  “How am I able to feel others’ vibes?”

“When I sucked your blood, I got connected with your psychic energy, and you are beginning to get connected with everyone’s” she said.  “We vamps are a network of connected blood; the Blood Collective adds to our awareness, to our knowledge, and to our intelligence.  Hence, I can feel the fear you felt when you ran out of the pub.”

“So if you already know, then why ask me?”

“I don’t know everything that happened, only basic vibes.  Now, as for the details: did they tell you who helped them find Billie? Which vamp?”

“They didn’t give a name,” I said.  “They just said she was a pretty young woman, also pale and with a pointy overbite.  Definitely a vamp approached them at night, though they didn’t believe she was one, and they didn’t say her name.”

“Very well,” Andrea said.  “Go to the CUNT Club tomorrow night and find out what you can there.  It’s another vamp strip joint, directly north of us here, north of the town, in the forest up there on the other side.  We’ll tell you more about it later.”

How do all these strip joints here get away with such raunchy names?  And in this Catholic community? I wondered.  “OK, tell me about the strip joint in about twenty minutes,” I said.  “I have to go on now.”

“Will you be OK up there?”

“Oh, yeah.  I have much more confidence now, thanks to you.  I really wanna express my appreciation for all you’ve done f0r me.  You’ve helped me in ways that I’ll never be able to finish repaying you for.  Thanks again, Andrea.”

“It was my pleasure,” she said, grinning and showing off her fangs in a way that didn’t at all look scary or freakish to me.  I grinned back, wishing I had fangs as apparent as hers, and impatiently waiting for those second and third bites.

I went onstage.  My first song was ‘Love Bites,’ by Judas Priest (I was going with a quasi-vampire theme that night.)  I was wearing only a pink thong and bra this time; now that my confidence in my body had improved, I wanted to flaunt what I had.

As I was moving about the stage, I looked out at the audience, who were much more attentive than last time.  They seemed a little hypnotized, too, but not as powerfully as they had been with Fanny.  I assumed I’d get even more rapt attention after my second and third bites, which I now waited for with even greater eagerness.  Still, I was satisfied with the fact that the men were now interested in what they saw.

Towards the back, I saw that asshole who was being rude to me the night before.  I still wished that scream I’d heard, after he made me cry, had been his…of him being sucked dry, as my three escorts presumably had been.  Anyway, he was behaving himself this time.  In fact, he seemed to like what he saw onstage.

I removed my bra towards the end of the Judas Priest song.  My breasts were now, as you know, larger and firmer, a pair of beauties I proudly showed off.  He was still interested.

My second song began: ‘You Suck,’ by Consolidated, with a naughty rap about cunnilingus by The Yeasty Girlz.  As I danced around mouthing the words with a wicked smile and looking him straight in the eyes and mouthing “Baby, you suck!”, an idea came to me: if having sex with the men was desirable for blood and mind-control purposes, then once I got my third bite and became a full vamp, I could seduce him, then get my revenge and suck the bastard dry.

If only I could have been a vamp right then and there.  I was so, so impatient for those second and third bites: how long would I have to wait for them?  I was starving for revenge against that guy!

I removed my thong.  He was still watching me, his mouth thirsty for a taste–I could sense his desire.  Now nude except for my high heels, I picked up the thong, made a slingshot out of it with my fingers, and flicked it at his face.  It slapped him right on the nose, and he was happy to get it.  The lecher was sniffing all along where it had been rubbing against my anal cleft.  What a perv!

The song ended, and I took off my shoes.  My third song was ‘Vampire,’ by Gorilla Zoe.  I still had his full attention.  He was standing a few feet away from the stage.  I slowly walked towards him, allowing his eyes to pour all over my nakedness.

Now not only confident with my body, but with defiant pride, I got down on the floor, my eyes locked on his, and spread my legs.  His jaw dropped at what was now showing.  His former rudeness had been transformed into awe.  His tongue was hanging out a foot.

I rolled over and started crawling back from him, my ass pointed at his face.  My legs were still wide apart, so everything was showing.  I could see his still rapt reaction in the mirror on the back wall.  I smirked.

The song ended.  I grabbed my shoes, bra, and purse, and got off the stage.  He followed me.

“‘Scuse me,” he said, presenting my thong.  “I think you forgot this.”

“Oh, thanks,” I said, still not able to smile at him, despite my plan to seduce him.  I put the thong on.

“Can I have a lap dance?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said as I put my bra back on.  “Ten bucks a song.”  I put on my high heels.

“Yeah, I know.  Lap dances sure are cheap here.  That’s why I like it here.”

“OK, there’s a private room in the corner over there that’s available.  Let’s go.”

We went in the room, and he closed the door.  He sat on a sofa against the far wall.  I sat on a chair facing him.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Hal,” he said.  “What’s yours?”

“Erica.”

“Almost sounds like a boy’s name.”

“I don’t think so.”  I glared at him, then thought about all that blood I wanted to suck out of him.

“You don’t?”

“No.  You aren’t going to be rude to me again, are you?”

“Again?” he asked.  “When was I rude to you before?”

“Last night,” I said, still angry, though controlling it.  “When I was onstage.  Don’t you remember?”

“No, I don’t.  Then again, I was really drunk, and I get a little out of hand then.  They kicked me out last night, actually.  Look, if I made you mad, I’m sorry.”

“You made me cry.  I ran off the stage.”  I was almost about to cry right then.

“Oh, look, I’m sorry about that.  I can be a real dick sometimes.  Booze’ll do that to you.  But I think you’re really beautiful.”

“Really?”  I felt his sincerity.

“Yeah, really.  An’ I don’t mean that in a dirty way.”

“Thank you,” I said, smiling.  Maybe when I become a full vamp, I won’t kill you after all, I thought.  Unless you piss me off again, that is.

A new song began, ‘Heavy Metal Love,’ by Helix, a longer, live version.  I got up and sat on his lap, facing him.  He was already hard as a rock.

I started grinding on him.  The pointy bulge in his jeans was rubbing against my groin, the sensation going through my thong and stimulating my clit.  I’d never felt that way about a client in a strip joint before, especially for a man who’d been rude to me.

Was my heightened horniness another side effect of the bite Andrea gave me?

Hal was actually a reasonably good-looking man: short blonde hair in a baseball cap, clean shaven, and thin, but with a little muscle tone in his arms and chest.

He also had sweet, baby blue eyes.

Without warning, I took off his cap and put it on my head.

He was bald.

He twitched in embarrassment at this revelation.  Now he was frowning like a little boy who’d had his toys taken away.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” I said, trying not to gloat at having piqued the physical insecurities of a man who’d done the same to me the night before.  “I know of ways to make you even better looking than you already are.”

“Oh?” he said, smiling that his baldness didn’t seem unattractive to me.  “How?”

“I wasn’t all that hot last night, when you saw me onstage,” I said, removing my bra.  “These were floppy then, as you had observed; now they’re firm.” I then put his face between my tits, and squeezed them against his cheeks.

“How’d you make them look better?” he asked.  He was touching them, gently pinching the nipples.

“It’s a secret.  But if you’re good, and you show devotion to me, I’ll divulge the secret, and you won’t need to wear that cap anymore.”  I removed my thong, burned around, bent over and gave him a look.

“I’d like…to…believe you,” he panted, staring at my…front and back doors, if you will…with equally disbelieving eyes.

Looking back at him upside-down from between my spread-out legs, I said, “You don’t have to believe me; just stay loyal to me, be a gentleman, and I’ll reward you.”  Then I reached up from between my legs with my finger and tickled his chin.

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