‘Claws,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Thirteen

“I never asked you before: how much did it cost you to fix the dent?” Thurston asked Surian as they got in her car with the Yamas, who brought with them a small gong, a jingle bell (to be shaken on a handle), and incense sticks.

“It cost far too much,” Surian said with a frown, then she put her key in the ignition.

“What caused the damage to your car?” Raymond asked.

“Not what, who,” Surian answered, starting the car.

“Was it Kluh?” Vanessa asked.

“Yes,” Thurston said. “She jumped high in the air and came down on the roof.”

“Don’t remind me,” Surian said, remembering also the bear attack from her teen years as she got the car on the road.

“What else can you tell us about Kluh?” Thurston asked.

“What else do you want to know, specifically?” Vanessa asked.

“Like, what motivates her to kill sometimes, and other times, just to lure you in for sex?” Surian asked.

“Well, there are many motives for her to kill,” Raymond said. “Revenge on, or protection from, a rapist. Also, any threat to her growing power–“

“Which means, my husband and I are putting ourselves in danger,” Vanessa said.

“Since you know the danger, are you sure you want to go through with this?” Surian asked.

“Yes, we must do this. Only we can stop Kluh,” Raymond said.

“And if she kills you?” Thurston asked.

“You’re all screwed, not just you two, but everyone,” Raymond said. “Vanessa and I are your best hope to send Kluh back to the spirit world. Of all the people in the Polynesian community in the Toronto area, we are the most knowledgeable in how to perform the kind of exorcism that can defeat this demon.”

“If you two fail, and she kills you,” Surian said, “Andy and I will be standing by to shoot her if necessary.”

“No!” Vanessa shouted. “You drop us off at Callie’s apartment, tell us her room number and the floor she lives on, and Raymond and I will do the rest. You must drive far away when we begin the ritual.”

“Why can’t we be with you?” Thurston asked.

“Because you’ll distract us,” Vanessa said.

“We’ll be quiet and stay out of your way,” Surian said.

“No!” Vanessa said. “Your very presence, your psychic energy, your mana, will contaminate the ritual. With any luck, no one else in the halls outside her room will interfere, psychically or physically. I’m hoping anyone she may have made love with in the apartment will not be anywhere near there.”

I’ll have to make sure ‘Super-stud’ isn’t at home, Surian thought, assuming what the Yamas is saying isn’t total bullshit.

“You see, she is acquainted with both of you,” Raymond said. “Certainly with Andy, in an intimate way. The more intimate you’ve been with her, the more you’ll contaminate the sacred space.”

I guess I’ll have to stay far away, too, Surian thought, remembering her encounter with Callie.

“Kluh can exploit the mana she’s absorbed from you, to thwart us in our attempt to exorcise her from Callie’s body,” Vanessa said.

“From Sandra Brahms’s body, as I told you before,” Surian said, then handed Vanessa a photo of Sandra. “This, I believe, is how ‘Callie’ originally looked.”

Vanessa looked at the chubby teenage girl in the photo, then showed it to Raymond before giving it back to Surian. “If our exorcism is successful, we can expect to see Callie’s body change into this Sandra girl’s,” Vanessa said. “But as I said before, you two mustn’t be present. We also fear Kluh will try to kill you if she kills us.”

“OK, we’ll stay away from your exorcism, if you insist,” Surian said. “We’ll wait for a phone call from either of you, and if we don’t hear anything by tomorrow, we’ll go to your dry-cleaning place, and if you’re not there, we’ll assume Kluh has killed you.”

“OK,” Raymond said.

“But what else can you tell us about Kluh?” Surian asked. “Why d0es she have sex with some people, and lets them live?”

“Well, sometimes she does it for pleasure, of course,” Vanessa said. “But always to take some of her lovers’ mana, and now that Kluh seems to have a permanent female body–that is, she isn’t moving from one girl’s body to another’s with every sexual encounter–we can assume this Sandra, or Callie, is her ideal female, her female mate, so now she’ll be looking for an ideal male as a mate, to make herself complete.”

“So, she’s looking for Mr. Right?” Surian asked.

“That’s a good way to put it,” Raymond said. “Remember that she builds power by merging opposites.”

“And the fusion of male and female is one of the most powerful kinds of a merging of opposites,” Vanessa said. “I’ll bet that psychiatrist she got naked for in the video is her chosen male mate. He doesn’t seem to be a lover she wants to have only one time.”

“Oh, yeah,” Thurston said, remembering the night of his encounter with Callie. “I saw her say goodbye to Dr. Visner in The Gold Star.”

“She’s getting regular psychotherapy sessions with Visner, too,” Surian said. “What will happen if the two of them…mate?”

“Kluh will be almost unstoppable,” Raymond said.

“Oh, come on!” Thurston said. “Can’t we kill her by filling her chest with bullets?”

“Only a hit dead-centre in her heart, or right in the middle of her brain, will send Kluh back into the spirit world,” Raymond said.

They arrived at the front of Callie’s apartment building, Surian parking at the curb of the sidewalk there. The Yamas got out of her car with their things for the exorcism ritual.

“Are you sure you don’t want us in there with you, in case Callie turns into that thing, claws you to death, then goes rampaging through the night?” Thurston asked, looking up at the setting sun.

“We’re absolutely sure,” Vanessa said with urgency in her face. “Drive far away, and don’t phone us until tomorrow morning, if you hear nothing from us tonight. Or, you can try to contact us at our shop tomorrow.”

“OK,” Surian said, looking around the area. “I have to make sure ‘Super-stud’ isn’t in his apartment…oh, wait. There he is; he’s leaving.” She spotted the first-floor neighbour who’d had Callie; he was walking away from the apartment in a uniform, about to do the night shift, apparently. “That’s convenient.”

“OK, we’ll contact you tomorrow if you haven’t said anything by then.” Thurston said. “She’s on the seventh floor, Room 717. Goodbye.”

“Bye,” the Yamas said together, then watched the detectives drive away. Once Surian’s car was far enough away to have disappeared from sight, Vanessa and Raymond felt comfortable to begin the ritual. They heaved a huge sigh together. They then each lit an incense stick for themselves, to carry with the gong and jingle bell stick.

They went through the front doors of the apartment building, and as soon as they were inside, Raymond began hitting the gong with a mallet, getting a gentle, ringing bass tone from it, and Vanessa began shaking the bells. They were playing a triple-time rhythm of one gong beat for every three shakes of the bells.

Vanessa pressed the button to bring the elevator down to the first floor. They got in the elevator. As soon as it began going up to the seventh floor, they, always playing their 3/4 rhythm, began whispering a mystic chant in their native Tahaiwi language.

“Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!” (Kluh, go back! [to the spirit world]) The whispering grew louder as the elevator rose up the floors.

By the time they reached the seventh floor, the door opened, and they stepped out of the elevator, the whispering had grown to a loud, vocalized chant.

“Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!”

They smelled the powerful pheromones, but their incense protected them from its hypnotic properties.

Vanessa began a twirling, hopping dance as she and Raymond went down the hall towards Callie’s apartment. They hadn’t needed to know the number: both the growing smell of the pheromones and their ability to sense the presence of Kluh led them to the right apartment–Room 717.

Vanessa continued twirling and hopping in front of Callie’s door. The Yamas were shouting the chant now: “Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!”

No one else in the apartment opened his doors to find out where the shouting was coming from. Everyone sensed the effectiveness of the ritual intuitively, even without a conscious understanding of the nature of Callie’s power. There was a collective feeling of hope that their apartment was soon to be freed of a vaguely evil presence.

Callie, nude from head to toe as usual, opened her door to receive the Yamas, as if she were being compelled to. She reacted to them almost like an automaton.

“Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!” They entered the room.

Raymond had to use all of his strength to resist the temptation to enjoy looking at her shapely, buxom body, to focus on the ritual, to remember that he loved his wife. Callie, having closed the door and turned around to face the exorcists, flitted back over to him, and danced around in front of him to entice him with her body.

Still, he and Vanessa carried on with the ritual, not allowing themselves to be distracted by Callie.

“Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!” they shouted to the 3/4 rhythm, over and over again, him hitting the gong, and Vanessa shaking the bells and doing her twirling, hopping dance.

“Don’t you want me, Raymond?” Callie purred at him, gyrating her hips and jiggling her tits before his eyes. “That wife of yours looks like a little elephant-lady, she’s so chubby. Don’t you think I’d be more fun in bed?”

“Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!” the Yamas repeated, as if Callie hadn’t said anything.

Callie frowned. “She’s mine!” she shouted. “Sandra Brahms is mine. You’re not taking her from me. Make love with me, Raymond, and I’ll let you live.”

“Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!”

Callie began faltering in her counter-exorcist, erotic dance. Now scowling, she said in the Yamas’ native Tahaiwi tongue, “Sandra is my mate. I searched a long time, all over the Earth, for centuries, to find the ideal female body to control, and Sandra Brahms is she! She’s perfect. A pretty face with a chubby body: beauty merged with plainness. She would have been modest, avoiding sex, but her stepfather made her into his whore: chastity and unchastity combined. She’s suffered, but I’ve made her happy: joy and sorrow united. She’s the perfect merging of opposites, to give me enough mana to make me more powerful than anyone could ever know. She’s my mate, she’s mine! I have her male mate in my sights, too, and he’ll be mine soon!”

“Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!”

Callie fell to the floor in front of the living room sofa, on which a white blanket lay. She began shaking all over, as if having an epileptic seizure.

“Please,” she said in the whining, pleading voice of a frightened teen, “Get this demon out of me. I just want to be Sandra again. Please, help me!”

“Kluh, sa-bang! Kluh, sa-bang!” The Yamas drew closer to her as they continued chanting.

Callie’s body started changing. She became shorter. Her pubic hair grew back. She lost her shapely curves, her body growing rotund, like Vanessa’s.

Nude Sandra looked up at the two chanting exorcists, who were staring at her with ritual intensity. Blushing, she pulled the blanket over herself.

“Thank you,” she said in a tremulous voice, her eyes avoiding theirs as they continued their chanting, shaking the bells, banging the gong, and dancing up close to her.

The chanting of “Kluh, sa-bang, Kluh, sa-bang” grew softer and softer until becoming the whisper it had been in the elevator. The Yamas, even closer to Sandra now, bent down to get a good look at her to make sure she really had Kluh exorcised from her.

Raymond was still hitting the gong, though softer, and Vanessa was still shaking the bells…softer and softer. They looked into Sandra’s eyes.

They never noticed the hairs snaking out of her arm follicles.

“Unh!” they grunted together when they felt her stabbing claws dig into their guts.

The tall, curvaceous, hairy beast grinned, looking down at the two bloody bodies lying on the floor.

**************

Late that night, Surian and Thurston were sitting together in a café with their cellphones lying next to their half-drunk coffees.

“Come on, Vanessa,” Surian said. “Call me!”

Analysis of ‘Salomé’

I: Introduction

Salomé is an opera by Richard Strauss that premiered in 1905, the libretto being Hedwig Lachmann‘s German translation (with some editing by Strauss) of Oscar Wilde‘s 1891 French play. Wilde’s play, of course, was in turn inspired by the Biblical narratives in the Gospels According to Mark and Matthew.

Wilde transformed the brief Biblical story, making what’s implied explicit, namely how Salomé’s dance sexually aroused the Tetrarch Herod Antipas, elaborating on it as The Dance of the Seven Veils, considered by some to be the origin, however unwitting, of the modern striptease. Wilde also altered certain details, such as when, in the Biblical version, Herodias tells her daughter, Salomé, to demand the head of John the Baptist; instead, Wilde has Salome ask for “the head of Iokanaan” of her own accord.

Both Wilde’s play and Strauss’s opera caused scandals on their earliest performances, resulting in performances of them being cancelled or banned, for example in London, for many years. Now, Strauss’s opera is considered a masterwork, a regular part of any orchestral or operatic repertoire.

II: Quotes

Here are some quotes from Wilde’s play (some of which are not in Strauss’s opera), in English translation:

“How beautiful is the Princess Salomé to-night!” –Narraboth, the young Syrian, Captain of the Guard

“You are always looking at her. You look at her too much. It is dangerous to look at people in such fashion. Something terrible may happen.” –Herodias’ page

“How pale the Princess is! Never have I seen her so pale. She is like the shadow of a white rose in a mirror of silver.” –Narraboth

“The Jews worship a God that one cannot see.” –First Soldier

“After me shall come another mightier than I. I am not worthy so much as to unloose the latchet of his shoes. When he cometh, the solitary places shall be glad. They shall blossom like the rose. The eyes of the blind shall see the day, and the ears of the deaf shall be opened. The suckling child shall put his hand upon the dragon’s lair, he shall lead the lions by their manes.” –the voice of Iokanaan, heard from below, in a cistern

“What a strange voice! I would speak with him.” –Salomé, of Iokanaan

[Approaching the cistern and looking down into it.] “How black it is, down there ! It must be terrible to be in so black a hole ! It is like a tomb. . . . .” [To the soldiers.] “Did you not hear me? Bring out the prophet. I would look on him.” –Salomé

“Thou wilt do this thing for me, Narraboth, and to-morrow when I pass in my litter beneath the gateway of the idol-sellers I will let fall for thee a little flower, a little green flower.” –Salomé

“Oh! How strange the moon looks. Like the hand of a dead woman who is seeking to cover herself with a shroud.” –Herodias’ page

“Where is he whose cup of abominations is now full? Where is he, who in a robe of silver shall one day die in the face of all the people? Bid him come forth, that he may hear the voice of him who hath cried in the waste places and in the houses of kings.” –Iokanaan, having emerged from the underground cistern

“It is his eyes above all that are terrible. They are like black holes burned by torches in a tapestry of Tyre. They are like the black caverns of Egypt in which the dragons make their lairs. They are like black lakes troubled by fantastic moons. . . . Do you think he will speak again?” –Salomé, of Iokanaan

“Who is this woman who is looking at me? I will not have her look at me. Wherefore doth she look at me with her golden eyes, under her gilded eyelids? I know not who she is. I do not desire to know who she is. Bid her begone. It is not to her that I would speak.” –Iokanaan, of Salomé

“Speak again, Iokanaan. Thy voice is as music to mine ear.” –Salomé

“Back! daughter of Babylon! By woman came evil into the world. Speak not to me. I will not listen to thee. I listen but to the voice of the Lord God.” –Iokanaan, to Salomé

“Thy hair is horrible. It is covered with mire and dust. It is like a knot of serpents coiled round thy neck. I love not thy hair. . . . It is thy mouth that I desire, Iokanaan.” […] “There is nothing in the world so red as thy mouth. . . . Suffer me to kiss thy mouth.” –Salomé

IOKANAAN: Never! daughter of Babylon! Daughter of Sodom! Never.

SALOMÉ: I will kiss thy mouth, Iokanaan. I will kiss thy mouth.

“Cursed be thou! daughter of an incestuous mother, be thou accursed!” –Iokanaan, to Salomé

HEROD: Where is Salomé? Where is the Princess? Why did she not return to the banquet as I commanded her? Ah! there she is!

HERODIAS: You must not look at her! You are always looking at her! […]

HEROD: I am not ill, It is your daughter who is sick to death. Never have I seen her so pale.

HERODIAS: I have told you not to look at her.

HEROD: Pour me forth wine [wine is brought.] Salomé, come drink a little wine with me. I have here a wine that is exquisite. Cæsar himself sent it me. Dip into it thy little red lips, that I may drain the cup.

SALOMÉ: I am not thirsty, Tetrarch.

HEROD: You hear how she answers me, this daughter of yours?

HERODIAS: She does right. Why are you always gazing at her?

HEROD: Bring me ripe fruits [fruits are brought.] Salomé, come and eat fruits with me. I love to see in a fruit the mark of thy little teeth. Bite but a little of this fruit that I may eat what is left.

SALOMÉ: I am not hungry, Tetrarch. […]

THE VOICE OF IOKANAAN: Behold the time is come! That which I foretold has come to pass. The day that I spoke of is at hand.

HERODIAS: Bid him be silent. I will not listen to his voice. This man is for ever hurling insults against me.

HEROD: He has said nothing against you. Besides, he is a very great prophet. […]

A THIRD JEW: God is at no time hidden. He showeth Himself at all times and in all places. God is in what is evil even as He is in what is good.

A FOURTH JEW: Thou shouldst not say that. It is a very dangerous doctrine, it is a doctrine that cometh from Alexandria, where men teach the philosophy of the Greeks. And the Greeks are Gentiles: They are not even circumcised. […]

FIRST NAZARENE, of Jesus: This man worketh true miracles. Thus, at a marriage which took place in a little town of Galilee, a town of some importance, He changed water into wine. Certain persons who were present related it to me. Also He healed two lepers that were seated before the Gate of Capernaum simply by touching them. […]

THE VOICE OF IOKANAAN, of Herodias: Ah! the wanton one! The harlot! Ah! the daughter of Babylon with her golden eyes and her gilded eyelids! Thus saith the Lord God, Let there come up against her a multitude of men. Let the people take stones and stone her. . . .

HERODIAS: Command him to be silent.

THE VOICE OF IOKANAAN: Let the captains of the hosts pierce her with their swords, let them crush her beneath their shields. […]

HEROD: Dance for me, Salomé.

HERODIAS: I will not have her dance.

SALOMÉ: I have no desire to dance, Tetrarch. […]

HEROD: Salomé, Salomé, dance for me. I pray thee dance for me. I am sad to-night. Yes; I am passing sad to-night. When I came hither I slipped in blood, which is an evil omen; also I heard in the air a beating of wings, a beating of giant wings. I cannot tell what they mean . . . I am sad to-night. Therefore dance for me. Dance for me, Salomé, I beseech thee. If thou dancest for me thou mayest ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it thee, even unto the half of my kingdom.

SALOMÉ: [Rising.] Will you indeed give me whatsoever I shall ask of thee, Tetrarch? […]

HEROD: Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, even unto the half of my kingdom.

SALOMÉ: You swear it, Tetrarch?

HEROD: I swear it, Salomé. […]

SALOMÉ: I am ready, Tetrarch. [Salomé dances the dance of the seven veils.]

HEROD: Ah! wonderful! wonderful! You see that she has danced for me, your daughter. Come near, Salomé, come near, that I may give thee thy fee. Ah! I pay a royal price to those who dance for my pleasure. I will pay thee royally. I will give thee whatsoever thy soul desireth. What wouldst thou have? Speak.

SALOMÉ [Kneeling]: I would that they presently bring me in a silver charger . . .

HEROD [Laughing]: In a silver charger? Surely yes, in a silver charger. She is charming, is she not? What is it thou wouldst have in a silver charger, O sweet and fair Salomé, thou art fairer than all the daughters of Judæa? What wouldst thou have them bring thee in a silver charger? Tell me. Whatsoever it may be, thou shalt receive it. My treasures belong to thee. What is it that thou wouldst have, Salomé?

SALOMÉ [Rising]: The head of Iokanaan.

HERODIAS: Ah! that is well said, my daughter.

HEROD: No, no!

HERODIAS: That is well said, my daughter. […]

“You have sworn an oath, Herod.” –Salomé

“Well, thou hast seen thy God, Iokanaan, but me, me, thou didst never see. If thou hadst seen me thou hadst loved me. I saw thee, and I loved thee. Oh, how I loved thee! I love thee yet, Iokanaan, I love only thee. . . . I am athirst for thy beauty; I am hungry for thy body; and neither wine nor apples can appease my desire. What shall I do now, Iokanaan? Neither the floods nor the great waters can quench my passion. I was a princess, and thou didst scorn me. I was a virgin, and thou didst take my virginity from me. I was chaste, and thou didst fill my veins with fire. . . Ah! ah! wherefore didst thou not look at me? If thou hadst looked at me thou hadst loved me. Well I know that thou wouldst have loved me, and the mystery of love is greater that the mystery of death.” –Salomé, holding and gazing upon the severed head of Iokanaan

“She is monstrous, thy daughter I tell thee she is monstrous.” –Herod, to Herodias

“Ah! I have kissed thy mouth, Iokanaan, I have kissed thy mouth. There was a bitter taste on my lips. Was it the taste of blood ? . . . Nay; but perchance it was the taste of love. . . . They say that love hath a bitter taste. . . . But what matter? what matter? I have kissed thy mouth.” –Salomé, still with Iokanaan’s head

HEROD: [Turning round and seeing Salomé.] Kill that woman! [The soldiers rush forward and crush beneath their shields Salomé, daughter of Herodias, Princess of Judæa.]

III: Themes and Beginning

Recurring themes in the play/opera include these: lust, with gazing/leering/staring at the object of desire, hence objectification; the conflict between, and complementarity of, opposites (love/loathing, spirituality/carnality, desire/disgust, white/black, male/female roles, beauty/ugliness, life/death, victim/victimizer, etc.); and the decadence of the ruling classes, as against the assurances for the oppressed that revolution, redemption, and liberation are soon to come.

The story begins at night, just outside a banquet held by Herod, his wife, Herodias (widow of his half-brother, Herod II), and her daughter, Salomé, along with all their guests in Herod’s palace. The moon is shining, silvery-white and bright. Silvery-white because, as Narraboth says, “She [the moon] is like a little princess…whose feet are of silver,” and “who has little white doves for feet.”

Narraboth, a young Syrian and Captain of the Guard, amorously declares how beautiful Salomé looks. The Page of Herodias wishes he wouldn’t always stare at her, for the Page fears that disaster will come of his passion.

The moon is a pale, virgin, silvery white, as is Salomé’s flesh. The moon looks so pale and white, “She is like a woman rising from a tomb. She is like a dead woman,” as the page of Herodias observes.

The princess-moon, with her innocent white feet, can drive men lunatic, as can Salomé’s virginal beauty; as, in turn, the holy purity of similarly-pale Iokanaan drives her mad with love for him. In this play, virginal innocence is dialectically related to the deadly sin of lust: the one opposite dissolves into the other.

IV: Enter Salomé

Salomé leaves the banquet area, finding it disturbing how Herod keeps staring at her with lust in his eyes. Of course, Narraboth is eyeing her similarly, but she will soon be an ogler herself, for she hears the voice of Iokanaan from the cistern below.

He has spoken harsh words against her mother, Herodias, as well as against Herod (i.e., his incestuous marriage with his half-brother’s widow); Salomé knows of this, but instead of being offended by Iokanaan’s words, she’s intrigued. It seems evident that Salomé has hardly any less contempt for her mother than she does for her adoptive father: alienation, including that between family members, is a typical symptom in a world of class conflict, in this case, that of the ancient slave vs. master variety.

Thus, any speaker of ill against Salomé’s family is a singer of sweet music to her ears. Small wonder she’d like to take a look at that mysterious man down in that dark, yonic pit. She looks down into it, awed by its darkness. This blackness, of course, is associated with Iokanaan’s mysticism. An ominous, eerie tritone is heard in the musical background when she looks into the cistern and notes its blackness, near the beginning of scene two.

Let’s compare some images used so far. Pale Salomé is consistently associated with the silvery-white, virginal moon, an ominous orb portending imminent evil. The cistern is black, as Salomé observes, but since it houses a holy man, a celibate man, it could be seen as virginal, too, the yoni of a virgin such as Salomé herself. The cistern’s blackness thus has a dialectical relationship with the silvery-white moon, which phases from white full moon to black new moon, and back again. Iokanaan, like the moon, also portends an evil coming too soon for comfort.

She insists on having Iokanaan brought out so she can see him, to have his mysteries revealed…just as Herod will want Salomé to dance a striptease for him, to reveal her anatomic mysteries. The lecherous, decadent tetrarch, of course, also hopes to make the young beauty replace her mother as his new queen, so her virginal yoni‘s dark secrets can be revealed to him…just as she wishes to have Iokanaan, the secret of the dark yoni of the cistern, revealed to her eyes.

The parallels between Iokanaan’s display and that of her nakedness continue, first with Narraboth’s and the soldiers’ insistence that the prophet not be allowed out (by Herod’s orders), on the one hand, and Herodias’ disapproval of her daughter dancing erotically for Herod. Also, Salomé entices Narraboth with suggestions of her favouring him (offering a green flower and a smile) if he’ll allow Iokanaan to come out, and Herod entices her with an oath to give her anything she wants if she’ll dance for him. Both Narraboth and Salomé are persuaded to do what they’d otherwise never do.

V: Enter John the Baptist

Iokanaan emerges from the cistern, pale, hairy, and filthy, but always shouting his imprecations against the decadent kings and queens of the world, especially Herodias. His holiness inspires Salomé’s passion for him, symbolizing the dialectical relationship between the erotic and the ascetic (something also explored in Hindu myth, as Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty observed in Siva: the Erotic Ascetic, pages 33-36).

At first, Salomé loves Iokanaan’s white flesh, a parallel of the love Narraboth and Herod have for her pale flesh. The prophet, of course, rejects her wish to touch his body; indeed, he can’t even bear to have this “daughter of Sodom” look at him. She’s angered by his rejection, feeling narcissistic injury, no doubt; but his chastity fascinates her all the same.

Salomé is used to having a train of admiring men following her everywhere, leering at her, lusting after her. Such men bore her, annoy her, inspire her contempt; but Iokanaan is no lecherous pig. With him, the sexes are reversed, and the man is disgusted with the woman’s lechery. She’s hurt by his rejection, but she can only admire him all the more for it. This man’s spiritual willpower is as rare as her physical beauty is, and her desire for him is made all the hotter for this.

As soon as he rejects her, she speaks ill of his whitest of white body, which she’s just finished praising. Now she speaks of loving his blackest of black hair; note the immediate juxtaposition of opposites–loved/loathed, beautiful/ugly, and white/black. When he rejects her wish to touch his hair, she’s now repelled by it and begins loving his red lips.

VI: Baiser

She wants to kiss his mouth, saying in Wilde’s French: “Laisse-moi baiser ta bouche.” Baiser, as a verb, originally meant ‘to kiss,’ but it grew to mean ‘to fuck,’ this new meaning starting as early as the 16th or 17th century, having been used this way in, for example, a few poems by François Maynard. This usage began to grow more common by the beginning of the 20th century, prompting the French to start using embrasser to mean ‘to kiss’ instead.

My point is, given the already shockingly erotic overtones of Wilde’s play, as well as in his choice to write it in French instead of his usual English, did he use baiser as a double entendre? Was he suggesting a secondary meaning, a cunnilingus fantasy of Salomé’s, to get head from Iokanaan?

Now Strauss, in using a German translation for his opera, used the word küssen, which only means ‘to kiss.’ Perhaps he was aware of the growing use of the sexual meaning of baiser, and wanted to mitigate the scandal by eliminating that problematic French word. I’m guessing that my speculations hadn’t been discussed by critics back around the turn of the 20th century, given the-then taboo nature of this subject; but this taboo use of baiser has been discussed more recently.

VII: Lustful Staring

Back to the story. The prophet is so shocked by this “daughter of Babylon” that he curses her and goes back down into the cistern. Salomé’s unfulfillable desire has turned into an obsession; speaking of which, Narraboth’s has caused him to implode with sexual jealousy, since he can see she clearly prefers Iokanaan to him. Thus, he stabs himself and dies, fulfilling Herodias’ page’s dire prediction that his obsessive, mesmerized staring at Salomé would bring evil.

Of course, the young Syrian hasn’t been the only one staring at Salomé to the point of such ogling being dangerous. Herod enters with Herodias; he slips on Narraboth’s spilled blood, an obvious omen.

The tetrarch speaks of the silvery-white moon and Salomé’s pale skin, an evident identifying of the one with the other, just as Salomé has identified the chaste moon with celibate Iokanaan. We see more unions of opposites: virginity and whorish objects of desire, in both her and the prophet.

Herodias is annoyed with Herod’s staring at her daughter, with Iokanaan’s insulting diatribes against her, and Herod’s–to her, absurd–belief in omens and prophecies. She is a purely materialist, decadent queen: the moon is just the moon to her.

She wishes he would just give Iokanaan over to the ever-disputatious Jews, who come out and begin a clamorous storm of debating over whether Iokanaan has seen God, whether he is Elijah having returned, and whether this or that dogma is correct. This is another example of wanting to know mysteries, to see secrets.

In all of this arguing among the Jews, we see dramatized the dialectic of contradictory viewpoints. Added to this is the contradiction between the Jewish point of view and that of the Nazarenes, who now come onstage.

VIII: Revolution

Since the Crucifixion hasn’t happened yet, discussion of how the Messiah will save the Jews from their sins is never in the Pauline notion of a Divine Rescuer dying and resurrecting, so that believing in Him will confer God’s grace for the forgiveness of sins. Instead, salvation for the Jews is understood to come in the form of a revolution against Palestine’s Roman imperialist oppressors. Recall Matthew 10:34.

Revolution! Insurrection! Such words terrify decadent rulers like Herod and Herodias, who naturally don’t want to lose their privileges as members of the ruling class. Thus do we see the dialectic move, from the Hegelian sort we heard among the debating Jews, to the materialist sort that Marx discussed: the contradiction between the rich and poor.

Iokanaan prophesies the downfall of sinful rulers like incestuous Herod and Herodias, as well as the redemption of the downtrodden. As the prophet says at the beginning of Wilde’s play, “the solitary places shall be glad. They shall blossom like the rose. The eyes of the blind shall see the day, and the ears of the deaf shall be opened. The suckling child shall put his hand upon the dragon’s lair, he shall lead the lions by their manes.”

Such welcome changes can be seen to symbolize revolutionary relief given to the suffering. The blind seeing, and the deaf hearing, suggests the enlightenment of the poor, hitherto ignorant of the true causes of their sorrows. The idea of gladdened solitary places suggests the replacement of alienation with communal love. The suckling child, with his hand on the dragon’s lair, and leading the lions, suggests the end of the oppression of the weak by the strong, replacing it with equality.

Marx similarly prophesied the end of the rule of the bourgeois, to be replaced by communist society. The bourgeois today, like threatened Herod and Herodias, are scared of their imminent downfall, for many believe their days are numbered.

My associating Iokanaan with Marx is no idle fancy, for in 1891, the very same year Wilde wrote Salomé, he also wrote The Soul of Man under Socialism, inspired by his reading of Peter Kropotkin, and in which Wilde considered Jesus to be a symbol of the extreme individualist he idealized. Wilde would also have been aware of the short-lived Paris Commune twenty years prior, which Marx joyfully described as being a manifestation of his notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

IX: The Music

It seems apposite, at this belated point, finally to discuss Strauss’s music. Influenced by Wagner’s musical dramas, Strauss used Leitmotivs (“leading motives”) for each character in Salomé, as well as for many key moments or concepts in the story.

There’s the light, dreamy Leitmotiv heard when Narraboth expresses his admiration for Salomé’s beauty at the beginning of the opera. There’s the Leitmotiv when she sings of wanting “den Kopf des Jochanaan,” which gets increasingly dissonant with her every iteration of the demand for it, to ever-reluctant Herod.

And there are Leitmotivs for Iokanaan and his prophetic abilities, the former being a stately, dignified chordal theme heard on the horns; and the latter melody being a trio of fourths, C down to G, then F down to C, then–instead of another, third perfect fourth–there’s a tritone of A down to D-sharp, then up to E, now a perfect fourth (relative to the previous A). These three sets of perfect fourths symbolize Triune, holy, divine perfection; the tritone, though the diabolus in musica, nonetheless resolves to E, symbolizing a prophecy of sinning imperfection soon to be made perfect, redeemed.

Strauss, as a late Romantic/early modern composer, anticipated many of the revolutionary musical ideas soon to be realized in full by such modernists as Stravinsky, Bartók, Schoenberg, and Webern. Strauss was thus a kind of musical Iokanaan. Strauss, through his extreme chromaticism, pushed tonality to its limits, while not quite emancipating the dissonance, as Schoenberg would soon do. Since some have seen the emancipation of the dissonance as linked with the emancipation of society and of humanity, the music of Strauss–as musical Iokanaan–can be seen symbolically as heralding the coming of that social liberation I mentioned above.

The harsh discords in his score symbolize the contradictions not only in the class conflict between the decadent rulers (puppet rulers for imperial Rome) and the oppressed poor, but also in the conflicts between what Narraboth, Salomé, Iokanaan, Herod, and Herodias each wants. Also, the contrast between these dissonant moments and the prettier, more tuneful sections suggests the dialectical relationships between beauty and ugliness, and love and loathing.

Finally, the choice of ‘harsh‘ (at least from the point of view of English speakers), guttural German–instead of Wilde’s erotically lyrical (if a tad idiosyncratic) French–reinforces the dramatic tension, especially when Salomé demands the prophet’s head on a silver charger.

X: Dance for Me, Salomé

Back to the story. Herod is so obviously troubled, on the one hand by the threats Iokanaan is making against his rule, and on the other by his fear of the prophet as a man of God–which means he can’t kill him–that the soldiers note the tetrarch’s sombre look.

Herod hopes that Salomé will dance for him, to take his mind off his troubles. This escape into sensuous pleasure is an example of the manic defence, to avoid facing up to what makes one so unhappy.

Always annoyed that her husband stares lustfully at her daughter, Herodias forbids Salomé to dance for him. But his oath to give her anything she wants, even to half of his kingdom, puts a sly grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye; so Salome agrees to dance.

Wilde‘s brief stage direction, of Salomé dancing in seven veils, has been made so much of. It says nothing explicitly of a striptease, but why else would she dance in those veils, if not to remove them one by one?

Strauss’s exotic, sensuous music certainly makes much of the dance, starting with a slow, erotic, mysterious aura and building up to a fast, frenzied, and dissonant climax, once almost all (or absolutely all, depending on the boldness of the woman playing Salomé) of the veils have been removed.

XI: Getting Naked

As each veil is removed, more of the mysteries of her body are revealed to horny Herod, just as the mystery of Iokanaan was revealed to lascivious Salomé when he emerged from the vaginal cistern. This story is all about the desire to have secrets revealed, including, as the Jews obsess over, the mysteries of God, through such things as prophecies, as the Nazarenes are concerned with. Mysteries thus may be sensual or spiritual: note the dialectical relationship between these two.

While we usually think of men objectifying women, as Herod is doing with Salomé here, in Salomé the objectifying is a two-way street, since she lusts after chaste Iokanaan. And while it is usual and correct to be concerned with the injuries done to female strippers, sex workers, and pornographic models and actresses, consider how pathetic the men are, those addicted to porn, prostitutes, and strippers, using these as a manic defence to avoid facing their own sadness. Consider their shame at knowing what pigs they’re being (or at least seen as being), each a modern Herod, walking guiltily in and out of strip joints, whorehouses, and the porn sections of DVD rentals.

There are two sides to objectification: the view to destroy, as Salomé does to Iokanaan, and as Herod does to Salomé at the end of the opera; and there’s the view to admire, to worship the beautiful object, as any connoisseur of art understands…and as Salomé and Herod also do to their adored objects. Looking to admire and to destroy are, again, dialectically related. This obsessive urge to look, a pagan adoration of divinity that is–in this opera–thematically related to whether or not the Jew or Nazarene has ‘seen’ God, is also a weakness that can be exploited.

Salomé is certainly using her sexuality to take advantage of this weakness of Herod’s. And since, on the one hand, the tetrarch is objectifying and using her for his pleasure, getting her to strip down to a state of nude vulnerability; and on the other hand, she’s turning his lust against him, we have here a male/female variant of Hegel‘s master/slave dialectic, or a dialectic of feminism meeting antifeminism.

XII: Switching Roles

The master (Herod) uses the, so to speak, slave (Salomé) for his own pleasure, but she uses her creativity (her dance) to build up her own mastery over him. Thus, master and slave switch roles, making her especially triumphant, since she’ll cause the doom of two men–decapitated Iokanaan, and the revolutionary toppling of Herod, as it is assumed will happen to him when the Nazarenes (and God!) are so enraged to learn of the execution of their beloved prophet.

Women are perceived to be inspiring of lust and sin (the misogynistic, antifeminist side of the dialectic), yet Salomé and Herodias triumph in thwarting the tetrarch and killing the male religious authority (the feminist side). What’s more, Salomé is all the more feminist in wishing for Iokanaan’s head for her own pleasure, not out of obedience to her mother.

Herod pleads with Salomé to ask for something else. The tetrarch has made himself a slave to his oath, of which she’s the master. He offers her rare jewels, ones even her mother doesn’t know he has; he offers her rare white peacocks. All she does is repeat her demand for “den Kopf des Jochanaan,” each time given more and more aggressively, with increasingly tense music in the background. Finally, he is forced, in all exasperation, to relent.

XIII: The Head

When the executioner is down in the dark cistern, Salomé waits by the hole and listens. Suspense is built when she hears nothing. She grows impatient, thinking she’ll need the soldiers to do the job she imagines the slave who went down with his axe is too incompetent or cowardly to do. Nonetheless, he emerges with Iokanaan’s bloody head. The ruling class’s indulgence of their petty desires always brings about violence of this sort.

Still, there are contradictions even among the desires of the different members of the ruling class. Herod is horrified to see Salomé’s maniacal gazing at the head, but Herodias is pleased to no end. Salomé kisses the mouth, triumphant in having achieved what the living prophet refused to let her do. In her mania, she imagines for the moment that Iokanaan’s eyes should be looking at her, as if the severed head could possibly be alive. She is thus disappointed that the eyes don’t look at her.

She wishes that he could have accepted her love, that if he’d looked at her, that if he’d just let her kiss his mouth, he would have loved her back, for love is a greater mystery than death.

XIV: Decapitation as Symbolic Castration

Since Wilde’s use of baiser has the implied secondary meaning of “to fuck,” and since she says, “Ah! thou wouldst not suffer me to kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. Well! I will kiss it now. I will bite it with my teeth as one bites a ripe fruit. Yes, I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan,” she is implying that she has a symbolic vagina dentata, which will castrate him when they make love. She compares his body to a column of ivory, a column being a phallic symbol. Thus, ‘fucking’ his mouth with the implied vagina dentata means his decapitation is a symbolic castration.

Herod’s unwillingness to have Iokanaan beheaded is thus an example of castration anxiety, especially since loss of the phallus is a symbolic loss of power. Herod’s fear of Iokanaan’s execution provoking a Nazarene revolution, spearheaded by none other than God, reinforces this symbolic fear of castration. Iokanaan’s “Kopf” is a cock.

XV: Conclusion–Who Wins the Sex War (and the Class War)?

Salomé (and by extension Herodias, since she has wanted Iokanaan’s death from the beginning), having the prophet’s head in her arms, is now symbolically the powerful phallic woman. She, especially in her madness and perversity, is a threat to Herod. Regarding her as “monstrous,” he orders all the torches to be put out. He says, “Hide the moon! Hide the stars!” For the whiteness of the moon and stars resemble her pale skin far too much for his comfort.

Finally, the male/female dialectic sways back in the antifeminist direction, and Herod orders his soldiers to “Kill that woman!” The men surround Salomé with their shields, and crush her to death with them, ending the opera with a barrage of discords.

Still, we know that the days of all decadent kings and queens–as well as those of the tetrarch, it seems–are numbered. Herod is still quaking in fear over the consequences of killing a holy man. The Nazarenes believe the tetrarch cannot stop the march of God through history, just as we Marxists believe the bourgeoisie cannot stop the dialectical movement of historical materialism.

Herod can hide the moon and the stars for only so long. Recall Iokanaan’s words: “In that day the sun shall become black like sackcloth of hair, and the moon shall become like blood, and the stars of the heaven shall fall upon the earth like unripe figs that fall from the fig-tree, and the kings of the earth shall be afraid.”

Furthermore, Salomé may be dead, but her double, that pale moon overhead, is still shining. In his poem, ‘Problems of Gender,’ Robert Graves wondered which gender to assign the moon, asking, “who controls the regal powers of night?” In Salomé, I think we know which sex controls them.

‘Claws,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twelve

The next day, Detectives Surian and Thurston were sitting on a bench in a dry-cleaning store, waiting to talk with the mom and pop owners, both of them of Polynesian descent. The detectives were watching a video recording on Surian’s cellphone.

“How were you able to sneak a hidden camera into Dr. Visner’s office without him or his receptionist knowing?” Thurston asked.

“I think ‘Chloe’ used her powers to distract those two so I could get in,” Surian said, trying to fast-forward the video to the exact point where Visner’s session with Callie began. “The door to his office was conveniently left open, with neither the shrink nor the receptionist around at the time to see what I was doing there.”

“If ‘Chloe’ used her powers to help you get info,” Thurston said, “then this must be part of a trap she’s laying for us. We’d better be careful.”

“Yeah, I know,” Surian said. “We’ve always known the dangers involved in pursuing her. Let it work. We need everything we can get to learn as much as possible about her. We’ll have her hoisted on her own petard soon enough. By the way, since I’ve already watched this video recording, I know what name she goes by from day to day: Callie Seaver.”

“So, ‘Chloe’ is just her stripper stage name?”

“Yes. It’s also Sandra Brahms’s mother’s name. And Callie is Sandra’s middle name, and Seaver was her mother’s maiden name.”

“Hmm. Interesting set of coincidences.”

The store owners walked up to them.

“Hello,” the female owner said. “My name is Vanessa Yama, and this is my husband, Raymond.”

The detectives got up and shook their hands. “Hi. Detective Andrew Thurston. Call me Andy.”

“Detective Agnes Surian,” she said, shaking Vanessa’s hand. “To get an idea of what I was talking about before with you, let’s watch this video I got of ‘Chloe,’ the stripper name of Callie Seaver, during a psychotherapy session with a man named Dr. Visner.”

“They allowed you to record this?” Vanessa asked.

“No, but I think the spirit inside Callie allowed me to sneak in and put a hidden camera in the room,” Surian said.

“If Kluh helped you do that, then she has plans for you as well as Callie and the psychiatrist,” Raymond said. “Kluh is all about…bringing people together.”

“So, what do you know about this ‘Kluh’?” Thurston asked.

“Let’s watch the video first, to see if this Callie really is possessed by the demoness,” Vanessa said. “We’ll be able to tell by her manner if Kluh is controlling her.”

They all sat side by side on that bench with Surian in the middle, all of them leaning over to look at her cellphone. She pressed PLAY.

“So, what has Kluh done lately, besides almost seduce me in The Gold Star?” Dr. Visner asked Callie in the video.

“I seduced one of the two cops who have been following me,” she said. “He was fun in bed.” She giggled.

Thurston’s face went red. Surian looked over at him and smirked. Now the Yamas’ faces went red.

“Did the beast claw him to death?” Visner asked as he jotted a few notes down. “I didn’t hear anything in the news about any killings lately.”

“We’ve heard about all those killings, of course,” Raymond said. “A hairy female beast with claws slices up her male lovers during sex. That sounds like Kluh.”

“And the girl in the video sure looks like a typical female host for the spirit,” Vanessa said. “Beautiful, sexy, and seductive.”

“Kluh can change the physical appearance of the host to make her more attractive to men,” Raymond said.

“We suspect that ‘Callie Seaver’ was originally Sandra Brahms,” Surian added. “A rather plump teenage girl sexually abused by her stepfather, who was killed by the beast in Hamilton a month or so ago.”

“She wrote about trying to contact the spirit world in several entries in a diary we found in her stepfather’s house in Hamilton,” Thurston said. “She tried to contact her mother’s ghost.”

“That is how Kluh is typically summoned,” Vanessa said with widened eyes. “The demoness initially pretends to be the ghost of a loved one trying to communicate with it. She exploits the emotional weaknesses of people she wants to take over, to get in.”

“Hey, let’s pay attention to the video,” Surian said. “Watch what Callie is doing. She’s undressing in front of the shrink!”

“Callie, please don’t do that,” Visner said, covering his nose and mouth. “That isn’t just any old perfume, is it?”

“Kluh’s pheromones,” Raymond said. “Her aphrodisiac for luring you in.”

In the video, Callie was standing before Dr. Visner in only a black lace bra and panties, and in black high heels.

“C’mon, Doctor,” she said, unhooking her bra. “You’ve seen it all already. Live a little.” She removed it and shook her breasts.

“She must be Kluh,” Vanessa said, noting the black panties coming off. “This is exactly the kind of exhibitionism we’d expect from the sex demoness. We’ve seen enough. We’re convinced this girl is the host.”

Surian stopped the video, saying, “Right when it was getting interesting.” She set her phone up to get an MP3 recording of her conversation with the Yamas. “OK, what do you know about Kluh? What does she want? How’s she going to get it?”

“I remember hearing stories about a ghost named Kluh back in my childhood, when Raymond and I grew up in Tahaiwi,” Vanessa said.

“Tahaiwi?” Thurston asked.

“It’s a small, obscure island in the Pacific Ocean, just south of the Equator at the northeastern-most point of the Polynesian triangle,” Raymond said. Thurston and Surian still had confused looks on their faces. “It’s northeast of the Marquesas Islands.”

“Thanks for the geography lesson,” Thurston said. “But what about Kluh?”

“To know about Kluh, you need to know a bit about Polynesian beliefs,” Vanessa said. “Our gods are similar to those of other Polynesians, but we have a lot of local beliefs that are really different from theirs, including how we conceive of mana.”

“What’s that?” Surian asked.

“It’s a special power in all living beings, but some have more of it than others, due to political influence, success in war, or, as we in Tahaiwi understand it, due to a stronger connection with the spirit world, which unifies everything,” Raymond said.

“We Polynesians stress the duality of all life,” Vanessa explained. “Body vs. spirit, good/evil, birth/death, pleasure/pain, etc. But in Tahaiwi, mana can grow through the merging of opposites.”

“OK,” Surian said. “But where does Kluh come into all of this?”

“Well, she builds power by uniting such opposites as beauty and ugliness–for example, having a sexy body, then turning into the horrible, clawed beast. She has sex, implying the creation of life, then kills her lover, causing the end of life,” Vanessa said.

“The merging of her spirit with Callie’s body is another merging of opposites,” Raymond added. “The same is true of her merging of opposing identities: the uniting of self and other.”

“That’s what Kluh has done with Callie,” said Vanessa. “And she’ll continue to do that, again and again, until…” She paused, not knowing how to continue.

“Until what?” Thurston asked.

“It’s hard to say,” Vanessa said. “It’ll sound over-the-top. You won’t believe it.”

“Just say it,” Thurston said.

“Until she’s absorbed all life on this planet, making it all a part of her,” Raymond said. “Causing the end of everything as we know it, like the end of the world. Then, there will be a new beginning. The end of the old life cycle, and the beginning of a new one.”

“You’re right,” Surian said. “I don’t believe it.”

“Look, all you need to know is that we need to stop her before she kills again,” Vanessa said. “We’ll need to do an exorcism as soon as possible, before she gains any more power. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to stop her as it is, but we must try.”

“Yes,” Raymond said. “Let’s go over to her place right now. You know where she lives?”

“Yes,” Surian said. “Let’s go.”

‘Claws,’ An Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Eleven

[some sexual content]

Nude Callie had a special guest in a VIP Room in The Gold Star that night: Dr. Visner.

“How did you know,” he panted as she rubbed her ass against his pointy lap, “that I was with…a Thai prostitute…when I was a young man?”

“How do you think…I know?” she sighed, getting wet from the pleasure of that point rubbing against her vulva.

“You must have found…an old…archived…newspaper story…about what…happened to her,” he moaned.

Callie took him by the wrists and put his hands on her breasts. He wanted to resist her sexuality, but her aphrodisiac pheromone smell was too powerful to resist. “What happened…to the Thai girl?”

“Stop pretending…you don’t know,” he sighed, enjoying the softness and smoothness of those large breasts cupped in his hands. “You must know. It was in…the story I read. It’s the only way…you could have known.”

“Oh? Refresh my…memory.”

“I’d rather not.”

“Why not?”

“It makes me feel…as guilty as I feel…with you now.”

Callie got up, turned around, and sat on his lap facing him, but not without first rubbing her breasts against his face. “Confession…is good for the soul. Tell me…what happened to her, and you’ll probably…feel better.”

“She…killed herself,” he groaned. “I read about it…in the paper…the day after…the night I’d had her. I recognized…her face in the photo.”

“Why do you think…your fucking her…was what made her…want to kill herself?” Callie asked. “How was your fucking her…any worse than…what any other man…could have done to her?” She put his hands on her ass, his fingers resting against her anal cleft.

“Because I…had anal with her. I paid her well, but I don’t think…she was too…accepting of how I…fucked her.”

“Were you too rough?” Callie asked, spreading her ass so his fingers would touch her anus.

“I don’t know,” he panted, one of his fingers massaging Callie’s anal ring. “I don’t think…I physically hurt her, but I think…she thought…what we were doing…was shameful.”

“I wouldn’t think that,” Callie said. “Ooh,” she moaned at the feeling of that finger. “I’d let you…do me that way.”

“But, your trauma…with your stepfather, Mort. I remind you…too much of him.”

“Oh, but you’re like…a good version of him,” she purred in his ear, then pecked him on the lips.

“How am I…’a good version,’ given what I did…to the Thai prostitute?” he asked.

“Because you resist…the temptation to have me. I like that. You’re a challenge. You can control your lust.”

“I didn’t…with the Thai girl.”

“You were young. You’ve learned to be good…since then.”

“My lust…made her kill herself.”

“You don’t know that. Anything could have happened…to make her want to kill herself. Stop blaming yourself.”

“But you’re my patient,” Visner said. “To sleep with you…would be a breach…of professional ethics.”

“And yet, you’re still here.” Her hand gave the erection in his pants a light squeeze, getting a grunt out of him.

“And that’s why…I should go.” He got up, the song having just ended, and put some money on the table. “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon in the office.” He left.

And that’s why I like you, Callie and Kluh thought together. You’re no pig. She put the money in her purse and left the VIP Room, too, not bothering to put any clothes on.

Back in the main area of the strip joint, she saw Thurston standing by the tip rail, alone…Surian wasn’t with him this time.

What I wanted, Callie/Kluh thought.

The psychiatrist passed by Thurston. “Goodnight, Dr. Visner!” Callie shouted out to him.

“Good night,” he called back, just before going outside.

Thurston recognized her voice, but–being addled by his divided attention between it, and seeing the man she’d called out to–he wasn’t sure which direction he’d heard her calling from. He was noting the erotic scent of her pheromones, though. The demoness in that curvaceous nude body went up to him.

“Good evening, Andy,” she said from behind him.

He turned around, then gasped at the sight of those beautiful breasts and shaved crotch. “You know…my first name?” he asked.

“I know a lot more about you and your girlfriend, Agnes, than you realize.” Thurston was amazed to see Callie’s sudden resemblance to Eva, his old teen crush.

“Agnes isn’t my girlfriend,” he panted, trying not to look down at her tits. Her pheromone scent was like drugs, dazing him.

“Oh, but you want her to be your girlfriend. She wants to be your girlfriend, too, though she’s too shy to say. You’ll be together with her one day. We’ll all be together one day. In the meantime, how about you and I be together for a while in the VIP Room? Would you like me to give you some lap dances? They’re lots of fun. $20 per song.”

“Oh, uh, OK.” As long as Agnes doesn’t know, he thought, she won’t doubt how much I like her. He followed Callie into the VIP Room, and they sat on a couch there together.

Five minutes later, she was grinding on his lap. She brushed her long, wavy hair against his face; the pheromone smell was overpowering.

If Callie seduces me tonight, he thought as he fondled her breasts, may she turn into the beast and kill me right then and there. She may be hot, but I’d rather make love with Agnes. Callie is making herself look like my old teenage crush to fuck with my mind; Agnes, however, is like Eva, in body and soul. I must never forget the difference; I’d rather die than betray Agnes for this demon-whore.

Just then, when the song ended, his cellphone rang. He fumbled to get it out of his jacket pocket. It was Surian.

“Hello?” he said into it with a shaky voice. Callie sat in the chair facing him, a smirk on her face.

“I found some Polynesians, living near Queen Street, who know how to exorcise demons,” Surian said. “Are you in The Gold Star, Andy?”

“Uh, yeah,” he sighed. “Sorry. I felt…compelled to come here.”

“Are you sitting at pervert’s row? The music isn’t all that loud, from what I hear.”

“I’m in a…VIP Room.” He looked up from his phone and saw Callie grinning.

“Are you with her?” Surian asked, almost in anger.

“With ‘Chloe,’ yeah,” Thurston said, with a tinge of guilt in his voice, and noting ‘Chloe’ grinning a wider grin.

“Andy!” Surian said. “Get out of there. You know how dangerous she is!”

“I know…I can’t…help it.”

“She’s turning you on. She’s hypnotizing you.”

“Don’t be jealous. I like you more. You know that.”

“Oh, fuck off with that. You’re in danger.”

“I’m not gonna fuck ‘er, Agnes.”

I wouldn’t be too sure about that, if I were you, Andy, Callie thought.

“Andy, you know how that woman’s sexy smell can mess with your mind,” Surian said. “I’m coming over there. Don’t let her take you out of there.” She hung up.

“Wanna go to a hotel with me?” Callie asked, still grinning.

“Oh, uh, OK,” he said, his eyes half open.

**************

Twenty minutes later, Surian arrived at The Gold Star. She ran in, looking around everywhere in the strip joint. All the VIP Rooms were empty at the time.

“Fuck!” she shouted. “He left with her.” She ran back outside.

**************

In a hotel room just a few blocks away, nude Callie was riding on top of clothed Thurston (his zipper open and his hard cock sticking out), in the cowgirl position. The mattress of their bed squeaked with her every bounce.

“Oh!” she screamed, orgasming. Panting as she got off of him, she noticed he was still as erect as a monolith. “You need to be finished off.” She knelt at the side of the bed, and gestured to him to sit with his legs on either side of her.

He sat there, and she–looking up into his eyes–took his cock in her mouth. He looked down in her eyes, amazed at her skills as her head went up and down on him.

Memories of her blowing her stepfather flashed before her eyes as she sucked Thurston off. Mort’s cruel eyes looking down at her, from her teen memories, made her shake and flinch in agitation.

***************

Surian had driven to Thurston’s apartment, then to Callie’s. No sound of moaning or sex could be heard in either place, let alone any other sounds indicating they were at home.

Memories of that bear attacking her teen boyfriend flashed before her eyes. Please, God, she thought, not knowing anywhere else to look for them, Don’t let the beast kill Andy. “He isn’t answering his phone,” she said to herself as she put hers back in her purse.

***************

I shouldn’t be here, Thurston thought as he looked down into Callie’s eyes. Her mouth and tongue feel fantastic, but I’d rather be with Agnes. She must think I’m just another typical pussy-chasing dude, but even she knows that ‘Chloe’ is controlling my whole time here with her. Sometimes I see a slutty smile on her face, sometimes…I see anger, fear. Is something going to set her off, make that hair grow all over her, make those claws grow from her fingertips? Agnes is right: I’m in danger, but how can I break Chloe’s spell?

As Callie looked up into Thurston’s eyes while sucking his cock, images of his face alternated with those of Mort. She was shaking all over.

As he was approaching orgasm, he listened to her moans–at times, lustful, at other times, menacing. Finally, just before he came, he heard a moan sound like a growl.

His eyes widened.

He thought he saw a few hairs growing on her arms as he shot bullets of come down her throat. He gasped in a mix of pleasure and terror. He squeezed his eyes together as he continued coming in her mouth.

He heard what seemed another growl or two.

Finally spent, and with her lips no longer wrapped around his penis, he dared to open his eyes.

All he saw was smiling Callie, putting his penis back in his pants and zipping him up.

Now he gave a sigh of relief.

“OK,” she said as she rose to her feet. “I think we’re done here, Andy. You can go. We paid for only a ‘rest,’ as you’ll recall.”

“Oh, uh, OK,” he said, his eyes half-open. “Good night. Thanks for the good time.”

“No, thank you,” she said as he staggered to the door. Your come inside me will strengthen our connection, she thought. It’s a good thing I reined myself in at the last second; otherwise, you’d be lying in a pillow of blood.

*****************

As Thurston staggered down the street back to his car in The Gold Star parking lot, he felt his cellphone vibrating in his pocket. He took it out. “Hello?”

“Oh, thank God you’re OK!” Surian almost sobbed. The memory of that bear killing her old boyfriend flashed before her eyes again.

“Yeah, she didn’t change into the beast.”

“Did you fuck her?”

“Uh, yeah. I’m sorry, Agnes. She–“

“I know she made you do her. I’m just glad she didn’t kill you.” He thought he heard a sob or two.

“Really? You mean, you do like me?” he slurred, still feeling a little dazed from the aftereffect of those pheromones.

“Oh, shut up, Andy. You’re my partner, that’s all. I need you.” That bear’s face flashed before her mind’s eye again.

“You need me as…a partner of another kind, I do detect.”

“Fuck off with that, will you? Look, I’ve learned some useful things about her. Not only can we get these Polynesian immigrants to exorcise the demon from ‘Chloe,’ but I know that she’s been seeing a shrink named Dr.–what was it?–Visner.”

“Hey, that name…sounds familiar.”

‘Claws,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Ten

Agnes Surian lay in bed that night, tossing and turning in her sleep.

Walking in the woods in British Columbia with her boyfriend, back when they were teens…Sometimes, it’s daytime, sometimes, nighttime, going back and forth between light and dark…she looks to her left and sees Thurston beside her, instead of her teen sweetheart.

“So, the beast is hiding among these trees?” he asks her.

“Yes. I’m sure of it,” she says. “Trust me, Andy, I know what I’m…”

Suddenly, a brown bear appears…She and her old teen boyfriend scream.

The bear attacks her boyfriend, a claw swatting his face.

She pulls out her gun and aims at the bear…A fog floats before her eyes, blurring everything…She drops the pistol…That pheromone smell…The fog clears…Instead of seeing the bear killing her teen boyfriend, she sees Thurston again, being gored by Callie as the beast…Surian screams.

The beast’s body hair falls off, and she changes back into nude, beautiful Callie.

She smiles and spreads her legs for Surian.

“Lick me, Agnes,” she says with lewdness in her eyes.

Surian woke up with a jerk and a grunt.

“Oh, Jesus!” she gasped.

***************

The next morning, Surian went to Callie’s apartment building, to the first floor apartment across from the crates in the alley. She saw the man in his kitchen through the window, the man who’d had sex with Callie that other time.

Surian rapped her knuckles on the window with one hand and flashed her badge with the other. “Detective Agnes Surian,” she said when he opened the door. “I’m working with the Toronto police. I’d like to ask you a few questions about a female tenant of this building, one I know that you’ve had…contact with…She’s blonde, beautiful, and often…without any clothes.”

“Oh, yeah,” he grunted with a lewd smirk. “Her.”

“What can you tell me about her?” Surian asked.

“Oh, she was nice,” he groaned, then licked his lips. “Such a beautiful…”

“Sir, I”m not interested in the pornographic details. Did she tell you her name, or which apartment she lives in? What floor does she live on…do you know?”

“Oh, uh, I think she lives on the seventh floor. I went up to her by the elevator and asked if I could have another screw.” Surian struggled not to roll her eyes. “She told me to fuck off.”

Gee, what a surprise, Surian thought.

“Then I saw her get in the elevator alone. It went up to the seventh floor. Later, I went up there to look around. I turned right after getting off the elevator and went down the hall. There was a powerful, sexy smell that got stronger and stronger as I continued to the end. It was at its strongest when I’d reached the farthest room on the right. It put me in a daze, though, and I couldn’t remember anything after that. Funny thing: the next thing I remember, I woke up in bed here in my apartment. There’s something voodoo about that chick.”

“Thank you,” Surian said. “I think I know all I need now. Goodbye.” She started walking out of the alley.

“Hey!” he shouted just before she disappeared out of the alley. “If you go talk to her, let ‘er know I’d be happy to satisfy her with my cock again!” His eyes were beaming with hope.

“I sure will, Super-stud,” Surian called back, then laughed.

**************

She went into the apartment and got in the elevator. When she got out at the seventh floor, the pheromone smell was already in the air. She held her breath as long as she could as she hurried down to the end of the right-side hall. She opened the hall window by Callie’s door as wide as possible to air out the powerful fumes. She stuck her head out, exhaled, and breathed all the fresh air she could hope to get from outside. Still, that sexy smell dazed her.

Room 717. Her eyesight grew blurry, but not so much that she couldn’t read the number on the door and remember it. She knocked.

Callie answered, opening the door wide.

She stood before Surian, naked from head to toe.

“Good morning, Agnes,” she said with a grin.

“How do you…know my name?” Surian slurred.

“I know a lot about you and your boyfriend cop. The vibrations unifying the universe give me access to all kinds of knowledge, including your life.”

“Andy’s not…my boyfriend.”

“He will be. You want him to be.”

Surian looked down at Callie’s breasts and hairless crotch. “Do you…ever wear clothes?”

“Not if I don’t need to. Anyway, you’ve already seen every inch of me many times, so there’s no point in my hiding my body from you. Do you like it? Check me out again.” Callie turned around for Surian, who admired the roundness of Callie’s buttocks. “I know you’ve experimented with lesbian sex a few times. Come on in. Lick my pussy.”

“Oh,…uh,…OK,” Surian sighed, then entered the apartment.

Callie closed the door and took Surian by the hand, leading her into the bedroom. Callie lay on the bed on her back and spread her legs. Surian put her face in between: the pheromone scent gave her no choice not to.

Callie moaned and sighed as Surian licked and sucked on her hard clitoris. Kluh put a thought in Surian’s mind, repeating it over and over like a psychic chant: Google Kluh…Polynesian myth…know more about who I am…

Callie sprayed her orgasm into Surian’s mouth. Before she knew it, she’d already gulped it down. She rose to her feet, then stood before smiling Callie like a soldier ready to receive her next orders.

“Thank you, Agnes, for giving me so much pleasure,” said the demoness in flawless human form. “You will forget all that happened here, including where my apartment is. Now, go…and don’t forget to Google me and my myths.”

Surian walked out of the apartment like an automaton.

*************

That afternoon, Surian was at the 22 Division police station. She sat in a chair in Detective Hicks’s office, reading something on her phone when he and Thurston entered the room.

“So, what have you got for us about the beast, Detective?” Hicks asked as he got to his desk.

“Just a minute,” she said, her eyes widening as she read.

“Oh, sorry, Detective,” Hicks growled. “I didn’t know your social life on Facebook and Twitter was more important than finding the beast and saving lives. Don’t forget the hashtag when you share your posts!”

“Hicks, please,” Thurston said. “For your information, we’ve come a lot closer to catching this beast than all your cops combined.”

“Don’t talk back to me, Thurston!” Hicks shouted. “You and your werewolf/Dr. Jekyll story? Don’t make me laugh! Its ‘magic’ erased your video of the girl’s transformations, eh? How convenient!”

“C’mon, Andy,” she said, rising to her feet and putting her phone in her purse. “Let’s follow ‘Chloe’ and see if she ever talks about a spirit named ‘Kluh’.” She and Thurston walked out of the office.

“So, there’s an evil spirit now, eh?” Hicks shouted as they walked past all the other detectives’ desks towards the exit. “You’ve even deluded yourselves that it has a name? You two are a joke!”

“Ignore him,” Thurston said. “What have you learned?”

“Well, I’m wondering if there are any Polynesian exorcists in the Toronto area,” she said.

‘Claws,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Nine

[Some sexual content]

Detectives Surian and Thurston sat at the tip rail in The Gold Star that night, waiting for Callie to come onstage. A nude stripper was doing the last song of her floorshow. She spread her legs in front of Thurston.

Surian laughed at him for the embarrassment she saw on his face. “C’mon, Andy,” she said. “Enjoy yourself.”

“You’re the only one for me, Agnes,” he said in her ear.

“Oh, fuck off, Andy,” she said. “Pussy is pussy. You’re a guy, aren’t you? Live a little. I don’t care.”

“I care that you don’t,” he said…and meant that. He always flirted with Agnes Surian because he really liked her. “You’re much prettier than she is.”

“Bullshit I am,” she said. “That woman has a much better body than I have.”

“I’ll always like your brown eyes, and that cute brunette bob cut of yours, to that woman’s silicone anytime.”

“You’re not getting me that easily, Andy. Watch her.”

“Every time you talk like that, Agnes, you remind me of my high school crush, the girl you look like, who friend-zoned me and broke my heart.”

“She was that plain-looking and flat-chested, eh?”

“Oh, come one! You have more boob than that, more real boob than that stripper, and more smarts, which I find especially attractive.”

“Oh, aren’t you sweet. Stare at her ass, not at me.”

“Really. Your hunches about perps are accurate as fuck. You found the beast.”

“Who’s coming on next,” Surian reminded him. “Just don’t let yourself get mesmerized when she’s onstage. We don’t wanna lose…’Chloe’…again.”

“Agreed,” he said, glad the stripper’s spread was no longer in front of his face. “You remember what ‘Chloe’ looks like?”

“Yeah, I saw her over on the other side of the bar a while ago. You’ll see her soon.”

The song ended, and the stripper left the stage.

“All right, gentlemen,” the DJ announced as Callie got on the stage. “Let’s give a big hand for this sexy lady. Here’s…Chloe.” A chorus of men’s cheers pounded on the detectives’ eardrums.

“Remember, Andy,” Surian said in Thurston’s ear. “As soon as you smell those sexy pheromones, hold your breath. She uses that smell to fuck with our heads.”

“Got it,” he said. “Then we follow her, and if we can get a chance to see a transformation, we get video of it on our cellphones to show that prick, Detective Hicks, and get him to believe us.”

“Yes,” she said. They looked up at Callie with grins as she shook her ass in that tight dress and those black fishnet stockings.

**************

At about 2:00 AM, the detectives had followed Callie to the apartment of a man she was about to have sex with. They were lucky enough to be able to climb up to a third-floor balcony where they could look in a window and see her nude body bouncing on top of her lover in bed.

“I can’t believe we were lucky enough to find the right room so fast,” Thurston said.

“I can,” Surian said. “She seems to have the power to lure people anywhere she needs them to be. She probably put the intuition in our heads to look here first.”

“You mean she wanted us to find her here?” he asked. “You think she can do that?”

“Yes,” Surian said. “If she has the power to turn into a hairy, clawed beast, she probably has all kinds of powers, including her power to hypnotize us with those pheromones. She wants us here, and wants us to follow her around for some reason–I don’t know what that is, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. So we’ll have to watch out for any traps she tries to set for us.”

“OK,” he said. They both took out their cellphones and set them to video camera. “I feel like a porno director.”

“Enjoy your perviness,” she said. “She’s hot, isn’t she?”

“I’d rather be pervy with you, Agnes. You’re hotter.”

“Shut up. I am not.”

“Oh, yes, you are.”

“Just get video of the proof, and stop hitting on me.”

They had been getting video of Callie and the man having sex in the cowgirl position for a minute or two before, at the sight of her wiggling tits, Thurston opened his mouth: “Check out bouncing Chloe.”

“Oh, behave yourself, Andy,” Surian said.

“You said, ‘Enjoy your perviness,’ Agnes,” he said.

“In your private thoughts, please,” she said. “I’m not a dude. I don’t wanna hear it.”

“Wait: what are they doing now?” he asked after seeing the man roll over and get on top of her. He got her on all fours. “So, he wants to do her doggy-style now?”

“No, wait,” Callie said, loud enough for the detectives to hear. Her lover was trying to enter her anally.

A flashback went past Callie’s eyes: Mort rolling over and rolling her over on all fours, so he could sodomize her…back when she was thirteen.

“No!” Callie shouted again.

“Oh, c’mon, baby!” the man said, starting to push in.

“I said…NO!” she shouted, growling the last word.

“Holy shit!” the detectives whispered together as they saw hair grow out all over Callie’s body. Her lover moved back, startled and speechless, his eyes and mouth wide open.

“You’re recording all this, right?” Surian asked in a shaky voice, her eyes agape.

“Yeah,” Thurston gasped with his jaw all the way down. “Are you?”

“Of course. Oh, my God!”

Callie’s lover screamed, then her claws sliced across his throat, splashing blood all over the bed. He fell on his right side, shaking, clutching his throat, and coughing out blood. The beast stabbed its claws, both hands, into his chest. He no longer moved. Surian and Thurston were now the ones shaking.

Then the beast looked at the window.

“Oh, shit!” the detectives said when the eyes of the smiling beast met theirs. It jumped off the bed, bounced on the floor, and flew at the window. “Fuck!” the detectives cried.

They dodged apart from each other in time for the beast to break through the glass and fly out between them. It landed on the front lawn of the apartment and ran off.

Thurston called backup. “The beast is back,” he said. “It’s running down Jarvis Street towards Isabella Street. Surian and I will wait for it at Edward Road, on the other side of town. Hurry!”

****************

Whenever cops confronted the beast as it ran and jumped down this or that road, a mere whiff of its intoxicating pheromonal smell, which quickly spread around everywhere it went, overpowered the cops to the point that they couldn’t aim their guns at it, much less fire at it.

The smell even got into the police cars through opened windows or car doors, causing a fog of disorientation that made it impossible to follow the beast. By about 5 AM, it had returned to Edward Road, to the alley next to Callie’s apartment building. The two detectives had been waiting.

Hiding behind the bushes in Edward Park across the road, they grinned to see the beast plodding along in exhaustion, leaving a trail of tufts of its hair. It entered the alley and went behind the crates, as it had last time.

The detectives came out from the bushes and crossed the road. With their pistols cocked, they entered the alley.

The beast lay asleep behind those crates again. Surian and Thurston put their guns away and took out their cellphones, which they reset to video camera. They began to record video of the beast from the shoulders up.

All those hairs on its skin were slithering back, retreating into their follicles. Its claws were shortening, changing back into fingernails.

“This is…incredible,” Thurston whispered. “Wow!”

“I know, but don’t make any noise,” Surian whispered. “She might wake up and get hairy again.”

Callie’s hair changed from brown back to blonde. Now fully changed from beast back to beauty, she lay there still asleep, the same nude sex goddess she was every night in The Gold Star, all clean, freshened up, and as if ready for a Playboy photo shoot.

“She doesn’t even need to pretty herself up in the bathroom,” Surian gasped, still in amazement at what they’d seen. “This is some kind of major supernatural shit we’re seeing here. You got all that recorded, Andy?”

“Yep,” he said with a smile. “We have all the proof we need. This should make Hicks finally take us seriously.”

Callie woke up.

“Good morning, ‘Chloe,’ or Sandra, or whatever your name is,” Surian said with a triumphant smile. “We’ve finally got you.”

“Hi,” Callie said with an ear-to-ear grin, not at all intimidated by them.

Before the detectives could hold their breath, they’d already inhaled a huge whiff of that aphrodisiac pheromone smell. Their heads were swaying from side to side.

“How about a threesome, detectives?” Callie asked. “I know you two like each other, and I know you both like me.”

Surian and Thurston got down on their knees. They dropped their cellphones on the ground. His head went between Callie’s spread legs; Surian’s lips wrapped themselves around Callie’s left nipple. Both detectives began sucking, kissing, and licking. Callie took a cellphone in each hand.

Her hands let out a glow surrounding both cellphones. The demoness’s power erased the memory of the video recordings. Callie orgasmed from Thurston’s lips and tongue on her clitoris, spraying come into his mouth. Kluh’s magic caused Callie to lactate, feeding Surian generous gulps of milk.

Now with the demoness’s fluids inside them, the detectives moved away from Callie’s body; for those fluids were now swimming inside the detectives’ bodies, giving Kluh direct psychic control of both of them. Still mesmerized, the two began French-kissing on the ground there in the alley as Callie got up and walked out of the alley, insouciant about her nudity, her hands at her sides and allowing anyone watching at the time to see all of her body if he or she wished to.

She went to the front door of her apartment building and used her power to unlock it, just by using the tip of her finger to tap on the keyhole. She did the same with that of her apartment, with no need of a key, when she’d reached her floor from the elevator. A hypnotized neighbour of her latest victim would soon arrive at the door of her apartment with her purse and clothes.

The detectives snapped out of their stupor after another ten minutes of necking. Thurston gave Surian a few more kisses on the lips and cheek.

“Stop it!” she said, slapping him. “You pig!”

“Oh, come on, cutie-pie,” he said, rubbing his cheek. “You were as into the kissing as I was.”

“‘Chloe’ used her power to make us do that, to distract us while she got away,” she said. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. We got video of both transformations.” They picked up their cellphones and checked where they’d saved the video recordings. We can finally prove–“

“Hey, what happened to them?” he said, frowning.

“She must have erased them while we were…fuck!”

“Let’s go find her apartment.”

“She’ll probably elude us again. We’ll have to think of a different strategy. I’d like to know what she does with herself when she isn’t stripping. I’d like to follow her around in the day, and see if there’s anything we can learn about her that way.”

“Yeah, in any case, we still have that sexy smell of hers fogging up our brains. We can’t think straight, so we can’t do much here and now.”

Yes, follow me around in the day, Callie/Kluh thought as she lay on her bed on her back. Learn more about me through Dr. Visner.

‘Claws,’ An Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Eight

Ten minutes before his therapy session with Callie, Dr. Visner was sitting at his desk thinking about her.

I remind her of her stepfather, he thought as he looked over his notes. He tricked her into thinking she enjoyed the sex with him. She looks at me with desire in her eyes, and I don’t think that’s just my countertransference making me want to think she wants me, though I must be careful with my countertransference. She is beautiful and desirable, that stripper, and because of the sexual abuse she suffered from her stepfather, her transference with me–though amorous on the surface–will have unconscious hostility to me, too.

Beyond the obvious ethical problems of me possibly being involved with her sexually, he continued in his meditations, there’s the danger of her turning violent on me. Her stepfather, Mort Brahms, it turns out was the man killed by that animal in the Hamilton news story…and there have been sightings of such a beast here in Toronto, after the killings of two men during sex with them. She must have delusions that she’s this beast. Does she own a pet of some exotic kind? Does she dress up in a furry costume, with fake claws? The police insist that the victims didn’t have knife wounds, but claw wounds. The men wouldn’t have fucked her when she was wearing such a costume, I think it’s safe to assume; few men would be turned on by that. She wouldn’t have changed into such a costume right after the kills, for she was at their homes, and why would she carry the costume around? I can’t seriously be expected to believe she transforms into a beast, as with her Hulk fixation, so what’s going on?

His receptionist spoke on the intercom: “Ms. Seaver is here for her appointment, Dr. Visner.”

“OK,” he said. “Send her in.”

Callie entered the room. His jaw dropped.

She was wearing a sleeveless, skin-tight, PVC red dress that went half-way down her upper legs and showed off a generous amount of cleavage. She also wore black fishnet stockings and matching high heels. She’d painted her face with thick black mascara, purple eye shadow, pink blush, and red lipstick.

“What do you think?” she asked with a grin. “Do you like it?” She turned around for him, then sat in a chair facing him. Without panties, she at first had her knees together, but over the next several minutes she would slowly, almost imperceptibly, open her legs. As her legs drifted open, that pheromone emanated from her.

He took a deep breath and resisted looking between her legs. “Why are you…dressed like that?” he asked. The pheromone buzz was already beginning to affect him; his eyes were half-closed, and his head swayed left to right.

“I’ll be stripping at The Gold Star tonight,” she said. “As soon as we finish here, I’ll be going over there, so I won’t have time to change. Besides, I wanted to look hot for you.”

He pushed himself to regain control. “Don’t I…remind you…of your hateful stepfather? He who…cruelly sodomized you, and drove your mother…to suicide?”

“You may look like Mort, but I can see you’re a much better man than he ever was.”

“I see.” With effort, he was writing notes. Don’t grill her on Mort’s death, he thought, blinking a lot. Discuss it only if she brings it up, and even then, be tactful. “But you…hardly know anything about me. How do you know…I’m any better than he was?”

“I know enough,” she and Kluh said together, as they were always communicating together now; indeed, Callie’s personality had become barely distinct from that of the demoness. Their souls were like circles in a Venn diagram that overlapped about ninety percent, with only thin edges of the one soul and the other not touching. Because of this psychic closeness with the mind-reading demoness, Callie’s ‘knowing enough’ about Visner was no exaggeration.

“You know…the idealized version…of a father/lover figure…that you’ve projected onto me,” the therapist nonetheless insisted. I feel high, he thought, still blinking.

“Is that so?” she asked, her legs wide open now, her agape eyes and pursed lips giving him no doubt that the exposure of her vulva was fully intentional. “Enlighten me.” The pheromone aroma grew more and more powerful.

“Y-yes, w-well…,” he began, stammering not so much from her exhibitionism, or the pheromones, as from her choice in clothes; for her outfit was an exact replica of that of a young Thai prostitute he’d enjoyed, many years ago, during the partying years of his youth in Southeast Asia, just before he began his master’s degree. “Because of your trauma, your personality has split into three…aspects, we’ll say.”

“You think I have three personalities?”

“No, I-I don’t think necessarily that–not yet, anyway. I’ll try to explain this…to you in a way…that w-won’t sound like…psychoanalytic jargon. I’ll use language you can understand. Y-you…”

“No need to dumb it down too much. I’m smarter than you think.”

“No, Callie, I don’t mean to condescend. Anyway, there’s you in your original ego-state, just wanting to connect with people, as we all do when we’re healthy. But, because of the divorce…of your parents, your father’s…distancing himself from you, then his death, your mother’s suicide, and your stepfather’s…rapes, that original you…has developed two other, subsidiary egos.”

“OK, I’m intrigued,” she said with a smirk, her legs still wide open. “What are these ‘subsidiary egos’?”

“Well, one of them is an angry, hateful, and even violent beast, so to speak.”

Her eyes widened. Her smirk grew wider.

“This ‘beast’ rejects people, because it’s been hurt…so many times by them, and it can only remember…pain and rejection itself. The other is…w-well…as you are now…full of lust and desire, e-eager for the fulfillment of pleasure.”

“Oh, you’re right about that,” she said, using her power to open her vagina into a big, black hole.

The pheromone smell was overpowering. Still, he held on to his composure, as shaky as he was getting. He just looked down at his notepad and wrote more notes, but his shaky hand made the words almost illegible.

“Don’t worry. I won’t let the beast get you.” She licked her lips at the visible erection in his pants.

“Do you want to talk about the beast?”

“I’d rather talk about the horny version of me.”

“I can see that.”

“Yeah…but you aren’t looking.”

“Do you feel insulted about that?”

“No. I know you want me. I can feel it. You’re just a little shy. Actually, your resistance makes you all the more attractive to me. Men who jump at every opportunity for sex are boring. You’ll come to me, though, in time.”

“I will, will I?” he asked with a smirk, looking directly into her eyes and trying his best not to look down.

“Oh, yes,” she said, still showing off that wide-open hole, and smiling from noticing his occasional, furtive looks. “As I said, the beast won’t kill you.”

“I’m not concerned…about a beast killing me.” His head was spinning from the sexy smell.

“You’ve been following the recent local news, haven’t you?”

“Of course I have. A hairy beast…killed two men…by slicing them up…with razor-sharp claws. Police claim…they’ve seen such an animal, a furry one…with a woman’s curves, running about…and jumping up high, in huge leaps, on the streets at night. Are you saying…that this beast is a part of you?”

“Oh, yes,” she said. “But you don’t believe that, do you?”

“I believe the beast…is a figment of your imagination.”

“But you do acknowledge that I killed those men, and Mort? You do acknowledge that the police really saw a hairy animal with a figure as curvy as mine?”

“I acknowledge…the possibility of your having…killed them. I acknowledge that people have seen…a beast out there; but I’m a psychotherapist, not a forensic scientist. I’ll leave it up to them…to decide if you killed those men, if there really is…a hairy animal out there, and if that animal…is connected with you…in any way other than…in your imagination.”

“OK.”

“You believe…you killed those men…as that beast, but I’m not yet convinced…that your guilt in those matters…is anything other than…a figment of your imagination. You’re clearly deeply disturbed…and traumatized; this trauma is making it difficult…for you to see things…as they are. I care about you, and I want to help you. You’re terribly fragmented, split up…into three parts.”

“Actually, the fragments are all coming together. You’ll be joining us, too, Doctor, in a very special way…in a way, in fact, that will go beyond how you came together with that girl prostitute in Bangkok many years back.”

He dropped his pen and notepad.

‘Claws,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Seven

Detectives Surian and Thurston were sitting in her car on a street near the apartment building where the blue-haired stripper was with her boyfriend. They’d been waiting there for hours; it was about 2:30 in the morning.

“I told you nothing was going to come of this,” he said, sipping his coffee.

“What if she was the wrong girl?” Surian asked. “Another girl with her hair dyed blue?”

“I saw only one stripper in The Gold Star with blue hair,” Thurston said. “This must be her. I don’t see an animal anywhere, though.”

“Let’s just wait another hour or so, OK? We’ve already invested enough time in this.”

“She and that man who entered her apartment are probably just asleep after a fuck…as we should be.”

“Shut up, Andy. You’re not getting me that easily. Anyway, maybe–“

Her cellphone rang. She fumbled in her purse for it.

“Hello? Surian here.” Her eyes and mouth widened at the words heard from the other end. “OK, we’re on our way.” She hung up and started the car.

“Someone spotted the beast?” he asked.

“Yes, in a neighbourhood on the other side of town.” Her tires screeched on the road as she tore down it.

“I told you we were wasting our time here, Agnes.”

“Shut up.”

*************

They were about halfway to the point where Surian’s caller told her where he saw the beast when he called her again.

“Hello?” she said into her cellphone.

“The beast has just been spotted on Yonge Street,” the caller said. “It’s running towards the intersection at Bloor.”

It’s near Yonge and Bloor?” she said. “We just drove past that intersection, didn’t we, Andy? I forget.”

“Yes, we did,” Thurston said. “Do a U-ie and go back.”

Her tires screeched on the road again as she swung the car around. On the way back to that intersection, though, she hadn’t driven past two buildings before hairy, clawed Callie landed on the roof of her car, denting it with her weight so far as to push a deep crater on it between the heads of Surian and Thurston.

“What the fuck?!” he yelled. He and Surian rocked in their seats as the car stopped.

They swung open their doors and got out with their pistols already in their hands. He spun around and looked up at Callie on the depressed car roof.

“My fucking car!” Surian shouted. “C’mon, Andy, shoot ‘er!”

But he just froze at the sight of the furry creature with her wild, yellow-toothed grin.

“Jesus Chri–,” he began, raising his gun at Callie.

She swatted him before he could pull the trigger. He lay on the road, knocked out. She’d bent down to hit him just in time to dodge a bullet Surian fired at her back.

Callie looked back at the detective with a smile. Kluh caused a fog to obscure Surian’s vision. She smelled a familiar, intoxicating smell, too. In her daze, she allowed Callie to jump on her.

Her gun fell out of her hand, then the fog cleared. She looked up at the grinning face of the hairy beast. Callie held her right hand over the cop’s face, the claws an inch or so above her nose. She moved her fingers in a slow dance, as if trying to decide whether to gouge out Surian’s eyes or slice off her nose. The detective could only wince and hope for mercy.

Callie moved her hand away and brought her face down to meet Surian’s. Their noses touched. Their eyes were locked on each other’s. That ‘sex pheromone’ smell was overwhelming.

Callie heard a grunt from Thurston as he’d come to and was getting up. She jumped off of Surian and flew high in the air and out of sight. Surian just lay there, trembling.

“Are you OK?” he asked, offering a hand to help her up.

“I don’t think I pissed my panties, if that’s what you mean.”

“I don’t smell that, but I do smell the smell of that stripper.”

“That’s right,” she said, now on her feet. “I told you we weren’t wasting our time.”

************

Kluh’s powers threw a fog over the air that ensured that all the other police lost Callie; but Surian and Thurston were given clear enough air to follow her well enough to find, by around 5:30 in the morning, more long, brown hairs. These were found on the dewy grass of a park across the road from Callie’s apartment building. More and more groupings of hairs made a path across the road.

Picking up some hairs on the sidewalk between the park and the road, Surian said, “Andy, take my car to 22 Division and show them these hairs. Tell Detective Hicks what happened two and a half hours ago, then come back to pick me up.”

“Nobody will believe what we saw,” Thurston said.

“I know. Do it anyway. We’ll prove it later.”

“You wanna go find her over there all alone, right?”

“Of course. Now, go on.”

“I don’t like the idea of you facing her all alone, Agnes.”

“A naked hottie hiding in an alley? I think my gun and I can handle her. Don’t be jealous; I won’t get horny.”

“How do you know she isn’t still in her monster state?”

“Well, she isn’t rampaging anymore, she only comes out at night, and we never start seeing hairs until her rampages are all over.”

“Well, OK,” he said, turning towards the dented car. “The split second you feel in danger, call me and I’ll race back here.”

“Thank you, honey. Now, get going.”

He got in the car and drove off, in all reluctance. She crept across the road, her eyes locked on that alley. Was a naked stripper lying behind the pile of wooden crates standing against the wall of the building on the left, opposite to Callie’s apartment? Surian took out her gun.

A man living on the ground floor of Callie’s apartment looked out his window and, indeed, saw naked Callie lying asleep, from his point of view, to the right of those crates. Unlike during those previous times, she now didn’t look dirty or sweaty; her hair wasn’t disheveled, either. She lay there as flawlessly photogenic as a Playboy model, all thanks to Kluh’s growing powers.

“Is this my lucky day, or what?” the man whispered.

He went out the side door to get a closer look.

Surian, absent-minded as she stood in the middle of the road, watched the scene with growing interest.

Callie woke up and saw him standing there, ogling her body. She and Kluh also sensed, through the vibrations between her body and the road, Surian’s presence. On her back, Callie spread her legs.

The man grinned at the sight of her immaculately hairless vulva.

“Well?” she said, impatient and almost annoyed with him.

“Well, what?” he asked in his lustful stupor.

“Are you gonna take me in your home and fuck me, or what?”

“Oh, uh, yeah,” he said, snapping out of it. He put out his hand to help her up. She took it and stood.

A car horn beeped Surian out of the way as Callie emerged from the crates. As Surian stumbled closer to the alley, Callie looked over to her. Instantly, those sex pheromones emanated from her, the smell entrancing both Surian and the man. He led Callie into his apartment.

The cop went over to the window, walking in a daze and trying to regain her self-control. The gun fell out of her hand. She looked through the window to see him and Callie in his kitchen. Callie lay on the floor on her back with her legs spread. He was so distracted by his lust that he never bothered to look at the window and see Surian. He unzipped his pants and entered her.

Surian just stood there, stupefied by the smell of the pheromones as she watched the sex. Her will melted away; she felt as if she were in the middle of a dream. She rubbed her hand against her crotch.

You want us, Detective, Callie and Kluh communicated psychically to her. But you can’t have us now. We’ll be together, in time. For now, though, goodbye.

Surian was made to turn around and walk back to the sidewalk, forgetting her gun and leaving it there in the alley. She stood on the sidewalk and stayed there in her daze for a half hour before Thurston returned in her car. She got in.

“Well?” he asked. “Was she there?”

“No,” she said in the oblivion of her daze, from which she was slowly coming out. “But I do think she lives in that apartment, or at least in the area.”

“Hicks doesn’t believe our story about the dent on your car. He asked if we were high when it happened.”

“That’s OK. We’ll prove it later. We’re getting close to her. I can feel it.”

“So, what do we do for now? Stake out that apartment?”

“We’ll go back to The Gold Star,” she said, “and see if we can find her. That aphrodisiac smell is definitely coming from her, though she’s tricky with how she uses it to manipulate people.”

“Yeah, she hypnotizes us with lust…though you’re still my favourite.”

“Shut up, Andy. I want to see if any research is out there, on Google or in the library, about the…phenomenon…we saw last night. Though I don’t know what to look up. No name for the beast, so far as I know.”

Don’t worry, Agnes, Kluh and Callie mused as they borrowed some of the man’s clothes, left his apartment in them, and went up the elevator to her apartment. You’ll find out all about the spirit world in due time. She used her powers to unlock her apartment door, went in, and waited for a neighbour of the dead photographer’s, under her mind control, to come to her apartment with her clothes and purse.

‘Claws,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Six

[some sexual content]

A few nights after, Surian and Thurston were sitting at the tip rail in The Gold Star.

“We’ve been checking out all the girls here for several nights now, and we still haven’t found anyone who’ll lead us to the beast,” Thurston said. “I really think we’re wasting our time.”

“We haven’t seen all the girls yet,” Surian said. “Check out this new one coming onstage. We haven’t talked to her yet.”

On went Callie. “And now, let’s give a big hand to this sexy lady,” the DJ announced. “Here’s…Chloe.”

Chloe?” Surian said. “Wasn’t Sandra’s mom named Chloe?”

“Yeah, but so what?” he said. “What does that prove about the girl onstage?”

“I don’t know, but I feel these hunches are getting me closer to the beast. There’s something about this girl here. I’m getting a strange vibe from her. A smell, her perfume? It’s almost like a…sex pheromone, or something.”

“Wait, I’m getting that feeling too, Agnes. Not that I’d ever prefer her to you, of course.”

“Shut up and watch the show, Andy.”

They did. ‘Chloe’ had dark blue hair, thanks to Kluh’s manipulations of Callie’s looks. She was wearing a tight black leather outfit. She was moving around to ‘Fuck the Pain Away,’ by Peaches. Another man was eyeing her from the side of the tip rail opposite from where the two detectives were sitting. She was eyeing him back with equal interest, and not the phoney kind that strippers give when they see a chance to make money.

“He likes her,” Thurston said.

“And she likes him,” Surian said.

“I don’t know what it is,” he said, his head swimming. “Is it that ‘pheromone’? But I think…I’m beginning to like her. Sorry, cutie-pie…you’ll always be…my favourite, but she…is having…some kind of…effect on me.”

“I don’t believe it,” Surian sighed, her eyes as locked on ‘Chloe’ as his were, “But I’m…getting the same feeling. I’ve never had…lesbian cravings…like this since…grade twelve. I feel like…such a pervert…sitting here.”

“That’s why…they call it…pervert’s row.”

Why are you attracting those two cops to me? Callie asked Kluh in her mind.

Don’t worry, the demoness answered her. They won’t get us. We’re getting more and more powerful all the time. I have a use for those two, later on. For now, let’s lure that man on the other side into your bed. His life force will give us more power.

After her floorshow, Callie went over to the man who’d been eyeballing her. The detectives watched them chat for a minute, then the man went over to the VIP area while Callie went off to the washroom.

“OK,” Surian said. “Let’s just wait for Blue Hair to come out of there and join her admirer in the VIP area. We’ll wait and see if he leaves the bar with her, then we’ll follow them to…his place or hers.”

“Right,” Thurston said. “Then she’ll make the beast magically appear?”

“I don’t know, Andy, but we’ll just see if anything strange happens, like a hot-looking naked woman hanging out in an alley after the beast appears. We’ll see if there’s some kind of connection between the two.”

‘Chloe’ came out, but now with blonde hair and in a pink lace bra and thong, and wearing white high heels. She didn’t give off that pheromone smell that had turned the detectives on, either; so they didn’t recognize her, and they didn’t pay attention to her as she went into a VIP room to be with the man.

Instead, they saw a blue-haired woman come out afterwards, wearing a red dress and having that sexy smell. Assuming she was ‘Chloe,’ the detectives watched her go in the direction of the VIP area. That stripper went in with another man, one who looked like Callie’s man.

Callie, nude, was lap-dancing her man in the VIP Room. His hands were on her breasts. She leaned back, turned her head to face him, and looked in his eyes lewdly as she kept grinding.

“I’m a…photographer,” he grunted. “You’d make a…great model. Wanna make…some extra money?”

“Sure,” she sighed, enjoying the feeling of the bulge in his pants as much as Kluh was. “What do you have in mind?”

“I could do…a photo shoot…of you…in my studio…apartment,” he moaned. “What do you say?”

“OK,” she said breathily, smiling at him. “How about a little later on tonight?”

The detectives never noticed her leave with him, because they’d already left, following the blue-haired woman with her boyfriend to their apartment.

*************

An hour later, Callie was in the photographer’s apartment, nude except for her high heels, and bent over with her legs spread. She was in front of a mirror, so he was included in the pictures he was taking of her, his camera hiding his face, while her face was seen upside-down between her legs, a timid expression on it as he clicked the camera.

Jesus, he thought. I so want that brown eye of hers. He clicked a few more photos.

He wants me, Callie thought. I can feel the psychic vibes rippling from him to me.

You don’t need to feel his vibes to know that, Callie, the demoness told her in her mind.

I know, Callie thought. I mean that I know exactly how he wants to have me. The way Mort did…from behind. I know what he’s looking at, what he wants to put it in.

Yeah, it feels hot, doesn’t it? Kluh asked her. Those predatory eyes of his, aiming at your ass. We can feel his lust adding to our own.

Exciting, yes, but also scary.

How is it scary? If he hurts you, let the beast kill him.

But those two cops are getting closer to us.

Don’t worry about the cops. I won’t let them get you.

But you are letting them get closer to me. You have some kind of plan–

But you’ll be all right. Don’t worry. Just let Mark here fuck you tonight, and with his energy, we’ll gain more power. Trust me. It’ll be fun.

Callie remained bent over, allowing Mark to see both her pink and brown places.

I’m scared, Callie mentally told Kluh. He wants to stick it in my–

Don’t be scared, Kluh reassured her. Let him enjoy it. You know you want to.

I do, but I don’t.

Let the ‘do’ part win. It’ll be better for both of us in the long run. The boundary between us is blurring more and more, Callie. Allow it to happen, then you’ll see things more my way, and you’ll see the good I’m doing for you.

I’m transforming my fear into pleasure?

Yes. You have to go through these feelings again to heal yourself. Then you’ll have as much fun as I have.

But it’s hard to stop the memories of Mort–

They will fade in time. We have to transform them by re-experiencing them, processing them, making them hurt less and less every time.

Yes, but what of the beast? I don’t want to kill anymore.

When the painful memories end, you won’t become enraged anymore, and the beast will stay dormant. Now, come on–let’s make this happen…

Kluh needed little influence to get Callie to open her buttocks wider to give Mark a better look. She wanted to face her fears, and thus end them.

“I think we’ve taken enough pictures,” Mark said after clicking a photo of her in this last moment of exhibitionism. He put the camera down and stood up. “C’mon, honey.” He took her by the arm and led her to his bedroom. “I’m on fire from you.”

His words made her hear Mort say, “Honey, you’ve set me on fire.” Those words had been said just before a sodomizing she’d gotten from her stepfather a few years back; he, too, had taken her by the arm and led her into his bedroom. When she saw Mark’s bed, she shuddered at how similar it looked to Mort’s bed from that night.

Ooh, Kluh moaned in Callie’s mind’s ear. I can’t wait.

I feel the hot tingles, too, Callie replied, but I’m shaking.

The fear adds to the thrill. Enjoy it. Give Mark what he wants. It’ll all work out in the end.

I’m still not so sure. “Mark,” Callie said as she got to the foot of the bed, “maybe we–“

“On the bed, on all fours,” he said with urgency, unzipping his pants.

“Oh, OK,” she said in a trembling voice. She kicked off her heels and got on.

Spread your legs for him, Kluh said. Let him see.

Callie did, her whole body shaking the whole time. She felt the demoness using her power to lubricate her anus; it sent a shiver through her body as she felt the vibrations of Mark’s heating lust. He knelt behind her on the bed and aimed for her ass.

As he entered her, Callie saw flashes before her eyes of Mort’s bedroom all around her. Though she was lubed, she relived Mort’s painful entry. Her body shook; she yelped.

Don’t let the beast out! she thought. Stay calm. Stop thinking about Mort. Try to enjoy this. Face your fears. Don’t get agitated. Don’t let the hair grow. Don’t let the claws grow!

Mark kept moving in and out. She shook all over, not just from his thrusts, but from the feeling of it being Mort behind her. Mark wasn’t hurting her, as aggressively as he was fucking her ass; but she was feeling Mort’s stabs in her mind.

She checked her arms: no growth of hair. Her fingernails: no claws.

Not a drop of sweat touched her skin, but she felt Mort’s sweat and spit dribbling on her back. Mark’s beer breath never came close to her face, but she smelled Mort’s smoker’s breath invading her nostrils.

Her arms–still hairless. Her fingers–no claws…so far.

Mark’s moans were soft and mild; Callie, however, heard Mort’s raspy grunts, mere millimetres from her right ear. The bedroom shifted back and forth from looking like Mark’s to looking like Mort’s. Waves of pleasure alternated with waves of terror.

On her arms, still no hair slithering out of the follicles. Still no claws…yet.

Sometimes it felt like Mark massaging her rectal wall, stimulating her vaginal wall, the deliciousness of it giving both Kluh and Callie tingles; sometimes Callie relived the cutting pains Mort used to give her. The pleasure and terror were undulating in respective crests and troughs that seemed to be synchronized with Callie’s alternating visions of Mark’s and Mort’s bedrooms. Sharing the pleasure Kluh felt, her mind’s merging with that of the demoness meant Callie couldn’t make up her mind whether she loved the anal or hated it.

Mark helped her make up her mind. He began spanking her right ass-cheek, giving it a sharp sting. Kluh loved it, making Callie squeal and giggle; but Callie remembered how Mort used to spank her during a sodomizing. After the fourth spank, her voice, mid-squeal, phased into a growl.

She looked back down at her arms and hands in a panic. Claws were growing from her fingertips. Hairs were wiggling out from the skin all over her arms.

Mark’s eyes widened at all the hair he saw growing on her back. “What the…fuck–?” he grunted, then pulled out and came on the sheets between her knees.

She looked back at him with a hairy face and a malicious grin baring yellow teeth.

“Jesus Christ!” he screamed.

All that brown hair on her curvy body, covering her breasts and belly…and those long, thick, pointy claws, two quintets of knives.

“Oh, my God! What the f–?” She interrupted his scream by slashing four of those claws across his throat, spraying dots of blood everywhere. He fell back off the foot of the bed, his limp dick still poking out of his open fly as he lay on his back coughing blood and shaking. She jumped on him. He looked up at her in disbelief.

She closed his eyes forever with a stabbing of all ten claws deep into his chest, reddening his whole torso. Then she looked to her left: a window.

She jumped off of him, in its direction. Then she jumped out, splashing glass everywhere. Once she hit the grassy ground in front of the apartment building, she heard a siren.

‘Claws,’ An Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Five

Callie just lay there on the couch in Dr. Visner’s office, silent for several minutes.

“Well?” he asked. “Don’t you want to tell me something?”

“I feel stuck,” she said. “I have no idea what to talk about.”

“You’re afraid to tell me what’s really bothering you,” he said.

“Yeah,” she said with a nervous giggle.

She was wringing her hands, distracted by her thoughts about those two cops who’d been snooping around The Gold Star over the past week, trying to find the stripper Wayne had left with the night he was killed by the clawed beast. Kluh used her power to deflect the cops from questioning Callie, but she knew the demoness was bringing them closer to her. Kluh was saving a confrontation with the cops for another time…but when, and for what purpose?

“Well, let’s recap what you told me last week, then you can pick up from there,” the psychotherapist said, looking down at his notes. “Your parents divorced, your father–whom you deeply missed–showed no interest in your life, but died in a car accident about a year later. Your mom met a man named Mortimer Brahms, they got married, but he replaced his interest in her with one in you. Then he began sexually abusing you, gaslighting you into thinking you liked the sex.”

“Yes,” she said, choking back sobs.

“You missed your father, wishing Mort would fill in the gap your father had left, and Mort took advantage of your yearning for a father…”

“And he filled in gaps of a different kind,” she sobbed.

“Did you ever try to stop him in some way, apart from running away from home, as you told me last time?”

“Y-yeah,” she said, wincing from what she was about to say. “It started with fantasies of transforming, during one of his rapes, into a powerful beast, like the Hulk, then killing him. Then, a few years after my Mom’s marriage to Mort, she sank into a depression. It seemed to be because he liked me better than her. That made me want to have that Hulk-like power all the more, to get revenge on Mort for hurting her.”

“I see,” Visner said, jotting down what she said on his notepad.

“It was around then that I began overeating, too. I wanted to get fat, not just to stop him from raping and sodomizing me–you know, by making myself unattractive to him; but also so he’d stop preferring me to Mom, so he’d go back to her. It didn’t work, though. Now I was getting bullied at school for being fat, and the rapes continued.”

“And what about your mother’s depression?” Visner asked.

“It got worse. She killed herself by ODing on pills.”

“Oh, Callie. I’m so sorry.” He mirrored her sad eyes with his own.

She was sobbing louder now. “She gave me no protection before, because I wasn’t supposed to tell her what I was doing with Mort. He said telling her would make her jealous and increase her depression. Still, she should have figured out for herself what was going on–why didn’t she?”

“I’m sure he was keeping it from her, too. After all, he was keeping himself from getting into trouble by manipulating you into being quiet about the rapes, even making you think you wanted the sex.”

“Yes,” she sobbed. “And with Mom dead, I really had no one to protect me from him. I grew to have such a hatred for Mort, even though he was still tricking me into thinking I liked the sex. I didn’t think of it as rape at the time; I’d just thought he was throwing my mom over for me, breaking her heart and driving her to suicide.”

“But the rapes continued. What did you do to stop them?”

“I wanted so badly to communicate with my parents that I gained hope in believing in communicating with the spirit world. I tried it with a medium–you know, in a séance, but I got no connection with either of my parents.”

“So, what did you do?”

“I tried doing it myself. All alone. More intensely. I bought some books on the subject, and began deep, intense meditations, trying desperately to contact spirits. Finally, after a heavy two hours of concentration one Saturday afternoon when Mort wasn’t at home, I contacted my mom Chloe,…or so I thought.”

“If it wasn’t her ghost, who was it?” Visner asked.

“She called herself ‘Kluh.’ I thought I’d heard “Chloe,’ but it didn’t take me too long to realize this wasn’t my mom’s ghost.”

“When did this happen? I mean, the first contact with this spirit.”

“A few months ago. She promised me she’d come out during one of Mort’s rapes and kill him. He had to be lured into the sex in order for her to kill him. She insisted on that.”

“Who was this ‘Claw’?” Visner looked at her with squinted eyes.

“‘Kluh’,” Callie said. “She says she’s a Polynesian goddess, but I think she’s lying. I think she’s a demon.”

“Does she still contact you?” He was jotting everything down almost frantically to keep up.

“Yes, I feel her in me now, influencing me. Merging with my mind, even.”

“How do you spell her name, or, how do you think it’s spelled?”

“It feels like it’s spelled K-L-U-H.”

“Interesting,” he said, writing it out and thinking, ‘Hulk’ spelled backwards. “You said Kluh would come out and kill Mort. Did she?”

Callie shook at those last few words. Her eyes widened.

“Did she come out?”

“Y-yes, but–“

“Did she take over?”

“Yes,” Callie sighed. “My mind went totally blank after that.”

“Since you’ve left Mort, has he tried to find you?”

“No. He’s…”

“Dead?”

She hesitated.

“Do you think Kluh killed him?”

“N-no. Not directly.”

“But he is dead? Someone, or something, killed him?”

“Yes.”

The therapist remembered some news stories he’d read about a clawed, hairy beast rampaging through the streets of Toronto one night the previous week. I’ll bet she has delusions that she’s that beast, he thought. I forget the name of the man in Hamilton who was killed by an animal about a month ago. Callie’s from Hamilton. I’ll have to look up that story again. “Who, or what was the killer? Do you know?”

She hesitated again.

He seemed to feel someone telling him, Don’t push this any further. It’ll only agitate her. If she’s at all connected to these murders, it’s best she get treatment, not jail time. She’s probably just deluded that she’s the killer, as you suspect. Really: how could she be connected with some wild animal? You’re a man of science; are we supposed to believe she’s some kind of Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde?

“I…I…” Tears ran down her cheeks.

“That’s OK, Callie,” he said. “You don’t have to answer. I can see that talking about this has been difficult for you. Our time’s almost up, anyway.”

She let out a huge sigh.

“Even if you did tell me, and it was something incriminating, you’d be protected by doctor-patient confidentiality,” he went on. “Physician-patient privilege, that kind of thing. Furthermore, I’ve come to care about you to the point of not wanting you, in your traumatized state, to be further harmed by having the police interfere with your situation.” Her transference was tingling big time during our first session, he thought. Now my countertransference is. Such pain in her. Such a beauty, too.

Good work, Doctor, Kluh whispered in his mind. After all, you ARE a psychotherapist, not a detective. Leave the investigation to the cops. She probably has dissociative identity disorder, or something. Focus on treating her symptoms. She is beautiful, isn’t she? Besides, maybe those men…deserved to die. Remember your youth, in Thailand, Doctor? You weren’t so innocent back in those days, either.