‘Sirens,’ a Horror Novella, Chapter Nine

The next morning, Eddie was in his apartment, trying to call Chad. His friend’s ringtone, Soundgarden’s “Drawing Flies,” just kept playing and playing.

“Come on, Chad, answer!” Eddie growled.

After a minute of letting the ringtone play, Eddie hung up.

I called him twice late last night and got no answer, he thought. I emailed him and got no reply, either. Please, God, let it be that he met a girl last night, and he’s so into her that he doesn’t wanna talk to me. One girl, not three!

***********

Nancy went to the occult bookstore, Raising Power, around lunchtime that day. A heavy-set, forty-something-year-old woman with her hair dyed black, in a black dress, and wearing goth makeup was sitting by the cash register.

“Hi,” Nancy said. “Are you the owner of this shop?”

“Yes,” she said, getting up and shaking Nancy’s hand. “I’m Deanna. How can I help you?” She looked in Nancy’s eyes as if, strangely, she already knew the answer.

“Nancy Sayers. I’m a reporter, investigating the string of bizarre deaths that have been happening over the past few weeks. Do you know about that?”

“I’m not responsible for them, if that’s what you’re implying.”

“Oh, no. I didn’t mean that. I just wondered if you’ve been following the story in the newspaper.”

“A number of young men,” Deanna said, “one died in a motorcycle crash, one flew off his bicycle and got impaled on the fork of a forklift, one got sliced up by an airplane propellor, and one fell off a building and got impaled on a flagpole.”

“Oh, no. That last one almost happened, but I stopped–“

“Oh, it happened. Believe me.”

“Oh? B-but–“

“It didn’t happen to your brother, Eddie,” Deanna said. “It happened to his friend instead.”

Nancy’s eyes bugged out at this revelation. “Chad died?”

“Yes,” the bookstore owner said, with the utmost conviction in her eyes. “He saw three hot babes at the time.”

“How do you know all this? How could you know their names, and all? That information wouldn’t be accessible to you.”

“How do you think I know?”

“You’re a psychic, I take it.”

“Correct.” Deanna had a slight smirk.

“How much of this case do you know about, beyond what I’ve reported?” Nancy asked, still fighting her incredulity at Deanna’s abilities. “How much of it have you…psyched out, as it were?”

“Quite a bit.”

“Do you know who’s behind all this?”

“A young woman named Serena Lavin bought a book here on how to raise spirits. She wanted to get revenge on the young men who…wronged her.”

“So, you know she’s responsible for these killings, and you never reported her to the police?”

“What police detective is going to believe a woman is using spirits to murder people? What policeman is going to believe what a psychic says?”

“Of course, but you didn’t try to use your own…powers…to stop her yourself?”

“I warned her of the dangers of bringing bad karma on herself,” Deanna said. “But those young men deserve to be k–…well, to be punished, anyway.”

My brother was almost killed by her spirits!” Nancy was looking at Deanna with accusing eyes.

“Your brother is as guilty as his friends are.”

“For what crime do they all ‘deserve’ to die?”

Deanna looked Nancy hard in the eyes. “They all gang-raped Serena almost a month ago.”

Nancy gasped. “How could you know that?” Her eyes widened.

“I felt it…Serena’s trauma, in all the vibrations in her body and around her. All those boys did it.”

No, Nancy thought as her jaw dropped. Not Eddie, too! Please, God, don’t let my brother be one of the rapists. He just watched his friends do Serena, surely that’s all; and he was too cowardly to stop them, but he didn’t participate. Please, God, let that be the truth! Deanna may be right about a lot of this, but her psychic powers aren’t strong enough for her to be right about all of it!

“Nancy?” Deanna asked. “You look a little dazed. I know this is hard for you to hear, and I assure you, I never meant for Serena to use the book to help her get revenge on those guys. I warned her not to let feelings of hate into her heart when chanting the book’s incantations. I told her: be in a calm, meditative state when reciting the words; allow the forces of karma to flow without your emotions to misguide them, for if you say the words with an angry or hateful attitude, those spirits will not only bring about far too harsh a revenge, but one day they’ll come back to you and make you destroy yourself, just as you, in your secret thoughts, want those boys to destroy themselves. I told her that; I guess she refused to listen.”

Nancy let out a big sigh. “Is Eddie the only remaining one of the boys that Serena wants to kill?”

Deanna closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and ‘felt’ the psychic energy in and around her for an answer. After ten seconds of intense concentration, she said, “Yes, he’s the last one.”

“How do I stop those spirits from killing Eddie?”

“Try keeping him immobilized, restrained somehow. The spirits are Sirens, essentially: they kill you by luring you into a dangerous situation with their singing and seductiveness…at least usually that’s how they do it. The idea is to make the victim kill himself with his own desires. The Sirens are agents of karma; they kill you with your own sinfulness.”

“So, I could tie Eddie to a chair, or something?”

“That…could work…maybe. But you’ll also have to confront Serena herself. Otherwise, Eddie will have to be tied up indefinitely.”

“I’ll have to fight this woman? How? Is there any magic you can teach me to use on her?”

“I’m uncomfortable teaching anyone how to use magic in confrontational situations. I’ve already gone too far with Serena; I sold her the book out of compassion for how much those boys hurt her, but now I realize I shouldn’t interfere–“

“But she’ll kill my brother!”

Deanna took a deep breath. “Karma may intervene to stop her. Eddie’s near-death, where Chad died, may be enough to have scared him into repentance. That may be enough karmic retribution to stop her from killing him again.”

“I need better assurance than ‘may be enough to stop her,’ Deanna!”

“Perhaps I can do some kind of ritual to help you. I can keep my emotions out of it, then there won’t be any karmic risks for you.”

“Thank you,” Nancy said. “Please do something to protect him–as soon as you can.” I can’t believe I now believe in magic and spirits, she thought. What a fucked-up day.

“I’ll do what I can. I feel responsible for selling Serena that book, so I have to take care of my own karma. I’m more than motivated to help you.”

“Thank you. I’m gonna go find my brother now.”

“Good. And if you confront Serena, remember not to let your emotions govern how you react to her, no matter what happens to him. The spirits will sense your hate, and react to it in a way you won’t like.”

“OK.” Nancy left the bookstore.

*********

She found her brother standing in the hallway in front of her apartment, his phone to his ear.

“C’mon, Chad!” Eddie said. “Answer!”

“Chad is dead,” she said with a blank look on her face.

“Oh, no!” he said, putting his phone in his jacket pocket with a shaking hand. “How did he die?”

“The same way you were supposed to die. I talked to the owner of that occult bookstore, and all it took was one chat with her to believe that spirits, psychic powers, all that shit, really exist. It was mind-blowing how she could know so much about this case with what little I was able to report about it.”

“Really?”

“She knew your name, Chad’s name, things never made public. It was eerie.”

“What am I going to do? All my friends are dead. Those ghosts have only me to kill now.”

“Come inside,” Nancy said, unlocking her door. “Stay in here with me, and you should be safe.”

“How?” he asked as they went inside.

“You’ll see. Go sit on the sofa; I’ll be right back.”

She looked for some rope.

‘Sirens,’ a Horror Novella, Chapter Eight

Nancy’s hand grabbed Eddie by the wrist, and she pulled back with all her might. She fell onto the gravel roof with a grunt of pain when her back made impact. Eddie hit his head on the floor of the roof, cutting his forehead and snapping him out of his hallucination.

“What?” he shouted, his head moving left and right as he tried to orient himself. “Wh-where am I?”

“Eddie, you’re with me,” Nancy said.

“Nancy, what are you doing here?” he asked, touching his bloody forehead and seeing red on his fingers.

“What are you doing up on the roof of this building, about to fall off of it to your death?” she asked. “That seems the more relevant question.”

“I was gonna fu–” he began, his eyes still darting all around the area, trying to make sense of what was going on. “Where’d the girls go? Their bedroom?” He took a tissue out of his shirt pocket.

“The girls? Their bedroom? Are you high?”

“There were three beautiful, hot girls that I was with. I was gonna get laid, then you took me from it.”

“Eddie, you were gonna die. I saved you from it. There never were any girls. At least not physically.”

“I don’t understand. What’s going on?” He was using the tissue to soak up the blood on his forehead.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Did you do any drugs before this happened?”

“No,” he said. “I drank only a half bottle of beer.”

“You almost died, just like your friends, who it seems thought they were with beautiful women, too.”

“What is this? Some kind of black magic? Is someone messing with the spirit world? Raising up demons, or something?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t believe in that kind of thing.”

“Neither do I,” he said, remembering that night with his friends and that woman, but not wanting to bring it up and remind his sister of it.

“As crazy as it sounds, still, I can’t think of any other way to explain what the hell’s going on here. There’s a lady who owns an occult bookstore downtown; It’s called ‘Raising Power.’ I understand that she believes in the supernatural; selling the books is more than just a business to her–it’s like her calling. I’ll go over there and talk to her, see if she has any insight into all this.”

“OK. I’ll go back to the bar and find Chad.”

“You stay out of the bars.”

“But I should go see if he’s OK over there,” Eddie said. “Maybe these evil spirits wanna get him, too.”

“You should come straight home with me. Chad can fend for himself, for the moment. Call him on his phone if you’re worried about him. Right now, my brother’s safety is much more important to me than Chad’s is.”

*********

As the two of them got off the roof, went down the elevator, and left the apartment building, Serena Lavin had been watching the whole scene through the eyes of her three female spirits, a vision presented to her in a crystal ball on a table in the living room of her apartment, which was on the other side of town.

Who is that woman? Serena wondered. I’ve seen her face before. Oh, wait…yes! She’s Nancy Sayers, the reporter; her photo is with all the newspaper articles I’ve been reading. She’s been following the murders of my gang-rapists, including her kid brother, Eddie, over there. Oh, well, he’s safe for the moment. I’ll get him later. I’ll take care of Chad instead. I’ll also have to do something about that Nancy before she goes to ‘Raising Power,’ where I bought all this stuff. I don’t wanna hurt her, but I can’t let her know too much about me.

‘Sirens,’ a Horror Novella, Chapter Seven

Nancy’s brow furrowed as she leaned forward in her chair to see what her brother was doing.

“Who the hell does he think he’s talking to?” she whispered as she saw him grinning and moving his lips in conversation with the empty air.

After about a minute of this imaginary conversation, he put his arms around two imaginary waists.

“Invisible women, apparently,” Nancy whispered. “Two, at least.”

Still with his arms around those invisible waists, he began walking towards the door.

“Alright, that’s it,” she said, and rose from her chair.

She ran after him, bumping into Chad on the way.

“Sorry,” she said to him, then continued running. “Eddie!”

Going through the doorway with the three invisible, singing women, Eddie didn’t hear his sister at all.

“Eddie!” she called out again, following him outside.

“Eddie?” Chad said, then looked around for him at the bar. “Hey, where’d he go?”

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

Nancy saw Eddie get into his car after opening and closing the passenger and back doors for the three beauties that only he saw.

“Eddie!” she shouted, running to her car. She still wasn’t heard by him.

Chad, at the opened door, saw Nancy get into her car. Both cars drove off.

I guess Eddie got lucky while I was in the bathroom, Chad thought. Who was that other chick? A jealous ex-girlfriend, or something? He went back inside.

Nancy’s car followed Eddie’s from far enough away that she figured he and ‘the women’ wouldn’t notice her, but not so far back that she’d lose him.

She was torn about how she should deal with her brother’s predicament. Should she stop him as soon as possible to prevent another killing, or would a blunt intervention provoke a sudden killing? Also, it might have helped her investigation to observe what exactly was happening right up to and just before the killing, she hoped just in time to prevent it from happening.

Eddie parked his car near an apartment building about ten minutes away from the bar. She parked a block away from where he was and watched him. He got out, opened and closed the doors for his invisible lovers, and walked with them, his arms around two of them, into the building.

She ran over there as fast as she could. When she went through the front door, she saw the elevator door close with him in it. She watched it go up to the top floor before getting in.

Is he going up on the roof? she wondered as her elevator moved–far too slowly–up after his. Are those demons, or whatever the fuck they are, going to make him jump off?

The elevator was only at the third of ten floors now.

“Come on!” she growled in clenched teeth. “Hurry up!”

Meanwhile, Eddie reached the top floor, and he was being led by ‘the women’ to a door at the end of the hall leading up to the roof.

Only he saw something completely different.

“Wow,” he said. “This is a really nice apartment you girls have.”

“Thanks,” the blonde said to him.

The living room was adorned with luxurious furniture of leather and antique wood. The light purple wallpaper had flower motifs on it. Baroque and Rococo paintings hung on the walls.

“Wait ’til you see the bedroom,” the redhead said.

Their singing continued as they approached the bedroom door. The brunette opened it, and Eddie saw a golden flight of stairs leading up to another door.

“Stairs?” he asked as he and the women began their ascent.

“Yes,” the redhead said. “Our place of lovemaking is so heavenly, you have to go up to get to it.”

“Well, I guess that makes sense,” he said as they got half-way up.

The women’s singing continued to intoxicate him and drown out Nancy’s yelling as she ran down the hall to reach the door to the roof.

When Eddie reached the roof, the blonde had opened a shining silver door showing him a bedroom so decadent in its opulence, it was as if the three women were empresses: black satin sheets on the bed with matching bed curtains, a dark purple rug blanketing the entire bedroom floor, a dresser with a golden-bordered mirror, and paintings of erotic art, all over the pink walls, that only Sade wouldn’t have blushed at.

“Whoa!” he sighed.

They led him to the bed with lewd grins and more of their hypnotic three-part vocal harmonies as they sang in a language he’d never heard in his life. Only it wasn’t a bed they were leading him to.

It was the edge of the roof.

Where they’d have him fall was onto a flagpole, the top of which had been broken, leaving a sharp, jagged edge to cut all the way through his torso.

“Are you ready for the penetration of a lifetime?” the brunette asked him.

“Oh, yeah!” he grunted as he stepped closer to the ‘bed.’

“I guess we’d better get undressed,” the blonde said.

Eddie saw all three women drop their dresses, revealing lace bras and panties of–appropriately–black for the brunette, red for the redhead, and golden for the blonde.

Grinning and sighing with delight at what he saw, Eddie unzipped his pants as he reached the side of the ‘bed.’ His feet were now a few inches from the edge of the roof.

Panting Nancy finished getting up the stairs, and threw the door open with a loud slam against the outer wall…though the women’s singing still drowned out all other noise for him. She needed a few seconds to catch her breath; she staggered closer to him. Then she winced when she saw her brother pull out his erection from his pants.

His grin grew wider as he saw the three beauties removes their bras, panties, and high heels to be gloriously nude before him.

“What flawless bodies you three women have,” he sighed as he ogled them.

Three women, eh? Nancy thought, almost beside him now and keeping her eyes looking high enough not to have to see his dick.

“Go sit on the bed, honey,” the redhead said.

“And savour the coming penetration,” the blonde said with a lewd giggle.

Nancy saw him about to sit on…nothing.

“Eddie, no!” she screamed, reaching for his arm.

‘Sirens,’ a Horror Novella, Chapter Six

“Virgil is dead?!” Eddie shouted as he read his sister’s news story on the online local newspaper on his phone. “And all…sliced up…like that?”

He continued reading, his shaking hand making it difficult to read. According to Nancy’s report, Anne Petrovic, a pilot on the airstrip, saw Virgil by the airplane. “I tried to communicate with him,” she said. “I asked him what he was doing here, and I tried to get him away from the propellor, but he just ignored me. He looked like he was hallucinating, on drugs or something, because he was acting as if he was making love with an invisible woman or two. It was crazy. Even his zipper was down, with his…yuck!…erection sticking out. And he just let himself be cut up like that, as if he felt nothing!”

Then Eddie remembered seeing Virgil leaving the bar earlier that night, seeming to have his arms around two invisible women. According to Nancy’s story, the autopsy revealed no drugs in Virgil’s system, only about half a bottle of beer drunk.

The propellor turned off, as automatically as it had turned on, by the time it had begun to slice off the tip of Virgil’s nose and the edge of his protruding belly, Nancy’s story went on. A second or two before he fell down dead, he’d begun screaming in final recognition of what was happening to him. “He finally woke up from his trance,” Anne said. “Then he fell asleep again, so to speak, never to wake again.”

“All my friends are being killed in accidents,” Eddie whispered to himself. All of us who were with that woman we screwed…no, I don’t wanna think about that, he thought. “I do wanna talk to Chad about it, though.”

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

A few nights later, Eddie met up with Chad in front of that same dance club. “Have you given any more thought to what I told you in my text message a few days ago?” he asked Chad as they walked through the front doors.

“No!” Chad said with a sneer. “Look, I’m as shocked as you are that Virgil, Tor, and Ari have all been killed in freak accidents, OK? But they were accidents. You implying that something supernatural is happening to us in revenge for gang-banging that girl is, frankly, ridiculous.”

“OK, I agree that it’s incredible,” Eddie said as they approached the bar. “But don’t you think we took things a little too far with her?”

The bartender asked them what they wanted, and they ordered beers.

“Look, that bitch was a slut and she wanted it,” Chad said as he and Eddie each received a bottle of Heineken, then Chad gulped some down. “But even if what we did was wrong, why would our buddies’ deaths have to be related to it? They’re just coincidental.” He and Eddie paid for their beers, then Chad gulped down some more.

Sipping on his beer, Eddie hadn’t noticed that, sitting at a table on the other side of a dance floor half-filled with people, Nancy was watching him and his friend. I correctly made a mental prediction that Virgil was one of your friends, Eddie, she thought while sipping her glass of bourbon. Now I’m gonna see if you or your friend leaves with his arms around the waists of invisible women.

Ten minutes later, Chad gulped down the last of his beer. “I gotta go take a piss.”

“Wait,” Eddie said. “I’m worried about you walking off alone.”

“I’m just going to the washroom, Eddie. You wanna watch?”

“No, I’m just worried that–“

“The ghost-women are gonna cut my dick off? Don’t think so much. I’ll be back in two minutes.” Chad walked across the dance floor to the bathrooms, which were several feet away from Nancy’s table…not that Eddie ever noticed her there.

His eyes followed Chad all the way to the men’s room, as did hers. When the bathroom door shut behind Chad, Eddie’s eyes stayed on it, while Nancy’s returned to watching her brother.

Every second of those two minutes were agony for him. He more or less counted to one hundred and twenty as he waited to see Chad open the door and return. When Eddie had reached one hundred and twenty-two seconds, his heart started beating harder and faster.

The techno beat was pounding with a bland, repetitive, bass synth line of four notes. Then, Eddie heard a three-part vocal harmony on top of it.

“Hi, honey,” a female voice called out to him.

He turned his head to the right.

A hot blonde, a hot brunette, and a hot redhead were grinning at him.

He smiled back and stopped worrying about Chad.

‘Sirens,’ a Horror Novella, Chapter Five

[WARNING: sexual and violent content]

The electronic beat was pounding in their ears, and pink, green, and white lights were flashing in their eyes. Eddie was making progress with a pretty, curvaceous blonde that he was dirty dancing with; then he noticed one of his friends, Virgil, was dancing off on his own. Virgil was acting as if he were dancing with several girls.

Eddie tapped on the shoulder of one of his friends dancing nearby. “Hey, what the fuck is Virgil doing over there?” he asked, gesturing over to Virgil’s loneliness at the side of the dance floor.

All of Eddie’s friends looked over at Virgil and laughed.

“Hey, Virgil!” Eddie shouted. “What the fuck, man?!”

Virgil seemed deaf to him. He also seemed to be talking to himself.

Eddie’s friend tapped him on the shoulder. “Did Virgil take a half-pill of powerful ecstasy, or something? He must be too high to know what he’s doing.”

“I’d say he took a whole pill,” Eddie said. “He must be hallucinating. He’s acting like he’s with a bunch of hot chicks.”

“It looks that way,” the friend said.

A few seconds later, it looked as though some invisible person were holding Virgil by the hands and leading him off the dance floor. The boys saw an ear-to-ear grin on his face, as well as sparkling, hypnotized eyes. As he walked towards the door out of the dance bar, he had both arms around invisible waists.

“Holy shit,” Eddie said, wide-eyed. “He must be really, really wasted.”

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

Virgil was driving his car, feeling the redhead blowing him. (His hard-on was poking out of his open fly, doing nothing but getting harder.)

“So, where…are we going, girls?” he panted. “Oh!

“Just keep going straight,” the brunette said. “We’re almost there.”

He kept driving for several more minutes, hypnotized by the three girls’ singing and the lips and tongue he felt going up and down on his cock. Oddly, he heard three-part, not two-part, vocal harmony.

“Oh, you girls…are talented,” he moaned. “You suck…while singing, but don’t…suck at singing. Oh!

He looked all around his surroundings, seeing flat fields of grass, airstrips, and parked airplanes.

“You wanna screw…in an airfield?” he grunted.

“Yes,” the brunette said, then resumed singing with the other two.

“Why here?” he panted.

“It’s sexy,” the blonde said. “In a public place, we might get caught.” She resumed singing.

“Don’t you think that’s exciting?” the brunette asked, then sang again.

“Yeah, I guess,” he sighed. “Unh!

They approached a big plane, one with a huge propellor.

“Stop here,” the brunette said.

“OK,” he sighed, then parked his car by the plane.

He got out, hearing the girls’ singing as his full erection was still pointing out of his zipper. The redhead took him by the hands and led him just in front of the propellor, a few steps to the left of the centre. Then she knelt before him and resumed her sucking…or so he imagined.

At the same time, he imagined the brunette behind him, kissing him on the neck and fingering his nipples. The blonde was facing him, her legs spread out and on either side of the squatting redhead. He was French-kissing the blonde while her hands were on his buttocks, squeezing them and pressing them with her fingers.

The girls were singing the whole time, even while French-kissing and blowing him, and while the brunette nibbled on his neck. They didn’t need their mouths to be free, since they weren’t physical. Virgil heard what sounded like the words of a foreign language in their singing; he couldn’t recognize what language it was, let alone understand its meaning…not that he cared.

He was in sensual heaven.

Then, the engine of the airplane started, though no one was in the cockpit. The wind blowing on him, the rumbling of the engine–he barely noticed them. It was as if the mild breeze and hum of a large fan were cooling him. He was too busy screwing his illusions.

The wheels of the plane were moving it slowly forward.

He, still with his hard-on pointing towards the propellor, was still standing a few feet to the left of its centre. All he saw, though, were the mesmerizing eyes of the blonde he seemed to be kissing.

“Hey!” called out a female voice he didn’t notice at all. “What are you doing here? Who is in that plane…? Oh!” She was now close enough to him to notice his dick was out; she quickly looked away. “What are you, some kind of pervert? All alone with your…?”

Since her head was still turned away, it was his blood spraying all over her that made her realize the propellor had already begun slicing him up.

She looked back at him and screamed from all the red she saw splashing everywhere. She quickly backed away.

Oddly, he didn’t seem to notice what was happening to him. No pain at all.

Armless, with only half of his dick left at the moment, and thoroughly bloody, he just kept French-kissing that invisible blonde.

‘Sirens,’ a Horror Novella, Chapter Four

“Holy shit!” Eddie Sayers said as he read his sister’s story on the death of Tor. “I gotta go talk to Nancy about this.”

He tried calling her on her phone, but it was busy, so he sent her this text message: “We need 2 talk about this news story U wrote about Tors death When RU free”

About ten minutes later, she texted this reply: “In 2 days I’m too busy right now”

Eddie: “Ok Ur home Thurs”

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

“Hi, Eddie,” Nancy said that Thursday evening, opening the door to her apartment and letting him in. “So, what do you want to know about Tor’s death?”

“Well, it’s just that he was my friend,” Eddie said.

“He was?” she asked with her eyes and mouth wide open.

“Yeah,” Eddie said. “In fact, he’s the second friend of mine to have been killed in freak accidents recently.”

“Oh? Who was the first?”

“My buddy, Ari Schneider.”

“Oh, my fucking God.” Her eyes were opened even wider now.

“He died in a motorcycle collision with a truck.”

“I know,” she said, eyes still agape. “I wrote an article about his death, too.”

“Wow, what a coincidence. Small world.”

“Much too much of a coincidence, Eddie. Much too small a world.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because there’s something strange about their deaths. Those accidents should never have happened. They should have easily been able to avoid their accidents. Ari and Tor were neither drunk nor stoned. They weren’t suicidal, according to their families; nor were they self-destructive in any way.”

“Oh, yeah,” Eddie said. “They were the happiest dudes I’ve ever known. We partied hard all the time together, with my other friends I’m getting together with tonight. Talking about Tor and Ari dying is gonna darken our party tonight.”

“What do you guys usually do together?”

“You know, the usual. Go to dance clubs, get drunk, chase pussy. Man, this one time, about a month ago, we took this one girl to…Virgil’s apartment, I think. It’s hard to remember in detail. We were all really drunk, and we…oops! Never mind. You don’t need to know about that.”

“I don’t, don’t I?” Nancy asked, looking askance at Eddie.

“She consented.” He avoided her eyes.

“Really?” Nancy glared at him. She saw a confession of guilt in his eyes.

“What am I, on trial here?”

“Look, forget it. Just be careful tonight with your friends. Don’t do anything stupid. I have a bad feeling about what happened to Ari and Tor. And your naughty partying is giving me even worse vibes. That woman’s OK, right?”

“Of course. What do think we did…kill her?” He was doing a bad job of hiding that guilt on his face.

“No, but whatever you all did with her, or to her, after that she may have wanted to kill herself.”

“Oh, come on! What’s this bullshit? She was fine when we left her. Really.”

“Really?” she asked, looking hard in his eyes.

“Yes, really,” he said, looking back in her eyes with a more assured attitude.

“Look, something weird is happening to your friends, it seems. It almost seems supernatural. As crazy as it sounds, I don’t know any other way to explain it.”

“Do you think her ghost is coming after us, or something?” he asked with a dopey look on his face, mocking the absurd attitude she seemed to have.

“No, of course not. Just be careful tonight, OK?”

“OK, Ms. Paranoia.” He left her apartment, sneering.

A New Poem by Jason Morton

Here’s a short poem by my friend, Jason Morton, whose work I’ve looked at before. As always, his writing is given in italics to distinguish it from mine.

I dream in grays
Slip away into yesterday’s
That have no meaning
Straining my heart to find a day that will cleanse me of my sickness and help me feel whole
All I’ve ever wanted was to feel as if I had a soul
Things darken and fall apart
Every dream a broken heart
Singing songs or requims
Requires dreams to live off of
And I hold onto a small hope that meaning will be found one day
And the sky will be blue not gray.

And now, for my analysis.

One tends to think of dreams as wish-fulfillments, but the poet only dreams of sad things, “in grays.” This is so because the poet finds little, if anything, to hope for. In those dreams, he will “Slip away into yesterday’s/That have no meaning.” The apostrophe is deliberate, indicating a pun on the plural for yesterdays and its possessive. Of course, we see no noun to go with yesterday’s, and so I speculate that the intended word was nothings, or many instances of emptiness. We don’t see the word, the absence of which ironically emphasizes its meaning.

And this leads us to how those nothings “have no meaning.” The poet’s world is one of nihilistic emptiness. He wishes that “a day [would come] that will cleanse [him] of [his] sickness.” He wishes he could “feel as if [he] had a soul,” and this leads to some indirect religious allusions.

“Things darken and fall apart” is an obvious reference to the third line of WB Yeats‘s poem, “The Second Coming,” which is full of religious imagery referring to the end of the world. It would be useful to take a brief look at the context of that poem in order to see how it links to Morton’s.

Yeats’s poem was written just after the end of WWI. The destructiveness of the First World War led to much of the modern despair and apocalyptic fears that were expressed in the arts of the time. Added to this trouble was the 1918-1919 flu pandemic, to which Yeats’s poem is also connected (his wife caught the virus). It is interesting to point this out in connection with what Morton says in his poem about wanting “a day that will cleanse [him] of [his] sickness”; in turn, we can associate that flu pandemic (albeit with due caution) with the current fears of the coronavirus, which in turn can be a metaphor for the despair and apocalyptic fear the poet may be feeling, feelings many of us share.

My point is that his poem encapsulates the fear and despair many feel these days by using echoes from such work as Yeats’s. In today’s world, we often feel a comparable apocalyptic fear in the form of the environmental destruction caused by climate change; added to this is the fact that war is the number one polluter of the world, as seen in all these imperialist wars going on now. They had their huge war just over a century ago, and we have our many wars now.

The conveniences of upper middle class living give little comfort. “Every dream a broken heart” reminds me of the Roxy Music song, “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” in which a man’s love for an “inflatable doll” is a manic defence against the emptiness and loneliness he feels.

“Singing songs or requims [sic]/Requires dreams to live off of” continues this quest for a manic defence against sadness, a defence in the form of sex (hence the pun on requiem, requires, and ‘re-quim,’ if you will, an addictive, compulsive repeat of the search for quims, or addictions to porn and prostitutes in a wish to avoid dealing with sadness).

Requiems that require “dreams to live off of” reminds me of Requiem for a Dream, a novel about the destructiveness of drug addiction, yet another manic defence against sadness. All of these allusions–the end of the world, the destructiveness of war, pandemics, sex addictions as an attempt to alleviate loneliness, and drug addiction to cope with sadness–these are powerful images that Morton uses to depict the dark modern reality of despair, a true pandemic in our world.

I, too, hope that “meaning will be found one day,” and that the poet’s “sky will be blue” again, as it may one day be for all of us sufferers.

‘Pointy Sticks,’ a Short Prose Poem by Cass Wilson

A poet friend of mine, Cass Wilson, whose work I’ve looked at before, has recently published this new prose poem on her Spillwords page. Let’s take a look at it. Again, I’m putting her words in italics to distinguish them from mine.

Pointy Sticks

Incessant pointy sticks, endlessly poked at her through the bars of her self imposed prison.
She grabbed at the earth, pushing it inside the wounds, foolishly thinking if she could fill the holes left by the sticks, then she’d be complete once more.
But one stick was replaced by two. Then four. Then multiplied until she was just a hole herself. Nothing left of her but a vast, empty black hole where her heart once was.
The other parts of her, incarcerated in the illusionary safety of her solitude, the place she longed to be and to flee, both simultaneously; just floated away over time, grains of someone who had once been, but was no more.

And now, for my analysis.

The “incessant pointy sticks” can be seen to represent a number of things. Since they’ve “poked at her,” they can easily be seen to be phallic, the poking thus symbolic of the sexual abuse (I certainly hope, for the writer’s sake, that this isn’t meant to be literally autobiographical!) of a woman. Her pushing of the earth “inside the wounds,” suggestive of an introjection of the mother goddess in the hopes of healing, is an attempt to heal the injured female of the wounds of male dominance.

Another way to think about the pointy sticks is to think of them in terms of projective identification, a Kleinian concept that Wilfred Bion expanded on through his theory of containment. Normally, in a healthy mother/infant relationship, the mother is a container of her baby’s anxieties, frustrations, etc., taking in those harsh emotions (the contained), detoxifying them, then returning them to the baby in a form it can tolerate, thus soothing it. (Click here for more on Bion and other psychoanalytic concepts.)

The container is given a feminine symbol, suggesting a yoni, and the contained is given a masculine, and thus phallic, symbol. So containment, or projective identification as a primitive, preverbal form of communication between parent and infant, can be seen as symbolized by the sex act, with energy passing from one person to the other, then back again.

The problem arises when this containment is negative. Instead of leading to a soothing of one’s anxieties, a processing of trauma, in negative containment, seen in abusive parent/child relationships, the pain is intensified; this is what we see described in this prose poem. The pointing sticks are phallic daggers causing yonic wounds in the poet’s body, a symbolic rape.

Healing from such trauma isn’t a simple matter of appealing to the mythological feminine. One tries to rid oneself of the pain by pretending it isn’t there, and so one never frees oneself from one’s “self imposed prison.” It’s self-imposed because one isn’t doing what one must do to free oneself, even though one knows one must heal the pain by confronting it, by feeling it.

The pointy sticks are like the heads of the Hydra, for when one cuts a head off, it is “replaced by two.” When one cuts the two off, then there are four. Since the sticks are phallic, cutting them off–castration as symbolic of hating men–isn’t the solution, for however justified women’s anger is at the all-too-typical male attitude, hating men leads to an even more intensely misogynistic reaction from them. Whatever we send out there, karma brings back to us.

Please don’t confuse what I’ve said above with victim-blaming; I’m not trying to judge women for being angry with men, something they very, very often have a perfect right to do. This isn’t about passing judgement; it’s about finding real healing.

Ending male dominance must be dealt with more subtly, in a manner that makes an ally out of a former enemy; otherwise, the female sufferer will be nothing but a giant yonic dungeon of her own pain, of her own making, “a vast, empty black hole where her heart once was.”

Part of how negative containment intensifies pain, turning anxiety into what Bion called a nameless dread, is the use of projective identification to eject parts of the self out into the external world in an attempt not to have to deal with the parts of oneself that one doesn’t want to accept. These ejected parts are the “other parts of her, incarcerated in the illusionary safety of her solitude, the place she longed to be and to flee.”

If one ejects too many of the undesirable parts of oneself, one feels oneself to be disintegrating, suffering psychological fragmentation, leading to a psychotic break with reality. Narcissism can be a dysfunctional attempt to protect oneself from this kind of fragmentation, the danger of an underlying borderline structure, as Otto Kernberg has observed.

Those ejected parts of herself “just floated away over time, grains of someone who had once been, but was no more.” Those ejections, accumulating over time, result in the fading away of the self, a gradual disintegration. The projected parts that float away become what Bion called bizarre objects, or hallucinated objects felt to be in the external world but which are imbued with characteristics of one’s own personality.

One cannot rid oneself of pain by projecting it outwards. The broken pieces must all be put back together. Instead of division and fragmentation, there must be oneness. Splitting must be replaced with integration of one’s good and bad internal objects (e.g., the internalized ‘good mother’ and the ‘bad father’ of the psyche), or reparation–a shift from what Klein called the paranoid-schizoid position to the depressive position.

The broken-off parts must be freed of their incarceration, from one’s “self imposed prison.” One’s solitude, or hiding from the world, gives an “illusionary safety,” but it will never give one lasting healing. True healing comes from connection with others, from a communal love.

‘Sirens,’ a Horror Novella, Chapter Three

Two nights later, reporter Nancy Sayers got a tip about another accident, this time just outside a warehouse near downtown Sulla. She raced over there in her car. She arrived about twenty minutes later.

A crowd surrounded the police, the paramedics, and the accident victim. Some crates were piled near the crowd; she climbed up a few of them so she could see. The victim, a young white male, was impaled through the belly on the left of the raised blades of a forklift. The paramedics were trying to remove the body from the blade; blood was splattered everywhere.

“Oh, God!” she gasped, wincing at the sight.

A bicycle lay on its left side just by the forklift and immediately after a huge pothole. Nancy assumed that it was the victim’s, him having fallen after hitting the pothole.

He must have been drunk or stoned not to have seen such a big pothole, she thought.

“Come on, all of you!” a police officer shouted. “Make room, clear the way! We’ve gotta get the body to the coroner, and we can’t do that with all you people in the way!”

The young man’s body was on a stretcher now and being carried into the ambulance. The crowd was dispersing, except for a few reporters.

“No reporters!” the cop said angrily. “Get outta here. I’ll answer your questions at the station. I won’t have much to say beyond what we see here, because I have to wait for the coroner’s report. C’mon, people. Go!”

Nancy noticed that the forklift blade the boy’s body had been impaled on was chipped and jagged at the edge. Small wonder it cut clean through the body. But why would such a defective forklift be kept for use at a warehouse?

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

Two days after writing up and publishing her brief, initial story on the death–which didn’t have much to say beyond the fact that the young man’s name was Tor, he was 23, and it was his bike–she heard the coroner’s report. As with Ari, Tor was neither drunk nor stoned at the time of the accident.

How could a sober guy have missed that pothole? she wondered. I interviewed his parents just before publishing my story, and they said he had no suicidal or self-destructive tendencies at all. He was always a happy boy. Just like Ari, this was an accident that should never have happened. It makes no sense at all!

The time of death was estimated at about 6:30 in the evening, a pretty accurate estimate given how quickly his body was discovered and sent to the coroner, about 10:00 that night. There were clear signs of lividity in Tor’s body, but rigour mortis hadn’t set in yet, so he couldn’t have been dead for more than three to four hours upon discovery of his body.

The bicycle was definitely his, for Nancy learned from her interview of his parents that they’d bought it for him as a birthday gift a year ago. Since he’d been riding his bike at around 6:30 in the evening, the sun hadn’t set yet, so Tor had plenty of light to see that large pothole in the road by the forklift. He was perfectly sober, and known to be an excellent bicyclist–he had won several trophies in bike races in his teens, and habitually rode every day.

It doesn’t make any sense at all that he hadn’t noticed the pothole, she thought. Yet it seems he rode right into it, causing him to fly off his bike and onto the forklift blade.

As odd as it was that the blade he hit had a jagged edge, it was even odder to see the blades raised up to about five feet in the air.

It was as though someone had premeditated, planned out his death, she thought. What living person could have done such a fantastic thing? It was like something right out of The Omen, a conspiracy of demons.

Then, Nancy remembered Ari’s accident, and how odd that death was.

Nah, they couldn’t be connected, she thought. I’m thinking crazy now.

‘Sirens,’ a Horror Novella, Chapter Two

THE SULLA DAILY NEWS

MOTORCYCLIST KILLED IN HIGHWAY ACCIDENT

September 2, 2020

by Nancy Sayers

Last night, at about 11:30, Ari Schneider, 22, was riding his Yamaha Midnight Star motorbike down Route 36 between Sulla and Carupton when, inexplicably, he suddenly swerved into the opposing lane and crashed into an approaching semi-trailer truck. His body went under the wheels and was torn in half.

An autopsy revealed no drugs in his body, only a very small amount of alcohol, far too little for him to have lost control the way he did. The truck driver claims he had “an ear-to-ear grin” on his face, and his eyes were “squeezed shut” just before the collision. Yet he was hardly intoxicated at all, in spite of appearances.

“He looked like he was interacting with friends on his bike,” the truck driver, Ben Lewiston, said. “But no one was on the bike with him, and he wasn’t wearing headphones or a microphone to be talking with anyone else. I was surprised to hear that he wasn’t drunk or stoned. He must have been mentally ill or something.”

His family members, however, insist he had no mental health issues at all. “He never had a suicidal inclination of any kind,” his father, Lee Schneider, said. “Nor was he ever prone to hallucinating, not in the slightest. There is no reason for him at all to have thrown himself under that truck. It was so easily avoidable an accident. He was more or less sober. How could this have happened?”

A private funeral is being arranged for him for next week.