Dead Girls

Not all humans are equal, for some of them were born superior to others—The Human Experiment

Chapter front quotes are by EM Cioran.

1—Write books only if you are going to say in them the things you would never dare confide to anyone.

I have a memory. I am in the sandbox. A lizard appears. I grab the lizard. His tail detaches. The lizard runs away. I am left holding this gray lizard tail—and the lizard had been green. He tricked me. And I learned a new thing that day—that lizards can eject their tails to avoid predators. Only later did I learn that they grow back.

I live in Pain, South Dakota. It's a kind of tourist spot in that people stop here to see what a place called Pain looks like. And we're on the bus line. So travelers sometimes think that Pain, South Dakota would be a nice place to stop for the night—or they plan to run out of money here and start a new life. There's a similar place in Pennsylvania. It's called Intercourse. When my aunt was alive she went there and sent me a picture of her and my uncle standing in front of a t-shirt shop each wearing t-shirts that said "I <3 Intercourse." There is no t-shirt shop in Pain.

We have a population of about 300. Mostly trailers. A main street that looks like the main street in The Last Picture Show. Have you seen that flick?—great flick. Our Main Street has a place called Betsy's, which is a diner, which is the geographical center of Pain. If you see someone going somewhere, chances are they're going to Betsy's—if you see someone coming from somewhere, chances are they're coming from there.

I drink my coffee at Betsy's when I'm not otherwise engaged.

I sit at the bar.

I read the newspaper, which is one sheet front and back, and mostly consists of livestock and other classified advertisements. A working record player, ten dollars. A red tricycle, five dollars. I try to remember if I ever had a tricycle. I think I did. I think it was yellow.

Every morning I sit at Betsy's.

Every morning Betsy says, "Good day to you, Mr. Simple."

And every morning I say, "Good day to you, Mrs. Langton."

"Coffee?"

"Black."

And Betsy Langton takes a cup from under the counter, flips it over, sets it in front of me, and pours me a hot cup of coffee.

"Will you be having your usual pancakes or your usual French toast, Mr. Simple?"

"I'll be having my usual French toast, thank you, Mrs. Langton."

"Alrighty-do," she says, and turns around to cook them.

Betsy's is a one-woman operation. There's not a lot of room in this town to hire employees. It's a hard place to get started. That's something the end-of-the-line tourists of Pain, South Dakota don't have figured out before they get here. But there's a place for everyone. I even manage to find a place for some of them with me.

But I can't take everyone. In fact I'm quite particular about who I take to my house.

I only like women.

Of those, I only like young women.

Of those, I prefer petite women—women shorter than me, and I'm five ten.

I'll take women of any hair color, but of course my preference runs first with redheads, then blondes, then brunettes—as most men's preference runs.

I prefer women with small breasts—in fact I won't take anything larger than a B cup. This very particular preference has left many women standing at the bus stop on Main Street for much longer than they expected—but I can't help it, it's my personal preference and my business is a business of personal preference. In fact my business wouldn't exist at all without it.

Other than that, it's a look in the eyes—that kind of girl that thinks Pain, South Dakota is as good as Hollywood, California—a girl who gets off that bus and has hope in her eyes, who thinks that this is where she's going to start her new life, and somehow she's going to fit into this tiny town and get a job as a waitress at Betsy's and rent a room with a family who has two girls and a father and mother who treat everybody right, and in this new place she'll be able to forget everything that happened in Pittsburgh or New York or Miami or wherever the fuck she came from.

But she won't.

But she thinks she will.

That's the type of hope I'm looking for.

That hope is the single most important characteristic I look for in a girl. Because that hope is what I drain from her. I take her from a girl who hopes to make a life for herself in Pain, to a girl who hopes someday to escape my crate, to a girl who just hopes not to die, to a girl who hopes there is a heaven, to a girl who hopes that death comes quickly—which it won't.

To a girl with dead eyes.

To a girl who isn't there.

To a girl that I control.

Do you know what a psychopomp is? It's a deity whose job is to safely escort the dead to the afterlife. They're not like our concept of the grim reaper—who actually does the killing. The psychopomp exists in many forms in many cultures, and her job is protector, guide—that's what I am. The girls who come to me have chosen to die in Pain. No one realistically comes to Pain, South Dakota to thrive. They come here as a last-ditch effort—they know this is the end of the line.

Otherwise they would solve their problems wherever it is they came from—or move to another big city. No. The type of person who comes to Pain, South Dakota, Population 300 is the type of person who is tired—tired of trying—and they're looking for a place to die.

So I don't really kill them—they kill themselves by coming here. I just carry them from Pain, South Dakota to the land of the dead. And they thank me for it.

They thank me for giving the end of their lives meaning.

They thank me for being their guide.

They thank me for showing them what death is.

And they thank me for killing them—finally—for taking their last breath.

It's sort of like a father-baby arrangement. Baby daughter, held in the arms of the father. I can rock you. I can drop you. I hold your body in complete control and you have no choice but to trust me. And I rock you, my baby, gently, to sleep.

I'm sure you'll have trouble with my metaphors. You'll think them inaccurate. You'll think them insensitive. You'll think I've deluded myself and you'll feed yourself all that Boar's Head-quality bullshit on a sandwich made of flies.

But here's the thing.

People don't actually fear death.

What they fear is being alone—dying alone.

With me, no one dies alone!

Maybe you get lost in the woods. Maybe a rattlesnake bites you. Maybe a cougar gets ya—maybe a bear. Or maybe you break your leg and you just fucking starve to death. Three days, no water, and you're stuck screaming in the middle of nowhere hoping someone will come, hoping some stranger will save you or at least hold your hand when you pass away.

That's not the kind of death we want—eaten by ants.

Now imagine you're in the hospital with all your family around you. You look at all of them receding through a tunnel and you know that you mattered. Someone showed up for the big event.

Well with me you get something in between. You're outside in nature—at gunpoint of course—and you have me (who's become a friend) there with you squeezing the last breath out of your tiny little girl neck, crushing your petite larynx and—if you're lucky—fracturing the precious hyoid bone which makes a distinct snap that you'll hear clearly because that bone breaks before you die. But I'll be there with you, you see!—and that's what makes all the difference. You'll have a psychopomp sitting on your shoulder, with you all the way through the curve from birth to death, I like to think—as you're never truly born until you wake up in my chair, naked, restrained, with a television and corrugated walls and a chest neatly organized with every surgical, dental, mechanical, and gynecological tool known to the human race. On the other wall is a cabinet I keep closed while you're alive—stuff I salvaged from an old slaughterhouse in Pain.

Yep, just another day in Pain, South Dakota—Betsy making my usual French toast and me drinking my coffee, black. I'm new enough to Pain to still be a novelty (I've been here four years) but long enough to be a regular. Known quantity. No one notices me too little..no one notices me too much. No one asks me too many questions—like where I got my money. Pain is the kind of place where even in this age people have kept a measure of privacy. Politeness. You leave a person to their business.

And every morning, at eight o'clock sharp, I show up at Betsy's. Because every morning, at eight seventeen, the bus comes rambling through Pain, stops on Main Street, and the creaky door opens. Usually no one gets off. Hardly ever does anyone get on. Today the bus comes knocking up dust all over Main Street—bit of a wind rising—and it comes to a pinpoint stop where the sign specifies—in front of Tom's Tool, our hardware store. The bus door is on the other side of the bus from where I sit, so all I can do is sip my coffee and hope, wonder, pray that some petite B cup little girl seeking her next Hollywood gets off at our stop. The bus pulls away, and I see her: red wavy hair, one suitcase, about five foot even, and I look at her jeans and imagine her vulva. Think about taking my Norelco to that motherfucker and getting to work.

The bus is still in front of Tom's.

This is a good sign.

The longer it sits there, the greater the chance that the bus driver is taking someone's bags from underneath the bus.

Of course it could be some grandma and grandpa come here to move in with their relatives and die.

But it could be my little girl.

I drink almost my whole cup of coffee waiting for the bus to pass.

"Black?" Betsy says.

I put the cup on the counter and don't say a thing.

This is my church, the Pain bus stop.

I worship here, waiting for a savior, some girl to save me from my boredom, save me from killing myself with my own tools, leaving the most bizarre suicide scene in the history of the world.

Betsy fills my cup with her sour coffee which I've gotten used to.

I feel Pain owes me one today—something—I'll even take an older woman or someone with C cups—I can cut her down to size.

The bus just sits there.

My imagination drives me into a frenzy such that I cannot even pick up the fresh cup of coffee.

Images in my head of what could be behind that bus have my dick hard and I have to cover it with the one sheet.

This could be the one—'cause I'm not gonna do this forever.

I'm looking for the perfect one, you understand?

I need the girl to end all girls!

I didn't set off to kill hundreds! I set off to kill one!

But the perfect one.

And with each new one, only the imperfections become apparent.

That's the problem.

With each new one, I become less and less satisfied, more and more desperate for the one I can make into my perfect one.

The bus doors creak closed.

The driver is back in his seat.

And the bus pulls away, and there is someone there. And it isn't granny and granddad moving here to die.

My mouth opens.

I blink.

And what I see across the street makes me cum involuntarily, semen pumping along the side of my leg and seeping through my jeans.

2—I get along quite well with someone only when he is at his lowest point and has neither the desire nor the strength to restore his habitual illusions.

What it is is this. This angelic piece of pussy, 24 years old—I can spot her age on the bubble—brown hair, pulled back in a pony, white t-shirt, blue jeans, and on the t-shirt—get this—she has two blue stars right where her nips are.

Carries one bag with her—black military surplus—a mid-sized duffel. Boots. Skechers. Black. Thick soles, like to sell to city kids who like to pretend they're gonna be climbing mountains. Black belt. Silver buckle. Mens'. White girl. No makeup. Fresh skin—a few marks lower side of her left cheek. Not pimples..like where pimples used to be.

I can see her raised nipples from across the street.

They're the size of dimes.

They're popping up through those glittery blue stars on her shirt.

I want to cut them off with a box cutter—big erasers—leaving blood streams running down her breasts and down her stomach..and eat those erasers like a raw sausage, right in front of her, let her watch me chew them, let her know she'll never feel from them again..then go to work on the rest of her with the razor blade.

Oh and it's my lucky day—because those sweater puppies are a perfect B/C cup—sized 'em up from here.

This flaunty little bitch raises her head, crosses the street, comes right into Betsy's, Betsy says:

"Sit at the bar or pick a table, hun. I'll be right with you."

Blue stars walks right behind me.

She doesn't see me looking at her in the mirror over Betsy's cash register that runs the length of the wall.

I smell her, timing my breath so I'm inhaling right as she passes.

I can smell fabric softener, which (combined with the condition of her hair) means she hasn't been on the road long—she's probably changed clothes in a bathroom somewhere along the way as she doesn't look like she's from anywhere less than a day from here by bus.

I can smell her deodorant, the white, flaky kind—I would guess Secret Invisible Solid Powder. That's a habit I'll rid her of right away. We don't wear deodorant in the crate.

Her head is cocked back, like this bitch has spirit, and I can't tell you how attractive that is to me. It's spirit I like to break.

I squirm in my seat and watch the girl take a booth, setting her duffel bag on the bench across from her and putting her feet up next to it.

Betsy brings me my French toast.

"Thank you, Mrs. Langton."

She looks over at blue stars.

"Now I've gotta go take care of city girl," Mrs. Langton says.

"You want me to do it?" I say. "Bet I could handle her for you."

"How 'bout I butter her up and you put her on the griddle," Betsy says.

"That's a deal," I say, smiling and picking up my coffee.

I can hardly eat thinking of Little Miss Blue Stars and what kind of pussy she has. I spend my entire meal thinking of pubic hair stuck to white panties on hot bus rides, imagining her tiny ass shifting countless times in the Greyhound seat, the sun beating its rays into her lap and making the inner part of her thighs perspire. I imagined her pussy sweating—and invariably a drop of white liquid coming out her tiny vaginal hole. I wanted to lick that up for her—then stab her in the heart with my Pakistan—this special knife I like to stab people in the heart with—then eat her pussy up for the rest of her short life—give her something to enjoy while her internal clockwork slowed down and eventually came to a stop.

Her eyes would be glass.

And I'd still be eating that pussy, wondering how long she could feel sensation after the outward signs pointed to dead. I'd give her a good three minutes before I stopped licking her pussy hole, just in case somewhere inside she was still alive. I wanted her to have something nice to die to—and what's nicer than having your pussy licked by the man who killed you?

Betsy took my dishes and said something I didn't hear.

I was lost in visions of Blue Stars.

I said, "They were good, thank you Betsy."

Betsy raises her voice. She says, "I said are you gonna fuck that girl?"

"Mrs. Langton!"

We make eyes.

"Someone has to," I say, and set down my coffee.

Betsy shakes her head and takes my dishes.

I leave money on the counter and go to the booth next to Blue Stars. An old man everyone calls Samson is sitting there.

"Hey Ol' Sam."

"Good morning young man."

"How many times you gonna read that paper?"

Samson points at a sentence on the front side.

"They can't spell! They can't spell! There was a time not too long ago when to run a newspaper you had to be able to spell."

"I know, I can't read the thing."

"A little grammar might help, too!"

"What do you care about the livestock news, Samson?"

"And that's the other thing!" he practically yells. "It wouldn't hurt if the newspaper had a story every month or so!"

"Samson," I say. "You know nothing ever happens in Pain."

He waves me off with the newspaper.

I go to the next booth.

Blue Stars pretends not to see me. She's half my age.

"I got some work. You lookin' for work?"

She looks up, just with her eyes.

"What does it pay?"

"Don't you want to know what kind of work it is?"

"Ok, what kind of work is it?"

She says this like I'm wasting her time and her defiance makes me want to fuck her—not do the usual thing, you know, but marry the bitch and knock that defiance out of her night by night with my dick.

"It's work with pigs and horses."

"Doing what exactly with them?"

"Do you mind if I sit down?"

She kicks her duffel bag up against the wall and puts her feet on the floor.

I sit across from her and lean in, my elbows on the table.

"I need a shoer—do you mind if I ask your real name?"

"My real name? As opposed to my fake name?"

"Do you mind if I ask your name?"

"It's Angel."

"Bullshit that ain't your real name and you know it."

"It's my real name if when you talk to me you want me to answer."

"Well Angel, I need a shoer—do you know what a shoer is?"

"Someone who puts shoes on horses?" she says, like I'm asking her two plus two.

"That's right but I also need a hammer man."

"I guess you got the wrong girl, then, 'cause I obviously ain't no man."

"Obviously."

"Obviously."

She swivels her head.

And I say, "Can I see your tits?"

"What the fuck did you just say to me?"

"You're advertising 'em with those stars, honey—I can see your nipples, diameter depth and firmness, from across the room. All I'm asking for is a little peek."

She smiles. Pretends to read the menu.

"What does a hammer girl do?"

"A hammer girl takes a hammer and hits cows in the forehead thereby killing them in a low-tech but humane manner. It's how you kill a cow on a small farm."

She stares at me.

"You hit 'em right between the eyes."

"You said pigs and horses," this 24 year old comes back at me.

"Well it's pigs horses and cows."

"What's it gonna be next, dogs and cats?"

"I have dogs and cats, too. Are you a dog person? A cat person?"

"It's not really about me being a dog person or a cat person," this beautiful specimen of female says to me. "It more about in one sentence you saying pigs and horses then in the next sentence you throwing in cows. I mean you might be paying me to hammer cows and the next day I'm hammering dinosaurs. You know what I mean? It makes a girl nervous."

She goes back to looking at the menu.

"Have you ever heard of the burrito theory," I say.

She looks up at me.

"I'm trying to order breakfast."

"The breakfast here isn't very good. Let me make you something at my place. Betsy can't cook worth shit."

"Tell me about the burrito theory."

"Well. You know a burrito, right?"

"Yes I know a burrito."

"Well, you know a taco, right?"

"I know a taco!"

"So, the burrito theory states that all Mexican food is basically the same. Take a burrito and replace the flour tortilla with a corn tortilla and you've got a taco shell. Deep fry the tortilla you've got a chimichanga or something. Lay the burrito flat and cut it in slices..you've got quesadillas! Basically..everything..is a burrito. Except enchiladas. Enchiladas have their own sauce and that sets them apart from all other Mexican food and personally I think that's why they're the best Mexican food available and that's why I always order enchiladas wherever I go. Do you like enchiladas?"

"Yes but—"

"That's good I thought you were a smart girl."

"What does this theory have to do with anything?"

"Oh, right. So you take a pig. You give it bigger hooves, stand it up, get it out of the mud, make its legs longer, make it skinnier, and instead of oink oink you make it say neeeeiiigggghhhhh!! Now it's a horse!! Give it spots! Now it's a cow!! Look, there's all kinds of animals on my farm and I can't give you a list of every single one! There's snakes, too—that bother you?"

"No. How much does it pay?"

"You don't mind being a hammer girl?"

"I wouldn't mind it for a hundred dollars a day."

"What if I said fifty."

"You can pay me fifty dollars a day to kill cows?"

"Yeah, well, it's killing cows—I mean that's the fun part—but it's also sweeping up dust that gets all over my porch. Have you noticed we have lots of dust around here? Well it gets all over my porch and I like to sit on my porch and read and I can't read if there's dust everywhere. And it's other things."

"Like what?"

"Like whatever I ask you to do."

"Be specific."

"Like feed the cats."

"You're gonna pay me fifty dollars a day to feed your cats."

"Well I forget."

"You forget to feed your cats?"

"There's rats for them to eat on the days I forget!"

"You make your cats eat rats???"

"I don't make them. But for example you could clean the stove."

"You're gonna pay me fifty dollars a day to clean your stove."

"I don't like to touch grease!"

I say it so loud, heads in the restaurant turn.

"Ok. Jesus. Look, I gotta ask you straight up front is this one of those Craigslist Guy seeks girl as live-in companion, Rent is zero dollars a month kind of deals? 'Cause I'm not into that."

"Listen, Blue Stars—"

"Angel."

"Angel. There's a barn. There's a couch. You can sleep in either. The house has two full bathrooms—front one's yours. I respect your privacy, you respect mine. That's how we do it in Pain. Notice I never asked you where you were coming from?"

"Right."

"And I never asked where you were going to?"

"Right."

"I'm never going to. And I'd prefer not to get a lot of questions from you, either. You know like if I was ever married, shit like that? They call it Pain for a reason, and maybe it ain't this place is full of pain. Maybe it's 'cause some of us came here to run from pain—you know what I mean?"

"Yeah," the girl says quietly.

She puts the menu down.

"Will you really make me breakfast at your house?"

"You low on cash?"

She nods barely.

"All it's gonna be is eggs and bacon."

Her eyes look up at me. She nods.

"Alright, let's get out of here."

I get up, let her get her own bag, and we head out the front of Betsy's. Betsy rolls her eyes at me as she's drying a coffee mug.

There's one truck parked on the street—it's mine. Everyone else lives close enough to walk. I'm out of town a little.

I cross the street and Angel follows.

"You know I know that taco theory is bullshit, right?"

"It's burrito theory and what do you mean it's bullshit?"

"Like..bullshit..like not reality!"

"How old are you?"

"Twenty-four."

"Then what the fuck do you know about reality?"

3—To be objective is to treat others as you treat an object, a corpseto behave with them like an undertaker.

She throws her duffel bag in the back and I start the truck.

I put it in gear and she slams her door, doesn't bother with the seatbelt.

"I want to show you something if you can wait on those eggs."

Angel looks me up and down.

She says, "Sure."

I start down Main Street practically in a dust storm. When I get to the first intersection, which I know by memory, I stop.

"There's an apple in the glove compartment."

I drive through the intersection.

Angel opens the glove compartment and takes out the apple.

"It's not poison is it?"

"You want me to take the first bite?"

"Nah."

We drive on. Outside of town. Outside of everything. Soon it's just scrub brush and boulders, not even a trailer home in sight. The road turns to dirt.

Angel chews the apple.

"You're not taking me somewhere to rape me, are you?"

"No. Are you scared?"

"A little."

"See in that glove compartment under the AA big book there's a gun. You hold onto that."

She opens the glove compartment and takes out the big blue book. Underneath is a Glock with a giant clip sticking out the handle.

Angel picks it up. She turns it in her hand.

"Is it loaded?"

"Oh yes. Unroll your window and fire a shot."

Angel manually unrolls her window. Awkwardly holds the gun with both hands. Aims it at the road next to the truck. Pulls the trigger.

Bzewntt.

She looks at it like it's magic. It's obviously the first time she's fired a gun.

"You hold onto that, I don't want you to be scared."

She sets the gun in her lap with both hands.

"You're sober?" she says, closing the AA book back in the glove compartment.

"Yeah."

"For how long?"

"Four-thousand one-hundred forty-eight days. So there's no alcohol at the house. I'm sorry if I forgot to list that among the rules."

"It's no problem. My dad was an alcoholic. I get it."

"Do you drink?"

"A little."

"There's a bar in town. I'll show you where it is. Just not at the house and don't come home drunk. I don't want to smell that shit."

"Where are we going?"

"It's just a place I like to go and sit. I'm gonna make you those eggs, don't worry—it's just you never want to miss a view. You never know when you're gonna be cooped up on a bus staring at the back of someone else's seat or otherwise restrained and contained by city life like if you leave me and go to Vegas or something and you're stuck in elevators and hotel rooms and hallways and streets and all that crap. I just want you to see this because it's special to me and I want to see if you're the kind of person who likes a good view or if you're the kind of person who couldn't care less."

"Ok, but eggs. I'm starving. You don't have any more apples?"

"No. View. Then eggs. I promise."

So we drive off in the direction of Wagner Canyon. I pull my truck right up to the edge and I see Angel grip the seat like we're going over.

She gets out without looking at me.

I slam the door and walk along the edge of the canyon.

There's a tiny creek running all the way through its middle. The rest is thorny scrubs and plain grass, some tiny trees.

I kick the dirt.

Angel is standing with her hands in her back pockets, blue stars pointed out over the canyon, my Glock tucked in the front of her jeans.

"What do you think?"

Angel nods.

"Yeah. This is nice. I've never seen anything quite like this."

"Neither have I," I say. "That's why I love coming here so much. Been to Utah—some beautiful canyon lands there—but something about the Dakotas. No one comes here, you know? Too rough for most people. Not people like us, though."

Angel looks at me.

"Settlers came through here, when they were first exploring America. The Natives said, Do not camp here. This is a valley of death. You find another place to stay, etc. Of course the white settlers didn't listen. They stood prob'ly right about where we are now and said, Doesn't that look beautiful? A nice little stream, plenty of green plants we can eat, little white rabbits we can eat. So they unloaded their wagons. Turns out that creek only flows on certain days. Been like that for hundreds of years. There's some kind of natural well system that fills and empties, only lets water through like one day out of six. And those green plants? The leaves on those cute little trees? Poisonous. And that valley is full of snakes. Those settlers didn't give up, though—they said This is our valley, this is where we're gonna live. One by one they died. Last guy left, his name was Wagner. That's why they call this Wagner Canyon."

"What happened to him?"

"He died too."

"How?"

"He shot himself in the face."

Angel turns my Glock in her hand. It gives her such a feeling of freedom. She could shoot me at any time. But I read her at the diner—read her like the Natives read the sky. They can look at the sky and tell you the weather better than a five-day forecast. And that's how I read Angel—like a forecast, like the sky. That gun wasn't protecting her—it was controlling her. She just didn't know it.

"Go ahead and shoot it."

"Where?"

"Out there."

I point into the canyon.

"Is it ok?"

I chuckle.

"There's nothing out there!"

She holds the Glock with two hands and shoots—pwemp pwemp pwemp. Hardly any recoil.

"How many bullets are in the clip?"

"A lot," I say.

"Doesn't law enforcement set limits on the clip sizes for civilians?"

"Do you see any law enforcement out here?"

Angel holds her arms straight and shoots.

A bullet flies across the canyon, hardly losing any altitude.

She lowers the gun.

"What's your name?"

"Matthew."

"Matthew what?"

"Matthew Simple."

"I think you're lying to me about your name," she says, plainly.

"Well I think you're lying to me about yours. It's not Angel. But you have good reason to lie. You just met me. I could be dangerous. You don't want me to be able to use your name to track you down. But I'm an old man compared to you. You'll soon see where I live. What reason would I have to hide my name from you? Anyway, everyone in Pain knows my name is Matthew Simple."

"I just don't trust you—I don't think that's your name."

"Well, Angel..are you an intuitive person?"

"Yes."

"Then I advise you to trust your intuition."

She looks at the ground. Then at the gun. Then back up at me.

I point.

"Get a good look. I don't know how long you're planning on staying in Pain, but I don't get out a lot and if you stay in town, say, five days, we could be at the farm five days—except I'll drive you to the bar if you want—but I want you to have a big place to remember, so you can go there in your mind if you need to, forget you're shoeing horses and smelling pig shit."

The young girl does—she looks out over Wagner Canyon, takes it in.

She looks at me with her thumbs through her belt loops, Glock in her right hand, and I see her eyes—her laughing eyes—eyes that contain a smile without the help of any other feature of her face.

That's what attracted me—the arc of those eyes and the dragonflies within them. She had iridescent wings and honeycomb skin. Her back was strong—her spine—a grown man couldn't break that young thing unless he was completely crazy.

"Did you know that a dragonfly—you know how flies and shit have tons of little facets that give them that panoramic view that makes 'em so hard to kill?" I say.

"Yeah," she says.

"Well a house fly has six-thousand of those facets. But a dragonfly has thirty-thousand—way more than any other insect."

"I'd never try to kill a dragonfly," she says.

And I say, "Let's get back to the house."

Angel and I head to the truck. I see her take one more look over Wagner Canyon—I have no idea why they call it Wagner Canyon, by the way—and she gets in the truck with my Glock across her lap and slams the door.

I drive around the town to avoid any busybodies seeing me carrying my prey to my house. I take Blythe Road, which is nothing but some one-room houses with meth heads and a bike rodeo.

"What's all that junk?" Angel asks.

"To you it's junk. To them it's shit they weld together for the bike rodeo!"

"Fuck is a bike rodeo?"

"It's like jousting, but with custom bikes—bicycles with flame throwers welded onto them and rotating spikes and shit."

"Do they ever kill each other?"

"Not quite, but they try."

I laugh.

"Why is that funny to you, someone almost dying in a bike rodeo?"

" 'Cause that's what they set out to do!! I mean what do you think is gonna happen if you weld a flame thrower to a bicycle."

I keep on laughing.

Angel looks at me skeptically—but it's too late now. If she was gonna be skeptical, the time for that was back in the booth at Betsy's—and she failed that little test.

We go out, and out, and out Blythe Road, and get to my place.

As soon as I pull up in the driveway she says, "Where's the barn?"

I grab the Glock with my left hand and with my right, inject poor Angel with one-hundred milligrams of Benadryl. I put the needle in her left arm through her shirt sleeve and drop the plunger. I don't take the Glock away from her, I just hold it in place, with my finger on the trigger.

Angel looks at me.

"Your name isn't Matthew Simple," she says, as she slips into the well of sedative.

"No."

She falls further down the well. Her hands release their hold on the Glock and I take it from her. I pull the needle out of her arm and keep a hand on her so she doesn't fall over.

"You wanna know my name?"

Angel nods, totally relaxed, almost sleeping.

"It's Matthew Temple. It's a pseudonym. Simple. Temple. Everyone needs a pseudonym. Even you."

Angel nods.

"That's true," she slurs.

"So what's your real name, Angel Blue Stars?"

"It's not Blue Stars."

I reach in her front pocket with two hands and take out her wallet. It's white with a picture of a rainbow unicorn and glitter diamonds all around the edges. It has a zipper. I unzip it. She's got like three dollars. I pull her driver's license out of its sleeve.

"Anna Miller. Lehighton, PA."

"That's where I live," she says.

"No it's not," I tell her. "You live with me now."

4—The wise man consents to everything, for he identifies himself with nothing. An opportunist without desires.

I never even knocked her unconscious. I used to use stronger drugs to knock girls unconscious, carry them to the crate, lock them in the chair, and let them wake up alone wondering what the fuck happened to them and where the fuck they were.

But, over the years, the process has improved. You've probably never been injected with a large amount of Benadryl unless you've needed to be subdued in a psychiatric hospital (as I have) but a large enough shot of Benadryl will neutralize even the strongest male. An even larger dose will put him to sleep almost instantly. But I didn't want to put Miss Anna Miller from Lehighton, PA to sleep. I'm fifty-four. I don't need to be carrying unconscious bodies of unsuspecting young women anymore than I have to—which to me means that I only carry them when they're dead (and even that I avoid). With a hundred milligrams of Benadryl, a girl Anna's size will let me support her with one arm and she'll just walk with me wherever I want us to go. Unfortunately, that's the crate.

The crate is a shipping container I bought from ol' Samson when I first moved here—he charged me fifteen-hundred bucks. It was just taking up space on his property and—believe me—I've gotten way more use out of it than Ol' Sam would have in this time.

I had my arm under Anna's shoulders.

"What did you give me?" she says.

"Benadryl," I say.

"Why did you give me Benadryl?"

" 'Cause I want you docile. I don't want you running away."

"Where's your barn?"

"You know I don't have a barn. Do you see a barn?"

"Well where do you keep the pigs?"

"I don't have any pigs."

She wrenches free of me and falls right over. She's crawling through the gravel.

I pick her up and get one arm under her shoulders again.

"I couldn't run," she says.

"That's the whole idea," I say. "We're just going to get you in the crate and then you'll wake up. Don't worry, you'll be fully conscious and have all your motor skills back in about seven hours."

"Seven hours?!"

"You're very strong to even be able to stand. For a girl your size, I'm kinda surprised you're still conscious."

"Why are you taking me to the crate?"

"I'm taking you to the chair."

"Why are you taking me to the chair?"

"So you won't run away again."

"Can I get my bag?"

"I'll get it for you. You wouldn't be able to carry it now."

"You're sure you'll get my bag?" she says.

"I will get your bag, don't worry."

I walk her around the side of the house, supporting most of her weight now. She's slipping into unconsciousness—I should have used 80 milligrams.

We come to the crate.

I unlock a seriously heavy-duty padlock—the kind you can shoot a rifle at and it remains unharmed—and open the doors to the crate. I carry Anna in. By now she's asleep and I have to use both arms to get her by her shoulders and her knees. The lights are always on inside the crate. On the left are my tool cases I described earlier. On the right are the butchery tools. All cabinets and drawers are locked. On the far end is a large-screen TV. In the middle is the chair. And from the ceiling I have all sorts of hooks and pulleys—whose uses I'm sure you can imagine.

The floor slopes outward and a simple gravity-based drainage system takes liquids into a well I dug in my back yard when I bought the house. There's a hose with a spray nozzle also attached to the ceiling. It runs hot or cold water at the specification of a couple of flat plastic buttons—one red, one green.

And the chair: the chair is a stainless steel gynecological chair I have modified with a network of one-inch holes drilled through the metal so that a person can lie on it and have somewhere for their sweat to go. There is no padding—only steel. And there are custom-machined clamps at the ankles in the stirrups and the wrists along two arm rests. There is also a neck clamp—but I don't use that unless I have to.

I lie Anna in the chair.

I take off her Skechers. She's wearing thin white socks with penguins stitched into them. I take those off.

I unzip her jeans, wriggle them off her body.

Her panties are plain pink silk with a polka-dotted bow at the top front of the waistband. I pull those off.

Her vulva is unshaved. She has the thinnest layer of soft brown hair—so thin it isn't even wiry. I can see her thin pink labia. They're simple—the kind of vulva where everything is packed in neatly under the outer lips.

I toss her jeans in the corner under the TV with her Skechers, socks, and panties.

I pull her shirt off over her head, over her ponytail.

She's totally knocked out.

Her nipples are pierced—simple rings—and she has a tattoo around her neck but underneath where a shirt would sit. It's something in Elvish and naturally I don't read Elvish but I assume it's the thing about one ring to rule them all etc. etc. I hate those fucking movies.

I toss the shirt with the blue stars under the television.

I adjust Anna's arms and legs so they're in the rests and stirrups.

Her skin squeaks against the sterilized steel.

I remove the white rubber band from her ponytail.

I remove her earrings—seven in all.

I remove her nipple piercings.

These I put in one of my tool chest drawers, the piercings and the rubber band. I carefully check her body from the top of her head, through her hair, under her arms, between her ass cheeks, between her legs (cursory check) and all the way down to her toes and the bottom of her feet. I have learned from past experience that you want to make sure these little girls don't have lockets and necklaces and even Band-Aids or stitches anywhere on their bodies as such things can be ingeniously used against me in a variety of ways. Also I need to know if they're a cutter. An increasing number of girls these days commit self-harm and now that they're under my care, their self-harm is under my care, too. I mean I have to fix that shit up before I just go hacking away on a girl. She could bleed to death before her time. Also, she might want to die. And the last thing I want to do is kill someone who already wants to die.

Anna's skin was clean. No cuts. No scars. Some birth marks on her inner right thigh. Small. Nothing that would turn me off. The tattoo I thought was tasteless but what are you gonna do? I would have to get used to it.

I locked Anna's ankles. Locked her wrists. Decided to let her neck stay loose for now. Would lock that down if she got wild on me.

Then I queued up my movie on the flat screen and waited.

While she was sleeping, I got used to the feel of her body. I ran my hands through her hair, loosened up what had been a ponytail and felt how soft and young the strands were.

I touched her ears. When I put my fingers inside them my dick got hard.

I opened her mouth, closed it, gave her a kiss on the lips.

I touched her nipples and, even asleep, they hardened. My dick got rock hard. I imagined them with the rings in them and how you could bite them and pull on her nipples while making love and I saw myself doing this and when I saw it, I saw myself as a boy her age, not as my actual self, my actual age.

I leaned down and bit and licked her nipples and wondered if Anna was dreaming. I thought of what it would be like for her to wake up in this place and I thought of how much more difficult it would be if she had just been lost in a blanket of sex dreams, the image of her and some boy she liked from Lehighton, PA. But there would only be me, and she would find me hideous.

I kept my fingers away from her pussy as a way to tease myself of all the things we would be doing with that later.

And I touched her legs—shaven—all the way from her inner thighs (which must be the softest place on a woman) down to her toes and the soles of her feet. Her toenails were pained a chalky blue that roughly complimented the blue stars on her nipple shirt. You know if she hadn't worn that shirt she might not be in the crate right now.

But she probably would be.

Anna slowly comes to life.

The first thing she does is look at her wrists and flop her hands around. Then she flexes her legs and feels that they won't move. Then she looks down and sees that she's naked. Then she looks to her left and sees me sitting there on a stool.

Then she screams.

She screams her bloody head off.

Then she screams some more.

She wrenches her neck side to side as she screams, apparently thinking that will help her screams go farther or be louder or something.

Then she wears herself out and her voice is hoarse—I mean hoarse—when she finally speaks to me.

With her loose hair, and everything about her exposed, and her voice all but expired, she is godlike to me.

She looks around the room, nice and slow. Spray hose. Television. Tool cabinets—all drawers closed and locked away. Her pile of clothes on the floor in front of her.

"How long are you gonna keep me here?"

"For the rest of your short life."

I smile.

Something in her face goes away—I think some form of that hope we were talking about earlier.

"Sorry, but I thought you'd prefer the truth."

"How long are you gonna keep me alive?"

"For as long as I'm having fun with you, I guess. I mean, think of a cat playing with a lizard. It isn't a matter of hours and minutes for the cat, is it? He just plays with her as long as she's fun to play with—or until she dies, whichever comes first. And let's be honest. Just because the lizard dies doesn't mean playing with it stops being fun for the cat. My cats will play with a lizard long after she's dead. So I guess the moral to the story is: be fun!"

"Stop!"

"Is what I'm saying bothering you?"

"Are you gonna fuck me after I'm dead?"

"Probably. A couple of times. While you're still warm. Does that bother you?"

And Anna lets out a scream to rival all the screams I've heard in my career. I mean it shakes me..to think of how much it bothers that little brown-haired girl that I'm gonna fuck her after she's dead.

I stand up and go to the TV.

I turn around and look at her, legs spread, pussy exposed and ready for me to do anything I want to it, Anna's hair wild, her mascara running tears of black down that pretty little face.

She's down there, and I'm up here—that's just the nature of the world. I control her like I control my TV—she has no say in the matter.

And I know in the coming weeks I will hear hundreds—thousands—of cries of protest. And not one of them will change what I do to her. Not one of them will stop me.

But she'll make them anyway—thinking she can change the world.

But Anna can't change the world.

The world is owned by people like me.

And people like her are ants.

They don't consider, when they get off the bus in Pain, South Dakota, that someone like me even exists.

Even with all the true crime shows she's watched.

I'm of a different species.

I'm looking at her all over—my property.

"Well," she says fiercely. "Are you gonna fuck me?"

"No," I say. "I have a movie I want you to watch first."

5—We have lost, being born, as much as we shall lose, dying. Everything.

I stepped to the back of the crate and used a remote to start my video. I upped the volume to make sure she could hear it. Then I let myself out of the crate, locking it behind me, and went into the house.

The volume was so loud I could hear it from the kitchen. Of course I already knew what it said. And I had heard it so many times I almost had it memorized.

Stock photography of a deer.

Its head turns.

Then a shot rings out.

The deer limps a few steps and dies.

Shot of the sky.

Clouds in fast motion.

Blue fades to red.

Then my voice:

Welcome to my crate. You have unluckily found yourself in a shipping container in Pain, South Dakota. What you did before you came to the crate may have varied. But what will happen inside my crate is the same for you as for all who have come before you.

You will not be killed. Nothing like that. I will not hold a gun to your head and pull the trigger. That's being killed. You will do something else entirely. You will get to know pain. You will know what it is like to have holes drilled through your cheeks, to be unable to eat because the food spills out the holes in the sides of your mouth. You will be fed by tube. You will be anally raped with a series of dowels of increasing diameter, and your once-puckered asshole will become a gaping chasm which can no longer withhold feces. You will no longer shit as normal people doyou will leak from the ass.

The chair you are in?

It is bed.

It is toilet.

It will become everything to you.

When you are alone for the first time, when you can still withhold feces, you will reach a point where you must let them go and you will shit yourself and the shit will spread out between your ass and the stainless steel chair you are sitting in.

You will learn degradation.

You will learn to urinate on yourself and beg for food like a dog.

You will beg for death but you will not be given it.

You will learn to be fucked blindfolded and ball gagged, so that your expression and inputs are ignored, and you just become a hole to be fucked. I will use you anytime I please. You will learn to crave my cock, as it is the only warmth you shall receive for the rest of your life. By degrees, you will learn to cum when I fuck you, and you will hate yourself for it, but you will let yourself cum because it is the only pleasure you will receive.

You will be examined, photographed, and catalogued right down to the microscopic level.

Your vagina will be sampled and ultimately preserved for my own visual analysis and remembrance of you. Long after you are rotting flesh, your sex organs will remain in jars, useless to you, existing only for my memory. Occasionally I will remove your dead pussy and masturbate with it, returning it to its formaldehyde jar which is labeled with your name only after it has served its only remaining purposeto make me cum. I want you to know this, now, so that every time we fuck you can imagine your lifeless body leaning against a rock in my decomposition field while I am still convening with your most private parts in the comfort of my home.

I advise you not to disrespect me. You see those cabinets to your left? They contain tools you cannot imaginetools you have never seen in your sheltered young life but which can be used to inflict extreme bodily pain and destruction. I am equipped to lobotomize you, if I feel necessary. I am equipped to remove organs or parts of organs, including the brain, while keeping you alive. All surgeries in the crate are sans*-anesthetic*—to invite me to perform these with your rudeness is not advised.

I am also equipped with a wide variety of drugs I can use to sedate you without putting you to sleep. For example, I can put you in a tunnel where you can see and feel and hear everything that is happening to you but are unable to respond, unable to speak, unable to move your limbs. The horror you will experience of a surgery under these conditions will be enough to make you vomit even under such sedation and they will change you psychologically for the rest of your short life. Few people have the opportunity to watch, unable to move, as their uterus is removedbut you may become one of these if, with your insolence, you invite it.

Respect is the number one rule in the crate, and if you don't learn it now by listening to these words, you will learn it with pain, and you will learn it with pain you do not have names for. You will learn what only soldiers of war knowthe horrors only experienced by the military.

You cannot escape the crate. No one has ever done it.

You will not be heard if you scream. You are welcome to screamstarting now. Scream all you want. I have made physical calculations involving the distance of our closest neighbors, probabilistic calculations involving the likelihood of a car driving along Blythe Road at precisely the moment you scream. The fact is Blythe Road is a dead end road, and this is the last house on it. No one ever drives this far down Blythe Road except me. I don't ever have guestsor pizzas deliveredso I'm afraid there's not much to hope for there.

Do not ask me to loosen the clamps around your wrists or ankles. I know they are tight. I know they hurt your bones. You will get used to it. Your hand will not lose circulation. It will not fall off. I really don't appreciate requests for loosening of the clamps. I will punish you if you make such a request, starting with clamping down your neck.

You are now my toy. I will do anything I want with you. You will acquiesce. If you embarrass me, you will experience wrath of the type found in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. If you go with the flow, this doesn't have to be all bad for you. You can even have some fun. Everyone dies. Consider yourself luckyyou won't die alone. I will be there with you, when your final moment comes. I will hold your hand. I will brush back your hair. I will help you into the nothingness that likely follows this life in a gentle way if you let me. If you are wise, you will consider me your friend, if only for the reason that from some point earlier today, onward, I am the last person you're ever going to see. So let's go easy, ok? You let me do what I wantwhich is to play with my toyand I will be nice to you, just like anyone is with a toy that cooperates. If you don't cooperate, that will make me angry, and when I get angry I smash my toys, cut them, break them, poison them, and hurt them. It is your choice what type of toy you want to be.

I want you to think for a second about this.

About what kind of toy you want to be.

You are already dead, for every intent and purpose. Two-hundred fifty women have sat in that chair. None of them have departed without me. All of them are dead now. I killed every single one in just the way I found appropriate to eachand that is exactly what is going to happen to you. I have an extremely high rate of successa perfect record. You will not be the one who breaks this record. You will go into the night. Do you want to go kicking and screaming, like an idiot child, or do you want to go with dignity, like a woman walking down a corridor of light, holding my hand.

Because this is how it can be for you.

I have drugs that will keep you from feeling a thing.

If you relax, you can experience a month of sexual ecstasy.

If you resist, I may shoot a bullet through your mouth, sideways, deforming you but leaving you alive. I have spent my life collecting ways to demean a prisoner while keeping them consciousand I specialize in young women. They had a nickname for me where I workeda place most people in this fucked-up world will never know of. And in that place, because of what I did, they called me by this sympathetic moniker, informally naming me, "Dead Girls"and you should know that before the fifty I've tortured in this crate, I tortured two-hundred in other cities, and before that, entities you'll never know of paid me well to torture a thousand more.

That's pretty much how it goes. Like I said I have it mostly memorized. I keep having to change parts of it to fit the changing particulars of the circumstances but all this gets easier every year with the advent of the new computers. All the while they're listening to this voiceover, images play of natural environments—some Steadicam through the woods, some shot by snowboarders, parachuters, some great shots of the waves off the coast of northern California. It's supposed to be a juxtaposition of opposites—you know, the psycho killer audio versus the peaceful nature photography—kind of a Stanley Kubrick thing.

I put a styrofoam plate on my forearm and carry a plastic spoon and a paper towel out of the house and balance it all while I unlock the crate. I let myself in and set the plate on my workbench. I pull the crate door closed and lock us in, carefully putting the key in my right pocket.

I'm just behind Anna so she can't see what I'm doing.

"Are you awake?"

"Yeah, fantastic movie. Did you do it yourself or did you get Frank and Billy Bob Thornton to help you with it?"

"You mean did I use a local video service to help me with the editing?"

"That's what I mean, yes," she says, trying to turn her head far enough to the left to see me. "That's really fucked up, you know, to show me a deer getting killed. I hope whoever killed it didn't just leave it there."

"I'm sure they ate the meat, if that's what's worrying you."

"Yes, that's what's worrying me. Where the fuck have you been?"

I slide forward on my stool and show her the plate:

Eggs and bacon.

She looks me in the eyes.

"I promised you eggs and bacon. Here it is. I'm going to have to feed it to you."

"Are those..over medium?"

"Of course."

"Over medium is my favorite!" she says, like she's forgotten she's locked in a gynecological chair. "How did you know?" she says, and there's a weird quality to her words and every action that unnerves me: trust.

I haven't seen that face for a long time on anyone, and it reminds me of someone I knew who is never ever coming back.

"How did you know I liked over medium?!" Anna Miller says.

"Lucky guess," I say, and for once I find myself the most uncomfortable person in the room.

6—Most of our troubles come from our first impulses. The slightest enthusiasm costs more than a crime.

So I'm feeding her these eggs. And her breasts are moving when she leans her head forward to clean the plastic spoon.

"You don't seem like a violent person," she says.

"I'm not."

"Then why are you doing this?"

"Because I can. And because I want to. Did you watch my movie?"

"Yes."

"Then you weren't paying attention."

"Let me watch it again."

I hold the spoon still.

"I'm not letting you watch it again. And by the way, I did not take the nature videos—they're all stock footage. I just didn't want you to think I was implicitly taking any kind of credit for them. They're all public domain or paid for by a service I subscribe to."

I stick the spoon in her mouth with a piece of egg white and some over-medium yolk on it.

She chews a few times and swallows.

"Why do you have to make a movie? Why can't you tell me yourself?"

"Because you deserve to hear it with a straight face. And I think it is absolutely hilarious that you will die, and absolutely hilarious that I will do it. So there's no way I could get through all that without laughing. See, it's hard for me to keep the proper tone required to tell you what I have done to fifty some girls in this crate and two-hundred more elsewhere and that you are about to join them."

"I would think you would remember the exact number."

"No, you forget."

"Don't you keep a count?"

"No. I kept a count for the first twenty, twenty five. After that it's not really about the number."

I feed her more eggs. When we get to the bacon I have to snap it into little pieces and feed her with my fingers, careful to avoid biting.

"I've drafted many versions of the script to that movie. It's intended to have certain psychological effects, but I'm not a real psychologist. I mean I have no formal training in that field. I'm more of a craft psychologist."

"Is this a joke? You're being so nice to me."

She chews her bacon.

"No it's not a joke I'm going to torture you and then kill you."

Anna looks around the room.

"So you hid my earrings, but my clothes are crumpled on the floor, right in front of me, where I can see them. Why."

"Because. If you see your clothes there, you'll believe that someday you'll wear them again, get out of here, and go back to your life."

"So you want me to have hope."

"Yes."

"Why."

"Because. I want to watch it slowly drain away."

"Well put 'em away."

"Why would I do that?"

"Because I don't have any hope. I didn't even before I met you."

"Sure you do. Let's talk about it."

"Like I'd talk about anything with you."

"Well, just so you know what to expect, in three days I'll lock your clothes in one of those drawers."

"Can't you do it now?"

"I'll do it in three days."

"Do you leave them out for everyone for three days?"

"Yes. It's a procedure. I do it the same exact way every time."

"So you have OCD?" she chuckles.

"Following a procedure is different than having OCD. I follow the procedure because it works."

"But you do have OCD."

She looks straight at me. She laughs like a donkey.

She looks up and down the chair.

"What, are you an out of work gynecologist or something?"

I stand, go to my workbench. I set the plate down and open one of my containers. Inside is a ball gag. Black. I stand behind the girl and put it in her mouth and pull the thick rubber straps around the back of her head, latch them, then tighten the whole thing to the point that her teeth are cutting into the ball.

She goes "Mmm! Mmmm!!" as I sit beside her and eat the rest of her bacon. She's looking at me, looking at the plate, looking down at her mouth, signaling for me to take off the gag.

I just ignore her.

When I'm done eating, I grab a small fluorescent light bulb from one of the drawers of my tool chest. I go inside to the kitchen. I use tongs to hold the lightbulb above a gas flame on my stove, turned up to high. I rotate the bulb so that it's uniformly hot. I touch it with my finger. It burns the skin. I go back out to Anna.

I set the lightbulb on my work desk.

There are pins in the legs of the chair. I lift them and widen her legs, then drop the pins to secure the legs in their new, wider position. I bring the lightbulb over using the tongs and touch it to Anna's pussy. Her lips have opened naturally as the legs of the chair have widened. Anna screams when the lightbulb touches her puss. It burns and shrivels the hair covering the opening of her vulva. She flexes this way and that, trying to sit up higher in the chair to avoid the touch of the fluorescent lightbulb, but in that chair she's not going anywhere.

I use my fingers to pull apart her vaginal opening and I push the lightbulb inside her body. She screams with her eyes. Her breathing is frantic. I have seen the vaginal wall microscopically many times and I imagine all those little pods and tendrils packed with nerves burning and dying and receding and killing the feeling in this most lovely part of her body. If she hadn't made the remark about the out of work gynecologist I wouldn't be doing this. It's an exchange, you see—where a girl learns to behave. Anna doesn't yet know how to behave. But she'll learn.

I use the tongs to turn the lightbulb all the way around—a full rotation—to make sure she gets the benefit of the heat.

I take my dick out. It is already hard.

I fuck her with the lightbulb and the tongs while I jerk my dick off. Every time the lightbulb cools, I go back into the kitchen with my cock hanging out my pants and I heat the lightbulb on the stove. I get it so hot I can hardly put a finger on it. I touch it to my dick for fun. There are so many burn marks on the top of my dick I could never count them. Then I go back into the crate.

Every time I re-enter her view, Anna screams and squirms—and every time I stick that lightbulb in that little girl's cunt, I do it just to see the reaction in her eyes. Her eyes stop looking between her legs and roll back in her head. I can see the strong tendons in her thighs—one pulling, then the other, then both as she tries to escape first to one side, then the other, then back and up in the chair.

I get a good motion going with the lightbulb and this is the fourth or fifth time I heat it. She's getting used to it. She no longer screams through the ball gag, though the reflex of trying to escape the hot bulb remains. My cock is oozing cum. I hardly have to touch it. Just knowing that her most tender parts are being singed to the point of injury is almost enough to make me cum spontaneously. I fuck her ever deeper with the tongs until the lightbulb disappears inside her and Anna starts to moan again—deep moans of a different quality—it's the shift from external to internal pain, I know—the shift from the many hypersensitive nerves of the outside of the body to the sparser, deeper nerves inside the body. Pain on the outside tells your body to watch out; pain on the inside tells your body that something is going terribly wrong. Like kidney stone pain: the reason it's so unbearable is it's not superficial. It's telling your body that it's being injured on the inside. And that—while not as dramatic as pain on the outside of the body—is pain that gets you in the mind, too, because you know that, in small ways, you're dying.

I took that lightbulb out of her vagina gently. Her little bulbs and tendrils would grow back. She would feel again there. She would fuck and enjoy it—I would see to that. But the bitch needed to learn that I don't appreciate amateur stand up from girls in the chair. If I want jokes I'll turn on Anthony Jeselnik.

Anna opened her eyes when I pulled the lightbulb out of her vagina and she had the appropriate expression: fear.

I gave her clit a quick lick.

She screamed through the ball gag.

"That's my clit now," I said, and brushed my finger up it.

I left the crate.

I put the lightbulb in my biohazard trash and the tongs in the dishwasher.

I sat in my reclining chair and listened to Anna mew through the ball gag. I knew she was crying, and I didn't want to see that. She was crying because she knew that this was real—that I could be as friendly as I wanted and I was still going to burn her precious vagina any time I wanted, that I was going to touch her clit when I wanted..and I knew she was imagining many worse things that I would do to her—and she was right about most of them.

She could tell know what I was.

She could tell that if I wanted to shut her up..that I would shut her up.

She knew that she was going to have to pee eventually and that she'd be doing it in that chair; that she'd shit herself there and have to bear the embarrassment of me cleaning it up, of seeing and smelling these most intimate things her body produced.

I liked her. She was a good girl. And I imagined, sitting there in my reclining chair slowly stroking my cock, something special for her—something better than death—and I tried to wrap my mind around how to do to her what I had never done to any other. I wanted to own her more completely than I had owned a girl. I thought of the work I had done before—before I came to Pain, supposedly to retire—and I thought of how limited our ideas had been. I can't tell you what we did there, but I can certainly say that it lacked imagination. Government work always does. It might sound funny but I think of myself as a kind of artist—did you know I do watercolor? Flowers, mostly. But the kind of artist I'm talking about is a psychological one. I don't know. I didn't know if I had it in me to do to Anna what I envisioned. You have to retire from this work eventually or it gets to you.

I went out to the crate. Anna was crying silently and I wiped her tears away with my thumbs.

Then I dropped my jeans, popped the chair into convex mode, and jumped on top of her.

I stuck my cock into her injured vagina.

And I fucked.

Ahhhhh..

The feel of pussy once again.

It cooled something in me—something crazy.

Anna was screaming—I assume due to the fact that her vagina was burned the fuck up.

But to me it felt just fine.

I could feel her contractions, and knowing they were contractions of pain made my cock as hard as it gets.

She had a little girl pussy—I could tell she had never delivered any children—hers was a long pink slit in a sea of pale leg, inner thigh host to clit, pee hole, and vag as pristine as if she were a middle school girl getting fucked for the first time. My right hand automatically went for her neck, and I squeezed so tight I could feel her jugular. Then Anna got quiet, and all I could feel were tears, and tears, and tears.

I got my rhythm, looking down at my dick buried deep within this little girl, and I matched up in my mind the sight of my dick disappearing into her body with the feeling it caused in me, and I knew I was about to cum.

I looked her in the face, and I saw the beginnings of a broken person—which, strictly speaking, is my specialty—and I used that bitch's cunt to get myself to that point beyond which there is no return, and when I knew I was going to cum I looked her in the eyes and I said to that little girl:

"Next time leave the jokes to the professionals."

And then I rubbed myself against her serrated insides and as I was cumming I said:

"Understood?"

And I came.

And she nodded. And she nodded. And she nodded with her eyelids pressed closed.

7—I feel I am free but I know I am not.

I removed the ball gag because..who wants to sleep like that?..and I heard her crying quietly throughout the night. The lights always stay on in the crate. She would have to learn to sleep exposed—no blanket, no darkness, no security whatever.

She called my name but I did not go to her—dead girls must make it through the night on their own.

In the morning I went to the crate.

She lifted her head.

Her face was caked with salt and mascara.

"Mr. Temple. Or do you prefer to be called Mr. Simple?"

"I don't prefer that you call me anything. I prefer that you keep your mouth shut."

Then I took off my night sweatpants and climbed on top of the chair. I held myself in position with the ropes and pulleys hung from the ceiling, pressed my ass into her jaw to force it open, and took my morning shit in her mouth.

She shook her head but I got most of it in.

The moment my shit hit the back of her throat she threw up and—being reclined as she was—she began to choke on the combination of my shit and her own vomit and when I could hear she wasn't getting much air, I lifted myself off of the chair and hosed myself down with the spray nozzle.

Anna continued to reflex vomit as her own vomit hit her mouth until she was controlling her coughing to propel the vomit and shit out of her mouth, and she eventually cleared it out enough to breathe.

She didn't berate me then—would you?

She laid there quietly, breathing in and out with her mouth open as wide as possible so that the shit/vomit remnant on the side of her cheeks and between her teeth didn't start another cycle of puking.

I hosed her off from head to toe, spraying the nozzle directly into her mouth. I saw she left me a little cow pie between her legs and it was filling the cracks formed between her legs, her ass, and the chair. I sprayed her ass and vagina full force with the nozzle and I saw her wince but she said nothing. I kept the nozzle on her clit longer than I had to—which must have hurt—but she said nothing. Then I gave her mouth a final circular rinse and said:

"Close your eyes."

And I washed her face. Cleaned all the mascara off. Cleaned inside her ears, where some of my shit had got. Turned off the spray nozzle.

"Open your eyes."

She did.

"Now we're gonna read Shakespeare."

"What about some breakfast?"

"Now we're gonna read Shakespeare."

This time she did not respond.

I unlocked one of the drawers in my tool chest and pulled an old paper copy of Hamlet. I read her only the scenes with Ophelia, and when I came to this passage I read it twice:

O heavens, is 't possible a young maid's wits

Should be as mortal as an old man's life?

Nature is fine in love, and where 'tis fine,

It sends some precious instance of itself

After the thing it loves.

I looked at Anna, as if daring her to say something—anything. Ask for breakfast. Ask me why I shit in your mouth. Ask me why I read this passage twice. But Anna said nothing, and that was exactly as I desired it to be.

I read that little portion once more to make sure it sank in for both of us.

After Hamlet, I left the crate, locked her in, came back in a few minutes with eggs and bacon.

"Is this going to be an ok breakfast for you today?"

Anna nods.

I feed her eggs over medium and crispy bacon and she swallows gratefully—grateful that what's going down her throat is not my morning shit. She is quiet all the way to the end of the meal.

"Are you still hungry?"

She shakes her head.

"You can speak if you want to."

"I'm fine."

"So you're not hungry?"

"No."

"If you want special things for meals, just tell me. I don't expect you to eat bacon and eggs every morning. But keep in mind Pain is a town of 300—the grocery store sucks. If you need special items I'll have to drive into Sioux Falls—which I do periodically—so if you need anything unusual don't expect me to be able to get it by the next day. I make trips into the city about once a week. That's if everything goes well. If you worry me, then I don't make any trips at all."

"How long are we gonna do this?"

"Remember the cats playing with the lizard?"

"Do you even have any cats?"

"They're metaphorical cats. They play with the lizard as long as they're having fun doing so. What's the moral of the story?"

"Be a fun lizard."

"That's one moral."

I swing around with the Glock in my hand, huge clip suspended from the gun, pointed at Anna's face.

"You can be an un-fun lizard and die right now. It's up to you. Do you like your life here—"

"Not exactly!"

"I wasn't finished. Do you like your life here more than you would like to die right now? That is the question."

I put the Glock in her mouth.

"Do you want to die right now?"

She shakes her head slightly.

I remove the Glock from her mouth.

"Life is a strange thing—wouldn't you agree with me Anna?"

"My life has become very strange lately."

"That's what I mean: your life. Your life is strange."

"It doesn't have to be."

"You mean if I didn't exist, then it wouldn't have taken this strange turn."

"Right."

"You'd be living your dream in Pain, Population 300, as a waitress at Betsy's Diner, serving me my breakfast and having never caught my eye—that would be weird. Tell me: would you wear your blue star nipple t-shirt when you worked?"

Anna rolls her eyes.

"Would you bring your insolent attitude with you every day you came to work?"

"I don't even know what insolent means, ok? I didn't get a sixteen hundred on my SATs."

"Insolent means that no matter what you had done, you would have caught my eye. Our paths would have crossed, and you would have ended up here. You didn't do anything wrong."

"Except be myself."

"Right."

"That's my crime."

"That's your crime. Yes. That's all you did, and this morning a perfect stranger shit in your mouth."

Anna is silent.

"Do you have anything to say about that?"

She says nothing.

"You don't have anything to say about that?"

"We're not.."

"What is it?"

"We're not perfect strangers. You took me to the..William's Canyon—"

"Wagner's Canyon."

"Wagner's Canyon. You took me to Wagner's Canyon and we talked like normal people. You let me shoot your gun—the first time I ever shot a gun."

"I hope it'll be one of our many firsts together."

"You took me there to get some space into my head, right? Before you brought me to the crate."

"That's right. Do you remember it?"

"It's fading."

"And it'll only fade more and more and more."

"Are you ever gonna let me out of this crate?"

"No."

"What if I promise not to tell?"

"That's what everyone says, Anna."

"But I really wouldn't."

"You wouldn't for about three days. Then you'd feel safe again, and powerful, and you'd want me to suffer. How does your vagina feel?"

"It hurts."

"Do you want me to put some cream in it?"

"You burn me, now you're gonna heal me? Why not just burn me again?"

"Think of it from my point of view. Cat playing with a lizard. It's a lot more fun for me to hurt you, then heal you, then hurt you again once you're healed."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"So you'll be able to think about it for a long time before it happens. In a few days I'll tell you how I'm going to kill you, and you'll have weeks to think about it..and the days will fall away, and each day there will be fewer and fewer left..and each day the thought will be with you, and each day it will be a different shape..and it will start small, as a remote possibility, even though you know it's real..until the day that it happens, it'll be big like one of those floats in the Macy's Day Parade. Like Mickey Mouse, but so big he'll scare the shit out of a 24 year old. I'll probably kill you on a little bit of LSD, just enough so you're laughing when you die—not even taking seriously that you're about to die—and you'll make a fool of yourself."

"Are you serious?"

"Do I look like I'm joking?"

"You're gonna kill me on LSD so I make a fool of myself when I die?"

"Yeah, something like that."

"You are fucked up."

"Anna. Tell me something I don't know."

I unlock one of the small drawers of my tool chest, pull out a fresh hypodermic needle and a jar of crystals. I'm sitting slightly behind Anna so she can't see me heating the crystals. I fill the syringe and slide forward on my stool gripping her arm in my left hand and hitting her right in the vein with my other.

I drop the plunger.

Her eyes roll back in her head.

I roll up between her legs and lick her clitoris.

You can see her hands trying to escape their clamps, to touch herself, to get me away, something.

"What..the fuck..is that?"

"Crystal meth."

A tear falls from her eye.

"Is that a tear of sadness because you were just forced to do a drug you told yourself you would never do?"

"No," she says so quietly I can barely hear.

I look up from working the young girl's clit.

"What's that tear, then?"

"It's pleasure that you are doing that to me."

"Being how horrible I was to you earlier."

She nods, and tears are coming out of both eyes.

I tongue her clit and kiss it, licking her like a dog.

Her hands try again to escape their clamps.

"What do you want to do with those?"

"God, how much of that did you hit me with??"

"What do you want to do with your hands?"

"I want.."

"You can tell me."

"I want to touch my nipples."

She says it like a girl who feels very guilty.

"Does it surprise you that you can enjoy this experience after I shit in your mouth this morning, and given that in a few weeks I'm going to kill you?"

"Just touch my nipples."

"You want me to touch them."

"Fucking touch them."

"Your clit is really engorged."

Her hips are moving from side to side in the chair.

I lick her clit again.

Her nips are rock hard.

"You want me to touch your nipples?"

"Yes," she whispers.

"Say please."

"Please. Fuck. What the fuck."

"It's confusing, isn't it?"

Anna nods.

"You're wondering how I'm going to do it, aren't you—how I'm going to kill you."

Her chin wobbles and her forehead scrunches together.

"It's ok, Anna Miller, there are worse places you could be."

"Like where?"

"Like a third world country. Or naked on an iceberg. I don't know."

I put my whole mouth on her vulva.

She winces on the steel.

"Do you know who I am to you?"

I lick her clit.

"Who?"

"Who do you worship?"

I go to work on her clit with my mouth like she was my own wife.

"Who do you worship?"

I suck her fat clit almost out of her tiny white body.

"Who?"

"God," she whispers.

"Who am I?"

"God."

Then I touch her nipples, swirling them and pinching them and climbing up on her to suck them and bite them and paint them with my tongue.

Her hands flex in the clamps.

"You want your clit?"

She nods, she meth overwhelming her delicate system.

I lick my finger and hold it over her precious gem.

"Touch it?"

She nods uncontrollably.

"Then call me by my name," I say.

And she does.

8—Rather in a gutter than on a pedestal.

She called me god from that point on, never wavering from that practice a single time.

I didn't take it as flattery. I took it that Anna was finally understanding the true nature of our relationship—I was her god and she was my girl. I owned her body, her time, her freedom—what else is that but god?

And what was she to me? Pussy, ass, fragile mind. She was someone to destroy, like a tsunami destroys entire countries and doesn't give a shit. That's nature. And that's god.

At night she cried out for more meth or a blanket but I stayed in bed. I always let her flatten out before I gave her more—creating a meth addict was not my intention. And as for a blanket, forget it. Those are creature comforts deserved by real people, not slaves. The crate was temperature controlled. She would not get sick sleeping in there naked. And sleeping in there naked under the halogen floodlights was part of her treatment. She was under light and camera at all times—she was never to think she had a private moment. Sometimes we reviewed the security files together in the morning—not that there was anything she could do in the way of escape. But I'd replay the moments when she took a shit or peed, noting their times in my tablet just so she'd see me do it. I didn't give a shit when these things happened. But I wanted her to think that there was nothing she did that wouldn't be observed by me. I wanted, when she was in the act of letting her bowels go on the stainless steel chair, to have the feeling that I was watching—or would be.

In the morning her lips would be cracking and she would beg me for ChapStick, her own cherry lip balm. Of course I didn't let her use her own lip balm—this was about the time I put her clothes in one of the large cabinets to hide all remnant of who she was. The only thing of hers that she could see were parts of her own body, and I was gradually convincing her that even those belonged to me.

When she begged with chapped lips for me to bring her ChapStick, when she mouthed, "Water," I knelt over her and put my penis in her mouth, and as I urinated she sucked on my cord like a feeding tube, taking whatever moisture she could get. I shook off my dick in her mouth, and she licked at its tip for the remaining drops. It wasn't sexual for her—she was just fucking thirsty.

When I woke with a hard cock, whether it be midnight or morning, I simply went to the crate and fucked her. She was a tool I used to get rid of my morning wood so I could comfortably go back to sleep or stay up and start the day. When I fucked her, I felt the scars (from the lightbulb scorching) tear off the inside of her pussy, and flecks of the healing/covering skin stuck to my cock when I pulled it out of her.

"Lick them off. Lick off the scabs."

She did it.

"Swallow."

She swallowed her own pussy scabs.

"What's my name?"

"God."

"Who brought you here?"

"God."

"Who's going to take you away?"

"You are."

"Who is going to take you away?"

"God."

I'd sit with my stool between her legs, holding the loaded Glock between them while we watched The Last Picture Show over and over and over again. When I got excited—during certain scenes that I liked—I'd stick the barrel of the Glock up her vag and fuck her with the weapon while I kept my eyes on the movie screen. Behind me, I'd hear the squishing sounds of my gun fucking a very wet pussy.

"If I decide to, I'm gonna shoot you up the puss."

"Yes, god."

The submission made me want to pull the trigger, give her the fright of her life as she felt a nine millimeter bullet race through her insides, causing all sorts of internal bleeding that would certainly kill her. I had to catch myself a couple times, pull the gun out and set it on the work bench, go into one of my many drawers and pull out other long slender things to stick between her legs.

I put screwdrivers in her, actual dildos, mini Maglites, fishing rod handles, drill bits on and off the drill. I'd put a stonemasonry bit on my DEWALT and insert it into her vagina and hold my finger on the trigger, letting us both think of what would happen if I pulled it. One twitch..one sneeze..one ill thought from me. We'd watch The Last Picture Show like this, on repeat, with the drill bit up her vag.

Then I'd put up the DEWALT, carefully wrapping its cord.

I'd stick a giant silicone dildo—the lifelike kind with veins and shit all over its surface—up her vag and get it nice and snug and let it sit there, not moving it, just holding my hand on its base so she didn't squeeze it out. Then we'd watch The Last Picture Show.

"What are you doing?"

"Desensitizing you to the value of your pussy."

"What does that mean?"

"It means, by treating it casually, I'm making you think less and less of it, until you see it as an object, like I do."

"Doesn't telling me that defeat the purpose?"

"Not really. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. That's what we used to say."

"Where you used to work."

I hesitate.

"Yes."

"With the government."

"Just watch the movie."

"Do we have to watch this?" she'd say.

"This is one of the greatest pictures of all time," I'd say.

"Do you have anything else?"

"I have everything."

"Well can I choose next time?"

"No. Forcing you to watch the same movie again and again is part of the thing."

"Doesn't telling me that defeat the purpose?"

"Not really," I'd say. "It doesn't matter what you know. All that matters is that you go through it. It's like a magic trick that if I explain it to you, still works—still amazes you. Have you ever seen a magic trick like that?"

"No."

"Well you're seeing one now."

And we watched The Last Picture Show with the silicone dildo up her pussy.

Then we watched it again.

"I have to pee."

"Then go ahead."

I didn't turn to look at her. I felt the warm piss trickle down the dildo, down my hand, and heard it dripping on the concrete floor. The slant makes it run toward the gutters at the sides of the crate.

"Can you give me a break and maybe stick the Glock up me for a while?"

"No."

"Well I don't know if you noticed but this dildo is way too big for me and I feel like I have a giant slug inside of me."

I keep my eyes on the movie.

"Hey! Can you hear me?"

"Hey is not my name."

"God! Can you take the giant dildo out my puss?? Please?"

I keep my hand firm on its base.

"Seriously this thing is making me feel like I'm being invaded."

"We have a winner!" I say.

I get up and grab a roll of black duct tape. I duct tape the base of the dildo to her thighs, her ass cheeks, her abdomen. I leave her clit exposed and I doodle it with my thumb for an entire watching of The Last Picture Show.

I look back at her.

She's looking up at the halogen floods, her eyes wide open, tears streaming out of them, making none of the usual crying sounds.

I put a hand on the dildo and twist it.

She shakes her head wordlessly.

I put the movie on repeat and leave the crate.

She goes through phases.

The quiet phase.

The begging-god phase.

The screaming phase.

The request-to-change-the-movie phase, which includes about a thousand suggestions of actual movies she'd rather be watching instead of this one.

Then she starts to cry choked up with tears and sniffling, saying unintelligible things about her home in Lehighton, PA.

"..then we were going to see Dillinger but Maxine couldn't get off work on time so we played Centipede at the hoagie place but Beth ran out of quarters and I was like is it pepper-chini or pepper-chino."

She sobs.

"Which is a question I could never get anyone to answer. These are the deep questions of life—these are. Sirgod, sir! I know this is a classic and shit but I can think of ten movies more classic than this!!! If your goal is to depress me to death then you're about halfway there. About halfway there. God, I'm dumb. I'm not talking to you I'm talking to the real god—" she hacks up some phlegm "—I actually thought you had pigs. I'M LEARNING A LOT," she yells at me. "ABOUT LYING, MOSTLY. I'll give you that, you are a fantastic liar. Fucking. Virtuosic. I get it! I GET IT NOW!! When you lie you're actually insulting the person to their face. Or..what would you call it? Degrading—that's it. You're degrading them by seeing how much ridiculous shit you can get them to swallow right before you lock them in a gyno chair in a shipping container!! Fuck."

Then she went through a quiet phase.

And then I knew I was making progress when she started to recite out the lines of the movie as it played before her. When Sam the Lion said, "Bein' crazy about a woman like that is always the right thing to do!" Anna Miller would shout it out in different ways each time the movie played and I waited like a kid in line for the circus to see how she would say it this time. Sometimes it was angry, like she was mocking the actor for having ever been born. Sometimes it was tender and realistic, and I thought she could have played the part better than ol' Ben Johnson had in the first place. But then it was sad and quiet, and she said it like she had some regret somewhere deep inside her where she had done the opposite of what the line suggested, and I wondered what story of regret lay below that final line reading that she settled on, said like someone who had given up being crazy about some man or woman that she should have been crazy about but didn't. Maybe it was herself.

That night I blindfolded her—but I left the movie playing. She heard it loud and I hear it quiet from my bed inside the house. She said that line her sad regret way until about 3am and then I heard her lightly snoring.

In the morning I went in and fed Anna her morning drink through my penis, and she sucked and swallowed my urine as if it had been a Slurpee and she was a kid sucking Fanta Blue Raspberry out of a cup on her way to an amusement park.

I took off the blindfold and hosed her down.

She tried to drink as much of the water as she could catch with her mouth.

We went on that way for seven days, with the silicone dildo taped inside her pussy and The Last Picture Show playing back-to-back, twenty-four hours, seven days makes a week.

9—We have convictions only if we have studied nothing thoroughly.

I stood behind her and shut the movie off with my remote control.

"You must be starving."

"Yes!" she screams.

"Alright!" I say, walking around the chair where she can see me. "I'm going to make you a steak with asparagus and then we're going to find something else to stick up your vagina—and also something up your ass—and then we're going to do another week like that except this time the movie's going to be Clueless."

Anna looks at me, careful not to complain.

"I'm just kidding," I chuckle.

She is most cautious in what she says next.

"Are you really gonna cook me a steak?"

"Yeah," I smile.

She starts crying.

"Thank you god, thank you."

"I bet you're hungrier now than you've ever been in your life."

"I could eat anything."

"Would you eat my shit?"

She looks at me, silent, then says, "Yes."

"Good girl. But we're having steak."

She is quiet.

"You don't trust me anymore, do you? You never should have trusted me in the first place."

"I know."

I cut her steak in little cubes. I unlock her arms. I let her feed herself.

She eats like an animal.

I have a drill bit spinning slowly in her pussy.

"You know I could tear your pussy up right now."

She didn't even say anything. She didn't care that I had a drill bit the diameter of a quarter stuck up her holy of holies.

"In basic training—" I start.

"You were in the army."

"No."

"You took basic training."

"No."

"You taught it."

"I taught harder things."

Anna seems satisfied and she goes back to her steak, hardly chewing the cubes.

"But I've studied US Army basic training and many similar programs. In US Army basic training there are red, white, and blue phases. In the movies you see a drill sergeant, they're always screaming the fuck out of their soldiers and being mean as hell. Right?"

Anna nods, her mouth full.

"Well that's not actually how it goes. That's only during the red phase. The first third of US Army basic training is designed to break the soldier down, to make the solider fear the drill sergeant and obey every little command, because each disobedience is met with unreasonable punishment. In fact even when the soldier hasn't disobeyed, she is met with unreasonable punishment, and if she complains of the injustice, her punishment is increased. She is taught to shut up and follow orders no matter what because that is what will save your life in combat. There's no discussion in the Army. There are no pleases or thank yous. There is only one word: yes. Then comes the white phase. Suddenly your asshole drill sergeant who is all you see on TV becomes helpful to you. He still punishes you unreasonably. But he helps you when assembling and disassembling your weapon. He will answer questions. He is not constantly yelling your head off."

"Then what happens in the blue phase?"

"In the blue phase he becomes your friend. Or at least your ally, coworker, compatriot—you and he are on the same team. He's there with you in the trenches. He's doing the exact same rappelling exercises as you, side by side."

"So you're my drill sergeant? I'm your soldier? What?"

"What is just that you and I are running a program kind of like the US Army program folded over on itself."

"How so?"

"There are two blue phases. Or at least I hope there will be."

"Just don't make me watch Clueless for a week."

I take the drill bit out of her pussy.

Her plate is empty.

"Do you want another steak?"

She shakes her head.

"Don't be shy. There's more in there. I'm very happy to cook you another."

"I'm fine, thank you."

"Ok. If you change your mind at any point, please tell me. I'll make you another one."

She nods and blinks.

"Will you allow an old man to tell you a story?"

"You're not old. You're younger than my father. But tell your story."

"This story has a title."

"Ok."

"It's called The Sledgehammer and the Spindle. That's what I call it in my mind. You can call it whatever you want, if you choose to pay attention."

"I am paying attention."

"Good. Do you listen to Busta Rhymes?"

"Do you?"

"A little. So on one of his albums somebody's giving Busta advice—it's like a mentor—and the mentor says, 'Keep it guttah. Keep it grimy.' "

Anna laughs.

I laugh too.

"I always thought that was the best advice because people like you and me, Anna, we're not theorists—you know, we're not at Cambridge in some office doing geometry. We exist in the real world, and in the real world—the world of engineers—the world of people who make things and run operations—Busta is right. You keep it guttah and you keep it grimy because otherwise you can't survive."

"Why are you telling me about Busta Rhymes?"

"Because I want to tell you about a man I knew. I can't tell you his name, obviously—and technically I don't even know his name myself—but I met this man overseas in a training environment and you're probably too young to have seen MacGyver—"

"I know MacGyver. I have Hulu."

"Ok, well this guy was like MacGyver times 10. Times 20. He was the kindest man you ever met—"

"Was he your mentor?"

"Yes. But in addition to being the kindest man I ever met, he was also the most ruthless. You did not want to be stuck on a desert island with this motherfucker. He had no rules. He was totally playing the game."

"What game? Will you please specify what game?"

"Survival. So this guy was a bad motherfucker. Warrior king. The real deal. And one night, while we're sitting on the beach, eating our dinner by the fire, he tells me this story. And this is what he tells me:

"He says, 'To take your practice to the next level, you have to understand the principle of the sledgehammer and the spindle.'

"And I'm like, 'What is that?'

"And he's like, 'Off a street in Marrakesh is a spoon shop, cases and cases of delicate spoons—the most intricate gold lacing in the belly of each spoon—inlaid lacquered stones like stained glass in the part where your tongue goes if you turn it over and lick it clean. It's holy,' he says. 'Liquid curves drawn in the thinnest lines of gold.' I told you this guy was a poet.

I look at Anna.

She's looking at me, completely still, hands in her lap.

"My mentor says, 'You go in the back of the shop you see how it's made. A man with a sledgehammer and a blow torch is hammering the shit out of a little chunk of metal that will become your spoon. He bangs on it for a while, then he takes out a fine spindle of gold and becomes a brain surgeon/seamstress with hands that could hold your infant baby anytime. He applies the gold..threads like hair..'

" 'Then he lets it cool for a second and goes back to the sledgehammer.' That's what my mentor says to me, on this beach in the south fucking Pacific in the middle of the night. Then this guy turns to me and he gets us so we're sitting cross-legged, facing each other and I see it—the crazy part of him, like it was a color in his eye. And he puts his hands on the sides of my head and this certifiable genius motherfucker gets all Shakespeare on me. He's like:

" 'Matthew.' He knows my real name!! The organization I work for is supposed to make sure that nobody knows anybody's real name! But this motherfucker has my head in his hands and he's like, 'Matthew, the way that man works in Marrakesh, that is how beautiful things are made. They are forged in fire that kills—they are rocked in a cradle of feathers. They are not what you expect or what you could have ever dreamed of wanting. They hurt. They hurt. Hear me: beautiful things hurt. Any people who say the word art around me, or the word god around me, you better keep the sugar pie lollipop out of it. If I cut open your soul and all that's inside is easy church, easy politics, easy work and easy thought, easy loyalties and easy love, then we can't talk. I have to sew you up and you go back to your school and I go back to mine.' "

"This is at a military training camp?"

"Yeah."

I get up and take the plate off Anna's abdomen.

I clamp her hands to the chair.

I place a hammer on her body, heavy steel head on her belly, wooden handle resting between her breasts.

"What's that for? What, are you just trying to freak me out—'cause it's working. What ever happened to your mentor? Is that the end of the story? What—hey!—what are you gonna do with this? At least tell me what the fuck you're gonna do with it!! Fucking psychopath..taught by a psychopath..motherfucker!"

Her eyes plead with mine.

"Tell me what you're gonna do with that."

She goes on, and with everything she says the hammer bounces on her stomach and her breasts ripple to the sides. It gives me wood.

"Where's the spindle?" she says.

I blow across her nipple and it hardens.

"No! No!!" she screams. "Rape me! Do anything you want! You can do anything you want! Don't you want to cum in me!! Fuck me!"

"It's not rape if you're asking me to do it."

"Look fuck me till I bleed I don't care."

"Mmm! That does sound fun. But no."

Anna looks away and whimpers.

"I'll make you a deal. If you come up with something worse than the hammer and the spindle then we'll do that instead."

"Ok, fine, put slugs inside me!"

"Slugs?" I laugh.

"Leeches!! Put fucking wasps on my clit."

"Anna. Wasps on your clit? The hammer is better—better for you, I mean. A hammer versus wasps on your clit?"

"But won't the hammer do permanent damage?"

"You're still talking like someone who's going to be alive in 15 or 20 days."

"Ok. I read this in a medieval torture book," she says. "You put honey on someone's head—or wherever—and then bury them in the sand and let the ants eat them just please anything but the hammer."

"I like your imagination. You're something else, Anna. I'm going to miss you."

"Please no. I'll be your slave for the rest of your life. I'll suck your dick, you can fuck me in the ass, I can fucking make you cum just by sitting on top of you doing Kegel exercises. Come on..that's a deal. You just lie there and I'll make you cum and you don't even have to move. I'll do that for you every day. I'll swallow your cum. I'll eat your ass. Come on! I'll fucking eat your dirty asshole every morning!! Fuck! Tell me, what gets you off—I'll do that!! What gets you off?!"

"I'll show you."

I go around to her spread legs and bend down so my open mouth is resting over her vulva.

I breathe out.

I see her clit pump up.

I see her vaginal opening involuntarily flex.

I breathe on her again, raising the hammer.

"Please. I am fucking begging you."

And I bring the hammer down on her clitoris.

There is pain, and there is torture, and there is someone dissembling your body.

Now Anna knew all three.

I worked on her like that for half an hour—with the hammer and the spindle—then let the poor girl rest.

10—Once we begin to want, we fall under the jurisdiction of the Devil.

In the night Anna wailed. I heard her shit a noisy shit. She was whispering to herself—which I couldn't understand—then she was talking to herself, saying something like, "Man of war caught me in a cave and took my selves apart piece. By piece. By piece." It was very poetic. Then she was screaming at the ceiling of the crate.

"HALP ME!! HALP ME!! Since you're the only one who can hear me then I guess it's you I'm asking for help from!! God dammit, Matthew, Mr. Temple, Mr. Simple, whatever the fuck your real name is, I'm asking for something simple, and that's a shot—fuck me I don't believe I'm asking for this! We don't do crystal meth in Lehighton—but give me a shot of the crystal so I don't have to think of the pain!!"

I get out of bed. I'm wearing sweats and a Basquiat shirt my sister got me. Obviously no one knows where I live, but I have a PO box in the city.

I unlock the crate and go in.

Anna is awash in light.

Her clitoral area is just a blur of red.

She follows me around the chair as I come into her view.

"Please," she says. "Please."

Her nose is red and her cheeks are red and she's got saliva and snot and tears coming out of everywhere.

I get a paper towel and wipe up her face as she's sniffling, breathing in sharply, almost making herself choke.

I toss the paper towel into my biohazard trash.

"You want a shot of crystal meth to ease the pain?"

She nods wildly.

"What pain? Your clitoris or some other kind of vague emotional pain?"

"BOTH, OK? BOTH!!"

"I find it highly unlikely that no one in Lehighton does crystal meth."

"Ok, yes, some people in Lehighton do crystal meth."

"But not you."

"I never did any drugs before I met you. The only people in Lehighton who do crystal meth are poor people, literally from the other side of the tracks, who let their kids play in the dirt all day outside the front of the house while they've got the door locked and the adults are inside smoking crystal."

"How do you know this?"

"Because. I worked for Jimmy John's and I delivered hoagies to their house and I had to knock on the door for like forever while they realized the knocking they were hearing was real and it was the food they ordered and whenever I went inside I had to stand in that cloud of crystal and wait for them to look through all their pockets to find enough money to pay me."

"Usually people on crystal don't eat."

"It wasn't for them. It was for the kids."

"Oh, conscientious meth heads in Lehighton, PA. You do have to take me on a tour. Your story barely holds together but promise me when we're done here you'll take me on a mini-vacation to your home town and introduce me to all the local characters."

"I thought you were gonna kill me," Anna says pleadingly.

"I'm starting to like you," I say.

"No, you have to. At this point you have to," she says.

"I don't have to do anything. Now what is it you want, a shot of crystal meth to help with physical and emotional pain?"

"Yes."

"How 'bout I put on a movie instead?"

"I DON'T WANT ANY MORE MOVIES!!"

"Ok, not a movie person. Do you need food. I see you had a number two. Do you want me to spray you down?"

"NO! I'm sick of you spraying me down. Just leave it!!"

"You really think drugs are the answer to your problems?"

"I think you owe me—"

"What?! Numbness??"

"Some relief!"

"What good is relief if tomorrow and the next day and the next day are worse? Just more of me fucking with you emotionally and physically. Am I supposed to drug you up at the end of each day so you can forget? I mean what do you think the purpose of this is? To numb you out with some white trash drug so it's pain then pleasure then pain then pleasure then pain? What's the point of that. Look around. You're in a torture chamber. Just 'cause I'm friendly with you doesn't mean we're friends."

"You crossed the line," she says.

I politely inform her that there is no line.

"Just kill me, then."

"I'm not gonna kill you. The mouse is still having fun with the lizard."

"Can we get a cat? A real cat?" She sobs, "I just want a cat."

"You know what this is, Anna—tonight? You know what tonight is?"

"What?"

"No, I want you to tell me."

"I don't know."

"Yes you do. You're smart. You're one of the smartest people I'll have the pleasure to kill. What is tonight?"

She waits a long time before answering.

Then she says, "My breaking point."

I'm beaming.

I can't help myself but I clap—once—before I get myself under control.

"I love a smart girl, Anna."

"You love to kill a smart girl?"

"I love to do anything with a smart girl. Fuck her, make her cum, kill her. I just love a smart girl in general."

"Oh, god," she says, and takes a deep, deep breath in. "I just never thought. I mean I never imagined.."

I put my hand on her thigh.

"No one does," I say.

"Can I have the shot?"

"Look, if you're to have this shot, I feel compelled to remind you—out of what, I don't know, some sick emotional connection I've allowed myself to develop with you—that if I give you this shot, it will be—like everything in this crate—for my enjoyment. Ok? I don't know why I'm telling you this, but..you're going to think it's for your enjoyment—or to numb your emotional and physical pain—but it won't be for that purpose. I'm going to get more out of this than you are."

"Just do it."

"You really don't know what you're asking for."

"I need a little help here."

"Anna. Remember who you're asking that from. At what point did you delude yourself that I am someone who is here to help you? Listen to what you're saying."

"Just please."

"Ok."

"You will?"

"Oh yes, I will. Just give me a second."

"Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"Don't thank me."

"Thank you so much, I appreciate this."

"Really. Don't thank me."

I fish in one of my tool chest drawers and pull out a portable heart rate monitor. This isn't the $4,000 Welch Allyn one, either—it's a $300 generic one I got off Amazon.com with some gift card points. By the time Amazon Prime kicked in—with free shipping—I prob'ly paid $3 for the thing.

I swing my stool around and suction the three leads to Anna's chest and abdomen (the leads are red, white, and blue by the way—lol).

Anna's like, "What the fuck is that??"

"That's a heart rate monitor."

The display hangs down the side of her body, resting in the scoop right above her left hip. I can see the display from where I sit.

I pull out my phone and open the timer application. I have it inform me at ten minute intervals.

I mix the first shot.

I give it to Anna, in her left arm, pit of the elbow, using my right hand as a tourniquet and the other holds the needle.

The second I shoot her it hits her whole body and she has exactly what she wants.

A different kind of tear rolls out of her left eye as she turns her head to me.

"Thank you."

I mix the next shot.

Anna flexes, rolls her pelvis, thrusts, stretches her fingers. I can only imagine what her vagina is doing down there.

My phone informs me that ten minutes have passed.

I give Anna shot ##2. Same hole. Same procedure.

She whispers, "Thank you."

After shot ##3 she's telling me I can fuck her if I want.

It makes my dick hard but I stick to the plan.

After shot ##4 she's begging me to unclamp her hands so she can touch herself.

"You're a little sensitive down there right now so I think we're gonna leave the clamps on."

"You don't know the torture, she says, of being clamped down like this and unable to get myself off."

I just look at her and wonder if the irony of that statement will ever hit her.

I give her shot ##5.

Her eyelids flutter, eyeballs roll back in her head.

I check the heart monitor.

Still within limits.

Anna starts talking all this sexual nonsense which I'm not going to repeat here because my purpose in telling you this story is not to excite you sexually. My purpose is quite different and if you haven't guessed now then I think you will have by the end of the book. But anyway she talks all this nonsense—not to me, not to her, not to anyone except maybe the cat she wants us to get to cozy up the crate. Like I'd have a cat in my torture container—I mean think of the germs!

When I give Anna shot ##6, she is hardly aware it is happening. She's tripping out on the halogen flood lights above her, experimenting with keeping her eyes wide open and staring right into them. You will find, when hallucinating, that you can look into exceptionally bright lights and the lights don't disturb you—they only enhance your trip. And after shot ##6 Anna was definitely tripping.

I know because she stopped responding to my presence in the room. I could walk around, stand on any side of her, touch her, even do things like interlock my fingers with hers in a lovers' hand hold, and she made no reaction.

I kept a close eye on the $3 heart monitor—according to that she was fine.

I mean aside from the psychosis I was inducing by releasing massive amounts of dopamine into her brain using crystal methamphetamine.

She asked for it.

One hour in, Anna seemed to be stable and hallucinating.

I pulled out a giant book, sat close beside her, periodically checked her heart monitor, and read bookmarked sections of the First Folio.

I was in my own kind of trance with the blank verse when Anna started talking about "a covered sniper" who kept chasing her and setting up on her from "an elevated position." I assumed this was some shit she heard on TV. But her eyes were open, and she was moving side to side as much as possible given that she was clamped into a gynecological examination chair.

I stood up and she looked at me and said:

"You are the sniper."

Which was simple and weird and shouldn't have gotten under my skin but after all I'd been through, it did.

I put my hand on her forehead and centered her head, then locked down the neck clamp. I didn't want her hurting herself with those wild head movements.

Her condition worsened, partially because I sat with her all night and applied as much crystal meth to her system as the heart monitor would allow.

For long periods she was silent, moving as much as she could through a series of tai chi-like movements, and I was glad I did not know what she was seeing in her mind's eye.

But there were times when the apparitions chasing her were close, with handguns, posing as police officers—she thought she was in her childhood house in Lehighton and she couldn't tell the difference between the police who were set up on rooftops to kill her and the police who responded to her 911 calls—everyone she met wanted to shoot her. And her conversations went from logical conversations with the police where she said:

"No. I don't take medication! I don't have a mental illness!! Are you sure he's not there? My mom will be home in a while. She works at the marriage chapel. Ok. Are you sure the premises is safe? Ok, but I'm gonna call you if I see those guys again. Ok. Ok. I'm sorry to have bothered you!"

Then there was a period of silence.

More tai chi-like movements that lasted the course of an hour.

Then Anna would scream:

"HE'S ON THE ROOF!! DON'T YOU SEE HIM?? I NEVER DID ANYTHING TO YOU WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO—"

Then she let out a blood-boiling scream and shook in the chair like someone having a seizure.

I checked the heart monitor—she was totally fine from that perspective.

But whatever world she was in was filled with something chasing her that didn't have a face. She was running the streets of her home town but instead of being the safe place it probably really was for her it had turned into a land of—I couldn't tell what, exactly, but—things so scary that Anna would let out a single note, serving as a scream, eyes wide open staring into the halogens, and in what she had no idea was just her imagination, she stared into the faces of gods, devils, aliens, angels, modern warriors, and evil itself—at least that's what it sounded like from the outside.

At first I remembered my experiences in training with drugs far more powerful than the one she was on, but quickly I was so deep into my favorite parts of the Shakespeare that I hardly heard her screams.

11—One cannot live without motives. I have no motives left, and I am living.

She hallucinated on and off for three days, and I sat beside her the whole time. She would wake up and try to lean over far enough to see the heart monitor.

"What does it say?"

"You're completely fine, Anna; your heart is fine."

She had developed a delusion under the crystal meth that her heart was beating too fast. It was a perfect 88 beats per minute. A tiny bit high, but perfectly safe.

"What is it?"

"You're having a delusion that it's too high so if I tell you what it is, you're going to think it's too high no matter what I say."

"Just please tell me what it is."

"Do you even know what a normal resting heart rate is? Besides, have you ever heard of biofeedback? Every time you ask me what your heart rate is your heart rate goes up—so the best thing for you to do, trust me, is find something else to think about."

"I didn't know crystal meth was a hallucinogen."

"That's 'cause you don't know your drugs. Did you know ecstasy was a hallucinogen? Did you know cocaine was a hallucinogen? Lots of drugs have hallucinogenic properties but you never experience them in the low doses people usually take them in."

"Cocaine is a hallucinogen?"

"Yes."

"What do you see?"

"Well you have to take a lot of it—and it helps if you shoot it. But if you shoot enough cocaine you'll see flickering points of light like a white firework, kind of—it's different for every person, but it's a very abstract type of hallucinogen. People think that to be a hallucinogen, a drug has to be psychedelic, whatever that means. You know, hallucinating doesn't just mean seeing patterns on LSD."

"I've never been through an experience like the one I just had."

"I imagine you haven't."

"I mean those were hallucinations like people were chasing me and setting up guns to shoot me—"

"But they never actually shot you, did they?"

"No."

"Tell me what else you saw."

"The police were arresting me, but they moved in slow motion, like the process of putting on a handcuff took an hour."

"That sounds difficult."

"It was difficult, because I had an hour to think about my guilt—why they were arresting me—and that was for each handcuff."

"But you escaped, 'cause you're here with me now."

I put a hand on her knee.

"That's so fucked up," she says, and she's crying.

"What is?"

"I do feel better being back here with you," she says.

She's sobbing.

"The drug is just breaking you down. You'll be ok," I say.

"Until you kill me," she says.

"You know what one of the keys to a happy life is?" I say.

"What," she says.

"You live it one day at a time. I'm not going to kill you today. I promise. So don't worry about it today. It's a waste of time."

She laughs uncontrollably. Unstoppably. For a second I think she's going to choke. When she manages to stop long enough to speak, what she says is:

"You're a zen master."

Then she goes back to cracking herself up, laughing like I've hardly ever seen anyone laugh—that uncomfortable, yet completely letting go kind of laugh. Like she didn't care anymore.

"I'm not a zen master. I just happen to be 30 years older than you and in that time I've picked up a few things. I'm the same lost human being I was at your age—at 24—at 10, at five."

"What's the youngest girl you've killed?"

I consider bullshitting her but think better of it.

"Five."

"Oh!"

She crunches her eyebrows down over reproaching eyes, tries to move as far away from me in the chair as possible.

"What?! What you just learned is the tip of the iceberg, young lady."

"Do tell!"

"Why, so you can think about what an evil guy I am?"

"No, because apparently we've got time on our hands!!"

"Ok! You wanna know??"

"Yeah!!"

"You wanna know? You wanna know? There used to be a sign above the TV—engraved—that said You will see such pretty things. So that every day the girl woke up including the first time she woke up she had that little phrase to tease her, but of all the things I did in this crate, that was the thing that unnerved them the most—and I mean unnerved them more than brainwashing tapes I borrowed from the..Agency. They couldn't stand that phrase. They said they dreamed about it. And you would think I would like being that under their skin but it was getting in the way of everything else I wanted to do!

"I forced girls to masturbate while I killed them—cutting their heads off with a bow saw—at the threat of death, telling them to make themselves cum or I'd kill them—with a gun to their head, in their mouth, in their pussy, in their ass. Girls who had never cum before..trying to get them to cum right at the moment of death. 'Did you cum?'—(She nods.)—I shoot her in the head.

"Or putting them on ecstasy and other drugs to increase the sexual intensity for them as they die, they feel amazing and horrible at the same time. And usually it wasn't ecstasy, it was crystal meth. I want to create conflicting feelings in them—that's a type of torture that gives me joy."

"Did you want to kill me last night, while I was on crystal meth?"

"No I'm not done with you yet!"

"Lucky me."

"How about forcing little girls to use vibrators on themselves, jamming too-large dildos into their tiny little cunts, tearing their pussies so hard they bled—"

"Stop! Stop!"

"No you asked. You wanna know what I do? How about making a little girl cut her own clitoris off with a razor blade at gunpoint and then making her eat it. She bleeds and cries and cries while she chews and swallows her own clit."

"How old?"

"Four."

"You said five was the youngest!!"

"I forgot about this one. She was four. And the whole thing was done in the way that an adult would talk to a four year old to make her understand."

"You can stop telling me stories now 'cause I'm not your fuckin' therapist," Anna says.

But I continue.

"Making little girls suck off grown men at gunpoint, shooting them in the arms and making them keep going until the guy ejaculates in her mouth, then shooting her in the head and she falls over, falls off his cock, strings of his cum still connecting them.

"Bringing in a little boy and getting his dick hard and making him fuck a little girl and taking pictures, telling the boy if he ever tells anyone I'll show the pictures to his parents and they won't love him anymore. Making him fuck her harder and harder and getting myself off watching them, then telling the boy to get the fuck out and go back to town or I'll kill him.

"Pissing in and on girls' mouths/vaginas/butts/faces to get myself hard.

"Staple gun and nail gunning a little girl to death."

"Please. Stop."

"Stoning a bitch to death while reading to her from the Christian Bible about stoning whores..the rocks hitting her face and just destroying her skull, brains hanging out and she's still alive."

Anna stops trying to hide from my stories, and she turns her head and looks me directly in the eyes as I talk.

"Forcing girls to kill each other..with electricity, guns, saws—and other things that I'm omitting because you seem to be a little squeamish—that becomes a real enjoyment, making someone innocent into a killer, destroying her innocence without ever touching her.

"You should listen closely to this next part. I had a favorite girl that I corrupted this way, making her into someone who would do anything I said, even without a gun to her head. I think it would be fair to say that I played a major part in destroying her mind. This was a girl I kept for years, from age five to age 16. In the end she tried to kill me—which I should have seen coming—but it doesn't work (as you can clearly see I'm still alive), and I betray all her loyalty over all those years by ending her, and that also ended my spree..I just didn't have it in me after that, so I fucked her dead body until it was decomposing, professing my love for her, until finally I was fucking maggots and bones. Then I left Montana. And I never went back."

"What was her name?"

"Don't worry about what her name was."

"What happened next?"

"What happened next is I took a step way back. I spent a bunch of time in the woods, got my head straight, then I retooled and came here to Pain, South Dakota, and I've been doing my thing ever since."

"What are you into now?"

"Aside from what you've seen, sedating a girl to unconsciousness and raping her. I enjoy looking at her almost-dead face and controlling her completely..fucking her clean little red ass..cumming inside her mouth..filling her pussy with cum so full it spills out around the edges of my cock.

"I want to be as close to them as possible, to know what their experience is while dying. That is my form of intimacy, to escort someone out of their life, forcing them to describe what and how they feel as they die—and recording it, asking them questions..what do you see?..what does your pain feel like? And I can live forever with the girls' dead/poetic descriptions of their agony, their torture.."

"What's the worst thing you ever did?"

"I put a dog in a cage and shot it."

"Those files, of what the girls said while they were dying.."

I look at my slave.

"..will you show them to me sometime?"

"Why? You wanna torture yourself about what you have coming?"

"It wouldn't be torture for me. But. I want to know."

12—Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.

On Friday I brought in the birthday hats, the birthday cake (3 tier), gave Anna her own plastic spoon and tied a cloth bib around her neck with a drawing of Bert and Ernie.

I poured us both a styrofoam cup of soda (I bought the off-brand) and I handed my slave her cup and said:

"Happy Birthday!!"

She looked at me odd and said, "It's not my birthday."

"Well," I said, "is your birthday in the next twelve days?"

"Oh. No," she said.

"I figured we better celebrate now."

My slave looked at me with ultimate defeat—exactly the emotion I hope for at this stage.

But she raised her cup a tiny bit and said, "Happy birthday."

"That's the spirit!! Let's celebrate!"

And I turned on the TV to Scary Movie—which if you don't know is a spoof comedy on horror films. It stars Anna Farris—my favorite—and has a great gag where a homeless guy asks Farris for a dollar, she hands him the sandwich from her lunch, and as she walks away he throws it at her head and says, "I said a dollar, bitch!"

It's great comedy.

Anna poked at her cake.

"Go ahead!" I said. "It's not poison! Don't you like strawberry shortcake?"

"Did you make this?"

"Yes I did."

"It's not bad," she says with her mouth full.

And I watch my Anna eat, clamped only at the ankles, practically a free woman—just a little girl on her birthday eating cake.

I tell her what she looks like to me.

"You're sick," she says—again with her mouth full.

I take my fork out of my mouth as if to say: What?

"That's what you imagine me as? Some eight year old wearing roller skates—your daughter/whore at a birthday party—with icing and cake and the whole nine yards? I bet you have sparklers in each piece of cake, don't you? Pink and white Strawberry Shortcake socks or My Little Pony or little pink bows on white..something simple like that? And what? After she's done skating with her friends you take her into a bathroom stall and bend her over the toilet and fuck that little eight-year-old pussy as if it was your own!! Is that it?"

I put my plate down on the workbench.

"Something like that, yes. Would you like a different movie?" I say, picking up the remote.

"No! Please. The movie's fine. It's fine. I like it."

" 'Cause I can change it if you'd like something a little more..graphic."

"A guy is impaling another guy's brain with his dick through his ear—this is graphic enough."

"Ok," I say, and I pick up my cake and eat in silence.

"Are you hurt?" Anna says.

"A little."

"Why?"

"Because all you think of me as is a child molester."

Anna cracks up.

"That's what hurts your feelings!?"

"I just thought we knew each other better than that."

"You want to get to know me?" Anna says. "Then take off these clamps!"

"What would you do if I did? Would you make love to me as if we were a real couple?"

"I might. But you'll never know, will you? And don't worry, I know you're way more than a child molester. No, you keep child molesters in your back pocket. You're a fucking Swiss Army Knife—is that what you want to hear? A Swiss Army Knife of fucked. Nine million years of therapy wouldn't help you and why do I even care? You made yourself this way and you want absolution?"

I chuckle.

"What's so funny?"

"How does a 24 year old from Lehighton PA know the word absolution?"

"Because I read the dictionary, motherfucker! You think just 'cause I wear blue stars on my nipples that I'm stupid."

"No. I never would have caught you if you were stupid."

"What was it about me? What did I do wrong?"

"It was your eyes, Anna—you can always tell a person by their eyes."

"What could you tell?"

"That you were smart."

"What else?"

"Compassionate."

"I bet those two did it for you."

"Pretty much."

"Well shame on me."

"No, no, it's not shame on you. It's your birthday! Eat your cake."

"The conversation is making me nauseous."

"You want some soda?"

"Fuck you. Fucking generic soda. You want to kill a girl, you buy her a Coke."

"No one's ever told me that before."

"You musta killed some stupid girls."

"I killed all kinds."

"Well, maybe we can get back to the movie, 'cause I don't like to talk about killing on my birthday."

"Sure."

"That's ok with you?"

"Whatever you want."

"Whatever I want until you decide to stick a drill up my cunt."

"No, I promise I won't stick a drill up your cunt today."

Anna cracks up.

"Listen to yourself say that!!"

She cracks up some more, finishes her soda, holds the cup out.

"More."

I pour her a full cup of my generic soda.

"You know," she says as she drinks, "maybe you should have been a film director. You obviously have an interest in movies and—you know—as a director you would have a smaller body count."

"I wanted to be a director," I tell her.

"No shit?"

"No shit. Ever since I saw The Last Picture Show as a kid. I knew there was someone behind the camera, telling everyone what to do—that was obvious to me just by watching the movie—and I wanted to be that person."

"Why didn't you go to film school or something?"

"I asked my dad if I could go to film school."

"And?"

"He hit me in the mouth with a meat tenderizer. See here?"

I show her the place on the upper left side with no teeth.

"Why didn't you ever get 'em fixed?"

" 'Cause it's just cosmetic and I don't get into cosmetic shit."

"Well excuse me."

"I'm sorry. I didn't get them fixed because I kinda like to have something to remember my dad by."

Anna draws back.

"You didn't kill him, did you?"

"No, I wish. He died from drinking gin."

"My mom's an alcoholic."

"I'm sorry to hear that. It's a terrible disease."

"So you subscribe to the disease model?" says this young woman.

"I didn't mean it in a technical way. I just mean it's a terrible affliction."

"Yeah, well, she can stop anytime she wants," Anna says. "Anytime her kids become more important to her than a 24 pack of The Silver Bullet. If I had kids—if I ever got the chance to have kids—I would not-drink just because of them."

"You have younger siblings?"

"Yeah."

"They still live at home with her?"

"Unfortunately."

"What about your dad?"

"Oh, he's there. He has his own substance of choice."

"I'm sorry I got you generic Coke."

"It's ok, but, I mean, there's certain things you have to get the name brand."

"Like what?" I asked, and looked at her, and she was beautiful.

"Like Cheerios—you have to get the name brand. Off-brand Cheerios is butt—not worth eating. Whereas if you're buying Raisin Bran, the off-brand will do. I don't know what it is but off-brand Cheerios have a seam around the outside edge of the torus and that seam alone is enough to make off-brand Cheerios..well..ass."

"What else?"

"Uh..orange juice you need a name brand. And never from concentrate. If you buy OJ without pulp you need to check your testicles 'cause..you know.."

"What?"

" 'Cause you might not be a real man, that's what. So?—You buy pulpless orange juice or the thick stuff?"

"I don't drink orange juice."

"What the hell do you drink?"

"Water."

"From the tap or bottled?"

"From the tap."

"You are the most boring person on Earth..except in one way."

"I like to think of it as specialization."

"Well, this is really fun, Matthew—sitting back and conversing with the man who is going to kill me. I can't think of any other way I'd like to spend my un-birthday. You got any more movies in there?"

"Sure. I got everything. What do you want?"

"How about some of those movies of girls in their last moments of life?"

I turn to her.

"Out of what purpose?"

"To see what I'm headed for."

"Anna.."

"Do me that favor? Will you? All this birthday stuff is fine but you have failed—if that was your goal—to make me forget why we're both here. I'm not your little roller-skater girl. I'm not your wife. I'm not your girlfriend. I know that, ok? So roll the fucking tape."

I nod.

I scroll through my file server.

There are hundreds of girls listed by name.

Some duplicate names.

I go down to Lucy.

"Lucy?"

"Lucy."

"That's her real name?"

"Yeah."

My finger hovers over the last file in her folder.

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes," Anna says, knocking back the rest of her soda.

I press play.

The screen fills with a rock field. Dust. Boulders. Going on forever.

"Where is that?" Anna says.

"You'll see it."

"What's on the rocks?"

"Bodies."

"Oh."

So in front of the camera is little Lucy—

"This is before I raised the age limit," I say.

"I see."

—and Lucy is stumbling forward, having trouble with one foot.

"Lucy, stop. Turn around."

The camera tilts down and Anna can see that one of her shoes has a hole in it.

Klack!

Now there's a hole in the other one.

Lucy screams out—the camera tilts up roughly, diagonally catching Lucy holding her hands over her mouth.

"Turn around."

Lucy doesn't move.

The barrel of my Glock comes into the picture, pointed straight at little Lucy's head.

"How old is she?"

"Eight or nine."

Then it's me in the picture: "Turn around. Walk straight forward. See the rock to your left. The close one. That one right there. Yes. Sit on the rock. Take off your shoes."

A sequence of the girl excruciatingly taking off her shoes over feet with bullet holes in them. She can barely do it. When her shoes come off she is bleeding through her socks.

"Take off your socks."

She strips them—they end up inside out.

She's shivering like she just got out of a swimming pool.

"What are you gonna do?" she says.

"Take off your shirt."

She does.

"Set it by your socks."

She does.

"Take off your jeans."

The little girl shuffles them off, pulling them painfully over her injured feet.

"Fold them. Put them on top of your shirt."

The little girl does.

She's sitting on this rock in nothing but a pair of white panties.

"Take those off."

She shakes her head.

"You can either take them off for me or I can take them off for you. You remember what happened the last time I had to take them off for you?"

And this little girl, my little Lucy, takes off her panties and I can see her tiny cunt, just a pair of hairless lips, just a slit between her legs.

"Now fold your panties and put them on top of your jeans."

My little Lucy does.

"Lie down on the rock and spread your pussy."

The camera moves in on Lucy's pussy and I watch Anna as she looks at the footage. She sits perfectly still and doesn't let on if she's shocked.

"Keep your pussy spread, ok—you're a good girl."

Then the sound of my jeans unzipping.

Then the camera is roughly on Lucy's face: I was gripping her right shoulder.

Lucy screams.

"You're hurting me!"

"Don't worry, Lucy, it's almost over."

The sound of my breath, heavy, and I remember exactly what her pussy felt like—that unnaturally smooth cavern of a little girl, so tight that it forms tiny cuts all along her vagina when a grown man puts his dick in, and that's what hurts her so much. Plus I was banging against her cervix in a too-small pussy and that hurts too.

Lucy's screams filled the crate where Anna and I sat in our birthday hats, with plates full of strawberry shortcake and styrofoam cups of generic soda.

"Stop!!! Matthew!!! You're hurting my vagina!!!"

"But your vagina feels so good to me."

"I think you're ripping my stomach!!"

"I'm gonna fix your stomach right after this."

And I grunt, and I grunt, and I cum all in that little bitch's vag and there's so much cum—it's been days since I came—that cum seeps out between my dick and her vag and you better believe I got a shot of that with my camera.

My cock drips cum just thinking of fucking that cute little dead girl.

Anna looks over at me to see my face in a mask of ecstasy.

I point to the screen and Anna looks back.

It's quick: the camera catches my dick pulling out and then runs up the short length of her body.

She says, "Can you fix my stomach—"

And then Klack!

The tiniest hole entering the underside of her chin and exiting through her forehead.

Then cups and cups of blood, pumping out of the holes in the little girl's head.

Her head has fallen back on the rock.

I stand.

The camera takes in a view of her whole dead body.

Still.

Then the landscape of a rock field, somewhere in South Dakota—somewhere only I know of.

Pre-dawn oranges and yellows stripe the horizon.

And there are bodies, in various states of decomposition, on every rock you see.

I click the remote and the TV in the crate goes black.

13—To fear is to die every minute.

In the early morning I wake up with a cock that is so hard the motherfucker hurts.

This is around 5am.

I drop thin cotton sweats on the tile floor on the walk to my crate. I turn the key in the dark—not a movement from inside. I lock us in and set my shirt on the workbench.

Anna's body is bathed in the floodlight halogens—bruised, too skinny, parts swollen.

She sleeps with her mouth open, head turned to one side.

I crawl on top of her and use my fingers to drag some wetness from deep inside her vagina to its surface, then rub some on the head of my cock.

I push it in, and I'm ten strokes along before Anna wakes. She doesn't say anything, just turns her head back to the side. She keeps her eyes open, staring at my workbench, and just takes it.

I feel the joy of waking up to my dick inside a 24 year old. She's tight, she's soft, she's wet, and she's my slave—everything down to the neck clamp.

She doesn't struggle in the restraints.

In fact she widens her legs at the knees to let me get further in.

She knows the faster this goes, the sooner her job will be done.

I don't know what it is I'm getting out of you. All of this is about me trying to get something out of you. Something that I lack. Something that I want. And it isn't a piece of pussy. Not only that, but it's something that cannot be gotten from you, hence the fact that after you there will be another, and another. I'm embarrassed to say it mirrors addictionor is addictionusing the wrong tool for the job and becoming addicted to the tool itself..then losing touch with the problem you're trying to solve..getting lost in the world of the addiction, the killing..so that I forget what I was trying to fix about myself in the first place, and it never gets fixed.

I'm like that stupid boy at the beginning of KIDS who likes to fuck virgins. His name is Telly. He says: "Virgins. I love 'em. No diseases, no loose-as-a-goose pussy, no skank. No nothin'. Just pure pleasure." But that's not it. That's Telly on the surface, when he's narrating to the camera. When he's with his friend Casper, he goes deeper into his own nascent psychology. He says: "But like, if you deflower a girl man, man, you're the man. No one can ever do that again. You're the only one. No one—no one—has the power to do that again."

And I hate to be comparing my compulsion for killing girls to some virginity addict from KIDS, but Telly got it right when he started talking about power and no one—no one—being able to do that again.

I looked at Anna and thought about taking the life out of her. I would be the only one who would ever end her journey from Lehighton, PA to Pain, South Dakota. I'll always be her psychopomp—remember? The deity whose job is to safely escort the dead to the afterlife? I'll always be the one who held her hand when she died. And Telly has something—it's true that taking a girl's virginity is special. But taking a girl's life is—in my way of thinking—the adult version of that fantasy.

Anna's body bumped up and down in the gyno chair.

Every bolt was solid—nothing about the chair moved.

It was one unified piece; the only thing moving was my cock, and her cunt, and all the residual movements of her body including her breasts bouncing every time I stuck my dick as deep as I could into her. As the day approached, my morning woods became more frequent, and harder. I would wake up rock hard and have to pee so I'd stand at and angle so I could get my piss in the toilet before I went to fuck Anna. Sometimes I peed in the shower.

And then she took my dick. She took the thrusts of a man who is trying to get himself off as quickly as possible. Anna's vagina was so tight I could get off in as little as twenty thrusts. Some mornings took longer, but if it took too long I just looked at her face and thought about what was mine—or else I imagined her as a little girl taking it for the first time, lying in the grass, and me and Telly had our fun together.

When I thought of her as a little girl somewhere between eight and 11, I came instantly, squirted off deep inside her body and hoped she could feel the heat of my cum, and relished the fact that it would be dripping out of her body for the next 20 minutes.

Anna was silent as I came.

I grunted. I exhaled. I grabbed her hips.

I held my cock so deep inside her and let it pump the cum..

..as I felt..

..ecstasy.

Some days we never spoke a word. I just fucked her six, seven times. Enjoyed my catch.

We were close enough at this point that words meant nothing.

I mean—really—what is there to say when you're clamped with heavyweight steel to a gyno chair being raped by your future murderer? The situation pretty much contains itself without words.

I wanted to unlock her, take a shower with her, make her kneel under the spray of water and suck my cock. I'm sure she knew that she disarmed me with her conversation, and I imagined her as something of a wife—though I only ever had one wife and I'll only ever have one. But if the situation was different, I'd take Anna as my wife. I caught myself thinking this type of thought often—and it was a dangerous thought. It weakened me. And I couldn't afford that.

A 24-year-old woman is a strong human being. And one runner—one woman who got away—would be the end of my little playtime here in Pain. Human beings are smart. They have an extremely strong survival instinct. You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to keep an above-average intelligence person captive for a month or more. They get desperate—and desperation is your enemy. They become more and more willing to risk their life to get out—because they accept, more and more, the idea that if they do nothing, their life is over. I've had to shoot women in the back as they ran down Blythe Road, naked—and I don't relish shooting a person in the back, let me tell you.

"Can you feel my cum?"

"Yes, I can feel your cum."

She said it with no irony. She said it how she knew it would make me hot—she knew that would be less trouble for her in the long run.

"Can you feel how hot that fucking cum is?"

"It's fucking hot."

"That's how much I wanted you when I woke up. I woke up needing your pussy, Anna. I fucking love this one—you got a good pussy on ya."

"That's how you talk about a horse."

I slap her on the thigh.

"You are a fucking horse. You're my horse!! Hey, horse: did you expect to eat breakfast 'cause now you're gonna have to make me cum again before you get any breakfast. I'll be back in a minute when I'm ready to go again. Why don't you work on your appetite."

I left her in the crate—locked her in—and let her think about what happens to bad horses when they fucking get sarcastic.

I sat down with my tablet. It was already set to look at Anna.

I had cameras everywhere—I could see her lip move when she made a certain facial expression while she thought whatever she was thinking at this particular moment.

I looked from overhead at her body and I coveted it—I wanted to own her forever, not just for a month this time. I knew it wasn't possible because eventually she'd outsmart me but I wanted to anyway. I spun through all the possible ways I could keep her but they all came up null—I was going to have to kill that girl.

After breakfast I would shave her pussy and her armpits (just to make her comfortable).

Then I'd show her end-of-life videos of other girls while I fucked her. I loved to see Anna close her eyes when a little girl got shot, and I loved to see her fascination at the murder foreplay I always went through with these little women—leaving the absoluteness of their death as a surprise to them as long as possible..even though the older ones saw it coming.

I liked to notice—and I never mentioned it—but I liked to notice how Anna lubricated herself especially much when I was playing games with a girl and could convince her she wasn't going to get killed. She liked it—and it's human nature. We like to see dramatic irony: when the audience knows more than the character? It's hilarious in comedy, riveting in thrillers, and it's fucking hot in a real-life murder scene. Anna knew I knew these scenes excited her—she's not stupid, she knows I can feel her pussy get wet—but we never talked about it. She just looked at the TV and quietly let her pussy contract at 0.8-second intervals for 10, sometimes 15 seconds.

And her cheeks flushed.

And I loved that.

And then the girl on the screen would die and Anna would close her eyes and I wouldn't know if I was fucking an oven or a young woman's pussy, that shit got so hot.

14—Sadness makes you God's prisoner.

I wake to the sound of the TV in the crate.

I jump out of bed and pull on my sweatpants and shirt.

Grab my Glock.

Run to the crate.

Unlock the door.

Go in checking the corners, under the workbench, under the chair.

I check the ceiling. Everything is clear—nothing on top of the quartz-halogens.

Anna is lying back in the chair with the remote in her right hand. Her left is empty, sitting on her thigh.

Her foot shackles are in place. All the other ones are open.

You have nightmares? This is mine.

The TV is on and Anna has navigated herself to one of my worst end-of-life films, which leads me to believe she's come to it after navigating many others.

Anna pauses the screen.

"This girl is five years old."

"I don't kill young girls anymore."

"I'm only 24."

"Yeah. Well. By 24 you've had your chance."

I take the remote from her, close down all the windows, and turn off the video system.

I lock her arms in the arm clamps, tight around each wrist.

I look her over, prodding around underneath her body and inside her mouth and spreading her ass and her vagina to make sure she's not hiding anything.

When I stand up from probing her vag, she says:

"I'm scared."

"What are you scared of."

"Don't be mad..the devil."

"I'm not mad at you. Just because I don't believe in the literal devil doesn't make him any less scary to you."

"I'm afraid the devil is gonna get me for what I'm doing."

"What are you doing? Have you been masturbating to the dead girl films?"

Anna nods.

"Like he can see you? And he's judging you?"

Anna nods.

"You know what you do then? You say, I ain't afraid of no devil—you know why?"

"Why?"

" 'Cause I am the devil. Say it. Say it."

"I am the devil."

"I am the scariest, most evil, darkest, most invincible thing in the world. Say it."

"I am..the scariest..most evil..darkest..most invincible..thing..in the world."

"Good girl. Now keep saying that to yourself until you believe it and you won't be scared of anything."

We're quiet for a while and I hope to myself that she's working that mantra in her head.

I drum my fingers on her inner thigh.

"Anyway," I say, "the technology exists..you may see the devil in your lifetime."

"There's no such thing as the devil," Anna says. "Like a literal devil?"

"Oh yes there is."

"And I know you're not so egotistical as to call yourself the devil," she says.

"Oh no. I never said it was me. It's science—"

"Please. You're not one of those anti-science crazy Christians."

"I was going to say: it's science that will bring about the devil, paradoxically."

"So you're against science."

"No, no—you're not hearing me. Science will tear the fabric of the dimensions—I'm not saying that's good or bad—but they will tear the dimension containing the devil and let him into our world. That's all I'm saying. Haven't you read any Nikola Tesla?"

"No, I guess I'm still getting around to him."

"Well, my Anna—sweet Anna—what you and I are doing here is child's play compared to what is going on in parallel universes."

Anna laughs.

"You think that's funny?"

"Yes!"

"Good then, I cheered you up."

I start to walk away.

"No, tell me..tell me how fucked-up shit in parallel universes justifies what we're doing here. I think you're mentally ill."

"What diagnosis would you give me?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, my slave, that mentally ill is a scientific term with a specific definition correlating to a limited set of diagnoses and if you want to call me mentally ill you have to choose one or more diagnoses to go along with that determination."

"I just mean you're crazy."

"I know what you mean. All I mean, my unread friend, is that there are things unknown to our dimension that are far worse than anything you'll find us doing here."

"Why do you keep saying that? We. Us. We're not doing anything. You are. I'm clamped to a chair for a fucking month!!"

"Whether you like it or not, this is something we're doing together. The reason I'm saying we? Us? I'm playing a psychological game with you that you apparently do not understand."

"What? To break my spirit?"

We both breathe in and out at the same time and I say:

"No. Something much worse."

I push her forward in the chair so I can reach her back, and I massage her. It's not an erotic massage; it's a necessity. You can't keep someone locked in the same position for so long without exercising their limbs and massaging them to help the blood flow.

Anna takes the massage without resisting—this is routine now. She bends her head forward without instruction, so I can get her neck.

Eventually she says:

"I don't believe that evil will win."

I create a bridge between her jaw and her neck, with my hand, and stretch out that part of her.

"What you call evil, Anna, is just a difference in power."

"I just don't believe that power is the most important thing," she says.

"The future, my little friend, is a future of psychopaths," I say, and the conversation drops.

When I was massaging her pussy, rubbing and attending to her clit with my mouth, she started talking again:

"Why are you still doing this? Aren't you retired from your former work?"

"Yes, but—"

"So why are you still doing it?"

"Because..it's like the guy who works as a computer programmer all his life and then when he retires, he gets a part-time job as a computer programmer. This is what I do."

"This is what you like to do."

"It's just what I do, you know. Forget about like or not-like, it's..just..what I do."

I licked and fingered her vagina, and I didn't consider it sexual, exactly—it was just an extension of the massage. One's genitals must be kept limber, just as one's back, one's neck, one's feet, one's legs, one's scalp.

I needed her vagina to be functional for me so that when I wanted to fuck, she would be ready. So I touched her like I would touch myself—any time, any day, any moment, any place that I wanted to.

I licked her clitoris just right and leaned back and I could see her labia flattening and opening.

She lifts her head.

"Why are you doing this?"

"Why do you think? Come on, Anna—the smartest person that I've never killed! If you don't know, then no one knows."

She lies back and I finger her with three fingers.

Her eyes are closed, squinted.

That precious mouth opens.

I put my mouth on her clit again and pretend she was my wife.

"Fuck!" Anna says. "Stop! Tell me why!!"

"I told you before. Because I want to. And because I can."

"But why do you want to?"

"Because I can."

"No! I don't believe that."

"No, you can't believe it, because if you did your moral universe would fall apart."

"I just don't believe that some people have more power than others."

"No? Some guy who's trying to fuck you—that you and your girlfriends laugh at—you believe that you and he have equal power in that situation?"

"But I don't believe he's less of a person than me!"

"You don't? You don't make fun of him with your friends and assert that his sexual desire is less important than yours?"

"Yeah but if he rapes me then the tables are turned!"

"Exactly and in each situation there is a master and a slave."

"Ok, master. Slave speaking. This girl you like to make cum, who you use to make yourself cum at all hours of the night—anytime you wake up hard—what are you gonna do with your slave, just turn me into bones on some rock field somewhere?"

"I'll cut your head off. I'll slice you up your vagina with a chainsaw."

"You like my vagina too much to ever hurt me."

"I don't like your vagina."

She can hear, in my tone, that I'm true—and she cries.

"You have to get over the idea that you're special, Anna. You're not. There's a thousand girls in a thousand cities who have just that vagina. The exact same one. I've seen your vagina a hundred times and I wouldn't hesitate to put a chainsaw to it if you fuckin' talked sarcastic to me a second time. You're a dead girl—and no one cares about a dead girl's vagina."

I unclamped her left hand.

Pushed down my sweatpants.

"Get me hard. Get me hard."

"I will. I will. But why. Why are we having this relationship?"

"I loved a girl and lost her. You're helping me process that loss."

"How many girls have helped you process your loss so far?"

"Thirteen hundred."

"How many more is it gonna take??!!"

"Well, I'm fifty-four. I figure sixty-five is a good retirement age. Of course, I have to ask my doctor if my heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. But I figure a hundred more."

She protested. Asked me to make her the last one.

"I'm considering it," I said.

Then I fucked her 24-year-old pink-line pussy that looked like the first pussy I encountered in school.

"What do you think about being fucked by a fifty-year-old man?"

"I've been fucked by a fifty-year-old man before."

"Oh really? Who?"

"My father."

"Oh! He like his little girl, huh?!"

I rubbed Anna's head to comfort her.

I imagined I was her father and that got me off right away. I pushed and pushed my cock into her and came as deep in her as possible. Then I looked down and saw my cock stretching her little hole to fit me, and my cock gone—buried deep inside the girl.

I got off her and kissed her on the lips—which she majorly shied away from—but I got my lips on hers.

"See? I'm not really a criminal."

"Then what are you?"

"I'm a creator. I'm a psychopomp. Do you know what that is?"

She shakes her head.

"Well remind me to tell you about it sometime. It's a fascinating class of myths."

"But tell me really—why are you doing this?"

"There is always, only, ever, one answer to that question—and this is like the third time I've told you—because I can, and because I want to. You know it's like the idea of killing a chinchilla for its fur. We don't mind because we're smarter than the chinchilla. It's like the idea that aliens are abducting us, experimenting on us, raping us, injecting us to make us cum, breeding with us—all with little regard for our wants. They probably feel fine about it, like us using a mouse for a science experiment, because we don't feel that the mouse has much of a life to lose..we feel it is inferior, and so we feel it should serve us with its life..and maybe it should."

I close my eyes and what I see is a child playing with a dog. The child is about three years old. The dog is as tall as the child, and twice as long. The child is petting the dog and then the dog turns his head sideways and grabs the little boy by his abdomen and bites down and the boy screams and the dog shakes him like a rag doll as the boy cries out for help but no one hears him—no one comes to help. That's what I see when I close my eyes.

Anna sees me shaking and she moves her left hand within the clamp to touch my knee—now she is the one comforting me.

"Why do you care how I feel?"

"Why do you sometimes rape me, sometimes make me cum?"

"Well that's the thing with people, right? We are—as they say—gods and monsters."

15—Tell me how you want to die, and I'll tell you who you are.

A lot of keeping a slave is cleaning up their shit. They don't really have time to go into this in movies but like in Pulp Fiction, where they say, "Bring out the Gimp," and the Gimp is locked in this wooden box..well in reality the gimp's suit would be filled with piss and shit because people eat and when they eat they turn food into piss and shit and eventually that shit comes out of various holes and somebody has to clean it up.

So if you're squeamish, I don't recommend keeping a slave.

I'm not the hugest fan of cleaning up shit, which is why I have the overhead setup with the spray nozzle, stainless steel chair, floor sloping outward into the drainage well. For me, I just spray them down, watch them wince when all that water pressure hits their puss, and move the chunks and runs of feces along the floor to the edges of the crate. Between girls I bleach the floor—it's too risky to have a bottle of bleach in the crate with a girl even if she is locked down. You have to think two, three steps ahead to survive in businesses where you're trying to control things that are basically uncontrollable.

But I would be lying if I didn't say that, after a while, I came to love the smell of each girl's particular shit. It was part of her—and I loved each one in a special way. The smell of their farts and the odor of their piss and the way their shits reeked sank into my mind and I associate each particular shit smell with each particular girl. They brought up rich associations for me—of food, of places from childhood. We have so few words for smell, it's hard for me to describe this further but suffice it to say that every girl I ever kept in that crate, I learned to love the smell of her shit.

I remember thinking one time that I should work in a zoo—because there you keep animals as slaves and clean up their shit. But you don't get to kill the animals so I'm not sure that would have been the best fit for me.

Anna's shit I loved the most. I know that sounds gross to some of you but it's like when you have a baby. You really don't mind cleaning up the shit of your own baby because it's your baby and you love it. That's what I hear anyway and that's the way I felt about Anna. In fact, I was glad to come into the crate and see she had left me a blop of shit—cleaning it up was something I could do for her. It made me feel useful.

As with every girl I ever kept, with Anna I alternated punishment and pleasure. I fucked her with wooden broom handles. I stuck broom handles so far up her vag she screamed like someone being burned with a hot poker—something we did in my previous profession. But after the broom handle rape was over, I'd bring out a pair of scissors and cut her hair.

I'd say, "Anna, you look like you could use a trim."

She'd still be crying and moaning from the broom rape.

But I'd brush her hair over her ears and bring the scissors to her face.

She'd try to escape, but the neck clamp kept her in place.

"Don't you want to look fashionable when you die?"

She'd shake her head.

But I'd cut her hair anyway, bringing it back to the way it was when I met her, and she'd feel it with her fingers and know that it was pretty now and she'd feel good—and I liked that she felt good.

At the end of her hallucinogenic meth trip, during which she'd been excreting sweat the size of rain drops, I gave her a bath in the chair, wiping her vagina like you would a baby's, with no special attention.

"Lift your arms," I said, and I got her armpits, washing her with watered-down rubbing alcohol to kill any germ patches that might be developing. The alcohol stung her pussy, but she was so incoherent from the meth trip that I don't think she remembered.

She wanted a mirror to see herself.

I denied this but used it as a way to control her: if she's good, she'll get the mirror. If she lets herself cum when I touch her with the vibrator then she'll get the mirror. If she shuts the fuck up and acts like a proper girl when she's getting fucked then she might get the mirror. The mirror gig turned out to be a perfect fit for Anna because she really wanted it. And eventually I gave it to her—wearing head and eye protection myself in case she got violent. I bought her makeup to her specifications and a small hand mirror in a circular shape. It seemed too small to even break if she tried to strike me with it so the whole event calculated as a reasonable risk in my mind. And she didn't try a thing—she was overjoyed just to put on some eyeliner and lipstick and see herself in the mirror. She asked if she could put on her blue-star nipple t-shirt but of course I had to say no. And when I took away the mirror, she cried.

There was no end to the fucked-up shit I did and said to that girl. I come into the shipping container all happy and just as I was gonna say some fucked-up shit about how this was her last night in the crate, she goes:

"It's been 30 days, hasn't it? I kept count."

This made me extremely angry. That was my information that I was gonna tell her and here this smart-ass bitch has been keeping count. She knows what day she's gonna die. She knows what night is her last night in the crate. I thought of all kinds of things I could do to punish her but nothing was sufficient and I was afraid I'd go to far and kill her early so I thought of my mentor and did some meditative breathing, standing there behind the chair.

I got to a decent resting heart rate.

The veins in my head receded.

Then I turned off the quartz-halogen floods and let her sleep in the dark.

The next morning I asked her how she slept.

"Like a baby."

"That's what most girls say: last night of their life, they slept like a baby!"

"Do you turn the lights off for everyone?"

"Everything around here's procedure. Everything."

I fed Anna her standard breakfast of eggs and bacon—eggs cooked to her specifications.

"You look tired."

"I haven't been to sleep."

"Why not?"

"Since the chances of you figuring out a way to escape increase with each day I keep you in this crate, I've been staying up all night to watch you for a while."

"Is that hard?—Staying up all night? Are you using drugs?"

"Yes."

"I thought you were straight."

"I'm drinking coffee and Red Bull. That's kind of where I draw the line, these days. And I prefer not to do those."

"I'm sorry I got you off your routine."

"No, no. It's part of the job."

"The job. That's me. The job."

"It's more than a job."

"Thanks, but, seriously: can we renegotiate? I've been thinking about it and I really don't want to die—like, go through the process of dying. You see where I'm coming from? I realize this isn't a business arrangement, but can I make some kind of a trade or something?"

Her eyes were nothing like when she first arrived. Now they were filled with need and desperation.

I hold a fork with over-medium egg halfway between the plate and Anna's mouth.

"Look at it this way: if there isn't an afterlife, you'll never know you died..only that you're about to die. And if there is an afterlife, then presumably once you get there, your pain will end. Either way, you win."

"That's actually not how I look at it at all."

I feed Anna the egg and she swallows, never taking her eyes off me.

While she eats the rest of her breakfast I try to distract her from thoughts of her own death with a story about a girl named Celexa that I once held.

"Isn't that an antidepressant?"

"Yeah, people name their kids after weird things these days. Have you noticed that?"

"Not really."

"Well, Celexa was a pretty girl. I made her stand up for three days. When she squirms her legs together 'cause she has to pee, I shock her pussy with a wire. If she tries to sit down, I shock her pussy with a wire. I love to see a pretty girl under strain. And I love to shock a girl's pussy with a wire."

"Geez..I feel jealous you never did that with me."

"Celexa's hair was blonde curls like Shirley Fucking Temple or Drew Barrymore or Kate Hudson—that sort of lineage. Celexa was a natural blonde—not from a bottle. I think the thing I liked most about Celexa was lying her face down on the gyno chair and spanking her. Then I would shock her pussy with a wire and make her pee. If I touched her in just the right place and alternated spanking her red ass with shocking her pussy with my wire, I could get that girl into a kind of rhythm and she didn't know whether to scream or cum or pee so she did all three. Then I would hold that wire in just the right place in her pussy and it would make her pee come out yellow all over the chair, the floor, my feet—everywhere. I would hold that wire on her until all her pee came out. I love making a girl pee with my wire, because it embarrasses her—I control the pee, she doesn't—and that's what I like about it the most."

"How come you let her out of the chair?"

"Well she had an electrified collar attached to a chain that was bolted to the floor. Kind of like those invisible fence dog collars except—you know—high voltage."

"That's great. You're a real fucking humanitarian."

"I know."

"Oh and while we're on it, why don't you have padding on the walls?"

"You're full of questions."

"Sorry."

"You mean sound-retardant foam like in a recording studio?"

"Right."

"So no one will hear you scream."

"Right."

"Because. There's no need. Did you notice on the ride in how far we are from anyone else? Audio-dampening panels would be a waste of time. The closest people out here are those bike-rodeo meth heads, and they're six or seven miles from here. If somehow they did hear you scream, they'd just go back to smoking meth and playing with flame throwers."

"Can I have the rest of my breakfast?"

"Of course."

We ate the rest of her meal in silence.

After breakfast I took the styrofoam plate and plastic spoon out of the crate, locking her in. Threw the trash away. Unlocked the crate, opened a particular drawer in my tool chest, and pulled out Anna's favorite vibrator. It was a $30 Wahl all-body therapeutic massager, but the only part of her body we ever used it on was her puss.

It had many attachments, but she liked the flat one the best.

The massager had two speeds: make Anna cum in a minute, and make Anna cum right now.

I put it on make Anna cum in a minute.

I put it on her clit.

I set my Glock on my thigh.

I played gay porn for her—Anna's favorite.

I knew she was about to cum.

I said: "If you cum I will kill you."

I showed her the Glock.

She tried not to cum.

She closed her eyes so she couldn't see the porn.

She squirmed and tried to shield her clit from the massager but it was impossible. I could see her body flushing.

"Cum!" I yelled.

"You said you were going to kill me if I came!"

"I know! I am! Cum and then I'll kill you! Cum! Cum!"

She opened her eyes—they were seas of turmoil.

I had never seen her so conflicted and my cock was hard.

"I can't take no more!!!"

"If you feel it, let it happen."

Then she was crying, looking at me, mumbling something I couldn't understand.

"What?"

"Never..felt like this..before."

Then she came, and she was crying to the Lord, or whoever her god was, because she knew when she was done cumming I was going to put a bullet through her head like she had seen me do to so many girls on the archive.

Then she came, and it was a shiver mixed with tears pouring out of her eyes like the ridiculous Disney animation of Alice crying her own ocean which in a few seconds she would be small enough to swim in.

I rubbed the vibrator in a circle and let her orgasm wear out.

She opens her eyes and looks at me.

"Sing me a song before you do it."

"Ok."

"Thank you. Will you please sing me 'Amazing Grace?' "

"You want me to sing you 'Amazing Grace?' "

"Please. That's the song my dad sang to me when I was little."

"The dad who raped you?"

"Please just sing it and then do what you have to do."

"You want me to sing you to sleep."

Anna nods vigorously.

She says, "Do you know the lyrics?"

"Yes," I say, "I grew up in the same Christianity-obsessed world you did. I know the lyrics to 'Amazing Grace.' "

I have the Glock in my left hand and I put my right hand on Anna's forehead.

"Now close your eyes now and go to sleep."

And I sing to her.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now I'm found,

was blind, but now I see.

And verse after verse, I feel Anna's pulse calm, her breathing slow, and I think of what a delight she's been to have in the crate.

Her breathing regularizes, and soon I'm not sure if she's sleeping or awake.

I sing the last verse.

When we've been there ten thousand years,

bright shining as the sun.

We've no less days to sing God's praise,

than when we first begun.

Her breathing has gone from the shallow awake breathing to that deep, nasal, sleep breathing.

I stand up and lean in close to her head.

"Anna," I whisper. "I..well.."

I kiss her on her forehead.

Then I brush my fingers through her hair.

I go to the door of the crate and open the inner lock. The sound wakes Anna up—but only halfway.

In a sleepy voice, she says: "So are you gonna kill me now? Take me out to the rock field?"

"No," I say. "You're one day off. I'm gonna kill you tomorrow."

16—Man has played hooky from nature. His successful evasion is his tragedy.

That night I dreamt about a girl named Cory Castor. Not a dream, but I laid up in my bed with this half-remembered event from my childhood where a bunch of us were in this storage closet off the school's library. And I dared Cory to take off her clothes. And she did it, the little bitch, she took everything off..peeled off her shirt and she didn't even have any titties. Peeled off her jeans and peeled off them white little panties and I got a look at what is still one of the most beautiful things I know: a little girl's pussy. Doesn't have to be a little girl's. But a girl's, a woman's, pussy—especially one with cute lips and no hair and nothing sticking out—just a nice slit up the middle—that's how I like 'em.

But actually I like more than one kind of pussy. I like Anna's type—I call it the thin pink slug. You can see her pinprick of a pussy hole and then a slightly squiggly line and then that precious little clit.

I sat up in bed and thought about Anna's pussy. And I'll be honest, I thought about cutting it out of her so I could keep it. That was majorly on my mind. It like a shell—on a beach—you like to take a few of them home with you to remember how beautiful the world is.

And your collection of shells reminds you how much fun it is to be at the beach and they remind you to go to the beautiful places on the Earth as often as possible because someday you're going to die.

I grabbed my iPad and loaded up Anna's video library and yeah I had videos of her eating my shit and drinking my piss and me shooting cum into her eye. And I even had video of her cumming silently when she wasn't supposed to when we were watching me give little dead girls their last wish—when they got shot in the head and shot up their pussies causing them to die from internal bleeding and Anna couldn't help herself from cumming watching all those victims that had come before her. And even though I had all that, I also had all this footage of Anna's face—watching me sideways as I fucked her or looking at me skeptically as I came into the crate in the morning, around from the back to the front of the chair where she could see me. Just the look on her face as she wondered whether I was going rape her that morning was so precious to me.

I wish I could be inside her pussy—feel what it was like to be her when I was raping her. I mean she felt like she was getting used to me.

I hated to kill her—I hate to kill anyone smart.

And she was.

She wasn't no Einstein—but neither am I. You know? And decent conversation is hard to find.

Especially in Pain, South Dakota. Who am I gonna talk to? Betsy of Betsy's Diner? Ol' Samson?

And that's how I spent almost all night watching video of Anna talking to me, looking at me, and before I knew it I had cum all over my iPad just looking at Anna's face.

I went to the crate and unlocked it.

I took Anna's clothes out and tossed them on her legs.

I undid the clamps on her legs and wrists.

"Get up."

I shook her.

"Miss Miller. It's time to go."

Anna turned over, sexy, clothed in only her skin.

"Is it time to die yet?"

"Forget about dying, ok—just get dressed."

She didn't look excited. Her excitement had died long ago.

I threw her panties at her.

"Put your fucking panties on. I washed everything."

"You washed my panties?"

"Yeah and I jerked off all over 'em, too—just get dressed!"

So she pulls on her panties and her jeans.

"And put on your fucking nipple rings, too. Here—your earrings."

And she pulls on that white t-shirt with the blue stars over her nipples.

"Get your Skechers on we'e going to breakfast."

"Is that some euphemism for I'm your breakfast and you're going to eat my dead body?"

"No. It means we're going to breakfast."

"I'm allowed to get out of the chair?"

"You don't have to ask me what to do anymore. Just get your Skechers on we're going to breakfast, ok?"

Anna slid down off the chair.

"Ok," she says. "I don't understand what we're doing."

"What we're doing," I say, "is a new phase in our relationship. It's called: you don't have to stay in the chair anymore but please don't do anything crazy like run to the motherfucking police."

"And then what?"

"And then we have breakfast."

"And then what?"

"Then you go back to Pennsylvania and you can work in the hoagie shop or you can stay with me."

"And we'll do what?"

"I'm about to show you."

"Well what are we waiting for?"

"For you to get your Skechers on."

"I'm sorry. I just woke up."

"Anna. It's ok. You don't have to apologize."

"You're not going to punish me?"

"For what?"

"For not being able to get my fucking Skechers on!"

I kneel at her feet and zip the shoes' zippers for her.

"There. Are you ready? We're kind of on a schedule."

Anna rubs her wrists. They've been locked in clamps for 30 days.

"Where are we going for breakfast? The rock field?"

"No. We're going to Betsy's Diner. Run by the one and only Betsy Langton. It's in town, remember? It's where we met."

Anna kicks me.

"Yeah I know where we met."

"So we kinda have to go."

"What's the hurry in getting to Betsy's?"

"I have a very special breakfast planned for you."

"At Betsy's."

"Yes."

"Are you gonna have your Glock with you?"

"Yes!!"

"Ok, I see. So I'm free but if I try to run, you've got six little friends and they can all run faster than I can."

"Six little friends..?"

"It's from Dusk Till Dawn? Hello?!"

"Oh right. Six little friends."

I look at my clip.

"Look I got waaay more than six little friends in this clip and none of them are running after you. I just wanna have some coffee and French toast. Can we please go?"

Anna stands up and I motion with the Glock for her to exit the crate.

"Where's my bag?"

"It's in the fucking truck. I never touched it. It's where you left it."

"We are not going to Betsy's for coffee and French toast. I may be from Lehighton, PA but I'm not stupid."

"Well breakfast will be a benefit, then—and you're right, we're not going for breakfast."

"For what then?"

"I'll show you when we get there now would you please get in the fucking truck? I might have failed to mention this but we're on an extremely delicate timetable right now."

Anna laughs.

"You're the only person I've ever met for whom getting French toast at a shitty diner happens on 'an extremely delicate timetable.' "

"I know it's not clear to you, Anna, but right now my life hangs in a delicate kind of balance that unless you've traveled to a very specific country on the face of this Earth or done a very specific kind of research, there's no way you could possibly understand."

Anna looks at me over the top of the truck and laughs.

"Ok 007, why don't you explain it to me on the way."

And she gets in the truck.

17—To be is to be cornered.

I didn't explain shit to her. We got to Betsy's, got a booth, ordered breakfast, and after Anna had ordered one of everything on the menu, she let Betsy leave, placed her menu in the holder near the wall, and lightly slapped the palms of her hands on the table.

"I passed your test! I passed your test!"

"Nobody's ever passed my test."

"But I did, didn't I?"

I looked at the Glock on the seat beside me, between me and the wall.

Then I looked at Anna.

"Are you gonna turn me in?"

"No," she says. "I'm gonna fucking kill you."

I lean forward.

"You're gonna kill me? How would you even begin?"

"I've learned," she says, "by watching you."

We lock eyes.

"I hope you never kill anyone."

"Why not?"

"Because it would probably ruin your life."

"It didn't ruin yours," she said.

And I said, "How do you know?"

She sips her ice water, and I notice she's shivering from head to toe.

Her eyes narrow to slits.

"I could scream out. I could run. Why did you bring me here?"

" 'Cause I want to show you something."

"Well show me 'cause I got the itch to end your career right now."

"I want you to look across the street."

Anna twists in her seat.

"Tom's Tool? What's that?"

"It's a hardware store. Look right in front of that."

Anna looks. And looks. And then she finally sees it.

"That's where you first saw me."

"The bus stop."

"Where were you?"

"I was at the counter. When that bus pulled away..well..I was very attracted to you."

Anna looks at me with tears welling in her eyes.

"What are you thinking?" I say.

She shakes her head and cries in the palms of her hands.

"Are you thinking: I've wasted a month of your time? I've ruined your life? What?"

She looks up at me, angry, broken, sad, scared for her life.

"You're really not going to shoot me?"

"I promise."

I hold up my hands.

"You're the fucking weirdest person I've ever met. But I've come to.."

She shakes her head.

"It's called Stockholm syndrome," I say.

"Look, I don't have as much schooling as you so I just call it you fucking with my head."

"Fair enough. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you."

"Why don't you just tell me the purpose of our little field trip. A short stack of pancakes ain't gonna make me forget that there's no fucking way you brought me here for breakfast."

"That's right."

"So what the fuck did you bring me here for?"

"Look across the street."

"I see. Bus stop. Hardware store."

"You didn't look. You just described what you remember from when you looked before."

"O-kay," this girl says, and she looks across the street.

The Greyhound pulls up. It comes to a stop.

Anna looks back at me.

"How did you do that?"

"I told you earlier we were on an extremely delicate timetable."

Anna turns back to the bus. It sits for a while and pulls away, black smoke coming out the back.

And there, right in front of the hardware store, is a woman about 16, 17, a suitcase in each hand, looking left, looking right—looking up and down the street.

"But there's only one place for her to go," I say.

"She's too young," Anna says.

"Well I disagree and I'm in charge, so."

Anna turns to me.

"She's coming in here."

"I know. You're going to introduce me."

"Fuck that!"

"She'll trust you," I say.

"You make her trust you yourself. You're good at making people trust you and then fucking up their lives."

"It'll be so much easier if you do it though."

"I'm sorry but you can fuck yourself. I'm not doing that."

"Yes you are."

"Why would I do that?"

"Because I'm asking you to."

Anna looks over at the girl. And sure enough, she's crossing the street toward Betsy's.

"Help her with the door."

Anna looks at me with more hatred than at any time I've seen her in the last month and it makes me want to fuck her like a slave, remind her of her submission to me.

She slings her cup across the table and the ice water spills, she slings it so fast.

"I've got it, I've got it," I say, and I'm pulling out napkins.

Anna picks up the tall plastic cup and sets it gently on the table.

She puts her hand on the table and uses it to lift her body from the bench.

She doesn't look at me.

I'm cleaning the table with about a hundred tiny paper napkins.

Anna goes to the door. She opens it. She goes outside.

She's talking with the dead girl.

Anna takes one of the dead girl's suitcases and the two of them bumble into Betsy's Diner. Betsy points to a place under the counter where they can put the suitcases, then she gestures to the booth I'm sitting in, in the corner. Betsy is so helpful—she doesn't even know how helpful she is.

Anna and the girl come over to my booth.

Anna says, "This is Kimmie. My new friend. And this is.."

"Matthew," I say.

I don't extend my hand for a shake.

Kimmie slides into the booth across from me, then Anna sits on the outside, next to Kimmie.

"Anna and I are having breakfast. If you want anything, go ahead. Anna's buying."

Anna kicks me under the table—hard.

"Alright," I say. "I'll buy."

I smile.

Kimmie says, "Really?"

"Yeah, everything's cheap here anyway," I say. "You know how they say if you can eat ten dollars worth of food at Taco Bell, you've got a problem? Well at Betsy's it's like eight dollars so..go crazy. I mean it's not like I'm going to kill you if you go over."

I laugh and look at Anna.

Kimmie is perfectly happy, perfectly safe—Anna guarantees that. If Anna is with me—for whatever reason—that is Kimmie's insurance policy that I'm an alright guy. She has no idea there's a Glock sitting on the seat right next to me.

In fact, she has no idea about a lot of things.

I look her over while she's reading the menu. Seventeen probably. Minor drug user. Thinks she's a badass. Not a virgin. I try to imagine her pussy based on her face.

"So what do you think you might have? The French toast is excellent."

Kimmie asks Anna: "What are you having?"

"One of everything. I've been locked in a torture chamber for a month."

Kimmie laughs.

"I know what you mean. That bus is like a torture chamber after about the first 16 hours."

"Where are you coming from?"

"Eugene."

"Oregon?" I say.

"Yeah," Kimmie says, face deep in the menu.

"Why would you leave Eugene, Oregon to come to Pain, South Dakota?"

"I'm not going to Pain. I'm just stopping here overnight."

"Oh," I say.

And Anna looks like she's about to make a run for it.

"Why leave Eugene in the first place?"

"Well," Kimmie says, looking directly at me, "I hate motherfucking pot-smoking wannabe neo-hippies."

She laughs.

I think about what it would be like to fuck her.

"Is that reason enough?" she says.

I smile.

"Sure is."

She has freckles and blond hair—a hemp choker. I imagine myself choking her for real with my leather belt around her neck and fucking her ass while she's unconscious.

All of this can be arranged, of course.

And trying out her pussy for the first time while she's fully conscious, looking in her eyes as I rape her—gently at first and then like a gorilla—this is what fills my thoughts.

Kimmie the anti-hippie smiles at me and I smile back, then smile at Anna. Anna has her head on folded arms, and she's looking away from Kimmie, at the door.

"Anna, baby, is this upsetting you?"

"Very much," she says without looking at me.

"Kimmie, what kind of perfume is that?"

"Clinique Happy."

"That's one of my favorites. You mind if I get a closer smell?"

Anna looks up to see what the hell I'm doing.

I lean across the table and Kimmie leans forward, too. I smell her neck. I used to have a girlfriend who wore Clinique Happy. Then—and Anna is watching me closely as I do this—I put my nose next to Kimmie's nose and I breathe in.

Kimmie—as a matter of reflex—breathes in too.

Then we both lean back in our seats.

"It's a wonderful smell," I say.

"Thank you," Kimmie beams.

Betsy comes over and asks if we need anything.

"Yes, something warm to drink for Anna—she's shivering from all that ice water. And whatever..Kimmie..wants."

Kimmie orders pancakes and a few minutes pass.

Then I ask Kimmie a question.

"Kimmie, would you like to leave? All of us together?"

Kimmie says, "Yes, I think I would like that."

And Anna says, "But what about our food?"

"Kimmie?" I say.

"Yes."

"Would you like to go to my house with Anna and I?"

Kimmie looks around a bit and then just says, "Yes."

Anna looks to her left at this new girl.

"Would you like to go now?"

She shrugs her bare shoulders and says, "Sure!"

Anna looks at me like: what the fuck?

"Kimmie would like to go,"I say.

Anna looks at Kimmie and chops her hand on the table.

"You just met us. What if we're some kind of serial torture murderers and you're just going to come to our house?"

I say: "Kimmie, you would like to come to our house, wouldn't you?"

And Kimmie says, "Yes."

Anna asks me with her eyes: What the fuck is going on?

And I just smile.

And Anna's eyes get big and I can see some new kind of fear and admiration growing in her.

We all get up from the booth. The girls grab the suitcases. I pay the bill. And Betsy gives me that smile like part of her is happy I'm always picking up young women at her diner and I love Betsy for that. In a life like mine, you need people like Betsy who aren't really paying attention to what the fuck is going on.

Anna went ahead and showed Kimmie my truck. They put Kimmie's bags in the back and got in. Anna sat next to me and gripped my thigh tight with her beautiful little hand—and it wasn't a grip of trust, it wasn't a grip of love—it was a grip pleading for protection, like a scared girl of her father, from whatever this new evil was.

"Kimmie, ready to go home?"

Bright, aware, happy, Kimmie said: "Yes!"

"Doesn't she deserve her view?"

"What view?"

"Her view. The large headspace. All that bullshit."

"Oh! Wagner Canyon! You want to go to Wagner Canyon?"

"Yes, I want to go to Wagner Canyon."

"What about you, Kimmie, wouldn't you like to go spend some time outdoors? There's a place Anna and I love to go. It's called Wagner Canyon. Doesn't that sound like a great idea to you?"

"Yes, it sounds like a great idea to me!" Kimmie almost shouted.

Anna's grip tightened on my thigh.

I could feel her fingernails.

It was the grip of someone scared shitless, and it made my blood run hotter than it had in decades.

18—Only a flower that falls is a complete flower, say the Japanese. One is tempted to say as much of a civilization.

When we got to Wagner Canyon the girls and I all stretched our legs. Kimmie stayed close to me while Anna wandered to the edge of the cliff and I wondered if she was going to jump off.

I polished the silencer on my Glock with my shirt and handed it to Kimmie.

"Why don't you shoot Anna?"

Kimmie took the gun and pointed it at my sweet Anna.

Anna heard what I said and turned away from the canyon. She ducks, even though there's nowhere to go, and she's scrambling around in the dirt next to the cliff trying to avoid the shot.

Kimmie holds the Glock with both of her arms straight, one eye closed, and follows Anna around with the barrel.

"You know her, right?" Anna yells at me. "You knew her before and you planted her and now you're going to have her shoot me."

"I didn't know her before. Kimmie, how long have we known each other?"

"Forty-five minutes?" says the girl.

"Then why are you pointing the fucking Glock at me, bitch?"

"Why are you calling me 'bitch?' "

"Why don't you point the gun somewhere else and I'll call you whatever you want!!"

"Ok."

Kimmie lowers the Glock.

Anna looks at me, scrounging in the dirt, pleading with me.

"What the fuck is going on here??!"

"Girls, why don't you come with me to the house. And Anna..I'll explain everything. Kimmie, gimme that."

Kimmie hands me the Glock and I head toward the truck.

Kimmie slides in next to me.

Anna says, "No, I am not riding with you two like that. I sit in the middle. You take the outside."

And Kimmie gets out of the truck like she's following orders.

She lets Anna in.

And I start the truck and we head down to Blythe Road.

I slap Anna on the thigh.

"Are we ready to go home now?" I say.

Anna says: "Is it going to be less of a fun house there?"

"Not necessarily," I smile, and put both hands on the wheel.

We rode in silence, Kimmie looking happily out the window, Anna looking straight ahead. Something was itching me up my nose and I scratched it carefully.

"Are you alright?" Anna said.

"Yeah I just have something up my nose," I said.

When I pulled into the driveway, even before I turned off the truck, I reached under my right leg and pulled out a syringe.

"Take this," I said to Anna.

She did it.

"Now stick it into her arm and pop that plunger down."

Anna looks at me like I'm crazy.

"Don't ask questions," I say.

Anna turns to Kimmie and puts her left hand on the girl's clavicle to stabilize her. She stabs the syringe into Kimmie's left arm and pushes the plunger down with her thumb.

Kimmie screams and I don't even have to tell Anna to brace the girl's head with her right hand and cover her mouth with her left. Anna even clips the girl's nostrils together with her fingers.

"She can't breathe."

"What?!"

"She can't breathe!!"

I lean over and unclip Kimmie's nose.

Kimmie is flailing and slapping the dashboards.

"Kimmie, baby, calm down. You're ok."

Within seconds the new girl is still.

"What did you stick me with?" she asks Anna.

"I don't think here is the best place to discuss this," I say. "Let's all go inside, get something nice to drink, and we'll talk."

Kimmie—perfectly pleasant—gets both her bags while Anna holds open my screen door for her.

When we get inside, there's a Coke with a light blue ribbon tied around it sitting on the coffee table.

Anna whips her head around to me.

She points to her chest and mouths, "Is this for me?"

I nod.

She continues to look at my face and I feel what once felt like embarrassment. I look away and Anna picks up the Coke.

She goes up to Kimmie and takes her suitcases.

"I'll take those. You see that big yellow shipping container back there? Meet me at the door."

Anna sets the suitcases in the living room and I toss her the key to the crate. She lets Kimmie in and she follows, holding the Coke to her chest like a baby holds something she never wants to part with.

For a second I stand in my living room and bask in the illusion of control. But I'm not stupid. I know that control is always an illusion.

I go into the crate and lock us all in.

Anna leans up against the workbench and sets her Coke beside her.

Kimmie stands opposite her and looks at the chair.

She laughs.

"Is this a gynecologist chair?"

"Yeah," I say. "I'm an out of work pussy doctor."

I look at Anna and laugh.

Then I look at Kimmie and say:

"Why don't you take off your clothes?"

She does. Sandals. Glasses. Some kind of India/Thailand-inspired sari pants and a macrame top that lets you see her nipples through the loose knots. That comes off.

She's wearing beach blue no-show briefs that accentuate her pubic mound.

"Those are cute panties!"

"Thank you!"

"Take 'em off."

The new girl bends down, pushing her panties all the way to the floor. She kicks them over near the workbench.

Anna goes: "What. The fuck. Kind of evil is this. Do you two know each other—honestly."

Kimmie and I both say, "No."

"Am I hallucinating? You are the fucking devil!"

"Calm down. You're not hallucinating. I'm not the fucking devil. And I met her the same time you did. Betsy's Diner. An hour ago.

Anna hits the workbench. Then she starts hitting me.

"Fuck! Fuck, man. Now I'm complicit in this shit. What. The fuck. Have you done to me??"

"Are you worried about going to jail?"

"No, I'm worried about my fucking conscience!! I'm partially responsible!"

She points at Kimmie, who is standing leaning up against the chair completely nude, fucking stubbly little pubis screaming out at me to desecrate it.

Anna yells: "Now I'm responsible!"

"No you're not," I say. "Don't worry."

"How can I not worry??"

"Would you just..shut up for a minute?"

I go in my tool chest and get surgical gloves and a pair of tweezers. I reach up each nostril, one after the other, and pull a set of cotton plugs out of my nose. I set them on the workbench next to me and away from Anna.

"Don't touch that," I say.

Anna looks at the cotton plugs.

I set the tweezers down next to them.

"Kimmie, you've got a beautiful pussy."

"Thank you," she says, and runs her hand through that blonde hair.

"Are you gonna be nice and let me play with it later?"

"Of course," she says—total generosity.

"Kimmie I want you to lie in that chair and lock your ankles in with the clamps that are down there by the feet and then lie all the way back and clamp your neck in—you see that clamp on the headrest?—then you'll have your hands free to touch your nipples and your pussy and make yourself feel good while me and Anna talk. Ok?"

"Ok," Kimmie smiles, and she clamps herself in just like I asked her.

I pull Anna so we're facing my workbench and I put my arm around her shoulders.

"You're not complicit. Look at me. You're not complicit. I used Devil's Breath on her."

She's like, "What's Devil's Breath?"

"Scopolamine? You never heard of it?"

Anna shakes her head.

"That's the problem with Americans: you think roofies is the worst thing that can ever happen to you. But the world is full of plants, and chemists, and hustlers of all kinds, and you'll never learn, on a trip to Target, what kind of elements are operating just under your nose without you having a clue about them. Hey hey hey!"

I move Anna's hands away from the cotton plugs.

"Don't touch that! That is not a recreational drug!"

"What kind of drug is it?"

"It's evil shit, Anna. You know me—you know what gets me off, right? Well I think that is evil—like I'm an atheist saying that drug truly is the devil, ok? So just don't touch it."

"What does it do?"

"Tell her to do something."

"Tell her to do what?"

"Tell her to do anything you want."

Anna turns around.

"Kimmie, scratch your nose."

Kimmie does it.

"Now tell her to do something interesting."

Anna looks at me.

I nod.

Anna says: "Bite your tongue until it bleeds."

We see the girl struggling with her lips closed and then a stream of blood comes out from between her lips.

"Now tell her to do something really interesting."

"Rip your fucking nipple off, bitch."

The girl's hands go for her nipple. I rush in and pull them away. I'm inches from Kimmie's face.

"Don't rip your nipple off, ok?"

I turn back to Anna.

She says, "Did you ever use that on me?"

"No. No, I promise. But if you tell her to let me rape her, she'll agree. She'll be perfectly ok with it as if it was her own idea—that's why I said this shit is evil. And when it wears off, she won't remember a thing. Betsy's Diner—that's the last thing she'll remember."

"What is the fucking shit with the cotton up your nose?"

"Something I learned off a South American hooker."

"Were you trying no to kill her?"

"No, she was trying to kill me, actually. That's the way they do it down there. She leans in to smell me..and reflexively..I lean in to smell her. When I do, I breathe in the scopo that's up her nose which she has blocked from her own lungs and nasal passage with the balls of cotton. Remember when I smelled Kimmie in the diner?"

"And she smelled you back."

"Exactly. Ever since about two minutes after that she's been..open to suggestion."

Anna wrings her hands—she's freaking.

"What did I inject her with? Benadryl?"

I shake my head.

"Saline solution. Colored to look like Benadryl. I wanted to see if you would go along with it."

Anna looks at me.

Then her eyes well with tears.

The she starts beating my chest—in a fury, in a rage.

"Look what you did to me! Look what you made me do! You know I'm not your fuckin' student on some island in the south Pacific. I never asked you to be my mentor!!"

"I know," I say, and hold Anna's head in my hands. "I didn't choose mine, either—that's kind of how this works."

Anna grows still.

She cries softly.

Then she crumples up my shirt in her fist.

"When you handed me the syringe..in the truck..I wanted to give her the shot."

I brush her hair out of her eyes.

"Don't worry," I say. "You'll get your chance."

Anna looks over her shoulder and sees Kimmie lying there, playing with herself, happy as a cow in grass.

"Is that shit real?"

"Yes."

"There's really a drug that does that?"

"Yes. It's a plant. It grows in Columbia. Very beautiful flower."

"Oh yes I'm sure it has a very beautiful flower."

"You were sarcastic to me once before. Do you remember what happened?"

"Ok, so it has a very beautiful flower."

"It does. I'll show you pictures later."

"I don't want to see pictures."

Now we're both facing Kimmie, watching her finger her beautiful twat.

I'm thinking of the scopolamine, and the pictures I took of its flower when I was down in Columbia, and how disappointed I am Anna doesn't want to see them.

"Too bad 'cause the flower is very beautiful," I say.

And she says, "Yeah, you mentioned that."

"Well, it's your loss," I say.

"So what were you doing in Columbia?"

"Educating myself about Devil's Breath."

"Wanna educate me?"

"Sure. It takes two to three minutes to take effect. It can be administered orally, subcutaneously, via transdermal patch, but most often in criminal circles is administered via rubbing on the skin like with a piece of paper or through the respiratory system like I did little Kimmie there. It's colorless, odorless..someone can blow it at you as you pass them on the street and you'd never even know you breathed it in. Then they follow you down the street, introduce themselves three minutes later and the fun begins."

Anna gives me a nasty look but she asked me to educate her so I continue.

"In extremely small doses it's used to treat nausea. In slightly higher doses it has other medical uses like treating Parkinson's symptoms—muscle spasms and shit. The zombie dose is four to eight milligrams."

"How much did you give her?"

"Three. She's small. I didn't want to kill her."

"How did you know she was going to be small?"

I glare at Anna.

"Good guess," I say.

"How much would it take to kill her?"

"About three times the zombie dose."

"What happens if you overdose?"

"You have a heart attack. Don't you want to talk about something else?"

"No, I like this. You're like an encyclopedia of drugs."

"Well. I read a lot. And travel."

"But you don't do drugs yourself."

"I used to."

"And? What happened?"

"I got bored. Look, the best drug in the world—well the best drug in the world is an orgasm—but the second best drug in the world? It's the high you get after a run. Any kind of cardiovascular. That's good enough for me."

"Like fucking?"

"A good enough girl, yeah."

"Like that Columbian hooker?"

"I didn't fuck her."

"What did you do to her?"

"I'd rather not say."

Anna's demeanor changes.

"You never zombied me?"

"No. I promise. I didn't. Anyway it causes long-term memory damage and I wouldn't want to do that to you."

"But you don't mind doing it to Kimmie?"

"Kimmie is a stupid ho. You are not a stupid ho. Do you want me to continue this line of explanation?"

"No. Thank you, by the way."

She pops the tab on her Coke and lets her arms rest on the work table. When she drinks, she owns the room, she owns Kimmie, and she owns a little piece of me.

"I said thank you."

"You're welcome, Anna—don't think of it."

She sips her Coke.

Kimmie is completely aware that Anna and I are standing in the room, and she has no reservation about getting herself off in front of us.

"Honestly I have trouble wrapping my mind around it."

"I know. Me too," I say.

"So this has no recreational value."

"Absolutely none. Columbian mafia uses it. They give it to a guy and three minutes later they say, Hey, dude, why don't we go to your apartment and empty out all your valuables into my truck. So the dude goes and he helps them rob himself. Wakes up eight hours later in an empty apartment with absolutely no memory of what happened. Least interesting application I can think of, honestly."

"Yeah, you would use it to rape people."

"What can I say? Psychological power is more interesting to me than monetary gain."

"If you did use that shit on me, I'd never even know it, would I?"

"No, no—you would know."

"How?"

"Because you'd wake up not remembering what just happened to you. Did that ever happen to you when you were with me?"

"No."

"Then you know. If I used this shit on you, you'd be missing time. Like you'd come to and your last memory would be eight hours ago. Shit like that."

"What about the first Benadryl shot? I lost time then."

"But you remember getting drowsy. With Devil's Breath you wouldn't remember shit. I promise. I never used this shit on you."

Then Kimmie writhed in the gyno chair and I threw away my cotton ball plugs in the biohazard trash can with latex gloves and Anna drank her Coke and Kimmie finally got off and looked at me and Anna looking at her and her whole body was drenched with so much satisfaction I just wanted to keep her in that state and make her cum for an entire month until I cut her pretty head off.

19—Doubt works deep within you like a disease or, even more effectively, like a faith.

I'm on my rolling stool laying my hands all over Kimmie, feeling her in every curve, in every cavern, and Kimmie is laughing, telling me I'm tickling her.

"Is your butt ticklish?"

(Laugh.) "Yes!"

"What about your belly button?"

"Yes! My whole self is ticklish with you!"

"Your whole self, huh?"

"Yup," Kimmie giggles.

I scoot to the edge of the chair to get closer to the dead girl.

"Guess what?" I say.

"What?" she says.

"You are high right now..on a drug called scopolamine..and it'll make you do anything I tell you."

"I know."

"You do?"

"Yeah, you guys have been talking about it. I'm lying right here listening."

"You look like you got your pussy off real good."

"I did."

"So do you feel aware right now?"

"I am aware."

"Yeah that's wild. 'Cause you don't have free will right now."

"I know."

"You do?!"

"Yeah, I can tell."

"So you know that anything I say, you'll do."

"Yeah, it's wild."

I turn to Anna.

"Prob'ly shoulda used a bigger dose."

Then back to Kimmie:

"Does it make you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious at all?"

"No, not at all. I feel like I've known you two forever."

"Does it bother you that you won't remember anything about this conversation?"

"I won't?"

"Nope."

"Yeah. That bothers me a little."

"Don't think about it, then."

"Ok, I won't!"

Kimmie smiles.

"I'm gonna stick my fingers in your pussy now. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

"Oh for sure!"

She moves my hand down to her cunt.

"Why don't you lock up your right hand using your left hand—you see that clamp?"

Kimmie does exactly what I say. Then I lock up her left hand.

I touch her—cock hardens knowing she would never let me do this to her normally—cock hardens knowing that right now I own her body—and I feel inside her, deep, with two fingers.

"You feel good, don't you?"

Kimmie nods.

"You know what would make you feel even better?"

"What?" Kimmie says.

I turn to Anna.

"You wanna give her a shot?"

Anna says, "What kind of shot?"

"Crystal meth. It's in the tool chest, second drawer down on the far left. Get out a plastic bag with crystals in it. Lighter. Spoon. Cotton balls. One of the wide drawers in the bottom row, right side, has clean needles. Get one of those. Use latex gloves."

Kimmie tries to lift her head but the neck clamp prevents it.

"I don't want to do crystal meth."

"Oh yes you do."

"I do?"

"Oh yeah, Kimmie. You'll love it. It's a very pleasant drug and if you've ever had an orgasm on crystal it's like 20 times a normal orgasm. I'm gonna make you cum with a vibrator and it's gonna be one of the most amazing experiences of your life."

"Too bad you won't remember it," Anna says from behind me.

Kimmie looks over in Anna's direction. I can hear Anna fumbling with the syringes.

I rub Kimmie's belly, then lean into her ear.

I whisper. "But you're gonna feel it now, and that's what matters."

I put a finger in her mouth, then slide it down to her clit and give her a circular rub.

She closes her eyes and rubs her lips together.

"I'm glad I met you," she says.

"I'm glad I met you, too—more than you can know," I say.

Anna comes over with a spoonful of melted ice and a fresh syringe removed from its wrapping.

"Is that the first time you've done that?"

"Yes."

"Good job. That's perfect, Anna."

She tries to hand the setup to me.

"No no. This is all you."

I get up from my stool and invite Anna to sit down.

"Anna's going to give you a shot of ice," I say.

"What's ice?" says Kimmie.

"It's the very best crystal meth. You can tell by the color. Shitty crystal is kind of a yellow color. Ice is pure white. It has a different granularity, too—but don't you worry, Kimmie, that there is the best crystal meth there is. I got it off a girlfriend of mine in LA. In a few minutes you're gonna be thanking Anna for giving it to you."

I come back around with the heart monitor.

Anna sees me holding the device.

"I thought we were gonna give her a shot."

I lean over Kimmie's chair and attach the red, white, and blue leads to the dead girl's chest and abdomen. The $3 heart monitor hangs at Kimmie's side.

"So we're gonna give her a super dose and have her hallucinating shit she'll never forget in her entire goddamn life that's worse than her worst nightmares?"

"No, you're gonna give her the dose. And it's not just one super dose. It's timed at certain intervals around the hour..and she'll be fine—I just want to break down her mind a little bit."

"Do we have to break down her mind? Can't we give her a normal dose?"

I look at Anna like she's crazy.

"What's the fun in that?" I say.

Anna says, "Kimmie, are you sure you want this shot?"

"Mmm hmm," Kimmie says, all sexy.

"What's the use in asking her, she's a fucking zombie!! Hey! Hello! You know you're a fucking zombie, right?"

Kimmie put both hands as far below her waist as she could given the wrist clamps and she lifted her pelvis up, pushing her vulva in the air as far as possible.

"I know I am," Kimmie said. Then she whispered, "Give me the shot."

Anna held the spoon and the syringe closer together, then stopped.

She looks at me.

"I'll talk you through it."

So I talked her through it—needle in spoon, filter with cotton, needle in vein (I squeezed Kimmie's arm to pop the vein), suck the syringe out until you see blood to make sure you're in the vein.

"Now drop the plunger."

"Fast or slow."

"She'll enjoy it more if you do it fast."

Anna did it perfectly: fast but smooth, she dropped the plunger and shot that whole dose of crystal into Kimmie's arm.

Anna looked at me and I nodded.

"Now pull the needle out of her arm—straight. You don't want to fuck up her veins."

Anna pulled it out and I was there with a paper towel to wipe up the blood spot.

"Biohazard trashcan," I said, and pressed the foot lever to open its lid.

Anna tossed in the syringe and the cotton ball and I covered it with the bloody paper towel.

We both strip off our surgical gloves and toss them in the can.

"Perfect. Like a fucking pro."

"Did it work?"

"Look at her."

Kimmie is flying, her eyes have tears at their corners—one of the tears runs down her face.

"Yeah. It worked."

Kimmie's hands are caressing her thighs from within the wrist clamps.

"You can take those off so she can touch herself."

Anna double checks with me for approval.

I nod.

"It's a little bolt..right underneath the arm rest. Just pull it out and it'll release the clamp."

Anna kneels on the near side of the chair and figures out the bolt. She releases the clamp. When she's on the far side I say:

"That's all that was keeping you there, all that time."

Anna looks at me sadly and releases the bolt on Kimmie's right hand. She comes back to me with the bolts in her hand and we watch Kimmie's hands go immediately for her nipples.

"I know. Isn't that crazy. It just makes you want to lie there and touch your nipples all day."

"I know, right?" Kimmie says.

I check her pussy. White liquid is flowing out of it.

"Do you mind?" I say.

Anna can see the bulge in my pants.

She heads for the door.

"You can stay."

"Do you mind if I get my cigarettes?"

"The truck is unlocked. Keys are in the ignition. Do whatever you want, Anna."

I'm unzipping my pants.

Anna says: "You trust me with the keys to your truck in the ignition and you're not gonna follow me out to check on me or anything?"

"No offense, Anna, but all I really want to do is fuck this 17 year old in this gorgeous-looking pussy—you're down with that, right, Kimmie?"

"Oh yeah."

"I don't have any kind of hold over you, AM. There's more Coke in the fridge. Get your cigarettes. Come back. Don't come back. I like you a lot so I hope you do come back but you can do whatever you want."

"I just wanna get my cigarettes," Anna says, and leaves the crate, leaves the door open, and I'm just getting my dick inside Kimmie's pussy when I hear the screen door bang closed.

When Anna came back I was almost done—the combination of a tight-as-fuck pussy and knowing this girl was under my complete control—I could basically tell her to cum and she would cum on command—that excited me more than anything.

Anna leaned against the work table and as she watched me ejaculate in this teenage bitch I watched her take the first drag she'd had off a cigarette in over a month—we were both engaging in our chosen pleasure of the moment and it was godlike to look at each other as we each took up our preferred enjoyments.

"You use surgical gloves to wipe up one drop of her blood but you fuck that bitch without a condom?"

"If you were a guy you'd understand."

"I'm a girl and I do understand! You think I can't tell the difference between a condom dick and an actual dick?!"

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you."

Anna rolls her eyes.

When she finishes her cigarette and I sufficiently convince Kimmie that she's perfectly alright with everything that's going on, Anna and I go to work on the dead girl with a meth needle and a phone timer, and we work that little bitch into a hallucinogenic frenzy that will give her images she will never forget, paranoid concepts that will alter her thinking forever, and we push her right to the limit: past screaming, past mumbling, into the realm of silence and gripping the sides of the chair, her eyes tracking the room for figures that were definitely not there.

Anna didn't seem to mind—she seemed fascinated more than anything.

In fact, she did all the shots—I just sat there and watched the process and kept a loose eye on the heart monitor. When we couldn't safely pump her up anymore, Anna and I left the cage—all the lights on—and went into my house.

"Do you want to watch TV or something?" I said.

"Not really. I'm tired," Anna said.

"I'm tired too. There's the bed and there's the couch. I recommend the bed 'cause it's a lot more comfortable."

"Are you sleeping in the bed?"

"Yes, it's my house, it's my bed, I'm sleeping in the bed."

Anna pulls out her cigarettes.

"Can I?" she asks.

"Be my guest."

I leave her standing in the living room, trying to light her cigarette, her hands shaking.

Ten minutes later I hear her undressing and she slips into bed next to me. My back is to her.

After a few seconds she says, "What the fuck??"

"I assume you're referring to the cold metal thing in bed between us."

"Uh..yes..that's what I'm referring to. You sleep with your Glock?"

"Here's the thing, my new friend. We started out our relationship in an unconventional way. You may have feelings about that. You may not be able to get over those feelings. So we're gonna sleep with that thing between us. If you want, kill me at any time. If you decide to kill yourself, do it in the crate. I hate messes. If you kill me, I don't have to deal with the mess, so you can shoot me right here, as I sleep. If you kill yourself, I'll have to deal with the mess, and I don't want a dead body in my house. So do it in the crate, ok?"

Anna doesn't say anything for about an hour. Then, just as I'm drifting off, she says:

"Can I have a shot of the crystal?"

"If you're my partner you have to stay sober. No crystal. No alcohol. Do you do any other drugs?"

"That was the first drug I ever did."

"Well now it's your last. If I catch you shooting that shit I'll kill you on the spot. Ok?"

"Ok. I get it."

"You do?"

"Yeah."

"Ok. Good. You're a good girl, Anna. Do you have the Glock?"

"Yes. It's right here."

"Do you remember the rules?"

"Yes."

"Ok. Goodnight. We need our sleep for tomorrow."

Anna pulls my shoulder so I'm lying on my back. She looks me in the eyes as she speaks.

"But you have your new girl here. Why am I still alive?"

I roll back over.

"Cat's still having fun playing with the lizard," I say, and I put the pillow over my head and fall asleep.

20—The only profitable conversations are with enthusiasts who have ceased being so—with the ex-naïve..Calmed down at last, they have taken, willy-nilly, the decisive step toward knowledge—that impersonal version of disappointment.

We wake at 5:30 to Kimmie screaming.

I throw off the covers and see Anna in her underwear. Anna's eyes are open and looking at me.

"If you want to wash your clothes..laundry's in there."

"What am I gonna wear while I wash them?"

I point to the cabinets opposite my bed.

"Sweatpants. T-shirts."

But Kimmie's screaming is so intense we both go as we are—me in sweats and a t-shirt, Anna in her bra and panties—into the crate.

Kimmie is railing against the clamps and has red-stage bruises on her wrists and ankles. And on her neck.

Anna sits on the rolling stool and puts her hand on Kimmie's forehead. She checks the heart monitor and puts it back down.

"Baby you're ok. Were you hallucinating?"

"I WAAAASSSSSSS BEEEINNGGG RAAAAPEED BYYY A BIGFOOTTTTTTT!!"

I step into the crate and stand next to Anna.

"Pulls at your heartstrings, doesn't it?"

"Yeah. Does it pull at yours?"

"Of course it does."

"Then why are we doing this?"

"I learned to deal with that contradiction long ago. Just because something hurts me doesn't mean I can't do it. Just because something scares me, I can still move forward. You may be new to this concept."

Anna scowls at me intensely.

"Kimmie, do you know why you're naked?"

"No!!"

"The scopolamine has obviously worn off."

Kimmie says: "What the fuck is scopolamine?"

"Don't worry about it, it doesn't concern you."

"You're the guys I met at Betsy's Diner, right? Where the fuck am I? Are you some kind of sickos? You're gonna rape me and kill me right?—I watch TV."

"Actually I have a video I like to play for new residents—it explains the basics. Would you like to watch it now?"

"New residents??"

I hand Anna the remote control.

"I'll show you how to get it started, then you and I can have coffee while she watches."

A minute later, after I showed her where I kept my intro file, Anna pressed play and it started—the same recording I play for all my girls.

Welcome to my crate. You have unluckily found yourself in a shipping container in Pain, South Dakota. What you did before you came to the crate may have varied. But what will happen inside my crate is the same for you as for all who have come before you.

I left the crate and Anna put the remote control down on my workbench and followed me.

We went to the kitchen and I made coffee.

Anna said, "How can you concentrate with that going on?"

"With what going on?"

"That."

Anna pointed.

I realized she meant Kimmie's screaming.

"I just tune it out," I say.

"Did you tune mine out?" Anna asks.

"Yes," I say. "Do you want syrup in your coffee? I have flavored syrups. Check the counter."

Anna checks the counter and sees her options—French vanilla, hazelnut—I have everything.

"Those are all sugar free," I say.

"That means they have artificial sweeteners in them," Anna says. "See? Sucralose. That turns into formaldehyde in your stomach."

"So? Think of all the unnatural chemicals you've already got in your body."

"I'll pass."

We're quiet for a second and the sound of my voice on the crate TV comes through, playing the intro script for Kimmie.

Anna looks at me.

"You're gonna kill her, aren't you."

"I'm not going to be making her coffee in a month, that's for sure."

"Do you like her pussy?"

"You mean do I like her pussy better than yours?"

"I just mean do you like her pussy."

I hold up two mugs for Anna to choose from.

"World's Greatest Dad or I <3 Intercourse?"

"Oh my god you're someone's dad."

"I'm not. I'm not. I just thought it was funny."

"Ok I'll take World's Greatest Dad."

And I pour Anna a cup of my favorite coffee—Illy—truly the best in the world.

Anna takes a sip.

"So I have to help you torture her or else you kill me. Is that the deal?"

"If you like."

"Do I have to sleep with you?"

"You don't have to do anything. Want some breakfast?"

So I made Anna sausage and eggs—nice, big, Italian sausages—not those puny frozen ones—and we sat in my breakfast nook and talked about random things while we listened to Kimmie scream—definitely a screamer—and then together we went in and used the hose to clean up the slave and Anna even washed her hair (in place, with the neck clamp on) and I clipped her toenails, raped her a few times, and Anna insisted we put some color on her nails and she had some in her bag so she colored the dead girl's nails and then I asked Kimmie what her favorite movie was and this stupid little fuck rag said The Lion King so I downloaded The Lion King for $10 and put the motherfucker on repeat so she could watch it all night. The fucking Lion King.

I faced away from Anna in bed and she faced me. She reached out and touched my arm and by reflex I snapped away from her. I didn't mean to offend her but she startled me. During the day she had washed her bra and panties but instead of putting on one of the other outfits she was doubtless traveling with, she wore my boxers and a t-shirt from my drawer. I wanted to touch her, but I knew that doing so would cloud our relationship too much (in my mind). I felt like I could fall in love with her and that is a little fact that would never, ever leave my thoughts and enter Anna's mind. The irony is that my special girl didn't realize she had entered more dangerous territory than the chair—and the crate..and the sex..and the occasional torture—and that me making her coffee and us having breakfast in my kitchen didn't mean that she was any safer than she was when I first laid eyes on her.

I had decided not to kill her. What I told her in that regard was true. She could leave at any time. She could go wherever she wanted. But just because I had loosened the leash around her neck didn't mean I didn't have plans for the girl.

I did have plans for her.

But Anna was special.

And special people deserve special plans.

21—To try curing someone of a "vice," of what is the deepest thing he has, is to attack his very being, and indeed this is how he himself understands it, since he will never forgive you for wanting him to destroy himself in your way and not his.

After breakfast my Anna and I went back to the crate.

We spent the rest of the day in there.

Some things happen, including Kimmie getting raped.

"You've fucked her seven times today. Maybe that pussy needs a rest."

"No. A pussy like this?..doesn't need a rest. I'm giving this pussy a workout. This shit is like a race car..you can run this thing all day and all it needs is a couple of pit stops and the occasional oil change. No I'm going for eight, nine times before I give this pussy a rest."

So I gratified myself on that 17-year-old pussy a few more times and when I came I made sure I came deep in her to get the full sensation.

Kimmie looked at me like an animal you're taming—she just slowly accepted that her pussy was gonna get fucked and there was nothing she could do to change that fact. Every time I put it in, she winced, 'cause she was good and tore up by then, bleeding from the wall of her vagina..but it didn't make any difference to me. She had the kind of pussy I wanted to take a sample of and look at under the microscope to see all those little tendrils and fibers and bulbs of nerves.

If you've never looked at the inside of a pussy under a microscope, I highly recommend it. Each one is different. Each one is beautiful.

And don't Google it—take your own sample and examine that. Give yourself the full experience.

I slide up on that kid—the anti-hippie—and get right in her face.

"You know..you remind me of the first girls I fucked when I was a kid. When nobody knew what they were doing? How many guys you fucked before me. I'm guessing..about..three. Tell me how you lost your virginity or I'll shock your pussy with my wire."

"Your wire?"

"Yeah. It's just an extension cord with the head cut off. I'll stick that up your pussy."

"Haaaaaaaaalllllpppppppp!!!"

"Just tell me how you lost your virginity and I won't shock you with the wire. Just give me a few details," I say, while I'm fucking her naughty underage little cunt.

"Uh..my boyfriend.."

"How long had you been together?"

"About six months?"

"Awww..that's so cute! Here we've only known each other one day and you're already letting me fuck you!"

"You're hurting me."

"Don't worry, your pussy wall will grow back much nicer and stronger, and even tighter than before. The next time we fuck you won't even bleed! So give us some details."

"On what?"

"On how you lost your virginity."

"What do you want to know?"

"Your bed or his?"

"My bed."

"Oooh! Did it have lots of stuffed animals on it that you had to scoot to the side so he could put his dick in you?"

"You're disgusting."

"You're disgusting to me too, in some ways, but I'm just going to have to try to cum in you anyway."

"How am I disgusting to you?"

"Your youth, your ignorance, your inexperience, your judgment, your obnoxious ungrateful attitude, your absolutely horrific excuse for a fashion sense—"

"Ok, Jesus—you're getting what you want, though."

Kimmie looks at Anna.

"Where did you find this guy?"

Anna takes Kimmie's hand.

Kimmie meets Anna's eyes and says, "Thanks for being my friend."

Anna shakes her head.

"I'm not your friend."

But she keeps holding Kimmie's hand until the fucking ends.

After an epic finish in that teenager's blush-ass cunt, Anna says:

"How come you never fucked me that many times?"

"I did. You're just blocking it out."

"Oh. I thought it was because she had a better pussy than me."

I look up while fucking this blonde little dead girl one last time.

"Anna, don't ever doubt your pussy—it's wonderful."

On the eighth or ninth fuck, Kimmie starts crying.

"What're you thinking about that's making you so sad, my poor little dead girl?"

I stop thrusting and brush her hair with my hand.

"It's ok, you can tell me."

She won't make eye contact, but she says, "Home."

"Here's what I want you to do, Kimmie: close your mouth so your teeth are together and your tongue is inside them. Got that?"

She nods.

I punch her in the face as hard as I can. The hit knocks her out instantly.

Anna shrieks. "Why did you do that?!"

"So I can fuck her and pretend she's dead."

Then I put my cock in that beautiful girl's ass and two minutes later there's cum pouring out of it. The whole time I was looking at Kimmie's face, motionless, totally unaware of what was happening to her.

"What do you think of that? That I'm some kind of sicko?"

"Other than worrying about her brain damage, I'm just thinking—"

"That I'm too sick to be around, right? You're done? You're gonna leave?"

"No I was thinking you're a man who knows what he wants."

"You're a cool girl, Anna."

"Yeah, I'm lucky you found me and drugged me and raped me for a month so we could finally get to know each other."

I look at my accomplice.

"You wanna get me some morphine? I wanna totally put her under so I can fuck her like a corpse for the rest of the day."

Anna just turns to the tool chest and gets the supplies.

We morphined that little cum dumpster almost to the point of death just so I could have the feel of her teenage puss shafting me and comforting me for 12 hours straight.

Anna finally pulled me away and we locked up the crate. I put on some mind-control videos for Kimmie to wake to and Anna and I took a shower together.

Watching her undress was more exquisite than crème brûlée.

She had switched panties and was wearing purple ones now, with a matching bra, and as she bent down to reveal herself, the idea that she was staying of her own will, undressing in front of me of her own will, and stepping with me into the shower like a husband and wife—well, it made my dick leak cum like it did the first time I saw her, when she got off the bus.

She washed me—every part, slowly, thoroughly—and when she came to my back she washed my tattoo.

It's in Latin. It says: VINCIT QUI SE VINCIT.

She runs her fingers along it.

"What does this mean?"

"It means..she conquers who conquers herself."

A long pause.

"Is it in the feminine like that?"

"No, I just put it in the feminine to make it apply to you."

"Conquer..control..those concepts are important to you," she says.

And I say, "Turn around."

I take the loofah and wash her, everywhere, feeling her pussy and clitoris with my fingers.

"This is healing up nicely."

Her clitoris—which I mauled with the hammer.

"See?" I say, circling her nipples with my fingers. "Everything heals."

"You certainly put a girl through the paces."

And then she's gasping as I finger her pussy from behind.

She reaches around and grabs my dick, but I say:

"Let's get out of here."

I make her dinner, give her a back rub, and at some point I'm tossing and turning in bed next to this woman in the purple bra and panties who is facing me again—and once again I'm facing away from her.

She says, "What's wrong?"

"I haven't had a woman in my bed in 10 years and all I want to do is cut you up."

"Am I going to wake up with you shocking my pussy with your extension cord?"

"Don't worry. I never torture anyone in my house. But if you want me to shock your pussy, go into the crate and I'll oblige you."

"You want to cut me up?"

"Yeah, in little cubes. I want to take your head off with a hacksaw."

"While I'm still alive?"

"Would you like that?"

"It's making my pussy wet."

"What is?"

"Imagining waking up with you cutting my head off."

"You are a sick little girl, Anna Miller."

"I was raped by my father, remember?"

"I don't think you can blame it all on that."

"No?"

"No. I think there's a personality element."

"As shaped by my early experiences?"

"No, as shaped by your DNA."

I finally get my shoulder into a position where I can sleep on it. What seems like seconds later, I wake up. Anna is crying.

"Anna, what?" I say, not looking at her.

"Why do I love you? After what you did to me?"

I turn over in bed and face her.

"It's actually a very natural reaction."

She sobs.

"It is?"

"Yeah it happens in war all the time. It doesn't mean anything is wrong with you."

" 'Cause it's really weird!"

"I know. I know. Come here. It just means you're human."

And I held her, and comforted her, and it was weird for me, too—because I loved her back.

Sometime past midnight I wake to Anna's voice.

"How did your wife die?"

"How do you know she died? Maybe she left me. Anyway, remember? Day one. I agreed not to ask you what you were running away from and you agreed not to ask about my wife. So what is this, women's intuition? How do you know she died?"

"I just know."

"I didn't kill her."

"I know."

"How do you know she died?"

" 'Cause. You know how there's always one piece of a puzzle missing? I can do that. Like. I can look at a conversation or a person or a relationship and see the missing pieces."

"And?"

"And she's yours."

"So?"

"So how did she die?"

"She got cancer. She loved to drink. Loved to smoke. Thought she had a toothache, went to the dentist—it turned out to be jaw cancer."

"You can die of that?"

"In some cases."

"I'm sorry."

"It's ok. It didn't kill her. It disfigured her. Horribly. And she couldn't get it through her head that I loved her anyway—I didn't care what she looked like. I was in love with this woman's soul—you know what I mean?"

Anna brushes her hand along the top of my arm.

"Anyway she couldn't handle looking like a supernatural ghoul so she shot herself in what was left of her mouth..with my favorite gun..the Glock lying in front of you, and I came home and found her on the kitchen floor and I was like God damn, womanI needed you but she couldn't hear me due to the bullet that stopped all her beautiful little bits of neural functioning from doing their thing."

"Was this in this house?"

"No, this was a long time ago."

And Anna was smart, 'cause she stopped asking me there, and left me to twist myself up so I didn't know if I wanted to kiss her or kill her or make love to her like I loved her..and I settled on doing none of the above. I stayed awake a long time and listened to Anna's breathing and somehow that comforted me.

That night I had sex dreams, and they were with Anna. We were with each other like young lovers or people who turn into husbands and wives—we truly loved each other. And it stayed with me all throughout the next day, because it was the least controlling sex I had had—even in dreams—since my real wife.

Anna was right about those terms: controlling, conquering. They did define me.

These dreams were stuff like a younger Anna on a couch and I was behind her and she pulled me down on top of her and I took her virginity. It was so innocent—looking in each other's eyes while we were fucking for the first time, either of us—and I have to say those were some of the most disturbing dreams I've had in a long time.

22—However far one may have advanced, one still drags along the indignity of beingor of having beenhuman.

Anna woke and came into the crate with a sleepy look on her face.

She was scratching her belly.

I had my black leather belt wrapped around Kimmie's neck in a slipknot. When she was bad I could yank that bitch like a dog.

I was tightening it.

Saying, "Who's your master? Tell me who your fucking master is or I'll pull this belt so tight it kills you."

"You're my master."

"Who?"

"You're my master."

"Who?"

"You!"

"Who!!"

"You, ok!!"

I came in that bitch like a freight train.

Anna props herself up on the workbench, lighting a cigarette.

I slide up on Kimmie, unclamp her hand, and put it on my cock.

I press my Glock against the bottom of her cheekbone.

"Fuck with my cock I'll shoot you."

"Ok."

"Ok?"

"Yeah. What do you want me to do? Get you off or something?"

"No just hold it."

"Are you being sarcastic?"

"No, I like it when a 17 year old holds my cock. It does something for me. It's hard to explain."

Anna says, "I have some ideas along these lines."

And I say, "I didn't bring you here to be my therapist."

Anna says, "Fair enough," and goes back to her cigarette.

"Why don't you get her some food?" I say to Anna.

"What should I get her?"

"What do you want?" I ask Kimmie. "You have any favorite foods?"

"Cheese," Kimmie almost whispers. "And olives."

"Cheese and olives?"

Kimmie nods.

"What kind of cheese?"

"Any kind."

"What kind of olives?"

"Green."

"Cheese and green olives?"

"Yes," she almost asks.

"Is that good together?"

"It's my favorite food."

"Ok, I think we can hook you up. Both of those things are in the fridge," I tell Anna.

Anna leaves the crate.

"Those are bold flavors. I think that says something about your personality."

"I thought you hated me."

"No, I don't hate you. You just have something I want."

Kimmie looks down at her cunt.

"No, not that."

"Then what do you want from me?"

"I just want to own you for a little while."

Anna yells from the kitchen: "Again, I have theories about you that I could share on this."

"Would you shut up and get this girl a snack?!"

"Yes, master."

"Nobody asked for your theories."

"Ok. Jesus."

"Green olives are in the little container at the top of the door. There's a whole drawer full of cheese! I like cheese, too," I tell Kimmie. "There's Havarti with dill—bring that!"

"You have Havarti with dill?" Kimmie asks.

I nod. "Do you like that?"

She nods, but her eyes fill with tears.

"Don't worry, ok—except for treating your body like it's my own personal hobby horse and severely fucking with your head..and killing you—you're gonna have a great time here. Anna is a lot of fun and I think if you get to know me you'll find I'm a person of modest pleasures..which you can provide. So in a way we're friends. Besides, as I was telling Anna, the chances are pretty good your life was going to be shit anyway so really I'm doing you a favor. This whole planet is going down the tubes..probably in your generation. You don't want to be around for that."

Anna comes in with a plate with cut cheese and a little bowl of green olives.

"Uh-uh," I say.

"What?"

"Toothpicks."

There's an array of toothpicks laid out on the plate.

Anna puts the plate on my workbench and takes all the toothpicks back to the kitchen.

"Thank you," I tell her when she comes back.

"No problem, master."

"You are really pushing me, woman."

Anna grins and exhales lungfuls of Parliament smoke.

"Now. Let's all try this delicacy that Kimmie has invented for us."

I take Kimmie's hand off my cock and give her a piece of cheese and an olive. Anna and I arm ourselves with the same ingredients.

"Alright," I say. "Bottoms up!"

We all eat our cheese and green olives. I watch Kimmie's face and can see the slightest remembrance of home. The flavors are so strong for me that I think Kimmie is crazy at first but then they mix in a very pleasing way and I find myself saying:

"Mmm. Kimmie. That is excellent. What a combination of flavors."

"I told you," she says, still chewing hers.

"You were right," I say. "Let's have some more?"

Anna swallows. "Yeah. That's good."

"Kimmie, you want another one?"

"Yeah."

"You want me to rape you while you eat it?"

"Do I want you to?"

"That's right."

"What kind of question is that?"

"Well. After you've been here a while, you'll begin to want the contact."

"You'll long for it," Anna says, another dose of cheese and olive in her mouth.

"I won't long for it," Kimmie says to Anna.

But Anna just says, "You will."

"What are you to him? Are you two partners? Were you his slave?"

But Anna won't talk to her. She just lights another cigarette and helps herself to the snacks.

I take an X-Acto knife down between Kimmie's legs.

"Hey! What are you doing??!!"

She squirms.

"I'm taking a small sample of your vagina to look at under the microscope."

"What?? Get that fucking thing away from me!!"

"This will hurt. It will bleed. But—hey—what can you do about it?"

"Why do you want to look at it under a microscope?!"

"I just think vaginas are beautiful."

"How big a piece are you going to cut?"

"Very small."

"Can I have some anesthesia or something?"

"Uh..no."

"Fuck you!! What the fuck?!"

"Hold still. The more you move, the larger piece I'll have to cut."

Kimmie seems to comprehend that this is really going to happen and she squeezes all her vaginal muscles together.

"It'll work better if you relax."

"Then give me a shot of whiskey or something."

"Kimmie, you're 17, right—you know I can't legally give you alcohol."

She reels.

"YOU CAN'T HOLD ME IN A CRATE AND CUT UP MY VAGINA, EITHER—GIVE ME A SHOT OF ALCOHOL."

"This won't take a second. Relax now."

She takes multiple breaths, trying to relax her vag.

I make a few small cuts and remove a triangular sample of her vaginal wall.

She screams. She screams a lot, actually.

I held the piece of her vagina I removed in front of her face and said, "Say goodbye."

She closed her eyes.

"See how small that is? It'll grow back in days, weeks—and the pleasure you've just given me in having a new sample to look at is infinite compared to the pain I just caused you."

"Are you gonna jerk off when you look at it?"

"No, I just like the aesthetic value. A man's penis doesn't have anything nearly as interesting as corollary, but the microscopic texture of a woman's interior vaginal wall is a landscape of tendrils and bulbs and pockets of nerves—there's really nothing like it, when it comes to textures. Do you like textures?"

"Who are you?"

"That's a very short question with a very long answer, Kimmie—I suppose it would be for all of us. Who are you?" I asked.

But all she could say—in a seething and quite indignant tone—was, "I don't believe you just fucking did that to me."

Anna and I looked at the vagina sample all afternoon under a standard laboratory microscope. One-thousand times magnification was sufficient to show Anna what I had meant about the beauty of the inner vaginal wall.

"Can we do one of me?" she asked.

"You want me to cut up your vagina?"

"I just want to know what mine looks like."

"I don't know if I could do it, at this point, with you."

"Can we look some up on the internet?"

"Anna. Doesn't that seem like kind of a suspect search to you? I mean if you were a cop, wouldn't you be looking for people searching for things like, 'pictures of the inside of a vagina?' "

"I doubt any cop would have the imagination to think of that," she said.

"You may be right..that they wouldn't have the imagination. But don't underestimate cops. The one thing they all have, in my experience..?"

"What?"

"Dedication. That's how they win. They stick with a thing so long that—even though I agree with you, in general, they aren't the smartest people in the world—eventually, numbers fall in place in the combination they're looking for just because they're like some turtle that, once it bites down on something, never lets go. Also—if I can continue on my tirade?"

"Yes, you can continue."

"Well, basically they have the misguided notion that they are right and the criminals are wrong. And even though this is completely delusional, it gives them an incredibly strong motivation to stay dedicated to a case because they believe they're some kind of moral champion over the morally inferior—or the morally incorrect, rather. That delusion makes them all tingly inside and that tingly feeling keeps them going for years and years and years..long enough to finally figure out something that a smart person like you or I would have figured out in one-tenth the time. So they may be stupid, and they may be corrupt, but they're dedicated and they're backed up by delusional morals that keep them biting down on whatever case like that stupid turtle that will simply never let go. So I agree with you that cops lack imagination. And I add to the argument that cops are also stupid. But cops almost universally possess stubbornness, determination, and persistence. And it is persistence—not genius or insight or creativity—that is the most important quality for success."

"Why don't you ever get caught?"

" 'Cause I'm an artiste, dear girl."

I brush Anna's face with my finger and we both lean down to the microscope to continue analyzing Kimmie's pussy.

"Can I at least see?" Kimmie says.

"Shut up," I say.

Kimmie cries. Anna turns halfway to her.

"Ignore her. She just wants attention."

"I don't want attention!"

I stand up and go to Kimmie's feet. I look her up and down.

"Kimmie, what's the hottest thing you've ever had inside your pussy?"

She gets very quiet.

"Do you think I like your pussy so much that I wouldn't burn it so it scabbed up and looked like one of the orcs from The Lord of the Rings?"

"I've never seen The Lord of the Rings."

"Well have you ever seen a hot dog cooked over a fire so much that it had black crackly scales all over it?"

Kimmie's eyes widen and I take that as a yes.

"Anna get that big red rubber dildo and put it in the microwave for about five minutes."

"No. No," Kimmie says.

"And you know what else? I'm gonna download The Lord of the Rings even though I hate that stupid movie so you can see what I'm talking about. I don't want you to die without knowing what an orc looks like."

"Please."

"Please what? Please don't make you watch The Lord of the Rings? I know—that is cruel and unusual. Anna, get that fucker so hot you have to use tongs to take it out of the microwave. Have you seen the dildo I'm talking about?"

Kimmie nods.

"Have you ever fucked a dick that big?"

Kimmie shakes her head.

"Well, this'll be twice the fun, then, won't it?"

When Anna brings the dildo to me it's wrapped in a towel.

It's steaming.

I touch the surface.

"This is almost melting!"

Anna puts her hand on Kimmie's thigh.

"I wanted you to have the full experience," she says.

And I shove the dick into Kimmie's pussy.

That night in bed, Anna and I spooned. She snuggled me off, pulling my cock inside her purple panties and giving me a panty job without my ever going inside her. When she was done she never said a word, but went to sleep almost instantly, and I pulled my cock out of her panties, both of us covered in cum.

Half conscious, she said, "Do you really hate The Lord of the Rings?"

I run my fingers along the tattoo below her neck.

"Not on you," I say.

But it was a lie.

23—Eternity is absence.

I see Anna every day, sitting on my workbench in her underwear, smoking Parliaments, not getting tortured, not getting beat, not getting fucked when she least expects it—I see her getting soft and I know it's my fault for making her life too comfortable.

"You should start meditating. An hour a day."

"I'm not going to meditate an hour a day—I don't care what you say."

"Well ten minutes for every cigarette, then."

"Cigarette smoking is a meditation."

"Have you ever thought of burning Kimmie with those?"

Kimmie looks at me, wide eyed.

Anna says, "Where?"

"Wherever you think it will hurt her the most..in her mind."

"Her nipples?"

"That's what I was thinking."

"No, you two. You two, no," Kimmie said.

But Anna was already going toward the 17 year old's exposed body with her lit Parliament.

I'll leave out the part where Kimmie screams, with each burn, knowing she's losing sensation—permanently—in what she considers some of the most important places on her body.

And I'll leave out how much I enjoyed it.

But I won't leave this out: how much Anna enjoyed it. How Anna just didn't tap the cherry of the cigarette on the girl's nips, she twisted it in like she was putting the cigarette out on those motherfuckers.

And yeah, I enjoyed Kimmie screaming.

And I enjoyed even more looking at her face and trying to imagine what she was thinking.

But seeng Anna burn off a 17 year old's nipples with her cigarettes..and seeing her do it again and again and again until Kimmie's nips were pretty much useless..well it made my cock as hard and mean as a dragon, and it was everything I could do to hold back from raping Kimmie while Anna did it.

But this was Anna's moment.

Maybe the moment when she embraced some conquering and control.

Or maybe she was just bored and wanted to fuck a motherfucker up.

I know that happens to me sometimes.

Anna would get creative with this shit. She'd sit at the foot of the chair and put her toes inside Kimmie's pussy while she smoked her cigarettes. She would rub her toes on the younger girl's clit.

"That feels weird," Kimmie would say.

"I know. I want you to feel weird. Is it weird like right and wrong at the same time?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah. That's what I want you to feel."

And Anna would do this to Kimmie for hours while chain smoking Parliaments.

When I wanted to rape Kimmie I would go and stand beside Anna and she'd get the idea. She'd move aside for as long as it took me to cum and then go back to manipulating our slave with her toes.

One day I was fucking Kimmie in the mouth and Anna was sitting behind me torturing that dead girl's clit.

Anna got very quiet and eventually said:

"I'm afraid we're going to get caught."

I kept on going, trying to cum down Kimmie's throat. I was half-hoping she'd choke to death on the combination of my cock and my cum so I didn't have to go to the trouble of shooting her in her empty little head.

"Don't think that. Don't think, 'I'm afraid we're going to get caught.' You'll make it more likely to happen."

"Who are you, Deepak Chopra?"

I took my cock out of Kimmie's mouth and she made a sound like a snorkel.

I turn to Anna, my ass directly over Kimmie's mouth.

She immediately started licking my asshole because she knew if she didn't, I would shock her pussy with the extension cord.

"You know what they teach Navy SEALs, first day in the program?"

"What do they teach Navy SEALs?"

"Ok this is combat—just a basic combat class. They teach them not to think about possibilities in a fight that they don't want to happen because thinking it makes it more likely to happen. That's not Deepak Chopra. That's the US government. And that's just Navy SEALs—which, believe me, are like the school crossing guards of military commandos—you've just never heard about the rest of them."

"I didn't realize it was all so spiritual."

"It's all spiritual. The whole fucking program is spiritual."

"That's what you were, a Navy SEAL?"

"No."

"Let me guess, you taught Navy SEALs."

"No. I stalked Navy SEALs. Snuck up on them in the night in the middle of the jungle, put a knife to their neck and said, 'Gotcha.' Then we meditated for nine hours."

"I just never imagined Navy SEALs mediating."

"The whole program is meditation. All of life is meditation. Don't go meditating us into prison by imagining it so. Imagine the outcome you want to happen..please..because it does make a difference."

"What else did you do in those programs?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Let's find out."

"Time travel. Meeting with interdimensional beings. Creating ad-hoc portals with our minds—something we've forgotten from our bipedal cousins who we share the planet with to this day—"

Anna laughs.

"I said you wouldn't believe me."

"I just thought..the US military..was about atomic bombs and drones and counterterrorism..shit like that."

"I don't know. I never worked for the US military. But I'm telling you: think positive or you're going to have FBI agents swarming our motherfucking house. Imagine yourself on a beach or something. I'm serious. Whatever your favorite geography is—imagine yourself there. And imagine yourself free. And don't ever, ever think of something that you don't want to appear in front of your face. Because it will."

Then I turned back around, and I stuffed my cock into Kimmie's mouth, and I got it hard, and I fucked that girl's throat until she was trying not to choke to death and when I was done I took it out and she was still choking but this time every time her head spasmed, blobs of my cum came out her nose.

When it was night, and Anna had had her fun putting cigarettes out all over Kimmie, making the girl look like a goddamn leopard, I took the remote control from the workbench and put on one of the mind-control videos I had collected over the years.

"No!" said Kimmie. "It's too weird."

"Do you have bad dreams when I play these?"

"I don't have any dreams."

"Do you ever dream of getting out of here?"

"No."

"Probably for the best."

"What makes that a mind-control video?" Kimmie asks. "How is watching that controlling my mind?"

"Have you ever heard of a confusion induction?" I say.

The video plays in the background but I turn the sound way down.

"No," Kimmie says.

"It's from hypnotism," I say.

"It's probably too complicated for me to understand, right? I'd have to be a Navy SEAL to get it?"

"No, you can understand it."

While I explain, Anna sits on the workbench listening.

"So, a confusion induction is a hypnotic technique where if you confuse someone's conscious mind enough, their conscious mind will shut off, and then you have access to their subconscious mind. To do this, you say phrases or show someone images that kind of make sense but are really nonsensical. When someone is barraged in such a fashion, it causes their conscious mind to give up—give up on trying to understand, give up on trying to control the brain, give up on trying to operate at all. At that point the person's subconscious mind is open to you."

"Is this real?" Kimmie asks.

"This is ancient science," I say. "As real as the cigarette burns on your pretty little nipples. Real as my cock in your puss any time I fucking want it there."

"What does that have to do with the weirdo videos you show me? Or will it mess it up if you explain it to me?"

"Oh no," I laugh. "This works whether you understand it or not."

"So what the fuck are those videos?"

"Don't say fuck," Anna says. "Or I'll burn your clit off with my next cigarette."

"I think she's serious," I say. "I'll try not to cuss, either—we don't want to piss her off. The videos are carefully designed to create associations in your brain which your brain thinks make sense but actually don't—to confuse your conscious mind so it shuts down, remember?"

Kimmie looks at the TV. She scrunches her face.

"Do you understand?"

"No."

"Let's try a verbal example. It may be easier to grasp that way. What if I were to say to you: Kimmie, look at my face. But remember, there is no need for you to make what is surely an unnecessary effort to pay close attention to me. Who am I? This whole process is all about youprimarily your ability to loosen every tight spot in your mind, in your bodyas you listen to me, as you listen to yourself. But you know at any time you can let go of every effort to listen and instead expend the unnecessary energy to scrutinize the truth of what I say happens..or doesn't happen. What you know may seem like one thing but turn out to be another. See? When I say one thing, that cancels out another. I say expend the unnecessary energy but also scrutinize the truth.

"That is a decent example of a verbal confusion induction. One can use this in almost any situation. It's extremely difficult to detect and without fail it causes someone's mind to shut off. The big question is..is this ok, Anna..can I get into some of the bigger issues?"

Anna nods. She lights a cigarette and sits completely quietly, perched on the workbench in a pair of sweats and a bra.

"The bigger question," I say, the ideas exciting my brain, "is in a situation where you're confusing someone—either on purpose or incidentally—with a subject matter they don't understand..like you're teaching them calculus or quantum programming or another concept that's over their head..in this circumstance, does that person's conscious mind shut off somewhat, allowing you access to their subconscious? I would argue that this is simply an example of a well-hidden confusion induction and therefore the answer would have to be yes."

If either Anna or Kimmie had been paying attention to the excitement that lit within me, being able to explain such thrilling concepts even to such a small classroom as we held within that crate, they would have had an easy time guessing my longest-running profession, aside from trapping and destroying young women.

"So why are you trying to brainwash me?"

"This isn't brainwashing, it's mind control."

"Why are you trying to mind control me?"

"Because his MO is control," Anna says. "He prob'ly doesn't care if he mind controls you to eat his shit or chew a stick of gum."

Anna looks straight at me as she speaks.

"He gets off on control, and this is just his little hobby before he executes your hippie ass. If he could mind control you to pick your nose and eat it, he'd prob'ly cum in his fucking sweatpants."

"Is that why you're trying to break into my mind?" Kimmie says.

"Who says I'm trying to break into your mind? Maybe I'm trying to break into Anna's. Maybe I'm trying to break into my own. Maybe I'm not doing this alone—did you ever consider that? Did you ever think that everything I do to you, every day, comes from someone who's giving me orders? Maybe all three of us are being watched, and if I do the wrong thing, I'll get killed. You gotta think outside the box, ladies. Anna asked me how I knew only to carry three milligrams of scopolamine instead of the usual four to eight milligrams when we came to meet you at Betsy's Diner. Anna asked me how I knew you'd be small and I said, 'Good guess.' But how unlikely is that? How unlikely it is that the first day Anna and I left the house, we found you? I had been sitting at Betsy's for a month before Anna came to me. Did you ever consider that someone might have been on that bus, watching you, telling me about you, for three states before you finally got off in Pain?"

"Is that true?"

"I'm not saying it's true—I'm saying did you consider it? You remember in Se7en, when Detective Somerset says, 'If John Doe's head splits open and a UFO should fly out, I want you to have expected it?' Remember that? That's how you should be thinking. That's how you should be thinking."

"You're brainwashing us right now," Anna says. "You've been playing the mind-control video all this time, you spoke a verbal confusion induction with both of us in the crate, and now you're planting all kinds of scary ideas in our heads like you're working with another person and that you're being controlled, too—when in reality only you're doing the controlling. This is mind control right now."

I snap my fingers and point to Anna.

"That's why you are walking free and she is clamped to a fucking gyno chair."

I turn the sound way up on the video and exit the crate.

Anna locks the door with us both on the outside.

Kimmie can be heard saying, "Fuck you, fuck you," and then crying quietly.

All the while in the background the crazy cartoon plays. I knew, in a way that no one else in that house possibly could, that the video Kimmie was watching was no child's toy. It was designed by a small team of some of the most studied and most diabolical psychologists in the world, and even Anna and I, exposed only to its soundtrack, were now the subjects of one of the sickest confusion inductions ever used on humans—the audio alone was opening our deeper minds to suggestions from everything we said to each other, to our own subconscious minds, to Kimmie's crying, to the shape of the house, to the crickets outside rubbing their wings together—everything.

Right then, listening to that mind-control sequence, was the worst time for Anna and I to have a pillow conversation.

But that's exactly what we did.

24—For life is a vicethe greatest one of all.

"I want you to teach me."

This is Anna in bed that night.

"What exactly do you want to learn?"

"To do what you do."

"You just put a cigarette out on a woman's nipples—what exactly do you think I can teach you?"

"You know like stealth stuff, mind control, how to do all the crazy stuff you do."

"Some things, Anna, no one can teach you—they're things you teach yourself."

I feel her turn away from me under the sheets.

"So that's a no."

"No," I say. "It's a yes. I understand your desire. I have the same desire."

"What is our desire?"

"To be the monster in the dark so scary that no monster in the dark can scare us."

"I don't think I could have stated it that eloquently," she says, "but yes, I think—something like that."

"I can teach you what I know—and I will—but know one thing: I can't change your nature. You brought that with you and it was formed long before either of us knew you in the sense that we might know you now."

"Why are you saying this?"

"Because I don't want you to blame me—"

"You don't want me to blame you..for changing my nature?"

We both turn so we're facing each other in bed.

I nod.

Anna says, "I want to tell you something I learned about myself when I was in that chair. I learned I could kill you. I learned I wanted to. I learned I wouldn't feel guilt about it if I did. That last part is something I didn't know about myself before you clamped me in."

"So why haven't you killed me?"

Anna punches me in the shoulder.

"Because," she says, "you're my buddy."

And we left it at that.

She sucked my cock that night, her brown hair tickling me everywhere while cum pumped into her mouth.

She was kneeling over me holding my dick in her hand.

Her head was tilted to the side.

"I don't even know what your name is. Matthew Temple? Matthew Simple?"

"My name is Matthew."

"Your last name isn't Simple or Temple, is it?"

"Let's not go by last names."

Anna puts her head on my stomach.

"I just want to know you."

"Some people it's best to get to know gradually."

"I like you."

"Anna, look at me. You are in some kind of a trance which I'm gonna have to snap you out of. Remember who I am. Remember who you're talking to."

"I'm not in a trance."

"Oh yeah? Who stuck a burning lightbulb up your vagina? Who drugged you and abducted you from a country diner?"

"I don't care. You didn't abduct me. I came willingly."

"That's still abduction."

"How is that abduction?"

"Because I lied to you about the pretext under which you were coming here. Remember? I offered you a job."

"I knew you were lying about the job."

"But did you know the full truth about what was about to happen to you?"

"Obviously not."

"Then it's abduction."

"I feel like we should be on opposite sides of this argument," she says.

"We should be," I say.

"Did you ever have a girl develop a crush on you before?"

"Sure. Lots of times."

"What did you do?"

"Shot them in the heads."

"I'm willing to take that risk."

"Anyway this isn't just a crush," I say. "Is it?"

"Not for me," she says.

"Not for me, either," I say.

And we pull each other close.

We hold each other's heads.

"You don't mind teaching me?"

"I'd love to teach you..buddy."

She rolls over—her back to me.

"You know," she says, "sometimes buddies fuck."

"I'm not exactly ready for that," I say. "But, believe me, when I'm ready, you'll know."

"Mmm," she says. "I like the sound of that."

I think about her lounging around in my sweatpants—how comfortable she's gotten here.

"Life in this house seems to suit you," I say.

She says: "I wanted to escape. I have."

"Escape the chair?"

"No. Escape. Home."

"Oh."

"The confusion induction you said tonight..did you make that up on the spot?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"You build it up from simple atoms. Just think of opposite pairs of concepts and build those into adjacent phrases or sentences."

"I don't know how I would do that."

"Did you ever see Fight Club?"

"Yes."

"Ok, whenever you want to create a confusion induction on the fly, you can prime your brain with this line from Fight Club. Remember the guided meditation?"

"Where he finds his power animal?"

"Yes."

Anna laughs.

"And it's a penguin?"

"Yes. The leader says: 'Imagine your pain as a white ball of healing light.' "

I touch Anna's body as I speak.

" 'It moves over your body, healing you. Keep this going and step forward..through the back door of the room. Where does it lead?' "

Anna says, " 'To your cave.' "

And I say, " 'Step forward into your cave.' "

I take my hands off Anna's body.

She puts them back on.

"Keep touching me."

"Ok. Imagine your pain as a white ball of healing light..pain is healing somehow. You just connect two opposite or contradictory concepts."

"In a sensible way."

"Right. Step forward through the back door of the room. There's no way to step forward through the back door of a room. But you can say that there is. That one statement can be the basis for all your confusion inductions. Think of analogous concepts and statements and you can construct confusion induction essays on the fly."

"Do one on me. Right now."

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because I want to do something else to you."

I open her legs and run my fingers through the inside of her panties, then pull them off. I put my mouth on her clit, her urethra, her vagina, all at the same time, and wash them with my tongue.

She tries to pull my head away.

"You don't have to do that."

"After what you just did to me, I really can't see myself not doing it."

"I want to learn about confusion inductions."

"I want to learn about making you cum—for real—not when you're strapped to a chair."

She fights me with her legs a little bit, but soon relaxes and lets me explore everything about her with my tongue and fingers. It takes 20 minutes, but I make her cum—feel the hot rush in my mouth and her legs tensing. Her hands grip my head.

"Did you think, while I was doing that, that you were being eaten out by a serial torture murderer?"

"Every second," she says, totally sincere.

I gnaw on her labia, licking the rim of her vagina, gently fingering her.

"Do I smell ok?" she asks.

"You smell like peonies."

"I don't even know what peonies smell like."

I put my hand on her hip.

"I'll get you some so you can smell them."

"Can I have my panties back now?"

"No you may not. New rule of the bed. You're not allowed to wear any panties so I can do that to you any time I want."

"Then no sweats for you so I can suck your cock anytime I want."

"Alright. No clothes from the waist down. New rule of the bed."

"I like having rules for the bed," Anna says.

I lick her clit up and down really quick.

"Oh, god—are you gonna do that again?"

"Do you want me to," I say.

Anna just says, "Mmm."

I was used to sleeping with students, but—you know—the smart ones are more fun. And Anna was smart enough. Smart enough to play with. Smart enough to talk with. That's the thing that's really lacking in this world—decent conversation.

Anna and I made each other cum every night. Just thinking of her sleeping next to me with no panties made me hard. She didn't mind that I fucked Kimmie in the daytime—Anna fucked her, too. Anna was a real person with real emotions and real dreams and real thoughts and a real future. Kimmie was just our toy. Anna and I sat at the grown-ups' table—Kimmie we made sit at the kiddies' table.

I loved Anna's body—made her feel special—didn't hold back. I'm not a bad lover. In fact, I'm really not a bad guy in general unless you consider what I do inside the crate.

But the crate is playtime—it's my sandbox. Some kids have a chemistry set. I have a shipping container where I play with dead girls. Unfortunately most girls can't keep their mouths shut so you have to kill them after you play with them. Unless you've ever held someone in your arms and looked into their eyes and had complete control over them and seen them beg you and trust you and fear you all at once, though, you probably don't know shit about my sandbox. I'm trying to explain it in this book as best I can, so you can understand the pleasure of control, the inherent sexuality of being a master over a slave—and I'm not talking in some dumb-ass BDSM role-playing sense. I'm talking about master and slave as in I own your life. As in I'm going to use you and throw you away. I'm talking you eat when I feed you and you cum when I make you and you burn when I want you to burn.

Basically, this is useless. You'll never understand what I'm saying until you've shaved the insulation off an extension cord and touched it to a girl's vag. The look on her face is priceless.

One night, after I did Anna's pussy with two fingers and a tongue and she sucked me off like water hose, I felt the cold metal of a silencer brush along my spine.

"Do we have to sleep with the Glock between us?" Anna said.

And I said, "If you want to move it, move it."

25—It makes no sense to say that death is the goal of life. But what else is there to say?

When Anna came into the crate the next morning, I was licking Kimmie's butthole.

I spread my arms.

"Look what I found!" I say to Anna. "It makes her cry!"

Anna looks at Kimmie's face and the 17 year old is strewn with tears.

I ask Kimmie if she's ever had her asshole licked before.

Kimmie shakes her head.

Her pussy is leaking white liquid.

"What's the matter, those anti-hippie assholes you lived with afraid of licking a little b-hole?"

"I'll make bacon if anyone wants some," Anna says.

"Great!"

"So how much do you want?"

But I'm back to licking the dead girl's b-hole so I don't say anything.

"How crispy?" Anna says.

I can feel her presence. Waiting for an answer.

But I'm busy licking this dead girl's ass.

Every time I touch my tongue to her anus it makes Kimmie cry like she's at a fucking funeral and I'm loving it.

Anna finally leaves the crate.

In a few minutes she brings the greasy bacon pan back in with her and sets it on Kimmie's stomach.

It sizzles.

Kimmie screams and writhes, almost knocking the pan off her body.

"Anna!" I say. "Does that seem safe to you?"

She picks the pan up and there's a red circle on Kimmie's stomach, already pussing up.

Anna sets the pan down on each of Kimmie's breasts and the dead girl screams.

"You people are fucking crazy!!"

I say to Anna: "Can you please go out, put that on some styrofoam plates, and come back in here with safety in mind?"

Anna storms out, smoking a cigarette with no hands, showing off her ass in those crazy purple panties. She wasn't wearing anything else.

I hear her slam the pan down on the stove.

I say to Kimmie, "Can you excuse me a moment?"

I go into the kitchen.

Anna is ashing her cigarette directly on the stove top instead of using the Greenpeace mug as usual.

"If I was guessing, I would guess that you are mad that I am licking that little girl's butthole and you feel somehow jilted by this?"

Anna says, "Why are you licking her butthole? You never licked mine. Is hers cleaner or cuter or something?"

"No, it's not cleaner. It's definitely not any cuter. You were asleep. I was bored. I decided to play with my toy."

"She's our toy."

"I'm sorry. Our toy."

"Well just FYI, you can wake me up to lick my b-hole any time you want."

Anna puts her cigarette out on my stove top.

"I feel like I've become the sex slave around here!" I shout.

Anna says, "Maybe you always were."

I grab her wrist. I turn her so she's facing me.

"Hey! Smart ass! Make us some sausages and do it right this time!"

"What are you gonna do, stick it up her vag?"

"I'LL STICK IT WHEREVER I WANT!!"

Anna rips her hand from my grip. She hits the stove so hard the burner covers come out of their sockets.

"Listen to me! Mr. Whatever Your Name Is. You don't get to yell at me. I'm a free woman, remember?"

"Oh yeah, you're a free woman. Go ahead, leave. That's why you're sucking my dick every night like a lover! I see you leaving right now..you're running away..calling the police..right?..that's what you're jumping to do at every opportunity you get! This is your escape from home—I believe those were the words you used. So go back home..to Lehighton, PA..and work in a sub shop. Delivering fucking cheesesteaks. See how satisfying that is after what you've known and experienced here. And bring me some fucking sausage!!"

I left her right there and she must have smoked 11 cigarettes before she came in with a styrofoam plate of Italian sausages, cut down the middle and in semicircular segments—the way it was easy for Kimmie to eat them.

She set the plate on Kimmie's burns and fed the little girl with a plastic spoon. Every once in a while, Anna would place a bite of sausage on Kimmie's pelvis, right above her pubic hair, for me to eat. She kept her back to me.

I sat with my arms crossed thinking how out of control this situation had become.

My fantasies ran along the lines of taking them both to the rock field, shooting them both in the head, and playing Pokémon Go for the rest of my life.

When Anna finished feeding us, I got out a comfort device. It's a box—a bit smaller than a lunchbox—containing a few simple circuits needed to torture someone with electricity. Standard item, but this one was my favorite. I liked the way it looked—the color, the writing on the outside. This type of circuitry had been used on me many times, and I knew very intimately what it felt like, what effects it had on the mind of someone connected to its clamps and probes. In the evolution of human torture, this was one of the basics: water, fire, a whole bunch of other things, and then..electricity.

I heard Anna resetting the burner covers and then other little sounds that indicated she was wiping down the surface of the stove.

"How're your burns doing?" I asked Kimmie.

"They hurt," she told me.

"I'll take care of 'em in a minute, ok? I want to play with your pussy first. Plus I don't want to undo what Anna did to you so quickly—out of respect, you know?"

Kimmie closed her eyes and cocked her head back, knowing something horrible was coming.

She was right.

I opened my kit and clipped a couple of miniature alligator clamps to her inner labia.

She kept quiet.

Then I turned on the kit.

Her hands immediately turn to fists.

I see her jaw clench.

For the next half an hour or so I play with my sweet little anti-hippie, adjusting the electricity to move her from pleasure to that extreme weirdness you feel when someone's torturing you sexually with electrical devices.

I clamped her clitoris and made her endure a full five minutes of over-voltage on that most sensitive spot.

I inserted a small probe into her vagina and shocked her from within. I admit I have never felt this particular sensation but I have endured similar electrifications of my rectum.

At the beginning of this session, Kimmie was saying things like, "Is that supposed to get me off?"

Then she was saying things like: "Please. I'm begging you please. Please stop."

Then she was straight out screaming. One scream, as loud as she could—then a breath—then another scream.

At this, Anna came in from the kitchen with one eyebrow raised. She comes around to my side of the table and looks at the kit, the wires, all its little innards.

"Where did you get that?" Anna says.

I look at the kit and think of its history with me. This particular kit I had always held onto because it was small and had a rounded, sort of black/green case with Korean writing.

"Uh," I say, "I got it off this guy I was with."

"Were you stationed together?"

"No..he was torturing me."

"How did you get it off him then?"

"I strangled him with my shoelace. Then I took his kit. It's really cool. See this?"

I turn up a knob and Kimmie's teeth chatter together.

"Was he North Korea or South Korea?"

"You know, Anna, politics is a lot more complicated than it seems based on the nightly news."

"So he was South Korean and somehow you were set up as his adversary."

"Maybe he wasn't Korean at all. Maybe he stole the kit off someone who was."

"Save it. I'm sick of your cloak and dagger bullshit."

"Funny. I got sick of it too."

"So you found your true passion."

I press a tiny red button on the kit. This switches from DC to AC power.

Kimmie looks like her brain is pasta.

"That's right, I found my true passion. Please don't make fun of me—I wouldn't make fun of you."

"I'm not," Anna said—and her sincerity was clear.

"How you doing, Kimmie?"

She shakes her head.

"Do you find it funny that you're up there and I'm down here?"

"No," she says tearfully.

"Doesn't the arbitrariness of it strike you, right here?"

I turn up a knob.

She closes her eyes.

"Say, 'I control your clit.' "

Kimmie's head is shaking.

"Say it or I won't turn it off—ever. Say 'I control your clit.' "

"You control my clit."

"Who controls your clit, Kimmie?"

"You do."

"Am I in control of your clit, Kimmie?"

"Yes!"

She's sobbing uncontrollably now.

"Can I do whatever I want with it?"

"Yes!"

"Say it in a full sentence!"

"You can do whatever you want with it," she whimpers.

"Now who controls your vag?"

"You do!!"

"Ok," Anna says, and she presses the little red button in the kit.

Kimmie relaxes.

I realize I'm sweating, standing up, yelling at this little girl.

Anna turns down the knobs on the torture kit and closes the lid. She hands it to me.

I put it back under the workbench in the proper spot.

I look up at Anna, standing next to me, and before I ever get to her eyes I know what it'll be like—it's like looking in a mirror.

I bring over some sprigs of aloe and a cool stream of water from the overhead spray nozzle to treat Kimmie's burns.

"I thought it was butter or margarine to treat burns," Anna says.

"No. Margarine traps the heat in. It's cool water and aloe for almost any problem of the skin."

"Don't tell me you were an EMT, too."

"No, but..I've had to deal with lots of burns."

"Like in the jungles..in South America and shit?"

"No..like here..when I go crazy like you just did."

Over lunch, I ask Anna:

"Why did you do that to her?"

"What? The second-degree-burn-skillet thing?"

I look at her skeptically.

"Yes, that."

Anna says, "I thought she was our toy."

"She is—you can do anything you want to her. I'm asking what is going on with you that you felt the need to do that."

"You're in there electrocuting her pussy with your Korean war box! Don't give me a hard time over some second-degree burns!"

"Ok. I won't. I just wanted to check in with you."

"I don't need to be checked on!"

"I'm not checking on you—I'm checking in with you."

"What's the difference."

"Respect."

I leave the kitchen.

When I come back, Anna is stabbing the second half of what used to be a perfectly formed Reuben sandwich.

She looks up at me and there's something a bit vacant in my buddy's eyes.

"I'm not worried about Kimmie," I say. "You can cut that bitch up and cook her on the grill as far as I'm concerned. I'm asking about you. 'Cause that was a little out of character for you. Unfortunately we gotta be each other's therapist and pharmacist and every other goddamn thing in this little house. I know it gets claustrophobic," I say on my way out of the kitchen.

But I turn and stop.

"I'm sorry," I say. "I didn't mean to get in your business."

I stand in the doorway with my back to my friend.

I shake my head. This is why you always follow the procedure and why you never break the rules.

Anna's hand grips my arm.

She's behind me and I can feel her breasts and the warmth of her body, all up and down us both.

She speaks right beside my head, right into my ear.

"No," she says, and her voice gives me tingles. "It's ok. I need you to watch me. You obviously know this but when I woke up and saw you licking that bitch's asshole I got jealous. I can admit that to you. I was jealous. But you give me everything..well not everything..but almost everything every single night. Maybe you could bring yourself to get over your fear of being close to me and cock-fuck me sometime. 'Cause I'm the kind of girl that if she doesn't get cock every day or two..well it's like you said back there..I go crazy."

I cock-fucked her that night.

She had me tell her about what it was like for me, fucking her when she was clamped to the chair. I told her every detail—and that got us both right off.

"I was like, I own this little girl."

"You thought of me as a little girl?"

"You are a little girl to me."

Anna moaned and gripped her pussy around my cock.

I came in her three times that night—once in each hole—just to show I loved her.

Then I turned her on her stomach and spread her legs.

And I licked that woman's butthole for an hour.

By the time I was done, her pillow was wet with tears.

26—Man is fulfilled only when he ceases to be man.

In the morning, I walk in on Anna speaking to Kimmie in a weird way. Her throaty whisper is aimed at Kimmie's ear and I can't hear what she's saying.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm confusion inducting her into believing that she's going to have a peaceful death, and not resist."

"That's nice."

I lean in to Kimmie.

"While you're at it, why don't you confusion induct her to believe that she's a worthless cunt. You know the only value you have to the world is your pussy, right? Is this going into her subconscious?"

"Please," Anna says. "I'm trying to do something here."

"Sorry," I say. "I'll make breakfast. Good job doing a confusion induction. That's..awesome."

"Thanks, teach."

I shake my head as I walk away.

I have morning wood and this is normally the part where I would rape Kimmie but I can't bring myself to interrupt Anna's process—confusion inducting the girl to embrace her own death.

How come I never thought of that?

After breakfast I end up jerking off to video of me shooting a five year old in the head. I shot cum all over Anna's side of the bed, leaving it there for her to find, like an animal marking its territory.

I wake to the sound of a drill, then Anna coming into the bedroom almost in tears.

"I think I hurt Kimmie."

"Are you fucking her with a drill?"

Anna nods.

"Then wasn't your intention to hurt her?"

Anna says, "I think I hurt her too much."

I pull Anna down to the bed and bite her lower lip.

"Make her cum. Orgasm increases pain threshold in women."

"It does?"

I nod, looking at my beautiful girl.

"What about men?"

"Well, for some reason, when people do studies on pain threshold and orgasm, they always do them on women."

Anna bites my lip.

"Fucking perverts."

She leaves, and I lie there listening to one girl using the flat-head vibrator on another, licking the vibrator's surface to get it wet, and I can hear the squishing sounds of somebody's finger in somebody's pussy.

I go into the crate.

The finger doing the fucking is Anna's and the pussy it's fucking is also Anna's.

Anna makes Kimmie cum again, and again, and again.

She holds the vibrator to Kimmie's vulva and rubs it slowly up and down, that same motion over and over.

And while she does this, she has a finger down her own panties, and she leans back and fucks herself until she cums.

I whip my dick out and masturbate to the sight of this.

Anna looks at me, surprised.

I say, "We're all friends here, right?"

Anna's finger is moving so fast, fucking herself faster than I ever could with my cock.

I'm the last to cum.

I grab the spray nozzle from above Kimmie's chair and wash my ejaculate toward the edge of the crate.

"Anna. Can you step into my office?"

"I thought this was your office."

"Ok, can you step outside my office?"

We go into the bedroom and sit cross-legged facing each other and she sits right on my cum spot without a word and we both reach across and touch each other's genitals while we talk. That's a classic couples therapy thing, by the way—it's hard to argue with someone while you're touching their genitals and they're touching yours. Unfortunately, in practice, people are too squeamish to try this so they just keep on arguing and getting divorced and blowing each other's heads off with shotguns and things like that.

But Anna and I touch each other while we talk.

"I have to move soon," I say. "We can't be killing here forever."

"But how long have you lived here?" Anna says. "Why leave now?"

"Do you know what missing white girl syndrome is?"

"No."

"Well, it's catching up with us, given my preferences. So enjoy Kimmie, 'cause we might have to wrap up this little dog and pony show and move to like Uruguay or something."

"I want you to stop."

"I can't."

"Ok, well, I want to come with you anyway."

"You want to come with me anyway?"

"Yes. Is that so hard to believe?"

"No, it's great. Come."

"You're not gonna try to talk me out of it?"

"No. I want you with me. I want the same thing as you."

"Good. Now fuck my ass. I want you to cum in my ass, ok?"

"Ok."

And Anna lies face down in the middle of the bed.

I must have fallen asleep after I came (typical) because when I woke up Anna was asleep beside me, naked, and Kimmie was talking to us from the crate—her volume was such that it was clear she was speaking so Anna and I could hear her.

I went in there.

Kimmie was giving us her résumé.

"I do yoga. I used to play soccer when I was a kid—I was goalie. I can ice skate. I have a dog named Fluffy."

"Thank you! You can stop with the résumé. I know what you're trying to do. Where did you learn that technique?"

"The Silence of the Lambs."

"Oh, yeah," I say. "If he sees Catherine as a person and not just an object—"

Kimmie says, "—it's harder to tear her up."

"Right. Well that's not going to work. We're still going to kill you."

"Oh fuck me. Fuck me."

Kimmie shakes her head.

"You have a dog named Fluffy?"

"Yeah."

"That's a stupid name for a dog. Here's a résumé in reverse: You are a below-average intelligence, fashion-obsessed, faux-hippie bitch with an ugly pussy who doesn't know how to fuck worth shit. You're not supposed to just lie there. You're supposed to make it interesting—even if you are my slave. I barely enjoy fucking you and do you know how hard it is to make me barely enjoy fucking a 17-year-old pussy? It's pretty fucking hard. But you are dumb enough to make it possible. Instead of telling me about your dog, why don't you tell me what you're doing to make the world a better place? Do you volunteer anywhere? Teach math to the developmentally disabled? Feed the homeless? Have you ever even given a sandwich or a bagel to someone sleeping on a sidewalk? Or do you just walk by? I bet you have rich parents, don't you?"

"What do you mean by rich?"

"That's a yes."

"What does me having rich parents have to do with anything?"

"It just makes me hate you more. You must be familiar with that concept—the middle class hating the rich?"

"How do you know I'm rich?"

" 'Cause you were wearing Fendi sunglasses when we picked you up. Sari pants, hemp sandals, and Fendi sunglasses. That's a rich girl trying to hide but you prob'ly don't even realize not everyone wears $500 prescription sunglasses. That would never even cross your mind, would it."

Kimmie says nothing.

"I know, it's ok. It's who you are, it's where you're from—it just happens to disgust me. So you wanna tell me why I shouldn't kill you now? Tell me about Fluffy? Did you mention you're an ice skater?"

Kimmie nods.

I yell, "Anna, can you ice skate?"

Anna yells back, sleepily, "Yes."

"So can I," I say. "Look at that. What other unique traits do you have to offer up? Are you an artist? Do you play an instrument? Do you think I care the answer to any of these questions?"

Kimmie shakes her head.

"That's right: no."

"What if we work out a ransom-type situation?"

"No chance. A) There's no way to collect a ransom without revealing yourself. B) I don't care about money. C) I don't need the money—I have money, bitch! That I earned—I wasn't born with it like you. And D) Refer to C, B, and A!"

Kimmie turns her head to the side—the only refuge she can get from me.

"When you die, your ugly pussy is gonna die with you."

A few tears stream out of the dead girl's eyes.

"When you die, your ugly face is gonna die with you."

She closes her eyes, trying to block the tears.

"When you die, your ugly, simple little soul is gonna die with you."

She blurts out a sob, then cries full on, but without making a sound.

"And somewhere in a yard in Eugene, a dog named Fluffy is going to be running around, happy as a fucking helium balloon, having no idea you're dead, and he's never even going to mourn you. He'll just forget about you and go on being a dog."

I realize Anna is standing in the doorway to the crate, holding onto the corrugated metal with both hands, looking at the situation. She makes a come here motion with her finger and I realize she isn't judging me, she isn't mad at me—she's trying to save me.

I should have been hanging out with my girlfriend—cumming in her ass and whatnot—but instead I sat in the crate late into the night with Kimmie.

Kimmie asks me how many people I've killed.

"One-hundred? Five-hundred?"

"A serial killer with 500 victims? It's only happened a handful of times in human history—and they were all either doctors or nurses. Anyway they weren't—and I'm not—a serial killer. Serial killers have a cool-down period. They kill out of compulsion to satisfy a desire. Killing satisfies the desire. Then they stop killing while the desire remains satisfied. Then the desire returns. Then they kill again."

"So what are you?"

"I don't know that there's a name for it, but I would call those doctors and nurses who just started killing patients one day and after that never missed a day until they were caught or died—and me—I would call us process killers. A serial killer's MO isn't killing people..it's satisfying the desire—whatever that is. Like Edmund Kemper—have you heard of him?"

"Of course. I watch Investigation Discovery."

"Of course you do. Who did Kemper kill last?"

"His mother's friend."

"And next to last?"

"His mother."

"Right. What was his relationship like with his mother?"

"I don't remember."

"They didn't get along. At all. She was an alcoholic. She critiqued him constantly—in her eyes, he couldn't do anything right. She made him live in the basement from the time he was 10 because she thought he might hurt his sisters if he was allowed near them. After he killed his mother (and her friend) he turned himself in. That tells me his desire was satisfied, and all those girls he killed first we're misdirected anger at his mother. None of those girls was ever going to satisfy his desire because his desire was to get back at his mother. One he got back at his mother—boom!—no more killing. He scratched his itch. But those doctors and nurses who killed hundreds and hundreds of people—and look, I'm no criminologist, this is just my theory—I don't think they had an itch. They didn't start out with a problem which murder attempted to fix. They murdered first—probably by accident—and found that they enjoyed the process. (I'm using the word enjoy loosely here.) But they began to enjoy or perhaps just become familiar with the process of killing."

Kimmie is rapt.

"Here's a question for you," I say. "Which comes first? Planning or liking?"

"I don't get it."

"Do you first make a plan to do something which you've never done before or do you like something first and then plan to do it?"

"I guess..you like something and then you do it."

"See I would argue the opposite. The only way to know if you like something is to do it—without first knowing how it will strike you."

"Ok, that makes sense."

"See, you can plan without liking but you can't like without having first executed a plan. You can plan to try a new flavor of ice cream without liking or disliking being part of the plan. But you can't like a certain kind of ice cream without having planned, at some point in the past, to try it."

"What does this have to do with process killers? You lost me somewhere back there."

"All I'm saying is I think this theory of planning and liking supports the theory that process killers execute their first killing through being in a circumstance where that killing would happen naturally—"

"That's the plan."

"—Yes. And by executing that plan they discover they like the result of killing or something about the process itself and since there's no itch to scratch, we keep going and going and going with no cool-off period. We're not trying to solve a problem. So the killing never ends. We're obsessed with the process. And that's dangerous. It's like being in it for the journey, not the destination—if you've ever heard that paradigm."

"Yeah, in Sunday school."

I laugh.

"Do you believe in God?" I ask.

"Yes," Kimmie says.

"So? Are you in it for the journey..or the destination?"

"We're supposed to be in it for both."

"Is that what your Sunday school teacher told you?"

Kimmie nods.

"I guess it doesn't matter," I say.

"Why doesn't it matter?"

"Well, I mean, if you're in it for the journey, your journey's almost over. And if you're in it for the destination..then..you're almost there."

Kimmie lies there quiet a long time, her scarred, naked body stretched out, open to anything I wanted to do to it.

She finally speaks, and what she says is:

"Do you really think my pussy is ugly?"

"Look me in the face."

She does.

"In a few days I'm gonna shoot you in the head with a Glock. It's not gonna matter how pretty your pussy is then."

She looks at me without blinking.

"Will you please give me a straight answer to something?"

"Sure."

"How many girls."

I think about bullshitting her but I decide she deserves her straight answer.

"A thousand as part of my work. But they were rush jobs, batch jobs, so I don't really count them. Just a thousand tiny little learning experiences, one a day, on average, over a period of four years. Since then, two-hundred fifty, that I've been able to take my time with."

"Take your time being a month."

"Give or take a few weeks, yes. I hope I can do another hundred before I retire."

"And you'd retire because you got bored of doing this..or?"

"Because my physical strength would wane, and..65 is the typical retirement age, isn't it? After that I would move into a 'living community for active seniors,' go fishing, play chess, catch up on my reading..stuff like that."

"Do you believe you'll be judged for what you do?"

"No. But if I'm wrong I'm'onna have a lot of 'splainin' to do!"

I smile but Kimmie does not smile back.

When I slip into bed that night Anna's back is to me. I feel I need to apologize for ignoring her.

"You probably wonder what I'm doing in there so much lately."

"Oh I know what you're doing."

"What is that?"

"Saying goodbye."

27—We are fulfilled only when we aspire to nothing, when we are impregnated by that nothing to the point of intoxication.

We wake the next morning to Kimmie begging for food.

"I haven't eaten in days!"

"That's because I don't want anything in your gastrointestinal system when I shoot you 'cause you might shit yourself and I wouldn't want you to be embarrassed while you're dead."

"Is that true?" Anna says.

"No," I say. "I just haven't had time to go to the store."

Miss Miller laughs.

"Can you feed her?" I ask.

"We're out of almost everything."

"What aren't we out of."

"Peanuts."

"Would you please feed her some peanuts?"

Kimmie hears this from the other room.

"I'm tired of fucking peanuts!"

"Well. Beggars can't be choosers."

"I'm not a beggar—I'm a hostage!"

"They always get an attitude like this after a certain amount of time," I say to Anna.

"You want me to go to the store?"

"No! We can't be seen around town right now. After we do her we're—"

"Getting on a plane?"

"—Fuck no. You think we're going anywhere near an airport?"

"We're driving."

"Yeah."

"To Uruguay."

"We're gonna have to go soon. The rock field is getting full."

"We're driving to Uruguay?"

"Damn right."

"You're not kidding, are you."

"I am not kidding."

"What will we do for money?"

"I have money."

"How do you have money? All you do is sit around your house and look at girls' vaginas under a microscope!"

"Well. I used to execute contracts."

"Execute?"

"It's really best not to ask questions, Anna."

Anna scowls at me.

"Do you want details?"

"No no no no no no no. I don't want any details on contracts you used to execute. I just want to know we're taken care of."

"We're taken care of."

"Good."

She kisses me on the cheek.

Then she goes to the crate to check on Kimmie.

"Did you get her peanuts?"

"Yeah."

"Is she happy?"

"Yeah. She's real happy. She and George Washington Carver are having a picnic in there. He's explaining his three-hundred fifty uses for peanuts and every time he does one she flashes her pussy as a sign of appreciation."

"Jesus, you're jaded."

"Are we really going to Uruguay?"

"I'd like to."

"Ok, well I'd like to help. And I don't mean with the driving. I wanna be equal partners in what we do. With the girls."

"Equal partners all the way to the end?"

"Yeah. All the way to the end."

"Are you ready for that?"

"It doesn't even scare me. Why is that?"

"Do you want my professional opinion?"

"I'd like your professorial opinion, if you have one."

Anna's eyes flash.

"It's because..there are things much scarier than serial killers and torture murderers and so forth—all those things are natural to humans..they're part of human nature. There are things..events..on this planet far scarier than you and I."

"Alien abductions?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because you know all about them. They don't challenge your imagination. Think of the thing that challenges your imagination the most..and there..you will find the scariest thing there is."

28—It is not normal to be alive, since the living being as such exists and is real only when threatened. Death in short is no more than the cessation of an anomaly.

During the day, I mostly read. I looked at maps of South America. Anna mostly played with the drill. Once I saw her put a one-inch bit onto it and stick it up Kimmie's ass. She pulled the trigger for only half a second. Then she looked up at me, delighted, and said, "Oh!"

One night, Anna asked if anyone had ever tried to mind control me.

I turn over in bed.

"Tell you a story. And in telling this story I'm going to piss off some people."

"Who?"

"People who are monitoring this conversation."

"Who's monitoring the conversation?"

"All conversations are monitored on this planet."

"You're sounding a little X-Files for me."

"Well. You can call it X-Files or you can call it old-school spy tech, but every conversation on this planet is monitored, including this one, and when I tell you this story—I'm gonna tell you the story—I'm just saying I'm gonna piss some people off."

"Wait. If every conversation is monitored, then don't these people know about you abducting little girls?"

"Oh. They don't care about that sort of thing. And it's abducting, torturing, and killing young women and girls. Give a man his due."

"Sorry. Guess I forgot to read the fine print on your website."

"So you asked if I ever got mind controlled."

"Yes," she says.

"Yes," I say. "One day a fucking government helicopter picks me up. It's got six meatheads, pilot, plus me."

"Where did they pick you up?"

"Can't tell you that."

"Why not?"

"Because that will really piss off the people who are listening to this conversation. I mean there's ways to do things and there's ways not to, you know? So anyway, these brick boys are trying to scare me by sitting there outnumbering me with tac rifles—horrible, horrible weapons—people killers—and I'm playing around with them telling them jokes I remember reading off Laffy Taffy wrappers when I was a kid. Stupid, stupid jokes—I mean the dumbest puns you can imagine. How do you communicate with a fish?You drop it a line. What is a parasite?Something you see in Paris! So I'm cracking my ass off and these guys are sitting there like rocks on a log—I mean it's in their job description not to smile.

"And they're like, 'If you don't shut up, we're gonna kill you.'

"And I'm like, 'Yeah right. You pick me up in a helicopter with six guys to make sure I don't get away. You have orders not to kill me and don't think for a second I don't know it. I could spit in your face and tell you how loose your wife's post-childbirth pussy is and all you would do is protect me. Your orders are to take me someplace to talk to somebody with an actual job title and an actual name—even if it is a fake actual name. If your orders were to kill me, they would have sent one guy and there wouldn't have been a fucking helicopter. I was born on a Thursday but it wasn't yesterday.'

" 'You and I are not adversaries,' I tell these thick-neck motherfuckers.

"And they're like, 'Yes we are.'

"And I'm like, 'That may be the way you see it, but trust me, we're not.'

"And they're like, 'You're our prisoner.'

"And I'm like, 'You don't even know who I am. What I am to you is above your fucking pay grade.'

"So they bag my head, I keep telling jokes—mostly to entertain myself—and they take me to a room and play this tape and it's a bunch of cartoons mixed forward and backward and quick cuts of images that didn't make any sense and a modified classical score and I was like, 'Look, if you want to break into my mind, I can give you something that'll work a lot better than this.' That gets their attention. So I tell them the name of a movie that I only watched once—when I was coming down off crystal meth—that really got under my skin..so much so I was afraid to ever watch it again because I didn't want to re-invite those associations back into my head."

"What's the name of the movie?" Anna says.

"I'd rather not say."

"To protect yourself from whoever's listening?"

"No. To protect myself from you. No offense but you're a sick bitch. Does that offend you?"

"I take it as the highest compliment."

"Further proof that you're a sick, sick puppy."

"Would you like me if I wasn't?"

"Hmm..doubtful. Anyway, I tell these idiots the name of the movie but then I inform them it would be a waste of their time.

"They're like, 'Why?'

"And I'm like, 'I'm already crazy. The natural content of my mind is weirder and scarier than anything your PhD psychologists can remix from Saturday morning cartoons..weirder and scarier than anything in that movie I just told you about..I've already walked through hell..so even if you produce actual demons from hell (which they had the technology to do), it's not going to help you break into my mind. Besides, I said, I'm not trying to lock you out. You want inside my mind, have at it. My mind is an open book. Have you read my book? It's in the library. It's in the bookstore. It contains most of the interesting contents of my mind already. So if you want to know what I think, all you have to do is start at page one..and read through page four-hundred and fifty-one. Then read backwards..from page four-hundred and fifty-one..to page one—'

"Stop talking!"

"There are letters on each page which you will find entrancing as they are perfect in every aesthetic. The font was chosen a decade ago knowing that you would invite me into this room with you to have this little talk which I am enjoying greatly. Just tell me what you want to know. I'm not bound by the same secrecy agreements as you—I can tell you anything I want. You brought a tank to break into a candy store. All that's in here is purples and greens and blues and—oh, look!—here's the opposite of green and the opposite of blue—"

"Shut up!!"

"Did you know girls pee standing up in Japan?—Lot of the world, actually. Right at urinals, just like us boys."

"Somebody get a piece of tape to put over his mouth!"

"It's funny when you see them spreading those hairy Japanese labia with Baphomet fingers and being the educated men you aren't, you know Baphomet has those long purple fingernails with crisscross patterns and a fang on the end of each one. Then the girls' dicks reach around from inside their pussies and go inside their own asses to piss..I never knew that about Japanese girls before I went there. Have you ever been? Every Japanese girl has two dicks, one for your mother and one for your father. Japanese girls.."—I say this very slowly—"fucking your father..in his mouth..with their left dick." Still slowly. "Japanese girls..fucking your mother..in her wrinkly dead asshole with their right dick. Did you know who Baphomet was before I mentioned him? 'Cause that's your mother, too."

Then the guy with the title and the name comes in and I speak immediately to him, before he can say a word. I look in his light brown eyes and I say: "When I get you alone I'm going to do a little body modification on you where I split your penis down the middle—all the way through—and re-route your urethra so you piss out of the base of your scrotum. 'Course, you'll never again be able to fuck that secretary of yours out there so I guess I'll just have to take her to Uganda and have a spiny bush viper eat her pussy out. I know he'll do a lot better job than you're doing—thank you for that idea 'cause I got it right out of your mind you wannabe Jedi. Have you ever seen a picture of a spiny bush viper? Because with what I have in mind for your girl, you really should. That greedy African snake burrowing up her red-headed little snatch will solve another problem you subconsciously invited me here to deal with, though."

"What's that?"

"The inherent risk of a security man fucking his secretary—you open yourself up to that shit at this level??—you don't know who the fuck she is."

"Wait wait wait. Why do you think I'm fucking her?"

"Because your dick pumped out the minute I said secretary."

He looks down at his dick.

"Gotcha," I said. "Just one heartbeat—that's all I need. What really sucks, though.."

"What's that?"

"You wanna have her killed but you can't, can you? See, when I'm done with my women I make sure they're never gonna call me for make-up sex."

"Do you realize what you just said could end my career?"

"Forget your career. That shit could get you disappeared, my friend. And it's not what I said—it's what you said..or what you did. Have you ever eaten bush viper?—They're excellent grilled. I can have one sent over since you're so interested. It's quite a tasty rabbit as caterpillars go."

"Did they ever find tape to put over your mouth?"

"No, they were incredibly disorganized."

"What happened next?"

"I told them that if you look into the mirrors in Alice in Wonderland, you see alternate universes, and by that time they pretty much had the helicopter fired up and the guys with the big guns ready to take me back home to where they found me."

"Did they ever bother you after that?"

"Oh, they didn't care. We worked together for years. That was their idea of a job interview. I built some specialty shit for them—mind-control shit—shit you could use to mind control a ladybug."

"Tell me you're joking."

"No, you could actually mind control a ladybug."

Anna says, "That's not right."

"Of course I'm joking," I say. "Of course I'm joking."

Anna rolls over and I know she's thinking about that ladybug.

"You wanna hear another Laffy Taffy joke?"

"Sure," she says dryly.

"What did one eye say to the other?"

"What?"

"Between me and you something smells."

"Jesus Christ," Anna says. "Go to bed."

"What did the egg say to the frying pan?You crack me up!"

I bust out laughing.

"Oh. My. God," Anna says. "I don't love you anymore."

"Did you ever?" I say.

Complete silence.

Then she says, "I guess the moral of this story is if someone tries to do something crazy to you..be crazier than them."

"Close. The moral of the story is memorize a bunch of Laffy Taffy jokes 'cause no one can stand them. Hey Ann."

"Mmm."

"Promise me something. If anybody ever tries to fuck with you..fuck them harder."

We're quiet for a while and then she says:

"Do confusion inductions really work?"

"Like straight-up magic," I say.

"I'm sick of them."

"Then put them down. Set them aside. Don't tax yourself with things you don't want to think about."

"Yeah but with a confusion induction, is it really as easy as putting it down? It seems like a concept that has a life of its own, you know what I mean."

"I know what you mean."

"Am I right?"

"Yes."

"Fuck," she says.

"Hold on, hold on. You can put it down. You can set it aside. But there's a caveat."

"I'm sure it's something diabolical."

"You don't have to anthropomorphize it..if you don't want. You don't have to think of it as diabolical. You can think of it as just the way it is."

"How is it?"

"It's like this. You're a smart girl."

"Remind me to choke your cock in my mouth in a minute."

"Ok, I'll definitely remind you of that. You're a smart girl—"

"I'm not choking it twice."

"May I please continue? You're a smart girl—"

"I'm not choking it three times!"

"Would you shut the fuck up! You're a smart girl. And being smart creates a confusion induction of its own."

"It does?"

"Smart people question their reality—they question what they know. It's wise to be confused, in a way. Average people don't question their reality, so they're more certain, less confused—they think they know things that they don't really know but at least their conscious mind isn't open to allow access to the deep. But hear what I just said: their conscious mind isn't open. That's no way to live. So yeah, being smart, having an open mind, is by definition being a little bit confused. Or a lot confused, in the case of—say—a schizophrenic..someone with a very open mind."

"Let's have no more talk of confusion inductions."

Anna slides down the bed.

"Or."

She puts my cock in her mouth.

"Confusion in general."

She chokes my cock with her fist—a tight grip.

"I've had enough of control and confusion. All I want is your crazy/brilliant cum inside my mouth."

And she works at it. And she works. And like most people who work long enough and hard enough at what they want—she gets it.

29—We live in the false as long as we have not suffered. But when we begin to suffer, we enter the truth only to regret the false.

I've got squid video on the monitor behind me. I'm forcing Kimmie to touch her pussy, to slide two fingers inside herself like an octopus. Her wetness is all over her hand—that's why I put on the squid video. Kimmie's crying, but doing what I'm saying, and I'm telling her:

"Good girl. Who's a good girl for sticking her fingers up her pussy. You look like an octopus with two fingers up that slippery no-hair pussy and I like that. I like to think of putting my dick inside you just like you put those two fingers inside you..go ahead..slide 'em on in."

She slides 'em in and I'm just enjoying thinking of her as a sea creature.

Anna leans on the door of the crate.

"How's it going, octopus pussy?"

"Great. We're playing and Kimmie's the squid."

"I think part of you never grew up," Anna says.

"What, the part that likes to play with octopus cunt?"

"No, but it is the part of you that likes to play..somehow."

"Like I never learned the difference between serious and play?"

"Yeah. That's it. How did you guess?"

"That's no guess. I psychoanalyze myself, baby."

"Well, you want some coffee?"

"It's unsafe. I'll get some in a minute."

"How 'bout I bring it to you in a Pyrex measuring cup?"

"How 'bout a plastic sippy cup?"

"You have those?"

"Top shelf. Above the stove."

Anna leans back into the crate.

"Why do you have plastic sippy cups?"

"So I can drink coffee out of something that's not heavy—so no one can throw it at me—and that has a lid—so I don't spill it on someone. Don't you have sippy cups at home?"

"For babies, yes we do."

"Are you trying to help me out or are you trying to lecture me?"

Anna thinks.

"I was trying to help you out. Now I'm trying to lecture you."

"Why don't you just forget the coffee."

"No, no. I'll bring you your sippy cup."

"And don't bring any mugs in here."

"I know."

Anna leaves.

I tell Kimmie to keep moving her hands like a squid.

"Yeah, good girl. Make me think you're a sea creature. Your slime is really appealing to me right now—I don't know why, but—you have beautiful slime. I should prob'ly get some video of this while you're still alive."

I pull out my iPhone and video her pulling her fingers out of her slimy, slimy pussy and pushing them back in. It really looks like a squid.

"I wish you had those little sucker things on your fingers so it was like an octopus was fucking you. Anna!"

She leans into view with a coffee pot in one hand and a sippy cup in the other.

"After you're done with that, see if we can get a squid off the internet. I want a purple one. Just big enough to get two tentacles inside Kimmie's vagina. Would you be a doll and do that for me..please?..please?"

Anna's pouring the coffee.

"I thought we were going to kill her tomorrow."

"We are. See if you can get one overnighted."

"You want a purple octopus overnighted. I'm sure that will be no problem. I'll just check Amazon Prime."

"Why don't you check your sarcasm first."

Kimmie looks down at me.

"I give your relationship 50/50," she says.

"What me and Anna?"

"Uh-huh."

"Well that's better than most married couples—I'll take those odds!! Anna, will you take those odds?"

"I can't hear you!" she yells.

"Are your parents divorced?" I ask Kimmie.

"Yes. And they fought way less than you two."

"Well they prob'ly weren't in a stressful situation like this one."

"You've chosen to be in this situation."

"There, I think we have what they call a philosophical question. Did you want to have a philosophical discussion with me right now?"

"Not exactly."

"Then just keep moving those fingers in and out, in and out like a jellyfish. Hey Anna! Can we get a stinging jellyfish delivered to the house by tomorrow?"

She comes in with the coffee.

"I'll check."

Anna hands me my sippy cup.

"Thank you."

"Oh," Anna says, looking at my iPhone screen. "That really does look like a squid. YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL SQUID PUSSY," Anna says, really loud, like Kimmie was deaf.

Kimmie says, "You two have mental problems."

And I say, "Actually—in a technical sense—we don't. We just have really weird ways of entertaining ourselves."

Kimmie was in that day-before-death mode: completely given up, willing to do anything without much convincing, totally believing that nothing really mattered.

She had attained object status with me: the aesthetic value of using her pussy to create a video that looked like a squid was worth as much to me as her life—or more, since I would get to keep the video.

I didn't even fuck her anymore.

I just masturbated on her face.

"Lick it up."

Her tongue peeked out of her mouth.

"Lick it up."

Seeing her swallow my cum gave me more satisfaction than the orgasm itself.

"Here you missed a spot."

I wipe a large blob of cum into her mouth.

"Swallow. Good girl. I'm gonna come back in a minute and shoot all over your lips..are you gonna be ready to swallow it all again?"

She nods.

"You're a good girl, Kimmie. I'm gonna miss you when you're dead. I might have to cum on your dead lips after you're gone. Is that ok with you?"

She nods.

"Good girl. Do you mind if I fuck your slimy squid pussy after you're dead?"

She shakes her head.

"That's good 'cause I think I might want to do that. Is it ok if I cum in your squid pussy after you die?"

Kimmie nods.

"Are you sure?"

She nods again.

"Does it make you feel good, knowing that you're a good girl?"

Her eyes well with tears.

"Does it?"

"Yes," she says.

"Do you like being my good girl?"

"Yes I do!"

"You know that even good girls die when they get shot in the face, right?"

Kimmie nods.

"You know what makes my dick hard, Kimmie?"

"What?"

"How good you are. Some people like bad girls. But me..give me a good girl any day. You're really a good girl deep down, aren't you?"

Crying, she says, "Yes."

"I can tell."

"How? How can you tell?"

"I have a nose for it. I can sniff out a good girl versus a bad girl. It's like a sixth..no a seventh..no an eighth..no it's like my ninth sense. I've had it since I was a kid. My first girlfriend was a good girl."

"What did you do to her?"

"You mean like did I kill her or something?"

"Yes," Kimmie cries.

"Don't get overdramatic. This was in the first grade. All we did was jump on her trampoline together and kiss on the lips."

"How did you know she was a good girl?"

"Aside from my ninth sense? It was the way she dressed and the way she did her hair and the way she walked and the way she kissed—in secret, like she was afraid to get caught. I was afraid to get caught, too. I was a good boy."

"What happened?"

"I was taught..systematically..that what I was..and how I acted..could be entirely different things."

Anna asked me that night:

"Don't you think these girls you kill have a soul like your wife?"

"Some of them do, some of them do."

"With the ones that do, don't you think you could love them? Or somebody could love them?"

"You trying to put me out of business?"

"I just know that you're not a..psychopath or sociopath or whatever."

"Yeah, I know what you mean—they're always changing the definitions of those words. Useless terms, really."

"I mean you know the difference between right and wrong."

I look at her.

"Like you know it's wrong to shoot a girl up her pussy and kill her with internal bleeding—"

"Tell you the truth, Anna, I don't really think in terms of right and wrong."

"But do you feel bad about what you do?"

"I don't like to waste my time with guilt, remorse..feeling 'bad.' What I do makes me feel good. That's why I do it."

"But you know it's wrong."

"I know you think it's wrong."

"That's very different," Anna says.

"Yes," I say. "It very is."

That shuts her up a while, then she comes back at me:

"But I mean one moment, she's alive, she's aware, she's breathing, she's pumping blood, she's having thoughts, she's talking..and the next moment..she's not..and that's because of you."

"Again the idea that consciousness is sacred. What if we had uploaded this girl's consciousness to a computer?"

"That's so theoretical."

"Oh ho! No it's not!! Government's had that technology for years. So let's say we upload her. Do both of them still matter? If that one never dies, then what difference does it make if this one does?"

"You can't upload consciousness."

"Anna. Yes you fucking can."

"But that girl you shot up the vag and watched bleed to death. Didn't she—"

"There have been several of those."

"Well didn't they have the same right as you to live?"

"The same right?!!"

"Yes!"

"First of all, I don't have the right to live. And no, those girls I shot up the vag and watched bleed to death didn't have the same, more, or less of a right to live as me. They had no right to live either! Equal rights is not the same thing as having a right. Ok? The fucking Constitution guarantees you equal rights to pursue happiness but I think the part you're getting confused about is that all men—or all people—are created equal. Is that what you're thinking? That somehow those girls who I shot up the vag are equal to me? Because they're not. Know why? 'Cause they're dead and I'm still here, lecturing you. So what exactly is equal about us? I have the same right to pursue happiness as a guy with an 80 IQ but are we equal? Hardly, Anna—hardly. There's nothing fair about nature. Or culture. Or humanity. Do I have the same rights as a billionaire? To travel? To eat? To own a yacht? No. He has more rights than me and we are not equal, regardless of what the Constitution says. You're lucky I don't shoot you up your vag right now 'cause you're pissing me off. Equal rights."

I laugh.

"I swear to god, don't ever say that word to me again or I'll shoot you up the vag and give you this same lecture while you bleed to death."

"I'm sorry."

"God fucking damn, woman, you really stepped on the dog's tail with that one."

And my use of such an antiquated metaphor reminds me I'm speaking to a woman half my age, and for that—if nothing else—I feel terrible.

30—The only real dignity is that of exclusion.

On the morning of Kimmie's death, we didn't talk much. I unlocked her from the chair, told her to lift her arms, sprayed her off, she got dressed, and Anna and I escorted her to the truck, my Glock on her every step of the way.

Anna sat in the middle, as protection of me as the driver in case Kimmie tried to crash the car or something. I held the gun between my left leg and the door. Anna held Kimmie by the arm.

I drove Anna for the first time to the place she'd seen in my videos—my rock field—and when we got there she gasped.

Miles and miles of small boulders, most of them draped with the corpse of a dead girl. Some were bones. Some you could still see their faces.

We all got out of the truck.

Anna let go of Kimmie's arm.

The three of us stood there in a line, Anna's mouth open.

"How does no one know about this place?" she says.

We all take in the endlessness of the field.

"How is this possible?"

"That I kept it a secret?"

Anna nods.

"I didn't have to."

"But how come no one has just happened across it?"

"Because. They teach you in school that space is linear."

"Right."

"But it's not."

"You haven't convinced me."

"If you're walking next to a swamp, do you know what's in the swamp? No, you don't. It's right there but you can't go in it because space isn't like they present it on a map. Just 'cause you can draw a line there doesn't mean you can go there..or that anybody will ever see it."

"No. I'm sorry. This is. Just. Not. Possible."

"It's big land out here, honey. People just don't go this way."

"What about Google Earth?"

"Oh, there are lots of things Google Earth doesn't show, Anna."

"What, do you put your location on a list and say I have a hundred corpses here can you please clean it up?"

"Well, no. But there are hidden email addresses, where if you send some coordinates, certain things can happen. And there's only about fifty corpses out there."

Anna shakes her head.

I take a few steps forward.

Anna says, "I just don't see how it can be that easy to erase geographic data from satellites."

"Have you looked at Google Earth lately?—The north pole isn't even there!!"

"What do you mean it isn't there?"

"I mean they covered it up. There's no ice anymore—it's just a bunch of water. Unless you look at NASA's maps..in which case..it's just a bunch of ice."

"That's impossible to believe. People would have noticed the difference."

"No. Because they're all watching TV, being lied to by entertainment news. That shit is deadly. I'm serious. It'll leave you worse off than what we're about to do to Kimmie here."

"So what happens if you look this place up on satellite?"

"It shows up as a limestone desert with a bunch of empty rocks on it."

"And all you need to do that is a hidden email address?"

"Like everything in this world, Anna, what you need is the right relationships."

Anna looks at me in shock.

"Kimmie, you wanna pick your boulder?"

She looks at me like: Now? For real?

And I look at her like: Yeah. For real.

She walks around a little and picks a small boulder.

"You can sit on that."

She does.

She looks back and forth between me and Anna, then her expression changes to that of a sad dog.

She stamps her feet.

"Are you serious?"

" 'Fraid so."

Kimmie starts tapping her sandals in the dirt, playing with her sunglasses, lifting them, lowering them, seeing which way she likes better.

"You could have picked a better person to do this to," she says. "I'm not a bad gal."

"I know you're not."

"Well can we wait another month? I'll let you do anything you want to me."

"I know you would."

"Why today?! Why is today my day?? You don't know what this feels like. I feel like I can't breathe. I think I'm gonna have a panic attack. My mind is rushing like crazy. You know? I mean, does this mean my life isn't worth anything..if it ever was?"

"Kimmie, would you be quiet for a second."

I'm fiddling with a vial and a piece of paper.

Kimmie reduces her sound to a series of sobs and sniffles.

"You watch TV?" I ask her.

"Yeah."

"You know America's Got Talent?"

"Yeah."

"Ok. We are going to kill you today. But this doesn't mean your life isn't worth anything. It just means you didn't make it to the live shows."

Kimmie goes back to bawling.

I go up to her and put my hand on her shoulder.

"Don't worry, baby. In three minutes you're not going to be scared of anything."

I go back to Anna and hand her the piece of paper.

"Blow it in her face. Don't inhale."

Anna holds the folded piece of printer paper like she's holding a grenade, making sure her fingers don't touch the powder.

She goes up to Kimmie and blows it in her face.

Kimmie rubs her nose.

Anna takes a few steps back.

"Was that scopolamine?"

"Yes. Is it all gone?"

Anna nods, looking at the paper in fascination.

"Fold it, top side in. Fold it once more. Now drop it. Don't touch it again."

"How much did we give her?"

"Eight milligrams."

"Isn't that a bit much?"

"For what we're about to do to her, she deserves a full dose."

"What if it kills her?"

"Then she dies a few minutes early."

Anna looks at me, lost.

"It's not gonna kill her. It's one-third the LD50, remember? It's not gonna kill her. It's just gonna make her forget, and that's the greatest gift we can give to her right now."

"How did you know she was gonna be a small girl?"

"What are you talking about?"

"When we met Kimmie you only had three milligrams of Devil's Breath and when I asked how you knew it was gonna be enough you said Good guess. How did you know? Did you have somebody on the bus? Are you psychic or something because right now I would believe it if you said you were."

"I'm not psychic. I didn't know anything. I would have packed three milligrams for anybody. I just didn't want to have that much up my nose. Three milligrams would have worked on Jesse Ventura. I didn't know she was gonna be a small girl. I just said Good guess to be funny. It didn't mean anything."

Anna gives me a side hug.

"Let's get this over with."

"You wanna make her finger herself or something?"

"What's the point? We already had her do everything imaginable."

"True," I say. "How you feeling, Kimmie?"

"Ok."

"You remember how we got here?"

"We drove."

"You remember why we're here."

"To kill me."

"You're ok with that, aren't you?"

"Yeah," she says.

I hand the Glock to Anna.

"Give it to her."

Anna goes up and gives the Glock to the dead girl.

"Now don't shoot us or anything!" Anna says.

"Don't say that! Don't say that! She's open to suggestion! Only suggest things you want her to do!"

"I said don't shoot us!"

"Stop saying that! It suggests the opposite! Kimmie, we're all friends here. You're just holding the gun because Anna's going a bit crazy and I need someone to keep an eye on her."

"Fuck. You," Anna says.

"You're welcome. Anyway, Kimmie, that gun isn't designed to kill people."

"It isn't?"

"No, it just injures them. It's completely non-lethal. But it does sting so please don't point it at anyone or pull the trigger or anything."

Anna looks like she's going to be sick.

"Now tell her to point the gun at her forehead."

Anna says, "Kimmie, point the gun at your forehead."

Kimmie does.

"You know I love you, right?"

"I know."

"Pull the trigger," Anna says.

Kimmie smiles.

Her last words are, "This is gonna sting."

Then she shoots herself through the head with my Glock.

Klack!!

She drops like a doll.

She falls over backward on the rock.

The gun hits the dirt.

I go over and pick it up.

"Good job Anna."

Anna doesn't move.

"Good job, Anna. Now let's go!"

But Anna stops me with her eyes. They're oceans. But oceans where you never want to go, like the oceans below South America.

She grabs the gun.

She points it at her head.

"Why?" I say.

"I can't live another minute with what I just did."

"Yes you can. Yes you can!"

She shakes her head.

"I'm not like you."

We lock eyes.

"I didn't mean that as a judgment."

"I didn't take it as one. Just hand me the Glock."

"Am I on Devil's Breath?" Anna asks.

"No."

"How long have you been planting messages in my subconscious?"

"It's what I do, babe."

"Did you mind control me to kill her?"

I shake my head.

"So I told her to do that of my own free will?"

"Yes."

Anna squints her eyes and pulls the trigger and I lunge for her arm.

But the gun goes off.

I got a hand on her but all I managed to do was pull her arm down.

And now, instead of a hole in her temple, there's a hole in her neck, and blood is coming out all over her.

I try to plug the hole with my hands but it's impossible.

I keep my hands there until she dies anyway.

"I realized I couldn't live with myself," she says.

"When did you realize this?"

"Just now."

"Fuck," I say.

And she says, "Look, I'm going be here among your dead girls."

I know I only have a few seconds with her.

I try to think of the most important thing to say.

"I never had as much fun as I did with you and I don't think I'm going to be going on."

Anna laughs.

"I don't think I'm going to be going on either," she says.

Then she grabs my neck.

"But I will go on with you, as the final living dead girl that you never knew."

"That's a funny thing to say."

"Guess why you think that?"

"Why?"

" 'Cause I just did a confusion induction on you."

"Did you really?"

"Yes."

She coughs blood.

"All your subconscious thoughts are open to me now."

"What are you going to plant there?"

"I am going to plant..that you leave all this behind..and become a happy person. That there are no more dead girls, only living ones..ones you like better than me."

"No," I say.

"Yes," she says. "Ones you like 10 times better than me."

"I don't know if I could ever find a girl like that."

"You will."

"What else are you going to plant?"

"One final thing."

She coughs—a huge amount of blood.

"Peonies," she says.

She's gripping me so tight.

"Do I really smell like peonies?"

"Yes, you really do."

She laughs.

"I've never even smelled a peony."

"They smell like..your grandmother's garden. They smell..like roses and citrus in the morning. Their oils are volatile, but they dissipate throughout the day..and at night they just smell clean."

"And that smells like me?" she says, losing consciousness.

And I say yes.

And she goes limp in my arms.

And I hold her.

And I can feel the beating of my heart against Anna's body.

And I'm left in my field, alive, with all the dead around me.

Four years worth of killing.

Without guilt or regret.

But I did feel very very empty.

Kneeling there.

In the boulder field.

That went on forever.

In the plains of South Dakota.

All alone.

Among the corpses.

Of my dead girls.