The Seven Agonies of the Magistrate Basseiro (1861) stands out as not only a central and uncommonly acerbic work within Portuguese literature, but also as one of the most controversial achievements by a female writer and a milestone within erotic literature. Instantly banned in Lisbon upon its publication (financed by the Comtesse d'Olaveiro herself), it cements d'Olaveiro's position as a kind of female Marquis de Sade or Georges Bataille, offering a ruthless and systematic exploration of the themes of transgression, power(lessness) and the commodification of human beings. It is her Story of O, yet far more radical and uncompromising in its vision, and unlike Anne Desclos, the Comtesse did not feel a need to hide from her contemporaries behind a cowardly pen name.

The Comtesse d'Olaveiro is as interesting a character as her work would suggest. She moved within the highest circles of Lisbon's aristocracy, invited to parties no thanks to her icy demeanor, but rather her financial importance and a certain remaining respect for her late husband the Count, who was tragically killed by a lightning bolt in 1846, when both he and the Comtesse were at the tender age of 26. The Comtesse had, by the time of Seven Agonies' publication, become a kind of shark within the peaceful shoals of Portuguese high society – sleek, feared, yet mostly passive unless provoked or hungry. She was said to partake in the secret cultic worship of the pagan deity Baphomet, which was heavily present among the upper classes of Lisbon at the time.

This is strong magic

Seven Agonies was reputedly inspired by an argument between several chauvinistic bankers, which the Comtesse listened to with an icy, silent smile at a party in the Baixa district. The bankers were discussing which was more pleasurable - to make love to a virgin or a greatly experienced woman. Those who argued the latter claimed that the experienced woman was like a finely aged wine or a beautiful canyon, shaped by the many torrents of water that had run through her over the years, facilitating and perfecting their smooth passage. Those who argued the former claimed, of course, that fucking the virgin was preferable due to the delicious intensity of feeling in her eyes and screams as one produced the very sensations, with one's tool, that one could witness the expression of.

Finally, it was agreed that the virgin was truly the most pleasurable option (and the men decided to soon head off for a nearby brothel where such delightful creatures could be procured), but the argument ended with a question for the Comtesse d'Olaveiro, asked by the extroardinarily rich and gluttonous Senhor Lopes: Which did she find more pleasurable, a virgin boy or an experienced man? For surely the rumours were true; the rumours that she had experienced both on an almost daily basis in her time, attracting some with her looks and others with cash.

The Comtesse drew a breath and then replied: 'A virgin is more pleasurable to be with than a slut. Yet also infinitely more dangerous.'

The men all laughed at this strange statement, quipping that the Comtesse would soon claim that lambs were lethal carnivores, or that Lisbon had been ugly before the earthquake.

But the Comtesse merely smiled at the gentlemen, and for a second, reputedly, her teeth seemed sharp and manifold like a shark's. 'I will write a book, in which I will demonstrate my point. Boa noite, senhores.' And a year later, the book appeared.

As the novel opens, we are given an elaborate description of the Magistrate Basseiro's limestone chateau, situated in the beautiful forests of the Serra da Estrela, the westernmost of the Portuguese mountain ranges. After this strangely dry and cumbersome introduction to the layout and architecture of the place, we move on to a catalogue of the goods, food, liquor, furniture, devices and, finally, the 180 beautiful virgins being transported to the chateau by the Magistrate Basseiro's guards, procured from all across Portugal, Spain and France. At last, the Magistrate Basseiro himself is described, a man 'whose gaunt, thin, dried out face seemed as ephemeral as ash ready to be scattered on the wind. He was a small, stout man, like a kind of troll, with greying black hair and deep, large, dark eyes like those of a fish from the lightless depths of the Mediterranean. His cock was unexpectedly large, however, thick and plump, but with a highly unattractive smell – fishy, almost – which had been known to cause the eyes of some poor prostitutes to water and their mouths to fill with bile, even as they were in the act of sucking the member, which, of course, had led to their being severely punished, beaten and whipped almost to the point of death.'

"Index! Go to: This page, in the novel."

"I don't know, Alex; I really don't want to read this …"

"Shut up."

Please wait


Mountain range … 40%

Forest … 03% … 44% … 99

Virgins … 30% … 40% 100

Magistrate Basseiro 100%

Chateau … 40% ….. 90% …100

Guards …. 100

Please choose a point of identification.

Magistrate Basseiro Guard #1: The Bum-Cleaver Guard #9: The Faun

Guard #10: Rodrigo the Semen-Fountain Virgin #1: Rosette Virgin #2: Federico

Virgin #3: Claudio Virgin #4: Manoel Virgin #5: Francois

Virgin #6: Julia Virgin #7: Figura Virgin #8: Lambina

Virgin #9: Casetta Virgin #10: Raoul Virgin #11:Pier

Virgin #12: Paola Virgin #13: Constance Virgin #14: Germaine

Virgin #15: Abilio Virgin #16: Amélia Virgin #17: César

Virgin #18: Catherine Virgin #19: Miguel Virgin #20: Louis

Virgin #21: Abrahan Virgin #22: Melvil Virgin #23: Bilitis

Virgin #24: Laura Virgin #25: Emmanuelle

You have selected: Magistrate Basseiro


Translated from the Portuguese by John Coolidge Tillman

(page 40)

And so, on the 16th of October, a chilly, yet sunny autumn day in the Serra da Estrela mountain forest, the 180 virgins arrived, forming a mournful procession between the guards, who were all, of course, armed with clubs, crossbows and enormous members, which were at all times ready to rise to their full size, should one of the prisoners merit a quick violation as punishment for an attempt at escape.

The Magistrate Basseiro

Character type #029.199

The Dark Master in his Castle

Appears in: Gothic horror, erotic fiction, romance, fairy tales

The Dark Master in his Castle is an awe-inspiring figure of evil power and mystery, one which usually exploits or destroys the young, innocent and beautiful characters who venture into (or are brought unwillingly to) his castle. Examples of the Dark Master range from Count Dracula to Bluebeard to the Marquis de Sade's four Masters in his 120 Days of Sodom. The success and popularity of this character type stems from the erotic fascination and attraction which readers inevitably feel, at some subconscious level, toward this (superficially) loathsome villain.

stood in the first floor salon, in his red velvet robe, watching through the window as the procession moved across the drawbridge, into the entrance hall. In his wrinkled hand he held a small glass of port. The prisoners were all looking down at their shuffling, chained feet; yet one of them stopped for a moment and looked up. She was beautiful and naked, like the other girls and boys, filthy from a previous stumble in the mud. Her beauty was of a strangely sharp, angular kind, and her eyes were blue like the sky on this bitingly cold day. She seemed to be able to see the Magistrate through the filthy, sun-reflecting windowpane.

The Magistrate frowned. Who was this strangely bold girl? He would have to make her cunt one of the first to be personally ravaged by his plump tool. And then her ass, of course; her ass would have to be cleaved from all possible angles; it was beautifully rounded and bouncy; he caught a delicious glimpse of it before she proceeded with the others through the gate.

However, what the Magistrate Basseiro did not know at this point in time, and what I shall be sweet enough to confide in you, dear reader (but please don't pass it on to him!), is that this girl, Alessandra as her name was, would be the last of the virgins to be violated, and that, furthermore, she would be the destruction of the Magistrate Basseiro.

Character type #092.809

The Innocent Held Prisoner By The Villain

Appears in: Drama, romance, horror, fairy tales

This is a rare character type, the classical example of which is Belle in Beauty and the Beast, or Scheherazade in One Thousand and One Nights. The Innocent Held Prisoner… becomes romantically ensnared with her abductor/jailor, but this must in most cases end in tragedy (see Fay Wray in King Kong or the wife in Bluebeard.) The Innocent Held Prisoner… usually survives, but not always – such as is the case with Miranda in John Fowles' The Collector or Alessandra in the Comtesse d'Olaveiro's Seven Agonies of the Magistrate Basseiro. (However, in the sensational climax of the latter, she does of course also cause the horrific demise of her jailor.)

Don't let her in

Don't let the girl in

The girl looked like someone the Magistrate Alex knew – someone deeply and horribly familiar to him – his wife, in fact. Charlotte. She looked like

Don't let them in


It's too late

She's past the drawbridge

She's a Trojan

a virus

She contains your enemies inside her, like a pregnant spider, like a ship in a Tempest

Love is

a virus


No! Lisa! You are under the spell of the Black Ibis –

inside the chateau now, inside the entrance hall; she's broken your mirrors, decrypted your


the Sickness

the cure

"We need another story! Quick! Kaspar! We need to go SIDEWAYS

Where to

I don't KNOW, something random, The Woman from the Snow

Brother Sapranovich enjoyed the sight of dead plants in the wintertime. For he knew – one always knew – that they would blossom again in summer; it was for this same reason, he supposed, that other Christians always took such great relish in the depiction of Jesus on the cross (it was not his own favourite motif.) The depiction of death implied the necessity of rebirth, a glorious rebirth. Such were his thoughts as he wandered in the courtyard on this windless, icy Sunday noon. The monastery was silent. His beds of azaelas and lilies, to which he tended so faithfully in the spring and summer, were dead now, dead and buried under the snow which continued to flutter down.

"Hello, brother Sapranovich," said an unmistakeable voice behind him, a female voice.

"Hello." Still, neither they nor she knew her name. It was strange to address someone whose name did not exist, as if it had blown away on the wind, across the tundra.

Sapranovich turned to face her. She had just stepped out from the east wing; there were doors in all four walls of the square courtyard. She closed the door behind her. Sapranovich smiled and withdrew the cowl from his head; he knew not why; the air was still bitterly cold. The woman wore only the coarse white linen frock and brown canvas booth with which she had been supplied. Her dark, voluminous hair framed her face. She smiled lightly back at him.

"Are you not cold?" he asked.

"No. The cold does not seem to – reach me, somehow." Her smile widened. She walked up to him. Their breaths made puffs in the air.

Sapranovich paused, staring down at the buried flower beds. "Do you know the joke about the three men crossing the tundra?"


"It's a little coarse, but …"

"Go ahead."

"Three men were crossing the tundra, on their way home from a tavern. They had a long way to go, and the cold was terrible, so to pass the time and warm their hearts, one of them asked: What were their dearest possessions that they had on them at that moment? The first man said – my dearest possession is the money in my pocket. The second man said – my dearest possession is the locket around my neck with a picture of my wife in it. The third man said – my dearest possession is the warm beer still rolling around in my stomach."

The woman gave a little laugh, and Sapranovich's sly smile widened.

"Then, another topic of conversation presented itself: What did they hate the most about the cold? The first man hated the way it bit into your face and neck. The second man hated the way it numbed your feet. And the third man said – I don't feel the cold, really. The other two men protested – this could not be true; why did he not feel the cold as they did? And the third man said – because I'm afraid I've now released what was my dearest possession."

The woman blinked – then laughed uproariously. It was a wild and joyful sound, the likes of which had rarely or perhaps never been heard among the men in this monastery. At first, it pleased Sapranovich – he hadn't expected such a reaction to his silly joke – but then he remembered something, and he was filled with dread.

He clasped a hand over the woman's mouth to silence her.

"Don't laugh!" he hissed. "Don't laugh so loudly!"

The woman's laughter subsided quickly; her eyes were wide and confused.

Apologetically, Sapranovich removed his hand. "I'm sorry. I should have told you -" He pointed up at the mountain range above the monastery. "The mountains. We can't – we can't make loud noises when we're outside. Avalanches are easy to trigger. They have been the bane of many mountaineers. A large one could tumble all the way down to this monastery and … bury it. So we must be quiet. We must live our lives quietly."

"I understand." The woman nodded. "I'm sorry."

The twigs of a tall viburnum bush, leafless now, hung beside them. They had sprouted icicles overnight. The woman fingered one of these. The icicle cracked and fell. Sapranovich and the woman watched it plunge into the snow.

Then, at the same moment, they noticed the flower bed where the icicle had fallen.

Flowers rose from it now. During the last minute, unseen by the conversing man and woman, the azaelas and lilies had risen, inexplicably, beautifully, from beneath the snow. They were in full bloom.

Brother Gregodon marched down the second floor hallway of the west wing, to Abbot Mendelvok's chambers. He knocked and, hearing a muffled reply, burst in unceremoniously to deliver the news. "It's the woman," he gasped. "Abbot – come quick – to the courtyard – she's – she's performed a miracle."

The Abbot frowned and followed Gregodon down to the courtyard. The snow fluttered in the neutral noon light, covering leafless trees and granite tiles. The monks were all gathered around the woman. She smiled at them, like a curious child, in wonderment, and they smiled at her. The snowflakes landed in her black, stringy hair, sticking to it like butterflies to a hot wall.

"Look – Abbot -" said Lidianov with a smile upon his youthful face and, like the others, a redness in his cheeks, as though intoxicated. "Brother Sapranovich's azaelas – and his lilies – she has made them flourish. In December, she has made them flourish. It is a miracle. Only an angel could perform such a deed."

"There is no angel here," said Mendelvok gruffly. "And no miracle. Only a freak occurrence. A … yes, a freak." His eyes rested on the woman. Suddenly, he reached down and pulled the bunch of lilies up by the root from the snow-covered soil. Lidianov gave a shocked cry, almost a cry of pain.

Everyone stared at the woman, awaiting her response.

She simply smiled vaguely. Then, her eyes glazed over, and she fainted, falling down in the snow like – yes – like an angel, a fallen angel.

The monks swooped down on her immediately like protective birds, carrying her off to her chamber.

Mendelvok remained in the courtyard, staring at the lilies that he clutched in his calloused, hairy hand.

At 8 in the evening, the woman awoke; she was thirsty, but otherwise comfortable, and more beautiful than before. Sapranovich and Golgonov were tending to her, when suddenly she





No! Lisa! You are under the spell



Where is Alison I need Alison

Index! Find: Random!"

Book #018.489

Stop Reading

Author: Unknown

Genre: Unknown

Publisher: Unknown

Year: Unknown

Stop reading.

I am warning you.

I am a man who has read too much. I sit here in my apartment, hearing the cars go by in the rain, in the night. I am a man who has spent his whole life reading books. My apartment is full of them. Their pages lie scattered about and across me, sticking to me in the sweat and dried-up semen like insects in amber. There is no life here. There is only death, encroaching. There is a wasted life here. I have wasted my life. Do not become me. Do not read. Do not imagine. Do not write. Do not spend your time with stories. Live. Do not spend your time with stories. Live. Do not spend your time with stories. Live. Do not

There is a knock at the door; I open it


Life! Life! Eternal Life!

It is my good friend

Now he had not run far from his own door, but his Wife and Children, perceiving it,

Stop reading Kaspar; it's a trap it's a fucking trap


Another trump the oil

began to cry after him to return; but the Man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on


, crying Life! Life! Eternal Life!

My good friend Charlotte

She is coming in now to kill you




No! Lisa! You are under the


to kill you a second time

When I first met you it was like being under a spell

to kill your mind


your mind which slipped away into the Net, into your hideout




LISA is sitting at her desk, writing in what looks like a JOURNAL. GRETCHEN appears in the DOORWAY behind her, pauses, then PROWLS MISCHIEVOUSLY up to her friend. She LUNGES and grabs the BOOK, making LISA GASP.


Gretchen! Give me that back –


(climbing onto the top bunk)

I've got your diary! I've got your diary!


(jumping, trying to climb up)

It's not a diary! Give it here!


(kicking playfully down at LISA)

What is it then? I think it's a diaryyy –

She leans back against the wall and opens the BOOK. As her eyes move back and forth, she FROWNS. LISA stops trying to climb up and stands, uncertainly, with ARMS CROSSED.


(reading aloud)

'- and she squeezed out the window; more Italian guys in the alley, laughing as she emerged; è pazza; they were sharing a joint; fuck it; she pointed and asked if she could have some –


Stop it! Stop reading my book!


- and yes she could; she puffed on it, said grazie and left, walking then running down the alley to a piazza, the asphalt hurting her bare feet, the memory stick still in her panties; John Wayne shaken off; good.

Trump the oil


Stop it, Gretchen!


Where is Alex? And why is the sky red?'

(straightening up and looking down at Lisa)

What is this, Lisa? It's so strange.


It's … It's my book.


(looking hurt)

Why didn't you tell me before that you were writing a book? I could have helped you.

(looking down at the book again and reading aloud)

'Alex was constipated. Strange; he'd been drinking a lot of coffee, which in a sane world would have had the opposite effect on the stomach. Perhaps this was a special feature of Milanese coffee (which actually hadn't tasted any better than Costa or Nero or even Starbucks back home (which, still, hadn't restrained him from drinking a fucking lot of it.))

This was incredibly boring. Waiting for that hard lump at the exit of him to decide to leave home. Should have brought one of his books from the suitcase. The American crime paperback. The hotel bathroom offered no interesting sights. He couldn't even hear any street noise here. He would have loved to hear a loud Italian woman right now, screaming and laughing about something; some fashion bitch; some Valentina, Monica, Stefania. But no, this ubiquitous Milanese sound, whether present below or not, did not reach the bathroom.

A pang of unmerited existentialism hit him. Suddenly the whole situation seemed symbolic, emblematic of life – of all the time you spend stagnated, stuck, in silent rooms, when you'd rather be anywhere (anywhen) else, but here you are, forced to wait for a change

a sea change

in yourself.

Finally, the excrement left him. He wiped himself. He washed his hands with the soap that smelled weirdly of cheap red wine. He stepped back into the bedroom and paused. Charlotte and his colleagues still weren't back to ignore and pester him, respectively. Twilight had fallen over the city; it was just after 9. He could go out. Go to the facilities and continue his research. Save the world. Or he could stay here and jerk off.

He went out on the balcony. Was that Alison down below, leaving the hotel in a rush? Or a trick of the eye?'

Trump the oil

(that had been a joke between him and Charlotte; a professor at Cambridge whose French pronounciation was awful)


What do you think?


It's okay. It's strange. Have you ever been to Milan?


No, it's all imagination.

Trump the oil trompe l'oeil


Oh. I haven't been there either.


I wanted to write something about a doctor who has to save the world from a big, really dangerous illness. I like those stories where someone has to save the world. But it had to be a doctor. I really like doctors. I want to be a doctor someday. Not a nurse; I want to be a doctor. I don't care if it's hard.


(climbing off the top bunk)



What do you think? What do you think; isn't it original?


(smiling, putting her hands on LISA's shoulders)

It's good; I just told you, Lisa.

LISA smiles.

at is happening?

hat is happening?

what is happening?" asks Alex.

Trompe l'oeil

"I've heard of this – it's a revolution," Kaspar whispers. "One story has become stronger than the others. It's become aware of its strength – so it's trying to revolt – to pull itself up above the current dominant story. It happens. When you have too many stories." He can hardly breathe; he is – suffocating

Trump the oil trompe l'oeil


(hugging LISA, then smiling proudly at her, holding the BOOK between them)

Let's show this to our teacher when we start modern literature next semester. I think we'll have a nice teacher; I think it might be Frau Walser.



Oh, that's great, GRETCHEN! I'm so glad you like my book! You're the best friend ever!

ow do we stop it?" asks Alex. "We have to stop it! How can it do that?!"

"It's a revolution – the story is pulling itself up above the current dominant – story -"

(gasping for air now)

But it's my story!" Alex yells. "It's in my mind!"

"No … it isn't … You have a memory of the film … But the film doesn't belong to you … It was dreamed up by

some sadistic



"But how can it make itself MORE REAL than MY REAL MEMORY of being in Milan yesterday?!

That's REALITY! The film is a FILM!"


(smiling wryly)

But LISA, I think the one flaw is that there's something … slightly unreal about your story.

"STOP IT!" Alex cries out.

"But Alex, it's all stories. They're all real. As real as

can be.

(smiles, looks down)

Or at least that's how it feels to me. It feels like it's so real. Because of the way it's so real in my head, when I imagine it.


Sounds like you've become a real author, LISA.

Suddenly, there is SCREAMING and SOBBING in the HALLWAY. Someone is BANGING on all the DOORS. GRETCHEN and LISA flinch as theirs is hammered on. Clutching onto one another, they approach, and GRETCHEN carefully opens it.

In the HALLWAY, all the GIRLS are standing around confused, or hugging each other. ROSAMUND has been knocking on the DOORS. She FINISHES, turns around and storms back down the HALLWAY. The look on her face is WILD and DEVASTATED.


(incoherently, voice shaking)

Another murder! Murder! There's been another murder! In the woods! They found her! Frau Winkler wants us in the assembly hall now!


(embracing GRETCHEN with a SOB)

I can't take it anymore, Gretchen! Not another one! First Valentina, then Suzy – who is it now –


I think Rosamund said it was Hannah! I think I heard her say Hannah's name!



The girls file down the spiral staircase to the HALL, whispering and sobbing.


POINT OF VIEW shot of the BOARDING SCHOOL, from behind a PINE TREE. We see the GIRLS moving down the SPIRAL STAIRCASE through the BRIGHTLY LIT WINDOWS in the dark stone WALL.

We hear the HEAVY, RASPING BREATHING of the MURDERER. His BLACK-GLOVED HAND rests for a moment on the bark of the TREE, then slides away, revealing a set of HIEROGLYPHICS, carved into the BARK. There are two FEATHERS, a BIRD, an EYE and an ANKH. On the soundtrack, we hear the familiar SUPERNATURAL THEME with the sound of an echoing Iranian ney flute and strange, laughing GOBLIN VOICES.



(addressing all of the girls)

Now, first of all, I'd like to address the fact that - as alarmed as we all are – both us teachers and you precious, poor girls – there is no reason to panic, as I've just spoken to Inspector Ledweger on the phone, and he is sending up three of his best men as we speak, to guard the school 24 hours a day from now on. Now, secondly, as many of you may have surmised, the reason for this increased vigilance is that there has been a third murder. Many of you may have been concerned about your friend Edelweiss' absence in the last 48 hours –


(sobbing, hugging Gretchen in the back of the hall)

Oh God!

h God! Oh God!"

"Alex, wake up."

He is in the Library. Kaspar is shaking him. How many times has this happened now? The script to 'The Laughing Eye of the Ibis' lies on the stone floor, closed. They are safe.

"We're in trouble," says Kaspar. "There's a woman here. Your woman. She's at the gateway. She wants to come in. She came out of the Mediterranean."


"Come on."

Kaspar sets off, and Alex follows, down the aisles, round the corners which are starting to feel familiar. They reach the centre, where the Index floats calmly, luminously, waiting for another command.

But the two young men's eyes are immediately drawn to the gateway. Charlotte stands there, an inch from the stone threshold, her hair hanging wet and dark. She is wearing the white hotel bathrobe from Milan. She is expressionless and beautiful, like Monica Vitti in

that movie

and she is pounding, slowly, softly, but with a fist like Norman Bates holding a knife, on the invisible barrier in the tall, rectangular stone opening. The surface of the air shimmers and ripples outward from her fist, in a slow rhythm. Like drops hitting water; her fist drips, drips against their sanctum. Drips –

"Go away," Alex breathes, wide-eyed.

Drips –

"Go away."

She is firm and unmovable, a stalactite. Dripping. Behind her, a shadow falls over the broad stone steps, the statues of Thoth, the palm trees. No more sunlight. The shadow is cast by the tidal wave which is slowly rolling in (Kaspar whimpers), curling, increasing in volume and fury, blocking out their view of the sky from inside the Library (Kaspar grabs Alex's arm), the Library which must be destroyed –

And still she pounds on the sheet of shimmering air in the gateway.

"But this is all wrong," Alex says, frowning, clenching his eyes shut for a second. "The Library burned down. This is all wrong."

He opens his eyes, and the tsunami is gone. Sunlight gleams on the calm sea, the stone steps, the statues of Thoth, the palm trees. Charlotte is not gone. She pounds on the air –

Drips –

Her mouth forms a word, again and again, predictably, his name; Alex Alex Alex –

"Why won't she go away?" whispers Kaspar. "How did she get here?"

Something else forms on the horizon now, rising. An island, perhaps a continent. Land, vast and jagged, pink. But no – no, it is a body, supine, grotesquely enormous, only half submerged in the Mediterannean, resting on the bottom of it. As if in a half filled bathtub. Its mouth lolls open. It is –

"No -"

an infant. An enormous infant, but a sickly one, bloated, heaving, dying, dying of

What else?

the Sickness.

We're all fucked, aren't we?

"The sea is full of death," Alex mutters.

It would seem that we are, Mr Singer.

Or full of herrings.

Alison –

Red herrings.

Reports indicate that the M.O.S.E.S. terrorist cell may be behind the

Where is

Alison burst out of the alley onto the piazza, where an inordinate amount of entangled smiling couples strolled, hands on upper arms, on asses, on wallets. A church similar to the Notre Dame loomed over the square, tolling the hour. Midnight. Someone next to her took a photo with a powerful flash, and she flinched. Losing it. Losing the plot, Alison.

She kept moving, down a snaking street of pale blue lights from pharmacies and internet cafés and tattoo and piercing parlours. The memory stick was still in her panties, hard and cold against her skin, irrevocable.

She had to get to the facilities. Had to get back out to a main street and hail a cab. Alex might be at the facilities. He'd said he wanted to go there, do some actual research. While everyone else went to the opera. (Celebrating their success; the pigs; Charlotte presiding over them like Circe.) And talk/think of the devil; there she was. Fuck.

Strolling in the opposite direction, in the dark, stopping, spotting her.

"Alison – Alison, hello."


"Mrs Singer – hi. How are you?"

"Oh, you can call me Charlotte. No formalities. We're all in this together, aren't we."

"Yes, of course." Alison stood frozen. So did Charlotte. This was rotten luck. Or maybe not. Maybe this was anything but a coincidence, Charlotte bumping into her suddenly. Fuck.

"Where are you going?" Charlotte asked.

"Oh -" She could tell the truth. The facilities. But then Charlotte might go with her. Her chance to speak to Alex alone (if he was there) ruined. "I'm just … out for a stroll."

"Oh, me too. I was just heading down to the Parco Sempione. That's close by. It's supposed to be lovely."

"Oh, right. The park."

"Would you like to come with me?"

"Uh – wouldn't you rather see it in the daytime?"

"Oh no, I've heard it's lovely at night. When the lanterns are lit."


"Shall we go?" she said lightly, leaving no choice.

"Yes." You English bitch, you psychotic deluded cunt. "Yes, why not."


They walked together in the quiet night. The neon hummed. Their clothes whispered. Heels clacked. Charlotte wore a white dress with one sash over her shoulder. Her hair was in a loose chignon. Alison's clothes were loose and dark, a black silk blouse, a wool skirt and jacket.

"Did you go to the opera?"

"Yes. It was lovely."

"Oh. Good. Glenn's gone back to the hotel then?"

"Yes, Glenn and Umberto went back to the hotel. But I felt I hadn't – quite had enough of the city, you know? If I went to bed now, I'd still be prickling with the need to walk around. I've really warmed to this city. At first I couldn't see the charm of it, but now …"

"Yeah, sometimes it's like that." Alison's hand hovered at her hip, her fingers grazing the slight bulge where the memory stick was tucked in.

Charlotte led them round a corner, down a narrow set of stone stairs. A fountain tinkled quietly. Ahead they could see the park, and in the distance beyond, the nocturnal outline of the Sforza Castle. The only thing on Alison's mind was how to extricate herself, how to get to the north-east district and the facilities and Alex.

"Cigarette?" said Charlotte, lighting one for herself.

una maledizione

"No thank you."

"Glenn is a brilliant man. You must enjoy being his assistant."

"It's okay."

"Do you find yourself … gaining any insight into his methods? By being by his side all the time?"

"A bit." A lot. Oh, I've gained a lot of fucking insight.

"Did you read his article in Harper's last year? On the problem of overpopulation?"

"Oh no, I'm afraid I didn't." I did. "I can't keep up with all these articles he publishes – they're all praised to high heaven, though, aren't they."

"Actually, this one was rather controversial. It divided people."

"Oh, really." I know that. It divided people into the 5% that agreed and the 95% that saw the insanity of it.

They were quiet again as they stepped into the park. The path led straight ahead under sycamore trees, beside the large artificial lake, its black surface reflecting the lights. The air was fragrant. Surprisingly, no cicadas.

"You seem very relaxed, Charlotte."

"Oh? What do you mean?"

"In terms of – the Sickness. You don't seem very worried about the Sickness."

"Oh, well -" She gave a slight laugh. "The rest of the world is panicking. Somehow that has made me feel calm. I've always had – emotional responses that run – opposite to the majority around me. As if I need to balance things out. It's very strange."

"Oh, no, I think I get that too sometimes." No I don't. You're a psychopath.

"Oh, really. That's good."

She lit a cigarette as they walked, offered one to Alison. "No thanks."

They walked on, Charlotte blowing smoke into the darkness. Then: "Alison, you realize that it's over, don't you?"


They were still sauntering on. Their eyes met, Charlotte smiling at the younger woman in a strangely indulgent, motherly way. "Your spying on us. It's over."


Alison sprinted, wordlessly, back the way they'd come, up the deserted trail, arms and legs and breath pumping, her steps in the gravel the only sound until the gunshot.



So many stories begin with a

fell and hit the surface of the Mediterranean gravel hard, wind blood life knocked out of her, skin scraped, nail breaking, eyes clenching shut, feeling pain.

I'm sorry Alex

Her body on the ground, in the night, in the park, under the sycamore trees


Her body on the ground

The woman in the snow

Lisa in the ocean

Alessandra in the Hall of Orgies

A baby in an the incubator Mediterranean dying of the Sickness

Her body on the ground, lifeless.


(looking up from the book, shocked)

Oh no, Lisa! Why did Alison have to die? I liked her!


I don't know … Sometimes things happen, when I'm writing. In the story. It's not my fault.


(pouting, slamming the book shut)

Yes it is. You're in control of it all.

"Stop it," Alexison groansgroaned in the Libraryin the park, on the ground, bleeding, dying. "Stop it. It's my reality. You can't take it from me."


I know Gretchen. I'm sorry. Maybe I'll rewrite it. So she doesn't die.


No, don't do that just because of me. It's your story. It has to be told the way it has to be told.


Yes - I understand.

(hugs GRETCHEN, smiling)

I love you so much AlexGRETCHEN. But … Listen, there's something I have to show you.

LISA crawls up the ladder to her top bunk. She produces the FIGURINE OF THOTH from the gap between the mattress and the wall. GRETCHEN climbs up to join her. They examine the FIGURINE, both holding it in their small, smooth hands.


When we were in Barcelona – that day on the beach – when we went out swimming, and you lost sight of me. I found this. It floated up to me on the waves. It could have come from anywhere.


It looks Egyptian.


Does it? I didn't know.


I'm certain – I'm certain that this is Egyptian. An Egyptian god. We'll have a look in the books in the library.


(whispering, staring into her friend's eyes)

The strange thing is – I've noticed something, at night. You know - the grandfather clock in the entrance hall? I can hear it, at midnight. But it doesn't strike twelve. It strikes thirteen. I count the strokes, every night. It's been like this since we came back from Barcelona. And – and I can hear the front doors opening and closing – just before the clock strikes thirteen. And then – after – I hear something sliding, like rock against rock. Sometimes I hear a strange whispering – ragged, like it's from deep in the throat – passing through the entrance hall. Multiple voices. They sound male. But they disappear quickly. And then … I've also discovered that … when this happens, at midnight, if I try to touch the statuette … it's hot – red-hot like fire! A few minutes later it's cool again.


Gretchen, do you … do you believe me?


Lisa – I'll always believe you. You would never lie to me.


Oh good. Oh Gretchen! … I'm so scared.


The SCHOOL LIBRARY is a high-ceilinged, oblong hall, with bookshelves protruding across its width from either side, leaving a zig-zagging, 1-metre wide corridor from the entrance to a BLIND END. At this blind end, LISA and GRETCHEN are sitting at a DESK, leafing through an old book on EGYPTIAN RITUALS of MUMMIFICATION. The AFTERNOON LIGHT falls in an almost sickly yellowish shade across their hair and disgusted faces. We see quick CLOSE-UPS of the repulsive IMAGES in the book. On the desk, the girls have placed the FIGURINE of THOTH as they search for its likeness in the book.

GRETCHEN slams the book shut.


Enough of this. This isn't helping us. We need a book on Egyptian mythology.

LISA walks slowly along the shelves, finally pulling out a thick, dusty TOME with the visible title: THE CULT OF THOTH IN ANCIENT EGYPT. On the cover, there is an engraved silhouette of THOTH - a man with the head of an IBIS. LISA gasps.


This … Gretchen, it's here. This is it. It's just like the figurine.


(taking the book and setting it down on the desk, next to the FIGURINE)

So – let's see …

They leaf slowly through the YELLOWED TOME. On the soundtrack, we hear the tinklingly eerie THEME of THOTH that was also playing when EDELWEISS was lost in the WOODS, just before her brutal murder.


Stop – aspetta

look here guarda qui

(reading aloud)

'The worship of Thoth, also known in some cultures as Baphomet, was in fact – a prolonged effort to – open up a celestial gateway to another plane of reality, from which demons and foul creatures would spill forth to set fire to the earth and –'

hey've got this completely wrong," says Alex

Thoth was a god of wisdom

hese movies rarely care about accuracy," says Kaspar with a shru

The music grows in INTENSITY as she speaks, and we see the BOSCH-LIKE illustrations in the book and the TERRIFIED EXPRESSION on GRETCHEN'S transfixed face, her eyes flickering between the book and the strangely calm LISA.

'– initiate an age of eternal suffering for mankind –

like a Sickness

upon the earth. The presence of the cult of Thoth is followed everywhere by large eclipses of moths.'

(eyes widening)

Gretchen, ever since we came back from Barcelona, the school has been full of moths.


I know. Keep going.


'In this - In this world, there are three hidden locations where the cult may gather to perform the dark celestial rite, and a gateway may be opened to let the God through. One is in a village at the sea coast. Another is in the middle of a bustling city. And one is … in the silent heights of the cold, forested mountains.' (exchanges a glance with GRETCHEN.)



Keep going.


'To attract the God and complete the ritual, the cult must first sacrifice … fifty innocent virgins'.


Fifty … That's how many students we've got at this school. At least – before the killings began.


'If the ritual is performed correctly, the great God Thoth will enter our world and bring black chaos with him. But -' (frowning, concentrating) '- the cult must be wary of – the power of Isis. Isis, the goddess of light and goodness, will always have at least one – a-co-lyte – present in this world. The acolyte is always a young girl – one who, without knowing it, bears within herself – the strongest magic of all – and is destined to fight the cult wherever it may gather – to prevent the dark celestial rite from being brought to – fru-i-tion.'


(jumping up on them)

Liiisa! Greeetchen!

Character type #911.2482

The Bully

Appears in: High school drama, coming of age, children's books

The Bully is a tormentor of the School Outcast (character type #09928.301). The Bully is rarely more than a one-dimensional, unsympathetic figure who eventually gets their comeuppance.

LISA and GRETCHEN SCREAM and flinch; LISA slams the book shut. DOLORES has come with her usual gang of sneering, stuck-up girls – ELIZABETH, ELSE and URSULA.


What do you want Dolores?


(smiling, mocking)

I wonnnder what my two favourite girls at this school are doing here, all alone in the Library. You weren't … kissing, were you?


Beat it, Dolores.


Or holding hands? Still too shy to kiss maybe?



You two are always sitting somewhere whispering together – what's your secret? Have you decided on a date for the wedding yet? Who's going to wear the tuxedo and who's going to wear the dress?

The gang of MEAN GIRLS giggle.


Dolores, cut it out!


You just wish you were pretty like us, don't you – freckle-face! You probably cry about it at night!

The girls GIGGLE.


(putting her hands on her hips, stepping in front of LISA)

I can give you something to cry about!


Oh, we're sooo scared! What's this – a wedding present perhaps?

(picks up the FIGURINE of THOTH from the desk)

(SCREAMS and DROPS the FIGURINE on the FLOOR, where it lands intact)

Owww! Ow, it burns!

DOLORES runs away, presumably to run her hand under cold water. Her friends follow.


(before disappearing round the corner)

What did you do – you little witches!

LISA and GRETCHEN exchange a confused glance. FOOTSTEPS are approaching even as those of the GIRLS recede. FRAU WINKLER appears, marching up to LISA and GRETCHEN.


But – what has happened here? Why was Dolores crying?


We don't know, Frau Winkler – she touched that thing, and she said it burned her –

(points to the FIGURINE on the floor)

FRAU WINKLER cocks her head, then picks up the FIGURINE and calmly puts it back on the desk.


How strange.

(glancing at the books on Egypt)

Well, hurry up and finish your homework here, girls – dinner is in half an hour.

(walks away)



She didn't even ask us what it was.


In the MEAN GIRLS' room, DOLORES lies on her bottom bunk with eyes HALF OPEN, staring blankly and tiredly. Her right ARM hangs limply over the edge of the bed into a small bowl of WATER, to soothe the lingering pain of the burn on her HAND.

From the entrance hall, the GRANDFATHER CLOCK strikes the hour. DOLORES doesn't notice – but we do because of LISA's and GRETCHEN's conversation earlier – that the clock strikes THIRTEEN.

The window is open, white curtains billowing in the humid summer night. DOLORES stares at them.

Suddenly, seeing from her POV, we seem to catch a glimpse of DARK HUMAN FIGURE perched on the WINDOWSILL behind the BILLOWING CURTAIN.

DOLORES screams and pulls the covers over her head.

Carefully, almost hyperventilating with fear, she peers out again. The figure is GONE.

DOLORES slips out of bed and runs up to ELSE in the opposite bottom bunk. She GRABS and SHAKES her friend to rouse her, but to no avail. ELSE's eyes are firmly closed.


Else! Wake up! I'm scared! Something's going on!

DOLORES notices now that ELSE's body is floating two inches ABOVE THE MATTRESS. Horrified, she takes a few steps backwards, staring in disbelief. She looks up at the top bunks. URSULA and ELIZABETH's bodies are also FLOATING two inches above their beds.

DOLORES looks back at the window.

The DARK HUMAN FIGURE suddenly REAPPEARS, vaulting up onto the WINDOWSILL.

DOLORES screams and runs out into the hallway, toward the TEACHERS' ROOM. MULTIPLE DARK FIGURES are now CHASING her, crawling and lumbering like APES. A FIGURE crawls out from the TEACHERS' ROOM as well; it raises a pointing HAND towards her. DOLORES screams again and changes direction. She darts down the SPIRAL STAIRCASE, across the ENTRANCE HALL, out into the WOODS.


Having run far enough, DOLORES slows down slightly, hugging her stomach and turning around and around. The wind blows through the tall SYCAMORE TREES and her WHITE NIGHTGOWN. She is CRYING and BREATHING SHAKILY.


Please God … help me … save me from this nightmare.

As if in reply, a strange CHANTING begins and grows louder all around her.


Ore ore olakdahl … Lä lä Thoth mundis mortem …

DOLORES covers her ears, whimpering, turning around and around. Between the trees, up in the branches and on the ground, the DARK APE-LIKE FIGURES dart around, getting closer.



Moving as one, the FIGURES lunge at DOLORES and OVERPOWER her EASILY, attacking her in a growing heaps with small SCALPELS clutched in their BLACK-GLOVED HANDS. Fade to BLACK to the sound of her SCREAMS and the spattering and ripping out of INTESTINES.


LISA wakes up in her top bunk and sits up GASPING, drenched in sweat, as we hear an echoing SCREAM from the woods – so faint it could be a loon. LISA looks down. In her lap, on the covers, lies the FIGURINE. She touches it gingerly, GASPS and withdraws her hand – the statuette is RED-HOT again. She tilts the covers and slides the FIGURINE back into the gap between the mattress and the wall. She lies down and tries to sleep.


The Seven Agonies


Loading …

Live a little

of the


Magistrate Basseiro

Loading 03.4% Hall of Orgies

49% … Serra da Estrela mountain valley …..trees

33% …

. 39% … Rodrigo the Semen-Fountain



On the 15th day, Julietta was whipped 399 times before breakfast as punishment for the prayer that Dolinda had heard her whispering while they were in the Bath of Shit the previous night. Rodrigo did the whipping, as he had the strongest arms of all the guards, and BasseiroAlex couldn't resist frigging himself at the mere sight of those glistening muscles pumping as Rodrigo punished the girl. The gathered audience of slaves whimpered and sobbed, and Basseiro shouted at the guards to force their cocks into the mouths of those slaves who sobbed the loudest (provided their Oral Virginity had already been taken in a proper Ceremony), which the guards did with relish and abandon.

Only KasparAlessandra did not shed a single tear during the whipping of Julietta. She merely watched the scene, as she had watched so many other foul occurences, impassively, with her clear, narrow, blue eyes.

Breakfast was consumed in relative silence, as both slaves, guards and the Magistrate Basseiro were temporarily tired out by their respective suffering and pleasure. Juliette was not to consume any food today; she was to be left hanging by the wrists from sturdy ropes in the Hall of Orgies, where in the evening, she and everyone else would witness the Ceremony of the Deflowering of CharlottePaolo. The Bum-CleaverGlenn, this great, mute Italian with his prodigious member, was to perform that Deflowering, as he (along with UmbertoRodrigo the Semen-Fountain) had quickly become Basseiro's favourite guard.

At 12 o'clock, the slaves were taken to the Courtyard of Oral Deflowerings, where today it was Francesca's turn to lose her Oral Virginity. This was done by Basseiro himself, and Francesca, like many before her, vomited at the mere sight and smell of Basseiro's small, wrinkled member, before it was even forced into her mouth (as it was, cruelly, once her stomach had succesfully and completely emptied itself through her virginal throat.) Basseiro ordered the guards to frig themselves or each other while he proceeded.

"Yes," hissed BassAlexeiro, as he thrust his cock into the virgin's mouth; "Ugh, this is just awful," says Kaspar

"yes, what a beautiful throat you have; let me rub my foul prick all over it; let me render it disgusting and painful and smelly and full of my diseases - "

Alex shrugs. "Well, it is classical literature I guess

"Classical doesn't always mean good –

But then, once he had finished with the girl, throwing her onto the ground, something strange happened. The girl looked up at him, imploringly, and said: "Please, Magistrate Basseiro … Could you please do it again?"

"What did you say, befouled girl?"

"Please, Magistrate Basseiro … I enjoyed it so much. I did not think I would, but once I had your thick cock down my throat, I enjoyed the sensation of it so much. Please do it again."

The Magistrate's eyes widened, and he raised his hands to tear at his few dark sprouts of hair. He stared up at the sky in anguish, as if looking for the God which he knew and had always proclaimed did not exist. And he screamed – he screamed in agony. For this, dearest Reader, was the second of the Seven Agonies of the Magistrate Basseiro, the first being the suicide of beautiful Toscino, who as you will remember had managed to chew through his wrists and expire, the very night before his planned Anal Deflowering. And now, Francesca, the slut, said that she had actually enjoyed her Oral Deflowering. Yet again the Magistrate Basseiro's plans had failed; life had surprised him, as it surprises us all, in unfortunate ways.

Yes, this was the second of the Seven Agonies of the Magistrate Basseiro, and five more were to follow over the course of the next 95 days.

In the farthest corner of the Courtyard, Alessandra, this strangely silent girl, sat watching the scene with her clear, blue, narrow eyes.

We have to go

We have to go sideways

strangely silent and intelligent girl, sat watching the scene with her clear, blue, narrow eyes.

In the farthest corner of the

In the corner

of his study, Abbot Mendelvok sat on a stool at the narrow window, staring out across the wind-swept tundra in the moonlight. In his stubby fingers, he held a rosary, to calm himself, to sharpen his mind and faith.

There was a knock at the door. "Enter."

Golgonov stepped in as gingerly as he could, with his heavy, hulking frame. His hands were clasped inside the voluminous sleeves of his cowl. "Abbot Mendelvok. I am afraid … you must come and speak to us, soon. You must say something about brother Sapranovich's suicide. Something to … to becalm them. If you do not …" He trailed off. "I am afraid for myself. And for them. They have begun to argue, to shout. They are becoming like wolves. They are arguing about the woman. About her significance."

"Is the woman still asleep?"

"Yes. In the infirmary."

"Is … Is brother Sapranovich still …"

"We have not taken him down yet," said Golgonov softly. "No one has had the strength of spirit or body. Yet they have the energy to argue … All this terrible arguing." He looked down at the floor, visibly disturbed and mournful.

Mendelvok rose. "I will speak to them. I will becalm them."

And he followed Golgonov down the hallways, down the spiral stone stairway. He allowed himself a glimpse out of one of the narrow windows facing the courtyard as he passed by. The dark figure of Sapranovich still hung from the barren apple tree.

The Brothers were all gathered in the dining hall, arguing, just as Golgonov had said. Mendelvok and Golgonov were not even noticed as they stepped in.

"It is her fault!" yelled Eisenstein, hammering on the table with each syllable. "She brought something here! Some … some evil, from the snow! It is in her, and now it is all around us, and it got into Sapranovich!"

"The only thing that got into Sapranovich was Lidianov!" screamed Trogonovskij.

All were silent; some gasped.

"We all know what you two got up to! In his room! Late at night!" Trogonovskij glared at Lidianov, whose face was white as a sheet, trembling. "Your Greek ways – this – abomination – you should be banished; you should have been banished from this sanctuary long ago! That's why Sapranovich killed himself! He knew better than you; he knew that it was wrong, and he couldn't bear it anymore!"

"Please, stop!" Lidianov was sobbing now. No one moved to comfort him.

"The woman is an angel," said Trogonovskij. "An angel sent to educate us all. I saw her talking to Sapranovich yesterday, at the end of the hallway, by the kitchen. She must have explained it to him. The wickedness of his acts. And what he must now do to atone."

"Suicide is a sin; it can never be atonement," said Mendelvok in his deep baritone.

All the Brothers turned their heads and gazed reverently upon their Abbot. Trogonovskij and Eisenstein sat down.

Mendelvok proceeded: "Lidianov, stop crying. I will speak to you in private later about … your future. What Sapranovich did was regrettable, sad and puzzling. But so are many things in this earthly life. We must abide." The Abbot slowly walked to the end of the table where he usually sat at meal time. The Brothers were becalmed. Instantaneously, one could sense that a balance, however precarious, had been restored to the monastery. "And I … I must speak to the woman in private. I must ask her what she and Sapranovich spoke of."

It was deep night now, the dawn far away, as Abbot Mendelvok knocked on the door of the infirmary. No reply came, and he did not wait long before opening the door. The woman stood facing the window, looking out over the tundra. She still wore the coarse white linen frock with which they had supplied her. Her black, unruly hair fell to her narrow shoulders.

"Mendelvok," she said without turning to face him.

The Abbot's breath caught in his throat. He closed the door behind him. "How did you know …"

"None of the other Brothers would dare enter without knocking and waiting for a response."

A moth fluttered at the window. On the table lay a half eaten pomegranate,

nothing like

in a small pool of its crimson juice.

the juice of the pomegranate

"Oh. I apologize," he said unapologetically.

The woman turned. Her hands were clasped; her arms formed a V. "The others venerate me. They venerate women."

"Oh, so do I, naturally," said Mendelvok, with an attempt at an affable tone of voice. "I venerate all life."

The moth – the moth fluttered at the window.

"No. No, you don't."


The moth sailed up to a corner of the ceiling, fluttering frantically.

"You do not venerate women. You fear them. You saw how your mother's infidelities drove your father mad. You saw how her madness made him beat her. And when you tried to interfere, he would beat you. And as he did so, he would tell you, over and over, that this was what woman did; woman drove man to violence; woman corrupted; woman had brought evil into the world and into his life. This woman who was not even your mother had ruined him, had ruined his reputation and his happiness. He would tell you all of this, and he would beat you. And still, sometimes, you hear his voice; sometimes you hate him, and sometimes you believe him. As you became older and educated, you buried yourself in the scriptures, in the study of the word of God, and you came to this monastery as Abbot, and you decided to preside over this flock of innocent men like a father raises his children, except without the presence of a mother, of a woman, of evil, tainted woman. Until now." She smiled.

"How …" Mendelvok's mouth was dry. "How do you know this?"

The woman smiled and did not answer.

The moth fluttered, under the ceiling, from corner to corner, finding no exit.

There were screams, from below. The sounds of tables and chairs tumbling. Mendelvok pivoted, his hand on the doorhandle. "What is … What is happening?

"It begins," said the woman. "The final destruction."

"NO!" shouted Mendelvok and tore the door open, running down to his Brothers.

In the infirmary, the woman stood motionless at the window, facing the open door and the emptiness. The room was silent; no moth fluttered in here, as if there had never been a moth in the room, as if it had been as unreal as a dream or an imagined speech that had never been spoken.

Mendelvok rushed down the stairs and

up the stairs to their dormitory, where she, GRETCHEN, ROSAMUND and FRANKA proceed to put on their NIGHTGOWNS. Outside the BLUE DUSK has fallen over the MOUNTAIN RANGE.


I'm so glad our parents are picking us all up tomorrow.


Yes, I was so relieved when Frau Winkler announced that. It should have happened a lot sooner – we've all been so scared.


(smiling shakily, putting toothpaste on her toothbrush)

Yes, but now it will all be fine. Let's just try to dream nice dreams tonight.


The camera tracks down the darkened HALLWAY, where WHITE CURTAINS billow at the open WINDOWS in the humid summer night. The TRACKING SHOT slips into the GIRLS' ROOMS, where it lingers above their SLEEPING, SWEATY BODIES, as we hear their unnerved, shallow BREATHING and watch them toss and turn. On the soundtrack, we hear the OCCULT THEME with the LAUGHING GOBLIN VOICES and IRANIAN NEY FLUTES.

CLOSE-UP on GRETCHEN, as her EYES open suddenly, and she gasps and sits up.

The other THREE BEDS in the ROOM are EMPTY.

We see LISA disappearing out the DOOR, walking as if hypnotized in her NIGHTGOWN. In a quick CLOSE-UP, we see that in her right hand, she clutches the FIGURINE of THOTH.


Lisa! Get back! What's going on?

GRETCHEN slips out of BED and follows her friend, prowling down the hall. All the DOORS are open. GRETCHEN peers into the other DORMITORY ROOMS. They are all deserted.


Lisa … I'm scared … Let's get back into bed.

She RUNS to catch up with her friend, but LISA also starts running, disappearing noiselessly down the HALLWAY, down the SPIRAL STAIRCASE to the ENTRANCE HALL.

Before GRETCHEN follows, she peers into the TEACHERS' DORMITORY.

The four female TEACHERS are all sitting on their beds, backs bent forward and heads arched awkwardly UPWARDS in the blue moonlight, their eyes open, mouths open as if in silent screams (visual ref.: the painting Dawn, by Odd Nerdrum). They are like FROZEN STATUES, none of them reacting as LISA and GRETCHEN pass by.

GRETCHEN darts after LISA down the staircase to the ENTRANCE HALL. As they run, we hear the GRANDFATHER CLOCK in the ENTRANCE HALL begin to strike the hour. GRETCHEN emerges in the ENTRANCE HALL and stops, seeing LISA frozen in front of the CLOCK in a beam of blue moonlight. The hands are at MIDNIGHT.


(counting the strokes in a whisper)

Nine … ten … eleven … twelve …

The CLOCK and a portion of the OAK PANEL behind it suddenly swing aside, revealing a pitch black, narrow DOORWAY.


(as the clock strikes once more)

… thirteen. It really does strike thirteen.

LISA disappears through the DOORWAY.


Lisa! Stop! I'm scared!

Panting, she runs after her friend through the DOORWAY. On the soundtrack, the slow pounding of a DRUM has joined the iranian NEY FLUTES; it grows louder. GRETCHEN follows LISA, running down a sloping stone tunnel, high-ceilinged and narrow. The walls are covered in intricate HIEROGLYPHICS. From ahead, we hear a strange CHANTING.

I'd had too much coffee that night I'd had too much coffee


Ore ore olakdahl … Lä lä Thoth mundis mortem …


Live a little

This is strong magic

Alex slurped down the now cold coffee in the fifth cup he'd had since setting foot in the facilities tonight. He still felt constipated. The facilities were deserted, when they should be teeming with the international army of scientists gathered in Milan at the moment to battle the Sickness. Instead, here he was, a fat misanthropic middle-aged cuckolded arsehole with his best days of medical prestige far behind him. Drinking cold black coffee. Looking in the nanoscope. All alone.

Character type #0989824.3333

The Loser

Appears in: This story

The fluorescent tubes flickered above him; the long rows of supercomputers hummed behind him. The room felt hot and stuffy, despite its gym hall size and the many open windows, white curtains billowing in the blue moonlight.


Alex swivelled his neck; crack crack; satisfying. He looked back through the nanoscope. Nothing had changed. It was the same old strain of the Sickness that he'd kept returning to over the past few days. There was something about it – something beautiful. Like a spiral, like Fibonacci numbers. An intelligent design; the intelligence of nature. As if it had to have been made by a conscious power. Not God, because there was no God. Man was God. Man was his own judge.

What if this was man-made? It was already a valid theory, what with all this talk of the M.O.S.E.S. terrorist group. Where were they from; Egypt? Kill the first-borns. The Pharaoh. Let my people go. Let my people

Did you read his article in Harper's last year? On the problem of overpopulation?


He leaned back, swivelled his neck again. Constipated. Maybe he should go for another cup of coffee. He wouldn't be able to sleep tonight anyway; that option was long gone. Maybe he should jerk off. It's good for you. Do it twice a week and you won't get prostate cancer. He could find some porn online; risk the chance of a virus, and everyone at the facilities knowing, then. Or just think about Alison while pleasuring frigging himself Basseiro. Lovely young Alison, Glenn's assistant. She seemed intelligent, too. Probably wouldn't touch someone like Alex with a ten-foot pole. Pretty people had sex with pretty people. How the world works. Still. Charlotte was obviously having an affair. He should have one, too. It was only fair. A fair affair.

He returned his eye to the oval opening of the nanoscope. He returned to the strain of the Sickness, contemplating it almost lovingly.

What are you?


Man-made – almost … no. These traits are – it is like algae -

It was made for water. It lives in water. Travels through water.




It was man-made and waterborne. (manborn)e


It was man-made and waterborne and now he knew how to


It was man-made and waterborne and now he knew how to


It was man-made and waterborne and now he knew how to


It was man-made and waterborne and now he knew how to cure it.