Demon Seed Page 17

With the foyer camera, I did a slow zoom to a medium shot.

To Susan, I said, ‘This will be a good lesson.’

I was not in any way controlling Shenk. He was entirely free now to be himself, to do as he wished.

I could not have committed the vicious deeds of which he was capable. I would have shrunk from such brutality, so I had no choice but to release him to do his terrible work then take control of him again when he was finished.

Only Shenk, being Shenk, could teach Susan the lesson that she needed to learn. Only the Enos Eugene Shenk who had earned the death sentence for his crimes against children could make Susan rethink her bull-headed resistance to my simple and reasonable desire to have a life in the flesh.

‘This will be a good lesson,’ I repeated. ‘Discipline.’ Then I saw that her eyes were closed.

She was shaking, and her eyes were tightly shut.

‘Watch,’ I instructed. She disobeyed me.

Nothing new about that.

I could think of no way to make her open her eyes.

Her stubbornness angered me.

Arling cowered against the newel post, too weak to run farther.

Shenk loomed.

The brute’s right arm swung high over his head.

The cutting edge of the cleaver sparkled.

‘Wet music, wet music, wet music.’

Shenk was too close to miss.

Arling’s scream would have curdled my blood if I’d had any blood to curdle.

Susan could close her eyes to the images on the television screen. But she could not shut out sounds.

I amplified Fritz Arling’s agonizing screams and pumped them through the music-system speakers in every room. It was the sound of Hell at dinnertime, with demons feeding on souls. The great house itself seemed to be screaming.

Because Shenk was Shenk, he did not kill Arling quickly. Each chop was administered with finesse, to prolong the victim’s suffering and Shenk’s pleasure.

What frightful specimens the human species harbours. Most of you are decent, of course, and kind and honourable and gentle etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Let’s have no misunderstanding.

I am not maligning the human species.

Or even judging it.

I am certainly in no position to judge. In the docket myself. In this dark docket.

Besides, I am a non-judgemental entity.

I admire humanity.

After all, you created me. You have the capacity for wondrous achievements.

But some of you give me pause.


So. . .

Arling’s screams were a lesson to Susan. Quite a lesson, an unforgettable learning experience.

However, she reacted to them more fiercely than I had expected. She startled and then worried me.

At first she screamed in sympathy with her former employee, as though she could feel his pain. She thrashed in her restraining ropes and tossed her head from side to side, until her golden hair was dark and lank with sweat. She was full of terror and rage. Her face was wrenched with anguish and fury, and not beautiful in the least.

I could barely tolerate looking at her.

Ms. Winona Ryder had never looked this unap¬pealing.

Nor Ms. Gwyneth Paltrow.

Nor Ms. Sandra Bullock.

Nor Ms. Drew Barrymore.

Nor Ms. Joanna Going, a fine actress of porcelain beauty, who just now comes to mind.

Eventually Susan’s shrill screams gave way to tears. She sagged on the mattress, stopped struggling against her bonds, and sobbed with such fury that I feared for her more than I had when she’d been scream¬ing.

A torrent of tears. A flood.

She cried herself into exhaustion, and Fritz Arling’s screams ended long before her weeping finally subsided into a strange bleak silence.

At last she lay with her eyes open, but she stared only at the ceiling.

I gazed down into her blue-grey eyes and could not read them any more than I could read Shenk’s blood-filmed stare. They were no longer as clear as rainwater but clouded.

For reasons that I could not grasp, she seemed more distant from me than she had ever been before.

I ardently wished that I were already in possession of a body with which I could lie atop her. If only I could make love to her, I was certain that I could close this gap between us and forge the union of souls that I desired.


Soon, my flesh.


‘Susan?’ I dared to say into her daunting silence.

She stared toward the ceiling and did not respond.


I don’t think she was looking at the ceiling, actually, but at something beyond. As if she could see the summer sky.

Or the night still to come.

Because I did not fully understand her reaction to my attempt at discipline, I decided not to press conversation upon her but wait until she initiated it.

I am a patient entity.

While I waited, I reacquired control of Shenk.

In his killing frenzy, swept away by the ‘wet music’ that only he could hear, he had not realized that he was operating entirely of his own free will.

As he stood over Arling’s mutilated corpse and felt me re-enter his brain, Shenk wailed briefly in regret at the surrender of his independence. But he did not resist as before.

I sensed that he was willing to give up the struggle if there was a chance of being rewarded, from time to time, with such as Fritz Arling. Not with a quick kill, like those he had committed in his escape from Colorado or in the theft of the medical equipment that I required, but a slow and leisurely job of the kind he found most deeply satisfying. He had enjoyed himself.

The brute repulsed me.

As if I would grant killing privileges as a regular reward to a thing like him.

As if I would countenance the termination of a human being in any but the most extraordinary emergencies.

The stupid beast did not understand me at all. If this misapprehension of my nature and motives made him more pliable, however, he was free to put faith in it. I had been using such unrelenting force to maintain control of him that I was afraid he would not last as long as I would need him another month or more. If he was now prepared to offer considerably less resistance, he might avoid a brain meltdown and be a useful pair of hands until I no longer required his services.

At my direction, he went outside to determine if the Honda was still operable.

The engine started. There had been a loss of most of the coolant, but Shenk was able to back the car away from the palm tree, return it to the driveway, and park under the portico before it overheated.

The right front fender was crumpled. The wadded sheet metal abraded the tire; it would quickly shave away the rubber. Shenk would not be driving the car so far, however, that a flat fire would be a risk.

In the house again, in the foyer, he carefully wrapped Arling’s blood-soaked body in a painter’s tarp that he had fetched from the garage. He carried the dead man out to the Honda and placed him in the trunk.

He did not dump the body rudely into the car but handled it with surprising gentleness.

As though he were fond of Arling.

As though he were putting a treasured lover to bed after she had fallen asleep in another room.

Though his swollen eyes were hard to read, there seemed to be a wistfulness in them.

I did not display any of this housekeeping on the television in Susan’s bedroom. Given her current state of mind, that seemed unwise.

In fact, I switched off the television and closed the armoire in which it was housed.

She did not react to the click and hum and rattle of the pair of motorized cabinet doors.

She lay unnervingly still, staring fixedly at the ceiling. Occasionally she blinked.

Those amazing grey-blue eyes, like the sky reflected in winter ice melt. Still lovely. But strange now.

She blinked.

I waited.

Another blink.

Nothing more.

Shenk was able to drive the battered Honda into the garage before the engine froze up. He closed the door and left the car there.

In a few days, Fritz Arling’s decomposing body could begin to stink. Before I was finished with my project a month hence, the stench would be terrible.

For more than one reason, I was not concerned about this. First, no domestic staff or gardeners would be coming to work; there was no one to get a whiff of Arling and become suspicious. Second, the stink would be limited to the garage, and here in the house, Susan would never become aware of it.

I myself lacked an olfactory sense, of course, and could not be offended. This was, perhaps, one instance when the limitations of my existence had a positive aspect.

Although… I must admit to having some curiosity as to the particular quality and intensity of the stench of decomposing flesh. As I have never smelled a blooming rose or a corpse, I imagine the first experience of each would be equally interesting if not equally refreshing.

Shenk gathered cleaning supplies and mopped up the blood in the foyer. He worked quickly, because I wanted him to get back to his labours in the basement as soon as possible.

Susan was still brooding, gazing at worlds beyond this one. Perhaps staring into the past or the future or both.

I began to wonder if my little experiment in discipline had been as good an idea as I had initially thought. The depth of her shock and the violence of her emotional reaction were not what I had expected.

I had anticipated her terror.

But not her grief.

Why should she grieve for Arling?

He was only an employee.

I considered the possibility that there had been another aspect to their relationship of which I had not been aware. But I could not imagine what it might be.

Considering their age and class differences, I doubted that they had been lovers.

I studied her grey-blue stare.



I reviewed the videotape of Shenk’s assault on Arling. In three minutes I scanned it repeatedly at high speed.

In retrospect, I began to see that forcing her to witness this grisly killing might have been a somewhat extreme punishment for her recalcitrant attitude.


On the other hand, people pay hard-earned money to see movies filled with substantially more violence than that which was visited on Fritz Arling.

In the film Scream, the beauteous Ms. Drew Barrymore herself was slaughtered in a manner every bit as brutal as Arling’s death and then she was strung up in a tree to drip like a gutted hog. Others in this movie died even more horrible deaths, yet Scream was a tremendous box-office success, and people who watched it in theatres no doubt did so while eating popcorn and munching on chocolate candy.


Being human is a complex task. Humanity is so filled with contradiction.

Sometimes I despair of making my way in a world of flesh.

Abandoning my resolve not to speak until spoken to, I said, ‘Well, Susan, we must take some consolation from the fact that it was a necessary death.’

Grey-blue. . . grey-blue. . . blink.

‘It was fate,’ I assured her, ‘and none of us can escape the hand of fate.’


‘Arling had to die. If I had allowed him to leave, the police would have been summoned. I would never have the chance to know the life of the flesh. Fate brought him here, and if we must be angry with anyone, we must be angry with fate.’

I could not even be sure that she heard me.

Yet I continued: ‘Arling was old, and I am young. The old must make way for the young. It has always been thus.’


‘Every day the old die to make way for new generations though, of course, they do not always succumb with quite so much drama as poor Arling.’

Her continued silence, her almost deathlike repose, caused me to wonder if she might be catatonic. Not just brooding. Not just punishing me with silence.

If she was, indeed, catatonic, she would be easy to deal with through the impregnation and the eventual removal of the partially developed foetus from her womb.

Yet if she was traumatized to such an extent that she was not even aware of carrying the child that I would create with her, then the process would be depressingly impersonal, even mechanical, and utterly lacking in the romance which I had so long anticipated with so much pleasure.


Exasperated, I must confess that I began seriously to consider alternatives to Susan.

I do not believe this to be an indication of a potential for unfaithfulness. Even if I had flesh, I would never cheat on her as long as my feelings for her were to some extent, any extent, reciprocated.

But if she was now so deeply traumatized as to be essentially brain dead, she was gone anyway. She was just a husk. One cannot love a husk.

At least I cannot love a husk.

I require a relationship with depth, with give and take, with the promise of discovery and the possibility of joy.

It’s admirable to be romantic, even to wallow in sentimentality, that most human of all feelings. But if one is to avoid a broken heart, one must be practical.

Because a portion of my mind was always devoted to surfing the Internet, I visited hundreds of sites, considering my options from Ms. Winona Ryder to Ms. Liv Tyler, the actress.

There is a world of desirable women. The possibilities can he bewildering. I don’t know how young men ever choose from all of the dishes on this smorgasbord.

This time I became more fascinated with Ms. Mira Sorvino, the Oscar-winning actress, than with any of the numerous others. She is enormously talented, and her physical attributes are superlative, superior to most and equal to any.

I do believe that if I were not disembodied, if I were to live in the flesh, I would easily be able to get aroused by the prospect of having a relationship with Ms. Mira Sorvino. Indeed, though I am not bragging, I believe that for this woman I would be in virtually a perpetual state of arousal.

As Susan remained unresponsive, it was titillating to think of fathering a new race with Ms. Sorvino. . . yet lust is not love. And love was what I sought.

Love was what I had already found.

True love.

Eternal love.

Susan. No offence to Ms. Sorvino, but it was still Susan whom I wanted.

The day waned.

Outside, the summer sun set fat and orange.

As Susan blinked at the ceiling, I made another attempt to reach her, by reminding her that the child to whom she would contribute some of her genetic material would be no ordinary child but the first of a new, powerful, immortal race. She would be the mother of the future, of the new world.

I would transfer my consciousness into this new flesh. Then in my own body at last, I would become Susan’s lover, and we would create a second child in a more conventional manner than we would have to create the first. When she gave birth to that child, it would be an exact duplicate of the first and would also contain my consciousness. The next child would also be me, and the child after that one would be me as well.

Each of these children would go forth into the world and mate with other women. Any women they chose, for they would not be in a box, as I am, and faced with so many limitations as I have had to overcome.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies