Monster in the Basement

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written in February 2007.

“Yes, he’s still down there. In the basement, where he belongs.

“We all have one down there, don’t we? Some of us have more than one. I’m not talking about submissives in your private dungeon. I’m talking about the Beast. The creature who can’t be allowed to run the body, because he’d do something stupid or destructive or embarrassing or perhaps even evil. The part of yourself that you’d like to pretend doesn’t exist.

“Perhaps you even managed to convince yourself that he – or she – isn’t there. Perhaps you managed to ignore the banging and clanking going on down there… until they saw through the floor and hijack you, if only for a moment.”

– Raven Kaldera, “Dark Moon Rising”


There’s a monster in the basement of my mind, a thing of scales and musty snakeskin; cold blood, narrow eyes, viper fangs.

She smiles with all her teeth, and they drip venom. Her bite burns but does not kill; draws blood but not release. Her hands are tipped in claws, and they are strong. She holds a knife, gleaming with her slit-pupiled brownblackgreygold (red?) eyes – eyes of any color and none – the color of hunger, and lust, and pain.

She is he is she is he. Not male or female, not neuter nor hermaphrodite. She is snake-lady, naga of the shadows, fanged glee, savage sibilance. He is sadist, cold observance, predatory calculation: the surgeon’s cut, the slaver’s whip, the tempter’s whisper.

She is blood’s passion frozen in time; he is steel-eyed cruelty. They are two in one, always scaled, scent of shed skin’s mustiness, blade’s edge and fang’s glimmer.

Sadist, naga, serpent’s kiss. My shadow, my monster.

It is they that twist desire beneath my skin at cries of pain and writhing struggles. Theirs is the perversion of delight in torture scenes – exquisite fictional agony – character angst . . . I indulge them in fiction, my stories and those of others, because I fear what might happen if I don’t.

The sadist broke free once, slithered to the surface with a razor blade in his hand. His aim was my pain – hurt me, hurt those around me to hurt me, touch forbidden fruits. I locked him up again, shut him in shadow and iron, and forgot.

The naga escaped once. Broke free, demanded her due – played with those around me with fiendish glee. Teased, lied, lashed out once and then again, refusing to be caged.

I had to compromise with her. Had to accept her, acknowledge her, so that she’d slip back beneath my skin, my shadow stitched onto my feet. But I forgot again – lost the dry scent of snake, forgot the fangs, starved that part of me –

So she’s separated again, he’s separated again. They got a whiff of release, possibilities; they hiss for more, and I refuse to listen. They wait for more, and I fear to give it to them.

They exist. They are part of me. There is a monster within me and it scares me and I loathe it, but I cannot even call it ugly. . . Snakes have sibilant sinuous fanged beauty, frightening beauty, terrible beauty. Beauty that could too easily consume, venom drawing me into sleep . . .

. . . but there may be a use for this monster after all. They/she/it/he sees one whose monster is kin, the other side of a dark mirror, and my monster is enraptured – entranced – slithers forward with hunger-eyes agleam in firelight – monster calls to monster, pain-hunger to sadist-hunger, and should I stop it?

The snake has gone so long denied, fed a starvation diet of sparse occasional fiction. I fear to become her – I do not like her – I wish to cling to my ideal of healer, diplomat, phoenix.

But I heal as a knife heals, says the serpent, and is not the phoenix also a snake?


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