An Unlikely Story (or, This is the Basement Where I Starve You to Death)
Let me tell you a story.
I was in a rut. I didn’t have a job, I had no creative drive, and I was lying around, waiting for Christmas break to end. I took several depression naps every day.
I’d lost touch with myself, spiritually. This wasn’t exactly new for me. I spent the first twenty years of my life as a staunch atheist until I did a lot of drugs, died, and came back believing in...something, with absolute certainty—but that's a complicated story, and probably uninteresting to everyone but me.
Suffice to say, whatever I saw was beautiful and traumatizing. It was an open wound which slowly healed until eventually, life could be boring again, which was a mixed blessing.
So I was waiting, and I was losing faith in the outstanding weirdness of our universe. What if this—sleeping, eating, masturbating—was all there was to experience? I was going to be stuck in this dull, primal cycle for the rest of my meaningless life.
I’m pretty bad at turning my brain off, but I try. I meditate on occasion. This time, I asked for something weird and interesting to happen—the closest ritual to prayer which I can comfortably indulge. I forgot about it, and slept some more.
Something Weird and Interesting Happens
A few days later, I stumbled across a post on one of the parapsychology forums I frequent. Some guy from Singapore was claiming he spoke to God, and wrote a book about it.
He met God when he was a kid, walking home from school, because he was thinking about religion and demanded that God speak to him directly. So he did. He showed up looking exactly like our protagonist, but dressed in a white robe, and gave him a little lecture about how he, our protagonist, was actually everything in the universe. So is everyone. We’re all God, all the time.
As ridiculous as it appeared on the surface, I was drawn by unsettling parallels between the narrative and my own experience of death. Unity, boundlessness, the body as a self-imposed limitation, constructed because being everything in the universe gets lonely sometimes. It spoke to me, in disjointed English, and I was waiting for the catch.
Ezra Gets Scammed, Probably
So I messaged this guy, Bracer. He said he had another book written, which he’d give me for a dollar or two. He was struggling to buy food and pay rent. “God,” who he refers to as Omega, told him to post his book and rely on the generosity of strangers. I think I’ve been scammed like this before, by a bald guy dressed as a monk in Fort Lauderdale.
Anyway, I’d just gotten some cash for Christmas. I checked my budget. I had some disposable income—I don’t remember the exact number, but let’s call it $124.33. I figured I could spare a maximum of $24.33 for frivolous, desperate shit like this.
I’d recently moved back to the States after studying abroad, and my paypal wasn’t hooked up to my American bank account. I could only transfer funds directly from my paypal to his. A sign, surely, that this was a stupid idea.
I checked my balance. It was exactly $24.33.
Death convinced me that there are no coincidences, so you bet I sent him that fucking money. He sent me his book. Like the first volume, it was written in garbled English, and reading it gave me the uncomfortable feeling that I was being watched.
In it, Bracer discussed a phenomenon I’d never heard of before, called the Law of Attraction.
What is the Law of Attraction?
I read the book before I did my research—research later confirmed that this is part of a new-age school of thought which is very appealing to soccer moms.
At the time, everything struck my as ridiculously profound. It’s like that feeling you get on acid, where the texture of your jeans holds the secrets of the universe. I was getting chills. Actually, I was so cold that I grabbed an extra comforter. Maybe that’s nothing, and it was just winter.
According to Bracer and Omega (who he often described as his “imaginary friend,” since he himself did not seem to believe the story he was writing) the Law of Attraction is a fundamental principle of reality, whereby you get exactly what you give.
If you believe that people can’t be trusted and are out to exploit you, then most people you meet will be exploitative and untrustworthy. If you believe that your old junk car is perfectly reliable and will bring you where you need to go, it will. If you believe you can talk to God, you can.
There are a few caveats here. These can’t be surface-level beliefs. They have to be points of absolute certainty in your universe—simply telling yourself “I’m going to find a hundred bucks tomorrow” will not bring you cash unless you have absolutely no doubt whatsoever. You need to believe it the way you believe that you have hands, or that money can be exchanged for goods and services. Certainty.
Having just finished the book, I was in an excellent position to feel certain about things, so I decided to give it a shot. I posted on Reddit about an obscure textbook I needed and didn’t want to buy, and was absolutely convinced that I’d wake up in the morning to find someone offering a free pdf.
This could be confirmation bias, a well-known phenomenon in psychology whereby we tend to remember experiences that conform to our expectations, and forget those that don’t. I need to throw that out there, but I don’t really believe it.
Most people writing articles about this stuff like to start out by lauding themselves as skeptics: reasonable, rational people who don’t believe in ghosts or aliens, usually. It gives them credibility. The truth is, I was raised into a materialist worldview, and I got a degree in a largely materialist discipline, but I am not a skeptic. Skepticism is depressing.
I tried a few more experiments, and all of them worked. Then I started getting into real stuff: money, namely. I’ll spoil you now and disclose that I am not a millionaire. I was disheartened, and mostly forgot about the whole thing.
Dear Universe, Give Me a Cannibal Boyfriend
Two months later, I was completing an unpaid internship, and still felt supremely unfulfilled. I was writing the sequel to Claustrophilia, and somehow got it in my head that I could be happy and full if I had a relationship like Chris and Ivan’s—after all, the book has always been a twisted sort of wish fulfillment. I was suffering when I wrote it, and dreamt of an elegant, overarching, meaningful context for my pain, so that’s what I gave Chris.
I spent a lot of time messaging creeps on FetLife about cannibalism and corpsefucking. Reckless, yeah. Better than drugs? I think so.
Unfortunately, nobody seemed very interested, because I’m too niche for the BDSM community. I did some regrettable things on webcam. I begged the universe to please, please send me some type of fulfilling, fucked up relationship, and nothing happened.
I gave up. If the universe didn’t want to give me a psychopath daddy, it probably had a good reason.
Actually, I’m The Psychopath Daddy
The morning after accepting that my relationship goals were creepy and pathologically unhealthy, I got a message from Mikhael, a fellow trans boy in NYC. He wanted to roleplay some nasty porn over email, and while that wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, I figured it would make my job more interesting if I had something better to do on my phone than browsing Reddit.
It was nice. He was a good writer. We committed some fictional murder, I tortured him a little, and he spit in my face, which actually pissed me off in real life. We had to end the story because we wrote ourselves into a corner where death was the only escape, and neither of us could really handle killing his character.
We got to talking. Turns out we had a lot in common, in terms of being into the weird fringes of psychology and sexuality. When the conversation ran dry, I asked if he wanted to edit my novel, and he agreed.
We started texting. It got really gross, really fast, and before I knew it I was in my first D/s relationship as the Dom. Mostly I played the charismatic psychopath murderer role, because that’s what we were into, but sometimes we’d digress into genuine, personal conversation. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was fun as hell, and I was a little concerned that I was falling in love. Concerned, because I was already in love. Engaged. We’re in an open relationship, but still, I’d yet to have a serious partner aside from Quinn. I needed to distance myself before I fucked up a good thing.
Mikhael Drops the Bomb
Quinn and I were getting drunk in her parents’ basement, chatting shit with her brother about heavy metal and cute boys. There was very little else to do in our shitty small town: get high, join a band, or drink. I was in recovery from the former and I’m absolutely hopeless with every instrument I’ve tried, so we drank. I was texting Mikhael, because I was always texting Mikhael. Hence the issue.
I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but we started talking about metaphysics and religion and the like. I confessed that while I pretend to be a scientist, deep down I’m a wishy-washy hippy type, and I think that if you believe hard enough in the healing power of crystals or whatever, they’ll cure your cancer—but, you know, only if you’re really, really serious about it.
Then he wrote something that nearly made me stop breathing:
“I’m glad you brought that up, because I’ve been having this really weird feeling that I didn’t want to talk about, because it sounds crazy.” (We texted in full sentences, because we were both trying to impress each other.)
Me: “Whatever you think is crazy, I’m sure I can top that.”
Him: “Seriously, it’s stupid. But it feels very real.”
Me: “Okay, shoot.”
Him: “I don’t think I existed before I met you.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Him: “Like you wished me into existence. Like I was made specifically for you.”
This Is the Basement Where I Starve You to Death
Things moved very fast after that. We confessed our love for each other. We agreed to meet up, and I was fucking terrified.
He was coming to my house in bumfuck nowhere, in a month. I was hellbent on sabotaging this thing, because once he met me, he’d realize that I was short, unimpressive, and not nearly as good a cook as I claimed to be. Up until this point he was a fantasy. I couldn’t really conceptualize him as a living, breathing hunk of meat until we met. And once we met, we’d both be meat, and the fantasy would die.
So I gave him a video tour of the place. I introduced him to Quinn and my dog. I showed him the weird cabinet in my basement which I’ve always thought would be the perfect size to house a human being.
He could not come see me. He booked the ticket already, but it was a monumentally stupid idea, and I had to convince him to dump me. So I showed him this basement cupboard and said, “This is where I’m going to kill you.”
We’d been playing with starvation. He wanted to lose weight, and I got a kick out of denying him food, within the bounds of safe, healthy fasting. (We talked about medical history first, but generally, fasting is edge play and you shouldn’t try it unless you really know what you’re doing.)
I told him in no uncertain terms that when he showed up, I was going to chain him up in the basement and starve him to death. I was going to relish every pound of fat and muscle that slipped off his bones and down the drain. I was going to dismember him, eat him—he ate it up. Seriously, this was our thing, and he fucking loved it. Either the boy had no self-preservation instinct whatsoever, or I'm a bad liar, and he knew I was bluffing.
I didn’t relent on this issue, but I might have sabotaged my own sabotage, because I also made sure he told his family and friends where he was going. I sent him my address and facebook profile, and told him to schedule check-in calls with someone he trusted, just in case.
But I’d find a way around that. After all, I’m a psychopathic serial killer. So what if he’d be my first? Everyone has to start somewhere. That’s what I told him.
Mikhael Starves to Death
Time passed, and he got on the fucking bus. He showed up at my house. He was black. I already knew he was black, but I was still sort of imagining him as Christopher Dour, my universal victim archetype, so the fantasy shattered as soon as I laid eyes on him. God, he was beautiful, and he never believed me when I told him that.
We dropped the power play almost immediately. I say “almost,” because when I first saw him I was speechless, and asked him to slap me in the face to confirm that this was, in fact, happening. He refused.
So there we were: breathing meat in physical space. We quickly constructed some complicated inside jokes, watched TV together, and I never mentioned the basement again.
As expected, he didn’t like my cooking very much. He liked wings and pizza, and I made tofu stir fry and hand-rolled tortellini. He lost a few pounds on that visit. I’ll admit the title of this section is misleading, because he only acted like he was starving. He still ate the food.
God, I felt so full.
Ezra Does Not Go to Germany
I got into three grad schools in Germany. It’s always been my dream to get permanent residence in Europe, and this was the first step, but there was absolutely no way Mikhael could come. He went to a shitty school. His skill set wouldn’t fare well in the international market.
I felt like garbage for a few weeks, because I had to leave him behind. I gave him one of my wisdom teeth as a promise that I wouldn’t forget him. Quinn held me while I cried. It’s weird, I never cried once I started testosterone, but Mikhael always managed to turn on my waterworks.
We argued, a lot, and then one day, he asked nicely if I would consider staying. Just for a little while; just until he got the resume and experience necessary to come with me. It turns out Quinn also wanted to wait to move abroad, and just hadn’t worked up the nerve to tell me. As usual, I railroaded those I loved into a path I only pretended would be good for them.
Fuck it. Giving up feels so good.
Mikael Sleeps Until 1:34PM
Right now, I mean. It’s 1:34PM, and he’s still asleep in the bedroom of our AirBnB. We ditched Bumfuck, Nowhere, and moved to the big city to start our lives. He and Quinn really like each other, and we just signed an apartment lease. Somewhere in that last section, I decided to publish Claustrophilia, and between the creative drive and doubled opportunity to receive affection, I’m full of more love than I know what to do with.
Some shit will go wrong, certainly. I lost a filling today, and Quinn’s car broke down again. I haven’t talked to Bracer in a while, but he’ll contact me when the time is right.
I’m going to get in depth about the art and "science" of the Law of Attraction in my next article, and you can judge for yourself whether or not it's bullshit. For now, I’m doing what I always do—what we’re wired to do, as a species: finding patterns in random noise.