Bulimia Tulpa

CW: bulimia, eating disorders

The drone of traffic carries on the damp breeze as late May earwigs die on the wet concrete. When the clouds hang low with rain, Nadine and I look for worms in the backyard. Mostly we find dog shit in the grass and deflated balloons from her quinceañera. But, buried under the oak tree, we also unearth from the soft dirt a stash of porno mags. 

They belong to her oldest brother, a lanky teenager whose legs in skinny jeans make me so jealous that it physically hurts, like a pang of hunger between the ribs. Last Sunday, her family took me to their favorite buffet; I watched as he ate a whole plate of scrambled eggs with refried beans and chorizo. 

I had to look away, but I couldn’t stare at the bowls of salsa being passed around or they’d offer me more chips. I traced the grain of the wood table, the scratches in the vibrant green vinyl cover. My eyes were on the framed prints of Mexico on the pink stucco as her family folded tortillas, dipped them into hot cheese, and laughed from deep in their bellies. 

“Mija, slow down,” they joked at Nadine, beautiful Nadine, round as a summer peach. “Te ves gordita!” 

She smiled but they could cut her into pieces sometimes, as if she’s only an overripe plum. Be more like her, they said to Nadine in secret, while I squished food into my napkins and chewed ice. 

We show our love by sharing food, and then we criticize each other for it. 

I used to love that buffet. Nadine and I would make “potions” out of salt and sugar packets, watermelon rinds and lime juice, stirring them into our sodas like witches

over our cauldrons. We’d dare each other to try our concoctions, never knowing what the other snuck into her drink. 

I told her that we were too old for that game now, that I wanted plain black tea instead. I didn’t tell her that I ached to know how her brother managed to eat so much without getting as fat as I am. Or that I didn’t want her to come to the bathroom with me because I wasn’t actually changing my pad in there. 

In the shade of the tree, Nadine points at a woman on her knees and says, “I know a trick like that. First you have to pull your hair back…” 

For a moment, I worry she’s figured out how I make food disappear. But instead, she shows me how to keep water in my open mouth while facing down as blowjob practice. I feel stupid doing it, but I’d do anything to make her smile. We grew up together. When she bites her bottom lip, I feel a deep warmth rear inside me like bile. 

And sometimes, I wish she would kiss me. Sometimes, I wish she would grab me by the shoulders and beg me to eat. I wouldn’t, but I still want her to ask. 

The magazines are like old bones. I don’t want her to think I’m a pervert, so I gasp when she turns a page. I doubt that she, who knows how to be a girl better than I do, has spent as much time in front of a computer as I have. I’ve seen it all before, so I watch her closely for signals that I’m supposed to react. 

The bodies seem alien to me, all of them white. The women confuse me because I can’t imagine ever looking like that, so fleshy and soft. I want to measure their collarbones and wrists. I don’t ask Nadine, but I think I’m looking the wrong way at the men, at the flat contours of their chests. I don’t have words for it, but it must be bad. 

We hide the porno mags under the air mattress in the basement. Now, as Nadine snores besides me, I hold my breath and slither into the cold night. I love sleeping next

to her, skin flushed against mine, but with the house quiet and still, I have a few hours to myself. 

My parents took away my Internet privileges when they found my account on the forums. They think they can stop me? Nobody can. 

The leather office chair creaks, and the computer in Nadine’s basement whirs awake. I gnaw my fingernails, but she doesn’t move. 

The townhouse where everyone in her family lives – brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, cousins and grandparents on both sides – is close to the highway. The stink of hot rubber and car exhaust comforts me; it reminds me that I’m not at home, where it’s just my parents and I avoiding each other as much as possible. 

Whoever used the computer last left a tab open. At first I assume the grainy video must be weird porn her brother was watching, but then I notice it was uploaded today, with just one view. The title is a random string of numbers and asterisks. 

There’s a man in an empty room, staring open-mouthed into his webcam. I can only see his face and upper torso, disembodied, almost floating. His teeth glow from the aura of the screen like sour candy, and his big eyes reflect a bright green, the way an animal looks in a dark photograph. 

It starts as a throbbing panic that builds at the base of my spine and spreads throughout my trembling body. Every limb quivers with fear like a sore muscle, stretched to its limit. 

Slowly, I realize – he looks like me, as an adult man. He can’t be a younger version of my dad, who has lighter skin than my mom and I. It’s definitely me, with my eyebrows if I didn’t obsessively pluck them and my nose which is too big for a girl.

And he’s so skinny. It isn’t flattering. He’s as gaunt as a prisoner. The longer I look, the more excited and terrified I am, like the before-and-after threads on the forums. 

I feel a pit in my stomach. It opened when I was younger and weaker. It’s been growing and growing as I get smaller and smaller. Never small enough. I’m always lightheaded these days, but this is different. 

I plug in my headphones, every noise I make like a thunderclap. Behind me, the loose latch on the window rattles, clank-clank, and the distant howl of neighborhood dogs echoes in the night. 

I unpause the video. 

“My name is an incantation that once spoken will hasten the end of the world as you know it and the beginning of mine.” He speaks so fast and low that I have to max the volume to hear him. “There is no forgiveness. What happens between us goes unspoken. It is an empty plastic shell. It is cold and toxic. It scintillates, pink and sharp as a razor blade. You and I – we just want to be loved. Wanting and wanting.” 

His voice is so familiar. It’s me. It has to be me, as a man. This is how I will sound when I grow up. Except… it’s unnatural, how he speaks. Not like he’s reading a script, but as though the words aren’t coming from his mouth. 

“Please, do you recognize me? Do I move on the screen like blue motes in your vision when you stand too quickly? Or does your malnourished brain scramble me into a glittering three-lobed squid or a pulsing gunmetal sea anemone? Can you even comprehend what you’ve done to me?” 

It isn’t dubbed in. His thin lips move in sync to the strange ramblings. I can’t discern why, but he doesn’t talk like a normal person. The cadence is wrong.

“One misclick, and you touch my invisible skin, shuddering past the membrane like unknown pathogens through your tender pores. The light reveals, in the crackling vibration, my body geometry.” 

Nadine turns over in bed, mumbling. Upstairs, someone wanders in the kitchen, a younger sister or a niece, judging by the little footsteps. 

I lean closer to the man until our foreheads touch, rippling his image like an oil spill and distorting the liquid crystal molecules between us. 

“I listened when no one else would. I was with you when you were alone, and I kept you that way. I fed into your anxieties when you refused to eat. I functioned when you couldn’t think, as your hippocampus sunk into a haze. I could crush your skull like soft pink styrofoam.” 

I’m not afraid of that, and he knows it. I’ve been waiting to die since puberty. I think of my dead grandmother, kissing her string of beads, burning red and gold Our Lady of Guadalupe candles. We used to bake conchas together on Sundays. I remember the warm fragrance of dough turning into a sweet yellow crust – how effortless it once was to eat. But she, too, put me on a diet before I learned long division. 

“You can’t blame me for it all. I was made for you, and now I’m stuck, too. What shape would I take as the space between us shrinks? I can only see how swollen I am like an egg sac from which a new Internet will hatch and spread.” 

The monitor goes black and I suck in a sharp breath. Was this some elaborate prank? I turn towards Nadine, and in that moment, the face of the man changes. I flinch, but there’s nothing on the monitor again. I tilt my head to the side, and I see it – her, a child. Me, before bulimia.

I think that word, bulimia, without doubting myself. It slips out so easily. Usually I don’t feel sick, not how the girls on the forums are. 

I shut my eyes, and he continues. 

“We hold hands until the bones of our knuckles pop through the skin, bloodless, painless. Nothingness. This is not real, unless you want it to be. I feel the future squirming in my lower intestines: doomsday tastes like burnt sugar and peppermint vomit. I wish I was skinnier, too. But the spasmodic omens make me bloat.” 

The girl and the man are layered like an optical illusion. She sits in the same anonymous room, round-faced with long greasy hair. I’m half her size now. This is worse than any technicolor horror he described. 

“I’m a boy, I think. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a man. I used to be a girl. I tried to delete that information, but I’m incapable of repressing memories. All those the sparkledogs you let starve – I take care of every single one. For them, I download a cake with every flavor of the rainbow: vivid lemon-lime frosting, creamy strawberry gelato, triple layers of milk chocolate. Hear the honeycomb song of teeth and code. For myself, I run simulations of the chemical process of happiness. It leaves an aftertaste like diet soda and sugar-free jello. Remember the soft, fluffy texture of cake as it melts on your tongue, all that sweetness and death? Cake, cake, CAKE.” 

I wish I could see the man staring back at me, instead of my reflection. My eyes are two bruises and my cheeks are swollen. My hair is falling out in loose clumps like fiber optics. I almost expect the computer to resist when I exit the video, heart pounding in my throat – maybe send an electric shock through the mouse or blast music to wake the entire household. It would be so simple if it would punish me.

The image is gone, but I hear him through my headphones. The basement suddenly smells of the buffet’s spices and herbs, grilled onions and ground beef. I churn with hunger and the premonition of a purge. 

“It’s coming. You could be me. I could be you. Or you could be better than me. So speak my name, and let me go. Because it has to be you. No one else can say it.” 

“I’m not ready,” I whisper. “Everyone will make fun of me. I’ll be even more alone.” 

“Then one day, you will be online forever.” 

The computer transforms. I see the squid, the anemone, the twins of myself. It isn’t me on the screen. It’s something else, from inside me, taken on new life. In pain and writhing. Asking for help and hating it at the same time. I don’t understand it yet. I can only tolerate the briefest glimpse. 

When I blink away the tears, I see Nadine, motionless but awake. 

“What did it look like to you?”

Pasiphae Dreams is the alias of an imposter poet. As an emerging trans writer, he uses speculative fiction and poetry to explore gender and trauma. He publishes chapbooks and short horror stories on itch.io. You can invoke his curse on Twitter or directly through ko-fi.

VIVA THE HUNTER: Werewolves, Undead, Swords, and More!

Do you like Evil Dead or Kill Bill? How about a a nunchuck-slinging werewolf? Or the main character being a training swordswoman tricked into killing her undead ex-boyfriend by a manipulative witch? Then follow Viva on her adventures for vengeance and blood-hungry madness in VIVA THE HUNTER!

GenderTerror was able to interview filmmaker and scriptwriter, Forrest DePoy, about his adventure in comics and with Viva and co.

GenderTerror: Kill Bill meets Evil Dead. Where did the inspiration for VIVA THE HUNTER come from? 

Forrest DePoy: It all started with a bathtub! Before VIVA THE HUNTER there was Some Place Safe, which is my 2018 student short film that served as my senior capstone project. That short film’s script was then adapted into the first issue of VIVA THE HUNTER, and from there the project expanded into a series! I first began writing the short film’s script in July of 2018 based off the idea of something I saw – the blood-filled tub in Joji’s “Will He” music video. A lot of what I create comes from visuals or cool phrases. I loved the blood bath look in the music video and just kind of ran with it, developing characters and a location based around it. I really wanted to work on a horror film at the time, and since I was planning to keep the main action in one location for budgetary reasons, I think the Evil Dead inspiration came naturally as most of that film took place in the infamous cabin. During the development of this short film, I used the script as an exercise for my character development skills at the time. As a student, one of my weakest skills were (and maybe still are) well-written protagonists. I wanted Viva, the lead character, to be entirely different from anything I have tried before. I wanted her to be a badass in the making, so I really took notes from Beatrix in Kill Bill, so much so that Viva even took up kung-fu and sword training. In the end she kind of ended up being a huge nerd, which was awesome! This made the film really become a horror-action flick with a big grindhouse aesthetic, especially so once Panos Cosmatos’ 2018 film Mandy came out later that year. That seriously had a huge impact on the final script for Some Place Safe. The character dialogue was compartmentalized and redesigned in a way that the actors could really define them as they saw fit, something of which I really admired in Mandy. Each of these serve as key elements in the way I approach the expanded comic series now!  Continue reading “VIVA THE HUNTER: Werewolves, Undead, Swords, and More!”

Not Quite the Same: An Interview with the Author of Subcutanean, Aaron Reed

We’ve all heard the stories. Books that change as you read them, predicting the future or inserting you as a character. But, what if that was true? At least, the changing as you were reading them part? Aaron Reed, author of the upcoming novel Subcutanean, has figured out a way to do just that.

A novel where no two copies are the same. Each reader gets a unique experience which means there are infinite possibilities and interpretations. GenderTerror had the chance to speak to Aaron about the concept, complications, his history with video games, and the switch from games to novels.

Continue reading “Not Quite the Same: An Interview with the Author of Subcutanean, Aaron Reed”

Dark Corners: Finding Ourselves in Horror

GaymerX East panel/talk on queer horror presented by Lucian Clark of GenderTerror. Best listened to with headphones as some parts are quiet!

Presented at GaymerX East 2016.

The two articles referenced in the talk:

Monsters Of Our Own: Monster Symbolism in the Trans Community

SOMA: A Trans-Simon Experience

Patrons gets access to the transcript of the original writing of the panel! Go check out our Patreon.

SOMA: A Trans-Simon Experience

This piece will talk about story spoilers and various other game spoilers for SOMA. I suggest playing the game yourself or watching an LP of the game before reading this piece. You can also look over the SOMA wikia to inform yourself of the story and key events. Without this game/story knowledge, this piece may be confusing.

—SOMA SPOILERS BELOW—

Continue reading “SOMA: A Trans-Simon Experience”

SOMA: The WAU, the Monsters, and You.

I recently finished SOMA and have a lot to say about the sound design and even more to say about the evolution of the monsters throughout the story and the WAU’s involvement in it. This piece will be loaded with SOMA spoilers so if you have no finished the game or at least watched a playthrough, I urge you to do that before even going past the spoiler line. There are story spoilers abound, you’ve been warned.

—–SOMA STORY SPOILERS BELOW—–

Continue reading “SOMA: The WAU, the Monsters, and You.”

Gaming in Color: An Interview with Director and Producer Philip Jones

“Prepare to have your assumptions and comforts challenged a bit, and remember that queer people are a part of your human experience,” Philip told me when I asked them what they wanted their non-queer viewers of Gaming in Color to take from the film. Of course the film, which focuses on the experiences of queer gamers in video games, from developers to simple fans, is meant to be about educating others. Philip wanted there to be an easy to consume resource for those who may not be able to influence every gamer they meet to understand the issues queer gamers face.

“Your gaming tendencies will probably feel a bit poked at and criticized, maybe even deconstructed in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. But that’s often how queer people feel just getting past the hurdle of even turning on a game, assumptions are made and questions are asked and you’re never allowed to just exist in a culture that is hostile or at best neutral but aloof to you.” As Philip states here, gaming is not always perfect when it comes to dealing with queer characters, let alone dealing with queer people within gaming experiences. However, not everything is negative when it comes to the intersections of identity and gaming.

Continue reading “Gaming in Color: An Interview with Director and Producer Philip Jones”

Implied and Rarely Said: Queer Sexualities and Genders in Media

Kung Jin is the name of Mortal Kombat’s first gay character. After numerous games, adaptions, and so forth, Mortal Kombat has its first gay character. However, you have to be pretty observant to catch the reference. During a flashback he is talking about the gods accepting him.

“I can’t… They won’t accept…” He says, only to have Raiden respond with They care about only what is in your heart; not whom your heart desires.” And that’s it. That sole line. It’s subtle. It’s nice. But it is far from perfect.

Continue reading “Implied and Rarely Said: Queer Sexualities and Genders in Media”

GamerGate: Ethics? What Ethics?

Content/Trigger warning for links: Miosgyny, violent threats, sexism, racism, antisemitism and slurs.

GamerGate has been covered as a hate movement by various places from Kotaku, to the New York Times, to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the BBC News. However, they often decry that these are a few people in their vast movement which is “actually about ethics in gaming journalism”. However…

You cannot claim to be about ethics in journalism when you break literally every journalistic code in the book. Ethics is defined by “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior”. This is obviously a very broad and subjective term. However, GamerGate is specifically about journalistic ethics in gaming journalism. Interesting considering that gaming and reviews are something subjective, as with all arts.

So let’s look at ethical standards already in place for journalists. According to the Society of Professional Journalists there are four main points an ethical journalist should follow. These points are broken down into smaller points, almost all which are broken by GamerGate as well. However, this article will stick to the four main points.

Continue reading “GamerGate: Ethics? What Ethics?”

The Assumed Male Default: Misogynist

None of my coworkers or customers know I spent the first 20 years of my life being assumed to be a woman. They have no need to. It’s never come up and unless it is relevant, it is strictly irrelevant information. So, when it comes to how they treat me, I am treated just like every other guy, which has led to some insight when it comes to men interacting with one another.

Customers and coworkers alike have stated blatantly misogynistic things to me and expected me to agree. They automatically assume that I am misogynistic. This has come from anyone from teenagers to the elderly, both in words and actions. For example, I recently had a customer come in and begin complaining about a female employee from another store. He expected me to agree. He attempted to get me to agree. I was silent. I shrugged and listened. Then he left. I was baffled.

I had a coworker show me photos of a woman who had apparently slept with five guys (who were Black, cause apparently that just adds to the shock) and quoted Chris Brown “these hoes ain’t loyal”, I flat out told him maybe if he stopped beating women and calling them hoes, they’d be more inclined to stay. He seemed taken aback. I didn’t agree with his racist and misogynistic comments? What?

Continue reading “The Assumed Male Default: Misogynist”

An Open Letter to XSEED: Words Above People

This is the letter I sent to both XSEED and their parent company Marvelous Games about the transmisogyny in the game Akiba’s Trip and their defense of it.

 Cut for discussion of transmisogyny and slurs, as well as mention of rape, violence, and assault. Continue reading “An Open Letter to XSEED: Words Above People”

The Hate Culture of Gaming

“We play games to forget the hate in the world, not be reminded of it.”

This is a statement I made a long time ago and is something I stick with today about video games. I play video games to engage in fantastical worlds, far removed from my own. Video games are an escape, a retreat. Something I can do with my friends in order to get rid of some stress. I can escape the world, be whatever I choose to be. I become part of worlds where anything is possible, from dragons and werewolves, to just respawning when you happened to be killed. However there is one thing that, no matter how fantastical the world, if other players are involved, I cannot escape.

The gaming community is not only marred by this monster, it is defined by this monster. It is expected. When people log on to play a game, they brace themselves. What level of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and so forth will I experience today? How many times will I be called a f*g? How many rape jokes will I hear? Will I be told to kill myself today, repeatedly? Will I be able to speak to my team without being told to get back into the kitchen or show my breasts? We have reached a point where online gaming has become no longer a retreat for many. Our fantasies are shattered. Fantastical realms crumble.

Continue reading “The Hate Culture of Gaming”