by Sam Leo

The camera was rolling; it was focused on Teresa Maria as she sat in a chair across from a large desk, far enough to one side that she was completely visible. Part of the back of a man's head was visible in the left edge of the frame, out of focus.

"So what can I do for you, lady?" the man asked gruffly.

She gave him an almost shy smile. "I heard," she began, "that you were looking for someone--special. For a part in a film. That you were willing to pay quite well." Her voice was soft, but she seemed quite self-assured; her eyes, large and luminous, looked at him steadily. She was wearing a rather plain blue dress with shoulder straps and high heels; her mane of long dark hair draped over the chair she was sitting in and over her left shoulder. Her hands were clasped loosely in her lap.

The man laughed. "Aw, honey, you ain't gonna be--!"

"Was it true?" she persisted.

"Well, yeah, but--"

"Could you tell me what's involved? It's possible we might be able to--reach an understanding."

The man sighed deeply. "Awright," his muffled voice said. "Lemme tell you what we got goin' here, awright?"

She smiled again, shifted slightly in her chair, crossed her legs. "Please," she replied, leaning forward in her chair just a little. Her dark eyes looked very intense; her full lips were parted sensually as she seemed to hang on his words.

"Awright--awright." Even though this was obviously a second run-through, for the sake of the camera, the interviewer still seemed tongue-tied, tense. "Awright. You know what a snuff film is, honey?"

"I think so," she told him, her smile not fading. "But why don't you explain it to me?"

He grunted. "Yeah, yeah, awright. A snuff film is like, where some girl gets her lights put out. Snuffed, you follow me? And we film it and all."

"Yes. Go ahead, please."

"Anyways, we gotta market for a real snuff film--a big market." He was rushing his words now, being blunt. "We wanted to buy a girl--we was thinking maybe we could buy one from some big Mex family. You know what I mean."

She shifted in her chair again, hiking her skirt a little, putting one of her hands on her knee. "No," she said finally. "Not exactly. But I do know where you can buy such a girl. If the price is right, of course."

"Yeah? You talking about your own family? Or somebody--"

"I'm talking about myself," she almost whispered. She leaned a little more, exposing some cleavage. She was breathing rather heavily, and she had hiked her skirt a bit more as well; her fingers worked against the brown skin of her own thigh. Her lips were still parted, and her smile was full, to all appearances genuine.

There was a long silence. "Uh--you?" he asked, trying to sound surprised. "Naw, honey, you ain't got the picture--we wanta buy a girl we can--"

"Kill," she finished for him. "I understand you. I'm offering myself for sale. I'm offering to sell you my life."

"What is this?" he asked, leaning more into the frame himself. "You wanta commit suicide or something? I mean--?"

"Would it matter if I did? Would that be a problem?"

"I guess not--"

"Then why ask? But I'll answer you, anyway. No, I don't want to commit suicide. This is a business deal; I'm selling you something. Something you want to buy, something I'm willing to sell. That's all."

Another silence. "Uh--right." He shook his head. "Awright. So--you say you wanta--uh, uh, star in this flick?"

"That's right. For a price, of course."

He laughed. "Honey, you real sure you understand? I mean, the money ain't gonna do you a whole lotta good!"

"Not for me. For a--friend. The money will be his. How much are you offering?"

The man's out-of-focus head shifted around. "Well now--before I make you any kinda offer, I'm gonna hafta see the merchandise. You know what I mean. You look real good, sittin' there, but--uh--we need a chick that looks good--all over--"

"Oh, certainly," she replied. She stood up, undid the straps of her dress and shucked it off in one quick motion. She wasn't wearing a bra, and without prompting she pushed her panties down over her hips, stepped out of them. The body revealed was truly beautiful; smooth, copper-red skin, firm high breasts with delicate, only moderately dark nipples; thin waist, flat stomach, sparse pubic hair, and athletically muscled but shapely legs, like those of a gymnast.

There was another silence, a brief one this time, while the camera ran from her face down to her ankles and back again, moving slowly up along her thighs, lingering on her genitals and breasts. "Yeah," the man's voice breathed. "You'll do, real well. In fact, I hate to--"

"Don't you want your film to be the best possible? Don't you want your actress to look good?" she demanded. She almost acted as if she was afraid he'd change his mind.

"Well, yeah, but--hey! This ain't gonna be actin', honey--this is going to be for real!"

"I know that," she told him. Leaving her dress and panties on the floor, she sat back down. "Now--how much are you offering?"

"Well--we was going to offer the Mex families a scale, sorta." He paused for a moment. "I'll be straight with ya. What we thought, see, is we'd find some dirt-poor Mex family with a buncha daughters--then we'd offer to buy one. We'd sell the girl on what a great thing she's doin' for her family, see. We don't want her to fight,--don't want her to kick and yell, don't wanta hafta tie her up, 'cept a course right at the end. So you can see, we was gonna offer this scale. She does--real well--we pay, uh, twenty thou. She does okay, ten thou. She fights us, five. No matter what, she don't go home."

"Of course," she said, nodding. She put a hand on her chin. "I believe that'll be suitable," she told him. "Depending on how the killing is to be done." Her eyes wandered for a moment. "That's suitable if you plan to use a gun or knife, or if you plan on doing a hanging," she continued thoughtfully. "It wouldn't be if you planned a death by fire, for instance..."

There was another pause, a long one this time. "You--uh--you sure you understand? Real sure?" he asked shakily.

"Yes, of course. You're going to have someone--an actor, I suppose--kill me, while you film it. I'm to cooperate, I'm to let him do it. I'm not supposed to fight him, I'm not supposed to scream. I guess you want me to act like I want him to do it."

"You gonna do that!?"

"Yes, of course. I'm willing to do that. Under the conditions I mentioned."

There was another silence. "Uh--there's a little more. We wanta tack in some porno. You hafta fuck and suck some. Awright?"

"That's fine, but it'll cost you more. Twenty-five hundred more per level. Is that suitable?"

"Yeah, yeah, okay. And--uh, well, see, we've made a buncha these, with special effects and all. What we want is one that's real clear, so that the guy who watches can be real sure it's the real thing. You know what I'm saying?"

She gave him a hard look. "No, I'm not sure I do." She shrugged. "I know very little about special effects, what can be done and what can't. Maybe you'd better explain."

The shape in the foreground visibly squirmed. "Yeah, awright. What it means is that we wanta do a buncha things--uh--and when we get to the end, we don't wanta finish it off too quick--you see what I'm saying? Uh--"

She nodded. "I think so. You don't want me to die too quickly," she told him, looking serious. Then she broke into a smile. "And that's fine! It'll make the film better, I'm sure! But you have to understand--what you're talking about might be torture!"

"Uh, yeah--might be, sorta--"

"Then I want more money for my friend." For all her expression showed, she might have been arguing over the price of a car.

"Yeah, I suppose. Awright--thirty, fifteen, seven-and-a-half. Okay?"

"Plus the extra twenty-five hundred for the porno?"

"Yeah, yeah. Lessee--that comes to thirty-two five, seventeen- five, and ten. All right?"

She smiled again. "Very good. I agree. Please be sure you have the full sum; I intend to earn the full thirty-two five. For that amount, you can do whatever you wish." She smiled broadly. "Again, under the conditions I--"

A long sigh from the unseen man. "Okay, okay! We got a deal! Who you want the money--?"

"Give me a piece of paper," she asked. He did; she scribbled a name, handed it back. The camera did not look at it.

"Okay," the man said, his voice lighter.

"Now--when are we going to do this?"

"Today," he told her. "As soon as we can get everything ready. That okay with you?"

"That's okay with me. I've sold my life to you--you can end it anytime you wish. Right now, if you want to."

"Jesus Christ," the man said, wiping his brow. "No, we'll do it downstairs, on stage."

"Fine. Do you have any sort of a script?" she asked cooly. "If I'm supposed to cooperate, I need to know what's going to happen to me, and when."

There was another silence. "Yeah," his voice said, no longer light. A few papers, stapled together, appeared in his hand; he gave them to the girl. She began reading them, nodding occasionally.

After a moment, she looked up. Her eyes were shining more than ever, her mouth open a little again. She sighed, ran her tongue over her lower lip; her left hand touched her own breast. "Oh, good," she breathed. "This is good!" Then she went back to the script.

There was a quick blackout in the tape; when it resumed, Teresa Maria was still sitting in the chair, looking over the script. She turned her head, looked up. A man appeared in the right of the frame, dressed in blue jeans and a t-shirt. From his neck hung a stethoscope; his mouth and nose were covered by a surgical mask, his eyes hidden behind large dark glasses.

"You need to go with Doc, here," the out-of-focus man said. "I'll see you in a little while."

"Why?" she asked. It seemed to be a simple question, not a protest.

"I have to get you ready," Doc said, not unkindly.

She shrugged, got to her feet. "As you wish," she told him, and both disappeared from the screen to the right.

There was another break; the film took up again with Doc and the girl, still naked except for her shoes, walking down a hall. The image bounced a little; evidently the camera was being hand-held. The hallway was short and narrow, carpeted, like something in some office building somewhere; Teresa Maria looked completely out of place as she walked beside the man, her hair brushing her bare hips. After a very short walk, Doc stopped, opened a door, and motioned her in. She went, the camera followed.

Once inside, it scanned the room. The floor was tile; there was a cot, a couple of steel tables with various pieces of medical equipment strewn about. Across the room was a toilet seat. Overall, the room like it had been converted into a sort of clinic, and done rather hastily.

"What now?" Teresa asked, standing by the cot.

"Have a seat," Doc told her. She did; he picked up a blood- pressure cuff from a table, wrapped it around her upper arm, pumped it up. After putting his stethoscope in his ears and locating the cup on her lower arm, he let the pressure out gradually. "Good, good," he muttered, taking the earpieces from his ears. "105 over 60. We can jack that up right much."

"Why do you want to?" she asked, still with no sense of argument. She seemed merely curious.

"Keep you from goin' into shock," he told her. "May happen anyhow--we might hafta give you some more--once we're into it. We'll hafta see."

"All right," she said amenably.

"But first--I want ya to lie down here. I gotta give ya an enema, getcha all cleaned out."

"An enema? Why's that?"

"Well--uh--well, a lotta people lose control when they--uh--uh--you get my drift?"

She nodded. "They shit all over themselves. I'd think that'd add to the realism, if it happens--"

He stared at her for a minute from behind the dark glasses. "Producer don't want it," he told her succinctly.

"Oh. Okay."

She laid down on her stomach on the cot; Doc slipped a pillow under her, elevating her hips. "Pull yer cheeks open," he instructed, a tube and bag in his hands.

She did, exposing her puckered anus. He was gentle with her as he pushed it in, let the water flow. The camera moved from the action to her face; she smiled into the lens. After the bag was empty, she went to the toilet and sat down; the camera watched even this, the mike listening to the sounds of evacuation. Twice more, the entire procedure was repeated; after each time, the man looked into the toilet before flushing it.

"Okay, good," he told her after the last one. "All clear--you can clean yerself up." He tossed her a washcloth, she used it. "Now," he continued, picking up a syringe, "You get some drugs. First, norepinepherine--that'll help keep ya from goin' into shock." Nodding, she extended her arm. He slipped the needle in; there was no change in her expression. "Now, lemme give ya somethin' for the pain. We'll--"

"No," she told him. "No painkillers. I won't need them."

He grinned at her. "Honey," he said, "this won't kill the pain--it'll just knock it down a little. I think--"

"I don't want to be all drugged up and reeling around. I won't be able to do my part well."

He stared at her again; there was a hint of a frown visible over the glasses. "Honey, you don't hafta do no part well! Lissen, you understand what's gonna happen here? They are going to take you out on that stage and fuckin' kill you! All you hafta do is let 'em--I mean, that's as much as anybody expects!"

"That isn't right! They want me to do some porno first, I have to be able to have sex--"

He snorted. "Shit. All you have to do is lay there, spread your legs and open your mouth! These guys that're gonna do you, they really get off on this kinda stuff!"

"No, I want to do more than that." she told him, a serious expression on her face. "I want to make this the best film of its kind anybody's ever seen. I want the people who see it to love it. I want to do my best."

He shook his head. "You're weird," he told her. "Weird. Now look--I'm the doc, and I say you need some. I'll cut it down, so's you aren't staggerin'--but you need some. You can't--"

"Yes, I can. I don't want any!"

He sighed. "Dammit, girl--you'd have to prove that to me, or there's no way I'd believe you don't need it! If you can't convince me, then I'll call some guys to hold ya down while I give it to ya! You hear me?"

She regarded him steadily. "How can I prove it?" she asked.

"Well, all right! Goddamn it, all right!" He turned away, rummaged in a box of medical tools. When he turned back, he showed her a slender surgical needle, four inches long, mounted in a handle. "I can give you a little taste of what you're in for!" he snapped, waving it in her face.

"All right," she told him calmly. "If that's the only way I can prove I don't need painkillers, then go ahead and do it!"

"All right..." he said, his voice a little unsteady. "All right. I gotta do it where it won't show, when you get out on stage. Here, lie back down!" He grabbed the pillow, slid it up where her head would lie on it. "Lie down here!"

She did, putting her hands behind her head. "Now what?" she asked.

"Well, lady," he told her, his voice mocking, "here's you a little taste of what's coming, by God!" He put the point of the needle inside her navel. When she didn't say or do anything, he pressed on it; as the camera watched closely, it slid perhaps an inch into her abdomen, down inside her navel. She winced and frowned, but in only a couple of seconds her face relaxed. Still holding the handle, he watched her face; so did the camera. The lens swung back down to her belly, and he pushed the needle another inch into her. Then the camera returned to her face; another frown was just disappearing. Then, as the camera drew back to view them both, he released the handle. The needle and holder remained upright, about half its length piercing her.

"Okay?" she asked him, raising her head and glancing down at it.

"Shit," he mumbled. "Doesn't it hurt?"

"Sure it hurts. But I can handle it. It hurts like hell. Cramping pains besides the sticking."

"It still ain't much--you read that Goddamn script, didn't you?"

"Yes. And I know, you're right, it isn't much. But I still believe I can handle it."

"I still don't believe you can--"

She sat up, wincing again as the imbedded needle moved; blood trickled from her navel. Then she stood, right in front of Doc. He waited for her, watched her carefully locate the blunt end of the holder against his belt. Then she looked back up at him. "Kiss me," she asked him.


"Kiss me!" He hesitated, but, lifting his mask carefully so that his face was not visible to the camera, he did. She reached out her arms to embrace him. Then she pulled him closer, using his body to push the needle on into herself.

He stepped back from her, staring at the now deeply-buried needle. "You really are weird," he told her as he pulled it out. Her navel filled up with blood, trickling down over her satiny stomach.

"I know what I can do," she told him. "Any other tests? Here, why don't you stick it into my nipple? That won't show up either!"

"Shit," he mumbled. "You dig this sorta thing, don't you?"

She smiled and licked her lips; the gesture was perhaps a bit exaggerated. "I can get into it," she told him. "Come on," she urged. "You want to be sure, don't you?" Her hand came up to her left breast, and she rolled her nipple between her fingertips, watched it quickly come erect. "It's waiting for you..." she murmured softly, looking back up at him seductively.

He stared at her for a second, then brought the needle up under her erect nipple, touched the point to it. He didn't push on it immediately; she laid her palm on her breast, the edge just above the nipple, pressed it down on the point. The camera pulled back, leaving her face in the upper frame, her breast at the bottom. Her eyelids fluttered as the point slipped in. She made a little moaning sound.

Then Doc began to push, sinking it deeper. The steel point appeared at the top of her nipple, emerged after having pierced it through. Again he let go of it, let it hang from her nipple.

She smiled at him again. "Have I convinced you?" she asked him, touching the holder lightly with her fingertips.

"Shit. I ain't never seen nobody like pain so much they wanta fuckin' die!"

"Oh, I don't. I can get into the pain. But I don't want to die!"

"Then why the fuck are you doing this!?" he demanded.

"For the money, for one thing. I know someone who needs it desperately," she told him. Then she looked pensive, her fingers again touching the needle-holder, almost idly. "But there's another thing, too..." she murmured, sitting back down on the edge of the cot.

"What's that?"

She hesitated for a moment. "It isn't easy to explain," she told him. "But let me try. I've done a lot of things in my life, but this--when I thought about--it's just so--so tremendously exciting!" She paused, waved off the protest she seemed to sense coming. "Crazy?" she went on. "Maybe. I have a lot to live for, no real reason to want to die. I don't want to die. But--I don't know, maybe it'll make no sense to you at all--but it seems to me to be such a vast, such a significant thing to do! To walk in, of your own free will, to let people you don't even know torture your body and finally kill you--so that other people, people you'll never see, can enjoy your death on film--it's such an ultimate act! It's a lot like giving yourself sexually to a stranger; that's exciting, sometimes, and partly because you never know what's going to happen. And this--well, I look at it this way. I could leave here, get run over by a truck on my way out. I'd be dead, and it'd be a useless death, a tragedy. I'm choosing this--there's such power in that! Don't you see? No matter what they do out there, I'm the one that really has the power! Because I'm the one that's made the choice! And I want the film to show that choice. To show that I was the one who decided; that I wasn't dragged in and drugged, forced to do this. This film is the last thing I'll ever do, and I want it to be good! I want people to enjoy it!"

"Hell, you can bet I'm going to!" Doc assured her, pulling the needle free from her nipple. Blood beaded up, dripped onto her thigh. His jeans bulged very prominently in the front.

She reached over and tapped it with her fingers. "You want to put that to some use?" she asked him, grinning.

He didn't say a word; his hands flew to his pants, and in a second they were gone.

She slid her body to the edge of the cot, spread her genitals with her fingers; he pressed his erection against her and pushed inside. The surgical needle was still in his hand.

Her fingers touched his face, just above the mask. "I want you to hurt me," she whispered. "I want you to hurt me more! I'm really getting into it--I want to keep the pain exciting--want to really want it--!"

He smeared the blood on her breast and stomach with his palm. "Come on," he panted, his face close to hers. "You serious?" he asked.

She pushed hard against him with her hips. "You know I am," she told him. "Do it, Doc! You want to--we both know that!" She grabbed his wrist, pulled the hand holding the needle up between them.

He turned it over in his hand, brought to point down to touch the center of her other nipple. The camera came close; again, her face and her breast, the needle poised on her nipple, occupied opposite corners of the screen.

She cupped her hand under her breast. "Do it, Doc," she moaned, squirming against him. "Hurt me...!"

He started pushing. Her nipple inverted at first, but then the point broke through. Controlling it carefully, Doc pushed it on in, deeper and deeper, until finally the handle rested against her nipple. She sighed, stroked his hand, and the camera pulled away for a long shot.

"God damn," he muttered as his hips moved back and forth, as his penis slipped in and out, "you're gonna go out there on that stage and let them kill you--!"

"That's right," she said, staring into the sunglasses covering his eyes. "That's right. And you're going to watch, aren't you? Watch them kill me? Watch me die? You're going to enjoy it, aren't you? I want you to watch, Doc. I want you to enjoy it! I want you to dream about it, to look at the film again and again. I want you to remember it forever. Remember how I asked you to hurt me, how you hurt me while you fucked me. Then think about the pain I suffered--I will suffer--out on that stage! I'm going to die out there--they're going to kill me out there--!"

"Oh, shit!" he cried. He yanked his penis out of her; she sat up quickly, the needle still in her, and grabbed for his penis. Half his semen went onto her face, half into her open mouth. She swallowed, then took his penis between her lips to drain the rest.

Only when he was finished did he pull the needle out of her. One large bead of blood appeared on her nipple, but that was all.

She stretched, looked down at the blood smeared on her other breast, at the trickle still coming from her navel. "Have I convinced you?" she asked with a smile. She passed her hands up over her breasts, spreading the blood around even more.

"Yeah," he admitted. "You convinced me!"

There was another change of scene; it reopened with Doc on the phone. "Yeah, yeah," he was saying. "Well, she kept sayin' she didn't want any pain killers, so I hadda be sure--well, fuck you too. I know, I know. Anyways, there's gonna be a little delay here, 'cause she's still bleedin' through her belly button." Pause. "What? Oh, hell yes! Shit, the fucker's four inches long! She's prob'ly got a bowel puncture--" Pause. "Uh-uh, it ain't a problem. Might be by tomorrow--she might have peritonitis by then. But tomorrow don't hardly matter to her, now does it?" Pause. "Nah. She's gonna have a crampin' belly I guess, but there ain't nothin' that'd show--soon's the bleedin' gets stopped. Yeah, okay, I'll call ya. What?" Pause. "Sure, sure--go ahead. Might as well use the camera boys up there. No problem. An hour, you say? Yeah, I'm sure we can be ready." He hung up the phone, turned back to Teresa Maria, who had been sitting, throughout the conversation, on the edge of the cot. "There gonna go ahead and shoot part of a loop up there--we got an hour."

She glanced down at her stomach, where a tiny but steady trickle of blood still oozed from her navel. "I heard you say it'll stop by then?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure. We'll wanna clean out your gut again, just before we go. Even if you don't have any shit there, you might have some blood."

"Whatever you say," she told him. "What should we do while we wait?"

"Well, I'll check your BP again in a while--maybe give you some more norep. Just before you go, I got some coke you can snort, too. It'll help keep you goin'."

"That's fine," she replied, keeping her eyes down.

"Want something to eat? A drink, maybe?"

She looked up, grinned. "A last meal for the condemned? No, I'm not hungry. A glass of wine might be nice."

"Ain't got none. Beer, whisky, coffee."

"Never mind, then. It isn't important."

He looked at her for a long moment. "I still don't understand you," he told her, running his hand through his hair. "I mean, shit--you're gonna walk out on that stage and let those fucking dudes kill you! Even if you decide you don't wanna go through with it, it's too late now. You can't get outta here--they got goons posted at the doors. If you was to fight, they'd just take you up there, tie you up, and do you anyway. I can't do nothin' but stall."

She gave him a wide-eyed look. "Is that what you're doing?" she asked. "Stalling? You've got a way to stop this bleeding, and you're just stalling?"

He acted embarrassed, but it was clearly just an act. "Well..." he muttered.

"Oh, Doc," she chastised. "That wasn't necessary!" But she got up off the cot, came over to where he was standing by the phone, and, turning his head away from the camera, pulled the concealing surgical mask down and kissed him. The scene faded at that point.

It reopened with her again on the cot, her hips elevated, and Doc pushing an enema tube into her anus. Again the bag drained, again she went to the toilet, again there was the sound of water falling into it. This time it was only repeated once; then Doc pronounced her clear. He checked her blood pressure once more, gave her another injection of norepinephrine, and dabbed at her skin as if cleaning away blood, but none could be seen. Her hair looked bright and smooth, as if freshly washed and dried; it seemed possible that she might have had a shower during the camera break.

"I wish you'd let me give you a shot of this," he told her, waving another syringe around.

"What's that?"

"Heroin--good stuff. It's the best painkiller--"

"No. I showed you--I don't need it."

He shrugged. "Well--we oughta get a call any minute--you're as ready as I can getcha, I guess--" he pointed to a long line of white powder on a mirror, a glass bowl covering it. "You wanna do that coke just before you go up. It'll help you keep goin'--it'll help keep you from passin' out."

"That I'll do," he told him. As she finished her sentence, the phone rang. Doc jumped; it didn't look phoney.

But he picked it up. "Yeah?" he said into it. "Yeah. Yeah, fine. Yeah, yeah--all ready here. Uh-huh. Right." He put the receiver down, looked around at Teresa. "They're ready," he told her. "They're gonna send a guy down. He and I'll take you up."

"Should I do the cocaine now?"

"No--just before you leave the room. Last thing."

"All right," she said. Seated on the cot, she folded her hands in her lap, watched the door expectantly.

"Ah, shit!" Doc cried unexpectedly. "Look, I dunno what all that shit you were telling me was all about, but lemme getcha outta here! I can do it, I can getcha past the goons. Don't worry about what I said about peritonitis--antibiotics'll fix that up, you won't die. C'mon, get up! I got some clothes over here you can put on--!"

She smiled at him warmly, but shook her head. "No, Doc. I'm going to go through with it, just like it is in the script. I don't want you to save me."

"But they're gonna kill you! They're gonna kill you--for a fuckin' movie! And they ain't gonna do it quick, neither--they're gonna hurt you, they're gonna hurt you real bad! God damn it, girl! You fuckin' crazy or somethin'? Let me get you the fuck outta here!"

"No! I don't want to go. I made a deal to go out on that stage and stand still and let them kill me, and I'm going to keep my end of the bargain! I appreciate what you're trying to do, Doc, but I don't want to get out of it, I really don't."

"But they're gonna kill you! You read the script! That's what they're gonna do to you! No fx, for real! You'll be dead! You won't be here tomorrow!"

"I know!" she exclaimed, her eyes bright. "It's so final, isn't it? It's so exciting, Doc! Think about it! Can anything be more exciting than to kill or be killed? Anything? I can't tell you how I feel right now, you couldn't understand! Like a kid on Christmas morning, about to open a present she'd always wanted, like a virgin about to lie down with a man she loves! I am ready, Doc, I am! You're going to be so proud of me--I'm going to die so proudly! I'm going to make it beautiful! Tonight, tonight! In less than an hour! I can't wait, I can't wait!" Her body visibly trembling, she stood up again, took his hand. "You want to know what you can do for me, Doc?" she asked earnestly.


"You can watch. Never take your eyes off me until it's over. You can watch, and you can get turned on--for me. I'm making this film for guys like you to enjoy! I want it to be enjoyed! And you get to see it happen! Take advantage, Doc--do it for me!" Her expression was intense, her eyes pleading; there was no trace of insincerity in any of her words.

He didn't get a chance to answer. The door opened; a man, dressed the same as Doc was except that his face was covered by a ski mask, came in. For just a moment, he stood looking at Teresa. "Let's go," he said finally. "They're waitin' for us."

She stood up, smiled at him, stepped toward him. "Are you in the film?" she asked, standing very close to him, glancing down at his broad and muscular chest.

"Yeah," he said laconically.

"Are you the one who's going to kill me?" she asked directly.

He stared at her. "Uh--yeah," he answered after a moment. "Well, one of them--you read the script, di'ncha?"

"Yes, but--I mean, right after the little speech or whatever you want to call it--"

"Yeah, well, that's me..." he told her almost hesitantly.

"Good!" she evidently surprised him by saying. "You look strong and sexy--it ought to be real good!"

The eyes behind the ski mask stared. "Good God, lady--" he mumbled.

She looked concerned. "What's the matter?" she asked him, putting her hands on his chest, peering at his eyes through the ski mask.

"Well, Jesus! You ain't makin' it easy, all right!?"

She looked bewildered. "What do you mean? I'm perfectly willing to let you to do it--I'm not going to give you any trouble--"

"Shit, that's just it! You're too Goddamn willing! I don't know if I can do it, you actin' like that!"

She put her hands on her hips. "Oh, come on!" she cried. "Surely you have some kind of experience! You have killed a woman before, haven't you?"

"Yeah--during the War, over in 'Nam. But shit, they was always fightin'--or at least cryin' and beggin'--!"

"Well, I'm not going to fight! I'm not going to cry, and if I beg, it'll be for you to go ahead and do it! Why is that a problem for you?"

"Well, shit! I gotta tell you, it just ain't what I'm used to! Killin' is somethin' you do to somebody, not for somebody!"

She laughed out loud. "Not this time!" she declared, stroking his chest again. "Try to look at it this way," she told him. "You aren't doing it for me--it's something we're doing together. Before you do me, we're going to fuck, aren't we? We'll do that together. won't we? It'll be the same when you kill me. Something we're doing together!" She looked as if she was pleading with him, as if she was desperate to convince him.

He studied her face for a long time. "Maybe," he allowed finally. "Maybe I can. Hey, hell, of course I can!" He shook his head. "Lady, you are something else! You ready to get on down there?" He sounded eager now, as enthusiastic as she was.

"Just a second!" she said, flashing him her brightest smile. She almost ran to the table where the cocaine waited, picked up the straw lying there, drew the white powder up her nose. Then, actually running back, she grabbed his hand; with the other, she took one of Doc's hands. "Okay, guys," she told them cheerfully. "I'm ready--let's do it!" The scene faded once more.

There was a cut in the film, a brief blank; then the picture came up again, showing an empty stage. It was completely dark except for the light of a single flood. Near the back of the lighted area was an upright post; the floor was heavily waxed, glistening in the light. After a moment, Teresa Maria stepped into the circle of light. She still wore the same shoes, but she was now clad in a short crimson robe that reached only to her upper thighs.

Rock music began to play, and she started to dance. Gracefully, sometimes using the pole as a prop, she glided around the lighted area. After one song, she untied and stripped off the robe; she was wearing bikini underwear beneath, also crimson. After another tune, her hands went behind her, undid the top. Turning away, she took it off, dropped it; when she turned back around, her hands were partially concealing her coppery breasts.

Then she let her hands fall, exposing them. Topless, she danced on. As the next song began, she turned away again, slid the bikini panties over her hips, let them fall to the floor. A quick kick, and they disappeared into the surrounding darkness. Wearing only her shoes, she turned back, her hands tucked between her legs. Slowly, she drew them up her body, revealing her pubic hair. The hands continued to her breasts, where her fingers pinched and kneaded her nipples.

The music faded; as she stopped her dance, two men stepped into the light, appearing magically from the blackness. Both wore ski masks and nothing else; one carried a standing chair, which he placed in the center of the lighted circle. The other--he appeared to be the same man that had led her from the other room--had something in his hands as well. What it was could not yet be discerned.

"All right," the one who'd carried the chair said, his voice muffled as if disguised. "Stand up here, honey."

"Sure," Teresa Maria replied. He stood beside her; she reached over, teased his flaccid penis with her fingers. Her face was turned toward him, her smile full, her eyes bold.

The other man stood on her left; he held up a safety pin, large and heavy, and the camera zoomed in on it. "Okay, honey," he told her, his fingers massaging her nipple roughly, bringing it back to attention quickly. "Dontcha wiggle around none now!"

She turned her head, took his penis in her left hand; it too began to grow. "Oh, I won't!" she assured him, pushing her chest out a little.

Bending his head down, he began kissing and sucking her nipple, cupping her breast in his hand. Then he took his face away. Her nipple was standing straight out, and he brought the open pin around until the point was touching it, just a bit inside of center, parallel to her chest. The camera zoomed very close; someone said, "go", and he jabbed it in.

Quickly, the camera went to her face; her mouth was open, her eyes closed, her expression one of pleasure, not pain. Then it went back to her chest. The man shoved the pin on through her nipple horizontally, bringing the point back out. Then he closed it. A tiny bead of blood appeared at entry and exit.

Drawing back, the camera showed the man hand another safety pin to his comrade; this one was passed through her other nipple while the camera stayed back enough to show both it and her now slightly strained face. But as soon as the pin was closed, her features relaxed. Her smile returned, full, guileless.

The men tugged on them, pulling her breasts out as they did, illustrating the reality of the piercings. Then they tied short pieces of cord to them, letting the free ends of the strings dangle. One of them reached down, felt her crotch; nodding, he seated himself in the chair. His penis stood straight up. Teresa nodded too--though nothing had been said--and backed up to him, began lowering herself onto him. The camera zoomed in; every detail of its entry was recorded. She leaned backward a little, spreading and exposing her genitals, showing the penis thrust into them. His hands on her waist, he began moving her up and down slowly.

As the other man stepped up close and picked up the free ends of the cords, the camera zoomed to her face for an instant; she looked like a woman enjoying herself, like a woman in passion. Turning her head, she first licked the other man's erection, then took it fully into her mouth. He brushed her hair over, allowing the camera a full view of his organ between her lips. The the lens zoomed back, and her breasts could be seen to bounce as the man jerked on the cords. A quick zoom to her chest showed that this was provoking more bleeding, but it did not seem to bother her. To all appearances, she was totally involved in her intercourse with the two men.

"Shit of a shame," somebody behind the camera muttered. "Best porn actress I've seen in a shit of a long time!"

"Makes the whole thing better," somebody else answered. "Makes it worth more. But you're right! She's a fucking knockout, too!"

"Fucking waste," the first voice snarled. "If we didn't finish it, we could make dozens like this!"

"We finish it, it's worth a hundred times as much!"

"I guess."

The men were excited; that much was obvious. Teresa Maria looked natural, relaxed, looked like she was enjoying herself. Her lips and tongue were gliding smoothly around the standing man's penis, while the other bounced her on his lap.

But they couldn't hold out long. The one at her face had his orgasm first; as he did he pulled away a little. She kept her mouth open, and most of his semen shot inside. When he finished, she tipped her head, let it run over her lower lip. It formed a string, dripped down onto her chest.

Then she turned back to face the camera, a line of semen still on her lip and chin. The man who'd just climaxed stepped behind her, never letting go of the cords. As she continued to bounce on the other man's lap, he tugged hard on the safety pins, pulling her breasts far up. At last, the man she was sitting on could be heard to grunt; she lifted herself a little, pulled his penis out with her hand. His semen sprayed up across her stomach, fell back onto her thighs.

As soon as the man's orgasm was complete, she stood up slowly, turned to face the man behind her. He dropped the cords, untied them from the safety pins, but left the pins in place. Then both men moved out of the light. Teresa Maria smiled at the camera. Semen still shined on her lips, her chest, her thighs. Slowly, she turned away, toward the pole. She walked the few steps to it, put her hands on it, and leaned over; the line of her back was almost horizontal.

Once she was in position, one of the man returned; this time he was carrying a short bullwhip with a thin lash. He stood behind her for a moment, cracking the whip in the air. When he tapped her buttocks with it, she promptly dropped to her knees, keeping her hands in the same place on the pole, holding onto it tightly.

Lightly, he brought the whip down across her smooth bare back. She twisted her head and smiled back at him as he drew it back toward himself slowly; his next stroke, like the first, was so gentle that it could not have caused her any pain at all.

"That almost tickles!" she exclaimed, taunting him. She pulled her knees in a little, arched her back. "Is that the best you can do?"

The man laughed. "You don't like that?" he asked her, almost stroking her back again with the whip.

"It just isn't very interesting..." she murmured, laying her head against the pole.

"Let's try this, then," he said softly, drawing the whip back again. This time the lash descended violently, slapping loudly against her skin.

Her body jerked; the camera zoomed in. There was a bright red line running from her shoulder blade across and down her back almost to her hips, and randomly-spaced beads of blood were rising all along it.

"You like that better?" the man asked. His ski-mask rumpled, showing his grin.

The camera swung to her face. Her smile was there, as before. "Much better," she whispered. Her eyes closed slowly. "Much better!"

"Well, then," he said, again drawing the whip back. After a brief pause it descended again, lower on her back this time, raking across her hips. More blood oozed from this new streak, but he didn't even give her time to catch her breath before he lashed her again, across her shoulders. The camera zoomed in, focused on her face; the slap of the whip could be heard again, and her eyes snapped tightly shut, her smile interrrupted for just a moment by a grimace of pain.

Then the camera pulled away, watched the whip descend again, watched it draw more blood. Again and again it rose and fell, until her previously smooth back and hips were crisscrossed with bleeding streaks. The camera went back and forth, sometimes looking at her face, sometimes back far enough to record the whole scene, sometimes close in on the skin of her back, watching the lash land, sometimes seeing a few droplets of blood spring up.

After a while, he folded the now-bloody whip. Standing close to her, he touched her at the top of her thighs, in the front; just a bit slowly, she responded, rising to her feet. Again her back was horizontal, her hands still gripping the pole, her head lying against it.

"You like the whip?" he asked her, running the end of the grip up and down between her buttocks. The handle terminated in a rough, leather-wrapped ball about an inch and a half in diameter.

"Yes I do," she told him, looking back over her shoulder at him.

"Let's just see," he commented, pushing the ball against her genitals. The camera zoomed in again, watched; he pushed hard, but only succeeded in pushing her forward. "Push against me!" he commanded.

"I'm--trying--!" she told him through clenched teeth as he ground the ball against her vagina. Spreading her widely, it started in. "Ah!" she cried. "Ah, oh, slow--oh!" He pushed on; the thick handle entered her gradually, deeper and deeper, until he could no longer maintain his grip on it to push. Then he pulled it back a couple of inches, pushed it deep again, repeated the action.

She was moaning; the camera looked at her face, and her expression was not one of agony. But when he pulled it back out of her, it was bloody, and a small trickle of blood started draining from her genitals, running down into her pubic hair and finally dripping onto the polished floor.

He tapped her hips with the handle again; again she dropped to her knees, hugged the pole. Again the lash tore across her back and hips, creating new cuts in her skin.

Finally he stopped, let the whip drop to the floor. Slowly, a little stiffly, Teresa Maria stood up straight. She turned, showing her back to the camera. Blood trickled down slowly from a multitude of shallow cuts. Then she turned back; from the front, only a few edges of the lash marks could be seen.

The whip-wielder retreated into the darkness. For a few moments she stood alone in the lighted circle; her breathing seemed labored, but whether it was from her injuries or from excitement could not be discerned. Her eyes were half-open, her lips parted in her usual smile. With her hands, she stroked her own body; when she put them between her legs, they came up bloody. When she played with the safety pins still piercing her nipples, she provoked a little more blood from them as well. Smiling down at herself, she shivered; when her eyes returned to the camera, she seemed to be glowing with pride.

But they were not through with her, not yet. The other man returned, bringing with him a pair of long slender skewers, like those used for shish-kebab but slimmer, the bright steel glinting in the floodlights. The whip-wielder, returning without the whip, took one of them; they took up positions on either side of her.

"You ready for these?" the first man asked her, holding up one of the skewers.

Teresa Maria glanced at the skewer, then turned her head from one to the other, an expectant look on her face. She spread her arms and lifted them a little, gesturing at her body with her chin. "I'm ready and waiting, guys," she said clearly, sounding eager. "Whenever you are!"

One of the men touched a skewer to her right breast, an inch or so above the nipple. Again she looked ecstatic as he twisted it into her flesh, kept working it in until it was at least three inches deep. As blood beaded up alongside it, they turned her bleeding back to the camera again. She glanced over her shoulder; the other man put the point of his against her back, under her right shoulder blade, and began pushing it straight in. She winced, but kept smiling. He stopped; they turned her around, facing the camera once more. Standing behind her, the man began pushing the skewer again; the camera watched her breast push out, saw the point of the skewer break through and emerge, just below the nipple.

There was a little pause; she let them turn her around again, showing the steel that had pierced completely through her. Her smile stayed in place; it did not look forced.

There was a pause, and finally Teresa Maria seemed to become impatient. "Guys," she said, touching the skewer than remained, the one that had been started from the front, "there's another one here, don't forget..."

"We won't," one of the men assured her. Again they turned her to the side, and he began pushing the other skewer on into her breast, deeper and deeper. She laid her hand lightly on his as he drove it through her, her eyes moving between the skewer and his masked face. Her smile was not fading now; it seemed as if she was not feeling the pain as intensely as before. Finally, the point of this one pressed the skin of her back outward, then popped through.

They released her, and she turned slowly around and around for the camera, carefully showing that both skewers went all the way through her. She was smiling, she looked happy, proud, contented. It could be seen in her face; an incredible amount had been asked of her, but so far she'd taken every bit of it without the slightest complaint.

She turned to the side; each of the men took a skewer, and slowly they pulled them free. "Are you done with those?" she asked when both were out.

"We don't have to be..." one of the men said, turning his skewer over in his hand. "If you want another taste of them!"

She looked at him boldly, gestured down at her body with both hands. He put the sharp point of his skewer against her stomach, just to the left of her navel. When she didn't move or say anything, he pushed it right in.

She grunted, put her hands alongside it as he slipped it on inside her abdomen. "Turn it," the other man advised in a soft voice. "You don't wanna hit her spine!"

The man pushing it into her nodded, swung it to the right, kept pushing. They turned her so that the camera could see the skin of her back push out, see the tip of the skewer break through. They turned her on around once, then pulled it out. Blood mixed with watery fluid followed it as it came loose.

Again she turned around and around, slowly, showing the trickles of blood that welled from the punctures they'd made. Little lines of blood decorated her body as she posed for the camera, smiling sensually and massaging both men's now-erect penises with her hands.

Facing the camera, she turned one of her legs to the side, showing the viewer the line of blood draining down the inside of her thigh, the line that began at her vagina. One of the men reached around, pushed a finger up inside her while she kept her leg cocked. As the finger entered, blood came out, covering his hand. Regardless of the bleeding, she squirmed against the hand, pushing down on it a little.

One of the men laid a hand on her shoulder, pressed lightly. She dropped to her knees, ran her tongue around his erection, then sucked it vigorously for a few seconds, her hand working the other man's organ. Turning her face to him, she took him into her mouth, offering him the same pleasure.

"Aren't you in pain?" the man she was working on asked her.

She released his penis for a moment. "Yes," she murmured. "Yes. But it's what I wanted--"

"You want us to end it?"

She looked up at them. "Whatever you want," she declared strongly. "Whatever you want to do with me!"

Both nodded, stepped away from her and out of the light while she remained where she was, still kneeling. Almost immediately they returned; one was holding a silk scarf, the other a small-calibre handgun. They showed the items to her.

"You wanna choose one?" the man with the gun asked.

"No," she told them, her eyes wide. "No, you choose!"

The gunman nodded. "You," he said to the other man.

"All right," he responded amiably, twisting the scarf. He bent over her, slipped the scarf under her hair, pulled it around her throat. "Are you ready?" he asked her, standing behind her and holding the ends of the cloth.

"Any time," she answered. Reaching around, she stroked his thighs. Her eyes were open, fixed on the camera's lens; her mouth was open as well, sensually, as before.

Slowly and evenly, the man began pulling on the ends of the scarf. Her hands came away from him, moved back to her knees, stayed there. The scarf tightened fully; the man's hands shook a little as he held it tight.

Teresa Maria's eyes remained open as her chest began to heave in short movements; it was obvious she was getting no air. Her mouth opened wider; after only a couple of seconds her lips and eyelids began to swell, and her face started to turn dark. She blinked rapidly. Her fingers pressed into the skin of her thighs, but she didn't move her hands, didn't struggle with him at all.

Her eyes, still open, were beginning to glaze; her body shook violently. From out of the darkness, someone said, "stop". Instantly, the man quit tugging on the scarf, unwound it from her throat. She coughed violently, but her face quickly resumed its normal color.

She looked up at him. "You didn't finish it," she said reproachfully, her voice hoarse.

"I will," the other man said, extending a hand. She took it, and he pulled her to her feet. Standing close in front of her, he cocked the revolver. "Now I'll ask," he said. "You ready to die?"

"I've been ready," she told him, smiling. Her hands came up, rested on his shoulders; he tipped his face down to kiss her. The gun, in full view of the camera, swung up to touch her body, just under her ribs. She jumped as the muzzle pressed into her skin.

He pulled his face back. "What's the matter?" he asked her.

She giggled, in spite of her injuries, in spite of the situation. "It's cold," she told him. But she squirmed closer to him, pushed her body hard against the gun.

"It'll be hot when I shoot you," he advised her.

She sighed. "Then do it," she told him, pressing against it harder. "Do it, shoot!"

The camera looked at the gun, watched his finger tighten on the trigger. Then back to her face; she was kissing him passionately. Back to the gun; the finger tightened more.

Suddenly, the hammer fell. But there was only a click.

She pulled back, looked down at the gun. "No bullets?" she asked. She seemed really disappointed.

"Set on an empty chamber," he said, grinning. "Let's do it a different way!"

"Okay!" she said enthusiastically. "How?"

"Kneel back down," he told her. Smiling at him, she went back to her knees, facing him. "Look out there," he instructed, gesturing at the camera. She did, smiling into the lens. Lifting and moving her thick hair, he put the muzzle of the gun right behind her ear.

"That'll be too quick," she complained, though again her hands rested on her knees. "I'll be dead almost instantly!"

"I want it that way," he told her firmly.

She shrugged, very slightly. "Then go ahead," she agreed. "I want it the way you want it!" Waiting, she continued to watch the lens.

Again he squeezed the trigger very slowly. Again it merely clicked.

She looked up at him, grinned. "Another empty chamber?" she asked.

He shrugged. "Looks like it," he told her, again pulling her back to her feet. "How about one more try?"

"I'm game," she told him as the other man stood close beside her.

This time he knelt in front of her. Staying enough to one side that the camera could see, he nuzzled the gun into her pubic hair. "Pull yourself open," he told her.

She smiled broadly, bent her knees, and used her fingers to spread her vaginal lips. A little blood trapped there ran out; the man pushed the muzzle into her vagina. She sighed as he pushed the three-inch barrel up inside her, stopping only when the cylinder was against her body.

He paused. Breathing hard, she raised her eyebrows expectantly.

For the third time, he squeezed the trigger. As before, there was merely a click. He slid the gun out, showed the camera the blood on the barrel. Then he discarded the weapon, sliding it across the floor, out of the light. Again, the two men stood flanking her, and again, she toyed with their erections.

After posing with her for a few moments, the men again left the lighted area, returning seconds later. This time, when they returned, they were not bearing instruments of torture, at least not obviously so. One of them had two pails, a cloth hanging over the side of one; the other was carrying a jar of some whitish cream and a towel.

And for the moment, at least, torture was not what they had in mind. One of them dipped the cloth in one of the buckets; it came up soapy, and, while Teresa Maria held up her hair, he proceeded to wash away the blood from her wounds. Enjoying this, she put her head back and smiled as they washed her down carefully, thoroughly. After her lacerated back had been bathed once, new blood began appearing along the whip-inflicted cuts; the other man took a handful of the cream, rubbed it into her skin. Evidently, the cream was an astringent; when they washed away the fresh blood, no more appeared. After a brisk rubdown by the towel, she looked much as she had when she'd first stepped out on the stage--except for the safety pins in her nipples.

There was a long, pregnant pause; then one of the men stepped outside the circle of light, removed the buckets and cream. He returned an instant later, a very efficient and lethal-looking knife in his hand. The blade was a good eight inches long, but slender--not more than an inch wide anywhere along its double-edged length. The hilt was very ornate. The man held it familiarly, showed it to Teresa Maria. Her eyes seemed locked to it, but the smile remained on her face.

Another form, a heavy man, stepped partially in front of the camera. His face could not be seen. "It's time," he said, his voice muffled but authoritative. "Time for you to make history. You should be proud; no one has ever done this before, not like you're about to. This fim will become flamous--" he stopped, aware of the Spoonerism. The men laughed; Teresa Maria joined them, holding her hand over her mouth. "You know what's expected of you?" he asked her finally, the voice showing his frustration.

"Yes, I do," she told him, giggling again. "Now?"

There was another pause. The dramatic mood had been spoiled, but the process went on. "Now," he intoned, and moved off camera.

Still laughing quietly, Teresa Maria again fondled the men's erections; the one without the knife played gently with her breast. "You heard him, guys," she said softly, glancing at each one in turn.

The men nodded; the unarmed man released her breast reluctantly, took a step back. Taking a very deep breath, she faced the camera and again cocked her right leg, bending her knee slightly. Slowly, she raised her arms; when they were all the way up, she crossed her wrists and twined her fingers together. Then she lowered her hands until her thumbs were atop her head. Her breasts were pulled up; her ribs could be seen clearly. The muscles in her thighs were taut. "I'm ready," she whispered.

The man with the knife stepped around behind her, keeping her body completely exposed to the camera's eye. She smiled as he touched her, felt with his fingers for her ribs on the right side of her body. When he located the sixth one, he carefully touched the point of the blade to her skin, between the bones. He hesitated; Teresa Maria didn't move. Her eyes were open, she was smiling into the lens. Her expression denoted complete peace, but intense excitement. She seemed proud, utterly in control.

The hesitation stretched on. She glanced at the knife. It was angled back carefully, so that his hand wouldn't block the camera's view of its penetration.

His left hand came up, caressed her left breast briefly, then dropped just below it, holding her steady. There was another brief hesitation. The girl sighed, long and slow.

He pushed the knife suddenly, unexpectedly. Two inches of it pierced her body; there was a tearing sound, like cloth ripping. Her sigh turned to a gasp, and she stiffened, her eyes wide, her smile finally gone. The camera held there for a second, then went to her side, to the knife in her flesh. Blood was beginning to well out around it already. Over her head, her knuckles turned white as she gripped her own hands tightly; she trembled, but she didn't move.

The camera zoomed on the knife. Someone said "go!" and the man pushed again. There was another ripping sound, and another two inches of the blade slid into her perfect, smooth skin. More blood was coming, racing down her side. Her hands rose, high over her head, but she kept them locked together.

Quickly, the cameraman pulled back. Tears were beginning to run from her eyes, and the trembling was worse, but she hadn't broken her stance. She gasped again but still didn't move when the man pushed on the knife again, when her flesh accepted another two inches of the blade. Slowly, his fingers unwound from the hilt; he took his hand away, leaving the knife imbedded in her side. Blood was oozing from around it, beginning to bubble from her lips as well.

Then, holding his hand against her right side now, he slowly and evenly pulled it back. As it came free her blood began to pour out, covering her side, her hip, running down her leg and pooling around her feet. The camera examined the wound closely; blood pumped rhythmically, and the rather neat little hole opened and closed with her ragged breathing. Still she stood unmoving, a determined look on her face.

"Jesus!" said a voice. "She didn't even fall! Lookit that! She's just standin' there bleedin'!"

And she continued to stand, continued to hold her hands high over her head. Gradually, a little at a time, her smile began to return. The two men were staring at her, as if unsure of what to do now.

Then one of them--the one with the knife still in his hand--turned and stepped out of the circle of light. There was a mumbled conversation somewhere in the darkness. Evidently, no one had taken the girl's strength and determination into account. Seconds passed. Her blood still pumping--though not quite so fast now--Teresa Maria held her pose. She opened her mouth a little, allowed the blood that had collected there to run out, let it drip onto her breast.

Finally the man returned, still holding the bloody knife. He stepped up close to the girl. Her face had regained its serenity; she looked untouchable again.

"Uh--how you doin'?" he asked her, his voice barely audible.

"I think I'm dying," she answered simply. "But slowly. I'm bleeding to death, I'm sure. It's very hard to breathe. We should go on, I think."

"Th' script says when you collapse, we go on," he told her awkwardly. "You ain't collapsed!"

"No," she said softly, glancing up at his face. "No, I think I could hold out for quite a while. I don't want to. I want you to put that knife in me again!"

"What? But--!"

"Do it," she insisted. "Do it again. It'll make the film better, too; do it again!" Her eyes turned toward him; her excitement seemed to have reached a fever pitch.

"Shit!" he exclaimed. "Don't it hurt? Don't you wanna just go on and finish it?"

"No, it doesn't hurt that much now. It's sort of numb. It hurt when you drove it in me, but the pain has pretty much gone away."

"Well, damn! Where? Where do you want me to--?"

"Lower," she said. "Lower. In my side, but a little to the front so it can be seen well. Come on; do it!" Smiling fully once more, she looked at the camera and waited.

The man took up the same position again. Again his hand caressed her breast, and this time he held her by it, pressing his fingers hard into it. Again he brought the knife around; this time, he allowed the point to rest against her side, halfway between her waist and hip. Again he held it there, frozen.

She turned her face up to him again. "Now," she whispered. "Put it in me again, don't make me wait! Now!"

He nodded and responded, shoving three inches of the sharp blade into her body. It seemed to go in easily, softly; there was little sound, and the man hadn't had to push hard. More blood surged out of her, but this time her smile remained. "Ah!" she moaned. "Ah, ah! This is it, this is it!" She turned her head up to his. "Kiss me, and push it in deeper!" she demanded.

He pressed his lips to hers; as soon as they were in place he put pressure on the knife again. As the camera watched, it slipped almost effortlessly right on in. She stiffened, ground her mouth against his. He released the knife's hilt; only an inch of blade remained visible. She seemed to be sagging against him.

Quickly, he stepped away; she moaned, her head falling back, her eyelids fluttering. Blood was streaming from the previous wound, and from around the imbedded knife. First, her hands started to release each other; then her knees folded, and she crumpled to the floor. The two men went to her and rolled her over, making sure that her pierced and bleeding right side was toward the camera. It zoomed in briefly on the knife, which stood stiffly in place near her waistline. One of the men looked up, motioned to the darkness.

Carrying a black bag, Doc rushed in from the shadows and knelt beside the fallen girl. He put his fingers against her throat. "She's alive," he called out. Digging in his bag, he came up with a length of rubber tube; one of the other men looped it around her upper arm, tightened it. By then, Doc had drawn a syringe full of liquid from a small vial. He thumped her arm, just below the elbow, then jabbed the needle into the vein and booted the solution in. At last he stood, looked down at the bleeding girl. "Better do it quick," he advised, gesturing toward the blood that ran freely from her wounds. "Soon as she comes around. She sure as shit isn't going to last very long!"

After only a few seconds, she opened her eyes and looked up at the two men. Forcing a smile, she tried to sit up. But the knife was still in her body; her face went pale and tight, and she sank back. After another second, she offered them her hands.

As they pulled her to her knees, she looked like she was going to pass out again. Her lips trembled, tears ran from her alternately wide and clenched eyes, and her body shook occasionally as if she was cold. But she managed to maintain consciousness as one of them held her while the other gathered her hair up in his hand. Then the first man released her, stepped into the darkness. The other man was now supporting her by her hair. Her hands lay limply on the blood- covered floor; she was fighting for breath, apparently struggling to stay alive and conscious.

Finally she seemed to find her voice. "You'll have to do things from here on," she said to the man supporting her. "I can't--I can't do any more. I'm so weak--I feel really cold..."

He put his hand on her shoulder, gave it a gentle squeeze. "Nobody expects anything more from you. Nobody expected this much!"

She was turning her head and looking back at him when the other man returned, carrying a machete. Its edge caught the light, reflected it. He stepped up almost in front of her; his erect penis was alongside her cheek. The man holding her hair gently turned her head toward it. For a moment she just looked at it, still fighting for every breath. Finally she opened her mouth, and he pushed it in. Reaching around behind her, she tried to play with the other man's penis, but she seemed to lack control; all she could so was hold it, move her fingers a little.

She could only move her lips a little, but he moved his hips back and forth until he ejaculated in her mouth. She didn't even try to swallow; blood and semen mixed ran from her lips as he pulled away from her.

He reached for her hair, but the man holding it shook his head. "Go on and do her," he told his companion. "She ain't gonna last." Still holding her up by her hair, he took a step back keeping his nude body far from hers.

Selecting his position carefully so the camera could see it all, the man with the machete stood in front of her; she ignored him, her breath coming in short, agonized gasps. He tapped her cheek with the blade, said something to her, something inaudible to the mike. But she raised her eyes, looked up at him. A phantom of the smile returned to her face. Slowly, with obvious effort, she began raising her hands in something like a gesture of supplication. She kept her palms turned up, her fingers spread a little; when they reached the level of her breasts, she stopped, held her pose with obvious difficulty.

Drawing the machete back, the man swung it hard at her neck. It passed cleanly through, leaving her head suspended by the hair, dangling from the other man's hand.

Her limbs jerking and twitching wildly, her body toppled over onto its side, an incredible volcano of blood erupting from the neck. Her legs shot out hard; her toes vibrated. Above the body, her eyes had flown very far open, and her mouth was open as well. Her expression seemed to be one of astonishment. As the blood drained from her severed head, her features quickly found there way into a strained smile. After a second, the smile became relaxed, natural; a look of pride, of triumph, was added to the calmness. But by then, her pupils had expanded to fill her eyes. On the floor, the body still jerked periodically. The camera stayed with the scene until all movements of both head and body had ceased completely. Then the man holding her head put it down beside the headless corpse, in the huge pool of blood that had spread onto the glossy wood of the stage. Reaching over, he pulled the knife free from her side; only a little new blood followed it. Then, slowly, the two men left the circle of light.

The camera swept down across Teresa Maria's body, hesitating at her breast, where the safety pins remained in her nipples, pausing to study the knife wounds in her side. slowing again as it moved across her genitals and thighs. Then back up to her severed neck; a bloody piece of bone could be seen, protruding from the stump. From there to to her head, set up so that her open but sightless eyes seemed to be staring at her headless torso.

Finally it moved back to her body, to one of her hands, fixing on the stiffly curled fingers. From there it pulled away; the scene remained on the screen, frozen, for at least three minutes. Then the picture slowly faded.