Anita continues watching the porn videos, including when the woman starts rotting eventually. But then the rot doesn't spread.... which Anita says needed voodoo of the blackest kind. Which tells her that the animator is nearby, probably telling her what to do off camera.
The start of this chapter... is not very good compared the previous chapter. There's no sense of immediacy to the descriptions of the porn so you're dreading what comes next, and Anita doesn't really describe any personal reactions to it. She just clinically lists what happens and how it looks, with no feeling whatsoever. Which makes me suggest that the last chapter had some serious editorial meddling, insisting that LKH actually write it with some actual FEELING.
Zombies rot; it’s one of the things that set them apart from ghouls, or vampires. Not all corpses are created equal.
I'm not even sure if LKH's vampires count as dead. I mean, they show physical growth (they can jack up their muscles and grow hair), reproduce (they can father babies, at least), their hearts beat... I mean, you could make a serious court case that they're not really dead, just mutants or whatever.
And then... they realize that the calendar on the wall has changed throughout the various porns, showing that she hasn't rotted over several weeks.
“Zombies rot, always; that’s the rule that Anita taught me. It can’t be a month later.”
She nodded. “It’s not proof that much time actually passed, but we think it may be their way of showing clients that they’ve done something unique.”
... so, they have no actual reason to think that time has passed. This literally could have taken place in a single day, and they just changed her clothes and flipped a few calendar pages.
“Her soul is back in her eyes, that wasn’t unique enough?” I asked, and my voice didn’t sound neutral the way I tried to sound this early in an investigation. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull off neutral with this case; sometimes you can’t.
- Don't "negatively describe."
- In other words, don't tell me what it DOESN'T sound like. Tell me what it DOES sound like.
- Say she sounds raw, or wobbly, or disgusted, or SOMETHING. This is like that scene in New Moon where Bella announces that Alice doesn't smell like this, that or the other thing... which leaves us wondering what the hell she DOES smell like.
- I mean, a person can sound not-neutral by sounding giddy. Is that what Anita sounds like?
- I'm no theologian, but I'm also pretty sure the soul doesn't reside in the eyes.
“You saw it,” Manning said.
“We both saw it,” Zerbrowski said.
“Would you have said her soul was back in her eyes, Sergeant?”
“I’m not that poetic.”
Manning looked at me. “I don’t think Marshal Blake was being poetic.”
Zerbrowski looked from her to me. “I think I’m missing something.”
“Don’t feel bad,” Brent said. “It took us weeks to figure it out.”
“Figure out what?” he asked.
“Were you being poetic, Marshal Blake?” Manning asked.
THIS FILLER DIALOGUE IS KILLING MY SOUL.
Anita then concludes that she's done something that has made Manning suspicious of her. And I just realized that LKH named the only woman other than Anita so far "Manning." Subtle.
I also suspect that this was the point in the original draft when Manning became a Jellus Whiner Baby who hates on Anita for no real reason, except for all the good ones she would bring up, which would be dismissed as sexism, racism and homophobia. But since the editor has clearly gutted LKH's trademark filler... or at least reduced it... we just have this undercurrent of unease.
I wondered, if it hadn’t been a male voice ordering the zombie around, would they have looked at me as a suspect from the beginning?
I'd hope so. Think about it:
- She's the Nimir-Ra of the wereleopards, who were whored out and used for porn.
- She's also the local lupa of the werewolves, who were also used for snuff porn.
- She's in a position of power in two interrelated sub-societies, both of which are heavily reliant on the sex industry.
- The woman being raped in the porn is exactly the kind of woman LKH/Anita hates: blonde, tall, slender, big-boobed...
Then again, Anita would insist on being the star of any porno. Preferably with several men standing around talking and observing while someone porked her. Nobody gets to lie there like a sack of mildewed grain, shrieking and being pressured into doing stuff she doesn't want except Anita!
Hell, the Catholic Church had excommunicated us all unless we gave up raising the dead, because only Jesus was allowed to do that.
- I'm pretty sure that's not an actual doctrine.
- Yes, obviously the Catholic Church is against necromancy, but... so are most people.
- In real life, that is not a real thing that people do. It's hard to have a moral stance on a thing that never happens.
- Also... again.... in-world, THIS IS A THING THAT HAS ALWAYS EXISTED.
- In this world, animators should be a thing that has existed throughout human history, including before the Catholic Church was founded. So any beliefs about the morality/immorality of it should NOT be a new development. It should have been established the better part of two millennia ago!
- It's almost like animators never existed until Anita came along.
- Just like weres and vampires.
Biblical scholars had pointed out that four of his disciples had done it, too, but the Pope, at the time, had found comparing zombie-raising pagans to the disciples of Jesus Christ less than amusing.
- LKH is a Wiccan who was raised in some stripe of conservative Protestantism. Does it show that she knows jack-shit about Catholics?
- Especially the hilariously clueless belief that Biblical scholars are a thing that Catholics don't have, and silly Catholics wouldn't know anything about the Bible.
- I mean, those many centuries of being the dominant religious force of western civilization? Those many scholars and educated men and women who examined and interpreted not only the Bible, but analyses and other related texts? Totally didn't happen. No, they have no Biblical scholars. Because Catholics.
- Also... again... animators are supposed to have this power as an inborn part of them. It's not a "pagan" thing. It would occur in all sorts of religions.
- And it's not dependent on religious practices; it's not something you can gain or accomplish or learn.
- I could understand him having a problem with the whole voodoo thing, as that would go against Catholic teachings. You know, with the loa and stuff.
- But the animation itself, while potentially problematic, has an involuntary element. It's not considered a sin if you literally cannot control it, or at least not as bad a one. I'm pretty sure people with Tourette's don't have to confess that they called someone a shit-assed motherfucker during one of their fits.
- Really, the entire thing has a very ugly anti-Catholic flavor to it, which I could blame on Wicca or conservative Protestantism... or both. I know LKH is trying very clumsily to make some kind of comparison to gay ("born this way," like animators) people and Catholic doctrines, which is an actual issue in the real world that people have to grapple with...
- ... but the fact that it is the ONLY major denomination of Christianity, or the only major religious body at all, which is mentioned as oppressing the poor wittle animators is rather suspect.
- Yes, LKH occasionally trots out a cartoonish fundy Christian who rants about vampires/weres/fucking/gay people/etc, but that is not presented as a general viewpoint of a religious body, but just a general Tumblr-style "Christians suck, lolz."
- NO OTHER group is ever mentioned as having an opinion or doctrine on animators. EVER.
- So the silence from all other religions seems very suspicious. Seriously, Bible-only Christian denominations don't have a problem with animators? Muslims don't? Mormons? Jews have never had a problem with RAISING THE SHAMBLING SOULLESS DEAD? I find that very, very hard to believe. It kind of reeks of LKH justifying her prejudices in the most cowardly way: through fictional scenarios that only slightly resemble real life.
- And that only touches on Judeo-Christian religions. What about Hinduism and Buddhism? They believe in reincarnation! Wouldn't it be considered very, very problematic for members of those faiths to have someone returning life to the dead? Wouldn't that potentially fuck up the soul's reincarnation?
- If an evil vampire who oddly resembles Tommy Wiseau shows up, I totally called it.
Anita points out that zombies can't be raised if the soul is still in the body... which I don't entirely understand. I mean, wouldn't that actually make it EASIER? Wouldn't the soul make the zombie more "alive"? And no, LKH does not explain why this is, because explanations are for Jim Butcher. But I'm sort of okay with that, because I suspect any explanation she gave would be worse than the lack of one.
Anyway, the zombie was just a normal zombie when she was raised, and then somehow they put the soul back in her.
“You’ve got witches and psychics on the payroll at the FBI now. You even have at least one animator. What’d they come up with?”
Wait.... an acknowledgement that the FBI would hire other animators, witches and psychics... and NOT ask Anita?! IS THIS THE MYTHICAL LOGIC I HAVE HEARD OF?
It turns out that they all came to the same conclusion as Anita, but they don't know how it happened. Anita claims she has actually seen this happen.
“Give us a name and we may have our guy,” Brent said, all eager for a clue.
“It was a woman, and she’s dead.” I added, “I believe she’s dead.”
“Give us a name, we’re good at finding people,” Manning said.
“Dominga Salvador; she was the most powerful vaudun priestess in the Midwest.”
O. M. G. Is that... continuity? Is she making a reference to the pre-Micah/ardeur/Nicky/werequeenofeverything continuity of the Anita Blake series? Where am I? Who am I? Are these MY feet?
“Some of the local law enforcement officers thought you’d killed her in self-defense.”
“The local LEOs didn’t trust me as much before I had a badge.”
- Nice dodge, Anita. Try to distract from the fact that you DID kill her... by whining about how people don't trust you, because they say mean things like the facts about you.
- And of course, she didn't kill her in self-defense. It was actually murder.
- Not saying Salvador didn't DESERVE it, but Anita did murder her. Not self-defense, if I recall correctly.
- So in fact, the LEOs were giving her more credit than she deserved.
- And why would the LEOs suddenly be more trusting of Anita when she got a badge SHE DIDN'T EARN? You'd expect them to be LESS tolerant of her, because not only does she now have more authority and power to hide her misdeeds behind, but she also is making a fucking mockery of their jobs.
“I trusted you,” Zerbrowski said.
I smiled at him. “You liked me; I don’t know if you trusted me.”
No smart person would trust Anita. Just look at what she's doing to Jade. When you stop being useful to her, she'll abuse you, banish you and/or kill you.
“Nice distraction there, Sergeant,” Manning said.
Thank God I'm not the only person who notices that.
“I don’t know what you mean, Agent,” he said.
... it amazes me that LKH describes every single article of clothing that people wear, and pukes exposition at us like a projectile-vomiting puppy taped to your face. Yet she can't tell us how Zerbrowski said this. Impishly? Deviously? Innocently? The way she writes it, it sounds like he actually means it even though he OBVIOUSLY DOESN'T!
Manning doesn't buy it because... well, she's not stupid. I think we're supposed to see her as bullying Anita and Zerbrowski, but it just makes her look semi-competent.
She then asks Anita why she thinks Dominga is dead and how she thinks Dominga died, and of course we already know that it's because Anita already killed her. You know, this is the crispest, fastest, least obnoxious conversation with authority figures LKH has
been forced to edit down written in years. Plus, this is the first time in a LONG time that Anita has told a lie to the authorities that DOESN'T either glorify herself or endanger innocent people.
I feel really weird reading this chapter. No giant lumps of repetitive, pointless dialogue... no Anita smugly threatening anyone who dares to not like her... Anita being AFRAID of her misdeeds being found out...
Anyway, Anita congratulates herself on having blank cop face that is much better than at the series' start, so she can lie without anyone knowing. Of course, it's glaringly obvious she's lying... because of her weird blank face.
I stayed blank and slightly smiling, and felt my eyes dead and empty as last year’s New Year’s resolutions.
Yeah, if I saw someone with a dead-eyed, vacuous smile like that, I wouldn't assume they were innocent and totally telling the truth. I'd either assume they were a Kardashian, or covering up their lies.
This is especially true because Anita hasn't looked like this throughout the interview. I could buy it if Anita was struggling to keep her face from betraying any of the emotions she's feeling, or trying to keep her expression from changing. But LKH just can't resist going "cop this, cop that, Anita is sooooooooo a cop!"
You know what it makes me think of?
So after an entire conversation full of normal reactions to questions, she suddenly goes all dead-eyed, vacant-faced and smiling weirdly at nothing... just after being asked about the suspicious death of a woman who had attacked her. Yeah, I'm pretty sure Manning not only knows that Dominga is dead, but who killed her, when and why. Because again, she's not a moron.
I wanted to look away from her so badly it almost hurt, but I didn’t. I knew exactly how Dominga Salvador had died, because I had killed her.
I wonder how many newer, post-Narcissus In Chains readers were really, really confused by this.