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Literature / The Girl in 6E

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"Jessica. Not my real name. He thinks he knows me. They all think they know me. After all, they've seen my Facebook page, seen the Photoshopped photos that construct my manufactured life. They believe what they see, because they want to believe. They want to believe that I am normal. And for the brief moments I am with them, I fool myself into thinking the same thing."
Prologue

Deanna Madden faces a constant dilemma: She doesn't want people to die; but she does want to kill. So far the former desire has prevailed, which is why she has spent the past three years locked in apartment 6E — which she never leaves. Not for food, not for socializing, not even for the fire alarm. She has everything delivered, and has the UPS man — always the same one — sign for the packages for her, so that she doesn't come in contact with a human in order to retrieve them. She doesn't trust herself even for that long.

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How does she maintain this expensive existence? Full-time, professional sex camming. To her clients she is JessReilly19, a bubbly college student. It's sordid, but it rakes in the dough and keeps the homicidal ideation at bay; and it's far from boring.

Deanna uses an alias partly to avoid pity: Her mother killed her entire family, then committed suicide. She blames her own thirst for blood on her mother's genes — after all, she inherited all of her physical characteristics; why not her psychological ones? Her shrink thinks her fantasies are only fantasies; what he doesn't know is that Deanna has already killed a person. And every second, she wants more.

But her well-ordered life is suddenly complicated by a client she suspects is up to no good. Seeing that this could be an opportunity to sate her desires and save a life in one stroke, she leaves apartment 6E for the first time in three years...

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The Girl in 6E is a 2014 erotic thriller by Alessandra Torre (writing as A. R. Torre). Think of it as I Am Not a Serial Killer, but with 100% more sex and 100% fewer demons.


The Girl in 6E contains examples of:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Deanna briefly does this in the middle of a phone call with her therapist. It's hardly made out to be a big deal, seeing as she essentially masturbates on camera for a living.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She's a pretty, dark-haired girl with a cold demeanour. Contrast with her cam girl persona, who is more like The Cutie.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The final chapter takes on a happy note, with Deanna about to go on a date with Jeremy, apprehensive, but hopeful that she can go out into the real world and interact with people. But then the last lines are a Meaningful Echo of an observation from earlier in the book: "Hope. Hope is dangerous. Hope can be the thread that pulls apart your sanity." That seems like a rather dark ending to a positive, optimistic chapter. Does this imply that Deanna is foolish to have hope, and does or will inevitably give in to her desires? Thank God, there's a sequel.
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  • Anorgasmia: Deanna's orgasms are almost always fake:
    "I won't come. An actual orgasm is an occasional occurrence, one that my tortured body spits out in exhausted exasperation, one of those 'here, take it!' gifts. But for the most part, I am severely oversexed, and my body ... has grown immune to stimulation."
  • Big Sister Instinct: Surprisingly - both to the reader and to herself - she has this towards Annie, a little girl who she thinks might be in danger of being raped.
  • Bullying a Dragon: On her road trip, Deanna stops at a convenience store, and the clerk corners her in the bathroom with the intention of raping her. When she dares him to try it, he does — and ends up with an arm against his throat and a knife pressed to his face. The only thing that stops Deanna from taking his life is focusing on her real goal. But she delivers this gem before leaving:
    "There's nothing I'd love more than to carve into that ugly shit that you call a face and leave you bleeding and helpless on this filthy floor, scrambling to stand, your eyeballs cut out and squishing beneath my feet. But I am fucking late, and I don't have time for this bullshit right now."
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "I inherited a lot from my mother, including delicate features, long legs, and dark hair, but the biggest genetic inheritance has been her homicidal tendencies."
  • Cam Whore: It's how she makes a fair share of money without leaving her apartment.
  • Casual Kink: As she's a cam girl who's used to seeing pretty much anything sex-related, most of her clients' desires aren't a big deal to her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: She mentions being hard of hearing in her right ear; later, this ends up resulting in the first human contact she's had in three years: She has her good ear against a pillow during a camming session, doesn't hear the UPS guy knocking, and hearing her moaning, he fears for her safety and bursts in.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sometimes with Derek, and at one point with Jeremy:
    Jeremy: Can you even drive?
    Deanna: [with a straight face] Yes. I'm an excellent driver. I haven't had a ticket or accident in over three years.
    • Though the delivery was deadpan, she does admit to internally laughing hysterically at her own wit.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Any reader who starts out thinking Deanna is just a psychopath is quickly set straight. Deanna may constantly want to kill people, but in general her morals are equal — and sometimes superior — to the average person's. She initially had trouble with a client who wanted her to laugh at his small penis, because she was too empathetic; she was genuinely disgusted by a client whose desire for a "young experience" seemed creepier than average; and when she began to suspect they were more than just desires, she got down on her knees and prayed — something she hadn't done in years — for the safety of the girl he might really be wanting. And then there's her thoughts on a client who is a Senator:
    "I'm not 'that girl'—I don't have any desire to record our sessions and sell the photos to the highest bidder—but it is only a matter of time before another camgirl will. I told Richard as much. ... It is just a matter of time before he is exposed, his firm stance on morality defrauded. But not by me. Killer: yes. Exploiter of secrets: no."
    • She also has perfectly normal emotions, needs, and desires: The death of her family crushed her; she admits that she is really lonely and wishes she had someone around to talk to, to rub her back and tell her everything is going to be alright; and when she makes her first stop at convenience store during her road trip, and for the first time in three years is faced with the prospect of junk food, she goes all out, with this rather sad confession: "This is easily one of the greatest moments I have had in recent memory."
  • Erotic Literature: Of course, erotic literature crossed with a murderous thriller, but still.
  • Face Realization: As she cuts the throat of the antagonist, and prepares to mutilate him as she always dreamed, Deanna is shocked to find her hand falling to her side, her bloodlust suddenly gone. Despairing, she delivers this Wham Line:
    "Maybe I am not my mother. Maybe my need of bloodshed stops at the point of mutilation and dismemberment."
    • Unfortunately, it returns. But that doesn't mean she's wrong about perhaps wanting mutilation rather than death.
  • First-Person Smartass: Her narration slips into this upon occasion.
  • Foreshadowing: Deanna mentions a few things that seem unconnected: 1) Her hearing is impaired in her right ear because of an undisclosed "accident"; 2) She's killed someone before; and 3) The coroner's report said that her mother's self-inflicted wounds were shallow and hesitant, with only one being immediately fatal. Then it's revealed in a flashback that Deanna was the one who killed her mother — up to that point Deanna had spoken of her mother's suicide as though it were fact, and implied that she didn't learn of her family's death until the next day when she went home from her grandparents'. This is the reason the initial wounds were shallow and hesitant; as for Deanna's ear, it was injured when her mother hit her on that side of her head with a platter.
    • On a re-read, a few other details will hint at this: Deanna mentions she had a delayed reaction when her grandparents told her of the massacre, which would have been chalked up to shock, but was apparently because she needed a few seconds to let the suppressed grief come back. And when her shrink responds to her theory of why her mother didn't want to kill her ("because it would be like killing herself") by pointing out that she did kill herself, Deanna pauses before responding that "Maybe after she did what she did, she couldn't live with herself anymore." At first this just seems like her trying to stick with her theory after having a hole poked in it, but afterwards you realize that there is no gap in her theory — she just couldn't tell him why, so she had to think of something else.
  • Genre Buster: An erotic novel that starts out like a Lit Fic but morphs into a Thriller, while never once pausing its psychological exploration and musings. While several of Deanna's camming sessions are described in all their explicit detail, they are more of a backdrop; the novel's real emphasis is on Deanna's thoughts, her inner battle, and eventually her little adventure. The only part that starts to read like your everyday erotic fiction is the part where Jeremy bursts into the apartment.
  • Good Feels Good: Not that this surprises her; the surprise is just how good it feels.
    "As much as I may have rescued Annie, she rescued me even more. She made me feel that in all of the rotten of my soul, there still existed goodness, light."
  • Heroic Willpower: Most of us will never know just how much willpower it takes to spend three years locked up in an apartment 24/7, sex camming full-time, and constantly battling your homicidal tendencies; but it's undoubtedly a lot. The last one takes even more willpower once she goes outside.
  • Identical Grandson: Deanna looks very much like her mother, and out of three kids she had the closest bond with her. She believes this may be why her mother went out of her way to make sure Deanna was away when she massacred the family — killing Deanna would be like killing herself. She also believes that, like her looks, her desire to kill might be inherited.
  • In the Blood: Deanna's theory as to why she wants to kill so badly.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Hope can be dangerous. Hope can be the loose thread that pulls apart your sanity." This first comes up during one of her many musings. Then it ends up being the last line of the book. What it's supposed to signify in the latter instance is unclear.
  • Murder Makes You Crazy: Part of how Deanna's homicidal urges manifested. She mentions more than once that she's killed one person before, and implies that things went downhill from there.
  • Murder-Suicide: Deanna's mother killed her other two children, her husband, and then herself.
  • Mysterious Woman: Jeremy, the UPS man, is very intrigued by Deanna, which is why he basically becomes her personal delivery man, always being the one to deliver any package addressed to her.
  • Pædo Hunt: The reason that Deanna ends up leaving the apartment.
  • Parental Favoritism: By all accounts, Deanna's mother connected much better with her, the firstborn who was like a carbon copy of her, than her two younger children. Not that she neglected or mistreated the other two; she just didn't have the same bond with them.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: A trait Deanna got from her mother. Of course, she might not be so pale if she ever got any sun.
    • This trait, along with her reclusiveness, leads Jeremy's niece to theorize that she's a vampire.
  • Red Herring: A few "Annie" chapters show us some of the adult males in her life, one of whom might be the man fantasizing about her, each setting off alarm bells for different reasons. Uncle Frank is seen whispering something into Annie's ear, then gives her a pink princess costume set for her birthday, in a scene rife with innocent but suggestively worded body contact. Dana's father immediately asks where Annie is when they arrive for the party, and when told it's been too long since they came over, seems to make a Freudian Slip when he replies "Too many other temptations on our time." When Annie comes over to their house, he insists rather vehemently that she and Dana swim in the pool — ostensibly because it never gets used — and has them pose for pictures afterward while they're still in their suits. Obviously one of these is a red herring. The predator turns out to be Uncle Michael (i.e. Ralph), whose scene is totally unremarkable: He gives Annie a paint-by-numbers set, doesn't follow her when she goes into the kitchen to open it, leaves with his wife minutes later while Annie is still admiring the paint set, and doesn't appear again until after the reveal — unlike the other two, who appear in two chapters each.
  • Reluctant Psycho: Deanna knows as well as anyone that killing is wrong, and she herself has felt acutely the grief and pain of losing loved ones to homicide. She wishes she could turn off her need to kill, and she talks to a shrink every week with that goal in mind. But she continues to have disturbingly detailed fantasies of murder.
  • The Reveal: Firstly, the reveal of who Annie's predator is; secondly, of the fact that Deanna was actually the one who killed her mother.
  • Saying Too Much: Mike, the hacker guy who handles her online security and ends up guiding her on her quest, makes this mistake when giving her directions, telling her she came from the east.
    Deanna: How do you know which direction I came from?
    Mike: Uh...what?
    Deanna: How. Do. You. Know. Which. Direction. I. Came. From?
    Mike: Just assumed.
    Deanna: Bullshit. You know where I live?
    Mike: Uh...yeah.
  • Sequel: Do Not Disturb, set for release on April 21st, 2015. A third book, tentatively titled If You Dare, is in the works.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: She goes after Ralph Atkins, who has killed at least two people and is implied to have killed others.
  • Slipping a Mickey: After coaxing Annie into his vehicle, the antagonist offers her a drugged soda. She's so excited to receive such a luxury as soda — not allowed at her house — that she drinks it right down.
  • Tap on the Head: Subverted. When the antagonist punches Deanna in the face, the last line before the section break is "Blackness." But the next section simply resumes from precisely that point, with Deanna stunned and reeling, but still perfectly conscious. The "blackness" was just the immediate physical reaction.
  • Technical Virgin: Downplayed. She may perform a wide range of sexual acts on camera, but Deanna has never actually had any form of intercourse with a person.
  • Teeny Weenie: Inevitably, some of her clients have one. One of them is into humiliation play and wants her to laugh and ridicule him for it.
  • Wait Here: Deanna tells Annie to wait at an abandoned shack while she goes to confront the antagonist, giving her a cell phone and instructing her to call 911 if she's not back in 15 minutes. Considering she left Annie at a shack in the middle of nowhere and the dead of night, with the antagonist nearby, you would expect this to end badly either for Deanna, Annie, or both. But surprisingly, while things don't go as smoothly as hoped, Deanna returns unharmed in all of 10 minutes, and finds Annie, also unharmed, right where she left her.

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