Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
“I am a very open minded woman,” I told the two priests sitting across from me, one Christian the other Satanic. “If my son wants to dress as a woman, that’s fine. I don’t have to like it, but I will accept it. I’m not going to stop him from being who he is.” I didn’t want to cry, but the tears came anyway.
I had contacted the mother of the boy who claimed her son was possessed by an angel. She’d put me in touch with Father Cooke. He had agreed to stop by with Magister Alexander and listen to my story and meet my son Nathan. I had been apprehensive about having a Satanic priest come into my home, but the man is nothing like what I’d expected.
Father Cooke, the Christian priest glanced around the room, “Do you have a box of tissues?” He asked
I pointed to the bathroom door.
“Thank you,” I said when he sat back down and slid the box of tissues over to me. He smiled in return.
“I’m not sure we can help you,” Magister Alexander, the Satanic priest, seemed ready to leave. “Being transgender or engaging in cross dressing is rarely a sign of something supernatural.”
“What if the person doesn’t recall dressing up? What if it causes them as much distress as it does their loved ones?”
“Are you saying that when your son dresses up as a woman he doesn’t remember doing so?” Father Cooke asked.
“No, he doesn’t.” I fought back the tears that wanted to break free, “…and he doesn’t just dress up. When he has one of these episodes, he waltzes around the house like some British drag queen and says things that don’t make sense. It’s like he’s possessed.”
“When did these episodes start happening?” I seem to have gotten Magister Alexander’s attention. Up until that point he appeared to be questioning why he was here.
I thought for a moment. “Three days ago.” I said, and then quickly added, “It was the day after he cleaned out the basement. Nathan wanted to turn it into a game room so he had a place to hang out with his friends.”
“Do you mind if we go have a look at the basement?” Father Cooke asked
“Go right ahead,” I gestured to the door. “The light switch is the one on the left.”
I followed the two priests as they descended the stairs to the basement. Father Cooke walked off to the right while Magister Alexander walked off to the left. Both men started to survey the room, looking for anything out of place. I just stood at the base of the stairs and leaned on the railing.
“How long have you had this?” Father Cooke pointed to the old film projector that was placed in the center of a coffee table that had seen better days.
“Nathan found it in one his grandfather’s old steamer trunks with a stack of old film reels. He asked if he could have it. I didn’t see the harm in it.”
Father Cooke leaned down and was about to flick the little lever that would turn the projector on when the Satanic priest called out.
“Don’t!” I jumped at the sound of Magister Alexander’s firm command.
Father Cooke slowly withdrew his hand and stood up as Magister Alexander walked over to stand beside him. He stood there for several seconds staring at the projector before he walked around the table eyeing it like some dangerous creature.
“Did he set this up the night he cleaned out the basement?” Magister Alexander looked over at me and nodded towards the machine.
“Yes,” I walked over and stood in front of the table. “He was going to invite a few friends over and watch one of the films.”
“Have you watched the film?” Magister Alexander seemed concerned.
I shook my head.
Magister Alexander then gently removed the film from the projector and walked over to the single light bulb that hung from the ceiling. He examined the outside of the reel looking at it from every angle then held it up for Father Cooke to see. “Notice anything odd about this?”
Father Cooke moved closer to get a better look at it in the light. “It looks brand new. There isn’t a mark on it.”
“Exactly,” Magister Alexander agreed, “A reel this old that was stored in a trunk should not look this good.”
He unrolled a loop of film and held it up to the light so he could illuminate the frames as he tried to identify what was recorded on them.
“Do you have any idea where your father got this film?”
“No…I didn’t even know he had them.”
“Did you happen to live in New York by any chance…in the mid 70’s?” That was an oddly specific question. Magister Alexander obviously knew something about the film.
“No…it can’t be,” Father Cooke figured out what the Satanic priest was alluding to, “You really think that is…,” but Magister Alexander cut him off before he could finish.
“The first shadow cast,” he confirmed without letting the other priest finish.
“This could be bad.” A worried look came over Father Cooke’s face, “Did anyone else besides your son watch the film?” He quickly turned to face me.
“I don’t know…it’s possible. Nathan has people coming over all of the time.”
Right after I said that my phone vibrated in the back pocket of my jeans startling me. I excused myself and walked a few steps away to answer it. It was my neighbor across the street.
“What?” I ran my hand through my hair trying to wrap my head around the bizarre claim she was making.
“There are two kids walking through your yard singing,” my neighbor repeated. “One of them is holding a newspaper over their head…oh wait they stopped.”
“They stopped singing?” I asked
“No…they are still singing. They just stopped at the edge of your porch. Your boy has some strange friends,” she said before she hung up.
While I was still on the phone, I quickly walked back up the stairs into the kitchen. The two priests followed shortly behind me. As the call ended Father Cooke walked to the front door to peek out through the curtains.
“I think we are about to meet the rest of the kids who watched the film.” Without asking, he opened the door and let Arthur and his girlfriend Evelyn walk in.
I didn’t recognize Arthur at first because of the thick glasses he was wearing. “I didn’t know you wore glasses Arthur,” I said to him, but he didn’t seem to notice me.
I jumped when I felt Magister Alexander’s hand on my shoulder, “They can’t hear you. They are currently stuck in their roles and are awaiting their next scene.”
“What do you mean?” I asked confused. How could they not hear me? They were standing right in front of me.
All of a sudden Evelyn screamed and threw herself on the floor. Then all eyes turned to the hallway where my son entered the room wearing a bra and panties. He must have taken them from my dresser. He had also gotten into my makeup box again which was evident by the dark red lipstick and black eye shadow that was painted on his face.
“How do you do…I see you’ve met my… Faithful handyman…” He began to sing in a British accent while approaching Arthur and Evelyn.
Magister Alexander guided me until our backs were against the wall. “We need to let the scene play out,” he said.
I just stared in shock, my eyes wide and my mouth agape.
Once Nathan finished singing, the scene ended and the glazed looks in the eyes of the three teenagers became looks of confusion. Arthur pulled the glasses off his face and stared at them before he turned his eye to the boy dressed in drag.
“What the fuck Nathan!” Arthur cried out when he saw the way my son was dressed.
Nathan tried to cover himself as he ran back to his bedroom in shame. I could hear him sobbing as he ran down the hall.
“What’s going on?” Evelyn whined. “Why am I wearing these hideous clothes?”
“Excuse me,” Father Cooke tried to get the attention of the two teenagers. The pair turned in unison, a puzzled look on their faces as they noticed the priest that stood before them.
“Who are you?” Arthur asked.
“I am Father Cooke,” he placed a hand on his chest, “…and that is Magister Alexander.” He pointed to the Satanic priest where he stood next to me. “I know you are confused right now, but if you come and have a seat on the couch we will do our best to explain everything.”
The two priests relocated to the living room with Arthur and Evelyn and began to explain what was happening to them. I went down to Nathan’s room to check on him. I knocked gently on the door and called out his name. When he didn’t answer I tried the door knob, thankful it wasn’t locked.
He was lying face down on his bed sobbing. I sat down next to him and placed my hand on his back. “It’s okay Nathan. It’s not your fault,” I waited for his sobs to subside before I continued, “Those two men in the kitchen, the priests, they are here to help you.”
“How can they help me?” He turned to face me, his make up running down his cheeks.
“They know what is happening to you and they can fix it.” At least I assumed they could fix it.
“Get dressed and come out to the living room and let them explain it to you. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I am confident they can make it stop.”
I left the room and returned to the living room. Nathan walked in a few minutes later wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants. He kept his head down as he avoided making eye contact with anyone and took a seat.
“Hello Nathan, my name is Theodore Alexander,” he introduced himself. “I am a Magister for the church of Satan, and this is my associate Father Cooke.”
Nathan looked up at the Magister when he said the word Satan, then over at me before he returned his gaze to the floor.
“Remember that story we read about the woman whose son was possessed by the angel? These are the men who helped her.”
Nathan nodded in acknowledgement, but continued to stare at the floor.
“They’re cool Nathan,” Arthur tried to reassure him, “Just listen to what they have to say.” Evelyn sat quietly next to Arthur, and held tightly onto his hand.
“Am I possessed?” Nathan finally spoke.
“No, you aren’t, Nathan,” Father Cooke leaned forward in his chair. “The three of you have just been blessed.”
Nathan laughed at that “Blessed? Don’t you mean cursed?”
“Real blessings are like curses,” Magister Alexander explained, “The only difference is in how they are created. A curse is created through a demonic pact. They are designed to further a negative agenda which usually results in the death of the cursed individual if the conditions of the curse are not fulfilled.”
“A blessing is created through an angelic oath. They are designed to further a positive agenda, and like a curse, if the conditions of the blessing are not met, they can be just as deadly.”
“How?” Nathan asked looking from Father Cooke to Magister Alexander, “How did we get blessed?”
Magister Alexander held up the reel of film, “By watching this.”
“You want me to believe that watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show turned me into a transvestite like Dr. Frank-N-Furter.”
“It didn’t turn you into someone like him…it is turning you into Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Just like it is turning Arthur into Brad, and Evelyn into Janet,” he pointed at each of them as he mentioned their name.”
“Are you familiar with the Rocky Horror phenomenon? How it started and why it spread and became as popular as it did?” Magister Alexander asked Nathan.
“It started with this specific copy of the film right here,” he held up the reel. “Somehow someone was able to get this copy blessed before it was shown to a small audience at a midnight showing in the Waverly Theater in New York. Luckily that audience was large enough to create a full shadow cast when it was viewed. That shadow cast then went on to start the Rocky Horror phenomenon that is still popular in cities across the world today.”
“What is a shadow cast?” Nathan asked.
“The blessing placed on this film makes viewers become characters from the cast. It makes them act out scenes of the movie. It was designed to spread the film’s popularity through participation. The problem is that in order to fulfill the blessing, the movie needs to be shown to an audience large enough to fill the cast.”
“Since it was just the three of you, only three shadow roles have been filled. Until the rest of the roles are cast and you perform the entire movie, these episodes will keep happening until your characters completely take over you.”
I excused myself to the kitchen to grab the tissues. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or both. I now know what Mrs. Knowles went through when Magister Alexander told her that her son was possessed by a Cherub.
“Will I have to sign a contract?” I blurted out as I retook my seat. I was afraid to ask, knowing what Mrs. Knowles had sacrificed to save her son.
“The contracts are only required for exorcisms,” Father Cooke eased my concern, “it requires a lot of energy to drive an entity from this plain of existence.”
“What do we do now? How do we remove the blessing?” I was eager to get this nightmare over with.
“We can’t remove it. The only thing we can do is help the blessing run its course,” Father Cooke answered.
“How do we do that?”
Magister Alexander held out his phone for all to see. Pictured on the screen was the poster for the movie along with dates and show times. “We are going to take the film to the next showing of the Rocky Horror Picture show and give the audience the best show of their lives.”
“Once the rest of the shadow roles have been filled and the shadow cast complete, we will watch the film again. Only this time the three of you will get to play your parts in their entirety.”
I had resisted seeing the movie for so long despite growing up with people who loved it. Now I was going to watch it to help my son. I never expected to be doing the Time Warp in a theater filled with people of all ages while my son strutted around dressed as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, but that is exactly what happened.