“Pain” is the story that Strieber was working on in December 1985, when the memories of his alien encounters first began to surface. It was first published in 1987 but Strieber withdrew it from circulation until early this year, when he released it as a pdf and audio reading at his website — while I was working on “The Prisoner of Infinity.”
According to Strieber, “The story contains a great deal of unconscious material about the experience. In fact, my entire unconscious understanding of close encounter [sic] and its connection to the dangerous sacred is contained in the story. . . .”
In “Pain,” Strieber’s surrogate character is researching a piece about prostitution (Sisters of Mercy) by interviewing working girls when he falls under the spell of a dominatrix, “Janet O’Reilly.” By the end of the story, the dominatrix has been revealed as a supernatural being—or alien?
From the bio notes of the first edition (1981) of The Hunger: “[Strieber] has traveled through many parts of the world, working in fields as diverse as intelligence and filmmaking. His underground films were shown frequently in England in the late sixties. His other work includes a documentary on the Process Church of Final Judgment, an unusual religious group that has been connected with satanism.”
In Communion, Strieber first mentions this period of his life in a typically mysterious terms:
In 1968 I ended up with four to six weeks of “missing time” after a desperate and inexplicable chase across Europe. This is associated with a perfectly terrible memory of eating what I have always thought was a rotten pomegranate, which was so bitter that it almost split my head apart (p. 119).