This ones pretty much the twin of my other story ‘Angel’, although I didn’t have that in mind when I started writing it. I think I’m just interested with the concept. It all happened very quickly, The idea occurred, I thought it was cool, came up with the ending, wrote it, scratch to story in two hours. Enjoy!
By Ben Pienaar
Doctors, if they even had a chance to interview me, would call me a sociopath, psychopath, or maybe pure evil. If, that is, I told them everything I’d done, the whole truth. I’m none of these things, but the Doctors would never know, because they’d only have the facts to look at, the actions I’ve taken. They are rational people, who don’t believe in Demons, which is unfortunate because the truth of the matter is that there is a demon inside me, living and breathing and real. If they cut me open, I think they’d find it sitting just above my brain stem, clinging with little red claws to the top of my spinal cord and grinning from ear to ear.
I was a good kid, and I’m a good guy now, inside and mostly out. This isn’t the exorcist: no one’s crawling on ceilings and vomiting all over the place. Mostly I’m even in control. But when no one’s around, and the time is right, and the Demon is hungry, he flexes his muscles and brings a little piece of hell up to earth.
The first time I was seven years old. The Demon came to me in my dream, it was that simple. I dreamed about hell and the Demon saw me there and grabbed hold of me, and when I woke up I’d brought him awake with me, into me. It was just after midnight, and the silence was like a blanket over the house, except for the sound of my father snoring in his bedroom down the hall. I got out of bed and went into the bathroom.
I was fully aware, not sleepwalking – a little groggy maybe, but that was it. I wasn’t thinking about my movements, the way it feels when you’ve done something so many times you don’t think about it. Sometimes I drive somewhere late at night and when I think about it later, I can’t remember the drive. I still stop at the red lights and watch my mirrors, but I’m daydreaming in my head, my body and mind acting automatically. This was like that.
I took a box of matches and a candle from the mirror cupboard (we keep them there for blackouts), and took them down into the television room. I lit the candle and stood in front of the fireplace for a while. I remember wax dripping onto my hand until it had pretty much covered it, but I didn’t once flinch. The pain was a normal, everyday feeling to me, like breathing in and out; it wasn’t important.
I lit a fire in the fireplace and waited for it to get going really good, used every bit of kindling we had, and when it was roaring nicely I started grabbing burning logs and rolling them around the carpet. I set one on the couch, one at the foot of the television, and kick rolled another all the way into the dining room so it could catch the table. We had a real fluffy carpet and it burned fast.
I stood there, terror tearing through me, thinking why did I do that? Just what did I do that for? At first with a mild curiosity when I grabbed the candle and match, then with growing horror as I watched my blistering hands grab logs and roll them across the room. Why am I doing this? I don’t understand.
I heard the Demon laugh, somewhere deep inside my brain. He and I walked upstairs together and I lay down in bed and stared at the ceiling, watching the shadows dance across the hall and the smoke drift in through the open door.
Eventually the alarm went off and I heard my parents screaming, but not my little sister Maree, even when a section of the house fell in and buried the kitchen table. The demon was asleep by then, or else he didn’t care what happened, and all my movements (and all the pain) were my own. My parents managed to get to me and my mother climbed out of the window with me while the sirens wailed far away.
My father went to get my sister, and he was dragged out by the firemen a few minutes later with burns all over him, a scrap of Maree’s pajama top melted into his palm. She didn’t make it, and her lack of screaming, I think, was because she’d already choked in her sleep. Her room was closer to the stairs, so that is what I desperately hope happened.
I relate all this to Lara now, trying to keep my voice steady. I resist the urge to come forward and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder because I don’t want to see her flinch away. Plus, I’ve still got some of her cat’s blood on my hands. Literally. The rest of it we got rid of together, before coming back into her bedroom for this little talk.
‘I’ve done a few things like that since then,’ I’m telling her, looking honestly into her tear stained, incredulous face. ‘Nothing completely evil, you know. But pretty bad. That’s why I don’t sleep much. I mean, Jesus, poor Maree, that poor girl. I loved her so much.’
I’m crying, but I don’t think she believes me. I know she believes in ghosts, but I’ve never asked her about demonic possession.
‘Have you ever killed anyone?’ she asks, and her voice is still cold.
I nod. ‘Just one guy. A bad guy, though, some gangster who pulled a knife on me. The demon saw it and flipped out, he was threatening its… its home.’ I don’t mention that the mugger had also been interrupting our stalking of a potential other victim.
‘That’s all, huh?’
‘Yes. It wants to kill, but usually I can divert it, make it settle for small things like birds and rats and…’
‘Jesus.’ She puts her hands over her eyes and breathes in deep, and then takes them away and looks at me again. I don’t say anything.
‘You’re serious, aren’t you?’ she says, as if I’d be joking. Sure, your dead cat was all a joke, Lara, get it? Ha ha! My eyes are streaming with tears now, but I don’t mind, it probably lends credibility.
‘I just want it to end,’ I say, and in that instant, as if I had to say the words out loud for the thought to formulate clearly, I realise how simple it is. There is only one way to really and truly end, after all. Why have I never thought of suicide? And I realise the answer to that question, too: I never thought of it because the demon didn’t let me. He hid the notion from my mind, somehow, but he’s sleeping now and I’m awake and I’ve thought of it.
Holy Christ, it’s the only way. I have to go, and soon, or it’ll wake up. How long will it be before it makes me kill another family member or ,God forbid, Lara? Or some innocent small child, like the girl we followed for half a day before I gathered the will power to close my eyes until she was gone.
I can’t comprehend the finality of that – of suicide – there’s no time. There’s no time to say my goodbyes or gather my thoughts and prepare myself. I’m locked in a dungeon and the dungeon master is sleeping and left a window open. It’s jump or be trapped, now or never.
Lara is great at dressmaking. She has a sewing machine and all different kinds of materials and needles, but most importantly she has a giant pair of material cutting scissors lying on her desk. In the time it’s taken for me to have my epiphany, she’s drawn a breath, about to say something, but I’ll never hear what it is. I grab the scissors and take two steps back.
Staring at her, wide eyed, I begin to cut.
She’s fast, getting over her surprise like that. If we switched places I think I’d have been so shocked by the surprise of it all I’d have still been sitting and gaping long after she hit the ground with blood spurting from her throat. Not Lara though; she sees what I’m doing, screams, lunges, and pulls my arm so hard the scissors go flying into the wall paper and stick there.
We fall onto the bed together and she’s sticking sheets against my wound and kissing me and crying, although there wasn’t really time enough to make the cut that bad.
‘No matter what, that’s never the answer,’ she’s telling me. ‘Never do that again, you hear me? Never. God, it’s really true, isn’t it? There really is a demon inside you.’
It’s not really a question but I nod anyway. ‘I have to kill it,’ I whisper, trying not to wake it up. ‘We have to kill it, somehow.
She looks at me and a hot tear lands on my face. Her eyes are half full of sadness and half with rage, and I understand. ‘No matter what it takes,’ she says, ‘we’ll kill it, somehow.’
We talk for a while, and hug, and I apologise again for killing her cat. She rests her head on my shoulder and puts an arm around me and tells me it’s going to be alright, and we’ll kill the demon no matter what, and I don’t want to be afraid.
But I am afraid, I tell her. I’m terrified, and I still wish I’d killed myself. I tell her it’s going to be alright now, and she shouldn’t worry, but those words aren’t mine, now. She snuggles up close to me and starts talking, but I don’t hear what she’s saying. I’m watching my free hand lift up and work the scissors free from the wallpaper slowly, quietly.
I’m watching and outwardly there is no dread, no horror or sadness or remorse. I’m watching my hand grip the round black handle with white knuckles. Outwardly I’m calm and relaxed and happy. Inside, I scream. ‘It’s going to be alright,’ I say again.