Being trapped inside your own body was the kind of horrible thing you’d hear about coma patients and those who suffered from sleep paralysis, but not really as a deliberate prison; or even such a literal one. That was all my body was for some time, I can’t even remember. A waking, walking, talking, nightmare fueled prison with the warden being not of this world. I had no voice, no power, no control, and no choice. I was bound by this entity to suffer as a passenger in my own body while it carried out its whims, the likes of which I could not imagine. What all had I done…though if I weren’t in this void I would have more reason to regret. I can’t seem to find any form of humanity I once had. Did it keep that for itself? If only I could have learned more, maybe I would still be where I belonged; back in my home. Though, looking back now I doubt there was anything I could have done, despite all I have learned. I suppose that’s the meaning of being trapped. It had me in it’s perfect clutches from the beginning, well before I was even able to understand it.
Waking up to your body moving on its own with you as passenger was terrifying enough, but I went weeks being unable to get any answers; only mockery. It spoke to me in my mind, like some kind of telepathy, without any response from me, all that time to make plain what it was doing, but not why, or how.
That was the first thing it said to me once it was aware of my consciousness. I was “late”. Interesting choice of words since i had been occupying this body since birth. What was I late to?
“The surgery will begin shortly. You won’t want to miss it”.
I remember its voice changed as it spoke. It transitioned as if several, no, dozens of people were speaking the same words in fluctuating volumes. The fear that overcame me was suffocating. I tried to scream, to call for help, but I couldn’t even feel my chest or throat to find my voice. I panicked in a way I had only seen portrayed in movies, with arms flailing and body jarring, though there was movement. It was as if I was merely watching a movie. What seemed like a long moment passed before I could focus on what exactly it was I was seeing. I was looking down on myself laid across an operating table, in a gown with a hole about halfway down, revealing my stomach. Another wave of panic took me by what I could have imagined was my heart and clenched. I couldn’t feel this clench, per se, but it is as best I can describe. The voices spoke again.
“Yes, that’s it. You can feel. You’ve kept me waiting. Such an ungracious host”.
This was, at the time of my lesser knowing, the most horrific nightmare I had ever endured, and the climax was soon to come. A mask for the anesthesia was being placed on me for this still undisclosed procedure, while the nurse, with her comforting voice, instructed me to relax and count backwards from 10. My eyes began to shut though I silently plead for her rescue.
“Oh don’t worry. Your eyes may be closed, but you will be fully aware of all that is happening. Now that you’ve been so kind as to join me, I’ll see to it that your attention remains undivided”.
That vile voice. What could this be? And what is about to happen to me?
“It’s been 6 seconds and you’re wide awake. How exciting. Please, continue your internal writhing while we witness this together”.
It gave a low, venomous laugh as it finished speaking, at which time I felt the frigid intrument make contact with the flesh just above my navel. The panic came anew. Although this time it was accompanied by a sensation that I was not so much familiar with: pain. I felt the instrument glide across my stomach, making an incision large enough, and deep enough, for human hands to enter. It was a pain unlike any other, but I would have been grateful had it ended there.
“Oh, come now, they barely scratched you”.
My eyes had been securely sealed closed without the aid of the anesthesia. It was unclear to me, but somehow I knew it had no effect on me. Considering I was to be dreaming, it would make relative sense. Upon realizing this, the being controlling my mind must have understood that I made that connection, and in next to the same instance it did something I had not yet had time to fear: it opened one of my eyes. A gloved hand then began excavating the hole they had made in the center of my gut, using an instrument to pry it open. My mind was becoming the conscious equivalent of sick, and my pleading turned to weeping. The voices came in again:
“Oh you’re no fun. Can’t you put up a bit more of a fight before wishing for death. It’s just an appendix”.
My appendix? That’s what this was? When had my appendix gone bad? Never had an issue before. The doctors spoke something to the surrounding aids and they began clanging more instruments together as they grabbed them to conduct the procedure. Again, the pain was redefined and made more clear than I thought possible. I felt a severing of something from my insides that made me want to vomit; a luxury at this point. A weight was lifted from where the incision was made, and through the small slit that was created from my left eye, I saw a small lump of tissue cradled by the doctors hands. He had my appendix. An apparently useless organ but it had been taken without my consent. Without even my knowledge! This dizzying state my mind was in was at its most reeling. Too many questions raced through as my eye began to close again and the pain slowly subsided. Then the voice again:
“Consider yourself fortunate this was all it took to bring you to me. Any longer and I would have had to do something…drastic”.
The voice almost hissed on the last word, truly reminiscent of a snake. I began to feel heavy, or as I could describe my mind at the time, and I fell away into a darkness that I knew was not of my doing.
“Do come back soon. I’ll be here”.
With those final words I slipped away, hoping this nightmare was done.
I came to in a time I couldn’t be sure of with a scream and a heaving of my breath, reaching to grasp anything tangible to assure I was awake. It was no shortage of time that I realized I had awoken to darkness. Not in a bed, or even a room of sorts, but in suspension. Was I still sleeping? Another nightmare, though I had not risen from the last one? But I screamed. I heard myself scream and it was clear and real inside my chest.
“What you heard was yourself attempting to send a scream from your mind to your body. To no avail, I would add”.
No – that voice. This couldn’t be happening again. As I tried to remain something alike to calm, it occurred to me that I was not actually asleep. I was fully awake and alert. Though this darkness was familiar, I knew it had nothing to do with sleep. My eyes were just closed. The voice continued:
“And since I, too, heard your attempt at vocal expression, that means you are wholly mine. Go on, speak”.
Speak? I couldn’t feel the nose on my face, let alone speak.
“Oh you won’t literally speak. It will be made heard here, in your mind. To only us”.
What the hell was going on? How was it responding to me when I wasn’t actively speaking to it? It then dawned on me that whatever this was did not need to me to directly address it for it to address me. It’s in my thoughts.
Did that mean I couldn’t directly speak with it? I was clearly conscious and should, theoretically, be able to think words, as laughable as it was to need to process. I concentrated what focus I could on directing my thoughts to put them into words, a task done countless times by every person on the planet, but this time it seemed like I was being blocked, or restrained. In time I mustered the means to “speak”:
My voice. My voice. I could hear it for what seemed like the first time in ages. It was a familiar sound that I clung to, though hearing it was relative.
“And the last horse crosses the finish line. You have been insufferable to wait on”.
This voice was somehow less sinister. Almost as if it was amused by it’s own wit. I spoke more to it:
“What is this?”
“This is skydiving”.
The tone of my thoughts had shifted from pleasantly relieved to frighteningly confused. Was this some sort of joke that I was too ignorant to understand? Just after saying “skydiving”, I began to feel wind rushing across my face, and could hear a roar all around me. My eyes slowly opened, again, by an outside force. The light of the sun struck me sharply but my eyes did not flinch as they focused, scrambling to take in the vast scenery before them. I began to feel more throughout my body. The wind lashed my face and hands. It whisked my hair as I fell at an incredible speed that felt like I wasn’t moving at all. I felt my heart, my actual heart, beating actual blood through my veins. I knew I was awake, without a shadow of a doubt. This was real. At the same time, it registered that I had once again awoken to a situation I was unwitting to, and began to try and make sense of it. From the little knew of skydiving, I was familiar with the first jump being accompanied by a trained professional attached to the new jumper by a harness. Upon remembering this, I noticed there was not another person strapped to me; only a bag on my back.
“Let’s hope this parachute works properly. For your sake”.
The voice chided at this potentiality and began to laugh maniacally. Had I jumped before without knowing? I had undergone a procedure I didn’t know I needed so how am I to know this was not similar?
“What’s happening?”, I asked, knowing how strange it was to be asking my conscious self a question I shouldn’t know the answer to.
“Very good!”, the voice exclaimed. “We are in the middle of a jump, 50,000 in the air from an airplane on your first skydiving adventure. Without a trained jumper! Isn’t that exhilarating!?”
By far, the least wanting of an answer I could have been. I now, also, hoped the parachute opened properly, though I had never before wanted to reason to wish for such.
“How did I get here? What’s happening to me?”
“Well we took an ordinary trip to go skydiving but the pilot and the jump instructor both insisted on an altitude I thought was preposterously too low. So once in the air you, should I say we, killed them and elevated the plane just a bit, for a much greater thrill. Consider it a token of good sportsmanship for forcing you to watch your own appendectomy”.
My mind quickly returned to the sick feeling that only such trauma could induce. I killed someone? Two someones? How? What about the plane? Where was I to begin with? All I was certain of was that I was some tens of thousands of feet in the air, plummeting to the ground.
“As for the rest of your concerning questions, we can discuss all of that once we land, assuming you survive”.
The voice had that ethereal hiss to it again, alongside the multiple voices that made the one. I can still feel my heart racing, the adrenaline rushing through me, giving me the focus to aim for the ground. As if I knew what the hell I was doing. The fall felt like it took an hour but I imagine it was nearly 10 minutes or so. I was able to allow myself to somewhat enjoy the experience, once I knew the parachute opened with no malfunctions. The presence also occupying my body appeared to be something adjacent to pleased as well. Which immediately caused some dread in me. It was then I realized I could feel this presence as if we were roommates in a small apartment and neither of us ever left. The landing from the fall was less than pleasant but I emerged unscathed. Then, to my, immediate dismay, the voice chimed in:
“You will only feel what I allow you to feel. Your pain, your pleasure, belong to me”.
That hiss again. I may be alive but I am clearly not well. Had I some kind of traumatic break? I was never the happiest guy in life but I wouldn’t say I was depressed. I wouldn’t say it but maybe I had been willfully ignorant. At the time I contemplated this, my mind had returned to black in an instant.
Some time later, I recognized the feeling of what i could only call “awake” again and immediately spoke:
“Could we please stop shutting my brain off and on like a light switch?”
And the voice to me:
“It would seem the time for some explanation. Your ‘switch’ is also for me to control”.
“Control? What is this? And who the fuck are you?”
During this exchange, which only assisted in me believing I was mentally damaged, I noticed my eyes were closed again and I could feel nothing. Just my consciousness afloat in darkness.
“I see you do have some fight in you”, all the voices seemed in approval. “I am you. Well…I am you as the world will know you henceforth”.
“Henceforth? What do you mean, I’m the only me. The same me that will be ‘henceforth’”.
The voice gave a sincere cackle, making a point to emphasis a more feminine shrill. A chill, or something in kind, came over me. I knew whatever this was could feel what I felt, and knew when I was afraid. But I couldn’t hide it. I just had to focus on answers.
“Yourself has been involuntarily relinquished of its possession unto me. You have no mental disorder or multiple personality. I am completely separate from you, though now am you wholly”.
“Like, what, some kind of psychic who controls peoples’ minds? This isn’t some fucking movie, what is this really?”
“Your kind is so quick to generate explanations for things you can’t understand on your own, and just as quick to reference these false perceptions. Such as movies and books.”
The voices came in with a sternness that sent a tinge of pain down my spine. My spine? Had it made me feel that for emphasis? Whatever this was, it meant business and needed me to understand that. I built up what courage I could and continued the conversation, though I was still completely unaware of where my body was at the time.
“So…if you’re me, where am I?”
“That is an excellent question” the voices rejoiced. “You are actually in the same place you’ve always been. A conscious mind in your own body, though control over that body has been seized, and I am in full command. Your vision, your hearing, your touch, all of your senses are at my disposal to expose you to or restrict you from”.
The voices were calm, and concise. It somehow made me feel less easy that it could come across as idle conversation to whatever this was sharing my mind.
“I’m not sure I understand yet. So you occupy my body, and you say you are me. Are you an extension of my mind? Or something…else”.
The voices gave a low, sinister chuckle that was deep, emanating from what would have been it’s diafragm, had it one. It responded:
“I think you know the answer”.
For the third time since meeting this thing I had the urge to vomit from my mind. I did know that it was something else. It couldn’t be my own mind that’s turned on me. I hardly had a reason to argue; mental illness ran in my family and I’ve been estranged from them for years so snapping wouldn’t entirely surprise me. Just that this entity feels separate from myself.
“So then…what are you?”
“Your kind has called me many things. Things in lore and myths. Things of disease and hysteria. But I have never been called anything before you”.
“How can that be? And before who? Before humans?”
“You’re not the slowest human I’ve inhabited.”
“You’ve done this before? Taken over someone’s body?”
“Well…if you are as you say, and based on what I know of religion, would it be accurate to assume you are a demon or something?”
“That is the most common term used. If that is what suits you to refer to me as, then so be it”.
It’s voice remained the steady, a low hum of numerous voices speaking in harmony. Had I not been so terrified I might be amazed at this. Maybe I was and didn’t want to admit it.
“So you have control of my body, and you can apparently shut my mind off at will; but you are allowing me all of these questions?”
“It’s one of the most amusing parts of occupying you creatures. Your wonder is only bested by your fear of the truth. And of the truth, I have ample”.
“Is that what this is? ‘Amusing’? Some kind of game to you?”
“I would not call it a game. A game implies contest. Here, there is none. Though the emotions you humans have developed has lead to some of the most entertaining revelry I could savor. Only humans have ‘evolved’ in such a way to feel these things. Unlike the other creatures you cohabit with.”
The voice was deliberately more masculine. Perhaps it wanted to intimidate me at the time; to feel the “revelry” it sought in me. Could that have meant that this being feeds on the emotions of people? It does sound similar to the demons our religions refer to.
“And thats all you get out of this? Amusement? Revelry? By possesing humans and feeding on their emotions?”
“Feeding??”, the voices erupted in equal measure male and female, seemingly in disgust. “As of some sort of parasite? Impudence! I do not feed on you lowly creatures! I do not feed at all. Though the sheer amusement is predominant in my motivations.”
“So you don’t eat? Not even occupying a living body?”
“No. I can sustain whatever vessel I occupy. Adversely I can destroy it just the same.”
“And you have no further motive than for pleasure? Taking over bodies and putting them through horrific incidents? That’s sick.”
My tone in saying that clearly affected the entity in the way I wanted. I wanted it to feel some kind of disgust with what it was doing; that it knew it was wrong. I’m still not sure why I tried to appeal to the humanity of a being I knew was nothing near human but it was clearly intelligent. Maybe it understood empathy. The voices came in more female and began as a soft sneer before erupting into a chilling shriek:
“That’s what it would feel like if I gave a shit what you thought!”
That voice was thus far the most frightening. My mind wished to flinch but had nowhere to flee. I was stuck with this terror and what would come of it next. I began pleading within myself for the answer to why. Why me? Why this? Naturally, the demon, as I am satisfied with calling it, felt it and responded:
“Do not think yourself as some chosen thrall. Your possession of me was purely through your lack of will”.
“Yes. You are a 25 year old, failed law student, with no faith in anything. Not the world, not a god; you hardly believed in the law you studied, and even that was forced upon you by your father, whom by the way you’ve been estranged from for 6 years. You work a job that shows little appreciation for you, with no sign of advancement, across the street from a prestigious law firm. That kind of abysmal self-loathing made it to easy for me to make my way in as you slept, and dreamt of a better life”.
“You came to me in my sleep?”
“…when the human spirit is closest to the veil. Second only to the cycle of life and death”.
“And from there you just begin your reign of terror?”
“If that is what you wish to call it. It is also an opportunity to educate you on things your kind has failed to understand. A favor ,we do in kind, before our ‘reign of terror’ is done”.
“Because you’re an all knowing, prehistoric demon who picks on weaker creatures?”
“I am not all knowing. But closer than you could ever be.”
“But if this ‘favor’ you give us is truth, then why do we humans not know it? We have been fighting over this truth for thousands of years and you allegedly give it to us, yet the world is still divided.”
The voice gave another low chuckle, overtly amused by something it was soon to share. I seemed to allow me to feel another tinge in my spine before it continued. I imagined swallowing harshly in preparation for it’s next words.
“The most amusing thing about that is…” the voice changed from low and masculine, to high-pitched and flighty like a choir of children. “You’ve been given the truth, and you refuse to believe it!”
Just as the words stabbed through me, the irony became crystal clear. We humans don’t like being told anything that goes against, what we believe, are our better judgments. The fights that have been raging amongst religions have been ever present for centuries, yet the same arguments stand. Then what is the truth? Had I heard it? Who else had?
“There have been those who learned the truth and were allowed to live. They then, in their maddened state, ran and spread the word that voices told them the truths of life. Surely, you can surmise what became of them…”
“They were labeled as crazy or heretics…”
The reality of this weighed on me in such a palpable way, I could have mistaken it for a pile of rocks. Or a Jeep. I knew what it said had to be true. It was evident in all parts of the world. You believe what everyone else believed, for the region you lived, otherwise you were shunned or worse. Was that the demon’s intention? To see humans chaotically and systematically cast out their own over ideas, the truths of which, are being made plain? Evil.
“Another word used to associate my kind with. Though I could not care less for your ideas of morality.”
“Wait…Did you just say your kind? There are more of you?!”
The voice came in loudly, as if all the voices were to make their separate, yet unified, presence known. I had not considered that possibly before that time. I was preoccupied by the trespasser in my body that I didn’t think about others around me. This could be happening at the same time to someone as it is to me. I could have met one of these things before now. Would I have known? The demon spoke again:
“Yes, that’s usually the harder pill to swallow before the really big one. But we’ll get there in time. Of course though, I am not the only of my kind. We have been since creation. Unfortunately, like you, we do not know how we came to be. Only what is beyond.”
I had to collect myself to follow up from that.
“Beyond? Like after death?”
“Yes…” The demons voice returned to what I can call “normal” in explaining this. A welcomed return yet fear still gripped me tightly. “…curious?”
“Well…” I stammered which was weird to think about, being inside my mind. It felt so clear yet I hesitated. Was that the demon’s doing? How curious was I to know? Would I be allowed to live afterwords? And if so, would I tell anyone, even though I know they won’t believe me? “…what would happen if I knew?”
It felt like a smart question, though I asked equivocally shaking in my metaphysical boots.
“That is not your concern. But I can say it will make no difference to me whether you know or not. Your fate is the same.”
All of the composure I managed to maintain during this interaction failed me that instant. “My fate is the same”. It’s already decided what it wants to do with me. Does that mean I will live? Or will I just cease to exist? Since it doesn’t matter anyway…
“Alright. Tell me.”
As expected, that deep ethereal chuckle rumbled through me. All voices, harmoniously reveling in my fear. Exactly as it wants. Though now may not be the most ideal time to wonder, but my eyes had not opened and I still had no idea what it was my body was doing. In the same harmony, the demons voice reached a pitch so low I could hardly make it out, yet I clearly understood what it said.
“Death is void”.
I paused for a moment and contemplated on that. Void? Emptiness? Nothing?
The demons voice glided across the words with pleasure, as if to seduce me with a low sultry voice. I managed to formulate more words:
“So heaven and hell?”
It returned to “normal” but with a sly smugness:
“Now that, you humans, weren’t too far off on. You see, “void” indeed implies there is nothing. However nothing can not be nothing without substance. Your consciousness remains, floating, in a void of pure darkness or radiant light. Which one of your kind must have learned that truth early in your history, spread it, and it evolved into the concepts you call heaven and hell.”
That information was somehow comforting. To know there was a place after this mortal life that was pleasant; even if that place was merely a light that your mind just floats in. However that does raise the question…:
“So your mind floats in this place for eternity? Like that’s it?”
The voice became more assuring, as if to console me or ease my mind.
“You are familiar with the law that energy cannot be created nor destroyed…?”
“Another theory you simpletons were close on. Your consciousness, at that point, is reduced to what you call your soul. It stays in either light or darkness until it’s time comes to be recycled into a new life, and begin again.”
This information came to me as if I had always know it, but never had real confirmation. The breadth of all this knowledge was more than overwhelming but also exhilarating. I was learning the truths to life that people only raved about to be diagnosed as crazy. I, however, had no intention of going down like that. Knowing was enough for me. Hopefully the demon’s decision for me reflects that.
“…however.” the demon said with a sinister tone that next to shattered my previously optimistic perspective. “The soul could go…elsewhere”. With that, it’s voice both growled and whispered, and I could no longer discern gender.
Then it occurred to me…The voices. Why were there so many voices speaking for this one entity? Could they have been the souls it kept? At that moment I had made the most horrifying conclusion, and in that same monotone, visceral voice the demon encouraged me:
I tried to fight it. The panic. The desperation. The fear for my life; for my soul. I plead in a way that only the innocent on death row plea, but I kept it together.
The demon spoke quickly, and sharply, like the drawing of a blade to the throat:
The answer was not as hard to hear as the initial realization, but it still hurt. Pain. It wanted me to feel that. A choke in my throat. I cough I can’t get out. The taste of metal. Taste? I can feel my body. That development caused my fear to reach new heights. I felt as if my mind was fracturing, trying to escape the coming madness. I tried to tear myself from my body in a feeble attempt; an attempt which the demon unleashed a guttural laugh of more voices than I had so far heard. I wanted to pray, but there was no god to hear me. The demon however heard my cries and in every voice I could not have imagined it possessed, it wailed:
“I am the only god that has ever been!”
It wanted a rise out of me, and I couldn’t help but deliver. I have never, up to this point, been more terrified in my entire life. Previous attempts at pleading failed before, but now I had control of my mind and could express my desperation. It didn’t seem likely, however, that I could bargain with this monster at all. Would it be worth the the shot? Considering I had nothing to lose, there was no risk to the reward.
“You really want my soul? There’s no way I can get out of this?”
“I want any soul. You were merely whom I came across next”, the demon said with a voice I imagined possessing a forked tongue.
“But my soul must be so unsatisfying. You said yourself, self-loathing failure, and all that. You couldn’t want-”
“My wants are not to be concerned by such an insignificant being. My prey, no less. Know your place, and accept it, mortal”.
It almost sounded like the demon was beginning to become agitated. If I tried testing it any further, I would do nothing more than expedite my demise. I had to be smarter. Maybe even more amicable. Maybe if I settled for being sent to the “void”, it would consider saving me for later, giving me a chance to be recycled into a new life. It was either that or becoming part of this thing for eternity; a fate, I imagined, was worse than a thousand voids.
“Hm…?”, the demon pondered aloud. “You would wish to be cast to the void rather than be one of my collection. I’m hurt”.
I shivered. My spine felt like it had ice water pumping through it. Almost as if i was already dead. I knew I had to follow up on the demons keen perception in order to have a chance.
“…yes. Maybe you would allow me the chance to be reincarnated into a better life. A more satisfying life for your appetite”.
“Continue to refer to my whims as a means of nourishment and I will rip your soul from you here” the demon said with a voice like a distant rolling thunder.
I had to elaborate to make it seem more in its favor:
“I just mean…a being like yourself deserves souls of greater value. Mine is a sham. A waste of a life. You wouldn’t want a spotty collection would you?”.
“The quality of life does not change the quality of a soul. And you would do well to not try and appeal to any sense of pride you think I have. For I possess none. Although…”
The demons voice changed from a harmony of masculine tenor voices, to whispering children as if far off in a haunted wood. That last word lingered in my mind, as an echo. Then it continued in the same whisper:
“…I have never given anyone the chance to bargain with me. An interesting turn on my part. Perhaps I had almost grown bored with the ramblings of desperate victims and saw something more…” it paused for a seemingly purposefully dramatic effect, “intriguing in you”.
“And…?”, I asked, wondering if that was too brash a way to respond.
“And perhaps I would be interested to see where a soul like yours ends up after being given life anew”.
“And I trust you would be able to find me when you wanted to again…?”.
“After having met you now, yes. It would be effortless”.
“Then maybe we can make a compromise”.
I remember thinking about how much I was pressing my luck with such an unapologetically evil being, but I was going for broke and hoping for the best.
“Go on…”, it insisted in an array of voices both adolescent and motherly. This being knew how to truly frighten me, and I had yet to get used to it.
“Let me live out my days as ordinary. Then I’ll die, go to the void, and you can wait for me to recycle into a new life. And since you already know my soul, you could enter it as early as birth, right?”.
“Correct. Perceptive of you”.
I knew how that sounded. Sacrificing an innocent, newborn child to ensure my life now, even though I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and die, making this whole bargain a waste. It was evil in its own, human way. I was desperate. I had to say something to get a deal, even if it meant the sacrifice of a child. The demon continued before I formulated a response:
“But I cannot allow you to live…”
Again, that low, thunderous voice, more feminine this time. Suddenly my eyes shot open to reveal myself standing in my bathroom, unnaturally still, in front of the mirror. It occurred to me that whatever came next, I was going to be there to watch. Sick.
“W-what is this..?”, my mind actually stuttered. The demon allowed my mind to express, in a way my body would have, overt terror.
“This is the end for you. However, given your valiant effort at bargaining with me, I will grant you a compromise…”, it said with a comforting voice, more masculine with a tone of British accent.
“…a compromise which will waver in my favor, of course, but you will keep your soul. For now”.
I could have cried I was so relieved. Staring into the mirror, wishing my body to respond to this news in an obvious way; it gave me nothing. Just a blank, wide eyed, emotionless stare.
“That’s very gracious of you. But how will it be to your advantage if you don’t take my soul for yourself?”, I asked, even though I knew the answer was going to be revealed very soon.
“Oh…”, it said with an eager slyness, “we’re going to watch you die, of course. I can at least give myself a show before bidding you farewell”.
I was almost more shocked by the fact that I considered that being “fair”, for a split second, before realizing none of this was fair at all. This was my body. My mind. My life. And this demon gets to decide what to do with it. “Fair” was not the word, but it was the closest thing to it. I dared to ask:
“How…?”, my mind ached for asking, but the suspense was just as deadly as whatever it had planned for me. The demon let out a howling laugh of more voices than I could discern. In addition to the suspense, that laugh could have killed me on the spot, and it would have made sense. It pierced me like a knife, heated to 1000 degrees. In this same voice the demon exclaimed:
“And ruin all the fun?? The look on your face will be priceless! Of course I’m not going to tell you!”.
Again, the word “fair” came to mind. Evidence that I had completely lost it. The demon came in again:
“Farewell human. Till we next meet in another life. Oh, and a thank you would be appreciated, as my generosity does come scarce”.
Staring into my own eyes, across the messy space that was my sink, I began to say thank you. I was, in a way, grateful for the courtesy of not taking my soul for it’s own. It didn’t have to listen. It could have taken me anytime; though it clearly only wanted to further its own amusement. Before I was able to process the words to say “thank you”, I felt a warm rush throughout my entire body. It was familiar, and foreign at the same time. I could actually feel my body again. Everything from the hairs on my head, to my toes against the cold tile. It was my body. Just in the same moment I reveled having feeling again, it dawned on me why I was being allowed to feel. Pain was coming. This was made clear by the fact that, while I could feel the entirety of my senses triggered again, I still couldn’t move a muscle. Then a feeling came over me, as I continued to stare at myself in the mirror. A feeling as if I was being watched, only more keenly. I felt whatever was watching me…smile? At the time I was initially confused, but I knew the demon was thoroughly excited and wanted me to feel it. Upon realizing this, my hand shot up from its slumped position and connected with my face, covering it with a smack. It stung, and hurt my nose a great deal. It was definitely broken, since now the feeling in my body was once again my own; and for the first time in however long I heard my own voice escape my lungs with a cry of pain.
The demon remained silent in this. With my hand still connect to my face, my fingered curled in and dug into the flesh around my forehead and cheek, with a force not my own. All of my fingers penetrated my skin with ease and I cried out more from the searing pain. I could feel blood trailing down my face, and my hand slowly began to pull. I continued to stare into the mirror as my hand tore away the skin from the base of my hairline, down over my nose, and ripping like a tight elastic. The horror in my mind escalated by hearing my skin snapping apart over my own screams. Even so, this was still second to feeling the demon’s looming presence in this smile wider at me. This was what it had been waiting for. Skin was hanging onto my face is if trying to save itself, and my eyes looked even wider, due to the lack of skin covering them, as the exposed red tissue sat in contrast. I continued to scream in agony but my body, my face, and my eyes returned to a frozen, motionless trance. The demon gave one of its, all too familiar, venom drenched chuckles in approval before continuing my torment. Both of my hands, (a shock, that now both of my hands had turned on me) then reached for my face again, forcing their way into my mouth. This further proved that fear knew no bounds as I screamed louder from both pain and dread of what was to come. My right hand, the stronger hand, gripped my bottom jaw like a vice, too tight, while my left draped over my head to grip against my top row of teeth. I don’t know if at this point I was pleading with the demon or out loud to anyone who would listen, but the demon continued to laugh. My arms tensed and began to separate. I was so exhausted from panic and fear that I would have passed out if I was in control. I wished for it, though I knew it was hopeless. My hands pulled like machines without stalling for a second, even with such resistance, and made a sound I knew was my jaw separating from my skull. The pain radiated from my face to the bottom of my stomach, which was made nauseous by staring at myself being mutilated by my own two hands. My arms then gave a concise jerk to their pulling, and extended my face far beyond it’s limits. My jaw, the skin on my face, the muscles beneath, all tore and split apart in a noise I could only compare to a crocodile clamping on the leg of a wildebeest and ripping violently.
The demon abandoned it’s idle snickering for a booming exclamation of approval. Children laughing in mockery while I begged for instant death. My left hand releases it grip of my head and returned to my side, blood dripping from my fingers. Before I could imagine what was to be next for my torture, my right hand slung away from me, with my jaw still clutched, and completed its removal from my head. With skin stretching and snapping away, my jaw was carelessly tossed into the sink, almost as if it was garbage. The mirror now showed me mangled, morbidly deformed, my blood literally pouring from beneath my head and my tongue merely dangling with no safe enclosure. My screams had become a helpless gurgle of blood and foam as it escaped the hole under my head. I could feel myself drowning in blood but still I stood, staring into my own doomed eyes. I prayed we were done but I knew better than the be so foolish. The next wave of horror came over me as my head began to tilt back, far enough to see the ceiling and out of view of the mirror. Would my next trail be to my unseeing eyes? Again, I had no time to be grateful before my body made further choices I had no say in. My head jerked forward and slammed into the edge of the counter and came with a crack like lightning without the thunder.
My head then lifted from the sizable chunk missing from the counter, causing more copious amounts of blood to expel from my forehead and stain the entire sink. The force from the impact was clearly unnatural. The demon needed it to be and willed my body to meet superhuman capacity to damage it. My eyes returned to mirror and took in horror, still growing.
The impact from my head crashing into the bathroom sink caused a gash in my head large enough to dig beneath. Though beneath the skin and not visible to me, I knew my skull had to have significantly fractured and I awaited another forceful reunion with the hard surface. To my immediate dismay, instead of returning my face to the sink, my hands crept back up and to the newly made gape in my forehead. Still attempting to scream louder, though failing, my hands dug through the separated skin to make their way to my fractured skull. The realization of what was to come took me further into this already abject horror and buried me deeper. Similarly to how my hands pulled my jaw apart, they proceeded to do the same with the hole in my head. I couldn’t tell what was louder: my screaming, my head literally opening up, or the demon’s incessant laughter.
My skin, again, fought for dominance against my arms pulling but was no match against this unholy strength. It gave way and exposed what my skull’s sole purpose was to protect. Then, while I stared at my unrecognizable self, the demon spoke in what seemed like an hour:
“Scrambled? Or sunny side up?”
The laugh that accompanying this crude line was so genuine, so unmistakably joyous that it made me sick. Physically sick. Then terror, again redefined, struck. A combination of blood, screams, and vomit, expelled from me in uncontrollable waves as my hands made contact with my brain. My eyes had betrayed me in such a way I felt insulted, though I knew it couldn’t be helped. How could they be showing me this? Please, just shut off. Just die already. The demon’s unabashed laughter continued as my hands squeezed the grey matter cradled by my now useless skull. My entire body convulsed at this pressure and my vision wavered. Is this it? Could it finally be over? The demon chimed in with a hiss, again like the most vile serpent in a tranquil garden:
“Enjoy your darkness”.
With that, looking directly into my own eyes as if to say goodbye, covered in blood, tears, torn skin, and bile, I felt a jarring tug as my arms shot up and lifted my brain from its housing. The last thing I heard was my brainstem snapping from the force as it disconnected from my spine. Everything fell silent and with the last second of my available vision, I watched my body collapse to the floor, fumbling over the sink on the way down.
Time does not seem to exist here, in this darkness. I couldn’t say how long it’s been: minutes, days, or years. I no longer hold to human senses. Merely my consciousness, boundlessly submerged in this abject darkness. How long before lose that? Will I be this conscious mind for eternity? Or am I going to lose myself to this maddening nothingness? I don’t know and I don’t care. I wish I cared. I also wish it would stop laughing at me.