Personal Demon



Personal Demon

In the urban towns and cities of modern day with all its sophistication and technological advancement, there are still ancient monsters that thrive and prey. Some human, others of a breed long since dismissed as myth, legend and folklore.

In the new millennium no one believes in vampires, werewolves and demons anymore. Until that is, they take it upon themselves to reach up from the pit of hell, and grasp for the brightly lit world, shielding their envious eyes, but hungry for a piece of it to take back into the dark depths of Hades.

And I should know ...

One day I found myself strolling along a street of terraced houses in a part of the city that I wasn’t familiar with. This was alien territory, but I’d arranged to meet some friends in a bar and I hadn’t seen them in a long time. It was a warm sunny day; not the setting for a horror story at all, not a hint of rain, darkness, or the proverbial: thunder and lighting.

Then someone, a man, came running out of one of the houses. He appeared very disturbed and distressed, and there was an expression of fear on his face. He was unshaven and his eyes were bloodshot and yellow – he looked like he’d been in the dark for too long.

With the look on his face I feared that he was going to attack me. I have never seen such a look of terror on any man's face, either before, or since the incident.

He grabbed hold of me and began to shake me. ‘Help me, help me, for pity’s sake!’ he urged.

I tried to break myself free of his grasp; but it was like he was clinging to me for dear life. ‘What’s up mate?’ I asked him.

‘It’s coming for me!’

‘What is?’

He stared directly into my face, wide-eyed. ‘The demon!’

My first reaction was that he was high on something, maybe some hallucinogenic drug. ‘Demon?’ I asked him, glancing towards the house he'd fled from, then returning my gaze back to him. ‘Where is this ... demon?

‘In there,’ he said, and stepped back from me, pointing in the direction of the place he had vacated moments earlier, and which I had now fixed my attention again.

Then I took another look at the man, at the fear in his eyes, then stepped towards the house in question.

‘You’re not going in there are you? It’ll get you!’ I heard him say behind me as I approached the house.

Against this madman’s advice – and my better judgments – I climbed the steps to the entrance of the building and entered. Once in the hall I saw that to the side of me was a room and the door was ajar.

When I stepped into this room, I found what appeared to be a squat. It stank of every repulsive odour you care to name: rot, piss, shit. In fact there was an overall air of decay about the place.

One of the first things I noticed was the flies. There were an abundance of flies in the room. The repulsive winged insects orbited around me, but when they found me to be still alive and not yet meat, they lost interest and buzzed away into the darkness. In the middle of the first room I encountered, was a pentagram painted on the bare boards of the floor, and about a dozen or so lit candles, providing the only light in the place. The windows had heavy curtains drawn across them, letting no light in from the outside.

The occupants of this hovel had a keen interest in the occult and all things horror. The television was on and I noticed the film was The Exorcist, there were various videocassettes scattered around, of films, some of which I'd viewed over the years. I spied The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead, and Hellraiser, amongst others. There were books strewn about the place also, again a great deal of them familiar to me, they went right back over the years of my horror reading taste: from The Pan Book of Horror, through Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King and Clive Barker.

There was another room off this one; the door to this room was also ajar. I suddenly became aware of sobbing coming from its direction; which sounded like a man.

I made my way towards this other room slowly, and as I reached it pushed the door open.

The sight that met me was to give me unsettling dreams for the rest of my life.

The guy was nailed to the wall opposite me, in a mockery of the crucifixion. A crown of barbed wire placed on his head. Not only that, but a further length of barbed wire had been wound round the rest of this body and had cut into his flesh where it had made contact; so tightly was it bound. Blood dripped down his body from the lesions, forming a dark crimson pool on the floor below him.

He looked towards me as he saw me enter. ‘Help me,’ he said, in a voice that was barely audible.

I thought I’d stumbled in on some bizarre perverted act of fetishism by two gay blokes, who had taken sadomasochism a little too far. But I hadn’t bargained for a bigger shock that was to come, coming face to face with a ... demon. Until that is, the door behind me began to close.

The crucified man shook his head in fear as if he’d suddenly become afraid of me.

He uttered, with some difficulty, a familiar pantomime phrase. ‘Behind you.’

I then realised that he wasn't looking at me, but at something behind me.

I spun round.

It was standing there, whatever it was. A grotesque perversion of the human form, but I knew that this thing couldn’t be human. I knew that this was some hellish creature from beyond any reason I had in my – until that moment – logical mind.

‘It’s been waiting for you,’ said the crucified man behind me.

Then it smiled at me – it actually smiled at me! Its face (if you could call it a face) began to go through a series of changes, there was something familiar about each face it showed me as it did so. Then I realised what the familiarity was. They were all the faces of monsters from the horror films I’d viewed over the years, and from books I’d read. It was feeding off me; off my imagination, or maybe it was my imagination, manifested before me.

It’s been waiting for you.

I realised that it had been waiting for me. It had been growing all these years in a dark place somewhere, nurturing on my every fear, every nightmare. Now it had met the person who had breathed life into at least a small part of its unholy existence.

‘We all see different things,’ said the crucified man behind, his voice now merely a whisper so vague I thought I was thinking it in my own head.

Then the thing became Regan in The Exorcist, at her most evil looking. Her head began to rotate slowly, just like in the film, and I knew that in the other room the exact same thing was occurring in the film on screen. This creature was indeed a master mimic, fed by my memory of every fictional horror I’d ever laid eyes on or conjured up in my mind, as I’d consumed film after film, and book after book of grisly terrors.

When its head completed its rotation and turned back to face me, it was the thing I’d first seen again. Then it began to move towards me, in the manner that movie monsters do – in the way the Alien from the film of the same name would if it had been in that very room. Now it became that same creature, it had read my mind yet again.

H.R. Giger would have been proud of its interpretation of the Alien he’d created for the series of films.

I glanced in the direction of the window, and made a dash towards it. I pulled the curtain aside and took one last look at the crucified man. He was beyond help anyway, and even if I tried to save him, I wouldn’t have time. That monstrosity would have got me too. Although as I looked at it now it seemed to be shrinking away from the sunlight that was streaming in through the window.

It had become Pinhead now from Hellraiser, but it mutated quickly into something beyond description, something I have no reference points to describe it to you. It was a blasphemy of everything holy and natural.

I pulled the heavy window up and squeezed myself through it, then I ran and ran and I didn't stop running until I'd put some good distance between me and that scene of depravity.

This is how I know, know that … underneath the surface of our everyday lives is a place where sunlight never reaches, and there’s a darkness there which sometimes manifests itself in our world. Fed by our own fears and imagination – sometimes the darkness shows itself and you’ll know when you find it; you’ll know that ... it’s been waiting for you.

Copyright David Barton 2003

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