Demons

The following notebook was found on the body of a 28 year old woman, discovered on the tow-path of Regents canal yesterday. Police are not releasing her name until relatives have been informed, but they are appealing for witnesses.

Light. Warmth. Fresh cut grass. Musky perfume. Bacon and eggs. My mothers voice. Arms around me. Cold water. Darkness. Speed. Running through rain. Ever faster.
I'm sorry. I wanted to get those thoughts from my dreams down on paper before they faded.

I have just been in that place between sleep and waking. Where dreams merge with reality. The place which for me somehow makes sense. Where slumber drains away, but leaves us still short of full control. It is only there that I feel at peace. Only then that I know that my actions are my own. It is when I leave that place, that the harsh reality of the waking world bears it's full weight upon me, and my soul shrivels with the knowledge of what is to come.

Forgive my rambling. I wanted to write something from my heart before the whispers began. I wish I could write about waking in a bed of white feathers, scented with fresh rose petals. The sound of birdsong from the beautiful gardens outside pushing sleep ever further away. But I know such writing is fantasy. The withering I feel as Sariel turns his cruel gaze towards me, and I return to this harsh reality. So instead of my pleasant fantasy, I must write about the sunlight streaming through the thin curtains and glaring into my eyes, the ancient greasy bed-sheets sticking to my skin, the acrid sweat stained pillow gathering lumpen under my head, the twisted knots of blanket wrapped around my legs, the sounds of the sink estate coming through my cracked window, the youths already banging footballs into broken garage doors, the screaming infants in cheap pink push chairs, bumped angrily along the street by pram faced girls who forage the estate like dogs.

Reading through that last it sounds angrier than I feel right now. I am propped up in bed and all seems right with the world. Well, mostly right, quiet murmurings hint at the coming problems and burdens I must bear.

I wanted, needed, to start writing the days events as soon as I was fully awake, following the instructions Sariel had given me yesterday. Instructions that may have weighed about my neck, but which were a part of me nonetheless. I could try and ignore him, as I have done before, but if I meekly follow the least of his demands then he becomes less insistent with his most destructive. And I fear that if his demands become too insistent, too urgent, then I will lack the strength to resist.

I had placed some pads of paper beside my bed the night before, which gave some respite. I am writing now in the second of these, for when I picked up the first, I could see the impressions of a note I had made some days before. I must have pressed hard, perhaps in one of my rages. For even after tearing off the first few sheets, the impressions still held. I thought briefly of using the pad anyway, but I could feel Xaphan beginning to turn his concerned gaze my way. I threw away the remnants of the pad in frustration, before picking up this new one, and a pen. A black pen of course. It is Xaphan who insists on my own purity, who instructs me whenever I am straying towards corruption and filth. Some of his demands are confusing, but there is always a sense of inner gratification and peace when they are carried out. At least with Xaphan there is respite, as his demands are rarely harmful to others, with the cruel Belberith I must remain constantly vigilant, continually aware that the impulses I feel are in fact sent by him, aware that he wants to glory in the pain I would cause others. Danger for them is never more than a repressed urge away.

But it is Sariel who causes me most trouble and grief. It is Sariel who whispers in my ear at the butchers, trying to seduce me, or trick me (for they are the same), to plunge my hand into the slicer. It is Sariel who makes me think about tripping up a policeman. Or jumping in front of the fast moving truck, or climbing the railing and leaping from the bridge into the river. To hit my head against a wall, until it is smeared with my blood. To put the knife against my own flesh, and not another's. To plunge my hand into the naked flame, or the boiling water. These are some of the ways he tortures me.

Time to get up. I have become an expert at replacing the sheets on the bed before setting foot on the floor. For Xaphan has commanded that I cannot pollute the bed by touching it once I have left. I wash, shave, toilet, the acts of purification. Eat, dress. I brush my teeth until my gums bleed, the foam I spit into the sink has been turned pink by my blood. These are all mundane acts like almost everyone else completes every day. Indeed there are many who cannot do these themselves. I am superior to these people. No one can argue otherwise. Without these simple acts we are less than the dogs and cats that I sometimes see.

I stare at my face in the mirror. Sometimes it no longer seems like mine. The face of an ageing imposter who has spread his wrinkling skin thinly over mine. No matter what expressions I try and contort my face into, the skin still sags back into the face of a puzzled man. But if I ever thought that the mirror was lying to me, I get confirmation in the look of contempt and impatience in the faces of the people I sometimes have to talk to.

Once, years ago, I visited the hospitals and the Doctors, or rather, I was sent. There were many sterile white rooms. Much prodding and talking. And many more visits to follow. Biting down on wadded bandages as the currents surged through my head. All this angered the hoard, but they left me for a while, and to our relief the doctors saw no need for me to return.

I have little to do today. I cannot see it being much of a burden detailing the events in this little notepad, I shall carry it with me so that I can write fresh events with no danger of fantasy replacing reality.

If I watch television, should I detail the programmes I watch? Perhaps so. In which case I shall avoid it. The radio too. Even books I cannot read, in case I become trapped in some recursive spiral of description. Perhaps that is Sariels intent, his goals for me having become more devious due to his previous failings to seduce me to my own death.

Bazriel whispered something to me as I finished scribbling that last sentence. At first, all those years ago, his whisperings were totally unintelligible, but the more he has tried to communicate with me, the more I have begun to understand him. I still cannot follow the words, but some semblance of his intent has come through, in the same way that an owner can follow a dog, or perhaps a better analogy would be a parent understanding a baby. Though surely it is Bazriel who is my parent?

Some time has passed, and I have done little. I have washed and bathed again and again as commanded. Until finally, my patience exhausted I re-dressed to go to the town centre, even I crave human contact at times, though I am disgusted by my weakness. It is an excuse enough, I shall leave soon.

I'll quickly note this down before going out. As I took my keys from the pot by the door, I thought I sensed a presence in it. This reminded me of the time, years ago, when the hoard first came to me. At first they would inhabit idols. Perhaps a doll or statue. Or some kind of receptacle such as the pot. Candle holders and lanterns were, for a time, their favourite. Maybe the flickering flames made them think there was room for a life inside. I used to listen to them. Holding my head close so that I could hear their whispers. I regret that now, at some point they must have leaped into my head. And they have been here with me ever since. We all rattle along together in this little cage, with just two windows at the front to let the light in and out.

I write on the bus. When I got on, there was one other passenger. A woman of middle years, plump and unattractive, she has taken no care over her appearance. I find her somewhat distasteful. I sit behind her scribbling into my notebook. Her short hair has flecks of white dandruff. But the back of her neck is clean. A beautiful clean stretch of skin between the top of her blouse and her short cropped hair with it's streaks of grey. I can hear Belberith whisper to me to touch her. Gently. At first. Stroke her flesh. Put my strong fingers about her neck. Luckily his whispers are distant, I can resist them with ease. But of course as I write that, his voice becomes louder. Then I see a small wart on her neck, an alien hair. A raised patch of impure colour. A small matter, but it is such things that do indeed matter. Mercifully for her the temptation has passed. And now she has left the bus. Perhaps she was you?

I can only write when the bus stops. This traffic is so bad that this is frequent. I have been looking out of the window to the people walking along outside. I do not know if anyone else will ever read these scribblings. If you are, then I hope you can understand it, my handwriting is not the best, and I am so out of practice. For many years I have written little other than filling in the forms that the social workers and health people send to me. If you are reading this then I wonder if we will ever meet? Or perhaps we have met? Maybe I was that man who sat behind you on the bus. Or stood too close for comfort in the supermarket queue? The man you thought touched you, but you were not sure, so did not want to say. The man who followed you down the street, but looked away when you glanced around. The man who glared at you as you drove past, a look that carried something more dangerous than hunger. Perhaps I will come knocking at your door one day. Maybe you will be alone. But do not fear. These voices in my head are but whispers. I can shut them out. If I cannot, and I am behind you, either on a bus, or a cinema, or in a queue, then I can lean forward until my lips are near to brushing your ear, and I can whisper to you. I can tell you, so softly, what they tell me to do to you. In so many ways. Such variety. For so long. We are nearly at my stop. More later.

More now. The bus delayed by a collision between two cars ahead. Even though I have nowhere real to go to, and nowhere of substance to go back to, I am still nearly consumed by rage. That external events beyond my control can have such influence over my life. But the whispering voices return. The self discipline I need to exert distracts me from other events, I feel my steely discipline returning. A dog is trying to cross the road. Will life on the other side be that much better for him? By some miracle he has made it over. Some chance of fate sparing his life this day. I will confess that part of me wanted him to fail. Some twisted part of me wanted to experience the death, the agony, of another. We have started moving.

So much has happened since I wrote down that last sentence. It was Belberith who whispered to me to push the old lady under the bus. I resisted, but when Sariel shouted to me to jump under myself, I had to take a step back. This must have angered him. And although I am carrying out his instructions with this journal, I fear his response. Shaken I continued to the shop. And it was here that my resistance weakened. I was pleased with my purchases, knowing their intent made me nervous, but following it through showed my inner strength and resolve. The girl at the checkout, her eyes were so bright and young. And it is eyes that Belberith prizes above all else. He showed me an image, my fingers clawing out a fresh offering. By looking away I again resisted. Sometimes my strength gives me immense pride. Our society offers up heroes for us to worship, but few of these heroes can match the moral strength that I showed in those few moments. My hands were pure, and to keep them so I ended up fumbling the coins I handed over, avoiding contact by stabbing them down into the girls palm. But even this cannot prevent the image of her eyes haunting me still. When I returned home I sat for a long while with the curtains closed and the lights off. Wrapping the protective darkness around me. When I was young I was told tales of so called holy men (nutters I thought, but few seemed to agree with me,) who would become hermits so as to become closer to their Gods. The reality is that we are closer to our Gods in the company of others, isolation takes us further from them. And it was only in that dark place that I felt the pressure of unspoken words subside. I feel calm and rested now, though as I write this, again the whisperings of Bazriel come to me, stronger than ever. I can feel the meaning, the intent. He wants me to cast aside the others, follow only him. This I can do. I shall sit here awhile, turn the light out again, and revel in their attention to me.

I fell in the dark and banged my head on the table. For a while I lay there clutching my head. I could feel the stickiness of blood in my hair. But that does not matter. Something has changed. Something within me. It is as if a barrier has been lifted. A barrier that has been holding back a flood of voices. A flood that seemed overwhelming at first. But now I ride the waves. A chorus that I belong to. And beside me, next to me, alongside me with a closeness that makes my heart beat with a pride enough to burst the heavens, is Bazriel. He no longer needs to talk to me, no longer will his whispers fill my head. For now our thoughts are one. There is more he wants me to do. Much more if his plans are to be fulfilled. But that can wait, it is enough for now that he knows that I will obey without hesitation. I have set aside the knife and tape that I bought. Today may have belonged to Sariel, tomorrow will be the start of the age of Bazriel. I am ready for whatever is demanded of me. I shall find others to assist us. Others who will join our group, our hoard. Together we shall be glorious.

December 2009 silvercoat