How To See The Demons
There are demons all around us, of course, but they’re mostly invisible, and nearly impossible to see. Sometimes you catch one flitting by out of the corner of your eye; sometimes your shadow bulges in strange, unnatural ways; sometimes your reflection flickers and leaves you with an odd impression of fangs and scales, bulk and scars. You think they’re there, but you don’t know they’re there, and that’s the way they like it.
But I’ve found a surefire way to expose the bastards, and it’s really easy. Here’s what you do:
- Find a small room.
- Find a very bright lamp, at least a 150 watts; preferably 200.
- Put the lamp in the corner of the room, and take the shade off.
- Turn the lamp on, and stare directly at the bare bulb, without blinking, until your eyes dry out.
- Turn around, quickly, and face the room.
- Close your eyes.
You’ll see a sort of negative image of your surroundings, bright lines fading against a black background. You’ll see starbursts popping and dwindling like slow flashbulbs. You might see a faint suggestion of the light on the other side of your eyelids, leaking through the skin. And you’ll see throngs of demons, all around you, limned in fire.
I discovered this, quite by accident, a couple of nights ago. I was alone in the house, daydreaming, staring fixedly at the lamp over the stairwell. When I came out of my reverie, I blinked, and held my eyes shut, and there they were. There was a long segmented millipede demon, with the slack-faced head of a human child, crawling up my leg, searing through the leg of my trousers, leaving a line of filth and bile in its wake. There were a billion chigger demons boring into my skin, kicking up tiny geysers of blood behind them. There was a time demon, an eight-legged spider creature with a hundred eyeless faces covering its round black body, and on each face an outsized puckered mouth sucking at the air, drawing away my youth; I could hear it escaping, tearing free of my bones with a sound like nails down chalkboard. There was a misery demon, a winged half-jackel with the back of its body torn off, dangling entrails, whispering sadness and despair in my ear. There was a paranoia demon, an amorphous wriggling mass of limbs and heads and feet and hands that occasionally took the forms of my friends, engaged in various acts of betrayal. And, above them all, looming over everything like an oncoming storm, was the futility demon; it rained hopelessness amid forked bolts of lightning, and raised hurricane winds to tear dreams away from their moorings.
I could only stand it for a couple of seconds, though. I flinched back, and opened my eyes, and they were gone.
But they’re not really gone.
I know that.
I just don’t know what to do about it.