Amonon had done well with this host, and so much fun it had been! Surely there was no better joke on humanity than to possess one of its holy men? Only one such as that could pass above suspicion, committing crimes so varied it hurt his head wonderfully to think about it.
The sound of metal on stone continued to eminate from the basement and his host was seated, quite tired. The host was getting too old, the body requiring more of his effort each time there was mischief to accomplish, injustice to be meted, blood to be spilled. Unfortunately he had stayed so long he no longer had the ability to move into any body he chose, it had to be of the host blood. It wasn’t his fault, really. It was just that he was having so much fun wreacking havoc that he lost track of time. Anyway, his choices were pretty limited. The cousin was too old, although the power a government official held was distinctively intoxicating, he wanted to have fun for years to come. And so the son it would be. But first he had to prevent the host son from returning, that would be bad. All bets were off then.
Funny in its own way, for all that he could do he still had to live by rules. And the most basic ones were the rules of possession. You had to be very careful so as not to give the potential host a warning of what was about to befall them. The only way was to whisper in their ear, to their subconscious and push the buttons that would allow you in. Hubert had been so much fun, filling his head with grief over his ‘bastard’ son, and then fueling the rage to kill him. And how his wife had screamed!
But in order to keep the host and pervert the entire family line he needed to keep the boy dead, and the old man knew a way to bring him back. Damn those Egyptians!
Poor Hubert. He used to be vocal for quite a while, and what fun to torture him with the knowledge that he had killed again and again...
But where was he now? He had wanted to tell Hubert all about the waitress that was being diddled by the cook, and how he had meted justice to them. Oh, and how much the waitress resembled his long murdered wife, that was the best of all. But Hubert had hidden somewhere, and his cries of agony would have to wait.
Amonon waited. He listened. And he smiled. Can you give me Hallelujah?
Julius labored in the basement targeting the weight of the sledge hammer on the wall Justin had indicated. His muscles began to complain after a few swings and he sat for a moment to catch his breath.
As he sat he reflected how strange life is, how some people affect you and others slide by like water off a duck’s back. Hubert, for example. He was someone you could ignore the way you do a street corner Reverend as he hurls fire and brimstone from the corner of 42nd and Lexington. Jake, on the other hand, had been everything his father wasn’t. He had the looks, the personality and the brains. Nothing but advanced classes for him, way ahead of Julius. But for all that Jake had never looked down on Julius, never made him feel less of a person. Hubert, on the other hand, had been evil. He had murdered Jake's mother, he was sure, and Jake himself.
Hubert had very few distinguishing characteristics. One was his temper, which had cost so many so much. His second was a weak mind that only saw what it wanted to. The only other thing Julius could remember about him was his penchant for sucking his teeth when he slept, which Jake and himself had a good many laughs over as kids. Julius smiled at the memory and absently wiped a tear from his cheek.
He lifted the hammer and took two more quick swipes at the wall punching a hole on the second swing. He set the hammer down and picked up the crowbar from the floor and began clearing a path into the tomb.
The world of the living has it’s rules, just as the world of the dead has it’s own set. Jake felt his time slipping away from him as he watched Julius make the first strike on the wall of his tomb. Deep emotion swept through him at the sight of his friend, now so much older than himself, yet still standing by his side much as he had done when alive.
Then he felt another presence, dead but not. He floated upward, fearful of what could cause such an odd feeling. He glanced about the living room and saw nothing, but there was a rancid smell like a long dead mouth suddenly opening. He followed the scent to the kitchen and saw Hubert seated by the basement door, sucking on his dentures as he slept. He started in fear, how could this be? Hubert would be ancient by now, wouldn’t he? How could he survive? And why was he here?
In an instant of insight he realized that Hubert was there to make sure he stayed dead. Panic engulfed him, he was too close! It wasn’t fair, how can God allow this kind of injustice?
Mournfully he slipped beneath the floorboards and into the basement, and as he slid he watched Hubert, chest rising and falling, breath being strained through his false teeth. Something wasn’t right. He stopped and watched carefully. A figure seemed to lurk within Hubert. Not exactly human, more like an aborted nightmare. It’s skin a mottled gray, blotches standing out all over its naked form. The more he looked the more detail he saw, and then it slipped away and there was just Hubert again.
What the hell was that? He slid through the floor and headed for Julius.
After swiping a few bricks out of the way, the dust began to get to Julius and he pulled away from the gap in the wall coughing into his sleeve. A drink of water will fix this right up, he thought, and turned towards the stairs. As he headed across the floor he stumbled, lost his balance and then regained it. He looked down to see what he had tripped on and saw the crowbar. How did that get there? He was using it on the wall, he could have sworn he left it there next to the hole. He began to turn and froze. His back was being kneaded, the already sore muscles groaning in pleasure.
"Jake," he breathed, "Is that you?"
He waited while the muscles in his back loosened. It seemed as thought the room grew brighter around him until he was looking at the kitchen above him. It was just as he had left it, except…a figure was in a chair by the door to the basement, a vaguely familiar figure. As the image of the man focused Julius realized he was looking at an aged Hubert. But the vision didn’t stop there, instead it continued to change as Hubert seemed to slide away to reveal a twisted shape under the skin.
"Oh my God," whispered Julius. A demon, and not just an annoyance demon, but a mind demon. One that whispers and then inhabits the mind and body of its host, and then destroys the family blood. The magnitude of the vision hit Julius like a ton of bricks as the pieces fell into place and the vision dissapated. Jake had been the first! This demon had whispered into Hubert’s weak mind and spun him up to the point that he killed his wife in a frenzy, and that allowed the demon passage into his body. After that the demon had been in control, murdering his son and God alone knew how many others.
And now the demon had to stop Jake from coming back. It was a strange thing, the rules of possession, but it was like this: if you paid for a movie and went in, and then lost your ticket when they came to check for freeloaders, you got kicked out. Same idea here, if Jake came back the demon got kicked back to his previous habitant, who was most certainly dead, and so the demon would die as well.
The trick was that you couldn’t kill this demon by killing the body of the host because he had animated it for some time he was sure, Hubert surely wasn’t still fighting the demon in there, was he? Probably not. His mind was too weak. No the problem would be that the battleground would be one of the mind, kind of like if you die in a dream-you die in the waking world as well.
Julius went to the hole in the wall and removed bricks by hand so as to not create dust, and he thought as he worked. If he were to engage the demon now and lost then Jake would be lost, for surely the demon would destroy the bones. It was also obvious why the demon hadn’t come down already- its host was old. It wanted to conserve energy until it could move into a new host, so he was safe for now, as long as the demon was convinced that he was unearthing the remains of Hubert’s family.
At last the hole was large enough to admit Julius. He paused and rifled through the many pockets of his coat until he retrieved the flashlight concealed in its depths. He shone light in to the crypt and entered.
Dust reigned supreme in the cubicle, cobwebs running a close second. He panned the light around the room until he happened upon two hewn sacks on the dirt floor. He approached slowly and kneeled in front of them. Gripping the flashlight between his teeth he opened the nearest bag and was confronted with a human skull and a shattered hipbone. Jake’s mother. He opened the second bag and a small moan escaped him. A small skull seemed to be looking back at him, nose shattered and stained in deep shades of maroon.
"Oh, Jake. I’m so sorry." Julius breathed. And he began to sob.
Pain? Yes, he DID feel pain nearby. But from where? Of course! The old man had uncovered the bones, so much the better. The wait was over! Best to be careful here, the demon thought. Better to float down so as not to alert his enemy. A feral grin spread across Amonon’s face as he glided silently down the wooden stairs into the darkness of the basement. As he reached the landing at the bottom he could see the light shining from the hole in the brick the old man had made. Time for a family reunion.
Julius sobbed heavily not hearing the whispered warnings of approaching danger that Jake was so frantically trying alert him to. At last the sobbing subsided and he turned to the door with the sack in hand. There in the doorway stood Hubert. Julius froze, then dropped the bag as his mind was invaded.
The old fool was crying! This was perfect, now he could finish him off and destroy the bones in one fell swoop. He forced Hubert's body forward. Was the host too old to move this quickly or was he resisting? Couldn’t be resisting, he needed to rid himself of this host quickly. He peered in to the hole in the wall and saw his enemy. And then the advantage was lost for the enemy saw him and, amazingly enough, was prepared for him! He had mental blocks and ammunition! No matter, he had to be destroyed.
Amonon extended his being onto the mental battlefield and engaged the enemy.
Julius Calmed his mind quickly, and then slipped into a state that could only be compared to a trance, and steeled himself for battle with the demon.
"In my mind, in my mind. Nothing I see is real" he mumbled to himself. "Just got to be careful."
The battle raged as the two figures stood stock still in the basement, eyes blank and staring, seeing nothing yet roving as though taking in a great deal. Visions danced in their minds as they fought for the ultimate prize, freedom. Amonon used every foul thing he could think of from showing Jakes death in Technicolor to Hubert murdering Julius’s parents while his father took the blame. He showed Jake suffering mercilessly, beaten and denied even the most basic comforts.
But Julius wasn’t completely unarmed, and he used the few weapons he had wisely. Being calm as the carnage rolled in front of him was key. If he allowed his emotions to take control then all was lost. And slowly he began to fight back with imaginings of his own, of Hubert dying and the demon within him burning, meat cooking off and shriveling into black nothingness.
The two figures stood locked in combat terrorizing the other with mental images of pain being caused to the other. Their battle slowly switched from energy to adrenaline as the only force making them stand. Amonon had no strength to spare keeping the host steady as Julius kept him off guard with the ferocity of his attack. Julius stood rigid with drops of sweat gleaming off his skin and rolling in to his eyes, unheeded.
They stayed in their positions until Sunday evening, when the slamming of the front door gave the demon the edge he needed. He put the flyblown corpse of Justin and the ground bones of Jake in Julius's mind, and Julius faltered, cried out and fell. He knew the fight was lost. Blood ran freely from eyes that no longer had the ability to see, congealing over his nose and cutting off breath as it ran in a steady stream down his mouth, opening and closing like a dying fish gasping for breath.
The demon stumbled back into the crawlspace under the stairs and crouched in the darkness recovering his breath and focusing his energy to finish the slaughter of those who had given him the battle.
The grin was back, can you give me a hallelujah?
We walked in to the front door to the sound of a man gasping in pain. Kyle and I looked at each other quickly, and then at the kitchen.
"What on earth was that?" asked my dad.
He took a few step forward and I put my hand on his arm.
"Dad, wait, Um, you should know a few things," I began.
"Like what?" he replied distractedly, clearly interested in the noise.
"Um, well..." I began.
Talk about great timing, light began to shimmer in the kitchen and move down the hallway. We stood transfixed like the proverbial deer in the headlights. Slowly a figure materialized.
"Dad," I said, "I’d like you to meet Jake."Previous Chapter Next Chapter