I felt the need to bring to your attention exactly what I am, and what my people are, because I am honestly quite sick of the stupid, quickly sputtered ‘Who are you’s that I get when I’m trying to eat a meal. I believe this letter will clear a few things up. Think of it as a death note, because if you are reading this, you know precisely what is going to happen to you.
To you humans, we are known as demons because that is usually what name they give to otherworldly beings that they can’t understand. I suppose it’s a fitting name. Although they would label us as ‘evil,’ I would say otherwise. We simply have…differing needs.
For one thing, we do not eat your food. We can, but it’s not satisfying. It doesn’t nourish us. It doesn’t nourish you either, and it confuses me as to how you do not collapse after devouring food dripping with grease and poisons even we won’t touch.
No, we demons crave something a bit harder to create. We crave what makes you human. We crave your souls.
Now, before you react negatively, you must realize that food chains have always been around. They begin with pitiful crawling creatures like mice, ants, toads, and they end, at the very top, with us. Did you really think you were on top? Your kind make me laugh. So quick to put yourself at the top of any list. You may hold dominion over most living beings, but I assure you, you are not above us. You are nothing but mere fodder, and no amount of human pride will ever change that fact.
We are at the top of the food chain, and yet you wonder why we are not so well-known. It is because we don’t run around mindlessly slaughtering humans. Cultivating a nourishing soul is tedious work, and time consuming. At best, we are usually able to raise a soul to maturity after twenty-five continuous years of labor. It’s a slow process, but one well worth the effort. One must know how to inject fear and hopelessness at just the right times, so that the soul will not shatter, but instead marinate in delicious darkness, until we decide that it has soaked up enough flavor and energy to rip from your bodies and take for ourselves.
Some of us are hastier than others. Usually unexplained, gruesome murders are our doing. The younger the soul, the more attached it is to your bodies. It makes more of a mess when we attempt to remove it from you. It is not as satisfying to eat, either, which is why most of us are patient enough to farm them ourselves.
It begins with a marking. A small marking, but one that is not unnoticeable. Have you ever met someone with piercing eyes? And I don’t mean ‘eyes the color of oceans,’ or any of that crap you so often romanticize about. I mean eyes that you cannot look away from no matter how hard you try. They are not off-color, but something about them draws you. It makes the hair on your neck stand on end, and your gut complains as you uneasily begin to shift your weight. Something about their eyes is wrong. You cannot put your finger on it, but something is wrong with this person. That is us.
The way we hunt begins before you even set foot on earth. We look for you while you are still in your parasitic state, when you bulge from your mother’s body like the leeches you will become. Your mother must be happy, and mentally stable. We watch her for a while, from the cracks in your dimension. We observe as she washes dishes in the kitchen by herself. Sometimes, we are in the cobwebs behind the refrigerator, peering out from the darkness. Other times we dwell in the cracked, water-stained ceiling by the fan, lazily spinning above her head. We are in the shadow the watering can casts while she works diligently to plant tomatoes on the back porch. We are in the drain as she showers. She never notices.
If we have decided that she is a good host for you, we breathe our essence into her, and leave our mark. She will not realize it at the time, but she know when you are born. The minute you open your eyes, she will know. The motherly bond that is supposed to happen immediately will not, and she will struggle as you age, wondering why it is that she cannot love you as she should, why you make her feel queasy. She will try, however, for your sake, because that is human nature. And in the meantime, we will begin to acquaint ourselves with you.
For your first few years of life, you won’t notice us. You will grow as a normal child does, but when you are old enough to understand, we will start to send messages. They begin in your dreams, where we will first reveal ourselves to you. It is our intention to desensitize you to us. When you are young, we won’t harm you. But as you grow older, an uneasy feeling will surface in your gut each time you dream of us. Eventually, you will be fully aware of us. It is then that we will appear to you in physical form. Here, we will tell you exactly what we plan to do with you, and awaken your real fear. We will torture you. We will scare you. We will take from you what we want, and instill horror, malice, and hatred into the core of your very being, until your eyes are no longer full of life, when you realize that there is no escape your fate. And when we finally push you to the edge of your breaking point, we will take your life, and without a soul, you will become one of us. And thus, the cycle continues again.
You can’t blame us for your fate. You’ve made yourself too vulnerable by harboring more emotions than necessary. You seek entertainment in music, in animals, and in each other. You seek love, comfort, happiness. That is why we are the greater species. We thrive on lust, hunger, and anger alone. When we are hungry, we eat. We are entertained by sexual pleasure. Food, and sex. That is all an animal needs to live. And that is what we do.
I wish that I could say I still believe what I had written centuries ago. But I have had an experience that has changed how I function. It has changed the entirety of my being, and I had no choice but to accept it.
It began with a woman. I happened upon her in my search for a new victim. A quiet being, she kept to herself. She was very pregnant, and there was no father in sight. A perfect target. It didn’t take me long to leave my mark on her unborn child.
When the child finally came, it was business as usual. I was there in every step the woman took to raise her, when she fed her, bathed her. She was a frail being, the child. I will admit that I had not seen a human of such color. Her skin was not pink and plush, like normal. She seemed almost sickly pale, and when her hair began to grow out, it feathered, holding no pigment.
The first time I had stepped out of her dreams was the night of her sixth year. A regular child should have feared me. Mind you, I look nothing like your kind. My skin is not pink; my skin is a dark, dark grey. My eyes glow with the intensity of fire. I am muscular, and I am menacing. But the first time I met her gaze, she looked at me with nothing but curiosity.
“Sen,” I called her name as I pushed her window open. The wind blew the curtains in an eerie fashion. I watched her emerge from the darkness, heard the rustle of her sheets and her soft footsteps as she stepped towards me, clad in a silken nightgown, clutching a handmade bear her mother had gifted her for her birthday. Her hair had grown into small silvery curls. She squinted, meeting my fiery eyes through the veil of the curtain blowing before her face.
“You’re the man from my dream,” the first words she’d ever directed to me. They were soft, and her words trembled merely from lack of sleep. I could not look away from this mystical child, seeming to forget my purpose momentarily.
“I am Rel,” I finally spoke. My voice was emotionless, and I tensed the tendons in my feet to curl my toes in the grass beneath me. “I am here to make you aware of something.” Her gaze was still so soft on me. It irritated me, and I aimed a pointed nail at her. “You are mine.” I was attempting to make my voice as close to a growl as I could. It was deep, husky even, but it seemed to have no effect on the girl behind the teddy bear. “From this day forth, you exist solely to feed me. I will visit you often. And you will not enjoy it. Your life will become miserable. And when the time comes, I will take your soul.” My outstretched hand clenched into a fist with the closing of my words. She blinked at me, the moon reflecting the blue in her eyes. Somehow, I found this unnerving. Perhaps she thought this was only a dream.
“I’m not afraid of you,” she squeezed her little arms tighter around her bear. She seemed unsure, but I could not read fear in her body language. I was miffed, and leaned closer to her through the window. The curtains were annoying me now, getting in my way. With a swift movement, I ripped the left one down, tossing it aside. It lay to rest on the clutter of stuffed animals beneath the window sill.
“Why is that?” my eyes narrowed, suspicious.
“Because.” And suddenly she was on the floor, wrapping the curtain around her bear, like a stupid cloak. “I see you in my head a lot. You never hurt me.” She looked up at me then. Her stare pushed me back, away from the ledge. I felt a creeping feeling slide down my spine, but my fingernails dug into the window sill to keep me standing.
“You are too young. You’re not ready for pain yet,” I cocked my head slightly, observing her playing with the bear. “I don’t want to break you.”
She was ignoring me now. I had a vision of myself launching my body through the window and destroying everything in a tornado of violence. There was no reason for this child to lack fear. There was also no reason for me to hold back on a soul as strong as hers. I could draw out her tears, if I wanted. But I found myself perplexed by her behavior, and I could not understand why. Incredibly irritated by her behavior, and my own, I sunk down through the crack I’d found in the dew of the grass, back into my ethereal world to clear my muddled head, and perhaps find solace in a quick fuck.
I did not return to her in physical form for a few years, although I watched from the shadows constantly. She was a pleasant child, and did not seem bothered by our encounter, nor by anything else that should have bothered a child her age. A scrape on the knee was a sigh and a bandage, and nothing more. Chores were a time to hum tunes that only she knew. I attempted to warp her mindset with terrible nightmares here and there. When she would awaken, she lay only briefly in terror, but climbing into her mother’s bed calmed her almost immediately. This child was not normal, and I found myself wanting to stay away from her. The nightmares I sent grew less and less. I could not stir this child’s disposition, no matter what I did, and it was too early to be physical with her, lest I break her soul to pieces.
The second time we met, I found her in the long grass behind her house. Her mother, though wary of the child, kept her close, but there was a good bit of land behind their house. Trees sheltered the yard from the neighbors’ properties. Wildflowers grew near the back, by the treeline. Her mother had taught her to weave the stems together to form chains. She no longer carried that bear around; it was childish, she claimed. And yet she sat with her legs folded at her sides, meticulously curling stems together to make jewelry. Only a human could find joy in something so simple.
She didn’t notice me right away. I had stepped out from beneath the shadow of the willow tree she was fond of. She did not miss a beat when her eyes finally met mine. Her hand outstretched towards me, and suddenly I was seated cross-legged beside her. Her small fingers were in my hair, and this took me by surprise, but I was frozen where I sat, holding my breath while she weaved flower after flower into my hair. This child…
I let her laugh and play for a while, allowing her to adorn me with flowers. Each flower added a weight to my chest, until I thought I could not take the pressure any longer. It hurt. I was stressed, bursting with the anxiety that this child was causing me. In that moment, she seemed as otherworldly as I did, curled ringlets bouncing every time she sat back on her heels to admire me. She giggled and clapped her hands with delight. It was when she left my side to gather another bouquet that I took my leave.
In the solitude of my misty world I ripped the flowers away from my skin and out of my hair, clawing at the petals until they were crushed and broken at my feet. I felt as they did, withered and destroyed. My body was being racked by tremors and I was unsure of how to stop them. Grinding my teeth was only driving me further into madness. I could not, for the life of me, get her out of my head. It was becoming obsessive. I began to avoid her, unusual behavior for one of my kind, but I could not bear to see her any longer. There was a growing need within me that I could not name. It was neither hunger, nor lust, but I attempted to quell it with what I found familiar. I tried to push it down through sexual acts. I fucked relentlessly for days. Anyone I could get a hold of. This was the only time in my life where I wished demons could tire, because no matter how many bodies I held down, no matter how many times I was overcome by the pleasure of sex, I always found myself in the exact same place as I had begun. My heart was hurting. So I tried to eat.
I went on my first rampage. I materialized in the middle of the street rather than sneak about, as I usually did. I climbed barefoot into as many bedroom windows as I could, stepping on the broken glass of the windows that had been locked and broken by my fist, leaving blood wherever I went, proof I was there. Everything within reach was to be destroyed. If there were bookshelves, I slammed them into the ground. Vases were sent flying across the room. Pictures were smashed at my feet, and furniture uplifted and torn apart. If I met a dog barking at my entry, I crushed its vocal cords in my hand without a thought. I heard their screams, I took pleasure in their pain, but the uncultured souls that I ripped from their chests were not satisfying in the least, no matter how many people I ate. I left the city that night with bullets in my chest and a few lacerations from the woman who attempted to defend herself with a fireplace poker. After all that, I still didn’t know what I needed. My simple belief that food and sex could heal all things was shattering beneath my feet, fragile as the figurines I’d flung from so many shelves that night. I felt utterly lost.
I did not return to watch her. I was no longer in the air around her, nor was I observing from beyond her world. I had not been keeping up with her at all. In fact, I had attempted to move on to another victim, one that would not drive me insane by her mere presence. A young boy, William, but he was the same as the countless others I had stalked. This one was afraid from the moment I met him. Playing with his mind made me restless. It was monotonous. All I needed to do was appear at the foot of his bed and the child would go into hysterics. I had yet to do anything beyond mind games at this point. His soul was fragile. I disliked William.
It was her twenty-fifth year when I worked up the nerve to claim what was mine. As I navigated the fog of the ethereal world, I was already growing nervous, which in turn was pissing me off. By the time I peeked out from the gap in her closet door, I was furious and ready to pounce…and then I saw her.
It was too early for her to be awake without purpose, but there she stood in the full-length mirror across from me. She had matured greatly in the time that I was absent. She was now tall and shapely, and she was fidgeting with the straps of a light blue sun dress, getting ready to leave for some occasion unknown to me. Her silvery curls had grown full around her face, but she kept them at bay with a simple ribbon tied around her head. Her strange eyes pierced straight into me, even through the glass of the mirror before her. Immediately, she turned to face me, and I found myself momentarily too weak to push the door of the closet open. When I finally emerged, I fell to my knees, beaten down by my own conflicting emotions. Soft arms enveloped me, and I felt her body against mine, holding my head to her abdomen. She was warm. And I was immediately frightened.
“You came back,” I heard her whisper above me. She was caressing my shoulders with the softest touch. I could hear my blood pounding in my ears. I said nothing, because in that moment, reality was becoming apparent. I would not eat this woman’s soul. I could not harm this woman.
“You tricked me,” my own voice was raspy, unused. I could feel her confusion at my words in the way that she had shifted her weight slightly away from me. She could not possibly understand what I meant because she truly knew nothing about me, about how I was supposed to act, what my species was like. To her, I was a mysterious being that had faded in and out of her life since childhood, and I had never done anything to give her a reason to fear me. I had not prepared her soul as I should have. I could not penetrate the overwhelming kindness that she seemed to be directly cut from. She had doomed me from the moment I’d marked her. This entire time, it was not her awaiting her fate. It was me. I had become something awful. There was no word for me, for I could not call myself a demon. I could not bring myself to do what instinct drove me to do.
Suddenly, she was on the floor, her legs folded back at either side of her as if she were sitting in that field of flowers once again. She held me closely, and I let her. My eyes shut, and I surrendered my being to her. She was no longer mine. In that moment, I became hers. And so it shall be until she closes her mortal eyes for the final time.