My Favorite Possession
Initially we thought it was just a personality quirk then someone suggested a mental disorder, you know, like bi-polar or even schizophrenia. It was an idea that caught on, I mean, the man was textbook symptomatic and none of us knew anybody personally to compare him too. He was just nuts and we called him the Rat.
I actually looked for prescriptions but didn't find anything. I think for the others it was more of a fun way to poke back, to explain what defied explanation - a god myth telling of the rising and setting of the sun. For me it was a hunger to know what controlled the Rat's heart and soul, how he could be so predictably unpredictable. I realize I'm speaking in melodramatic cliches but they fit him so.
I think it was my special attention to him physically that first clued me into the anomaly of his insanity. The Rat wasn't sick. Not like that. His eyes were haunted but not paranoid. His actions were deliberate and consistent. He wasn't crazy doing crazy things, he just switched from sane to insane, friend to abusive tyrant.
That's when I began to suspect possession. The problem with suspecting possession is that everything seems to support that even more than mental disorders! You notice twitches, evil gleams in the eyes. Every action is vindictive, every word a cutting snipe. Then you doubt the others around you, I mean if he's possessed, what about everybody else? I try to avoid paranoia and this line of thinking was the fast lane to imagined persecution.
I was ready to forget it when I remembered a conversation from a year before. One of our number, we called him the Ram related a midnight waking in which he was convinced a spirit sought his soul, swirling above him, around him attempting to get in, to control him. It was described to us as pure evil, something which the man had never before felt. His body was covered with gooseflesh even then, hours later in the ghastly pallor of flourescently diffused sunlight. I feel it even now, protected as I am.
The Ram said we could think him crazy but it had truly happened. Another, known as the Hawk spoke up. There is a history of strife within our numbers and a conversation was recounted in which the one among us called the Snake had told of his new found knowledge of an unspecified black art. Targets were not named but the Snake had no love for either the Ram or the Rat and the great swirling evil described could only have been summoned by one practiced in the ways of corporeal evil. Could the Snake have been successful when he turned his shadowed talents to the Rat?
It was a Monday afternoon when I knew definitively that the Rat was possessed. I saw the little bugger on his shoulder, glowing eyes, folded wings, and a sinuous tail capped with spikes. We stared at each other for several minutes - I think it was too surprised I could see it to do anything then. I don't remember learning the trick but from that day on I could see the little devil and colored my actions accordingly.
Time passed and I kept my mouth shut on the subject, avoiding the beast and his host as best I could. One day it came to pass that I crossed the Snake. I don't know quite how but I crossed him well and enraged him to action. I woke that night bathed in sweat with a demon attacking. He was slithering around me, whispering in my ear with his forked tongue and nipping at my extremities. I lashed out at him but there was no contact, the ethereal haunt laughed at me, rows of tiny teeth glowing with an inhuman hunger. My wife slept peacefully at my side, oblivious in her angelic repose. For hours we wrestled until the daylight crept beneath the curtains and he left me.
That day passed quickly for me. I said nothing to the Snake about what had happed though it seemed he sought me out. I wondered if he had the knack, if he could see the beasts too? I think so because he was not as happy when we parted as when he came to me, in fact I dare say he was disappointed. I dreaded that next night, fear of a repeat attack plagued me and I didn't sleep. Morning came without incident and I returned to the office.
The Snake startled me from a nap at my desk, I thought I had felt pain but he was just shaking my arm slightly, waking me for our duty. I think perhaps he marked me, or took something for his magic because that night the demonic onslaught was fierce and they did not flee with the coming of the light. My wife prayed with me that morning, she could sense them though they remained invisible to her. At last the winged evil withdrew and we warded our home, our children, against them as best we knew how. I had to believe the assault would continue and I steeled myself for the battle.
That's when it got interesting. I was approached that day by a tiny creature no larger than a match book who reeked of brimstone and cursed like a sailor. He proposed a partnership. I suspected trickery at once and we negotiated most of the day. Balzebdeh, it was the name he offered, respected my daily duties and did not interrupt though at one point I was certain he was about to attack the Snake. I could sense the hatred and perhaps a hint of fear. His argument was tempting but as a man devoted to the Lord God I resisted making a deal with even this lowly underling of lucifer with an obvious desire to best the Snake. I believe in the Holy Trinity, that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was also the crucifixion of God the Father, an act of self-sacrificing love. He argued that instead it represented the ultimate expression of the ends justify the means - that the cleansing of sin from the world was worth the evil of murdering His son.
That night I again was besieged by the demonic hoard thrown against me by the Snake but tonight Balzebdeh was with me and in an amazing display he toasted them all with fiery breath and shredded their burning corpses with his jagged claws. It was the last night I was attacked.
We spent the next week discussing theology. I won't call it a friendship but there was something between us now. We met the devil that started it all on Thursday when the Rat and I shared coffee. The demons wrestled and it was a sight to see. I'll admit to feeling a certain pride when mine pounded that beady-eyed beast into submission, a shadowed glee that my spirit was stronger, dominant here. It was then I chose to accept his offer and Balzebdeh became my favorite possession.
Jonathan is a husband and father of three living on a farm in upstate New York. He served as an intelligence analyst in the United States Air Force and is currently employed as a Deputy United States Marshal.
Published by permission of the author.