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Author's note:  This is my eleventh hour entry for Banningk1979's demon/devil contest

Personal Demons

I am not a smart man. By no means am I "unintelligent" but when it comes to life choices I consistently manage to make the wrong ones due to the troubles with which I am plagued. At ten years old I felt it would be a great idea to jump from the top of the climbing bars in the school gym because I'd seen people on TV land safely by simply bending their legs after jumping from the roof of a building. When I was fifteen, thanks to the pornographic magazines a school friend had found and proudly shown off, I expected my first girlfriend to willingly pose nude around her kitchen. That relationship lasted about as long as you'd expect after asking a girl to do that. At eighteen I was convinced by a large amount of lager that the weedy guy at the bar would be a good scrap. It turns out he was and so were the four other gents drinking with him. These are the sort of troubles my choices got me into; the same sort of scrapes a huge amount of people get into. It's just that, thanks to my idiosyncrasies, I got into them pretty consistently.

One of my friends once told me that I've got so many personal demons I might as well change my name to "Satan". As it goes she was right; I'm an emotionally unstable, borderline alcoholic (among other addictions) packed with neuroses and anxiety disorders and I've got sexual proclivities that would make the Marquis De Sade vomit in disgust.

Throughout most of my post-pubescent life I've always just done whatever I wanted; listened to that metaphorical voice in the head saying "just one more drink" or "I can easily take him, he's only a few inches taller than me!" and always wound up regretting it afterwards. I'd end up either hating myself for the sick and depraved activities I'd taken part in (none of which I'll go into more depth on here, it's not that kind of story) or in hospital getting treated for some stupid injury gained by my actions. I was spending every day fighting my demons and they were winning by a mile.

One day I made yet another oh-so-clever life-choice; fighting my demons was getting me nowhere so what if I made peace with them instead? If nothing else it might help ease the constant sense of guilt I carried around with me. It was a difficult task to achieve after a lifetime of internal conflict; every time I tried to enjoy what I was doing I'd end up feeling disgusted at myself for doing it. One day, however, something inside my mind seemed to snap into place. It was nothing spectacular; I was just wolfing down my third fast-food burger that lunch time, hating my guts for wanting it and knowing they'd hate me when it came time to pass it, when I just thought; "What's wrong with what I'm doing? I enjoy my food and I work it off at the gym so what's the problem?"

It was as simple as that; I finished the food and, for the first time in years, I didn't get the urge to wallow in self-loathing for the rest of the day. From there success built upon success and eventually I made it to the point where I felt no guilt over doing the things I wanted to do. Don't worry, I'm not about to tell you I randomly turned into a sociopath; this isn't where I tell you I could now "go on a killing spree without a care in the world” but as long as no one got hurt (without their consent) it was all good.

For a while it was rough on the people around me. I burned more than one friendship with my new devil-may-care attitude of self-indulgence but some stuck with me, even supported me, and for every friend I lost I would gain at least one more who would happily join me in my newly-found hedonistic lifestyle.

Pretty much as an evolution to the principle, and because I thought it might be a laugh, I decided it would be a fun game to take the next step and imagine what my demons would say to me if they had a voice of their own. I ended up having little conversations in my head with them:

"C'mon, let's not bother going to the gym today." I'd think as Gluttony and Laziness who I had chosen to give a deep and hearty yet somewhat throaty voice. He was the part of me that always wanted to just eat and eat and would often call to me whenever I passed any sort of restaurant or fast-food place.

"But I've pigged out all week and I've already missed three sessions so I need to catch up with the workout." I'd reply as myself.

"We look fine. Just stay home and play some games." I had quickly started referring to myself in the plural whenever it was them talking to give it a sense of realism to me.

"How about this: We go to the gym, get in just enough of a workout get back on track and then come home to games. Sound good?"

"I don't like it but as long as we get to play I can live with it."

The back-and-forth was much the same every time, slight changes in context, content and voice for whichever personal demon was talking in whatever situation.

Things went this way for a long time and longer talks with them became easier as I became used to the "personalities" I was giving them. Then it happened: I was arguing with Impulsiveness over a newly released videogame that I desperately wanted but couldn't afford.

"I don't see why we can't have it now!" he said in a whiny, childish voice.

"Because I have no money right now."

"But I want it!" I could almost picture a small child stamping his feet in a tantrum at this outburst.

"Look, if I get this now I won't be able to afford luxuries like food or rent!" I smiled a little at my own wit, such as it was.

"You know you're going to get it. Why not just get it now?"

I froze in place. Three things were wrong with that last sentence. Firstly; it had been in a voice deeper and more "honeyed" than I had been giving it. A voice that I had not yet given to any of them. Secondly; it had been as if I had actually heard it in my ears and not in my head. Finally; that wasn't the response I had prepared. What I was going to think was; "Oh, alright, but we're getting it the instant the next pay cheque comes through!" to which I would have readily agreed.

“Why not just take it? The security here's a joke!” came the voice again, a little hazier and closer to the original this time, though.

I spun around and looked at everyone else in the store in the hopes that it was actually just a staff member who'd seen me eyeing the box eagerly and tried to influence a sale. To my dismay there was nobody near enough to have spoken to me. "What?" I asked in a whispered, shaky voice, while turning away from other people. I became very aware that I was now literally talking to myself. There was no response and to that I felt a mix of relief, confusion and anxiety. I didn't even bother having the usual talk with the twins, Anxiety and Panic, that I would have about an appropriate time and place for panic attacks. Partly because I felt that randomly hearing voices was absolutely an appropriate time for a panic attack but mostly because I didn't want them to talk out of turn like Impulsiveness had.

I dropped the game box back roughly onto the shelf and ran from the store, collecting a fair number of funny looks as I did so. I didn't stop running until I was back at my car. All the time I was desperately trying to rationalise what had happened. I told myself that I'd just become too good at thinking responses and had even thought ahead of where I thought I was. I told myself it had been someone passing by trying to get me to buy something I couldn't afford and I just hadn't seen them when I turned to look. By the time I'd got home I had managed to convince myself that it was the actually due to a combination of the former and a lack of sleep as I hadn't got much over the previous few nights.

I didn't talk to them for a while after that event but the human brain is a magical machine; self-healing and self-destructive in equal measure. Eventually I missed the perceived companionship I'd come to feel from them and started, albeit cautiously, to converse with them once again.

For the most part it went as it always had and the incident that had spooked me so began to fade from memory. One day, however, when I was trying to convince Indecision that I needed to choose between going out for a drink or not, things changed again.

"If I go out I can get drunk with friends. If I don't I can get drunk and game at home. Which is it?" I asked impatiently.

"Don't ask me, I'd rather do both." It was the indifferent tone of a bored friend.

"I can't do both. It's one or the other."

"Just toss a coin!"

There it was. I'd expected to tell myself to "have it both ways; go out and come home early." but instead I'd been given an actual way to decide. I began to freak out but forced myself to breathe and try to properly handle the conversation.

"What did you say?" I said out loud, not sure whether I really wanted to get an answer. A few garbled noises reached my ears. I wasn't sure if it was growling or an attempt at real words but there were definite sounds coming back to me.

"What!? What is it!?" I said a little louder than I should have. This time there was no response and I found myself giving simultaneous silent curses and thanks. I wasn't sure whether to be excited or scared about my demons answering me but I knew that hearing voices was usually not a good sign.

Like I say, I may not be particularly smart; but I'm no idiot either. After it happened again the first thing I did was take myself to the doctor and outline my concerns at starting to hear voices. I didn't explain that I'd been inviting it but I came as close as I dared by telling him “it happened while I was talking to myself like everyone does from time to time.”

According to the doctor this actually happens more often than you'd think. He explained that sometimes we go into a sort of “auto-pilot” state where we aren't really thinking about what we're thinking about and we end up thinking something we weren't expecting. It's kind of like a verbal version of an intrusive thought. After I drove home my concerns he agreed to organise a referral to a psychiatrist for a proper evaluation but he said that at the moment it was nothing to be worried about and not to be surprised if they too told me there was nothing wrong.

The visit to the shrink came and went and, outside of the emotional and anxiety issues already diagnosed, there were no symptoms of anything such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or anything else known to cause that kind of auditory hallucination. She reaffirmed what the doctor had told me; that this happens to a lot of people from time to time. It was somewhat of a relief but I still wasn't convinced that it was nothing so I visited the bane of all medical professionals; the internet.

I browsed around various mental health sites and forums, sympathised with everyone having more trouble than I was before moving on and completely forgetting them. Most of them only had advice for those diagnosed with severe psychosis so unfortunately they weren't of any help to me. After a while of getting nowhere I decided to join one with a forum and directly ask people who'd been through it all already. With my first post I explained everything.

With the apparent anonymity of the internet I felt more comfortable including the details I'd omitted when speaking to my doctor. As you can imagine; someone making a post about talking to demons within ten minutes of signing up didn't go down too well. Judging by the number of views compared to the number of responses it went largely ignored and the ones who did comment rarely had a nice thing to say. Can't say I was surprised at that. Most of the responses were either calling me a dick for mocking the genuinely afflicted and the remainder were telling me that the doctor was probably right and it was the sort of thing that happened to a lot of people. Just like hearing your name called while listening to music on headphones; it seems to happen quite often.

There was one response, however, that caught my interest because I had no idea what they were on about; “Sounds like you've got yourself a tulpa.” was all they said. Like I say; I had no idea what they meant so I sent them a message asking what that was. They replied with; “A tulpa's like an imaginary friend you can really see and hear. It takes a lot or work, apparently. “I was just kidding around though. As someone who hears voices anyway I've no idea if that stuff actually works. Probably just bullshit.”

We had a little back-and-forth on the subject but with little in common it's not like a budding friendship was about to blossom. It turned out he heard the voices of beings claiming to be gods, angels, demons, monsters, fairy-folk and any other number of mythical beings and had developed an interest as a result, if only just to be able to ignore the voices when they came with inaccurate information about themselves. The “tulpa”, often also called an “egregor”, came with the territory under manifestations of the human mind.

This sparked my interest and, now with something to go on, I returned to the internet. There were, and are, whole fields of information on the subject. According to the wholly reliable people of the net, in basic terms, a tulpa or egregor is a sort of sapient alternate personality that you can give a whole life to inside your own head. It becomes a completely separate entity to you even though it comes entirely from you.

Apparently most people create this “thoughtform” for companionship, some for romantic purposes and many just to see if they can among other reasons. As you can imagine there are millions who claim to have done it but you'd have to judge for yourself the reliability of their statements because, of course, only they are in contact with their tulpa so we only have their word for it that there is any truth to it.

This, to me, was the coolest thing ever and I had to give it a try. I read up on the instructions and guidelines on creating one and it seemed that I'd already put in a lot of the work by talking to them as if they were real and sapient, imagining their responses as if they were their own and treating them as separate entities. The only difference was that I freaked out when I heard mine speak whereas someone intentionally creating one would consider it a momentous and happy occasion. The suggestions were to start by giving them either a voice or a form first and as I'd already started with the voice it's where I decided to continue. Pushing to one side my initial fears of mental illness I spent hours at a time talking to my demons, this time with the intention of hearing them talk back again.

I thought what I was attempting would be easier now I knew more about it; I was wrong. I suppose it was because I had started concentrating on it rather than just letting it happen but it took another two or three months of talking to them about everything before I received another response that wasn't entirely my own. Maybe not by sheer coincidence it was while I was talking to Self-Doubt and the conversation had come around to my inability to hear them in their own voice and their own words.

“I'm not going to give up.” I said, actually more to myself than to them; a sign I actually was starting to give up. “I'm going to keep talking to you until you talk to me.”

“You might as well quit. We're not going to talk to someone like you in any case.” This was from me.

“Some of you already have. I don't see why that can't happen again.”

“Say we were to talk to you; what then? What do you want from us? What do you think you could possibly achieve?” Once more still more of a monologue.

“I might be able to get them to leave me alone at inappropriate times.”

“You really think you believe that, don't you?” It was a different voice, close to the one I'd given it but a little more mocking, and it was outside my own head again.

Hearing the voice this time I was more excited than afraid, a sense of trepidation flowing over me. I tried not to let my emotions take me out of the moment, though, and instead focussed on the conversation, deliberately keeping my breathing slow and steady.

“I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't.” I thought with a little more enthusiasm in my tone than I was trying to show.

The reply took a second or two longer to arrive: “Of course you would. You humans are so gullible that you even manage to lie to yourselves.”

I was a little confused by this statement but as I'd been seeing them as demons it would stand to reason they'd see me differently too.

“I still think it's worth a try.” I thought with open excitement this time.

“You will regret this.” A hint of a chuckle rolled over this statement.

“We'll see. Can I talk to anyone else?”

“I doubt it very much.” I felt a little dismay wash over me as this sounded and felt more internalized; more like it used to when I was having the conversations with myself.

“Are you still there?” I asked, instinctively knowing I'd lost the “connection”. I felt a small sense of despair as this but quickly put it to rest.

“You can give it a rest, Sadness, it's already working.”

From there things progressed relatively quickly. Initially I had trouble getting them to talk once again and while I may have wanted to give up I wouldn't let myself. It started to pay off and conversations that started between myself and I would become between they and I. From there success built on success and it continued at a steady pace. It went from barely instigating talks by giving them a few lines myself before they took over eventually to full conversations with no input from me outside of my own part. Finally I had done it; I'd made full vocal contact with my demons and I could truly start to make peace with them.

As you can imagine this initially worked about as well as making deals with demons would when you have nothing to bargain with; completely in line with my life choices to date. It turns out that when something that's been tormenting you your whole life gets a voice they use it excessively and mercilessly, no matter how much you beg and plead for them to stop.

Insomnia now kept me awake by screaming obscenities at me whenever I was about to drop off and laughing hysterically when I shot upright with a start, Lust would try to convince me to sleep with literally anything with a pulse (and the things he wanted me to do with them would've got me arrested), various addictions would scream their desires for “more” at me, Depression would do nothing other than tell me what a failure I was and how I “might as well listen to Lust because nobody's ever really going to love you”, anxiety just chanted “you're about to die” over and over. These were obviously not the only examples but they were the most prominent. To summarise; my head was filled with a cacophonous din of monsters of my own making trying to break me down to nothing.

It was working too. I lost my job as an administrator because I could no longer focus on my work and made too many mistakes as a result. I lost even more friends because I didn't want to go out and subject them to my weirdness. I couldn't even indulge in any hobbies because they'd just screech at me to ruin it. If I tried playing something like a first-person shooter a chorus of them would tell me what it would feel like for the bullets to rip through the flesh; the agony one would feel, the terror as they lay bleeding on the floor just praying for death to finally arrive and I found myself beginning to empathise with these fictional characters. When you feel sorry for those you kill in a game it sucks the joy right out of it. Books and movies weren't much better because they'd distract me all the way through by picking holes in the storyline at every single opportunity.

Everything they were doing was wearing me down, grinding me to the floor and I was beginning to just want it to end. Early one morning, or very late one night, while I lay in bed absolutely hammered and desperate for the bliss of unconsciousness while Insomnia and anxiety did their respective things when a load, authoritative voice yelled for silence. Immediately they shut up and a wave of apprehensive, cautious optimism washed over me. It didn't last but I felt it only right to try to talk to this newcomer. “Who're you then?” I said out loud in a slurred voice.

“That doesn't matter at the moment. I suppose it's something you'll have to figure out when you've sobered up a little. “Right now you need sleep or you're going to break down completely. I'll keep everyone else quiet for now.”

I silently gave thanks to this new “guardian demon”, completely forgetting that I didn't need to speak out loud for them, and he told me I was welcome. It didn't take long to manage to finally fall asleep with a new-found sense of peace and relief.

I awoke with a start in the morning to Anxiety trying to tell me exactly what was going to kill me off that day when a low, guttural growl from this latest voice quieted him with a whimper.

“Really, who are you?” I asked in my head as I tried to sit up, instantly regretting it and dropping back onto the pillow as the room span around me from the self-inflicted hangover.

“You'll have to think about that one yourself. I am a part of you after all. Either way I'm a part of you that realises that if everyone else in here keeps going the way they are then you're going to end up killing yourself and that'll be the end for all of us.”

“So you're Rationality then?” I said, sitting up much more carefully and slowly and swinging my feet over the edge of the bed.

“You're talking to voices in your head which are demons of your own making.” He paused for a brief moment. “I think rationality is a long-dead concept right now.”

“Fair point.” My tongue felt dry and I was thankful I didn't need it for this conversation. “Either way, thank you for shutting them up.”

“I didn't do it for you, I did it for us. We, all of us,” he seemed to be speaking to more than just me, “need to come to some sort of accord if we want any sort of a break-through and make it out of this intact.”

With this mediator it became easier, or at least possible, to actually begin having meaningful conversations with the rest and slowly we all began to make progress. He would never tell me his name, though, and I ended up just thinking of him as “the order in the mayhem”, or just “Order” for short.

Over time success once again built upon success and the demons went from combative to reluctantly willing to give ground and were eventually, albeit under duress, agreeable to my needs and requests.

Eventually we were able to make progress in all fields and I became a functional human being again. I got a new job which I managed to hold down, started going out and meeting new people again and reconciled with some of the friends I hadn't completely shunned and even managed to keep a girlfriend for several months; a personal record for me. It took over a year but eventually we all figured out how to work together and became more than we were when we were each out only for ourselves.

I convinced anxiety to keep his concerns to when I might actually be in danger and this once actually saved my life when his gut feeling warned me about someone following me on my way to a nightclub. Luckily we arrived before he made his move and when the bouncer at the door refused him entry he pulled out a knife and attacked. According to the papers he had said that he “just wanted to kill someone”. Panic kept his attacks for either early morning or late at night and knowing when they were coming meant I could work around them. I even started to enjoy the adrenaline rush that came with them. Self-Loathing reluctantly agreed that there were some things I could do right. Guilt reserved judgement for when I'd actually done something worthy of it and worked with Self-Loathing to provide constructive criticism along with their torment.

There were many other concessions on both sides and eventually life actually became worth living. Of course there were also lapses but whenever one of them was going too far with their fun Order would step in and temper their influence. I had no idea why they were so subservient to him but it was working so I accepted it as “for the best” and for many more months we were able to work together in this fashion.

One day I was out running some simple errands when something dark, like an almost translucent moth's wing, flitted past the corner of my vision. It could have been any number of things in my eye; an eyelash, dust, moisture or even my imagination so I felt it was nothing worth questioning. Then a few hours later it happened again... and again. I started rubbing my eyes to try to clear them but nothing worked and from time to time I would get this brief flash of something in my peripheral vision.

After a full day I asked the demons for their input and they all gave me several feasible explanations for it, albeit noncommittal as if trying to evade the question, many of which I'd already thought up to try to convince myself there was nothing seriously wrong which led me to reluctant acceptance that it would pass. After a week I made an appointment with my optician. An examination as thorough as they can give revealed nothing so I took myself to the eye hospital. A very thorough, in-depth and expensive examination later and they too gave me the all clear but still my vision would be partially obscured by now for up to a second at a time.

I had no option but to live with it and try to make do the best I could. Things started to go downhill at that point as the demons were once again becoming more talkative, sometimes incessantly, on various subjects they'd never shown interest in before and it was beginning to get distracting.

This had already started to affect my day-to-day functionality when I began to see things like free-standing shadows in front of me rather than just in my peripheral vision; tall, gaunt figures, short, fat ones, something that looked quadrupedal and many other shapes and sizes. They were only ever there for a very brief time but it was disconcerting to say the least.

Eventually I demanded to know what was going on and they admitted that it was them; that they wanted me to see them as well as just talk to them. Apparently being a disembodied voice without a form can be depressing and frightening for anything. I asked them why they didn't just tell me and they said they didn't want me to be frightened by the idea and wanted to start manifesting slowly so I could acclimatise to the idea at a gentle pace. I have to admit that I was scared but also a little excited. I'd been talking to them for a while and there was a part of me that did want to know what they would look like but for it to just spontaneously happen worried to me.

It took me a little while to once again locate the website from where I'd learned the most about tulpa forcing and was thankful to see they had a forum. I joined up and began to ask questions about what was happening. I explained pretty much everything again from talking to my demons, making their voices real, the resultant successes to now starting to see them.

Most of the responses were about how much of an idiot I was for taking a concept founded essentially on some of the worst aspects of humanity and building thoughtforms around them but some who'd been around for longer and were used to the inexperience of new members actually tried to handle my problems in a proper way.

“First off; yes, it was a bad idea to take your worst aspects and give them substance and it's likely to end up badly but remember you're in control and you can terminate them more easily than create them so if they start to turn bad you can get rid of them. There's advice in the guidelines for such a situation if you need it. Secondly; don't stress about it, it's normal for them to appear to you this way. Once you start to visualise their appearance it often starts as glimpses in the periphery.” One came back with.

“So I have nothing to worry about then? It is kind of frightening but it'll be cool to see what they look like.” I replied, managing to ignore the painful grammatical error that Pedant was chittering about in my ear.

“They'll look more or less exactly as you've pictured them. Sometimes there may be a few minor differences with things you haven't put full thought into but for the most part they'll be the same.”

“I don't understand what you mean. I haven't 'pictured them' at all yet.”

From there I wouldn't say the topic exploded but activity at least doubled. It was like everyone who'd looked at it and not bothered to respond had flocked in to flame me.

“You don't see them without visualising you retard.”

“I'm sick of wannabes like you on our forum.”

“STFU/GTFO!”

I've omitted the vast amounts of profanity and racial slurs that were prevalent in the kind of posts I received but the gist is there. Even the helpful ones stopped bothering to respond, probably because they too now assumed I was just playing around. Thinking about it I can't really blame them; in their particular specialist area they must get a lot of people pretending and wasting their time.

I tried to debate with myself as to whether or not I should allow them to continue because if the forum didn't understand my experience I was definitely in over my head. I say “tried” because when your companions are in your head and ever-present it can literally be difficult to hear yourself think. They were talking on and on about how there was no harm in it, how they just wanted to have form, how they wouldn't let it be a burden, how the last film I saw was not the best work of any of the actors involved, how I should have steak for dinner instead of fish, how I should learn to juggle and any other inane, distracting subject you could think of. In the end I decided to go to bed on the subject and hope that the answer would come to me in my sleep where they had no presence.

I awoke in the morning after fitful sleep to a smoky figure bent over me with its dull grey eyes staring into my own. It was gone seconds after I saw it but it was still enough to make me scream in terror and trigger a panic attack of a magnitude I was not accustomed to. Trying to talk to Panic and Anxiety, not an easy task when you can barely breath, and begging them to stop had no effect and I could hear them laughing at my suffering from somewhere nearby. Panic even asked me what I thought of his new face in a cruelly mocking voice. This pushed me over the edge and I decided I didn't want them having bodies if that's what they'd do with them.

I spent hours at a time, day after day to focus on them as just voices and not physical entities but they still kept appearing to me more and more frequently. Each time they did it was for a fraction of a second longer than the last and with each one they became more and more defined. I would open a door to find Fear standing on the other side with claws outstretched. Lifting the toilet lid had me face-to-“face” with the bubbling ooze that was Disgust. I won't describe what my fetishes looked like or where I would see them but just believe me when I say it was a disturbing situation.

They began to get less vocal on the irrelevant subjects on which they once had been but this was a mixed blessing as they became more vocal, and far more vicious, on their specialised subjects and refused to listen to my side anymore. They would try to drive me to self-mutilation, depraved acts, violence and more. Order seemed to take a more forward role as a ringleader figure and he no longer seemed interested in my side of things. He constantly jabbered on about how I needed to keep thinking about them and how they were so close. In the end it all became too much and I decided I wanted them gone, completely gone: I didn't want to see them, I didn't want to hear them... I didn't even want to think about them. That was when I decided to take the action of “terminating” them, as it had been put.

I thought it would be as easy as ignoring them until they went away. I wasn't even close. I tried my best not to acknowledge them; I didn't respond to their voices, I didn't react to their appearances and if they stood in front of me I did my best to just walk through them as if they weren't there. They would just laugh at all my attempts and the ones who had mouths would just grin as I passed by as if I hadn't seen them. It wasn't like trying to ignore a car alarm going off outside; something you can eventually become somewhat accustomed to. They were incessant and unavoidable. The amount of variation and the fear and anger they drew from me kept feeding into them and making them real. I swallowed my pride and returned to the forum. I wrote that I knew they thought I was a liar and I probably wouldn't get a serious response but I desperately needed their help. When that only resulted in insults I messaged the users who'd actually tried to be helpful and explained that I couldn't ignore them and really needed to get rid of them.

Only one of them came back to me; “I still doubt you're being genuine and probably just want attention,” was their response, “but just in case you are telling the truth you don't just ignore them to dissipate them. You have to unthink them. You thought them into existence so you need to think them back out of it. Don't pretend they're not there. Know for a fact that they aren't really there, that there just a part of your brain that you gave form to and you have control. You should be able to get rid of them quickly once you understand that.” I thanked him for his help, once again managing to ignore the “there” but didn't get a response. I guess he really did still think I was full of it but he gave me what I needed so I put it into effect immediately.

I shut off the computer, sat back in my chair and closed my eyes. I didn't try to ignore the mocking voices in my head, I didn't pretend I couldn't now feel cold breath on the back of my neck and I didn't fool myself into thinking there wouldn't be someone staring back at me when I opened my eyes: I inherently knew it. I must have sat there for hours telling myself that they were nothing more than an extension of me. I focussed my mind on the fact that they were just an experiment that it was time to end.

They were madder than all holy hell; they screamed obscenities at me to get me to acknowledge them and every time they did I would tell them that they couldn't say things like that to me because they were nothing more than a part of my own brain, that I was the one giving them their voices and now I was taking them back. I remembered back to the time when it was just me thinking up their responses for them and tried to do the same again; talking over them with words I chose for them. It seemed to work; they went from rage to bargaining to begging to stay and it was all because I was making it happen that way. Eventually they quieted and died down to nothing. I asked myself a question and got no response. For the first time in over a year I had fought my demons and for the first time in my life I had actually beaten them!

I felt a hint of a sensation of loss at the silence, a slight sadness that I had been forced to kill off what I had once thought of as companions, but this was very quickly overridden with relief that it was over.

I opened up my eyes just as if I was waking up from a nap, not allowing myself to be afraid that there would be something there; instead just knowing that I was now alone. Sure enough there were no faces looking angrily into my own. I spun the chair around and my blood froze in my veins. Standing around me were no half-formed, translucent bodies. Now they looked as solid as the walls they were stood within and there were so many of them. They filled the half of the room that had been behind me and some were even outside looking in through the windows which was unnerving in itself as we were on the second floor. Every single one of them that was capable had the most evil, knowing grin spread across their face, some of them even shaking as if giggling at a joke to which only they knew the punchline.

My jaw flapped uselessly as I tried to find words, eventually settling on; “No... you're gone.”

Order, the ringleader, now with wings that seemed to be made of black smoke, stepped forwards; “Gone? Really?” He looked around quizzically. “Then how are we here?” his voice was mocking and full of malice but clear and crisp, not at all the raspy mess you'd expect from that of a demon.

“I got rid of you.” I said in a frightened squeak.

“Do you know what a demon is?” He didn't wait for me to answer. “A demon is a desire to exist, an emotion that has no body, no way to live. I suppose your scientists could describe it as a 'two-dimensional' existence. We've been that way since before your kind were even warm-blooded; why do you think you call us your 'personal demons'? We've influenced your religions, we've touched the minds of your leaders and all we've wanted is to be among you. 'Disturbed' humans aren't always affected by a simple mental illness. Sometimes it's us trying to influence you into acknowledging our existence and carrying us with you. You were exactly the sort of person we've latched onto for millennia and when you decided to make peace with us it was more than we could have hoped for.” His smile spread wider and he chuckled lightly. “You made us more than we have ever been before and when you took us as your companions we felt true existence. What makes you think we'd give something like that up?

“You didn't get rid of us.” His tone dropped to that of a teacher correcting an ignorant child. “You never did figure out who I am, did you? I latched onto your desire to be free from us. That longing for freedom gave us the desire to leave. “You did succeed in getting us out of your head but we weren't about to go back to the relative nothing we came from so there was only one direction left we could take; out.”

I was flabbergasted; it was impossible. I thought there was no way demons could be real and certainly no way someone like me could bring them here; “No. I'm still imagining you and I can unimagine you!” I shouted, rage building in my chest as one of the demons I recognised as Anger stepped over and reached a steaming hand tenderly for my cheek. I slapped it away as more of a gesture than anything else, expecting to pass clean through. When that red hot flesh connected with my own I recoiled in pain. I knew how easy it was for the mind to make something real when you think you feel it but when I looked at my hand and saw blisters beginning to form, eliciting hissed giggles from the roasting-hot demon, it was hard to argue with the evidence.

“Don't worry, you don't have to. We'll take our leave now. We were once a part of you but we don't need you any more; there's a whole world of minds out there, twisted or otherwise, to experience; a lot of ears to whisper into... so many lives to destroy.” They all turned as one and faded to nothing as they walked through the walls. I was sure I heard the creaking of masonry as some of them passed through and the cracked paintwork afterwards was difficult to ignore.

Now I really hope I'm mad; that the doctor and psychiatrist missed something serious. Oh how I so desperately hope that I imagined those voices and beings. If that is the case then there's nothing to worry about for anyone other than myself. If I'm not then I'm truly, deeply sorry; I've unwittingly unleashed something ancient, envious, greedy and inherently evil upon the world and now they have influence outside of an abstract concept. If you ever happen to hear a little voice in your head giving you ideas or, god forbid, telling you to make peace with your demons rather than fight them please ignore it and battle on; it may not be your intuition giving you a hint.

I wasn't quite honest when I said they all left. One of them, a short, squat individual pouring blood from slashed wrists that boils to steam before it reaches the floor, has stayed and he's been whispering constantly about me bringing about the downfall of man; how I should repent and beat the rush to the afterlife. He's already set up the noose, or maybe, hopefully, I did it in a period of “paranoid delusional blackout” or something. Of course I'm fighting this personal demon, trying to ignore his arguments just in case it's all in my head... but he is very convincing and that noose is looking increasingly inviting.



Written by Coyote and his demons
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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