"Excuse me, mister, do you believe in demons?" That's what I was asked on my first day of living in this city. There was a homeless woman sitting on a park bench, I noticed her as I walked to the corner store. We caught each other's sight for a moment, that was enough for her to get up and come walking toward me. She asked me that question right out of the gate, I wasn't even remotely sure how to respond. I stood there dumbfounded, until I eventually replied, "No, I can't say that I do" and continued onward, ignoring anymore of her attempts to further the conversation.
I would see this woman almost every day, any time I walked I saw her sitting on the same bench in the same park. Each time, she looks directly into my eyes, as if she knows the exact moment that I will be crossing her path. Months go by with the same routine, but eventually I don't see her anymore. I feel a sense of relief over this, as odd as that sounds. Although it was harmless, something about that woman staring at me every day on my various endeavors around the city streets was disconcerting. Maybe it was because I felt as if she were staring into my very soul.
I've never been one to have issues sleeping, but after that day I would often find myself waking up in the middle of the night with no real cause as to why. Some nights I would even wake up a few times, those were the worst since I worked early hours at the local news station. I noticed a gradual increase in sleepless nights, each increasing in severity. I truly thought my brain just randomly decided to declare me an insomniac, like some sick joke the universe felt like playing against me. This continual lack of sleep affected my life quite a bit, lowering my job performance, making me more agitated, and even ruining my appetite. None of it really made sense to me, but I hated going to the doctor so I just endured it all. This routine went on for months until one December night.
I jolt awake. My heart is pounding in my chest and I am covered in a thin layer of sweat. As my breath rushes in and out of my lungs, I reach up and grip my chest in a move of desperation. I blink a few times to help clear and focus my eyes. The room is mostly dark, lit only from the glow of a clock on the dresser that reads 03:24. There is a large window to my left, covered by black out curtains. The room is still and silent. A few minutes pass in silence as I calm down then I lay back down on my side and try to fall back asleep.
Resting my head on my pillow, I close my eyes. That is when the silence of the room breaks with the sound of a single sharp click. Thinking nothing of it, I press on in my endeavor to fall sleep. But after another minute I hear the click again, with a second softer click following shortly after. My heart begins to beat harder. Click. I press my eyelids closed and slowly move the covers up over my head. Click. The sound is getting closer and quickening in pace. Click. I feel something in the room with me. Click. I hear the bed softly creak. Click. I feel the mattress flex with the weight of whatever, or whoever, is in this room with me. My heart feels as if it will explode out of my chest. I focus all my energy in trying to control my breaths while I lay there in hopeless agony.
The clicking stops suddenly and I no longer feel anything shifting around on the bed. I continue laying here, waiting in the restored silence of my room. One minute, five minutes, ten minutes pass with undisturbed silence. After reasoning with myself that this is an adequate amount of time to relax, I slowly turn onto my back and start to calm down.
Just as I begin to feel a sense of relief a light rush of humid, putrid air envelopes my face. I open my eyes cautiously and immediately I am met with the large, horrific smile of a woman hovering just a foot above me. Her teeth are broken and sharp, discolored and growing in all directions with a devilish grin spanning from ear to ear. Her eyes are wide and piercing, her skin looks severely burned; covered in bright red blotches and blisters. She cocks her head to the side and, peering directly into my soul, she asks "Do you believe in demons now?" in a deep, abrasive rattle. Like a flash I remember my first few months in this city, that homeless woman in the park with her macabre question. This... thing, this demon... It's that same woman. Slowly, she begins to open her hideous mouth, so wide it was as if she could dislocate her jaw like a snake. I want to scream but I can't muster the energy.
She begins to lower herself, and with that her mouth begins engulfing my head. Feeling that dry, cracked tongue dragging roughly across my face. Feeling those sharp, broken teeth piercing and scraping across my flesh. My body tenses as I start to drown in an immense pain, a pain I've never felt before shooting through my arms and chest. I must be having a heart attack. My heart pounds so incredibly hard. I know there must not be much time left for me. She slowly consumes me. The opening of her mouth eventually reaches past my shoulders and I slowly slip away into the unknown.