Jacob stood at the gate, looking at the house, it was two stories tall and made of red brick, the garden was quite large with an abundance of flowers, all of which were wilting and dying. The houses either side were easily twice, if not three times the size of the house in front of him. He took a slow breath, then opened the gate, it creaked as he pushed it in. He walked up the path and knocked on the large, black door. It opened a few seconds later to reveal a woman in her mid-fifties, her hair was in a messy bun, her eyes were red and swollen, it looked as though there had been an attempt at putting on make up but most of it had streaked. “Are you Mr. Vander?”
“Yes, I am and please call me Jacob.”
“I’m Meredith, please come in. Do you want to see him straight away?”
“No, first I’d like to have a quick chat with you and your husband, I need to know what I’m dealing with before we start anything.”
“Of course. Michael’s in the kitchen, would you like some tea or coffee?”
“Water would be great, thank you.” she lead him down a long hallway, her slippers whispering along the hardwood floors. The house itself seemed gloomy, despite the large windows and sunshine outside. Meredith opened the door to the kitchen and stepped inside, Jacob followed after. The floors and counter top seemed to be made of marble, everything in the kitchen gleamed in the light. A man was sitting at a small table, he stood as they entered, “Hi, Mr. Vander? I’m Michael”
Jacob shook his hand, Michael had a firm grip, but his palms were sweaty, “Please, call me Jacob. It’s nice to meet you Michael, I wish it was under better circumstance.”
“Have a seat, are you sure you just want water?”
“Yes, thank you.”
He wouldn’t have turned down a shot of vodka or two, but it was still early, the vodka would come later, to help him forget.
Jacob sat at the table a second later a large glass of water was placed in front of him, ice tinkling gently against the glass, Jacob took a sip. “So, when did this all begin?”
“About eleven months back, right?”
“Maybe a year ago. We’re not sure. The change was gradual, we thought maybe it was just work stress or maybe he was fighting with his girlfriend again.”
Jacob nodded, “Yes, most people think it’s something like that at first. Has he seen doctors?”
“Yes, as we said on the phone he’s seen multiple doctors and psychiatrists and he’s been on multiple medications but none make a difference.”
“I know, I just have to be certain. What kind of behaviours did he exhibit?”
“Well, at first he was just more distant, he was closing himself off from us, then he started making mistakes in work, simple ones here and there. He was fired, he wouldn’t tell us why, just kept ranting about them not knowing how to take a joke. Since then he hasn’t really left the house unless he has to, mostly he stays up in his old room. He bathes regularly, he eats healthily, he seems normal enough.”
“The things he says. Awful, horrible things. My mother” Meredith paused, her voice hitching slightly, she pulled a crumpled tissue from her sleeve, “My mother died in a car accident ten years ago. She was driving home and swerved to avoid hitting something, we think it was a deer.” She paused and took a sip of her tea, “She wasn’t found until the next day, it wasn’t a well travelled road, they told us that it had been quick. That she hadn’t suffered.” she paused again.
“I know it’s difficult but it would be helpful to know what he said, take as much time as you need and if you need a break that’s OK too.”
She nodded, took a slow breath, “he said that she hadn’t died straight away, that she’d slowly bled out, that she was just sitting in the cold, calling out for help for hours.” She shuddered, “he started calling out in my mothers voice, I don’t know how but he did. He called for help, then he started coughing, he stopped then and grinned at me, “She was coughing up blood, cold, trapped and scared, waiting for help that wasn’t coming.” I ran from him then, I couldn’t help it, I just had to get away and as I ran he started laughing, this awful screeching laugh.”
“He’s told us how every single person we’ve ever known has died, the fear they felt, the pain.”
Meredith looked at Jacob, tissue tightly clutched in one hand, “If that monster didn’t look like my son I’d have killed him myself long ago.”
Jacob reached across the table and gently put his hand on hers, “this is an extremely difficult thing to experience for anyone but you need to remember that it isn’t actually your son in there any more. It’s just a thing, a cruel, heartless thing that’s just looking to hurt you. It feeds off pain and misery, now it’s still young, still a baby that makes it easier for me to get rid of it, but it also makes it dangerous. The older ones fall into patterns, they become predictable, the young ones could do almost anything. What other behaviours has he exhibited?”
“He um, well, we think he has killed some of the neighbours pets. There’s no proof one way or the other but they started going missing the same time this all started. He’s also had issues with vomiting, this black bile hat has stumped the doctors. He has also experienced diarrhoea and incontinence.”
“Has he ever gotten physical with either of you?”
“He’s never hit us if that’s what you mean. Son or not if he had he wouldn’t be living here any longer.”
Jacob nodded, “That’s a good sign. It means it’s more likely to be a lesser demon, more of a pest than a true physical danger.” Jacob took a sip of his water, “I’ve to ask you something and I know you’re not going to like it but we need to be honest with each other. Do you want your son back?”
“How could you even ask something like that?”
“Look, you’re not the first family to go through this and you wouldn’t be the first family to want nothing to do with the possessed after it’s all finished. They can never look at their family member the same way again after all the things they’ve said and done, even if it wasn’t really them.”
“We want our son back, no matter what.”
“I do have to warn you that while you will get your son back he won’t be himself. He’ll be depressed, despondent. Some come out of it on their own, others don’t. I’ll give you the number for someone experienced with this kind of thing to talk to him. However, of those possessed, over 95% of them go on to commit suicide.”
Meredith gasped, her hand going to her mouth, Michael hugged her to him.
“He’s been through a lot, mentally, physically and spiritually. He isn’t really aware of what’s going on at the moment, he will remember once he’s free again, but to him he’s experiencing another world.”
“Oh my poor baby, it must be so terrible, what is that foul creature doing to him?”
“Unfortunately it isn’t that easy. You’re son isn’t living in hell at the moment, he’s in a sort of paradise. His life is going exactly how he wants it, he’ll have gotten promotions, money, he could even have a family in there. There’s just no way to tell until he comes back. We know that that life was never real, but to him it’s as real as this kitchen is to us. We don’t know how much time has passed for him either, it could be around eleven months or it could be a week or even twenty years. He’ll be distant when he first comes out and in mourning. It won’t be like flipping a switch, there’s been a lot of psychological damage and he will need time and support to recover, if he ever does. The procedure is mostly safe however that doesn’t guarantee that he will survive this, he may die, are you willing to take that risk?”
“That isn’t our son, but we want him back. If he doesn’t…doesn’t make it, well, we’ll be putting him to rest.”
“OK, I think it’s time I see him. I want you to both stay here, I shouldn’t have any trouble but it might have a trick or two up its sleeve. It won’t take me long, ten, fifteen minutes and then it will be over.”
Meredith grabbed his hand, “No matter what happens, thank you.”
Jacob nodded, “Where is his room?”
“upstairs, down the hallway, last door on the right.”
Jacob stood and left the kitchen.
The stairs creaked beneath his feet as he climbed them, the floors upstairs were also hard wood, paintings hung on the wood walls, mostly landscape scenery and a few family portraits. Jacob paused at the last door on the right, he could smell it from out here, a faint stench of rot, a slight tickle of sulphur, as though someone had just lit a match. Jacob didn’t bother knocking, he opened the door and walked in.
Douglas sat on his bed, as Jacob walked in he turned his head slowly and smiled at him. Douglas looked like a normal twenty-five year old, his hair was scruffy and there was stubble across his cheeks. “I was wondering when someone like you would show up. They warned me of you you know.”
“Really? I didn’t know I was famous.”
“More infamous than anything. Oh there’s a lot of people who want to get their hands on you. Just you wait.”
Jacob closed the door behind himself, despite Douglas looking normal, there was something off about his eyes, they seemed oddly flat, they were a pale, washed out grey colour.
“So where’s your bible? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, splash holy water on me while reciting scripture? I hear it burns so good.”
Jacob shook his head, “I’m not a priest. Those aren’t the tools of my trade. I come from something different.”
“Yes, but my secrets are my own.”
“You’re no fun. Where’s the banter, the wit? Or are we just going to get down to business?”
There was a yowling screech from the closet, Jacob recognised the sound, “So you were the one taking the pets then?”
“Well, I figured Mr. Snuffles from next door would appreciate a few…changes.” there was a heavy bang on the closet door. “you know, make him bigger, badder, sharper claws. That kind of thing.” the banging on the door continued, “I’m getting stronger you know, every day. I’m still learning how to use this body, but I’m getting there. I’m starting to get sexual attraction too, that mother, she’s looks very fuckable, doesn’t she? Might have to show her what her son is really made of. I’m sure she’d enjoy it, she looks like a filthy bitch.”
“First time in a human?”
“How’d you know?”
“Sexuality is one of the first things the old hands get started on. You’re taking your time, getting a feel for things.”
“You got me. I tried to be subtle, keep things normal enough. I had them going for a while, they thought it was some kind of mental disorder.”
“They’d have kept thinking that too if one of my sources hadn’t spotted you.”
“And who might that be?”
Jacob shrugged, there came a crack from the closet door as it started to splinter. Douglas grinned, “You might want to go ahead and do something, my little friend there isn’t going to be stopped by that door for much longer.”
Jacob shrugged, “I’m in no rush.”
There was another crack, Jacob slid his hand into his pocket and pulled out a small vial.
Jacob uncorked it and as the door shattered he downed the contents of the bottle in one gulp. A heavy wind filled the room, ripping old posters off the wall, sweeping things off the desk. The cat had been changed, it was about four feet tall and packed with heavy muscle, patches of different coloured fur covered its body along with thick, ropey scars. The cat jumped at Jacob, as it hit him it started screeching, its paws were stuck to his body. The cats body became rigid, then it dropped to the floor leaving nothing but a pile of meat and fur. Jacob took a step forward, Douglas screeched and scuttled backwards off the bed and onto the wall. Jacob reached out for him, Douglas shuddered then collapsed forward onto the bed, Jacob reached out and took his hand.
Douglas woke a few minutes later, his head pounding and his mouth dry. He looked around slowly, “What? What am I doing here? Where’s Samantha and the kids?”
Jacob shook his head, “They never existed, you were possessed, they were just creations of the demon.”
“What? What the hell are you on about? This isn’t funny where the hell are my wife and kids? Why am I in my old room? Mom!? Dad!?”
“Just take it easy for a few minutes OK? Your parents are downstairs, you’ll start to remember bits and pieces soon, just rest for now.” Douglas’ eyes rolled into the back of his head and he collapsed onto the bed.