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A Following Of Demons

By:Jessica Cambrook

A Following Of Demons - A book by Jessica Cambrook
Author:Jessica Cambrook

     
     
 

     
     
 

      Duringthe day while I smiled and felt carefree they would leave me aloneand it didn’t take long for me to adore daytime.  Any fakehappiness I pretended to have during sunlight hours turned intogenuine feelings of content at being alone and not feelingthreatened. Then, at night, they would come back stronger than everafter having the day to wait and rest, just in the boundaries of myperipheral vision as I stared at the ceiling wishing I was anyoneelse but me or anywhere else but in that house. At night, my dog anddinosaur would come and sit beside my bed as I slept lightly anduneasily at the prospect of being taken with them as I knew theycould. As ateenager I knew the people weren’t imaginary anymore but I wonderedif everyone else could see them too. I wasn’t sure if it was justme making a big deal out of them when everyone else just got on withit. I asked my grandfather and he said “No, Smiler, son. No oneelse sees them. But don’t be disheartened because the best of usare different to everyone else somehow. Just remember you’re aliveand breathing and that’s all that counts.” His words soundedstrong to my ears and it made me even more determined to live by mygrandfather’s motto about smiling, but to live it in such a waythat I didn’t need night time to let out the bad feelings. JoeOfcourse they made this impossible, making it their mission aftersunset to terrify me and unfortunately they did. It almost got to thepoint where I would hope to live no more, so death’s endless dreamswould allow me to be protected and alone, away from the brutal soulsthat surrounded me every night.Throughoutmy childhood, before I began stopping at other people’s houses, Isuspected it might be my grandfather’s home that was haunted. Thatwas until I became an adolescent, and I stopped at my friend Joe’s.It was the first time I’d ever stopped at a non-family member’shouse, and we had a great time playing computer games and talkingabout the pretty girls in school we fancied, and what was ontelevision the previous week. His mother made us go to bed at eleven,and immediately after the lights were turned out I felt safe for aminute or so. But then they came gradually forward, trying to comecloser to me and Joe. I tried to ignore them and closed my eyes forsleep rebelliously. In his small bedroom they were nearer than theyhad ever gotten before and the smell of their half rotten flesh mademe retch quietly before I eventually gave up on the idea on sleep andstayed awake listening to the sounds of their raspy breathing andhissed threats in a language I didn’t understand. I didn’t knowif they were just focused on me, or if they would settle with Joe soI forced my eyes to stay open all night, at times using my fingers toliterally pin my eyelids open.
     
 

     
     
 

      The nextday we both woke up looking terrible and I guessed he’d had nosleep either for whatever reason, so I began to feel guilty. I hopedI hadn’t moved around a lot during the night to keep him awake. Butwithout saying anything, he went to breakfast without me. He seemedto avoid me all morning, sitting away from me at the breakfast tablewithout it seeming as if he even realised and I couldn’t wait formy grandfather to pick me up at lunchtime. The atmosphere washorrible, he had changed overnight and it didn’t appear like hewanted anything more to do with me. He wasn’t Joe anymore. Before Ileft, I saw him get one of the CDs out of my bag and start scratchingonto it nonsensically with an empty biro as if in a daze. I sawsomething that reminded me of their dead, hollow eyes in his that dayand after that I didn’t ever stop out at a friend’s home everagain. I didn’t think the demons would be able to haunt anyone elsebut me; however after the Joe incident of how he changed so suddenlytowards me, I didn’t ever want to risk it again.Througha lengthy article in the local newspaper I heard Joe had beenadmitted into a mental institution after a car crash he caused whiledrunk and he hanged himself with bed sheets just a few months later.After that I didn’t feel like getting involved with people tooclosely was a safe idea, except family who already knew about them</I>.GwenThat allchanged when I met Gwen. Gwen became the light in my life that keptthe nightmares at bay. She made me so happy that the shadows in theedges of my vision at night time began to fade, although notdisappear entirely. I met her at university when we were sat togetherin Maths and Accountancy class, and immediately her sunshinepersonality appealed to me and all along, she made my life better inevery way just by being in it. Her immense smile was contagious, hersweet and selfless nature so easy to fall in love with. Her long,wavy brunette hair was full of life, always perfectly immaculate andwell groomed, just like her. It took me about three months for me torealise I was in love with her, and two years for me to propose. Iknew we’d be together for the rest of our lives.
     
 

      I’llnever forget the day I asked her to marry me. It was winter time, andI took her to her father’s grave inthecity graveyard on his birthday. I was boiling in my t-shirt as usualand she was wearing her furry thick woollen coat with my waterproofon top. Her small, heart-shaped face looked innocent and cutesurrounded by all the layers of clothing. She smiled with ruddycheeks bitter from the cold. I held her smooth hands tightly. “Gwen,I asked your father yesterday if it was okay if I took responsibilityfor his little girl. I don’t know if he said yes but a small, whitefeather landed on my shoulder. If that’s enough consent for you,I’d be honoured if you would be my wife.” I bent on my knee andheld out the ring my mother and grandmother had helped me choose.Gwen burst into loud, blissful sobs as she nodded wordlessly andslipped the ring onto her long, elegant finger. “Ilove you, Rick!”“I’llnever let you be alone. I love you so much, Gwen, and I promise toyou and your father that I will try to be the best husband I can beevery minute of every day of every decade we’re together.”We wereso wonderfully happy after that day, sure in the knowledge of ourdeep love represented with unbreakable silver rings. She kept mejoyful, calm and safe from them</I>andshe said I kept her intrigued. Her reason was that I never let anyonein and she felt that even though we were going to be together for therest of our lives, she said there would always be more she didn’tknow. She also said that I always seemed like I owed people forsomething, and that made me chivalrous and kind.
     
 

      ThemAbout ayear after we began dating when we moved into my flat together, shenoticed from the start that I hated going to bed, and asked me why.There was no point lying, she could always see through me. “I’vegot to be honest, I’m going to sound crazy and you probably won’tbelieve me. I didn’t want you to move in before I thought you’dbe able to take it, I knew you’d notice.” I cleared my throat andtook her hand. “It’s gotten a lot better since you’ve been withme, and I’m so grateful to you for that. Since I can remember Ialways saw... things.” She looked concerned but didn’t sayanything as I continued. “They’re almost human, but not quite.They want me, to take me with them to wherever they come from.There’s always a small crowd watching me, waiting for me to slip upsomehow or to let them in. They always stay in the edges of my sightand I kind of leave them alone, but before I met you they werestarting to get worse, starting to reel me in.  I could feel myselfgoing and I didn’t really care. They were beginning to get ever soslightly closer. Then you came into my life and they were forced backby your...” I searched for the right word.“Mywhat?” she asked, smiling slightly. Her soft Welsh accent sang tome merrily.“Idon’t know what it is! But they moved back because of somethingabout you and haven’t even tried to come forward.” I grinnedsheepishly back. “Sothey stand there and watch you? And they want to take you? Where dothey want to take you?” she didn’t sound disbelieving, justconfused. It made me feel better that even someone outside of myfamily who hadn’t seen me when I had woken up so often during thenight, sweating and shaking with fear that I was going to be stolenfrom my family and tortured for the rest of eternity believed what Iwas saying.
     
 

      “Idon’t know where it is exactly. I’ve seen it in my dreams; theycan get to me more when I’m asleep. They come into my head duringthe night and show me things in my dreams, show me what will happenif they manage to take me. In one of the dreams it’s dark, verydark. There’s masses blood everywhere, probably the foul blood fromthose who stand around me at night. There are intestines and heartsthat look like they’re still beating, bits of people’s faces likeripped out eyes and tongues, dead people with no limbs that are stillpumping out blood onto the floor. It’s a slaughterhouse, theevidence of their brutality smeared across the place. When smell ofthe freshly cut flesh and warm blood hits me, it makes me vomit onmyself, and when I try to wipe it away, that’s when I realise I’mtied up to the wall surrounded by corpses.When Itry to move, something’s holding me back and I see blood and somekind of slime run down my arm. I can’t turn my head. They all standaround me, waiting for me to look in their eyes. For a while, Idon’t. But then I’m compelled to, if I don’t look in their eyesthat are dragging mine to theirs I’ll probably die anyway. So Ilook up, and meet the eyes of the tallest one with all of the tattoosand long, black matted hair. Except in my dreams I’ve never seenthem in any detail. Then he comes and opens my stomach with his longfingernails, and I watch as everything spills out onto the floor witha heavy, sloppy thud. Blood drips loudly, and I don’t feel like I’mdying. I’m just as alive, but in excruciating pain. I know it’snever going to end, for as long as anyone will live. I scream andscream but no one comes to help, they all just watch as the blackhaired guy rips me slowly, limb from limb.” I stopped, and bit mylip. Gwen cried silently, face puckered in sympathy. “Oh,Rick. Why didn’t you tell me before?” She said before throwingher arms around me and engulfing me in a reassuring hug. “Don’tworry, I would never let them take you there.” She grasped my handwith shining eyes. “I’ll never let you be alone, remember?”

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