Walking with Demons – Ghosts

I’m not a good man. I’ve never been very good at pretending to be anything else either so it came a huge surprise to everyone when I met and eventually married Amaterasu. Being the director of a large, inner city company that specialised in corporate business areas it was important that I practiced my cut throat edge.

I was so good at it. I lashed out and patronised and frightened people until I had what I wanted from each and every one. My job was my life. Before too long though it became obvious that my dark nature was over spilling into other aspects of my life. Never before in my life had I been violent, until I suddenly had a wife and small child to come home too.

That nag, nag, nagging really got under my skin. The thought of opening the front door after a long day of bitching at people to be greeted with a  surly expression, a screaming child and a list of endless jobs that still needed completing was too much to bare.

I became distant. I barely ever went home, I worked late; I even began an affair with one of the temps in on the floor below mine. A sweet, quiet girl, no strings attached sex on tap and little peace from the never ending riot that went on at home.

It was all a little too perfect, everything was sweet for me, I felt as though I’d lost twenty years of stress, hard work and responsibilities. It all began to unravel when Amaterasu found out about the other woman.  She screamed and cried and created such a riot that I just had to leave the house. The bar across the street was more home now than that cold, wretched box that I’d paid a small fortune for.

I don’t mind telling you I was plastered by the time I stumbled back across the road at one am. A stomach full of Sake had done little to alleviate my terrible mood. I fumbled with the keys, wrenching them this way and that in the lock until, finally one of them clicked.

The door swung open to capture Amaterasu in it’s black painted frame. Her skinny arms were folded across her pointlessly small chest. I’d always secretly hoped she might get some work done after the birth of our son but she’d never seemed bothered about her appearance. She’d gotten fat, she’d gotten lazy and demanding, she was everything I hated all rolled up in one great huge ball of woman.

As she began to screech, I don’t even really remember what she was saying, the urge to reach out and silence her started to itch at the back of my mind.  In my head I could see my long fingers reaching around that soft flesh of her neck, the part that’s just above the collar bone. The squeezing felt so therapeutic, the release of so much anger and bitterness with a little shaking and pattering of feet and the endless screeching would stop. I’d be free.

I don’t know when I acted on my impulses; all I remember is takin the body to some remote place and hiding it as best I could.

For two years no one has really questioned Amarterasu’s disappearance. Her family was destitute, desolate and poor health was a constant problem, a fact they had gleefully hidden from me until after the marriage had taken place. She’d had minimal contact with them by her own choice so no one thought it odd when she didn’t call or visit. My parents asked on the few occasions they stopped by where she was, I made the relevant excuses; shopping, out seeing friends, on a course, the usual things you’d tell people after you’d murdered your spouse. She had no job, no bills, friends were few and far between and it was easy enough to fake a correspondence with them. It was all too easy to just cover it up.

The only person who did notice was my son. She had been the only contact the boy had had and he missed her presence almost immediately. Even when he watched me bundle her lifeless body into the boot of the car he looked for her everywhere. I feel for him, he is the only thing in my life that I truly love and to loose him would tear me apart.

Things ticked along as normal, days were the same, routines were established, I didn’t have a care in the world. The girl I’d been seeing became my new partner and before long she moved into the house I’d shared with Amaterasu.

I only started to notice the odd things that were happening around the house when my girlfriend pointed them out. The usual “supernatural” stuff would occur, vanishing keys, some banging noises in the night, someone walking over your grave. It was never anything that really bothered me and I chalked it up to an overactive imagination and the age of the house. Before long things gravitated to a point I could no longer ignore.

My partner pointed it out first. “Do you smell that?” She asked one afternoon about a month or so back. At first I didn’t notice anything but as I walked towards her I was hit with the stench of a perfume, sickly and strong.

“Jesus, what did you do? Shower in the stuff?” I asked, clamping a hand over my face.

“It’s not me! I’ve not put anything on today and even if I had, that’s not mine.” Her eyes had narrowed in suspicion.

Taking my hand away from my face apprehensively I sniffed the air cautiously. It was definitely perfume. It was familiar, like the calling of a memory that tugged on my mind; I couldn’t place it.

“You’ve not had someone else in here have you?” She asked me suspiciously, sniffing at my collar.

“No. I’m not stupid enough to bring another woman back here. I never brought you here when Amaterasu was still around, did I?” I saw the hurt flare up in her eyes at the mention of my wife. Her name, the perfume smell; they ground into my mind as the cogs began to whir. It was hers, the perfume; it was Amaterasu’s.

Turning away from the scene of confusion in the living room I stalked into the bathroom and clapped the door closed behind me, locking it with the hook. I dove into one of the little wicker boxes that still held the few beauty products my life had owned and fished out the one perfume bottle that lingered in a bottom corner. Spraying a little into the cap I took a lungful. It was the same stuff, without a shadow of a doubt. I was a little spooked, but I wouldn’t say I was scared, not then, not until a scream echoed through the house at a blood curdling pitched.

I came tearing out the bathroom, panting and still holding the perfume bottle in my hand. I promptly dropped it as I took in what greeted me. My girlfriend stood at the entrance to the kitchen, clutching the doorframe with both hands. Every picture of my wife, the ones I kept up for our son, to show to the relatives and friends who occasionally visited had moved. They sat on the coffee table, the shelves, even the floor closest to the kitchen. Amaterasu’s face stared out intent in every smile, each one now a sinister grin. The smell of her perfume began to waft back through the house as her many eyes stared intently at my girlfriend.

Walking With Demons

Hajime ni

Takeo took his fingers from his ergonomic keyboard and stretched his arm high above his head. His spine popped and he sighed with the release of pressure as he tilted his head back to gaze at the ceiling. The florescent, office lights beat down their harsh yellow gaze across his tired eyes. One of them buzzed faintly in the background, the sound comforting and irritating him at the same time.

“The overtime getting to you too?” Fumio asked, his round, fat head popping around the side of the cubicle he inhabited.

“You could say that.” Takeo replied, running his hands across his grey face. His thin features stretched a little as he pulled on his skin with his fingertips. “We must be gluttons for punishment.”

“The promotion looks pretty tasty though, huh?”

“Not as tasty as another coffee sounds.”Takeo said getting up from the swivel chair that was breaking his back and heading towards the door.

“Bring me one back! Remember it’s two sugars this time!” Fumio called after him.

Takeo had a slight headache, the pounding in his temples just enough to make him forget himself. His chin length black hair was falling into his eyes and skewing his view of the stairs he began to make his way down. He had only gone down a few steps when he felt a different kind of light and a heat upon his closed eyes. Opening them a crack, his headache flaring, a blue light hit his eyes. With a new found interest he strained forward a little, releasing his hold on the hand rail. He gasped and felt a cold sensation flow down his spine as he gazed upon a bright, blue ball of flame. It floated in front of him, swaying slightly as if curious. It was only the size of a football but had no round edges, its outline constantly fluid and changing shape. Takeo went to take a step forward, mesmerised he stretched out his hand to feel the warmth that radiated from the flaming ball.

“I’d watch your step if I were you.” The ball suddenly said. It had many voices, male and female, old and young all at once, ringing in his ears.

Takeo cried out in fear and pitched forwards on his still outstretched leg. Tumbling down and down the long flight of stairs he felt the searing pain of broken bones and the loud crunch and splitting of his skull as it smashed into the last step. As darkness closed in on him like a dying light he saw the ball come floating down, lazily towards him. It tutted in it’s many voices and he heard it mutter:

“What a clutz.” Before the light finally went out.

The First Hell

It was Takeo’s hearing that returned to him first. A muffled sensation that began as a low rumble and raised in pitch and volume until every last scream, burst of flame and crack of the torture whip could be heard with a crystal clarity. He didn’t want to open his eyes, a deep fear had settled itself in his stomach, knotting up like a tight ball of anxiety. A sharp prod in the stomach forced him to take in his surroundings.

Under his sore and ruined body lay rubble and dust, the heat from the stone searing his flesh to burning point. Looking up a little and to the left he saw a large cliff like edge carved out of the harsh rock face. Upon that sat dozens of hot, sweating, screeching giants and spirits crammed shoulder to shoulder. The platform sat above the largest fire Takeo had ever seen. It burned with white and high flickering flames.

He quickly scrambled up into a sitting position, his eyes stretching and near popping with fear and astonishment. Glancing directly in front of him his eyes fell upon a set of pillars growing up and up into a huge, black stone arch. Upon the top of the arch sat two figures with the bodies of men but one had the head of an Ox, the other a Horse. Neither moved and an age seemed to pass; Takeo stood up and crept towards the arch, curiosity taking over.

“What do we have here Guzo?” The Ox headed statue said, its bulging stone eyes rolling downwards to gaze at the young man at his feet.

Takeo leapt back with a yelp, a few tears escaped him and rolled down his cheeks. They hissed as they hit the burning, dusty floor, evaporating into nothing in the blink of an eye. His wide eyes darting from one stone figure to the other as the both peered down at him with leering grins.

“Look Mezu it’s crying.” The horse headed figure remarked.

“I think we should get a closer look, my dear Guzo.” Takeo screamed a little as the two figures crawled, like spiders down their podiums. They never took their eyes from him; grins fixed on their inhumane faces. He took to his heels and fled, running across the short plain towards the blackness. Uncertainty was better than the creatures behind him.

“He thinks he can get away Mezu!”

“How very stupid of him Guzo. Which one of us shall fetch him?”

“I think you should do it Mezu, you’re the fastest.”

Not a moment after Takeo had heard the conversation behind him then he felt a huge stone arm wrap it’s self around his waist and close in tightly. The pressure was immense, it pushed all the air from him and he felt his ribs push uncomfortably against the edge of the colossal arm as it pulled him upwards. Takeo began to whimper a little, his tears dropping unceremoniously into the dusty ground, leaving a little trail behind him.

Mezu dropped him with a unceremonious thump onto the floor. Dust plumed around him and he coughed violently as he inhaled the toxic cloud. Scrambling to his feet he gazed up at the towering pair who bent over him with keen interest.

“What shall we do with this one then Guzo?” Mezu asked with a hint of amusement in his high pitched voice.

“We could send him to the Fourth Circle!” The Horse headed figure exclaimed with delight.

“We sent the last one to the Fourth Circle, don’t you remember?”

“No I don’t care to remember my dear Mezu. Besides, he has been awfully greedy, chasing all those promotions and all that money.” Guzo grinned down at Takeo, licking his lips a little and bent even closer to the trembling man.

“You ARE ridiculous Guzo! Why don’t we just eat this one, we haven’t tasted a man in so many years.”

“No, stop!” Takeo cried out before he could stop himself. He clamped a hand over his mouth; he could taste the dust on his fingertips.

“Ohh, it speaks!” The two demons said simultaneously, both bending nearly double to bring their faces close to his.

“Wh-what is this place?” Takeo stuttered, a little false courage filling him from some unknown fiber of his being. Both demons roared with laughter and a few rocks fell from the ceiling, crashing down just behind him as the wailing of the giants and spirits on the ledge grew more fierce and tortured.

“Why, this is hell. You’ve died little man.” The Ox headed beast said.

“It can’t be possible.” Takeo whispered, looking down at himself. He felt his chest with his fingertips, still as solid as ever, still covered in his thin white shirt and tie, his legs encased in grey, pin strip trousers; his heavy office shoes still upon his feet.

“That is just your mortal body. A vessel for the soul. Once we have chosen a ring for you, you will be removed from it. The process creates the most, pleasant screams.” Mezu’s grin widened and a great, long train of spittle dripped from his enormous, grey teeth.

“But!” Takeo began to exclaim.

“It said but, my dear!” Guzo said to Mezu, an air of irritation about his voice.

“Maybe it wants to keep it’s stinking, little body for a few moments longer.”

“We could torture him. That would give him another fifty years.” Mezu sat up a little, scratching the top of his head with his chubby, stone fingers. Takeo trembled, his eyes darting to all corners of the yawning expanse before him, searching for any means of escape.

“Although.” Mezu pondered aloud. “We could do with some more souls.”

“Ah!” Guzo exclaimed. “He could be the one!”

“He could indeed my dear. He’s so weak, just the right material for a Soul Reaper.” Mezu hunkered back down to Takeo’s level, cupping his arm around Takeo creating a impenetrable cavern of stone.

“We have a job for you, little man. If you succeed we will allow you to keep your human form. In-fact, we may even return you to the land of the living to blunder and pillage yourself to another early grave.”

Takeo, stood up, every atom of his being shaking.

“I’ll do anything. Anything. Please …” He trailed off, his voice shaking and tears dripping from dusty cheeks. Small, damp trails coursing down his face.

Before he had time to even breathe both creatures struck with lightning speed. Using the fingertips of their index finger of the right hand both touched his body. An electrifying bolt coursed through him. His head shot backwards and his spine arched in an almost inhumane way. A golden glow of light filled the cavern and the screams of the monsters behind him raised in pitch, the sound filling his ears to the point of pain. He could feel his feet leaving the ground, a force pulling his body upwards. It stretched him, pulled on every fiber of his being and it filled him with such agony he let out a scream of epic proportions. It shook the very walls of the hellish cave and ripped its way up his throat; burning his esophagus. After what felt like an eternity of burning hell Takeo felt himself falling, floating almost towards the ground where he slumped into a small, panting heap.

“Is it ready now?” Mezu asked, excitement evident in his voice.

“Not yet. He hasn’t got his companion.” Guzo reached over to the rock face and clawed a huge boulder from its endless depths. With deft fingers he rubbed away at the stone, shaping and molding it into something recognisable; a huge dog sat upon the dusty floor, gazing with blank eyes into the cave. Rubbing the tips of his fingers together a soft light poured from Guzo’s fingers. He touched the large dog, covering it with his hands and pouring the light of life into his creation.

Takeo lay, still dazed and fogged on the floor. His eyes barely had time to register the form of a huge, fluffy animal contrasting against the hard rocky dimensions of his captors before he finally passed out.

 

All artwork created by and acredited to Kelly Grant. (http://thekellyfish.deviantart.com/)