Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Demon Dream

My wife and I were at some sort of art class, standing at big tables in a big room, many people bustling about or working at their projects. We had to make a false shirt front, a dicky, out of paper, and cut a few button holes and sew around them. We weren't sure why.

We came up with something, a kind of red sash false shirt front with a small crest of arms or badge of some sort lower down -- I remember thinking it would not be visible if I wore my jacket buttoned over it -- but it had only one button hole. A teacher said it had to have three and took scissors and stabbed our work, piercing it and going down into the table's wood. Noticing the teacher had once been a member of Monty Python, perhaps Michael Palin or Eric Idle but serious now, I remarked, "Yeah, the heck with the table, damned wood, growing all over the place."

There was no reaction to this mockery and we were told to get to work. I was quickly frustrated trying to sew around a button hole by hand, to reinforce it. I remember it kept resembling an eyeball and I was sewing around the lids, not to shut the eye, but to surround it with reinforcement so it wouldn't rip further when it opened. Failing at this, I was shooed away by some older women, who took over the sewing, and instead given a task.

I was to take to take a child of about 8 or 10 to fetch something in his apartment in the building across the street. The child was swarthy to the point of being burnished, and I was wary of him, but agreed to go along because the kid seemed to be okay with me. I got the impression he was somewhat hard to handle, maybe a trouble maker, but it seemed I was able to keep him generally reigned in.

We crossed a cobbled street, on a warm day, bright sun at the top of the buildings but us in shadow. I got the impression we were in Italy, probably Rome but not necessarily.

We entered an older but nice apartment building and climbed stairs. The lobby was old marble flooring and the stairs were mahogany and some creaked, but it was sturdy. The railings and corner pieces were carved nicely, again obviously old but still sturdy and serviceable.

At the third floor we paused and I unlocked the door with the key I'd been given, and in the boy scampered. I followed more slowly, wary of the place. It was big, with many rooms and halls, and the air was warm but not really stuffy. No scents of mildew or other older apartment smells. The boy proved to be demonic, making eerie statements far too creepy and mature for his age. He first alarmed, then scared me, and I remember humoring him to stay on his good side, not wanting to upset or anger him.

As we looked for what ever it was, he kept showing me things, like toys or various items in the apartment. All unsettled or alarmed me. Some gave me the willies, others dizzied me, and some just plain revolted me. The boy himself was matter-of-fact about most of the things. "We have one of these," or "look at this," or even, "how do you like my...?" I remember catching glimpses of a demon inside him; every now and then, for an instant, I spotted a kind of dark blur, or overlaid image, and his eyes and smile were terrifying. It was as if the demon in him was taunting me, knowingly drawing me deeper into some kind of trap.

He kept looking for something, and saying he had to get something, and I pretended to help him look while being nervous about entering the apartment deeper. Finally I'd had enough and tried to leave, only to discover the hallways were like a maze. I paused, calmed myself, and got my bearings, then tried again, and finally found the door.

It was closed and locked. I tried the key, and it did not work. I was locked in, and sensed with low key panic something coming up behind me.

It was the boy.

I cringed, wondering if he would grow claws or fangs and pounce, but he simply walked up and said, "Okay, we can go back now," and the key worked this time when I tried it. As I stepped out of the apartment he slipped past me and scampered down the stairs, while behind me all the lights and appliances and so on switched on and off rapidly, over and over, and things in the apartment moved as if in an ecstasy of dark delight.

Scooting forward, I slammed the door and hurried down the stairs with the feeling I'd narrowly escaped something. I followed the boy, who waited for me down in the lobby, where the light came through opaque white windows to give things a kind of aquarium glow. His eyes watching me come down the staircase looked huge and ancient.

We went out into the sunshine and warmth, crossed the cobbles, and I awoke feeling as if I'd dodged a demon of some kind. Am I haunted? Am I under demonic attack? Am I ridiculous to ask such questions?

Am I ever really awake?

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2 comments:

K. A. Laity said...

Interesting: in the Middle Ages, it was not unusual for a demon to be described as looking like "an Ethiopian boy" so I wonder if there's some psychological reason for seeing a darkened, burnished by the sun, but smaller than average human figure. Do people in areas where darker pigmentation is the norm see spectral white demons? Curious.

Gene Stewart said...

Chuck Berry told the story of not seeing a white person until he was 16 and, upon seeing one, ran and hid, thinking it was a ghost. He did not seem to be kidding, nor did he seem to realize this did not shine a very good light on either his upbringing or intelligence, but there y'go.