The Demon or The Shadow
At the time, it seemed like the righteous thing to do. Every bad thing I did, I did in the name of good. I felt justified in cocking my hand back. The rush of anger felt good even. Like a shield and sword made of blinding light.
Later I'd spend hours running, terrified of the thing that tore at my senses. It existed just beyond the periphery, but it was relentless in trying to make itself known. Alone in a forest I could conjure up all sorts of terrors. Something in the woods attached itself to my back, and followed me home to my suburban Texas bedroom.
I'd inhale oxygen, and it'd feel like gasoline.
I'd swallow pink, and it'd stain my skin gray.
I imagined a demon that only appeared whenever I closed my eyes, so for years trying to get to sleep became a torture. Pushing back the fear of whatever sat at the foot of my bed with a lopsided grin became a battle of wills.
I imagined myself as being stalked, pummeled, harassed, by invisible and groping monsters that wanted nothing more than to bathe in my fear. The reward for damning a soul must be a great one - a penthouse apartment with all the perks - for demons to go to such an effort. And why I was their target - I didn't know.
Because I was weak. Because I played too much Diablo 2. Because I enjoyed fantasy novels too much. Because I wanted to be a writer, and I wrote about awful things like hell and ghosts. Because my soul was tainted, a white apple with a rotten core. Because I was cursed, and cursed people had demon-bait in their blood and their necks tasted like creamsicles to the most awful of things. Cursed people had a pack of rabid wolves following them from the dark caverns to the tops of skyscrapers.
Always, I heard the howl at my back.
The revelation wouldn't come until much later, that the howl I heard at my back was my own.
That the demons I created were the ones I built to destroy the thing that I had become.
You can justify anything, if you say that you mean well. How many children die in the name of righteous causes? How many men come home to beat their wives until their eyes are swollen shut because they just 'love them too much?' Evil rarely is the purpose. It's the consequence.
I didn't get this sad and this dejected because of the things others have done.
There are complex systems in place to destroy the enemy, but sometimes you decide that the enemy is you. That's why I've been stalking myself through the woods, climbing at the foot of my own bed with foam on my mouth. And every-time I struck, I told myself I was doing it for the right reasons. I told myself that I really wasn't hurting myself.
But I was the one feasting on the bone.
And yet, I still keep looking back, expecting to see a demon instead of a shadow.
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