Lately I’ve been going out and looking for demons. I guess you could say I’m hunting for demons. It’s a fair assumption. But still, that seems like too harsh a word for what I intend. You could say that I am very interested in finding demons. Or even just finding a demon. What I would like to do once I’ve found one or several is not clear just yet.
My life prior to this point was one completely absent of any interest in demons or knowledge of their works. It was a life I liked just fine. I wanted for little or nothing. I had friends, and my time was occupied reasonably with activities that were both wholesome and practical. I cannot remember what these activities entailed in detail only that they felt wholesome while doing them. That feeling sometimes comes back, like a soft breeze.
Most of this life was lived out during the day. Yet at some point I started to prefer the night. This preference was not shared by my daytime friends, nor by very many others. My activities and interactions, as a result, made a significant shift. I found I had fewer friends in my nighttime life, and those friends I did make preferred activities that were far less wholesome. I remember what those activities entail, but I’d still rather not tell you what they are. I will say that these activities are not as costly as the wholesome activities.
It was at this time that I started to become aware of demons. It did not result from one significant encounter but through several smaller ones. People around me started talking about demons, the demonic nature, of having demons, or of trying to fend off demons. Demons were tricky things, it seemed. They could assume many shapes; perhaps they possessed no shape at all. They could speak in many tongues, but could also be just as comfortable acting in total silence. Some people were repelled by demons. Some people never saw a demon but lived in crippling fear that they might see one. Some people were more dependent upon demons than they ever depended on a person. Not many people were very curious about demons, though. It never seemed that there was much in demons worth being curious about. That was their appeal: their simplicity. I guess that’s just my nature. Oh well.
I only look for demons at night. There’s not much evidence to suggest that demons prefer the night any more than regular people do, it seems like a practical choice for them. It’s not impossible to be demonic in the daytime, but it seems like a real challenge.
I started walking out every night from just after dusk and right before dawn, down as many paths and avenues as I could to detect their presence: main streets and side streets, alleyways and thruways, cul-de-sacs and grids. There seems to be disagreement as to what setting demons prefer. The crowded city gives them more opportunity. The quiet suburb gives them more privacy. It’s all the same, if you ask me, not that anyone has. So I cast a wide net; but still, I am not hunting demons.
When looking for demons — hunting or otherwise — there doesn’t appear to be any criteria. Some, in fact, have said that finding demons is near-impossible. The trick is to attract the demon somehow, to lure it out of the woodwork and right up into you. I don’t doubt it, but it seems very unwise. Off to the library, it is! Ah! A dusty leather-bound volume with yellowed, crinkly pages and no author. A key passage:
Many prefume that thofe moft Vulnerable to the Daemonic influence are the flow and ignorant. Thif if a grave error. While it if true that evil hath a great tafte for Weakneff, one difcounteth itf capacity for Wit at their certain Peril. Nay, the Devill tiref not in purfuing the Clever and the Learned over the dull. Though He will beft them at every game and deflect all reafoning, the Daemon will flatter and praife at the higheft regifter that They have befted Him; and then He poffeffeth Them.
“The Daemon,” the text added, “if oft bufy and fleepeth not.”
I was grateful for this perspective, and also relieved. For though I am very curious, as you know, I am hardly ever clever.
You might be wondering if I ever had any encounters with the demonic. Funny you should ask! Though I can’t say I’ve had any sightings that would be conclusive, I think I’ve had a few close calls.
A recent excursion took me very far into the city. It was on the border between very late and very early, and I had to make my way home. I was at the bus depot, looking up at an informercial on the TV when a man came in, older and a bit disheveled, walking with a slight hobble. Though the lobby was nearly empty, with not even a ticket attendant present, he took a sight directly to my right. We said nothing to each other for a few minutes, in fact he was coughing pretty consistently most of the time.
“Got a smoke?” he asked me.
“I’m afraid I don’t,” I said. “I’m not sure we’re allowed to smoke in here.”
“I don’t think anyone will mind,” he said gesturing to the room. He took out a cigarette anyway.
I asked him what brought him to the bus stop.
“Work,” he said, and started coughing again.
“We have that in common! I’m just completing my workday. Or night, I should say.” And quite without asking his consent, I went into my long explanation of my project, sparing no detail of my search for the demons among us and all I had so far learned about them.
“Demons, eh?” he said and was silent for many seconds, not even a cough. “Sounds like my first wife.”
My ears pricked up and tingled a bit. “Fascinating! You were married to a demon?”
He chuckled and blew a clean streak of smoke out into the lobby.
A demon in the family was something that hadn’t occurred to me. I tried to think of my own from when I still went out in the day. Funny, I could see my fully refurbished kitchen pretty clearly, and some figures sitting around the table, presumably my mother, father, and siblings. But it was hard to tell, I couldn’t really picture their likenesses. Instead there sat elegantly dressed mannequins with smooth bone-white faces. The table was set, but the plates were empty, I suspect the coffee cups in my parents’ hands were also empty. My dog, our black lab, was out in the living room in greater detail, frozen in porcelain — delicate porcelain at that, as its nose was chipped.
That was not very helpful, so I intended to inquire more of my neighbor’s demon-ish wife. But the seat was empty, he was gone. So, too, was my wallet and my watch. Joke’s on him about the watch, of course, as it stopped months ago and I was only wearing it for aesthetic effect! Also, I missed my bus.
It was nearly dawn when I finally got to town. I stumbled out of the bus and over to a news kiosk for a Snickers.
“Long night?” the attendant asked. She stood smiling behind the counter; she was younger, neatly dressed, impressively stiff posture, and alarmingly alert for that time of the day.
“You could say that,” I said. I put up the candy bar and paid.
“What brings you up at this hour?”
I didn’t really want to rehash the details, but I did so anyway. Her chipper expression remained fixed as I worked back from my robbery to my night patrols for demonic presence, punctuated by greedy bites of my Snickers.
“Demons are tricky,” she chirped.
“So I keep learning.”
“Have you considered looking out for goblins instead?”
“I wouldn’t know the first thing about that.”
“Usually you start from within,” she said. “Anyway, I’ll pray for you.”
“I appreciate that,” I said as I finished the Snickers.
“Have a good morning.”
We smiled, waved, and went our separate ways. As I made my way back to my apartment to sleep, I had to laugh. The perfect demonic tell, I thought, to think anyone prays in the daytime.