Demons illustrates the destructive nature of the human mind.
I stand in the bathroom, hands gripping the sink, staring at my reflection. I haven’t slept in days. There are dark circles beneath my eyes, and my skin is a stark white. My long dark hair is a tangled mess atop my head. My body is littered with cuts and bruises, muscle and flesh that have been ripped apart. My fingernails are cracked and caked with my own blood.
What is wrong with me? Why can’t I escape this hell I’ve created for myself? Could it be because I’ve become comfortable here? Accustomed to the torture I inflict upon myself? These thoughts and more run rampant within my mind, echoing mercilessly through the empty room even though no one has said them aloud.
The light above me flickers, casting ominous shadows across my face. Demonic. That’s the only word that comes to mind when looking at my reflection. I am a monster. My inner demons are starting to claw their way out, destroying me in the process.
My ribs show prominently through my skin; my hips are knives, ready to tear through at any moment. I can feel each individual bone in my wrist, yet I’ll never be skinny enough for this world.
I’ll never be pretty enough.
My lips are cracked and dry. They’re split open in some places, blood staining my skin. I am feral. No one can save me from this awful monster I have become. This is all I will ever be: a shell of a human filled with the souls of countless malevolent entities.
The light flickers again, and suddenly it busts. Glass shards rain down on me, the sharp edges carving into my skin, making countless ravines in the landscape of my body. Blood trickles down my arms. It takes my eyes less than a minute to adjust to the soft glow of the sunset outside my window.
When I can finally see again, there’s a note written on the shattered mirror. It’s written in vermillion from fresh cuts in my arms created by the busted bulb. But I don’t care where the blood is from; I’m more interested in what it says: Get out now.
Oh, if only I could.
I’d run as fast as I can and never look back. If I had the chance to escape this hell, I would take it without a second thought. I want nothing more than to leave, to never have to look at this terrible—
Suddenly I’m falling through the dark recesses of my mind. Memories from my past rush by, moments in time that I have nearly forgotten ever existed. A youthful, more vibrant version of myself with pigtails and a pink dress, laughing and playing with other children.
Another flash of memory. I’m sixteen, waiting at home for my prom date to arrive. This is the first time I ever experienced true anxiety. What if he never comes? My mind begins tainting the memory. My hair starts falling, my makeup running down my face, my dress catching flames.
And for the record, he never came. He told me the next day that he found someone prettier at the last minute, someone skinnier and more popular.
I remember how I felt at that exact moment. So many emotions swirling through my mind, culminating in a dangerous pit that would soon become my demons. I had never felt more betrayed and hurt than at that moment. I realized it was all a plan, formulated by my bullies to embarrass me. It only got worse. They tormented me, telling me I would always be too fat and ugly to be loved. I became an outcast, dealing with constant teasing and bullying.
That was the first time I heard the voices of Ana and Mia, the girls that tell me I’m not skinny enough. Of course, they have always helped me find ways to solve this problem.
Ana tells me not to eat; food has calories, and calories are what pack on the weight I despise. On the few occasions that I ignore Ana and eat, Mia helps me get rid of it. She sends me to the bathroom and pushes my own fingers down my throat. As long as I have them, I’ll always be on track to becoming the skinniest version of myself that I can be.
A fresher memory: I’m alone in my room, using a simple piece of silver metal to tear myself apart. There’s crimson everywhere. Staining the white carpet beneath my feet, smeared across the blue walls, dripping down my pale skin. The pain overwhelms me, but it also frees me from reality, even if only for a fleeting moment. My mind tells me I’ll never be good enough for anyone. You’re too fat and ugly. The terrible words of my bullies echo through my mind, bouncing off the mountain range of my brain.
In times like these, late at night and locked away in my bedroom, I think about how much easier it would be to just get it over with and kill myself. The world would be a better place without me. Ana and Mia, as well as the rest of the voices in my head, agree with me.
I’m back in the bathroom, back to reality. At some point in my mental journey, the sunset has given way to total darkness. I’m gripping the sink harder now, trying to separate reality from the past. Anxiety grips my hollow stomach and lungs, forcing all the air out of my body. My hands are shaking, my knees wobbling. I gasp desperately for air as my lungs start burning, aching from the lack of oxygen. It’s as if an apparitional hand is clawing at my throat and restricting the flow of air. I start to see spots blotting out the world a little at a time.
I fall to my knees, and it’s as if the hand is gone. I can breathe again. My vision begins to clear. I gulp in immeasurable amounts of oxygen and relish in the temporary high. The voices in my head aren’t screaming at me, or even whispering. I feel numb, and it’s the most amazing sensation I’ve ever experienced. For once, everything seems like it might be okay. This feeling rides on the fleeting wings of a moment.
After nearly half an hour, I force myself to my feet again. The voices are back, louder than ever and screaming that I’m not enough, I will never be enough. I am an unfortunate accumulation of atoms that will never fit in. I will never be good enough for society. I will never be enough for anyone, not even myself or the beasts that reside in my mind.
I know these monsters aren’t real, simply the result of a chemical imbalance and a complicated childhood. But no matter how fabricated they are, they seem as real to me as a close friend does to anyone else. In a sense, they are my friends. These monstrous entities are always with me, and they’re here when no one else is. They are the closest thing I will ever have to real friends, even as they slowly destroy me from the inside.
Dark blue and purple spots decorate my arms and thighs. I have deep gashes on my forearms; I have no doubt I have created them, clawing at my skin during a manic episode. Despite the changes in my appearance, all I can focus on is the message written in blood. Get out now.
And suddenly I understand what it means. I don’t have to run to escape this oh-so-familiar hell in order to escape. I don’t even have to leave this bathroom. There are other ways to get out than simply running. Physically leaving is not the only form of escape.
I open the medicine cabinet and clamor around in the darkness, searching desperately for anything to aid in my escape. I eventually come across a bottle of Ramelteon. Yes, these will do.
With shaking hands and bony fingers, I twist the cap off the bottle. I pour the contents onto the corner in order to count the pills. I arrange them in a line, standing at attention like well-disciplined soldiers. Twenty-seven. Twenty-seven soldiers, waiting to fight the war within my mind. In my weekend physical state, this should be more than enough to get out.
I slowly nudge all twenty-seven pills into my palm. The little blue spheres sit patiently in my hand like the good little soldiers they are. The demons in my mind are waging a new war, a war revolving around my Great Escape. I want to be dead, but they want me to become one of them.
They don’t want to go through the trouble of finding a new host, someone new to personify their bitter ugliness. They don’t want to start from scratch to transform someone new when I’m already on the cusp of becoming a full-fledged monster.
My arms begin to shake, the pills in my hand jolting out of their perfect formation. Tears blur my vision and make it nearly impossible to see in the darkness. I want so desperately to escape, to leave this terrible world behind and forget all my pain. But something is holding me back.
A piercing pain rips through my body, the kind of pain nobody has ever experienced before. I fall to the floor, the little blue pills flying everywhere, and let out a scream of agony. Everything inside me hurts like never before.
The skin over my hips is ripping apart. An acidic burning sensation washes over my face, and I feel my skin melting away. My hands crack, and my feet curl. I feel lashes from a while striking my back. Blood bubbles up from these places and more.
I look down to find my fingernails elongating and ripping out of my flesh. I feel my scalp tearing apart with a searing flash of heat. The pain is intense, and I let out another shriek. As suddenly as it began, the pain just stops. I take a few minutes to stop the sobs I didn’t know where taking over my body, and I try to catch my breath. I force myself to a standing position once again.
I am no longer the poor human girl riddled with mental illness. I am something completely different. My hair is a long stringy mess, falling to cover my melted face. My skin is black and burnt, and spiraling horns sprout my my head. My hands are curled into what should be an uncomfortable position, but I don’t feel pain anymore. My nails are long and pointed, perfect for ripping away flesh. Two leathery black wings extend from my back like this of Lucifer.
I feel no more pain or emptiness, just an overwhelming hunger for mischief and trouble. The voices appear to me now as beings like myself. Demons. Ana and Mia are the most obvious to recognize: bone thin with wicked smiles. They step toward me and bow.
“You’re perfect now. You’re one of us.”