The man drove up to the front of the two-story house in an old Toyota Corolla. Mrs. Jesusa Madrid, stout build, 55 years of age, with a smattering of salt and pepper hair, watched the old blue car park in front of their small house in a Quezon City subdivision.
The night was ominously dark, with stars covered by swathes of discomfiting clouds. A storm was coming in tonight the TV said a few hours ago and people were warned to stay indoors.
Mrs. Madrid would have loved to sleep, a luxury nowadays, but things have gotten out of hand.
“Mrs. Madrid,” the man dipped his head slightly in a bow. “My name is M. Just M.” The old woman shook his hand vigorously and pointed at a door at the far end of the hallway.
M had jet-black hair, slicked back with oil. He sported thin glasses, a thin beard and eyes with two colors: one blue and one black. When asked about his eyes, he often told a story of a random accident as a child.
If the story was good enough for curious onlookers, it was good enough for him.
“How long has he been in there?” he inquired, looking at the door intently, as if sizing it up.
“Two, three weeks, I’ve lost count. It’s been the same situation. I can’t go in there anymore. I just can’t!” The woman broke down in tears and M led her to a seat in the living room.
“That’s why I’m here. I wouldn’t even suggest that you come with me. The process is dangerous to the untrained and unexposed. You’ve lived with it for some time, so it knows you, to an extent but isn’t interested in you, yet.”
Mrs. Madrid focused on “yet.” She shivered and began to wail again. “My Ricardo, Ricardo… Oh…”
Thick roiling clouds signaled the beginning of the storm.
A flash of lightning briefly lit the room. For a few seconds, M saw how the situation had aged the woman. Deep lines cut through the Mrs. Madrid’s face. Lines of worry and fear. It was time to get to work.
M instructed Mrs. Madrid to stay put no matter what she heard or saw. M drew a large circle around her chair and poured salt over it. Just fine salt, nothing fancy. He returned the salt to the kitchen when he was done.
M could hear things from beyond the door. Things that sounded utterly strange and separate from the reality of a modern home in Quezon City. He knocked on the door twice.
“Ricardo? My name is M. I know you can somehow still hear me and I’d like to ask permission to come in to fix your… situation. To the other thing inside with you, I don’t give a flying fuck what you think about me or my coming here. But I’d like to tell you that I’ve little patience with the likes of you. I also have a horrible headache and I will be easily pissed off. So. Don’t. Fuck. With. Me.”
The door opened on its own. It creaked ajar. M was assaulted by a mix of odors so powerful, he brought a gloved hand to cover his mouth and nose slightly. He did so out of vanity. He didn’t really mind.
Demonic possessions often carried with them strange odors. Some say it’s because the plane of reality is corrupted. Others claim that it’s just bad hygiene. M knew it was a mix of both. And the natural odor of someone consigned to the furthest depths of the alter-reality called “hell” is putrid and beyond revolting. “Evil smell” is an understatement – it was downright unfair to expose human nostrils to it.
The bed was empty. M grumbled and slowly trained his eyes upward. There you are, he thought.
It was a good thing that Mrs. Madrid had called him. Ricardo was already in a semi-advanced stage of decay. He had begun chewing on his hands and arms. His skin had a pale pallor with patches of green and gray. Green is necrosis and he had horrendous hematomas from repeated contact with hard objects around the room.
This happens when forces of death invade a living, breathing body. The two worlds just don’t mix and the body begins to break down.
The bedroom is in a state of complete disarray. Plates of stale, uneaten food littered the floor. The yellow curtains have been torn down. A study table lay upturned and useless on one side, with a cracked lamp feebly blinking beside it. The cotton fillings of the bed had been clawed out in some places. Brown and reddish human waste was plastered on the walls in innumerable finger and hand streaks. The floor was slick with what M could only surmise as weeks-old and fresh urine, mixed together in a syrupy combination that felt gritty and slippery at the same time, as his shoes squelched the few meters from the door to the bed.
M’s normal eye could see a sixty year old man sitting upside down on the ceiling looking, at him with malevolent eyes. He was naked, down to his non-existent underwear. His head was also tilted a wrong way, too far too the left. Unwashed, unshaven and beyond unkempt, Ricardo would have fainted if he saw himself in the state he was in now. Over the phone, Mrs. Madrid explained that Ricardo was normally hygienic and even picky with clothes. When he began ‘changing,’ his hygiene was the first thing to go. The wife also noted that Ricardo developed a penchant for all sorts of bugs as he forego his human meals.
In his upside-down position, Ricardo’s left cheek rested flat on his shoulder. His hands were bleeding, clutching at a part of the ceiling where tore out the ply board so he could get a good grip at the wooden beam above it.
M called this ‘standard’ ceiling position “parkour from hell.” In reality, demons preferred this position so they could land and kill intruders when they were playing with their food. Practicality over theatrics.
That has got to hurt, M thought as he surveyed Ricardo’s hyper-extended neck. He’s going to feel sore when he’s finally out of it.
M’s other eye, the blue one, could see a ten-foot entity with several red eyes, a long, green tongue that cut through its many cheeks and several mutilated human faces crammed into a huge mask. The entity’s black body, as wide as a sumo wrestler’s was in perfect alignment with the human host. Parasitic is what it is.
“Oh my, oh my,” M smiled and addressed the entity directly. “What are you supposed to be, big boy? A collector? No you’re not a collector. You’re a pig. Look at what you’ve done to Ricardo.” M’s voice was quiet and soft.
M pulled out a small dagger made of ivory, with a handle made with dark ebony wood, from his back pocket. A gift from an old friend, a voodoo chieftain who practiced the healing arts for more than a hundred years.
The entity began laughing. It projected an ear-splitting laugh that echoed on its own around the room at an unimaginable volume.
“I… kill people. You… boy. Will die… Your face… Mine.” it spoke using at least five other voices. It collected not just faces but voices. M heard the voice of a little girl in the mix.
A child killer, too. Really low in the demon matrix, he thought.
“Call me M. But my real name is Methuselah. And boy, I’m older than the Holy fucking Bible. You sick freak.”
M saw his opening. He ran toward the bed and launched himself against the upside-down entity by jumping on the bed. He drove his dagger into one of the demon’s foreheads. His other hand clawed at the mask of uneven faces, tearing apart its sinews. Globs of rotting flesh and fluids sprayed out. The various faces sewn together gave a collective grimace of horror and began screaming in pain – all at the same time.
The two crashed to the floor with M on top of the Ricardo-beast.
M had no intention of killing the parasite. There were agreements between hell and this side and hell and “up there.” But he could leave the demon in terrible pain for the next few hundred years.
The entity had several mouths, supported by poorly jointed jaws of old victims. Ricardo, its latest victim, wasn’t part of it – yet. He was still alive. M waved his ivory dagger in front of the entity’s eyes. Its many eyes followed the dagger with pure fear as it moved to and fro in front of its face.
“You like swallowing things, right? That’s what I call you. The swallower. Swallow this.”
He punched the dagger into the entity’s throat and pushed hard, past the throat until he felt its wriggling and writhing insides between his fingers. M was shoulder-deep into the demon when he stopped punching in the dagger. He quickly pulled out his arm, now steaming from sulfur burns. He surveyed his damaged skin and clucked. He’ll need to put some extra-powerful salves on his arm later. Can’t be too careful with tetanus and what not.
The multi-faced, multi-eyed and multi-jawed demon clutched at its throat and coughed, trying to expel the dagger.
“You… KILLED ME!” The beast wailed and coughed as it teared at its throat, pulling out nasty chunks.
“No. But you will wish you were dead. Leave Ricardo Madrid and go fuck yourself. I really mean it. I haven’t had my paracetamol. The tindahan ran out of biogesic. So my head is really in a state right now, with the likes of you.”
The beast’s many eyes looked at M pleadingly. M pointed to the floor.
“Back to whoever you serve. Whatever.”
The demon began melting into the cement floor like putrid, hot wax, leaving its core – Ricardo, intact.
A few minutes later, an ambulance’s siren could be heard in the distance. As M entered the main thoroughfare, he picked up a small amulet that he found on Ricardo’s body. It was a ruby amulet packed into a round, gold frame. No inscriptions, nothing. He asked for the amulet as payment from Mrs. Madrid. Mrs. Madrid was only too happy to get rid of the thing as her husband beg changing after acquiring the amulet at a small auction.
M’s blue eye looked at the amulet intently. Within it, he saw dozens of demons swirling and knocking against the crystalline structure. Rapacious entities who wanted nothing more than to wreak havoc regarded their new owner with malicious eyes.
M wore the amulet and gave it a soft pat.
“Fat chance,” he chuckled.
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