Personal Demons Excerpt: Here there be monsters.
Saturday, September 2, 2023

It's hard to see yourself as anything but a monster when that's the way the world has labeled you.


Energy surged through Mira. The old man’s blood trickled over her fingers where they gripped the knife hilt. She dared not remove the blade even now, with the demon sufficiently entangled. He’d surprised her with his power. Most demons grew stronger the longer they were in the mortal realm, kind of like the buildup to one last, grand finale before they burned out their host and were pulled back to the Rift to wait for another likely target. This one must have been within a day or two of its end, and pretty damned strong to start with.

As the dark, copper-tinged tendrils of the demon’s essence were pulled from the old man’s body and absorbed into hers, she felt the demon within her swell beyond the boundaries of their usual arrangement. Mira’s consciousness was pushed further back, to a corner of her mind where she would remain while the demon was in the driver’s seat. She imagined this was how most rifter hosts lived while possessed, a passenger in their own body. She only had to deal with it after a feeding, when the demon’s energy was too much to contain, or when they needed to call directly on the demon’s powers.

The demon continued to drain the screaming rifter. Even if the old man wasn’t aware of what was happening, he’d regain consciousness the moment the last of the Rift energy was extracted. He’d be himself for a moment, just long enough to realize what was happening. Then he’d die. They always died.

Mira looked away from the twitching, flailing, soon-to-be corpse in her hands. She still had enough physical control for that.

Ty was watching her from a crouched position on the floor. The rich brown of his irises seem almost black in his narrowed eyes. A deep frown pursed his thick lips, masked slightly by his short goatee. The sepia tones of his skin blended with the shadows of the room as the small fires caused by her fight with the rifter died down. He seemed to be studying her, examining the way the old man’s demon was pulled out of his body and into hers. His expression flickered between fear and admiration. His gaze met hers for an instant, then he turned away.

He’s freaked out to be working with a monster.

<Relax. He probably just doesn’t want to watch this guy die.>

Mira gave herself a mental hug. Her body was now being controlled entirely by the demon. He’s been a soldier, a PTF agent, and a cop. He’s seen plenty of people die.

<Doesn’t mean he enjoys it.>

But he wasn’t looking at the rifter when he got disgusted, Mira insisted. He was looking at us.

<Fine, so maybe watching us eat another demon freaks him out. So what?>

Yeah, thought Mira. So what? Why should I care what he thinks about me anyway? Everyone else is afraid of me. Why would Ty be any different? I am a monster after all.

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