Welcome to the place where we examine treasures brought back from beyond the map's edge.
This time: The opening chapter to an unfinished manuscript Rob Stennett calls Fallen World.
To see previous special features, just click here.
I’m locking myself in tonight.
And no I don’t mean I’m getting ready to snuggle up with a glass of wine and good book on the bearskin rug by the fire or I’m going to lay on the couch and watch a nice romantic comedy while I chow down on a pint of Cherry Garcia—no I mean I’m literally locking myself in.
I live in one of those Los Angles apartment buildings where all the paint is peeling on the outside, and there’s always bright yellow sign hanging over the balcony that announces the “Move in Special!” This is the type of place that will soon be condemned, the type of place where you never feel safe, where the door to one apartment is rattling with the thumping of hip-hop gangster rap while another apartment always has girls with fish-net pantyhose and way to much make-up coming and going.
I live in apartment 517 B. If you walked down the hallway toward my apartment you’d notice the carpet is warped, green, and it smells like the elderly. The walls are constructed out of synthetic wood paneling. The numbers on the doors aren’t metal or raised gold, they’re simply stickers and half are on crooked or half torn-off.
I’ve seen a lot of strange things happen in this hallway.
I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never installed locks before. But now, here I am with seven of Home Depots most heavy duty burglar proof locks, “the Kingston series” is what the bearded guy in orange apron called them, lining my front door. The door’s a complete mess now. But it’s fine, it doesn’t have to look nice, it just has to work—it has to keep me inside.
Once all the deadbolts and latches are in I stop this guy named Rick who lives just down the hall from me. We never really talk but I see him all the time, he’s always wearing a track jacket and running shoes but I’ve never seen him looking all sweaty like he’s just returned from a jog or anything—come to think of it I have no idea what Rick does. But that doesn’t stop me from asking him a favor.
“Rick,” I say as I notice him trying not to stare at my destroyed front door.
“Jonah,” Rick says. I’m amazed he even knows my name.
“Listen, I need you to do me a favor.”
“Uh—” Rick says all awkward and condescending as he inspects my door, “—you screwed those in backwards.”
“No I did that on purpose.”
“Yeah, I’m going to shut the door. Then I need you to lock it behind me. All seven locks. Just bolt them shut.”
“You know you’re going to be locked inside if I do that,” Rick says.
I’m suddenly very glad I’ve never tried to become friends with Rick. “Yeah, I know, it’s just I’m doing this thing, it’s nothing weird, it’s for my own safety really, so if you locked the door behind me it would really help me out.” Here I am trying to explain myself to Rick, the guy with the running shoes who never runs, and it makes me think to myself, wow, how low have you sunk?
“Yeah, sure, I can lock the door,” Rick says.
“All the locks.”
“Yeah, all the locks.”
“Thanks, I really appreciate this,” I say right as I close the door.
Then I listen. I hear the lactates start to fasten. I count each latch as he finishes up—four, five, six, and then there it is number seven. I’m locked in now.
That was kind of Rick. I shouldn’t have been so hard on him. Even if I
was only hard on him in my thoughts. Of coarse it might not have been
me who was mocking his wardrobe, his lifestyle and his haircut. Did I
mention Rick’s hair? It’s also pretty hideous and embarrassing. It’s
oily and long in the places it should be short and short in the places
it should be long. But you see it might not have been me who thought
all of this, it might have been—um, hold on.
I guess there’s no beating around the bush you’re going to find out sooner or later so I might as well just come out with it: I’m demon possessed. I have been for much of my life but then I was free and on the wagon and now I’ve relapsed.
That’s the worst part. I’d beaten my inner demon (and just so we’re clear by “inner demon” I don’t mean some sort of tough feeling, or really hard struggle. No, I mean an actual demon that can turn my eyes a glowing emerald color and speak through me) and now he seems to be back and worse the ever.
Now just to be clear a person doesn’t just have a normal job like an
accountant or a plumber then all of the sudden they’re demon possessed
foaming out the mouth while their head spins all the way around their
neck. That sort of instant transformation is for zombie and vampire
movies. But possession, it takes time, it’s a process.
1) Flirtatious Phase: In this case the host is just curious about all things supernatural and paranormal. They may dabble with Ouija boards, seances, or other gateway items and games. These games really don’t have anything to do with the possession, other then making the host thirst for more supernatural encounters. And sometimes playing the games enough will open ones soul/home for demonic attacks. But usually not. Truthfully, most people never make it past this stage.
2) Influential Phase: Once the host has spent enough around seances, possessed individuals channeling demons, and or other activities directly inviting demonic encounters, then a demon can influence a person in their daily activities. This is similar to the way someone who is extremely obsessive compulsive can be guided by their fears. For those with OC, it’s not that the compulsion makes them do anything, there is still a choice and often the compulsion is overcome. But at the same time their desires can make them wipe counters, avoid cracks in sidewalks at all costs, lock/unlock their car doors 3 times, and so on. This is same with those influenced by demons. Often the influence is so strong that the person will just give in to the demons wishes even though there is still a choice.
3) Jekel/Hyde Phase: This is what you’d guess it is. At times the demon is in complete control of the body and the voice of the host. Sometimes, when the possessed realize how close they are to losing complete control there is a battle for control of the body. Other times the host is just biding their time wishing the demon would take control more. At this stage of the possession the host will often be able to watch what the demon and how it behaves. But other times the host will black out and remember nothing for hours or even days at a time.
4) The Controlled Phase: When it gets to this phase loved ones must intercept the host and cast out the demons. If they do not the demon will go out in a blaze of glory destroying the host and many times others around him.
That’s the four phases. That’s how they’ve been explained to me anyway. So then where I am right now tonight? Tough to say. I’m not possessed yet. I may not even be in phase one. But demon possession is like riding a bike. The first time it was this long process, a matter of years, but now I have a feeling it won’t take long. I’ve seen people relapse before. I’ve seen it happen in under an hour. And now it’s going to happen to me. Hence, the phone calls to my support group in Arizona saying I need help. Saying if you don’t get here soon there won’t be any of me left. Hence, the 15 voicemail's screaming: I know it’s me again, but you don’t understand how bad it is this time. You don’t understand what will happen if you’re not here in the next few hours.
About an hour ago Pastor Martin answered my panicked calls. He’s the only person I’ve ever met who knew how to deal with my demon. And it felt like there was finally light at the end of the tunnel as he told me he was in his car and on his way. But it’s a six hour drive from Tempe to Los Angles. So he told me until then to stay tight and lock myself in. Hence the Kingston series locks outside my door. On my way to Home Depot I gave him another call and told him I didn’t know how much longer I could stay in control. He said something else but his voice was garbled like he was losing service. I didn’t know how much longer I’d have him.
“I can’t do this,” I said.
“Jonah, you can. Center your thoughts.”
“Maybe you should tell your story.”
“Yeah. Write it down. It will take you awhile and it’ll keep you focused on something other then your desires—” He kept giving me this pep talk on the other end until his line went dead.
Now I have no one else to talk to you except you. I’m talking to you because I can’t actually write my story down. I type like an eight grader and my hand will cramp into a deformed E.T. shape if I try to write down everything that happened. Which is why after I left Home Depot I stopped by Wal Mart to get a hand-held voice recorder. It’s like one of those old tape recorders that private detectives and news reporters used in 70’s movies. You know the type where the reporter would always click it and say, “Note To Self,” followed by some sort witty or interesting or insightful comment.
This is what I’ll use to tell my story and maybe along the way I can explain myself to anyone who will listen and especially to everyone I’ve hurt. This Jonah Adam’s story of how I used my demon and how he used me. Pastor Martin told me that if I was going to tell this story I should begin at the beginning. Sounds kind of overly simplistic to me. But maybe it’s good sound advice. I’ve never been much of one to listen to good sound advice, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything.