Apophenia by Jenny Butler


I don’t feel safe here. It isn’t safe anywhere, for me. But I try to seek refuge here amid the demons as I know how to behave in this space.

I lie very still in the bed, eyes wide open. Concentrating on the moonshine coming through the skylight, which is open just a crack, I dare not close my eyes. If I do, imps will notice and attempt to take hold of me. My eyes droop momentarily. I see the blood-red rushing and sense panic. I cannot let the moonbeam-imps get inside my eye. They know, as I do, that the eye is the window to the soul. The brain is simply too close behind and if they embed themselves via the optic nerve, they control me.

Wanting to get out of the room, I consider moving my foot past the blanket’s edge. I fear the hand underneath will grab it. It is an old man’s hand and in the shadows he hides, waiting. He has the face of my grandfather but I know it is not him really. If he catches me, he will pull me down into the depths of hell.

I look at the ceiling, avoiding the corner where the imps are congregating. Eyes aching from the intensity of watching, I jump up and vault outward. The old man can’t move out from his domain to chase me, but I must be quick traversing the space around the bed. Heart racing and sick to my stomach, I try not to look at the thing clinging to the door. A black shape turning slowly, its murderous glare would strike me dead!

Running downstairs, I stub my toe and it takes a moment to comprehend that it is bleeding. The nail has been lifted up and is hanging off. I shouldn’t risk myself by standing here with an open wound. The smell of blood will attract vampires, spirit-leeches. Humans can’t see them but they are there always, smelling the air for blood and plasma. I rush to the hot press, open the door with such urgency that I scratch my hand. I rummage frantically for lint that I keep here for this exact emergency. I fear that unlike the scratch which can be covered, the toe-wound has already become infected.

It is imperative to remove the affected body part before contamination. I run toward the kitchen and reach up to the shelf above the cooker where I keep a very sharp knife in case of flesh-embodied-intruders. In haste, I spread out my toes, isolating the infested one. I can see that it is festering with tiny demons and I don’t know how they have managed to propagate so fast! They glower at me with red eyes, their black shiny bodies squirming in the microcosmic blood-sea of my toe. No time to lose, I press the blade down hard and my toe comes clean off.

Inside the spurting blood, demons are screaming. They will resist being cast out! I too want to scream but I know it’s too risky because the winged creatures outside hear high frequencies and will come. The skylight upstairs is open just a crack and in their craftiness they would find this and squeeze in. They eat souls and mine is all I have left.

The pain intensifies as the shock of the cut wears off. I can no longer contain it; I scream: loudly! The only option is to cleanse, get out the infected blood quickly as possible. I slash frenetically, each gash as deep as I’m able, my pale skin splitting and ripping from the serrated knife. My white nightdress is now almost completely red.

There are blue and red flashing lights by the curtains and I can feel panic rising. What monsters are these, intruding? Have I not suffered enough? Loud banging on the door, men’s voices shouting “Are you ok in there? Can you open the door?” I won’t fall for this! Demons pretend to be angels and once they are inside they can get you!

A flashlight moves across the glass of the door. This is a sign from God – His Grace, the light will protect me! I try to move toward it. I pray to God as I slash wildly at my wrists, deep, long cuts. Once all veins are severed, God will lift my spirit out of my body. Flesh encasement is not a safe locus. Slipping on blood, I fall on the kitchen linoleum. I lie there, defeated, disappointed I couldn’t get cleansed in time for God to raise me up. My eyelids are heavy. Behind my eyes the miniscule winged blood-demons are moving. There is no safe place. 

Jenny Butler
Jenny Butler

Dr Jenny Butler writes about horror, magic, and mysteries. She has had short stories published in various places including Literary Orphans Literary Magazine, Fictive Dream Magazine, Corvus Review, Tales from the Forest Magazine, The Roaring Muse, Mulberry Fork Review, Firefly, and Flash Fiction Magazine.

Some of her previously published work can be read on her website www.drjennybutler.com.

You can find her on Twitter @jenny_butler_