It waits within the shadows, poised with potent poisons. The thing has no physical body to manipulate the world around it, but it does have a mind; a festering, seething, pus-laden boil of a mind, which it uses to persuade and cajole the weak into doing its bidding. It has been called many things over the millennia, but all are encompassed by the simple yet provocative appellation of demon. Ever since man wiped the mud from his eyes and had the wherewithal to consider his purpose in the world, the thing has been breathing its venom into his ears, invoking pain with naught but a whisper.

The demon’s voice comes forth from the shadows, “Kill the fucker.”

“No!” Mark screams through his sobs. “I can’t—”

“Yes. Take the knife, or the gun, I care not which you choose, and kill that worthless shit. His flesh will serve a better purpose as food for the worms.”

Mark looks down and stares at the revolver and large kitchen knife, positioned atop the coffee table in front of him. He thinks about the man the demon wants him to kill.

“A quick cut from the blade,” the demon whispers, “or a light squeeze on the trigger, and all your problems will be at an end. That man must die, if you want to be free.”

Mark reaches for the gun, then stays his hand an inch from the metal.

“Do it… Do it!”

Mark returns his hand to the arm of his old chair. “No. Not yet. I need to—”

“There’s nothing left for you to think about. You know what needs to be done, so do it.”

“But…there’s no rush,” Mark says. “I’ll do it… Just… Later.” He whimpers uncontrollably.

“No, you sniveling wretch, you’ve already put this off for far too long. Now, pick up that fucking gun and make the world a better place.”

Mark slaps both hands to his face, then slides them up to his scalp and grips his hair. His knuckles are white as he pulls out a tuft here and a tuft there.

“Now you’re worried that you might miss, or that the bullet will cause a slow and painful death? How can you possibly miss? You stupid fuck. Your going to put the gun to his head! Trust me, the bastard will die. But, if you’re still concerned, use the knife instead. Use the blade and death will be like drifting off to sleep. The gun would be quicker, but, like I said, either one is fine by me.”

Mark sniffs back on his tears, wipes snot from his nose with the back of one hand, then relents, “Okay, I will.” He leans forward, pushes the gun to one side, then picks up the knife. After rolling up his sleeve, he uses the knife to draw a deep crimson line up his left arm. He repeats this action to his right arm, then places the knife back on the table and sits back in his chair.

A few minutes later, Mark’s demon whispers no more.


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