Oct 31, 2023
"I'm so alone.”
Allison Thomas looked down at her desk. Her lamp lit up her hands as she stared at them. It was late at night, everything was quiet in her house, and the only light was coming from the lamp next to her. She cried thinking about everything that happened to her in the last few days. Allison was a junior at the local university, but she had at least three years left, as she had switched majors several times.
Allison was pessimistic about her future life. This semester has been very difficult. Her boyfriend of over a year broke up with her in September. After their break up, she found out that he had been cheating on her for months. She had already been in a deep depression and this made things worse. Allison had also missed too many days of school and was now failing several classes. Her home life is no better. She had an older brother and sister. Her older brother was seven years older, recently married and was living on the other side of the country. Allison never had a close relationship with him. Her older sister was four years old older and they had never gotten along. Her sister moved out into her own apartment last year and frequently visited on weekends. She always had the worst things to say to Allison. Just two days ago, on her way out the door she said, “Maybe you should just disappear, you're never going to amount to anything anyway.”
The conversation was still running through Allison's head as she looked down at her hands. Her parents, Hal and Ilene Thomas, shouted out her sister's name in vane as she walked out the door and went back to her apartment. Her mother shook her head.
Allison's father said "I'm sorry dear, you didn't deserve that."
Her father was always sympathetic but never had any answers for the painful things Allison experienced.
Allison started to cry. She spent many evenings like this. She sniffed and stopped crying for a moment and said to herself again, “I’m so alone. I just can't do this anymore". She opened the drawer of her desk and rummaged through some of her old belongings. She pulled out the folding knife that she used to take with her on camping trips with her dad. She opened it up, and again said, "I just can't do this anymore.” She held the blade to her wrist, and then put it down and started crying again. A minute later she composed her self. She picked up the knife again. She pressed it against her wrist, paused for a moment. Suddenly she was grabbed from behind. With one large arm around her waist, and another over her mouth. "You're mine now!" She heard one voice say as another high pitch voice laughed. She was lifted up in the air. Allison, and whatever was holding her, lunged out of her second floor bedroom window.
When they hit the ground, Allison came loose of her assailant’s grasp. She got to her knees and looked at her hands and wrists, they were covered in blood with little pieces of glass stuck in her arm. She looked up and for the first time she got a look at the demon.
"Get up!” “Yeah get up!” she heard a deep voice and a high pitched one yell simultaneously. The monster grabbed her arm.
"Why are you doing this! Where are you taking me!”
It was dark out but suddenly everything became a lot brighter. The stars in the sky seem to become larger and brighter until the whole sky, and everything around her too, was white. Allison was dragged away from her house by the large demon and everything at once turned white.
The demon had a thick overgrown head that split in two over the forehead. On top of each side were layers of muscle covered with moist grey skin. There were five layers of flesh on each side of its split head, like someone dropped five small mud pies on each side of its giant skull, one smaller than the next as they came to two small round peaks. It’s eyes were dragged across its face and wrapped around the side of its head. Its eyes were yellow with pinpoint black pupils, no irises. Its nose was flat and wart covered with several large hair filled slits at the bottom. Its mouth was as wide as both eyes together and was curved upwards with a permanent smile. When it opened its mouth to talk, Allison could see it had two sets of teeth side by side, each with a small tongue inside. The two sets of teeth shared one throat but when it spoke, two voices came out, one high pitched and one deep, speaking different words but the same thoughts all at the same time. The demon wore a large cloak that went from its shoulders to the ground. Aside from its face, only its forearms and attached handless long fingers were visible outside of the cloak. They were long and appeared to be a combination of skin and wood. The demon clopped while walking, indicating it had large animal hooves for feet.
"Allison, are you OK!” Allison's father shouted as he knocked on the door.
"Allison, we heard banging. Is everything OK?" He asked a second time. He banged a little louder on her on her door. He gave the door knob a turn. It was locked.
Another bang on the door. "Allison!"
The sun was coming up now and her father was very worried. He woke up his wife and they both went back to Allison’s door.
”Allison, it's your mother. Please answer us!” She said as she banged on the door.
“I’ll get the key and open it up.”
Alison's father went into his room and came back with the key that opened her bedroom door. When they open the door they saw Alison's chair in front of her desk lying on its side. Her knife was opened up on the edge of her desk. Her window on the other side of the room was completely open The glass was shattered, the curtains were torn off, the curtain bar was dangling, only connected on one side above the window frame. Even parts of the wood window frame were smashed, and chunks of drywall were missing from the sides. Alison's father ran over to the window and screamed Allison’s name. There was nobody outside. The sun has just come up and the neighborhood was quiet. Even the morning dog walkers hadn't come by yet. Allison's father looked on the ground and saw the remnants of the window, the curtain, and a few spots of blood on the sidewalk below. He shout it again, "Allison!" He turned towards his wife who was standing in the hallway in disbelief, "Allison's gone. Call the police!”
Clop clop clop clop. The demon dropped Allison on the ground. Allison slowly made it to her feet. The light was blinding, but within a few seconds her eyes adjusted. She was in enormous white room that seemed to go on forever. She didn't see a wall for the end of the room in any direction. They were hundreds of people standing in lines in every direction. All around were stacks of papers of different heights from about knee high to over ten feet tall. There were also lots of boxes lying around, some of them open, some of them closed. Some of the open ones had papers in them, some had old machine parts that were unrecognizable. Above was bright white. There was no ceiling, but no real sky either. It was very breezy and loose papers floated around the room.
She looked up at the demon and he was walking away.
"Hey! You're leaving me!” she screamed. "Hey! Where are you going!?! Why did you take me here?"
The demon kept walking away. Allison started to follow it. The demon picked up its pace. Suddenly an arm grabbed Allison on the shoulder.
"Where do you think you're going?"
Allison turned and looked at the person who grabbed her. It was a middle-age woman with green skin. “What's going on?” Allison cried. “Why am I here?”
“Don't give me that. You know why you're here. You need to get to work.” The green woman said.
“Work? What do you mean work?”
“Oh geez, not another one of these,” as the green woman put her palm into her face.
“Please, tell me why am I here! What is going on?”
“I’ll have his lordship speak with you, but you need to get to work right now.”
“No, no! Just do what you're told!”
“I haven't been told anything!”
“OK, all these people in line,” the green woman paused as she pointed around the room, “are going to their next destinations. Every once in a while someone steps out of line, and it's your job to make sure they get back in line. So if you see someone getting out of line, go over to them, get their attention, and order them back in line.”
“That's it?” Asked Allison.
“But what if I don't want to do that. I still don't even know why am here.”
“His Lordship will be here soon. Get to work.” said the green woman as she walked off.
The police came to Allison's home. They sorted through everything. They questioned the family. Everyone was a suspect. Eventually the family members were ruled out as suspects in Allison's disappearance, but there were no clues as to who would've taken her. Missing person signs went up across town, and eventually across the county and the state. Outside, the blood stains and the shattered debris on the ground offered no clues. There were no fingerprints. All of the blood belonged to Allison. Eventually days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and still no clues. Occasionally a Jane Doe would show up in a hospital or a morgue. Every time this happened Allison's father and mother would brace themselves for the worst, but it was never Allison.
Allison sat down on the white tile floor and cried. She wasn't about to work for anybody, she just wanted to go home. While she was crying, she looked down and saw the saw shards of glass sticking out of her arm. The blood around it was still bright red, but it was dry. She tried to remove one of the larger shards of glass, but it was stuck. She gave it a harder tug but it simply wouldn't come out. Suddenly there was a bright white light. Allison close her eyes and looked up. There was a white smoky haze in the air, and as it cleared up she could see a gathering of figures around her. They were five tall people, and one very short person in the group. The four taller people had different levels of green complexions. They were all in different stages of decomposition. The fifth figure was a short old wrinkled man, with gray skin and equally gray hair. Even as the smoke dissipated, smoke still poured out of the small man’s skin, clothes, and hair. He had an angry scowl on his face.
"Allison Thomas?”, the old man gruffly said.
Allison looked up.
“Get up!” the short man yelped. Allison got to her feet.
"Why aren't you working?”
“Why am I here…" Allison tried to reply but was abruptly cut off.
“You don't get to ask the questions here!” came a deep booming voice out of the small man’s mouth. His voice was so loud the whole room vibrated for a few seconds after he stopped speaking. Papers flew up in the air and the bustling sound within the room was suddenly silenced.
And then in a quieter tone, “Allison Thomas, why aren't you working?"
“Because I don't understand what all of this is. Some large monster grabbed me and took me here. I want to go home.”
"Well you should've thought about that before you ended things" he replied. “These souls here are your immediate supervisors. If you do what you're told, you'll be given other tasks. Improve and perhaps you’ll make it to supervisor level before your sentence is done. Now do what you're told and get to work. I don't want to have to come here and have this discussion again.”
The small man snapped his finger and a giant puff of white smoke came out. When the smoke dissipated, there was one supervisor left. It was a tall frail woman who was very green and who's eyes were sunken and blood red.
"I wouldn’t make his Lordship come back if I were you. Stand up.” She paused while Allison got to her feet. “Now follow me.”
“One more time Allison. Do you see all these people in line?” Allison nodded and the woman continued. “There's a line over there, two more over there. If they get out a line, go over to them and tell them to get back in line. That's it. Don't make me tell you again." The frail woman put her arm down, turned her back towards Allison and walked away. Allison stood silently for a few seconds and then she decided she had to ask a question. She followed the woman and yelled out “But wait, I just need to know what I'm doing here…" The woman turned corner around the big stack of papers. When Alice turned the corner, she was gone.
The search continued for years for Allison. Across the nation they were missing person reports, the FBI was involved, but still no clues. Allison’s sister no longer lived in town. Her friends from high school and college, who volunteered often in the beginning, had moved on with their lives. They still held out hope that Allison would be found, but their lives have just moved on. Allison's father was still working harder than anybody to find his daughter. Any time there was a clue, no matter where in the country, he traveled to that town and hung missing person signs. He spoke to countless news reporters, and was the one who best kept hope of Allison's return. Alison's mother was too grief stricken to be of much help. And her health began failing. Allison had been gone for almost 7 years when her mother finally passed away.
“Get back in line.” Allison mumbled to a random person who had taken a half a step out of line to see their surroundings.
"You're not green yet. You must be new."
Allison turned around and saw a slightly green young woman with a round chunk missing out of her temple. Here wound was surrounded by burnt flesh and the center was reddish black. Her skin was only slightly green, unlike the decomposed supervisors, and her eyes still looked like their natural color.
"Don't yell at me, I'm doing my job,” said Allison.
"Oh, I'm not yelling at you, I'm a line monitor too. I'm Rosie, what's your name?"
“So, you're new here?"
"I feel like I've been here for years." replied Allison.
"Well, your skin is still naturally colored, and the blood on your wounds is still bright red." Rosie said as she pointed.
"I don't know anything. Nobody tells me anything. I don't know why I'm here. I want to go home.”
Rosie looked back at her sympathetically.
Allison continued, “Do you know where I am? How do I get out of here?"
"Whoa slow down. Were you sleeping during your orientation?" Asked Rosie.
Rosie laughed. “Wow, his Lordship is really letting things slide. Don't tell him I said that though.”
“Lordship? Is that God?"
Rosie laughs again “No, he's just a main supervisor for this region. Above him? I have no idea who is in charge. No one has mentioned that."
"So why am I here? Do you know?" Allison asks again.
"Well of all of us workers are here because we committed suicide. This is some sort of punishment until one day we're allowed to get back in one of those lines. I don't know where the lines go. No one seems to know that. This is just some big clearinghouse of souls as far as I can tell. I guess we'll find out some day."
"Suicide? I didn't kill myself. I was kidnapped by a monster in a cloak with wooden arms.”
Rosie paused and thought for a second. “That doesn't sound right. Maybe you don't remember it."
"I remember it as if it was yesterday.” Allison continued, “These cuts on my arm, those are from being thrown through my bedroom window by the monster that brought me here."
"Shhh! Green witch 3 o'clock.” Rosie turned and told somebody to get in line.
Allison saw one of the supervisors coming towards her. She turned to somebody in the line and said loudly, “…and stay in line”, put her head down and started to walk off. A few minutes later Allison found Rosie again.
“So that explains why I haven't turned green.” Allison blurted out.
"I'm not dead. Maybe there's a chance I can get out of here and go back to my life." Allison said, showing hope for the first time since she arrived.
“I don't think that's how it works.” Rosie said, “but if there's anybody who would know, it's his Lordship. He's ruthless though. I've never seen him answer a question from anyone. But perhaps when he sees you he will know something is wrong."
And one day it finally happened. Allison was working the lines, and in the distance she heard a familiar noise. Clop, clop, clop, clop. The hoof sounds grew louder and louder. Allison ran towards it. She turned the corner around a big stack of papers, and there he was, the demon who kidnapped her. Under his arm was a young man whose arms were covered in blood. The demon dropped him to the ground. Allison ran over to the demon.
“You kidnapped me!”
The demon open his mouth and with its deep voice bellowed, “I did no such thing!” and as his words came out of its mouth, a higher pitch voice laughed at her.
"I want my life back. Give me my life back!”
“Get to work" the demon groaned in a deep voice. And simultaneously in a high-pitched screech, “His Lordship is coming. He's going to make you work."
“Make him make me work!” Allison demanded.
The demon turned and started to walk away. Clop, clop clop. Allison was afraid she'd never see the demon again and she’d be stuck there forever. She took deep breath and ran at the demon and tried to wrap her arms around it. The demon pushed her off and kept walking away. Allison got to her feet and dove at the demon. She grabbed its cloak near the bottom. The demon dragged her for several feet. Allison screamed as loud as she could.
The demon turned around and shouted at Allison in a deep voice, “You're going to pay for this!” and in the heart high-pitched singing voice, “Ha! Ha! Ha! You're gonna pay-ay! You're gonna pay-ay!” Suddenly there was a blinding light. When Allison’s eyes adjusted, her and the demon were surrounded on all sides by smoke.
“Get off of him!” said the short wrinkled smoking man.
Allison released the demon’s cloak. The small man looked at the demon and asked, “What is going on here?"
“This ‘person’ accused me of kidnapping her and has demanded I ‘sent her back’.”
His Lordship looked at Allison and asked in a stern voice, “What are you doing?!”
Allison replied "I am not dead. I didn't commit suicide. This monster stole me. I want to go home."
"What is your name?” asked the little grey man.
"I am Allison Thomas"
The small man laughed. “There are quite a few Allison Thomases in the world.” He looked Allison in the eyes, and his pupils turned glowing red. She could feel his presence pulling information out of her brain.
"I know who you are. You've been here for a long time." He looks at the demon. “Kuhl, did you remove her from the world of the living before she had passed?"
Kuhl looked at the small man in the eye and with his deep voice said “She was going to die anyway, and I was on a tight schedule" and in the small voice while laughing “I really messed it up this time.”
The demon covered his mouth to silence the smaller voice.
“So you failed your orders.” His Lordship replied. “She goes back. And for your punishment, you have to stay with her. And you are not to be detected by other humans. Stay with her until she offs herself for good. Not one second sooner.”
The small man looked at Allison, paused, and turned back towards the demon. “Don't worry. It won't last long. They always come back.”
He then turned towards Allison, “Allison Thomas, enjoy your little bit of time back in the world of the living. Get those wounds seen to right away. We want it to be your choice when you return.”
Suddenly there was a blinding light. And in a few seconds, all the lines were back, along with the stacks of paper, and the little man was gone. But Kuhl was still there. He leaned over and grabbed Allison around the waist and lifted her up. He started walking. Clop, clop clop… Everything turned bright white. Allison's eyes adjusted. She was in front of her house. Clop, clop, clap. The demon dropped her on the ground. Allison looked up and she was on her front lawn looking up at her bedroom window. The window had been fixed. "You better fix those wounds so you don't bleed out" and the laughing high-pitched voice screamed out, “You don't want to die just yet!” Clop, clop, clap. Allison looked down at her wounds. They were bleeding again. She turned back around and the demon was gone.
Allison stood up. She was bleeding from the arms badly and needed help. She ran to the front door and banged on it. The door opened and standing in front of Allison was her father, but not as she remembered. He was now an old man.
"Allison!" Her father exclaimed, “Is it really you?"
"It's me dad. It’s really me.”
He put his arms around his shoulders. "Allison, I miss you so terribly.” he looked down. “We have to get you to a hospital".
They got into her father’s car and drove to the nearest hospital. The doctors were able to clean up her wounds. The hospital wanted to keep her overnight for observation, but said she could go home in the morning. While Allison was being treated, her father called the police, and family and friends, and told them what was going on. When she was in recovery, she found out from her father that her mother had passed. Allison was devastated. She cried in her father’s arms. He cried too.
Then the police showed up. The police spent some time alone in the hospital room questioning Allison on where she had been for the last twenty years. She told the police that she had been kidnapped by a man in a large cloak, and had spent years being forced to work in a factory. She was afraid if she told the police everything she would end up in a psychiatric ward, and wouldn't be able to go home.
Then one of the officers said, “Allison, you've been gone for 20 years.”
"You have. That makes you 40 years old. You are not a 40-year-old woman. Why don't you tell us who you really are.”
"I swear I'm Allison Thomas. I know everything about me. I can tell you anything."
One of the officers pulled out his cell phone, turned the camera on in reverse. He held it towards her. “Look at you. Can you see why we don’t believe that you are a 40 year old woman. You can’t be a day over 20. We're eventually gonna find out who you are. Why don’t you make it easy on yourself.”
Allison stared in disbelief at her face in the phone. “That’s the strangest mirror I’ve ever seen” she said. Allison was totally confused as she had not seen any new technology in 20 years.
The officer grabbed his phone and put it back in his pocket.
“We have Allison’s fingerprints, dental records, and a DNA sample. And soon enough will have your fingerprints, we'll find out who you are. Why don't you make it easier on us and tell us now?”
“But I told you the truth…”
The officers stepped back and talked amongst themselves.
After anxiously waiting in the hallway outside of the hospital room, a police officer came out and sat down next to Allison’s father. They explained to him that this was not her daughter and it must be an imposter. The girl in that hospital room is about 20 years old. If Allison were still alive today, she would be 40. It's just not possible that is her. Her father was so upset. He couldn’t imagine why anyone would do this to him. Also, he was sure this young girl looked exactly like Allison, she sounded exactly like Allison. When he held her in the hospital room, he just knew it was her. He was so confused.
"This can't be right. I know my daughter. I know her voice. I held her in my arms. I felt that for the first time in 20 years. I’ll never ever forget how that feels. It must be her.”
“We understand how hard this must be to accept, but it just can't be her. Some cruel person has done a very good job deceiving you. We're gonna find out who it is, and why they're doing this, so it doesn't happen again.”
Allison was put in the custody at the hospital. She was handcuffed to the railing next to her bed. She fell asleep that night crying.
"Wake up!” “He-he-he, yeah wake up you!”.
Allison knew those voices. She opened her eyes and Kuhl was sitting on the foot of her bed. Allison screamed at the top of her lungs. She pulled on her arm to try to release it from the cuff and the whole bed shook as she pulled in vane. She turned over as best as she could so she wouldn't have to face the demon, and she screamed for it to go away.
There was a bang on the door. She opened her eyes and the room was empty. The door opened. It was a security officer working outside of her room that evening
“What is wrong with you? You're gonna wake everybody up on this floor. Now go to sleep!” he slammed the door shut. Allison laid in bed awake that night, afraid to sleep.
At the police station that evening Allison's fingerprints were put into the system to look for a match. It was no surprise to the investigators that a match was quickly found. The surprise was who the fingerprints belong to. The fingerprints of the woman handcuffed to the hospital bed were the same fingerprints as Allison Thomas who went missing 20 years earlier.
The next morning the police asked Allison if they could also take x-rays of her teeth and compare it to her dental records.
"If I am who I say I am, may I go home?" she asked.
“If it's a match, you're free to go."
By mid morning Allison's father got word that the fingerprints were a match. He knew he was right, and he was so happy. He raced right back to the hospital to be with Allison. He stayed at her side throughout the day and soon enough they got the notice Allison was free to go.
That night, for the first time in 20 years, Allison slept in her own bed. Allison had just nodded off when she heard a rustling outside her bedroom window. She walked over to the window and made sure it was locked and closed the curtains. She quickly went back under the covers and tried to sleep.
"You can't hide under covers.” she heard in a deep voice, and at the same time in a high pitched screech, “Ha ha ha ha no place is safe!"
“Shut up and go away.” She mutter back.
There was a knock on the door. “Are you OK Allison?”
“I’m doing great Dad. I'll see you in the morning. Good night Dad.”
“Good night Allison.”
“Good night Allison,” Kuhl bellowed deeply while laughing at the same time in a high-pitched voice.
Allison spent the next few weeks adjusting to life back at home. Her father wanted her to re-enroll in school. Classes started in a few weeks. Allison thought that was a good idea. She had to start her life over somehow and classes were probably the best way to do that. Kuhl continued visiting Allison in the evenings when she was half asleep, and as she was waking up in the mornings.
“Hey Allison,” her father said one morning “I heard from your sister, she's so excited to see you.”
“Really? She hasn't called yet.”
“Well, we've been texting back-and-forth. She's anxious to see you. What about my brother? Does he know?”
“Yeah, I let him know. He's very busy with his life right now. I'm sure he'll be in touch shortly.”
That night there was a knock on the door Allison sister was there. She walked in and saw Allison sitting on the couch.
"Dad, you've been tricked. That's not Allison.” She paused as her father gave her a sad look. “It's an imposter. She's trying to scam you, get her out of here!”
"No, we've been through that. Her fingerprints match. Her dental records match. We just got DNA results back a couple days ago. This is definitely Allison."
“Hi Jeannie. it's so nice to see you.”
"Shut up, you don't know me!” Her sister snapped back.
"I do know you pretty well. Unfortunately you haven't changed." Allison said angrily.
"Dad, if you let this scam artist stay with you, that's on you, but I can't stay here. Allison is dead. You need to give it up and move on. This person is going to take everything you have and I can't stand around here and watch it." Her sister turned around and walked out the front door, slamming it as she went. And Allison never saw her again.
"I'm so sorry Allison” her father said “She'll come around. You know how stubborn she is".
"It's OK dad. She's never treated me well anyway. I'll be OK." Allison said sadly.
"How about I go in the kitchen and make us a couple milkshakes?"
"Sounds great dad.”
Her father left the room. Allison picked up the remote control and turned on the television. Kuhl was on the screen. The little voice was laughing and singing, “Ha-ha-ha-ha you're an imposter. No one believes you.” “Come on back Allison. We’re waiting for you. Get it over with tonight. The knife is still in your drawer.”
Allison's father popped back in the room. She turned her head and he was standing there with milkshakes.
“Oh Allison, that’s my girl. You put on the football game.” Allison turned her head back towards the television and Kuhl was gone. On the screen was the Sunday night football game.
The next week was mostly uneventful for Allison. Outside of her nightly visits from her demon. The next Monday morning Allison was sitting in a cafe by herself drinking her morning coffee. A young man in his early 20's walked in and looked at Allison as if he already knew her. He glanced at a newspaper clipping that he pulled out of his pocket and walked over to Allison's table.
"Are you Allison Thomas?" he asked.
“Maybe, who wants to know?" Alison replied smiling. She thought he was cute and hadn’t had a guy approach her since she’d been back.
The young man laughed. "Sorry Allison. I guess I should've introduced myself first. My name is Jason Meadows. I read about your story, and I thought we would have a lot in common."
Allison frowned. She didn’t need reminders of her ordeal.
“And why is that?" She asked.
"I spent over five decades in the white room. The little smoking man let me come back. If this sounds familiar we should talk. If it doesn't, I'm sorry I wasted your time.”
Allison was speechless. She took a few breaths and responded "I'm sorry Jason, you seem like an… interesting person, but I think you're wasting my time."
“OK then,” Jason said, “I’ll go. But the demon who follows you won't go. He's going to win unless you do something about it."
Allison shut her eyes for a second and reopened them but tried not to make eye contact.
"Enjoy your day Allison.” Jason turn to walk away.
"Wait!” she shouted, “How do you make it go away?"
Jason turned around and sat down across from Allison.
“I’ll tell you everything I know to help.”
There were now people seated at tables to each side of them.
Jason look around, lean in and whispered, “You'll have to kill it. I'll tell you how I killed mine. It’s a little too crowded right here for this story. Can we meet later?”
“Yes. There are tables on the sidewalk right outside of this café, and around 5 o'clock nobody is sitting at them.”
“OK” Jason said, “I will meet them then.”
“So five decades? Wow I how did you make it out?”
“56 years exactly. I ran into the smoking man by accident. He was giving a lecture to one of his supervisors and I stepped in between them. And then I said to him, "I've been here for decades and I haven’t aged. I'm not one of your dead people.” Jason chuckled and continued. “He went into an absolute rage. He did that thing with his glowing red eyes, and then he stopped suddenly. He summoned the demon who brought me there and forced it to bring me back.”
“Wow!” Allison said, “And when you came back, where was your family?”
“The only family who ever knew me was gone except for my older sister. She was still alive at the time. She was in her 80s. When I re-introduced myself I told them I was my father’s son, Jason Jr.”
Jason paused and continued, “I told them that my father ran away and lived off the grid for many years. He eventually reemerged during a difficult winter looking for food and work. He met a woman and started a family. I was his only child and he had recently passed away.”
“They believed it?” Allison asked.
“They were suspicious at first, but we did one of those DNA tests and I proved myself to be one of their relatives.”
“So they believe you now?”
“Yeah, now they do. The only person who really doubted my story afterwards was my sister. My sister didn't believe I was my father’s son. She told me so when I was visiting her at the senior center where she was living. When the other family members left one day, and it was just the two of us sitting there, she leaned over to me and asked if I remembered her stuffed animal Larry. And without thinking I laughed and said ‘Yeah I had her little sister Betty. They were the coolest toys weren't they?’ She looked at me and she said ‘I knew it was you all along Jason. I knew you didn't have a son. I don't know how this happened but I'm so glad or paths have cross again’.”
“Wow! She knew?!”
“Yeah somehow she knew. I don't know how but she just knew.”
“My dad knew too when the police doubted me. He just didn't believe them.” Allison continued. “I think that's why we're still here. We had the person who loved us, who remembered us, who wouldn't let our demon win.”
Allison then shared her story with Jason.
“So when you came back, did you have a demon follow you too?”
“Yes Allison, I killed mine, and you'll have to do the same thing to yours if you're going to be free of it.”
Allison looked downward and frowned.
“Listen,” Jason said, “I have to go to work.”
“You're working? In town?”
“Yeah I'll probably be here for a few weeks, so I picked up a job stocking shelves at the the grocery warehouse. I have more to tell you. Can we meet tomorrow?”
“I don't know about tomorrow, but Wednesday is good.”
“Right here before the crowds pick up?”
“Yes” she smiled. “I’ll see you here Wednesday at 7am.”
Allison was in good spirits that evening. She was brushing her teeth before bed, looked in the mirror, and saw Kuhl standing behind her. She spun around fast, but he wasn’t there. She closed her eyes, reopened them, and continued brushing her teeth.
“Jason is lying. He wants you for one thing.” “Hanky panky, Hanky panky” sang Kuhl’s high pitched second voice.
Allison spit her toothpaste out and started saying “No, no, no, no…” to drown out the voices. And suddenly it was silent. As she laid in bed that night, she heard both voices laughing and the clopping of hooves outside her home. She cried herself to sleep.
“Hey Allison, you look tired.”
“I’m fine.” she said.
“He visits you at night, when you’re alone and vulnerable, doesn’t he. My demon did the same to me.”
“You got rid of yours?”
“I was at a low point weeks after I returned. I was working on my family’s property cleaning up some overgrown weeds behind the barn, and I had a meltdown. I sat on a bale of hay and cried. I yelled out that I couldn’t take it anymore. That’s when my demon showed himself in person. Then something just snapped inside of me. Instead of feeling worse, I gat angry. I picked up a pitchfork and shoved it into the demon. One of the tines went right through its heart.”
“And it died?”
“Not right away. He was still moaning and shouting obscenities at me, so I picked him up, with the pitchfork still in him, and dropped him in the dry well about 20 yards behind the barn. I then cut open the bale of hay and dropped several large handfuls into the well. It was really hot and hadn’t rained all summer. Everything was so dry. I went into the barn and found a gas can. I poured it into the well, lit a cloth on fire and dropped it in.”
Jason continued, “I then heard a scream like I’ve never heard before. A tornado of fire came out of the well and shot right up to the sky. There was a blinding white light and then the tornado disappeared into a single point in the sky. The fire was gone, and there were no remains of the demon. I never heard from it again.”
“That’s horrific.” She paused, half smiling. “I don’t even have a pitchfork.”
“I’m not sure you need one. A sword perhaps.”
“What? Really?” She put her face in her palm.
The cafe was starting to get busy again.
“We should meet again.” said Jason.
“Ok.” Her eyes were still closed with her hand in her palm. She looked up.
“Why are you here? I mean, you could just go on, you’ve escaped, your demon is gone.”
“I was hoping to find someone like me. I’m alone.” Jason chuckled and continued, “The 'previously-possessed' dating sites are full of weirdos.”
Allison laughed out loud. “I can only imagine. I’m glad you found me.”
We can talk later? Yeah, I get off of work at 5.
"So your job is good? Are you staying here for a while? Is this home now?”
“It’s ok, yes, and no, just for a short time.” Jason continued, “After my sister passed, I inherited a property out west near a mountain lake. It has a small raspberry farm, and in the summer the town is alive with lots of tourists and second home owners. I feel like it’s a great place to start over."
"Yeah, that sounds nice. I wish I could start over. I'd certainly like to run away from here.”
“You can Allison, but not while you still have that demon chasing you. You'll have to kill it first."
"I just don't know if I can do it."
"Then it will win, and he'll take you back. You're not the first person I found who has escaped from the white room. Every other escapee has gone back. I don't want you to go back.”
"I don't either" replied Allison.
“Allison, when I saw you here for the first time I felt you were going to be a special part of my life. I don’t want to see the demon win.”
Kuhl was now desperate. The more Allison met with Jason, the more she felt like she had something to live for. The hauntings continued every night. Allison saw her demon in mirrors, heard it on speakers, saw its reflection in windows and shiny objects everywhere, and at all hours, even in public. Allison grew very tired and emotionally weak. She saw Jason several times a week. They got to know each other well and they really bonded. But Allison had grown more tired and more frazzled each time they saw each other.
"Allison, I'm very worried about you.” Jason said “He's getting the best of you. You're gonna have to do this. I don't want him to win."
"I don't want him to win either. I just don't know how to get him in front of me. And if I did, I'm not sure if I'd be strong enough."
"You can do it Allison.” Jason paused, “You're so tired. Why don’t you go home and try to rest. Can I meet you at your place first thing in the morning? I want to make sure you're OK. I’m worried about you.”
"Sure. I'll see you in the morning"
That night as Allison laid in bed, she could hear Kuhl's clopping on the sidewalk outside of her house. It seemed to last forever. The clop clop noise kept getting louder and louder. Allison turned over and wrapped a pillow around their head to muffle the noise, but she could still hear it. And then she heard his voice loud and clear.
“You can't hide from me Allison. It's time to go back. Jason can't save you. I'll be with you forever.” Kuhl said this as the little voice was laughing in the background.
Allison sat up and looked around. There was no one there. Her room was silent. She started to cry silently, trying not to wake up her father. When she stopped crying she just sat there for a moment in the silence. She heard the clopping again. In the distance she heard a deep voice say, “It's time Allison. It's time to go back, end it now.”
Allison got out of bed and went over to her desk. She fumbled with the lamp on her desk for a moment and then she flipped the switch on. She opened the desk drawer and found the old folding knife. She pulled it out and opened it up. She sat there for a minute looking at it and then she heard the voice right behind her.
“Do it Allison.” “Yeah do it!” with a shrieking laugh coming from the little voice, both speaking simultaneously.
Allison turned around and there was Kuhl sitting on the edge of her bed.
“It's time Allison.” said the single deep voice.
It was very quiet for a moment. Allison reached behind her and grabbed the lampshade off of her lamp and said “Catch!” And then she threw it at his face. Kuhl had great reflexes and caught the shade in front of his face. He lowered it and said “Did you really think…"
And as Kuhl was lowering the shade, Allison with the lamp gripped upside down like a sledgehammer, smashed the marble base on top of the demon’s head. Kuhl dropped to the ground. His head was split into in two. He push the parts of his head back together and cried out.
“Why would you do that?” The smaller voice was crying hysterically in the background.
“Why would I do that? “Why!”
Kuhl cried openly in both voices. He attempted to sit up and Allison took another swing. This time the marble base hit the demon on the side of the temple and his head and brain splattered across the room. There was demon blood everywhere, including all over Allison. Kuhl laid on the floor breathing heavily in both pitches at the same time. One eye was closed, the other was missing from its head. It did not say a word. Allison just stood there and stared for a moment, and then she was interrupted buy a series of small knocks at her bedroom window.
Allison looked out of her bedroom window and saw Jason on the ground below. She open the window.
“Jason, what are you doing here?”
“Did you do it?” He pointed upward. “There's a white ball in the sky. Is that from you?”
Allison looked confused and tried to look up, but she couldn't see it through tree branch that overhung her bedroom window.
Allison ran downstairs and out the front door.
“What's going on Jason?”
He pointed at the sky. There was a bright white ball in the sky about 10 times the size of the moon. “When I saw it, I was afraid they had taken you. So I came right away. Did you kill it?”
“I think so.”
“Did you stab it in its heart?”
Allison froze for a moment and then turned around and ran back inside.
She ran into the bedroom. Kuhl was on the ground trying to push a severed piece of his head on top of his exposed brain that was pumping out blood. Allison saw her knife sitting on her table and grabbed it. “Come with me Allison,” Kuhl mumbles, “It's not too late.” Allison jumped on top of the dying demon and dug the knife into its chest. Blood squirt everywhere again, including in Allison’s nose and mouth. She spit and snorted in disgust, and then looked down and saw Kuhl’s heart had popped to the surface. It was large, red, and still beating. It was as if the Demon’s heart was trying to escape on its own. Allison grabbed the heart with her hand and and pulled it. It was connected by veins and sinews which she cut with her knife. She ran back downstairs and onto her front lawn a few feet away from Jason. She looked up at the white ball in the sky, and with the heart in her hand yelled out.
“Is this what you want!” and she took her knife and she stabbed the heart.
Then with all of her might she threw the heart at the white ball in the sky. The heart burst in the flames in mid air, and continued in a straight line toward the white orb, where it disappeared. Then there was a loud boom. Alice's window blew out, and a ball of fire came forth from it. All of the pieces of Kuhl’s body caught fire and were sucked into the light in the sky. Along with Kuhl’s body, every drop of blood caught fire. And dropped by drop the splatters separated themselves from Allison, even the ones in her nose, mouth, and hair. She felt the flames all over her body, but it did not burn her. For over a minute, every drop of blood caught fire and flew into the air towards the light. Her knife and hand caught fire last. When every drop of blood was burned and returned to the white ball in the sky, the white ball shrank until it disappeared.
Alice and Jason just stared at each other silently for a minute. Finally Jason said “Are you OK!? Did that burn?”
“No it didn't burn at all. Strange." said Allison.
“You did it” said Jason smiling.
Allison smiled too. “I guess I did.”
Every alarm in the neighborhood was now going off. There were shattered windows all over the neighborhood. The sun was just starting to come up, and the neighbors came out of their houses wondering what had just happened. Allison looked down and saw her knife on the ground. She picked it up and put it in her pocket. Her front door opened it was her father standing there.
“Allison! I heard the explosion. I was so afraid you would be gone again.”
“No, Dad. I'm here and everything's OK.”
“What was that?” Her father asked.
“I don't know, maybe a military plane?”
“Huh? I don’t think so.” her father said looking at the broken windows around the neighborhood. He looked at Allison's window and realized that was blown out as well. “You're not hurt, are you?”
“No,” Allison paused, “I think I'm fine.”
“Why didn't you come in and I'll make you breakfast. I’ll brew some coffee too. Tell your friend he can join us.”
Allison sips on her coffee, “Thanks Dad.”
“Yes, thanks Mr. Thomas.”
“Jason, please call me Hal. So Allison, this is your secret admirer you've been sneaking off to see early in the morning, and skipping our morning coffee?”
Allison chuckles “Maybe.”
“So what are you do Jason?”
“For the next couple weeks I'll be working at the grocery warehouse in town, but I'm heading out at the end of the month.”
“Oh that's too bad.” said Allison's father.
“You're leaving so soon?” asked Allison.
“Yeah, I could stay for a little bit longer if you like. But my new life is calling me. I have my family’s property. It has a small farm I need to tend to. Raspberry season is almost here. And I'd like to start a business there too. Do you wanna come with me Allison?”
Allison somewhat expected this moment, but she was unprepared anyway “I… I… I'm not really sure. I'd love a chance to start over. I'm not sure if I can leave my dad.”
“Your Dad will be just fine.” replied Allison's father. He smiled and continued, “We do have phones, and you're allowed to come back and visit. Anytime.”
Jason said, “So we should get you a train ticket too?”
“I don't know. This is happening really fast.”
Two weeks later.
“It sure is beautiful out here.”
“It sure is Allison.”
The trees are passing them at about 65 miles an hour.
“I can't wait to show you the farm and the town. I can't believe your dad gave us the car.”
“I know.” Allison smiled. “I tried to turn it down, but he kept saying he needed a new one anyway.”
They enjoyed the scenery for another moment.
“Just a few hours left,” said Jason.
“OK, I think it's my turn to drive.”
“Pull over and we can switch seats.”
Door shuts. “This is it. Last leg of the trip.” Jason says, and they smile at each other. Allison and Jason arrived Jason's family farm. In the spring, they opened a small shop in town that sold jam, milkshakes, fresh berries, and souvenirs during tourist season. They spent the winters enjoying each other's company.
And they lived happily ever after.