Happy Halloween! And welcome to the last of our four, free short stories to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Falling into the Five Senses anthology!
Written by the Five Senses anthology authors, Maria Carvalho, Cedrix E. Clarke, Reena Dobson and Roger Jackson, these short stories focus on the ‘sixth sense’. The sixth sense theme was the brainchild of Roger Jackson (thank you Roger!) and is the result of the ‘five senses’ theme of the anthology’s launch ‘falling’ into the traditionally other-wordly, spooky moods of October!
If you can’t wait, and you’d like to buy the Five Senses anthology right this very minute, you can do so here.
This week’s offering is–very appropriately given the Halloween timing–by the Remarkable Roger Jackson! Enjoy!
by Roger Jackson
It’s never the ones you expect.
I’ve had my ability to see the demons inside people for as long as I can remember, and I learned very quickly that the ones that cultural norms might consider the usual suspects – the serial killers, the warmongers, or the kids with the pentagram tattoos and the metal band tunes in their ears – they’re never the ones with an honest to goodness devil lurking behind their eyes.
No, that’d be too easy. The dull spark of possession or hosting is more likely to be found in the eyes of the pure, or the virtuous, or the pious. It’s more fun for the devils that way, I think. A soul is sweeter if one has the power to corrupt it.
I can see it, feel their presence in the hollows of an innocent heart, smell the infernal dust on their breath, like the biomarkers of some insidious tumour. With a horrible gallows humour, I’ve christened my ability my Six-Six-Sixth Sense.
I know what you’re thinking. There’s going to be a twist. I’m going to be crazy, paranoid, a murderer with a delusional motivation. You’re thinking I’ve killed innocent people, used a gun or a blade to slaughter them.
Nope, I’ve never used weapons like that, and your delusion that I’m crazy would be impossible to maintain if you’d seen one of the possessed erupt into flame when I speak the necessary incantations.
I can’t catch them all, of course, like that phone game the kids play. Some of them are on the other side of the world, or are famous and rich, surrounded by bodyguards, but I always know, even from looking at a photograph, always see the beast inside.
No, I can’t take down every demon I see, but sometimes I’ll see a snapshot of a missing person online or in the newspaper and it’ll be there, that hellish light in the eyes, and I’ll know that they’re missing because someone like me has found them.
It would’ve been easy to let my ability isolate me, unmoor me from the world, but no, I’ve been lucky enough to find a good life, to make the good things happen. I married my childhood sweetheart, a wonderful woman who accepts my seemingly casual interest in the occult as a quirky pastime. I have a nice house, which more importantly feels like a home. I have a good job, regional manager of a moderately successful electronics firm. I’m aging well enough, I think, hitting my late-thirties with a good head of hair and a healthy body. I enjoy a decent beer and a roast dinner and novels about the Old West, and every demon in Hell knows my name.
I always wondered if they’d strike back, always wondered why they didn’t. And now … I know why. Now, I know they were waiting.
They used it against me, you see, twisted my ability to see the demons wherever they might appear, be it in the flesh, or on celluloid, or in the flat planes of a photograph.
My wife is smiling, excited, chattering away as she gets dressed. I am silent, trying to hold back a scream as I stare at the printout, stare at the grainy ultrasound image of our unborn child and see a monster.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this creepy gem of a story, you can read the other free sixth sense stories below: