Tammy huddled in the corner of her bedroom, drew her knees up and buried her nose between them. One black light bulb cast a dim glow into the otherwise darkened room. Her parents’ angry voices boomed through the wall.
“She’s out of control! It’s time that she find somewhere else to live.”
He hates me.
“John, she’s only fifteen. You can’t throw her out.”
Maybe I’ll save him the trouble.
She turned up the music screaming through her headphones and squeezed her eyes shut. This drowned out the shouting, but not the other voices in her head.
Just kill yourself. No one wants you.
Tammy’s head throbbed and she wanted to scream. Reaching under her bed, she slid out a box. Tears dripped from her chin and soaked her flannel pajama pants as she pulled out a stained towel and a razor blade.
The demons salivated in anticipation of blood. Doeg, head of the legion, inhaled the salty scent of human tears and smiled. It had been so easy to enter her; they simply floated in with the evil lyrics that pulsed without ceasing through her headphones or mingled with the marijuana smoke she sucked into her lungs. She was so vulnerable— lonely and self-loathing. Now, they controlled her.
“Come on,” he hissed, “cut yourself.”
Tammy lifted her top, revealing a stomach scarred with lines like railroad tracks, the one closest to her ribcage still healing. She dragged the blade just above it, with enough pressure to slice the skin. A line of red appeared in the razor’s wake. She cut a little deeper, made this line longer than the last, and watched indifferently as the liquid dripped down her side and pooled on the towel. Her heartbeat slowed; with cutting came relief.
The demons cackled. Doeg shrieked with delight. This game never ceased to thrill him. Destruction was intoxicating. Mortals were made in the image of God. Destroying them was the next best thing to the impossible act of destroying Him. The legion had been at this for millennia.
As Tammy slashed at her stomach, Doeg recalled the man they’d tormented in the tombs. The tool was a sharp rock rather than a razor, but the excitement was the same.
And the boy they possessed. How fun it had been to send him stumbling into fires. Doeg sniffed hungrily remembering how the stench of burning flesh filled his nostrils.
Those stories ended badly, but this one would not. His eyes darted about the room until they rested on a cigarette lighter.
Troubling images filled Tammy’s head. Girls taunting her, ridiculing her black clothing and body piercings. Another boy who’d used her and left.
The cutting wasn’t enough. A lighter caught her eye. She picked it up, turned it over in her hand, then flicked it to life and held the flame below her forearm. Her stomach lurched as pain seared her flesh.
“Oh God help me!” she whimpered.
The demons quivered as the tiny hairs on Tammy’s arm sizzled, the foul smell of burning hair filling the air.
Tammy dropped the lighter. The noise in her ears was suddenly too much. She turned down the volume and twisted the tuner in search of something mellow. Through the static, a deep voice emerged. “Come to Me, all who are weary…”
Doeg cringed. “NO! Not that station. Change it Tammy!”
Tammy let go of the knob though and lay back.
“I will give you rest…”
A nervous quiet settled over the legion.
The radio voice continued. “You might feel there’s no hope, but there is. Jesus Christ…”
The name was like an explosion, knocking the demons backwards.
Tammy turned up the volume, her brow crinkled. The man was talking about blood—Jesus’ blood.
“You might think you’re too bad to be loved by God, but that’s not true. Jesus Christ,” the demons moaned and covered their ears, “shed His blood for you. He wants to help.”
Tammy stared down at her vandalized mid-section. The soothing voice invited her to call for help, 1-800-NEW-LIFE. She reached for the cordless phone with a shaking hand. The demons struggled to their feet, preparing to attack. Doeg was screaming orders. “Don’t let her! Use whatever you can—fear, shame, lies…”
Just then a song came on, the chorus repeating that awful name, Jesus, again and again. The demons watched helplessly as Tammy dialed the phone. They’d lost control. Someone on the other end picked up and Tammy began to sob. “I need help.”
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