The gigantic blue demon swims around me, engulfing
my entire body with its long tentacles.
Other demons of varying colors sparkle beyond, but
the horrifying blue apparition occupies all
my attention. I open my eyes, hoping the sights of
the everyday world will make it go away, but it
still slithers around me, unwilling to loosen its
grip. In a panic, I jump back into the nothingness,
certain I’m fortunate to escape with my life.
* * * * *
The world of the demons appears, and again I find
myself in the clutches of the blue monster.
The pungent smell makes me gag, and I am assaulted
with harsh tones that amplify my fear. My
own body parts are useless against these threats;
the more I kick and scream, the more the
crackling sounds and oppressive odors increase.
Beyond, I feel more demons, grating against my
skin and calling me with eerie voices. Words, with
meanings I don’t understand, sound foreign
above the din of the demons. I seek the place of
nothingness, and with profound effort, I plummet
* * * * *
Icy cold strikes my face—the world of the demons
knows no mercy. Overhead, a warm yellow
outlined in a gigantic mass of blue shimmers in the
distance. More demons, surely, but they’re
too far away to trap me. My feet move under my body,
seemingly of their own volition. The blue
demon encircles me, but for some reason, it lets me
run. It’s toying with me. Or is this my chance
for escape? I take conscious control of my own legs,
and run as fast as I can, hoping to get away
from the demon’s clutches. No matter how fast I go,
the blue shadow glides easily, never once
breaking contact. I head off onto uneven ground,
feeling the other specters chasing behind,
coming for me, trying to catch me. My anklebone
snaps as I lose my balance and trip over
something, and my face smashes into the rocky
terrain. Blood-red demons erupt from the
ground, grasping my leg and my face, producing an
avalanche of stale odors, raucous noises,
and pinprick sensations. Without control of my legs,
I take the only pathway available; I fall
back into the emptiness.
* * * * *
I awake to find the blue demon throttling me with
its mere presence. While sitting at a table, I
spot an object whose sharpened end catches my eye. A
weapon. It lies just within reach,
unguarded by demons. Although my ever-present
companion bathes my arms and hands in its
blueness, it doesn’t stop me from slowly moving my
hands toward the item on the table. I can’t
outrun the beast, but maybe I can kill it. The demon
always seems to know what I’m thinking, so
I’ll have to be very fast. With blinding speed I
steal the pointed object off the table and thrust the
tapered end through the demon’s tentacle, puncturing
my own hand in the process. The demon
shrieks, losing the blue color at the point of
impact, but another, angrier, red-hot demon fills in
the space, adding a painful peppery taste to the
sensory assault. A purple demon engulfs me,
calling out words laced with thrumming pulsations
and a dank odor. Unable to withstand the
three demons at once, I cascade into the oblivion
beyond this world.
* * * * *
During every waking moment, I feel the blue demon. I
can’t escape it. The purple one visits often
too, but never alone. Another presence, not a demon,
appears trapped by the purple hue, much
as I am by the blue. The entity shrouded in purple
brings warmth and calming sensations, and
makes me wonder if the demons aren’t all out to harm
me. Although I rarely stay in this world
long enough to give them a chance, I know that with
one brief constricting motion, they could. It
is better to escape to emptiness than die of
suffocation. Still, they haven’t managed to kill me so
far, and I am getting bigger. Perhaps it’s time to
find a way to defeat the demons.
I tried to eliminate the blue one by stabbing it,
but that didn’t work. Instead of dying, it
morphed into a more dangerous and frightening
menace. What if cutting off its air supply would
destroy it? It might be vulnerable through the air I
breathe. If I could block off my nose and keep
my mouth closed, it might die. Then I might be able
to stay present in this world, rather than
being continually forced to retreat into the
nothingness. I need to be in control. If this doesn’t
work, I don’t know what else to do. Today is the
Before the purple demon can react, I grab two small
spherical objects and shove one up
each of my nostrils. I clamp my mouth shut, making
sure no air can get through.
“Hunter, NO!” yells the individual with the purple
demon, and they both rush to protect
the blue demon. They carry me, thrashing wildly, to
the place where I always go after trying to
destroy the demons. I lost again. The emptiness
takes me without remorse.
I keep my eyes closed, but it doesn’t help. They’re
here. I still see the sparkling colors. My empty
hands feel textures. I smell odors and taste flavors
even though my mouth is empty. I can’t stop
any of it. If I open my eyes, the sensations
superimpose themselves on the sights all around me.
The demons. They’re out to get me. But I never let
them; as soon as they get close enough, I
retreat inside myself, where they can’t follow.
Safety awaits me in the emptiness, and I go there
whenever the fear grips me. I visit this world—the
one outside myself—infrequently, because the
demons are always there, ready to pounce. They
bombard me with their myriad of unwanted
sensations. Falling off into my own private universe
* * * * *
Today I stayed in the world of the demons.
“Are you his mother?” asked the voice with the
orange radiance seated behind the
“Yes,” the one with purple answered.
“Fill out these forms and wait over there.”
“Yes, certainly. Thank you.”
My mother emitted a harsh sound that made my skin
tingle, spoiling the warm purple
glow. The demon around me, mostly its normal cool
blue, contained an additional spicy, blurry
red splotch near my wrist, which hung at a strange
angle in relationship to the arm above it. I
knew something was wrong, but I didn’t remember what
happened or why it looked like that
now. Thoughts of any kind barely registered amid the
uproar of activity that attacked my senses.
The pandemonium only worsened when a woman dressed
in loose-fitting pajamas approached.
She brought warm demons of white and orange. When
she called, “Hunter Miller,” my mother
responded with a wave.
We walked away from the dozen or so demon-infested
people to another room, which
made it slightly easier to think. The shock of
surviving in this chaotic world so long rattled
through me just like the demons themselves. I rarely
lasted more than a few moments in this
terrifying universe, and it felt like hours already.
The woman looked at me. “Hi, Hunter. How old are
I didn’t look at her. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t
“He’s nine,” my mother said.
“What brings you into the Emergency Department?” the
woman asked as she turned
toward my mother.
“Hunter is a special-needs child, and he fell off
the bed, landing on his hand. Like this,”
my mother said, as she held her arm out in front of
her, miming a fall onto her outstretched hand.
About the Author
DARIN C. BROWN spent the last twenty years saving lives as an emergency medicine physician in New Hampshire and Maine. His master’s degree in biomedical engineering and PhD in biophysics helped him conceptualize Hunter’s astounding capabilities. When he’s not writing, he directs Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, including the biannual shows on the Conway Scenic Railroad. In addition to his varied academic interests, he competes at the national level in master’s track. He currently resides in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with his wife, Dr. Sandra Brown, and their many pets.