I had this story in my head for a while, but I struggled to develop it and not sound like a boring narrative. I hope it's worked.
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Sitting here in the little wooden chair, enjoying the sunrise for the first time in decades, I sighed: I was safe. I’d dreamt of this moment and it didn’t disappoint; my mind was my own again.
It hadn’t been easy getting here, a life-long mission, through many lives. Time after time attempts had been made to release me, but each time the demon had remained and gone on to create further pain and misery. But finally the right words and incantations had been found.
I could no longer remember a time before the demon, only when I had first spotted it. I had glanced in a mirror – a luxury item in that lifetime – and I could see it in my eyes: a dark reflection, a dullness that hadn’t be there before, something looking out that wasn’t a part of me. And then the thoughts had started: the paranoia, the thoughts telling me to hurt myself, the urge to hurt others, and the confusion about whether I had or not leading me to self-destruction or reclusion.
It leached onto others and turned them too. A few strong ones had resisted and identified the truth, so I developed a way to shackle my true essence to them and find them in the next life, hoping to harness their abilities to rid me of this thing. It hadn’t worked until now.
It was thanks to Emmie. She had persevered through the last seven lifetimes, edging closer and closer to the solution. She had tried spells and enchantments, sometimes distracting the demon, allowing me to return to myself for a few moments and regain my inner energy. And in those lucid windows she had taught me how to build my strength and increase my protective wall, pushing it out, making it more difficult for the demon to re-engage, even though it ultimately did, until the day her team had found the words.
In this lifetime, Emmie had been born into an academic family, one with a unique interest in alchemy with an extensive library on the practices of the black arts, including how to perform exorcisms. Once we had found one another again, I became her pet project and we went through rigorous tests and experiments trying to unhinge the thing. She brought in an entire team, determined to achieve it this time, each member bringing their own insight to the table.
When an invitation and airline ticket arrived by courier I didn’t hesitate, despite the noise in my head ramping up significantly. But I wasn’t going to hurt myself or hospitalise myself; I refused to accept that there was something wrong with me, or that I had a fear of flying, or that I was infectious and couldn’t be around other people. I just kept going, first into a cab and then to the airport, dowsing the worst of the torturous thoughts with booze on the flight.
It made the ensuing boat trip less enjoyable, but with my head hung over the side for the duration, vomiting, meant the voices couldn’t cut through the sick induced fog in my brain.
Once I arrived at the remote destination - a barely populated remote island - I was led through a series of instructions. With each one I could feel the demon rise and struggle, its panic increasing to a screaming pitch. The small group were aware of this and handled me as though I was no longer lucid, placing me in the chair and setting stones in a circle round it, placing each one with a different chant, tone, and language.
With the arrival of each one, I could feel my own energy rise and the demon’s being pushed out. It grappled for my mind, tearing thoughts of malice and hatred across it; screaming at me, screaming at them, monopolising my ability to think.
At the last stone, the group joined hands and synchronised the final invocation, turning in a circle, each stepping on the stone to push it further into the sand. And on the last word, it flew out of my brain like a cork from a bottle, leaving me exhausted but elated, back in control.
They left me to gather myself, telling me to take my time, encouraging and reassuring me that I would be safe outside of the circle too, but for the moment, this was where I wanted to be, remembering who I was, ready to be my own person again.