These Four Walls


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In 2011, I started writing a story about a woman living in a house who is being visited by demons every night and getting raped by them. This was inspired by a friend who was (and probably still is) having to live through this. After I wrote the first couple sections here, I wound up getting a roommate and my social life kind of exploded and I just haven’t had the time to come back. Now I’ve forgotten a lot of the mood that I wanted to portray with this. I still remember the actual events I was going to write out to conclude it but I can’t quite remember how I wanted it all to feel, so I decided not to return to this story.

However, yesterday I was looking through old drafts and found this and was surprised that I really like what I’ve done with it so far, so I figured I’d post what I have and finish it off with the outline I had in mind.

This story is kind of told from the perspective of the woman’s house. You still see inside the characters heads and you still have only one POV character at a time, but all the events of the story occur in the home and I think my plan was that in the end she would have some kind of communication with the house and it would help heal her of the delusions she was so convinced were real demons.

So here it is:

2011.

After midnight the demons would make contact and promise they were about to rape her. Most nights she would fight, her soul crying out in fury, but blocked deep in sleep. She would rise and walk to the living room to stand motionless for unknown periods of time, staring at Simon’s urn above the fireplace, blocking every other part of her mind. She would pray to wake, plead for morning, but remain, seemingly for hours, in a daze, aware she was dreaming and sleepwalking, but unable to do anything about it. She would awaken exhausted, sometimes on the couch in the living room, sometimes in the den, the porch swing, and occasionally, David’s old room.

Other nights it would prove too much and Susan would give up, prepare for the pain and humiliation, then wait for it. The spirits would invade her from the back of her mind, manipulating, distracting and tricking her with her own emotions. She would lie, half asleep, quietly sobbing, pleading with them to stop, but the more pain she felt the more they would laugh, the more they would tease, until finally, she had no choice but to bring them in, to ask them to get it over with, to sink into that helpless reality and accept that God had handed her soul to the demons for their pleasure.

They would refuse, telling her she had to beg for it. She had to want it. She had to need it. She had to fall into that pit of demonic desires and forgo everything good and pure, and allow her mind to become that of a slave. The spirits promised that someday the torture would prove too much for her, and she would fall, broken and sobbing to her knees, pleading for the revolting act that would provide that final release of acceptance at becoming a simple, degraded servant to the darkness that dwells at the bottom.

She would awaken terrified, exhausted, telling herself it wasn’t real, but forever thankful that she never took that final step. She would stagger to the kitchen, hit play on her husband’s video cassette, then sit at the computer in a daze to accept her gifts and tend her crops, pushing everything from her mind to think of nothing but gaining gold and experience on her farm.

Later in the day she would think about her nightmares. She would hear David screaming at her, attacking everything she cared about, telling her she was delusional, that all these experiences come ultimately from the church, from God, and the destructive conflicts that religion brings to the minds of believers. He told her the very thing she loved the most was a lie that had caused all the pain she was now experiencing. It was all just mental processes gone wrong, damaged and distorted from years of obsessive spirituality and prayer.

Perhaps there was no point to all this, there were no demons to blame, no angels to look toward. Perhaps all this was just her own thoughts. …and the rape… just her own blocked desires, buried through years of repression and an acceptable but unsatisfying marriage, from years of playing it safe, trying to be good, avoiding carnal pleasures, and for choosing sacrifice and devotion to God instead of embracing life. The torture could all be her own doing, all based on simple science and psychological processes.

But that demon was too horrible to be true.

——————————-

His father’s tortured screams echoed through his childhood home as David sat, rapping his fingers on the kitchen table. “Are you gonna play FarmVille all day, Mom?”

“I’ve just got to collect my gifts and harvest and visit some friends,” she replied absently, her eyes glued to the screen as though she needed to become one with the monitor.

“That’s gonna take you two hours. I thought we were gonna go out to eat.”

“I can make you grilled cheese and soup.”

He sighed. “No, I can make it myself. Don’t want you to lose out on any farming time.” He stood, but stopped to stare for a long moment at his father on the television in his hospital bed, his face contorted as he whimpered, burying his face in the pillow.

“Do you need anything?” Susan asked.

“Can I turn this off?”

“Why?”

David watched for another long moment. “I don’t like watching Dad dying. No wonder you see demons.”

“If I had a better video, I’d play that, but it never occurred to me that I’d lose him until he was lying there in the hospital. This is all I have of him.”

“Pictures,” David said.

“It’s 2011. I need more than pictures. I need to hear his voice.”

“But he’s in so much pain…”

“Yeah, but his voice still comforts me.” She glanced over her shoulder toward him. “Why do you need to criticize everything I do?”

“It’s just so… morbid. And I worry what this stuff might be doing to you.”

“Fine,” she replied. “You want to turn it off, then turn it off.”

“No,” he replied, stepping toward the refrigerator. “If you like it that much, I can deal… but…” he chuckled nervously. “Why can’t you watch Jeopardy like normal moms your age?”

“I’m not smart enough for Jeopardy.”

“Oh, don’t say that…”

“You know it’s true,” she replied. “I can be honest about it. You of all people should understand I don’t have the brain for that kind of thing. My mind is broken, like you always say.”

“I don’t say that. What I say is that we’re all imperfect products of evolution–”

“Here we go…”

“Our brains developed over millions of years of randomness, confusion, and animals bumping into each other. We’re never going to be perfect–we’re never even going to be rational–but we can find ways to deal with our minds the way they are if we have the courage to admit to ourselves how our lives really work.”

“It’s all about brains and chemistry to you.”

“We need to recognize that much before we can understand who we are and where we’re going as human beings.” He stared into the refrigerator. Nothing looked good. He wasn’t here to eat anyway.

He stood in silence for a long moment, listening to his father’s heavy, pained breathing, the background static of the video and the hum of the refrigerator.

“I like watching the video,” Susan said absently, followed by a long pause. “Maybe I can find a clue.”

“To why he was walking in the road?” David asked.

Another long pause. “Yeah.”

David slowly shut the refrigerator. “This isn’t Scooby Doo, Mom. Sometimes accidents happen. He just wasn’t thinking, wasn’t paying attention. It’s been three years. It doesn’t matter at this point.”

“I want to know.”

“I know you do.” He sat back at the table with a sigh and a scrape of the aluminum chair against the floor.

“I know you’re trying to find some way to blame it on our beliefs.”

David sighed as he stared at his mom’s back. She didn’t hate him. He knew that. She did, however, believe he might be sent from hell. Perhaps this was why she refused to look away from Farmville while in his presence. “I’m not trying to do that at all. Everyone makes mistakes, regardless of what they believe.”

“I feel like you’re always trying to pick away, to find something you can criticize about the church, like how you’re constantly blaming my nightmares on the church.”

“Yeah,” he replied. “And I stand by that one. That’s why I don’t get nightmares, because I don’t believe in the supernatural.”

“Hmm…”

“What do you think about going to see someone, like a professional?”

“I’ve talked to a lot of people about this.”

“At the church?”

“Yeah,” she replied.

“Well, I think it would be good for you to get an opinion from someone outside of the church.”

“Hmmm…” she replied.

“Did anyone ever come forward about the money?”

“The money?” she asked.

“The six hundred dollars they left on the porch?”

“No. I’m sure it was just someone from church trying to help out.”

“Yeah, probably.”

 

So I think so far you can see the woman has a son who is an atheist, and this is a point of contention between them. She’s addicted to FarmVille and a handful of other online games. (Retired women are now technically the largest demographic for video gaming, playing mostly facebook style casual games). She also has a video

In the next section I’m going to go back to about 2009 or so, and show the father befriending a few teenagers who are clearly trying to take advantage of him. He gives them money for something, twenty bucks here and there, telling him its for the church or something. We see that on some level he knows he’s being used, but he wants to believe so badly that these are good Christian kids and keeps giving them money, unbeknownst to his wife, who does not like them. Their lies become more and more outlandish, and each time, one part of his mind believes them and another part can clearly see they’re lies. At the same time, however, he has some very deep conversations with the kids about the meaning of life, God, the meaning of being good. I think there may have been a scene where the woman finds out he’s been giving them money and they have a fight about it, and the man talks about how important it is to give people the benefit of the doubt and have faith in the good within all humans, even if it’s hard to see sometimes.

But then one of the kids takes the religious manipulation a bit too far and tells the man that to prove your faith to God you should close your eyes and step blindly out into traffic. God will protect you, and you will prove yourself worthy… I don’t know, I had a plan on how to make all that sound plausible but can’t quite remember how I was gonna do it. The man doesn’t believe them and realizes they’re just messing with him, especially because the other kids are suddenly saying the guy is crazy… but over the next couple days, the man can’t get the words out of his head and in a moment of passionate prayer, the man decides to go for it, closing his eyes and stepping out into traffic in front of their house. Since the story is told from the house, all we hear is the screeching of the tires and a woman screaming for someone to call 911.

When the woman hears her husband is in the hospital and probably won’t make it, she realizes she has nothing to remember him by, pulls the old VHS camcorder out of the closet, not stopping to think her cell phone could probably get a better picture, and sets it up to record him, but he’s in so much pain that she never gets to hear his real voice. Of course, we don’t actually see the hospital room, and only the things that happen in the home. She watches the video over and over, thinking that it’s close enough to the real him, and in a weird way the video comforts her, at least on the surface, but in reality she’s watching him die over and over, which doesn’t help with the nightmares.

I think in the end she gives up and lets the demons overtake her instead of fighting them, and at the same time, allows herself to embrace her son’s perspective, which she views as a demon as well, but finds that the demons don’t feel nearly as demonic as she thought. I think her son’s perspective inspires her to think the house is the problem, like it’s haunted and she just needs to get out, which isn’t really the case, but at least she’s thinking in some kind of real-world cause and effect way, so she sort of merges her religion with her son’s perspective and it leaves it implying that she’s on the way to exorcising these demons. There was supposed to be something about the house itself subtly helping her along with this idea, but I can’t remember how I was going to do that.

There was also supposed to be a scene in the son’s childhood but I completely forgot what that was about. Also, shortly after the dad’s death, the kid who told him to do it, comes back and leaves the money on the porch.

I dunno… it woulda been cool if I’d finished it but the outline doesn’t do justice to the vision I had 🙂

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