Short Story
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                     The Demon-Slayer
                                                     By Emily Davidson


     Beyond any doubt, the human mind is the strangest out of all the strange
and inexplicable oddities in this world.  At times it seems the only thing that can
be relied upon is the unreliability of our own thoughts and perceptions.  We
can trust nothing, especially not outward appearances.  My recent experiences
have taught me to rely only on what I know in my heart of hearts.  And so I
relate these experiences here, in this journal, for two reasons.  The first is that
I wish to have something to look back on in case I ever forget what I have
learned.  Secondly, and more importantly, I wish to warn others away from
making the same mistakes that I have made.

     My story begins on the 28th of October.  I arose late, having been at the
local tavern until nearly three in the morning.  The drinks and the raucous
atmosphere were a boon in my troubled times.  As I began to dress, my eyes
happened upon the shirt I had worn the previous night.  It appeared to be
soaked through with some sort of crimson liquid, which had now dried to a dull,
rust color.

     What a fool I must have made of myself, I thought.  Imagine if somebody
had seen me walking home in that sort of condition, with wine spilt all down my
front!

     Putting the matter from my mind—and sincerely hoping that no one had
seen me—I  went downstairs for a midmorning meal, and to read the daily
news.  A headline near the bottom of the front page caught my attention:
ALARMING MURDER OF AN UPSTANDING CITIZEN (see page 3).  Intrigued, I
opened the paper and perused the article:

             “Joseph DuPont, thirty-two, was found dead in the early hours of this
morning.  The body was discovered in an alley behind Leo’s Tavern on Fourth
Street.  The cause of death appears to have been severe trauma to the head;
a bloody brick found at the scene would seem to support this conclusion.  Mr.
DuPont was a well-known and well-respected citizen of the exclusive Anderson
Hill community.  Police are actively investigating the murder and ask anybody
with any information to contact them immediately.”

     A strange mixture of emotions filled me as I stared at the words: fear,
anger, and a sort of savage joy.  Fear because a murderer had struck in this
city which was normally considered very safe.   Anger because of what DuPont
had put me through.  Joy because I was glad somebody had mustered up the
courage to do what I could not and kill the foul affront to mankind.        

     Let me take a moment to digress, and explain this last statement.  I am
not—I repeat the words, AM NOT—a cold-blooded, heartless individual who
takes delight in the pain and suffering of others.  I deplore those types of
people—they are an abomination before the sight of God and man!  I only
speak of Joseph DuPont in this way because he took something from me which
I will never, for as long as I live, be able to retrieve.  

     He stole the love of my wife Annabel.  Annabel has—had—loved me
faithfully and constantly for eighteen years.  Three nights ago, I had come
home late from Leo’s Tavern to find her things vanished from the house, and a
note on the kitchen table explaining that she and Joseph DuPont would be
starting a new life together.

     At first, I cursed my wife.  How could she hurt me this way?  Then I cursed
myself, for being deceived for so long.  But most of all, I cursed the name of
Joseph DuPont.  Once we had been friends—Ha!  Now I saw what a fool I had
been.  From the very start he had been using me, planning and scheming
about how to betray my trust.  He deserved to die a traitor’s death such as he
did, and now he will suffer forever in the deepest circle of Hell!

     With such fierce emotions as these coursing through me, I threw down the
paper, abandoned my meal, and rushed upstairs to my bedchamber.  As I
paced the room, attempting to get myself under control, my eyes happed
again upon my stained shirt.  As I stared at it, the dull rust of the stain seemed
to suddenly glow in all its terrible vibrancy.

     Everything came back in a horrible rush of memory.  I remembered sitting
at the bar in Leo’s Tavern, nursing a drink.  I had looked up into the mirror
which ran behind the bar, and I had seen Joseph DuPont enter from the
street.  That was when my great epiphany had come.  I saw through his clever
disguise to the soul within.  Joseph DuPont was not a man at all; he was
merely the vessel for a horrid demon.  After all, what earthly being could have
had the necessary powers of persuasion to make my beautiful Annabel believe
that she did not love me?

     Having realized the truth, I convinced him to come into the alley with me.  I
had been gentle, cunning in my own way.  He believed that I had really come
to my senses, and wanted a quieter environment in which to hold a civil
conversation regarding the matter at hand.  But he had been wrong about
that, hadn’t he?  Oh yes, he most certainly had.

     When we were alone, I had pointed my finger at him accusingly: “Devil!” I
shouted. “Hide no more behind this mask!  I know who and what you really
are!  I charge you, come out of this man and confront me face to face!”

     When my commands had no effect, I had picked up the brick and
destroyed the demon’s vessel so that it would be driven away from this earth
forever.

     As I relived these memories, I screamed to the heavens above until I
thought my lungs would burst and my throat would tear.  I screamed with joy
because God had truly blessed me.  He had given me the power to drive out
demons from their hiding places.  How utterly extraordinary that I, of all people,
would be chosen to help eradicate evil from the world!        

     When I could scream no longer I merely stood there in the center of my
bedroom, panting heavily and letting my emotions run their course.  Just as I
had begun to get myself under control I heard a series of bangs from
downstairs; the noises quickly progressed toward my bedroom.

     The door burst open and there on the threshold stood two more demons;
Satan must have sent them to avenge the destruction of whatever creature
had lived inside DuPont.  Knowing what I had to do, I seized the ornamental
sword from the wall where it hung above my bed and sprung forward with a
wild cry.

     The bodies which harbored the devils—two officers of the law—I have
hidden in a secret vault of the cellar.  My purpose in this life—my heavenly
task—has now been made clear; and I make a solemn oath that all the legions
of Hell—even Satan himself—shall come to fear me!

     Send your worst, Satan.  I will be ready.  There is still room aplenty in the
burial vault.