THE DEMON BAQASH
Kim Troxel’s sleep was restless, punctuated with bizarre half-dreams and images. There was a dark figure, not a man, something different, with wings – six of them – moving independently, like tentacles slithering, reaching, grabbing. The creature had four faces, each directed to a different point. One laughed, while another cried. One ranted, the last smirked. Even through the mist of dream, Kim felt tense, felt her stomach twist, her skin go cold. The faces were not right. A hollow moldy cheek opposite a chubby infantile counterpart. A large uneven eye adjacent a torn and empty socket. The man-thing was somewhere else, someplace far away.
So very close.
A fire crackled and glowed. The smell of burning flesh assailed Kim’s nostrils. The non-man was before her now, grinning, though, in truth, Kim could make out none of the features. But they were familiar, so familiar. Yet… faded, incomplete. The man, the thing, entity – whatever! – it was holding a phone – handing it to her.
Kim’s eyes fluttered as she rolled over to face the annoyance. “Alright, alright. I’m coming.” She stretched, extending her arm as if she could will it to be longer. Why did the phone have to be onTrent’s side of the bed when he was never home from work untilthree A.M.? “Uhuggh, hello,” she managed in a drymidnightgrowl.
“Good morning, Kim.”
“I’ve got a surprise for you.”
Kim squinted at the blurry alarm clock. Why did it seem the numerals faded as if fleeing some unseen menace?
“Trent, what time is it?”
“Late, Kim. Terribly late. But, someone is coming to see you.”
The deliveryman was tall. Taller even than the six-foot sixTrent. Pro basketball tall. Wide-shouldered and statuesque. Kim fumbled to wipe the sleep from her eyes, attempting to bring the face into focus. Somehow it seemed the man had multiple features, each fading and then reemerging in subtle parody of itself. He seemed so inconsequential, as if he might simply evaporate on the cool evening breeze. Kim blinked again and then again. The man was solid. Of course he was solid. How could he be otherwise? Strangely, at the sight of him, Kim felt a warm rush, a kind of electric hum or vibration, both comforting and unnerving, familiar yet alien. It was almost sexual but simultaneously horrifying. Strange. Why should she feel anything at all?
Something in this man’s face was familiar. Intimately so. But how? She’d never seen him before. One would remember a six-foot eight-inch deliveryman with deep multi-colored eyes.
The strangely accented voice brought Kim back around. “Yes. I’m sorry. I’m still half asleep.”
“Undoubtedly,” he agreed. “I assume your husband informed you of this delivery.”
“He did,” she said, rubbing her eyes. “It’s just late.” Then, pausing, she ventured, “And since when are deliveries made at this hour?”
The man smiled. It was somehow inviting, beckoning her to come to him, to wrap her arms about him, to engulf him and…
What was she thinking?
“Distributions of the highest priority can be delivered around the clock, ma’am.” He extended the clipboard for her to sign. Those strange eyes – so knowing, as if he knew her every impulse.
Kim’s mind was fuzzy, unclear, still flirting with those horrible dreams. How was it that this man’s face seemed so ill-defined? She closed her eyes tight, and then opened them wide. She was simply tired. His face was fine. Wacky dreams.
“Would you care to come in?” she asked.
“Reggie,” said Kim to her live-in brother-in-law. “What’s that?”
The sound of someone shaking the front door flooded the tiny home. Kim and Reggie were seated at a table in the small, sparsely decorated kitchen, sipping a sweet herbal tea as Kim jotted ideas for a new poem. Writing poetry normally comforted her, separated her from the day-to-day drudge. But tonight her thoughts were scattered, her lines lacked meter, her meaning remained unclear. The deliveryman had left only fifteen minutes prior –three A.M.– and Kim had decided against climbing back into the oh-so-inviting bed. Now, she felt this might have been a mistake.
Reggie brushed his dark matted bangs from his eyes. “It’sTrent, I think. The door must be stuck again. He sounds kinda excited. Maybe he needs to use the bathroom.” Turning toward the door Reggie hollered, “I’m coming,Trent. I’m coming.” He rose gracelessly from the chair, his pear-like form sluggish as he hiked his lagging pajama bottoms with his left hand. “That door needs a new handle. It needs a new handle.”
Kim took another sip of tea. Reggie was probably right. It most likely wasTrent, but Kim doubted his urgency had anything to do with bodily functions. The pounding and shaking of the door sounded like someone panicked.
Themidnightfog cleared from Kim’s brain like the lingering sound of a marching band. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
“HeyTrent,” said Reggie as he pulled the door open with a forceful twist and a sharp tug. “We’ve got some tea. I can fix you some tea. It’s good. You can go to the bathroom first. I’ll just start…”
“Kimmie,” saidTrentas he brushed roughly past his brother causing the smaller man to shuffle backward, nearly tripping over a nearby crate.
“Trent?” Kim nearly screamed at the sight of him. His sandy red hair was disheveled, his face flushed and sweaty, his right hand was wrapped in something red, and his eyes.Trenthad strange eyes to begin with, one green, one blue. But this. There was something inTrent’s dual-colored eyes. Something she’d never seen, not when he was dismissed from the church in disgrace, not even when he’d watched Ashley emerge red and slimy from her body. It was fear. Real fear. Deep down in the soul fear. The kind one expected to find in the eyes of a man who’d just learned that the cancer had spread, that he had five weeks to live. “Trent, what happened?”
“Extraordinary,” he muttered, then paused as if somewhere between bewildered and flustered. “No, horrifying,” he added, wiping a hand on his corduroy leg. “Yes, horrifying is better. Did he come here?”
Kim stared up into her husband’s face and saw tears. “Trent, what happened?”
“Was he here, Goober?” asked Trent, using the pet name he’d given Kim when she’d been pregnant and craving peanuts. “I tried to call. Couldn’t get through. He was here. Of course, he was here.”
“Who, Trent? What’s this about?”
It was then thatTrentnoticed the boxes, twenty-seven of them, coarse wooden crates crowded into each corner, behind and under the not-quite-antique furniture, in the open closet, besideTrent’s upright bass. HowTrenthad missed them was beyond her. But undoubtedly he had. There he stood, jaw prepped to catch flies, golf ball eyes, and his head cocked like a cocker spaniel. If it hadn’t been so tragic, it would have been hysterical.
Kim stepped forward, embraced her husband in a fierce hug, brushed her lips wistfully across his, and then buried her head in his chest. The strangest, most horrifying thought came to her then.
Kim Troxel began to cry.
To purchase THE DEMON BAQASH, go to
Thom Reese is the author of the novels, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY, along with the short story collection, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER & MADNESS. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.
The back story in my upcoming novel, THE DEMON BAQASH, is told through the demon’s journal entries. In anticipation of the novel’s January 2011 release, here’s a special sneak peek at an entry not included in the novel.
From the journal of the demon Baqash:
I abhor the flesh.
That is, I hate inhabiting a fleshly form. As a spirit being, I enjoy a certain liberty denied those forever tethered to the physical plane. I have form, oh yes. We, the fallen, are not as the ether, merely particles to disperse upon some metaphysical wind. I have limbs, torso, wings, head. But constraints such as size, shape, density, are ambiguous, having no firm meaning to one such as me. It is not until I step to within the flesh that I face earthly limitations such as pain, physical injury, even death.
No. I cannot die. That luxury is ever elusive. Should I take possession of a person – inhabiting, controlling, commanding every breath, every twitch and shudder – and should that host vessel parish while I yet reside, I would surely continue to exist. Oh, most definitely. But the trauma! Ah, the shock of the death experience is such that I could well be rendered insane.
“Ah! But, you’re a demon,” some might say. “And as such, could we not argue that you are already insane?”
And to this I would say that there are many levels of insanity, some of which make even a demon shudder. Therefore, it is when I am within the flesh that I am most cautious, for it is then that I am most vulnerable.
I am now reminded of a young woman, Lacey Klein, by name. She and I had a… Well, let us call it a relationship. Yes. Relationship seems an appropriate term.
Lacey was weak of spirit, a loveless wretch who traded a mundane, yet comfortable, middleclass life for the fickle thrills of addiction. Her husband had left some months prior, and her daughter was still too young to realize that should she be allowed to grow to adulthood, she would surely learn to hate this miserable creature she so lovingly called “Mommy.”
A child really should be spared such misery, don’t you think?
I was not unknown to Lacey Klein. But, in this particular moment, I was as the vapor: unseen and unknowable. This was by design, for I did not desire to be seen. Ah, but we had a relationship. Indeed we did. For I had physically presented myself to her many times before. Of course, she had never seen me as truly I am, with six tattered wings, a lulling tongue, and darting eyes on all four of my distorted faces. No, when I revealed myself to Lacey, she saw me as I wished to be perceived in the human world: tall, with smooth bronzed skin, golden hair long and flowing. And dressed to kill! Armani, Prada, whatever the current trend. I am nothing, if not stylish.
I had befriended her, courted her. The soulless forever seek a soul mate. Ironic, I suppose. I brought her gifts of flowers and of drugs. I fawned over her brat with toys and treats. Lacey thought that she loved me. But Lacey didn’t think so clearly.
Today, though, I did not appear to her. For today, the courtship stage was over. Today we were to consummate the relationship. Yes, today I would view the world through Lacey Klein’s fleshly orbs.
The possession process has always appalled me. Even in the early days when we, the fallen, would inhabit wild beasts so that we might battle one another to physical death, I found the putting on of skin repugnant. Lacey welcomed me at first. She was high, or, at least, traveling that road. I was familiar to her, and so my presence initially comforted her. But soon the warm mental embrace turned to icy fear.
It always turns to fear.
For I had never before resided within her. She had known me only as another human being, a friend, a lover.
Or, at least, she had convinced herself to believe the deception. There are always tells. One only need acknowledge them. Though, few people ever do. Life is much simpler for those who ignore that which they don’t understand.
We fallen rely on it.
I cannot read the mind of one I possess; but still the mind screams at me as through a dark and echoing chamber. Lacey’s mind had a shrill quality to it. Loud. Whimpering. Bludgeoning me with fits of confused indignation. This is not surprising. She was an annoying person at best.
Her form pitched about as I wrested control. She fell face forward to the tiled kitchen floor. Her nose was bloodied, most likely broken. We tossed about the room, colliding with and overturning the kitchen table, smacking thrice against the eastern wall, and finally tumbling back to the floor where Lacey lay twitching.
And finally I controlled the form.
I felt the rhythmic pumping of the heart.
I experienced blood rushing through veins and arteries and nourishment churning in digestive gasses.
I tensed and then released the musculature, testing, familiarizing, shunning the trivial pains and irritations which exemplify physical existence.
I blinked, bringing the inadequate fleshly eyes into focus. I blinked again. And then, for a time, I saw through the eyes of Lacey Klein.
Lacey screamed from somewhere deep within her skull, but I am adept at ignoring that which is irrelevant. My steps were halting, my coordination poor. Perhaps it was that Lacey still fought my control, perhaps it was the drugs forever slipping through her veins. But despite the difficulties, I managed to maneuver the form out of the tiny roach infested kitchen, down the short hallway, and into the brat’s bedroom.
The girl was two years old, or perhaps three, and turned over in her bed as I tossed open the door. “Mommy?” asked the girl in a voice still clinging to puppy dog dreams. “Mommy? What’s a matter?”
But, mommy said nothing. Instead she simply stepped forward, a peculiar grin on her newly-distorted features, reached down, and embraced her child, oh, so very tightly.
Sometimes, I do so enjoy inhabiting the flesh.
COMING IN JANUARY 2011: THE DEMON BAQASH by Thom Reese: Trent Troxel was humiliated, defeated, forced from his position amidst scorn and scandal. Now, after nearly a year of rebuilding, of reestablishing trust with his wife and loved ones, he is confronted by the one who just might have caused it all. Trent Troxel now sits face-to-face with the demon Baqash. And though Trent finds the demon’s supernatural claims incredulous, he is soon drawn into Baqash’s mad scheme. His wife spirals into the insanity of possession. His precious daughter is threatened by a fiend of Hell. And Trent’s only hope is to uncover the secrets locked away in mysterious manuscripts given to him by the demon himself. But, these ancient pages might just uncover the terrible truth of his own unspeakable origin.
Available January 2011 from Speaking Volumes http://www.speakingvolumes.us
Copyright 2010 Thom Reese
Thom Reese is the author of the novels, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, and CHASING KELVIN, along with the short story collection, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER & MADNESS. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.