"Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
This is the third episode of the story of a very strange little boy. You see, this little boy has the very disturbing thought that he is being visited by a demon. An ugly old hag of a demon. Is that true? Could something like that really be true? How could anybody know that for certain, except for the boy? Maybe even he didn’t know. That wasn’t exactly the question that was on his mind at the moment though.
The real question he had been wondering was, “What do you have to do to get rid of an evil demon when nothing seems to work?” That’s what the boy was beginning to wonder. As the demonic hag had promised, she had come back to him time and time again over the next several years, and in his memory there was never a respite of more than a few days at a time from this psychological assault that made him too afraid to ever think of fighting back. The boy was growing older now. He was no baby anymore, but he could only take so much.
And it usually didn’t matter where or when she might appear. There seemed to be only one rule. It almost always began when he was mostly alone. But it didn’t necessarily end up that way. He could wander ten feet away from another person, and the witch would appear. And then it never mattered where he tried to run. A visit didn’t end until the witch chose to end it. And there was always her unasked question. She promised to end all of it for him if his answer would be yes.
Even when the demon witch didn’t appear to him, the boy thought he could sense something evil hovering near him, waiting to strike. He became nervous at all times, dreading what might happen next. His every thought was shadowed with fear and worry of the bad things the hag would tell him. He could never repeat those things. They were too scary to even think about. So now she didn’t even have to be there to hurt him. It seems his own thoughts were betraying him.
Another problem was that the boy had decided that he had to pretend everything was normal, to protect everyone else. He was sure his parents expected him to be normal even though they had never said it, so he had to pretend there was nothing wrong. He was sure this wasn’t their fault. How could they know? They could never see the hag. Nobody could… except the boy. And he knew by this time that no normal person could help him stop something that was as invisible as a ghost. They were all normal. But he wasn’t normal. The boy knew that. He wished somebody would tell him if they thought he wasn’t normal.
But what could he do? Nobody ever said anything. But after seeing some of the strange looks he had gotten for trying to tell this story to people, the boy decided that there was only one thing he could really do. He was going to have to trick them. Trick them all. Yes. That was it. That was the answer. He was fine. That’s what he would say. That’s what he would tell them. It would be easy. So easy. The hag had told him so many times now that they wouldn’t believe. Sometimes she had dared him to tell them, and other times she had warned him to be silent. He thought she was wrong that the others would never understand… until now.
The boy also decided that he didn’t want anyone else in the family to be as afraid as he was. He needed to protect them somehow. His parents. His two little brothers. His new baby sister. The hag had begun to make threats against them too now. She told the boy that she would hurt them if he didn’t do as she told him, if he didn’t listen to the things she said. How could he do that without agreeing to her unasked question that he somehow knew would be the very worst thing he could ever do. Ever. Agreeing to smaller things sometimes seemed to appease the evil creature enough though.
But the boy wondered what would really happen if he were to answer yes to the question? It had been made clear to him that he would learn the question only after he answered with a “Yes.” That always seemed so backwards to him, but he was afraid to ask why it had to be like that. The hag always told him that it would all be over if he were to answer yes, but how could he know for sure? He thought maybe she was trying to trick him. He didn’t think he had ever caught her in a lie though. He listened very closely for lies. Maybe she wasn’t lying about this either, but he still thought this was something very bad.
And there was still his family to think about. They already thought he was a bit strange. He could tell, every time he mentioned anything about the hag. What would they think if he seemed fine all of a sudden? Would they think he was crazy for being okay? He wasn’t crazy! The boy knew the things he had seen! He didn’t care what anyone else might think! But he wished they would tell him, because sometimes he felt like he was being tricked by their silence. He didn't like being tricked. So what if nobody else saw the hag but him. That didn’t make him crazy. He was sure it was all true! He… wasn’t… CRAZY!!! No no no… No!