Copyright © 1996-2003 Sarah Henderson.
I lie on my back in bed, staring at the tiny depressions in my ceiling. A demon appears, small and red with an Adolf Hitler moustache. Black horns protrude from the sides of his scarlet face, twisting upwards. At the end of each of hes six fingers and ten toes is a sharp black claw, adorned with dripping blood and rotting flesh.
He has no outward appearance of gender, yet I know instinctively that it is a male. His skin glistens moistly and I know that, although a dark rich red, it will be cold to the touch, with slimy fish-like skin. His stomach is smooth and unbroken with no sign of a navel.
The largest, most outstanding feature is his tail. Twice as long as the demon is high, and as thick as his arm, it seems to have a life of its own. At the end it splits into three parts, each with a snake's head. As they reach for my throat, my world suddenly seems to shatter around me.
Hot tongues of flame leap to devour the soles of my feet. I am entering a large fiery cavern. The searing stench of decay and death tears at my nostrils. Flashing on the walls around me are scenes from my past, but in all of them stands a tall man in a flaming cape.
In every scene I am suffering. In every scene he is fiendishly cackling.
Is it this corrupted demon who is infesting the world with a plague of evil?
I am walking deeper and deeper into the treacherous labyrinth that comprises his kingdom. A I go further the sounds begin. Tortured screams, crackling fire and hysterical laughter echo all around me. Then, drowning out everything, comes a voice, a terrifyingly cruel voice, screaming one word.
Again the world splits apart, this time leaving me alone in my bed. As my pounding heartbeat slows, and the coursing adrenalin subsides, I wonder what has just happened.