I was possessed by demons for a while. Either that or batshit crazy, but I like to think it’s a liberal dose of both. I went to a Christian primary school for a few years, so naturally I turned from God at a young age. Partly because I hated the music, and partly because of the very legitimate reason of God refusing to give me badass bat wings so I could fly around and scare my bullies. Surely, you’d think, that would be the end of it.
Well I sold my soul in high school and started practising black magic, summoning demons and putting curses on kids I didn’t like. I wasn’t very good at being atheist. There were three demons I summoned, and in my burgeoning psychosis they appeared in my dreams and scrawled over my high-school exercise books. The vivid nightmares, hallucinations and visitations from evil spirits should have been a big red flag that I’d done something wrong, but it took me about as long to catch on as it takes me to realise that a girl is hitting on me at a bar. Generally about three years later.
So three years later I was in Hell, or as it’s known in the common tongue, Ebbw Vale, Ipswich 4305. I was very unemployed, very medicated, and very possessed by demons. I would spend my days writing, smoking unfiltered Port Royal from a long Gandalf pipe, and having harrowing supernatural experiences. I wasted away to a scrawny 55 kilos, pale and jumpy from long nights of terrors.
The nightmares followed a similar pattern, with just enough variation to keep my torment feeling fresh. I would lie in bed, trying to ignore the ethereal fingers running through my hair so I could sleep, when a great pressure would come down on my body and a horn would blast in my ear. Then I would be thrown off the bed and land right next to the dark space beneath. I would try to stand, but as I got to my feet I would wake up back in bed. This would repeat a few times before the light in my room would turn either a hellish red or eerie green, and rotting, monstrous hands would claw at me from under the mattress. I’d scream until I was empty, then find myself alone in the bed again with pins and needles shooting down my side. I would get up, unsure if I was awake or still asleep, and smoke the night away at the dirty plastic outside table on our back verandah. Needless to say, I wasn’t having a great time.
I lived with my variety of brothers in a dilapidated Queenslander across the road from the post-apocalyptic train station and several acres of rusted metal and german shepherds. My stepbrother, when not spending his time in his mouse and pizza box infested room, would throw large parties with the Bundamba Hungry Jacks crew. The dichotomy was vast, we wouldn’t see him for days, then in an instant 30 wasted teenagers would pack out the house. With no warning or means of stopping it, all you could do was ride the wave of trash and get plastered with the rest of them.
After an afternoon nap/nightmare sleep paralysis hell-fight, I woke to find my home once again occupied by drunk suburban fast food workers. With no other recourse, I threw on torn jeans and my baggy depression jumper, grabbed the nearest beverage, and settled into my favourite five-dollar plastic chair to smoke the night away. Scowling and dodging splashes of vodka and Gatorade, I tried in vain to avoid conversations with my least favourite thing on the planet. High-school kids.
A girl settled in next to me, a regular to the parties. She was a teen single mum that had been trying and failing to get past my mentally-ill chastity belt for months. With no other surface to sit on that wasn’t covered in vomit or cigarette ash, I resigned myself to a lesson in numerology. I gave her my date of birth, and she scribbled on a piece of paper.
“This is funny, our paths have crossed before,” she said. “In our past lives both of us served in World War 2.”
“You don’t say.”
“We were in the Air Force. Fighter pilots and war buddies.”
“Hey, I don’t have a place to crash tonight. Can I stay here?”
“Sure, why not?” I said, though my inner monologue was a long line of capitalised swear words.
I could see an apocalyptically awkward situation looming in my future, so I went to my last resort. Sleeping. I grabbed a blanket and a spare pillow for teen mum then Irish shuffled to my bedroom. I kicked the two kids canoodling in my bed out into the lounge room, flipped my pillow over and took my tranquillisers. Soon enough the room turned red and I descended into my nightly damnation.
When I roused in the morning, stinking of booze sweat and on the verge of regurgitation, teen mum had folded her blanket neatly and placed it under her pillow on the couch. She had also brewed a pot of coffee, and we drank it and smoked cigarettes out the back because one of the little shits had made off with my Gandalf pipe.
“I had the weirdest nightmare last night,” She said. “I was visited by three demons. They said that I wasn’t allowed to touch you. They said they owned you. It was really scary.”
I believed her, despite the psychiatrists and the diagnoses and the meds and the numerology. When I experienced things like hallucinations and delusions, I was always in two minds. Viewing it as an illness and an experience at the same time. I straddled those two worlds all my life, there was no way I couldn’t. Knowing the causes of these symptoms didn’t change the fact that they made sense, that they meant something to me.
I got my soul back a few years later, embarrassingly enough while smoking weed and listening to Led Zeppelin. I was somehow whole again in an instant. Part of me likes to believe God felt I’d done my time in hell, and part of me knows I was stoned and The Rain Song is really damn good.
Scripture says that hell is a world without God, but I think hell is also a world without the Devil. Where we are just meat machines with malfunctions. Where meaning is just another number in a universal maths sum. These strange things that have happened to me had to be lived as well as analysed, and the spiritual is just as useful a weapon as the medical. I still have to fight for my soul, the difference now is the ground I’ve gained. Salvation is not a happy ending, but it’s still a victory. Numerology is bullshit though.