There were many things in Tanay’s life that few people knew about. For example, no one knew that he was a great chef, or that he could shoot a 3-pointer 9/10 times, or that he could look at a person and see their inner demons.
Tanay doesn’t know if he was born with this gift or if he acquired this gift when he was a kid but he could remember having this ability for as long as he could remember. Sometimes, they would be like a chip on the person’s shoulder. Other times, they would show up walking around a person or even inside a person. The last one was weird and made Tanay a bit woozy.
However, one thing he had never felt looking at a person’s inner demons was fear. At a height of around six inches, they were so GOD DAMN CUTE that Tanay couldn’t hate or be terrified of them come what may. Sometimes, a person would have multiple demons and they all looked like a family of fluffy bunnies running around a person.
That doesn’t mean that they were not harmful. The more bunnies… inner demons a person had, the sadder a person was and often closer to his death. Tanay learned this the hard way. One of his closest friends, Mike had three of those demons. They all looked so happy as they seeped away Mike’s energy, willingness to succeed, and eventually, willingness to live. He committed suicide and none of those demons were around him when Tanay saw the body.
It was also the first time he saw one fluffy demon rising up in him. He could only see the creature through the mirror but he was able to establish communication with it soon enough. The creature, Kabir, was surprised but an eager participant once introductions were done.
Kabir and Tanay would often discuss in detail how the demons were formed and how they would die. Tanay was shocked to know that demons were actually eager to die and their existence was bound to a person getting over his guilt or grief.
“Do you really think I enjoy being inside you Tanay? I’m alone and I exist just as a reminder to you that you failed.” Kabir would often say.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Either stop feeling guilty about your friend’s death or feel guilty about something else as well. At least I’ll get some company.”
Tanay would laugh off such things as he had no way of actually fixing things.
That was six months ago. Today, sitting at a cafe, Tanay and Kabir were discussing the perils of having multiple demons.
“The good thing is that the demons aren’t alone. Some even build a whole family.”
“Yeah, but the chances of the host’s survival reduce as well.”
“That’s a good thing.”
“You still want to die when you have a family here?”
“You don’t understand. Once we die here, it’s not really death. It’s like going back home. We only come into existence if you folks are battling with something.”
“Guilt is a major one that I have heard. Then there are other things like trauma or even happiness sometimes. The last one is weird but it exists for some people.”
Tanay nodded to a mirror. He tried it with an iPad once but as the device recreates what the lens sees, Kabir doesn’t come on the screen. Only reflective surfaces worked. The cafe was filled with people and their pokemonish demons – some walking around with them while others just sitting and talking to the other demons inside the same person. Most people had one demon frolicking around them while a couple of them had two. Tanay rarely saw people with three demons and it pleased him.
“So you can’t talk to demons in other people’s bodies?” Tanay asked once more.
“As I’ve told you before, I can’t even see other people’s demons. It’s your freak brain that can do all these things.”
“But you see everything I see.”
“True. That’s why I said your brain. Your eyes are normal.”
Tanay chuckled. Yeah, his brain was abnormal. He could believe that. Another question struck his mind.
“Kabir, tell me. How many demons can kill a person?”
The demon went into a pensive mode.
“I have heard different numbers. Some say that they have been in a body with nine other demons while others claim that six is the magic number after which a person invariably commits suicide.”
“Is three a lot?”
Kabir hesitated. He knew what Tanay wanted to know and he didn’t have an answer to that question.
“For some people, even one is enough.”
Tanay looked unsatisfied with that answer.
“You have to understand Tanay. It’s not that you feel guilty about missing a test or decide to skip a day at the office and a demon appears. You must feel really horrible about something for an inner demon to make an appearance. Maybe that’s also the reason that we never leave once we come into existence.”
Tanay nodded. He understood some of it and hopefully, one day, he would understand all of it. He had started to try helping people who had three demons. He would strike up a conversation and hope that he could find a way to reduce their guilt about whatever they were holding. He hadn’t had too much luck with strangers, understandably.
“Hi. Excuse me.” A girl said breaking Tanay out of his thoughts.
“Yes,” Tanay said turning away from the girl. He realized he had moist eyes and tried to wipe them discreetly.
“My name is Isha and I work for ‘Hope’. It is a foundation for helping newborn kids who are abandoned. We ensure that they survive and find foster homes for them. We organize donation drives in collaboration with cafes and restaurants around the city to get funding.”
“I’m sorry but I…” Tanay was politely declining Isha when he turned to look at her. Five fluffy pokemon-bunny demons were moving around her, jumping up and down, playing with each other and having the time of their lives. Tanay gawked and stopped listening or speaking.
“What did you see?” Kabir asked excitedly.
“Ten,” Tanay said out loud.
Kabir swore. He had only heard tales of so many inner demons. He tried to look at the girl closely.
“She doesn’t look like she would have that many demons.”
“Excuse me?” The girl said.
“Did she hear me?” Kabir said surprised.
“What?” Tanay said.
“You said ‘five’. What does that mean?” Isha asked.
“Phew!” Kabir said.
“I meant will $500 do?” Tanay said.
The girl’s eyes widened. “Of course. That would be amazing. What name should I write?”
“Tanay. Also, can I know more about the foundation?”
“Yeah, sure. You can come tomorrow to our office and I will be glad to show you around.”
Isha shared her number along with the address of the office.
“I’ll be honest with you. Usually, the goal for the whole day is to get $500 per person. You just made my day.”
Tanay smiled and recounted the demons. Nope, still ten. Guess $500 for a demon was a bit too much to ask, he thought to himself.
“Meet you tomorrow,” he said to Isha. Isha nodded and smiled and moved to another table.
“I have to save her,” Tanay said.
“And then perhaps I can die too,” Kabir agreed.
Inspired from Reddit’s WritingPrompts – [WP] You have the ability to see other people’s inner demons and this would terrify you if they weren’t so GOD DAMN CUTE. [Link]