“Only the Righteous shall enter the Kingdom of God!”
I awoke to a deep, demonic voice screaming in my ear. I nearly fell out of bed from the shock of the booming voice ringing in my head. Breathing heavily, I looked frantically around the dark room. I was alone, of course.
I can’t keep lying to myself, the voices are coming back. I didn’t think it would be so soon. I thought I would have more time.
Let me back up a bit. I’m a fifteen-year-old boy living in a small town in west Texas. I live with my mom and step-dad. We are good, old-fashioned, non-denominational, fire and brimstone Christians and I am schizophrenic. Other than all that, my life s***s. Well, to be more specific, I have a schizophreniform disorder. Not that it makes much difference. All that means is that I just haven’t had it long enough yet to be called schizophrenic. To become a full-fledged member of the Real Housewives of Schizophrenia, I would need to have shown the symptoms for at least six months.
In the beginning, I would hear stuff now and then; it was all harmless and quite honestly, it was no big deal; you know, whatever. Then it started getting worse and louder. The voices would whisper constantly and say scary things to me. Sometimes they would scream in my ear without warning. I saw hands coming out of the walls and ceilings. Ghostly faces would charge at me and disappear just before reaching me. I couldn’t wash my hands because of the eye that would look at me from the drain. Last year it came all crashing down and I lost it. I ended up in one of those special hospitals for over a month. I thought my life was over, but you know what? It got better. I don’t like how the medicine makes me feel, but it calms my head and clears my thoughts. My doctor is really cool and he seems to really understand me; not just about medicine and stuff, but about just being a kid. I see him a lot and I am learning things like coping skills and how to reality check my thoughts before I lose control. It has been eight months now and I am back in school and everything was going well for me. That is, until two days ago when my parents told me that I didn’t need to take my medicine anymore.
Four months ago, my parents joined a small church new to town. My mom and stepdad have always been religious, but they really got into this church and before I knew it, we were going to church every Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Soon it was all about church and God. Nothing else was allowed because we were “not of the world” anymore and everything else was evil and from the Devil.
Now, you might think that my condition would make me susceptible to the scary things about religion, but it never did. I think some people are just born as skeptics. Maybe, it is because of my love for history and science and the fact that the internet has given me access to limitless information to find my own answers. Maybe, I hate my disease so much that the thought of invisible people watching me and appearing in visions makes me afraid. Maybe, my brain just can’t accept talking snakes, Noah’s Ark, or walking on water. The church, religion, and faith: those are my parent’s beliefs. It’s not for me; I just don’t have a choice about it right now.
Honestly, I really hate the way it has changed my parents and I miss the way they used to be.
It was three Sundays ago when it started getting weird. The sermon was typical- everything is evil, gays are an abomination, the Devil is getting stronger, and Jesus is coming back soon. The pastor, Brother Carl, enthusiastically told his congregation that the end was coming soon and joyfully promised that God was going to punish all the sinners for their wicked ways. Soon church members began to “feel the spirit” of the holy ghost. They were in the aisles with their hands raised up. They were wailing and asking Jesus for forgiveness. Others began to speak in tongues, which really freaked me out. The preacher then began “laying hands” on people. He would place his hands on a person’s forehead, pray loudly, and then shove the person backward into the arms of the deacons. The person would then fall to the ground and flops around for a bit. They say that happens when “the power of the Holy Spirit goes into a person’s body and it’s so overwhelming that the person collapses to the floor. They call that being “slain in the spirit.”
With no warning, my step-dad led me to the pulpit so that the congregation could lay hands on me. It was terrifying and I don’t like to be touched. I was surrounded by wild-eyed crazy people. They placed one hand on my body and raised the other one toward Heaven. The music in the background was blaring and ceased to be anything but incoherent noise devoid of any melody. The preacher began to pray loudly.
“In the name of Jesus, we pray that you take mercy on your child! Lord, we know that through you, anything is possible and through you, the devil has no power over us!”
The other worshippers made affirmations at the end of every sentence with “Yes, Jesus”, “Praise Jesus,” or “OOHH, yes Jesus, my Lord.”
The preacher continued,
“By the power of the name of Jesus, I command this infliction to leave this child of God. Be gone, evil spirit of Schizophrenia!”
He pronounced it “SKIZZZ-O-PHRIN-AH”
“Get out! Get out! You are banished back to Hell from where you came! You have no power here, unclean spirit! You have no authority here, foul demon! Leave this innocent child’s mind! Leave this child’s body! Leave in the name of Jesus Christ, your master, and lord! The blood of the Lamb of God rebukes you back to the fiery pits of Hell! Glory to God! Glory to Jesus! Glory be to His angels! Glory be to His cherubs!”
The assault on my senses was overwhelming; the over stimulation from the wailing and crying of the people who had surrounded me bombarded every one of my senses to its breaking point. Then, it happened. I heard a deafening hum, like the high tones heard in a hearing test. It grew louder and louder, and then everyone seemed to be outlined with a vibrant, rainbow-colored aura that pulsated and intensified until everything I saw was washed out from a blinding, white light. Then suddenly it stopped. My vision slammed back into focus with such a force that my head snapped back as if I had been slapped on the forehead. For a brief second, I saw them. Every one of the worshippers appeared to have something on their backs, peering over their shoulders. It was blurry and small; about the size of a large house cat. It looked as if it had one long arm wrapped around the person’s body at the waist or midsection and the other arm was wrapped around their throat, snaking up the side of the face in branches of spidery veins. It was only for a split second, but I thought I could make out a face and small stubby wings.
Before leaving for school, I went to the medicine cabinet to take my regular morning medication, but the bottle was gone. My parents already had left for work, so I went to school a bit confused since this had never happened before. That evening, my parents sat me down and told me to “Praise God!” He had revealed to them through prayer that I would be healed. I stared at them with disbelief. First, from what they had just told me, then at the barely visible outline of a shape: a head resting against their necks with wings protruding from its back.
(J…..y, J….ry. C.. ..u .ear me?)
Today, I found myself distracted at the prospect of what’s to come. What’s going to happen… to me without my pills… how will I act how will I be treated… what… what am I seeing will… will… will the people at church try to exorcise some demon out of me? I’m supposed to take my pills every day (it’s poison). How many days has it been? Do they know I can see them? (Yes) Can they see me? (Yes, we see you.) Are they real? (Yes, we’re real.)
Stop! Take a deep breath. Slow it down. Just slow it down.
(Are y.u th…?)
It’s hard for me to tell if the background noises from the school hallways are normal. Is… is that a soft whisper or a child’s laugh? Am I just freaking myself out? (sshhhiiizzssshhh) The fuzzy outlines with wings have returned. (… See you). Not everyone has them, only a few adults so far. The shapes are definitely humanoid with tentacles for arms that secure its body to the back of its host. (ggggwwwaaaaccchhh). Its features are slowly becoming more defined. I can clearly make out a face.
(Jeffrey, we know what you see, you little s**t!)
(J…..y, Don’t Lis… to Th..)
I’m having a good day. I stay away from anyone with a thing on their backs. Now there are a few kids that have them too. What is strange: all the infected ones constantly carry Bibles in their hands.
My last class of the day was biology. Ms. Guerra, our teacher started the class with an announcement: Evolution will no longer be taught. She exclaimed that it is not valid science, therefore, it is untrue and a lie meant to deceive America’s youth. She supported her argument by saying if the atheists and scientists could really prove its validity, it wouldn’t be just a theory, it would be a scientific law. She looked around the room of children and smirked. She said, going forward, a more reliable curriculum will be mandated. She then took out a large Bible, cleared her throat and began to read, “In the beginning…”
Never passing up the opportunity to be a smart a*s, I raised my hand to ask a question.
“What about the Theory of Gravity, the Theory of Relativity, or the Germ Theory? Are those not true too? There’s the Atomic Theory and the Cell Th….”
No sooner had I spoke those words, the head of the shadowy creature that was latched to her body snapped to attention. It opened its eyes and looked directly at me. It bellowed an eerie hiss that only I could hear. It took all my strength not to react to it. Kids already thought I was crazy; it wouldn’t help matters by freaking out in class over an invisible monster .
Ms. Guerra called the house tonight. It’s been three hours since my step dad came home and the back of my arms and thighs still hurt really bad from the lashes.
I can see fully formed bodies piggybacking some of the adults. It’s like a baby, but bloated and swollen. They appear to be asleep (We are awake.), but every once in a while I can tell one is aware, surveying its surroundings. I hear the whispers all the time.
(Goddamn you, you stinking, little piece of s**t worm! We’re gonna get…)
I am so confused! My mind seems clear and sharp muh-my thoughts seem real and rational (pppsssttt pppsssttt pppssssss) so why am I seeing parasitic hell-babies attached to people’s backs? Why am I the only one seeing these goddamn… these goddamn… cherubs?
(ca. y.. h..r me yet?)
It’s getting worse. I don’t dare mention it to my parentttsss I… I… I… I can’t go through that puh-puh-prayerrrr cuh-cuh-circle, Uhhh… circles and hands of… uh… crop… uh… crop circles aren’t real… um yeah, they are conspiracies made by people tuh-trying to play uh jokesss I sah-saw it on TV they don’t even nuh-need special tools they do it… it can… uuhh, do one in one night.
(Blessed are the meek…)
(… hear me?)
(… only the righteous…)
(Yea, though I walk through the vall…)
(can you hear me?)
(Spare not the rod…)
(Spoil the child…)
(Spare not the rod…)
(Spare not the rod…)
It’s getting louder and they are screaming at me! The humming won’t go away! There are too many of them talking at once! I can’t understand them! Something keeps touching the back of my neck and flicking my ears! The eye is back! It is in the drain and it is looking at me! It’s looking at me! Oh my God, it keeps looking at me!
Stop! Please Stop! Stop! Breathe! Take deep breaths and slow it down. Please, slow it down!
Then it stops.
There is only silence.
Then I begin to hear a very faint and distant voice calling my name.
(Don’t let them know you can see them.)