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    AC Benus
  • Author
  • 1,100 Words

Demon Dream - 6. Salvation


Just then, within the house,

Tarogo had woken

When the old woman’s sounds

Of happy chattering

Had interrupted sleep.

Turned over now, he tried

To fall asleep once more,

But the bodily pain

Rumbling from his famished

Stomach kept him alert.

What’s more, it kept his brain

As restless as his gut.

His rationale spun that,

‘She said she’d make breakfast

Once the morning appeared’—

Like iron to magnet,

His glance flew over to

The one restricted place—

‘So in there must be where

She’s hiding all her food.’

Outside, her hands caressed

Her arms ‘round and around

While she swayed to her song.

One foot dropping before

The other as he went,

Tarogo now tiptoed

Across the earthen floor.

The moon made her shadows

Fluid across the grass,

One foot ‘fore the other,

And grace in one body

– In ground, and light, and life –

Crept into her being.

One foot ‘fore the other

Took Tarogo to the

Only forbidden door.

One finger, and then two

Grasped the frame, and could slide

The door slowly open.

One moment needed more,

For eyes could see nothing

Inside the dark chamber,

But once he stepped aside

The light found its way in

To show to Tarogo

Shadows like piles of bones.

He tugged the door harder,

And there fell to his feet

A half-devoured head

Still shrieking with just one

Terrified eye socket.

Decomposing flesh stung

Deep in Tarogo’s nose

As he looked upon horrors

In overpowering shock.

Stumbling backwards, his legs

Collapsed from under him,

So he was left to drag

Himself from the dire sight,

Fingernails clawing dirt.

Finally, he inhaled,

Sucking in just one draught

Before returning it

To the night as a scream.

The old woman halted,

Hands still raised in the air,

Her eyes clouding over

As she looked to the house.

Her breathless cry pleaded,

“No. For once, just one no.”

And ‘No!’ escaped her heart

As a single tear fell

Through the moon’s frigid light.

Fell ‘fore hate crippled her.

She brought down her hands and

Watched them as they grew long,

Spiteful and ferocious,

The nails sprung like razors

To slice up lying men.

Her arms burst with muscles,

The skin dead like leather

But pulsating dark red

From the ogre’s rage-filled

Heart forcing the crone’s blood

To every blistering pore.

Her jaws split wide apart

As new teeth cut her gums

With fangs that dribbled down

Her own blood on her chin.


* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *


Yukei woke with a start.

Tarogo face hovered

Above his with a fear

The likes he’d never seen.

“Ogre…. She’s an ogre,”

The servant said lowly.

But to Yukei’s confused

And sleep-choked reply of

“Who,” Tarogo shouted:

“The woman’s a demon –

She kills and eats people!”

In a daze from which it

Appeared hard to ascend,

Yukei climbed to his feet

And followed to the place

Tarogo was pointing.

At the bloody threshold

The master understood,

Recoiling in horror.

Quickly he realized

The poor trapped soul of

The human being must

Be the Oni-baba

Local children speak of

To frighten each other

On the long winter nights –

The Harridan Demon

From legend immortal.

Tarogo had scrambled

Back up upon his feet.

“Wait!” Yukei called out, but

The servant was too scared

To be hindered just by

Commands from his master;

And to the front door ran.

There he paused, hands in frame,

Breath panting outside air.

His eyes searched frantically

For the least little hint

Of where the woman was;

And so, seeing nothing,

He bolted through the door.

He ran to the clearing

And leaped into the field.

But as he leapt, his back

Began curiously

To feel moistened with pain.

His eyes turned just in time

To see the ogre’s claws

Glistening in the moonlight,

Slashing his back once more.

And again, they ripped his

Flesh with no real mercy.

His head still turned to her,

Tarogo’s one surprise

Was looking into the

Demon’s contorted face:

Was pity in its eyes…?

Just as pain reached his mind,

Those monstrous hands struck out,

This time not letting go,

But anchoring deep in

The servant’s ribs and spine.

In agony, he flinched

From the teeth biting him,

And felt his own blood pour

Like hot rage down the breast

Of the Oni-baba.

Yukei came to the door,

Knowing he lacked the time

To do anything for

A man he truly liked;

A man he then watched die

And leave the world as less

Than any person should.

In his own heart he fought

To regain self-control,

For he knew he needed

To conquer fear if he

Was to confront the thing

The old woman had let

Take possession of her.

It was the woman, who

Was still deep inside, he

Needed to assist him.

The demon spotted him –

Its eyes like blind revenge.

The unearthly creature

Leaped from the field’s tall grass,

And on sightless feet, flew

Towards him in the house.

He jumped to the far wall,

Pressing hard against it

To flatten himself out.

The fiend had stopped its rush,

Waiting outside the door

As if to heighten fear.

Yukei shouted at it:

“Old woman, just listen –

Don’t let the spirit break

Your agreement with it.

I kept my word to you;

Did not open that door.

You said ‘No’; I obeyed.”

He whispered on softly,

“Woman, fight for yourself.”

The demon ran inside,

Fueled by hateful anger,

But the old woman fought,

And because her own heart

– Thanks to Yukei’s teachings –

Had emptied of hatred,

The ogre was weakened.

It made it halfway ‘cross

The hardpacked earthen floor

– With arms outstretched to slash –

When the old woman took

Back controlling her life.

Mere feet in front of him,

The beast fell to the ground,

Desperately mauling dirt

To try and get at him.

But then, most quietly,

The old woman’s features

Began to reappear.

Her arms reached out to him,

As if beckoning him.

After he swallowed hard

To bravely steel himself,

He leaned down cautiously,

Soft-touching her shoulder.

She didn’t move, so he

Gently rolled her over.

He saw her leg was bent

Backwards into a flap,

Snapped in many places.

She then opened her eyes,

And from between those slits,

Yukei witnessed placid

Gratitude escaping.

As she breathed her last breath,

He held onto her tight

So she'd not die alone

And with his simple act,

Shattered the demon's dream.







Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Poor Tarogo! Yet Yukei gave the old woman peace at the end. What a horror. Not sure how I shall sleep tonight. 

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Yukei was able to see through the ogre’s terrifying visage and understand that the old woman was trapped in its rage. What an unexpected ending! I’m glad she found peace in the end. 

I wonder what would have happened if Tarogo had never opened the door. 

I really enjoyed reading this unique and beautifully written piece!

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7 hours ago, headtransplant said:

Yukei was able to see through the ogre’s terrifying visage and understand that the old woman was trapped in its rage. What an unexpected ending! I’m glad she found peace in the end. 

I wonder what would have happened if Tarogo had never opened the door. 

I really enjoyed reading this unique and beautifully written piece!

Thank you, headtransplant, very much. I imagine the 'what if' is, Yukei and Tarago would have gone on their way after a hearty breakfast the next morning. But even so, how long would it have been before the ogre's mystical song lured in more humans to test?

By your comments, I can tell you did enjoy reading and thinking about this piece, and that you found it beautiful as well is a wonderful extra! Thank you again  

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On 5/7/2021 at 11:26 AM, Parker Owens said:

Poor Tarogo! Yet Yukei gave the old woman peace at the end. What a horror. Not sure how I shall sleep tonight. 

Parker, thank you and I hope your post Demon Dream slumbers were unperturbed. Once more, thank you for reading, commenting and supporting my work. You're wonderful to do it 

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