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The second story about a boy I met in the crisis stabilization unit during my first break. Later, I learned to call him, “John Raymond.”

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Here I am, sitting in an uncomfortable hospital chair as I flip through the TV channels with the remote. All the usual: news, weather, cartoons, soap operas. I settle for the weather, as I know I haven’t been outside for the past several days nor will I be outside soon. I’m on lock down. I lean back and try to relax just this once.

Then he comes in, that boy, as darkness and pestilence trickles over my inner being and seeps in. I suffer silently and try to ignore him but I can’t keep him out. I look him in his unusually dark eyes as he stands behind me in the corner of the small room. The TV feels different and the sound cuts out. I look back and the caption feature turns on. A black subtitle box appears, filling almost the entire screen with obscene text images scrolling across the TV from right to left. I check for the remote and it’s in my hand. I hadn’t pushed anything and the caption button doesn’t work.

The boy starts laughing hysterically. He pierces me in the eyes with his look and thoughts appear in the forefront in my mind: “Give up! Follow me, and you will have great powers. Denounce Him! You are better than Him!” With all my will and calling upon Christ, the thoughts stop. Not a word is spoken between us.

The TV then switches to the news and the subtitle box shrinks to normal size with normal captions. I don’t feel relief at all, as sure enough the words then begin hailing Satan for the atrocities in the Middle East, the topic of the news special. They then transition into some sort of evil-sounding speech as I tried to pronounce it in my head, with scattered symbols here and there that seem like white noise interference. I sense the army of darkness present everywhere as I recite the evil speech internally: here in this god-forsaken w/e unit it is (not even a hospital), and in every part of the world.

The channel changes to cartoons. More white random symbols appear in the caption box and I look at the boy. He’s staring very intently at me with his body in a contorted posture. I draw my attention to the TV and right before my eyes, there is a story appearing in the captions in front of me: a combination of the visuals in the cartoon, my thoughts, and my deepest fears and darkest secrets, all in a seamless,  flowing story of a most obscene nature. Then it describes how and when I die, relating to the cartoon visuals and elaborates on the mess I make after I slit my wrists up the middle in the bathroom.

I clench the remote and try everything I can: turning off captions, changing channel, turning off the TV, all to no prevail. I remind myself that God never gives me more than I can handle. I can do this!

I push the power button on the TV, but it snaps right back on… once, twice, three times. I pull the plug and the image disappears, the remote in my hands the entire time. The boy then makes a fantastic feat with his body in a most unusual contortion and grins. His faded eyes roll back in his head as he begins a deep, dark seance.

The unplugged TV turns on to white noise with evil sounds coming out of it getting progressively louder. I look up a the monitor and an image of a creature begins to appear that I recognize as demonic from an encounter I had previously. I shriek. This is about to make me do something stupid, and look at the new staff member I’d never seen before and mouth, “help!” as I didn’t want to appear crazy and start yelling.

She glances over her shoulder at the boy and he topples over. She yells, “That’s enough!” and the TV shuts off. Darkness and pestilence morph into shalom in a dovetail heartbeat. I never saw that worker again, and wonder to this day if she was an angel.