Richie, or Amiel’s Demon

You know, your buddy Richie. He’s tall and nondescript-looking, with messy chestnut hair and a long face and big brown eyes. He’s handsome-ish, but he doesn’t really stick out in a crowd. He likes to put his hands in his pockets, and he laughs a lot at your jokes. Richie’s not really the life of the party, but he’s a good friend when you need advice or just someone to kick back with. He’s been around as long as you can remember; you’re childhood friends, after all.

And, in fact, when you stop and really think about it, you can’t think of a moment in your life where Richie wasn’t there for you, or a moment in your life when he wasn’t there at all.

That might be because Richie, unbeknownst to you, isn’t really an old, life-long friend. He–no, it’s–a demon. Not of the fire and brimstone persuasion, but the kind that can change reality to suit its particular needs. And make no mistake–Richie didn’t alter your memory or brainwash you; this reality-warping abomination from the Darkness at the End of the Dream has ventured across timelines and aeons before it found you. And, when it did, it changed history and reality itself so it could literally feed off of your existence.

And it’s been feeding off of you for a while now. Soon enough, the day will come when you look in the mirror and you hardly see yourself. Or maybe you’ll be sitting in a room and you’ll look around at everything and feel deep terror as you wonder why suddenly everything seems so nonsensical and paradoxical. And this existential nausea will begin to loop as the shadow in the shape of a friend looms in the corner of your vision. The nausea will trap you, and you’ll spend more and more of your time chasing your own tail as you try to nail down exactly how and why you exist. There will be whole days when that’s all you can do. Familiar comforts, like your favorite food from childhood or your favorite book, will stop seeming so familiar; it’ll start to disgust you, just like everything else. And as you near the end you’ll make a desperate attempt to reach out and go to family and friends, in hopes that they can restore your lost sense of self.

Except you’ll barely recognize them. And you’ll realize as you stare at their increasingly blurry faces that they’re not even acknowledging you.

But, when they don’t see you, they will see Richie, and they’ll greet him like flesh and blood. And, when everyone sits down to reminisce about the good old days, Richie will take your vacated place in their warped histories, histories you can no longer remember. And you’ll wander off into the twilight, dying slowly as a confused ghost, until the demon is fully fed. Until it is finally satisfied. And it’s then that you’ll be nothing but a lone thought, conscious and mad as you slowly sail away from the broken shores of human existence toward the Darkness at the End of the Dream to take the demon’s place.

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