Walking with my somewhat crazy dog on one beautiful night early in summer, I spotted an entity hanging around a house of someone I knew, a campus minister at the college where I taught. The entity was surprised that I could see it. The entity tried to pop around hoping I wouldn’t be able to hold it in perspective. I recognized this maneuver and realized that I knew this entity from many years ago. I knew how to handle the I’m-just-dust-in-your-eye trick. I held out my hand as I kept my gaze on the entity, reached out, grabbed the entity by it shadowy edge and pulled it towards me. My dog, not sure what was going on, was barking loudly. I wasn’t far from home, so I kept the entity in my grip and walked my dog back to the house. As we walked, I heard the entity mumbling, “Not again, no, no, not again.” That confirmed my sense of who this entity was. I dropped off my dog in the house and then sat down on my front steps holding the squirming entity tightly.
“Sit down,” I said. The entity tried the now-I’m-big, now-I’m small trick. I looked it in the eye. “Do you think I’ve forgotten how to handle the likes of you. I’ve contained you.” I let go of the entity, but I still controlled it. It could not leave my presence until I said it was OK. The entity didn’t sit. It stood scowling as far away from me as my control allowed.
“Why have you come back,” I asked. The entity finally calmed down. It was not a good bluffer, so I could tell it was intent on trying to think of an excuse of why and how it returned when I had banished it over almost 30 years ago.
This entity was a demon. I don’t like to use the term “demon” because entities like the one I was holding love the hype and PR of being called “a demon.” In reality entities like this were spiritual thugs. Popular literature portrayed entities as fitting into a hierarchy of Hell. Hell had been splintered years ago. Entities had no special powers. They only had the ability to seduce humans hoping to get them to do what the entity wanted. They loved the popular mythology that pumped up the idea of evil being something powerful and impressive. These entities capitalized on all the fake stories that were tied to their kind. The demon reputation was a glamorous charade, but too often humans were taken in. These entities were no better than online scammers selling a phony bill of goods. I had learned this lesson early. Because I recognized them for what they were, entities stayed clear of me. Now and then I’d run into one. I usually would call the entity out and send it on its way. I had done exactly that with this entity.
I repeated, “Why have you come back.”
The entity sputtered and gasped as it tried to tell lies, but, held in my control, it could only tell me the truth. Finally, it sat down in frustration and said, ” I was asked and I can’t tell you what asked me.” I could tell that was the truth. By some trick, the entity could tell me who asked him to return to the place from which he had been banished. “Please, I spent the last 30 years in the dark dimension were you sent me. Something came along and gave me a way out if I would agree to come back here to Helena. It said I had practical knowledge of this city, and..” It struggled not to say the next sentence. ” I knew you. I warned him that you didn’t like me at all, at all. I had hurt some people you loved.”
That was true. This entity had built a following in the dorms at Carroll College when the drinking age was 18. He seduced students into a life of drunkenness beyond the normal look-I’m-independent craziness of college students. It had started to shape every aspect of life on the campus. I was give a job as the dorm director and over two years, I chased it up and down halls, at events, and throughout the campus. One weekend in April, I cornered it off campus at the annual softball tournament. I isolated in the outfield and sent it away, far away.
As the entity sat beside me, I could see it was different. In the years since I saw it last, it had lost some of its arrogance. “What can you tell me.”
“Probably things you already know. A battle is brewing around this mountain. You know that is why you are here. The forces that would claim this town, this area, are mounting an attack on multiple fronts. I was asked to come back and cause what trouble I could.”
I said, “Whatever sent you knew I had the number of your beast.”
“I am supposed to be a distraction, keep your consciousness busy, make you tired enough to miss what was really going on. I…I will help you,” it said surprising not only me but itself. I tried not to laugh. I was supposed to believe that it wanted to help. I looked more deeply into the spirit of the entity. I saw the small hint of light had been lit, the light of hope.
“I will trust you.” As I said that the light in the entity became larger more intense.
” I am different?” it said. “I know you can trust me up to a…..a…..”
“Up to a point,” I said. “Don’t worry, I’ll be vigilant. I’ll let you stay here as long as you can speak truth to me when I ask you. I have only one condition. The house I found you at, why were you there?” The entity started to stutter. I said, “Was that part of your mission here.”
“No, no,” it said. “I wanted to get back to the College. I missed it. In my life,I only felt free there. I saw a way back because the person in the house is vulnerable”
“I will let you stay in Helena, but you will not go near the College. If you enter its borders, you will be sent to a dimension darker than the last one.” I was very tired by this point. I let the entity free from my grasp. As it melted away from presence, it said, ” I accept, I promise.”
My focus drained, I sat on my front steps wondering what I had just done.