I Can’t Be Sure, but I Believe There Is a Demon From Hell Living in My Refrigerator

Fiction.

Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

--

I can’t be 100 percent sure, but I believe there is a demon from hell living in my refrigerator.

Which has been interesting, to say the least. But, honestly, not as negative an experience as you’d anticipate it to be. Seriously. I’m not all, “Hail Satan!” by any means and am not writing semi-positively about this frightening creature because I am under any duress or whatever — so I genuinely mean this. Early on, we agreed to keep the propagandistic religious discourse to a minimum (very few want to be continuously cajoled into potentially joining a cult by anyone, let alone someone they live with), and we did a pinkie/claw swear that he wouldn’t make any attempts to possess me. This has kept me from being proactive regarding finding a way to get him out of the fridge and back to the dry heat where he came from, which would be the tendency for most humans.

I acknowledge a demon from hell shouldn’t be trusted with what seems like a pretty loose agreement like that, or most anything at all, but apparently to him a pinkie swear is sacrosanct. Said last time he broke one of those he ended up getting demoted from being able to mercilessly torture mortal sinners with a pitchfork to serving his former vocational equals potato salad during their breaks, using only a spork, for several millennia. I believed this, because there’s no way someone would be able to just make up something that ridiculous off the top of their head, and deliver the fib with a straight face while sobbing uncontrollably about the alleged memory. Seemed like the kind of thing that would stick with you.

And while I vowed I’d never have another platonic roommate after the last dude I lived with kept coming into my room at all hours while zooted on Ambien to try and cuddle, mistaking me for his ex-wife, It’s been mostly palatable. In fact, I kind of enjoy his company. Someone to talk to, at least. And if it ever gets to be too much, I just don’t open the fridge for a while. It’s important to take space if you live in the same small abode as another entity, regardless of the nature of the relationship.

The fridge in the kitchen. That’s where the demon from hell lives. I wanted to clarify, because I also have a mini fridge next to my fake leather couch featuring reclining seats on both ends, full of Zima (I know a guy) with a few tall skinny cans of some drink called Loverboy that I kept seeing on Summer House (product placement works wonders) and a small kegerator with cold-brew coffee on tap (because my pretension knows no bounds, and I had to stop loading it with beer because of rather frequent gout flareups).

I am a grown child with a modest sum of adult money, very few responsibilities and I don’t mess with Crypto or have refined taste when it comes to literally anything at all (to the point it’s at least a borderline red flag to some folks). The result? I have some superfluous possessions.

Despite the fact that the night I discovered him serendipitously or coincidentally coincided with the night that I first partook in psychedelic mushrooms, I am very confident that he is real, this demon from hell living in my refrigerator. I understand and appreciate your skepticism. It’s warranted. I mean, I was heavily out of my mind (yet somehow more present than ever, if you can dig that like a pig huntin’ for a truffle), to the point that, at very first glance when I opened the refrigerator — because I for some reason desperately wanted, no needed, to fondle a bread and butter pickle chip slathered in chocolate pudding and some Old Bay, for grit, didn’t even wanna eat it, though — to see glowing orange eyes glaring all ornery at me, like it was his goddamn fridge or something, I thought for sure it was very real. So real that high logic indicated it could not, possibly, really be real.

“You should probably get a few episodes of Third Rock From the Sun in, maybe listen to a few tracks from the Sara Bareilles live album and then hit the hay, my dude,” I said out loud to myself while having a very difficult time assembling the concoction I felt I must hold in my hands, pronto. “Bedtime for Bonzo. I’m sure you’ll wake up and not even remember this, and realize the demon from hell is gone, if it was ever there at all, which is unlikely.”

I woke up naked in the basement laundry room (I live on the 12th floor), on a dirty couch from the 70s, spooning a vintage Sting Wrestling Buddy doll. From where said doll came from, I do not and likely will not ever know.

One fun thing about psychedelic-induced somnambulation that compels your subconscious to strip your body of clothing is that you sometimes find yourself in a position far from home, with a treacherous road ahead to get back to your proper bed with a weighted blanket and special cervical comfort pillow. And at some point, you realize that even if you do make it back to your door, you are naked and so do not have keys with which to gain entry, unless they are hidden somewhere similar to where Richard Gere allegedly has stored at least one hamster.

So in addition to getting back to your apartment, in the buff, you’re going to have to veer off course to get a temporary key from your doorman. A real treacherous Oregon Trail that is sure to test your resolve. You check your hands to find that at least you had the slight presence of mind to wash your hands after feeling the smooth texture of the pudding/pickle concoction for what could have been 30 seconds or several hours.

You check the washers and dryers for some garments or a blanket, anything. Nothing doing. You turn around to just leg it up the stairs and run into the lobby and go from there, kinda bat-winging it, come what may.

Just as you’re about to really do it, when you’re muttering at your shriveled dick because it’s cold down there and now not only are you gonna be seen naked with all your bits out, but with them far from at their Sunday Morning’s Before You Get Too Drunk Best, Mrs. Brafton from 12C comes bustin’ through the doors with a whole mess of delicates in a bushel under her arm.

“The one fucking place I didn’t bring my mace,” she hisses to herself and then begins to beat you for a while, until she finally recognizes you as her next to the next door neighbor and hears you out a bit. Runs and gets you a blanket, also snags the spare key from the doorman for you, says she’s taking care of your plants while you’re outta town for work and she accidentally locked herself out. Crafty minx, that one. You put it on your mental list to get her a fruit basket or something to show your appreciation. It’s like she gets off on the whole thing, which you find to be awesome. You know any sort of dalliance cannot happen at present, however. She is married and you are not so far removed from your last relationship that you have reached a level of desperation that would tempt you into having a go at seducing a married woman who lives right down the hall from you. But if you ever do decide to try and pull off a good old fashioned home-wrecking, you remind yourself to remind yourself that husbands are hurdles, not walls.

So she escorts you home and before she leaves you say, “Can you please never tell anyone about all this?”

She chuckles sinisterly, says, “Oh. I am going to tell everybody.”

And you’re like, “Tough. But ultimately fair.”

And she’s like, “Unless you take me. If you take me now, and you take me good. if we can never tell anyone about this, then it never happened. It only happened to us.”

“Well, what about Morris, though?”

“No harm if it never really happened. And don’t say his name again.”

Buy the ticket, take the ride. You give each other a shot at the title, though you don’t feel your performance is up to par because you may still be intoxicated, and are certainly not well rested. She leaves. You reckon this won’t be the last time, so you’ll likely have a chance to prove yourself again, if she wasn’t too put-off by your first lackluster love-making session.

If you never tell anyone about something, you can do that thing endlessly. This does not apply to crystal meth.

Two roads at this point, far as you can see: You can go back to bed, or you can play through. You choose the latter. Having just got laid for the first time since, well, it’s been a while, you feel rejuvenated, albeit dehydrated. So you go to the refrigerator for a morning Mountain Dew and then, well, the demon is there again. Maybe it had never left.

Wondering if you are still high and how long that might last, you text the friend who gave you the shrooms and executed a pretty nice trip sit, until they left you to your own devices and, well, you know. Hesitant to tell them you’ve potentially seen a demon, you simply ask how long it’ll be until you’re once again sober.

“Oh, you should definitely be totally fine by now,” they respond. “Especially because you did just a wee amount; like a micro-dose. I’m surprised you really even got more than a little spaced, to be honest.” This does not bring you comfort, and you check shrooms off your list of recreational pastimes.

“Why me?” I wondered. My apartment? Specifically the refrigerator? Was this common, insofar as demon inhabitation of devices go? Was Ghostbusters actually based on a true story? It vexed me, but for a while I was really afraid to try and interact with this demon from hell. But also afraid to try and do anything about it, as I still wasn’t sure if he was real or not. This frightened me more than anything. I’m sure you can understand this. So I kept it to myself, hoping like an undiagnosed cold sore it would just go away after a few days and was not, like, that kind of a cold sore. And, just like most with a cold sore would, I did copious amounts of internet searching, to try and figure out what might be going on, and to find resources that could potentially provide help if and when the time came.

Turns out a non-fictional version of the Ghostbusters doesn’t actually exist, and would probably only make house calls if you were hot as Sigourney Weaver anyway, though there are many vaguely people and organizations salivating to investigate this kind of thing (none seemed to have proton packs, unfortunately). I bookmarked a few, just in case.

Also bought some sage.

A few days passed and every time I’d open the fridge, he’d be right there, looking back out at me, but not doing too much. I just kind of pretended like he wasn’t there, grabbing whatever I needed quickly as possible then slamming the door shut. I tried to keep the times i pulled open the door to a minimum, like you would if the electricity was down and you didn’t want to let all the cold air out. I took to mostly using the external water and ice dispenser, and relied on takeout more heavily than I normally would, often eating way over my normal portions so I wouldn’t have leftovers that needed to be refrigerated.

Active avoidance is kind of my thing.

I hadn’t even told my therapist about all this, for fear of the reaction and the prospect of a potential diagnosis I was certainly not ready to hear or try to digest. Nobody wants to be told by someone who knows what they’re talking about that you have just maybe lost your grip on reality. No stranger at all to mental illness, it was always in the back of my mind that things would get worse, evolve in a very negative way, and I didn’t want to consider how I might handle that, if I could at all.

But one evening I needed mayo, come what may, and that was the first time he talked to me.

“Man, it’s colder than a witch’s tit in here,” he said. No pleasantries or introductions to start with or anything. I supposed this was his equivalent to starting a mundane conversation about the weather, as is the default of so many, but could only comment on the climate in my KitchenAid, since that was where he had been staying or trapped or whatever for what had been almost a full week.

I reasoned that a demon from hell might actually know just how cold a witch’s tit is.

I immediately slammed the door shut and commenced freaking out. It becomes a whole new ballgame when something you’re seeing actually speaks to you.

However, in a moment of bravado tapped from a well I did not know existed, I opened the door again, crouched down to be at eye level with his orange irises and deep purple pupils, and said, “Well then, why are you in there?”

“Not much of a choice, mate,” he said, without a hint of an Australian or British accent. He sounded strangely like Casey Kasem, actually. “When I crossed over, this is where I landed. And this is where I will stay for now.”

Cryptic, kind of. Which tracked. I didn’t know his own personal brand, but that vibe is what you might expect from a demon from hell. I asked him to elaborate. Didn’t know what else to do and didn’t want to come off as rude. I had no idea what he might be able to do to me.

“It’s not like they gave me options. I would’ve chosen a refrigerator at a place on the Cayman Islands or something — though I guess it doesn’t really matter where you are if you’re stuck in a refrigerator and can’t go take in the sights or anything. I’d have at least chosen one with French doors and a bit more space, though this one is, I admit, the most empty refrigerator I have ever occupied.”

Subtle dig that I had gotten from several humans who had darkened my doorstep, including the ex, who would occasionally stock it with health foods and be disappointed when she would next return to find that all the produce had gone bad without having moved an inch.

“Okay, but why a refrigerator?”

“You seen Ghostbusters?”

“About a million times. Fun fact: My sister’s middle name is Janine because of that movie.”

“Really? Wow, super fan over here. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. But yeah, the Great Designer of the exchange program loves it more than anything, a big Harold Ramis fan, that cat, and so when designing how it all works, he felt like a nod to his favorite film would be a nice homage.”

“That’s strange.”

“Honestly mate, what about this isn’t strange to you? But it’s true — and I don’t think he gave it too much logical thought, as we’re prettyyyy used to warmer temps, and this takes the whole ‘fish-out-of-water’ element of what I am doing here to an extreme. I guess he meant it as some sort of test of will? I’m unsure. But I’m adapting.”

“What do you mean by exchange program?”

“You know how your boss’s boss hasn’t been seen nor heard from in about a week?”

“Um. Yeah.”

“Well…”

“Are you saying he’s in hell so you can be here?”

“In a manner of speaking, that is what I’m saying.”

“What? Why? How? Why him? I just assumed he was in rehab or something.”

“Think we can agree he’s a bit of a prick, to say the very least. And he is in a rehab of a sort. Just, you know, not at the Betty Ford Center.”

“I have referred to him as a demon from hell before, now that I think of it. And he was said to rather regularly dance with the Devil’s Dandruff.”

“Sheesh, mate. That’s some low-hanging fruit and you know it. And it’s not like he’s drying out or anything — though I suppose he is, insofar as there is no cocaine in hell, at least not for those undergoing torture. That’d be counterintuitive. Sometimes the minions get to blow a few rails, as a treat, depending on how we closed out the quarter.”

“Sorry. i guess I should not have compared him to a demon from hell without some knowledge of what y’all are like.”

“It’s cool. Forgive the pun. It just gets my horned goat that people tend to have such a skewed in inaccurate conception about what real demons from hell do. So much has been said about us in the press, all the way back before there was even such thing as a printing press, and it’s all extremely misleading. I’ve been misinterpreted since almost literally forever. There is of course the element where we do really bring the torturous elements when someone is really bad enough to spend eternity in hell, which is more difficult to achieve than you might think, it’s almost got to be malicious, for one, and sustained throughout a lifetime, not often a judgment based on one action, one horrible mistake, unless it’s really bad. Like, Oppenheimer is down there for good, for example. But what we do is more nuanced, more an attempt to restore some semblance of balance, or at least give people a chance to correct their ways.”

“So you don’t just do evil, or try to coax people into evil?”

“That’s correct. I don’t necessarily enjoy resorting to well-worn philosophical platitudes, but I will say that hell is indeed mostly other people. Not the actual tried-and-true demons.”

“My ex-girlfriend has that tattooed in French.”

“‘Hell is other people?’”

“Uh-huh.”

“Yeah, see what I mean?”

I didn’t feel much like bashing my ex with a demon from hell living in my refrigerator, and I was curious about all this, so I said, “So then, what is the deal with my boss’s boss?”

“So it’s like this: They’re keeping it a secret at the start-up, but he is currently in a coma. Whilst in said coma, he is on what you might call a warm-weather retreat. A little bit of a living purgatory with a performance improvement program built in, if you will.”

“Wow. He is in hell?”

“His spirit, yup.”

“That’s kinda rad.”

“Well, he’ll only be there for a while — long enough to realize the errors of his ways and correct course, or else. ‘Else’ being he dies on Earth and that’s that. Then he will be there forever. If he shows some progress and properly repents for some of the things he’s done, however, he gets to come back and give it another pass. It’s a real opportunity, and it has shown some great results in the people with enough strength and fortitude to really change their ways.”

“And you’re here while he goes through that process?”

“Very astute. It’s a bit of a swap, for lack of a better term. Gotta make room at the inn, so to speak. So when we embark on a project like this, one of us gets to venture into the realm of the living for a while. We go back when they come back.”

“What if he doesn’t do well — doesn’t, you know, come back?”

“We’ve got a pretty low rate of failure on this project so far, so I’m not operating under that assumption. But if that were to be the case, which is highly unlikely, like astronomically so…”

“…I don’t know. He’s a pretty massive douche bag…”

“…Then I get to walk this planet for one dozen years exactly.”

“Why a dozen years?”

“It seems arbitrary, but there’s method to it. That’s actually the amount of time it generally takes the contractors to complete a hell expansion project, so we can accommodate more mere mortals and demons simultaneously — though they always say it’ll only take them like two weeks. Their estimates are pretty flawed, and the project management could use some serious work.”

“Well, that’s interesting. And what are you supposed to do while you’re here?”

“Collect research to better inform how we can maintain the program’s success, and build upon it. We’re always trying to innovate down there, and it’s a pretty nice environment where trial and error is widely embraced. We could use more budget, but isn’t that always the case?”

“This is blowing my mind.”

He looked around the refrigerator and shrugged, said, “I mean, it probably should.”

“But how are you supposed to do all this research from…from a refrigerator?”

“Therein lies the rub, mate. I can either keep shop set up in here, hoping you’ll engage in more conversations with me, but that’s not much of a focus group, is it? You can, if you say the right word, let me out, and I can clandestinely do some fact-finding out there in the real world. That’d be the ideal scenario. All you’ve got to say is the one word and I will be set free, though I will do nothing nefarious or even disruptive. I’m but a common observer. I promise you this.”

“Sounds like making a deal with the devil.”

“Seriously, dude. Okay. I get it. It’s tough to shrug off a life of misconception about what hell may or may not be, if it indeed exists at all, but I only get to do this every now and again, and the times when I get out are much more fruitful and beneficial to humanity at large than if i’m stuck in a fridge like R. Kelly in a closet.”

“That’s not the best analogy. It’d be better if that guy had stayed trapped in a closet.”

“Oh, for real? What happened with him? I haven’t been keeping up. Been a while since I’ve been back.”

“Another story for another day.”

“Anyway, you gonna let me out of here, mate?”

“Would that mean you’re crashing here for a while or…?”

“Yeah, but I won’t be a nuisance. I clean up after myself. I’ve even seen glimpses of this place and will volunteer to clean it up for you, as a sign of appreciation. It could, if you don’t mind my saying so, use some sprucing up. I’ll just spend a little time here, but mostly out taking copious notes, etcetera. You’d be doing me a real solid if you were to grant me the ability to do some diligent research.”

One thing about me is that I will often do things if there’s potential to experience something interesting that will likely make for a story to tell at a later date, even if it could prove detrimental to myself and occasionally those around me. And I happened to be not only bored, but a little bit lonely. Figured I’d shake things up in a supremely weird way.

“Well, alright then. What’s the word I gotta say? And I don’t have to take a blood oath or anything, right? This is all gonna be above board?”

“Yep. The word is ‘cunt.’”

“Jesus Christ.”

“Actually a friend of mine. Good guy. Always apologizing for not having more control over the narrative that surrounded him, even though that was by no means his fault. But no, gonna need the other word. Jesus Christ is two words anyway, professor.”

“Really? I have to say ‘cunt?’”

He let out a Kasem-esque chuckle.

“If you had to, you just have, but that’s just a little joke I like to do. If you’re not having some fun with it, what are you really even doing?”

“That’s true.”

“The word is ‘Papaya.’”

“That’s a weird selection.”

“Oh, okay, so that’s what’s going to trip you up about this whole thing? I don’t know why that’s the word. I don’t make the fucking rules.”

“Good point. Okay. Fine. Papaya.”

With that, he disappeared. I stuck my head in the fridge like Sylvia Plath trying to cool off after deciding she wanted to live, if that were the way it had gone down. But nothing. I figured maybe I had been imagining the whole thing and that by engaging with the demon that maybe wasn’t real and was all just in my head, by acknowledging him, he had made his egress from my psyche.

But when I closed the fridge and turned around he was sitting on the kitchen island.

“What are your thoughts on getting some Chinese?” he asked.

I’ve never said no to that in my life.

--

--

Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

I write books (for fun, and you can find them on Amazon), ads (for a living) and some other stuff (that seems to magically show up on the internet).