She did not know she was possessed for the longest time.
She didn’t act like someone possessed. Not like in the movies anyway. She didn’t talk in other languages or curse people. She didn’t writhe on a dirty bed made dirtier by her own bodily fluids and desecration.
She did none of these things.
She seemed kind. She seemed sane. She was part of the normal, secular world, and would have laughed if you talked of religious things. She was a scientist, she would have said, studying the truly strange: quantum physics. That is far stranger than folklore, she would have said.
Perhaps she was right.
But it could be, I suppose, that the science she pursued was a portal of sorts. A way of the arcane to come though, on the wings of lofty science. Who knows? She would tell you odd stories about experiments, and at times sounded almost mystical when she did. But if you had suggested anything like that she would have castigated you for superstition and old-time thinking.
That is until the night she was almost mugged.
And I say almost advisedly.
She told me about that later, much later, for it took a long time for her to come to terms with what happened. With how she changed when under attack. With what she became. And with what became of the mugger, and the less said about that the better.
She became more than herself, less than herself, a wild and totally external force, moving within her, reaching out through her, taking down its prey. Protecting her perhaps, this vessel, this scientist, the new unknowing priest of the most ancient of religions.
“I didn’t know I was possessed,’ she told me eventually. She surveyed the charts and equations in her study, hung up around the room. “I was looking out there so long I didn’t know what I was looking at, or what might be looking right back at me, all that time.”
I tried to comfort her at first. I tried to reach out to embrace her, hug away her dismay and pain, but she recoiled.
“I cannot trust touch now, not at all,” she said. “Not after that. I do not know what it might awaken.”
I stepped back. I will admit it frightened me, that she frightened me now. For I thought I saw it, flickering in her eyes, and for a moment an entirely other face, superimposed on hers – wild, ancient, animalistic.
I do not now. Perhaps I imagined that. But I could never have imagined this woman of science claiming to be possessed without a real reason to do so.
I did pity her, it’s true, even if it seemed she held the most terrible guardian within. But I couldn’t stay, not with her, not anymore. Because I kept wondering why it protected her, what it wanted her to become.
What she would, inevitably, have to become, with that inside.
I do not want to know.
(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018