They say that if you face two mirrors at each other at midnight, you can summon a demon. And I once had the brilliant idea to face two mirrors together to join our world with the spiritual world.
When I was around five-years-old, I had a bad dream. It was so terrifying that it woke me up.
Above me in the dim light, I could see the light bulb hanging from the roof. Being a child, I was relieved that it was just a dream and sighed. I’d already forgotten what the dream was about, but I knew that whatever it was, it had been terrifying.
Next thing I knew, something was moving around at my feet. I glanced down, and I saw something moving down there. ‘Huh?’ I thought and sat up. Although thinking about it now, it might be more correct to say that something made me sit up.
Something was down there. The demon I’ve battled several decades with.
That thing was only 30 centimetres in front of me. It was right there, before me as I sat up. It looked to be a child around the same age as me. Its hair grew lifeless and flat, but its eyes sparkled unnaturally. It reminded me of a demon you might see in an old picture scroll.
Of course, being a five-year-old I didn’t really know much about demons or that sort of thing. That’s my opinion now as an adult. I don’t remember if it had clothes on or not, but I still clearly remember what it had in its hand.
It held a sickle for cutting grass in its right hand, and it glared up at me. I was so scared that I froze on the spot with my legs out. I wasn’t paralysed, but I couldn’t move either.
Knowing that I couldn’t move, the demon proudly brandished its sickle high in the air. It laughed, its voice shrill and high pitched, and then it brought the sickle down on my legs. It sliced right through one of them at the knee.
No blood poured forth from the wound, but I could see something red. Oddly, it didn’t hurt. I tried to scream, but no voice came out.
The demon brought the sickle down again, this time slashing through my other knee. Now that I was unable to do anything, the demon climibed up on top of me, this time cutting my arms off. Finally, I had become a human Daruma, limbless.
Then I woke up. Yeah. It was just a dream. That horrible, cruel yokai had been just a dream. This time I looked up at my familiar ceiling.
Suddenly, something moved at my feet. ‘Huh?’ I thought, finding it strange. I sat up.
It was there. That demon was there again. It had snuck out of my dreams and was right before me. It held a sickle in its hand, and just like in my dream, it glared at me.
Once again I went stiff, and again it cut off all my limbs, laughing with its shrill voice.
Uwa, what the hell! It wasn’t a dream?!
Again I woke up. I nervously looked down at my feet. This time there was nothing there… maybe. No, I was wrong. It was there again. The demon was there, holding that sickle. Just like before, it cut my limbs off. It seemed to be greatly enjoying my fear.
Again I woke up. Again the demon was there. Again it cut my limbs off. How long would this go on for? This bottomless swamp of a dream.
I woke up from the dream, encountered the demon, it cut my limbs off, and then I woke up. This repeated over and over endlessly, like the dream contained numerous layers all piled on top of each other. I couldn’t escape it. At some point I just stopped caring, and then I fell asleep. Maybe it would be better to say I fell unconscious…
This bad dream didn’t end in a single day. Suddenly, I woke up. I looked down at my feet. Wwere they okay? Was that demon still there?
I slowly reached out and touched my own legs. My thighs were still there. I leaned forward and searched even further. My knees were also still there. I sighed in relief. Below that was… nothing. My hands floated in the air beneath my knees. Huh? No way!
I sat up and the demon appeared before me. It had already cut my legs off before I woke up. It laughed cruelly, and again I passed out.
The next day, and the day after that, for the next week the same nightmare continued. The same dream, the same contents, over and over as though it was making sure I understood it well.
I grew too scared to go to sleep. I grew scared of waking up during the night. If I did, then that demon would probably be shuffling around at my feet. That fear meant that if I did wake up during the night, I couldn’t look down. I was too scared to check if my legs were still there by feeling as well. I closed my eyes and prayed to fall asleep again. That was all I could do.
No matter how much I tried, I was unable to forget the bad dream. Being a five-year-old, there was nothing else I was scared of at the time, and it became a traumatic memory for me. I became too scared to fall asleep and suffered from chronic insomnia.
But that wasn’t all. I grew worried that one day I would have an accident and become disabled. Maybe that demon holding the sickle actually represented a shinigami.
As bad things happened around me, I came to sense a black shadowy presence. Something was watching over me. This black shadow could see right to the bottom of my heart, and it was waiting for its opportunity to strike. Once the chance presented itself, it would attack.
That black shadow possessed other people on occasion, changing them completely as it tormented me. It wasn’t a case of suspicious begetting idle fears. I was unable to trust anyone outside of myself because I wasn’t sure when they might turn and try to harm me. I was more tense than I should have been as a child, and carried the same amount of tension as a regular adult did.
Looking back on my short life, I’d been hit with an unreasonable amount of misfortune. Fate moved me against my own will in a direction I didn’t want to face.
Its goal seemed to be to exhaust my nerves and destroy me. Something was undoubtedly working against me. That demon from my dreams became a black shadow circling around me, indirectly attacking me through other people, and when I wasn’t paying attention, it would then directly attack.
As my nerves frayed, I was overwhelmed by an indescribable feeling of being caged in. All I could sense from it was evil. Every now and then I felt like Job from the Old Testament.
The dream world that repeated over and over. Fear interweaved with fear, forming multiple layers of it. Just like two mirrors facing each other. Inside the mirror was another mirror. Inside that yet another. This continued endlessly. My dream was exactly the same as that.
And, just as the legend states, did my dream summon a demon from the opposing mirrors? Was it something that was neither demon nor yokai?
Sometimes I wonder if what I think is the world is really just my dream continuing on. Maybe I haven’t woken up from the multiple layers and I’m still trapped inside my own body. Like a fleeting dream of prosperity, when I suddenly open my eyes, maybe I’ll be back in my five-year-old body…