The Devil You Know
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
Written By Karthik Sunil
I woke up rather early today, given it was a Sunday and I was still hungover from last night. But the constant snoring and dripping noise wouldn’t let me go back to my paradise. I struggled to open my eyes but when I did, I woke up to my room covered in blood. The walls, ceiling, and floors were painted bright crimson red and the room's suffocating smell of iron invaded my nostrils. I looked around to find my roommate snoring away peacefully on her bed made of bones.
“ORLA! TURN THE ROOM BACK TO NORMAL! NOW!” I shouted with more energy than I thought I had. Maybe being surrounded by a pungent smell can really stir you up in the morning.
Orla woke up startled and after glancing in my direction, she lazily snapped her long, bony fingers twice. The room was not bloody anymore. The neat studio apartment with vibrant yellow and dull brown was back again, breathing with life. The sun shone brightly through the windows making my eyes squint and a part of me regretted asking her to redecorate the room. Oh, I almost forgot to introduce my lovely roommate, Orla. Let’s start with the fact that she’s a literal demon.
I didn’t know about this when I first met her seven months ago. I was looking for a suitable roommate in Chennai, and she approached me as a “friend of a friend’s”. Orla told me that she was a Canadian exchange student specializing in hematology (this was probably the first red flag when I think about it) and needed a place to stay for a year. I wondered why a Canadian would want to come to Chennai and she answered my thoughts, confessing that the weather made her feel at home (another red flag). She seemed cool, so I thought it’d work out; it was only a year after all. But things started to get really weird when she finally moved in. The room would randomly reek of dead animals at times, canisters filled with blood (for her ‘projects’, apparently) would be lying around, and random power outages were frequent (which was probably just the electricity board, but whatever). She did a good job covering up the murders and magic but eventually, she blew it.
Orla or Onoskelis, was actually a Jewish demon in the form of a 21-year-old, seeking refuge in my apartment. Apparently, she had a tussle with her parents and was banished from Hell. Now she was forced to live with mortals like us. She could keep her supernatural powers for some reason and can still very much transform back to her original form (gave me nightmares for a week straight). I soon learnt that reporting to the authorities wouldn’t do much after the landlord’s three dogs and a cat ‘mysteriously’ disappeared when I tried ratting Onoskelis out. I don’t know how, but we’ve somehow learnt to live with each other, setting aside our differences (which may or may not include two horns). But it gets really annoying when she turns the room into a bloody mess. It’s something she does so she can feel more at home; helps her sleep at night when there are IPL matches going on. My friends and family did say living with a roommate would be hell but I did not expect mine to be from Hell itself.
I freshened up and got to making a nice breakfast for myself. As I poured the dosa batter onto the hot tawa, I decided to interrupt her snoring.
“Today’s the big day, huh? You ready for it?” I asked her, still fixated on the tawa to make a perfect spiral. Onoskelis can go back home today. Her father gave her a second chance after she proved her might by murdering a few rabbis and introducing a couple of teens to heavy metal. Orla’s kind of nervous to go back since she’s been away for so long. So long to the point that she started liking it here. She confessed that she liked bowling and watching sunrises even though she didn’t understand why we did it.
“Yeah, I am I guess,” she replied hesitantly as she woke up and sat on her custom bed. She did a couple of stretches and walked over to the kitchen to steal my plate of dosa and old chutney.
“It’ll be fine, right? It’s been so long, I even forgot how to use portals from back home. Hopefully the hippie’s ritual works.” She stated in a sombre tone as she stuffed her face with moist food.
“Of course, it’ll be fine, you’re going back to the place you belong. The only thing you need to be sad about is that you won’t find another mortal like me!” I joked as I sat on the couch with my plate.
“Yeah, right. You remember that time when you came home drunk with a girl but I changed a few things around the house?” Orla asked as she looked at me with a smirk.
“Yeah, because you thought it’d be funny to play a prank on me by adding dead carcasses around the house. How can I forget.” I replied with a smile as I reminisced on the multiple other pranks she pulled off like turning the water black while I was shaving or filling the bathtub with blood. She would even steal my food at times, while trying her best to defend herself from the crime. ‘I thought it was mine’ doesn’t sell very well when you’re a supernatural creature that mainly feeds on human flesh. Orla was only a teen in her timeline but she still had all her demonic flair.
“Ah, and you would chide me for leaving remains in the cupboard without sealing it. Good times man, good times. I’m going to miss you, you know. Probably can’t come back here for a while, so I might pop into your dreams once in a while.” She said, interrupting my retrospection session.
“Ah ha, I don’t think I’ll need any of that. I’ve seen your true appearance enough times for a lifetime supply of nightmares. Don’t you have to leave now?” I asked her, reminding her she has to be at the ritual at the right time.
“Oh shoot, you’re right. I’m going to leave now. It was fun staying here with you. I learnt a lot and definitely had a blast messing with you.” She playfully punched me (but with enough force to leave a bruise) and hugged me with her stone-cold arms. We said our last goodbyes and she walked out the front door.
I washed the dishes and sat back on the couch to watch some TV. I mindlessly switched through the numerous soaps and news channels. I thought about the hassle-free life for the next few months until I was done with my masters. Now that Onoskelis was gone, there would be no more rancid meat in the fridge or missing pets in the building; a more peaceful life was waiting for me. But I guess it will get lonely at times. Like her throwing tantrums when I bring back offerings from the temple, or me snooping around her stuff only to get hurt by some spell or something. Even though she might’ve made my life living hell (no pun intended), I’m gonna miss her. As I was sulking away on my couch, the doorbell rang. Wondering who it might be, I eagerly rushed to answer the call. I swung open the door to find a goat’s head lying on the floor upon a pool of blood with a note reading “With Love - Orla xx” accompanying the ‘gift’. Well, I take it back. I am not gonna miss her.