01 Feb I Met a Demon on the Tokyo Subway
This story is a retelling of something that happened to me when I was seven years old. As the years have gone by and I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that the story cannot possibly be true, yet I can’t shake the feeling that it is.
It happened in Tokyo, in the subway station. I was standing with my father when I saw the demon, a monstrously tall and furry creature with leathery black wings and a snout like an anteater. I must have stared at him for close to ten minutes before he finally spoke, in a soft mutter that was clearly intended for his ears only.
“This human is creeping me out,” he said. “It almost looks like it’s looking right at me.”
“I am looking right at you,” I said.
The demon nearly jumped out of his skin. “You can see me?” he asked.
“Yes. Can’t everybody?”
“Not unless they’re in the fifth dimension.”
“Am I in the fifth dimension?” I asked.
“Your mind must have slipped over here by mistake. What were you thinking about before you saw me?”
I thought for a moment, and then grinned.
“Oh, well trains are the link between our dimensions. I guess your mind must have just wandered over here. Either that or you’re going crazy.”
“I hope I’m not going crazy,” I said.
“Being crazy is a good thing in the fifth dimension,” the demon replied.
“Do you have subway lines in the fifth dimension?” I asked.
“Of course,” he said. “How else would we get to work?”
”You’ve got wings!” I said.
“Yes, but who wants to fly? Taking the train is so much faster, and if I fly to work I’m all sweaty when I get there.”
“So what do you use your wings for?” I asked.
“I put them over my head when it rains.”
“Can I see?” I asked.
“Sure,” the demon said. My hair blew back as he swooped his enormous wings over his head.
I laughed again.
“You’re funny,” I said.
The demon laughed too, but then his expression changed.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “You seem sad.”
“Yes, yes.” the demon replied, not looking at me but at something behind me. “Say, would you like to see a magic trick?”
The demon reached up and tugged a big rainbow handkerchief out of his snout. He must have pulled out twenty feet before he ran out.
“That’s funny.” I laughed, but I stopped when I realized I wasn’t holding my dad’s hand anymore.
I looked around and saw the subway station had disappeared, replaced by flowing green meadows that were full of old trains.
“I can’t see the subway station anymore,” I said.
“That’s okay,” said the demon. “Sometimes it’s better to see what isn’t there instead of what is.”
“What do you mean?”
“Sometimes when I’m bored or sad, my mind slips off to the third dimension, and I see people like you.”
“That’s funny,” I laughed. “Can you go to other dimensions, too?”
But the demon didn’t answer, he was looking up at the sky.
“It’s starting to rain,” he said, whooshing his wings up over his head.
Warm droplets of rain hit my face.
“Can I get under your wings with you?” I asked.
“Not now,” he replied. “You’ve got to go home.”
The world began to shimmer and flow together like different shades of green and golden paint, spinning around faster and faster in circles. I started to feel a little sick, and I closed my eyes. The world stopped spinning, but warm droplets of water still fell on my face.
I opened my eyes and saw my mom crying over me, but I didn’t see my dad.
“Where’s dad?” I asked her. “Did he bring me home?”
“Yes, darling,” she said, although she didn’t look at me when she said it. “He brought you home and then he had to go away.”
“Oh,” I replied. “When will he be back?”
“I don’t know,” she said.
My dad never did come back, and it was years before I found out the truth: he had killed himself that day. That morning he had written a note to my mother explaining that he intended to bring me along and step in front of the train with me. My mother found it when she got home from work and called the police, but it was too late to stop my father. The witnesses say that just before he jumped I pulled away from his hand and ran off, fainting right after. But one of the witnesses, a little boy around my age, said that he saw something take my hand and lead me away from the speeding train.
He said it was a monstrously tall and furry creature, with leathery black wings and an anteater’s snout.