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How to Befriend the Monster in Your Closet

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Hi God, it's me again. I just moved to LA and I'm really lonely. I need someone to be my friend, someone who understands me. Maybe... you could send me an angel? Yeah! The nicest angel you have.

A lanky demon swaggered out of a chipped doorway, leaving behind a cacophony of blood-curdling screams that cut off abruptly with a resounding click as the door swung shut. He pretended not to notice his coworkers’ awestruck expressions as the glowing numbers on the far wall of the scare floor began to spin. "Shane Madej" ascended up and up, until it was perched nicely at the top of the scoreboard, knocking his biggest competition to his rightful position of second place.

Speaking of, Shane shot Brent a smirk as he passed by. "Nice lifeless zombie costume, man. So convincing. They're not gonna sleep for weeks!"

"What? I'm not wearing-" It dawned on the bespectacled demon. "WHY, YOU LITTLE-"

"I'm 6 foot 4, actually!" Shane called back cheerfully. He sniggered. What a great day.

In fact, most days were like this. As Inferno Power Systems’ top scarer, Shane had the pleasure of getting paid to terrify humans in any way he could imagine. Each night, he got to pass through hundreds of portals into various bedrooms to acquaint people with their worst fears. Ticking off his try-hard coworker was just a bonus.

Maybe you need more context. So, contrary to the stereotype, demons aren’t cruel. They just take what they need, in the form of delicious psychological terror. Humans call it "nightmares." Fear fuels the underworld, and it’s even a renewable resource. Can humans say that much about coal and natural gas?

Demons are kind of like mosquitoes, actually. Yeah. They take your blood, (but only some of it, calm down), and then leave you on your merry way. Plus, mosquitoes leave a red, irritated welt in the most convenient location to rub against your sock cuff for a week. Demons leave you with nothing. I mean, do you remember what you dreamt about last night? Or the last 365 nights before that? Demons visit more often than you’d think. It’s kind of comforting; you’re never really alone!

Okay, so it’s not a perfect system. Sometimes humans remember their dreams. Those sleep paralysis humanoids twerking in the corner of your room while you struggle to breathe? They were all real. Sorry. But did they hurt you? Nope. Not even so much as a bug bite.

Sometimes, it’s the human’s fault. Shane’s grown tired of the stereotypes associated with demons. Flickering lights. The stench of sulfur leaking through the walls. A static charge in the air, causing goosebumps to ripple up your arms. Devices turning on and off unexpectedly. Alexa™ ignoring your begging to please, please shut off the crying baby ASMR!

Uh, yeah, that’s all you. That’s your fear, causing your environment to go haywire. Really, demons are doing you a service by taking it off your hands. Actually, they’re almost like repairmen! Uh, repair demons. Sure, you might be quivering in a ball on the kitchen floor, but if you’d just looked up, you’d see your microwave oven is working again! You can dry those tears streaming down your face with some hot pockets!

Or, maybe not. Shane sometimes forgets humans can barely handle any level of heat. To Shane, you’re all Sharon asking if there’s a lower spice level than zero at an Indian restaurant. (Sharon’s not having a great time in hell right now. Shouldn’t have left all those disparaging restaurant reviews.)

Is it really so different from farmers collecting eggs from their chickens each morning? And humans are, truly, chickens. It's so easy to reduce people to hysterical scream-generators, it was getting boring. Like, all Shane had to do last night to scare some woman was shapeshift into a series of graphs and diagrams depicting how Earth is heating at an alarming rate and all she had to look forward to was mass extinction, natural disasters, widespread famine and plagues that'd make the Black Death seem like the common cold. Just that was enough to send her into cardiac arrest. (But not actual cardiac arrest. Jeez.) These days, the quickest way to terrify humanity is holding up a mirror. But Shane digresses.

The point is, Shane was a kickass demon. The best. On track to becoming the top scarer in the underworld.

That is, until he was assigned to scare Ryan Bergara.