"Um…Neuro, do…do demons…do they dream?" It was better to ask without being specific, Yako decided. Perhaps it was possible to get the demon to help her without him knowing the full story, she figured.
It was another stoic day at the office, and Yako had been given another large stack of newspapers and magazines to go through. So far, the girl had just barely managed to stay awake in anticipation of bringing up her issue with Neuro, and not to mention the anxiety of wondering how to do so.
Neuro raised an eyebrow, only sparing his servant a small sideways glance.
"Of course," He answered simply. "Why would you think differently? Although you may be miles below me on the evolutionary scale, all sentient, living beings can dream."
"Ah, really?" Yako shrugged off the insult; she barely noticed it in her daze. "Well…what kinds of things do they dream about?"
Neuro spared Yako another glance to check if she was still working; he wasn't used to casual conversation with her, although he could tell it wasn't just that. Noticing his eyes on her, Yako quickly looked back down at the newspaper she was holding. The demon flicked a paperclip across the desk at the girl for slacking off—it hit her square in the forehead.
"Different subjects, obviously."
Yako decided to persist.
"…Like what?" She made sure to keep her eyes down at the paper as she rubbed the spot on her head where the metal paperclip had made solid contact; she could feel a small, painful lump forming.
Yako could tell she was getting nowhere. She would have to play closer to the subject.
"Are they nice dreams?"
"Unsystematically, yes." Why was she being so imprecise?
This wasn't getting any easier.
"W-Well…what about bad ones?" Dangerously close to admitting her problem.
"What about them?" A grin formed on Neuro's face—so that's what it was.
"Never mind," Yako quickly mumbled, going back to concentrate on her work. She was silent for awhile before she added, "I was just curious."
The rest of poor Yako's day passed rather uneventfully; without anticipation to keep her up, she nodded off several times. Neuro, originally waking the girl up violently each time she had fallen asleep, had now resorted to balancing a dangerous-looking, ticking instrument on her head. He informed her rather cheerfully that if it was to fall when she nodded off, it would explode into arrows of fire in her face. The demon was pleased when this method seemed to keep his servant on-edge enough to stay awake, as her weak human body's need for so much sleep was getting quite annoying. And as much as he enjoyed torturing the girl, it really was troublesome to stop what he was doing so often to kick her—quite literally—back on track.
Apparently, Neuro had not been lying about the use of the object which he had placed on Yako's head, for by the time Yako was headed for home, she had nodded off twice under its usage, and now she could feel that her eyebrow was slightly singed. She pouted as she ran her hand gently along the burned hair; stupid Neuro. Well, he had set her head on fire before, so it was not as if this was anything new. She was rather disappointed that she hadn't gotten any help from Neuro, but it couldn't be helped; she couldn't expect him to understand after all, and, even if he did, she reminded herself that he wouldn't be intent on helping her. It was a stupid idea to want to ask him in the first place, she scolded herself.
Again, when she arrived home, Yako feared falling asleep. She knew it was inevitable, but especially with the appearance of her father in her last nightmare, she did not want to experience it again. When she noticed that she was shaking, Yako bit her lip and tried to cheer herself up. At least tomorrow was Saturday, so she wouldn't have to endure school. She scoffed at herself; what kind of condolence was that? To stall her sleepiness, she changed into her pajamas and then went into the bathroom to take a look at her singed eyebrow. Yako flipped on the light and noticed Neuro had apparently written on her face again in her sleep; she sighed. When her paranoia kicked in and she saw movement in the corner of the mirror, however, she quickly left the bathroom without bothering to wash the marker off—it would inevitably come off in her sleep, anyways, nonetheless on her pillow—and then she collapsed on her bed, curling herself underneath the covers as if they were protective shields. Within a few seconds, she was out like a light.
The parade, then the mist and the silent field. She calls out, and there are two tries in vain, one with an echo, and one she could hear. The sickening noise. And then the blackened, sticky rain. She trips, and the torn and rotting corpses dragged her down. The old barn, the boards crack. She falls, and the black water consumes her. In the red glow of the doll's eyes, she sees the mutilated face grinning down at her. The dream continues again, and she is haunted by her father's smiling face, only to have him rot and sink away seconds after.
Yako's eyes flickered open; once again, she could not move. She was frozen to the spot, on her back, looking up. With all her willpower, she tried to shift her arms, her toes, her finger, even her eyes—anything. And yet just as it was last night, it was impossible. That unworldly fear pierced through her again, and she found herself breathing fast, too fast. She felt herself getting dizzy, and she knew it was hyperventilating, but she could not stop herself; her fear doubled, if it was possible, when movement formed in the corners of her eyes.
"Mom," The girl attempted to call out, but the only thing that escaped her lips was a small squeak. Suddenly she remembered that her mother was still half way around the globe on a business trip.
"Father," He was dead, but no one thinks clearly when in a state of panic. Yet again, however, only a squeak.
"Someone…anyone…" The words sounded muffled and incomprehensive. "Anyone," she called again, and this time she could hear her voice clearly, if a bit muffled. However, she received no answer.
And then Yako heard movement on the ceiling. Panicking, she concentrated her vision, trying to see through the darkness. Wait. The ceiling. That meant…
"Neuro!" She called weakly.
Never before had she been so delighted, so relieved that the demon had snuck into her home, into her bedroom, to stake-out on the ceiling while she slept. Normally, she would have been annoyed—even disconcerted—but in that moment, the wave of relief that passed over her was like a warm bath of sunshine. That sunshine was quickly distinguished, however, when her eyes adjusted to the minimal light and something crawled into view overhead.
It was not Neuro. Grinning, snarling down at her was the face from her nightmares; that eerie, grotesque, parasite-infested face, pure malice radiating from every one of its pores on its slopping, sagging skin, bloody and torn. The dark holes where its eyes should have been were like empty voids, black holes sucking in all the light in the room. Its head rested on its body in a rather peculiar fashion; the thing crawled, skittering and dragging its mangled body along the ceiling as if it were the floor, and yet the head was twisted backwards to stare down at her—that is, if something could really stare with empty eye sockets. Yako swore she could hear its putrid breath as it twisted around the corners of the room and eventually, even with its sporadic movements, it was making its way closer. Eventually it came close enough so that it had positioned itself directly above her; she could definitely hear it now, not only its breathing but the sound of it gnashing its broken teeth together, saliva flowing around its tongue. She wanted to scream. More than anything, at that moment, as she stared back at the creature above her, she wanted to scream. Her breath was shaky and quick, and if she could have managed it, she would have screamed as if there was no tomorrow; of course, with this thing in her bedroom, perhaps there really wouldn't be. But yet Yako was still frozen rigid on her bed, helpless and vulnerable to the vile thing looming above her.
And then the creature opened its grotesque mouth and let out a terrible squelch; with a short thrust of its legs to the ceiling, the thing had propelled itself downward. It twisted its body around in the air like a cat and extended its rotten limbs toward her as it fell…
But suddenly it was gone. At the moment the creature should have made contact with Yako, it had simply disappeared. In its absence, in the silence that followed, Yako could hear her heart pumping a mile a minute. For awhile she lay there, frozen to the spot, before she realized that she could move again—she swiveled her eyes around the room, and finally sat up shakily, tears of fear starting on the edges of her eyes. She felt dizzy and nauseated and afraid. She couldn't stand it anymore.
Without bothering to get dressed or even throw on a jacket, Yako spared a few terrified glances around the room before leaping nervously off her bed and leaving the house; she wasn't even wearing shoes. It was a foggy night, which only kept the girl on edge. She shivered constantly, not just from the cold but from her panicky fear, which followed her even outside under the lights of the street lamps. Hardly aware of where her footwork was taking her, the girl walked on, desperate but not quite sure what to do. She had no indication of how late it was except for the fact that the only noises she could hear were her own breaths and footfalls; she was utterly, coldly, terribly alone. After awhile she began to cry from fear and loneliness, whimpering slightly.
Eventually, Yako ended up at the office building. She glanced up in short, lingering confusion before heading inside and climbing the stairs shakily but quietly, holding tightly to the railing to keep balance in her dazed, dizzy state. She found herself a few moments later with her hand on the doorknob to the office. After a few uneven breaths she twisted the handle and pushed the door inward. The room was dark and at first glance, much to Yako's disappointment, unoccupied, but upon further thought, she knew Neuro would not have left the door unlocked if he was not inside. She stepped forward weakly, letting the door swing shut behind her; when it thumped shut louder than she'd imagined she jumped in fright.
Peeking over the edge of the couch, Yako found the demon sleeping soundly on his back; he had taken off his jacket and was using it as a pillow. His green eyes flickered open, letting off a familiar, faint green glow; seeing Yako looking back down at him, those eyes clearly demanded an explanation. Upon further inspection, he could see that she was shaking rather violently. There were tears in her eyes, and she looked pale. A sensation dangerously close to pity shot through the demon and his eyes almost softened. Almost.
"What are you here for, despicable wood louse?" Neuro asked smoothly; a somewhat rhetorical question.
Searching for an explanation, Yako fumbled nervously with her hands. Finally she spoke.
"N-Neuro…someone…there was someone…no…something that came in…I saw it…" She started quietly, nearly inaudibly. "And…in my house…there's…there's no one there…"
A poor, vague explanation, but Neuro was no imbecile; he had picked up on the significance of the conversation earlier that day, and standing before him now was proof that his assumptions had been correct. Really, what a pathetic little human, getting so severely disturbed over a few nightmares and a simple sleep paralysis-induced hallucination.
There was silence between the two of them for a moment, and then Neuro reached up and grabbed Yako by the arm, flipping her roughly over the back of the couch and onto his chest. He shut is eyes again and placed an arm around the girl awkwardly, pressing her tightly to him.
Although she was stricken with confusion and shock, Yako felt her fear melt away. She was safe. It was odd; she spent most of her time fearing Neuro, and now she felt relieved and safe while so close to him. But that was a different kind of fear than the fear she had felt all these nights, she decided. All the time she had spent worrying for her safety and fretting over what the demon would do to her next, she had never been worried that he would actually hurt her. Sure, he inflicted torture and pain, threatened her life daily and taunted and teased her…but never once had he let real harm befall her. Yako did not like relying on others, even if the "others" happened to be Neuro. And yet, she could not help but feel complete comfort and security. She was warm and the rhythmic rise and fall of the demon's chest was more calming than she would admit to herself. She could hear his heartbeat through his ribcage, and the thought of being so close to him brought an unwilling flutter of happiness—or perhaps embarrassment—to her stomach.
"I…thought you said you always slept on the ceiling." She could think of nothing else to say.
"Be silent and sleep," Neuro ordered, and he felt her nod slowly; soon enough, she had left her state of consciousness and fallen asleep. She would need to be punished for causing trouble, but for now, he would let her sleep. After all, just like his constant abuse and torture, this was just another nudge in the direction of the detestable little bathroom rag's evolution. However, to make him go to such lengths…how troublesome this girl was. But he was not going to tell himself that this close contact was unpleasant. For whatever reason, it was satisfying. He grinned devilishly as he himself began to drift off again.
Perhaps, from now on, his methods of inflicting pain and torture would have to include this sort of touch…
Author's Note: Poor, confused Neuro. Anyways, once again, I apologize for getting this out to you guys so late. But anyways, final chapter! Please tell me what you think, and thank you all so much for the wonderful reviews and feedback!