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The Charlotte Ransome Pottery Hour

A tale of accidental demonology in the 2020 covid lockdown

By Laurence J. R. NixPublished 4 months ago 84 min read
Cover by Alexandra Pinto Designs

The Charlotte Ransome Pottery Hour

By Laurence J. R. Nix

Cover by Alexandra Pinto Designs

The Demon in my Ashtray

It was only the growing gap in my little pottery logbook that finally motivated me to get back into the workshop and do something. This far into lockdown, inspiration had become rare and fleeting. The pages before the gap were so full of life. It was really more of a personal journal than a professional logbook, all covered in doodles and tangential ramblings about how I felt about the projects. If I ever was to set up that online store I had been pondering since the start of the pandemic, keeping track with a logbook like this would surely lead to me selling the same item to three different people at the same time. But disorganised though it may be, that journal was precisely how I liked it. Aside from the blank pages. Even then, it was guilt and obligation that drew me back in, not ambition. I turned to the page of the correct date, and where once I might have doodled a design for an intricate urn, I found myself writing, Make something. Anything. and underlining it four times

Last time I wanted to make something, I tried to make a beautiful jug. I hadn’t been able to get it right. The deformed lump of clay still lay slumped sadly on the ground where I had thrown it aside in helpless surrender. I couldn’t face a repeat of that. Something easier, then. A few ashtrays. Even I couldn’t mess up an ashtray, right?

I set to work preparing some clay. Hands dirty once more, I felt a little of the spark return. Only a little. Enough to make, at the end of the batch of boring ones that would be lucky to fetch a fiver at a fête, a single prettier, fancier ashtray. And that was it for a while. Pottery takes a lot longer than people often realise. Things need to dry for days, even weeks depending on size, before it goes in the kiln for firing. I did no further work while waiting for this batch to dry.

Once it was finally dried, fired, painted, and glazed, the special one I made was a very good ashtray, insofar as concepts of good and bad can be applied to such an unambitious project. If I could get a fiver for the others, that one would get me £7.50 at least. I was proud, not of the item itself, but of the fact that I had at long last succeeded in making something, however small and simple. I took the ash tray upstairs and placed it on my bedside table. I have never smoked in my life and had no intention to even then, but for some reason, I wanted it there. It wasn’t even particularly appropriate as a decoration since it merely added to the clutter, sitting there on top of a scuffed journal, surrounded by stacks of books, papers, hair bands, and unwashed mugs. Nonetheless, it felt right - a little piece of my creation nestled amongst the mess to remind me that I wasn’t beaten yet.

To look upon the disorder of that beside table, you might be surprised to hear that I love to keep track of various things in a collection of journals - though admittedly none of the journals are neat or well-organised either. I try to keep daily updates in a diary, though at that time there was rarely much to update. I particularly like the notebook I have for doodling bugs and birds that I spot in the woods or by the sea. There used to be a woodland walks journal and a separate seaside walks journal, but they kept overlapping so much that it was best for them to become one. Then there’s my dream journal; the only one that I have actually had something worth writing in almost every day. The next day was an exception. I woke up, wrote “no dreams” on that day’s page, and went downstairs. There were no after-school workshops to look forward to with all the schools closed and social distancing still in force. There was nothing but the monotony of another day home alone to look forward to, aside from a short phone call with mum.

By afternoon, I had found the energy to get on my bike and cycle to the beach. It’s only a thirty-minute ride. When this all started, I went every day, but by that point I usually only managed once or twice a week. As always, when I got there, I found a quiet spot on one of the more remote beaches. Finding isolation there wasn’t hard, given the weather - there were only a few people even at the more popular spots. I settled down on the sand, my bike resting on its side next to me. I sat hugging my knees, wrapped in a coat and doing my best to ignore the constant drizzle and cold breeze that fought to mar an otherwise beautiful day. I took out a battered notebook and tried to sketch some of the sea birds I saw. Drawing is not my strongest skill, but it’s therapeutic to sit and sketch while listening to the waves and the tireless calls of the gulls.

As I sat there doodling, surrounded by the steady sound of nature, my mind wandered, and I started to sketch pots instead of birds - they should have been in the pottery journal, not the birdwatching journal, but I wasn't going to risk losing that spark of inspiration during the rush home to find right notebook. I had scribbled down a good half-dozen ideas for interesting designs by the time I noticed an ominous cloud rolling in and made haste to get back home before the rain began in full. I cycled with the wind at my back, rushing me onward to work before the motivation faded.

Once home, I got started on several different urns and vases, working late into the evening before I realised how hungry I was and had to stop for a very late dinner. After a day cycling and making things in the workshop, I was exhausted. I went to bed early and fell asleep without even trying to read a book or fill the day’s diary entry.

I awoke the next day, again writing 'no dreams' in my journal. That was unusual, but not strange enough to think long about as another day went by.

And another.

When I didn’t have any dreams the next three nights either, I started to worry about myself. Sudden changes to long-established patterns are rarely a good sign. Mum always says that a clean home helps bring a clear mind. It felt like a pointless phrase, but I had no better ideas, so I forced myself to do a big tidy up, starting with my bedroom. That took most of the day, with gaps for meals, a walk in the woods, and a half-hearted online chat with some friends.

That night I dreamt again. When I woke up and leaned over to grab my journal, I jumped out of bed in shock at what I saw. Tendrils of black sooty smoke billowed up from the ashtray. They swirled into a ghost-like form, spiralling up from the empty base of the tray. Smoke-arms flailed angrily as demonic orange-red eyes glared out at me with terrifying ferocity. I sprinted out of the room with a shriek and slammed the door behind me. With my heart pounding I held the door shut tight and tried to process what I just had seen. A remnant of a dream? Something not really there? The furious growls and shouts I heard through the door said otherwise, but what else could it be? After a few seconds the yells died down, leaving the hallway silent save for my heavy breathing. Once I calmed down and convinced myself I had just imagined it, I hesitantly opened the door again. As soon as my head poked through the opening, the smoke creature screamed at me in a scratchy high-pitched voice.

“How dare you move me so far away from the bed, human! I need to feed! Put me back or I will bring all the darkness of a thousand nights upon this house!”

I screamed and slammed the door shut again. What the hell was that? I tried to approach this rationally. If it was going to hurt me, surely it would have done so already, and it seemed willing to talk, or at least yell at me - in perfect English too. I inched open the door and called in shakily, “Sorry, I didn’t know you existed. Who are you?”

The reply was screamed back at me, “I am Kazzifrezz the Vile, Feaster of Dreams, Lord of Nightmares, Bringer of the Darkest Night, and you will bring me your dreams or suffer the consequences!”

There was something ineffectual about him, reminiscent of a chihuahua trying to intimidate the biggest dog in the park. I entered the room, and saw him once more in full form, a twisted little smoke creature. Between my nervousness and the absurdity of the situation, I nearly burst out laughing as it billowed around, puffing out its chest, and evidently trying to look as big and scary as it could and not quite managing. Honestly, if it wasn’t so unnatural, it would have almost been cute.

It glared at me expectantly in wait for some response. I didn’t know how to respond to its demand for nightmares to feed on, so instead I decided to start with my own introduction. “I’m Charlotte Ransome. Human. Potter. Nothing special - no cool title…”

“Call yourself whatever you want as long as you dream me up some delectable horrors.”

“Are you the reason I haven’t had any dreams in a week?”

“What? You’ve had many dreams. Not very fulfilling ones, though - have you thought about eating more cheese before bed?”

“Oh, I don’t use dairy, sorry.” It was threatening me and eating my dreams. Why was I apologising to it? “But that’s beside the point. What gives you the right to eat my dreams, anyway?”

“To induce the bleakest, most agonising nightmares is my very purpose in existence! I live for the suffering of mortals like you.”

“If you eat my dreams and I have no memory of them, it’s kinda just like I didn’t have them. If I was suffering in my dream I don’t remember it. And I’m certainly not suffering now.”

He seemed to consider that for a moment before roaring at the world with a burning red rift of a mouth. He reminded me of mum’s cat, Boffin, screaming his vague, angry demands. He continued smouldering for a long time. It looked more like a childish tantrum than the vile fury of a nightmare lord. I was already having doubts about the legitimacy of his title.

“Is it okay if I just call you Kazz for short?” I said, perhaps playing with fire a little.

“Call me what you will, mortal. Your words have no power. I demand only that you bring me torturous dreams of endless horror.”

He was still sending puffs of soot up into the air with every over-dramatic, furious gesticulation, but the soot never seemed to settle on anything, instead just dissipating into nothingness. That was a relief after cleaning all day.

“I’ll think about it. I’m going to leave you to calm down. If you’re good, I might let you sit by the bed again tonight.”

“I demand it! You wouldn’t dare deny me my…”

I raised a finger and, to my surprise, he paused. With my most authoritative tone, I said, “Shush now, before I change my mind.”

Holding my finger to my mouth and staring him down, I backed out of the room. Every time his glowing mouth opened to speak, I shushed him, and each time, as surprisingly as the first time, he stopped and billowed grumpily, but kept quiet.

My façade of authority dropped as soon as the door was shut again. I paced around the house trying to make sense of it. An hour ago, I hadn’t believed in demons. Now, there was one living in my home. I was surprised by how quickly I had accepted that and even more surprised by how little I was panicking. I was shaken up, certainly, but any rational person would be fleeing the house. It was surely mad that I was actually genuinely considering letting this creature hang around and eat my dreams. Honestly, I was more stressed about how to explain the situation to anyone than I was about the implications of a vile lord of nightmares living with me. After all, he didn’t seem to have done anything more unsettling than making me forget all my dreams for a few nights. Okay, that was pretty unsettling, but it didn’t seem explicitly dangerous. Some measured and rational part of me which said “if he was going to hurt you, he would have done it by now” was winning against the much more reasonable and normal part of me that was freaking out about the literal demon on my shelf. I’d have to find a way to get rid of him sooner or later, but I couldn’t just toss him out. There was no other way about it, Kazzifrezz the Vile was there to stay for the time being.

My Podcast

Within an hour or so, I had settled into simple acceptance. This was my life now, sharing a room with a demon. So be it. That’s just how it is. It’s not the worst thing that’s happened in 2020. I didn’t think anyone would believe me, but I tried to talk about it anyway. When I video chatted with Mum, she just laughed, thinking I was telling a weird story; as if I’d have any creativity left to take up writing alongside everything else going on. I couldn’t show her Kazzifrezz because he’d shrunk back down to hide in the ashes, but perhaps it was best for her not to believe it anyway. She would only worry and shout at me for even considering keeping it around. She said she loves how creative I am. I wish I was - artistic certainly, but demonic horror tales? Not my strong suit. I’m flattered that she thought I could have invented all this since yesterday’s call.

My friend Sumaya didn’t believe me either, but she did give me a good idea when she told me “it sounds like one of those weird podcasts that nerds on the internet like.” - her words, not mine. I had already bought a decent microphone with the intent of making pottery videos and then abandoned that idea with all the rest. So why not use the equipment to make a podcast about an ashtray demon instead? I didn’t expect anyone to listen, but it could be like one of my journals but in public audio form instead of private written form. I started writing scripts that same afternoon. I didn’t really know anything about podcasting, so the first drafts weren’t good, but I had a lot of fun writing it. It was a long, rambly monologue - very much a messy train of thought rather than a coherent script. Then I had a ridiculous idea. What if I got Kazzifrezz involved? What if I interviewed him and recorded it? I’d get to share this crazy secret with the world but since everyone would assume it was someone voice acting, it wouldn’t exactly be risking dangerous or private information getting out. I’d ask him if he was willing first, of course. Even demons deserved that basic courtesy.

I took to carrying the ashtray from room to room as I went about my daily chores and hobbies. I didn’t particularly want to have a demon by my side all day but 1) if he was here for the foreseeable future I might as well get accustomed to his presence and 2) I didn’t trust him unsupervised for too long at a time. He got loud and grumpy without someone to growl vague nightmare-based threats at. It took about two weeks to get entirely used to his presence. I would never have imagined it to happen so fast. In fact, I would never have imagined ever being used to having a demon around, but humans (even ones like me) are adaptable creatures. Demons are too, I observed, for Kazzifrezz seemed to settle in comfortably to our routines. He even tolerated my system of choosing the placement of his ashtray so that he could only eat dreams every second night.

When I finally got round to asking him about the podcast (and explained what a podcast is), he agreed without hesitation, stating that it was “the prime opportunity to sow the seeds of unimaginable dread and misery that would soon grow into nightmares most bleak and vile for every listener.” If he’d put less needless dramatism into the statement, I might have believed he could do it.

As soon as we were sat at the desk, Kazz started yelling away, trying to intimidate the listeners - it took several minutes to calm him down and explain that I needed to press record first and that I would edit out anything too evil. I then had to explain the general concepts of the audio recording and editing process. After that, things were calm, and we could begin.

“Welcome to the Charlotte Ransome Pottery Hour. I’m your host, Charlotte Ransome. Each episode, I’m going to talk about what I made that month and speak to some special guests. This month, I finally emerged from a long period of creative block and low motivation. I wanted to ease myself back into the craft with something simple - no fancy urns and vases, just a few basic ashtrays. Now, you may wonder why I feel the need to make a whole podcast episode about some ash trays - that’s hardly artisanal pottery, is it? Well, you see, the thing is: One of those ashtrays is possessed.”

I added some theme music after the intro - a royalty free acoustic guitar track I found online. I didn’t exactly have any budget for music. That first episode began with me retelling my first encounter with Kazzifrezz, much like you have already read above.

Continuing from there, I said, “and after that rocky start, we actually ended up getting along quite well. So well, in fact, that he agreed to come and talk to you all tonight. I made him promise not to corrupt your minds with dark demonic words, but nonetheless, listener discretion is advised. As a precaution, I advise that you place three drops of holy water in each ear. Now, let’s begin. Kazz, would you like to introduce yourself?”

“I am Kazzifrezz the Vile, Lord of Nightmares, Feaster of Dreams, Prince of a Thousand Curses, Corrupter of a Thousand Minds!”

“Oh, you added titles since you introduced yourself to me?”

“I was in a hurry before. There wasn’t time for it all. These potential victims - I mean, listeners - deserve the full title!”

“So if you’re a prince, are your parents the monarchs?” I asked. “Do nightmare demons even have parents?”

“No, look, in the demonic tongue it sounds better. I have to approximate the nearest thing.”

“Ah, well ‘Lord’ isn’t that high of a title really. Couldn’t you call yourself an earl or archduke or something?”

“It’s not as catchy. Actually, maybe I’ll use archduke, that one’s quite- Grr, Shut up! I’m not going to invoke any agonising nightmares if all I get to do is justify my title!”

“Well that brings us to my first planned question - what are your favourite dreams to consume, bearing in mind that this is a PG13 podcast?”

He mumbled in deep thought for a moment, and then said, “Well you can’t go wrong with a good flaying. ‘Chased by monsters’ is a good one. ‘Teeth falling out’ is a little bland, but my doctor says it’s an important part of a balanced diet - if I only ever ate eye-gouging nightmares I could end up quite unhealthy…”

“I didn’t realise demons could get ill.”

“Well, not too ill to inflict eternal misery on all your puny mortal listeners! Don’t get complacent! My vile hand of darkness reaches out towards you as we speak!”

“He’s flailing ineffectually at the microphone, as if he believes he can reach through it and out of your speakers like in a cartoon.”

“HEY! Don’t speak about me while I’m right here!”

“So if there are nightmare demon doctors, is there a whole nightmare demon medical school too? Honestly, you sound a lot less scary with that context.”

“NO! There is an evil nightmare school where we-”

“Learn to inflict the agony of a thousand knives to the skin or something equally ridiculous? Yes, we get the idea. Let’s get back on topic. Tell me about your arrival and first impressions of the mortal world.”

“Well, I have to admit I quite like it here. The lack of hourly psychic pain-storms gets me down from time to time, but I get my own ashtray. Charlotte kindly offered to let me feast on her dreams. She lets me join her in her workshop.”

I chuckled and smiled at that. He noticed.

He instantly changed his tone back to normal. “But she’s still a useless mortal! Her dreams are okay, but not nearly enough gore and existential dread in them. Why even dream about some friend you haven’t seen since childhood? I’m doing all I can to instill sickening dreams of the most vile ordeals, but nothing seems to stick.”

“I thought you’d know more about why people dream what they dream than I do.”

“Well, yes, I know why in metaphysical terms, I’m not an idiot, but there’s always another layer of “why?” - why are the laws of dreamspace metaphysics that way? There are some things we just aren’t meant to know.”

“Sounds awfully human of you, getting caught up in the incomprehensibility of reality and all. We do that all the time. Maybe we’re not so different.”

“How dare you compare me, an archduke of nightmares, in all my nightmarish majesty, to humans! I experience reality on a whole different level to you. My spirit transcends all mortal boundaries, reaching nightmares in all worlds and-”

“Sorry to cut you off, but you couldn’t even eat my dreams from across the room. You insisted I put you back next to the bed. You can’t even leave the ashtray. How can you say you transcend all mortal boundaries when you’re basically just stuck there?”

He fumed angrily, giving no response. I had to pause the recording for a few minutes until he huffed it out.

“And we’re back. Kazzifrezz the Vile has calmed down, and we can continue the interview. Kazz, many of our listeners don’t know much, or anything, really, about demons. If it’s not too impolite for me to ask, could you tell us a bit about demon life cycles?”

“We coalesce in the fires of oblivion, born from mortal torment and terror. None of that stuff you dreamed about the other day. Disgusting! It must be so restrictive to need a whole process for reproduction instead of just spawning from the natural torturous energies of reality. It’s frankly a miracle your species has made it this far. None of the others did.”


“Yes. Did you think you were the only intelligent species out there? I’ve eaten the dreams of a sentient goo monster from a hundred lightyears away. Can’t say I recommend it. Anyway, they all died in a space war, so back to human dreams for most of us.”

“That’s a shame, but I bet the war made for some good dreams before all the mutually assured destruction kicked in?”

“Unfortunately space-goo dreams always taste of space-goo, however much trauma and horror is baked into them. There’s a lot to hate about humans, but you can’t deny they have some of the most digestible dreams.”

“When you say digestible, do you mean… uh… do the dreams you eat… come out again?”

“Are you asking if I poop?”

“In other words, yes.”

“Not in the way you do, but yes we do expel psychic energy when we’ve extracted all the good bits.”

“I won’t ask for details. How long since you coalesced in the fires of oblivion?”

“Time works differently there. You don’t have the right numbers to explain it.”

I shrugged. “Fair enough, how about a more general approach then? Are you considered young, old, or neither by your fellow nightmare spirits?”

“Slightly younger than average, I guess. But still an age incomprehensible to the likes of you, so don’t underestimate me!”

“I’m not sure if I could. Do you have dreams of your own?”

“I do not sleep so no.”

“Uh, I’ll ignore the fact that I’ve literally seen you sleep many times. Carry on.”

“…but if you mean dreams as in aspirations, yes, I intend to shroud this entire world in a blood-mooned night of trials and torments.”

“I’d rather you didn’t do that.”

“I’m going to wait until they invent cryo-sleep first, the day-night cycle is too short. Dreams are always over before the best bits. I once fed on the dreams of someone in a coma - it was glorious.” A speck of ember-orange drool dripped from his mouth, vanishing before it hit the ground. “You always wake up at the part where you would die, but this person had to keep sleeping and dreaming it, over and over for thirty years.”

“And then what happened?”

“He woke up.”

“And he couldn’t remember any of the dreams?”

“Well no, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have them.”

“As far as he’s concerned he didn’t. I’d love to know more, but unfortunately, Kazz, we’re running out of time. Do you have any parting words for the listeners?”

He began an ominous demonic chant, which I drowned out with the outro music (also royalty-free). The music fell quiet again for my closing words.

“Thank you for listening to episode one of the Charlotte Ransome Pottery Hour. I’ve been Charlotte Ransome, and talking to me this month was Kazzifrezz the Vile, Lord of Nightmares. Tune in again next month to find out what I get up to between now and then.”

Kazz interrupted, yelling, “Thanks for listening, and hellish nightmares to you all!”

And finally, the music volume rose again, drawing everything to an end.

The first episode was a success. It received about a hundred plays, making it a hundred times more successful than I predicted. Since accidentally summoning Kazz into this world, I was hesitant to make anything else. Now I suddenly found myself eagerly awaiting the possibility to see what else I’d have to talk about on the podcast. There were some items nearly ready for the kiln. Maybe I’d have someone else to talk to soon. Maybe it was just the monotony of lock-down getting to me. There was no sane reason to be excited for the prospect of more demons - for all I knew Kazzifrezz the Vile might be an outlier and every other demon would live up to their horrific titles. Maybe the next one really would be an existential threat to our mortal realm that could unleash true horror upon us. I should have been terrified - and after a few moments riding the high of the podcast’s success, I was.

I felt my eagerness slip away. I didn’t want to make anything. I wanted my old normal life back, or I wanted to wrap myself up under blankets and hide. But on the other hand, part of normal life was making pots. And I’d be damned if I let the fear of hell hold me back from that. Perhaps ‘damned’ was a poor choice of words given the circumstances.

I loaded the kiln anyway, against my own better judgement.

The Blood in my Mug

I rushed over to the kiln, my internal monologue screaming Crap crap crapcrapcrap! It was sizzling. It smelled terrible. I pulled the mug out, spilling blood everywhere. I hurried over to the sink, leaving a trail of blood in my wake, and dumped the mug in. It landed on its side, thankfully not smashing even though it hit the metal basin hard enough to make me wince. It continued to pour and pour blood, endless blood, almost as fast as the plug hole could drain it out. Why this? Why couldn’t it have been a nice ineffectual ghost like last time? The thought felt more like frustration than terror. Honestly, my panic was more about how I would explain all these bloodstains to the police, or worse - to my mum - than it was about the mortal terror of infinite blood spewing in, presumably from some crimson plane of Hell.

With the tongs, I managed to get the mug upright again, and it stopped spilling out. It quickly filled to the brim, then stopped. Okay, at least it had some kind of equilibrium and wasn’t just going to spill forever. It didn’t really surprise me that much, to be in possession of a mug of infinite blood, once the initial shock of finding it was over. I had briefly convinced myself that accidental demon summoning was a one in a billion chance that surely wouldn’t happen again in the same workshop, but I think I always knew deep down that it would. I sighed in simple acceptance and set to work trying to mop up all the blood before it dried, though it was already too seeped into the wooden workbench to erase completely.

“Do you have a fear of blood?” asked Kazzifrezz from his place on a nearby shelf. “Ooh I hope this fuels some nice nightmares.”

“Oh shush you,” I told him. He seemed even less intimidating now than back when he first breached his way into this reality - less Kazzifrezz the Vile and more Kazzifrezz the Needy Little Scamp. He had been particularly talkative the last few days, repeatedly asking how many people had listened to the podcast.

“Although,” I admitted, “While I’m not going to have a nightmare about blood itself, I might well have one about the police showing up and having to awkwardly explain this whole thing.”

“Hmm, that will suffice. Nightmares about social situations have an unpleasant aftertaste, but better than that stupid happy dream you had where the man from the post office put his-”

“Now, now! Enough of that!”

Kazzifrezz still had a lot to learn about human boundaries, but by then I was used to it enough not to blush every time he said something inappropriate. I looked around at the stains on the workbench.

“I don’t suppose you have cleaning powers as well as dream-eating powers, do you?”

He did not. I managed to get the worst of it cleared up, but that worktop remained a problem. There was still the mug itself too, which was currently just sitting there with its endless blood supply ready to spill at any moment.

I imagined myself making a call and saying, “Hello, is that the blood bank? I have a mug of infinite blood! What blood type? Oh, I don’t know, it’s summoned straight from a river of blood in Hell or something. Hello? Oh, you hung up? Okay.”

“What are you talking about?” said Kazzifrezz.

“Oh, nothing. Just muttering to myself…”

He scowled at me. I stuck my tongue out, and he growled and huffed, and seemed to shrink in size, folding his little smoky arms.

“You’re a demon, right?” I asked. He grunted.

“Do you know anything about mugs of infinite blood?”

“Rude of you to assume! Hell is a very big place! Do you know anything about Tibetan weaving?”

“Fair point. But, you think it is Hell, though?”

“Well I do know that there are a lot of rivers of blood in Hell. Never heard of a mug of blood though. Most demons would drink straight from the source while it still lives or at least out of a freshly harvested human skull, not a silly little mug.”

“Maybe it has a portal in it. Did you come through a portal?”

“No. I just appeared here.”


Well that was a useless conversation. Most with Kazzifrezz were. I decided to do my own tests, since he couldn’t help.

It seemed that as long as the blood mug remained perfectly stationary, it was safe. It filled to barely a millimetre shy of the brim then stopped. The second any spilled, it would continue to fill again to that level. It must have been some kind of inter-dimensional equilibrium. I was still going on the assumption that it was a portal in there. Would a portal even be visible anyway? If I stuck a finger in, not that I was considering it, would it immediately get torn apart by blood demons or get chopped off or something? Not a risk I was willing to take.

Instead, I tried pushing a stick from the garden in. It took several angles and approaches before I found a spot where it would go deeper in than the base of the mug should allow. That probably confirmed the portal then. The brief joy of being right in my theory was cut immediately short by the realisation that there was literally a portal to another world and I had no idea how to close it. That new horror was brief though, as nightmare demons seemed to be able to enter this world via my workshop anyway, so an extra portal probably didn’t make much difference. It was still unsettling to have such a tangible bridge between worlds though, even if it was only wide enough to put a little twig through.

I did some measurements, such as tipping out a little blood and measuring the time it took to refill, but really that was only to have something to talk about on the podcast, not because I thought there would be any value in obtaining useless numerical figures to describe the impossible portal in my mug. My initial fear and discomfort continued to dissipate over the day. It was just a mug of infinite blood, nothing to worry about. I repeated to myself the same thought that had helped me approach Kazz: if it was going to hurt me, it would have done so already.

I didn’t have all that much to say about the mug, not the full hour’s worth anyway, so I brought Kazz in for the next episode of the podcast too. Most of the time was spent talking about everything I covered above in more detail than could actually be considered interesting. After my monologue, Kazz and I argued back and forth about the logistics and implications of a small mug-sized portal and failed to get any clearer answers. We ended up with around fifty listens that time - half as good as episode one, but still in excess of my expectations. Kazz seemed unable to understand that it was probably fifty of the same people, not fifty new people, but I let him believe it. He was very proud to have reached one hundred and fifty minds with his demonic corruption. I also didn’t tell him quite how much of his “nightmare chant” I had edited out before uploading. He was calmer and happier when I told a few white lies about the reach of his nightmarish voice.

The Storm in my Vase

Another couple of weeks later, in the middle of the night after a batch of ceramic vases was complete, I awoke to the sound of howling wind and clattering windows. It sounded like a mighty storm, but it was calm outside my bedroom window. I glanced at the ashtray.

“Kazz, is that you?”

“Aaargh no, go back to sleep! You were just about to get eaten by tigers, it was great!”

I ignored him and his protests and hurried through to the workshop. There I found a swirling vortex of dust centred on a newly finished pot surrounded by the smashed remains of about six other newly finished pots. I would have fallen to my knees and wept at my destroyed work if not for the more pressing concern of dealing with this miniature storm. I forced against the wind, shielding my eyes against the dust, and managed with struggle to get the windows closed. The wind died down a bit. Maybe it needed the outside air? It weakened further to a gentle swirling, no longer strong enough to knock over any more pots - not that there were any nearby left to knock over. I glared at the pot.

“Right then. What are you? Storm Demon? Poltergeist? Come on, out with it.”

It did not respond verbally, but the wind stopped immediately as if in response. I waited half a minute, still glaring with hands on hips and one foot tapping impatiently, but still no response came.

“I’m putting you somewhere you can’t smash anything else,” I told it.

Still silence. Whatever spirit or demon was in this vase either couldn’t talk or it was giving me the silent treatment. Well let’s see how it likes being wrapped in towels with no fresh air to make a storm from! I shoved it in the towel cupboard, carefully wrapped up. I wasn’t sure if the towels would make a difference. If it could blow over a clay urn it could probably blow a few towels out of the way, but it was two in the morning and I had no other ideas. I stomped back upstairs and threw myself grumpily onto the bed. I lay face down. I didn’t bother lifting my head to speak, letting the pillow muffle my voice.

“Hey Kazz, heard anything about any wind spirits? Storm demons?”

“I’m made of smoke! I hate wind. I might get blown away to nothing!”

“Don’t go in the towel closet then. There’s something which may or may not be a storm demon trapped in a clay vase.”

“Smash it! Destroy it! I don’t want to be blown away!”

“Won’t that just free the spirit to roam around as a travelling storm?”

Kazzifrezz grumbled in consideration. He didn’t have any ideas either. In that case, it would have to wait until morning. I tried to settle back down to bed, but between the annoyance and shock, I struggled to sleep again. I tossed and turned for a while, then flicked the bedside lamp back on and tried to doodle in one of my notebooks. Kazzifrezz was very vocal about his disapproval of that, complaining that I can’t have any more nightmares until I fall asleep, and that it was very inconsiderate to be awake so much of the time. He suggested that perhaps I should get a cat, since they sleep more than sixty percent of the day and sometimes dream of awful encounters with angry dogs. It wasn’t a bad suggestion to be fair. I did sort of want a cat, only I didn’t want to be responsible for looking after another living being. That said, I seemed to be managing okay with Kazz. He was basically a pet by this point. Not the sweet loveable pet a cat would be - an annoying, evil, grumpy, cloud of foul-smelling smoke was certainly not pettable, but you take what you can get.

Thankfully I didn’t hear any more wind that night. I don’t remember how or when I fell asleep, but I awoke mid-morning with a notebook bent and ruffled under me. It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, really. Most of my notebooks ended up in such a condition sooner or later, if not by me falling asleep on them, then by me messing them up with wet clay-covered hands or dropping them onto a damp beach or muddy forest floor. I straightened out the pages and got up. Kazzifrezz had reduced himself to a gently smouldering layer in the ashtray. That meant he’d been well-fed and was enjoying a nice post-meal nap - he frequently insisted he didn’t technically sleep, but I could hear him snoring, so I wasn’t convinced.

As always, I had no idea what I had dreamed about that night, but it must have been at least somewhat horrible if it put him to such satisfied-looking rest as that. I dressed and headed downstairs to check the towel cupboard.

Everything was as I left it, so I cautiously unwrapped the vase. I put my ear to it, like one might with a shell at the seaside, and listened. The sound of blustering winds was clear. Distant, but clear. I thought I even heard the rumble of thunder and the crash of ocean waves, though it is entirely possible that my imagination was running a step ahead of my ears. I decided to risk taking it back to the workshop, but made sure to place it a good distance from any other pots. I couldn’t handle another load of my hard work being destroyed. It hit me then that any one of those smashed pots could also have been possessed. I spent half the day doing a search of the house in case there were any lost spirits floating around before my concerns felt suitably alleviated.

I decided that having the wind-vase out of its towelly prison was a big enough risk already and that I shouldn’t leave it out of sight until I was sure it was safe. Whenever I went to the bathroom or the kitchen I carried it with me. There was a slightly awkward moment when a delivery guy came to the door and gave me an odd look for holding a large vase while signing for a package, but otherwise it was a mild inconvenience at worst.

The sound of wind was constant from within, though I never felt more than a barely perceptible breeze that day. It started to feel a bit breezier in the evening, but didn’t escalate to a problematic level so I let it continue. It sounded almost like a bad TV drama using a stock recording from the archives’ weather sound effects. That thought set me a little at ease, like the thing was trying too hard to sound scary without actually being particularly dangerous. Of course, the pile of smashed pottery in the workshop proved that it could make serious problems if it wanted to - that is, assuming it was sentient. I still hadn’t figured out if it was an actual demon like Kazz or something more like the mug of infinite blood, like a mindless force of nature trapped in a vase. Would that make it better or worse? A demon could be malicious, but nature could be at least as dangerous and twice as unpredictable. I could almost reason with Kazz, but no one can argue with the wind. It had already destroyed a whole load of vases and I had no reason to believe that was the limit of its power. The only option for now was to put it back in the towel closet during the times when I couldn’t actively supervise it and hope it wouldn’t cause any more damage. The ridiculousness of expecting a towel to block a storm was not lost on me, but I had no further trouble with it that week while I worked on my next projects. That was a relief of course, but it didn’t give me much to talk about on the podcast. We recorded an episode, but it was boring filler material not worth repeating here. It only earned forty listeners this time.

The Mimic in my Plant Pot

I had a set of plant pots in progress. When it came time to fire them, I was practically waiting by the kiln. I kept checking the timer, though that only made it feel longer, until I eventually managed to convince myself to cycle to the beach again. I sketched a crab, but my heart wasn’t in it. My mind was on demons. When did the possession or haunting happen? Was it partway through the firing process or when I took them out? I hadn’t noticed any sign of Kazzifrezz for hours after the ashtray was out and cooled and moved about the house. Likewise, the storm vase was neatly on a shelf for hours before it smashed all my hard work with wind. But the blood mug started making blood while still in the kiln. There was a lot to ponder and not enough data to come to any conclusions. If nothing else, at least my rambling, incoherent theories on the matter would fill part of the next podcast episode. I took out a notebook and flipped to the first blank page. The only writing implement I could find was a chewed-up, blunt pencil, so the notes matched the rest of the pages in that booklet.

Some time later when the plant pots were finally fired, cooled, and arranged on the worktop, there was no sign of anything unusual. I kept coming through to check on them, almost sneaking up as if to catch them unaware. For the first time I was disappointed rather than relieved that things seemed to have come out normally. The next day, I gave up waiting and filled some of the pots with soil and put them outside. I didn’t have any seeds to plant at the time, so it was rather pointless, but it filled some time I might have otherwise spent moping around the house.

The next morning, I stepped into the garden to find a large plant, standing tall over one of the pots. It was a green, leafy tangle of vines - not the prettiest plant - there was too much going on. It was too thick and gnarled in its stem. I crouched down to look at it closer, and jumped back startled as it twisted round in my direction. Bulbous tubers shifted, grew, and shrank, changing shape until they formed into a little green effigy of me. I blinked. It blinked back. There was a tiny plant-Charlotte sitting there in the pot, meeting my gaze.

“I’m Charlotte Ransome,” it said using a voice exactly like mine.

“No, I’m Charlotte Ransome,” I replied, trying my best to sound authoritative.

“Welcome to the Charlotte Ransome Pottery Hour,” it said.

“How do you know about that?”

“I’m your host, Charlotte Ransome.”

“Stop it!” I said. “I’m Charlotte Ransome. You’re a plant. You live in a pot I made.”

It looked down. “Oh. Scott from the post office won’t think I’m hot like this. Even if I wear that low-cut top.”

“Hey! You shouldn’t know my private thoughts, stop it!”

I blushed, even though it was just a plant demon. This wasn’t what I wanted, but at least it was going to make an interesting podcast episode.

“Do you think you could survive as a houseplant?”

Plant-Charlotte told me she could survive anywhere as long as there was enough to drink and a bit of light, so I took her inside and placed the pot near the kitchen window. She shuffled about, and seemed to settle in happily. A tiny mimic that knew my secrets was highly unsettling, but at least she wasn’t yelling at me, proclaiming her wish to devour my soul, or leaving blood stains everywhere.

I tried placing Kazzifrezz’s ashtray next to Plant-Charlotte. If it could know my innermost thoughts, it could probably also have my dreams, right? It almost seemed cruel to bring a plant into my home only to immediately unleash a nightmare spirit upon it, but the dream-eating seemed relatively harmless when it happened to me. It seemed a logical compromise to let Kazz eat plant-dreams on the nights he wasn’t on my bedside table. He was grumpy about it of course, but agreed that it was better than nothing. I enjoyed a quiet dream-filled night. I wrote everything down in my dream journal, then went through to say good morning to Kazz and Plant-Charlotte.

“I’ve heard of plant-based diets, but this is ridiculous!” said Kazzifrezz. He paused expectantly. I gave a polite chuckle, which seemed to satisfy him.

“Did she dream?” I asked.

“Yes but it tasted all leafy and artificial. Human dreams are better than mimic dreams. Take me back to your room.”

“I might alternate where you stay each night. Tonight I dreamed I was out cycling, but there was this big-”

“I know! I just ate the leafy version of it.”

That was good to know. I mean, it was good that I knew a little more about how the mimic worked - it wasn’t good that it was having the same dreams in synchronisation with me. No, that was very creepy. But I couldn’t do much about it. I wasn’t going to get rid of her. She didn’t choose to be a creepy mimic, did she? Or maybe she did, but that’s not the point. Demon or not, I might well have brought them into this world so I had some duty of care. I know how silly it must sound, but that’s how I felt. They may be evil demons and spirits, but they were my evil demons and spirits who entered this world via my pottery. Besides, Kazz turned out to be somewhat endearing, maybe Plant-Charlotte would too. She needed a better name though. Charpotte? No, something simpler. Planty? Mimic? Mimsy. That would do.

Later that day as I passed by Mimsy, she said, “Charlotte, do you want to guest on my podcast?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing,” I replied.

“I know.”

“Welcome to the Charlotte Ransome Pottery Hour. I’m your host, Charlotte Ransome,” said Mimsy after I placed her pot by the microphone and started recording.

“Actually,” I said. “I’m Charlotte Ransome. That was my new creation speaking. She’s a plant that looks and talks like me. She even knows my thoughts and shares my dreams.”

“On tonight’s episode,” Mimsy continued, seemingly ignoring me, “I’ll be talking to a fleshy monstrosity that claims to be me.”

“And I’ll be talking to a planty monstrosity that claims to be me. Since I’m a regular human being, you can tell it’s me by my regular human skin, while Mimsy here has leaf-matter. Though, of course, you can’t see that, as this is an audio-only medium.”

“So you’ll just have to take my word for it,” said Mimsy.

“We could do a video episode.”

“Yes! Then everyone would know you’re a skin-and-bone cheap imitation of my roots and leaves!”

“You know we’re broadcasting this to people who have known skin-and-bones-Charlotte for my whole life, right?”

“Their plants are listening too!”

The argument went nowhere for a while, so I tried to bring it back round to the original interview idea. Unfortunately, Mimsy had the same idea and spoke first.

“So,” she began. “What’s it like to have thoughts and dreams that aren’t your own?”

“Some philosophers would say that no one’s thoughts are truly their own.”

“Well I studied Zoology so I wouldn’t know.”

“Oh, I didn’t know they made graduation gowns in your size.”

“The hat’s the important part.”

“And the diploma,” I added. “Who was your favourite lecturer?”

“Dr. Harper.”

“Not Flora Bunting?”

“Oh just because I’m made of leaves I have to like the person with “flora” in their name?”

“It was a just a joke, sorry”

“No I was overreacting, it was funny, I thought of it too.”

“She was my favourite until she unfairly marked me down on that one essay,” we both said in perfect unison. I know she was literally mimicking my exact thoughts and identity, but it was still nice to have someone agree with me. Everyone at university thought Dr. Bunting couldn’t put a foot wrong. Well they hadn’t seen my essay!

“What’s your favourite thing to make? Pottery-wise, I mean.” I asked her. Perhaps a little mean, making her talk about a hobby she obviously couldn’t do with her tiny fragile plant arms.

“Homes.” she said, simply.

I paused, then understood. Plant pots. “Do you like your home?”

“It’s not my finest work, but it’s nice enough. I reckon it could fetch a decent sale. You know, if I didn’t live in it.”

“Yeah, bad time to get on the property ladder anyway.”

“Don’t talk to me about ladders! You know what happened last time I left a pot balanced on a ladder. Poor cactus.”

“Nice pot too!”

“The poor plant got chucked on the compost heap and you’re concerned about the pot?”

“Well it wasn’t a sentient plant like you, it’s different.”

“What if you fell off a ladder and someone chucked you on a compost heap?”

This went on for several minutes, I’ll spare the details as it was a very repetitive argument. Mimsy was even more argumentative than Kazz sometimes. What did that say about me?

Eventually I managed to steer the conversation back to something more interesting.

“So, plant-Charlotte, do you know much about mugs of infinite blood?”

“I made one a few weeks ago.”

“Yes, me too. I was wondering where all the blood was coming from?”

“I don’t know.”

“When you’re me you don’t know, but I think the true you knows.”

“True You?” said Mimsy, disdainfully. “Is this another one of your philosophy things? I told you I studied zoology!”

“No, I meant it literally and you know it.”

“Now that I think of it, there was a river of blood in hell. But I don’t know why I know that. You should be the one who knows that, you monstrositous fleshy impostor!”

“Is monstrositous a word? Isn’t it just monstrous?”

“It is just monstrous isn’t it, to be forced to think about Hell and Blood when all I want to do is pottery?”

As we devolved into further argument, of which I will again spare you the full transcript, a thought came to me - if it could know my thoughts, maybe I could know its thoughts. I tried to remember this river of blood that Mimsy was talking about. I saw it. Maybe it was my imagination running wild? But no, it didn’t feel like imagination. It felt like a memory. I could taste the blood seeping into my roots, making me grow in the fresh meadows of hell. I shuddered violently, and nearly threw up at knowing the feeling of the nourishment of eternal blood. The shock dragged me out of the memory instantly, but morbid curiosity played on my mind.

Dare I go back to that horrible place and visualise it again? Yes. Stupidly, yes, like one of those experiments where they lock a guy in a room with nothing but an electric buzzer and without fail he eventually shocks himself to see what happens, and then does it again a few minutes later. I tapped into the memory again and in my mind, I was there, growing from the blood-soaked dirt of the floodplains - strange to think that a river of blood was so similar in geography to a real river. Was everything there the same but with blood instead of water? I thought I should know that too, but I was just a plant. Plants don’t know why it rains, they just bask in it. I felt so small. Did plants feel this way all the time? I made a mental note to move my house plants around more so they could enjoy the change in scenery - that uniquely human thought blurred my perception for a moment and nearly derailed my train of thought. I drew the blood in with my roots, refocusing myself on the scene around me. I drank the blood up from the soil as if I could draw information from it. Nothing seemed unusual about it. What did I expect? Some subtle quirk of the blood I absorbed to reveal that yes, indeed, there is in fact a dimensional rift in the river that connects to one specific mug in the mortal realm?

“Flesh-Charlotte?” Mimsy’s voice interrupted my train of thought. “You’ve just been sitting staring at nothing for several minutes. The microphone’s still on. Are you okay?”

“Sorry, yes, fine. Where were we?”

“Right here.”

“In the conversation, I meant.”

“I know. We were talking about the river of blood.”

“Yes, that’s right. Do you miss the feeling of blood in your roots?”

“Of course. That awful ‘water’ you keep giving me just doesn’t taste the same.”

I hated that I knew exactly what she meant.

“I’ve just had an idea,” I told her, but she already knew that.

“Me too. Bury the blood mug under my soil so I have a constant source. You won’t even need to water me. Do you know how degrading it is to depend on a giant fleshy mimicry of yourself for survival?”

“Unfortunately, I do,” I said, honestly. I was becoming more and more attuned with her thoughts and feelings as we spoke. It really did feel like we were both mimics of each other.

She wouldn’t talk about anything else until I paused the recording to carry out the plan. I buried the blood mug in the soil, then re-planted Mimsy. She was surprisingly patient while I prepared the pot. But then again, it wasn’t that surprising, since she was me and I knew her thoughts and feelings. We finished recording the podcast after I was done, but not much interesting was said. It was mostly her being uncomfortably over-enthusiastic about the taste of blood in her roots.

This felt like an ideal answer to the blood mug question - but really it was nothing more than an “out of sight, out of mind”-type solution. It felt slightly less ideal when I found out later in the day that if I walked too close to her pot I could vividly feel the sensation of sucking up blood in my roots. I wondered also how much she might grow with such a reliable blood source - I certainly didn’t want a life-size copy of myself around. I walked by her pot and focused on her mind - I sensed that, if she knew her own biology, she would stay roughly the same size. That was a relief. I suppose it made sense in the same way that I wouldn’t triple in height if I had a fridge of endless hummus, though some clothes may cease to fit.

“Stop thinking about hummus!” cried Mimsy. “The taste of it is uncomfortably vivid.”

“One man’s blood is another man’s hummus,” I said.

“Neither of us are men.”

“It’s a figure of speech.”

“Oh. Sorry, I studied zoology, not literature.”

“I know.”

Bloody Memories

The general knowledge of a plant whose memories I could tap into was useful, but still somewhat limited. She was just a plant, after all. If only I’d summoned a library demon instead. I kept trying to secretly delve into her memories. I often had to set aside whole mornings to give time to recover from the sheer discomfort of feeling Mimsy’s blood-soaked memories, but I was determined to decipher something from them. She must know something that could help me. Most of her memories, and aspirations too for that matter, revolved around absorbing blood-rain with her roots. It was hard to see through the red mist to the tiny snippets of useful information, but I knew it was in there somewhere. I was sure I could gain some insight from this. I felt a little guilty about prying into her thoughts, but she did it to me all the time, so I didn’t feel that guilty.

As I probed the depths of her short botanical existence, I saw little red demons sail down the blood river on boats of bone and skin. Only their goofy little grins distracted me from the sheer mortal horror of seeing stretched out flesh-sails - they seemed so happy to be floating along the blood river to whatever tortures awaited downstream. I tried to look away, but remembered I was a plant. Plants can’t really look away, they just sort of passively experience everything around them. Perhaps that passivity was why it wasn’t as horrific as it should have been. Perhaps I had to stop trying so hard and shift to a more passive approach, seeping knowledge through those roots as well as blood. Never had I felt so small - a tiny sentient plant in a meadow of bloody roses. It was too abstract to take much meaning from but I felt some subtle understanding growing. After a few more visits to her memories, I somehow sensed the leak - it must have been the spot where the blood was crossing from the river into my mug. I still don’t understand how I knew, how I could pinpoint that abstract sense to a defined point of anomaly not far from my tiny static position.

I sensed, surprisingly, discomfort. Mimsy felt almost as unsettled by this rift as I did. Perhaps hell wasn’t invading our world, but simply leaking through into it. Could there be some way to close the rifts? I delved deeper still into Mimsy’s subconscious, into those strange, alien, plant-like experiences. The contradiction of my human cells feeling experiences unique to plant cells was overwhelmingly strange. I wanted to throw up, or to do the plant equivalent of throwing up, whatever that might be. I wasn’t keen to find out, but I forced myself to focus anyway. I dug to a dead end, unable to parse any facts from it. The extent of my roots was too limited. There was only so much I could decipher.

Perhaps there was a way to be less Mimsy and more Charlotte without breaking the connection. I focused on the feeling in my roots while picturing myself on my bike, imagining that there was a cycle path in this strange memory-space, and superimposing these experiences on top of one another. Somehow it was working. I felt like I was there, cycling through the meadow by the river like some astrally projected spirit. The geometry wasn’t quite right and I couldn’t bring every direction into focus - but it was achievement enough to be here without also completely realigning spacetime from plant perspective to full human immersion. Gravity seemed wrong, too. Pedalling the bike uphill was much easier. Was that just the nature of this place, or was it because the plant part of me struggled to understand the physics of pedalling?

Drifting so close to the plant perspective again was a mistake. My roots were not equipped to pedal, my leaves not equipped to grasp the handlebars. I abruptly found myself tumbling downhill. The shock of rolling down immediately snapped me back to feeling human, but too late - I plunged over a precipice into the river. I sank into the blood. I tried to wake up, return my mind to the mortal world but I felt stuck. I thrashed and gargled, only making things worse. I sank deeper, deeper into the river of blood.

I forced my eyes open, hoping that would free me, but I was still there. The blood was more translucent than I would have thought. Little razor-sharp fish scattered around me. I had to get out before they realised I was prime torture material rather than a giant intruder to fear, but how? I had lost sense of which way was up. I could only think to approach where it was lighter, but the light I found was not the surface. Instead I found a tiny mote perfectly static as blood flowed around it. At this point I would have tried anything. I reached out and grabbed at the light and felt something earthy. Soil - the plant pot! This was the portal! In my panic, I pried it wider with my fingers, too distressed to worry about the implications of widening a portal to hell. Within seconds the rift was expanding by itself, out of control. I prayed it would stop before it split the whole earth in two. As soon as it was big enough, I swam forward, into the bright rift.

The next thing I heard was the smash of pottery and an unbearable splash of blood. I snapped to consciousness and spun around to the noise. The pot was shattered. Blood was everywhere. A pathetic little mound of red-stained mud lay on the floor and among that mud lay Mimsy, bent and broken. I could still connect to her thoughts, but she was dying. I had done this. I rushed over and knelt beside her, staining my jeans in the blood. But she was already gone. And I had a lot of cleaning up to do.

The initial shock gave way to pure emotion. I cried. I cried and cried for a plant that claimed to be me and invaded my memories and only existed for a few days. But she had been alive, and she had sort of been me. I couldn’t process it in any rational way, which in hindsight is understandable because it was not a rational situation.

When I calmed down enough to think, I took a better look at the murder scene. The broken pieces of the mug were there in the blood-soaked soil. There was no sign of the rift, no sign of any more blood pouring through to my world. The portal really had been completely destroyed by whatever I had done. Maybe it got too big and unstable and collapsed in on itself. Maybe the reunion of my spirit with the mortal world rebalanced things and fixed it. All I could do was speculate and all it cost was the life of a little copy of me. Was there anything I could have done differently? Not in the moment, but I should never have let it reach that moment. I pushed too far into things I didn’t understand against every instinct I had and this was the price. I scooped up the remains. She deserved a burial at least; it would be awful to leave her to the compost heap. If nothing else, I could give her a respectful interment.

I dug a small rectangular grave and arranged the shattered parts of the pot and mug as best I could around her roots and laid her flat beside it. She looked a lot less like me now. Perhaps death reverted her back to being a simple plant. Perhaps demons can’t die and her spirit returned home, hopefully to be herself and not a copy of me. I was speculating about unknowable things once more. I looked back down at her lifeless form to ground myself. I could think about that later. It was wrong to spend her funeral trying to ease my mind and convince myself there was some explanation that would soften the blow. I made some small speech which I will leave between me and her, and then began to quietly cover up her remains. I left a nice piece of driftwood as a marker, stood silent, eyes closed for a few minutes, then went back indoors.

I spent hours and hours scrubbing at the blood, pausing only to air my emotions. If I had started to clean earlier instead of leaving it to dry while I held Mimsy’s funeral it might have been a little easier, though I think much of this irreversible staining was inevitable. That would be a tough thing to explain when someone saw it. Maybe I could convince them I branched out from pottery to learn to be a butcher? Unlikely to work, I’ve been vegetarian for years. That was a problem for the future, not for now. For now all I could do was clean as best I could. Normally I would bring Kazz through for some company while working, but I just needed to be alone. With neither he nor Mimsy around, it was silent save for the scrub of my brush and the shudder of my breath.

How to Free a Storm

I decided after the death of Mimsy that I would do better. I would be better. I would look after my demons as pets or housemates, not as burdens. Evil or not, I was the one who summoned them. They were my responsibility. I would find them a way home that didn’t end in tragedy.

I went to the towel cupboard and unwrapped Storm - I had taken to calling them Storm despite no confirmation that this one was a sentient demon. It might just be another portal like the blood mug, but until proven otherwise, they deserved a name and a better home than a stuffy cupboard. The faint sound of wind still flowed from the vase. I held it before me, put my mouth close enough to feel the subtle breeze, and whispered. “Hello, I’m Charlotte. If there’s someone in there, I sort of brought you here. If you’re in there, I would like to meet you.”

There was nothing obvious at first, but then there was a change in the wind pattern. It was reacting to my voice. I had felt some form of response before, but this was clearer, more definite.

“I felt your change, but I’m sorry, I don’t know what it means. Can you talk?”

A faint, airy, feminine voice replied, barely audibly, but she spoke words of some strange language. It didn’t sound like anything I’d heard on earth. Some kind of demon language, I suppose.

“Do you understand me? Blow cold for yes, warm for no.”

A distinctly mid-temperature gust hit me.

“Um. That was medium. Colder for yes. Warmer for no.”

A blast of freezing air shot out so hard that I nearly dropped the pot in surprise, and then the voice whispered again in long flowing words, “Your language confuses me. But I understand it. Sorry about the confusing temperature; by my homeland’s standards your medium is my bloody freezing.”

“Ah, it’s all relative isn’t it? I could’ve been clearer.”

“You could.”

“Do you have a name?”

“Names are a foolish mortal concept.”

“I’ll call you Storm. Is that okay?”

The wind in the vase seemed to circulate for a moment as if in thought, and then another medium temperature gust blew out at me. Well, close enough, then. She wasn’t going to kill me over it.

“I’m sorry for shutting you in a towel cupboard so much. I didn’t know you were sentient.”

“Sentience is a silly mortal concept that does no justice to the complexities of thought and existence across time and space.”

“Are you annoyed about being shut away?”

“I have existed for all the aeons of your world and many worlds before it. I can survive a few of your so-called “weeks” in a cupboard.”

“Right, fair enough. Have you been to Earth before?”

“Every storm.”

“They’re all you? Even the ones that happen while you’re stuck inside this vase?”

Another medium breeze. “Both yes and no. You’re too mortal to understand.”

“I’ve been feeling that way about a lot of things lately. Do you know about the place with the river of blood and the plants which think they’re people?”

“I have been blood-storms there many times.”

“Do you know if one of those plants comes to earth, then dies in a blood-portal-explosion… is it really dead or does it just go back to that place?”

“Death is a silly mortal concept. You’re too mortal to understand how a demon-spirit flows between worlds.”

“I thought you might say that.” I sighed. I shouldn’t judge so quickly, but on first impression, even Kazz was a better conversation partner.

A scorching breeze shot past my head. Evidently my sigh was unintentionally an offensive word in storm-language, but Storm calmed down again quickly.

“Sorry,” I said. “Do you want to get back home? Do you know how to?”

Two bursts of cold air. “But you won’t like the answer.”

“Go on.”

“You have to smash this vase.”

“I’ve lost a lot of pots - some of those were your fault - one more won’t make a difference.”

“Smashing the vase will release me in the form of a mighty tempest the likes of which this realm has never suffered before.”

“I should’ve known there would be a catch. But it would be nice to hear something else on the news for once… How big a storm? Are we talking storm, gale, hurricane, tornado…”

“Biblical Cataclysm.”


“I said you wouldn’t like it.”

“Well there must be another way. What about back the way you came? How did you get here?”

“How should I know? You’re the one who summoned and unintentionally imprisoned me.”

“Right, I’ll think about things. Do you promise not to make a big wind and smash more pots if I put you somewhere else? Is it safe for you to be outside or will you mess with the weather patterns?”

“I promise I will try my best not to destroy your town in a merciless tempest.”

That was not reassuring, but I suppose it was the best I could reasonably expect from a personification of storms and destruction. I took the vase outside. If she broke the promise and created chaos and destruction, I expected she could do it from anywhere, so why risk having her inside next to my pots. It was a calm sunny day, which might be considered terrible weather for a storm. I hoped it would relax her instead of giving her the urge to ruin it. I tried to stop myself from thinking like that. Stop assuming she will break the promise. Treat her with trust and respect, even if she is a demon.

I went back to my room and explained the new situation to Kazz. He listened reluctantly, but at least he listened. I told him all about what happened with my astral projection into Hell and how I accidentally destroyed Mimsy and the Mug of Infinite Blood. He didn’t seem very concerned. Empathy was never his strong point, but it was still a little bit reassuring that another demon seemed to think I didn’t actually murder Mimsy.

Perhaps death really was a silly mortal concept like Storm said, though she did call nearly everything a silly mortal concept. Once I’d filled Kazz in on everything that had happened, I moved on to the next problem.

“I know you hate Storm, but I need some advice.”

“Storm? You named a literal storm and the best name you could come up with was Storm? No wonder your dreams taste so chewy and bland.”

“Simple and effective. Better than having “the Vile” in your name. That must be like the John Smith of the demon world.”

He did that gurgling growl that I’d come to understand as I’m angry and want to argue but can’t because you’re right, and then said, “Bah! Point taken. What do you need my help for anyway after avoiding me all day?”

“Storm says the only way she knows how to return home is for me to smash the vase she’s trapped in…”

“So do it. Get rid of her. Everyone’s happy.”

“Shush, I’m not finished. The only way is to smash the vase, but and this is a pretty big but - don’t you dare make a butt joke - if I do that, it will also cause a storm which she described as biblically cataclysmic.”

“Hmm, demons don’t throw around words like “biblical” without really meaning it. I see your quandary. If you make a storm, it will be terrifying and everyone will have nightmares, which is good, but I might get blown away in the wind and not be able to eat any of those nightmares, which is bad.”

“Yeah, that’s the main issue here… No, obviously I don’t want to make a giant storm and blow all the houses down and burst all the riverbanks. That would be awful! What I wanted you to advise me on is other routes to get something back to Hell, or the demon realm, or whatever you call it.”

“We call it something that you wouldn’t be able to pronounce… but then again… if you try to say it, it might haunt your dreams forever with the evil power of invoking its name. Go on, it’s…”

The next sound he made was something I couldn’t even imagine how to write down, but I did feel a lot of evil power in it, so I wouldn’t risk it if I could.

I sighed. “Stop thinking about nightmares for a second and help me out. Think of another way to get a storm demon back to Hell. Please, I need this.”

“There’s a cave in Russia.”

“No flights in lock-down.”

“There’s a summoning chant… you could say it backwards?”

“Sounds risky.”

“You could just let the storm happen.”

“You’d blow away.”

“You could reverse the pottery timeline.”

“Humans experience time in a linear path of cause and effect.”

“That’s a deal breaker on my next three ideas.”

“Come on! There must be something. Do you know how you got here in the first place?”

“No, you somehow summoned me by mistake but I don’t know when or how. It certainly didn’t follow any of the normal rules. Usually I have to enter via a nightmare portal in someone’s psychic aura.”

“But if I can bring something here, I must be able to send something back, right?”

“I don’t know, you’re the one who did it.”

It was yet another useless circular conversation. A nightmare… A storm… Infinite blood… a mimic… Why couldn’t I have an academy-demon (an academon?) or something like that? Oh, how nice it would be to have one of the leading scholars of Hell, well-versed in the ancient forbidden lore of returning lost demons to the foul chaotic stormstruck wastelands beyond mortal ken. On the other hand, a demon scholar would probably be even more annoying than any of my demonic housemates. Perhaps if I hadn’t lost poor Mimsy so suddenly I could have used the astral projection to locate their homes and drag them back that way somehow. It would probably have been a longshot, even if she was still around. There was no obvious answer. A small part of me thought of just leaving Storm. My lifetime would be no longer than a flash of lightning to her, but I wasn’t so selfish. I didn’t want the next generation to die horribly in an endless storm either.

After hours of thought, I had a strange idea. It probably wouldn’t work, but I had the urge to try anyway. I slept on it. By morning neither I nor Kazz nor Storm had suggested anything better. I didn’t talk it over with them - it might have more of a chance of success as a secret.

Of Storms and the Sea

I picked up Storm’s vase, and whispered into it. “Good morning, Storm. If it’s okay with you, I’m going to take you on a little adventure.”

“Adventure is a-”

“Yes, yes, a silly mortal concept. Do you want to come or not?”

She gave another medium temperature gust. Fine. That was good enough. I carefully wrapped her vase in a knitted jumper and put her in a backpack.

“Sorry, you’ll be in the dark for a while - don’t want to risk you falling off on the way!”

Medium gust.

I zipped the backpack shut and cycled to the coast. I spent some time finding a nice secluded spot. The weather was perfect. A cool ocean breeze blew in across the water. It was peace. I breathed in the blissful calm of waves breaking against the shore, and laid out my picnic blanket. I took Storm out of my backpack, unwrapped her from the jumper, and stood her in the sand, pushed just far enough that she would not fall over.

“Do you feel that? The ocean breeze, I mean,” I asked her.

“I feel all motion of air everywhere in this tiny mortal realm.”

“But how does it feel here?”

“Like peace. Like all this good air wasting its potential to move.”

“But in this world, air only moves to try to find peace.”

“That doesn’t sound correct.”

“Well, I studied zoology not meteorology but… I think I sort of have a good point to make. Things try to go to the lowest energy state. Wind is when the air goes from high to low pressure - to equalise, to become peace. You say the point of wind is chaos, but I observe it to be a frantic effort to achieve order.”

“I know how wind works. I am wind - wind with more force than your pathetic mortal mind can comprehend.”

“I don’t doubt that. You know, for all we complain about it, Britain’s weather’s not that extreme in the grand scheme of things.”

“And what would you know of grand schemes when confined to but one tiny mortal realm in the grand scheme?”

“Not a lot. I know I’m too mortal and human to understand you, but maybe I can get you to understand me a little better - maybe you can understand how I feel here, in this calm of wasted potential.”

I stopped talking, letting the gentle breeze come in from the sea and make my point for me. Surely Storm could feel that serenity too. Could she understand how I experienced this or was it uniquely human? Here, I could stop and let the world keep moving. It could move around me, a stationary observer simply enjoying the motion. This was a place to let ideas drift away in the cycle of waves - never repeating but always the same or perhaps it was never the same but always repeating. It was a place to soak in the chatter of seabirds, cawing and calling, squawking and diving - a place to be like them, free on the wind, worriless. Could she feel it too? I willed with all my heart for her to feel it too.

“These waves could be crashing and tearing away at these cliffs. My storm could rush ashore and rain thunderous chaos upon this tiny, pathetic mortal place!”

“It could. But why would it?”

“Because a storm’s nature is to destroy! Because I have all the power, because I am a force of chaos ready and willing to tear this world apart in a tempest of b-”

“Biblically Cataclysmic proportion? Yes, so you’ve said. But I don’t think it’s true here. Here, a storm doesn’t have intent, it just is.”

“Intent is an ignorant mortal concept, of course it just is. Of course I just am.”

“Are you though? Because in this world, destruction is a step in a cycle. New life will grow. You don’t really destroy anything, not for long. Cataclysms are a silly demonic concept. Some life may die, but the world lives on. A storm, even yours, is just another thing for the world to continue through – it’s seen worse things than you can muster. Did you know it once got hit by a giant rock from space so hard that millions and millions of giant lizard monsters died? But look at it now - teeming with life, despite all the perils of the world.”

“You speak of rebirth as if it can happen without destruction. I am part of that cycle.”

“Yes, you can be part of it, but if you’re part of it here, you’re part of it on the terms this world sets for you. Maybe in Hell, limitless power and endless destruction make sense, but here you have to be in tune with the way the wind blows, not the way you think it should blow.”

Storm was silent for a while. I curled my bare toes in the sand and closed my eyes - it was just me and the ocean breeze. And a storm demon in a clay vase. She remained silent. I didn’t want to push her. It seemed better to let her sit and think. I lay back and let my mind empty once more. No thoughts, just calm. The passing minutes rose to meet us until the tide lapped at my toes, the water cold despite the sun. I broke my thoughtless state to move the blanket further back, just past the high tide line. I left Storm where she was. High tide met the base of the vase gently, and left a ring of light foam around it, washed away and replenished again with each wave. Please feel it, I willed silently. She took a long time to reply.

“I see the value in this,” she said, plain and analytic. Maybe she didn’t or couldn’t feel it the way I did, but she must have understood something. Perfect understanding of each other was too much to ask. This was enough. This was good.

I smiled, feeling like I was getting somewhere. “You could be this. Calm. Beauty. Peace. But you would be chaos too. Perhaps not quite how you are used to; things aren’t as crazy on earth as they are in Hell, but that doesn’t mean we can predict everything. We even have a thing called chaos theory, though I can’t go into more detail on that - I studied zoology, not maths.”

She pondered this for several minutes again, as the sea swirled around her vase. She probably couldn’t feel it through the clay, but I like to imagine that it had some effect anyway.

When she spoke again, there was a stubborn edge to her voice. “Know that even if I choose this existence, I will destroy again. That is my unchangeable truth.”

“But it will be natural destruction. The type this world feels all the time. You can’t bring Hell to Earth.”

“Do not be so sure, mortal.”

“I’m not sure. I never am, but I believe, and that’s enough.”

“Belief is a foolish mortal concept. Truth does not care what you believe.”

“I know. Truth does not care what you believe either.”

“I believe nothing. I exist as truth.”

“Then be truth.”

“I shall.”

And she was gone. Where once there was a demon, there was now empty space. The vase was just a vase. No wind spilled from its brim - no fury, no chaos. Storm was gone - but not completely, yet. Her voice in the wind, barely audible, repeated, “I shall be truth. I shall be truth.”

And when her mantra faded, she was really gone. She became one with the atmosphere, here and everywhere, now and always. When the wind blows, Storm blows with it, no longer as some chaotic demon, but as the wind itself. In a way, she died too. She did not fall limp and lifeless like Mimsy, but she dissipated into the endless, unshakable truth of nature. I doubt that any personality or intent remained. She was part of our world, and in becoming so, she truly became so, inseparably so. She was not Storm any more; she was just another nameless breeze on the ocean’s wind. She was peace now, not chaos. Nothing more. I basked in her peace. I lay there, alone on this secluded little beach, until the sun began to set and cold twilight began to replace the warmth of the afternoon. I packed the empty vase away safely and cycled home. The weather forecast remained more-or-less accurate. There was no storm that night.

Kazzifrezz the Vile, Lord of Nightmares

I returned from my trip to find a small parcel waiting for me. It was from Sumaya. What I found when I opened it up was a home-made dream-catcher in green and pink. I’m not a very spiritual person, but I liked the thought. Handcrafted presents are always nice, like a little part of a friend’s creativity to keep around me. Perhaps I would have thought the implications through more on any other day. But my mind was far away, floating on the wind by a beach, floating on wind that once had a mind and soul. Being so distracted, I never paused to consider that a dream-catcher might actually catch dreams. Kazzifrezz was very annoyed the next morning when he found it.

“That explains why I couldn’t find any dreams to eat!” he shouted. He sounded hurt. “I thought we had an arrangement, and you put that there?”

He wouldn’t look directly at it. He was repulsed like a vampire from a crucifix.

“I’m sorry, Kazz, I didn’t think,” I said, honestly. “It was an unexpected gift from a friend. I haven’t seen her except over video call since March. I liked it there to remind me of better times when she was here.”

“Well take it away! Hang it in your workshop, not by your bed! I’m hungry!”

“I will. Sorry.” I sighed. “She’ll be back soon. Everyone will. How will you feel about so many people in the house?”

“People are terrible! Unless they’re asleep… Well, I quite like you when you’re awake, but no one else.”

I smiled - a genuinely nice thing to say, even after I subjected him to the horrors of a dream-catcher. I reached up to unhook it from the wall and stopped. There was something there - of course! The dream! Shimmering bubbles of thought, like the rainbow glimmer of spilled petrol. I could see hints of motion in the shapes. They were too small to decipher what was going on, but they were surely thumbnail previews of dreams I’d had and couldn’t recall. I reached out a hesitant finger, wondering what would happen if I touched one.

Immediately, I was transported into the dream. It felt far more natural than projecting into Mimsy’s memories. These were my own dreams after all. But they weren’t pleasant dreams. I was alone on the beach again. It was calm but not soothing. It was the unsettling stillness of impending disaster. The silence before a storm. Before Storm. The calm ended and she was there with fury. There were no words, but somehow in the crash of thunder and waves I knew she was screaming that I had tricked her. I had deceived her into giving up her soul. The sea turned red, and twisting vines sprung up beside me dragging me to the sand by a thorny grasp around my wrists. My own voice - no, Mimsy’s voice - cried out, “You did this!”

Before I could respond, a black smoking void was torn from the sky. I tried to ignore it and focus on Mimsy and Storm.

“I’m sorry, Mimsy! I’m sorry, Storm! I didn’t want-” I cried out as the world shook around me and more black rifts formed. Realisation hit me, and I yelled up at the broken sky. “Kazz! Stop! Eating! My! Dream!”

He appeared in the sky above me, visible through the cracks he had made. Here, he really did look as scary as he tried to look in the waking world. He was vast, filling the sky, one smouldering orange-red eye filling a crack in the very fabric of the dream.

His voice was thunder. “You can hear me?”

“Yes, I think I’m actually living this dream, not just dreaming it! So stop eating! I need to see this play out.”

The dream was already unstable as it was. Another bite might have brought it crashing down around me. Kazz looked to be considering my words with confusion and concern in equal measure.

“You shouldn’t…” He hesitated, then shrank down, floating through the rift to join me at his normal size on the beach. His voice no longer rumbling and echoing from the boundaries of the dream, he said “You shouldn’t be able to talk to me. That doesn’t make sense.”

“Well, I guess I’m awake this time. Am I? Can you see outside and inside the dream at the same time?”

He vanished for a few seconds, then popped back. “You’re sort of awake but in a trance. You couldn’t hear me out there.”

“But I can in here. Interesting.”

Still the sea crashed red, though neither Storm nor Mimsy had tried to speak. It seemed that only whatever I was currently focused on took any form. Turning back to the sea made it rise up in anger again. Looking at the ground made the plants writhe and grow. I closed my eyes and tried to force the thoughts from my mind.

“I just wanted to do what was best for everyone,” I whispered to myself.

“You did,” replied Kazz, with uncharacteristic softness. In that moment, I heard not the Lord of Nightmares, not even the angry billow of smoke I had first found - I heard only a friend.

“Then why are they so angry?”

“This is your dream, not theirs.”

“How can I know if I’m just making it up or if my dream is looking into some other part of reality?”

“You can’t. But I, as a mighty nightmare spirit, can. Prophetic dreams taste different. This one only tastes of grief, anxiety, and existential dread.”


“If you can talk to me here you have control. You can change the dream.”

“What would that achieve? I think I need to let it flow and just process it.”

“You could…” he began, then paused. “Yeah. Let it flow.”

I thought of asking what he was going to say, but let it slide. I turned back to the sea once more and the red waves rose high in response. It was high tide all of a sudden. Bloodstained seafoam lapped around my feet. My wellies kept me dry. I hadn’t been wearing them when the dream began. The cold of the wind was biting at me - I wished I had a jacket, and then realised I was wearing one. Kazzifrezz was right; I did have control. At least a little bit. I couldn’t calm the sea or the winds.

But I could accept their fury.

I cast off my jacket and stepped out of my wellies. I stood in messy work trousers and an old oversized shirt at the mercy of the bleeding storm. I strode forward, wading waist deep.

“I’m sorry.” It was barely a whisper, but it was clear above the noise. There was no response. There was only storm and sea. Mimsy and Storm were gone. They couldn’t forgive me now. Maybe Storm would tell me that forgiveness is a foolish mortal concept. Maybe she was right. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe slowly. The wind began to ease off. The waves calmed and began to sweep in and out with my breath. The tide slowly retreated, leaving me standing barefoot in wet sand, an empty vase in one arm, and an empty plant pot in the other, the clay cold against my bare skin. I looked down and a seedling was growing there, somehow, in nothing but sand, blowing gently in the breeze.

Thunder above said; “It’s all metaphors, you know.”

I looked up to see Kazz watching through the crack in the sky again. “Do you mind? I was having a moment there.”

“Sorry, I’ll leave you to it.”

“No,” I sighed, “You already ruined it. Are all dreams metaphors, even the weird nightmares you always tell me about?”

“No, not all. Mostly it’s just the random chaos of the brain processing too many signals or the horrific demon energy I channel into you. But some dreams are.”

“Explain this one then.”

He reverted back to his small size beside me. “You explain it. They’re your metaphors.”

“I studied zoology, not poetry.”

“And I’m a demon. Actual torture is always better than metaphors for torture.”

“Well, imaginary torture that I don’t even remember when I wake up. But that’s beside the point. I still don’t know what to do. I don’t even really know what I already did.”

“You did your best.”

“My best wasn’t good enough to help Mimsy. I don’t even know if I helped Storm. I don’t know how to help you.”

“You help me by having horrible nightmares every night.”

“You know what I meant. I need to help you go home too, eventually.”

“You can control this dream. You calmed the storm and the waves. You could simply open a portal to the nightmare realm.”

“Simply, huh?”

“The cosmic mechanics of it are only understood by the librarians of hell, but the actual process is just… vwooooshh”

“Just vwoosh. Right, that explains it.”

“How did you move the tides back? Just thinking about it, right? Do that but… portal to hell.”

I imagined a portal. There was a vwoosh. He was right. It really was that simple.

“CAREFUL!” yelled Kazz. “A portal that size could let anything through!”

I concentrated and the portal shrank in response.

“So is that it?” I asked. “I just make a portal and you go. After everything we’ve been through, that’s it?”

“That’s it,” he said. There was a hint of sadness to his voice. He looked up at me. “I need nightmares to eat. It’s not the same when those nightmares belong to…”

He made a sound like a cough and fell quiet. I looked at him with a knowing smile.

“Belong to what, Kazzifrezz?”

“It’s not the same,” he mumbled, “when those nightmares belong to a friend.”

“I’ll miss you, Kazz. But I’ll be glad to have my dreams back.”

“And I’ll be glad to go find someone whose agonising pain I can fully appreciate.”

“Goodbye, Kazzifrezz the Vile, Lord of Nightmares.”

“Goodbye Charlotte Ransome, Amateur Potter.”

He drifted towards the portal and passed through. A moment later, his face reappeared with a sudden snarl, coughing brimstone in my direction. The shock woke me. His parting gift was to scare me out of my trance before I let my guilt turn back into storms. The dream-catcher smouldered slightly then fell from the wall. The petrol-spill shimmers burst with it. I’d never get to go back in. A small part of me resented that Kazz had interrupted before I could find true closure with Storm and Mimsy, but I knew it was wishful thinking. I couldn’t - and wouldn’t - just dream my troubles and regrets away. I would carry that burden and remember my brief encounters with demons. As for Kazz, an unceremonious goodbye on a beach felt strangely appropriate. Our time together had ended as abruptly and as illogically as it had begun. And now I was alone in my room. The empty ashtray on the bedside table was truly empty now. Kazz was gone. I wrote about his departure in my dream journal, not that I was likely to ever forget.

And that was the end of it. No more demons came to my workshop and life returned to how it was before, plain and mundane. Dreams were dreamed. Plants grew. Mugs remained blood-free. The wind blew, and life went on. The podcast did not. It died with Mimsy and never felt right to record after that. I called my mum but couldn’t tell her all of this. I did some work. I cycled to the beach. I made some pots, and life went on.

I have seen too much these last few months to rule anything out, but I know deep down that the ordeal is over. It seems I’ll never know how or why I brought them into the world. I might never even understand how I helped them back out again. Some fragment of my innermost spirit knows, but that knowledge lies deeper than I can connect too. Understanding how it happened doesn’t matter in the end. The cosmic mechanics of Hell and portals are too vast and incomprehensible for a mortal like me, but the demons themselves were not. Their nature was impossible, their motives a mystery, but they felt things. Their feelings were not so different to those of mortals for all that they claimed. Somehow that was reassuring. In the impossible infinity of our universe and beyond, even demons can feel something. Even the Lord of Nightmares can be a friend. Even the storm can be the ocean breeze. And even I can be the person who I need.


About the Creator

Laurence J. R. Nix

Sometimes I research particle acceleration and sometimes I do whatever it is you would call this.

The Charlotte Ransome Pottery Hour will also be available on RoyalRoad

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (3)

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  • Aphotic4 months ago

    This was so much fun to read! I love your descriptions of the demons and the dialogue was great throughout. This was quite creative and full of immersive imagery. Can’t wait to see what else you dream up!

  • Simon Roeder4 months ago

    Lovely story. You really feel connected to the demons. Traumatic though it might be this feels like an adventure you want to have yourself. Looking forward to further installments

  • TJ Roddy4 months ago

    This is a story I needed to read in chunks -chapters if you will. It needed a little more imagery to start with so my imagination could run. A sketch to start with of the smoke in your mind would be cool. Keep on dreaming.

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