Goodreads Review: I Met A Demon

I Met A DemonI Met A Demon by Petronela Ungureanu

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The premise? Young man, away from home, suffers a terrifying encounter with something beyond the pale and lives to tell about it.
The delivery? About 8 pages of rambling, presented in a journal-like format, wherein he moves into an uncomfortable room, gives cheesecake to an old woman, complains about the lack of mod-cons, kidnaps a stray dog and names it Silly, and sees a large, black fuzzy thing that he rants at for an unknown time before walking out.

While I am not averse to short fiction, whether purchased individually or wholesale in a collection, I have to get hooked, fast and hard, for me to care; this failed in that endeavor. Primarily due to our narrator. He goes to great lengths (spending almost an entire page) discussing how he is thoroughly a modern man of his time (the 70s), but constantly breaks that “character” as his language seems designed to impress or ape an almost Victorian style. There was a great deal of setup involving his childhood and recurring nightmares that he supposedly suffered, put to rest by the blessing of a priest – which, to be fair, was a potentially interesting hook – that ultimately ends up feeling like just a lame attempt to foreshadow the coming encounter, and casts it in a senseless light. (If he was blessed as a child and the incidents stopped, why is he then vulnerable to the “demon” now?)

The other “spooky” events – sounds of crying, things stomping and scurrying in the attic, neither of which are ever really explored or explained – only seem to be tacked on as the standard tropes one needs before a spectral visitation, but don’t seem to have any ultimate relevance to whatever-it-was that appears to our narrator.

The inclusion of the dog and the narrator’s friends seems silly, unnecessary – especially because ultimately the friends smoke, drink and go home rather than engaging in the “rat-hunt” that was planned, and have no interaction with the beastie, thus serving no purpose to the tale, and the dog sits outside, eats, and howls a little when the “demon” arrives, but otherwise is equally irrelevant. Also, he gets abandoned when the narrator flees, which just isn’t cool, man.

Then we finally get to the “demon.” It’s a… giant… black… furry… thing. I guess. With no nose or mouth. But it’s got big burning eyes (the better to see you with?) and can apparently cough (ahem-ahem, as our narrator puts it.) And it… stands there. And perhaps I’m made of sterner stuff (and have had my own “experiences” far worse than this), but I didn’t find this frightening or ominous at all, especially since it does nothing but stand and stare.

Yes. That’s all it does. It stands there. While our narrator discusses the “million years” he stands before it, starting with prayer, moving on to begging, cursing, more prayer, “loses his mind,” “nearly dies,” begs it to tell him what it wants, demands the same, prays some more and curses some more. Then our narrator walks through it with an “Our Father.” The end!

Well, not quite. Then we’re treated to a bit of purple prose about how he abandoned all his stuff (Poor Silly…) and how he’s quite sure that there must be angels, because he met a demon.

I just… I don’t know. I really don’t. I suspect with a proper edit job (paragraphs would be nice) to make it look less like a Facebook post on a ghost-hunting site would do wonders. If it’s attempting to be fiction, expansion on the “rats,” Auntie’s background, our narrator’s past, nightmares and blessing, and the “demon” itself, while trimming back or fleshing out seemingly irrelevant nubbins like the dog or the friends would be helpful; if it’s intended as non-fiction, turning it into a more essay-like format (or including the text as-is, then adding in a “research paper” type portion afterward) might make it better in my eyes. If it lies somewhere in the middle, then any or all of those suggestions could help.

As it currently stands, however, the premise shows promise, but ultimately falls flat. As a blog post or something similar, relating a brush with the supernatural? Maybe. As a Creepypasta or Crappypasta? Might be okay. Though I’d still want to see some severe editing. As a bit of short fiction, though, I felt it was a huge letdown.

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