The idea for Demoner came to me one day when I was walking to catch a bus home from a friend’s house. It just suddenly occurred to me that I should, basically, do a survival horror story, one featuring just one main character, as either a long short story or a short novella. I had not written anything like that, but the original Resident Evil had been one of my favourite games on the original Playstation.
So I had the theme for the story. But I was not yet sure where to set it, or what sort of creatures I would feature in the tale.
I considered all sorts of things before I settled on demons. You didn’t know that it was about demons? I’m sorry, but I think that the title kind of gives it away.
I considered zombies, werewolves and vampires before settling on demons. I ruled out vampires because I feel that they have become a little too ubiquitous these days. I have written too many novels about them myself (I must, at some stage, finish off the third novel of the Shades Trilogy. Eternal Darkness will be released upon the world, whether the word wants it or not).
Where was I? Oh, that’s right, the bad guys. I thought about zombies, but we have had plenty of those recently, certainly in the movies. I wanted it to be something a bit different.
I considered werewolves, but ruled those out, as well, as there was a certain survival horror film set in Scotland which featured them. If I had written something like that I might be accused of ripping off the movies. So, in the end, I decided on demons, just to try and be original.
But where was the tale going to be set? I wanted somewhere isolated, which could be cut off by bad weather. I considered America. But that has been the setting for survival horror films and games a lot. So I rejected the States. I wanted something a bit different. I considered Scotland, but decided that it might not be isolated enough; and Scotland has been done.
I thought about Norway, and I though why not? A small town in the middle of Norway, near the mountains which divide it from Sweden, might get cut off in the winter. It could be somewhere really isolated. the only horror I could think of which had been set there was Dead Snow. But I was going to be dealing with demons, rather than Nazi zombies.
And that is how this novella came about. Here is the first chapter:
Chapter One: Snow
The sky was white, clouds heavy with snow. Viggo kept glancing up at the sky through the car windscreen. He hoped that it wasn’t going to start snowing again. He hated driving through the snow, especially through these sorts of roads. At least the road he was on was relatively straight at the moment.
There was snow on the ground, and snow in the clouds. But there was no snow falling from one to the other at the moment. Viggo hoped that it would stay that way.
There were times when he wished that he had stayed in Oslo, rather than moving to the north. But he had wanted to get away from it all, hadn’t he? After leaving the army he had wanted to get away from people. Get back to nature, or at least to somewhere where he did not feel surrounded by people all of the time.
So he had decided to move to a little town by the name of Steinjøen. He had not even heard of the place before he had started to look for somewhere out of the way to live. He had, in fact, once been on army manoeuvres not thirty miles away from the place. But he had still not heard of it. It was so small that it was not on most maps.
He had borrowed the money from his parents. He would pay them back, eventually. Somehow. He had a lot of ideas of how to raise money. Maybe he could write a book, or something, even though he had not been that great at writing at school, and his Norwegian results had not been as good as he had hoped. But that had been years ago. He had not lived back then. He had done a lot since he had been at school. Now he had some reason to put pen to paper.
If he found that he could not write then he had the idea of doing survival training, up in the mountains. Maybe he could even get foreigners to come up here and pay to camp out. He’d think up some way of earning money in Steinjøen without having to go back to Oslo.
What he could not do was to go into some ordinary nine to five occupation. That was not for him. It had never been for him. He was not that kind of person.
The odd snowflake began to spiral down out of the sky.
Viggo turned on the car radio, looking for a music station. Where he was, though, the reception was terrible. He got some station, where some acoustic love song was being played, and then lost it again. He twisted the dial with one hand. The other was gripping the steering wheel of his four by four.
He got some English music. Maybe it was American. He had to listen for a bit to be able to tell them apart, sometimes.
It was just some pop band. Easy on the ear, but maybe a bit dull. He would rather have had Motorhead or Rage Against The Machine. Then he would have turned the radio up as far as it could go, blasting heavy metal out over the snowy landscape. It was not like there was anybody around to complain.
He had listened to plenty of music like that when he had been in the army. Get it blasting out across the landscape. He hadn’t known what the Afghans had listened to, and he had not particularly cared. He had not cared whether they had liked the strains of Master of Puppets by Metallica being turned up to eleven. Them, or some of the metal bands from around the Seattle area. They never played any music back, though. They might take the occasional pot-shot at the camp. But no music.
You gave them American rock, and all that they had given you were bullets.
He had spent six years in the army, in the Telemark Bataljon based in Rena. He had joined not because of any sense of patriotism, or because he had wanted to kill people, but just because he had not known what he had wanted to do with his life.
He had seen action in Afghanistan, as part of Operation Karez. He had felt as though he had been part of something bigger when he had been there.
Afghanistan had not quite been what he had expected. It got a lot colder than he had thought that it would. He had thought, originally, that it had been just some hot Arab country. But it could get really cold, there, at night, during the Afghan winter.
There had been the time that one of the soldiers had had the idea of spray painting skulls on the houses of the Afghans who were suspected of aiding or abetting the Taliban. The guy had got the idea after watching a DVD of that Marvel Comics superhero, the Punisher. Or maybe he had actually read the comics. There were a few of the guys who were still into superhero comics and stuff like that.
There had not really been much to do in down time other than read comics or play video games or watch DVDs, anyway. Viggo had not bothered doing much reading. But he had played plenty of video games.
A lot of the other guys had played Playstation or Xbox games about war: Call Of Duty, or Mercenaries, or stuff like that. Viggo had played them, as well, now and then, despite the fact that he was in a war zone. They got to live war, but some of them had still liked playing at war on their video games.
A few of the guys had intended to go into security work after they finished in the Norwegian Army. Viggo knew a guy by the name of Silas who had intended to become a mercenary. They were what people called security contractors.
Viggo did not have much time for mercenaries. They were not to be trusted, in his period. Wasn’t that what Machiavelli had said? The guy had been right. They were no better in the modern day than they had been in the past. Luckily he had not had too much contact with American mercenaries – and they always seemed to be American. Blackwater and other companies like that. They were only guns for hire.
Perhaps he should have stayed in the army, and signed back on for another tour of duty. He could have done another three years. It was not like he wasn’t fit. But he had got fed up of Afghanistan. None of the people had really wanted them there.
He and the others had spent their time on the base, apart from the times when they had gone out on patrol. Afghanistan had not been the sort of place where you went around talking to the people. The chances were that one of them would try to kill you if you did that. When you went out on patrol you went in an armoured vehicle, if you had any sense. And you made sure that you always had your helmets on, hoping that the helmet might actually protect you from a Taliban sniper.
Some of them had taken out a Taliban sniper once. He had not been involved in the action. But he had seen a photo of the dead body on a friend’s phone. He had seen the sniper rifle, as well. It was American, and it had looked reasonably new. He had had no idea where they had got it from.
He’d ended up almost being a prisoner on the base, in the end. By the time he had finally shipped back to Norway he had not wanted to hear anything about Afghanistan ever again.
The radio became static, so that he could not here the music. That was bad. He’d never had the radio conk out like that in the past. He’d always been able to find some music station to listen to.
Viggo pulled over to the side of the road, and twisted the dial on the radio. But he got nothing other than static. The music was gone. Well, he wasn’t going to listen to static on the way back home. He needed music.
He had some music tapes. He always had some with him. He opened the glove compartment on the passenger side and felt around, until his fingers closed on the hard case of a cassette. He pulled the tape out to find that it was a Rolling Stones compilation. His hand went back into the glove compartment, but that was the only tape in there. Yeah, he had boxed up all of his other, old tapes. Well, the Rolling Stones would have to do.
He pressed play and turned the music up as loud as it went. Nobody to annoy out here, not until he neared his new home. He drove along to the sound of You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
He hoped that he would reach his destination before the sun fell. But it didn’t look like it now. He would have to drive in the dark. Still, though, the four by four was no trouble. But there were still times when he wished that he was driving a CV9030 instead.
The sun was just about to drop below the western horizon. He flicked his headlights on full. He did not think that he would have to dip them. It was unlikely that he would see a car coming in the opposite direction. Not on the road to Steinjøen.
The snow was coming down heavier now. Viggo turned on the windscreen wipers, brushing away the flakes as they fell on the glass windscreen.
They’d had snow in Afghanistan. That had surprised him as, before going to Afghanistan, he had thought of it as being a hot country. He’s thought that all of the countries in that area were hot, desert countries. But he had found out how wrong he was when he got there. Yeah, Afghanistan had opened his eyes to a lot of things.
He twisted the steering wheel as he took a bend. The wheels slipped a little on the road. Damn. He would have to slow down. No point killing himself by going off the road after dodging bullets back in Afghanistan.
This was where the road climbed up towards Steinjøen. The only point in going down this road was to go to the town. That was where the road ended.
He slowed down a little, despite the fact that he had wanted to get back before it was dark. Better to safely get back in the dark than to slide off the side of the road.
Another mile, and he went over a rise on the ground. He was in a small valley, surrounded by the hills on three sides. There were houses in front of him.
He was back in Steinjøen.