My name is Penelope, and I live with a demon. It's not a very smart demon, I've outwitted it many times. So many times in fact I've gotten used to it. How did I end up living with such a horrid creature of shadow? Well, it all started six months ago when I moved into apartment 3B. At first, it was just little things, like important letters gone missing, milk spoiling prematurely, the fire alarm going off at five in the morning and furniture being shifted slightly to the left. Then It decided to take things up a notch. I arrived home on a Tuesday evening, exhausted from work when this appeared on my living room wall;

MARDER

The words started oozing blood affirmatively.

"Mardur…..Mardur….oh wait, do you mean Murder?'

The lights flickered ominously.

"You spelled it wrong, it's M-U-R-." I started but was cut off by a screech of frustration. There was a flash of light and the words vanished.

I don't know why I was so determined to ignore it, I think I had read somewhere that demons collected human souls. So I guess I was determined to keep mine. It must have been a very inexperienced demon. A newbie to the demon world who had received its training by watching B-rated horror flicks.

The following days were a variety of clichés; the chairs stacked themselves up on the table, blood ran from the kitchen sink, clawed footprints walked across the floor and I ignored it all, occasionally commenting or giving advice. I could tell it was getting frustrated that it wasn't scaring me, as scare tactics became more and more outlandish-I think it was getting desperate. My favorite attempt to scare me was when it covered my bed in purple sea urchins. Why sea urchins I do not know. It wasn't very scary. When I laughed instead of screamed it hissed and made blood pour out of my faucets again.

'Are you kidding me? Blood from the faucets? SO overdone." I told it.

MURDER MURDER MURDER

'Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever. At least you spelled it write this time. Say Yes to the Dress is on tonight at 8, wanna watch it with me?"

A loud crunching sound generated from behind the couch.

"I'll take that as a yes."

It never took well to my criticisms, but it-for some crazy reason-decided to stick around. As the days went by, we fell into a rhythm together. I somehow got the sense that this thing enjoyed my presence, and that's why it never moved on to the next soul. I ended up talking to it a lot, about my day, what I had for lunch, how my crazy boss Jeffrey made some unreasonable decision again, and whether or not I should adopt a cat. Outside, my life was so chaotic with my rocky social life, and demanding job, it was nice to come home to a constant. Even if that constant was blood dripping from the sink or rat entrails strewn down the hallway.

It was Friday night and I was trying not to cry on the couch. It had been a tough day. Crazy Boss Jeffrey had criticized my work again, and to top it all off my ex-boyfriend had found me at the grocery store. He had gripped my arm hard enough to leave a bruise before I was able to get away from him. His hard smile haunted my mind's eye as I tried to blink him away from my life. Suddenly, I felt a shadowy presence to my left.

" So, no scares tonight?" I asked it thickly through my tears.

There was a pause, and then bloody handprints appeared half-heartedly on the wall.

I smiled, suddenly feeling a great sense of appreciation towards this unholy resident in my apartment.

"Wes Craven could have done better. You should really watch The Last House on the Left. It might give you some inspiration." I told it.

The handprints walked up onto the ceiling and then disappeared.

'Thanks for trying though." I added with a small smile.

I was up late one night trying and failing to design this one logo my boss had asked me to do. But the more I tried, the harder it became to get it right. I had just crumpled up my fifth piece of paper when I heard a low growl.

"Are you okay?" It asked. This was the first time it had spoken out loud to me.

'I'm okay." I answered, "Just frustrated that Stupid Jeffry changed the design plan last minute again and now I need to start from scratch. I have no idea what he was thinking, he's an idiot."

There were a few beats of silence.

"Do you want me to eat him?" it asked

I laughed, "No, don't eat him. It's not his fault."

"Then what shall I do?"

I sighed and considered. What could a shadow demon do?

"Do you know anything about graphic design?" I asked, pointing to my computer.

It paused again, I could feel it ruffling around the room looking for an answer.

"I ate an artists soul once." it offered

I nodded my head, at that point I was desperate for any kind of advice.

'That's good enough. Just um, look at my designs and tell me what looks good." I said

And it did. It floated over my shoulder, and even though I didn't take its general advice-the logo surrounded by hellfire with Satan's worshippers dancing naked around a pentagon- I truly appreciated the gesture.

The next morning, "Good Luck" was written in my steamy mirror after my shower.

I smiled, 'Thanks"

It was a rainy night, the night this shadow stopped being just an it to me and started being my friend. My ex had done what I feared most; he had finally figured out where I lived by chasing me home. I barely had time to lock the door, let alone call the police before he was upon me. My mind was swimming, I knew he was shouting at me but I couldn't decipher the words. All I saw was the dark gleam in his eyes; all I smelled was the sour liquor on his breath. He tried to grab me but I jumped over the couch crashing into the living room table. As he cornered me, I saw his hand raise up to strike like a cold cobra.

Help me, help me, help me, help me, my mind screamed as I braced for the blow but it never came. There was silence, and then I heard a strangled whimper. I opened my eyes. My ex was hovering three feet above the ground and he was being held up by a scaly large creature. Its head was sharp, full of fluffy black feathers, its mouth curved into a sharp beak. Standing eight feet tall, it towered over my toppled furniture. Large leathery wings flapped with anger and a long curly tail capped with a bladed spear twitched agitatedly back and forth. I gaped silently at my red-eyed savior rendered completely speechless. It glowered at the tiny man that it held in it's clawed hand.

"If you ever touch, scare or harm my human again, I will find you and do the same to you for all eternity," it growled.

Sparks flew from its mouth as it snarled at him. Blood flowed from the walls, slime oozed up from the carpet. The taps turned on shrieking, spiders crawled out of the light fixtures. The lights flickered and cracked with raw electric energy as it released its rage on this scrawny little man. His face was white as a sheet. The demon dropped him to the floor and he scrambled to his feet and without looking at me he ran out.

The demon quietly raised his hand and all the furniture that had been knocked over righted itself. The blood and ooze disappeared; the spiders vanished.

"You are safe here. For even though I am a demon, his actions were beyond the most of evil I have ever seen." It said

"Thank you."

"My name is Talraz, and I am at your service." It said, bowing to me.

I could only stare at it.

"I've lived a lonely life, you're the first person to notice me not for what I am, but for who I am. Instead of running away screaming you held your ground. You corrected my spelling and made me realize that sea urchins are not that scary. I am very glad that I decided not to eat you." It said.

After that night, things changed. Suddenly there were no more dust bunnies, the light bulbs never ran out and my dishes were always clean. He took an interest in baking when he wasn't helping me design. My name is Penelope, and I live with a demon. He is smarter than anyone I know, with a wicked sense of humor, and a passion for banana pancakes. I couldn't imagine my life without him.