I remember reading a story about a demon who is trying to make a man insane or send his soul to hell (or both).

The demon goes to the man's home and tries to terrorize the man, creating a haunted house environment, with creaks, groans, bad smells, poltergeist-type activities. But the man is unperturbed and continues on with his life as if nothing unusual was happening. This goes on for a long time, possibly many years.

The end result is the demon is the one who goes insane, and in a final twist it is revealed that the man knew about the demon the whole time. The insane demon then becomes a slave to the man.

That is pretty much all I remember from the story - I read this when I was a kid, which was around the late 80s / early 90s - I am not 100% sure when the story was set, but I think it was in the 20th Century at some point. I think this was a fairly short story, maybe a novella? I remember the twist at the end being pretty good which is why the story has stuck in my mind all these years. Can anyone help me find the title/author?

1 Answer 1


This sounds like Clive Barker's "The Yattering and Jack", a short story from his 1984 anthology "Books of Blood". Summary from Wikipedia follows:

Jack Polo is a gherkin importer who is haunted by a minor demon called the Yattering. The demon is commanded to haunt Jack by Beelzebub, because one of Jack's ancestors reneged on a pact made with the demon lord. The Yattering is frustrated when its determined efforts to drive Jack insane are answered with good cheer and apparent obliviousness. Unknown to the Yattering, Jack is purposely ignoring the demon in order to simultaneously frustrate it and maintain his own sanity. The Yattering subjects him to increasingly severe torments, including killing his cats and terrorising his family, but these efforts all fail. Eventually Jack tricks the Yattering into violating its orders, allowing Jack to take advantage of a loophole and make the Yattering his slave.

Jack's catchphrase (and, if I recall, the last line in the story) is "Que será, será" - or "what happens, happens".

This was also made into an episode of Tales from the Darkside in 1987

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