I promised him everything; it wasn't enough. Fifty years of saving, collecting, consuming without practical purpose, wasted. There at the end of all things, as my tongue withered and eyes crisped, the devil wouldn't even sell me some water. Maybe that was my torment? Maybe he just wanted a laugh?
Tis a solitary confinement this existence I lead, where the light of day goes unseen, dusk and dawn forming an intangible prison, a clock. To live within a time span is inhuman, when one should range amongst forever. I shall think on this. I do a lot of thinking.
To be expelled in favour of the shining is too high a price for one unfortunate lapse. A misjudgment has secreted me in darkness when all I wish is to gleam. This ebon life ill-suits and I would return to my former state. But I cannot. Though, I’ve tried and try still.
Some think I like it here, that I lap up the midnight like milk. I don’t. I really don’t. It’s not that I don’t want to tread beneath a saffron dawn or golden midday, it’s not that at all, I just dare not. There would be consequences. I do not want to cease to be, wouldn’t anyone?
Mine is the moon and the bitter chill, the subtle, crisping frost. Mine is the shadow and the swirling fog, the abyssal depth and mildewed cave. And, I love them. I do. Don’t stare at me with those accusatory eyes. It’s just I wish for more. I yearn for that which has been stolen, abducted and trussed away. I yearn for the life I have lost. I yearn for me.
Midnight has sprung and deer are in the meadow. An owl sits in an old oak tree a mouse in his sights. He can’t see me, though. None of them can. I move like the mist betwixt and between taking a moment to stroke a doe’s flanks; I feel nothing, and it sets me to raging. They hear me then. Oh, they hear me. Still, I wish for more.
I meld into another moment, lapse into another dream. Sitting astride a mountaintop, I watch the distant surf smash against granite cliffs in great spumes of white. I want to be smashed, too. I wish to be ravaged and wrecked. I wish to die, yet I cannot. Eternity is too short a word to explain the unexplainable, when I have infinity to think of a superior replacement. God, that’s annoying! God.
And there it is, HIS name. It pops out when least I expect it to grind against my conscience. Will he never forgive me? Did I hurt him so? Would I do so again?
And I remember, as I always do. I recall the light, molten pools of shimmering bliss, not black puddles of sludge. I remember the songs, as of nightingales, but trilling all day and all night, an incessant joy. Most of all I remember the smell: freedom. Freedom never had a perfume until I lost it. Now, as I grumble and muse, it is whilst sitting in the stench of humanity. That is a true fragrance, a cologne to dispose of, not bathe in day after night after day. Where has the aroma of heaven dissipated to? I want it back. I want it all. Please, take me back? I’m begging. I’m hurting. I’m me.
They say the Devil cannot cry; he weeps all the time. There are rumours the Devil hates, detests and despises; he detests only himself. Angels sing of the once favoured, he who fell. I hear every syllable, listen to every word. Yet, I cannot reply. If only they knew how alone I’ve become maybe then they’d take me back. Maybe, but I expect not.
So, I wait. I live out my solitary confinement and hope it will end. Hope is all I have. Hope is half of hopeless, the half I must forget.
There are times as I dally and I dither and I wait when I would wish for things to have transpired in other ways. That is a lie. There are not times, there are all times for it has become an obsession. I wish to leave this place. I wish to go home. I no longer want to wallow in a mire of misery but fly amongst the spires of the divine. As I did. As I would. As I won’t.
It rains again; they cry for me. They weep by the bucket load and I wonder if they realise I know. Would they do so if they did? I doubt it, but I am no longer the judge I once was. Instead, I dance, and the world rumbles at my footfalls. I spring through the storm and bathe in that which I have lost. It is the closest thing to heaven, yet I never feel so far. Ironic, you say. Demonic, say I.
“You are not.”
“No, the world burns.”
“Where is this?”
“Best you don’t know.”
“It would upset you.”
“Why is that an issue?”
“It is not good to upset you.”
“But this place.”
“Call me, Apocalypse.”
Hidden in a midnight eve
Darkest vision did perceive
Heart of glass, onyx black
Devil seeking to get back
Locked me with a crimson gaze
Eyes of his, so fierce ablaze
Twisting all that I did know
Deepest thoughts hidden below
And though I wished to hasten, run
Scatter like a dying sun
I stood my ground against his will
Defied him though I felt quite ill
And turned my thoughts to you, my love
He couldn’t touch me whilst above
And though he threatened, scrambled, raged
His pleas for death, I did evade
To curse him, spiteful, send him back
The Devil failed, badass packed
The sky hung in globular lumps. An insipid colour, neither yellow nor brown, the clouds sought to contain the fingers of some unspeakable god that poked and prodded at their lurid viscosity. I hoped upon hope that they held.
The house on the hill that sat below that awful pigmentation remained silent its owner asleep, or so I prayed. I’d begged the other boys to wait until our parents came home, but they wouldn’t. As the smallest of the gang, I’d been tasked with retrieving the football that some other child had kicked into that overgrown and most littered of hovels. There was no way for me to refuse; I couldn’t take the beating.
And so it was that under the urgings of the bigger children, I took one last look up at the sky and opened the gate. The intent to be in and out ninja-like took an unexpected twist for the worst, when the hinges screeched their protest. Things were not going great. Deciding that speed was the key, I shoved the squealing metal further ajar and burst into the yard. Dodging around several turned over bins, I sprinted into the rear of the premises and to my relief saw the reassuring, white leather of the football. I grasped the thing, took a deep breath and prepared for the sprint back. That was when the sky caved in.
I heard the other boys crying, screaming and worse. Having curled into as protective a bundle as I could, I did not know what ailed them. When I, at last, opened my eyes, I knew. Everything beyond the homestead’s perimeter fence had vanished. The world was one of pulsating puce. The stuff that was once cloud undulated in unrestricted glee. I knew that it sought me, too.
Without thinking, I ran for the shelter of the house itself, and much to my shock burst into the unlocked kitchen and through into a plush living room. She sat there, the little old lady, with a smile on her face. Or I should better say, the thing that pretended to be a little old lady. The beast had done a wonderful job of disguising its body and I wondered how long it had been there? But the eyes of a fiend cannot be so easily covered. Thin slits of luminous green flickered at me.
“So, you work for me now and not your friends.”
It was not a question. She commented on what simply was.
“I have no friends,” I replied.
She cast me a suspicious gaze thinking I sought to trick her into release. When she realised that I told the truth, she smiled. I turned away.
“No, I suppose you don’t,” she hissed. “And you never will.”
I went to put the kettle on.
Wastrel, he lent up against the damp, brick wall, as though basking in some ancient, opulent palace.
“Are you ever gonna get off your arse?” the older man scowled, pausing in his sweeping of the roadside.
“You ain’t the boss of me,” the youth replied.
“If he catches you, you’re a dead man.”
“I’m trying to look out for you.”
“Either try harder, or clear off. Leave me to catch some rays, old man.” The youth pulled his skeleton bandana down over wicked eyes and pretended to snore.
“That’s it you little snot, I’ve had it. You may think you’re just it, and you’re right, I won’t tell the boss, but he’ll find out. He ALWAYS finds out.”
“Pft! Do one, why don’t you. I’ve got me some ladies to charm,” he sneered, lifting his bandana up enough to wink an eye at three passing beauties.
“For crying out loud, Pete, they’re some of HIS girls! You got a death wish?”
The youth gave the girls another wink, slapped each of his biceps, then sauntered over to the old man. Grabbing him by his wrinkled throat, he said, “What’s he gonna do, kill me again?”
It was the reflection of the girls in the old man’s eyes that got Pete thinking. Either the old guy was shivering violently, or they were? The beauties backed away into the depths of those old pupils, as they turned from onyx to red and started to contract to tiger-like slits. Pete didn’t let go though. Oh, no, much to tough for that. Afraid to show weakness before those he sought to impress, he tightened his grip. When the old man did not react, he tightened it some more.
The old man took the physical abuse without complaint. He even smiled politely to the girls, who all bowed back.
Pete didn’t understand; he was a knew arrival. But when he tried to raise his fist to strike the old man only to find he couldn’t move it, he suspected the truth. His eyes closed, or tried to.
“I offered you help, friendship, advice,” came a voice of shale. “You refused it.”
“Too late boy. You’ve been judged unworthy, useless, foolish. If you won’t work, can’t work, don’t work, there is but one use left for you.
When the fires started, the skin burning off the old man’s exterior self, his real body stood revealed in its place. As the maw that had almost swallowed the universe, pinprick teeth mixing with dagger-like incisors, opened to greet the youth, he paused.
“So, you think I can’t kill you again, eh?” came a voice this time of honeyed silk. “I shall feast on your ignorance for eternity. Every, single day of it,” he laughed. But it was an awful laugh, a terrible laugh, as the city, the girls and all hell began to burn.
The first thing the youth once called Pete heard, as the agony of his initiation morning in hell was complete, was his own bones being crunched upon. The second, his soul.
(Image courtesy of loveblack on deviantart.com)
El Diablo seeks our souls,
His taloned hands pounding on Hell’s walls.
We stand our ground,
Hoofed feet aflame step out of the darkness
Burning with the hurt of the haunted.
We stand our ground,
Sequestered from mankind, the darkness his domain,
He takes a moment to appraise his prey.
We stand our ground,
Cocking a horned carapace to one side
Unsure of the ones he seeks to torture, he studies us.
We stand our ground,
He is consumed by his ire,
Maddened to the point of insanity.
We stand our ground,
Assured as ice.
As a landslide he advances upon us,
Eyes ablaze and seeking souls.
And we open our eyes that have remained closed,
The light of Heaven pouring forth.
He cannot stand his ground;
For we are pure.