The Worst Misery: Chapter Eight
“My dearest love, are you asleep?”
The words were familiar. In the momentary haze of waking, I was confused—at first anyway. Despite what was said the tone it had was as far from love as hate can be.
“He wakes!” Luci’s hushed cheer stabbed at me. “Now, maybe you can be so kind as to answer me one question.”
I sat up in bed. There, on the other side of the glass looking in, was Luci. She was furiously hurt, if you took her expression at face value, I didn’t but wanted to. The judgment that me in that scorning gaze felt burned like a shower of lava. The itchy air felt more like swords, jagged and sharp, than the normal needles you would feel in similar situations. Blacked out and muted memories of my life came to mind reaffirming this, but nothing concrete to stand on.
“Why did you break our promise? We had a deal! Are you so weak as to abandon all of those poor souls on the words of a stranger?” Luci’s whisper cracked the window into a spider web. Her distorted image was even more unsettling. The broken glass made her look bigger, scarier. It gave her multiple arms, a dozen broken eyes, and a mouth that had several more corners and angles than was natural. I shivered at the sight of it, yet it was terrifying in its allure.
You still want her, you sick bastard.
I slowly got out of bed. My movements were slow. I was afraid to awaken her wraith, but there was a wrath in me that demanded answers. These opposing sides fought until one stood over the corpse of the other.
“You betrayed me!” I shouted. “Saint Michael has shown me the truth!”
My words were lesser than they had once been.
Have the pleasures of Heaven have made me soft?
My spine felt like clay, soft and malleable and how fear was bending it backwards.
“Fool! Saint Michael is the true Lord of Lies!”
Luci slowly dissipated like smoke in the darkness.
“Enjoy your false paradise,” she called out, nearly vanished, “for you got to it only by sacrificing those who you sought to save as steps!”
“Wait!” I said, jumping out of bed.
I rushed out to the window every molecule in me against the idea of losing her. I threw open the window, and stared out…
“Wait… Was that a dream?”
The window’s view was the midnight sea, the waters of some planet far, far away, just as I had left it when I decided to go to sleep. The glass was pristine. Nothing was off.
Please, God, tell me it was all a dream.
A serpent-like fish leapt from the sea to snatch a dragon-like bird thing out of the sky and crashed into the water. I took that as a sign and went to sleep. But I slept with one eye glued to the window…
There were no mornings or nights in my Heaven, time was as irrelevant here as it was in Hell. When I was tired I changed the view to something dark to sleep easier and should I be awake then it was something bright and alive. I often would look out at amazing worlds overflowing with overwhelming life beyond my imagination. The bounty of what God had created—I assured it was God but maybe it wasn’t—would still my beating heart. So, when I woke from my restless sleep after my nightmare—hopefully it was a nightmare. I went up to the window. I touched it. It was still the midnight sea. The crack caused by Luci was still absent.
Must have been a dream…
“Earth,” I told it, holding my breath.
Like changing the channel on the remote, the scene before me blinked to a chaotic disaster that was once a city. Lesser demons flew to and fro dragging souls to either torture or to rest. The blackened sky with red veins, the smog-like air, the burning heat in all its suffocating cruelty, it even dried out the air in my Heaven. It was all as I remembered. It was Hell on Earth from the day that I’d met Luci.
“So, this window a gateway… Can it take me anywhere? But why would I have this in my Heaven? Something like this should be in the hands of someone… Well, someone more important.”
Something told me that this was God’s doing.
I missed the madness. It was always there to answer my questions. Did Saint Michael cleanse my mind of all dark spots?
I covered my mouth with my hands choking off the word that wanted to come out. I stood their fighting the urge to say her name.
Wait. Saint Michael said I’d meet my father in Heaven… Could this be why this is here? I nearly squealed at the idea.
I whispered to the window, “Father.”
This must be how he meant for me to do it. After all he is God’s servant. If God planned to give me this all along then surely he knows. This is how I will finally see my father.
The window did change channels, but I wish it hadn’t. I wished I’d never had this bright idea, for, before me, was a man I knew but not as my father. He was in a cage too narrow to sit in and too short to stand up. He was biting at the rusty bars with bloody gums, missing many teeth.
“No…,” I choked. That man so long ago, that man I told to bite a demon, he’s my father? That mad, scared, pathetic excuse for a man? No! I refuse. It’s not him. He can’t be. My father was…
Tears streamed down my cheeks.
…a great man.
When I opened the window, the madman stared at me. The heat made sweat flood out of me. This heat could turn a man into dust!
“Who are you?”
“Who are you? Who are you? I asked first!” The madman howled, cackled.
This can’t be my father. It’s… It’s a trick! Yes, that’s it. This has to be a trick!
“Fred..? No, that’s not— Arthur? No!” I screamed, thinking, How do I not remember his name? “Just— My father! Malloreigh Dawntay’s father!”
I just wasn’t clear enough. All I said was father. I didn’t say my father, so it just took me to some random sperm donor… Yes, that has to be it. No question about—
The window never changed. I waited for the channel to switch, for someone else to be before me, but nothing happened. My flesh crawled and I could feel my eyes budging out of my skull.
The man started biting at his cage. As he did, he sang, to the best of his ability, Beethoven’s Ninth. It was off key and mostly wrong, but I could recognize it.
Was she a lie too? I thought that song had meant something to me because of a girlfriend. But was it him?
“I’m Malloreigh Dawntay!” I shouted at the man—seething, feeling a hatred boiling deep below. “Are you my father? If not, then who are you?”
“This is Franklyn Dawntay,” a crooked form stated from atop the man’s cage. I was tired of this instantly shifting magic. “He’s father to Malloreigh Dawntay. He’s the one who got his son involved in drugs. The two of them actually beat and raped their dealer in an altered state of mind. This in turn resulted in the woman’s boyfriend and his friends to pay the father and son a visit.”
“Lying spawn of evil!” I shouted, but my words seemed to have no effect. After a few moments, I asked, “Who are you?”
“Baal,” he said. This creature had the wings of a fly, but that was the only unnatural thing about him. He appeared to be a man like any other, warped, crooked in how he was built, but a normal looking man, nevertheless. He wore tattered pants, simple, maybe cotton? Don’t know, but that wasn’t important. Rested on his brow was a silver crown that would have any king left wanting. It held jewels of every type, more than the sky has stars. The strangest thing about him was how he wore the crown atop his red mane. It was done so with no pride, nor was it brandished greedily. He simply wore it like anyone else would wear a baseball cap.
“I’m not lying,” Baal said. “This man is your father.”
“I knew it! I’m still in Hell! You’re trying to break my spirit, and this has all be an elaborate plan to break me.”
I can’t believe they fooled me!
Such pleasantries pushed me into hopeful thinking. It gave them fuel to burn me with.
Too bad I’m stronger than that.
“I will not break!” I shouted, filled with a damaged pride at how affected I was.
“You already broke, just before you left Hell, and all the people of Earth had their fate decided that day.” Baal was calm in the delivering of information. No, he wasn’t calm but emotionless, void of anything. Then he added, so casually that I assumed I heard him wrong, “Hell will be invading Heaven soon. Lucifer plans to kill Michael. He plans to anyway… However, it won’t come to pass. Lucifer will die. He lost the most valuable piece to the puzzle.”
“Me?” I asked. That’s why I was so valuable. I was the key to destroying Heaven!
“No, you were valuable for different reasons. What Lucifer lost is his ambition, his drive. Which I guess spurs out of being betrayed.” Baal was too calm, his voice too monotone. Then I noticed that he had been calling Lucifer “him” and “he” instead of other. Was I right or was Baal?
My curiosity asked, “What does Lucifer look like?”
Baal stated with a numb expression “Beautiful, so beautiful. At least he was until more than a century ago when his form ceased to shift. Now, he is she, and she is ugly.” Baal’s face never left the sky as he spoke as if paying me any mind was a waste his time. At first I thought it was arrogance, but his voice hinted at the forlorn lack of sensation.
“You seem no longer bothered by meeting your father…,” Baal said. “Why is that?”
“That isn’t my father. Everything you say is a lie. You are a prince of Hell after all, right?”
“Lies are worthless, therefore I do not lie.”
Baal buzzed away. It seemed not to matter if I had more questions or if there was more that needed to be said. He was finished talking and that was that.
“What a miserable excuse for a prince of Hell! Nothing like Abaddon at all!” I shouted.
Was he lying? I wondered. Yes. Without a doubt.
“Rust taste nasty! Nasty nasty nasty nasty!” the madman in the cage chanted.
“You aren’t my father.” I told him, not that he cared. He was more a feral beast than a man. “We didn’t rape anyone… My father was kind, he was everything you’d want to be. He taught me how to be a man, and…”
I cried, hands covering my face.
“Please, take me away from here,” I asked the window. It obliged, and the view changed to a field of flowers in the night-lit clear skies of summer, somewhere alien from anything you’d find on the old earth before Hell. I walked over to my bed. Out of all the torments of Hell, the words uttered by Baal are by far the heaviest.
They can’t be true. I told myself. But why would he lie?