The Worst Misery: Chapter Six
God’s Good Graces
Could you endure this? I doubt it. Could anyone? Who knows? Not me.
I was tearing my heart out, lost in thought. The veins fought me off for a moment, but I gave a solid clean jerk and they gave up their resistance. I used the blood inside me to get my painting just right, my heart was the perfect brush. It added a level to my work that made me weep.
“No, not it! Not! it!” the madness shouted.
I looked over my work, took a few steps back and took it all in as a single piece, and, unfortunately, I had to agree with the madness. It was failure. I need a muse…
“God, grant me a muse!” I laughed. God’s not real.
I took to perfecting what I started on the floor. “I will move to the walls later.”
“I want to be evil!” the madness whined.
“No, now stop being a cliché, and help me!” I had made this little bit of madness my slave.
The madness sighed, “As you wish.”
I could handle that silly sea! It would take a while, but I’ve got a while and more. I’m the man who continues to resist Hell after all!
That brought a giggle to both me and the madness.
“Then why not drink from the Abyss?”
“That’d be insane!”
“What’s wrong with that? Can’t really get any lower than this,” the madness giggled.
How feeble the madness’ attempts were! It was really my pet now. I had to only feed it enough to be happy. If I overfed it I would break, if I didn’t feed it at all then I would have no immunity to whatever Luci throws at me next.
“Can’t have that!” I told nothing. “I must protect them!”
“What if you took in all the Abyss. Every last drop! Then there wouldn’t be any for anyone else. So, no more evil, yes?”
“Yes.” I told the madness. “But is anything without temptation truly good? We must have balance!”
“Why fight for good but seek balance?”
“You’re mad, Malloreigh!” It was an odd thing to have madness call you mad. Makes you think for a moment that you are sane, but also makes you think that it was truly sane. My mind hurt. I stopped thinking. I painted.
I’ve been painting for what seems like forever…
I kept painting.
How old am I? I bet I am ancient, like a vampire or something! Am I immortal?
I stopped making brown handprints on the wall and marveled at the idea.
No, no not immortal. Then why do I continue to live? Am I alive? I bet I’m dead. Then am I a soul? That must be it… Souls are constant, right? I wondered. But souls aren’t real.
They must be. The Devil is real, I call him Luci, so therefore souls are real!
I went back to painting with a smile on my lips, whistling a happy song.
Wait… Then God must be real. If I believe in Luci I must believe in God. It only makes sense, right?
Why do I hope?
O yes, because hope is strength.
Why do I need strength?
That’s right to save all the people!
Am I a hero?
No, Dad was a hero. I’m just a man.
“You could be a hero, child of God.” The voice was all that was man. It sounded like a suave lumberjack! Turning around to greet the source of the voice, impromptu brushes and paints in hand, I saw that it was in fact a lumberjack but without the beard. Long shiny blonde hair, pretty and clean armor, gigantic feathered wings, and such a smug look about him that at first I thought it was Luci, but my lack of desire to sleep with him told me otherwise.
“What does a lumberjack want with us? Why are you so clean anyway? Lumberjacks are dirty. Not clean!” the madness pressed.
“He does seem out of place.” I added.
“Paint him! Paint him! O, please can we?”
“I shall ask, madness. I shall ask.” But before I could ask the lumberjack spoke, saying, “I am Saint Michael the Archangel, child of God.”
“What’s an archangel doing in Hell? They only dwell in Heaven. Only Heaven! Liar. Liar! He’s a liar!”
I agreed with my madness and asked, “What are you doing here then?”
“I’ve come by God’s good graces to save you, child. Your kindness is—”
“Nope! I can’t go. People are only safe while I suffer through Hell. Can never leave. Won’t ever leave!” I said, and then both me and the madness shouted, “You leave!”
“Are you rejecting God or are you rejecting me?”
There seemed to be a right answer to that question. The way Michael gripped his sword made that very clear. O yes he is in full and glorious armor as if on a battle march! I think I said that already. I can’t remember…
Well, two descriptions are better than none right?
Seeing that there was a right answer, and his smug little face wouldn’t reveal it, I simply said, “Yes!”
I turned around and went back to painting.
He sighed. “Hell has broken you.”
“Nope. It has not.”
“Hell… The madness in you… It’s one in the same. Evil has taken you, child,” the archangel was playing a weak mind game that the Devil braced me for. “I thought that Lucifer—” Such loathing! “—had dishonored your wager when I saw her destroying the world. But it appears that she’s actually shattered you…”
“Wait, Luci’s a woman?” This was a shock. “And here I thought Luci was a man because the Bible tells me so!”
So, is that perfect beautiful form true? Or, since Luci is the loveliest of angels, does that mean he appears as individualized perfection? Does that mean that Luci has no gender? That Luci’s gender is solely dependent on the eye of the beholder?
“And why not? Seems legitimate!” the madness told me, and I had to agree. It seemed logical.
Only time will tell, I suppose. I will have to ask a woman if she sees a man or a woman. If I ever even see a woman that is.
“Are you more concerned with the gender of Lucifer rather than the razing of so many souls? Madness has you!”
“Saint Michael the Archangel, you’re starting to piss me off…,” I said. “I don’t like liars. Luci would never, ever betray me. I’m special. Besides, he— She isn’t that wicked! He loves the fact that she is loved by them. Plus, I’m valuable to her. You lie. He— I mean she! She! She wants me to break before she lays claim to Heaven, because I’m the prince of Hell she’s been waiting for.”
“Is this the fantasy you’ve created for yourself? Pathetic. You are broken! The winnings have been claimed. I offer you a chance to save them!”
“Sounds pretty dishonest.,” the madness told me, but Michael thought it was talking to him. He screamed, “I am the light! I am purity! I am never dishonest!”
“Both of you need to keep it down!” I hissed. “You’re either a trick of Luci’s or the truth. Either way, what you say is not the truth. I know Luci.”
“Do you?” Michael chuckled in a hearty way. “You, who had thought in life that God and Satan were nothing more than fairytale to scare the mindless into servitude. Not to mention the fact that you have only known her for a mere century, and I’ve known her since the beginning of space and time.”
“Would you like a cookie?”
The madness was mocking him.
He didn’t like that. Mocking an angel was like mocking a demon I bet. It didn’t end well. However, Michael held in his anger and showed kindness instead—well, he tried to anyway.
“I come to you with the glory of God’s word. I speak only truth. I can show you. If I am wrong, then return to this lonely room, keep painting! Can you abandon this stubbornness, and heed my words?”
“What harm could follow?” the madness brought up. To which I said, “Guess we’ll find out.”
I turned to Michael, and said, gesturing to my work, “This needs to dry before I can add the next layer. So, I guess you can show me this truth if you want.”
“Gladly!” Michael quickly added before using the instant magic that changed everything faster than the human eye could notice. “It’s not the first time that she has betrayed a promise.”
Like magic, because it was magic, we stood above the earth.
“Gaze upon the betrayal of the Lord of Lies!”
“I can’t see anything. Did you forget that I’m a just a man? It just looks like— Wait, that’s normal right?” I asked pointing to what I’m assuming was a singular storm encompassing the earth like The Starry Night. “What do you expect me to see from space?”
We were on the dirt in the blink of an eye. That was when my heart broke. Why, I wondered, did it break? Was it because I felt betrayed by a lover? We aren’t lovers. Regardless, I stood looking over a Hell that was so familiar to me that I knew it was from so long ago. Everything unchanged. She’d broken her promise to not touch the world. That much was clear.
She betrayed me? That bitch!
“That is all she knows…,” Michael explained gravely as if trying to shield a child from hearing that their parents are meth heads, “…and she will never change.”
His words meant nothing.
I looked on.
Did Luci even pull Hell away from Earth or did she not even bother? She probably just expected me to fail from the get go.
Looking around, I saw lesser demons ripping away at tortured souls. The weeping wails that rose up out of the smog were tear-jerking. Memories boiled up to the surface of the times I’d spent in their shoes…
But had anything really changed? Was any of this real?
Was she playing with my ego? Pretending that I could do something. Was this only a new way to torture me? I wondered, trying to piece together the puzzle only to feel more lost. I’m not special.
Hell’s smell was far worse than any sewage-dump perfume worn by a corpse in the noonday desert sun. The sight was nothing better. The horror was so dense I could taste it, and it made me choke.
I collapsed. This was a Hell. I was suffering a personal Hell. Was this the final straw to break the camel’s back? I could hear the madness try to speak but none of the words mad any sense. I dumped out of my mind in an attempt to stay sane.
Shattered the dam holding everything back
The pressure was too much.
All the emotion I pushed away to be strong rushed out of me. Holding myself I grieved so deeply. It felt nice to grieve, and like the tide washing away the trespasses on a beach, all the invisible scars of my soul vanished. Michael must be so happy with himself. To shatter my spirit so. Abaddon would be jealous. What about Luci?
“I’m a fool, Dad!” I shouted to the Heavens hoping that his kind words would answer back. I needed comfort. Nothing happened.
I’m not valuable at all to Luci, am I? I’m not valuable to anyone…
I continued to weep for a time that should have tested the archangel’s patience, but he remained standing over me.
When my blubbering died down a bit, he said, “You came at Lucifer with such integrity and righteousness that God has seen it fit to allow you into Heaven. You are worthy of his love.” The archangel spoke with the warmth that my father’s words held. “And it is for trying to save so many damned souls, those that have never earned such kindness, that you have earned Paradise. You, child of God, shall know peace. You have proved to all of Heaven just how kind a mortal soul can be.”
“Will I see my father?” the madness’ and my words became one as I came to terms with what I faced. The trails I stood against, and how meaningless they all were.
“Thank God for shining such light upon me.” I cried. “I’m not worthy.”
The tears shed could have extinguished the pastel flames of Hell on Earth, returning it to a better place. If only I had the power of an angel, or even a demon. Then I could stand against the Devil. I could murder Luci for betraying me! But did I truly want that?
“Take my hand, child of God.”
I did just that. Saint Michael the Archangel took me to Paradise.
I smiled a real smile, something I haven’t known in years, as I ascended.