The Worst Misery: Chapter Three
The difference between a dream and reality was distinct. I was not fooled into believing that the Hell I have come to know is just a recurring nightmare. It is too vivid to be anything other than the truth. Although I wish it wasn’t so…but wishing means shit in the Pit. While lost to the dreamscape, I pretended that my dreams were real, and it was the torments I suffer that were fake—like always. Kept me sane despite how pathetic it really was.
I sat in a living room that was plain. There was a television, some of my old paintings hanging on the walls, a shelf of movies, a coffee table, a sofa. And a recliner. There’s also a lamp. An ottoman. A cat tree but no cat. I honestly feel no point in diving into a horribly vast explanation of the arrangement or color of these objects. What would it serve? Nothing. Nothing at all. They are there. Place them in a way that best suits you, for they truly hold no meaning whatsoever. I watch TV. The static. Or I guess you could say I am watching a documentary on blizzards and blackouts.
“Baby, what would you like for supper?” my wife’s whimsical voice rang from the kitchen. “I just went shopping so I can make anything you’d like.”
“Surprise me!” I answered cheerfully. I wasn’t even hungry, my stomach hadn’t grown back yet, but I just wanted to entertain my dream a bit. I always thought if I did it would be perfect. That the small bits of Hell that slip through the veil would cease to stain my momentary glimpse at happiness, and that I would be living in a paradise when I lay my head to rest, sizzling like a steak against the rusty, near red hot bars of my cage instead of being constantly reminded in some little stupid way that this was all just a lie…
But Hell was so vivid that I can’t seem to forget it even in sleep. No, that would be asking for too much it seems. In my defense, I bet not a single soul in Hell can forget its pain. Probably impossible. And there was also the gateway of madness that Hell probably used to invade. The cracks in my mind which allow the torments to flow through me and into my fantasies. I don’t have the fortitude to stop it from happening. It has a will of its own, my madness.
Why try? I asked myself, but was unable—unwilling?—to answer the question.
According to the clock that hung above the TV it was half past the Mark of the Beast. Hell was leaking through there today. I wonder how else it’ll alter things here.
Hopefully my wife is untouched.
“I have a roast in the oven. It may be a couple of hours, but it’ll be worth it!” My wife, Luci, yes short for Lucifer if you were curious, walked in shining with all her glory. This was the woman I spent every sleeping moment with. It was wonderful. Take away the pure wings and the devil’s wicked, warped mind, and you’d have my wife. My Luci.
“You make the best roast.” I smiled.
“I even remembered to put baby carrots in with it. I know how much you love them.” She smiled snuggling against me on the sofa. We watched the special on blizzards and blackouts—Luci with interest and me with—
Well, melancholy, I suppose.
“Luci?” I asked.
She looked up at me with those large, sparkling eyes I love. “Yes?” she cooed.
“It’s nothing.” I shook off the questions I wanted to ask so desperately. The first one being: “Are you Lucifer and are you invading my dreams every night to further my torture?”
Alright that’s two questions in one, but still my first question. Or questions if you like. Semantics. Did I use that right? Who cares? I’m sure someone does.
This Luci I loved was not the same as Lucifer at all. Lucifer was real, tangible. My Luci was a figment of my imagination that couldn’t compare. I found myself longing for the real thing in my sleep.
Will it be another… How long did he say it was again? A few centuries? No… O, who cares! I thought, getting angry with myself, and then returned to wondering, Will it be another long while before I see Lucifer’s perfection again?
Just before I saw him again my Luci had faded as memories do. I couldn’t remember the finer details. Now, she was a perfect mirror—excluding the wings and insane arrogance and evil and infinitely complex fractal-like eyes—of Lucifer down to the handful of adorable freckles across her nose. However, she served as a reminder that I was in love with the Devil. In a way this was Hell.
As dreams go, constantly shifting from one scene to another, I found myself at the dinner table with Luci pulling the roast from the oven. There was no transition. I was there and now I was here. I sat with an empty plate before me awaiting me plate to be filled.
Will it be normal today? Or has my lunacy tainted it as well? I wondered, thinking of all the shit, piss, and puss demons have force fed me over the years. Clumps of matted hair held together with congealed blood. I could go for some real fantasy food if I’m being honest.
When I got up and peeked over Luci’s shoulder, I saw that it was a Hell inspired roast. I watched the steam roll off the corpse of what I thought to have been a baby. Hell doesn’t discriminate. I learned that quickly. Children and adults and the elderly are all the same in its eyes. The color of your skin doesn’t matter, what you believed, or your sins. Nothing mattered to Hell except your eternal damnation and suffering.
The baby carrots were fingers; the potatoes were spleens or something. The both was a yellow-brown piss—or maybe it was shit—that fizzed unnaturally. I placed a hand over my mouth trying to hide my disgust. I last thing I wanted to do was to upset my Luci. She slaved over this meal, but—
I heard my stomach growl.
Great. It grew back…
Luci wafted the stench of the “roast,” sniffing and smiling. “This came out amazingly!” she said.
“Can’t wait to dig in.”
No! I don’t eat it. The fractured self which clung to a false hope inside my mind called out, but I pushed the thought away. You’re had worse. I told myself.
This wasn’t the first time that a meal has been polluted, and I highly doubt it’ll be the last. I’ve eaten some awful things before. Things I’d rather not mention that my lovely Luci has prepared for me.
I’ll just put all my attention her. Ignore the food. Tonight, I’ll dine on her. Luci will be my escape from this dream turning nightmare.
“I hope you’re hungry!” she said too proud of herself. Maybe this was Hell. How could I crush her? She worked so hard to cook this meal for me. It wasn’t her fault that my madness corrupted my dreams in random ways.
I rushed up and took the hot pan from her hands. It cooked my flesh as I gently set it back on the counter. Such pain was nothing anymore. A prick on the finger when compared to having your entrails pulled out through my mouth.
I smiled. “I’m hungry for something else.” I told Luci taking her into my arms. I kissed her. She kissed back. For a single second it felt real. A sickness in me thought that her roast smelled good. It made my mouth water. I focused my attention on Luci. She pushed me away, and took my hands in hers, looking at them for a moment. I watched her, but instead of concern, her eyes held desire.
“You can satisfy that appetite after you fulfill this one,” she said pointing to the roast. “Or you can beg me. Beg for my touch.”
I smiled the widest I had in a long, long time. I even laughed, less crazed than before, at the statement which confused him. “Lucifer asking me to beg…”
Not even my dreams are safe. I knew it.
“Lucifer? Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? Well, I’m not laughing, asshole! I—”
“Shut up. My Luci would have been more concerned with the fact that I just burned my hands than getting me to eat roasted baby.”
I looked at my hands. Lucifer’s eyes followed mine. He said, “I was! I just—”
“Wasn’t thinking about it?” I asked. “My Luci would have. So how many times does that make this? Have you invaded my dreams to sleep with me? Or to have me tell you that I love you? I knew I was right to guess that you’re seeking love. The Devil wants to be loved just like anyone else. Are you tired, sick and tired, of being alone, Lucifer? Who would have thought that you—Lucifer—would have spent your time cuddling with a mortal in his dreams. How very ungodly of you.”
Lucifer began, silently, and with a scowl, to make himself a plate of baby-roast with finger-carrots and a spleen-potato. He took a seat at the kitchen table with a crash.
Is this truly Lucifer, the angel that defied God? Then all God must be is an all-powerful person. Nothing divine. Just somebody who knows some tricks. Or is this a trick? Is the Devil playing his pieces perfectly?
I pushed the spiraling questions and worry out of my mind before they could get me in trouble. I focused on the here and now.
“Lucifer,” I said. “I’d like to discuss something with you.”
My words interjected into the silence but couldn’t take the weight out of it. The Devil politely nibbled on a finger-carrot. I tried not to watch, taking pains to look him straight in the eyes. I didn’t want to have a good mental picture of the disgusting act that the Devil was doing. Did it matter? I’ve seen worse. But he was still my Luci and I just don’t like seeing it. But he can eat whatever. I won’t be the one to stop him. Honestly, I feel as if it wasn’t even real. Could it be just an illusion to crash against the dam that bars my madness? Probably.
“Yes?” he asked pouting like a spoiled brat, a pampered princess, a stuck-up hussy.
“Would you like to make a wager on our so-called chess game?”
Gambling made his face shine with delight. He even stopped cutting a slice of roast in order to say, “Go on.”
I continued with the idea that had crossed my mind numerous times during my torment. Whenever my mind was suffering it turned over the idea of being able to save those I failed to so long ago. Something inside me, that at first I thought was my spirit, told me that I could. It was even so bold as to tell me that if I stood against the Devil then I could save all the lost souls in Hell. When my mind wasn’t wholly occupied with pains and surviving, that is.
“I want you to release Earth.”
The Devil broke out into a fit of cackles that reminded me of the mad fellow bashing his head against his cage at my joke. He even started to choke on a piece of roast. I kindly patted him on the back.
“Are you serious? Why would a god listen to a mortal? Why in all creation would I give up a world that’s mine now?”
“You wouldn’t give it up for nothing, Luci.” I said
“Then please sweeten the deal. Explain to me how it’ll be worthwhile.” Luci regained his composure, taking his attention back to his meal. After I took too long to piece together the words, he whispered, “I’m waiting…”
I took a seat, made sure I was planted firmly, and quickly thought up all that I could use against the Devil.
Just play off his pride.
I readied myself and stated calmly, “Take me in the place of all those suffering in Hell. Leave Earth, give it to them. Focus all of Hell’s wrath on me and me alone.”
I sounded calm, but I was a coward at heart. My body shook, rejecting the notion. What are you thinking? I asked myself, lips trembling. I paid them no mind. My father would have done the same. I wish I was as strong as him. He would have had no problem with staring down Luci. It would be just like any other time he chased away the monsters out from under my bed. I showed fear, but he glared at the darkness with such bravery. He was always like that even later in life, when it mattered most.
Till his death. I thought finding bravery within the memory, but to avoid seeming weak by mourning my father, I pushed it out of my mind. Pushed it deep below.
“You wish to have all of Hell’s might crash against you? The despair that all the souls in Hell suffer to be yours alone?” Luci shook his head probably thinking that I was in fact a mad, romantic fool. “You’d shatter beyond even God’s good graces to repair. It would destroy your very soul. A fool’s errand to the core.”
“Scared to lose me?”
Luci giggled. “I don’t indulge in foolishness,” he said.
“Then let this fool challenge Hell for Earth. I’ll take it all, everything you’ve got.”
“Are you hoping that God will show you love for such a kind act? That he’ll descend into Hell, and take you up to Heaven? He won’t!” Luci screamed, slamming her fist down on the table. “Once out of his graces, always out of his graces!”
I jumped at the outburst. I couldn’t hold steadfast against the growing rage that tried to escape just now. Through the perfection I saw the very core of fear, the real horror that is the Devil.
How will you to stand against Hell?
“No. It’s simply a kind act. My father always said that kindness was the key to truth, to happiness, to anything you desired. That kindness would open the door. So, I’ll do this kind act with the hope that those released from Hell will walk a straighter path than they once did.”
“They’re all mad and some so very wicked that it would be like releasing a starving fox into a henhouse. What’s to keep them from killing, raping, stealing, and who knows what else?” Luci ask, grinning. “They’ll join you once again in Hell, and your sacrifice will be for naught. Why bother?”
“Because you will wipe their memories of ever being here. It’ll be as if they never died. Like they just awoke from a very long nap.”
“And what will keep them from acting as they once had? Will you have me make them know of your sacrifice? Make you an immortal, glorious being! Seems you and I suffer the same sin.”
I took a breath. This would be the selling point. “Say it was your idea.” I said.
The Devil stared at me. “Me?” he asked.
“Release them from Hell. Tell them that you are offering them a second chance to be allowed into paradise with God.” I still had trouble believing in him. I don’t want to believe that there is a God that would condone all of this. Allow such hideous things to happen. Loving him as the Christians do was even more so out of my ability. How could God, who loves us all, allow so many to suffer?
“Tell them that through kindness everything is won.” I said. “That they can and will be forgiven.”
“Your grandest folly is your ignorance. Do you believe that will actually happen? Do you think that is how this works?” Luci asked me, shook his head, and then said, “So you will have them remember their time in Hell then? I thought you wanted those bad memories banished to the darkness of their conception.”
“No. I want them to forget Hell. They will just have to trust you. I want them to do good because it is good, and not simply because they do not wish to return to Hell. I also want them to have a clear mind, for I doubt the man suffering in the cage next to my sleeping self would be able to feed himself let alone be kind to others. You may take whatever form you please when you address them. It doesn’t matter just as long as you tell them to be kind.”
“And then all of Hell’s wrath: the pain, turmoil, suffering, sorrow. All those splendors will be yours? You will just face it all alone?”
I laughed at that.
Do you think you’re Jesus or something? Suffer for their sins and call it a day when they all ascend? Or do I really believe that I’m some intrepid hero fending off wickedness with my righteous shield?
“Well, do you, Malloreigh?” asked the Devil obviously bothered by something.
“No. Jesus died and returned. Heroes aren’t as real as the story books tell us. If they were, then dragons would be far too powerful for mere mortals to slay.
“I’ll remain gone, forever in Hell. You will have me for as long as I endure. On the day that I break all life on Earth is yours once again. You may move your kingdom back to the promised place gifted to you at the end of days.” Luci kept silent, I couldn’t tell you why, as I mulled over just how much I was dooming myself.
The amount of weight that I was stacking on my shoulders was enough to flatten Olympus Mons.
How will my knees not buckle, my bones not break, my muscles not reach failure?
I prayed to that strength which came from nowhere like an idol, for it felt more real than God ever had. My father came to mind. Part of me wondered if he was giving me strength from Heaven. Or if it was God who granted me the strength, but I chuckled soundlessly at the idea of God showing graces to a sinner burning in Hell. I held the memory of my father close to heart, his fortitude being the foundation for my own might.
“As you wish.” Luci said.
Before I could say a word, my world turned to nothingness. It was like blinking my eyes. When the nothingness dissipated, I saw an empty world all around me. I took the deepest of breaths to steady myself.
“Here we go,” I whispered to the strange emptiness before me. My voice was weak, and that worried me.