The Devil Does Not Bargain for Souls by BloodySpaghetti
Every day I tell myself that I am going to stop drinking, yet every day I find myself picking up the glass once more. It's a good thing I don't drink that much daily. I know liver will probably fall apart by the time I reach my sixties but I have yet to come across a better way to calm the storm that has been raging in my mind ever since I met him.
Back in 2013, I requested my leave from the Syrian Observation mission. At that point, I had grown tired from seeing all the pointless bloodshed that was going on there. I had been a soldier pretty much my whole adult life up to that point and being so powerless was probably just a tad too much for me. Once I was granted my release, I had decided to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was a lovely trip, all in all, one evening I've decided to clear my head at a local bar.
I was sitting there, completely zoned out as some silly club music blared through the speakers. My head was in the clouds, that is, until a gruff voice snapped me back into reality, "What does a United Nations soldier do in such a place?"
My mind snapped back into fight mode as my head snapped sharply to my left. A bearded man was sitting next to me. He was visibly a few inches taller than me and his smug expression made me a little uneasy. Not to mention the fact that he was not supposed to know my profession, or so I thought back then.
I was cut off short, "How do you know, you'd like to ask?" he retorted, as a wide smile formed on his face.
A knot began forming inside my stomach, I almost felt sick with the buildup of dread. I began clenching my fists, a million thoughts whirled in my mind. I could not fathom at the time the existence of this person.
"The Lord of Flies knows many a thing" he chuckled at me further adding to my nervousness.
I was about to explode at him and demand answers in regard to his strange behavior and impossible knowledge. However, the man reached into the pocket of his coat and pulled out some old coin. He proceeded to toss it into the air as my eyes followed every single movement of his.
As the coin spun through the air, it started slowing down mid-flight and everything around me. The music stopped playing, the lights above had stopped moving and the coin froze in the air. The sight made my heart sink, my fear was probably evident as the man was trying hard not to burst into laughter.
None of this made any sense to me back then, and all I could muster was a soft, unconfident, "What?"
Time stood still around me, quite literally.
Everything was simply frozen in time.
I didn't know how to react; I didn't know what to think, I could move as the whole situation was too hard to process.
The man reached out his hand to me, offering a handshake, "Beelzebul, my pleasure, Daniel."
"Wh… H…" I couldn't speak, I felt sick, this was too much for me to handle and I threw up on the floor.
My head was spinning and my heart raced, I felt awful. There was no mistaking it, I was approached by some sort of something supernatural. Otherwise, he wouldn't be able to know my name.
I wiped my face and looked at the man whom I assumed was the devil at that point. He had lowered his arm and took a sip of his beer. "I know, it's quite shocking, all of this. It's not my first rodeo with you humans."
Not wanting to piss off someone who could stop time and probably knew about me more than I wanted anyone to, I cautiously asked him, "Are you the devil?"
The man burst out into a maddening laughter, which had somewhat put me at ease.
"Oh, father, this joke again?!" he mused to himself as some beer had spilled on his coat, clearly amused by lack of awareness towards higher beings such as himself. "No, no, I am not the Devil, it's a common misconception, however." He proceeded to note.
"You see angels, demons, whatever we are all the same kind. There was no big fight or even a divide between us. There is not much of a hierarchy or rule set between us. We are truly equal to one another. Everything you know about us is a human fiction." He continued speaking, "Every time father tried speaking to you humans, you go mad. I guess you're still not a high enough level to communicate with the old man."
This made very little sense to me as it was the opposite from what I was taught my whole life. I wasn't sure if I should believe this person or not, after all, he was claiming to be a demon. I guess he had noticed the doubt written all over my face as he made a snarky remark towards me, "If I was lying, wouldn't I be tempting you with something right now? You know the Prince of Gluttony yadda yadda…"
"No, I just…"
"Yeah, I get it, Daniel, you've been indoctrinated to believe in some weird anthropocentric story. Mind you that there are millions, perhaps even billions of species who are even more intelligent than your kind. To be honest, I'm pretty certain there are beings who are more advanced than my father, somewhere out there. There are probably beings higher than God."
I had nothing to say; I was completely shocked by this revelation. While on the one hand, the things he was saying were making sense, on the other hand, they weren't making any sense at all.
"So, how does this whole cosmic order thing work then?" I asked weakly.
"Hm, well anything with a consciousness mechanism has what you define as a soul, it includes me, you, everything else on this planet with a complexed neural system. Even father has that sort of thing. Now, nothing is really eternal, eventually, everything dies. At one point, every sentient being will pass away." He answered.
"Even God?" I was unsure if I even wanted to hear the answer to that question and yet I asked, anyway.
"Yeah. Someday, in the future. You are aware of the fact that he isn't all creator of everything?!"
As obvious as this should have been at that point, this sentence sent chills down my spine. I sank into deeper into my chair.
"Hmph, here's the kicker though there one thing you humans got right, in a way, Hell is real. The circumstances around it are what you got wrong."
"What do you mean, don't the wicked go there?" I asked him in response.
"No, not the wicked but the guilty!" he proclaimed as he hoisted his cup of beer into the air.
"The guilty?" I asked, puzzled.
"Yeah, if you die feeling guilt over something, it turns into a negative energy and your consciousness goes to this dimension where it has to rid itself of said guilt. It has to be a major thing however if you feel guilty for something extremely minor, you are most likely to just dissipate into the universe."
Once, he had finished speaking about the inner workings of the universe, I looked directly into his green eyes and asked, with as much confidence as I could muster, "So, why are you telling me all of this?"
He smiled that unsettling smile once again, "It's because I need your opinion on something, Daniel, let's have a walk, shall we?"
He got up from his chair and began walking towards the entrance of the bar. At first, I was hesitant to do anything and I watching him walk for a few moments before I heard him call out to me. Not wanting to piss off a thing that could stop time, and probably murder me on a whim. I got up to my feet, ignoring the dried puke on my shoes and started catching up with the man.
Once I reached him he was at the bar's entrance, pressing his hand against the door. As the door swung open, a bright light engulfed me, blinding me for a moment. It felt as if a flash grenade was thrown straight at me, the light was so bright it almost hurt.
After an agonizing few seconds, the light began dispersing and a familiar sight greeted my eyes. "No way…" I blurted under my breath.
"We are in Syria, next to some rebel encampment," Beelzebul announced, almost gleefully.
I looked around and the bar building was right behind me, however, it was surrounded by the nearly endless sands of the Syrian desert. I was in this place before. There was no mistaking it, this was the Syrian desert.
As I was trying to process whatever was going on around me, Beelzebul asked me, "Tell me, Daniel, do you believe that all humans deserve to live?"
He caught me off guard, but this was probably the easiest answer I had to give that day, "Yes, I do" I answered still eyeing my surroundings.
"Even the sadistic band of serial murder rapists in this encampment before us?" He asked again, pointing at the makeshift paramilitary compound.
"Yes… even them… if what you say about them is true, they should be detained and tried, but they do deserve to live. Killing them won't make it any better." It was still an easy question, I don't believe killing will ever salvage anything. I doubt the death penalty is a good way to rid ourselves of crime even to this day.
"I see, well, follow me, I need to show you something that might change your mind." Beelzebub began walking towards the bar building once more, pushing the door open again. I stumbled across the sands after him. The alcohol I had consumed earlier was starting to take effect again.
A bright light blinded me again followed by a freezing breeze that sent chills throughout my whole body. Once I had regained my sight, I found myself standing at the beginning of a large stone bridge, above a deep dark pit. The longer I stared down, the more I came to realize that I could not see the bottom of this hole. The dread started eating at me once more when another gust of freezing wind hit my body.
Soon after I began hearing screaming coming from up above me. I turned my head upwards ever so slightly to see a human body, a naked human body falling towards me from up above. This body was alive, I could tell so as it was flailing its limbs about. The body's screams growing louder with each passing moment.
When the body was mere inches from me, I saw its face, oh God, its face. The despair was permanently etched onto its features. There was a fearful stare in its glaring eyes. The cheeks muscles were stretched beyond what I thought was possible due to the constant screaming. Drool and tears flew all over. I know that we shared eye contact for the briefest of moments, but I've never seen someone in so much pain before.
"Is this H…" I mumbled as the body flew past me, into the seemingly never-ending darkness below.
"Yes," Beelzebul noted, with a smile stretching from ear to ear. He seemed to be almost glowing in that God-forsaken place.
Long after the body flew passed me, I could hear its constant screaming, it kept on ringing in my ears for a long time after I had left that cursed abyss.
Beelzebul lead me on atop the stone bridge for quite some time, and the longer I walked on this bridge, the more I wanted out of there.
These bodies, they kept on falling… all over…
Some hit the bridge…
Massive blood stains…
They kept on falling…
They just slipped downwards, back into the bottomless maw of their Abaddon.
I'm so sorry… I just… It's hard bringing this up again in detail, even though it never leaves me, even though it haunts me in my dreams.
After some walking, Beelzebul stopped me and asked me to look down to my left. When I looked I saw a piece of rock protruding from the darkness itself, on top of the rock there was a sea of people walking one after another in circles.
In an unbreakable harmony they march forever, one after the other, each step seemed more fatigue than the last one. Beelzebul told me that those were the people who've died harboring the guilt of following a bad leader. These were Nazi soldiers, terrorists, mob soldiers, all sorts of weak minded individuals who knew they were following the wrong leader and still went on with it. Beelzebul even called them pathetic for harboring such a guilt, noting that these were his least favorite kind of Hell Spawns.
I felt bad for them, I do understand their guilt, the reasons I left my active service in Syria because of my powerlessness, brought upon me by a set of regulations that do not strive to prevent as much suffering as possible. I hated that feeling.
I hated feeling powerless, and yet look at me now, I am powerless more than ever before.
We kept on walking across the stone bridge for some more time before a rancid stench filled my nostrils. Beelzebul told me to look to my right. There was another protrusion made of stone peeking through the darkness. On top of the protrusion, there was a pile of a dark substance made of what smelled like feces. I had a hard time looking at that direction as the stench was way too vile for me. Beelzebul, on the other hand, was enjoying the view of a human pull himself out of the pile online to be sunk back down into it by another human's arms as the latter tried to pull himself out as well only to suffer the same fate at the hands of another.
"Can we leave? It stinks too bad", I cried out from underneath my shirt covered mouth.
Beelzebul just grunted in approval and lead me on across the bridge of stone. Soon enough we were standing at the edge of a forked path, one diversion was made up of stone, another of some pulsating fleshy mass and another was made up of sand. Beelzebul lead me on the path of sand.
"I'd like you to me someone, Daniel, someone very important, he's been here for nearly two millennia," Beelzebul remarked with some glee in his tone.
"Two thousand years?" I muttered. I couldn't even bear staying another hour in this place and yet someone was there for two thousand years.
Beelzebul did not speak for a while as we walked on the sandy path. I grew more and more anxious with each moment, to the point of trembling. My mind was racing, my breathing was quick
I'm sorry, I can't… I need a moment to relax… I can't type
We reached a large sand dune, it was the biggest sand dune I have ever seen. It was so massive it towered everything else in sight. A literal sand giant in the middle of a world made out of pure darkness.
"I'd like you to meet Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus!" announced Beelzebul in a gleeful tone.
A young, tall and skinny man dressed in a bloodied tunic strutted out of the sand dune. He had a very fixated, cold stare in his eyes. It's like he was bulging his pupils out at us. The man just stared for a minute or so. The surrounding atmosphere was so tense, you could cut it in half.
He shrieked like a wounded animal and fell onto the sand screaming obscenities at the old Roman deities and the Senate. He then began shrieking about how he should be the god of this world, the god of all worlds from the Capitoline hill down to the depths of Tartaros. He began rolling around in the sand screaming at the top of his lungs that he is the emperor God of all and that he should've had made them fear him more. He then proceeded to shove sand down his own throat, first with his hands and then he just felt on the ground first and started swallowing the sand beneath him with his mouth.
He wouldn't stop that for a while, not even when it was clear that he was chocking on the sand. I swear I could see some sand pouring down from his nasal cavity.
The man was a complete wreck.
At some point his stomach could not contain any more of the substance and he threw it all out producing vile choking sounds as he did. He then started rolling in his own vomit shrieking about fear and control, and no matter for how long he rolled in the sand, he kept his stare fixated on me.
There was something really unnerving about his almost fish like hazel eyes being locked on me.
He began screaming obscenities again as he ran onto the top of the dune while I watched in pity as he hurled himself down its sands. His body rolled around in the sand like a rag doll tossed about. I could hear the sickening cracking sounds of his bones echo throughout the space as his body was being folded in unnatural angles by his own momentum.
Eventually, his broken body landed at my feet, the body laid there as his limbs were folded awkwardly.
His body was positioned on its belly with the head turned in a hundred and eighty degrees.
His god damned fish eyes were staring straight at me.
I felt a knot build up in my stomach again; I was sure I would throw up again, I could literally feel the food rising up my esophagus.
"Bow to your god!" The body whispered,
It startled me.
A moment later I found myself sitting back at the bar, next to Beelzebul, shaking with fear as my mind was racing. Nothing made any sense to me anymore, at all. I looked at Beelzebul and the back of my head began throbbing as I was hit with a hammer across the head. My vision started blurring and my ears began ringing.
"I… I… I don't…" I managed to blurt out as I was trying to fight through my sudden headache.
"So, did your meeting with Little Sandals made you change your mind about the value of all human lives?" Beelzebul asked.
"I don't…. know…" I forced myself to respond weakly as my head felt as if it was about to blow up.
Beelzebul drunk up all of his remaining beer and said, "Well that's a shame because I already slaughtered that whole Syrian encampment."
As he said that, the pain in my head began subsiding and disturbing images began popping up in my mind. I've seen it.
I've seen it all.
The way he tore them apart…
The way he…
Ripped them to shreds….
I felt the tears…
I felt the tears streaming down my cheeks just like they do now… As I write this…
I can't get the image of him making a gun sign with his fingers, shoving it down a kneeling man's mouth and blowing up his skull…
Beelzebul was gone after that…
I heard that damned coin fall onto the wood.
I placed my head on my arms and began crying…
I couldn't stop…
He was gone…
But the guilt…
It's all my fault…
All of this is my fault!
It's my fault I followed him there!
Everything is my fault!
Please pardon me, I am just a sorrowful drunk with a lot on his plate.
I know now that the Devil does not bargain for souls, he simply guilts their owners straight to hell where he can watch them suffer for as long as he wants them to.
I'll drink to the craftiness of this son of a gun.