Friday, 13 May 2016

Friday the 13th Special: Devil's Holiday


The Most Evil Story Ever Told

Once upon a time there was a devil who wanted to get away from Hell.

His name? Well, of course he had a name, but it was unpronounceable to your mere human mouth. The closest approximation might be Zıkkä-Mïglûņārtãné, only voiced with your tongue right back at the base of your throat. Don’t ask me how to pronounce the diacritics. So we’ll just call him the devil, because this story has just one.

Apart from the Devil, of course, but then he’s got a capital letter.

So there was the devil, and he wanted to get away from Hell.

Hell is a nasty place, with hot rock and tunnels and dull red light from all the glowing fires, enough to get on even a devil’s nerves.

So the devil went to the Devil. Old Nick, Satan, Lucifer, Whateveryouwanttocallhim Himself. “I want a holiday, boss,” he said.

The Devil looked up from his budget allocation documents and frowned. “You only had a holiday, let’s see, a hundred thousand years ago.”

The devil twisted his rocklike features into an expression of sorrow meant to melt even the Devil’s heart. “I can’t stand it any longer, boss,” he admitted. “Day after day after day, the same old sacred thing. It never changes.”

The Devil shook his head disgustedly. “All of us are in the same boat,” he said. “If I let you take a holiday, I’d have to let everyone take one, and that wouldn’t do, would it?”

“Boss...” the devil whimpered, and began to weep. "I can't take it anymore. I just can't." A devil’s tears are the most hideous thing in the world, each drop twitching and writhing like a worm. The Devil winced as one of them fell on a tax form and seared a hole in the parchment.

“OK, OK,” he said. “Heaven! Take two days off. Just make sure you don’t do too much damage wherever you’re going.”

“Thank you, boss,” the devil said, now weeping with gratitude.

“Have a good time,” the Devil, who was not without his good side, said grumpily. “So where are you going?”

“I always wanted to visit the French Riviera,” the devil said. And right off he went, for his holiday.

Now, to come up from Hell, you need to squirm up through tons and tons and tons of rock, all so hot that if you aren’t a devil you’d be burned to cinders, which is why those who go down to Hell stay down in Hell. Even for a devil, coming out is a long, dreary business, and don’t let anyone ever tell you that devils just pop out of Hell whenever they feel like it. There’s no lift or escalator or anything like that – the poor devils have to squirm like earthworms to get out of the place, and that’s  one reason they hardly ever come out.

The other reason is that, with all the deviltry going on in the world, devils are really rather superfluous, and always have been.

It had been so long since the devil had come up from Hell that he’d half forgotten the way, and there are so many thousands of tunnels through all those tons of rock that it’s easy as pie to get lost. And indeed he did get lost, and spent hours and hours and even more hours wandering around until he totally lost all sense of where he was going.

And this was why, instead of coming up at the French Riviera as intended, the devil instead finally emerged in the heart of the holiest nation in the history of the planet, in the Caliphate itself. In fact, he had so lost his way that he emerged right in the bedroom of an ISIStani lady, whom we’ll call Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya.

Why will we call this lady Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya, you ask?

We will call her that because her name was Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya, you silly nit. Really, what stupid questions you ask.

The lady Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya wasn’t taken aback by the spectre of a devil erupting through her bedroom floor. So when the devil caught his first glimpse of her, it was across the barrel of a Turkish-supplied M16 rifle pointed at the middle of his face.

Now to understand what happened next, you’ll have to remember that the devil hadn’t been on earth for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. He had no idea what a rifle was, because when he’d last come up, human weapons were still at the stage of stone hand-axes and flint knives. Therefore, he’d no idea that he was being threatened. Also, he’d not seen a woman in that long, and the last one he’d seen had been crawling with lice and dressed in stinking animal skins. And here was one who was definitely not dressed in animal skins, and, besides, didn’t have a single louse on her. A burqa, sure, but no lice.

What I’m getting at is that the devil took one look at Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya, and fell totally and irrevocably in love.

Not so much the lady herself. “You!” she snapped. “What do you mean by coming to me, you devil?” Which showed that she had keen powers of observation, and had noted the little, easy-to-miss details like the devil’s spiky skin, huge curling horns, and arrow-tipped tail. This, of course, made the devil love her even more, and who could blame him? Would you? Huh?

I thought not.

“I beg your pardon, lady,” he said, “but I see that you’re the one I have been searching for since the beginning of time, the one who can make me complete. I love you, I want only to make you my consort, to be by my side in Hell, where I reside.”

The lady Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya austerely shook her lovely, niqab-shrouded head. “I will never go to Hell,” she said. “I am good, not evil. I only follow the path of Good.”

The poor devil felt a stab of despair. “Do you crush all dissenting opinions and free thought?” he asked.

“Of course I do,” the lady snapped. “Not only that, I brainwash children and teach them to be inflexible, bigoted automatons unable to think for themselves.”

The devil felt his heart twist with sorrow. “Do you teach that knowledge is evil, and that blind faith is the highest and greatest endeavour?”

“I am better than that,” Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya said, laughing at the question. “I tell them that anyone who dares think for himself or herself is an apostate and deserves only humiliation and death.”

The devil’s voice was a whisper, pleading. “Do you kill in the name of your faith and beliefs, then?” he asked.

“Not only do I kill,” the beauty in the burqa said, “but I cheer as I watch them cut off the heads of captives, and crucify them, and I wish only for the day when I get the chance to do so myself!”

With a hollow groan of ultimate anguish, the devil sank back into the floor. His despair was so great that instead of spending any more time in the upper world, he decided to go right back to Hell, and it was good for him that he did, because he lost his way again while trying to return, and the two days he’d been given had just finished when he finally got back.

“Did you have a good time?” the Devil asked. I told you he was a good boss.

But the poor devil could only moan in despair. In fact so soaked in utter hopeless sorrow did he become that that Devil and the other devils became quite concerned about him.

“Whatever’s the matter?” they asked him. But he could only shake his head in sorrow and sigh. And he even stopped eating his portion of pain and drink his glass of tears. As the days – or whatever the unit of time is in Hell – passed, so he grew weak and feeble; and ultimately he took to his pallet of stone, there to lie, an emaciated wreck waiting for the release of death.

Only he couldn’t even die, because there’s no death in Hell.

And there it was that the ghost of the lady Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya found him at last, still moaning and sighing; and there it was that she laid a cool hand on his fevered brow, and covered his lips with kisses.

When the devil had recovered from the eruption of joy that had nearly burst his heart open, he hugged her tight to his breast. “What...” he babbled. “ did you ever find your way down to Hell?”

The lady would have blushed, if she were not a ghost and still had the ability to blush. “Once you left,” she said, “I began to think back to what I’d said, and I began to regret driving you away; for you were so handsome, with your spiky skin and horns, and you were so wicked, with your message of evil, that I felt something stir inside me, something I had never felt before.

“And at that moment I decided to throw aside the path of Good and holiness once and for all, and turn away to the path of Evil, so I could follow you and find you again.”

“You began to go against all the pathways of Good you trod before?” the devil gasped, in shock and wonder.

Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya nodded her lovely, albeit ghostly, head. “Ever since that day,” she said, “I began to teach the children that they should treat everyone equally, and that discrimination against anyone is something that they should never, ever do. And furthermore,” she added, “I told them that faith is meaningless without knowledge, and that if they can think, they must think, and they must always question what they’ve been told.” She raised her chin proudly. “In fact, so depraved did I become that I told them that if the search for knowledge leads them to conclusions that refute the demands of faith, then they should throw faith into the blessed dustbin.”

The devil looked at her with adoring eyes. “My darling,” he murmured. “How much you have done for me!”

The wonderful woman shook her head. “But I wasn’t sure, even then, that I’d become evil enough to merit Hell. So can you imagine what I did next?”

“You mean....?” the devil breathed.

“Right. I began to oppose killing captives, dissenters, and in fact anyone. I began to teach peace and coexistence and goodwill towards each other. And then, at last, I knew I would end down here.”

The devil shivered deliciously and showered her with kisses that would have been burning if she still had a body to burn. “My love!” he said. “You’ll be mine now, won’t you?”

“You idiot,” the lady Umm Hajar al Qawqaziya said, laughing. “Of course I will.”

So that was the start of the love affair that is the talk of Hell now, from the upper circles to the lower depths, until the entire place is in a tizzy. Everyone wants a love like they have, and can you blame them?

That’s why the devils, male and female, are all taking turns to come up for holidays now. Not for a break, but to find a lover they can corrupt and turn to the path of evil.

Tomorrow, I am told, it is the Devil’s own turn.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2016

[Image Source]


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