Better the Devil You Know

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What’s in a name? I had fun with this one finding alternative names for you know who, some are familiar but most are not.

Is It Done?

My name is Pazal and I’m a devil. Not in a Jack-the-lad, wrong side of the tracks, euphemistic kind of way but a real life demon; one of Hell’s foot soldiers. If Old Nick is the Godfather, then I’m one of the Goodfellas.

Being a lowly fiend, my workload is quite run-of-the-mill and involves collecting souls from those humans who have signed a pact with Mephistopheles. This isn’t as easy as it sounds as the rich and famous are used to getting their own way and think they can wriggle out of the deal in their dying moments. My job is to make sure they don’t escape and to drag them to Hell, literally kicking and screaming if that’s what it takes.

The excuses have to be heard to be believed, but the lamest, most used one is mistaken identity. “You’ve got the wrong man”, they cry. “I’d never sign my soul away for fame and fortune”, wail untalented pop stars whose vocals sound like mating foxes. “I’d never risk an opportunity to get to heaven”, this from people who choose underage groupies for their sexual gratification. Then the tears start and that’s my favourite bit; unnaturally perfect faces become blotchy and smeared with snot. Why they think emotional blackmail will work on a demon, I’ll never know.

I was called into Beelzebub’s office the other day, hoping for promotion but fearing admonition as he can be a tad mercurial. I’ve been escorting bartered souls for hundreds of years and have a hankering to be elevated to incubus. On the other hand, I don’t want to be torturing souls for all eternity. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of opportunity for invention but I’d miss being topside. Humans have such capacity for love but spend so much time discovering ways to make each other miserable. Their lives are over in the blink of an eye so you’d have thought they’d forget about being petty and enjoy themselves. It’s all so entertaining.

“Ah, Pazal. Come on in.” I approached the ebony desk and stood before the Lord of the Flies. “You’ve been doing sterling work capturing souls but I thought it was high time you had a chance to flex your muscles and show me what you’re really made of.” I unfurled my wings slightly and stood up straighter. Promotion here I come.

Well, that really wasn’t what I was expecting. Not at all. The Prince of Darkness has asked me to accompany him on a mission, to be his wingman you could say. He has thousands of followers, most of whom he has little time for, disdainfully calling them goat killers. The way they take themselves so seriously, performing Black Masses and invoking his name, really makes him chuckle. However, one group has piqued his interest and that’s where I come in. Lucifer has always had an eye for the ladies and in a change from the usual arrangement, someone has offered his wife in exchange for fame and fortune. Cowardly and caddish is something we like down here so a deal was struck.

Now, the wife is an innocent and unaware of this pact. She’s also very beautiful which no doubt sweetened the deal for the Fallen Angel, bearing in mind it’s not her soul he’s after, if you catch my drift.

The chosen night arrives and we sit quietly in the Son of Perdition’s office while the ceremony is performed, waiting for the moment when we’ll go above ground. Belial is a handsome man but he likes to conform to human expectations, so is sporting his Satan™ look; think Tim Curry in Legend, except his horns are bigger.

The Satanists have just sacrificed a goat so the floor is crimson and sticky with blood everywhere. That’s our cue. The Lord of the Flies materialises in front of his congregation, towering above them, glowing red with a backdrop of fire and dry ice. He is a magnificent showman and most people look terrified, a few of them faint and one even soils himself. An excellent result and I’d expect nothing less.

All eyes are on Abaddon so no-one notices as I move towards the unconscious woman. She is classically beautiful with a pink flush to her cheeks and perfect bone structure. My lord and master has chosen well for the mother of his child. As I gaze upon her perfect countenance, her eyelids flicker and open and I am looking into the most mesmerising blue eyes I’ve ever seen. “Who the hell are you?” she demands, struggling to sit upright and breaking my reverie. This wasn’t supposed to happen and I’m a little dumbstruck. I cast a glance over my shoulder and am relieved that no-one has noticed us yet.

“I’m Pazal and you are guest of honour tonight. You must sleep, don’t you feel tired?” I say, wondering why the drug her neighbours administered hasn’t worked. “Minnie gave me a drink but I don’t remember anything else until I woke up just now. What’s going on over there?” I block her view as she tries to look past me but she gives me a shove and her eyes widen in her porcelain face as she beholds El Diablo. “Is this some sort of fancy dress party? Your outfit is very good.” She reaches out to pull what she thinks is a mask and tweaks my nose instead. “First class prosthetics. I have a friend who does make-up on films and she’d be very impressed.” She hops off the bed and moves around me, nodding appreciatively at my wings and running her fingers along my tail.

“So, what’s the occasion? Why is everyone dressed up?” I notice that the rumbling sound you didn’t so much hear as feel deep in your chest has stopped and, without turning, know that everyone is looking at us.

“WHY IS SHE AWAKE?” the Father of Lies demands in his booming voice.

“Oh, is that an animatronic? It’s very convincing. Who’s doing the voice? Are they behind a curtain like the Great and Powerful Oz?” She approaches the King of Tyrus and tugs at his hoof. “Wow, someone has spent a pretty penny on this lot! Is it a really cool graduation party?”

“Rosie, don’t you understand, this is all for you,” Minnie says as she tries to pull her away from behind Samael’s robe. “But it’s not my birthday,” exclaims Rosie as a tiny frown creases her alabaster brow.

“No, you’ve been selected to be the mother of a very special child,” Minnie explains in soft tones.

“Oh, but I’m not ready to have kids yet. I’ve only been married a short while.”

“Guy has made a pact with the Devil and in return for him becoming a famous movie star, you will become the mother to the Antichrist.”

“I don’t think so,” splutters Rosie.

“But you don’t have a choice, Rosemary, the pact has been signed in blood and is now binding,” Minnie’s tone is becoming harsher.

“I should have listened to my mother, she said never trust an actor. Handsome he may be but he’s as vain as the day is long. How dare he do this to me!” Rosie turns to address the Evil One, “Now you listen to me.”

“YOU CAN’T …”

“No interruptions, Mister. This pact isn’t between you and me, it’s between you and the scumbag I married and as you haven’t made him famous yet, as far as I see it you can’t hold me to anything.”

“BUT …”

“As I have no intention of going through with this then you’ll need to discuss it with my worthless, low-life weasel of a husband.”

“WAIT …”

Rosie turns on her heel, strides across the room and out of the Castavet’s apartment.

“Is it done?” asks one of the Satanists who fainted and has just come round. His question is greeted with a resounding silence and some very bemused looks.

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