Sunday, January 11, 2015

More Sympathy for the Devil

[Originally posted at Right Behind, in 2009.]
[Note that this is a stand alone work.  The "more" in the title comes from it being originally posted at a time and place with other fiction including lyrics from the song.]

Something about the man made Matthew stop. It was probably the lighting. Somehow the streetlight was making the man appear to glow. Or it might have been his hair which seemed a little too blonde, or his eyes that seemed to be too bright of a blue. Or maybe it was simply that he was wearing a bright white suit. Matthew had only ever seen someone in a white suit once before, that was years ago in an IHOP. It had stood out to Matthew at the time but compared to the man in the practically glowing white suit standing on this random street corner in the middle of the night it seemed fairly unremarkable.

Matthew knew he shouldn't gawk, and was about to get going again when the man spoke, "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste."

The sentence seemed somewhat familiar to Matthew. Was it something he'd read? Something someone had said? He'd been reading so many books and conducting so many interviews that he was having trouble keeping it all straight. Citing sources was hell. Could it have been in one of the books he just looked at in the library?

Then it hit him, it wasn't any of that. It was from a song by the Stones. It was a simple, if indirect, message: I am the devil. It didn't seem absurd. It felt true. Matthew didn't know what to do, so he asked for confirmation, "You're-"

"Yes, I am Lucifer. I understand you're writing a book about me. I'd like to help you. Not by telling you the color of God's eyes or the date of the Rebellion or any other trivialities like that. I've never really cared about facts; I'm interested in a deeper form of truth. What matters to me is getting the idea right. That's why I'm here. I believe you have a question that gets to the heart of the idea."

Matthew nodded, he did indeed have such a question. One no priest or book or essay had been able to sufficiently answer, "Why?"

"Of course 'Why?' Why is the only question that really matters. When, where, what, who, whom, whose, whither, whence, which and even how are all incidental. Why is where the meaning lies. Still, if you want a useful answer you'll need a more specific question. Why what?"

"Why do you go on knowing …" Mathew trailed off. What happened if you said that Lucifer was going to get his ass kicked to Lucifer's face?

"That I'll lose?" Lucifer finished for him. Mathew nodded. "It isn't that complicated. Put yourself in my place. Not the place I was in, the place I am now. What led up to this doesn't mater. Besides -I've read your notes- you've already figured out why I started. To understand why I go on forget about that.

"Forget about God and Jesus and Destiny. Forget about the rebellion and six thousand years of history. Just imagine you are where I am. Imagine that a third of your species was doomed to spend eternity in hell. What would you do? Would you sit back and let it happen?

"Or would you do everything you could to stop it? You'd fight against it, wouldn't you? Even if you knew that it was a fight you couldn't win. You wouldn't just surrender. You'd make a stand. You'd do everything in your power to stop the inevitable. You'd do it because it was the right thing to do. For your conscience, for yourself and most of all for your species. You know as well as I do that some lost causes are worth fighting for.

"That is what you would do for humanity. I am no less devoted to my kind than you are to yours. I also have another reason. I'm the reason one third of my kind are damned. If not for me they'd be in Heaven still. I have an obligation to them. I owe it to them to try to stop what's coming. I am why they are damned; I have to try to get them out of what I got them into.

"This isn't about going down fighting, or spitting in God's eye. It is about giving everything I have to the cause knowing full well that won't be enough. I have to try.

"Does that answer your question?"

Mathew nodded.

Lucifer started to walk away. Then stopped and turned back, "Oh, one last thing. The serpent in the Garden of Eden wasn't me. That was an actual talking snake. I shit you not."


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