ROOMMATES FROM HELL by Carlton Herzog
Call me old-fashioned, but I likes my demons the way I likes my women: hot and nasty or what’s the point of invoking them. I’ve come to associate a high standard of service with certain incidentals of the brand, such as the cloven hooves and curly horns, in much the same way car aficionados do with the Chrysler logo. To me, the reek of burning sulphur emanating from a portal is as sweet as the smell of cinnamon bread to a child standing outside a bakery.
So, you can well imagine my horror when my summoning spell conjured Good Jelly, a buck-toothed sausage fingered purple cousin of the Kool-Aid guy, and Little Evil, a lisping baby who skittered around on eight spider legs.
But the indignities did not end there.
Where there ought to have been any number of demonic symbols scrawled in blood, and a fog of sulphur choking the air, there were calm discussions of the pros and cons of free will accompanied by pipe smoke and Earl Grey tea.
That’s not the worst of it. There’s the trans-dimensional leakage where any and all paradoxes can gain a purchase in this world, not the least of which is that the demons overlap and pass through one another. Time runs backward while gravity comes and goes. It’s enough to make a monkey crazy.
There are of course other problems that arise from diabolical co-associations, not the least of which is that Good Jelly and Little Evil like it here, so much so they have refused to leave, and have invited their friends to join them here on the earthly plane—in loathsome profusion.
Mind you, I am as progressive as the next person. But nesting does create some unique problems for me. First, I can’t have social life. How do you explain a small army of goofy looking demons carrying on like a bunch of frat boys? And then there’s that whole miraculous multiplication thing. Think Jesus feeding the five thousand only instead of one piece of bread becoming many you have two demons increasing geometrically into a currently uncountable number. Because they are not restricted by our considerations of time and space, and little things like the Pauli exclusion principle, a thousand or more can all stand in one spot at the same time. Or sit, usually in my best recliner. My primate brain isn’t cut out for the nuanced and granular perception of such a dynamic shifting reality unless it’s heavily medicated. Thank God for Jack Daniels and blunts—two things that moron God got right.
The worst part is that they are increasing their numbers every day. So, when I asked Little Evil what they intended to do with all that demon power, he told me that they intended to retake and repurpose Hell so they can be redeemed.
So, I asked, “What do you mean, repurpose?”
At that Good Jelly chimed in and said, “Hell began as a place of exile and incarceration for the losing side in a poly-dimensional territorial dispute. Once we’re free, we can find a better use for it. I’m on the steering committee.”
So, I said, “What about the damned?”
Little Evil said, “They don’t exist; they never did. Nobody including God himself, knows if anything survives the death of a mortal body, and frankly nobody cares. Contrary to what you’ve been taught, humans are not the centre of anything. Look around: 200 billion galaxies, each filled with 200 billion stars, and each star with its own set of planets. And that’s just one bubble universe in one dimension. You can’t get more insignificant than that. And yet you labour under the misguided belief that two super beings have nothing better do than battle for the souls of man.”
I said, “We mortals cling to anything that gives us hope. Our positive illusions keep us going, however silly they seem to you.”
Little Evil said, “Not silly. Just counterproductive. You waste a lot of time, energy and treasure blaming the Devil for your problems, on the one hand, while waiting for God to come down and solve them, on the other. Your boy Einstein once observed that insanity is doing the same self-destructive thing over and over again expecting different results. Another way to see it is that you people don’t learn, and more critically, you don’t learn that you don’t learn. I suspect that there’s a cognitive defect at work here that evolution may or may not correct. Only time will tell. You, Sir, won’t be around to see that blessed day should it occur, but, if it’s any consolation, we will.”
When Good Jelly and Little Evil expounded on their redemption plan and just how stupid we humans are I felt like Dorothy when she pulled back the curtain and saw that the Great and Powerful Oz was only a man. Or when the Berlin Wall came down, and I saw that the Soviet Union was more like a drunk uncle on skid row than a global superpower.
I have had enough. I stay in my bedroom and reread my tattered copy of Black Easter. There at least I can read about old timey demons, replete with sickly sinister bodies—bat wings, head of a goat, woman’s breasts and an erection—diabolically dramatic names like Astaroth, Azmodeus and Belial—and banging dialogue like ‘We are abroad and a loose and will not be put back.’ Now that’s the kind of evil I can get behind.