In recent months there have been several unusual events of nature affecting mankind. Add to this the daily news of man’s inhumanity to their fellow man and I wondered if there was a connection.
‘Hello demon. What are you doing up here? I haven’t seen you since I banished you to hell a couple of thousand years ago.’
‘I wouldn’t have made the journey if it wasn’t important but I’ve got an offer to make to you.’
‘I know your offers. Like the ones you made to my son when he was on earth, promising him everything and trying to corrupt him.’
‘Yeah, well, that was a long while ago. Can’t you stop that heavenly choir making such a celestial din? I can’t think straight.’
‘Only if you stop waving your tail around and trying to steal souls. What is it you want? Have you come to ask forgiveness?’
‘Not exactly, but it’s for your benefit too. You know how we try to influence humans; you want to bring out the good in them, and I counteract with their evil side. It’s always been a balancing act and I think we both deserve a holiday.’
‘The forces of good can never rest until all evil is exterminated. You’ve had the upper hand lately, some of the atrocities you’ve encouraged are unbelievable, but thankfully there are still good people in the world.’
‘That’s what made me think of it. I’m worn out inventing fouler things for them to try, and however bad I make them, some do-gooder intervenes. What if we both took a holiday and left them to it? Who do you think would win?’
‘Man is intrinsically good. Eventually the righteous would triumph.’
‘I disagree. I believe that in their core, mankind is destined to be evil. Unlike animals who only kill to survive, protect their young or complete the food chain. Man is the only beast who takes pleasure in torture or greed for the sake of it. Leave them to their own devices and the weak and the poor would be exterminated. Chaos would rule and my job would be done.’
‘You’re wrong, you know. Once you were an angel too. You were only banished to learn the error of your ways and let your light find its flame. It’s taken a lot longer than I thought, but surely by now you have learnt your lesson?’
‘We could put it to the test. Suppose we swapped places for a few weeks? You go down to hell and live with the scum, and I stay up here and let your lot do their best to convert me. Neither of us would attempt to influence the earth’s inhabitants, only the ones who have already got their wings or horns. It would give us both a new challenge and settle once and for all the question of which element in humans is stronger. Winner takes all.’
‘You know I’m incorruptible, but perhaps it would be good for you to see how the other side works. I’ll give it some thought.’
‘I’m not waiting another thousand years to find out. Either you accept now or I’ll go back to hell and you’ll never see me again. Your call, oh mighty one, or are you afraid of losing?’
‘I can’t lose. I told you, I am omniscient.’
‘So, you accept then. Starting today. I’ll stay here and you travel down to Hades. We’ll catch up next month, and meanwhile we don’t get involved in anything the people on earth do, no matter what. Agreed?’
For a few weeks, with nothing to stop it, malevolence ruled. The small sparks of what was called humanity disappeared under the barrage of black-hearted selfishness. Those who were weak or old were left to starve as the ethos of “Look after No.1” spread from the tiniest remote village to the major cities. Financial institutions collapsed as the workers refused to do anything which was not in their own personal interest. Chaos spread.
The goods in the shops were looted, and if someone tried to intervene they were quickly exterminated. Animals were tortured and killed, not for food but for the elation of power over lesser beings. The police were unable to cope. Although the occupation was deemed a service to the community, many joined the throngs of villains they had once tried to put behind bars. Vandalism took on a whole new meaning. No longer were buildings desecrated by graffiti, but deliberately set on fire to be able to enjoy the horror on the faces of those trying to escape.
The world had gone mad. The deity looked and despaired while the evil spirit gloated. Were there none left in the world who retained love for their fellow man and goodness in their hearts? It appeared not. Despite the best efforts of the angels they were unable to redeem the evil spirit. Although he didn’t attempt to directly influence the humans, he did exert his influence on the elements. For a week the temperature in polar regions matched those of Death Valley, causing the ice to melt, flooding and devastation. Then hurricanes, tornadoes and volcanic eruptions added to the destruction and anarchy.
The deity kept his promise not to intervene as civilisation crumbled and the earth despaired. It seemed the devil was right. Perhaps it was time for the slate to be wiped clean and start again; this time without the gift of free choice.
A starving woman looked down at her child as she held the first morsel of food she had seen in weeks, – then popped it into his mouth. A passing stranger offered her comfort and promised to take care of the infant as the woman breathed her last. From tiny acorns the mighty oak of charity grew and spread, much to the chagrin of the evil one when he returned to his hellish home.
‘Holiday’s over. I was so close to making them destroy themselves. One little random act of kindness and all my malevolent work started to unravel. Let’s call it a draw and go back to how we were. If it hadn’t been for that stupid woman… Why didn’t she eat it herself?’
‘It’s called love, demon. Even in the blackest soul a minuscule spark can ignite to become an all-encompassing flame. It’s been an interesting experiment; perhaps we should repeat it sometime. See you in another thousand years. Be good.’
© Voinks September 2018
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