View Full Version : 'Savior Self'

The Overman
12-30-2014, 10:18 PM
Thanks to blue angel for inspiring me to post some of these stories up in chat about a month ago.

Back in 2007/08 I began writing for what I hope will eventually become a small collection of short stories. A lot of it is inspired by Marilyn Manson, though moreso the way he juxtaposes imagery than anything really concrete. And a lot of it came from other places - I was listening to a lot of darkwave bands at the time, and bits of lyrics from those bands and other sources might have crept into some of my work. There's very little of literature in any of this.

I had wanted to find a way to show it to Manson as the most accessible of its influences, similar to the way that old fans would give him sculptures or lunchboxes, but it's probably impractical. So the next best thing would be to post it up here.

I'll post a little of it at a time, to see what the reaction is like. I don't have an Internet connection at home, so the only chance I get to post this is to carry it on a flash drive to my grandmother's house. Most of these are long enough to probably necessitate multiple posts, and I apologize for this inconvenience, compounded by the forum's automatic editing and character length. I will do what I can.

Mastemah & The Devil

The only evidence for the existence of an omniscient God would lie in the immediate annihilation of the human species: for a God which knew all would know how contemptible his creation is. The only proof of an all-merciful Creator would be the end of the world, oblivion being the only form of mercy available to man. And the very definition of an omnipotent Deity would be a Deity strong enough to acknowledge his mistake and set it to rights.

Sadly, God as He exists is not how we would imagine Him; His knowledge extends as far as His heavenly domain, His benevolence to the blessed elect few He so arbitrarily deigns to permit to enter it, and His potency manifests as an inability to admit either of these flaws. All humaneness and charity for the lower orders of being have been left to those of us so fortunate enough to be included in the ranks of the daemons.

That was my job. Before your nation was founded, before your language congealed together out of the detritus of dead tongues, before even your genealogical line was formed - I was. It was my task, my privilege, mine and so many others like me, to keep the spiritual econmy moving, to weigh the balance of souls entering bliss against those descending into Hell.

But you don't know my name, do you?

I imagine you couldn't guess it, even if you tried. But from the foundations of the Earth I have been called Mastemah, and I have been feared.

That's 'Mah-steh-mah'. Get it right or I'll eat your first-born.

Your ancestors feared me, a hundred generations ago. Feared, and - believed. They believed in me as you believe the sun rises in one ocean and sets in another, the way you believe, with the profound confidence of knowledge, that God's in his Heaven and all is right with the world.

They believed I rode in with the hot desert winds, with the hot beating wings of the locust, to touch the flesh with my wingtips, to bring pestilence, nightmares, stillbirth.

And sometimes, when I would want to talk to them, I'd take possession of one of their children, burrowing my way like some dire worm through the contours of bone and brain, up through that part of man that binds soul to substance, to look through their eyes, speak with their tongues, to bid one and all a good morning with my voice echoing from their throats. It's always so quick, just up and out like some incohate jack-in-the-box, an unwholesome delight. Quite often their poor mothers would faint away dead before I could even have my fun.

I am Mastemah, leader of the rebel angels.

But that was all a long time ago. Someone else has long since taken my place.

I only knew Satan in passing. He was coming as I was going, so to speak. And the Hell of it is that he was never all that rebellious. A tempter, I grant you. And a damn fine lawyer, the best prosecutor in any sphere, terestrial, telestial or celestial. But he was not on my level and never has been, and I've always felt it massively unfair that he gets all the credit for the afflictions of mankind.

For fifteen centuries I stilled my tongue and stifled my protest. If Satan had been successful in fighting the good fight (for evil), who was I to interfere? And there was no doubt he was, for where I was no more than a tribal unclean spirit he had gone on to become feared across the continents. He had gone global, and I could hardly compete with that. I was therefore content, for a time, to dwell in the abyss, my cadres of demons my only company.

But a few thousand years of that can get tiresome, and at last I resolved to reclaim my rightful place. I'd had a phone installed to Hell in the 1960s; the old Cold War hotline between Washington and the Kremlin inspired it, and I was proud to have a direct line of communication with Satan. But I'd never had to use it.

Until the day came that I could tolerate my disgrace no longer. I picked up the receiver and dialed.

There was one voice on the other end of the line, but it emerged from a thousand tortured throats; male and female alike, they screamed and wept and cursed light and the Lord. And, at the same time, they took my call as a unit, the crescendo of agony somehow congealing into an intelligible whole: "How may we direct your call?" it hissed in unison.

"I need to reach Satan," I said. "Is he in, please?"

The chorus of the condemned went silent for a moment, then abruptly asked me to hold. I tried to express my indignity, but was cut off by the most horrible noise in all experience - muzak, unreasonably cheerful and chipper, the most obnoxious expression of corporate standardization.

Several years passed, and I'd very nearly given up on ever venting my
grievances to the Light-bearer before the Second Coming. Then the phone clicked back over, and the paradoxical receptionist resumed its - their - droning. "He's away in South America and won't be back before the end of the decade. May we take a message?"

I growled under my breath. The insolence! Once this minor demon would have done my bidding, and I'd have found some awful punishment for it had it treated my business with such nonchalance.

"No, you may not take a message," I huffed. "This is urgent."

The demon was obviously irritated, its voices taking on an exasperated tone. "Very well," it quipped tightly, "We'll disturb Lord Satan this once. Who may we say is calling?"

"Tell him that it's Mastemah."


This angered me more than anything else. "Mastemah. Mah-steh-mah!"
The voices didn't seem to like my attitude. "Hold please."


And so I waited again. Summer rolled into spring and autumn; a million mortal souls came into being; a million more died with their bodies and were dragged into Hell. Patience is divine, and consequentially I found myself pacing the floor of my chamber impatiently, imaginging the phone to be the collective necks of the demon-receptionist, wringing it between my talons like so much regret. Finally, after several more months of waiting, the voices returned again.

"Thank you for holding. Lord Satan will see you tomorrow," it said as unapologetically as it could.

"Tomorrow?" I was genuinely surprised. The infernal bureaucracy had not yet impressed me with its promptness.

"Tomorrow. You will of course have to appear before him. You should count yourself quite lucky. He almost never diverts from a haunting or possession for anyone."

Peculiar that he should have for me. He owed me nothing, certainly; I'd not spoken to the old devil since before mortals had discovered the rotation method of agriculture. Perhaps he felt guilty over usurping my rightful place.

But Satan feeling guilty, like a Catholic schoolboy? A strange thought, but one might suppose that anything's possible.

"That's excellent," I told the receptionist. "Tomorrow it is."

"Noon," the voices cooed. "Don't be late. Satan hates tardiness."

I arrived promptly on time, but evidently Satan had not; I'd no sooner transformed back into my habitual form, the feathers retreating back into their follicles, than I was met at the gates of Hell by a sharply-dressed demon wearing a pinstripped necktie.

"Mastemah?" it asked, evidently unfamiliar with my reputation.

"I am he."

The demon loosened the tie with two fingers, quite obviously unnerved by my appearance. "Lord Satan instructed me to escort you onto the premise. Ordinarily he'd have met you here, but he's quite busy, and was only able to schedule you in between appointments."

I nodded my agreement and bade me lead him in. And as he did I took in the sights of Hell: the large smokestacks blasting clouds of souls into the upper atmosphere; the conveyor belts chugging along mechanically, each ferrying the ruins of tortured consciousnesses to their final destinations. It was very different from the primal, elemental plane of spiritual negation I'd known as an impling.

We walked along in this way for quite awhile. Had I known our pace would've been so leisurely I'd have asked for the guided tour, but even without the demon's running commentary I could pick out several innovations that impressed me - tortures contoured to the nature of the sinner's bodily existence (a cue taken perhaps from Dante Alighieri and modernized); the use of precision tools like neuronic stimulators and three-dimensional projectors running loops of the worst moments of the lives of the condemned, and all accessible to an audience through one-way mirrors; a spiritual recombination machine, grabbing souls off the conveyors with digital manipulators and rearranging them into more suitable forms, until the initial personality was lost in the juxtaposition.

My guide led me down catwalks and around vats of ichor, all laid out with an architectural rationality few mortals associate with perdition, until at last we reached a pig-iron door fastened tight with an old-fashioned knocker, one of the few concessions to the classical style left in the place.

"Wait here while I inform Lord Satan as to your presence," my intermediary insisted helpfully. I acquiesced, and the creature disappeared behind the door as though he couldn't wait to be rid of me. I waited for a time, and then the door opened of its own accord, and I stepped through.

If the outer layer of Hell were a mixture of art deco modernism and an industrial nightmare, its throne room remained the simplistically elegant testament to perversion I'd left it at the end of my reign. Frescoes depicting the great immoralists of human history - Vlad Tepes, Torquemada - adorned its walls; depictions of mortal immiseration were sculpted into the very structure of the throne itself.

And atop that throne sat Satan, somehow much diminished by age and activity.


The Overman
12-31-2014, 04:32 AM
He had always prided himself on his beauty, but that beauty was long gone from him. In its placed was weathered worry, of the sort one might see on the face of a mid-level factory manager during the holiday season. He was twenty, perhaps thirty pounds overweight, not fat enough to be striking but just rotund enough to be humorous. His goatee had gone grey; his fingers were gnarled and wrinkled, their nails bitten to the tips.

He hardly looked like a man in the mood to hear my complaints. But I'd worked myself into excitement, and approached the throne.

Satan hardly seemed to notice, and when he did, he looked as crestfallen as possible. "Mastemah," he said, lowering his head as he did. "What brings you here, after so many years?"

I decided to dispense with the customary pleasantries. "I have been forgotten by everyone. Nobody even remembers my name. Do you know how unenjoyable that can make a devil's retirement? All that time to kill and nobody to kill with it?"

A fly flitted into the throne room, and Satan swatted at it impatiently as he bade me to hurry and litigate my complaint.

"All you did was tempt that asshole Job," I told him. "You were nothing more than a mere country lawyer when I was leading the cohorts of the Seraphim into glorious --"

"Yes, it's a bit of an unwarranted promotion, isn't it?" Satan interjected. How typical of him to cut me off! "I fully admit that I don't really merit the position of Adversary. I was following in your footsteps. What better homage to a hero than to surpass his exploits?"

"So you admit it!" I cried, hoping to shame Satan into giving me at least equal billing with him. "I did all the work and you took credit for it."

He was silent for a moment, resting his chin in his big, bony hands, and then he did something that surprised even me - he smiled. "Of course. Of course I took credit for it. What could ever be more diabolical than that?"

He had me, the bastard! I couldn't possibly argue against so wily an opponent. He had experience in duplicity far greater than my own, after all, dating to his role as royal prosecutor in the court of Elohim. I made ready my own meagre defense, and was about to try to get him to see reason when another damnable fly began to buzz miserably about my poor head.

"Besides," Satan said, smiling at my winged inconvenience, "it's not as if God hasn't changed, either. Whatever happened to the warrior-god of the tribe of Israel? Even these Old Testament Christians with their Book of Revelation and their Armageddon fantasies can't duplicate His atmosphere, no matter how hard they try to be first-century Jews. I'm not the only one who cut in the proverbial line. Yahweh doesn't belong anywhere near the level his modern worshippers have credited Him with. If I happened to have take your place, it's only because you weren't doing a very good job of keeping Him in check."

To this I had to agree. But I pressed the issue anyway: "There are people who worship you - 'Satanists'. Even the ones who don't even believe in you call themselves by your name. Where are the 'Mastemahists'? And you have a starring role in the Gospels. Do you know what they call the books that I feature in? They call them 'Apocryphal'. Do you know how humiliating that is?"

"You have my sincerest sympathies, Mastemah," Satan responded, and somehow I believed him - though given over to profligate evil, he wasn't in my experience a sadist. "I suppose I should have saved a place for you at my side. But those were the old, heady days, when a man felt he could do anything. And you aren't the only old-timer I've heard from lately."

I raised my eyebrow at this. "I'm not?"

"Hell no," Satan laughed. "Iblis has been muscling in on my territory for some time now. And two hundred years ago Azazel came storming through here, demanding that I recognize him as my inspiration. You'd think he'd just be happy with a couple of mentions in the Old Testament, but, no, he wanted the whole thing. But I told him then what I'm telling you know: you have to give the Devil his due. And that I have my own problems."

Now my interested was piqued, even if I were skeptical of the idea that anything could give this interloper more than a moments' pause. "Such as?"
"Such as the idea that I'm taking flak for shit I don't have a hand in," he said bitterly. "I'm still trying to catch up to the times. Most of my doings are of the traditional variety - stillbirths; crop failures; disease. I don't have anything to do with high taxes, unpopular officials, alien abductions, cattle mutilations, or teenage vampire movies. And I'm so far behind. Last week I was supposed to flood the rice paddies in Thailand, only to get stuck on a chartered flight out of Venezuela. I had no Goddamn cell phone reception for three days in that Hellhole. Can you imagine? The Lord of Darkness, the Infernal Regnant, and I can't tell my imps to loose the dykes and let the water through? You wouldn't want this job, Mastemah, you really wouldn't. Quite frankly, it sucks. You get all the bad press for doing what you're told - and don't think I'm independent from Him, not in any real sense - and none of the credit for bringing needed change."

Satan was starting to get very animated now, flailing his arms in all directions as he talked, wheezing for breath (he sounded like a life-long smoker; had the sulphur fumes really done that much damage to his lungs?). "Who, after all, do you think was behind Benjamin Franklin's Hellfire Club before the American Revolution? Who was responsible for inculcating Americans with revolutionary, liberal ideas? Moi. And those sad-sacks in the eighteenth-century still get called 'Christians'."

Now he was at the peak of his fury, red eyes blazing at me, all fingers pointing in my direction. "So don't come complaining to me that you don't get any credit, Mister Stung-A-Few-Caananites-To-Death-As-A-Swarm-Of-Locusts-Once! I'm running the whole Goddamned operation here, and I get none of the credit, none!"

And now something remarkable happened. I felt compelled to comfort Satan, who was obviously disturbed by his increasing irrelevance. "Don't feel too bad," I offered. "It could be worse. You could be Demiourgos."

"Yeah, that's true," he responded, looking rather more chipper than before. We both knew what had happened to the Demiurge, and the whole sordid affair with Marcion, after which he had become a literal nonentity - condemned to nonexistence once belief in him was snuffed out. The whole business had been enormously depressing for all of us demons, watching a genuine force for evil in the universe and a co-equal in power with Yahweh go from top of the foodchain to the forgotten relic of a mystical cult. "I guess I should always look on the bright side." He swiped at his eyes, and I noticed that he was wiping away bloody tears that had streaked out of their corners and down his cheeks.

Finally, he collapsed back on his throne with a thud. "In the end, I just want you to know that I'm truly sorry for having stolen your limelight. I'd let you have my job, but you wouldn't want it. Imagine having to deal with shitheel Satanists for all eternity! Can you picture having to run around the world every time some jackass in a hood and a robe sacrifices a goat? And summoning storms gets tiring after the twenty thousandth time. There are only so many Popes you can conspire for world domination with before you get tired of looking at the Godly bastards.

And I can't even give up my job," he went on, as forlorn as I'd ever seen him. "I'm condemned to this. I wish I could go back in time. I'd be the most faithful angel Yahweh had ever seen. This bureaucratized existence is Hell. They've said of me that my greatest trick was convincing the world that I don't exist. Not hardly, and I didn't even try. Everyone believes in me, even the atheists - especially the atheists; they say of evil 'it is social', 'it is economic', by which they really mean it is me operating within these things. Which, let me assure you, makes this line of work misery itself. You want the job? Take this cup from me. But you'd be crushed even more quickly than I've been. Your agrarian skillset and neolithic mentality aren't capable of handling its demands."

I, who have lived in the space between a whisper and a breath, who stood on coronal ejections to better watch stars in their death throes, now felt - puty for this creature. Pity and contempt, for in our most secret hearts are they not the same?

I was satisfied. I decided then to leave Satan to his misery, and to spend my retirement somewhere pleasant - Vesuvius, say, or the Sudan. I bowed wordlessly and turned to leave the throne room.

But then the flies, who had grown increasingly thick, began to congeal together like spilled blood in one corner of the room, their buzz swelling into a crescendo and forming a single audible note. Satan took notice of this, his eyes widening in a gaze of horror.

For the flies began to form a shape - a human shape, and an altogether familiar one. It stood on a pile of dead flies, the unneeded excess of its transformation. And when it spoke a thousand insects spoke with it.

"You owe me."

Satan stammered and started before the Caananite Lord of the Flies.