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FOOLISH MAN: Hello in there. Are you about? You can’t fool me. I know
you’re here somewhere, so you may as well come out. Come on, I’m ready.
Let us talk.

BEAST: Well, well. This is a bit unusual isn’t it? It’s usually I who
seek you out.

FOOLISH MAN: It’s true, but the waiting was too painful. Oh, I
suppose I’d hoped that you’d left for good, but deep inside, I knew it
was impossible. You’re the Grand One
aren’t you? You only
send out your hirelings for ordinary purposes. What do they call you, so
as to distinguish you from the others?

BEAST: I am the Grand Beast. The Killer Beast … the Beast Of
Greater Madness. The others rage and hiss, but I have a far more serious
purpose. Call me the Trickster-Killer if you wish. For indeed, I can
have a great sense of humor when I so desire. I can even seem to be at
play while I bide my time. I can wait in the greatest silence, then
strike so swiftly that defense is out of the question. In fact, it is
precisely the unpredictability of my appearance which gives me so much
power.

FOOLISH MAN: But other than surprise, what gives you such power, such
strength? Indeed, you are the strongest creature I have ever
encountered.

BEAST: But you already know the answer. I am strong because you
want me to be. It is that simple. I have the very best and
strongest parts of you within my grasp. In fact, I have access to you
throughout — your thoughts, your imagination, your memories, your
feelings. Without your help I wouldn’t be able to do more than haunt
you. But this is more than that, isn’t it my friend? We’re talking about
possession here.

FOOLISH MAN: I don’t understand! I expected you to look fearsome and
ugly. But instead you look exactly like … me.

BEAST: But of course! Don’t you see, I must look like you …
must beyou enough to gain power … so as not to let you make
artificial distinctions or talk about disowned selves and all that slop.
I am you whenever I want. I am you to the exclusion of everyone else.

FOOLISH MAN: That may be, but if I conjured you, I can also make you
leave.

BEAST: (harsh laughter) You think so, do you? Well, I’m sorry to
inform you, but that’s not the case. The fact is, I can come whenever I
wish to. You have no power to bring me here anymore than you can send me
away when you wish. The choice is mine. Let’s be clear. I am
not your pet.

FOOLISH MAN: But this is too horrible! You mean to say that I walk
through the world each day thinking I am making choices, when in fact
you are controlling everything that goes on?

BEAST: That is an over-simplification. You people always think in
such black-and-white terms. I said I had access to you — not
that I was in control. And please, let us not get into one of those
tiresome discussions about determinism versus free will. Obviously you
have the ability to choose. In fact, you have much more freedom than you
dare to admit. The fact is, if you really wanted to, you could
put a stop to all this. But the problem is, you don’t want to
stop, do you?

FOOLISH MAN: I … I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like I’m truly
going to go mad. There are times when I pray to let it happen and just
be done with it. And yet … somehow, I always seem to stop just short
of falling into the
abyss.

BEAST: That’s because you are not really in danger of going mad. You
just play at it. Flirt with it. There is a part of you which is always
observing … fascinated, revolted, enthralled and yes, excited
by the drama of it all. If words like “madness” or “possession” are too
frightening for you, you may simply think of it as a state of
“altered-consciousness.”

FOOLISH MAN: You talk about it like a high … like a trip. Like
kicks. But what about the pain? What about the terror?
What about compassion for others?

BEAST: Please. Don’t pull dignity and self-righteousness on me. I’m
not taken in by you. You have no rights here. Besides, you know as much
as I do how much choice is present. Much, much.

FOOLISH MAN: Well, if I do truly have the power of choice, then I
have the choice not to believe you. After all, are you not the Father
of Lies.

BEAST: If you don’t mind, let’s leave the worn out clich?s for the
television evangelists. The point is this: once I have gained this much
control over someone, I consider the territory I’m occupying to be my
domain. True, I am not the landlord, but I cannot be evicted so easily.
But this is becoming boring now. I don’t wish to waste my energy in
parlor games or cheap melodrama. The fact is, you and I both know that
the Final Battle is at hand. And if you’re intent on emerging
victorious, I’d suggest you find some new weapons. After all, all the
ones you’ve used to combat me thus far — your so called “spiritual
armor” — have failed miserably.

FOOLISH MAN: You are right. Not only have my tools failed, but I have
often been mistaken for being the enemy myself. Moreover, it is always
you I am groomed to combat. In fact, without you, I would not be
nourished, taken care of — given the space I have for my worldly
pursuits.

BEAST: So. We are allies. We need each other (laughter).

FOOLISH MAN: You are enjoying all this, aren’t you? Your pleasure is
obscene! It’s true, I have been thoughtless, even cruel at times. But
surely I cannot be ranked alongside you. Besides, I didn’t ask for this.
I am … innocent! Why have I been singled out? Why me?

BEAST: Ah yes, the ultimate question. But you already know the
answer. This was all decided long ago … when the Grand Design was laid
out, if you will. Both of us must acquiesce to this destiny. Both of us
must play out our roles. And don’t forget — without me, your destiny
could never be fulfilled.

FOOLISH MAN: But where does this destiny come from? Where is
it written? Who is the author? Is it in the genes? The collective
unconscious? Is it magic, or is it truly the work of God?

BEAST: Ah, these same tiresome questions. You like to get lost in
them, don’t you? It helps you to avoid the task at hand. Alright then,
let us suppose that it is God, as you say. What possible difference
would that make?

FOOLISH MAN: Because if that were true, it is only a matter of
time until you are defeated. You’re just making one desperate, last
ditch effort to take as many people with you as possible.

BEAST: Again, you are nitpicking. First, who is to say that
that particular scenario is accurate? That is only one of
countless versions, is it not?

FOOLISH MAN: What do you mean?

BEAST: You are still buying the notion that if God exists, He is
perfect. And I am saying, all the evidence shows the contrary to be
true. Just look at the world about you. Do you think a perfect God would
allow all this suffering, this misery, this — forgive me for using the
term — this Hell, to exist? Do you think he would have allowed for
Dachau and Auschwitz and Buchenwald? Think of what you are saying!
Impossible I tell you! And if He does sit there idly watching as
people suffer, then your God is clearly insane! Oh, please … smile my
friend. Do you not see the great humor in all this? The absurd
fact that people actually worship this … God. This God who allowed his
own son to be agonizingly crucified! And for what? To save the
wretched bunch of sheep who occupy this pitiful little planet?!

FOOLISH MAN: But what you’re saying is … blasphemy!

BEAST: Blasphemy, schmasphemy! Again, you have the mistaken idea that
God cares about you. But what if Hedoesn’t? You see, the
fact is — God has never gotten over the fact that he made man in his
own image. And look what He got for his effort! So what does God do in
retaliation for this colossal screwup? He subjects man to a life of
torment and suffering, rather than face the fact He mucked it all up.

FOOLISH MAN: You can’t fool me! I see what you’re doing. This
“insane” God is your creation! You are twisting His image in
order to suit your own needs. Besides, the misery in the world is
your doing — not His.

BEAST: If that is true, then I’m afraid you’ll have to answer the
question as to why He continues to allow me to perform this mayhem.

FOOLISH MAN: Because … He doesn’t want to deny man his free will.

BEAST: (uproarious laughter) Ah, but of course! The old free-will
bugaboo! That one always lets you people off the hook. …

FOOLISH MAN: You’re trying to get me to admit God doesn’t exist, but
if that’s true, then where do you come from? Then again, perhaps it is
as the Jungians suggest, and you’re simply a part of collective
unconscious; an archetype. Maybe you don’t exist at all! Maybe you’re
just part of my imagination.

BEAST: That may be, but it will never explain the particulars — why
in this form? Why at this time? Why have I so much power
over you? Sorry, but you can’t explain me away that easily.

FOOLISH MAN: Alright then — you’re real, I know it. You’ve been with
me since my childhood. You’ve been the cause of untold pain in my life.
But why? What did I do? Am I being repaid for something I
did in the past?

BEAST: Let me put it this way. You have taken many paths in your
life. You have tried many kinds of power. True, most often you just
dabbled at it, played with it — but that is unimportant. You got your
feet wet, and that is all it takes. You entered my territory without the
proper credentials and worse — without showing any respect. In this
place, my friend, there are no free lunches.

FOOLISH MAN: But I was simply trying to better myself — to
find my way in the darkness. Surely that is no crime.

BEAST: Again you play with words. Face it — you were after power,
plain and simple. At least be honest about it.

FOOLISH MAN: Yes, I wanted power, but not in order to do harm. I only
wanted to help others. What is wrong with that?

BEAST: Nonsense! Help others do what? That is an excuse. You
wanted to feel the heat — the rush. Also it helped you forget how ugly
and petty your own life was. And so you played with Eastern mysticism,
took drugs, engaged in all that so-called “consciousness raising”
nonsense — meditation, astral projection, holistic healing, and all the
rest. You tried it all. And yet you never came directly to the source.
After all, if one is seeking pleasure and power — which is the bottom
line in all these, ah, disciplines — why not come to the One who deals
in these commodities? I am the wellspring from which all of the
so-called New Age methodologies draw their power. Yes, they like to fool
themselves by separating white magic from black magic, good witches from
bad witches, healing from witchdoctoring
— but we know better,
don’t we? The fact is, everyone wants what I have to offer — and
frankly it hurts my feelings that they go to everyone but me when
they’re seeking it!

FOOLISH MAN: If you truly are who you claim to be, then surely you
see that there are many who outrightly worship you these days. Their
numbers increase each day.

BEAST: Ah, but the people of which you speak are so mundane …
caught up in costumes, incantations, silly bloodletting rituals — all
that nonsense. This is all too superficial. After all, we’re talking
about souls, my friend. Human souls are what I trade in!

FOOLISH MAN: But is the way to get them to turn this into a Nightmare
World? A world beset by insane murderers, horrible diseases, wars — a
world racked by endless suffering?

BEAST: You still don’t get it do you? I do most of these
things purely for the sake of entertainment — to keep myself
amused while the sides ready themselves for the Final Battle. If you
must know, I’m beginning to become bored of the whole thing. I’m
tired of watching the anthropologists talk of cultural causes, or even
worse, those pompous fools — the psychiatrists and psychologists –
with their idiotic theories about the “unconscious” and all that other
rot. I say give credit where credit is due! Besides, I think I’m quite
generous. Do I not give people every opportunity to choose otherwise? We
both know that I really can’t take anyone by force, that they’re of no
value to me unless they submit to me of their own free will.

FOOLISH MAN: But you use every possible method of deception in order
to win them over! Your disguises are endless! And very clever I might
add. While men spend their time looking for an ogre or a monster of some
sort, you have taken on the person of the liberal, the secular humanist,
the Ph.D., and of course, that most tired old standby — the
“enlightened” one. The sage. Still, your most devious and terrible trick
is to convince people that you don’t exist at all!

BEAST: (giggling) Ah yes, I have gotten a lot of mileage out
of that one, haven’t I?

FOOLISH MAN: Then how dare you say that you play the game fairly?

BEAST: Excuse me, but nobody ever said anything about playing
fairly. Playing fair is for fools! No my friend, I’ll take my
pound of flesh any way I can get it.

FOOLISH MAN: My God, you truly are evil!

BEAST: Ah-ha! I see something new in your eyes. Something I hadn’t
seen before. It is hate — is it not? How it feeds upon your soul! It
turns you inside out. It makes you eat yourself — a living cancer! But
the best part of all is that ultimately it turns you … into me!
(Uncontrollable laughter.) Forgive me … but I find this too wonderful
for words. For you see, our greatest asset isn’t really witchcraft or
mysticism or demon worship — it is the simple, age-old trick of turning
others into ourselves. Soon you too shall join us. Yes, my
friend, we are getting closer all the time.

FOOLISH MAN: Then you really are who you say you are! You are
evil incarnate!

BEAST: So? One cannot live in a world without evil. And lest you
forget, evil isn’t an abstract idea — some force whirring about
willy-nilly through the universe. There is no evil apart from men
who do evil things. Man is evil! “The heart of man is wicked
beyond all things” — it says so right in your Bible! Besides, no matter
how you may protest the fact, a part of you needs evil, craves
it. Why? Because it is glamorous. It is magical. True, it’s black magic
– but isn’t black magic preferable to a world with nomagic? I
suppose that if you had more talent, or more imagination, you might not
need it. But since you really are so ordinary, this is likely the best
you can do.

FOOLISH MAN: Do you really think that is it? That I have never given
up the need to be … special?

BEAST: It appears that way, doesn’t it?

FOOLISH MAN: If I agreed to being utterly ordinary — if I took up
some other form of self-torture, would you leave me be?

BEAST: Sorry, I can’t be bought off that easily. Change the basics or
give up. And by the way, the basics can’t be changed.

FOOLISH MAN: Ah, I see. It is a double bind: If I attempt to seek
answers — to go into the underworld, as you call it — I pay the price.
Or, if I decide to live the quiet life, you attack. Fed by the
stillness, you realize your absence — your dispensability perhaps –
and you strike more fiercely than ever.

BEAST: Be thankful my friend. At least now you know the rules. The
fact is, I am here to stay. Never can you walk through a day without
attending me. Never can you forget me. I will be waiting for you when
you least expect it. Do what you will, you are helpless. You have been
scourged in my fires.

FOOLISH MAN: Perhaps. And yet … I am not altogether yours. If I can
find someone — a person of power, perhaps — someone who truly does not
want you here, I may yet find a way to deal with you, perhaps even to
destroy you! So I give you notice that I am setting about looking for
allies. When we next meet, perhaps it is you who will be
surprised.


The above is excerpted from S.L. Goldman’s
forthcoming novel
“Hags” a trilogy involving witchcraft and demonology, based upon a true
story. For more information about this book
as well as other
S.L. Goldman works, please click here.

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