(Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series. Read Part 1 here.)

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 He doesn’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 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?

Get Stuart Goldman’s hot new release, “Adventures in Manic Depression: Tales in Fine Madness.”

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 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 witch doctoring – 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 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 is black magic – but isn’t black magic preferable to a world with no magic? 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.

 (Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series. Read Part 1 here.)


Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.