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Hell Isn’t What It Used To Be


M. A. Mogus
Most people have normal wish-fulfillment dreams. Mine come from some cosmic Netflix complete with surround sound and digitally enhanced color and pop-ups. So a few days ago I wasn’t surprised when I dreamed about the devil.

It started calmly enough in the basement of a friend’s home. Several of us were standing around looking at this hole in the concrete when the devil popped up followed by his minions. This prompted me to think of the phrase “one damned thing after another.”

With the devil standing before us I stepped forward to ask, “Who are you?” I’m great for confirmation of the obvious.

"The devil,” the creature answered.

It seemed odd to me that he wasn’t wearing a red costume, horns, or even wings. Instead he was clad in a dark, conservative suit with a muted off-white shirt and pinstriped tie. A tiny, tasteful gold pitchfork served as a tie-clasp. The suit looked off-the-rack. What, with his abilities not even an Armani?

“What do you want?” Since it was my dream I felt I should take charge; besides the others seemed reluctant to get involved.

I have a proposition for you.”

Here it comes complete with the contract signed in blood. What was the hook? Money, power, eternal life, being irresistible to the opposite sex? Well, maybe money, power or eternal life.

“What’s the price?” I said knowing full well after much late night television that it was always a soul.

“Nothing,” he said.

“Nothing?” I was annoyed. “That’s not the standard offer.” If anyone he should know you get nothing for nothing.

I know,” he replied. “But I have need of a human being.” He paused, obviously embarrassed. This was getting weirder than any dream I ever had.

“Why?” I demanded.

“I need a human to contact God.”

It took me ten seconds to digest the sentence. “Why not contact God yourself?”

“We haven’t been on speaking terms for over a million years.”

“And just how am I supposed to contact God?” I asked.

“Through an intermediary, Jesus.”

“Excuse me, but why not contact Jesus yourself? I see, you’re not on speaking terms,” I said.

“Not since that time in the desert of Galilee. We haven’t spoken in nearly two millennia.”

This guy has been spending too much time in one of the circles of hell. Either his brain is fried or frozen. “Just why do you want to contact God?”

“I want to repent, to return home to heaven. I need a human to negotiate for me.”

I was floored. The devil wanted to repent and he wanted a human to get in touch with God to negotiate.

What makes you think that God will listen to a human being?”

“He loves humans, always has. Besides, he’s really a soft touch.”

Well so much for the angry fire and brimstone image. “Just how do I get in touch with God?”

“Call him.” The devil pointed to a sparkling white phone that had just appeared on the wall near the basement stairs. I went to the phone and made the call, one not covered by my Verizon contract. Just wait till I get this phone bill. I better negotiate for reimbursement.

After the arrangements were made for the meeting, I walked back to the hole in the basement floor and stood opposite the devil. “I’m not a lawyer, but I watch enough “Law and Order” re-runs that I know I better have something more than remorse to put before this court.”

">“Why do you want to repent?”

“When I was kicked out of heaven, I was master of sin and wickedness. But times have changed. There’s a new kid on the block.”

“A new kid? Who?”

“You humans.”

“Us? You got to be kidding. We’re small potatoes compared to you. People fear you, write books about you.”

“It’s not I who scare you,” he sighed. “It’s you humans who scare me.”

“How do we scare you?”

“You are far more creative than I ever was. I see now that’s what God loves about you.”

“How are we creative?”

“I gave the world war, pestilence, rape, famine, lies, and torture: a betrayal here, a sexual peccadillo there. But humans improved on my work, then added their own.”

“Like what?”

“Humans gave the world ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust, suicide bombers, kiddie porn, phone sex. Even I couldn’t have come up with the latter. Now you humans have taken it a step farther. It’s all available online and at a price I can’t match.”

The shock of his recital woke me. I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. My gaze drifted to the wall where the reflection of the street lights gave a fleeting impression of the windows in the Amityville Horror house.

I again stared at the ceiling as I pondered the all too real dream. What a comment on humanity. We have become so creatively inventive in our evil that not only have we scared the hell out of the devil. We’ve scared the devil out of hell.

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