A Devil In The Making
by Melissa Miles
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Again. It happened again.
His eyes stung, he instinctively rubbed them even though he knew it would just make it worse. He was just doing his job, but this kept happening. It would make any Angel angry, but it happened to him over and over, again and again…
Sure. God had sent him down to earth as a penance. He’d been told that he’d been too uppity, trying to start his own court and Lord it over the earth in direct opposition to God. Yes, he knew it had been a make or break situation, but he never in his wildest dreams thought God would put him here, in the realm of humans, to be so bored. And on top of the boredom to be treated with such intentional disrespect. It made his blood boil, and every time that happened, he'd noticed his beautiful Angelness had grown a little darker, and a little redder. He felt more solid. It was most unpleasant.
Of course, he understood that penance wasn’t meant to be nice…but it had been years now, and he had been standing, as he had been ordered from on high, behind every human’s left shoulder.
Being an Angel, even an oddly transforming one, he could be in many places at once, like the endless reflections in parallel mirrors, so he could stand simultaneously behind every adult human’s left shoulder. What had once been millions had now become billions. And every second, every part of every second, someone was throwing salt over their shoulder and into his face.
Obviously some ass up in Heaven had put the notion in their heads that something awful was standing there, and that it could be chased away by throwing salt! What these poor stupid humans didn’t get, was that in their infinite ignorance, they were, with their actions, creating that which they feared most.
They knew about the existence of God and the Angels, and they had, to enliven the tedium of their dull little lives--and explain away their own indefensible actions-- created a creature of the opposite persuasion, and called it ‘The Devil.’
While still a gleaming Angelic being, he had thought this all rather quaint, the funny little imaginings of the cute little creatures he had been sent to care for. But now that the stupid fear of this imaginary ‘Devil’ was affecting his own life, he began to take a very dim view of it indeed. It was in fact making him seethe with anger.
He had been everywhere of course. Everywhere a human being was, he had been there, standing stupidly, silently, behind their left shoulders, and in his punishment, unable to influence their lives one iota. He was there in every palace, in every prison cell, on every yacht and in every torture chamber. He became not only angry, but doused in despair at the actions of humans. But it was only when they had salt in their grubby, stubby little fingers, that they could, unwittingly, change his being.
It had been centuries now, and he had become a very different creature. His wings had slid down his back to form a pointed tail, his elegant hands had become claws and his beautiful ethereal body had become solid, scaled, and a deep dark red, the color of blood. The fact the he hated it, made it worse, and of course in the contrary way of things, more solid.
But it wasn’t even this hideous change that was the most vile, what the very worst change had been, was that of his interior self, what might once have still been a soul, had been transformed by every handful of salt in his face thrown by some ignoramus, every single handful laid grains of darkness, bitterness and cruelty in that part of him that had still been pure.
Gradually, humanity had changed the Angel who loved them so much he had tried to wrest their care from God. By their blank acceptance of what they had been told he was, by their thoughtless repetition of what they believed would keep him at bay, they had changed him into what they feared the most, a Devil indeed, who was no longer aghast at the extremes of human actions. He was now the very evil they feared, he had become a repository for all their dark thoughts and deeds.
He now crowed with glee at the torture of innocents, at the disasters and death that befell humans, and because God had never given him an end to his punishment, he grew with each passing moment. Every bad action, every disgusting desire, every cruel contemplation fortified him.
The Devil now stands looming above us. His shadow falls everywhere. He no longer fits behind each human’s left shoulder, now he stands to the left of the world. We have made him into the absolute opposite of goodness and of God.
God made us in his image, and we have made the Devil in ours.
Melissa Miles is an American who lives in New Zealand. She had many professional iterations--acting, teaching, film-making--but is now focusing on her writing while caring for her aging menagerie.
Linda Gould hosts the Kaidankai, a weekly blog and podcast of fiction read out loud that explores the entire world of ghosts and the supernatural. The stories are touching, scary, gruesome, funny, and heartwarming. New episodes every Wednesday.