Dreams

The Beast

It’s nighttime again, and my soul is wearily drawn to wake up in a new dream Hell, where I haven’t checked in with my Correctional Officers in a while. A whirlwind sucks me in, but this time it feels less forceful. I feel a need and a duty to go there like I have to see an old friend of mine that I haven’t checked on in a while.

I find myself in the same place I did twice before but on a different level. It no longer looks like a cell for one, it’s a private cinema, of the kinds you would only get to see in custom-built mansions of the rich and famous. It sports a large flamboyant designer couch as a centerpiece. There are open cigarettes and liquor as if the room’s previous occupant has just left it not long ago.

I get an instant sense that they’ve left the room for me to use, and that there is something in there for me.

I get a sense this room belongs to somebody related to me, who feels no need for austerity when it comes to indulgence. There are probably drugs, every kind of drug stashed in the adjacent liquor cabinet built into the seating, but I am more interested in finding out what is on screen.

Oh, it’s a movie premiere.

There I spot a formal invitation on the armrest, an RSVP printed in black and gold letters:

The Beast

Executive Producer

Nora Michalska

It’s weird because there is no cast of actors, screenwriters, make-up artists, or costume designers. It’s just me as the picture’s Executive Producer. I am responsible for everything in the story. A feeling of uneasy excitement washes over me. After the opening credits that flash at me, accusatory, too long in black and white, the story starts unfolding —

This is a story of a man with a violent past. Flashing images of drugs, ligatures, cartel violence, bags dropped in a wasteland. Long shot of a man standing next to a car alone, washing off red brick dust from his hands with a bottle of water like it’s the color of his sin that he needs to wash away. The scenery moves away from those images after that, showing a greener landscape. It is implied he got out of it, and he’s embraced some new business with a sense of urgency like his redemption lies in sticking with it.

Images of dissatisfaction. Leather boots kicking against a rock in a rocking motion. Waiting, waiting on something, someone, to come, for something to happen. But nothing does and it leads to anguish. He tries to go back to something, tries to start something new, but he can’t. He’s weighed down by this burden. Images of red and brown sand, it’s not dust anymore. It’s heavier, reminiscent of the motion of a sand clock. He dons a white shirt and takes to drinking. A woman in a white dress joins him in the landscape. He clutches her hand in the car like it’s the preferred choice to the bottle – or maybe the bottle alone does not suffice anymore. A road trip leads them back into his past, without seeking to do so, without ever intending to go back there, there he is, older, somewhere near the same place where he washed his hands in the first scene.

We see a campfire at night. Two sweethearts in a state of blissfully intoxicated, they make an oath of love and loyalty to each other. She proposes they should bind themselves by sharing a secret that nobody else knows about him. He confides in her about this monster that lives inside him, that he calls ‘It’, or ‘the Beast’. He implies that the ‘It’ has taken lives, and still wants to, and the reason he cannot leave his business is because he is afraid that It will come back and take over him. He is desperate. She listens intently without judgment, and draws the conversation back to romance, she assures him that she loves him so much that she can make sure he will never again be the Beast and that she will support his business career. He drives her to a spot where it all went down, and gives her a Ring of Promise. He stands alone against the sun, blinded by the light.

Only gentle distant whirlwinds of a white sandstorm are seen in the background.

A few years go by.

We see his old shirts folded and tucked underneath the bed in vacuum storage. He won’t need them anymore. The bottle is replaced now by something he’s injecting. It’s a false victory, a side move, but he doesn’t want to see that. Leather boots kicked against the rock sand, trying to create a rhythm. He wants to master this thing. Just get a grip on it! He can do this. The woman’s hand with the ring is shown laid over his clenched fists. The image blurs into strains of sand, raining down, all different colors, and for the first time, we can also hear them. The pouring sound. Now they too, have a rhythm. The business starts struggling and failing, because of a press scandal containing an old murder that he has nothing to do with, he is innocent this time, but the strains of sand are working. The more he speaks, the less the public believes him. His old guilt implicates him. The white shirt becomes soiled from constant sweating. The woman becomes aggravated. They argue. Despair. Blame each other. Hopes, then making up. In one image, her ring suddenly disappears from her hand. Somebody doesn’t feel bound by their promise anymore. He grabs her hand violently. She makes a counter motion, sly, pointing her hand to the place where she got the ring. He realizes he is being blackmailed. Now everything is ruined, and there is nothing he can do about it about it. His face becomes gray. He steps into the background. She appears in the forefront, white, as if saying the only way out is death now.

He attempts to kill himself.

In a near-death coma, he perceives everything around him. He perceives himself in a cage made out of false white light.

He looks at his arms, and they are bound with shackles. Those shackles go back somewhere, far. He cannot see where. There is no point in time where everything went wrong. One chain link is tightly interlocked with another, and the next one follows from there.

He is close to dying, but there is something that catches his attention. Observing this cage makes him think of something he has pushed from his mind.

The Beast. The Monster.

His face trembles with denial. Then, anger. Then, RAGE. He realizes the Beast has never gone anywhere, it’s been him all along, and this is why he is caged, bound like an animal, he feels no freedom.

He snaps out of the coma and screams with rage. Now he doesn’t want to die, and he feels joy, it’s a Dark Joy. The picture starts turning green, representing all the business, money, a lush landscape, he turned away from crime, no, it’s another green completely, it’s poison and it’s flooding him now, drowning out the white light, he succumbs to it.

He is back where he started.

The story ends with visuals of him gathering stuff ready to take care of business, loading his 9mm gun, moving musically like it’s a good thing. Like it’s the right thing to do. He will save himself from blackmail, but what he is actually ending, is the lie. He understands now that the promise that another’s love can make the Beast go away was a lie all along, a sinister lie sold to him for a purpose.

Nobody can save him from the Beast. It is who he is, and only in accepting it, he finds redemption.

We hear the sounds of the last things packed up, as he throws on a jacket, throws car keys, and then a loud, violent door slam that resembles a gunshot. The door he enters looks green and gets flooded with light like just entered a primal jungle. As he disappears in the green doors he appears less than human, more of a supernatural force, just a silhouette, something impersonal. Justice. It is implied the woman deserves to die for lying; she was not accepting the Beast in loving understanding, she saw its power and was seeking to use it. Now that he acts by his true nature there is no more anguish, no more dissatisfaction, or even doubt. Everything becomes clear. Where once he believed that renouncing the Beast was the only way to move forward in life, he knows now that the Beast is the only one that has a future, however grim that future might be.

You are who you are, Louis. You are a vampire.

Interview with a Vampire

He who controls the story, rules the masses.

Chinese Proverb

Two quotes flash on the black screen and the movie is over.

To my left, I feel a dark presence.

Lucifer himself is here.

I know he is about to say something, make a point, but he doesn’t need to. I sense instinctively what he is trying to communicate to me, that this is a pivotal name.

I have become the creator of the story that I am watching.

The Duke of Hell speaks to my mind, directly.

There is only one story that really matters to me. Focus on it.

He is serious with words, and sparse.

There is only one lead character and one support character of importance. You know this already. I am not telling you anything new.

Then the dark presence disappears with what feels like a nudge and a wink, and I am looking at the RSVP card in my right hand. I realize it looks identical to the invitation to a show I have seen twice in Las Vegas, which was supposed to be followed by a lavish dinner that however never occurred.

I flip the RSVP. Something was added to its other side in cursive handwriting —

“Perhaps we will talk about the conditions of your release soon. Signed, Baron”

One hand on the trigger, the other hand in mine
Because now Cupid carries a gun
Pound me the witch drums, witch drums
Pound me the witch drums
Better pray for hell, not hallelujah

— Marylin Manson

Another Day In hell

It’s nighttime again and I am getting pulled into another dream. I am back in hell. It’s flashing between two manifestations, the original one which looks like a plain American prison, and another which looks like a shitty hotel from the 1930s somewhere in an Indian reservation in Montana that hasn’t been refurnished since, with no functioning electric sockets and a private bathroom which however makes you fear for your life. Uhhh. Hell also offers to manifest as a typical 1980s Eastern European living room, complete with terrible brown rags and cigarette smell. Faced with these options, I opt for the prison, to my surprise, as I prefer the clean and plain vibe.

I am on the bunk bed, in some kind of uniform plain clothes. Mephistopheles walks up to me with a flirty smile, like he’s been listening to me this whole time, privy to my secret thoughts. ‘So I’ve heard you have raised some complaints about our programming,’ he says.

I laugh nervously. I know where this is going.

‘The programming options, I must say,’ in my best conversationalist voice, ‘they seem rather limited, but uhhhh, I guess, that’s the point?’ I cackle again and I sound stupid to myself. My guardian walks around the cell as if making a regular check, and he lets me ramble. ‘I guess it’s… better than the departments where you are whipped and broken on a wheel all day? Hehe!’

I realize Mephistopheles wasn’t checking, he was waiting.

The Boss shows up right in front of us. Lucifer is here, and with his typical bad manners, he shows up unannounced and uninvited looking like the chick from Nebraska who became the prime vessel for the Prince of Darkness in Las Vegas, ever since she spotted his sigil on my bathing suit.

‘It’s more like a forced vacation,’ she says, ‘a time out work rather than a real prison. You must learn some things before I can let you fully operate.’

The Duke of Hell then turns into the old lady from the Czech Consulate. ‘A lot of ineptitude’, she sighs, as if she was complaining about the State and the Embassy. She scans the room, satisfied, then winks at Mephistopheles. ‘I trust you with her rehabilitation’ he says and waltzes away, with his typical catwalk. Like a cat, he comes and goes as he pleases.

A cartoonish black cat appears on the TV screen, which has turned itself on magically, and it plays an intro with some old cartoon music. A large remote control appears in my hand. It’s a brand piece of electronic equipment, this time, but instead of Sony or Huawei it says ‘ARCHBA’. There are no volume controls, only a board of channel switches, numbered 1 to 12, and a blank red button. I am drawn to it even though I already know I shouldn’t.

‘What happens when I press the red button?

Mephistopheles looks at me as if saying, come on, you know. You know what happens.

The TV plays a cute cartoonish depiction of an erupting volcano. Oh, shit. It’s drama. Scandal. I better get a grip on this remote before it happens again… the channel menu leaves me bedazzled –

1 – Ranting on a Random Substance

2 – Random Mix of Substances

3 – Drunken Wrath

4 – Drunken Pity

5 – Nonsense

6 – Random Past Life

I start sweating profusely from the responsibility before I manage to read half of the menu.

I look up to Mephistopheles, helpless. He replies with his typical look at me which I can only describe as ‘my French and piano tutor who is not supposed to use corporal punishment with me but can get his point across perfectly well’.

Well? What is it gonna be?

My eyes instead wander frantically around the room. Master Leonard, I notice, has stretched himself against the bars and turned into a fat medieval jailkeeper with his ring of keys hanging from his waist.

Nora?

I turn back.

What happens if I can’t make up my mind?

Mephistopheles smiles and presses button number 6.

Some overpowering force that makes me sedated envelops me and I lose track of where I am, or even who I am. I sense my hands are now smaller. They’re shaped differently, with long nails extravagantly painted.

I feel the sweat from multiple layers of very fine kimono fabrics pressing against my chest. My head is pounding. I am lucid. Somewhere, somehow, but ughhh… I am not… not at all. A smell of a male body, larger in stature, somewhere close to me. One of my arms is tied to something. I don’t know how I fell asleep but it feels like this place is my home. I may or may not have soiled myself. I don’t want to know. This male scent feels like there is much more to it than what a healthy musk would be.

The man roars from his sleep, like an animal. This sends a jolt of fear and shock through my system. Complex emotions. It makes me want to wail. I realize I fear him, and I fear waking up. I know that something bad is going to happen when I do, but I am too out of place to even put it all together. Who. What. Why. Reason flashes. It reminds me we are both extremely inebriated, and we fought last night and we made some bet or an oath, and I spoke too much and it all went too far like it always does, it’s a cycle, it will not end well –…

Some people with refined manners enter the room quietly. They bring pitchers of water, and towels. They open the balcony. This is a security check. Those beautiful balconies must always be in check for that is the favorite route for assassins.

We are well supervised and yet left completely to ourselves to rot. The Chinese Emperor, and his Pleasure Wife, running around the finest halls in a drunken stupor, a stark contrast of childlike unmannered behavior amongst extreme refinement and luxury.

I don’t understand… why nobody is trying to stop us or make it end quicker. Where are the foreign spies and dignitaries? Don’t they care? No, they don’t. My natural intellect comes back to me for a moment and reminds me that I have gone through these mental travails many times before. The truth is the enemies have decided the best thing is to let the empire slowly disintegrate under the increasingly bad decisions of the inept officials who are burdened with the responsibilities that belong to the Emperor, by whom they are ignored or sabotaged.

Everybody in the palace, I remind myself, has been paid for. They are essentially enabling us to destroy ourselves without the costs and the ruins that come with war.

I am all it takes to end this wretched rule.

I feel shame. I would start crying if I let it get to me, but it won’t. I was raised with too much pride, and my status as the favorite aggravated this to the point where I really don’t care about the fortunes of others, or even about my own fortune.

Last night we were running through these halls. I was screaming. ‘You’re a waste of flesh!’ he told me straight into my face and I cried. Not out of shame but with pride, because I wanted to use the same insult at him first. – ‘At least I have no progeny!’ I cried. His children are growing up away, at another nobleman’s court, essentially siding with the enemy. This always gets to him. There is no greater shame than failing one’s own children. I could see that he was considering getting violent with me, I have seen it many times. This fight in him. I see it daily, and it’s really entertaining to me, in my intoxicated logic, because no matter what he does, he loses. If he truly violates me he will prove to everybody he is inept for insanity, if he doesn’t he will feel like I broke him and I won. Winning is what I care for, this stupid pride…

At times like this, I feel like I am winning. I have the upper hand, I won the art of courtesan. Any punishments he can come up with I find a way to turn it around and I am still the winner.

We are both going to die one way or another.

We both know this and it only serves to refuel this alliance of insanity.

There is too much luxury and pleasure around me to think straight… This is why I do everything to not think straight… – I wish I was actually insane, but I am not. I am just debauched, secretly lost in this role of the Emperor’s favorite concubine. My pride has manifested once again in a bad way. It is too late for me to turn back. We have both tried, and made one half-witted attempt to be ‘rehabilitated’. Blessed with priests, we listened to the sermons of the Elders. Then we laughed at it. To hell with them! If the people want a better rule, they ought to come up with a better system. I am a product of my age, I tell myself. I excelled at what I was bred for. I captivated fully the interest of the Emperor. The harem was dispersed. The first wife left. I alone decide when I end this dynasty. I am a winner. – He is going to kill me for it… and then I will win once more! History will not blame me for it. The chronicles will say, ‘she was a bad influence – a vixen!’ use me as a tale in warning others, oh that awful moralistic plot! but they will blame him, most of all, as inept ruler, his entire bloodline will forever be disgraced. – I just provide comfort. – My vengeance must be complete! – I don’t even know what this vengeance is for. ‘Time is not my friend,’ I wrote to someone in a letter. Aging gets to me. What future is there for one who cannot be remembered for their achievements? Only infamy! – I am aging. My behavior is so childlike! My life is almost too long already… to keep wasting it like this… I am going to provoke him into doing something. Something that will finally give grounds for him to be pronounced insane. If he doesn’t kill himself first – which he will because after I am gone, he will have nothing to live for…

I revel in these thoughts. My fear of the ending is replaced with a strange type of lust, a melancholic one, and wretched! Like an actor who can no longer tell the difference between themselves and the character they are playing – they just wanna know how this character ends…

He cut her head off. It was planned for, unexpected, and he took me by surprise. It was a blow of mercy. Then he broke down over my dead body like I always knew he would.

***

I wake up in my cell, back in hell, laughing. I have an idea why Lucifer called for ‘a forced vacation’ and mentioned ‘ineptitude’. ‘Now, that wasn’t a very successful example of managing His empire. Well, at least I didn’t destroy the land!’ – and those fine rooms with a penchant for war. A short period of ineptitude, it certainly could have gone worse.

I stop laughing. Then silence envelops me.

I can feel Mephistopheles is sitting right next to me, and sure as hell, he manifests on a chair. He is taking notes in a ledger, like an old-school psychoanalyst. ‘Well, that sure was entertaining to watch,’ I start the conversation, realizing that everything I say will come out as awkward, so I better not dawdle. I am embarrassed.

‘No complaints about the programming?’ he asks.

‘Nope.’

I have nothing to say for myself. I feel to say anything more would be adding more to it.

‘Good,’ he quits his ledger. ‘You are dismissed from the lecture tonight, unless you have a question.’

‘Actually, I do.’ Natural curiosity has overtaken me. ‘I would like to know how this whole thing works. There is a reason why I can’t watch anything else here, correct? He is manifesting this. How does this work?’

‘How this works,’ Mephistopheles runs his hand over his ledger, ‘is to influence the nature of hell for others you need to spend your own Hell Credit. You need to possess sufficient rank, one of Architect, or Builder.’

‘What’s the deal about Hell Credit?’

‘When influencing, impressing your will upon others, essentially, you spend credit.’

‘And gain it?’

‘This is when you do something for the collective.’

‘Like writing? Producing content for free?’ A vision envelops me of an adjacent department that looks like an old photography-developing chamber. It’s full of small vouchers which are drying, in luminescent red light.

‘That’s the Accounting Department,’ explains Mephistopheles.

‘Oh. Makes sense. What is the fastest way to gain Hell Credit?’

‘Save somebody’s life.’ Oh, shit. It’s so blatant, but it still hits me like a brick. ‘Is… is this the reason why the most powerful Black Magician I know works a shitty job as a lifeguard at a swimming pool?’

‘Yes. This allows him to keep a sufficient balance of Hell Credit. His enemies can’t kill Chris, for as long as he maintains it.’ This must be the reason he was so hellbent on getting the job, and so proud when he got it – all for the glory of resuscitating old men passed out in the sauna before they crook!

‘Well, that doesn’t put me in a great position.’ I muse to myself. ‘I am no surgeon or policeman. And, apparently, other Black Magicians can occupy my TV.’

‘He gets his credit back for this.’ Mephistopheles smirks as he plays with a pencil.

‘What?!’ Now I am shocked for real. ‘By spending it this way on you. Incepting your dreams, and such. He knows you will be compelled to write about it, so people can learn about Hell. You provide him with entertainment.’

‘I guess I am still a courtesan, huh?’ I sigh. ‘We can only be good at so many things.’

‘Indeed. You do. Do it in a selfless manner and you will see how things will gradually change over time.’

Essentially you must always do the opposite of that at which you failed.

The voice of Mephistopheles becomes distant, as I am losing the dream.

Inspire men positively. Be the Muse. You know they spend so much time on you, you never fail to captivate their interest. Use it for good. This place will start changing. You have already seen this.

Different buildings chaotically flash in front of my eyes, all of them reminiscing of some place I visited or had lived, where I didn’t enjoy myself. Oh god, no… not the summer camp!

You still want to be in prison, because that is a place you imagine yourself having so much time to write. Alas, that’s what it looks like! Everyone’s hell looks different. You would be surprised by what some people consider tormentand in the same way, many would sign up for what you do, and deem it hilarious, entertaining. This is why for everyone it looks different. Even though, the deeper you go, the harder is to dodge the incessant wailing, and what manifests as physical pain, injury, poverty, and bad luck. All these people are deeper in Hell and there is no reason for you to pity a single American man who is poor – I will give you that, piece of advice... Humiliate them at your leisure. Even those who lie about their money. There is a hierarchy to this, and your position in the Shallow Ring of Excess should tell you where the Vice and Virtue lie that provide the key. You have seen the Excesses, but the truth is, Nora, you went too far in the pursuit of desperate austere measures in later lives, and that’s why this place looks so plain to you. If I were to offer you a couch here to sit on, or a glass of wine, it wouldn’t manifest. You have to forgive yourself for wasting the lives of excessive pleasure that you had when you were born privileged – when you deem yourself worthy, that’s when it will come to you again...

And with those words, the Demon vanished.

I gradually gained consciousness, waking up in the shallow Ring of Excess, in Las Vegas. My room, I noticed, was finished extremely plain, almost like a dormitory or a rehab, the only real piece of decor being my blanket – printed with over with devils and demons and the flames of hell…

Choose Your Own Hell

The other night I found myself in a lucid dream watching an EA Koetting livestream. I somehow figure out that I am dreaming and the fact I am being forced to watch him means that I am in hell.

At that realization, I wake up from the livestream and I find myself reclining on a bed with simple greyish sheets, in what appears to be a stereotypical American prison. I am in a cell behind bars with a view of the inner courtyard of the block.

To my right, Mephistopheles is rocking in a chair. He reads the newspaper quietly, acting as my babysitter when I sleep.

I don’t like this. I turn to him as we communicate, telepathically.

The handsome devil who looks like Vampire Lestat raises his eyebrows and smiles at me amused. The bars open, and I notice that I am free to walk out.

Would you rather be somewhere else?

Mephistopheles hands me a three-fold brochure with a map of the place that shows neighboring departments that I can freely move into. They all look the same. Except… now I come to understand. There is only one problem. I will always inadvertently fall asleep in my cell to whatever is on the TV and I have to live through the movie. There is always only one channel, and I can’t change it. This is the only difference between the prison blocks. It’s the TV.

The programming of Adjacent Hells offers the following options –

Boyfriend Thinks He Can Play the Guitar

Corporate Meetings

and

Bad Poetry Recital

My heart sinks.

Mephistopheles looks at me amused, knowingly, already expecting what comes next.

Eh… you know. I am okay. I’ll watch Koetting.

I let out a guilty sigh, and upon consulting my options, I revert to my cell. I switch on the TV with the remote control that he handed me.

Inception occurs and I am back in the dream within the live stream, a hallucination created by the Black Magician’s thought forms.

He is talking about how he wants to live in Prague, bragging about the dozens of acquaintances he has there. He even drops my name specifically, wanting my attention, as he appears talking straight to me in a flirtatious way as if promising a future. But then hestarts confessing that ‘Prague is the meth capital of the world’ and goes into describing the drug scene. He looks at me all apologetic. So… he can’t be here because, you know, he has a, uhm, a habit, and so he couldn’t vouch for himself, in a place like this. (This part is fictional, partly. It is the second largest Czech city, not Prague, that boasts a long tradition in the production of pervitin. My country even made a cameo in Breaking Bad.)

So it’s all just braggery again and vain seduction, promises and lies, attention seeking, admissions of truth, and apologies, as per usual. I am so irritated that I have to be here. I refuse to watch him while awake, and now I have to.

There’s no other way through this place; he is still preferable to bad art and corporate meetings. That stuff tears away my soul. Once he is done ranting, I wake up back in my cell.

The TV is off, and Master Leonard and other demons are now here.

The Lord of the Sabbath carries a large ring of keys. Another demon carries a lantern. It is implied that they came here from some darker, deeper place in hell, from where I was recently escorted up here. This is a shallow, privileged part of prison.

Mephistopheles coughs behind me, politely, to get my attention. I turn to him.

There are worse places here than this here, huh?

That wasn’t a great conversation starter, I realize, as my gaze lands on Master Leonard’s key ring, on a particularly thick black round key. It commands my attention, and I instantly know, why. This is a living artifact, the key to my last destination, and it screams with a tortured female voice, when the demon touches it he lets me view where it leads. In a vision, I am transported to another place. I am reminded of a dream I had two months ago when I came back to Las Vegas. In that dream, I was witnessing some woman’s capture and punishment in hell. It was being shown to me on a screen, and I couldn’t help but watch it, glued to the screen with some guilty lust. This woman is being captured by demonesses. She knows she’s been busted, and yet tries to act in defiance. It will only make things worse. You are smarter than this, is what the message reads to me. We have deemed you as one of the smarter ones. You know, how some kids you need to beat them? Whereas the smarter kids only need to be threatened with consequences. I woke up from that dream then with a back spasm that didn’t go away for two weeks. It was the farewell kick from the Ring of Pride with a warning not to return there, and that pride only makes things worse.

So that’s where I previously was, and the round black key.

The demons stand assembled looking at me. They speak telepathically, Behave yourself, and you will soon be out of here.

With this last hopeful image, the dream dissipates and I sleep quietly till the morning.

***

My first thought upon awakening leads me to my phone. I turn it on, eager to talk to the witches about what I just saw. However, unread messages are blinking at me. I shiver. Somewhat not surprisingly, Hell has already spoken to the witches. Just in case I was under the temptation to forget what I just saw, Hell has a habit of always reminding me.

‘I saw you in a fiery ring’, reads one message.

‘I saw you in Hell and it looked like Las Vegas. You can only resolve it there,’ says another message from a completely unrelated person from another continent. ‘Your Hell looks like airport hall. You were there waiting in a queue with all your luggage.’

‘I must be waiting there for my premature release.’ I laugh. ‘I am traumatized by the sights of airports.’

Three years of moving around the country, as a Fleeing Dutchman, Dark Pilgrim cursed to go from place to place, eventually ending at the Outpost of Hell itself, Las Vegas.

It was here that I found out that I’ve been condemned to a shadowy existence as an undocumented immigrant forever. With my green card case all lost, I became unable to adjust my status, living here with no rights, while also unable to go back.

Back to where? Back to what?

I have no family and no ties left to my homeland.

The ten-year ban that would be triggered upon me crossing the border meant giving up my entire American existence. I was stuck in a place with no hope, and one doesn’t exactly need to be a spiritual person to guess what that place is called.

‘I have been stuck for seven years in this immigration purgatory,’ a petite redhead told me, once she became comfortable revealing her secret. ‘We don’t have money for the lawyers. I just wish I could see my family again, and work here legally.’ My heart sank as I heard the rest of her story; living in a trailer with her husband, moving around the country, and faring better in lawless places.

She is the image of a future me.

Purgatory, she said it. Fuck.

Not the deepest pit of hell, but not a great place either.

A place of waiting, essentially, for something to happen. Waiting for somebody to come for you. I was told to await here the arrival of Samael in the month of December, and he did show up.

On Christmas Eve, I received the most curious proposal, which would have been rejected by anyone other than me under any other circumstances.

The storm was here.

***

My entire existence fell apart in three days. That is how long it took for me to decide that I am willing to leave and take the consequences.

To hell with the American Dream, a Dream within a Dream that was never even real.

***

I started calling the Embassy, then the Consulate, to get out. For the amusement of hell, I get kicked around for weeks in the bureaucratic maze where nobody talks to me, until, somehow, I finally get the call back.

‘Czech Consulate in Nevada,’ a friendly grandma voice introduces herself on the phone.

I know instantly who am I talking to. The Infernal Grandma is the most personable, most likable face of Lucifer. ‘You okay? Do you have a place to stay? Do you have food?’ Her voice sounds like purring as if she also existed in the form of a black cat. This is the first time anybody cared about me, much less a representative of the government. She even speaks some Czech, in a crooked funny way. ‘Dobrze. You need to call the Embassy in L.A.’

I break down. ‘I tried! Nobody ever answers the phone.’

I hear infernal laughter from the other side of the phone, one that could only be described as Lucifer’s own intimate knowledge of the bureaucracies of hell. ‘That happens a lot here,’ he says.

‘Look, I just want to leave…’ I realize how desperate I sound to myself.

‘So were you born in Prague? Where were you born?’ The Duke of Hell takes note of my birth date and leaves with a promise. ‘I will start making some things happen for you.’

I never heard that voice again.

Instead, three days later, I got an email from the Embassy, from someone I never heard of, with a funny name spelled phonetically that sounded like a joke, accentuating that I am dealing here with an impersonal entity, one that has quite the sense of humor. Waiting to get new travel documents from the Offices of Hell, to move into a different department, to dream another dream. I signed up for the Swingers Club in Melbourne, where I am headed to my new place in the Ring of Lust.

You dreamed what you needed to dream. Now it’s time to move.

Hekate

Meet Me at the Rim of Hell

Three days have passed since I hit the ‘publish’ button on the harrowing tale that was my farewell letter to my lover. I never heard from him, or our only remaining mutual friend. Frankly, that is what I wanted. I wanted silence. To never hear from him again, to never hear another chapter of his story.

But you can’t say goodbye into darkness, there is always a person on that other end of the line of the cosmic telephone who must answer, and they have a right to, as well.

There is a post office in the Greater Universe where all letters get answered. My answer came in a dream on the third night.

I am standing on the outer edge of what appears to be a giant circle. A ring, a circular space encased in some black matter. I am simultaneously within the valley that encapsulates Las Vegas, and above it. I called it an Outpost of Hell once, and this is exactly what it appears to be. It’s all dark, and I am standing on its outer rim, looking out. I am waiting for someone or something there.

Perhaps, an Angelic Intervention.

Suddenly, I sense a figure standing right next to me. I am surprised by the sense that I am not alone here. Somebody has snuck up on me whom I did not expect.

I turn around. It’s Chris.

He looks different in his archetypal form, as a penitent in a plain black robe, he is barefoot, with his long hair loose. I notice he looks solemn.

Needless to say, I am not happy to see him. ‘Why are you here?’

‘Here?’ He repeats my question to me.

I realize where are we exactly.

We are standing on the outer edge of the Ring of Wrath, a place that used to be my home. I am leaving, and he belongs here, but he can follow me until the end. For some reason, he chose to stalk me. I feel uneasy. ‘Why are you here, Chris?’

‘I came to watch.’ He hints at some impending event of great significance. It’s the event that I am waiting for at the Outer Rim of Hell. ‘He came back for you.’

I look up to the sky, and I see the dark clouds breaking. The Infernal Soulmate stands there with a flaming sword in shining armor made of electric blue light, in the likeness of an angel and a classical hero. He holds a pair of broken golden shackles that used to belong to me as if saying he had freed me.

I look back at Chris who is next to me, in a dark anguish. There is a sense of loss and surprise in his voice as if he didn’t foresee this happening. ‘My Twin Flame left me,’ he says, and upon speaking those words, Chris’s robe buzzes with a dark vibration of vengeance that invigorates hell. ‘I convinced myself that yours has left you too,’ he says, with a tortured sense of being wrong.

His whole life story flashes before my eyes.

I see Kayla, Chris’s Twin Flame, who was separated from him under unexplained circumstances, years ago, under the influence of Black Magic. They forced her, but in the end, Chris couldn’t reconcile it was always her free will, to betray him. She chose allegiance to the cult over his love. And then he tried to kill them all.

‘I seek solace in vengeance,’ he whispers as he turns towards the dark ring, explaining his whole life story. It was love, or the lack of it, that made him seek the dark consolation. Now we come to an understanding of why he is here. Why he chose to follow me here. ‘I want to know what true love looks like. I know you had it for him.’

Only truth seems to exist in this place, at the end of all things, I have only one question on my mind. ‘Did you love me, Chris?’

‘I wanted to bring you consolation,’ he says.

‘I wanted to bring you consolation, too,’ I say. ‘I didn’t mind being your second choice after her. I know what it feels like. I wanted to give you comfort as well.’

‘Isn’t that love, that we had?’ I ask myself at the edge of hell.

‘Yes, it is,’ he replies.

‘Then why couldn’t we have it?!’

‘Because I couldn’t love you back. In the place where I am,’ he gestures towards the Ring of Darkness behind us, ‘true love is not possible.’

The vibration of hell oozes high and low, like a living breathing mechanism between us.

‘You won’t meet me again in this life,’ he says. ‘Don’t look me up. Don’t talk to me, or any other men. He would feel it. It would disrupt things. Keep the oaths you made.’

Time seems to be shortening as we speak.

‘I have to go,’ Chris says as if he was bound to return to some Lost Souls business that they all must attend. His form begins to desaturate as it is being sucked back into the giant circular sink, where he is followed by similar-looking shadows. I am no longer real to them, and they cannot perceive me. ‘A storm is coming into your life,’ he speaks his last words to me, and he divines from the motion of the clouds. ‘Pretty soon.’ He turns to me one last time emitting the warm frequency of a teacher, and a brother. ‘Remember all I taught you about this place and what it means to be here. Do not come back here.

Goodbye, Nora.’

Cry, little sister! (Thou shalt not fall)
Come, come to your brother! (Thou shalt not die)
Unchain me, sister! (Thou shalt not fear)
Love is with your brother! (Thou shalt not kill)

Marylin Manson

Beelzebub Brings His Bride

I have been feeling this dark, seductive, warm male presence around me for days following a dream I had, about becoming the Devil’s Bride. In this dream, the Devil appeared as a handsome Caucasian male who was a bit unkept, a bit of wild man vibes, he looked like a shaman or a lumberjack, with a beard and long blonde hair. He was Beelzebub and Belial at the same time, and we stood right in front of his house where I understood he brought me to be his wife. The house looked fairly ordinary from the outside.

‘You will be shocked how luxurious and comfortable it is inside there!’ the Devil bragged, purring into my ear seductively like a cat.

As he did this I realized he was simultaneously wrapping a waistband piece around me, tying me up in a corset, and dressing me in what seemed like a 1600s married noblewoman’s attire, complete with a white bonnet that he put on my head. There was a sense of erotic possessiveness that felt rather pleasant as if he was trying to tell me ‘the real fun happens inside’ and that I would ‘have it so good’ with him if I just forsake all other men for him.

He introduced me inside of his house, and we made it to the living room; indeed it was modern and beautiful, very unlike the exterior of the house which looked like a basic one-story wooden building somewhere in the South. Inside, his house had glass doors, a fireplace made out of black lava stone, and a loft, kind of like the dwelling of Satan in New York City in The Devil’s Advocate. I was intrigued to see more especially the bedroom on top of the stairs of the loft, where I knew the biggest surprise would be found… I was sold.. the dream ended there, however. And I was left longing.

His dark warm presence has been coming back on a daily basis, forging a new destiny for me. A New Vessel will make themselves known very soon.

ILLUSTRATION: Devil’s Bride (2016) movie still shot

Me and the Devil

I had a significant dream tonight. I am at a Rebar, Las Vegas. It’s completely emptied inside. There is nobody in there besides me, not even a bartender in sight, just this one man who is sitting at the bar, a man who ‘is always there, he never leaves.’ Even though this whole situation is a bit bizarre, I feel very good and like everything is finally alright. Me and the devil, finally alone, so we can have a word without interference from others.

I am about to approach the mysterious stranger, whom I actually know very well, because ‘he has always been there’ when another man shows up from nowhere. An old black dude in dark glasses, with a fanny pack waltzes in between us. He is dressed in old Southern ethnic clothes and he is in no way tryna hide who he is – it’s Papa Legba. He also hangs around here nearly always because he is the local dealer. He pitches me that ‘he’s got all the goodies’ and whether I need something. Feeling this deep contentment inside, I am certain I do not need anything from his sack, but then I think about it twice and I am like, ‘You got some Xanax?’ And he does, and I have enough money to pay, and a little left on top of it, which also feels good. The dream ends.

Funny thing is, I did petition Legba the traditional way, for road opening and good fortune when I came in Las Vegas a year ago. I received all the omens, did the proper way, but nothing happened. I don’t know why it took Papa Legba a year to get to me, but I guess with interference from time-traveling aliens and temporal magic, things can get seriously out of whack…

Also, a big note on sanity. If you are to meet the devil, you better have all of your ducks in a row. Do not come into Sin City with the Mark of Self-Undoing shining on your forehead. The Angels will just mess with you, and you will have to keep coming back until you figure out…

Beat the Final Boss at the End of the Game

I had a series of dreams that showed me the exact same thing: life as a video game, with increasing difficulty levels. Many Black Magicians have asked themselves, and me over the years – what is there at the end, for those like us? What awaits us at the end of this path?

If we can take inspiration from the video games, and my dreams, what awaits us at the end is the most difficult task where you have to beat the Master. The Final Boss. The Duke of Hell.

Lucifer has confronted me this way already twice.

Every seven years, he appears to me in a dream when I reach some kind of final destination, a place that is the end of all places. He first appeared as the Black Knight, the embodiment of the Black Sun, and I was completely paralyzed by his presence then. I was still very young, and even before he manifested in the fullness of his power, I had an acute sense of having overestimated myself in that bravado of the youth, when you do not fully realize yet that you are mortal, and what you lack in life experience, you compensate in sheer folly.

When he came for me seven years later, I was more of an adult, having gone through my Saturn return. he’s been chasing me with his goon of gangsters in dreams for a decade then, and when I was finally brought before the Duke of Hell in his underground lair where he ruled his judgment over me as the Mafia Don, I was paralyzed from the waist down. He stooped to me, and smelled me. I was lucid enough to realize my fate, but not enough to resist.

It has been seven years now since that last dream. I know what’s coming.

The Witches Familiar: A Dream of Infernal Union

I dream of a cat. It is implied that it is my cat, or belongs to the house.

Somehow, I provoke it into anger, and it starts chasing me. I fight it off for a bit, but when it seems that I could get rid of it and lock myself away from its reach, that’s when it acquires supernatural abilities and can jump so high no regular cat could. That’s when I become startled, afraid for my life, and our fight gets vicious. I am using all of my wits trying to fight it back, thinking I must win eventually, because ‘it’s just a cat’ and I am human. During the fight, it gets hurts and howls in pain, and I feel guilty, I don’t want to hurt an animal but at this point, I have no other option.

We fight and the cat’s moves get progressively more adept, revealing its true nature as a fighter, a champion, a warrior. It is a talking cat, it is male and intelligent. At one point, I gain the upper hand and I hurt it, and that is when it shows more of its true nature; as if I was looking at a legendary champion, such as Hercules. I am attracted to him. I feel an overwhelming admiration for his tenacity, his bravery, and his undying spirit, and an overwhelming guilt for causing this fight, because after all, it is my pet, that I love, and I never wanted to hurt it. I just somehow stepped on its toes, triggered its adversarial side, and things spiraled out of control where we were both acting on blind impulse and I was just scared for my life.

We end in this lethal embrace where the beast is momentarily immobilized, but still in full power. I am on top of him, I look into its eyes and the cat speaks to me. Its voice is intelligent, male, and ancient. I finally realize who am I actually speaking to, who was my Witches Familiar all along. I am looking into his eyes as I am crying, caressing him with much affection to show him my love, which is what I actually want to do, now that I have overcome for a moment the fear for my life. He looks at me in response, and says, ‘I could kill you really easily now that you have gotten this close to me.’ It speaks matter of factly, in truth. I feel nothing but love and guilt. He decides to spare me, as I am crying and saying ‘I never wanted to hurt you.’ We end in this lethal embrace that could be just as dangerous for me as it was necessary, and the only solution to the fight I know that I cannot win.

The dream ends, and I wake up shaking. It’s 3:30, again, the Witching Hour.

I am left wondering if this dream in fact started yesterday and the day before when I was talking on the podcast about Lucifer in the form of a cat, and how a black cat represents the Dark Forces in their more benign form, where their favor can be gained and they can even like you. I refer to my journal where He says, ‘I will make you like me.’ It’s meant as a statement of subjugation, both in the sense that he will force me to accept him and change me to his likeness. It is implied that it is for punishment, for my pride, and because I thought I was better than him, that I was nothing like him. ‘You will become a criminal and a liar too,’’ he laughs with contentment. ‘As my Bride, you embody me, for both good and bad.’ He just wants my love and my respect and will use whatever means are necessary to get it.

‘Come my lady

Come-come my lady

You’re my butterfly, sugar baby

To keep you by my side

There’s nothing I won’t try’

I am also brought back to my earlier thoughts when I was pondering how strange it is that Americans refer to cat owners as ‘cat mums’. To me in my native tongue we always refer to a cat in terms of endearment that imply a lover, especially a mistress, who needs to be pleased and in return will pleasure you if treated nicely. When displeased, it turns vicious. It’s easy to displease them, and it often happens without intent when you offend their sense of pride. I was always afraid of cats for this reason, my entire life.

I am also brought back to a conversation with a witch about a Black Magician, where she said ‘He has all the radiance of the Sun, he can be very warm and giving, but he is also lethal. He is the Black Sun.’

I have been inviting and contemplating merging with the Black Sun for many months now, and with this dream, I feel like I was finally given a clue.

Lucifer is right about my pride, always wanting to win. Even though His cane first, it is I who have to lose it; if the Infernal Union is to happen.

I am also thinking, it never occurred to me that the Witches Familiar who is seen as a Servitor, a pet that is dark and cute, can turn so vicious, that when they turn against the Witch the implications could be lethal to her. I never thought about it this way, and I am ashamed that I didn’t because it’s obvious. Demonic Familiars are dangerous. They contain the witch’s raw power. They are, in fact, the capricious mistress, that is difficult to please, and easy to anger. I was always right about that.

With a sense of relief, I drift back to sleep.

The Devil’s Bride

Long before I knew anything about Pacts, and Lucifer, I learned about the Devil’s Bride’s fate from old fairy tales as a child.

It usually goes like this…

A young girl who is either very ambitious about her worldly aspirations, or quite naive and romantic, speaks a wish. She wants to marry a Baron, or better yet, a Duke. Not just an ordinary Joe Schmo. Her aspirations are higher! Or at least, her romantic dreams. Silly nonsense girl would say.

Some supernatural power hears her.

She is soon approached by a suspicious suitor of alleged fame and fortune. The Devil is usually described as tall, dark and handsome, and foreign. Nobody knows him around here, but sure the he must be a landlord of some wealthy place, being dressed like that with slick manners… a place where he promises to take her with him, should she take up his proposal.

Of course, she always does, and this is where the fairy tales vary considerably about what happens next.

In many tales, the girl has a sister who is nothing like her. Where one is ambitious and too worldly, the other one is modest and humble. Where one of them is romantic and naive, the other is down-to-earth and wastes no time in silly fantasies. Whatever the case, when the wish is spoken, it is her sister who gets the right suitor, whereas the girl who didn’t have her wits about her ends up falling for a con that the Devil pulls. She ends up miserably, sometimes literally driven into hell in a black carriage by Lucifer himself, never to be seen again.

For that is the rich place where the Duke resides – in Hell, and it’s a place nobody has returned from. So, unless you want to go, and see for yourself, the folk wisdom exhorts you to know your place in life, and not ask for too much out of naivete or greed.

Or should you.

Another tale speaks of three sisters who engage in silly banter, swearing oaths and making wishes about the kind of prospects they wish for themselves. It spirals into a betting game, where each tries to outdo her sister’s folly. So when the oldest asks for the cook, who would bring her sweet pies every day, her sister asks for the gardener who would give her flowers, and they both laugh until the youngest one shocks them both by saying she’d marry the Duke himself. They shoo her into silence, suddenly afraid that somebody might have overheard their daring speech.

Somebody has overheard them indeed, and it was the Duke who was watching the girls in secret. The next day the three sisters are summoned to the court, and they are quite afraid. The Duke presents the older two sisters with his royal cook and his gardener, and they accept, knowing that to say otherwise would carry dire consequences for them. Then he confronts the youngest one, who expects to be punished for her audacity, but to the astonishment of everyone, she also gets a proposal. This shocks her sisters to the bone, as well as the royals. They don’t like it, this bold and daring breach of social rules. For it is daring on his part as well, to choose a woman of his liking rather than for her noble status.

His family does not take lightly this offense, and plots to get rid of the new bride. When she is about to give birth to her love child, her mother-in-law and sister-in-law exchange the baby for a wolfling and accuse the bride of abominable acts and witchcraft. As much as he loves her, the Duke cannot bear this and agrees to banish her, sparing her life. In some stories, she is nearly executed for witchcraft, but the supernatural forces that are with her who never intended for this to go bad save her at the last minute, and the truth is revealed, and wrongdoers are punished.

This fairy tale has a more epic version tho, where the disgraced bride is banished, with just one object that she takes with her to remind her of her former glory, a gift that she was allowed to take. She wanders the land experiencing many trials, where supernatural force tests her wits and resolve, sometimes in fairly cruel grotesque ways. She faces all the trials, and ultimately gains everything back, actually saving her husband from some peril that befell him as a punishment for his evil deed. In the grimmest retelling of this story, she must go to beg for him to be released from Hell and nearly doesn’t make it. The supernatural force is always vigilant and makes sure everybody gets what they want plus what they deserve.

In this tale the focus shifts from making deals with the Devil to the human drama of ambition, love, and trust. The supernatural force, for the most part, just watches and lets it all unfold. The story begs many questions. Why would you banish someone you love, for whom you have taken a great deal of risk by standing up for them in the first place? Why would you undergo pain and peril for somebody who betrayed you at your weakest, and sided with your enemies? Does one deserve forgiveness when they have realized the error of their ways, but it is perhaps too late? Can it work out when we overstep the boundaries of our birthright by daring, or is it always bound to end in tragedy for all?

The answer is, of course, love, and yes, it can work. But the path will be long and hard and fraught with peril. They have to first found way to each other, trust, and realize that it’s not about one gesture. There’s forces out there, that we call the Lords of Opposition, who are always embodied, when one is attempting to manifest something out of the ordinary and they will test our resolve.

My personal favorite angle of this story is the jealous stare that the heroine’s sisters give her when they realize that she will get her Duke. How quickly fear spirals into envy, the most human emotion!

Never mind that it was their youngest sister’s innocent audacity that got them the granting of their wish, and elevation on the social ladder, such that they would never pursue on their own. To them, it was all just folly, stuff that you fantasize about but never pursue.

But, as we know, the supernatural force, that is embodied here as a powerful man, is always listening. And perhaps quite literally, the Duke is flawed, and not always just. He can make extraordinary things happen, miracles, but he is still just human. This fairy tale tells us that extraordinary fortunes do happen but when they do they must be balanced out by extraordinary deeds. Most don’t have what it takes and would be wise to stay in their line. It also tells that the real infernal forces that ruin lives are perhaps not so much supernatural, as they are society itself with its self-imposed rules and restrictions.

Also the whole ‘Be careful what you wish for’ element bears further notice. I have had a recurring dream as an adult where I am summoned, formally addressed by the Duke of Hell in a very tense setting, sometimes brought before H.I.M. in chains, as a captive, expecting fully to be punished, and that I can’t escape. As the years went by, the dream changed where I gained more sovereignty in the confrontation with the Prince of This World, but it was still overbearing. It always felt like, ‘I am done. I am finished. He’s gonna kill me now. I should have never done X or Y. Should have never asked for X or Y. This is my end.’

This summoned by the court scene embodies the exact moment where everybody expects that nothing good can happen from here on, but it does. It turns from a near-death adrenaline rush to all your wishes granted. Practitioners of Demonic Magic will feel familiar.