Virtue

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…

Black Magicians Are Stuck in the Past

As much as Black Magicians are obsessed with Power, they don’t seem to have a good grasp of where the real power is. Black Magicians are stuck in the past.

I am talking about people with a medieval worldview and a medieval mindset where all is achieved by the show of cruelty and brute force, and the value of human life is minuscule. This is exemplified in the stupid obsession Black Magicians have with animal torture and animal sacrifice. It is also depicted in the overall tactics of people who are seemingly stuck in reliving their own past lives where the whole game of survival and climbing the social ladder at royal court was a game of treachery and backstabbing, using people’s private correspondences, spies and sexual blackmail to maintain command of their clique and favor of those in power.

In the game that I am playing there is no clique. There is no secrecy. There is no blackmail. It’s all public as it should be. If we truly seek to imitate the powerful and the famous of the world of past and present, isn’t their main attribute their ability to be there for the people?

You can have a small clique of backstabbers under your control through the means of blackmail and playing on their weakness, but you can never win the favor of the people this way. They will judge you on your actions. They will observe your character and integrity, as they should for it is the people who are the source of power.

You will never know all their names and who your message has reached and what they thought of it. You cannot worry about that. Your messages must be projected far and wide with intent, as a form of magic, to reach the public. And they will.

This back-climbing game will soon be over. There will be no Harvey Weinsteins, and no Hollywood games of ‘I will make you famous’. The gravy train and the cool kids club that has turned into a club of bullies are going to be faced with the prospect of dissolution or adapting to the new era.

The New Aeon of Lucifer will no longer favor the most wicked and ruthless climbing to the top over the corpses of others.

True Priesthood shall rise again and knowledge will be distributed to those who heed the Calling, not on the basis of favoritism and possessions.

The backstabbers will find themselves alone, waking up at night sleepless in endless paranoia of the consequences they have created themselves.

The liars will find they have lied themselves into a corner from which there is no other way out than to start telling the truth.

Seek the real keys to power and the virtue it takes to hold them.

Adapt or die.

‘Those who tell the stories rule the world.’

~ Native American proverb