“And the devil he’s in trouble/ I can see it in his eyes/ If you don’t give him shelter/ He’ll have no place to hide…”*
The devil could only stand and stare in livid rage. Three times, he had been denied. Three times he had fought for what he desired. He couldn’t figure out why he was being denied.
After all, she was his. His spell had worked and she was now his to control. But Abaddon had stood in his way. The target’s family had stood in his way. Patrick had stood in his way.
To make his irritation worse, prayers were causing him some discomfort. It wasn’t that the prayers, themselves, held much power against him. They didn’t. Nor did they mean a whole lot.
What caused the irritation was the idea that there were that many men on earth who still prayed to God in Christ’s name. It was funny, really. He had thought that the only gods man had any use for was greed, war, hate, ignorance, self-adulation, self-righteousness, corruption, self-exalting, and making one’s self a god. It seemed to permeate even the most trusted preacher’s sermons.
After all, that had been what had made it so easy for him to take the guise he had. It had served him well. But the image was doing him no good now. Perhaps he needed to shed it. Besides. It took too much of his strength to maintain both the illusion and to keep his target under his control.
The air about him shimmered as the illusion of his “fatherhood” vanished. That felt much better. He was back to his old self. No uncomfortable disguise to make him feel out of place.
He closed his eyes and searched for the sources of the prayers. So many. All spread out over a large area, seemingly everywhere around the world. He felt his ire rise.
This was unacceptable. He could not have so many helping those opposing him. It was an unfair advantage.
“You believe the odds aren’t in your favor, don’t you, Satan?” Abaddon inquired.
“You heavenly types never fight fair,” the devil replied, “I know from experience.”
“And you do?” Patrick returned.
“What I do is not for you to question, Priest.” The devil flashed a hateful look at Patrick.
“Prayer has never bothered you in the past,” Abaddon replied, “Why should it now?”
“It is an irritation,” the devil replied, “nothing more.”
“Then ignore it,” Michael couldn’t help taking his own shot, “if it is nothing but an irritation.”
The devil shot Michael an evil look. Suddenly, he locked onto one of those who were praying. He smiled an evil smile. Yes. He would strike Luken. Time to even the odds.
Luken had been praying all day. He had not let up, not once. His faith, being strong, had not wavered. He was still praying when all hell broke loose.
Abaddona appeared beside Luken, but he had no knowledge of the demon’s presence. Soon, three more demons appeared and Abaddona nodded to them. One by one, they went through the German’s house, selecting a bedroom. Abaddona remained with Luken.
The screams of his children brought Luken out of his prayer. His eyes snapped up to find one of the demons before him holding his wife in a menacing stance, bladed finger at her throat. He began to get up.
“Uh, uh,” Abaddona hissed, “One wrong move, one wrong word, and she dies before you.”
He looked at his wife. the fear in her eyes was evident. He told her with his eyes that he was sorry for what he was about to do, then rose and turned toward his tempter.
“Demon,” he replied, “Death is always welcomed in this house, for it would end the suffering of this life. But our lives are not yours to take or give. If it is God’s will, then our death will come. If not, then your threat is an idle one. ”
“Do you not care to know whether your children live?” Abaddona inquired temptingly.
“Temptation is of the devil,” Luken replied, “and I will not be tempted. Neither will any of my family. back to hell with you, demon.”
“You first, child of man,” Abaddona replied, anger flickering in his eyes.
The demon moved fast, taking hold of Luken. The demon holding Luken’s wife thrust his hand through her chest, killing her. Luken’s children screamed as well, as their lives were ended.
“You have one more chance, child of man,” Abaddona began, “to save your pitiful life. Renounce the Christ and take back up your life as a worshiper of my lord and commander.”
“Never,” Luken breathed, “I left that life long ago. I will never go back.”
“Fine, then,” came the reply. Abaddona waved a finger and a bolt of lightning filled the room, striking Luken. He smiled as he viewed the dead man on the floor. Looking up he nodded to his companions. “Our job here is done.One more thing and we will go and await our next assignment.”
As they left the house, Abaddona nodded back toward the house and it burst into flames. The devil had silenced four voices. But four didn’t silence the noise. And the noise made it hard to concentrate. And right now, he needed to be able to concentrate.
One had to think of the devil as a petulant child suffering from pride-induced ADHD with a touch of envy-induced OCD. His followers, Michael knew, were mirror images of him. All were unable to hold a single train of thought for much longer than a human lifetime…and sometimes, not even that long.
He was much better at holding grudges and spreading lies. If it took less time and effort, the devil loved it. Making man twist the texts of every earthly faith had been his greatest accomplishment, since man’s inborn tendencies seemed to run parallel to his own intentions for mankind.
Michael had not been your average man, though. He had never glommed onto the popularly held religiosity that his fellow man had thought so important. He felt that man should have focused deeper instead. Beyond the words.
When he did, he found that the whole context was about fixing what was inside the individual, not what was wrong with the world around him. It was sad that popular belief had it that one was supposed to turn those around them into carbon copies of whatever the person trying to change another wanted. Still, he held out hope for his fellow man. He only hoped that man would wake up before it was too late.