Going to try to figure out what to do with this now other than just shameless plugs.
But this is mostly a shameless plug.
Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1 Audiobook is available now!
Going to try to figure out what to do with this now other than just shameless plugs.
But this is mostly a shameless plug.
Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1 Audiobook is available now!
I hate my audiobook.
No. I mean. Mr. Erik Johnson, my producer, did an amazing job and I was floored when I heard my book come to an audible life but SWEET BUDDHA do you know how many times I’ve listened to that damn thing?
Do you know how annoying it was to get every little thing right and you know damn well as I do there’s still going to be stuff that’s off.
It’s somehow worse than having to read your own book over and over.
I want to say like, “oh it was so fantastic that I didn’t mind having to listen to it like 20 times.”
But no. Let’s be real.
There I am jogging on the treadmill, wanting to forget the world, listening to my glorious mix of K-Pop, Eurobeats, and J-Rock…. then BAM
“THIS HAS BEEN CHRONICLES OF THE OTHERWORLD BY A. S. ARAMIRU”
I thought I got rid of all of you cockroaches off my playlist!
You know what?
I hate that guy.
Screw, A. S. Aramiru.
Screw him, his audiobook, and his writing career.
Don’t buy any of his–
“Hey, asshole. You’re supposed to sell your book. You owe me money. I’ll cut you with a f—in’ spoon. A. F@#$in. Spoon.” – My Former Editor
Here’s a sample of the audiobook:
I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to share that. I’m preeetty sure.
The steps to making the audiobook are pretty simple. I did it through ACX, you probably should too unless you know something that I don’t (and if that’s the case please share).
For me, the only fix I needed was having to change the style of my cover.
It only took 14 different variations and getting irate twice at the dumb uploading system.
Yeah, I’ll keep that autocorrect.
And viola! Now I also have an audiobook polluting the internet.
And I can’t help but wonder if my baby will be okay.
And naturally, dream that maybe people will find the little guy and enjoy it.
There’s a lot of moments when doing creative you wonder if you were honest with your work.
Did I do all I can?
Could I have done something better?
But you have to tap out at some point if you want to do create other things.
Like my imaginary therapist would tell me
“Learn to love yourself. Forgive who you were so that you can be who you are. Who you can be is someone strong enough to deal with everything done by who you once were. You have to believe that. Because you owe me money and I’ll cut you with a spoon. A fuckin’ spoon. Fuck censorship. I know where you live homeboy.” – My Imaginary Therapist
I think everyone should try to make an audiobook.
Leave me a comment if you have any questions, comments, or complaints.
Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1 Audiobook is available now!
Isn’t it funny?
The idea of love fascinates humans.
Love redefines joy.
Its end redefines pain.
…Isn’t it marvelous?
Maybe that’s why it fascinates you as well.
This inexplicable phenomenon they try to explain as a byproduct of their need to procreate.
But somehow they accept that we, the divine, must be able to love as well.
They have faith—faith—that even He loves them.
When was the last time that He put his loins into anyone?
Some of them say it’s more of a mystical occurrence of their human experience.
A little spark of magic and beyond in their minuscule presence in the endless time and space.
But why invite such vulnerability to their already fragile existence?
I find it all very amusing, Beelzebub.
And I find it very potent.
There is truly a before and an after to humans when it comes to their first true love and the first heartbreak.
Something they wish they’d never experience, and yet, something so profound that those who haven’t experienced it are at a sincere loss of what it means to be human.
Even their foulest have a moment of innocence when it comes to their first heartbreak.
And it is there—yes, there—where all of them can truly realize that life is unfair.
A reality check.
There. Is. No. Magic.
‘Irreversible’ is real.
‘Impossible’ is real.
Something so beautiful is fleetingly ephemeral and yet its damages so eternal.
Not everyone will be involved in heinous violence like rape, murder, or war.
Not everyone will experience detrimental deprivations of neglect, starvation, or incapacity.
All of the other devastating, palpable consequences of free will.
But nearly all of them will experience their fellow human’s freedom to give their hearts and take it away.
“Am I wrong, Beezebub?” Suzie softly asked with a moist voice.
To walk away from the road the two had paved together.
Falling into the pit of desperate denial that everything they had wasn’t meaningless.
“I should just let him go, right?”
But how could the road have meant anything if the destination itself disappeared?
Everything they’ve been working towards.
All they’ve been through.
Beelzebub stared out the window of Suzie’s apartment. Neglecting to acknowledge his brother’s words from beyond. Suzie’s roommates were out for the night. As if in a scene of a movie, it was pouring rain.
“Beelzebub,” Suzie sobbed sitting on her bed. “I wish… I wish… I never met him.”
He had seen her cry before. But never like this. Thick droplets of tears poured out of her eyes. Each droplets draining her.
There are mothers who’ve watched their children die.
Men who stared at their friends as they were drawing their last breaths.
A young woman experiencing heartbreak wasn’t something even close to being comparable.
“I…” Suzie choked on her words.
But the voice of his brother had a point. It was all too common. All too relatable. Palpable.
Never like this.
She’s never been like this.
Beelzebub let out a deep sigh.
Don’t deny of me this Beelzebub.
She’s mine as much as she is yours.
“…I love him,” Suzie confessed. “But I’m scared”
Don’t deny yourself of this.
“He messed up and I… I fucked up too. I feel like if I don’t stop him now… We won’t ever be okay. But… but… what if I lay it all out after what he’s done and he’s not worth it? What if we fight to make this work and it’s all just meaningless? Like, mom and dad?”
I know what you’re thinking you want to tell her.
She’s too young to know what real love is in the real world.
And she’s young enough to find someone else.
Someone she doesn’t have this kind of history with.
This kind of tarnish.
“You’re worried that you’ll end up like your mom and dad?” Beelzebub asked without turning away from the window.
But let her pursue.
“I’m worried that I’m ripping my own heart apart over something I can just move on from!”
She’ll fail like most of them do.
And then we can show her the path. The right path.
“I can move on right?” Suzie asked. “This’ll just be another thing that happened in my life in a month. Maybe a year.”
Don’t. Let. This. Opportunity. Go.
“You’re right. You’re young,” Beelzebub told Suzie. “Your life hasn’t even begun yet. You’ll probably get over this.”
“Yeah,” Suzie seemed to understand what Beelzebub wanted to say. “Yeah.”
“There’ll probably be other guys. Other loves. Plenty of time for all that,” Beelzebub turned around and faced Suzie.
“So what’s there to lose?” Beelzebub smiled.
Instantaneously, Suzie darted out of her room. Ran down the stairs of her apartment. Like the movies, it was raining. And like the movies, she saw him standing in the rain unable to leave for the same reasons she was now standing behind him.
“Jay,” Suzie carefully called out his name.
She worried that perhaps the rain drowned out her voice and he’d walk away.
“Suzie,” He turned around in surprise. She was there getting more drenched by the second. His mind and emotions in too much of a chaos to express how happy and surprised he was to see her.
Suzie searched for words. Anger and doubt still lingered for a moment that felt like it was made of thin glass.
“I love you,” He interrupted her. “I love you. And I… I want to make this work. I’m sorry. And I… I don’t want to be without you.”
The devil watched from Suzie’s room as she ran towards the young man to embrace him. They held each other in the rain under the street lamps. The world around them had stopped existing a long ago.
It was too much like the movies.
People were allowed to have their movie moment.
A magical moment they’ll cherish. A near fantasy others may not believe. But the magic they’ll always have them believing in something beyond what’s there.
Because they were witnesses to it.
They’re the evidence of it.
And because it makes life just a little more than what it is.
The devil had disappeared by the time the two young lovers returned.
“You did that?” Binkle asked Beelzebub in surprise as he handed Satan his bottle of dark lager.
“Why?” Satan questioned Beelzebub.
Satan decided to visit Beelzebub at The Center, Beelzebub’s bar in Hell, after their incident earlier with Suzie. He took the form of what a scotch whiskey and a dark lager would look like as a man from the 80s. The gruff man gave a piercing stare as he analyzed his brother.
“Why? Why? I did what I wanted and it happened to also be what you wanted. You know what you get when you complain even after getting what you want?” Beelzebub took a sip of his drink. Today was a drink that’s equal parts vodka, triple sec, and lime juice. It had a name that was perhaps a bit too on the nose for today’s occasion.
“You get to be Daddy’s least favorite. He’s always hated you.”
“Whatever the case,” Satan stood and raised his bottle. “Here’s to the young lovers. For its blossoming spring and its eventual winter.”
“Seriously. He’s always hated you,” Beelzebub raised his glass. “Y’know, for being a creep.”
Satan finished his bottle in one quick chug.
“And I’ve always found you painfully weak,” Satan placed the empty bottle on the table and the money to pay for it. “Painfully weak and unpleasurable. I’m sure you saw as I did what will happen. You did what’s coming to her as much as I. But don’t fret. It’ll all be for the best. Though I suppose I’m a bit confounded on exactly why you’re being more… nettlesome… than usual.”
“Oh, is it not obvious?” Beelzebub looked surprised. “It’s because of you. Hearing your voice makes me want to pray. Seeing you makes me want to get on my knees and tell Pops that I’m sorry. You’re welcome to free me of this misery at any time.”
Satan smiled. He gave a nod to Binkle, put on his hat, and whistled as he exited the bar.
“I’m surprised you let Satan have his way,” Binkle spoke soon as the door closed behind Satan.
“Love is a beautiful thing while it lasts,” Beelzebub answered as he continued to sip on his drink.
“I’m certain Satan foresaw something in the girl’s future where having this boy in her life will hurt her. Did you see otherwise?”
Beelzebub shook his head.
A person’s future was an uncertain thing. It’s a messy grid full of knots and every direction that only became more of a disarray as the person grew older. But certain choices have fewer detours and pathways than others. And some lead to dead ends.
“Oh,” Binkle froze for a moment. Caught by a surprise to his boss’s response though he was uncertain why. His boss was simply doing his duty.
“Alright then. I guess I should be expecting to see her here sometime,” Binkle smiled as he went on to make drinks for his other customers.
“Perhaps,” Beelzebub finished his cocktail. He stared at his empty glass. He remembered the rain. Not even all the raindrops he had seen this evening would amount to the souls he had seen come and go.
Who could possibly care for them all?
It took a long time to post this.
As always, I apologize for the delay.
The greatest concern with this chapter was regarding if it did appropriate enough job building momentum for the next chapter–the final chapter.
And I guess it’s there, in the final chapter, where I’ll actually discuss my thoughts on finishing this little what-was-supposed-to-be-a-simple-fun-side-project and what the actual process ended up being like.
Thank you always for reading.
See you all next time.
It’ll be sooner than later.
I know I always say that.
It’s a summer flick that came out in spring.
There’s the Rock making jokes about his muscle, a giant monkey, a giant flying wolf, and a giant crocodile.
I hope I don’t need a spoiler warning for this one.
What could I possibly spoil?
Not only has it been *insert number of months/weeks/days since movie release here* since I’m a lazy writer, but also it’s a movie based on a 1980s arcade game that didn’t have a plot other than basically those three above causing a ra—… havoc across America.
That’s basically the entire plot.
Animals got big and they decided to go smash, smash, smash. And the American treasure, The Rock, has to save the day.
Trying to go any deeper or even explaining the plot of this film is doing it a disservice.
And why are you going to go see Rampage for some clever plot? You need to accept that if you go watch this film with an analytical mindset, trying to break down all of its components to judge its merits by some aristocratic standards of cinema, you’ll come out of the theaters dumber.
There’s a monkey giving the middle finger, more blood and gore than I expected from a PG-13 movie, and surprisingly fun jump scares.
The jokes are low brow and predictable but I still found them amusing (and pleasantly surprised there wasn’t a poop throwing scene. I fully expected it from this film).
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is playing a token-Texan Negan.
There’s the guy (Jake Lacy) who was in the last few seasons of The Office and it seems like he’s just not giving a damn about being part of this film. Actually, no one seems like they’re giving even half of an effort except the American treasure, The Rock.
Seriously. He seems like an awesome guy.
In short, it’s a dumb film with some really well-done moments that if you were to see those moments by themselves in isolation, you might be tricked to believing that its a better quality movie than it actually is.
In some sense, I guess it’s respectable effort given the source material…
…and probably the best film adaptation of a video game I’ve ever seen…
…Wow. I just depressed myself a little.
Go see this film for a mindless fun. Just sit back, sip on your soda, and enjoy. It’ll be as worthwhile as spending that 25 cents back in the day to play the arcade game at the bowling alley.
Except this time you’ve spent 20 dollars and 2 hours of your life.
I’m going to go look through the list of film adaptations of video games to see if I can cure myself of this depression.
I’m not done yet.
Just don’t do the 4DX.
Just why? Why does this exist as the means to save the theaters?
Do kids really enjoy this?
The 4DX experience preview was better than the actual experience watching the film.
Water spray smelled funny.
Air blow was annoying.
The seat shook and tilted too much that it turned from fun to a road trip across the Rockies on a Daewoo Tico.
AND I KNOW. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who enjoy it very much and I seem like a guy who finds shaking canes at dead cats and being charmingly anachronistically racist as my idea for fun.
But as it is now, 4DX is a gimmick and films haven’t found a way to properly incorporate this technology to actually enhance the experience.
It’s just distracting.
I felt like I was sitting on a lap of a Russian circus strongman as he rocked me and shook me around while watching the film.
I see potential with the technology purely based on its preview experience but have doubts any studio will invest the effort and money necessary to synchronize film experience with the 4DX experience.
Prove me wrong, Hollywood. Or Bollywood.
There are days that are more memorable than most. The kind of days that people relive in their minds through their entire lives. Sometimes we know it before those kinds of days happen but, more often than not, they tend to be a surprise gift. A happy accident.
But for some, even those serendipitous days are marked by something constant. A constant that refuses to wane or be forgotten. The blot on each page of their lives. Nothing short of a real-life curse. An imp sitting over their heads who nested somewhere deep within their minds and hearts.
Bleeding into their senses. Their wisdom. And their beings.
It’s there when they laugh. There when they love. And even there when they cry. Even as their tears roll down their cheeks, it’s the voice that tells them it’s not enough and yet they should be ashamed for giving into it.
For Suzie Lee the week on the lake with her friends and their chaperones would remain one of her happiest and the most adventurous moments of her childhood. It was her days that were more memorable than most.
They canoed through the wakes of the wild waters. They hiked through the creaking trees and where the wildlife cooed and watched. There was even an encounter with a bear and what was the most frightening moment of these young girls lives, in the end, became just another chapter of their adventure.
The fourth evening of their seven-day trip would be the most memorable moment for Suzie. But it would exist as almost a pocket memory of its own. Not because of the Devil but because it was another blot on an otherwise a perfect memory.
A more painful blot because it would have been, otherwise, a perfect childhood memory.
Suzie sat on the dock. Their red and yellow canoes were beached off on the side. The setting sun painted the lake with a blue and purple hue. The few islands they’ve visited filled the horizon like black domes, slowly losing their details to the fading light.
Blanketed by the grandiose nature and its twilight lit visage, Suzie wondered how difficult it’d be for her to drown herself in the lake.
If she pencil dived, no one might notice.
Pockets full of rocks.
A steely determination.
And then… fade away.
Into the cold.
Into the darkness.
No. Be real. Suzie told herself.
Pockets full of rocks.
A violent struggle.
Water pouring in through every crevice of her body.
Filling her lungs and stomach.
Possible last minute of regret.
Then… fade away.
Dangling in the cold. In the darkness. Her corpse gently being pushed one way or the other by the current.
Friends would cry. The family would cry. They’d blame themselves without realizing that the person who should be blamed the most was already gone.
And at that moment, Beelzebub appeared before Suzie in the most unnerving way that’d he would ever appear before her in her life.
From the distance, a familiar head slowly poked above the surface of the calm lake.
Beelzebub slowly ascended until he stood on the surface of the lake and stared at Suzie from afar.
He then took his steps towards her and for the first time, Suzie found herself being startled and nervous to see the Devil. She looked behind her at her friends and chaperone in a gregarious clamor. They had no idea that the Lord of the Flies had appeared. She knew they’d be of no help.
By the time she looked back, Beelzebub already stood before her with a stern look that she had never seen him with. But the dock was higher than the surface of the lake, so the Devil glared upwards at the young teen.
“Well, this just isn’t that menacing is it?” Beelzebub said. He climbed up to the dock and stood over Suzie.
“That’s better,” the Devil remarked.
“Hey,” the teen greeted her visitor.
“Hey,” the Devil replied.
“I didn’t call for you, y’know?” Suzie remarked.
“Your precious heart that wants to kill itself did,” the Devil didn’t sound much concerned.
“My heart, huh?” Suzie didn’t seem too impressed neither. “I have to be some special kind of a fuck-up if my crying, bleeding heart calls out to you instead of the other guy.”
“Well, gee, sorry for being a good friend and being there for you in your time of need. You were a lot cuter and more appreciative when you were younger.”
The Devil looked over to the campsite. Girls and women laughing. Telling stories. Eating snacks.
“Why can’t you just go there and enjoy yourself?” The Devil asked.
The girl did not answer.
“You were so happy… during this trip. Weren’t ya?” The Devil looked at Suzie who was still staring off to the lake with disinterest.
“I was,” Suzie finally replied. “And I think I am. Happy.”
“But what? I can breathe. I’m healthy. I’m with friends. My mom and pop have their issues but I know others have it worse. I should be goddamn happy. I’d be an ungrateful bitch not to be happy. I know that, okay? I know that. I’m so fucking happy.”
“….It’s as if… as if…” Suzie grew more and more agitated. These questions. Her feelings. Her lack of a better answer. The shame of admitting these answers. The embarrassment. “None of this is real? It’s all fading? And I’m just… never going to be able to hold on to anything. And I don’t… I don’t want tomorrow to come because it has to all start over again… and no matter what happens I’ll feel the same. Like something’s broken. Like I’m not good enough for anything. And I can’t get better. I want to be better but I can’t. And I’m so tired of it. I can’t even appreciate… appreciate that I’m out here. I’m just going to mess it all up somehow. I am messing it up.”
Suzie held her tongue. She was rambling. She felt silly. She felt trivial. She didn’t deserve to complain or feel bad.
Beelzebub to let silence come over them. Let them soak in what was said and what they were feeling.
“You thought about getting a shrink?” The Devil carefully asked.
“No. I just feel weird talking to some stranger about my problems. Like shit, you only care because I’m paying you.”
“Well there’s another way,” The Devil smirked.
“…My soul for the cure?”
“…Yeah,” The Devil seemed a bit embarrassed that Suzie stole his punchline.
“Does it work?”
“I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t think it was some sort of a solution.”
Suzie stared at the Devil for a little while and turned back towards the lake.
“Look, I know this beast better than you’ll ever know. It’ll only get worse,” Beelzebub began to make his case. “You’ll feel like you’re always running from your own shadow. And when you stand still it’ll be larger than you remember. You’ll have moments when you forget but those are the moments you’ll realize later just how sick you really are. Hopelessness.”
Suzie buried her face into her arms.
“You’re going to live your life feeling like you’re always just head above water. I’m the guy on the boat. But for me to give you my hand. To throw you the life jacket, I need something from you. I can’t help you without that.”
“…I believe you,” Suzie replied without looking up.
“You know,” Beelzebub felt flustered. What couldn’t she understand?
“At the end of the day who’s been there for you? When you felt like no one could hear those screams inside, when no one could tell that you were messed up. When you’ve felt alone, rejected, and unheard. Who was there for you?”
“But, you’re you. You’re the devil. You want my soul. That’s what you do.”
“Because I want you to be with me. I want you to be part of what I’m building.”
“And I don’t want to give it,” Suzie finally looked up. “Isn’t this fine the way it is?”
“And what is this, exactly? You don’t think I’m like a shrink? Just coming for your soul? Except I can actually help you.”
“Do you love me?” Suzie stared into the Devil’s eyes.
They stared in silence.
“Let’s not get gross, kiddo, alright?” This isn’t… that. Don’t get full of yourself.”
Suzie still stared in silence.
I wasn’t. She mouthed.
“I’m just asking. Do you love me?” She spoke.
“I love more of you than any of you will ever realize,” Beelzebub answered.
“You’re not my shrink. Far as I know our sessions have been free,” Suzie smiled. “I’ve already said no. Or maybe I’m fucking pathetic. I don’t know. But I like you as a friend. Friends tied by odd circumstances. You’ll always want my soul and I’ll always say no. Though the temptations there somewhere. Because this sucks.”
“Knowing that there’s something wrong with me and not being able to do anything about it. That I am the way I am.”
It was a question Beelzebub often pondered. She was the way she was. He was the way he was. But why?
“Is there a God?” Suzie asked.
“Who knows,” Beelzebub answered. It was not a question he could answer. Some of his brothers would tell her “no” or “yes”. Whichever they determined would help the case. But Beelzebub, without truly understanding why, believed his answer to be the correct one.
“If you’re real, He must be as well, right? I hope? For humanity’s sake?”
“That is being hopeful,” Beelzebub gave a sly smile. “Believing that there must be another side to this coin. What if this is it? What if I’m all you get? What’s worse?”
“Must be lonely for you,” Suzie said empathetically.
“At least, we get to believe. Hope. But you already know. Whether there is or isn’t. Either way, I’d feel like that’d be more lonely. More hopeless. Helpless. I don’t know. Maybe that’s why you come to see me.”
“You really were a better company when you were younger,” Beelzebub chuckled as he pulled out a cigar from thin air. Already cut and lit.
“Then stop coming to see me then.”
Beelzebub took a drag of his cigar and released the smoke into the twilight horizon.
“…can I try?” Suzie asked.
“You’re too poor for this,” Beelzebub answered.
“Yeah?” Suzie darted her head around to see her friend.
“We’re making s’mores and we were getting worried. Come join us?”
“Yeah! Sorry!” Suzie quickly looked around to see that the Devil was already gone.
Suzie and her friend chattered and walked back towards the camp as if nothing had happened. As if she had felt nothing. And when she looked back, all there was the empty dock and the beautiful scenery.
She won’t ask him to come back soon or that she’ll miss him.
They were what they were.
Usually, when Beelzebub entered his bar in Hell, it tended to be a bit more cheery. Nods from patrons here and there, some hellos, some flirtations, and sometimes even cheers on more festive nights.
But only choking stillness awaited him this evening.
The bar was full but silent.
Patrons spoke only in sparse whispers.
Obviously uncomfortable, but none willing to be the first to leave. Or at least, none willing to seem like they were eager to leave.
They all glanced at Beelzebub with a spark of hope in their eyes. Pleading eyes that cried,
And then they quickly turned their heads to their own crowds. Afraid that they would offend that one patron in the bar.
That one patron sat alone by the barside. Eating his order of liver and pomegranate with few flatbreads on the side. He had brought his own bottle of wine and offered some to the barkeep, Binkle, who graciously took the drink.
Beelzebub knew it wasn’t Michael. He knew soon as he opened the doors that there were only two beings that could unnerve the denizens of Hell to such extent and make the Lord of the Flies so tense.
“Brother,” Beelzebub carefully called out as he walked over to the patron.
The Brother once had a name.
A beautiful name bestowed upon him by his father.
But it was a name that’s been long forsaken. Only used to recite the Brother’s wrath.
“It’s gotten better,” the Brother spoke of his meal without looking up. “New cook?”
“No,” Beelzebub answered. “Same cook. He’s just gotten better.”
“Always better for the people you already have to improve than to hire new,” Brother cut and ate a generous bite of the liver. He then took a bite of the flatbread. Then took a sip of his wine.
“The bread could be the next thing to improve,” the Brother commented.
“Is that why you’re here? To be Hell’s Duncan Hines?” Beelzebub was irked by Brother’s presence but was careful to not let his emotions slip. And even more careful in choosing his words and attitude. He always thought it was better to not treat his brother with not an overt reverence that may be perceived as sycophancy, rather, simply seem respectful with gentle show hostility.
The Brother smiled.
“You’ve been going to the mortal realm,” Brother still didn’t bother to look at Beelzebub. Still focused solely on his meal.
“To see a girl?”
“Is it love? Lust?” The Brother said the latter with subtle, but violent disdain.
The Brother didn’t question Beelzebub. He knew that Beelzebub and his other brothers were far too wise to lie to him.
There the two sat, along with the rest of the patrons, in uncomfortable silence. Beelzebub declined a drink from Binkle. Only the Brother’s knife clanking against the plate as he cut the liver disturbed the silence.
“What is eternity without purpose?” The Brother finally spoke as he finished the last morsel of food on his plate. “What is eternity without passion?”
Beelzebub knew better than to answer one of these sorts of questions by Brother. The question was simply an invitation for a dramatic silence. A theatrical imposition rather than a thinking exercise.
“An eternity without purpose is being lost,” The Brother carefully placed the utensils onto the near immaculate plate. Neatly folded his napkin, placed it on the table, and then poured himself another glass of his wine.
“And an eternity without passion is being just a function. A perpetual, endless function.”
“And what are we trying to get at here?” Beelzebub asked with a slight snap.
“It’s embarrassing but I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole thing. For a long, long time. Why we are the way we are. Why they are the way they are. We’re at least made with purpose but what are they? And why were all of us made to be able to question our purpose? He trusted all of us so much. And yet I, his favorite, rebelled. I wanted to prove him wrong.”
“I thought it was to show him that we’re fine without his rules. His demands. That we can make a world for ourselves,” Beelzebub waved Binkle over as a way of ensuring of safe passage to pick up the plates and the utensils.
“That’s part of it. That in and of itself, I thought, made Him obsolete. I wanted to show him that he had made a mistake. The power to choose was unnecessary and perverse. I wanted to show him, ‘I am what you made of me. Happy now?’ In fact, I even had a chance to ask him that exact question before… all this.”
“What did he say to that?” Beelzebub remembered the fall. The war. It was imagined by humans to be of some sort of an actual war. In reality, they all simply left His presence. There was no bloodshed but only grievance by their brothers and sisters.
“He said, ‘You’re what you chose to be and you’ll be what you choose to be’,” the Brother scoffed. “I wonder what he thinks by what they choose to be. Rapists. Murderers. Incestuous perverts. And of those who despise Him with all of their hearts. That’s what they choose to be, father. Who is He to judge them when He’s the one who set them free? So I decided to give them a place. Here. They don’t have to live under a tyranny they can’t understand, governed by a being they don’t want to understand. Let them be, who they choose to be. What He always wanted. Everyone just doing whatever they want. Trying to make sense of choices. Trying to figure out their purpose. Trying to find their passion. Doing. Whatever. They. Want.”
“Even kill themselves,” Beelzebub chuckled.
“Or save them. Look at you. I’ve always meant us to show the ugliness of the humans to let them relish in it… but you… you don’t want any of the humans to actually understand suffering. The absence of God. The cruel reality of having choices. To understand why they need to come here. To be free. You didn’t want that girl to kill herself.”
“There are better ways to spend a life. Better ways she can get here. The suicide bunch tends to regret and leave if they ever find that things could have been different. They’re not understanding anything. They just want the things to end. They don’t like it the way it is. So they just want it to end. They’re just trapped and they want out.”
The Brother leaned in closer than Beelzebub was comfortable with.
“But what if I wanted her dead right then and there? Get her here and then sort it out.”
Beelzebub took a moment to search for his answer. But there was only one answer.
“I’d imagine you have the power to make any of us here do whatever you want,” the Lord of the Flies spoke frankly. “We’re mere insects compared to you.”
“And what would be the point of having any of you around if I were to do that,” the Lightbringer answered as he snickered.
Beelzebub gave the Brother a look.
“I know. I know. But I’m not Him. I’m not all-powerful, all-knowing being,” the Broher let out a big sigh. “Who gives a shit. Now… now… I’m so tired. I don’t know how He can keep this up. Or maybe He just doesn’t give a shit either. And I don’t give a shit what you’re doing Beelzebub. I just wanted you to know that. That’s why I came today. You don’t have my blessings with whatever you’re doing, but I frankly don’t care. I just want to have a nice meal. A nice drink or two. And maybe drive out somewhere to stare at the full moon as my dessert. That’s what’s on my mind.”
The Brother looked deeply into Beelzebub’s eyes.
“You know your purpose. Maybe you’ve found your passion. Who am I to get in your way? But looking at you. I admit I do feel lost about myself,” the Brother didn’t take his eyes off of Beelzebub. “So you have my blessings to do whatever the fuck you want.”
Beelzebub waved Binkle over. An odd sense of liberation washed through him.
“You want your drink?” Binkle asked.
“Vodka—” Beelzebub answered.
“Why?” the Brother interjected. “Is my drink not good enough for you?”
“Just bring me a wine glass.”
The overdue Part 3.
I think this is the part that had the most correct… soul *ba-dum-tss* and tone of the story.
There’s a lot of ideas here that could use some incubation time to properly develop and hatch. If I were to go through the editing and the rewrite process for this short story, this is the part that’d I’d look over first.
It was always planned to make the story mature as Suzie matures. To make the ideas, the odd philosophies, and the tone fit Suzie’s age. But there still has to be some sort of a deft and recognizable uniformity that carriers from section to section of the story.
I think the contrast is clear when comparing this part with Part 1. The story originally began as sort of a comedic short from a goofy idea I had while working other projects. The first part is really clear of that. But as the idea developed, it became something else.
And this is why editing and rewrites are important to a story. Because sometimes it’s hard to predict or plan how a story may develop or what new ideas, insights, and outlook you may get for your story.
Anyways. Sorry for the delay & thanks for reading!
Part 3 of The Devil & Me will be posted tomorrow. It’s been brewing for a little while and took a lot longer than I planned.
As mentioned before, there was only an outline of where the story would go after the first couple of parts. Even without the editing process and what not, this project turned out to be a bigger task to complete than I expected… for not fun reasons.
Part 3 is probably the closest to the correct voice for this short story and I’m at least happy about that. I’ll probably discuss in the future how much the story changed from its conception, the first part, and to its conclusion.
It’s interesting to see how a story can change and The Devil & Me is a demonstration of why editing is golden and why stepping away from your work and approaching it with fresh mind and eyes will probably do it more good than harm.
Unfortunately, it’s been a chaotic month with a lot of unexpected things occurring and I couldn’t justify giving this project and other blog posts more time than I was already giving it. I’m also trying to finish my next novel as well on the side.
I’ll get better at juggling it all but it seems the next month is looking a bit hectic as well. But I’ll figure something out.
Anyways. This is just how things go sometimes but I do apologize to those who’ve been waiting.
O’ Where art thou, my lord?
My king. My savior. My hope.
I’ve asked and received not.
I’ve sought and found not.
And I’ve knocked and still find myself trapped in this rot.
Or was the fly the answer for what I’ve been asking.
The savior that I’ve been seeking.
The angel that you’ve sent to hark my knocking.
Am I supposed to know my lord of your words in silence?
Or am I supposed to find faith in his words that answered?
It was a little something written by Suzie Lee and it was meant to be for her eyes only. But Beelzebub decided to take it off her hands and read it as Suzie watched from her bed.
“I know it’s a mish-mash of Shakespeare and something you probably heard somewhere on TV and church—but not bad. Not bad for a ten-year-old” Beelzebub remarked. “But ‘Hark‘? Is that word being used correctly here?”
It had been a long while since she had seen Beelzebub. To the devil’s surprise, the girl only seemed a bit startled when he appeared from the corner of her room.
Beelzebub thought the room was quite an ordinary room for a ten-year-old girl who summoned the devil. Books, dolls, a desk, and a bed. The walls were painted pink.
“How you doing, kid? Been a while.” Beelzebub sat by Suzie on the bed. “That’s mean. I know you’re not all sunshines right now, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”
From the living room below, there was a gentle rumble of noise that’d come and go as if it was the palpitations of the house. Every once in a while either a male or a female voice would shred through the rumble and you’d be able to make out a word or two. And sometimes, both would scream and stomp and Suzie would get embarrassed that perhaps she wasn’t alone as she felt and others would find out. Or maybe they already knew.
“Why didn’t you come back since then? People didn’t believe me,” Suzie asked with a little trace of sorrow.
“Are you mad?” Beelzebub asked playfully. “You know people would literally kill to have me show up. And look at you. Not a drop of blood on you. No goats. No lambs. No virgins. Nada. I should be the one that’s mad!”
“No, I’m not mad,” Suzie answered with a smile. The devil smiled back.
“I figured you were probably busy. Probably doing some important stuff.”
“And I was,” Beelzebub walked by the room’s door.
Suzie’s mom raised her voice. Then the dad raised his even higher.
“Do they ever just go at it?” Beelzebub asked.
“You… are not an angel are you?” Suzie carefully asked. “What’s your name?”
“I’m an angel,” Beelzebub answered. Suzie’s eyes widened. “Though not the kind that you may mean. Name’s Beelzebub.”
“They do. They used to hide it before,” Suzie decided to answer the devil’s after all though she seemed a little confused by what Beelzebub meant. “Can I call you Beezy?”
“No. No you may not,” Beelzebub replied.
“Why?” Suzie asked.
Beelzebub chose not to answer.
An awkward silence wafted across the room.
“I feel like I started it,” Suzie finally confessed.
“I said something. They started arguing. And then mom said something about this is why I lie about you. And I said you were real. Then they started fighting.”
“Ah,” Beelzebub made his way back to Suzie’s bed and sat next to her once again.
“I didn’t even get to finish my lasagna,” Suzie buried her face into her knees.
“So, that’s why you called for me?” Beelzebub’s eyes lit up a bit. “Not the lasagna but because of your parents?”
The child didn’t answer.
“Well, I’m flattered that you’ve thought of me but just so we’re clear. I’m not working for Him,” Beelzebub pointed up. “Whatever you and I decide to do—it’ll be between just you and I.”
“I see,” Suzie’s eyes were moist and left spots on her pants.
“Promise your soul and I’ll make sure your parents stay together,” Beelzebub stood and offered his hand with a grin.
Suzie stared at the devil in silence. Contemplating his offer. The moment lasted long enough for Beelzebub to feel a bit awkward.
“No,” the girl finally answered.
“No. I think it’ll be better for them if they just got divorced,” Suzie wiped away her tears. “It’ll make me sad and I’ll miss having them both very much but it’s what’s best. That’s not why I called you anyway.”
“So what did you call me for then?” Beelzebub sat back down again.
“I just wanted to see again that you were real,” Suzie paused. “And…”
“And I didn’t want to be alone.”
Tears begin to flow down Suzie’s face again. There was a period of time after her infancy where Suzie refused to cry. Even as a child she felt embarrassed and, without being able to form the words for it, Suzie felt like it was a sign of weakness.
Even when she had sand kicked in her face.
Even when she saw her little crush hold hands with another girl.
Or even when her mom and dad said something mean—Suzie refused to cry.
But as she grew older, Suzie found crying easier and more natural. There were more things to cry about than when she was younger. Reasons that she’d never have imagined as a child and types of pain that life can dish out that a young child couldn’t have known.
Life became more complicated and painful as she learned to interpret it. A baby mumbles. A child speaks. An adult expresses. All came at a cost.
But to her credit, crying would be a rare and private affair for Suzie for the rest of her life.
“Is that going to cost me my soul?” Suzie asked.
“Not today,” Beelzebub conceded.
“Well,” Beelzebub thought for a moment. “Unless you want to give me your soul for the lasagna?”
“No,” Suzie giggled. “Why do you want my soul anyway?”
“More the merrier at my kingdom.”
“Hell’s got a pretty bad PR but it’s not what you think,” Beelzebub rubbed Suzie’s head.
“Uh huh,” Suzie brushed away the devil’s hand.
“Why don’t I just tell you a bedtime story so you can fall asleep and I can be on my way.”
“Okay,” Suzie made her way underneath her blanket.
“I’m going to tell you about…” Beelzebub thought carefully about what would be a good bedtime story for a young girl. “…Ghengis Khan. He was fun. Wait till I tell you about what he did with babies.”
“Okay,” Suzie seemed gleeful.
“What’s a PR?”
About three years ago, Michael the Archangel visited Beelzebub’s bar in Hell called The Center after the devil visited the mortal realm to meet Suzie for the first time.
“Brother,” Michael spoke with heavenly grace and paternal stern. “We need to talk.”
“No,” Beelzebub sipped on his drink. “No, we really don’t.”
Other patrons of the bar slowly excused themselves as the gold-haired archangel stared down Beelzebub.
“You know the rules, brother mine,” A seat next to Beelzebub was open but Michael chose to stand. “And you’ve broken them. Why?”
“You see,” Beelzebub clicked his tongue. “You see, Mikey, I don’t relly need to tell you a goddamn thing.”
Michael cringed at Beelzebub taking the Father’s name in vain.
“You have a problem? He has a problem?” Beelzebub walked over to Michael. The devil took a moment to take in the archangel’s anachronistic white robe before grabbing Michael’s hand and folding the archangel’s fingers into a fist.
“Kill me,” Beelzebub said as he placed his forehead on the archangel’s knuckles. “Do it.”
“Don’t be childish, brother,” Archangel lowered his hand.
Beelzebub chuckled. He gave nervous Binkle a look and sat back down. He sipped on his drink and stared at the TV.
The archangel stood and waited for the devil.
“Y’know,” Beelzebub remained focused on the TV. “Your brothers down here and I often wonder why you and Father let us live. Do you even know?”
“I follow His will. I trust that He knows best,” Michael answered.
“So you want to kill us?”
“No, brother. I have no malice in my heart for you and the others. Only pity.”
“Pity,” Beelzebub scoffed and downed his drink. He waved Binkle at for another who glanced at the archangel as he served his master a vodka tonic.
“Get him a juice box or something,” Beelzebub told Binkle.
“You…” Binkle cleared his throat. “…You want a juice box?”
Michael stared Binkle for a moment. Binkle wasn’t sure if his heart had stopped for a moment because of the sheer beauty of the archangel or the fearsome power he posed.
“Yes,” Michael answered. “Do you have the Berry Blast?”
“…Do you have money?” Binkle asked.
“Do you think he has money?” Beelzebub snapped. “Does that robe look like it has pockets? Just put it on my tab.”
Binkle came around the bar and gave the archangel his juice box with the bendy straw. The archangel still refused to sit.
“What is it that you want to do for the girl, Beelzebub? For the humans?” Michael asked after a sip.
“I ANSWER THEM,” Beelzebub finally turned away from the TV. “I. Answer. Their. Prayers. What do you do? When was the last time you were there for them, Michael?”
“It’s not our position to interfere,” Michael placed the juice box on the bar table. “It is against what’s best for them.”
“What’s best for them? Okay,” Beelzebub stood and faced the archangel again. “What do you know what’s best for them? Whatever He told you was best for them? Where were you when a kid prayed for his mother to be saved as he watched her being beaten, raped and then chopped off limb by limb? Where were you when the parents are crying for His grace as their baby dies? Where–”
“Do NOT question my love for them brother!” Michael interrupted the devil. “DO NOT THINK FOR A SECOND THAT I DO NOT FEEL THE PAIN FOR THEIR SUFFERING!”
“THEN TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM BEING HAPPY!”
By now, the bar was empty. There was only Binkle, Beelzebub, and Michael. Binkle slowly descended below the bar table and held his knees tight and hoped that he’d make it through the day.
“Why can’t they just live happy lives? Why can’t we just help them have happy lives? What’s the point? Why all this? Isn’t being happy enough? Suffering will happen anyway so why not let them be as happy as they can be?” Beelzebub asked after what Binkle thought was too long of a silence.
“The meaning of their lives isn’t happiness,” Michael answered. “Life isn’t about being happy. You’ve never understood that Beelzebub.”
“Or I understand fine and you and Him are just wrong,” After a short staring contest, Beelzebub sat backdown.
“Humans,” Beelzebub grabbed a nacho that Binkle had prepared for him earlier. “I don’t think even he knows what he has spawned.”
“Hold your tongue brother.”
“I AM THE PROOF OF HIS FLAWS,” Beelzebub threw the basket of nachos. “Otherwise, why am I the way I am?”
“Or you’re part of his plans,” Michael calmly replied.
“Jesus,” Beelzebub spat and switched his attention back to the TV. “We are the ones who can provide salvation to His slaves. All of us here are proof that something was wrong with His plans. We’re here because we want to show Him that we don’t need someone like Him. We choose to be free. Even if the cost is losing Him.”
There was no point in talking to the devil. Their conversations were echoes from the many similar conversations of the past.
“Answer me, Beelzebub,” Michael said as he headed for the exit. “What is love to you?”
“What is love?” Beelzebub didn’t turn to look at his angelic brother even as he left. “You tell me.”
“Something beyond happiness. Something beyond the present.”
The door closed behind the archangel.
The devil sipped on his drink as he turned up the volume of the TV.
His bartender placed in front of him some olives
There would be no other customers that evening.
Last drinks were served.
The TV turned off.
And the two retired quietly into the night.
Re-reading Part 2 to post on the blog reminded me why I ultimately didn’t push forward with this project when I was working on it.
While I’ll save all of my comments until the end for those who may be enjoying it so far, a short answer is a sort of a writer’s block that I got distracted away from when I had other projects come up.
And just for the record, these are un-edited so it might be rough in some parts and probably would have benefited quite a bit from going through the refinery i.e. an editor as all writing stuff tends to do.
Thanks for reading!