There was a new girl at the office. She was extremely pretty. She was the only woman in the company, although she thought there were other women. She saw them.
One Friday morning, on the second month of her employment, a strange man named Caleb Ruoth came to the office and terrorized her. He said,
“I need to see Mr. Gorgon!” in a tone of peremptory command.
He, however, had no appointment, and Margaret, the new girl, duly informed him of it, at which point he gave in to a sudden fit of frenzied rage and hysteria and hammered the desk mightily with one surpassingly huge, mighty fist.
“I need to see Mr. Gorgon!” he repeated, and lurched closer to the secretary, his face twice hers, eyes blacker than the blackness of death itself. She could feel the furious breath jetting from his flared nostrils upon her face; it smelled of raw fish and dry grass and it was hot as if there was a ruptured volcano inside him.
She jerked away from him and at the same time emitted a sharp, bewildered cry. She made to reach for the phone but he knocked it off the desk before she could touch it, his gigantic arm making a dangerous sweep towards her, missing her by a hair’s breadth; it reversed immediately and clamped her hand, which had not moved an inch, like jaws. In an instant, he had pitched forwards, lifted her from beyond the desk like a piece of paper, tossed her up into the air, let go of her for a second or two, clutched her again by her shoulder, and yanked her towards him as if he purposed to wrench off her arm. She bumped him and bounced back. He was as solid as a wall. His lips touching her left ear, his face grim, he said,
“Now perhaps you will listen. I need to see Mr. Gorgon.”
His voice was too deep for an ordinary human, his chest seemingly hollow. His breath was like fire and it scorched her earlobe, which at once began to peel, melt, and shrink like a dying leaf.
It was then that she screamed: a shrill, terrified, thoughtless, deranged, blood-curdling scream that brought me out of my office in a split second.
“Margaret!” I shouted, as if in panic. “What is the matter?”
The man released her. She ran to me. She flung her arms around me, I hugged her, and she began to sob, heaving and convulsing in great terror and temper.
“I need to see you,” the man said.
“I need to see you,” he repeated.
“You will,” I told him sternly.
I took Margaret to my office, put her down gently on a sofa, and gave her a glass of ice to press on her injured ear. I returned to face Caleb Ruoth.
He was colossal, stalwart as well, a beast of a man, his neck a pillar of steel, supporting the immense superstructure of his round, massive head. He towered at slightly beyond seven feet, his skin unusually dark, eyes darker, yet so piercingly keen that when he focused them on you they looked like two pitiless pits, endless, lightless, empty, hellish, soulless, and you wondered what he saw in you, for he seemed to see something of which you yourself were not aware. He weighed at least three hundred pounds.
Enraged, for the evil he’d done to my secretary, I allowed him no chance to explain his business. I grabbed him by the ankle of his right leg, and, with one arm, whirled him round and round the room like a rock on a sling, and then freed him forcefully towards the nearest window. He exploded through it like a demon, glass shattering, scattering, screaming, and, a few seconds later, there was an implacable, unforgiving thud nine floors below.
Shouts and shrieks and ululations followed forthwith. People saw a man plummeting uncontrollably from the ninth floor window and hitting the ground with a powerful, death-dealing crash. However, when they ran to the scene of impact to witness, to their maddening confusion and shock, there was no corpse but an old tyre of an old truck . . . only that and nothing more.
Meanwhile, back in the office, I took care of Margaret’s wounded ear. It had shrunk and shrivelled to a third of its normal size. It had also blackened to the colour of soot. She was touching it and sobbing bitterly. Tracks of tears stained her fair countenance, which was now distorted and perverse.
“Who was he?” she asked concerning her attacker.
“Caleb Ruoth,” I said.
“Does he owe us money?”
“I have never seen him before.”
“Did he want money?”
“I don’t know.”
“I wonder how he passed by the guards and the reception downstairs,” Margaret said, sniffling and drying her eyes and nose with a fold of serviettes.
“They will have to explain,” I replied, but I knew it would be fruitless.
“Will my ear grow back?” she asked, fingering the damaged organ and wincing with horror to find it so disproportionately withered.
“You must go to the hospital,” I answered. “Arrangements have already been made for you to leave immediately,” added I, and she looked up at me anxiously, wondering who could possibly have made the arrangements when nobody in the company had yet heard of her situation but the two of us. She started to ask something but I interrupted her with, “Would you like me to call somebody to escort you?” to which she answered, “No, I’ll just go, but thanks, boss.”
She left soon afterwards. She did not ask why nobody else on the ninth floor seemed to have heard her scream, why no one had come out to investigate the commotion when the window shattered.
The hospital, owned by the company, was on the second floor. I was already there when Margaret entered.
“Good morning, Margaret,” I greeted, beaming cheerfully, when I saw her.
“I’m afraid it’s not so good for me, Dr. Reed,” she replied gloomily.
“I can see that,” I said, observing her carefully. “No one looks for me when everything is well for them.”
“Indeed,” she said, and managed a wan smile.
“How may I help you today?”
In response, she removed the bandages with which I had dressed the wound, and I jumped back, as if scared, upon seeing her shrivelled, blackened ear. It was continuing to shrink; it was much smaller than it had been upstairs. Soon she would have nothing there but a hole, a cavity into her skull.
“What is that?” I inquired, feigning shock. “What happened to your ear, Margaret?”
“A man came upstairs . . .”
“What man? Which man?”
She quickly briefed me respecting the events upstairs.
“His breath did this?” I wondered. “What sort of a man was he?”
“He was enormous. His breath was like steam and smelled of raw fish and dry grass.”
“Raw fish and dry grass, huh?” I said and stifled an urge to laugh aloud. “What does a mixture of raw fish and dry grass smell like?”
“I don’t know,” she said, uncertain. “It’s what came to my mind first when he spoke on my face.”
“A curious happening indeed,” remarked I. “I hope Demogorgon dealt with that devil accordingly. Let’s see how we can fix your ear before it disappears completely.”
I re-dressed the wound and administered some medication to her, which, but for a few painkillers, consisted mainly of placebos. Afterwards, I advised her to return home and take a deep sleep.
“Will my ear grow back, Dr. Reed?” asked she, sounding pained and vulnerable.
“It should by tomorrow morning,” I reassured confidently. “If it hasn’t, then I should schedule a surgery straightaway to replace it.”
“Okay. Thanks, Doctor,” she said gratefully.
I watched her depart thereafter, a fair-skinned petite woman of twenty-three, graceful, sweet, defenceless, an efficiently beautiful human child. I knew what would happen to her. It was inevitable, irreversible.
At the reception on the ground floor, she stopped to inquire respecting Caleb Ruoth.
“Roni, did you permit an enormous evil-looking man to come to the ninth floor to see Mr. Gorgon?” she asked the male receptionist.
“No, madam,” I said deferentially. “I didn’t see anybody fitting that description.”
“Hanna? Did you?” she frowned at the woman sitting with Roni.
“What was his name?” Hanna asked.
I pretended to search for his name in the desktop in front of me.
“Nobody by that name has reported to this building so far, madam,” I told her shortly.
“Well, he did,” she emphasized. “He must have quietly slipped by when you relaxed your duty. He was a very evil man and he hurt me. Mr. Gorgon must talk to you about him.”
Her tone was almost threatening. I held my breath until she was gone.
She called her boyfriend when she arrived at her apartment on Riverside. She told him what had happened at the office, adding that Dr. Reed had said she would have plastic surgery if her ear did not heal by morning. He expressed his incredulity at the news, and then condoled with her and promised to see her as soon as he left work.
“I’ll just be at home waiting for you,” she said. “I miss you, Jim, and I love you.”
“I love you too, sweets,” I responded smoothly. “See you when I come.”
“See you, baby!”
In truth, her boyfriend was dead. He had been dead for six weeks. She did not know it yet. I had killed him myself a week after she began to work for me. I had fed him to my horse. It was me on the phone with her that Friday morning when she was lying down on her bed waiting to fall into a deep sleep as I had advised her at the hospital. Not that the sleep would be any beneficial at all.
I spent the rest of the day running the company as usual, such as only I could, being everything, everyone, all at once.
At exactly eight o’clock, Global Financiers Limited shut down for the day. Only one man drove out of the building. Only one man ever drove into and out of the building at opening and at closing respectively. It was me, and I am no man.
I am a being, yet not human.
My name is Demogorgon. It is a single name, though some people split it into Demo Gordon—hence, Mr. Gorgon—which is wrong, although I do not mind it at all, for error is to humans what evil and mischief are to me—inevitable. I am ancient; I am undying; I was there before the earth became habitable and the first human conceived of. I do not know from where I originated, or from what material I am made, or for what function. I was startled awake by the very first beam of light that ever shone on this planet. When God said let there be light, I was suddenly deluged with alien, exquisite brilliance, and it was precisely then that I discovered myself, that I learned of my own existence, for I was painfully blinded, murderously confounded and propelled beyond the damned abysses of insanity by the immortal forbidding power of that glare, and I wept bitterly for the expelled darkness, void and formlessness to return and consume my soul until nothing was left of it but an indestructible substance of the dark. I am a substance of the dark. I am the dweller of the void and the formless. I am found within the abandoned soul of the soulless. I am the essence of that which is evil, even of Evil itself.
Satan cowers and mewls before me, for I bequeathed him the concept of rebellion. I am the paragon of his undiminished madness. When he begot Death by his daughter, Sin, I stood by as the godfather. I am the godfather of death.
I am many.
Who I am now, whose face veils my countenance and hairs grow on my devoted head, can be anybody. There is a plethora of choices from which to select my next facade, a cornucopia of souls to deceive, devour and render incurably demented.
In the beginning, to exact vengeance against the creator for ravaging my darkness with his fiery light, I swore to torment his creation forever and humiliate him ruthlessly by constantly thwarting his efforts to save them. Every good deed he attempted had to be corrupted to a bitter, worthless, horrifying end. For a start, I incited Lucifer against him, and once Satan and his diabolic army had triumphantly rebelled, they joined me and we immediately became accomplished in torturing and annihilating every living thing we could find. For centuries, I drew immense pleasure from this perversion; later, however, I became blasé; I became accustomed to destruction and death and no more rapture did I derive from them, especially after we had managed to turn every living thing against one another, to destroy and desolate without mercy. Humans themselves, our chief target, bore the hardest brunt of our vengeance, for they were, from the start, endowed with reason and knowledge, and deep inside them, there was ample room for improvement. They were, therefore, easier to transform than other creatures, and, in the end, they became irreparably degenerated. Their improvement had to be watched with unfailing critical caution; every chance for improvement had to be ruined, subverted, and perverted to the extent that they began to view ruin, subversion, and perversion as the fundamentals for improvement. Now they scarcely remember their origin; the earth is too harsh for them and they have nowhere else to run; all they have is one another, yet they are violently intolerant and wantonly hateful. Pain and death are their eternal bands, and although they awake each morning believing that they have, at least so far, been victorious over the two, the vanity is too poignant. A human life is like a circle of pain with death seated at a random point on the circumference. No matter which way a man runs, pain is with him and he is heading towards death, even when he thinks he is escaping it. Nevertheless, I relinquished some of the work to Satan. I no longer applied myself with excessive assiduity as I’d done before. The world had already become too much alive with unchanging evil, and I found no enthusiasm whatsoever in enduring to destroy creatures whose sole goal was now to destroy themselves and their own abode. Satan never tired, though; his delight in his own success is inexhaustible. His pride is an inextinguishable flame.
After millennia upon millennia of wandering to and fro and back and forth the earth, and feeling increasingly purposeless, desolated, and bitter, I sought something for my personal indulgence; I did start a company in accordance with human laws and trends. Global Financiers Limited, a company owned by one, run by one, yet it is in every state in the world. I am the chief executive officer and all the directors and all the employees, including the guards and the cleaners. When we have a board meeting, it is a meeting of one mind, and I just sit there alone and mull over my cause. I give loans to governments and private citizens at the lowest rates, even as I trade their souls with Lucifer, who still craves such things. The money is like a cursed thing that is never put to any helpful use. It causes corruption and consumption by mental illness. It diverts attention from the objectives for which it was acquired and utterly erases every trace of benevolent action from the mind. It vanishes as if scattered carelessly in the wind. People become insane soon after they come to me. Governments are viciously overthrown or become frenzied dictators hell-bent on slaughtering their own citizens to extinction. Yet, when all these things have come to pass, my debtors still owe me and must pay what they owe. They pay with their souls, since, myself, I get paid for those souls in return.
Once, not too long ago, a woman, who owed me, put her three-month old baby into the microwave while convinced beyond doubt that it was a bath. And a man forced his bull into a deep well so that it could drink all the water it wanted without bothering him every now and then.
The Devil continuously upsets the system, compelling every human towards a state of excruciating financial dependence, where they believe steadfastly that without money they are nothing, nobody, and severely worse than dead. They run to me, desperate and insecure, fearful and abased like the lowest of creatures that ever populated the earth, and I drive them mad and deprive them of their depraved useless souls, which I offer to Satan to continue his exemplary work. My reward is occupation. I get something to do.
Occasionally, though, I employ a human female. Having lived amongst humans for this long, I understand perfectly why, sometime back, angels from heaven descended to earth in order to mate with the daughters of men, for the women are exceedingly pretty beings, tender, ripe, needy, and crushing one underneath me is indeed an unqualified experience. I employ them in order to mate with them; otherwise they are worthless to my company. They never find out that I mate with them.
Having closed for the day, I took my horse, which everybody thought was a car, and rode away. It was its feeding time, and downtown Nairobi, at the excessively busy and confused Railways Bus Station, it transformed into a minibus with a capacity of fifteen passengers. Travellers gathered forthwith at the entrance, multitudes of them, and then rushed in impetuously, as soon as the door had opened, fighting for entrance, pushing and grabbing and shrieking, yet too impatient and ignorant to notice that they were walking straight and willingly into the inescapable belly of my horse. Too bad I could only accommodate fifteen.
I heard their horrendous screams when my horse’s belly began to churn and constrict and grind them to pulp. They were shocked, terrified screams dead of hope and seemed to emanate from a hole with no end so that only their dying, unintelligible echoes were audible. By then I was coursing along Mombasa Highway, away from the public, where nobody would ever know. My horse was a different minibus everyday.
I went home for my own dinner of fish and hay. I had built a fish pond where there was a swimming pool when I bought the property. I leapt in and caught fifty giant ones with my bare hands. I put them inside a bucket of water and carried them carefully into the deep, dark, winding hole I’d dug on the floor of my house, and in which I lived; I sat down easily on a heap of hay and ate the fish one by one, swallowing wholly, so that I heard them dancing and jumping frantically in my stomach. I liked them to dance and twist as such in the cruel confinement of my stomach. Afterwards, I had my usual share of hay, of which I consumed about ten kilograms, washing it all down with gallons and gallons of water from the pond. I felt much better thereafter.
Then slowly and creepingly I crawled out of my hole.
The night reposed with serenity of still and perfect doom. The sky, laden with human toxins innumerable, brooded over the world potently and maliciously as if wishing to fall down and crush all to dust. Thunder rolled heavily and the ground shook; lightning peeped through the poisonous clouds and then glared down brutally while squiggling about indecipherable warnings of an oncoming inevitability across the bloated fabric of heaven. By the time the first drops started to fall, I had reached Margaret’s house.
“Jim!” she exclaimed when she saw me, calling me by her dead boyfriend’s name. She hugged me hard and kissed my lower lip, sucking, pulling at it as if she wanted it to fall off into her mouth. I withdrew and planted a gentle one on her lips. She was warm and sweet, and soft, and I wanted her. She said she had missed me; I told her I’d missed her as well, only worse, and kissed her fully in the mouth.
“Was it so bad?” I asked her as I examined the bandages on her ear.
“Dr. Reed said it’ll be okay,” she said.
“Does it hurt?” I inquired.
“It itches, it tickles, it sears—but that’s all.”
“How could a man hurt you with his breath?” I wondered.
“I don’t know. He just did.”
“Was he arrested?”
“Mr. Gorgon threw him out the window.”
“I don’t know. He died maybe. I don’t care.”
I studied her pretty face and wondered how she would react do if she suddenly knew that I myself had been Caleb Ruoth, who had assaulted her at the office, and if she saw my true face now, my leathery, rugged, hellish toothy face that was itself older than the earth.
I carried her to bed and mated with her. She was small and weightless beneath me, powerless and subdued, squirming and crying with pleasure from a place beyond hell, a true picture of a human in her designated state, thinking she was in control, believing so, when herself she was the subject of a relentless callous control.
The wound in her ear would never heal. In the morning her earlobe would be all gone, leaving only a hole into her skull, and afterwards the infection would spread rapidly to the left side of her face, and then to the rest of her head. It would go on until all the flesh was eaten from her head and her skull exposed, sparkling white, with her eyes dangling emptily in it. There was nothing she could do to stop it.
As I anticipated my orgasm, lightning tore ferociously at the pregnant sky and thunder rolled out like the Devil’s child.