I.

There was a place in Karen where the Devil sometimes came through to Nairobi. It was an open field of about a quarter of an acre with a few tall trees, sporadic thickets, and patches of stunted grass. The trees and the thickets had yellow, sickly leaves and the grass was mostly burnt. But a building usually appeared there just moments before the Devil stepped out of a wall. It was an enormous building and it disappeared as soon as the Devil was gone.

I had thought once that perhaps I should set traps there with massive chains, hooks and barbed wire—or even with a modified rat trap intended for something his size—and catch him unawares and torture him until he surrendered my soul. But I did not know what could hold him. He was a gigantic thing, and as heartless as only he could be. If he overcame the traps, he’d find me and squish me underneath his feet. Or worse, he would give my soul to Moloch. He had said that if I did not fulfil my end of the bargain, he would give my soul to Moloch.

He had, however, been the first to dishonour the deal, and I now had to contrive to obtain what he owed me.

I crossed to the spot where the house usually materialized. The temperature was much higher at that point, though the heat was clearly not from the sun. It was also still; but for the miserable vegetation, I had never seen any other living thing in the area.

I waited.

I had seen how the wall cracked before, how it gaped like a jagged, sinister, monstrous mouth. If I could flit through it before the Devil noticed me . . . If I could do that!

But what if he already knew my plan?

Ah! That could bear imponderable consequences. I began to sweat and shake from its very prospect, and my heart hurt. I turned my thoughts away from it, wondering who owned this property that the Devil used as a gateway. I had asked the same question before, though in vain. Somebody in Nairobi owned it and knew the Devil used it often. If they didn’t know, they would have developed it already. People were hungrier and greedier for such property than ever before. Prime Property, the dealers called it, and then charged astronomical costs. Yet here it was, unfenced, unattended, a dead, deadly plot, a doorway through to Hell itself. I imagined the owner had neighbours, friends, family. Did they know that he had allowed his property to be utilized by the Devil as a gateway from Hell and that he probably benefitted immensely from the agreement? I imagined him drinking and laughing with his friends, having sex with his wife, maybe trying to be a good father to his children, even succeeding, while behind them all, he had made the evilest, vilest deal with the evilest, vilest being ever conceived. People could be frightening.

Where the Devil went or what he did while about town I did not know. But there were disappearances. Adults, children. Random indiscriminate unexplained disappearances. The Daily Nation had done a story on them once. The list had been too long.

Those, plus the souls that I’d given him. Given him in vain.

If I could just go through the wall without . . .

And I was calm. I had distracted myself enough to be calm when the house appeared at once and the wall exploded.

Shit!

I was thrown back, into the air and further back, but before I could hit the ground, I was flung against the ceiling and pinned there like an insect.

“Where do you think you are going?” demanded he. He was pinning me with his index finger, pressing my ribs too hard.

“None of your business,” I groaned.

In response, he drilled a hole through my heart to the ceiling. Blood flooded his finger and ran down the rest of his hand. I twisted and slid down, becoming stuck at the swell of the middle joint.

“Your business is mine,” he said. “You forget that all your business is mine.” His voice was like that of a man whose throat is clogged with oil.

“Give it back to me,” I moaned. “Give back what you owe.”

“You still owe me.” He released me and I fell hard on the floor. Dust and debris flew about and the house vibrated.

“Answer the phone and get back to work,” he said, and vanished.

II.

I rose. To my dismay, the wall had returned to its original state. Seconds later, the house faded into nonexistence, leaving me in the open. I was standing on dead grass.

Blood was gushing out of me. The hole in my heart was gaping at the world. But I did not care. It didn’t matter. I was overwhelmed by the futility of my ambition, the stark impotence of rage at the undying. Distress came upon me, despair. I did not move.

“Three souls,” he’d said. “Bring me three souls and you will get yours in exchange.”

Later, he’d changed to thirty-three, then to three hundred and thirty-three, six hundred and sixty-six, nine hundred and ninety-nine, and, finally, just one. The one that I could not get and he would not explain. Two thousand one hundred souls already! I had surpassed his target. All this accomplished in ten years. He had robbed me of ten years of my existence.

Yet he withheld the reward. How fitting of him!

The Devil. Lucifer. Satan.

Ah!

I’d been running from the cops when I bumped into him at this very place. He had been exiting, out for what I later learned was his once-a-month trip to Nairobi, while bullets zinged over my head and cops came steadily on my trail.

Suddenly, a house grew around me. A bungalow. Many-walled. Many-roomed. It came out of nowhere. I braked too unexpectedly and the momentum propelled me forwards, into someone, or something, that hadn’t been there before.

The impact knocked me flat on the floor. I immediately scrambled up. Confused, things spiralling out of view, going dark, too many inputs, too few interpretations, something clutching my stomach, my own heartbeat too fast—I started to flee, but at that critical moment, that decisive life-and-death instant, my strength failed me. My knees wobbled. I flopped.

Later, I realized that I’d wanted to flee in the direction of the cops. I also realized that if the Devil hadn’t been there at precisely when I ran into him, I’d have fallen through the crack into the unforgiving, implacable dark beyond and the unflagging fires of Hell.

He grabbed me, raised me. He was hot like a burning thing and I jerked away from him without a thought to spare. But he held on to my head. His hand was so wide it covered my head like a helmet, the fingers reaching far past my jaws, my neck. I was a little doll in his hands.

“Watch your path!” he said and shook me. “Human!” he spat. There was profound contempt in his voice when he did it. His breath was steam. It scalded my face.

I could not speak. I could not move. Neither could I take my eyes off him. He was a colossal thing that could easily weigh over a tonne. Hardy, rugged muscles jutted all over his immortal body, and his skin was like the bark of some ancient cursed tree that had stubbornly withstood the agonies of living in a cruel death-riddled world; it was hardened and rough-edged, excessively wrinkled and stained with the corruption and profanity of eternal Hell. A strange crackling sound was issuing from his eyes, as if they were roasting and might suddenly pop out, and reddish blue tongues of flame spewed out of his ears.

Lucifer.2.

The Devil

“You are about to die,” continued he, deadpan. “I can see it all over your face. What are you running from?”

When I didn’t answer, he said, “Can’t you speak? Or would you like me yank off your tongue so that you never have to speak again?”

“Cops,” I said. It was a faltering whisper.

“What is it you possess that they hanker after with such fiery passion?”

“They think I am a terrorist.”

The Devil grinned. A sinister grin that made the corners of his lips to curve like horns. The pupils of his eyes floated towards his nose and gathered there so that they seemed crossed. The irises glowed yellowish with tinges of red sprinkled all over. I could see my image in them: a distorted thing with a scalded, skinless face, eyes terrified beyond reason. I looked only once and shut my eyes.

“Are you?” he asked.

“No! My friend is.”

He seemed disappointed. I could tell by the way he sighed and squeezed my head.

“What difference does it make, anyway?” he said. “You are on the run for your dear soul. And they are going to kill you in two and half minutes. A bullet is going to shatter this skull like something for target practice. Are you ready to die?”

I shook my head within his stupendous hand. “No!”

“What difference does it make?” he asked again. “Dead or alive, you are all the same. All of mankind! The living ones exert too hard in order to die. The dying ones exert too hard in order to live. The living fight the living with a vengeance, yet mourn the dead with bitterness. It is pathetic. Stupid. However, there is a place where you can be both dead and alive simultaneously. It is the perfect place for mankind. Do you know it?”

My eyes were still closed and he shook me. I opened them just in time to see the wall shut itself. The edges met with the impact of jaws clamped together. What now faced me was its discoloured, ruined, ancient surface. It seemed to have been there for tens of thousands of years.

I had glimpsed what was on the other side of it: the black, hollow desolation that set the bladder loose and the bowels running by its very presence. A pit without an end; yet a scream had emanated from it, a deep, senseless, horrid cry from a truly wretched soul.

“Do you know it?” the Devil repeated. He was glowering at me.

Unable to speak, I shook my head.

“Well, then. You are about to find out. I’ll just wait for them to gun you down and then call Moloch.”

He removed his hand from my head, and I could again hear the police outside. They were too close. I could hear the sound of their running feet. One of them fired and the blast shook the house.

It occurred to me that I was truly caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea. Quite literally, between the Devil and the crazed gunmen. Death awaited me on both sides. It was a catch-22.

However, if the cops got me, they would triumph over my death and announce to the world that a terrorist had been eliminated. The world would rejoice and continue with its fancy delusions of safety. I was not a terrorist. I was an innocent man who had been at the wrong place at a wrong time. But that did not matter anymore. I saw my parents’ humiliation upon receiving the news, their shock, horror, the stigma that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. They were Seventh-Day Adventists proper, and frowned upon the consumption of something as simple and ubiquitous as tea. To discover that I was a terrorist would surely finish them off. I saw my mother weeping in quiet, felt her anguish, my father by her side, wiping his agonized face. My heart sank deeper.

The cops would never relent.

“So then,” thought I. “Why not disappear from the earth altogether?”

“Take me,” I blurted.

“Take you?” the Devil frowned. “I don’t do pro bono.”

“What do you want?” I pursued.

“I deal in souls.”

“Take mine.”

“I can’t take it like that. I don’t work like that.”

“Why? How do you work?”

“I don’t take willing souls. I don’t deal in free will. You have to do something to make it warrant my keep.”

“Take it!” I shrieked when another shot was fired.

“A condition has to be duly imposed if I have to take it under these circumstances,” he said. “You will work for me, and continue to work for me, until such a day as shall be judged suitable by myself to set you free from servitude, whereupon you will have fulfilled the number of souls required of you.”

“How many souls?” I asked.

“Three souls,” he said. “Bring me three souls and you will get yours in exchange.”

I wanted to ask him how I would still be able to live and work if he took my soul, how I would be able to see and extract the other souls, and where I would find him if I had them, but before I could speak, he raised me to his level (about nine feet high) and put his mouth against mine. With a single draught, he sucked out something.

A period of utter darkness passed during which I could not tell whether I’d been awake or asleep, or dead. I did not see what he had taken out of me, though I did understand that I had lost something, an essence. It was as if he had undressed me; I felt naked, cold; I felt unnaturally light and empty. When I breathed, the air seemed to flow right through me. I did not feel my presence; my substance, my person, had disappeared. I was not there; there was no I, no me. I was nothing. I looked at my hands and could not recognize them, could not tell what they were, or that they were mine. I was a stranger to myself.

The Devil brought his mouth back to mine and blew something into my mouth. Fire. He blew fire into my mouth. My awareness, my memory, returned at once with the heat. I was burning inside and I stretched and thrust against him. Flames and smoke came out of my orifices, and I thought my eyes would explode. I was sick, dying. I was dead.

I did not know how much time passed. When I came to, I was still hanging in his hands.

“The fires of Hell blaze your veins,” he said. “They are thirsty and they never die.” He lowered me. “And we have a deal. You owe me three souls.”

“Do I bring them here?” I asked. My voice was different. Harsh. Objective.

“When you have them, wherever you are, a gate will open for you. Hell has many gates. Enter the gate and Moloch will find you. He loves souls. He so loves them.”

He then left, and the house followed him.

I saw that I had wet my pants and my underwear was heavy with the weight of faeces. My face was badly burnt, blistered and swollen in several places, skinless and bleeding in others. My head hurt too where his hands had gripped, my hair singed, scalp peeled. Yet such terror had he put me through that none of it had drawn my notice.

But it didn’t matter now. Not the pain, not the deformity, not the horror. I felt nothing. Except the fire within me. It blazed. It consumed whatever was left of me.

The cops were still on the property. I did not know why they had not broken into the house. Maybe the Devil’s presence had kept them away. When the house vanished, they started screaming and running helter-skelter, scattering like little birds when the hawk came down, but when they saw me, they turned and began firing. They shot me several times; they shot me in the head, in the chest, and in the stomach; they shot me everywhere. It seemed they would not stop, could not stop. They were terrified. But when they could not shoot anymore, when they thought I was dead, I got up and I killed them. I broke them one by one and stamped their heads under my feet like mud.

III.

But the Devil had lied. That treacherous bastard!

With aggravated bitterness, I trudged away, head lowered. The day had grown gloomy. The sun was peeping down through an ominous stretch of nimbus, and thunder rolled occasionally.

I had scarcely stepped out of the spot where the house had been when my phone rang. It never worked within that spot. It would go off by itself as soon as I got there.

Several messages now reached concerning attempted calls by Stig. I remembered the Devil instructing that I should answer the phone and get back to work.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I need your help,” Stig groaned. “Come now!”

That jolted me back to activity. It meant more souls to be traded. I might even chance upon the special one the Devil wanted so as to release my soul for good. Stig had been helping me with the work. He crucified people on the walls of their bedrooms. Whole families, nailing them side by side from the father to the lastborn. He was the terrorist the cops had been looking for when they found me at his place. They had never caught him. After disposing of my soul, I had gone back and saved him.

He had acquired a new house after the raid and now holed up in a secluded compound off Forest Lane, surrounded by a dense growth of trees and a seven-foot tall wall topped with alternating lines of razor and electric wire. The gate was of steel, as tall as the wall, and had a metallic sign welded on it with the words ‘PRIVATE! ENTRANCE BY INVITATION ONLY’ in red, bold uppercase letters.

The gate was open. It was always shut.

Alarmed, I tore across the compound into the house. I found him sprawled in the living room, the floor around him teeming with blood. I thought he was dead.

“Stig?”

He raised his eyes. He was so weak I thought he might pass out any minute.

“My leg,” he said. “It’s gone.”

His right leg had been sawed off just above the knee. I could see his thighbone gleaming white against the spurting blood. A bit of marrow had oozed out of it.

I removed his belt and tied it around the wound. Next, I obtained a large bed sheet and wrapped the thigh into it. But neither the belt nor the sheet was of much help. He had lost too much blood and was certainly going to die since he would never risk going to the hospital.

“You are going to die,” I stated.

“Fine,” he said.

“You want to die?”

“Not before I get my leg back,” he said. “Go get my leg.”

“Where is it?”

“That bitch took off with it,” he said. “She sawed it off and took off with it.”

The bitch in question was Anther, his girl. When I first met them they had been a duo of budding musicians calling themselves Stigma & Anther, he being Social Stigma and she Alpha Anther. They had dreamed of introducing a version of European Rock into the Kenyan market. One of their choruses had gone thus:

I fell beyond bounds and made a deal with the Devil

Coming quietly in the dark, knocking on my bedroom door, he said

“In three days, I will raise you to a higher level

On the fourth day, I will walk off with your head.”

It was the song that had drawn me to Stig. I had loved it from the very first moment I heard it, more so because of the asphyxiating Christianity at home. However, Stigma &Anther had had almost no fans. Songs like that just did not do well in a country where the worship of God still dominated consciousness. But they had lived lavishly. A home in Karen, two Range Rovers, two Benzes, a BMW, parties every weekend, and trips to Europe where they said their music was more appreciated. I never asked them where the money came from, although it was doubtless the music did not make it. I had learnt not to ask such questions around here, where people were apt to flaunt oodles of cash yet investments were few and development retarded.

The parties, however, were my favourite, because of the hordes of university girls that always came. They were young and pretty, and ripe. And they liked sex. Stig slept with one of them while drunk and that was when trouble began. Anther took it bitterly. She attacked the girl and broke her arm. In the morning, the police came and took Stig and Anther for questioning. Thenceforwards, things precipitated from bad to worse for the couple, until the CID linked Stig to the Al Shabaab terrorists of Somali. Apparently, he was the Nairobi region coordinator of terrorism and piracy. He oversaw the distribution and investment of the money obtained from the acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean. He also owned the warehouse in Industrial Area where the terrorists hid before and after launching attack on Kenyans. The music was a subterfuge. When the police came for him, I was there, and I ended up trading my soul with Devil.

“Why did Anther cut off your leg?” I inquired.

“We had a deal.”

“What deal?”

“We were fighting over who really fucked things up that day the cops came so that now we live like prisoners. She said it was me and called me a fancy faggot. I beat her up. She cried and said she was leaving me. I told her she had nowhere to go. Cops will be up her ass the instant she walks out the gate. That really made her furious, saying I fucked up to imprison her. She said she hates me and would rather go to the cops than live with me. I got scared by that, man. I got scared bad . . .” He trailed off, coughing. I ran for water and when I came back, I sat him upright against the sofa near him.

“I begged her to stay, went on my knees, promised never to strike her again,” Stig went on when he could. “But she said she wanted proof of my word. ‘What proof?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘Proof or I leave!’ She made me desperate, man. It didn’t matter how much I assured her. She is all I have in this prison. I don’t know what else I can be or do without her. So I told her to cut off my right leg. She did. But then she took off!”

“And she carried the leg with her?”

“She was supposed to keep it in the fridge,” Stig continued. “That was part of the deal. But she took off with it. I want it back. I need my leg! That’s why I called you.”

“Where did she go?”

“I think to her sister’s. Karen Road. We’ve been there with you.”

“I’ll get your leg,” I assured him.

He squinted at me. “And what happened to you, man?” asked he. “You are all smoking like you’re smouldering inside. Your face is burnt. Is that a hole in your heart?”

I related what had transpired between me and the Devil.

“So he already knew you were waiting for him?”

“Somehow.”

“But, man, you go to Hell all the time yet you cannot find your soul!”

“That’s because the Devil keeps it in his private chamber. I cannot access it unless I go through that goddamned wall.”

“I told you not . . .” He started coughing again and drank more water. “I told you not to be tormented about a soul. It’s of no use. Look at people who’ve got it and show me the difference! If it mattered the world wouldn’t have been like this. Myself, for instance, I have it but . . .” (Cough) “. . . I crucify people on the wall. I blow people up like pieces of paper. I only wish the Devil had taken me like that—like you.”

We had had a similar conversation before. He thought my life had more meaning than his. I worked for the Devil, and, therefore, was part of a known eternal entity. He said that those who worked for God seemed abandoned and were victims in perpetuity. By default, he said, whether in the world or wild, the call to Hell was impossible to turn down.

Stigma did not understand my anguish. There was fire in me and it glowed and blazed. It would never die. It flowed through me like lava under the earth, churning with great agitation, devouring me, always ready to explode and spew forth its wrath and misery all over the world. The pain was unimaginable. The Devil had replaced my soul with fire. He had given me a piece of himself. And I now understood what Milton had meant when he wrote: “Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell.”

“I want my soul back just as much as you want your leg,” I said. “Look at people with legs and show me the difference! They are embarrassed of them. They don’t want to be seen walking. There is even a bias against those who have legs but no cars or shoes. Yet yours you so dearly desire, though you’re dying.”

He tried to laugh but coughed instead. He then inhaled so deeply I thought it would be his last. But he said, “I don’t think you’ll get back your soul. If the Devil honours his promise, then he won’t be the Devil. Will he?”

I didn’t want to contemplate that. So I went to the kitchen to fetch him sugar. I found a five-litre bottle of orange juice, almost two-thirds full. I poured it in a jug and gave it to him.

“Drink that if you wish to see your leg again.”

“Go on and fetch it, then!” he said. “Why are you still here? Plus, I think you may just find that special soul you’ve been looking for after all.”

I left, remembering to shut the gate.

The compound on Karen Road was full of cops. I arrived just as they were leading Anther to a waiting vehicle. She was carrying Stigma’s leg in a plastic bag. She did not show any signs that she was under arrest. No handcuffs. No undue stress. Her face was as pleasant as ever.

“Anther!” I shouted.

I had leaped over the fence at the back and was now standing by the main house. When she saw me, she jumped back shrieking, “That’s him! That’s him over there! That’s Obel Sibuth! Stigma’s partner!

He works for the Devil!”

I knew then that she had made a deal with the cops. Maybe she had told them that she had disabled Stigma so as to get him arrested. And she would be granted leniency.

The cops charged me. Like dogs. Three, four, five. Six of them. Oh, how I hated them! They had made me lose my soul.

A surge of rage overtook me; revenge beclouded my eyes; hate propelled me. The fire within me grew. It grew and grew. It blossomed, swelled, multiplied. It became denser, deadlier. I was burning. I was a pillar of fire. The agony was exquisite. It was uncontrollable. I was uncontrollable.

The first three cops to lay hands on me blew up like matchsticks. The other three, too rash to slow down, also pounced on me and burst into flames, hungry, predatory flames that wolfed them down in seconds. Just like matchsticks. What remained of them were charred shrunken lumps that might as well have been cat carcasses.

The remaining eight or so opened fire. It was a single-minded furious discharge from hands that shook with terror and hearts that beat too hard. A volley of bullets hit me. And kept hitting. I was lifted me off the ground and hurled back. My chest exploded; so did my stomach and back, organs ruptured, shredded, spilling.

I saw Anther running into the house with the leg and pursued her.

“Anther, give me the leg!” I yelled at her above the fusillade. She kept running.

I pursued her across the room and past the chairs. I pursued her along the hallways and over the stairs. I pursued her through the bedroom and into her lair.

“Give me the leg!”

But she was paralyzed. Seeing me like that, face shattered, body in shreds, blood, smoke and fire leaking out of me. She appeared dead. I made to grab the leg but touched her hand instead. Matchstick!

I couldn’t touch the leg in my present state without vaporizing it as well. So I stood over it and waited for the fire to cool.

I was still waiting and trying to relax in order to speed up the cooling when I heard the most unlikely sound under the circumstances issuing from one of the bedrooms. A baby was crying. I remembered Stig telling me that the special soul may come of this mission and excitement flushed over me. I followed the sound.

But in the hallway, the cops started firing again. They had followed me. How adamant! I did not want to heat up again, though it was difficult with those cops shooting me like that. I struggled to squash the rage, thinking only of the baby, my salvation. Succeeding, I went back into the room and took Stig’s leg. I gripped it firmly. My weapon. I faced the cops. I whacked them with it good and proper. I broke their skulls, necks, jaws, ribs, and every other vulnerable bone in their bodies. By the time I was done, they were dead in a pile, all ten of them, and Stigma’s leg was damaged beyond repair. I dumped it. He was dying anyway. I went for the baby.

The woman was slinking in the closet, the baby in her arms. Like her sister before, she became immobilized when she saw me. She could see through me like a shattered a window, yet there I was, not dying, not living—both dead and alive.

“The baby!” said I, my hands extended.

She blacked out.

I took the child before she could fall. It was a girl, maybe two months old, her eyes still bluish. A chubby thing, she smiled a lambent smile.

I bound her with a sheet and took her to Hell.

IV.

“Obel Sibuth!” Moloch exclaimed. “You bring me a bundle of joy!”

“Indeed,” I said. “It is for your master.”

“Nonetheless, I will receive it.”

He took the child. He was the demon in charge of torture. Inside his chamber, he had an enormous sewing machine which he used to sew people like clothes. He also took care of entertainment. He had invented a new game which involved randomly selecting two fat people from the suffering lot and smearing their bellies with glue (Hell’s glue). They were then stuck together and two demons yanked them apart to see whose stomach would burst first.

Moloch.1.

Moloch

“Obel Sibuth!” Mulciber said. “It looks like your body needs repair!”

“Indeed,” I said. “It is your master’s doing.”

“My master is good at his job.”

Mulciber was the architect. He superintended the construction and maintenance of all the infrastructures in Hell. He also had a talent for “patching up”—as he put it—people. Some days he worked with Moloch to boil people in a giant boiler containing molten, gluey, white-hot fire. After they had boiled for what seemed to be eternity and were in pieces like cooked beef, Mulciber sieved them out into a different vessel, where he then patched them up neatly—reassembled them like motor vehicles, that was—and cooled them down till they were whole and well again. But just when they thought the ordeal was over, and were a little relieved for the moment, he threw them back into the boiler.

“Obel Sibuth!” Beelzebub greeted. “How gleeful is my heart!”

“Indeed.”

Beelzebub was the second in command. He ran Hell. He was the one who had told me that my soul was in the Devil’s private chamber which I could only access through the mysterious house in Karen.

“Can I get my soul now?” I asked him.

“No,” he said. “And you won’t.”

“Why is that?”

“Because that is how it is.”

Shock. Anger. Rage. Fury. All at once. I was ablaze.

“I was promised!”

“We don’t keep promises here.”

“Lucifer wanted a special soul! I delivered it! That baby is a special soul!”

“Certainly, she is.”

“Then give back my soul!”

“We don’t give souls. We take them.”

“This is utterly unfair!”

“If you want fair go to Heaven.”

I groaned and swore with vehement acrimony.

“No need for further affliction,” Beelzebub said. “Mulciber will repair your wounds and Mammon will give you food if you direly crave it.”

Mammon dealt in (and with) matters of material value. He bragged about how he alone had colonized the soul of mankind and, by virtue of his “irresistible offers”—as he put it—brought in the largest number of people to Hell.

“Also,” Beelzebub continued. “I lied when I said your soul is in the private chamber. In truth, Lucifer ate it.”

“I am leaving!” I swore. “And I will never come back! I will never come back! All work stops forthwith!”

“You are not going anywhere,” Moloch said decisively. “You belong here. You belong in Hell.”

At this point, I gave vent to my frustrations and howled. But that was all I could do about my situation. I was defeated. Ten years of toil. Yet this!

Oh, damn you Lucifer! Damn you! You chronic, pathological liar! Father of lies! Damn you for tenfold the space of eternity! How deserving of Hell are you! The infernal fate! Ah! And how foolish of me to dream of life in your unpitying care, to trade my soul for enduring doom and relentless anguish! To pursue your mission and injure the innocent! Oh, how hopeless have I become! How destitute! Remorse consumes me. Grief besets me. Pain my everlasting companion. And fire. Chthonian and absolute, the tormenting inferno ravages me from all sides. I am doomed.

Truly, as it is written, thus it is.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Peter Nena says:

    Readers of Milton will realize that I took liberty with the names of the demons in Paradise Lost.

    • debb323 says:

      Oh my goodness, or should I say badness? This story kicks butt! Love the devil you created and how he changes where his minion is. Fantastic☺

      • Peter Nena says:

        Hi, Debra. It’s been a while. How are you? I hope you are well. Thank you for reading the story. I’m glad you liked it. I wish you a wonderful weekend.

  2. Oloriel says:

    I loved the story Peter. I loved the dichotomy of the main character a lot, I lvoed the classical, impacting voicing you gave to the Devil and his lot. I just love stories like this one. My favourite part is the one where the Devil makes a comment about the living and the dead and what they desire.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Ha! Oloriel, how are you? Good to see you over here. Thank you for visiting this blog. I’m glad you did, and I’m glad you love the story. I write such stories. The concept of the Devil fascinates me, as that of God and the lot of them. Sometimes it seems that evil emanates from within us, so does good, without some invisible guy whispering in our ears and coaxing or coercing us towards it.

      • Oloriel says:

        It was a pleasure to read your story, Peter. This is the first time in a long while I finaly see something of yours in my reader, so I ofcourse jumped on the opportunity.
        Like I mentioned, I love these kinds of stories, in fact, my first ever novel is a story of this thematic 🙂

    • Peter Nena says:

      I would like to read your novel, Oloriel. I will wait for it, along with the poetry collection. Thank you again.

  3. dweezer19 says:

    It is a grim tale my friend. Well told, grimm tale. Sounds like the fellow deserved not much more. Or at least thought he didn’t anyway. 😉

    • Peter Nena says:

      Hi, Cheryl. Is it too grim? I’ve realized that I do not know whether a story is too horrific or not. I just tell it as it is.

      • dweezer19 says:

        Well Peter, one always hopes for a positive outcome but we all know life is not this way many times. I wouldn’t expect a miracle for our sad character because he devalues himself so much! Hey, the news is too grim. This is a ver well written, colorful story about soulless characters. Literally. Lol. But it was very dark in terms of hope. Perhaps one character who tried to save him would pull in another audience. But as we yalked about before. We are writing what we feel most often and such a delicate balance between that and writing for the world at large. I like this story for the wonderfully descriptive way you bring things to life. Also I really love the way you give the devil humor and personality.mpeople underestimate the powers of darkness. Did you ever see Prophecy my friend?

  4. dweezer19 says:

    Oops forgot to hit notify.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Prophecy!! I remember it. The one with Christopher Walken! I loved it. I liked the part where he tells the school children to study Mathematics. That it is the language of the universe. Also, it is my favourite Angel Gabriel-based movies. Why does Hollywood usually make Gabriel evil, anyway?

    • Peter Nena says:

      And I understand what you mean. Writing for myself and for the world at large. The latter requires some hope, at least. The former can be such as I choose. The world needs hope.

      • dweezer19 says:

        My philosophy for my own work is that the world has quite enough reality in its face. I would like to add a bit more of the path of possibility that can be created. But still I like it to be realistic. People write from their souls and it is most always valid and will touch the right person.
        Yes, Prophecy was so amazing. I loved that the angels were portrayed not as fluffy pink babies with purest intention. It was a very interesting take. I read a really good book called From the Ashes of Angels. I think you would enjoy it. It is about many things but the primary focus was the mingling of certain godly entities with humans and the race that came of it. Interesting reading to be sure.

    • Peter Nena says:

      From the Ashes of Angels. I’ll look for it on Amazon. Thanks.

  5. Peter!!!! Inexorably things just get worse and at the same time you manage to include a kind of gruesome humour amidst the squirming horror ie. the conversation around the cut off leg and Stigma’s angry girlfriend!!
    This is powerful- ““What difference does it make?” he asked again. “Dead or alive, you are all the same. All of mankind! The living ones exert too hard in order to die. The dying ones exert too hard in order to live. The living fight the living with a vengeance, yet mourn the dead with bitterness.”
    A wonderful dark allegory that not only alludes to Milton’s Paradise Lost but also reminds me of Robert Louis Stevenson’s story “The Bottle Imp.” Yours is told with much more raw and compelling descriptiveness and terror leading to the ultimate despairing realization that a deal with the devil is absolutely irrefutable and irreversible and never to one’s advantage!! 🙂 Another brilliant tale-bravo Peter!!

    • Peter Nena says:

      Hi, Cybele. A very powerful comment you have made here, my friend. I am grateful. And greatly inspirited as well. I love Paradise Lost. The language is rather ancient but I’ve read it enough times to understand it. I have read only two of Stevenson’s books: Treasure Island and The Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Which are both immensely enjoyable. Now I must look for The Bottle Imp. I like the title already. Thank you so much, Cybele.

  6. DontCallMeLiv says:

    I loved this story. Unsettling and disturbing, as usual 🙂 but there’s a paragraph that has haunted me from the minute I read it…

    “I imagined him drinking and laughing with his friends, having sex with his wife, maybe trying to be a good father to his children, even succeeding, while behind them all, he had made the evilest, vilest deal with the evilest, vilest being ever conceived. People could be frightening.”

    Who is this person?!!! Who is this terrible human being that is the Devil’s Landlord?!!! From the rest of the story I can tell that the Devil doesn’t care about fulfilling contracts but the fact that he has a deal with someone in Nairobi has unsettled me. And its not even a good landlord, the land is unkempt lol. This little detail has haunted me and I don’t think I’ll recover (maybe until you write about the Devil’s Landlord :D) Your stories are awesome 🙂

    • Peter Nena says:

      Olivia, how are you? Good to see you here. I was inspired to write something for the ongoing Commonwealth Short Stories Competition in which I have never participated, but this is the product of that attempt. I realized that I cannot write the kind of stories they want. The guidelines point out that there is no genre restriction but the ones that are usually shortlisted, and those that eventually win, show clearly that there is restriction in genre. Then I thought that I could send it to the African Fantasy anthology of which we had spoken, but I finished it was too late.

      And now that you mention it! I think I will write about the man who owns that land. “The Devil’s Landlord”–as you put it. Ha! I like the sound of it. And I might just enjoy myself with it than I did with this one.
      Thanks!

  7. swamiyesudas says:

    Reblogged this on lovehappinessandpeace and commented:
    Peter Nena’s ‘Soulless’ is not exactly my Genre. Though I believe in the existence of the evil spirit, You will find that I stick very much to ‘Reality!’
    As I was going through Peter Nena’s blog after he had given me a like, I came to this story.
    I will say this about Peter: He Writes Well.
    For those interested in Fantasy and tales of the supernatural, this is recommended.

  8. Fantastic story, Peter. I love the descriptions and the utilization of ‘Paradise Lost’. Your poor main character. Epic theme of “Wrong place – wrong time”.

    I found the use of the Devil’s house in our world an interesting gateway, and something that I would have never thought of before. But seriously, who owns that land and allows the Devil as a tenant?!

    • Peter Nena says:

      Hi, Amanda. Feels great to read such a wonderful comment from a fellow horror/macabre writer. One day, while contemplating the quantum possibility of multiple universes and simultaneous time, It occurred to me that in another universe in another time, my house may not actually be where it is today. Maybe the place is still bushy, or it is an empty lot. Then I thought that what if a time warp happens or there is glitch in the quantum system, and I wake up in a different time in a different universe to find the house gone, myself in the open? Or what if I was somewhere else and an ancient house suddenly appears around me, and traps me in it forever? I was chilled by these thoughts.

      • Oh why do you say things like this?!? Now you have me thinking… thinking horrible scary things. I am falling through parallel universes at the moment…

    • Peter Nena says:

      Also, concerning the landlord. When I wrote that part I had no idea of the questions it might raise. But now something is coming up.
      Thanks, Amanda.

    • Peter Nena says:

      I think playing around with the concepts of simultaneous time and multiple universes can create some truly chilling tale. The ones I have come across deal more with the scientific aspect than with fear . . . but people like us need to inject a good dose of fear into the concept. I’ve been thinking of writing a story where a character is driven completely insane and demented by a glitch in the quantum system. I tried once but it didn’t come out to my expectations. It’s called The Dead Man. Someday I will write a better one.

      • Those are pieces that I am fascinated by as well. I need to do a little more research before I write anything around parallel universes and such. Not being factually correct drives me insane – though I know in the realm of sci-fi, some liberties can be taken. If you have any non-fiction reads to suggest that can expand my knowledge, I am all ears.

        You better write a story within this area of science someday. I will nag you about it.

        I have The Dead Man bookmarked and will read this weekend!

    • Peter Nena says:

      Sure. The landlord’s case should yield a twisted thing!

    • Peter Nena says:

      I usually read Quantum Mechanics from the mathematical standpoint. I have a background in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. Stanford University also offers a free course on it on You-Tube.
      However, I think these three books can give you a simple beginning from where you can embark onto more technical ones: Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, by Nick Herbert (1985), How To Teach Physics To Your Dog, by Chad Orzel (2009), Simplified Quantum Physics Theory: A Non-Mathematical Introduction to The Physics of Wave-Particles, by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.

      If I find another one, I will promptly inform you. Thanks.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Also, read Michael Crichton’s Timeline. It is a wonderful novel on the subject.

      • Thanks for the book suggestions! I will devour them. Guess your background really helps 😉 Physics really makes one stop and go “hmmmm….” (same with Astronomy).

  9. Damyanti says:

    ouch. That ending hurt. Good work, Peter.

  10. Stephen Thom says:

    Great work man. I like that there is lots of personality in your characters and writing. Like the diction in places too ‘vehement acrimony’. Did you ever think about serializing these on your blog or other writing sites? I just wondered as I was thinking a lot of your stories are in kind of short chapters. I might be quite nice to have series in blogs, to get into and keep up with. Something different. Anyway. Have you ever read any Zoran Zivkovic? He has very short story collections. You might quite like him. There are lots of devil stories, maybe less horror, but quite trippy. I read a collection called The Library that was quite good. At night libraries are libraries for peoples life stories/souls. Or a writer finds an online library with all his future books he hasn’t written yet. That type of thing. All the best 🙂

    • Peter Nena says:

      Indeed, I have thought of serializing. I thought about when I opened my first blog on blogspot (which I later shut down). But time is rather against me. I have a day job running from 8-5 Monday to Sunday, then, after other things, I have about 3 hours of writing. I’m working on a novel now, but once a month do a short story.
      Anyway, I should open a new blog by January called Demogorgon’s Realm. Therein I will consider serializing some stories.
      The Library story you’ve mentioned feels great. I love such stories. Although I’ve never even heard of Zoran Zivkovic. I will look for him.
      Thank you, man, for such a remarkable comment.

      Aha! There is a new friend of mine who loves the terrifying and the macabre. She blogs at Amanda Headlee and The Sarcastic Muse and I believe you should visit her there sometime.

  11. Nancy Oyula says:

    For some reason, I had Edgar Allan Poe in mind as I read through. This is too good, Peter.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Hi, Nancy. I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and also that you like Poe. I have a collection of his works. I like The Raven the most.
      Thanks for making time to visit this blog.

      • Nancy Oyula says:

        The Raven is awesome. Of all his poems, I loved Annabell Lee the most, and with the tales, I found Ligeia and William Wilson to be the most thrilling.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Annabelle Lee. I love the part where it says even the angels up in heaven were jealous of their love. And I love the rhyme style. And the way it begins: “It was many and many a year ago . . .” Annabelle Lee is a profound work.

  12. abuamirah says:

    Man, i love the way you do your stories, goodness!!! And since i think you are an amazing writer i just nominated you for the Liebsters Award inasmuch as you probably got more that 200 follows…..i enjoy your fiction! https://akhymjanja.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/nominated-for-the-leibster-award-o/

  13. Tish Farrell says:

    Hello, Peter. Good to see you are still hard at work with your dark arts. I am intrigued by the notion of a gateway to hell in Karen, (you have given me a whole new view of the place!). Also, as other commenters have said, I thinks there’s definitely tale waiting to be told about the ‘devil’s landlord’.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Tish, how are you? I’m glad you visited. I am already working on ‘The Devil’s Landlord’ story. So many readers has it intrigued.
      Also, this story ‘Soulless’ has been included in a fantasy anthology called WILL THIS BE A PROBLEM, an initiative by a group of Kenyan writers. You can see what else is in it.
      Otherwise, have a great week and Merry Christmas!

  14. Crimson Quintessence/True Angel says:

    Reblogged this on Angel's Reverie and commented:

    From the Masterful Mind of Peter Nena

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s