Fool? Aren't all of us?~on occasion
even the must erudite? Yet, seldom will we admit so; and even
during those honest purges we tend to diminish the fault, or taint
impure colors with rosier hue. And fool I was, that not so distant
night~definitely a fool! Boastfully a fool!~when I thought to
challenge the Devil.
Most likely the tale I am about
to pen, if not for some repulsive facts of record, would be no
more than mere entertainment, though admittedly for a singularly
morbid personality. Therefore, in such dark light, this account
will go down as the ranting of an individual who has committed
such a fiendish act that even his own mind need falsely rationalize
in order to survive.
The idea to challenge the Prince
of Darkness came to me on a frigid evening while in my study going
over some ancient manuscripts. They were acquired from a rather
unclean character I have been obliged to do business with on such
unlawful occasions. He assured me they were genuine, and thanked
me for respecting the privacy of his source. This led me to deeper
investigation of certain enigmatic passages in the bible, and
after several more hours of meditation, I decided I had stumbled
upon some overlooked truth, though as I peer back I realize how
naive and rash was this assumption. What's more, for the first
time I felt free from man's oldest moral infirmity~knowing what
is pleasing to God, exalting to God, but inclined toward the lesser,
human expression of evil. I perceived myself filling with divine
intelligence, bestowed on me for faithful studying of the scriptures,
and began more intense consideration of my new knowledge, and
the eradication of man's oldest misconception:
More often than not, the Author
of Sin has been depicted in art as a powerful creature (when in
physical form), so threatening in appearance that the strongest
men think themselves feeble by comparison. And when not being
depicted as physically invincible, his supernatural attributes
are described as near omnipotent, and mortal features far inferior.
But with new insight, for the first time I believed the Evil One
was conceived with lesser than triumphant guise. Instead of virile,
I saw him weak. For virility is associated with health and Godliness;
therefore, "Virile" could not be his image. I assured
myself, his form (whether physical or as a spirit archetype) must
be in a continual state of ravage: organs replete with syphilitic
sores; flesh hideously raw and oozing cancerous discharge; a pitiful
creature, who if ever confronted face to face with a human would
cower in fear. Thus, as I continued to belittle what I previously
had ominous fear of, the notion to challenge the Devil (who was
now depreciated in my mind to an abode of ineffectual nothingness)
surfaced as an immediate resolution. The rest of the night passed
in profound state of concentration. During which time I called~shouted
obscenities~daring the Arch Villain to show himself, upon hitherto
occasion I would proceed to spit a profuse gob of saliva directly
between his terror filled eyes. Do you think me boastful? Of course!~are
we not Sons and daughters of God? Do we need fear anything? So
certain was I, so powerful in spirit, I offered to leave our Great
God out of it, and the confrontation would be between he (or it~or
whatever!) and I alone.
Several hours later, with the
first rays of sunlight peeping around the drapery of my study
there came to me the realization that no supernatural villain
was going to materialize as I had hoped. Perhaps solidify out
of the gaseous, ghostlike cloud of pipe smoke that gathered in
the center of the room and whirled about in a possessed spiral!
Or rise out of the mythical figures from an ancient Ritual Carpet
trod upon which had made uneasy more than one visitor who thought
to interpret its Satanic allegory. Or perhaps I had wished him
to leap off a wall, congealing from dancing shadows, reflections
initiated by the fireplace, fanned by a cool current entering
the room from I knew not where causing the flame to wreathe in
a wildly bewitching manner.
At first I was disappointed...thinking
perhaps my premise in error. Then quickly turning defeat into
victory, his not appearing was by default admission that at last
someone had discovered a well guarded secret, the Dreaded Ones
only power over mortals residing in fear alone; and relinquished
of all, which I now was, left him powerless over me. Therefore,
conceding no-contest between us, it struck him as prudent to remain
a respectable distance. In summary, I rested upon this conclusion,
though shortly after started a series of extraordinary events
that I now realize none other than a direct result of my reckless
During the early morning hours,
after having fallen asleep while still seated in my study, I was
awaken by incessant banging on the front door. Who in the Lord's
Name would be calling at such an hour, I wondered? And judging
by the rapid succession of knocks, surely there was an emergency
Upon seeing to the source of the
disturbance, I discovered my neighbor and good friend Ralph, frothing
at the mouth~a man whom I have loved and admired many years for
his cool headed demeanor, now ranting as if a madman. With arms
flaring he shouted out of control! Violent outbursts of unjustified
emotion exploding from him! He accused myself of having an affair
with his wife, Eva. I attempted to convince him that his accusations
were sheer nonsense, but he was beyond reasoning with. He left
in a frenzied state, vowing the wrath of God down upon the both
Thus began a pattern of verbal
assaults: Ralph took to standing on my front lawn~whenever the
mood struck him--persistently leveling charges and threats, punctuated
by obscenities. Frightened Eva remained in the Dudley's residence,
apparently to no avail having tried all she could to dispel her
husband's doubts. Still, through it all, knowing Ralph in the
past as devoutly level headed, we all believed he would soon win-out
over this malady, and once again return to his amiable self.
Weeks passed without a positive
change. Not only did we have Ralph to contend with, but also his
dog, Homer, obviously fallen victim to a similar mind-set, no
longer considering himself a seasoned cohort of Renegade, our
gentle cat, began to take great delight in persecuting the lovable
beast. Chasing and then trapping him up a tree, he proceeded to
torment the terrified creature for hours on end.
Then Nature, herself, turned against
us. Early one evening, a storm struck. Not the least forewarning
was given us. Not a rustle of breeze first occurred~nor hint of
changing barometer; just a sudden blast of gale and the maelstrom
was upon us. Our two story, brick dwelling, sturdy by most standards,
shook from the wind's intensity. Four years old, Beth Ann, our
daughter, trembled at the sounds of shingle being torn from the
roof. The first real danger came from an overhead power line (600
volts of deadly potential) suspended between to poles we thought
a reasonable distance away.
A ripping gust of wind tore loose
one end of the cable, sending it smashing through Beth Ann's bedroom
window. Fortunately, she was already safely on the ground level
in the recreation room, with my wife, Carol, and I.
The curtains were quickly set aflame. Upon hearing the crash of glass, I dashed upstairs. And after entering the room, fire licking at the ceiling, I made a breathless decision to smother the growing infernal, with a blanket swiped from my daughter's bed. At first, I didn't see the live wire snaking about. And when I did, it was already too late to escape. Forced into a corner of the room, I did my best to avoid the lethal fang, which struck at me time and time again.
It coiled up as a cobra, spitting
white-hot fountains of death. Strangely, I was reminded of the
serpent in the Holy Garden...the Evil Doer...and was this the
consequence of my brash challenge some weeks earlier, I wondered
amid the deadly onslaught?
Seeing Carol, horrified, standing
in the doorway, I hollered for her to stay out. Again the serpent
struck. The hairs on my arms singed as I shielded my face. I fell
to my knees, no longer able to move fast enough to avoid the dreadful
thing. Cowering against the wall, I thought my inevitable doom
a forgone conclusion. Then the other end of the cable, the one
still attached to the power pole tore free, causing the cable
to fall around me in a harmless spiral.
Carol then rushed into the room,
brandishing a fire extinguisher. Choking~gasping for breath~sweat
soaking my face, I relieved her of the weapon, and did battle
with co2 until not a glowing ember survived.
At length, safe~for even the storm
had expelled its last foul exhalation~I admitted the possibility
that I was under Satanic attack...my challenge had been accepted,
and the odd behavior of my neighbor, and this freak storm, was
a gauntlet tossed at my feet. Now the question was, did I dare
pick it up?
With that thought in mind, the
following day I called the weather station, inquiring about the
nature of the storm, and why there was no advance warning.
"Storm? What storm," the official replied.
"Why the storm, last evening, that near destroyed my house."
"Lig. Thomas Lig, of 2784 Redwood Grove."
"Our instruments, which we believe are in perfect working order, haven't shown the slightest disturbance over the past several weeks. In fact, the entire West Coast has been so placid, we dare not stare at our monitors too often for fear of being lulled into sleep." I hung up, my suspicions strengthened.
Several neighbors informed me,
indeed they had witnessed the oddity, which seemed to focus on
my home alone, and leave the surrounding homes unfettered. In
deed, none of my neighbors had ever seen such a spectacle before,
and considered themselves fortunate to be looking out the window
at the time. One commented, jokingly: "Had I angered Mother
Nature, or incurred the anger of some evil spirit?"
The following day I resumed teaching.
Summer recess was over, and as usual, the first day back, the
preliminary introductions with new students, tired me to near
collapse. Head professor for Theology at Valley University, an
uncommonly popular institution, my responsibilities had grown
enormous. I hastened to leave, wanting nothing more than a satisfying
meal and a good night's rest.
Upon arriving home, I found Ralph,
once again, standing on my front lawn. His accusations had reached
a new level of fury. Now there was Eva to contend with. Apparently,
the bizarre illness that afflicted Ralph and his dog, Eva had
also succumbed to. I could see her standing at an upstairs bedroom
window looking out, insanely laughing. The eerie red light filling
the room made her maniacal form phantasmic in nature. She appeared
to delight in my torment, the obscenity of her naked body and
gestures testament to her madness.
Due to the importance of my position
at the University, many nights I am forced to hold chair at meetings,
which sometimes carry on late into the evening. The next evening,
after the fore mentioned incident, the meeting was interrupted
by a phone call from Carol. It took several minutes to calm her,
before I could make sense of the conversation. She informed me
she wouldn't spend another night alone in the house. She had just
seen Ralph peering in at her though the parlor window. His once
pleasant face hideously deranged~which caused her to flee upstairs
to our bedroom, and this very moment she was seated on the bed,
clutching Beth Ann at her side, and in her free hand held a revolver
pointed directly at the door.
Somehow I sensed the authorities
would be of little help in this matter. I made a discreet excuse
for leaving the meeting, and hastened home. The traffic was light.
And my accelerated pace assured me of covering the five miles
home in 8 minutes of less. Yet the full moon hung in the sky as
a Halloween jack-o-lantern, stretching the queerly, shadowed road
before me into a specter filled path of infinite horrors.
Pulling into my driveway, I saw
the blot of a man stir near a clump of hedge, and flit past a
lit window. Cutting the figure off, midway across the lawn, I
confronted Ralph. He stood before me, a ghoulish serenity about
him. In his left hand, swinging loosely at his side was a large
ax~and in his other hand, he held a flimsy leash, that barely
restrained a tugging, snarling Homer.
I nervously asked, "What's
this all about, Ralph?"
"About? About?" he replied. "About here...about there...about-about everywhere. Thought I saw a large sewer rat...here and about, about here. So me and Homer thought we'd chop off his head, and bake for our neighbors some rat-rat bread." And laughed and laughed and laughed.
And without another word, turned toward home, walking off...whistling the rhythm of his bizarre chant.
After calming Carol and Beth Ann, I guess I should have taken my family, that very instant, and left our home, never again to return, if that's what it took to keep us safe. 'But why let the Devil win?' I told myself. The gauntlet lay there before me...and now was the time to pick it up. Was this not the Holy Garden again? And the serpent revealed, surely his defeat would lift the curse from all humanity, and the origin of sin left relegated to fantastic art and dark poetry.
So I decided what I concluded
our only salvation. Ours! Not mine alone! Nor just that my petrified
family. But ours! Yours! All of humanity! I would murder my neighbors,
the Dudleys. Surely God would understand~in fact, condone my leap
of faith. It was Eden again. A Holy War...and I was to walk knee
deep in Satin's serpent-blood. Oddly enough, I had come to this
decision on the seventh day of contemplation~like our creator,
I came to rest, taking this as divine approval, though on the
surface what I planned seemed something crafted by the Devil himself.
But these were no longer the Dudleys...instead flesh and bone
possessed by evil. And to sever the spirit umbilical would set
them free as well.
Thus I was decided that very same evening while my wife and daughter spent the weekend with my in-laws in Riverington~my excuse for remaining home was to grade some student test papers~for if she knew what I really intended to do, she would have vomited in disgust. Not simply because I had reconciled myself to snuff out two human lives, but the method and manner I had contrived made my own stomach nauseous.
First I carefully prepared a tempting
leg of lamb. I found myself humming as I basted away~perhaps a
nervous reaction, the way the human mind deals with distress,
by denial or making light, even enjoyable, a particularly vulgar
or unpleasant chore. I sang a rather appropriately contrived ditty:
'Baste and bake a leg of bah! Bah! bah!~Bo Peep would scream to
find him....here and there, pieces everywhere, in Homer's jaws
to grind him.'
Prepared to scintillating perfecting,
the dripping bait, filling the air with mouth-watering aroma was
carried into the back yard. I proceeded to lead Homer along the
fence that divided the Dudleys property from ours, and stopped
at the far end, most distant from the house. Oh to see such a
brute yipping...begging...drooling out of mind! 'There there Homer,
something for you~to gulp and gnaw...till Old Tom is through!'
With Homer satisfying his salivating
jowls, I retreated out of sight, jumping the fence nearest to
Ralph's back door.
One could set his clock by the habits of the Dudleys'. As usual they were in the basement tending to a tropical fish hatchery, for many years having been maintained for pleasure and profit as well.
Removing a pistol from my pocket,
I proceeded toward the back door, left open as was the practice
in such rural neighborhoods as ours, and once inside crept quietly
down the staircase. Oddly I wasn't in the least frightened or
nervous. Instead I felt like a child creeping down stairs late
Christmas Eve, trying to catch a glimpse of Santa leaving gifts
for the children who were good. At the back door I had picked
up Ralph's ax left lying against the house, so this was in my
Soon I was standing behind the
Dudleys, who were so engrossed with the chore of tending to newborns~how
ironic, side by side, life and death, and I had arms length power
over both~neither Eva nor Ralph sensed my presence. I became infatuated
with this aspect, as the Dudleys stood so close that I could touch
either one on the shoulder; yet they remained oblivious to my
lethal presence. Amazing it was, for I could not conceal my heavy
breathing, stirring the air, perhaps tickling the hairs on the
back of their necks, or sending a cold, shimmer of icy chill down
their spines. I refrained several moments longer, purposely breathing
deeper, and exhaling longer, and colder, feeling a power over
life and death an elation of which I cannot begin to express.
And finally, unable to contain the savage climax any longer, my
pistol placed to the back of Ralph's head I fired one, shattering
In the basement, and with so much
property between houses, I had little fear of the other neighbors
noticing. The 38 caliber had carried through the front of Ralph's
skull, splattering blood everywhere. Eva was in shock. Her mouth
left gaping...eyes staring, a frozen sculpture of terror. I felt
a bit of sympathy, and raising the ax proceeded to dismember her
form with brilliant adeptness, the first strike shattering her
head as if there had been a dressmaker's dotted line drawn through
the center. To my dismay, I felt no revulsion, raising and lowered
the ax in precise rhythm, ecstatic currents surging through me.
The finale remains a blur of activity~my clothing became saturated
with blood~my gloves soaked clean through~all which I burned afterwards.
I placed the revolver in Ralph's
limp hand~fired another shot into a plank of wood. Then after
removing all evidence of the second bullet and putting a fresh
cartridge in one of the two empty chambers, I was convinced it
appeared as if Ralph had gone berserk, and after slaughtering
his wife, turned the gun on himself. All in order, I hastened
I removed my gloves before leaving not wanting to leave any bloody smudges on the door, and pushed the door open with my body being careful of fingerprints, but I had forgotten Homer. With the door half open he was upon me. He strained to tear at my throat, bolting up on his back legs, his huge mouth thrusting forward. Ramming my right hand into Homer's neck, just below his snapping jaws, I was able to keep him at bay long enough, and in one, quick pivot succeeding in turning him sideways and into the house, slamming the door shut in his frothing face. All the better~now the police would be certain that no one could have gotten past Homer to commit the foul deed, and therefore was surely the crime of the husband.
Several minutes later I was back
at home. I destroyed my blood smeared garments~bathed, and to
my dismay, had no trouble fallen asleep. I was not in the least
disturbed by what I had done nor bothered by Homer's incessant
howling, what I image eventually caught the other neighbors' attention
and is what brought the police to my door the following morning.
Upon being told what I happened,
I first faked, paralyzing shock. Then began to dash toward the
Dudley's house, as if momentarily having lost my senses, and disbelieving
the finality of death wanted to race to the aid of my neighbors.
I allowed myself to be restrained and calmed. After being helped
back into my study, still feigning weakness, I began to explain
Ralph's delusions, and how tolerant we all were. But as to what
happened last night, though the possibility had presented itself
to my mind, it was quickly dismissed, disallowing myself to believe
my good neighbor of many years could ever perpetrate such an act.
I sniffled...making my story convincing as the morbid occasion
called for, certain that my acting was beyond reproach. But before
leaving the police asked what I thought an exceeding odd and uncalled
A detective entered with a clean
white paper and tray of ink. He requested my right hand print.
Of course I agreed to, not wanting in the least to raise suspicions,
certain that I had been so thorough as to have nothing to fear.
Afterward I was thanked for my cooperation, as I proceeded to
usher the officers to the door. It was there that what I thought
an odd request became startling clear.
Outside on the path, chained between
two officers, was a snarling, tugging Homer. A sturdy muzzle had
been fastened around his jaws. I must admit, I felt secret delight
over his predicament, certain that his next home would be an outdoor
junkyard in some rundown dredge of the city. Suddenly Homer's
expression changed, calming down to a passive set with a great
mischievous glint in his eyes taking prominence. Then abruptly
bolting up on his back legs, there it was...my own handprint,
stamped in the victim's blood around his neck where I had kept
him at bay. This is the end of my story...and my conviction and
forthcoming electrocution an inevitable conclusion. Yet, surely
you, the reader, having read my account must have sympathy of
sorts for me. I was foolish~yes! Foolish for having challenged
forces darker and more foreboding than any mortal can fathom!
But inhuman! A monster of sorts, as I have been called! I dare
say, my fate could be the same for any one of you...even the most
pious~who would think to meddle in things best left to alone.
To God alone!
of cause and effect;
Maker of body and spirit~
has the right alone,
over timely life
and timely death to reflect.....