The Better Evil
A Demon’s POV
There is no pleasure in the Universe that matches the pleasure of human flesh.
The pleasant thrum of the beating heart that echoes mildly over the roar of the blood that gushes through the human veins; the veins themselves, spread all over like a finely woven network, delicate beautiful and efficient; the organs that pulse and throb in choreographic synchronization; the myriad systems that operate with the precision of a machine and the rhythm of an opera.
The best thing and my absolute favorite, however, is the encompassing warmth that surrounds your essence when you slowly sink into that pulsating, throbbing mass of blood, flesh and bones.
Most humans would recognize this expression as a crude sexual metaphor. Because most humans don’t think that it is actually possible to sink into the flesh and bone structure of another human being. Most humans don’t consider the idea that a body is just a cloak; the outer shell and that it may be possible to take it on and off, like a change of clothes.
I am not most humans. I am a demon.
It is not an exaggerated comment on my personality. I am, literally, a demon.
But I am not a demon with skin that is charred and partially blistered, or eyes that smolder like dying embers or horns that are shaped like warped blades. And I definitely don’t have a tail.
I am not a demon who looks like a hideously disfigured human. No demon is.
It is the humans. They always try to anthropomorphize everything they don’t understand; assigning them with recognizable human attributes and then making ridiculous alterations to those very attributes just to ensure that those things do not seem human.
The whole exercise is counterintuitive and pretty pointless, if you ask me. But what do I know? I am not a human. I am a demon. And just so that I am clear, I am nothing like a human.
I am a wave from Hell; a molecular disturbance in your atmosphere; a particle level anomaly in your intricate and orderly Universe.
I am like a crackle in your radio transmission. But don’t be mistaken. I am no ordinary crackle. I am a very dangerous crackle. I can kill you. It wouldn’t even be a minor inconvenience. In fact, it would be my absolute pleasure.
But just because I am not human doesn’t mean I lack personality. Or distinguishing traits. No demon is like any other demon. No demon is like anyone or anything else in existence. Being unique is a perk of this job.
Of course, emotions are not my territory. An emotional demon is a very disturbing oxymoron. Besides, emotions are nothing but non-essential hindrances. They are against the very purpose of our existence. A demon in essence is nothing but evil — pure and unadulterated. To add idiotic human frailties like guilt, anger, pain and happiness into the mixture is an insult; a futile exercise that would achieve nothing except sullying the perfect.
There is a beauty in the unforgiving, unfathomable depths of darkness; in the abyss that is my soul.
I am a young demon. Only a handful of centuries old. I don’t remember my life before I became a demon. Nobody does. I may have been a terrible human being before. Or a terrible something. Or maybe I was always supposed to be a demon. It is irrelevant. It doesn’t bother me. A back story is nothing more than an unnecessary baggage. It is a distraction that dilutes the purity of our existence. Demons don’t lug it around. If death is a great equalizer, Hell is even better. In Hell, a demon is a demon. No history. No judgments.
Obviously, happiness and related human ideas have no value for me. The only thing that appeals to me is fun. Pleasure. Gratification of my basest instincts.
What did you expect? I am a demon.
I like my existence. Unlike humans, my kind is not inclined to over think. We despise philosophy and have no predisposition towards existential crisis. We exist, one day at a time.
And yet, fun as it is, being a demon is not always easy. Especially when you are a young demon like me. There are way too many rules. And you are always excluded from the real, large scale stuff.
‘Too young’, they say, ‘you need to get more experience’.
It is frustrating, being left out when the elders of the Hell are busy planning and perpetrating wars, famines, epidemic outbreaks and generally having a jolly good time.
I try to make the best of what I am allowed. But as I said, there are rules. And if the body count is too high, I get pulled up. The last time I went a little overboard, they had me in detention for months. It was one of those times when I came close to having a terrible surge of something resembling sympathy for all the human kids who are, perhaps, the only one who would have understood my plight. The feeling was mostly theoretical. As you know by now, I can’t actually sympathize. But, you get my drift.
It wasn’t a huge mistake. I had only gotten a little carried away. I couldn’t help it. The broad, sprawling highway with speeding metal cages, humans tucked cozily inside, all smug and unsuspecting — it is the kind of temptation that is hard to resist. And it was so easy. One moment, the mist was merely a thin screen of haze and the very next, I was in there, swirling and swishing around, thickening the mist into a fog that graduated into an impenetrable screen of white within a matter of seconds.
The vehicle pile-up was spectacular. The metallic giants tangled in an unrecognizable heap with several humans shrieking and running around. It was a glorious sight — my personal best. And the body count wasn’t even that high. Not more than ten by any estimate. I could have quadrupled it. All I had to do was lock a handful of them in their giants and their wretched rescue teams would have to do only half the amount of rescuing they actually managed.
I did not do it. I did not even tamper with their helplines. I did not delay their rescue teams in any manner. But did I get credit for it? No. Because I had broken the damned rules. I sometimes wish the higher ups in Hell had a better sense of irony than to nurture demons with rules.
It is so unfair.
Anyway, since then, I try to keep the body count in check. I keep telling myself that it is just a matter of another four centuries before I get promoted and then I would be able to completely forget about the idea of restraint. Another four centuries, before I get to redefine the concept of overkill.
I can’t wait.
Meanwhile, I have to keep myself entertained. And so, every other day, I drift out of Hell and into the human world. Sometimes, there is some minor assignment that elders hand over to demons like me because the scale is not a match for their stature. They call it a learning process. I call it lazy delegation. But I don’t say that aloud. Because, prudence trumps petulance. After all, it is Hell. And the only thing worse than being in Hell, even for a demon, is to land in its punishment cell. It is Hell’s personal little hell. And if you still don’t get how horrific that very idea is, I think you deserve a place in it.
There are also days when I cross into the human realm out of sheer boredom. That is my ‘me’ time and my only assignment is personal whim.
It was one of those days. I was floating over a brightly lit, spunky but painfully organized space. Humans call it Singapore. It is one of the countries — the segregated spaces that humans identify by drawing artificial lines on a piece of paper.
Humans are strange.
My fellow young demons prefer the despondent rural underbellies where evil thrives on necessity and need. It is the easiest fuse for a demon to light, second only to the natural perversion of human nature. And there is the added benefit of the sheer number of potential targets that seem to multiply in direct proportion to the prevalent misery. You can even get away with a slightly higher body count. Believe it or not, even Hell does not have time for them.
It is easy. And a little dull. After all, there is only so much pain that you can add to a surplus supply of gloom.
I don’t like easy. Or dull. I prefer, what humans call, the urban spaces. They are the places where humans thrive, reveling in their make believe bubbles of luxury, well-being, and security. Bursting that bubble is always deeply satisfying.
It is not easy. And I have to be very careful about the body count. But, it is worth it.
Of all the places that I have scoped for potential targets, Singapore is the best. The sheer variety that this place has to offer — I think cosmopolitan is my favorite kind of buffet. Besides, Singapore is the place human dreams are made of. It is the human world’s favorite shopping destination. Which translates into being the place where humans come looking for a materialistic high. And as anyone in my business would tell you — any kind of high, whether real or notional, is the Petri-dish of all evil.
The uber sophisticated environment of Singapore, its sparkly clean streets, its imposing, slick infrastructure, its neat, organized systems lull the humans deep into a sense of comfortable complacence. It is the ideal state. I love that element of surprise — striking when humans are not expecting to be struck. It adds to the thrill.
I was drifting languidly over one of the high rises. It was teeming with humans of all shapes, sizes, ages and appearances. As I said, variety is one of Singapore’s singular traits. Humans call it the melting pot of cultures. I don’t care for whatever qualifies as human culture but I agree with the idea of it being a pot — a massive cauldron bubbling with options for me to choose from.
I love Singapore.
I scanned the crowd. The grinning faces, the spring in their steps, the general sense of revelry. This was of course a picture painted with very broad strokes. I know I had to look only a little closer to find a baffling range of sentiments coursing through that crowd. But, those were the specifics I did not care for. It was a happy place. The ratio of real to artificial of that ‘happy’ was none of my business.
I glided down slowly, ending my descent right above the general head level of the crowd. If I were tangible, the tallest one in the crowd would have been able to touch me by merely extending a hand above his or her head.
I am not tangible. And humans lack the perception to look, or touch beyond the absolute obvious.
Within a few minutes, I had singled out my entertainment for the day. I was looking for a quick fix. And a father doting on his family of three — wife and two daughters; was as quick a fix as I could get.
I followed the family, spread across the bus they took home. En route, I started a fight between two humans who had been annoyingly swearing by their eternal love. I also messed up with one of the passenger’s head. He was going to beat someone or get beaten up. He was also, most definitely, going to spend the night in a prison. It was a pity I couldn’t hang around to watch his misery unfold. It was just a side show. And I was eager for the main attraction of the night to begin.
I floated silently over the family as they walked towards their home and hung by their window, watching them as they talked loudly about mind numbingly mundane stuff. It was sweet. I wanted to find diabetes and request it to kill me.
About an hour later, they wished each other good night. The man was rewarded by a hug from one of his daughters for something he said. I was still hanging by their window sill, watching the idyllic nightmare and trying really hard not to throw up in my mouth.
I don’t have a mouth. And I can’t throw up. But you get my drift.
A couple of minutes later, the horrifying family drama came to a blessed end. The lights were turned off and the house went blissfully quiet.
I got ready to sneak into the man’s bedroom. I had a plan. It was dreadful. I was excited.
I had barely made it to the bedroom window, when I heard a sound. Someone was opening the front door. In a blink, I was there.
It was my target. The man. And he was sneaking out of his own house in the middle of the night.
It was going to get interesting.
The man was sullen and silent. He looked nothing like the vivacious man I had seen only a few moments ago. And there was a glint in his eyes — a glint that was sinister and strangely familiar.
I considered following him. Then, I had a better idea.
In one swift, smooth and if I may say so myself, graceful motion, I was inside him.
Yes. Demons can possess humans. Although, I don’t like the term ‘possess’. It sounds unsophisticated, implies mechanical control and some sort of weird intimacy.
Demons don’t possess humans. They wear them.
Admittedly, it is an intricate process and rather intimate, if you are looking at it from a human’s point of view. Because when a demon wears a human, he becomes privy to that human’s every thought, every passing impulse, every surge of emotion and every memory, cherished or despised. Nothing is sacred — the conscious or the sub-conscious.
And yet, from a demon’s perspective, it is nothing more than slipping into a fresh set of clothes. You become familiar with the make, the fit and the fabric. You enjoy wearing them, soaking in the warmth and the comfort they offer. But, no matter how great a particular set of clothing is, you do not marry them. You do not have the urge to sob at their fate or send them to college.
They are, ultimately, just clothes. You wear them. You discard them.
I made myself home in my latest acquisition, getting accustomed to the barrage of memories, ideas and thoughts that welcomed me in his head. After being in countless number of humans, I was used to the assault.
What I was not used to was the surprising sense of familiarity that hit me as soon as the barrage receded. It was a weird sensation — like being somewhere that was used to having me. Somewhere that felt like Hell.
It was unprecedented. I know I am a young demon and for all my exposure, my experience is still relatively limited. Yet, it was a kind of novelty that was rather unexpected.
To be honest, the novelty was experiential. In theory, I had heard stories. All of us had. The stories of human heads that nurtured an evil so dark, empty and pointless, it put the best of us to shame. The world weary elders who seeded and inhabited the worst of human tragedies talked about the humans whose version of evil gave them nightmares. The evil that had been distorted beyond recognition by terrible and terrifying human adulterants — pain, anger, revenge, fear, malice, misdirected convictions, ill founded beliefs, desperation, despondence or the worst — the sheer lust for utter and absolute destruction.
Demons are evil. We like destruction as much as the next maniac human. And pointless chaos is our style. But our version of evil is absolute. There is no adulteration. And that purity lends our evil a purpose. We don’t like it. And humans don’t believe it. But, there is a purpose. We are needed for balance; we are needed to be the counterfoil that lends meaning to the good; we are needed because despite the questionable and mildly funny nomenclature, the human idea of Yin-Yang is actually quite close to the truth.
No demon wants to be the reason why this Universe and the humankind continue to maintain a balance and survive. But it is not really a choice. Larger scheme of things and all.
I had never believed in the Hell’s tales about human evil, mostly dismissing them as some demonic version of Urban Legends. And yet, here, in the head of this man, as his thoughts and impulses swirled around me like a violent whirlpool, I was suddenly very convinced that those stories were not as exaggerated as they sounded.
In fact, I think they were underplaying the real deal.
The darkness inside that man’s head was all consuming. It was delicious and overwhelming. The haze of manic lust was vaguely familiar and yet remarkably different from anything that I had experienced before. There was also a pervading sense of dangerous abandon and I could feel the waves of a darkly joyous anticipation coursing through him.
Humans tend to be complex. Most of them have more layers than the number of years they have on their planet. And almost all of them are a walking bundle of mind boggling paradoxes. But never in my not very long life had I come across a human like this man.
It was not about the duality of the lives he led; or the range of thoughts and emotions that he navigated or the sheer dichotomy of his very existence.
It was because despite all of the above, he was absolutely empty.
There was a deep, dark recess that should have been his soul. But even I, with no consideration or respect for human souls, was hesitant to call it one. There was a ringing emptiness within him — a pit which spared no echo. For a lesser mortal, it would have been horrifying. For me, it was only a little unsettling.
I could have taken over his body, shoveling his consciousness in some inaccessible corner of his own head where it would kick and scream for release until I was done with him. That is what I did with all my acquisitions. But, fuelled by a morbid curiosity, I made an exception. I curled myself in a corner inside him, discreet and non-intrusive.
I wanted to see this man in action. I wanted to be a voyeur for this human’s evil.
Meanwhile, oblivious to the blatant desecration of his consciousness, the man sprinted past several bustling city spots before he finally found what he was looking for.
He started following her.
He wasn’t impatient. There was an almost maddening calm enveloping him. But, I could feel his anticipation. It was slowly building in his tense but prepared nerves.
The man, who was currently also my involuntary host, maintained a discreet distance. The girl took a turn and entered into a secluded back alley.
I felt his fingers curl around something smooth and hard. It was the handle of a blade. Its sharp edge glinted in the darkness as he examined it for a fleeting second before resuming his prowl.
The girl was still walking in front of him.
My host had stopped trying to be discreet. He was now edging closer, his steps unflinching and decisive.
I held my breath. Figuratively speaking.
As my host inched closer, I noticed the girl.
I am not an expert in the process of human ageing and decay. But, I was pretty sure that the female in front of us was very young. Not more than sixteen.
I didn’t intend to judge him. I am, myself, an equal opportunity demon. But my host was not a demon. He was a human. And non-discrimination is not a very human style. His choice of victim made me want to rummage through his memories again. I was sure, somewhere in the empty depths of his sub-conscious, there was a motive. Or a trigger. It is how humans functions. It is why they have the couched magicians called psychologists.
I did not get a chance. Because my host had closed the distance between him and the girl. And as soon as he was a step behind her, there was a chaotic surge of excitement that clouded his head and my vision. I could hear the blood pounding in his ears. I could hear his heart that seemed to be running its own personal marathon. I could feel his lungs struggling to cope with his erratic intake of oxygen.
It was not fear. It was the most visceral bloodlust that I had ever witnessed.
Visions of blood and mangled flesh floated around. I could feel the phantom warmth of blood trickling over his body. There was a lingering thirst that was intangible in the most brutal sense. A wicked pleasure was pulsing through him.
It was a chaos. And it was so purposeless, it had me in awe. If there was any discernible reason or motive in there, it had long lost its meaning. There was only violence that existed for its own sake.
Somewhere in the middle of this bloody bedlam, I felt a distant echo of his essence. It was black and had no usual luster. It had been obscured beyond recognition.
It was splendid.
The intensity of the brutality around me was slowly rising, like an orchestra approaching its crescendo. I was impressed.
I felt at home. But, this wasn’t home. It had no right to be. It was a mockery. A cheap copy with frayed edges that were a dead giveaway.
It wasn’t my home. It wasn’t my evil.
In a split second, my amazement morphed into annoyance.
Do you know how many arteries and veins run across a single human body?
Yeah. Me neither.
It is an unnecessary detail. What I do know is that if you want a human dead in less than three minutes, all you need is a single slash at the right spot on his neck. It is not the jugular. Jugular is messy. You go for the carotid. It is neat, efficient and fool proof. Especially when you want to eliminate any remote possibility of rescue and revival.
There was a pool of blood in the alley. A sickly, sweet smell was wafting in the air. The three minutes that the carotid needed were almost over.
I floated out into the atmosphere and for a brief second appreciated my handiwork. The blunt end of the knife’s handle was sticking out of the spot I had maneuvered the blade into. I savored the moment, watching as the last vestiges of life were drained from the body. The eyes were like deadly white orbs, still wide open in horrified astonishment.
I hung around in the alley for a few more seconds. I did not want to leave anything to chance. It would have been a pity to have all my hard work flushed down the drain by some lousy, over eager Good Samaritan.
It didn’t take long. I drifted lazily out of the alley and saw a familiar profile turning into another street. I regarded it wistfully. It was an ancillary damage. An opportunity lost. I hated it. But it was essential. Sometimes, victory comes at a price.
The girl turned into another street and vanished. She would never have a clue but it was the luckiest day of her life.
Author’s Note : This is the thirtieth installment in my 100 days, 100 blogs challenge.