This is a story by Lennart Svensson, author of "Ernst Jünger -- A Portrait" and "Borderline". -- Imagine that you were a devil worshiper having found the way to Hell. Then of course you'd like to go there, actually take that sinister road to that grey area. So here's a story on the subject, a horror goodie right out of the Svensson freeze box.
He was a devil worshiper going to Hell; indeed he was. He was finally to meet His Master for a cosy fireside chat and maybe get an idea or two about satanic extravagances – how, in short, to Raise Hell, to create Hell on This Earth.
He was called Bill our worshiper, looking like the most of us, not wearing a black cape or anything outlandish, or should I say nightlandish. No, nothing like that...! However, for the rest he was a full-fledged Satanist, aesthetical variety. That means: he was no modern, "downright dark" Ripsus de Foy-follower he, oh no; here we had classy stuff, like Milton, The Temptation in the Desert, The Book of Job and the cover of Judas Priest’s ”Sad Wings of Destiny” as inspiration; fire and brimstone and red velvet. Our Bill was a romantic worshiper, nevertheless sworn to Evil; he was the real deal, I can assure you that. He chose darkness before light, evil before good, and he did it with style. A hell-bound dandy, if you will.
And now he was going to Hell to meet His Master. You might wonder how he had found the way – but let’s just say that he had, that’s enough for our story. And so one day he went away over spectral landscapes, across an unholy land with purple bushes and weird flowers and yellow clouds in the sky – and suddenly he saw a tree in the distance, a certain tree his informant had told him would be the passage to Hell.
The tree was the gateway, strangely so. But this was nothing other than The Tree of Evil, The Radical Root of Reeking Ressentment; it grew up through the dimensions, through the astral spheres which surrounded Earth and whose downmost level was Sheol, Abaddon, Gehenna, Hell – that is, the lowest of the Eight Heavens and thus situated above Earth.
Bill, for his part, approached the tree, smelling of strong resin and hung with metallic yellow and red fruits. This seems promising he thought, metallic food is inedible, it’s sick, man...! So this must be the gate to Hell. He then searched the trunk for an entrance, eventually finding an aperture and going inside – and, once there, he saw a spiral staircase leading upwards, the tree being hollow with a flight of stairs inside. ”So I’d better ascend it then,” he thought.
- - -
Said and done; Bill started to walk up the stairs, round and round and up and up. Everything became a blur, a purple haze, and after forever he found himself standing on a misty moor, black mountains lining the horizon and the air heavy with sulphuric scents. He treated his lungs with the air, eagerly inhaling the stale evaporations and feeling alive, wonderously alive – and more evil than ever. Finally he was on the outskirts of Hell, soon he would meet His Master, at last he would become evil for real, a true practitioner and not just some scholarly worshipper...!
He walked over the lands, crossed desolate moors, walked over meadows with Hadean flowers and eventually came to a town: a black burgh, built by demons. Here it was all basalt, porphyry and volcaneous minerals, it was cornices adorned with ruby and sickly green statues, it was smooth pillars and echoing valves. Walking aimlessly along in the city Bill eventually came to a square with a palace as a backdrop, a dark obsidian front, shiny black glass adorned with pillars, acroteria and an inviting staircase leading to the entrance.
Fearlessly he walked up to the structure and entered, going through empty halls and soon coming to a library bathing in a grey light. Browsing the shelves and seeing works by de Sade, Abd al-Hazred and Crowley, nodding knowingly at the spines Bill felt like being at home. Hellish Heimat for sure!
- - -
Bill continued thorugh the halls and along the corridors, eventually coming to a great hall with dark pillars, smooth floor and high, pointed-arch windows with gossamer veils letting in a grey light. On a throne on a dais a figure was sitting, a figure with a tattered black suit, unkempt dark hair, a not so well-trimmed beard, bushy eybrows and a haggard look in his face. Despite the worn look Bill felt that this was his Master, so he bowed and said:
”Mr. Satan, I presume...?”
”Yeah, that’ll be me,” the being on the throne said.
Bill was overjoyed, started to jump around and dance, singing Maiden's ”666 – The Number Of The Beast”, followed by highlights from the Black Sabbath, Demon and Mercyful Fate songbooks. The enthroned being listened politely and then asked him to sit down on a little stool below the dais.
Expectantly Bill obeyed, saying:
”I’m your obedient servant, here to praise you...”
”But I’m finished as an artist,” The Devil said.
"Indeed. For you know, ever since the dawn of time we Hellish Angels have battled against the Heavenly Host; asuras versus devas you can call it, dark angels versus good ones – and believe you me, we’ve done a lot...! We’ve done our darndest to lead Man astray, teaching him devilry such as murder and adultery while devas have taught him arts and morals. We have gone for passion and melancholy, devas for piety and joy – and we, finally, seem to have lost the game.”
”Oh no, you can’t have!” Bill said. ”Earth is more miserable than ever, with warring in the Middle East, famine, overpopulation and pollution and –”
”True,” The Prince of Darkness said, ”Man still has his free will, and maybe me and my kind have inspired to that which you mention. But only indirectly so, for our reign is more or less over, finished and kaput, concerning the astral planes. You passed through Gehenna City on your way here, right? It was a boomtown once, a city teeming with hellish life, but now it’s just an empty ruin; that’s symbolical for our whole cause. Hell's Angels have ascended and switched sides. Only me is left. And my human stooges are done with, man is liberating himself and acknowledging the Light. The evil Cabal having ruled the Earth since the fall of Atlantis is kaput; the Money Masters are out of money, their fiat currency schemes are no more because now the forces of Light have issued gold-backed currency in the form of the Chinese yuan. Google "CNY" if you don't believe me.”
- - -
Bill nodded at The Devil's words and beheld the light from the windows, a faint astral light seeping in through the veils. He thought: if The Devil seemed to bask in its glory, at least not shy away -- well, then it was seriously bad. Bill started to get the picture, to realize the sordid state of Evil. He said:
”So what shall I do then, poor devil worshiper that I am? Can’t I inspire you to some evil machinations, to challenge God and tempt Jesus and all those things you were so good at in the past?”
”No, you can’t,” The Devil said and produced a piece of jewellery he was holding, green with red interior. ”Because here I happen to hold The Holy Grail, given to me by a knight in shining armour. And with this object I will seek passage to Heaven. Be the last Hell's Angel to ascend.”
”Indeed,” Bill said frostily to hide his astonishment. ”So why don’t you go there right away then?”
”I will, I will. I just have to gather myself before the meeting: to meet your Havenly Father after all these years, that’s not so simple. And to meet The Brother whose earthly, transmogrified blood is in the gem, in this selfsame emerald that I hold – that’s not so simple either! But I will go, by telepathy I will request for an audience. I hope they receive me and hear me out, I sincerely do. Well, you just have to be honest, I guess. I’ve washed my hands in it.”
- - -
Bill didn’t like what he heard, on the contrary: where he sat on the stool he sighed and rested his head in his hands, rubbing his temples in despair. This hadn’t gone well, his long awaited meeting with The Prince Of Darkness – on the contrary, it was a disaster! Instead of meeting a vigorous, gloriously evil Principality he just saw a pathetic old has-been, mentally worn out. It was the aesthete in Bill which revolted against it all; not only was there a lack in malignancy, no, above all there was a lack of style. Where was the Blakean, Miltonian Lucifer with all its melancholic beauty...? The Woodroffian Devil of Judas Priest album cover fame, a handsome Adonis spreading his wings of desire...?
Sic transit gloria inferni...
Bill sobered up and wondered what to do. Maybe just return to Earth – and pretend like nothing, above all not mentioning anything about the sordid state of their Master to his devil worshipping friends. The truth wouldn’t go down well with them.
Oh, what to do... but maybe he himself could assume the role of The Devil! That might work; he could be a surrogate devil, an Ersatz Evil, safe from intervention from higher planes since The Devil himself had thrown in the towel and switched sides... And forsooth there was no shortage of devilry on Earth; still Man made war, murdered and committed adultery like there was no tomorrow. Still drugs were abused, still children were left astray, still criminals were saluted like heroes and the gospel of atheism was preached here, there and everywhere – at the academies, in the press and in the arts. To be frank it seemed like a heyday for devilry!
- - -
Bill had had enough. He got up from the little stool and said to His Master:
”Well, goodby then, Mr. Devil. Still I revere you but for future times we'll have to do without you. If we’re going to create Hell On Earth we’ll have to do it by ourselves.”
”Seems so,” The Devil said. ”Man has a free will. Goodbye.”
He leaned back in his throne, enjoying the rays of a sun that for a moment shone through the hazy veils. Bill for his part shunned the light, not liking either this astral light nor the earthly light of day. He left the hall and went into a cabinet of the palace, visualising the Earth he had come from, longing himself back to the earthly night – and in a moment he was lying at the foot of The Tree of Evil, The Radical Root of Reeking Ressentiment, his passage to Gehenna. Shedding the dust he got up and made his way back to our world, in two minds but at the same time confident about the devilry he was about to carry out. Still there were possibilities to create a Hell on Earth, because -- as the Devil had said -- Man still had a free will.
There was in fact nothing to prevent war, adultery and murder galore! The road to ruin was all clear! So Bill danced away to familiar lands, shouting to an imaginary audience:
”Out in the fields, my brethren and sistren, let’s harrow the lands with drinking, fighting and swearing! Evil be my Good! Fire and brimstone!”
Svensson: Borderline (2015)
Ernst Jünger -- A Portrait (2014)
Short Story: Going After the Saurian Baddies