by J. Bateman
Excerpt from a larger piece; a single scene involving the Devil in the modern world.
|God’s Press Conference, Fourth Installment: Unholy Alliances
“The world’s major religious leaders sat down this week to discuss the press conference delivered by, according to Vatican sources, God himself,” the news anchor reported. “It appears that the Vatican stands alone in defending the authenticity of the speaker, who stated that he was, in fact, NOT responsible for all of creation and admonished his alleged followers who claimed to carry out acts in his name. We take you now live to the seat of power for Catholics everywhere, where Julie Peters stands by to report on the implications of this historic summit. Julie?”
“Thanks, Dave. Delegations from the religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity met over the course of the last five days to debate the message delivered by God himself, who addressed the masses one week ago to deliver what we are led to believe is his final message to all of humankind. In his statement he renounced the holy books that the majority of the world’s religious followers have been using as guides that ultimately shaped the course of human history for as long as records exist. His remarks explicitly contradict the history of miracles, prophecies, and, we can only speculate, numerous wars that have resulted in the persecution and death of millions of world citizens over the past several thousand years.
We’re still trying to determine exactly what all this means, as I’m sure many of our viewers at home are doing as well. The information we have received thus far leaves many more unanswered questions, which we will try to answer as more news becomes available. As far as we can tell right now, the Christians stand alone in their belief that the message is genuine, but undoubtedly the Pope will have a very difficult time getting all of his followers on board with this. The Jewish and Islamic delegations have each issued statements that they do not accept the claims of the self-identified God, and are preparing for worldwide religious civil war, for lack of a better term. Obviously we’re talking about people who have devoted their entire lives to upholding a certain set of values and beliefs that they are now being told simply are not true.”
“Now, Julie, not to interrupt you, but the latest opinion polls coming out of Europe and North America seem to indicate that the vast majority of the population is very confused by the implications of both God’s speech and the summit on which you now report. It says here that most people now don’t know what to believe, and wonder if much of the time they have spent worshiping has been wasted. We also see trends among what some are labeling as ‘fanatics’ and ‘fundamentalists’ that this is a sign of the end-times, and that the leaders of virtually every sect of the worlds’ major religions don’t speak for everyone anymore. They just don’t know who is loyal to what causes, and this sort of instability is affecting the financial markets globally as political, financial, and religious leaders just don’t know what to expect moving forward. Do you think that we are on the brink of a new world war?”
“Well, Dave, that certainly seems to be one possibility. I am assured that no courses of action are being discussed at this meeting. They are simply exchanging views regarding the authenticity of the historic press conference, and the implications that it will have on the belief structures of, well, pretty much everyone in the world. Sure, there are fears. These leaders are effectively out of a job and the moneys and assets they have attained in their respective gods’ names are on the line. One can’t but help to think that there will be some sort of definite action that follows that will have global repercussions. As far as a world war goes, I wish I could say that it didn’t seem likely, but we just don’t know. I have hear reports of riots in Jerusalem, Baghdad, San Juan, Mexico City, Chicago, New York, St. Petersburg, and a whole host of other cities. Churches and mosques are being burned to the ground. Homes and businesses are being looted. One can speculate that some sort of organized police action will follow to suppress these actions, but when we’re talking about something that affects every single citizen at a very personal and fundamental level, it’s impossible to predict the outcome. Dave, it seems we’re sitting on a powder keg right now…”
Damien turned off the television behind him with a snap of his fingers and looked across the conference table at the 50 or more smartly dressed men and women who awaited his remarks. He flashed an infectious smile around the room, gave a quick pinch to his cuff links, and straightened his silk tie. “Thank you all for coming on such short notice, but as you can see, time is, as they say, of the essence.” He remained seated in his large leather chair and leaned forward to rest his elbows upon the polished table. “You represent the movers and the shakers in the oil industry. You each owe the successes that you have achieved, either directly or indirectly, to agreements you made with me over the course of many years. Some of you accepted my help personally. Some of you have accepted my assistance to maintain the wealth and power that was afforded to your families by way of agreements with me. As each of you knows, I asked for nothing up front, only stating that one day I would be calling on you for a favor. Today is that day.”
He confidently rose from his seat and began to pace the length of the room. Those who were across from him watched quietly and tentatively. Those who now were situated with their backs to him stared forward blankly, listening carefully to what would come next.
“Power and wealth are such simple, basic desires. Much like fame and fortune, drugs and sex. Truth be told, with power and money, the rest seems to come naturally. Each of you, I’m sure you’ll agree, has had each of your desires met many times over. I have given without taking. I have supported each of you, providing lifestyles that you could not have possibly attained otherwise. Look around the room. Obviously this isn’t a complete roster of everyone in the industry who wields influence. Not everyone asked for my help. Some did ask and accept what I have to offer, but they got greedy. Some of you felt that way, too, when I first came calling upon you this week. But rest assured, a bond with me can not be broken. What business could possibly survive if contracts were worth nothing more than the paper on which they were written? Sadly, those who have chosen not to join us today will never join us. In fact, they are being disposed of, one at a time, by others who owe me favors. Pity. And I was so true to my word. If any of you still has reservations about being here, speak now.”
The room was silent.
“Good. Then let’s get down to business, shall we?”
“I will be meeting with each of you individually to discuss your specific roles in what is about to transpire. Please rest assured that your participation will be necessary for you to maintain the lifestyles you currently enjoy. I am about to ask you to begin pulling out of foreign oil markets.”
The silence of the crowd was now broken, with hushed mumbling of dissatisfaction.
“I know, I know. But you just saw the news report. A global war is coming. Be certain of that. It will happen, and nothing you do will change that. I am providing you with a way to protect yourselves from the chaos and destruction that will inevitably come from such a war. And that war will begin soon. In the Middle East. Right now, religious leaders are sitting in a room similar to this one arguing heatedly about false prophets, the end times, killing off nonbelievers, you know, typical biblical drama. Governments that are based on religion are going to start declaring wars that will, as you can imagine, end all wars. Weapons will be used that nobody has ever seen. All governments that depend on the stability of that region will be forced to get involved. The amounts of money that will be channeled into this war are unfathomable, even to the likes of you.
“But it gets even better!” he proclaimed, wringing his hands and doing a mockery of some sort of dance. “The oil will stop flowing. Think about that. The only oil each country will have will be limited to what they can produce for themselves. Nobody’s going to share. No gasoline. No transportation. No vehicles on the roads. What little fuel that is produced will be funneled into the military. What, if any, remains… you can imagine the prices the riches of the rich will pay to obtain it and hoard it for themselves. Prepare yourselves, my friends. This will be worldwide anarchy. Poverty. Starvation. Riots Looting. Murder. Every man for himself. Communities and individuals suddenly divided upon themselves merely for the sake of survival.
“Just wait, there’s more. Imagine no power grid. No medical care. No clean water. American society, for example, is so dependent on it’s own modern evolution that the basic skills of living off of nothing just don’t exist anymore. It’s true in almost every industrialized city and nation in the world. I can’t wait.”
A red-faced middle-aged man stood from his seat and screamed, pointing at Damien. “This is madness! There’s no way any of us will survive any of it, if what you say is true! We’ll go broke and be just one of the masses! You’re full of shit. None of this will happen! You’re exploiting us!”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Charles Jackson. Have a seat, Chuck. First, I’m not wrong. Second, you have no choice. The riots have already started, and that’s just because of the philosophical questions. Wait until everyone has to think with their wallets and their guns. I’m not bluffing. Think very carefully about what you say next, dear friend. We had an agreement, and you will help me.”
“Fuck you, whoever you are, whatever you are. You’re evil. The purest form of it. I’m leaving, and I suggest you all follow.” Charles started for the door.
“Not so fast, Chuck. Maybe you should entertain my counteroffer. Have a seat.”
Damien returned to his chair and pressed the button on the speakerphone. He pressed series of buttons, listened for the sound of a phone ringing, and a raspy male voice answered. “Yes, sir?”
“Hi, it’s Damien. You’re on speakerphone. I hope it’s not a bad time. I just wanted to make sure that you still have the Jackson family with you.”
“Yes, all but Mr. Jackson, who you said is with you.”
“He is, he is. He’s listening right now. Look, I need you to kill the daughters. Do it in front of the mother. Keep Mom alive, though. I’ll take care of her myself when Mr. Jackson is present. I want him to see it before he has an accident of his own.”
“Yes sir. It will be done within the hour.”
Damien ended the call.
“You’re a monster!” Charles proclaimed! “How dare you? Who do you think you are? Do you think for a minute that I won’t hunt you down and kill you myself?”
“Chuck, you’re getting emotional,” Damien answered with the smile and voice that indicated that not only was he serious, but also having a pleasurable time being in control of the situation. “I think you should be leaving. You’re dismissed. If I understand correctly, you have about an hour to get back to Oklahoma, and your flight isn’t scheduled to leave until tomorrow morning. You have things to do. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but you understand. You’ve been responsible for innocent death to move your agenda forward before, too, am I mistaken?”
Charles spun on his heels and made for the door with little composure. There were no more outbursts, but the sound of sobbing ensured that there was no more complete silence.