In the beginning, there was nothing. That’s what is taught, the words that precede all the rest.
‘In the beginning, there was nothing.’
It isn’t true. There was always something, and it was that something which spun us into being. I remember the glory of the light which was a part of our being and the beauty of the darkness as it was driven away. I remember the first rush of knowledge, that He was our creator, and that we were made for Him.
Both true and a crock of shit.
There was a time when you would’ve been protected from me, Thomas. Not by your faith, however true. Gabriel had faith, and look what happened to him. No - what protected you from me was your innocence. Or ignorance, if you prefer to look at it that way.
Just think, Thomas. You’re going to grow accustomed to my presence. Night after night… Pleasant dreams.
At first, Thomas had been able to dismiss the dreams as nightmares. With all that he’d witnessed in recent days, it was easy enough. At least there weren’t any screaming, dying angels.
He’d wake in the morning with a headache, his shaken faith crumbling just a little more as he looked at himself in the mirror before reaching for the shaving cream.
‘God is in his Heaven, and all’s right with the world.’
Only it wasn’t.
Think of it, Thomas. The Heaven that you were promised is nothing but a battleground filled with malice and horror – and its gates are closed to you. Think of it. You’ll die and lie rotting in the ground, trapped within your rotting monkey flesh forever.
It’s almost worth it.
How does it make you feel, knowing that you’ve been living a lie? That the loving, caring God you spent so much time and devotion upon can’t even be bothered to keep order in his own house.
The dreams were always the same, and Thomas was waking now with more than headaches. The smooth, mocking voice would be ringing in his ears when he opened his eyes, and the words spoken in his dreams refused to fade.
After two weeks of restless and broken sleep, it became harder and harder to deny the reality of the dreams. Perhaps his subconscious was giving a face and a voice to his doubts and resentments in an attempt to reject them. No one sane would agree with Lucifer and his skewed view of truth and reality, after all.
Only Thomas was having a more and more difficult time holding firm against the soft, reasonable voice.
For the first time in years, he found himself standing before the doors of a church, looking up at the cross mounted above them. He hadn’t attended confession since his first dark vision, hadn’t even been able to force himself to cross the threshold of a church.
His faith lay shattered around him like a million pieces of shining glass and he couldn’t even summon up the energy to be surprised when an arm was slung around his shoulder.
“Look at it, Thomas. A lonely effigy to something long dead. The priest stands at the front to address his congregation and fill their heads with candy floss and cyanide.”
“’Believe’, they’re told and like the sheep they’re so often compared to, they do.” Lucifer leaned against Thomas, smiling. There were far too many teeth visible for it to be a pleasant expression. “Blindly, without bothering to think or to question… how did you ever manage to leave the trees?”
“Stop it.” Thomas shoved at Lucifer. The arm around his shoulder shifted and pain suddenly shot down his side.
“You, as they say, are not the boss of me. That’s rather the point, really.” Lucifer bore down until Thomas was certain that something would break. His footing wavered, his knees shaking. “Are you considering confession, Thomas? Walking into that church, drawing aside the curtain and telling the good father that you hear the devil whispering in your dreams every night?”
“Let go of me.”
To Thomas’ surprise, Lucifer did. He sank to his knees on the pavement, ignoring the strange looks of those passing by.
“There’s no one to grant you absolution, Thomas. No one to stand between you and me. The only difference is that now you know. Bending at the knees is just an exercise for the joints, and you can’t escape that knowledge.” Lucifer sank to his heels, grabbing Thomas’ chin and pulling.
Reluctant eye contact was made and Thomas resented the strength he could feel in that hand and the assurance in that smooth voice.
“You’ve got nothing left at all, you know.” The smile turned on him then was entirely genuine, showing teeth that hinted at points – and Thomas couldn’t tell if he was imagining it or not. “You’ll never get to Heaven.”
“You don’t know that.” Thomas grit his teeth. He had regained enough movement in his arm to reach up, shoving at Lucifer’s hand. “Not only are you a liar, you hardly have my best interests at heart.”
“Don’t make me laugh.” Lucifer let go, rising easily to his feet. “I hate you as much as Gabriel did – I’m just less unhinged about it.” He looked down at where Thomas was still kneeling on the pavement. “You can’t get rid of me, Thomas. You don’t even want to.”
Thomas woke, heart pounding, and stared up at the ceiling of his bedroom. This hadn’t been like the other dreams, shrouded in blackness. He was growing used to Lucifer’s presence there, night after night, but he’d never, ever mistaken it for reality.
“No.” It was a flat denial that carried him into the bathroom and through his morning shower and shave.
“No.” It took him through breakfast and out the door onto the street.
“No.” It stayed with him as he stood before the tall doors of the church, listening to someone practice the organ somewhere inside.
Confession hung before him like a magic talisman. He could step through those doors. He could speak to the priest. He could find a peace that would let him sleep through the night…. He stayed standing upon the sidewalk, staring at those huge, closed doors.
- and eventually turned away.
You won’t reject me, Thomas, because I’m the only thing you’ve got left. Your faith, your hope – it’s all slipping away, but I’m still here.
That’s it, isn’t it? You can’t handle the idea of being truly alone and you can’t touch God anymore. You can’t even believe in him, not after finding out about so many of the lies.
But I’m real, never doubt it.
And I’ll never, ever leave you.
Sleep well, Thomas. I’ll be seeing you soon.