It was all just too easy these days, breeding up evil in the mortals. It grated on Crowley. It lacked the personal touch, the sense that he was putting some effort into it.
He still recalled the old days with fondness, the days of strange gods and great miracles, when none found it odd for a snake to turn into a man. Like the days of the ancient Greeks (for all their repute for sinning, he really had to put a little welly into it to get anything hell-worthy out of them). In one night of alcohol-fueled inspiration, he twined his scaly body around Eratosthenes’s member as the man slept, breathing sin into it – erection, yes, rising into the air, firm and proud...
And then the bastard went and used erections in two cities to calculate the circumference of the Earth, which was very useful and turned people a little farther away from superstition and towards discovery. Bugger.
Crowley learned from that, though. He got better at it, more specific, slipping into Jenner’s bed, sliding his forked tongue into the man’s mouth to taste his existing sin and buttress it. Yes, the man loved to look at the maids, and Crowley reflected that back – milkmaids, sweet and young, their hands tugging those phallic teats, shy smiles on their lovely faces as they tugged, tugged, coaxing streams of milky white out of them…
And then the man woke up and thought about those oddly perfect, clear faces and the contrast with the blisters on the teats and their hands, and he somehow turned his lust for milkmaids into a prevention for the worst diseases of mankind. This was ridiculous. Was Aziraphale interfering?
“What is this!” Pestilence roared.
Crowley swiped the spat pus off of his face. “Just a little setback…”
“A little setback!” They glowered at him with bloodshot eyes. “This was my best servant! Look at him, gone from the Earth! His last little gasp of existence, trapped in freezers…. And his cousin Polio! She’s almost gone, too!”
“Look!” Crowley waved his hands. “I’ll fix it!”
“Fix it? How?”
“I’ll… I’ll convince them all it’s better to get the disease…”
“Better!” Pestilence laughed, a sickening sound – of course. Blisters erupted all over their body, popping into vile deluges of pus. They wheezed painfully through cough-damaged ribs. “You’re going to convince them that this is better?”
“I’m very persuasive.” Crowley grinned with all of his teeth.
“Wake me up when it works,” Pestilence grumbled, stalking off to take a nap.
So Crowley went for it, and the humans were… surprisingly receptive. And as a side project, he dove into Rosalind Franklin’s mind, encouraging her to think of bodies twining together in ecstasy, and of course that didn’t quite pan out the way he thought.
Maybe he needed to revise his approach.
But yes. Nowadays. He didn’t have to go person by person, crafting a perfectly tailored sin. Now he could simply pick up a mobile phone and tap out a very bad idea, and the humans themselves would amplify it and pass it around. I’m tired of women wanting to be in video games. Good hell, that one had legs. But it was a strange sort of evil, a slimy, offputting evil. An evil that wasn’t his style, not grand and breathtaking, not a panorama of hellfire and brimstone. Not…
Not like Aziraphale’s idea.
Manipulating the very stuff of life itself. Creating new beings, like Shelly’s idea (and hadn’t Aziraphale been snooty about that for eons, after Crowley had thought he had her stifled with Byron’s help). The possibilities were endless. Fierce creatures from times past resurrected, with giant fangs and insatiable appetites. Creatures that never existed before, huge and brutal, climbing the mortals’ soaring towers and pummeling them to the ground…
“What is this?” Crowley frowned at his handful of little grains.
“It’s golden rice,” the scientist said with some pride, pushing their glasses more firmly onto their nose.
Crowley made a disgusted face. “Golden? It’s orange, innit?”
“Yes, but it’s the idea of it, you see? It grows like regular rice, but it has a lot of beta-carotene, and the kids in this area don’t get enough Vitamin A, so now they won’t go blind…”
“Rice.” Rice that kept babes from going blind. Rice that let them watch the little angels flit around, warbling like they weren’t beautiful and tempting and so angelic they were practically devilish in their beauty, like… well. Like the sanctimonious bastard who gave him this idea. Rice that let them read and learn. “Is that all you made?”
“Oh, not at all! We also made aubergines that are resistant to blight…” The scientist paused as a handful of orange rice flew into their face. They blinked, spitting it out.
“Rice! Aubergines! You could have made monsters from legend! You could have made werewolves, orcs, Godzilla, fire-breathing pterodactyls to stoke fear in the hearts of the bravest!”
The scientist cocked their head, startled. “Well, yes, maybe, but this is sort of a bit more of what we want to…”
“Feh.” Crowley stalked out, yanking out the only reliable mediator of evil left to him. Was this what he was reduced to? Stoking the resentment of the affluent white penis-born on social media?
It was enough to make him want to retire and open a competing bookshop.