“Who the hell are you?” Flora, startled by his tone, moved about uneasily in her chair, her eyes never leaving her father. As the old man rose from his chair, Jason witnessed a change come over his face.
Gone was the cordial old dotter with important connections. His back straighten and his shoulders drew back, making him appear years younger. What had been lifeless eyes now encased a stare so chilling and cold that it seemed to reach inside of Jason, unnerving him at the very pits of his being.
“So, you want to know who I am? Better men than you have asked that same question of me. Like them, you may come to regret the day the words ventured forth from your mouth.”
Right before Jason’s eyes, the old man transformed into the image of a teen-age boy.
“What’s up dude? Do you know where I can cop some weed,” holding up a joint to his lips, his patronizing laugh mocking Jason.
The morphing, transforming into a continuous series of eclectic images, left Jason with his mouth agape and clutching the arms of the chair as if he just had the floor pulled out from under him. Actually, it was more like his world. Back into his original form, the old man came from behind the table, walked over beside Jason, stopping a few feet away. Jason eyed him warily.
“It is time for your edification my young inquiring friend. Over the centuries, I have been called by many names. I personally prefer the Prince of Darkness. It has a dignified ring to it, don’t you think. Man, because of his feeble mind, must assign names to anything. If I had not already existed, man would have had to create me. I am a convenient way to explain the evil in the world, most of which is man’s handiwork.
“Nonetheless, I have come to personify what is evil and vile in the world. God gets credit for all that is good, and I am maligned unjustifiably for all that which is deemed wicked. The truth is that there is never one without the other. Surely, you must see that the eternal opposites are what make life possible. If you must know, man gives me far more credit than I rightfully deserve. I am not capable of inflicting all of the human misery and suffering that has plagued your species.
“In the final analysis, he refuses to accept that which he cannot change. He desires the sunshine without the rain, wealth without toil, life without death. Your kind refuses to accept the nature of things. The entire universe is subject to the same laws, which even I must obey. Oh, but man, in all his unmitigated arrogance and pride, would challenge the very laws that sustain the universe. The harder he tries to eradicate evil, the more evil he indeed invites upon himself.
“Every war that has ever been fought has been fought as both sides waved the banner of self-righteousness high over the field of battle. The opposing political structures, laying claim to the moral high ground, disseminated propaganda to the masses until they were willing and ready to march off to war for no more than the defense of an ideology. Ironically, this sad and pathetic lot will defend with their last breath the very ones who have imprisoned them.
“A minority controls the majority of the world’s wealth, while the masses live and die in dreadful degradation. The ruling classes then press the advantage to gain greater wealth still, while the destitute continue to grapple with a world of dearth and want.
All of man’s civilizations are eventually rendered decadent. The dynamic forces that compelled it toward greatness also encapsulate the seeds of its destruction. Aided and abided by a tyrannous global economic order, the few have succeeded at making slaves of the many. These stagnant global pools of mass despair have spawned the invaders of tomorrow, a limitless hoard of barbarians at the gates. Vanquishing their masters, they merely succeed at becoming those they reviled most. And, the band plays on.
The ugly truth is man has declared war on himself. Man is evil by his very nature, but he refuses to come to grips with that essential truth. Instead, he hoards all that he can in the name of his own selfish utopian ideals, the anthropomorphic deification of his prodigious appetite for power. Man thinks himself God.”
“He has been given ample time with which to see the truth and mend his lecherous ways, but he remains a vampire feasting off the blood of his brother. War, famine, sickness and terror were all preventable. Unfortunately for him, his time has run out. Nothing and no one can stop what’s coming.”
“You’re a lair and deceiver!” Jason said, his voice registering his contempt. “If you are who you say you are, then why should I believe you? Maybe you are responsible for the shape that the world is in. You could have used your powers of deception to blind mankind to the truth!”
“Oh, you want to talk of truth, Mr. Hale retorted with a condescending smirk. “The truth is that man has been given free will? The truth that is man has willfully chosen evil over good? The truth that it is man’s greed, selfishness, arrogance, stupidity, and cowardliness that has led him into my camp?
“He never needed prodding because his vanity and lust for power over others were in the driver’s seat from the very beginning. I was there, in the Garden of Eden, at the fall of Babylon, the fall of Rome, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Atlantic slave trade, the World Wars, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and countless other human endeavors. Each weak and shameless act was his and his alone. I’ve only suggested courses of action, presented man with a list of options, as it were.
“Nonetheless, it is man that ultimately decides what’s in his best interest. And it has been in his best interest to develop atomic weapons, to stockpile poison gases, to propagate microscopic weapons, to flood the planet with pornography and drugs, and to wreak havoc on the environment.
It is in the best interest of the slumlord to put women and children in the street when they can no longer afford to pay for their rat infested dwelling. It is in the best interest of serial killers to mutilate and rape their victims to satisfy their morbid impulses. It is in the best interest of the U.S. government to bomb towns and cities butchering thousands of innocent people and then label them collateral damage.
“More truth? It is in the best interest of a drug addict mom in search of a fix to leave her new born shut up in a car while the temperature swells to well over a hundred degrees. I could go on and on,” he said voicing a contemptuous scowl. Unbelievable as it may seem, man by his very nature is evil.
“It is only after he comes to accept that transcendent truth that he will free himself. Free of regret, free of self-condemnation, free of self-judgment. Demons all. Those few beings in history, which have come to the realization of this truth, have risen to heights of power and greatness, albeit along a path that has been awash with the blood of his less enlightened brethren.”