Though ancient in human terms, the demon was considered young among his peers; a novice. Hidden in the shadows of the bell tower, he rested his chin on a scaly forearm and gazed out at the village below through fiery eyes. He was pouting.
“Stupid church, stupid village, stupid people,” he whined.
Most would consider it unusual for a demon to take up residence in a church. Most would, justifiably, think it impossible, assuming that the holiness of the structure would forbid such an occurrence. This, however, was a church where, as is sometimes the case, bad things happened.
In this church atrocities were committed, violence and persecution were the order of the day and the white vestments of professed holy men were stained scarlet with blood. It was a place that had been robbed of any sacredness, sacrificed Heavenly protection and had dragged the village and its inhabitants down with it; a blemish on the earth, like Sodom and Gomorrah, abandoned by God.
The demon leaned out over the cold stone wall of the tower and spit at the ground. He watched as his acidic phlegm sizzled on the ground below.
“Baliack,” came a voice from behind him, “what are you doing?”
It was Torish, a much older demon; one that had been around since the rebellion. Baliack bristled at his voice, knowing he was about to be admonished by his superior. Without looking back, he answered.
“Nothing,” Baliack said. “Like every day for century after century, I am doing nothing.”
The senior demon sighed, exhaling a sulfuric breath that warmed the back of Baliack’s neck and made him long for the comforting flames of Hell.
“Ensuring that evil persists is as important as planting the seeds of evil,” Torish said.
A wry smile spread across the younger demon’s face, revealing his yellowed fangs as he shook his head.
“Have you looked at this place? Have you watched these people? They are the most decadent creatures I have ever seen.” Baliack turned to his superior. “Some of the things they do even shock me!”
Torish smiled, “You should revel in the fact that their souls are firmly in the grasp of our master.”
Baliack stared at Torish for a moment, furrowing his brow as if trying to determine if the older demon were serious. “Boooorrrrring!” he replied.
Torish said nothing, only fixed the insolent creature before him with an admonishing stare.
“Look! Just look out here,” Baliack said, waving a clawed hand at the village below. “Do you see that couple behind the barn there? The girl on her knees and the fat, sweaty man thrusting behind her?”
Torish smiled at the sight.
“Father and daughter,” Baliack said.
“Excellent,” replied Torish, as Baliack rolled his crimson eyes.
“The point is,” Baliack continued, “that these people roll through the seven Deadly Sins before breakfast. Then they take it to a whole other level of sinfulness. They cover the full spectrum of evil. To be honest, I’ve seen things I’ve never even imagined before.”
“Then you are performing your duties admirably and should be pleased.”
Balaick shook his head. “It’s not me. All I do is sit here and watch. They haven’t even made a show of coming to this church in more than three generations. The stones crumble around me and I share the space with cobwebs, dust, rats and musty silence.”
“Perhaps a possession would make you feel more…useful. I can clear it with the board,” Torish suggested.
“A possession!? Are you fucking kidding me? I’d sooner be ass fucked by Cerberus than put myself inside one of those…those…things!”
“Careful what you wish for,” Torish said, smiling. He rubbed his chin and shrugged his leathery wings as he considered the situation. “I seem to recall a young man in this village who was inclined toward some sort of morality.”
Baliack laughed. “Yeah, about 60 years ago. As soon as that kid showed signs of piety, the villagers rose up and stoned him to death. Then they filleted his parents and hung them on stakes and burned them as heretics. I barely had time to start formulating a plan for turning that one, potential saved soul before the bastard took it upon themselves.”
Torish nodded thoughtfully but said nothing.
“Look,” said Baliack, “there’s no need for a demon here. Can’t you get me reassigned somewhere else?”
“Okay, okay,” said Torish, “I’ll see what I can do. The problem is that this kind of thing is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. It’s a godless world, Baliack. That’s good news for the end game but it threatens to put a lot of us demons out of work. Just hold down the fort until I get back to you.”
With that, Torish disappeared in a flash of fire and a pillar of smoke.
“Drama queen,” Baliack mumbled.
He turned back to the village and slumped backed into a posture of defeat as he watched humanity do his job for him.