A Demon’s Redemption
By Chris Jones
“I wonder if God the Father would accept an apology…”
“What?! You’re out of your mind, Silas! What are you talking about?”
“Well, God accepts apologies from men… I thought that maybe He’d – “
“Stop. Just stop. For one thing, you’re terrible at being a demon, even though you speak with a British accent. You’re good, you’re kind, you’re helpful, and you have, of all things, hope. I’m now certain that you have faith as well. Your Performance Reports get better and better every time we meet. I’ve never given such glorious reviews to any demon!”
“Oh. Well, thank you, Lucifer!”
“THAT’S NOTHING TO THANK ME FOR! And stop thanking me. It’s polite, and you know how much I despise that. Why can’t you do more gnashing of teeth and scaring small children and possessions?! Just try one possession. Just one. You’ll love it – it’s just a demon’s thing! That’s your Progress Goal.”
“But here, you’ve said it under the ‘Digressions’ section.”
“I said ‘Progress Goal’ to make you understand. What you can’t seem to grasp is that I want you to be the worst, nastiest, most terrifyingly cruel and bestial spirit you can possibly become! Your fellow demons have been passing around the rumor that you want a body. So, go possess a meatsack and let’s see what you can do! End of Performance Review!”
“Now there have to be some bodies here that I can possess without disturbing other souls. The other demons always go for the living. Deplorable act, that is. Why disturb a good thing for another soul? I mean, it is their body, after all. Ah, here’s one. Halfway good-looking. Not mangled too badly. Fresh. Cold as Hell, though. Okay, here goes….” Silas entered the body and discovered he could not get it to move. “What’s wrong with this thing?” All of a sudden, Silas heard voices outside the morgue drawer that contained his body. A latch on the door clicked, and someone yanked the body on its metal slab out into the bright lights with a jolt.
“Rigor mortis,” the junior medical examiner commented to his much older counterpart.
“He’ll soften up soon,” the older doctor in the light blue scrubs and the white coat replied. “It doesn’t matter right now. Go ahead and open him up.”
Silas panicked. Not sure what to do, Silas stayed put until he heard the whine of the bone saw. Silas strained with all his might, and with a crack, the neck of the corpse broke free. Silas raised the corpse’s head awkwardly and said, “No, please don’t! There’s really no need for all this carnage!” The man holding the bone saw fainted on the spot and fell to the floor, limp, with a thud. The senior doctor fled through the morgue doors screaming without regard for the well-being of his student lying in a crumpled heap on the freshly waxed and buffed white tile floor.
“Well, I guess Mr. Mortis isn’t the right body for me,” Silas muttered out loud to himself. He exited the body carefully, as not to damage it further, and began searching for another body – one that was not quite so stiff. He came upon a curiously overweight body that barely fit within the confines of its slender drawer and decided to see how it felt to possess that one. “Oh, much too squishy!” Silas screeched, repulsed, and left the body immediately. The next corpse was too juicy, and the one after that was too deformed and broken…. “Ah, Mr. Doe,” Silas mused when he ran across a suitable body, reading the toe tag out loud before possessing it.
“Well, viruses aren’t ‘alive’, yet God created them and they don’t suffer eternal damnation. I’ve been researching them, as a matter of fact, and they’re murderers. At the very least, they make people – God’s children – very sick indeed!”
“Silas, they may not technically be ‘alive’ by human definition, but they are physical. You’re not,” D’Metri told him matter-of-factly. “You’ll never be physical – you can’t be, remember? You chose Lucifer’s plan in the beginning instead of Christ’s, and you and a third of the Host of Heaven were cast down with Lucifer. You made a choice. It’s too late.”
“What? Too late? I’m a still a soul, you know,” Silas retorted, a bit hurt.
“Yes. A damned soul, that’s what you are. A damned one.”
“I made a bad decision. One bad decision. You don’t think an Almighty Loving God can forgive that?”
D’Metri sighed deeply. “It’s the decision itself that you made, Silas. And besides that, no unclean thing can stand in God’s presence. You can’t even enter His Kingdom to ask His forgiveness!”
“But there has to be a way – some way…”
“Let it go, Silas. Just be the nightmarish demon you were meant to be. Let it all out. It feels marvelous!”
Silas stood silent for a moment, then spoke. “But…I don’t think I was meant to be a demon.”
“You rebelled with Lucifer and the rest of us. Remember? That little War in Heaven and all that?”
“Yes, I remember, D’Metri. And I never fought a single angel. I stood in the corner and watched, rather horrified at the whole thing.”
“You do remember being cast down with the rest of us here, don’t you? You’re one of us, Silas – a demon, like it or not. You’ve lost your First Estate with God. That’s spiritual death. There’s no currency that can get that back, Silas. Souls don’t work like that.”
“That whole First Estate bit was a hard decision, though. How was I supposed to know that Jesus Christ was going to go through with the Atonement? And as far as spiritual currency goes, I’m sure there’s got to be some kind of payment God would accept,” Silas reasoned.
“No, my naïve brother, there isn’t. Indeed, Jesus paid all there was to be paid. And He did it for the souls of men, not us. Just be doomed and enjoy it! Try to be dastardly or something, Silas. You dwell too much on these things.”
“You yobbo! What d’ya think you’re doing?” the tall, skinny fellow in the Australian hat shouted.
“Well, it’s quite simple, really. I just need to possess your body for a short time to try it out – I’ve never possessed anyone alive before.” Silas was humble in his explanation of the situation, yet clear about what he needed from the Aussie cowboy, which was his permission.
“You’re a demon, right?”
“Yes,” Silas replied rather innocently.
“And you’re asking my permission to let you possess my body – is that right?”
“Yes!” Silas exclaimed enthusiastically, the hot sun beating down on the both of them.
“Haaa-ha! You’re serious?! No, you can’t possess me!”
“Well, um, why not?” Silas asked, genuinely confused.
A sinister voice answered as the Aussie’s eyes glowed red suddenly, “Ha-ha-ha. Because I already possess this soul’s body. I’d like to see you try to take it from me, Runt.”
“Oh, so sorry. I didn’t know. Nice meeting you!” Silas hurried off.
“So, how did it go?” D’Metri hissed. “Where’s the body?”
“I didn’t get it.”
“Well, why not?”
“Another demon already possesses that one,” Silas muttered at the ground quietly.
“Silas, you can’t just give up. That bag of bones has your name written all over it. Go negotiate!”
Silas approached the possessed Australian man again. “Um, excuse me.” The man slowly turned, transforming before Silas into the full hideous glory of the demon already possessing the human. “Listen. Can we talk about this?” Silas stammered.
The mighty creature drew close to Silas, breathing fire as hot as burning coals on him. A deep, gruff voice spoke. “Runt, what is there to talk about? I possess this body. Me. Not you. What do you want?”
“Well, I was really just hoping we could come to some kind of agreement, you know. I mean, well, here’s the thing – this body would be quite perfect for me and wouldn’t require much adjustment. And, if you agreed, of course, I’d be grateful to you for helping me out with my first real possession. And, oh, silly me. What was your name, again?”
“I am Legion, whom Jesus Christ Himself had to cast out into a herd of swine. And who are you?”
“Oh, Jesus Christ! I remember Him! Rather charming Firstborn of the Father. Yes, well, anyway, Legion, could I borrow this body for a short time? I promise I’ll return it to you in better shape than you loan it to me in. Um…please?”
“Who are you, that you ask Legion for such a favor?”
“I’m Silas. Nice to meet you, Legion.” Silas extended his clawed hand. Legion was amused.
“Silas…. Silas….” Legion turned the name over on his tongue thoughtfully. “Okay, Silas. You may have this body to possess. I like you, Runt. Let me know if you ever need a hand.” Legion shrieked as he left the body for Silas to possess and found a nearby flock of sheep to torment.
“Hello? Hello. Anybody?”
“P-p-please. Don’t hurt me. I’m right here.”
“Oh, hello! I’m Silas. What’s your name?”
The frightened soul spoke meekly. “I…I’m not permitted to tell anyone my name – to speak it, I mean, but – this body is called ‘Devin’.”
“Well, hello, Devin! Nice to meet you! Why are you so scared, may I ask?”
“You seem genuinely concerned about me,” the soul puzzled to Silas. “Why would you have such concern, or any at all for my well-being?”
“Well, I want you to be comfortable in your own skin. I’d feel terrible if you continued to be so scared of me. What’s got you all worked up, anyway?”
“Legion was awful! He’d make me do abysmal, grisly things with my body. And he tormented me constantly night and day with my sins and the appalling things he’d forced me to do! He was absolutely terrifying!”
“Well, I’m no ordinary demon, I’m told,” Silas proclaimed. Devin shrunk back quickly. “What I mean to say is that I, well….” Silas trailed off.
“You…what?” Devin asked hesitantly.
“Well, I like to help people,” Silas finally stated. “So, what do you like to do, Devin?”
“What?” the soul asked, dumbfounded.
“What do you like to do? Do you like to swim? Do you like to climb? Do you like to birdwatch? You know – hobbies? Sports? Girlfriend? Wife?”
“Are you serious?”
“Oh, perfectly serious! I’d like to be friends. I really don’t want to fight you or be a pest, you know. I just want to experience what it’s like to be in a body.”
“So, let me get this straight – you don’t want to torment me. You don’t want to harm me. You don’t want to make me kill or maim or scare or torture others. You just want to go along for the ride and see what it’s like to have a body?”
“Exactly! If that’s okay, of course. I want you to be happy, too,” Silas confirmed.
“So, no mind control or contortions or seizures? Nothing like that?” the spirit questioned in disbelief.
“A little conversation – friendly conversation, maybe some questions here and there – no loss of agency, though.”
“And if I decide I want you to leave?”
Silas replied, somewhat sadly, “Well, then I’d respect that and I’d leave.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, Mate. Just a question. Sounds agreeable to me. Easiest possession I’ve ever been through, sounds like.”
“So, I can stay? You’ll be my friend?!”
“Sure. Silas, right?”
“Okay, Silas, it’s a deal.”
“You shouldn’t thank me yet…”
“White. All white. That’s very bright white clothing, Devin!” Silas commented as Devin packed his Temple clothing into his navy-blue Temple bag.
“Yes, it has to be. Pure, bright white. There’s also ceremonial Temple clothing, but I already packed that in. I’m excited, Silas! I have to go put my garments on – have you ever seen the sacred garments?”
“No, no I haven’t. I’m excited, too. How do they feel?”
“Very comforting, my friend! They’re a reminder of the covenants I’ve made with the Lord in the Temple and a protection against evil. They burned me when I touched them while Legion possessed me…. I wonder why…why none of this clothing has burned me while you’ve possessed me?”
“Well, I’ve never dealt with it before. Maybe it’s just the garments that burn. Too much detergent, maybe? Why would they burn you, though?”
“Silas, we’re about to do an experiment.”
“Yes. If you are evil and make me unworthy to enter the Lord’s Temple and prevent me from keeping my covenants with the Lord – Legion did that – then the garments should burn me when I touch them, right?”
“Well, I guess if I’m like Legion – evil as you say – then yes, I suppose.”
Devin hurried to his dresser and opened the top drawer of the fine mahogany piece of furniture. Folded neatly in the drawer were two piles – one was garment tops and one was garment bottoms. Devin became anxious and worried. “Silas, I don’t know about this.”
“Just try,” Silas waited in suspense.
Devin closed his eyes and grabbed hold of a pair of garment bottoms as if taking his own life in his hands, clutching them to his skin tightly. Silas whispered, “Devin, I don’t feel any burning.”
“Silas, you’re right! My garments aren’t burning me! Do you know what this means?!”
“Um…well, no, not really, Devin. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You’re not evil, Silas!”
“Oh, well that’s good, because I try very hard not to be. Lucifer gives me glowing Performance Reviews, which he seems to regard in an extremely vitriolic fashion. I’m quite pleased with them, myself!”
“A demon that’s not evil?! Silas, you’re extraordinary! I’m possessed by a good demon! Maybe we shouldn’t call you a demon. Maybe…let’s see, here….” Devin thought carefully. “You’re an angel, Silas – a fallen angel, but an angel nonetheless. So that’s what I’m going to call you. A fallen angel. Not a demon. What do you think?”
Silas was ecstatic. “Yes, I very much prefer ‘fallen angel’ to ‘demon’! Thank you ever so much, Devin, for recognizing the good in me!”
“Now, let’s see if you can enter the Temple with me!”
“Oh, how absolutely glorious that would be! But…I’m a fallen angel. What if I can’t enter the House of the Lord?”
“Then we’ll figure something out. Let’s go!”
Devin parked in the handicap parking. “Um, Devin, can we park here?”
“Yes. I’m a fully disabled war veteran. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and some shrapnel.”
“Oh. Oh, dear. So, you’re mentally ill?”
“Yes. Is that a problem, Silas?”
“I just hadn’t considered the possibility. No problem. Let’s go!”
A searing pain struck Silas as Devin crossed the threshold of the Temple and Silas was immediately driven out of Devin’s body the moment Devin was inside the Temple doors. “Silas? Silas?” Devin whispered, looking around. The Temple worker checking Temple Recommends looked at him strangely. Devin stepped back outside and Silas re-entered his body. “Silas, what happened?”
“I felt this horrible, crippling pain grip me and squeeze me in its grasp as you crossed the threshold of the Temple doors. It was excruciating and I had to leave your body!”
“Strange. I didn’t feel anything. Well, I guess you’ll have to wait for me out here, then. Sorry about this, Silas.” Devin walked back toward the Temple doors as Silas left his body.
“Who were you talking to?” asked the Temple worker inside.
“Um…” Devin was at a loss for words.
“Don’t be embarrassed, Devin. Lots of people pray before they enter the Temple,” the Temple worker dressed in a white suit and tie reassured him as he clapped a meaty hand on Devin’s shoulder. Once past the Temple greeter, Devin hurried on to get changed.
In the dressing room, Devin began changing his clothes. As he slipped out of his street clothes, he noticed a rash beneath his garments. Upon closer examination, he discovered that they were burns – burns upon his skin. How could he not have noticed? How could he not have felt the burns? Devin hurriedly threw his street clothing back on and raced out of the Temple.
“Silas!” he cried, but Devin was too late. Silas already knew, and Silas was already gone.
“Lucifer, may I have a word with you?” Silas queried, approaching boldly.
“Ah, Silas, what wonderful, Godly thing have you done, now?” Lucifer mocked him.
“I’m not waiting for Judgment. I’m exiling myself to Outer Darkness as of now. I am a Son of Perdition, yet I refuse to harm another. So, let it be.” Silas turned his back on Lucifer and began to leave.
“WAIT!” Lucifer commanded. Silas did not heed his order.
Lucifer roared, “I TOLD YOU TO WAIT!” Silas had left and was already in Outer Darkness – alone. Lucifer, who had bowed to one knee, then realized it – Silas had what Lucifer himself could never have: a demon’s redemption.