Book III: Chapter 27
Alan and Miriam were still struggling to process what Dr. Ma’bus had just said about ‘possessing our souls for all time,’ but it was what The Beast said next that got to me.
“As you chew on the fact that you’ll soon be mine,” Dr. Ma’bus smiled, “Consider this as well — it doesn’t really matter to me whether I eventually get EVERY world in creation or not. What I enjoy is the game itself. Don’t you see, my father and I, we simply don’t want the War to end!”
I knew it was bait, but I took it anyway and played along. “You’ve got it all figured out, huh, big shot?”
“So…so this is all just… some kind of game to you?” Alan’s face was aghast.
Ma’bus was all too happy to explain. “My friend. Let me let you in on a little secret – and outside of this circle not many people know this – but it seems our little Sef de Catadre here is right. Bravo, Lazarus, you’ve got me pegged.” And he made a show of patting Alan on the back before continuing his rant. “It’s true. I don’t want to win every war. Where would the fun be in that? Tut. Tut. Don’t you see? Can’t you understand? It’s the Quest for Souls that my father and I live for. If we had All and Everything, the challenge would be over, and then what?
“Oh, you might think that we could rejoice in being able to torture all of the souls that your god created,” The Beast was on a roll now, “but in truth, there is very little enjoyment to be had there – once we win a soul and send it to the Fiery Pits – to use your metaphor – well really, there’s not much more to do. The soul is lost. And there’s not much fun in torturing a forsaken soul. We leave that to the lesser demons – let them get their jollies, right? But don’t you see, the Pleasure for me is in the Temptation.”
“You’re sick. You’re deluded.” Miriam spat.
Ma’bus merely smiled at her patronizingly. Then leaning in close, he said in conspiratorial tones, “Here’s another secret – I enjoy it most of all when there is a chance that I might lose!” Seeing our disbelief, he averred, “It’s true. When I know I might lose a world, it gets me all giddy inside. It makes me excited about the mystery of it all. It actually makes me work all the harder. And… and… it makes me HOPE!” By now Ma’bus’ eyes were literally glowing with the Fires of Hell and he’d gotten so worked up, he had to pause for breath. “Whew! So that my friends, wow, yes THAT is what I call Living!”
Alan, ever the professor, and now in more control of himself, tried to find a way to counter. “Hmm. If what you say is true, then why would you ever want to win? Why wouldn’t you let the temptation continue indefinitely upon each world? Why move towards a Doomsday like you are doing here on Earth?”
“An excellent question.” The Beast replied. “Thanks for asking. You see, every world eventually reaches its… what did you call it before… Moment of Truth? Think of it as if the world was like a nuclear reactor reaching a critical mass. After so many years of Temptation, countered by so many futile attempts to be Saved, why eventually the world can’t take it anymore and reaches a point of no return – this is when one side must step up and claim victory. As I said, it’s really just a formality in most cases – as it is now with your Earth. After all, surely you’ll agree that your world has become so full of debauchery that my victory has been certain for centuries. I’ve just been drawing it out a bit in order to squeeze out every last ounce of enjoyment.” And with that sinister smile, he prattled on, “Alas, but the time has come to finally end this game too, for as you know, tomorrow is the Day of Deliverance.”
“What does that mean?” I barked, knowing full well what he was driving at, but not wanting to believe it.
“Oh. I thought you knew?” Ma’bus pretended surprise, humoring me. “John, you of all people should recognize what I’m talking about. Why, it’s the end of the world as you know it, but I’ll be fine.”
“Now before you three get all worked up,” The Beast smiled, “I don’t want you to worry. Don’t you understand. I’ll be fine after the Armageddon, and so will anyone who sides with me. So what do you say – wanna change teams? Eh?”
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at least think about it…