by C. Ikpoh
Last night, the Devil danced in my head. He knew of my desire to get away. As he frolicked through my mind, his footsteps traced paths leading the way towards flights of fancy unknown. "Choose one," he said to me in a voice so sweet, it lulled me into a deeper trance than the sleep I was in.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil," I replied. The Devil cackled with his unworldly voice as he began drawing a picture in my eyes. He painted terrible things, such horrible things. My vision was that of unbearable nightmares. Indeed, I was afraid. His fingernail etched manifestations of my worst thoughts, bringing them to vivid life. There was no escape, as the ridges in my eyes were embedded as a gorge in the earth. Forever I was to see these paralyzing images of unparalleled wickedness. Unless...
... "Choose a path," the Devil whispered in my ear, diluting my resistance with the honey potion within his voice. Broken, I chose the path to the left: the Devil’s favorite. With the first step, a blink of my eyes erased the pictures he had drawn. I could see clearly again, free of the painful murals. As my sight was restored, I once more witnessed the Devil dancing before me. He exuded such joy and happiness with each step that it was difficult not to join him. Every second saw an additional fiber of my being become more captured by his jubilation. Thus, we began dancing together. Yet, before I reached the point of total intoxication, the path began revealing things. "Behold," the honey potion voiced as it slid across my ear drums and his hand separated from mine.
What I witnessed was not visual. I could see nothing, for nothing was present before my eyes. Nevertheless, I felt something. I was surrounded by tangible darkness. Jealousy, rage, doubt, sorrow, all encompassed the path. Slowly, images formed in my mind. Emotions crept into my heart. I was under extreme duress. My heart raced frantically as it sped alongside the supernatural. The one I live for, the one I love most, appeared to me in a fiendish, malevolent way. I was gazed upon by her with spite and utter disgust. Intimately, she cursed me with her eyes. Intimately, she was cursed by the Devil as he appeared with her in trickster form; a form I recognized but could not identify. They held each other lovingly, reaching climax from the mere touch they shared. Silence was returned when I called upon heaven. My only mate was the anger that began inseminating my spirit. I had no belief in anything but that, for it was all I had. Unbeknownst to me, I was mistaken. Almost instantly, when realizing my rage could never match that of the Devil's towards me, which served as his motivation to seduce the one person I love above all else, I became overwhelmed with sorrow. I was made to feel I deserved such damnation. However, amidst wallowing in grief, something flicked my spiritual consciousness. My heart finally paused and my brain vanquished the honey potion it was riddled with. The Devil's eyes sharply looked up at me. I stared back at him without a thought, inspired by mysterious provocation, saying, "You are a lie."
"Choose a path," the Devil said, dancing joyously in front of me. I was where my journey began. To the left, the path was no more. It vanished in totality. This sight, along with seeing the Devil keen to being my loving friend and fellow journeyman, baffled me. I knew not of what happened or what to expect. The experience of the left path still rang true throughout my entire body. Nevertheless, the Devil's dancing began scratching at my sense of resistance. It was not before long we danced together again, this time following my second choice: the path to the right. It started in the same fashion as the last, seemingly inconspicuous in appearance and void of scenery. We danced until the Devil said once more, "Behold." Honey potion deposited, his hand slid from mine.
I felt engulfed by tangible darkness for a second time. Immediately, my remembrance of the left path surged forward. I desperately canvassed my surroundings for an escape. None was to be had. Closing my eyes as tightly as possible, I dialed heaven to the sound of silence once more. I was to receive no response. I braced for the worst, dropping to my knees and burying my face in my arms. It was then light slowly begun penetrating the veil of my eyelids. Warmth caressed my body, relaxing my tension. I hesitantly unfurled from my position. As I stood to my feet, I viewed wondrous things, such glorious things. A woman -- the epitome of carnal desires -- stood before me. She radiated light and warmth. All I was yearned to be close to her. The brown hair adorning her head served as a regal crown. The brown eyes within her head served as divine vision. Her faintly sun-kissed skin served as fleshly cream. Indeed, there was no escape. Her hips held magnificence between them, partnered with the most welcoming, plush invitation only befitting a goddess. I fused my frontal surface to hers, embracing the invitation. Her warmth generated magic all around me. "Welcome home." Her voice licked my ears, thrusting excitement into my core. She riddled me with inquiries only befitting a god. "Would it please you to kiss the sky?" she asked while mist from clouds of euphoria rubbed my lips. All things attainable in the universe -- riches, powers, lusts, infinite knowledge -- all seeped into my pores with an aggression I never fathomed. I contemplated who I was to deserve a goddess, to deserve the stars and everything around them. Pride ceased my query instantly. It was not before long that the Devil's presence was revealed in sync with pride's emergence. His velvet hands rubbed my shoulders, fusing me further into the goddesses, pressing me tighter against her invitation and urging me into her. I was helpless. Thus, I began surrendering to them. Amidst my final hour though, something flicked my spiritual consciousness. The goddess turned sharply, glaring at me to not recede from her invitation. The Devil's velvet grip vanished from my shoulders. As I stared back, without a thought, inspired by mysterious provocation, I said, "You are a lie."
"Choose a path," the Devil said while dancing merrily. I was wisped back to the beginning of my journey again. Only one path remained, and the Devil pranced about it with freedom. His movement inspired participation even with the memories of the other paths fresh in my mind. I strongly hesitated joining him. However, my attempts were futile after a moment. There we were, dancing together again in glee. All thoughts of the new path resembling that of the others fled me. I was quickly becoming enthralled by our dance together. No sights, no sounds, only the Devil and I existed in harmony. Then, he slid his
hand out of mine and spelled in honey potion, "Behold."
Surrounded by tangible darkness yet again, my reaction became visceral. I protruded my chest out, stuck my chin high, and stood firm against the forces that sought to diminish me. This time, however, the darkness did not approach. Instead, it settled all around my position, and as it did, a cold gently frosted over me. My breath danced in the air as the Devil and I just had. The ground beneath my feet grew rigid and brittle. Stone and dirt laced my soles. Then, as I shifted my vision downward, something caught my eyes. It was a headstone engraved with my name behind a closed casket. The frost grew more intense and I began shivering uncontrollably. The winds swirling around me increased, rendering my words inaudible. The spirits were communicating with me. They directed my vision to the grave where I was to open the casket and observe its contents. I obliged, lifting the top while the hinges creaked loudly, vibrating noise throughout. Suddenly, there before me, lying inside was my naked body.
The skin was void of life: pale and dry. I felt my spirit whither the longer I looked at my corpse while black spots perforated the exterior. Decay rapidly spread along the network of useless veins within the flesh, spreading death whilst demons consumed me by representing all my gravest fears. I ceased breathing, which left me desperately gasping for air. Violently, I swung my body upright, fighting to open my lungs and inhale oxygen. It was to no avail, and the more I tried, the sicker I felt. Vomit began filling my esophagus causing me to choke and gag. My skin painfully tingled as if a thousand needles were pricking me simultaneously. Each inch of my body was in excruciating pain, and that pain grew as the blackness spread over my corpse in the coffin. I called to heaven but was greeted by silence. It was then the Devil returned. His scent was carried by the wind, and it was incredibly sweet. The velvet palms returned to my shoulders as he cackled over my decrepit corpse and fading spirit. No honey potion would be offered to comfort my pain. Only his unrighteous laugh was presented. Dying, I was left alone to be consumed by all the vilest beings in the supernatural afterlife. I blinked my eyes one last time as I looked up, and the Devil's eyes swiftly locked with mine. Fury erased the smile on his face. He screamed in anger and frustration as my spiritual consciousness was flicked yet again. Using every ounce of energy and life I had left, without a thought, and inspired by my mysterious provocateur, I muttered, "You are a lie.” It was then my eyes closed just before the blackness consumed my corpse.