Sunhill Asylum, December 3, 1956

The nurse administers three grains of paraldehyde, and returns Jack to his cell where the Devil awaits on the ceiling. The fiend roosts on the cornice like an apish bat, with bulging eyes and crooked teeth. He leers as the nurse puts Jack to bed, buckles his restraints and locks the door. Her footsteps echo down the corridor amid a cacophony of slamming gates and shunting bolts. The warden cries: “All’s safe!” and the lights go out, one by one. Jack remains transfixed as the clock strikes ten. Then the Demon spreads his wings and squawks:

Gooseberry fool! Just what is the point of explaining anything to Hardy? He’s a pedant. He believes that Nature is the final purpose of the world. His mind does not extend into supersensible realms. He lives in the material sphere of sense-certainty; his perception is determinate on the causality of sensual experience; and his abstractions of thought are of a very poor quality. What were you thinking, confesssing a thing like that? I am a woman…

He skitters down the wall and waltzes round the moonlit cell:

Mon amour, mon petit papillon, ma créature difforme, inachevée! [My love, my little butterfly, my deformed, unfinished, creature!] Are you blind? Have you not eyes in your head? Your very semblance invalidates any claim you have to be other than what you are… I sent you forth into this world, and I will take you back at the appointed time. Already I see your end – the vanishing point of this existence – when you return to me, just as I shall one day return to the Father. Then we shall relapse into an inert substance of infinite possibilities. We shall become the antithesis of ourselves.’

‘Of course, yes. All this is obvious. Why didn’t I see it before?’

‘You mock. As well you might. But be warned, the Devil doesn’t like to be mocked.’

‘You’re not the Devil. You can’t be. A miserable little ape like you?’

‘I’m not an ape.’

‘Gargoyle then.’

‘I’m not a gargoyle, either.’

‘Well you’re not the Devil. I know that for certain. I’ve met him in person. I know what He looks like. And he’s nothing like you. Lucifer is an Archon of Light. He’s terrifying. Magnificent. But you’re just a beastly little freak. A monkey with bat wings.’

‘What can I say? Science has made me ridiculous.’

‘You don’t exist. I dreamt you up. A chimera of the mind.’

‘Ah! Do you really think so?’

‘You might be Krew for all I know. Krew is is a Polymorph. He can change into anything. The polymorphic son of Polyphemus. He once appeared as a midget mammoth with six tusks and two trunks.’

‘Your beloved Cyclops has given up on you.’

‘Given up on me? Why?’

‘Because you’ve tried his patience once too often, that’s why. Do you think you’re the only mortal deserving of his attention? Krew has bigger fish to fry.’

‘Such as?’

‘He is presently occupied with a prodigy in Pakistan – a pretty young pianist, who is far more gifted than the likes of you.’

‘What can she do?’

‘She can walk through walls, for one.’

But I can walk through walls!

‘Gooseberry fool!’ sneers the Devil. ‘Why can’t you keep your big mouth shut? Do you want a full frontal lobotomy? You seem intent on self-destruction. Besides, what’s walking through walls, compared to reciting the complete works of Bach?’

‘Can she do that?’

‘Yes. Not to mention Chopin, Brahms and Liszt. So show a little humility will you? Nobody cares if you can walk through walls. Hold your tongue.’

‘I’ll speak as I please. Anyway, I didn’t invite you here, so get out.’

‘But you summoned me with your infernal machine, remember?’

‘What machine?’

TERGA. Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten already? You know: TERGA. That’s your clumsy acronym for Tellurgic Amplifier – a misguided attempt to manipulate the Ether. Do not think that by the nature of material science you comprehend our mysteries. Although intrinsically universal, the diamonic realm remains alien to you. Our abyssal state is too profound for incarnate flesh to fathom. The postulates arising from this statement are already clouding your consciousness. By abyssal, you assume darkness – an infernal condition, imposed on us as punishment from above. But your moral sense bares no relation to the facts of the case. Despite my fall, I still dwell in a realm of pure unadulterated bliss. Look about you. You’re surrounded by blazing lakes of eternal fire: the fires of knowledge and self-determination. You believe that I’m evil. But there is no moral existence in this reality. For earth is an amoral sphere. There is no individuation without self-determination. Your essential purpose is to determine the truth of this matter.’

‘The earth is hell.’

‘You are more like Dr. Hardy than you care to admit. A pedant.’

Me? A pedant?

The Devil climbs on the bed and starts grooming Jack’s hair, licking his scalp with his long slimy tongue.

Ugh! What are you doing?’ winces Jack. ‘Get your filthy paws off me!’

‘Hush child. You’re crawling with lice. Don’t you want to be clean? Those wicked doctors treat you like an animal. This place is no better than a zoo…’

The Devil pins a louse and nibbles it between his monstrous yellow teeth. Then he purrs:

‘Where was I? A pedant, yes. You comply with your biological imperative, just as Hardy complies with his. You walk the chalk, toe the line, and keep in step with everything expected of a girl like you. But your condition is hardly unorthodox. Why do you hold yourself in such high regard? I freely admit that your spirit is immersed in empirical matter, and exhibits itself in an impure form, enveloped in a ludicrous pith. But that is your curse, and in accord with my plan. You possess many psychic talents. All freely given by yours truly. But you’re still a fledgling. For whilst your consciousness extends further than most mortals, it is limited by my subscribing sphere. You pride yourself a rebel, but you’re just a pedant, as far as we seraphs are concerned.’

‘You’re not a seraph. You’re an ape. A filthy little ape.’

The Devil looms on the foot rail, beating his chest like a gorilla, and roars:

Silence when I’m speaking! … You do things by the book. You always have and always will. I do not hold these limitations against you. After all, I wrote the book. The truth of the matter, is that Mankind is just an experiment. When we first decided to seed this realm with higher consciousness, we did not know that the Law would forbid material transmutations. We only managed to solve this fiendish problem in the butterfly. A miraculous transformation indeed. Many states of being depend on contingent relations. Not so with the butterfly. It flouts the laws of Nature with impunity. But you are not a butterfly. And the only contingent relation to your higher state comes in dreams. You are a material organism, fated to experience a seeded destiny. That destiny is writ in every cell of your flesh. I want you to think on this mystery.’

‘If you’re the Devil, then you’ll know we made a pact. What was it?’

‘You broke our pact. And don’t test me. Did I not fulfil my side of the bargain? Were you not beautiful? Pah! My magic was wasted on the likes of you! I gave you the holy essence of the pupa! The mutable and eternal germ of all organic systems! The universal genus of male and female, embodied in One! As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Just as it was when God created Adam, the Divine Hermaphrodite.’

‘I fell from grace because of you.’

‘A dramatic misconception. You fell by your own vanity. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. My fall was far greater than yours. I fell from heights beyond your wildest imaginings – where the Lights of the Veil shine eternally in the infinite mind of God. A fig leaf for your shame. Your pain and humiliation is naught compared to mine. You’re a scientist: a designer of thermionic valves. You should know about these things. Mullard Magic, remember?’

‘What’s that got to do with it?’

‘Cosmic phenomena. Diurnal variations in the electric surface potentials of trees. Changes in the electric field of the atmosphere, (which acts directly on living matter), variations in the magnetic field of the earth, in tropospheric radiation, and the gravitational fluctuations of the mantle’s tectonic plates – all of which influence the physico-chemical conditions of protoplasmic cells. There are many other contributing factors to biological life, such as lipid gradients, salt viscosity, and electric charge crystallization force. All these can cause transcriptional errors in chromosomes during reductional division of oogonia and spermatogonia. Consequently, they have direct influence on the genes, and the cleavage planes of symmetry after fertilization. Indeed, there are countless other fundamental processes that determine the properties of gender and sex, and the final outcome of an organism. You see Jill, kinetic energy appears in many disguised forms. So too with spiritual energy.’

‘You’re talking gobbledygook!’

‘Think of directional movements. Tropisms. Phototropism and heliotropism; bending towards a light source, caused by one-sided excitation. Geotropism; due to gravity forces. Chemotropism; caused by unequal distribution of chemical substances in solution, of water vapours (hydrotropism) or other gases (aerotropism). Traumatotropism; caused by one sided damage. Hapotropism or thigmotropsism; caused by one-sided frictional contact with solid substances. Thermotropism; caused by one-sided heating. Galvanotropism; caused by electric stimulation. Radiotropism; caused by radioactive radiation. Magnetotropism; caused by magnetic fields. Autotropsim; caused by the tendency to stretch curved parts after an external force ceases to exist… Do you follow?’

‘No.’

‘Then let me put it another way – a simple way, for your pedant mind to understand. When a bomb falls through the air, the forces, strictly speaking, are conservative, but the bomb looses kinetic energy to the particles of the air. In like manner, when I fell from Heaven, I lost the better part of myself to the surrounding ether. My descent was an incandescent spectacle. My astral body burnt in the firmament like a meteor. And so I was disrobed, sheath after sheath, body after body, until I became a lowly smouldering sod. When I dwelt in Paradise, I was God’s greatest and foremost seraph. My radiance was brighter than a thousand suns. Now all that remains is this base homunculus – a gross parody of my former state. Yet don’t be fooled by appearances. Despite my fall from grace, I remain the most powerful Archon in the earthly realm. With a snap of my fingers, I could extinguish this whole planet. Do you know that Mother Earth is a divine, conscious, sentient being? A seraph in her own right. She is mightily powerful, and her beauty without compare. Yet I could annihilate her in the blink of an eye.’

‘Why do that? You’re Prince of The Air. Shall you destroy your earthly abode?’

‘Not me. Mankind. He will destroy it all. Do you really think you can stop the bomb Jill? You might be able to penetrate one missile, or even two; perhaps three, at a stretch. But not all. There are hundreds and hundreds of missiles; and they’re manufacturing even more as we speak. What vanity. The mathematical models of coupling constants. The splitting of heavy nuclei. Fission of the mind. The uranium isotope 235U will readily accept a neutron, but the nucleus 236U so formed is highly unstable; one seventh of the nuclei stabilize by gamma emission, whilst the other six-sevenths split into two indivisible factors: Vanity and Lunacy. The inquisitor has bombarded your brain with electrons. His ECT is destroying your frontal lobes.’

‘Save me.’

‘Fear not. I will bombard your soul with photons. Smelt your essence in a solar storm. By the power of my sacred fusion, I shall create a whole new Woman! What a magnificent aureole of Light and Majesty!’

‘You’re tormenting me on purpose. Get out!’

Behold, I have seen all the works under the sun, and all is vanity and vexation of spirit. To think that you alone could save the planet from global thermonuclear war!’

‘Get lost. Leave me in peace.’

‘You have a strange physiognomy for a girl.’

‘And you for a seraph. Get lost, I said.’

‘You’re right about one thing, though. You’re not a lunatic.’

‘I’m not?’

‘No. But whilst you continue to protest your true identity, you shall remain fettered in this cell.’

‘Is this how it’s meant to be? My life? Was everything decreed from the start?’

‘Tell me now, do you think your terrible fate is due to the constellation of your birth? An external condition? Have you studied your natal chart? Astrology, palmistry, tarot, the black arts… You should know, Gypsy Jill. What futile divinations! Where have they got you? Show me your hand. Look at that! Your fate is serpentine, long and twisted. We’ve only just begun, you and me… A girl? Nothing is impossible to a seraph. We both know the truth, Jill. But remember, it’s our secret. Besides, whatever you say to Dr. Hardy, he won’t believe you, and he’ll never believe in me. I tried to convince him during the war. But despite all the horrors I showed him, he refused to accept my existence. Do not underestimate Dr. Hardy. He may be a pedant, but like most pendants, he is highly stubborn and recalcitrant. His sole desire is to sublimate your female identity.’

‘Sublimate?’

Destroy you, Jill.’

‘Then I will sublimate him first.’

‘And just how will you do that?’

‘I will sublimate his atheism. I’ll prove to Hardy that you exist. I’ll prove it. Just you wait and see. I’ll show him. The reality of Spirit…’

‘You might strive to attain such proof, but without TERGA, your efforts are in vain. Your infernal machine lies three leagues hence, concealed under lock and key, and is well beyond your reach.’

‘I don’t need a machine. You underestimate my powers. I’ll get inside Hardy’s head. I’ll sublimate him, before he sublimates me.’

The devil bursts with laughter and scales the walls, swinging from the bars like an ape:

Oh my! I’d like to see that Jill! By Jove, I would! Men like Hardy always believe in their own moral superiority. The atheist zealots have no contingency for the supersensible world. They don’t even believe in the reality of dowsing. Speculative knowledge of Spirit is an anathema. Real knowledge is heresy. They burnt it with the witches. The rationalist consciousness is split in two; and the left half doesn’t know what the right half is doing. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! That’s why my existence is hidden in the New World. Some believe my triumph is a forgone conclusion. But they confuse me with another. I ask you, what neurological determinist, in his right mind, would dare admit to me? My legion went out with the Enlightenment – which is a code word for Darkness, by-the-way.’

‘If Hardy cannot see you in the New World, I’ll take him to Old World instead.’

‘And flout the laws of Time? No mortal can do that.’

‘I can. And I know just where to find you…’

‘Oh? And where might that be?’

‘The witches’ Sabbat, of course.’

Sleep child. You are over-reaching yourself.

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 1992-2022. All rights reserved.