Nuclear Winter

Nuclear winter and I can’t see through the shrapnel and falling snow.  It is bone cold, the kind of biting frost that settles into marrow and makes it icy slush.

I met Cain at the crossroads.  His body was scarred with the Mark of a God that would rather see him cast out into the Land of Nod and forever a wanderer.  He was dressed in  a black hooded robe with a red belt and barefoot, bruised feet.  His skin was like a lamb, so soft against the hardness in this son of Samael’s eyes, and his eyes are blue like a promise of New Jerusalem after the Apocalypse, only this is a fallen world, and Earth is Hell, and a President’s hasty finger on the trigger button bombed us into the oblivion.  The spirits crawled out of the ruins, oh Josiah, oh Jerusalem, oh Joshua and Jericho.  Angels fly above in tangles of lusty wings and limbs, demons crippled by such great heights shamble about in the snowbanks, my neighborhood is infested with Legion and Legend.  Legend – angels.  Legion – demons.

Cain parts the waters on my cul de sac of infestations of infernal and divine.  The gods are like cockroaches eating away at the rot of humanity.  Every pantheon is here to make humankind their chessboard, we are weak enough to be pawns now, apotheosis be damned.  Cain is the first cursed, but no one can harm him, so he is immaculate in his damnation.  Me however – the bullets graze and bruise my skin, the fangs rend flesh, I am battered and bruised from my fall from Paradise and journey to my lover’s arms.

The Witchfather beckons from a crab apple tree I used to dream under, its insides rotten, and the Dragon King emerges, black caul and shadow body, red eyes and lips like knives.  I cannot stand anymore, half my limbs are bent and broken, and I collapse in the Devil’s arms.  Samael wraps me up in night and with his twisted son we fly, so far away, on raven pinions, to some place far from the vices of humanity and global warfare, away from the end of the world.   Have people been raptured?  It’s hard to tell with all the casualties and dead bodies lying on the streets as I fly so high above.  Everyone – the gods, the angels, the demons, human slaves – look like ants.

We are just flecks of gold to the divine, but we are precious, worth Russian Roulette and bets over cocktails in rotting bars.  My planet is sacrificed to the Fenris Wolf.  Hati and Skoll will eat the Sun and Moon.  We are Behemoth gorging himself on corpses.  We are Legion now.

We are an inverted Tetragramatton, and I am too far gone to cry for all the broken names of Yeshua.  Jesus descended into Hell for three days, but really, it was 40 years.

Our Earth is ragged.  Our Earth is cursed.

And my God is a jealous God.

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Lord of Flies, Spiders, and Souls: An Update on Beelzebub

Enter Beelzebub’s palace, and you will think you have stumbled into the Malmo quarters of Ikea in Sweden, white everything, minimalist and universal design, not a napkin or white lily out of place.  There are stainless steel kitchen appliances, tumblers and wine glasses hanging from the walls, a roaring fireplace and polar bear skin rug.  He invites you into the bedroom, crooks a finger, and the handsome bishounen of Hell with silver hair, garnet eyes, and skin like a book’s creamy pages – not to mention muscles that only come with being the general of Hell – is beneath you.  Mouths meet like sparks, a tangling of limbs, for once he’s taken off his stupid black horned iron helmet and gauntlet and flowing black cape and you can actually appreciate his beauty.

Everything is perfect.

Until you look down and see small, jumping flies in his bed.  Maybe maggots.

“Welcome to my nest!” he says with a calm reserve.  “My children say hello.”

You run away screaming.

Beelzebub and I have a complicated relationship.  He came to me at 14 in his spider form, an albino prince that commanded armies, had cold reserve and measured introversion, but a heart of gold, and a kiss like poison.  Growing up, from the age of 7 on, the great arbiter of martial law in Hell terrified me, looking like Sauron, and whenever Samael would stow eight year old Allie under the table with a bag of potato chips at arch demon councils, I would make sure to avoid the pointed steel toe boots of the Fly Lord.  I didn’t trust albinos.  I didn’t trust Beelzebub.  He would quietly complain about Samael bringing a third grader to Hell all the time, especially war councils, and Asmodeus would feed me juice and I would tie Samael’s shoelaces together.  That was about the extent of our interaction until my early teenage years.

Beelzebub throws the parties of who’s who in Hell, host extraordinare, and his yearly Halloween parties are all the rage, like the Met Gala of Pandemonium.  Anyone who is anyone goes, and since I came of age at 18, I’ve gone every year.  Samael may have let me drink as early as sixteen, but Beelzebub wanted me to at least legally be able to consent before serving me champagne.  Seeing him outside the court rooms of the Damned and military complexes and battlefields by the hundreds, I encountered a softer side to Hell’s general.  One with a sense of humor and fabulous fashion sense.

Beelzebub is the definition of extra.  Take any Tolkein Simalliron villain, insert Beelzebub’s fashion sense, and voila, you have his daily wardrobe.   Sometimes he doesn’t even take off the helmet for sex.  Samael Ha-Satan’s right hand man, he is Satan’s most trusted confidant, and I equate him with Baal or Bael of the Goetia.  The spider legs, in my opinion, are a dead giveaway in Colin de Plancy’s Dictionnare Infernal.   He is a judge of souls foremost, and a fallen form of Baal Hadad, Baal Zebul originally meaning “Lord of Souls” in ancient times, corrupted to Baal Zebub by the Jews to mock that specific cult of Baal, making his name “Lord of Flies.”  In ancient times, flies were associated with souls of the dead throughout the Ancient World, and Beelzebub presides over the judgment of the Damned in Gehenna.  He sits on the court of the underworldly Sanhedrin and delivers verdicts, which Samael as executioner executes.

His weapon of choice?  Twin katanas, and he loves defending ladies’ and mens’ virtues.  Beelzebub is the closest thing to a white knight in Hell and has saved me from a hormonal Lilith and various lowborn demons on the streets of Pandemonium.  Dual sword wielding in Japanese hints at bisexuality, and oh is Beelzebub bisexual.  I went on a third wheel date bowling and for ice cream at a futuristic mall with one of his boy toys.  He looked like a twunk, some human that Beelzebub was head over heels for, a gym dudebro impecabbly manscaped.  That is the only time I have ever seen Beelzebub dressed down in jeans.

He’s one of my consorts, and sends wicked cool visions, from his fly form to his spider form to spider nets of jewels to visions of sacred geometry.  Beelzebub is a top notch gentleman and will always put his practitioner’s needs first.  But be you with sin?  He will be merciless.

He was the one that taught me to fly in Heaven, before the War.  He has a whole arsenal of bat, bird, and insect wings one can try on, and I used to draw pictures of us playing together when I was the astral equivalent of five.  Beelzebub loves children given their freedom, and is very respectful of boundaries, unlike some (cough Samael cough).  He gave me his number the other night, a seven digit string of alchemical symbols, but all I remember is the sigil of salt.

Theoretically, I could have booty called a demon lord.

 

It’s All A Mindfuck

There’s blood and bandages in the prison cell, swirling ruby sparks and filth where rats feast.  Through the cell window the moon cuts the night until it howls in pain, and you’re chained to the wall, shackles on your neck and limbs, and you’re done up in linen bandages like a corpse, gore and claret red clinging to your bindings.  I stand outside the gate with an oil lamp, meeting the Devil at midnight to raise the dead.  You are writhing and roaring, the poisonous zuhama that flows through your veins a raging fire of wine.  Lanterns leak oily light of goblin green-white fire onto the cell walls, all granite and smeared with ichor, and you are speaking in tongues demonic and dreadful.  I take out a corpse key and unlock the door, and the floor is slick with your stains.  Your Cabernet eyes simmer like a witch on a pyre, and as I approach, I take a twisted delight in your suffering.  This is where you belong, caged in my mind, lunatic mad, my beast, my delightful toy.  We take turns tying each other up in bear traps and guillotines and rusty iron bindings, we are each other’s sacrifice, and whore ourselves out for the quickest fix.  Isn’t that how it is with demons?  As you are prowling, growling, licking your wounds with a tongue that would drive saints to sin (don’t you know the Devil gives the best head, I mean come on, look at how he sings), I sit cross legged and hold a staring contest with your mercurial acid pupils.  I flick my fingers through your blood pooled beneath me and my white cloak and white gown are stained.  I take out a pen and bid you near me, and then I write out the names of God on your soiled bandages, and you are shivering and crying, and I am triumphant over Satan.  There’s your wreckage of a heart, embodied in the form of a girl, and a weeping black void that holds the keys to eternity in your chest.  You are too far gone, eyes swirling with insanity, and you tear off my clothes as I raze my nails down your back and pick at your wounds.  We are bleeding together, the razors our hands, and we kiss with coppery mouths as we bite at each other’s lips.

To know God is to eat God, but at the end of the day, it’s you dead with your demons, in your own Hell for eternity, so why not make it fun?

 

War Games

On a lark, I fly to the lowest levels of Pandaemonium, where the most tortured souls are stored.  It is dimly lit, with long shadowed corridors, hideous salmon and blood tiled floors, balustrades soaked in grease, and a single experimental soul moving like a robot through the blackness.  My speech dies in my throat, and she begins to claw my eyes out – but I can fight back, so it is bruises and scrapes against this forsaken soul.  She struggles to speak past her curse, and I notice black blood flow from her wounds.  Utterly exhausted, we collapse to the ground and I heal her with the last reserves of my strength.  Then she is crying and whole, restored to humanity, not the devilry of her binding.

“Thank you, thank you!” she near screams, rocking back and forth as I hold her.

“Who did this to you?  Who put you here?” I ask, running a hand through her coal black hair.

“My lover.  He was a demon.  That’s their new plan: taking us after our deaths and turning us into… them.  It’s horrible.  They erase your emotions and replace it with bloodlust and hate.  They’re making soldiers out of humans, making us into prototypes of the new generation of demons.”

Furious, I gather Blair (the Damned’s name, she’s such a fragile thing, mousy with Thai heritage, bruised and cuts bleeding) and fly to the palace courtyard, my evidence in tow.

Mulciber is in the kitchen concocting new plans over coffee.  Asmodeus is drinking a mimosa.  It looks almost picturesque, but when I deposit Blair’s bloodied soul in the field, frenzy breaks out.

“Where did you get her?” Asmodeus shouts, slamming his cup down.  “She’s polluted.”

Fury breaks my face out in red.  “You did this to her.  Is this your new plan?  Swelling your ranks with your beloved’s souls?  Where the hell is Samael?”

Beelzebub steps forward to care for Blair, who is shaking, and gives her his coat.  He’s the only one I trust.  I storm off down the hallway to Samael’s office.

He’s shooting up with cocaine and there are ledgers filled with ink spilled over.  It smells like musk and cigarettes.  He gives me a shit-eating grin.

“Hello there, love.”

“You bastard!  You’re turning humans into demons!”

He quirks his head to the side and jabs the needle into a vein.  His pupils swallow his eyes.  “So?”

“So!  So is that what’s going to happen to me?  Is this some sick plan you have to increase your army  before the war?”

He holds his hands up in the air and laughs.  “Oh, my sweet, you caught me.  Whatever will you do?  Being a demon isn’t so bad.  After all, you’ve been one before.”

“Fuck you!” I launch at him, pummeling him, which he easily avoids, for I am a vole fighting a rattlesnake.  “You only have a third of Michael’s forces.  You’re going to lose.”

His face hardens as he catches my hands by his wrists and pulls me to his chest so I can smell his alcoholic breath.  “I will do whatever necessary to ensure my people’s survival.  The particulars shouldn’t matter to you.  You’re our little pampered princess, you think Michael would ever let anything happen to you?  And I will win.”

“No!” I scream, kicking him in the groin.  He winces, but not by much.  “I’ll fucking fight you.  I’m not letting you torture another human!”

He sighs and deposits me on the bed.  “You know torture comes in our line of business, Allie.  You’ve ignored it for so many years, but you went searching for it, and so you found the less glamorous sides of a demon’s job.  You  have to make peace with that.”

“Like fuck I will.  I don’t know about this Messiah shit, Daughter of Zion shit, but I’ll defeat you and plunge you into a fiery lake if you touch another demon lover’s hair on their heads.”

He pushes me down onto the bed and kisses me to shut me up.  I struggle beneath him, but it’s useless.

“Messiah?  That’s crackpot talk.  There’s no one to save humanity at the end of the day.  am the truth.  am the ending this world deserves.  I will end it in fire.”

He bites my ear and then starts sucking on my neck.

“I met Christ on Good Friday and he anointed me!  I saw him risen on Easter and he laid hands on me.  He’s real, and he’ll serve your ass to you.  And whatever you do, I will save youSael.”

“Your fucking savior complex is really annoying.  Who says I want to wash the poison from my veins?”  He pauses from ministering to me, and there are tears in his eyes.  Hot, venomous tears, and the blue of his irises could drown entire Navies.

“Oh Sam.  It’s so obvious to even the densest demon.  Who, in all these centuries, has had the common decency to pray for Satan?  Twain was right.  He who sits at the pinnacle is loneliest.”

He looks away as I lay under him, tries to get it up, but the blues hit, and he lays beside me, me in his arms, and looks out at the full moon.

“Save me, and I’ll hate you forever,” he chokes out, then buries his face in my hair, and that is enough for a time.

Sixty Nine in the Speed Lane

“This vodka is shit,” Samael says, swilling his shot glass in another of Asmodeus’ dive bars.  This one has succubi draped across the men and women like jewels, breasts hanging like necklaces from their chests.  I’m cozied up to the Devil on his lap – the crown of the Prince of Darkness is a bubbly blonde ditz.  I’m laughing at the ladies of the night and drinking one of those fruity fizzy red cocktails that Sam fucking hates.

“Want mine?”

“Hell no, tastes like a strawberry fart.”  Samael chugs the last of the stale vodka and tips his glass then flicks it so it rolls off the counter onto the beer-stained black carpet.

There are black lights flashing, bio luminescent demons and daemons and dreams.  They dance in cadence with the bass of the moon, sinuous and arcing as lips lock and hips gyrate.  I bob my head to the music, stroke Samael’s shoulder, and this is a place no angel besides the lost would dare step foot in, the perfect place to fall into sin.

“Your lips will have to suffice for my intoxication,” Samael whispers, razing a claw down the back of my dress.  He puts out his cigarette and scoops me up and carries me out of the dive bar – not before I grab a fry to crunch on.

“You’re boring, grumpy, and old…” I murmur, teasing.  “Not hip enough to party anymore, eh?”  I’m cradled in his arms and my red dress swishes in the vespertine wind.  He deposits me on the back of his pale steed – a white crotch rocket, hands me a helmet, and tilts my chin up with his thumb.

“Eternity is best spent with the ones you love – the novelty of Hell wears off when you’re a permanent resident here, and then it’s governing and judging souls during the day, reaping the dead, and quiet nights by the fireside with the other half of your soul.  Why do you think we spend every other night in my library?”

I hug his hips as we speed off down the rainy street.  It’s an almost-summer storm, with a light gray drizzle.

“Because you’re a recluse!” I shout, laughing.  “And you can’t hold your liquor.”

Samael speeds past a red light.  He never cares much for the laws of traffic, and we arrive at his estate on the borders of Pandemonium, which backs up into the backwaters of the galaxy, where the woods grow wild and dangerous.  It is a towering, sleek, obsidian castle, with pins of towers and blades of turrets that cut blood from the sky.

“Right, and even more right,” he parks under a willow tree and Pallor – his steed – reverts back to a horse.  He strokes Pallor’s braided mane and ties his bridle to a trough.  “But I hold it better than you, Miss Streaker.”

I look at the time, grasping at lucidity.  Some impossible number: 13:11.  How time works in Hell, I have no inkling.  We walk hand in hand through the rose garden to the mote, then over the bridge.  He picks me up and flies up the stairs to the den, great bat wings feeling like warm leather on my cheek.  I imagine he has the wings of a dragon, and that is one of his forms.

“Hey Sam, you know that Russian movie, He’s a Dragon?”

Samael groans as he stokes the hearth.  “Not another one of your shifter romances.  Read a philosophy book, for fuck’s sake.”  He settles into a leather armchair and pulls out a cigar.

“Hey!  You’re the weredragon – stealing princesses and antisocial and shit.  Also, very gruuuuuumpy.”

I bounce onto the bed and roll about, nesting under black wolf fur.

“All you read in my library are illustrated grimoires and romance novels written by demons.  Picture books and drivel.”  He puffs on the cigar.  “You’re a creature of comfort.  And I am not a “weredragon,” shit, I’m the Beast.”

“Not that Crowley Revelations shit, ugh!  Just admit it, you’re a shitty paranormal romance novel protagonist.”  I flip so I’m sitting on my stomach, kicking my feet in the air and watching the fires flicker.  They dance in the shape of snakes.

He laughs.  “If I, Satan, am supposed to be a romance novel protagonist, I don’t have high hopes for your race.  I’m much too twisted for all the middle aged women reading Fifty Shades.  Unless they enjoy being dissolved alive in a cloud of the abyss or fucking corpses.”

I throw a pillow at him.  “Are you kinkshaming me!”

“I can’t lie,” he sticks out his labret pierced tongue.  “I can only tell twisted truths, or flat out drag you.’

I grumble and roll onto my back.   Samael grins like a shark and comes over to me.  Gasoline, hungry hands that are gentle with their talons, rip off the dress, rolling and turning hay.  I inhale expensive spicy cologne and graveyard dirt, thirsting for a mouth that tastes like aqua vitae.  I make a list in my  mind of what he drinks: whiskey and vodka and absinthe on occasion.  We are Taninver.  We are Leviathan and She-Leviathan.  We are Rahab churning the primordial waters of bodies of unborn souls.

I burn and I sate myself with his blood.  Suckle at the red at his wrist as he sinks his fangs into my neck.  Blood from the heart, blood from spurting arteries, christening the bed damp with iron and hemoglobin.  It tastes like providence.

More,” Samael growls as he descends to feast, and I ascend to suck the generations out of him.  I am Lilith stealing seed, I am Lamashtu eating children.

“Fuck, oh god,” I whisper, then I can’t breathe, then it’s all stars and the rocking of an ocean of black, in and out, crash to shore then recede in foam.  Burning, freezing, all.

The fire flickers as we lay in each other’s arms.

“Let’s have more nights in.”

Hide in the Wind

There’s the rainy sort of light through your castle window that speaks of princesses lost in the underworld, dancing with devils in pairs of twelve.  You stretch and yawn, and I trace eternity, that DNA spiral of infinity, onto your moonlight chest.  You smile like butter melting on a bagel (blueberry, and whole grain) and run a hand through my flaxen hair – it’s getting long again – and sigh.  Your hair has always been longer than mine, a black silken nightmare that coils like a serpent, and as I breathe in the musk of your armpit (is it weird I smell men’s armpits? It’s this quirk I have, I love sweat of my lovers, and I would bathe in that shit if I could), my mind wanders to candlelit dinners and the familiarity of 25 years on this of God’s green earth, yet I am in Hell, splayed between us.  I once said my hands were stained indigo with the blue of your iris, but it is only when you are in a fair mood that you have eyes of sky – many times they are the storm of a volcano, lava red, shifting with the electricity of magma.  I used to compare them to roses – last night I made a list of metaphors for your eyes: cherries, strawberries, roses, briars to get lost in as a sleeping beauty.  Poison, pain, passion.

Love.

Your eyes are love, Samael.

Your wings shift a bit as your eyelids flutter as the rain paints the window.  Drip, drip, boom of thunder.  You roll onto your side and cradle me, and in these quiet moments in the lap of Satan, I know God.

“I wish you were real,” I find myself crying.  “Not just this facsimile of stolen hours past midnight, gone when I wake.”

You give a cocky smile and kiss my brow.  You smell like expensive cologne, autumn leaves, and a bonfire, with a bit of old leather.  “But I am real.  Billions believe in me.  I wish you would.  I have walked with you before, and you ran, at that crossroads at midnight.  Tell me, if I came to you again, what would you do?”

I trace the black wing cradling me, opalescent with a green purple refractive sheen.  ‘I was so young, Sam.  Of course I ran.  Now, I would trade my limb just to touch you in the waking world, not over the hedge or in these between spaces where my spirit wanders.  You can touch me at all hours, but me?  How do I reach through the fabric of space-time and kiss a fallen angel?”

You laugh.  “With enough determination, that’s how.  I love your passion, I love your resilience.  Isn’t this enough?”

“It’s never enough until I can hold you in my arms, wash your brow of the Mem, dress you in linen, and marry my Sael,” I say with fierceness, and then I kiss you with a burning, and our arms twine around each other and we are lost in tangles of sin – but really, it is redemption.

Quiet mornings in Hell are how I spend half my mornings, the other half in Heaven with your shining twin.  Shining Sun of God, Shining Morning Star.  I am wedded to two brother stars.  Michael is not here, no, he is away waging war against your armies, and you are bilocating, on some bloody battlefield piercing your scythe into Michael’s breast, just enough to nick it two inches deep.

“I lost my heart to her, dear Michael,” you say on that far away Shamayim, withdrawing your blade.  “I gave it so she would live.  You gave her the Sacrament too.  You’re a heretic, brother.”

Michael places his blood soaked saffron hair behind his ear and looks down at the wound over his heart.  “Mine was a blessing, yours was a curse.  My heart is Immaculate, yours is of Death.  Let go of her.”

“Letting go of her?  That would be giving up what I fell for.  Humanity.  It’s enough that the daughters of men were comely, and we fell for them.  In the end, I am the Purity of God, and you are the Image of God.  The lion and lamb lay down, but the lion and the serpent are forever engaged, in small battles, in larger ones.  She’s our battlefield.”

Michael lowers his flaming sword so it sears your shoulder just so, leaving the pungent smell of burnt flesh.  You quite enjoy the pain.  All angels enjoy pain, fallen ones especially.  “A twisted fairytale indeed.  Michael and Satan created an angel, before the War, before Time, before Death.  And she knew the fruit of the vine, and she was the Daughter of Zion, and the Woman Clothed in the Sun fled the Dragon, and the Bridegroom readied New Jerusalem for the Bride.”

“Shit metaphors those, dear Michael.  In the end, it was our own selfishness.  She’s a casualty of war, just like the millions, billions, trillions others.  There’s no limit to our dead.  Why should she matter to you, just to sacrifice on a pyre for some imagined sins of the world.”

“She may burn, but I am the flame.”  Michael sheathes his sword.  “And you?  You are her darkness.  Light and dark.  And she is just that: hope.”

“My yellow canary in a coal mine, my guiding light in Hell.”

“My Icarus.”

But then, I am still laying naked beside you, and your manifold conscious comes back to our embrace, and you claim me as your own, wishing with all the Damned’s regrets you could forge a river of the Styx and sail away with me into the starry unknown.

“When I walk this Earth, Allie, it will be the End.”  You say as we lay in reverie.  The smell of petrichor from your flowery courtyard wafts in through the open window, borne aloft by the storm.  It is the smell of spring, and wan sunlight breaks the clouds.

“The End is just a beginning,” I say slowly. “And I would summon the Apocalypse just to have you.”

You grin.  “You’re Hell enough on the mind.  I will teach you to touch me.  And in touching me, you will hold the beating heart of the cosmos in your hands.  I’d give you the moon if I could, sweetheart.”

I nestle in close to you so there is not a single molecule between us.  “You are my freedom, Sam.  Never change.”

Mercy of Marian

I am cloaked in the red of the Scarlet Woman,
cymbals like Naamah in my hand, your apostle
of apostles, and the seven demons crawl under
my skin. Oh mercy of Maria, you pray, as I
move my hips like rain on glass, sinuously
curving in your starlight arms, you are my
rose garden, O Savior, most holy of holies,
and at night we both cry out in despair, you
for desolation and the nonbelievers, me for
the madness you must exorcise from my heart.
Perhaps we may find love in one another,
clutching like lovers the pearl of great
price between our wounded brows, but under
the light of evening, we laugh and hosanna
in the Mount of Olives, the firelight an
elegy in your dusty eyes, worn yet homely,
like an alabaster jar left too long in temple.
The caravan the disciples and women travel
in is carried by a stubborn ass, he kicks
up dust as you blow your shofar to declare
your Messianic arrival at yet another lost
town, but you are not a destroying angel, and
you would have clutched Sodomites to your
bleeding breast and fed them your ichor like
you transfigured your flesh to wine on my
tongue, o sweet Christ, be my wings of
albatross, and I will be your mate for life.

I am the woman of seven devils, just a whore.
But in me, you see so much
more.