Sham Swizzle ascended a large pile of unspeakable debris and stood high above the new recruits. Many were sinking in an odorous sludge, barely keeping their forms above it. Swizzle inhaled the acrid atmosphere with delight. His brick red features were cracked and diseased, having savored the surroundings for so many years. His booming voice was nearly lost in the din of wailing and confusion. But, he was a powerful man in the realm who, for centuries, had trained countless minions and the underlings dare not disregard his commands.
“Listen up cowards. Today is the beginning of a new life for you sludge eaters. You were put here to serve our master and do his bidding. Only with my training will you be able to fully realize your true destinies. If you follow my rules without question and show obedience, then maybe you can exist beyond this morass. Now, aspire to greatness and serve our master.” Swizzle’s voice carried across the din and the wailings ceased.
The great trainer watched as a macabre army emerged from the sludge, clambering for the debris pile. Others bobbed and sank back—their wills too weak to serve. One featureless black form approached him, climbing the pile with fortitude. There was always one, Swizzle thought, one who came to challenge him.
Slapping him back, Swizzle yelled, “Not yet, underling. Not until you earn your place among the ranks.”
Slowly, the released forms gained features—crooked, pointed ears sprouted atop lifeless grey heads and continuous plumes of acrid smoke poured from black, cracked nostrils and lips. It was a grotesque sight that played out regularly as new demons were called upon to serve their master.
Swizzle took flight over the recruits and called ten of the most eager to join him. The young ones screeched deafening cries of victory and followed the trainer into the unknowns of the human world.
“We have a special assignment today, new recruits. A young girl has joined our hated enemy--the one who must not be named. Their army grows stronger, but you must remember this is war. Your first lesson is to discourage, bring fear. Cause her to renounce her commitment. Nnooowww!” Swizzle’s battle cry was deafening.
The group of cadets hovered above the prayer room, twittering, screeching their lies, to the faithful gathered around the young girl who lay on the floor crying. Their distress was great, but the demons pressed further, sending their missiles of discouragement and fear upon the tormented girl.
“Work harder. The faithful are at it again--praying. For all the good that it will do ‘em.” Swizzle spat his disgust, then continued in his teaching. “Remember, young cadets, your fiery missiles are powerful. They come in all forms: defeat, mistrust, self-hate, greed, anger, contention, fear, licentiousness. Many weapons are at your disposal. These humans are weak creatures, many without the fortitude to resist you or our master. We have the upper hand and we always will. Remember that, always the upper hand.”
Softly, the sound of singing drifted up, enveloping the creatures.
“Ooeeewwwhhhh! Not that . . . this is bad.” Swizzle’s voice cracked. “These are not children we’re dealing with. They’re warriors. Fight back, recruits.”
But it was too late; the new recruits cowered in fright. Their ears burned in protest. The praises of the faithful overpowered them.
Swizzle roared his distress. “Fight, fight, resist their advances. You have the upper hand.”
Shrieking ensued--a chorus of frustration and hatred echoed from the rafters. The faithful circle below sang their praises, oblivious to the clamor above them. Their prayers, in behalf of the young girl, wafted heavenward. Fiery missiles sizzled and fell, most missing their targets.
Nothing seemed to be working for the demons. Swizzle’s hatred smoldered just like the misdirected missiles.
Later, back at the debris pile, Swizzle chastised the failed recruits, condemning them to the sludge once again.
“You’re a pitiful lot. As you aspire to greatness, remember you must earn your place among the ranks. Learn our master’s trade of deceit and fear. Fear breeds hatred; cultivate it; grow it. For only then will you be able to fly in triumph with your brother demons.”
Back on earth, surrounded by warriors of the faithful, a young girl’s heart was released to fly with her new Lord. And heaven rejoiced.
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