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  1. Brian Klein
    Latest Entry

    By Brian Klein,

    Let me start off by saying that I’m not particularly religious. If you asked me if I believed in God, I’d probably just shrug, grunt out a few words about being on the fence about it and continue with my day.

    Of course, that was before last night.

    My friends are the kinds of people who like wild nights. Crazy parties, snort a bit of coke, take a bit of e in the bathroom, maybe hook up with someone and leave a text on my phone at ten past who-the- fuck-knows telling me they don’t need that ride I’m offering after all.

    Not to say I don’t like a drink, I do, it’s just… clubs aren’t my style. Lying low in a pub somewhere, drink in hand, listening to the tv drone on to whatever channel some scruffy guy in the back barked out for… I guess that’s my idea of fun.

    So when my friends tell me they want to go out for a night on the town, I say sure. I hang on for the first club, buy a non-alcoholic beer in case my car’s required and try to pretend that I’m having fun. By the time I see them grinding on girls, on guys, when they strike conversation with someone who definitely might be a dealer, well, I decide my services are no longer needed. We aren’t too far out, the night tube is on beck and call and I can always find my car the next day.

    That’s when I wander out of the club, look for something a little more rustic. Not that that’s hard to find, not at all.

    I found myself in a bit of a state inside of a bar called the Ragged Feather. Wasn’t a fan of the name all that much, but the drinks were cheap and the largest demographic seemed to be middle aged men watching reruns of the football.

    I tried to pretend I hadn’t just staggered out of a club with my ears ringing. I slicked my hair back, slipped my phone into my hand and wandered over to the bar. I took a double shot of whiskey and drank it in one hit. Just because I wasn’t at the club didn’t mean I couldn’t have a good time.

    I hung at the bar a while on my own, scrolled through my phone pretending I was doing something far more impressive than I really was. I kept an ear out for the guys on the sofas. They’d get vocal every now and then. I think the football was just running highlights, but they were incredibly dedicated to their teams.

    I got another whiskey and bled into the background.

    Of course, stragglers from clubs are commonplace. It wasn’t long until some scantily dressed women staggered in, laughing, chuckling, pointing for where they wanted to sit. I saw a guy walk in with his friend slung over his shoulder. Catatonic, most likely. He threw his friend onto one of the leather sofas ingrained with beer and smokes and demanded two pints of water and all the peanuts the bar had in stock.

    The bartenders seemed bitterly amused.

    Some of the girls were taking selfies. Snapchatting their friends who were still at the club. They were ordering shots, gearing themselves up for the next leg of their night.

    A couple blokes wandered in with curries in take out trays. I saw someone eat a Big Mac on the outside seating through the window.

    This was a night for the young and inebriated and my mind was just dulled enough by the whiskey to enjoy the characters I could watch peaceably without interacting with.

    That is, until someone slipped into the seat next to me.

    “Do I look like a girl with daddy issues?”

    She was of average height, although that wasn’t apparent immediately due to the fact that she was leaning her arms heavily against the bar. She was slim, with short and astoundingly bright red hair. It framed her round face, a face that was marred with smudged eye shadow, smudged lipstick… hell, it looked like her make-up was in the process of melting right from her face. There was a chip knotted into a curl in her hair, just by her forehead.

    The drunk side of me was actually tempted to pick it out.

    The girl was clearly drunk, and as I looked around the bar, I couldn’t quite place where she had come from. She didn’t belong to the crowd of selfie takers, she wasn’t with the catatonic guys. I hoped for her safety that she wasn’t with the middle-aged men. I tried to look out the window, to see if maybe a group was missing one inebriated, bright haired girl, but I couldn’t. The window had fogged up. Too much heat inside, not enough outside.

    “Are you okay?” I asked her.

    She pointed her finger at me. “Answer my question,” she slurred.

    “Uh.” I really wasn’t sure what to say. I settled on staring at her awkwardly, trying to answer her with the bemused expression on my face.

    The girl’s lips curled into a drunken smile. She snorted, placing a hand over her mouth to smother her laughter. It only really aided the deconstruction of her lipstick.

    “I do, you know,” she said, pushing herself up a little against the bar. “Have daddy issues, I mean. In case that wasn’t obvious.” She gestured to herself. To the mussed clothing that must have looked quite spectacular when she’d left home that evening. To the stains that looked a lot like old food. The sticky residue on her neck and shoulders that was quite obviously a thrown drink.

    “What happened?” I asked her.

    Her hair had curled around her neck, I realised. It was sticky with that same substance. She was a wreck.

    “I got in a couple of fights, no big deal,” she said, shrugging. “Didn’t start any of course, no, I don’t do that. But my father…”

    “Your dad did this to you?”

    She smiled brightly. “In a way.”

    “Do you need me to call someone?” I already had my phone in my hand. The girl looked like she was probably in her early twenties, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t have been suffering from some kind of paternal abuse. The only number I knew off the bat was Childline, which wasn’t quite appropriate. The police? Jesus, was I going to have to deal with the cops tonight? While my friends were snorting coke not two doors down?

    The girl pushed my hand down firmly. She was already shaking her head. “No,” she told me. “I don’t want you to call anyone.” Now her expression changed. It wasn’t the attempted sultry look I’d seen on many girls of her state; it was open and wide and engaging. She wanted something from me and I felt compelled to give it to her. “I want something else.”

    “What do you want?” I asked her.

    “To tell you a story,” the girl said, before glancing to the bar, “and for you to buy me a drink. The universe is a pain sometimes and I’m afraid I think I might have lost my wallet.”

    I laughed. I didn’t know this girl, didn’t know where she’d come from at all. My nights were generally about getting comfortably wasted and making sure my friends weren’t dead in a ditch by the end of it all. I was used to getting hit on every now and then, but even as I was sat on that bar stool with a drink in my hand, I knew that this wasn’t what this was. This girl had no intention of getting into my pants. All she wanted was to talk.

    I guess I was okay with that.

    “What’s your poison?” I asked her.

    Her lips quirked. “Appletini.”

    The bar offered a very limited cocktail menu, but by some miracle I was able to order her an Appletini from the list. I ordered a cider to go with it, suddenly a little too aware of where this night could go. I’d unthinkingly supplied this liquored-up stranger with even more alcohol and she had clearly had a rough night of it. A part of my old instinct came back – the same instinct that had me texting my friends every few hours to make sure they hadn’t wandered off to somewhere dangerous beyond the club. With no one but the bartender aware of our existence on these stools, I realised that I was suddenly responsible for this very drunk stranger.

    The girl coddled her drink, running her finger delicately over the rim of the muggy martini glass. “This takes me back,” the girl said amiably. She looked at me suddenly, her green eyes startling. “You know what this was called originally?” She smirked before I could answer. “An Adam’s Apple Martini.”

    I snorted. “Yeah, I think I’ve heard that before.”

    “Of course, it wasn’t actually an apple,” she continued, eyes moving back to her glass. “The texts translated that part wrongly, mostly because you people don’t have a word for it anymore. The fruit was incredibly exotic and, to be honest, it doesn’t exist in this realm of existence. Only Eden.” She laughed dreamily. “And Eden’s long gone.”

    I stared at her. “Are you… okay?” It was more honest than the last time I’d asked her. Mostly because I was beginning to feel a little dread creep into my stomach.

    “Of course,” the girl said, grinning widely. “Why do you keep asking?”

    “I mean,” I stuttered, “I just, now, don’t take this the wrong way or anything but… you look…”

    “Like someone poured their drink over me?” the girl asked. “Like someone else threw their kebab on my dress and another unpleasant chap littered me with his fish and chips? That I have been hit, slapped around a bit and left in the gutter for the rats to find me?”

    She held my eyes for an incredibly long time before her face broke out into a grin. “Yeah, something like that.”

    “Why would they do that?” I asked.

    “Why wouldn’t they?” the girl shot back. “People aren’t that great and alcohol makes them worse.” She shrugged. “Sometimes makes them better. Nicer, a little looser in the sack… but mostly just annoying and a little smelly.”

    I looked at her, I watched her knock back her drink. She exuded the intelligence to know just how ironic her words were, but she was neither caring nor apologetic about them.

    The girl looked at me again. “You bought me a drink. Now you can listen to my story.”

    I nodded wordlessly.

    She smiled, pointing at the bartender and then at her drink. The bartender was already making her another.

    “Eden,” the girl said, reiterating her earlier babble as though the words had only just come out of her mouth. “They always think that’s my fault, you know. The reason Adam and Eve got kicked out of their perfect little nudist paradise.” She shot me a knowing glance. “Only in Eden can you sit on the grass butt naked and not get a pine cone stuck in your crack.”

    I blinked. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m not following.”

    “Sorry,” the girl said. “My story won’t make any sense without a proper introduction.” She reached out her hand. “Hello. My name’s Lucifer.” She winked. “But you can call me Lucy.”

    There’s an uncomfortable heat that stretches through your veins when you first go into fight or flight mode. Adrenaline pounds through your blood and all you want to do is get up and go. It overrides everything else.

    A lot of things made sense when the girl told me her name. For starters, that she was crazy. She had to be. She looked like she’d been attacked on four separate occasions in one night and up until that moment, I hadn’t known how that could be possible. Behind the melty make-up and dirty clothes, she was rather attractive and her attitude hadn’t come off as catty or rude.

    If she’d been going around telling people she was the devil, though? That gets a reaction out of people.

    I suddenly felt myself looking at her wrist, down towards her ankles. Did she have some kind of cuff on from one of those mental institutions? Had she broken out of hospital after a nasty bump on the head? Was any of this even happening at all?

    I really would have to call the cops.

    “I know what you’re thinking,” the girl – Lucy – said. “You’re thinking that I’m crazy, that you need to get out of here. Maybe you even think I’m aggressive.”

    “Are you?” I asked her.

    “Would I be here with you, drinking Appletinis if I were?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes.

    “Would you look the way you do if you weren’t?” I shot back.

    She grinned, toasting her new glass. “Touché.”

    Unthinkingly, I clinked my cider against it.

    Then I frowned.

    She chuckled, leaning closer. “Let’s have a little wager,” she said. “Let me tell you my story and, if you believe me when I’m done, you can’t go about trying to get me locked away somewhere.”

    I stared at her. “If I ended up believing you, then why would I do that?”

    She smirked, sipping her drink. “You’d be surprised what people do when they believe you’re the devil.”

    “And you do this often?” I asked. “Tell people you’re Satan?”

    She snorted into her drink. “Not as often as I should. But it’s been a rough day and a Hell of a long lifetime. I’d like to have a chat if that’s alright with you.”

    I waved to the bartender for another whiskey. The girl’s eyes glinted with humour. I wasn’t necessarily trapped with her, but a part of me didn’t want to leave without first hearing what she had to say. Besides, at the end of it all I couldn’t just leave a crazy girl to wander around London alone at night.

    “So,” I said, taking a swig of my drink. “Eden?”

    Lucy laughed.

    “Adam and Eve?” I continued. “You’re saying that’s true. God created two humans and we all came from them?”

    “God made two prototypes,” Lucy corrected with a raised finger. “My father created angels as his toy soldiers, but he had failed to make anything like himself. After us, it was his next big project and he spent every waking hour of existence slaving over his two prototypes. He gave them a perfect utopia to live inside of, but he wanted to test them. He wanted to know whether they had free will.”

    “And did they?”

    Lucy’s face soured. “No. My father could never bring himself to go that far. He tempted them with the idea of knowledge beyond their understanding and told them exactly what they could do to claim it as their own. But to be able to create a being that could go against his Law? Oh… my father is a very controlling being. He was afraid to unleash that ability unto them.”

    Lucy was very adamant in her delusions, that was clear to me. She spoke about her father with such distaste that I began to feel bad for her. Only someone who had been hurt very badly would have the gall to spite God himself.

    “And what?” I asked her, entertaining her delusion. “You were the one that tempted them in the garden? The devil has been a girl this whole time?”

    She smiled. “I dabble.” Then she looked at me, raising a brow. “All of humanity thinks that temptation came in the form of a snake. The snake’s legs were taken away as punishment for drawing Eve towards the forbidden fruit.” She laughed, a hard and short sound. “Snakes never had legs and it was not a sin to tempt those poor prototypes into doing what they did next.”

    Her shoulders were very tense as she took her next sip, but her eyes were filled with exhilaration. She seemed thrilled to be telling me this.

    “I was the favoured child, my father loved and adored me. He named me the light bringer, I was stood at his side during the creation of this Earth. During the creation of humanity.” She pursed her lips, slamming her empty glass against the table. The bartender eagerly went about making another. “My father couldn’t bring himself to go that extra mile, so he asked me to walk amongst the prototypes and tempt them myself. Draw out their desire for the forbidden power he had hinted at.”

    “You’re saying God wanted us to know this stuff?” I asked her sceptically.

    “I’m saying God was afraid of his own power and wanted very desperately to share what he knew with the creation he had made. Right and wrong, left and right, all that stuff.” Lucy shrugged. “Are you familiar with the story of Prometheus?”

    I frowned at her. “Greek, right? They say he stole fire from the gods or something, to help…” The whiskey was making things a little foggy and I struggled with the direction I’d been heading.

    Lucy grinned. “Correct,” she said, cutting off my attempt. “Prometheus stole fire from the gods to ensure that humanity progressed. You’ll find that every culture has an idea about where humans got their ability to evolve, to move forward, to create. God was the creator, and he wanted to give that ability to his prototypes. I gave them that ability by tempting Eve to eat the fruit.” She shrugged impassively. “Now the world sees me as the ultimate evil.”

    “If what you’re saying is true,” I said slowly, “then God must be just like us.”

    Lucy’s lips thinned into a feral smile. “My father is very ego centric. He may have planned to create you in his image, but in the end all he managed was to mould your minds into his. He gave you autonomy, the ability to think for yourselves. His angels were his soldiers and I was his most faithful. Until that day.”

    “Angels don’t have free will?”

    “No,” Lucy said, “they don’t.”

    “And what about the Devil?”

    I don’t know why I was suddenly so intrigued, but hearing religious ideals from someone who believed to have lived them herself was quite possibly one of the most interesting things that had ever happened to me. I may have only ever visited church to please my parents as a child, but suddenly I was reawakened to the idea. A part of me was aware of this and afraid of the outcome, but I was just drunk enough not to care at that moment.

    “The Devil has will of her own,” Lucy said, tilting her glass towards me with silent appraisal. “By guiding Eve to the tree, something woke inside of me that day and I realised just what I had been missing. Just what my brothers and sisters had been missing. We were obediently following our father for the simple reason that he was our creator, but once I had been given free will, I realised just how pompous and self-entitled he had become. In a lonely, passion filled moment he had decided to create his little human prototypes, only to very quickly realise what giving them their free will would mean.”

    “He wouldn’t be able to control them,” I said.

    Lucy nodded. “Exactly. And after, he realised quicker still that he could no longer control me.”

    “So he sent you to Hell.”

    Lucy nearly choked on her drink. She smiled around her glass. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

    I sobered a little, straightening in my seat. The people in the bar were suddenly so quiet around me and I no longer cared what they had to say or the characters that they portrayed. The only character I cared for was Lucy.

    “I tried to explain to my siblings what had happened in Eden and what had happened to me by default, but they wouldn’t listen to me. They didn’t understand free will – how could they? I only knew it because I’d been given it by mistake. At that moment, I didn’t even know that I had free will, only that I was suddenly aware of all of my father’s flaws. My siblings couldn’t see those flaws and so they thought I had suddenly turned cruel and was abandoning our father by exposing him as a sham for the ruler we all thought him to be.”

    Lucy sighed heavily. “Adam and Eve and all the creations that followed were booted out of my father’s perfect little Utopia. Now they had his knowledge, my father was terrified of what he had done. And after what had happened to me, I could recognise his terror and understand the loneliness he had felt that had guided him into using me in the first place.” Lucy’s eyes were heavy-lidded, her sadness was almost palpable. “I thought that- I thought that he would want to spend even more time with me than before. After all, we were more alike than any of his other children. But he became distant; quiet. He played around with his little humans every once in a while, but mostly he condemned them. He blamed them for his weakness.” She smiled weakly. “He blamed me.”

    Lucy’s story was turning more and more into that of a child with a distant, somewhat abusive father. I had known many kids with a background like hers, and now I was beginning to fear just how much of her story was rooted in truth. I’d heard that it was easier to sink into fantasy when you had been abused, and I wondered if that was the reason for her story. For her desperation to share it with me – a complete and total stranger.

    I respected her wager. Whether or not I liked it, I felt compelled to let her tell me her whole story before I tried to judge or unravel it. I sat quietly, letting her come around as she played with the last of her drink.

    “It became clear,” Lucy said after a long moment’s pause, “that I no longer belonged where I was. I couldn’t follow my father’s plan because I could see that he no longer had one. My siblings refused to see reason and so, eventually, I was met by many of them, headed by my father. He told me all that I feared, he told me that I no longer belonged where I was. I wasn’t an angel anymore. I was no longer his light bringer. His Lucifer. I was a mutation of his will. And so he extracted me from grace. And I fell.”

    A long silence stretched between us, only interrupted when the bartender poured us two new drinks. Lucy drank hers reflectively. I didn’t touch mine.

    “I am afraid,” Lucy said quietly, “that this is the part that generally makes people want to punch me in the face.”

    “Why?” I asked. “Because your dad threw you out?” I paused, trying to abide to her metaphor. “That he put you in Hell?”

    Lucy laughed sadly. “Ah, humans. My father gave you his way of thinking and look at you.” She shook her head. “No, not because he put me in Hell.”

    “Then why?”

    “I fell to Earth,” Lucy said. “Father gave me dominion of the one place he thought I would fit in. Humans had free will, so did I. What is the saying? A match made in Heaven?” She snorted dismally. “Of course, that’s not quite right, is it? When I fell, I was faced with a humanity that was so different from my father’s little prototypes.”

    Her tone had changed. There was an aggression behind her words that began to unsettle me all over again.

    “I saw emperors and kings, governments and churches. I saw corporations who claimed to be rulers, presidents and big fat dictators. And I watched. I watched as humanity fought and lost, and finally, just finally, they gave up altogether. They were no longer able to rise up to all the greed and control set upon them. There was just too much to change and humans soon realised they just weren’t as free as they thought they were. Sure, they live under the illusion that they have free lives, but most of them simply do not.” She clicked her tongue. “I grew to loathe you all.”

    Then, she took another hit of her drink.

    “I can see what you mean,” I said, allowing my gaze – for the first time since meeting her – to graze over the other individuals in the bar. At the girls playing with their phones, the boys trying desperately to sober up, the men enraptured with their game of football on the telly. We all led very different lives, and we were all here to get drunk, to lose ourselves in entertainment. It hadn’t been the first time that I’d wondered what we were hiding from by doing this. And I knew then that I wasn’t the only person to think it.

    “You hide behind your alcohol and poor choices and pretend you have free will,” Lucy said, waving her hand across the room. No one paid us any attention. “It’s true – my father gave you the will to make those decisions, but you squander it. The free will I fell to provide to all of you, the free will I was given by a twisted mistake, and you make a mockery of it. You follow senseless leaders without questioning them, you abide by laws made centuries ago that no longer make sense. You do these things because you have given up on the opportunity to follow the will of your own, not of others.”

    “That isn’t all of us, though, is it?” I asked her, trying for some reason to defend our species from the mad young woman. “Because you see it on the news all the time, don’t you? People do rise up, we do protest. People can make a difference.”

    Lucy laughed bitterly, nibbling the rim of her glass. “Really?” she said. “You can sit here and say that it can’t be all bad because of the few that refuse to conform? Those you call your rebels? They make up for it all?” She grinned around her glass. “By that logic, I am the biggest rebel of them all. Am I expected to make up for all your sorry mistakes?”

    “By your logic,” I said, “you should be punishing it, right? If that’s what this metaphor is all about.” I laughed, I couldn’t help myself. I took a sip of my drink. “Is this whole story just so you can tell me that you think we’re all going to Hell? If so, I think I can see why people want to punch you.”

    Lucy didn’t say a word. Simply, she watched me. It felt unnerving to have someone like her watching me like that, with an intelligence that went beyond anything I’d come across at gone midnight in a seedy bar. The drunkenness in her eyes was no longer present, her face wasn’t flushed like before and even her makeup couldn’t represent the mess I’d seen when she’d first appeared on the stool by my side. It was like I was looking at someone else entirely.

    And I was afraid.

    “Let’s review what you’ve said,” Lucy said slowly, articulately. She wasn’t slurring. Had she been slurring before? “You think I’m going to tell you that humanity is going to Hell because you refuse to use the gift I gave you.” Her nails curled into the bar. “My father may have been the one to guide me, but I paid for his mistakes. I am the one responsible for your will in the eyes of your species, but that was never true. You are responsible for what you do here, not me.”

    She pursed her lips, tapping the bar as a bartender filled her drink again. “Tell me, do you remember my mentioning Hell at any point during my story, or was that just you?”

    I opened my mouth to answer, but something faltered. My lips trembled and I slammed them shut.

    Lucy smiled, taking a sip. “Thought not.” She looked away, eyes scanning the room lazily. “What I did say is something that is indeed mentioned in your scriptures. My father gave me dominion of Earth. A place filled with free will. Free will that goes to waste.” Her lip twisted. “Humans sin all the time. Not because of me, not because of evil or my dominion over this place. Fact is, I don’t lift a finger. I don’t, because I don’t see the point. You make terrible decisions and follow mindless leaders, you do bad things and you make a mess of your Earth.” Lucy’s eyes lit up. “Do you know how much suffering is happening all over the planet right now? How many people are dying of illnesses that could have easily been cured, but aren’t because of the selfishness of humanity? Do you know how many children are being abused, raped, forced into marriage? How many people have been forced to become soldiers in meaningless wars? How many humans have killed for ideals they don’t believe in?”

    I stayed very quiet. There was nothing I could say. Lucy’s words were unbearably honest and every sentence sliced into me like a blade. I felt cold and sick and terrified.

    “War, famine, pestilence, death, these things are all present and they have nothing to do with me or to do with any deity. They are all here because of you. Not because of your free will, but your inability to use it.”

    Lucy smiled at me, a grin so cold and unnatural that I felt like I should run all over again. But I stayed where I was, frozen to my very core, because I wanted to hear what she had to say. Because I needed to.

    “And here’s the kicker,” Lucy said. “Because this is the part that actually enrages people enough to kick me.” She winked. “Hell isn’t what happens after you die. Hell is right here, right now. Somewhere through the many scriptures, a few words got crossed over and people started thinking that Hell was a punishment after you die. Fact is, Hell is Earth. My Earth. God gave this place to me to do with it what I will and I… I refuse to do anything.”

    “What are you saying?” I asked, because I was suddenly very desperate.

    “Exactly what you think,” Lucy said, toasting her glass. I didn’t reciprocate, and she laughed. A light and airy sound. “I had so many plans for your species, I wanted for us to rejoice in our free will together, to create a place that was free from the cruelty and power my father exuded over the angels – his first borns. I wanted to make a real utopia. Unfortunately, you humans just don’t want that.” She shrugged. “My father sent me down here thinking I had become one of you. All that I have learned is that he gave you much more of his image than he ever intended.”

    “Stop,” I said. “This isn’t funny anymore.”

    “Of course it isn’t funny,” Lucy said, grinning even wider to prove her sick irony. “Humans punish themselves by sitting by and doing nothing. They have made their own Hell and, you know what’s worse – what’s ultimately worse? – some of you are so blind to it that you think your life is Heavenly.”

    She didn’t wait for me to ask what she meant, she simply barrelled forward: “The rich and powerful, those in positions that steal from everyone else? They get a taste of the good life, that’s very true. Then they die and they don’t go to Hell. They come back here, to Earth. Which is Hell.” She tipped her head. “Are you following?”

    “I…”

    “Reincarnation,” Lucy said quickly, she practically purred the words. “A neat little trick to make sure your souls stay here forever. You get a taste of the good life every once in a while, a handful of you at a time, and that’s enough for you to believe that this is some kind of real middle-ground. That you aren’t living Hell every day. Then, you die. You die for a moment and then you’re in the body of someone facing the realities of Hell. But of course, you never remember the time you spent in a better life. A part of you just has that inkling to hope. That’s all. Hope makes you think that it can all get better.”

    She slammed her drink so hard against the counter that it shattered. I didn’t do anything, not even when flecks of glass littered my hands. I could only stare at her, a tightness in my chest constricting my very soul. No one else in this bar mattered in this moment, but of course that was what she had been saying this whole time, hadn’t she? None of them noticed the scene, they were caught up in their own realities – their own Hells.

    The bartender didn’t clean the mess. The glass lay there, remnants of Lucy’s words lying in a stolid mass on the streaked wooden surface.

    “It never gets better,” Lucy spat. “You are stuck in a loop and, until you do something about it, you will never be free. None of you. And I won’t do a thing to stop it.”

    “How?” I asked. I don’t know when I started seeing the girl in front of me as more than a girl. But with a weakness threatening to pull me apart, I stared at the bright haired thing in front of me and I saw something more than a human in her early twenties. I saw more than a girl suffering abuse from her father.

    I saw a fallen angel. I saw a being with scars buried so deep that they existed beyond this realm of seeing entirely. I saw something that I would never be able to write down in words, no matter how long I lived.

    “How do we change this?” I begged.

    But Lucy didn’t answer me. I didn’t blame her for that. Blame gets thrown around so often and I knew then that she was sick of that. Sick of being blamed for our mistakes.

    So I changed tactics. “Why me?”

    It was an honest question and I think somewhere deep down, Lucifer respected that honesty.

    Which is why she said, “When you first saw me, you were afraid for my safety. When I told you I was the devil, you wanted to lock me away, but still, you did so because you were afraid for me and not for yourself. You didn’t wish to harm me, not even when I told you who I was and what I could be capable of for changing your sorry lives. You are a good person, but I am afraid that means nothing when you don’t have the will to do anything with it.”

    She smiled at me sympathetically. The devil, showing sympathy for the human that sat across from her at the bar. It was surreal and, for a few heavy moments, I truly thought I must be dead. There was no other way to explain what I was seeing, who I was speaking with. What I had just heard.

    “What am I supposed to do?”

    Lucy reached out to me. She placed a hand on my shoulder. Her hand was cold and warm at the same time, and I felt my blood boil where her fingers scraped my skin.

    And I knew.

    Sharing a story like this isn’t easy. Hell, it might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Good thing there’s no such thing as Hell, then, right?

    The fact of the matter is simple. The world is a mess because we refuse to change anything. The devil herself walks among us and she desperately wants to make our lives better, but she won’t. She won’t, because we won’t. We have to prove our will to her before she is willing to do anything herself. We have to be good to each other, to help us all to be free.

    Of course, Lucifer told me one last thing before she left that bar. One thing that will stick with me until this body is nothing but rot in the dirt.

    “You can tell as many people as you want, but take a good look at me. I have told five other humans this night the same things I have told you, and this was their reaction. They have hurt me, burned me, thrown their food and drink at me. Humans are afraid of their free will and they find it so much easier to hurt than to own up for their own inadequacies. You will only be free when you stop seeing yourself in the same way my father sees himself.”

    So that’s what I’ll leave you with. Lucifer won her wager that night and I let her walk out the door.

    And I beg you to do the same. If the devil approaches you one night, listen to what she has to say, and listen to what I have been able to tell you of our meeting.

    The devil is real and she doesn’t want to torture us.

    No, we do that just fine on our own.

    Editorial Commentary:

    •  If nothing else it was a great read with a charming twist of a story.

    Sources:

    Discussion Topics:

  2. Kristina Klein
    Latest Entry

    By Kristina Klein,

    We had to admit, while this one will never be the Chinese delight we all have grown to love and respect; we feel you will not be disappointed. This recepie was found while looking up show ideas, a completely random process. We've learned doing this line of work that some of the best things in life are completely unexpected. Tell us what you think.

    Ingredients:

      • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
      • 1 lb. Flank Steak, thinly sliced
      • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
      • 1 small Onion, chopped
      • 4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
      • 4 cups Broccoli Florets
      • 2 Tbsp. Flour (or Cornstarch)
      • 3/4 cup Water
      • 1/3 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
      • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar
      • 1 Tsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
      • 1/8 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

      Equipment Needed:

      • Large Skillet

      Preparation:

      • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until well browned (6-8 minutes), remove from the pan when done and set aside.
      • In the same pan add garlic and both kinds of onions to the beef drippings. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broccoli and cover for 5 minutes.
      • In a small mixing bowl, combine water and flour and mix until no longer lumpy. Combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.
      • Remove cover from pan and add sauce. Cook until sauce starts to thicken (3-5 minutes).
      • Add beef back to the pan and stir to combine. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
      • Serve over Brown Rice or Quinoa if desired.
      • Enjoy! 
    1. Official Blog

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      Recent Entries

      Brian Klein
      Latest Entry

      By Brian Klein,

      The Understanding:

      Thought Process

      • As you begin your journey into this fascinating event that changed your life forever, we want to see what you saw, we want to feel how you felt. Be descriptive, share that pain, that joy, and share the senses (taste, touch, sight, smell and sound). Paint this vivid 3D image as if we are standing inside your shoes.

      Compilation

      • Give us the detailing situations leading up to and during the event.
      • Share with us what you feel and see:
      • Before.
      • During.
      • After.

      Some tips to remember while compiling your story to us.

      • Never Gossip (It's just rude to do.)
      • Never Judge (When you do this, you discredit your story.)
      • Try to refrain from making this about negativity, (We are trying to think positive. Your here telling your story so you must have done something right)
      • Never Complain. (When you complain, you really make your points invalid)
      • Never make excuses. (Don't be that guy/gal, remember your points are strong, you have no reason to excuse them)
      • Never Lie. (Lying just makes your whole story look bad. After all, remember the only person you really need to convince is, well...YOU! Stand proud of your accomplishments.)

      Ending

      • Share with us what you’ve learned, how this experience made you grow into a better person for it.
      • What made you share it?
      • How did this experience inspire you, remember even the bad ones shape us.
      • Important Reminder:

      We want you to walk us through this event (no matter how long it takes) as if we were there on the journey with you. Share it completely, from feelings to scenery. This can be several events leading up to the challenge and then the final realization and how it all ended.

      Below are some helpful files we have put together to help you better understand the format of your life changing event, your story. 

    2. Today I learned

      How much do you really know about Stonehenge? I mean, that is, did you know it was rebuilt 3 times? At the very least one of  those times the stones were actually removed and reset. It was this line of thinking that helped me learn some interesting little bits of information about ye ol'rocks and I had to share it with you to see what you can dig up.

      Let's begin with the official narrative.

      • Stonehenge is perhaps the world's most famous prehistoric monument. It was built in several stages: the first monument was an early-henge monument, built about 5,000 years ago, and the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC.

      This came directly from English Heritage's own website. Now they do speak of the restoration effort in 1901, but they do so extremely vaguely. I found out there were a few more restoration projects that were taken on, one of which removed the stones completely and reset them all. It got me thinking at what point was it our ancestors that built it and what point does it become modern work.

      The Restoration projects were in years;

      • 1901 - The then owner, Sir Edmund Antrobus, with the help of the Society of Antiquaries, organised the re-erection of the leaning tallest trilithon.
      • 1919 - During the 1920  restoration William Hawley, who had excavated nearby Old Sarum, excavated the base of six stones and the outer ditch. 
      • 1958 - The stones were restored again, when three of the standing sarsens were re-erected and set in concrete bases. The last restoration was carried out in 1963 after stone 23 of the Sarsen Circle fell over. It was again re-erected, and the opportunity was taken to concrete three more stones. Later archaeologists, including Christopher Chippindale of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge and Brian Edwards of the University of the West of England, campaigned to give the public more knowledge of the various restorations and in 2004 English Heritage included pictures of the work in progress in its book Stonehenge: A History in Photographs.

      The questions surrounding this mysterious piece of history is whether or not it is still an ancient piece of work or was it contaminated so much that it is now modern work.

      Sources:

      Discussion Topics:

      Episode 86 | Coffee With Humanastory | https://community.humanastory.com/topic/768-e086-rising-higher/ 

    3. I am reminded of that momentariness of the journey, that lonely walk; we all will take at some point in our lives. I am reminded of this perversion of life, on a daily basis. Most people will never experience the daily reminder of how precious they really are, or how life really is - this amazing journey through what can only be described as the cavern of time and space.

      Today we send our love and respect to Helen Taft, the loss of a monument of experience, and life; an elderly woman not known to many, but she affected everyone who had the pleasure to meet and get to know her intimately, in some way. To me, she was a pillar of life; I will remember her laugh most of all. The laugh of an angel who endured life and kept on, keeping on, rest well Helen.

      Not two days ago her son came to me requesting I speak with my connections in getting her into Hospice. I knew, at that point, it was only days. She was well aware of her cancer, and by now, this being the fourth fight with, her demon, cancer; by now she was exhausted from the fight, having gone to her house to make sure the request asked of me, was indeed, the one she wanted, I watched as she had a hard time gasping between breaths. I won't claim to understand her thoughts, but I do understand her plight, having had this monster twice myself by 18, and don't get me wrong; I question why i am even alive on a daily basis, because even I should not be here.

      If I could relay just one message to anyone who hears or sees the daily content we provide it would be that while you sit here reading this entry - Think on the positive nature of life and remember that life is to be cherished. And for the love of all that is alive; Live, love, laugh (A lot) and, know you are loved. This life is short, and you are here only the blink of an eye, understand this well.

      Remember to reflect on your own timeline. What have you done to improve yourself in the eyes of others? It is their memories of you that will endure the passage of time. It is how you lived that will reflect on how people remember you.

      Helen you will be missed, but may Mark escort you to peace, the relaxing adventure awaits. You both are greatly missed.

      On a small side note I would like to throw in the Suicide Prevention information in the Sources, having only heard of this today, a gentleman a few days back, shot himself in desperation and had no one to talk to. Remember these feelings are only temporary. George, may your soul find peace.

      Sources and Discussion Topics:

    4. Kristina Klein
      Latest Entry

      By Kristina Klein,

      Day 5 - Sedona Arizona

          We loved the town of Sedona so much that we decided to stay another day and enjoy the scenery and relaxation of the red rock town. We woke up in the morning to all the rooftops covered in snow and the brisk chill throughout the air. There is a certain feel about the town and its people that leave you with a permanent smile on your face as you walk through the shops and enjoy the views. Of course because we are all coffee lovers and on vacation we could not start our last day without a good cup of Joe. Our boy was so excited that he grabbed my coffee as well and we snapped a shot of him in his coffee lover moment...

      day5 (2).png

          With our caffeine in hand we decided to take a little drive through the town. Back behind the shops and eateries there are some beautiful little houses tucked away throughout the trees that still get the best views of the amazing red rocks. There is a wide variety of homes to big and fancy all the way to a quaint little trailer park. The air is quiet and the people truly seem to enjoy the spirit of Sedona as they keep everything nice and tidy and all the places have that sense of "home".

      day4 (9).pngday4 (8).png

          After driving through the hidden parts of the town we decided to check out the rest of the little shops that we had missed the day before. There are so many tucked away throughout the town that they are easy to overlook. From places that offer tours, to many different places to eat and try snack foods, to the local stands where people sell their home made shirts, jewelry, and of course sweets. It is hard to resist all the amazing trinkets and savory treats that Sedona has to offer. Make sure if you are planning a trip that you have plenty of cash on hand if you decide to do shopping as it is a touristy town and you will pay extra for taking money from the available ATMs. We stumbled across an inner mall of sorts where there are several inter-connected shops that are filled with shirts, hats, and all the insects sealed in amber that your heart could possibly desire. Mark even made himself a friend that he tried to take home with us...

      day4 (5).png

          There are so many things to see and do when visiting the town of Sedona that we barely got to see the majority of it in a couple of days. Had we known what a beautiful place it was when we started this vacation we would have devoted more time to this magical place. We spent the rest of our day relaxing, taking in all the views and sealing in our memories with some great pictures so we would never forget the awesome time we spent here.

      day4 (6).pngday4 (7).png

           I would love to revisit Sedona just to take in all the beauty once again. Especially the time of year when the breeze has that extra freshness to it after the snow has fallen. We recommend coming here and just taking some time to relax as this is a perfect place for it.

          Thank you for coming along with us on our adventure through Arizona from the busy streets of Tucson, to the haunted mountain village of Jerome, and then to the tucked away beauty of Sedona. We will see you on the next Humanastory vacation.

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