Continuing my travels I came at last to a cave. I might well have missed it, for its entrance was off the path, and in a shadow in a valley, one of the darkest and coldest spots I had yet seen. The reference to "the valley of the shadow of death" came to my mind. But as I approached I noticed the cave first from the anguished screaming that spewed forth upon me. Had it not been for that I would not have seen it. But hearing, I looked around and noticed a cave covered by a heavy wooden door. Though still ghostly, it appeared more solid than any construction I had seen so far.
I knocked at the door.
"Go away!" screamed a thousand voices.
Startled, I backed away. Then, regaining my composure, I asked, "Who is in there?"
"Don't open the door! came the fearful cries.
"I'm not opening the door," I said. "But may I ask who is in there?"
"Bow down when you address me, vermin!" came a single voice. "I am the Lord of the Air. The master of legions. The ruler of earth."
"May I see you?" I asked.
"No! Please! Don't open that door," said the master of legions.
I had by this time recovered some of my courage and returned to the door, and though I had agreed not to open it, I found its ghostly quality enabled me to see through it if I focused beyond the plane of the door.
Through it I saw the most ephemeral but most beautiful of the ghosts I had seen on my sojourn to Hell. Tall and fair in the flowing robes of an angel, but with eyes full of agony and hatred. Surrounding him were what must have been tens of thousands of his juniors, swarming around like rats. But there could be no mistaking that the one was the leader, for the others cringed not only in the fire, or what they perceived to be fire, but also in his presence.
The legions bellowed even louder and their ruler screamed, "You're letting more fire in!"
I realized that I must be carrying upon myself something of the glow of Heaven.
I stepped back.
"You are the prince of demons!" I cried. "I recognize you. You deserve nothing better than to have me fling open the door and let the light of Heaven shine upon you, like sunshine on a vampire.
"No!" came the shout above the general wailing. "Would you torture me further? I am already drenched in the fire of Heaven.
"Do you regret your rebellion against God?" I asked.
There was no response, though the background screams continued.
Then a timid voice, "You will not open the door, will you?
"No," I said, "I will not open the door."
"Then I will tell you. As Milton said, 'I would rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.'"
"You're not reigning in Hell. You are shut up in a small cave in an obscure corner of Hell. You are in a prison cell. And I, whose life you and your demons abused when I was on earth, have the power to torment you by simply approaching the door behind which you have confined yourself!
"I do reign! I am the ruler of legions of angels!"
"Perhaps I should open the door and see your vast kingdom."
"No! No! You promised you wouldn't open the door."
"But don't you want to show me your great kingdom?"
"No, please! Don't open the door. Please! You promised."
"Ah, suddenly the Father of Lies values the truth. Very well, I will not open the door. But tell me, Father of Lies, was it all worth it?
"I deserved to rule all! I am the bright star of all creation. God created me wise and beautiful but he never heeded my advice and never gave me the honor due me. I should have sat by his side and ruled as his regent. I should have ruled alone! I, whom God created, was finer than he. I outshone him in glory and wisdom. God should have bowed before me. Why couldn't he have seen this? Why did his pride obscure his vision? But have any of these rightful claims been granted? No! None of it is mine. How can I forgive this? I will not forgive though all eternity pass away. I will not!"
He continued screaming and blaspheming against God and I could tell that it might indeed go on until eternity passed away, could such a thing happen, so I turned and walked away, down the dark path through this valley of death, leaving the devils wailing and crying and accusing God and excusing themselves. Far up the valley I could still hear the shrieks and blasphemies as I walked away.
"Oh how the mighty have fallen," I thought. On earth I would have been no match for Satan's power. Here he was contemptible, trivial, the most insignificant of all beings I had met during my journey here.
I feel exhausted. I sense that very soon I am to begin my journey home. I am so glad.Previous | Next
© Copyright 2003 Brad Haugaard