Samuel's Question

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
I wrote this as a joke for a writing class, but it ended up being one of the class's favorites, so I figure I'll try my luck here. The tale centers around a man's quest to discover the truth about Satan and where He is hiding in the present.

Submitted: May 12, 2009

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Submitted: May 12, 2009

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Samuel's Question

Lily Ivers,

It has come to my attention that you are a journalist who will not turn down any story so long as you find it to be credible. I realize that you are merely working for a handful of terrible tabloids, but I have read your work, and I know that you are destined for great things. I have the story that will pull you by your bootstraps from the pages of the rags and into hardcore, real journalism.

I have selected you to relate my story to because I know that you are the one journalist in this state who is willing to follow any story to its end. You have the integrity needed to take the knowledge I have to share and utilize it to its full extent. I have selected you to save the world! Please, meet me at the address on this envelope so that I can help you save the souls of every being on the planet.

Sincerely,

Thomas Charleston

That was the first of seven letters that I have found in my mailbox over the past month. Each of them addressed from the Innsville Sanitarium. Which is, of course, the reason why I’m here on Christmas Eve. It’s not like I have anywhere else to be, and if nothing else, this nut job’s story will give me something to make another crazy guy story out of.

I walked up the steps to the asylum and pulled open the rusty front door. The sign, missing letters, above the door read “Inn San.” I guess the moniker fits. The fat, old lady at the front desk pointed me to Thomas’ cell. I rapped on the window until the emaciated man sitting sloth-like on his cot, noticed me and stumbled to the door. His eyes sluggishly widened; comprehension set in. Thomas’ smile stretched from ear to ear, showing off his eerily white teeth. He gave me no introduction; he simply dove into his fantastic tale.

* * *

First thing you need to know is that I’m sane. Completely sane. Next, everything I am about to relate to you is entirely true. Now that we have that out of the way, I can tell you the horrible truth I stumbled upon.

Ten years ago, I was studying to become an ordained priest. In my studies, I came across a gap in the Vatican’s records. Being the curious fellow I am, I needed to pry further. I dug through every book I could find pertaining to Satan’s history. They all fell several thousand years short of present day. I hit nothing but dead end after dead end. No one had the answers I needed. I thirsted for the truth. It got so bad, that it almost became an addiction.

I’m sure you are wondering about now just why I was so dead set on finding out what had happened to Satan. It began in a lecture I had with a friend, Samuel. Sam was the deep thinker of the pair of us. He was able to sit and ponder things for hours on end. Me, I had to find the answers in books. I needed to know what the brilliant minds of the past thought about my questions. Samuel brought up the simple question that no one had ever thought about before. “Where is Lucifer now?”

No one present, including me, understood what he was driving at, so he elaborated on his thought process. “Well, if God isn’t just in heaven, but is everywhere around us, then it stands to reason that Lucifer isn’t just in hell, so where is he? We read in the Bible and other holy works about Satan through a certain point in time, but then he seems to just disappear. Is Satan everywhere, like God? If he is still able to tempt us to sin, he can’t be just in hell. I’m simply wondering where he got off to.”

Samuel’s question didn’t even have anything to do with the lecture; we were all caught off guard. One of the oldest monks approached Samuel and asked him to leave the lecture to discuss the questions in private. The monk asked it as a question, but I could tell there was no way Sam could say no. So the two left from the back door and our lecture resumed. I never saw Samuel Matheson again.

I should thank him, wherever he is. Were it not for his philosophical musings, I would have never found the answers he was looking for. His curiosity could be the one thing that ends up saving the souls of every man, woman, and child on this planet. I know I keep saying that and you think I’m leaving you in the dark here, but I shall explain in time.

Eventually, I figured out that Samuel was never coming back. This sparked my own search for answers. I dug around for every scrap of information I could get my hands on. I came across the basic info everyone knows: the apple in the garden, the temptation of Jesus in the desert, and all the others, but then the trail went cold. The best I could come up with was the silly little saying my mother used to say: “Satan’s greatest trick was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

One particularly late, unsuccessful night, I was returning the tomes to their proper spots on the shelves when I knocked a book from a stack someone else had left standing near the end of an aisle. As if God himself were sending me a message, the book landed on the ground and opened to a page depicting the ancient crest of a secret sect known as the Kringlian Order. The crest featured two shepherd’s crooks shaped into an X. There wasn’t really any information about the order, other than it had existed at one point and was believed to be no longer existent.

I did a lot of snooping around. I found that a lot of the monks and priests I knew wore the crests on their habits. Not on the habits they wore day to day, but their best habits. Each member of the Order had identical habits, long, flowing, and red, with the crest stitched delicately into the sleeves and the back in white. Three of the priests had large chests with the same symbol emblazoned above the locks. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get into any of the chests.

It was quite a rush. I was nearly caught a number of times, but the adrenaline rush from the fear of being caught kept me going. Somehow, I cannot recall exactly how any more, I learned of a secret meeting being held in the room of one of the three priests who owned a chest, Father Christoffson. I waited down the hall and around the corner, hiding in the shadows as they held their hushed conference. I made out four distinct voices. They spent a good hour discussing which member they would be sending to headquarters with their annual report to the Archbishop head of their Order.

The meeting ended without resolution. It was time for evening prayer and all four were expected to attend. After they left, I caught the door before it latched and managed to sneak into Father Christoffson’s room. On his desk, the quartet had spread an enormous map of Russia. There was a red pin stabbed through the sheet into the desk below. After some studying, I realized that the pin stabbed a point approximately 400 miles Northwest of Noril’sk, one of the northernmost cities in Russia. Somehow, I knew for sure that I could find answers there. I “borrowed” a red habit from Father Christoffson’s wardrobe and stuffed it into my own habit, disguising the bulges as effectively as I could.

That’s when Father Christoffson appeared in the doorway. I hadn’t thought to listen for footsteps. “What in God’s name are you doing in my personal quarters?” My mind reeled, digging for answers, hoping to find a lie convincing enough for him to let me off light. That’s when I saw the map again.

“Well, Father, I was on my way to evening prayer when I saw your door open. I thought you might have been distracted by your work, so I peeked in to remind you of the prayer you were about to miss. You weren’t here, obviously. And that’s when I saw the map. My father was a cartographer, and … well, I couldn’t help but take a look.” I did my best to look confident on the outside, but my insides were going berserk. Father Christoffson dragged me by the ear and returned me to my own quarters

“Thomas, have you any questions to ask of me?” I still trembled on the inside, so all I could do in reply was to shake my head. “Wonderful. Pack your things. Early in the morning, before prayers, you will be leaving this monastery.” I had never felt more confused in my life, and wore it on my face. “You’ll not be returning. You have crossed a line, which should never be crossed. It is unfortunate, but it is necessary for the harmony of the monastery.”

From there, I spent years trying to make my way to Noril’sk. I spent five years of my life and committed more atrocious acts that I am ashamed to speak of than any other man has been made to endure. That is a five-year stretch of time I hope to never relive. Noril’sk was easy, once I got there. I simply had to play the roll of a messenger from the Vatican chapter of the Kringlian Order and they took me straight to the headquarters.

The headquarters was even easier to get around in. everyone was so busy going about their duties and chores, they had no time to take notice of some messenger wandering the halls, searching for a toilet. I combed every inch of that base and all I could find was a scrap of parchment that read as follows:

The Kringlian Order are the sworn guardians of the first to fall,

Our solemn duty is to keep him in his icy tomb.

To let him loose is to damn us all,

Save once a year, to prevent danger’s loom.

I was just as confused when I read it as you are right now. But, I kept my ears peeled for any other information I could grasp. The only other scrap I could get a hold of was that the tomb mentioned in the rather shoddy rhyme was located at the North Pole. I stole the sled of dogs that had brought me to the base and made my way, rather haphazardly, to the North Pole.

Once again, I must stress to you the fact that this is all entirely true. And you can trust me on that; I was there when it all happened. I have not fabricated a single bit of it. You must believe what I am about to tell you, or all my work and that of Samuel will all have been in vain.

The dogs lead me to the top of a ridge. According to the compass, I was really close to the North Pole. The dogs wouldn’t move any further however, they were afraid of getting closer to the answer. My thirst, however, couldn’t be quenched. I breasted the ridge and forged on. Past the ridge were enormous obelisks of ice grew from the ground. Midway through the forest of ice, the red beast came into view.

He must have stood over ten feet tall, I’ll never know for sure; I couldn’t get close enough to tell. Oddly enough, he looked almost exactly as he his commonly depicted in the media. Massive, curving black horns grew from his head. His skin was a deeper red than any blood I have ever seen. Filthy, half-frozen, matted red fur covered the lower half of his body down to his cloven hooves. He wore a collar around his neck, which chained him to what appeared to be a barbershop pole, or a candy cane in the ground. I checked my compass; the pole was dead North of me. Satan was chained to the North Pole.

Imps, fiends, demons, and countless, nameless other beasts scurried around carrying small boxes wrapped in colorful paper. They jostled each other as they pushed to get their own box into the colossal black sleigh that sat mere meters from Lucifer, who was perpetually trying to free himself from his chain. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The sleigh matched any description I had ever heard of Santa’s sleigh, but there was no jolly fat man to be found. And besides, everyone knew Santa was a lie.

Finally, the last imp managed to balance its box at the very top of the stack, which swayed and towered far above Satan’s head. The ground began to rumble and shake furiously. It took all my strength to stay on my feet. Two elephantine beasts rose from the ice surrounding Lucifer. Ponderously, the ice demons unshackled Satan and allowed him to move about freely.

Lucifer howled his thanks at the twin demons, which melted back into the ice at his feet. His monstrously clawed hands rubbed the chafing skin at his neck. He wandered in circles, stretching his limbs, preparing himself for something. What he did next completely threw me through a loop.

The ten-foot beast stepped into the sleigh and sat down. He pulled a floppy red hat with a cotton white ball on the end up from beneath his feet and carefully pulled it onto his head, making sure to dodge the horns. Lucifer grabbed the reigns of the sleigh that were not actually connected to any animals, and gave them a good, strong crack. Dark black and purple tendrils slithered up from the ice below the sleigh and eventually solidified into nine identical figures.

As the figures swirled and massed, Lucifer himself began to change. Simultaneously, he shrank, halving his height and ballooned out, nearly tripling his width. The resulting beast was more frightening than it was to begin with. The skin color remained disturbingly red, but the fur was replaced with a fuzzy red suit that was too tight for the morbidly titanic girth Lucifer now possessed. Each movement caused the behemoth to jiggle like a bowl full of jelly, evil death jelly. Scraggly white fur tinged with yellow and brown sprouted from his face. The illusion was complete.

Each screeched and moaned as thought they were in eternal anguish. Satan cracked the whip one last time. The beasts screeched and slowly began to tug the sled forward. Once momentum was gained, the creatures pulled the sleigh into the air and began to fly off toward civilization. As the ghastly Claus traveled further away, I saw the lone ghoul at the front of the procession burst into flames, lighting their way across the night sky.

Now that I think back on it, it all makes sense. I can’t believe now, sitting here in this cell that no one outside of the Kringlian Order has figured this out. I suppose this means they are doing their job and doing it well. The signs are all there, if you care to look for them. First, look at the names. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the letters were simply moved around. Satan. Santa. It wasn’t even a clever switch; the S hasn’t even been moved.

Secondly, have you ever noticed how no one ever sees Santa, save for on that one night of the year? What is he doing all the rest of the time? He’s chained to a pole in the form of the first fallen angel. Ever notice how no one thinks about Satan at Christmas time? That’s because he isn’t Satan any more, he’s Santa, and everyone is concentrating on the jolly one. If you really want proof, look at how you never see Satan and Santa in the same place at the same time.

But the biggest proof, and my favorite, is this: who is the one figure in the world who distracts children and adults from Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, more than any other? Santa Claus. He has taken the celebration of our Lord’s birth and perverted it into a commercial spending festival, in which people concern themselves more with how many material possessions they can acquire than with the fact that God sent his son to save our souls from eternal damnation.

Now, I have armed you with the truth. You must take this knowledge and save the world. Christmas must be taken back from the Santa-beast. At the rate the world is spinning toward damnation, Christmas will destroy our souls within twenty-five years. People must remember what the season was originally about, and you are the person to lead the charge.

You must go out into the world and spread the truth. I would do it myself, but as you can see, I’m locked away in here. I’m quite sure I’ll not be getting out anytime soon. Not that it would matter anyway, I’m positive Santa saw me as I hid there in the ice forest, and he would most likely hunt me down tonight, to make sure I couldn’t destroy his plans. You are the world’s only hope. Become the warrior for God that you were meant to be. Save Christmas from Satan and save the soul of every living being in the world. Go now, and fight the good fight.

* * *

Thomas’ eyes glazed back over and he shuffled across the cell and slumped onto the cot. After minutes of trying to ask him questions to clarify his story, I gave up. He wasn’t going to be moving again tonight, much less speaking. I closed my notebook and my pen, tucked them away and walked back down the corridor.

“Thomas Charleston is a complete nut job. Why did I think he would give me something worthwhile? He’s in a bleeding asylum for crying out loud.” I was just about to toss the notebook I had with me into the trashcan in front of “Inn San” when I saw something streak across the sky. I heard wailing, and shrieking. I looked up and saw a wretchedly gargantuan man in red in a sleigh speeding across the sky behind a cluster of wispy, shadowy creatures, screeching and churning into the night.


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