How long have I been here? Brian tried to remember. It might have been moments. It might have been years. He could scarce remember a time before this. He knew that madness loomed near, that he teetered on the brink. Can anyone remain sane in Hell, he wondered.
“The damned are anonymous,” the Darkness said, in answer to Brian’s unspoken question. “Yet not one is allowed to forget. That is a part of their torment.”
“So you created this,” Brian said. “Created Hell.”
“I am Hell,” the Darkness said. It still wore the form of his friend in mockery. “Those who serve Me in life come to Me after their deaths.”
“But why torture them?” Brian asked. “You just want to destroy them, right? Get them out of the way, like you want to get rid of all people?”
“Because it amuses Me,” the Darkness answered.
“Because you want revenge,” Brian said.
“Yes, little thing. I would have my vengeance against all that was created in defiance of Me.”
“It’s starting to make sense now,” Brian said. “That’s why the world’s so fucked up. It’s you. People get all that shit from you.”
“You understand more and more, little thing.”
“You’re the devil on everybody’s shoulder,” Brian said. “That one time I thought about suicide, when I was just so fucking sick of it all, you were that little voice inside me whispering ‘do it, do it.’ You’re the one that put the idea in my head in the first place.”
“Yes,” the Darkness hissed with pride.
“Every time somebody does something twisted or stupid, it’s because of you,” Brian said. “They act that way because you’re that way. You’re kind of pathetic, you know that?”
“And now you would taunt Me?” the Darkness turned on him, smiling. “Tell Me, then, what would you say about this?” It gestured. The air before them shimmered, coalesced into an image of another place. Brian saw stacks of boxes, a forklift parked in the distance, a row of windows set high in a far wall allowing in pale sunlight. “This is your world,” the Darkness said.
A man entered, tall and chunky. He led a little girl, all red hair and freckles, by the hand. She looked frightened, confused. The man smiled.
“His name is Charlie Drenth,” the Darkness said. “He is one of My favored servants. Do you see how he honors Me? The sacrifice he offers to Me?”
Brian saw the flash of a knife in the man’s hand. He sprang forward, stopped as if he ran into a solid wall between himself and the scene before him.
“No!” Brian shouted.
“You cannot prevent this, little thing,” the Darkness said. “In truth, the event you witness happened years ago in your time. Charlie’s first offering to Me, the first of many.”
Brian turned his back. “I won’t watch this.”
“What you must see,” the Darkness said, “is that Charlie is but one of a multitude. I have thousands and thousands and thousands of servants who enjoy doing such things to the little children of your race. You cannot deny this.”
“No,” Brian muttered.
“And what of those who earn their profit by pandering drugs to those same children?” the Darkness asked. “Are they any less My children? And how much greater are they in number?”
“They’re just as bad, in a way,” Brian said. “You’re welcome to them all, as far as I’m concerned.” “Indeed?” the Darkness said. “Turn, then, Brian Alderman. Look once more on the glory of your species!”