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View Full Version : Be Careful Dealing With the Devil 3,100. Calling on Beezle the Bub can be dangerous



hvysmker
March 20th, 2020, 12:57 PM
Catholic Bishop Jacob Rosenblum relaxed in his apartment at the Vatican in Italy. He was watching television when he received a phone call from the United States. It was his cousin, Adam.



“I have wonderful news, Jacob.” Adam’s enthusiasm could be heard over the telephone. “I’ve got the big ‘C’, inoperable cancer. I’m so excited.”




“Good for you, Adam. Wonderful news. How long you have to live?”




“Only a few months. I finally did it.”




They talked excitedly for a few minutes. After hanging up, Bishop Rosenblum sat back and smiled, remembering how it had all started....




***




“Look, Mr. Rosenblum, you’re the best man in your field,” the monsignor told him. “We need you for this job and will pay anything you want for your help. The sky’s the limit. But ... uh ... you have to convert to Catholicism and accept a temporary rank of bishop for the job. We can’t have a Jew in the position and it calls for that rank. It’s only temporary, though, and no one else has to know about the deception.”




“I don’t know. I’d give almost anything to see those ancient documents, but not to the point of giving up my religion.” Jacob grinned slyly. “It’s a very old religion, you know?”




“Our rules are also old, Mr. Rosenblum. Without being Catholic, and a bishop, you can’t even get into that section of the Vatican. It’s only paperwork -- no uniforms or anything. Only an ID card the guards can look at to let you in and out. Besides, you can live right there, we have some fine modern apartments in that section. Only you, me, and God will have to know.”




In the end, Mr. Rosenblum was convinced and took the position of Head Archivist at the Vatican. It wasn’t the money that swayed him, at least not as much as the job itself.




A recent building project on Vatican grounds had uncovered a long-buried room below the sub-basements of the Holy City. It was stacked to the ceiling with extremely ancient scrolls, books and manuscripts. Temporary Bishop Rosenblum was one of very few people who could read or understand many of them. He had formerly run the ancient book divisions of museums around the world.




***




“Oh, my, but these are old.” Jacob gently wiped dust off flint tablets. Since it shattered easily, flint was particularly hard to punch hieroglyphics onto. Which was why very, very few flint tablets survived. He had found this stack in the back of the large room, covered by ancient Phoenician video games, batteries long run down and impossible to replace. (Hey! This IS a fantasy story, so shut the hell up.)




The writing looked like scratch marks. Large burnt areas further exacerbated their legibility. Taking one of them to his worktable, Jacob carefully rubbed weak cleaning fluid over a black surface. Using a mildly abrasive cloth, he carefully cleaned the object, getting into every crevice of the writing. It was time-consuming but he had all the time in the world. It would take lifetimes to read and organize that collection of ancient knowledge and trivia.




He would soon have help. Other, less experienced, archivists were being sought. The problem was that they had to be hand-picked for honesty and secrecy, as well as ability and experience. Finding help was a worldwide task; one Jacob was glad to have someone else doing for him.




“Ah, the first one,” he muttered, carefully taking an inked impression of its surface -- to be further transferred onto a large sheet of paper. Setting the tablet aside, Jacob took the paper copy over to a chair in the corner, lit a cigarette and studied the figures. After all, it could be anything. A long-lost document of the life and times of some lost civilization, a page of dirty jokes, or estimates on the costs of refurbishing a cave-home.




He found he was lucky. The glyphs were in a long forgotten form of Physansian picayune writing -- a long lost culture. The symbols resembled the Mesopotamia regional cuneiform of a later era, but stylized. He could make out many of the symbols -- most but not all of them.




“It's either a cookbook, or a book of spells, or someone cursing the king,” Jacob decided, pouring a glass of Vatican wine -- one of the perks of the job. He could get drunk on the same fine wine the Pope drank. He then wiped his glasses and went back to translating.




“Why, this is an old spell. It invokes the devil himself to cure something.” Jacob read more and more, taking notes in the margin of the imprinted paper. “Here’s something serious. It describes a disease.”




The Archivist spent all afternoon translating, finally figuring enough out to know the disease was cancer or the common cold -- maybe both? In any case, it was a serious cure-all.




Jacob wrote down the spell in his notebook. He had a cousin suffering from stomach cancer. Maybe he would try it out for me? What would his boss, the Pope, think of a magic spell; one invoking the devil to do a good deed? Maybe even fire Jacob or worse? Besides, it probably didn’t work, anyway. Most ancient spells were based on fermented bullshit, spread thicker and thicker over the ages.




Jacob went on to other things. Right then he was more interested in reading a little of each article, enough to sort them out for later study. The stack of slate went to a set of shelving and Jacob to other collections of literature. The shelf was labeled "Not Certain," while he started on a stack of Egyptian dinosaur-hide scrolls.




***




Six months later, Jacob took a short vacation from his studies. By that time he had several assistants to help him in the work. He traveled to his home in the United States. On the way to Texas, he stopped off in New York City to see relatives.




He had been sworn to secrecy about his job, but remembered to stop in to see his cancerous cousin, Adam. The man was already bedridden. Adam was supposed to have only a few weeks to live.




“Can I try something on you, Adam?” Jacob asked. “There are no guarantees at all, only a magic spell I came across awhile back?”




“I don’t care. Help yourself, Cousin Jacob.” Adam grinned weakly. “Everyone else has tried. You can’t do any harm by talking to, or at, me.” He lay back wearily in his hospital bed.




Jacob had brought the necessary ingredients for the spell along with him. They were simple: a piece of chalk, two mouse eggs, a piece of wood and a small jar of sulfur. Another ingredient was to be a "new" flame. For that, a cigarette lighter would do. In the old days it took a lot of time and effort to get a new flame going. You needed to rub two sticks together or something. Even flint and steel wouldn’t work, what with steel not being invented yet.




He locked the door of the hospital room and marked a pentagram on the bathroom floor -- no rug in there. Then a new flame from his lighter lit the piece of wood, sitting on top of a water filled drinking glass containing the eggs. Jacob sprinkled sulfur on it, raising one hell of a stink. Then, using his notebook, he intoned the spell.




Neither Adam or Jacob really expected anything to happen except for the nurse maybe rushing in to investigate the smell. Jacob crouched beside the pentagram and looked over at Adam, who was also watching. The Archivist heard a sound and turned back to the fire. It was already out, with a fountain of foul-smelling liquid splashing against the water glass, wet wood, the floor, and heading toward Jacob himself.




As he hurriedly backed away from the foul stream, Jacob fell over. He looked upward at a small reddish man standing over him while urinating on the floor of the bathroom. The man was dressed in a fireman’s uniform, had horns coming out of his forehead and wore a devilish grin.




“A ... are ... yo ... you the de ... deble, I mean devil?” Adam asked from under his bed.




“Yeah, one of them. Not the head guy, though.” The man zipped up his fly. “What the hell you want?” He burst out laughing. “Always loved that line, love it, love it. I’m Beezle, Beezle the Bub. Hee-hee.”




“We ... I ... that is, this spell says you can cure cancer in Adam here. That so?” Jacob managed to get out, still on the floor and looking up at the little guy.




“Which spell is that? I got a million of them, 672 that can cure cancer?”




“I don’t have any number or nothing, just the spell is all. Want me to read it off again?”




“Better not, or you’ll have two of me. Let me see?” The demon easily left the pentagram, reached down and took the notebook from Jacob’s shaking fingers. “What’s all this scratching here? You run out of slate or something?”




“That’s written in English, on paper.” Jacob managed to get to his feet, feeling a lot better while standing and looking down on the diminutive demon. “I thought you had to stay inside the chalk marks?”




“Na. We do all that crap for show. The spell is enough. I still gotta know your spell number, though. See, my boss needs the number for accounting purposes. We keep good books in hell. Heaven knows we have enough crooked accountants down there.”




“I can write it down in Sumerian if you want? Can you read it easier that way?” Jacob suggested.




“The new language? I can try. I hear it’s something like Hittite.” The demon was skeptical. Jacob laboriously wrote it out in his notebook, in Sumerian.




“Yeah, I got it now. Number 188760A. See, we gotta memorize all those damn things.”




“Can -- can you cure me or not?” Adam asked, anxiously. He was already out from under the bed, but too weak to get up and back into it.




“Sure. No problem. But you have to go to the bottom of the list if you want to go to hell.”




“If I want to go to hell? You mean I don’t have to give you my soul or anything?”




“Look, man,” Beezle told him, “we’re full up. Been that way for ages. Souls get up to heaven, find all that goody, goody stuff. They see they have to spend all’a their time worshiping. There’s no Holovision, television or even movies. They have no sex or nothing. After learning all that shit, they run for that damned down escalator.




"Why, we got us sixteen different sexes down there and all the booze and broads you want. Who needs heaven?” Beezle’s face took on a beatific look. “And we’re only a small place. Heaven is vast, while hell is stuffed inside your world -- definitely limited in space. Yep! We have us a long waiting list. It’s gotten to the point where our lawyers are filing all kinds of lawsuits, trying to get St. Peter to take a load off us.”




“Really? I’ll pass on hell, then. You say you can cure me?”




“Right. Fill this out?” He bent down to give Adam a printed form and a pencil.”




“I can’t read it,” Adam complained.




“What the hell happened on Earth? You guys had a decent language, why change it?” Beezle complained. “Just sign it.” He sighed. “I can fill the rest in when I have time.”




“Let me see if I can read it,” Jacob offered, but Adam was in a hurry.




“You don’t want my soul, right?” He asked Beezle.




“Nope. Can’t use it.”




“I can stay here on earth, right?”




“Sure. Whatever you want, Mac. You can stay here forever.”




“Good enough for me.” Adam signed on a dotted line.




“Well, I gotta go back to the party, folks. Cleopatra and Marilyn Monroe are having a mud-wrestling match. See’ya later.” Beezle tore off a carbon copy for Adam, winked, and blinked out of sight.




“Let me see that contract. You shouldn’t have signed without me reading it.” Jacob was mortified. “You know you can’t trust a demon.”




He took Adam’s copy and tried to read it. It was written in a language he wasn’t familiar with and, with Jacob, those were few and far between.




“Let me make a copy, okay? Maybe one of my people can translate it?” Jacob asked his cousin.




“You can keep that one. I can’t read it anyway.” Adam was feeling himself all over. He stood next to the bed and undressed, noting his stomach was back to being flat and soft. “I don’t feel anything. I wonder if he did cure me?”




“You’re standing. You couldn’t do that before,” Jacob observed, remembering how Adam couldn’t even get to his feet.




They noticed a knock on the door. It was a nurse.




“What’s that smell? You been smoking in here? You know you shouldn’t. You’ve got cancer, for Christ sake.” She sniffed, then saw the condition of the bathroom floor. “Jeez, what’s going on in here. You a couple a those nancy boys, or something? Sick as you are, the last thing you should be doing is fornicating.”




***




It turned out that Adam WAS cured. The doctor checked him over the next day and found no sign of cancer, none at all. The authorities wanted to keep him there for study but Adam refused, checking himself out.




Meanwhile, Jacob went home, finished his vacation and went back to work in Italy. After laying it on his desk, he forgot about the contract. With all the work he had waiting, the paper got shuffled around from one location to another. It finally ended up in the back of a drawer in his desk.




Work progressed slowly. He now had a dozen people working for him, finally giving the older desk to an assistant when he earned a larger office for himself. Meanwhile Adam went on with his life, free of cancer.




One day Jacob received a call from his cousin.




“Jacob. I’m in trouble. You remember how you forced me into that deal with the Devil? Well, I was hit by a truck the other day and died.”




“Then what are you calling me for ... if you died? Sorry to hear it; and I didn’t force you, remember? I wanted you to wait to read the contract.”




“Well, I wouldn’t be in this bind if you hadn’t showed up that day, so it’s at least partially your fault. I would have been dead long ago and probably be in heaven right now.”




“If you died, what’s going on?”




“I can’t get into heaven, or hell. I signed away my rights to hell, and now St. Peter won’t let me in since I signed a contract with the Devil. Sort of a catcher 33 thing.”




“You mean ‘catch 22' like in the book and movie. What can you do now?”




“I don’t know. I’m all busted up and confined to a wheelchair. I can’t move my lower body, and will probably be that way forever.”




“Damn. Maybe you will have to live forever. A lot of people dream of that, you know?”




“But what happens if, and when, other things go? In a few hundred years maybe, or a few thousand? Eventually my hearing, my sight, all that stuff, one by one? Eternity is a long time,” Adam reminded him. “Eventually I have to fall downstairs, get blown up, or catch a crotch itch that won’t heal. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. Even my mind might go, Alzheimer's or something.”




“I don’t know what to say. Maybe I can find that contract of yours and have it translated. Some expert here at the Vatican might be able to help you.”




“I’d appreciate it, and hurry. I wonder if they have any lawyers in heaven? Sounds like a contradiction in terms?”




After the call, Jacob looked for and found the contract. He showed it around -- even emailing copies to other translators around the world. It took years, but he finally found a new employee of his that thought she could decipher it.




Her name was Janet, and she was an expert on ancient Pre-African Neanderthal Rock and Roll lyrics. The "boom," "boom," "scream," "boom," types from the Metabolic Epoch of Pre-Pre-Historic Somalia.




“It says here, Bishop Rosenblum, that the only way to void this contract is if the signer happens to die from cancer,” An Italian lawyer told him, after studying an Italian translation of the contract. “That would render the contract null and void.”




“Would that be the same as if it never happened?” Jacob asked, on the edge of his seat.




“Yeah, like it would then be only a worthless piece of paper. Since the contract-or hadn't fulfilled his obligation to the contract-ee, it would no longer be a binding contract.”




Jacob went back to his apartment and called Adam. He told his cousin what he had found out. Adam sighed and paused a moment, obviously thinking.




“I guess I know what to do. I have to get cancer again, and then go through all that pain -- just so I can die.” Over the telephone, he sounded resolved. "Guess I'll have to take up smoking? Too bad it can't be marijuana or crack, but they're not as dangerous as tobacco."




It wasn’t until years later that Jacob received that last call, telling of his cousin’s reinfection.




That night, Jacob did something he didn’t think he would ever do. After everyone had left, he went to a shelf in the back of a locked storeroom. Picking up the slate tablets, he took them to a window on the sixth-floor. Holding them out in both arms, he dropped them, one by one into the night to hear them smash on the sidewalk below. It must have worked, since he didn’t receive any more calls from Adam.




The End.


hvysmker -- Charlie