Thursday, July 19, 2012
Hell of Our Own
I was offended at first. My mere presence should have made the child evacuate her bowels, cry and snivel, blowing bubbles of mucous from her nostrils. One hiss from my ancient mouth has brought great men to their knees, begging for mercy—a term for which I have no definition. Yet, there she sat, plugged into a wireless, digital world that neither exists nor matters. Her thumbs danced gracefully over miniscule keys as her eyes darted, ever straining to look at the tiny pictures, the tiny misspelled messages that flashed before her. Music of the time spewed into her head as if filling an empty balloon with air.
I pulled my long, calloused fingers across a tuft of beard and raised one eyebrow at the new breed of idiotic human. Where was the screaming and running? The child was as oblivious to my presence as she was to anything else around her. Everything existed in that small, battery-powered computer. And as I watched her for hour upon hour, she never wavered, hardly looking away from that box filled with teenage magic. It went with her to the kitchen for refreshment, and the bathroom for relief. Parents, gone for the day to work, never called, but may have sent one of those revolting texts.
Once, I heard her laugh out loud. Alone, laughing out loud. Two decades ago, she’d have been thought mad. A century ago, she’d have been locked up. Two centuries ago, she’d have been burned at the stake! Back then, I’d have turned her hair white with a glance. She would’ve spouted prayers on bended knee and asked God for cleansing. Now her God was electrons and pixels, mp3’s and WiFi.
There is, however, a benefit to the situation. As I watched, I realized how much time I had to plan. A demon rarely gets that opportunity as the hunt is just that, stalking, chasing…messy. In this day and age, it was simple for one such as me to walk down the street in certain cities and be thought of as someone in costume. Freaks no longer have much of a stigma. My goat-like face and cloven hooves might draw a glance, but only that.
Brazenly, I walked across the room in front of her. Her nose wrinkled, but she did not look up. I leaned over her from behind the overstuffed leather couch and twisted a thicket of her hair between my fingers, smelling the sweet, fruit-and-flower fragrance. She waved it away as if I was merely a fly, perhaps a mosquito buzzing. I wilted a potted plant on the table in front of her to no response.
Should I tear the gadget from her hands and force recognition on her? I might get the reaction I was used to. I might punch into her chest to feel the gooey warmth of a still beating heart. I might drain her blood for my lunch, leaving her soul to wander. I haven’t dismembered a body in years. I long for the days of human opposition. Worthy opponents they once were.
No, I think I will let that digital monster do my work for me. She is already in a cell, addicted to the nothing in front of her. Eventually it will shrink to claustrophobic size and swallow her. She won’t even notice.