Music thump-thump-thumped. Smoke eddied and churned, tinged first with yellow, then blue, then green. And James put a hand up to his brow as the man fixed him with red eyes. This can’t be happening. It just can’t... Because it already has.
“Don’t you ever feel like throwing off society’s shackles, its straitjacket, and running amok?” The man’s dry tongue flicked around even dryer-looking lips as light speared grandiose darkness off to the side and his eyes flashed. “Of course you do. You’re human. And aren’t you tired of that voice in your head, the one that’s been drilled into you by endless repetition, always telling you to do the right thing? Wouldn’t you like to start thinking for yourself?” Another tongue-flick, as animal people stirred in the colored shadows. “Of course you would. That’s why I’m offering you the chance to join a secret society where you can explore these ideas further, debate them at your leisure. I call it Satan’s Fan Club. Wanna join?”
James nodded. Have I fallen off the back of my own mind? I’m stuck in a kink of time.
“I had a feeling you would. There’s just one catch.” The man smiled. “Yeah, I know. There’s always a catch. You have to commit a crime, tailored to you. That’s how you prove your worth. And this crime is the realization of your darkest urges. So you should enjoy it. You’ll never have experienced freedom like it. That, I guarantee. But don’t think it’s going to be easy. Remember, I’m asking you to do the very worst that you can do. Still wanna join?”
Leaning back against the painted brickwork of the wall, James pressed his palms against it, stuck his fingertips into its rough grooves and ran them along it. They say the mad live in a world of dreams, or nightmares. I just need to find the way out.
But the gewgaw world distracted him again. A giant bar of light scanned the entire ceiling, as the man turned to leave.
James heard his own voice: “You haven’t said what the entrance requirement is.”
“You’ve got to kill them,” the man shouted over his shoulder.
Now where in the purgatory of memory – back to the start, or on from here? And apart from pleading puffs of madness or folie à deux, what could he usefully say in his own defense?
The Devil told me to do it.
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