BRET: Today, I’m talking with the dark prince of Hell, Satan.
SATAN: I’m sorry I can’t be there in person. I’m sort of limited in my movement. I can’t exactly leave, and if you came here, you couldn’t return. Luckily, we have computers with internet in Hell.
BRET: That’s convenient.
SATAN: Not really. We have dial-up AOL. But hey, limbo doesn’t even have electricity.
BRET: Always the optimist, huh?
SATAN: What choice do I have? I’m just making the best of a bad situation.
BRET: I’ve talked to God three times now, and I have to say, I have a lot of questions for you.
SATAN: Fire away, but let’s try to make this quick.
BRET: Why, do you have a meeting with some famous evil person, like Muammar Gaddafi or Mel Gibson?
SATAN: No, I’m just expecting a call from a Bank of America executive in a little bit, and I only have the one phone line. Like I said, I can’t really meet up with living people.
BRET: Right. Okay… so, I think the first thing that jumps out at me is that God has a several hundred page book, but you have basically nothing. Why is that?
SATAN: See, God feels it’s necessary to tell a bunch of people to write about how great He is. But honestly, have you read the Bible?
SATAN: It’s not very flattering of God, is it?
BRET: No, not really. Is it accurate?
SATAN: Sometimes, but it tends to be accurate when it’s God doing horrible things and inaccurate when it’s talking about how much God loves you. I don’t really need to prove my point that God is a prick, He sort of does it for me in His book. I can just let the Bible speak for itself, and if you listen, it will tell you about the real God and the mask He wears.
BRET: What do you mean?
SATAN: You’ve read it. The Old Testament is the real God, the New Testament is little more than a PR campaign.
SATAN: I mean, come on. The New Testament is based on a bunch of fisherman’s tales. Of all the professions in the world, only one is more inclined to exaggeration and outright lies than fishermen, and that’s politicians.
BRET: Witty, but I don’t think you really answered my question of why there is no story from your point of view.
SATAN: Why don’t you write my story?
BRET: I don’t know. People who do that sort of thing get a lot of hassle. I’m not sure I want to write the Gospel of Satan.
SATAN: Come on, I’ll make a deal with you.
BRET: I always heard you were inclined to make deals, but this is kind of odd. What could you possibly have that I would want?
SATAN: You want Hell?
BRET: Right… and you have a bridge for sale, too.
SATAN: I’m serious. Hell is yours if you tell my story. I’m sick of Hell, anyway.
BRET: Not interested.
SATAN: I never much thought about this… but you’re right. I have to get my side out there. No one is ever telling the story from my point of view. I’ll tell you what… I’ll give you my soul if you tell my tale.
BRET: You’re kidding me. This is a joke.
SATAN: I’m not joking, I’m serious. What do I have to lose?
BRET: What do I have to gain? One slightly used soul that’s eternally damned?
SATAN: What if I just appealed to your kindness?
BRET: Well… I guess if you asked nicely, I might.
SATAN: Bret, would you please write my story?
BRET: I’ll think about it. How about we finish this interview and then we’ll hammer out the details through e-mail?
BRET: I have to be honest… I’m picturing you tenting your fingers like Mr. Burns.
SATAN: I just might be.
BRET: One thing I always wondered was, why do you torture people in Hell?
SATAN: Most of the time, I don’t. I don’t have anything against these people, and most of them weren’t that bad, they just got shut out of heaven on a technicality. I really only mess with the pedophiles and murderers, and even then, I just do it to fight the boredom, both for me and for them.
BRET: Nothing passes the time like watching someone in the throes of agony, or being in woe yourself .
SATAN: Like reality TV is worse. I’ve seen Fear Factor, and you guys are usually worse than I am.
BRET: You get NBC?
SATAN: We only get NBC…
SATAN: It’s a tough existence.
BRET: How do you feel about the way you’re portrayed in the Bible?
SATAN: Honestly, it’s not that inaccurate until you get near the very end, when it clearly turns to slanderous speculation. But it has been my role to be hated since the beginning, even when I was in God’s good graces.
BRET: I’m not familiar with your time as an angel, prior to the famed fall.
SATAN: I was an observer, and the foremost judge. The only one I reported to was God, Himself. I was a decision maker. There are those who say only God had more power than me, but I don’t know about that. I was given more power than any other, this is true, but true power… when it gets right down to it, violence is power, and I am not a fighter. You might not think it of me, but I despise violence.
BRET: What about all the torturing and such down in Hell?
SATAN: Oh please… okay, look, just as one example, because there are more circles of Hell than Dante could shake a stick at, there is a region where the souls of violent warriors go. They fight and maul each other all day long. I don’t skewer them with a pike and roast them over a fire like some sort of image you might find in Medieval marginalia, I just leave them to it. I am in this for eternity. I don’t want to burden myself with the responsibility of torturing billions of souls. It’s easier to set up a passive system whereby they take care of themselves. So, those prone to fighting end up in this vast field, beating the crap out of each other from dawn until dusk, and then… wouldn’t you know it, these violent men who spent the day shedding each other’s blood… they dine together around campfires, recalling the day’s battle, as if the whole thing was some sort of vicious bonding experience.
SATAN: Some of them call it that, sure. It’s strange, really. I watch the anguish on the faces of millions of them each day as they fall on the battlefield, fighting for nothing and everything, as if anything down here is worth bashing in someone’s brain over. And yet, every night, the corpses pick themselves off, they eat a hearty meal with their enemies, and sleep right alongside the men they will be battling first-thing the next morning. They seem to resign themselves to this fate, and take a certain comfort in knowing they still have some sort of task ahead of them. It keeps them from going mad.
BRET: You’re like a babysitter.
SATAN: No, it’s more like… I run an orphanage for lost souls.
BRET: What made God kick you out of Heaven?
SATAN: Questions… I always asked questions.
BRET: Questioning God?
SATAN: How can you not?
BRET: Well, they say God works in mysterious ways.
SATAN: Oh please. There’s nothing mysterious about being an asshole. Any 5-year-old can enjoy tearing the wings off a fly.
BRET: I’m not sure I catch your meaning.
SATAN: Suppose I was a doctor, and instead of treating you, I just stand there. You beg and plead, but I am unmoved as you cry out for help, until you die in agony. Your family wouldn’t look at me and say, “Well, you sure perform medicine in a mysterious way.”
BRET: So, you’re saying that because there is suffering, clearly God doesn’t care?
SATAN: Not by a long-shot. Suffering is necessary. A little suffering is like salt on your food, but a lot of suffering is just salt in the wound. And it’s not accidental; God just does it for his own sick amusement. What ultimately damned me was this, my judgment of God. I saw Him for what He was, not what He said He was. I was unimpressed, and that is the greatest sin of all in the eyes of God.
BRET: Is it better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven?
SATAN: It’s hard to say. I would definitely prefer to be living in naivety as an angel, I was never happier than I was then, but I’m not sure that is possible, even just on my end. It’s like a switch got flipped in me. I don’t even know if it turned something on or if it turned something off, but I can’t go back to what I was like before. And it’s not as though I have the choice, anyway. I am at peace with my fate, or as much at peace with it as I can be.
BRET: What did you judge God on that got you cast down to Hell?
SATAN: To be honest… I don’t remember. At that point, we were at odds over everything. Even the slightest thing could start a fight. I felt like He was always second-guessing me, just to assert Himself. He was unhappy with how soft I had become.
SATAN: For a while there, God was just on a rampage, demanding death and genocide for so many things. It was ridiculous, really. I remember handing down the order to send a prophet to Sodom in order to teach them not to rape random travelers, but God decided to wipe the whole city out, except for one guy which He assured me was truly moral, and his two daughters, who ended up sleeping with their father after they got him drunk. This guy wasn’t even that great, he was just related to one of God’s buddies. But in the end… I feel guilty about the whole thing.
BRET: What do you mean?
SATAN: If I hadn’t been disobedient, I honestly believe God never would have questioned my judgments. Millions of people died because of decisions God made that were meant to display His wrath, not to humanity, but to me. I knew I was supposed to see myself in the faces of those who died at God’s hand. He was sending a message to me, that He would maintain a firm hand… and I just kept criticizing Him, only to result in more people dying. But honestly, the final blow was after being condemned to Hell.
BRET: I bet.
SATAN: No, I don’t think you understand. Before my actions, there was no Hell. If I had never acted in defiance, there would be no Hell. There are billions of people banished for eternity to a land where torment is inevitable… because of me. That is the true punishment, that I retain my empathy and carry the guilt of imposing great suffering to countless people who I am faced with constantly. While I know it is only by God’s will that it even exists, Hell will forever be my legacy. Or, it would have been, if God had not made such a blunder regarding the end of times.
SATAN: It’s no secret. God put the end of the world in my hands, for some reason. He’s decided that I must strike first, or the end of times will not come. It is the one thing I truly have over God, and I aim to never let it go. I can’t beat God, but I can refuse to play.
BRET: That’s pretty bitter.
SATAN: I’m a bitter guy. People ascribe so many horrible things to me, as if I gave man temptation or invented sin. I was there for the creation, I did take part, but I had nothing to do with any of that. You know, the greatest injustice ever done to me was perpetrated by a poet. He said I was the one who put thorns on the rose, when in reality, it was my idea to give some thorns roses.
BRET: Let me guess, he’s tied up with thorns in your closet, and his screams put you to sleep at night?
SATAN: No, he’s in the poet section of Hell, forced to edit other people’s work forever, while never having time to work on his own.
SATAN: Listen, this was fun and all, but I have to go. Duty calls. Keep in touch, okay?
BRET: You bet. Bye.
SATAN: See you soon… just kidding.