SHORT STORY: Testament

TESTAMENT

I, Joseph Ezekiel Green, am your humble servant, O Lord. It is with meekness and with reverence that I kneel here in supplication to ask you to receive this testament. Here at 23 Nelson Crescent, Brentwood, I am waiting by this telephone for your call. Outside I hear another thunder storm brewing. The trees are shaking dead leaves into the gathering wind. The earth is groaning and straining. The restless dead are stirring in their graves. The very sky aches with your wrath. Behold, the hour of your judgement is surely at hand. But I am calm now. I have no fear. I know I have won a great victory for you.

Take me, Lord. Swallow me whole. Drink my essence. I am yours…

Before I came to you, Lord, I was the worst kind of sinner. Many were the times I poisoned my mind with alcohol and corrupted my body and soul by consorting with those who take money in exchange for giving up themselves to heinous├┐sins of the flesh. Many were the lies I would tell to my wife Marjorie, and the more I lied, the deeper I sank into the fiery lake of mire and perversion. You know my darkest secret shame, Lord. Yea, I cannot hide from thy all-seeing eyes. Even now, when I think of the gross and unnatural practices I engaged in I shudder. I recall the vengeance and destruction you righteously brought down upon those two cities of Sodom and Gommorrah, and I marvel at the mercy you have shown to me. As I kneel here I can only give thanks to thee, for thy grace has surely saved me from the all-consuming fire.

O Lord, it has now been almost a year since I renounced my old life and accepted you fully into my heart. But it was only yesterday morning when the revelation came to me that I had been chosen as your sacred instrument. As usual I walked along Nelson Avenue, past Drake Crescent and down Hood Street to the railway station. I caught the usual 8.15 from Brentwood to Kings Cross. The train carriage was packed full of men and women with hard faces. Many were clearly in the grip of the Evil One. Some stared at the floor, others hid themselves behind newspapers. All were avoiding looking into each others’ eyes, as if to do so would blind them. I could smell the fear and the corruption on their fetid breath.

It was then that I saw The Beast himself. He was sitting directly across from me, looking smug as usual, polishing his shiny black leather shoes with a rag and studying his reflection. The surface of his skin was like unbaked clay, tight and ready to crack. Behind those deep crimson lips, which were moistened by a tiny film of white saliva, I knew that sharp black fangs were waiting to draw blood. He wore an immaculate single-breasted grey suit. Nothing but the best tailors for him, of course. His long silver-grey hair was slicked back with gel, held neatly in a pony-tail by a black leather thong. I buried my head in the Daily Telegraph but it was impossible to avoid those eyes. It was as if they were burning two black, smoking holes through the newspaper. They were huge and white, with no pupils, their edges defined in deepest red. Even as I joined the thronging crowds at Kings Cross they followed me. They glowed in the face of the shamelessly uncovered model on the Pepsi-Cola advert across the other side of the tracks. They winked in the face of the ticket collector as I emerged onto the street, and into the light. I breathed freely then, thinking they had no darkness to radiate in. But I was wrong.

Minutes later, I was walking from Kings Cross to my office in Camden Town when I saw two young girls, no older than my daughter Angelica, displaying their pale white flesh, which was bound up in red leather and cheap black plastic. Then a blue Jaguar drew up. An automatic window slid down and the driver leaned out to negotiate. I recognised the man from the train. As the car door opened and the girls were carried away, I caught another flashing glimpse of those great white eyes. Caught by surprise, I was nearly transfixed. It was as if The Beast was calling me to join him. But my faith was strong and I looked away. As I walked I stared down at the paving stones, Lord, and prayed that you might hear me.

As I turned into Caledonian Road the sky burst into a sudden downpour. As the other pedestrians ran to the shelter of the awnings outside the shops, I went down on my knees and raised up my arms. I knew you had given me a sign. I gave thanks to you, Lord, in your infinite mercy, for choosing me, a humble sinner, to begin the great process of enacting your judgement. I was filled by the Spirit, as water flows into an urn. And I began to overflow.

Last night, I made my first move. Marjorie and Angelica were both asleep. I was alone, here in this living room, awaiting your instructions. I turned the television onto Channel Four. There was a man – at first it was hard to tell he was a man as his face was covered in thick make-up and he was dressed in women’s clothing, sparkled in the sequins of perversion. He was laughing and clowning and telling obscene jokes. The studio audience, which the camera kept cutting to, looked at first like decent men and women but it was clear that they had been thoroughly corrupted because they were joining in with his laughter. In every one of their eyes I saw the whiteness, the red rims. As I stared closer I began to make out their horns and their hidden serpents’ tails. They began to take on the shape of leopards, with bears’ feet and lions’ mouths. On each of their foreheads, beneath their wigs and their perms and their slicked-back hair, I could see the Beast’s mark- the number 666 glowing for all to see. All, that is, who have eyes to see….

Then I knew what I had to do. As the tears streamed down my face I heard your words, O Lord, booming clear and loud in my mind. It was clear what my mission was. From the kitchen, I chose a broad, sharp bread knife, perhaps not unlike the one you instructed your servant Abraham to use on Isaac to test his faith. And my faith was not lacking. I found a knife-sharpener in the draw and I began to prepare for my sacred task.

Not far from this house, on the corner of Cook Avenue and Hudson Walk, there is a notorious public convenience where men meet to perform unnatural acts in the darkness amid the smell of their own urine and defecation. I waited there for some minutes before a man appeared. He was young, perhaps only twenty, but his breath was foul from alcohol. I swear I could also pick up the tang of sulphur. The man recognised me from my former days, before I was Saved. Steeling myself, I allowed the man to presume I would be prepared to engage in unspeakable practices with him. As he pressed his swollen flesh into mine, I could feel the Beast stirring within him. Yea, The Beast is powerful, Lord, and my flesh began to respond. Yet I did not fully yield to temptation. Suddenly I felt your presence in my heart, like a bright shining light… Luring the poor corrupted man into one of the cubicles I went down on my knees in front of him, in mock supplication. I took courage. With the knife the stroke was swift and merciful. I left him bleeding, screaming, but cleansed…

I crept away quickly, making sure I was not seen. I knew you had more sacred tasks for me to perform, O Lord. When I reached home I was careful to be quiet whilst climbing the stairs. To my dismay Marjorie was still awake.

“Where’ve you been?” she enquired.

I knew it would be impossible for me to reveal the truth to Marjorie. Unlike me, she has not been touched by your hand, O Lord. Many were the times when I implored her to accept you into her heart. But she was deaf to my appeals. I cried for her, Lord… I wanted only that she might be Saved like me.

“…For a walk.”, I said.

“In this weather?” She narrowed her eyes at me. “You must be crazy.”

As I climbed into bed she moved closer to me. I felt her arms around me and her feet rubbing lasciviously against my legs.

“Joe, come on….” she breathed. “It’s been so long. Must be over a year. I’m getting desperate, Joe….. Don’t you love me?”

Her voice sounded strange. But I knew it was not really hers. When I turned round I saw the whiteness of her eyes and those red, red rims. As I smelled the overpowering stench that came up from between her thighs, I looked once again into the depths of the burning lake. But then I heard your voice, O Lord. Your instructions were clear. Suddenly I felt calm. I knew your love was inside me, filling me.I reached over into my jacket for my instrument of mercy. And you steadied and guided my hand with Your love.

I new there was one more sacred task to perform. Taking the knife, I crept downstairs into Angelica’s room. I turned on the light so that she could watch me tear down that poster she had insisted, against all my prayers and pleading, on putting up on her wall. It was an image of a young man, unclothed to the waist, covered in sweat, thrusting his nether regions towards a microphone. As I ripped the poster down and sliced it in half with the knife she leapt out of bed, naked, and began to struggle with me.

“Daddy, no…. daddy, no!” she screamed. But your strength had taken me over, O Lord. I gripped her by the arm. Her long red hair flew back. And I saw the whites of her eyes.

And now I wait. I know that the hour is at hand. Soon the dead will emerge from their graves. Earthquake and thunder and brimstone and fire will pour down from on high. The Beast will be swept away and I will be carried up with all the other pure souls to join you. But there is still more work for me to do. I know you have chosen me to fight The Beast, to weaken his power before you wreak your final revenge. So I am sitting by this telephone, just waiting for your call.

Ah, yes. It is ringing at last…

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