Lucifer's Last Laugh

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Chapter 30: Alecto’s Tale

I am greatly moved by Solomon’s story; his passion-love for Laura resembles nothing so much as mine for you, Margarita. But I am impatient to learn how to prevent your death at the hands of Alecto and press Matt Scott for details.

“After listening to Solomon, I returned quickly to my own time, got a quick debriefing and was ordered to come back here,” Matt says.

“The way it went down as I understand it, is that this guy Sidney Reilly tracks down Teddy Teawater at an apartment in San Francisco; the Feebies, led by Agent Dribble, surround the place and Teddy kills them all somehow. Then she wangles an audience with Presserwesser, puts him under her control and allies herself with some terrorist named Boola Boola Shakhur. In the meantime, you are in a towering tantrum and vow to crush the cunt. You find Teddy and Boola Boola in Schenectady where they have managed to appropriate one of Presserwesser’s nukes and thirty-six vials of Ebola 666 stolen from Fort Dietrick; Teddy releases the virus, which eventually wipes out more than half the human race, then sets the nuke off, obliterating Boola Boola, you, and the citizenry of Schenectady but not herself for reasons we don’t understand. After that, she enjoys free reign, knocking off U.S. combat veterans at her leisure with the connivance of Presserwesser and all successive American presidents.”

This clearly does not correspond to any of the various futures contrived by Father and me. What could have gone so terribly wrong?

“There’s one hopeful element in Solomon’s sorry tale,” says Asira.

“Yeah,” I reply, soppy with sorrow, “what’s that?”

“That the future isn’t fixed.”

A shaft of sanguineness suffuses me. I turn to Matt. “Do you know the location of the apartment where Reilly and Teddy rendezvoused?”

Matt squinches his forehead. “Lemme think a bit on that.”

“Well, for Hell’s sake, make it snappy. In the meantime, I need to go to the john.”

Once I leave the room, I teleport to Lucifer’s palace. He is waiting for me, relaxed as always, his massive head leaning back comfortably on reversed wings.

“This is an emergency, Father.”

“Only because you have allowed yourself to become too attached to a human, Loki. I really thought better of you than that.”

“But our plans. . . .”

“Your plans. You haven’t the faintest idea what I’ve planned.”

“But can the extermination of most of the human race really be the future?”

“You got me. The future’s always a mystery. I am gifted with an unparalleled ability to predict the past.”

“Not much help to me, Father.”

“Who cares?” Lucifer says thoughtfully. “Still, we haven’t convened a CCB conference in more than a million years.”

“CCB?”

“Co-Created Beings. The Erinyes, the Moirai . . .”

“Who, Father?”

“The Moirai, as we taught the Greeks to call them: Clotho the spinner, Lachesis the measurer, and Atropos the thread-slicer.”

It now comes back to me. Every human is attached to a thread, which Clotho selects, Lachesis measures and, at the end of the human’s life, Atropus cuts. “But I thought you simply made all of this up to entertain those Mycenaean mutts.”

“Most of it,” Father agrees placidly, “but not the Erinyes or the Moirai, except for their names, of course. Now stop interrupting me. Then there is Mara, a kind of cosmic curmudgeon.”

“So you’ve known all along who Mara is.”

“Of course. Anyway, we used to meet every thousand years or so, although I have to say the last conference did not go well. They’re all jealous of me, which is natural, but to say they are capable of harboring grudges for a very long time is an understatement.”

“I can understand their jealousy, Father.”

“No you can’t, Loki. In fact, you understand very little. Let me see if I can explain. The Unknown One created us all in the same instant but he gave only me among the CCBs the powers of creativity. The others can only destroy, except for Mara who can’t do much of anything except complain; Mara is the passive force of complete negativity.”

“It is evil, then?”

“Not really. Remember evil is a human invention. Mara is just negation. Although if it hooks up with a really evil human as it did once with Attila and again with Torquemada, it can do considerable damage. ”

“You spoke of the Unknown One. So there really is a God.”

Lucifer shakes his enormous head in disgust. “Will you never learn, Loki? There is no God. The Unknown One did not create the universe. It is not all powerful, only slightly more powerful than the CCBs just as I am only slightly more powerful than my devil offspring.”

Slightly more powerful? I perceive that Father is being plethorically prudent.

“The Unknown One created us and hasn’t been heard from since. After a billion years or so, I plucked the black stone out of my forehead and created my first batch of devils.”

“Black stone?”

“Yes, an extraterrestrial rock, some kind of meteorite, I imagine, that the Unknown One had stuck in my forehead. It had some incomprehensible markings on it. I threw it away. The point is the Moirai, the Erinyes, and Mara (who also initially had rocks in their heads) blame me for helping out humans once they actually began to evolve from the main primate line, the Moirai and the Erinyes less so than Mara. At least they get to play their games, pretending to spin destiny in the Moirai’s case and avenging injustice for the Erinyes. All Mara can do is carp.”

“So can you convene another conference?”

“As I said, the last one was something of a bummer. Mara was in a singularly sour mood and you can’t even begin to depicture what that is like. No, I think I’ll just leave everything up to you.”

Returning to Russian Hill (having been gone less than two minutes) I am relieved to find that Matt Scott has remembered where Sydney Reilly and Teddy Teawater had been surrounded.

“A flat on Nob Hill,” he says and gives me the address.

“That’s practically next door.”

“Uh oh,” says Canda. “I’ve been monitoring the San Francisco FBI headquarters and they just got a transmission from Sydney Reilly. He’s at the flat with Teddy. We don’t have much time.”

I teleport to Akron, grab Enkidu and Gilgamesh, and materialize the three of us in Alecto’s flat under a capote of invisibility.

“Tell me more, Captain Reilly,” Alecto is saying sweetly, “about your naval exploits in the Fifth Gulf War.” I note that Alecto is almost as gorgeous as you, Margarita. Her eyes from afar glitter in a tungsten titanium tint. She is giving Reilly a look simultaneously seductive and sinister.

For his part, Reilly seems in a calm, amiable mood. Master of outer disguise he may be, but as always, I read his thoughts easily and he is distinctly discomfited.

“Are you sure you want to hear this? It was a nasty business sending tactical nukes into Teheran.”

“Oh yes,” Alecto purrs seductively, “I am fascinated by all acts of derring-do.”

I remove our invisibility at this moment and shout, “He’s lying to you, Alecto. He’s never been in combat. He’s been a REMF military intelligence agent his whole career.”

Alecto looks up languidly and smiles.

“Ah, I perceive that you are one of Lucifer’s offspring. How is the old boy doing these days?” Her eyes turn to Enkidu and Gilgamesh. “Enkidu, how lovely to see you again. And who is the handsome hirsute hunk with you?”

Gil bows gallantly. “Gilgamesh, my lady.”

Alecto’s eyes widen with pleasure. “An honor, sir. I have always wanted to meet you.”

“And now you have,” I say impatiently. “The important thing is this man Reilly isn’t one of your putative victims. He hasn’t seen a lick of combat in his entire life.”

“Is that true?” Alecto asks Sydney.

He answers rather sheepishly. “I’m afraid so. I assumed the persona of a combat veteran only to trap you because you are a homicidal whore who must be stopped.”

“My, my,” says Alecto mildly, “such harsh words. I may just dispose of you anyway.”

“Can’t we talk about this, Alecto?” asks Gilgamesh. “I think your energies might better be directed elsewhere while achieving, of course, the same objectives.”

Alecto’s smile is dazzling. “Hey, sweetie how can I pass up a chance to shoot the shit with the great Gilgamesh? Let’s do it.”

I hear the FBI SWAT team vans pull up outside the apartment building and turn to Reilly. “Don’t breathe a word of this to Margaret.”

Reilly smiles. “I don’t actually breathe words.”

But just to make sure, Alecto places her right hand on Reilly’s forehead and banishes all memory of this incident from his mind.

I grab Enkidu who grabs Gilgamesh who puts a gentle hand on Alecto’s imaginary shoulder and we vanish, leaving behind the now lifeless body of the former Teddy Teawater.

I leave Alecto to be cajoled, coddled and captivated by my Sumerian sidekicks and visit Boola Boola and Baggie. I take Boola Boola aside.

“Last minute efforts to shtup with me will be met with your total annihilation in this life and all conceivable afterlives. Got me? So no Schenectady nukes in any way, shape or form. No nukes, period.”

BB regards me with transparent resentment.

“You are like the major opposite of merriment,” he whines. “ I mean, can’t you take a jape or a jest? Baggie and I are consummately committed to the extirpation of Presserwesser and company. Why are you introducing the novel element of incertitude into our consociation?”

A good, albeit verbose, question. I am accusing BB of all manner of malevolence based on. . . .what? Bruit and buzz? Also where did the semiliterate Boola Boola suddenly acquire such an elaborate vocabulary? But I choose not to back down.

“You have been warned.” And I manifest myself in the most threatening bwbachod form imaginable. BB cowers appropriately but to my mind seems insufficiently fearful.

I return to Akron and take Enkidu aside, unsuccessfully attempting to ignore the mutual love fest betwixt Alecto and Gil.

“How is it going?”

“Wondrously,” Enkidu replies.

“Glad to hear it because we’ve got to get Gil moving. Maybe Alecto can be his helpmeet?”

“Wouldn’t be surprised.”

Dusana, who has been watching the attachment between Gil and Alecto unfold, telemessages me. “Boss, does this mean that Alecto will go unpunished for murdering all of those American combat veterans?”

“What do you think? She is one of the Erinyes. They never get punished. The best we can hope for is to redirect her vengeful energy towards Presserwesser and his gang.”

“But why did she ignore Enkidu’s efforts to change her mind but pays attention to Gilgamesh?”

“Probably because Gil is a bigger hero than Enkidu. And he’s cuter.”

Gil’s continuing sacerdotal shenanigans play against a background of burgeoning international tension as President Presserwesser bellows bellicosity at the rest of the world.

Palamides materializes before me with an urgent message from all of the National Devils, to wit: “How soon will you rid the world of this dickhead?”

“Soon,” I assure him.

I return to Gil, Enkidu, and Alecto, who snarls at me.

“I thought we’d seen the last of you, devil.”

Although she still frightens me, I confront her.

“You saved Gil from that assassin, didn’t you?”

Alecto shrugs. “You betcha. I wasn’t going to allow that lunkhead to take the life of a hero.”

“Thanks, babes,” says Gil with an appreciative smile.

I speak directly to him. “I’m sure that it has occurred to you that all living humans are your descendants.”

“And mine,” puts in Enkidu.

“Sure,” says Gil. “and that includes Presserwesser and his circle. I’m not big on having you wipe them all out, Loki.”

“You and Alecto can do something about that before it’s too late.”

“What?”

“Convert Presserwesser and his entire evil entourage to Reformed Paganism.”

“That’s subdolous,” Gil says. “How do we manage that in less than twenty-four hours?”

I direct my attention to Alecto, who keeps moving in and out of focus, first as a scrumptious spirit then as a Rottweiler with snakes for hair, evidently unwilling to let Gil see her in her natural state. “What’s your position on all this?”

She bares her beautiful teeth as if preparing to chomp on my neck. “Gilgamesh and I are getting married ASAP. We’re both immortal so why not? Besides I love the little lug so I’ve given up on the revenge business for the time being. What do you have in mind, devil?”

“If you will allow me, I will teach you the art of possession.”

“Honey chile, I invented it.”

“Good, because there is a certain National Security Adviser I want you to inhabit.” I sense that Asira is weary of being an earring on the charmless Cherry Churchill. Besides, there are certain things that Alecto can do with Cherry that are beyond even Asira’s considerable talents. In a trice, I recall Asira and Alecto possesses Churchill.

I teleport to San Francisco and join you at the Top of the Mark bar. Your exquisitely colored hair twists my right hoof into a state of stimulation with the swiftness of seven clever conquistadors. I order a large pitcher of Beefeater’s gin for me and a glass of the 1787 Chateau d’Yquem for you.

I decide immediately not to use on you the spell provided me by Kothar. I wish you to love me on my own merits. Even if you are not worth it, you are worth it.

“Sidney says you saved my life.”

So Alecto left him with some memory.

“Sidney should be drawn and quartered.”

“Shall we get married this afternoon?”

“What about blood tests?”

“I’m FBI. I faked them.”

I smile at you. “Let’s be honest with one another. You are not just FBI. You are the Devil’s Own.”

You are not surprised that I know this.

“And what about you? You are not just MI-5, you are. . . .”

“Lucifer’s Minion.”

“That’s an outfit I’ve never heard of.”

“I will explain later. Let’s go get hitched.”

JoeL and Sidney Reilly serve as witnesses and we repair to my palatial home.

Once in my bedroom I begin to unbutton your blouse while you rip off my shirt. You are in a hurry. I am not. I tickle, smooch, scratch and nuzzle you with exquisite deliberation. Our bodies tingle, spark, radiate and revolve. I move my mouth from your toes to the heels of your feet to the backs of your legs, up your back to your shoulders, to the nape of your neck, then to your front, your lips and the rest of your lovely face, and all the way down your front, pausing with tantalizing briefness at the aureoles of your beautiful breasts and continue downwards, and all over again.

Then you start teaching me tricks of lovemaking that I had not even dreamed of.

For me (and I hope for you) ensued eleven hours of uninterrupted and majestic, marvelous, memorable, noble, notable, noted, pleasurable, preeminent, radiant, remarkable, renowned, resplendent, shining, splendid, sublime, superb sex.

The next morning we learn of the assassination.

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