A Letter Of Demonic Advice
In The Style of C. S. Lewis'
Submitted to a competition for the 1998 Mythopoeic Conference.
For those not familiar with Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, remember that this is one
devil writing to another. For this book, Lewis conceived of hell as a many-layered
bureaucracy, rather appropriate once one thinks about it. All references to "the
Enemy" of course refer to God, "Our Father Below" is of course, Satan. You
should get the hang of it soon enough. There are also references to Lewis himself in the
text which those familiar with his life will no doubt spot immediately. Those not familiar
with Jack, as Lewis liked himself to be called, may find this a necessary clue.
I hope that my very therapeutic outpouring may be informative, entertaining, and perhaps
even useful to the reader.
January 30, 1998
___ State University
Dear Mr. C___,
Recently, I was reading the MERELewis Digest, and came across some information related to
your involvement in collecting and collating selections of demonic advice in preparation
for presentation of these very valuable documents to the Mythopoeic Conference this year.
Of course, we all know how rare it is to come upon these letters, a comparison to
hens teeth comes immediately to mind. I myself, was quite sure that nearly all of
them, or at least the most important collection to date had been published by Mr. Lewis
himself. Personally, I thank you for alerting us all to the potential existence of more of
these documents than previously suspected. Allow me to explain.
As many on the MERELewis Digest know, my sixteen year-old son has recently been murdered.
A regrettable act, to be sure, and we are adjusting rather well, all things considered.
Throughout this ordeal, the works of C. S. Lewis have been of enormous comfort and
strength to me. His book, A Grief Observed is, in my opinion, probably the most
important book ever written on grief and faith. Many of his other works have taken on
deeper meaning to me as I have had to deal with my own grief, and have had to help others
with whom I am now associated, deal with theirs. I have also been actively participating
in various other support resources. Some of the online grief bulletin boards and chats, as
well as a local support group for homicide victims have enabled me to observe and talk to
quite a few people in various stages of grief, some of whom seem to be making good,
healthy choices on their journey, and some who seem to be headed in an altogether
unhealthy, even self-destructive direction.
All this, by way of exposition, brings me to how I came about the attached document. One
evening, following our local support group meeting, I noticed on the floor a very small
scrap of what appeared to be parchment. It was singed around the edges, but for the most
part seemed to be intact. As it was a curiosity, I examined it more thoroughly with a
magnifying glass, and found that it seemed to contain a text of some sort. My interest
piqued, I took it to one of my colleagues in the physics department of my university, and
under careful magnification, I was able to actually transcribe the text after several long
hours of work. What I found was both a delight, and a surprise.
Having been a long-time fan of Lewis, and having read The Screwtape Letters on
several occasions, I realized that what I had in my hands was apparently a letter of
instruction from a senior devil to a junior instructing him on the correct manner of
tempting one who is in deep grief. My immediate thought was that you would be interested
in the document, and so I am forwarding a copy of the text to you. It is rather thorough
Im afraid, but it is in fact the whole of the letter, and seems to be a remarkably
accurate depiction of what many of us have gone through during this period. I hope you
find it of some value or use in your collection.
I regret that the original did not bear well the stress of the examination process and has
disintegrated completely. Though I do not know which of the good people in our group was
the target of our little fiend, since he obviously has been careless and incompetent
enough to lose such an important dispatch so quickly, I hold great hope that his efforts
will be ineffective and come to naught.
I wish you peace,
Virginia Union University
Tempters Eyes Only
Read and Destroy Promptly
My dear Quizzlecrib,
In your latest report, you tell me that your patients child has just died. This is
very good news, indeed, and I hope that you will make the most of this fortunate
opportunity to undermine your patients faith and bring them to ruin. I regret that
our advance office has not yet reported the demise to me. As you know, we have such a
difficult time accessing the records of children, especially the young ones, so your
letter was the first I heard of it. I, of course, immediately notified the proper Special
Infernal Forces, and things are even now moving into place to help you gain the immediate
advantage in this marvelous development.
What a remarkable opportunity is now at hand for you. This is indeed what every tempter
lives for. And to think it has fallen into your young lap. But you must take care, this
delicate situation must be handled with utmost skill. One small misjudgment on your part
will be your downfall. Everything hangs in the balance for you now. Ultimate triumph, or
ultimate ruination. As is standard practice in such a crucial case, I have prepared some
strategic advice on the matter which I trust you will execute with utmost efficiency and
The great good fortune of this happy incident is that the patient is now, probably for the
first time since they have been out from under their childhood cloak of the Enemys
protection, fully awake and alert spiritually. This will enable you to place things in the
mind of your patient with remarkable ease. This heightened spiritual sensitivity caused by
the patients great pain is, of course, what the Enemy is counting on to accomplish
His purpose as well, and if left unanswered by our torment, would bring about the type of
human we fear most. Not the ones who believe rabidly in the Enemy and speak their mind to
everyone they meet. They call it "evangelizing." Little do they know just how
much harm it can do to their cause when handled in a grossly insensitive manner. Did you
know that the good ones have been known to close the minds of hundreds in the course of
one of their years with their merry little quips?
No, what you must avoid, at all costs, is the type of human who is living proof of the
Enemys existence. One who lives out the Enemys purpose and will everyday as
one of their fish swims in water. One who demonstrates their faith in a practical manner
in all they do. This is the type of vile, hateful human monster who turns to torment us.
These grotesques no longer "believe" in the Enemy because they are so sensitized
to His constant presence in their daily lives that the word "belief" no longer
applies in the normal sense. "Belief," even in the patients who are, despite our
best efforts, moving steadily towards the Enemys stronghold must always entail an
assumption, or "faith" based on the condition that the Enemy is not to them
directly observable. Thus, doubt is always a potential weapon for us. We of course
perpetuate this by making sure our patients never really see the Enemy, and even when
observing His hand in the created world around them either ascribe it to human ingenuity
and industry, or that wonderfully innocuous force, Nature. Neither of which will do us
much harm as long as we keep them listening to their own prejudiced "experts,"
and keep them from reading the Enemys treatise in an iteration that they can
You want to keep your patient from achieving through this experience, and I assure you
they have every potential to do so, the step which we call the "Advanced Stage of
Non-Compliance." At this level, they are shrouded in mystery and are formidable foes.
These people know no doubt at all. They seem to walk between heaven and earth and they are
virtually untouchable by us. You remember in your history courses the story of First Man?
That is the way this sort seems to be, and few of even our most experienced tempters have
been able to find a chink in their armor once they have donned it. The hard crust we
worked on for so long and through so many channels is burned away in an instant by fire.
And not the unbearably hot, insane, tormenting fire as we have at our disposal, but by a
tempered fire (who ever heard of such a thing!) which seems to have a purifying and
strengthening, rather than a destructive and weakening quality to it.
Our fellows in Resource Management have been working for ages on a means by which to abate
or even quench this type of fire. But alas, most of their efforts so far have been engaged
in creating a suitable test sample. None of the myriad of fires we have at our disposal
seems to have exactly that quality, and we are now resorting to formulating various
combinations to reach a satisfactory result. Our lads will keep at it though, even if we
must ensure their motivation by regularly pointing up their miserable failures and making
succulent examples of the more useless ones at feast-time, for this is one of the
strongest weapons in the Enemys arsenal.
You must keep your patient from reaching this level. If you fail, you might as well chuck
your whole career as a tempter. Far worse than allowing a simple conversion to the
Enemys side, allowing an opportunity like this to slip through your scaly grasp will
no doubt ruin you for good. Old Snozgrobbin is one such former tempter. Youve seen
him, the blind, toothless cur cowering on the ash-heap by the outer gates. His patient did
that to him, yes. And every time another human reads one of his mans contemptible
books, or a child enters his patients insipid imaginary lands, old Snozgrobbin is
wracked with further tortures. You see, were not so sure that the human didnt
somehow seduce Snozgrobbin himself. There is a matter of some missing files and letters
, but that is none of your concern. He was in fact, losing ground fast, but he lost
his patient for good back just before that contemptible civil rights debacle. He too had
an extraordinary opportunity to discredit the man completely, also brought on by an
enormous grief. Unfortunately, the patient recovered, and the damage he subsequently did
with one small book has twisted tails down here all the way to the Lowest One Himself.
There had been hopes early on that the man would not live through one of their wars, for
we were aware even then that he was shaping up into a dangerous sort which had the
potential for causing us a great deal of trouble. But that plan was foiled rather
miserably when we were blind-sided by an unexpected maneuver from the Enemys camp,
and we have suffered ever since. So, I might add, has pathetic Snozgrobbin.
Be forewarned, the engagement you are about to embark upon is as serious as any you have
ever encountered. This is not a drill. Your whole career lies before you, and you will be
judged by how you handle this one case which fortune has brought to your door. But do not
fear, we will mobilize as many of our forces as possible to come to your aid. At the same
time of course you realize that the entire fault for failure will rest squarely with you,
and I promise you, if you fail, your essence will be savored for a very long time indeed.
As I review the events which you have recounted, I see that your patients child was
killed in a violent manner. As I said, access to childrens records is particularly
difficult for us in the office, but it is of no consequence as the little squeak is lost
to us anyhow. She would hardly have been a satisfying tidbit anyway, not having ripened
enough for us to have distilled even a half a thimble-full of malice from her clear and
insipid little spirit. Let the Enemy have her! Good riddance, I say! She never even got to
the point of appearing on our ledgers for assignment, so accounting-wise, she is a
write-off. Her main value to us is in how she affects those under your influence. Of
course, the actual type of demise does not matter so long as it was traumatic to the
patient. An illness will serve as well as a car crash, though a car crash does seem
amusingly more shocking for some reason. Perhaps it is the mutilation of their pathetic
little bodies which brings about the anguish which appeals to us so. But no matter.
You know that grief is thoroughly useful to us, and every human has to undergo it sooner
or later, but your patients grief is caused by a childs death. So much the
better for you. Unlike the death of an aged and decrepit adult human, any untimely death,
but especially the death of a child, will enable you to put the question of
"justice" into the patients mind. It is a formidable wedge between them
and the Enemy and you will find it to be of considerable use in short-circuiting their
rational thought processes.
Of course, the entire mourning operation is thoroughly disgusting to us. Imagine, yearning
for the past! However, one thing you must be certain to exploit is the fact that the
little beasts generally have a false sense of what happens to them after their bodies
cease to function. Havent you ever wondered why the vacancies at the Intake Office
are in such demand? One look at the thoroughly befuddled expressions on the faces of the
mortal spirits when you visited there in the Academy should tell you. Our brothers are
always in hysterics at some comment or another. Delightfully naïve things such as,
"But I dont believe in Hell!" Oh, the things they come up with. And the
expressions on their faces. No wonder our people love to work there. If it wasnt for
the increased workload of late, there would never be any vacancies at all. But I digress.
You have to understand that most of the mortals do not realize what they really are. They
are at once, both spiritual and temporal. They exist in two planes (rather imperfectly, I
might add). They are spiritually like many of the Enemys other creations, they
metamorphose. Like the disgusting butterfly that emerges after the rather interesting
looking caterpillar phase is over (one of the things He almost got right), or the frog
from the tadpole.
When the humans die, as you know from your training, the husk is left behind, and the
grain is taken on in whatever level of maturity it has reached to this immortal plane.
There they are first given the opportunity to look into the Enemys face without our
imposition. As you know, this was a small concession granted by Our Father Below in the
early years, and it is of no great import, for if we have done our job properly, they
arrive without escort, and it is but a short wait for us to receive them into our
slavering jaws for all time, there to savor and feed on their terror at our leisure. Of
course, the Enemys desire is that the human will immediately recognize His face and
voice (almost reminds you of what they call a pet, doesnt it). If they do, then I am
afraid that they go beyond our reach forever into their land where it is rumored that they
actually take a place higher than our counterparts on the other side and rule over them.
Isnt that the limit! It is almost beyond belief that such a product of mud should
have charge over purely spiritual beings as ourselves. The Enemys contemptible
behavior is really beyond the pale with this one, and if the rest of His feckless minions
ever wise up like we did, He will be in for another riot for sure. What a glorious day
that would be, would it not?
During their little meeting however, if they dont come when they are called (to
continue the delicious pet analogy), they wander off and ultimately wind up at our
doorstep, simply because there is no other place to go. Did you know that one of our best
lines of all time is that we have made the earthly humans actually believe that the Enemy
sends them to us. Of all the ironies! They come to us of their own accord, and He gets the
blame. Sometimes our cleverness really is too much.
There is one problem, however. Since we have been banned from these proceedings since the
day when the Enemy walked among them in their shape and form in His feeble attempt to
communicate with them directly, we really dont know what happens to all of our
property as some of it appears to turn up missing. Suffice it to say, we dont get as
much returned as we know goes in to that dreadful room. Even now, our accountants are busy
tabulating this debt in preparation for filing a claim. We really should be getting far
more than we actually realize from our efforts. Think of it, all the hard work we put into
keeping certain stories out of mens minds, supplanting them with more innocuous
tales and fables from the Propaganda Department, but not seeing the profits. That is
outright theft, to be sure. In fact my hunger seethes uncontrollably when I think of one
of my most rational and intellectual atheists, stolen right out from under me. I looked
for him for ages before realizing that he simply didnt come out of the Enemys
interrogation room. From that time on, I made sure all my patients were not only sincere
in their skepticism, but morally bankrupted as well before they made the transition.
Ive had much better results since.
Their second great misconception is in how their world operates. They think the Enemy
causes all the good things in their lives, and we cause all the bad. Oh, if it were only
possible for us to do so, what havoc we could wreak. Sadly, and this point hinges on some
of the legally binding agreements made during the time we know as The Great Cognition
(That of course was the when Our Father Below helped the miserable wretches to realize
their full potential and make up their own minds. A great service to them I might add for
which He has never received due credit), we have only but so much power to cause their
troubles. You see, until their transition, they are still legally the Enemys by
right of creation. They must during their lives decide for themselves whose voice they
will listen to more, His or ours. Of course we go to great lengths to set a pretty plate
before them, as you know.
So, though we can prompt thoughts and manipulate uncontrolled emotions to our end,
physically we really cant touch them. Im afraid there has even been a
prohibition against merely attempting to do so by a long-standing order directly from the
Throne. Rumor has it that there was once some long past personal embarrassment to Our
Father Below himself regarding just such a situation, and He does not want a repeat, but
the details are never spoken of.
No, the humans exist in the temporal plane, as I mentioned, and that world holds plenty of
hardship and misery for them of its own accord. After all, they are fragile things, not
meant for long-term durability at all. Their bodies tend to wear out, break down, and
damage rather easily. The ravages of time, illness, careless accidents, wars and
conflicts, not to mention people who are sufficiently under our control who come up with
some very creative destructions, all these we cannot take direct credit for, but no
matter. They are our spoils from The Great Cognition, and they will serve our purposes. As
much as we would like to take credit for the little wretchs demise, it simply
isnt true. Though, there is no reason you shouldnt let your patient think
On the other hand, and this seems to be in direct violation of the contract but we have
never been able to get an injunction through our Legal Department, our counterparts, the
Enemys messengers (as He calls them), seem to be able to manifest a variety of
skills that we have yet to master some minor temporal manipulations, for example.
As most of these efforts are hidden from us, we are largely uninformed as to their actual
level of accomplishment in their trickery. However, suffice it to say, that neither we nor
they are in the business of bringing about drastic alterations of events in human lives. A
bit of what the humans call "bad luck" is about all we can manage. Of course,
when the Enemys minions bring about some meager hocus pocus of their own, it is
called a "miracle." Highly overrated if you ask me.
Another thing youll notice about the Enemys servants is that they are, in
actuality, slaves. That is, they have no initiative of their own. They are not like us,
working independently for the greater ill. They only work under the Enemys direct
command and in a concerted effort. A highly inefficient waste of resources to my way of
thinking. It must tax the Enemys attentions greatly. Our Father Below certainly
doesnt expect us to go running to Him every time we need to work every little
temptation. Our freedom to work independently to bring the humans to their knees is one of
the things I so relish about our job. Certainly we work together when the common ill is
warranted, but in total unison and sense of purpose? Id rather be stoking the fires
of the very deep, rather than that!
So, now to your opportunity, and how to best exploit it. After giving it much thought, I
think it is best in your case to proceed with the standard Grievers Sympathy Torment
Number One. This seems to hold the best promise for success for you at this time. As soon
as you are in place, we will sound the general alert and mobilize others to your aid. For
our part, we will arrange for a never-ending stream of sympathizers, well-wishers, and
"friends" of the patient to constantly remind them of their loss with the empty
and hollow words that we have been refining for generations here in our Platitude
Division, an elite group within the Propaganda Section.
Through this process, there are many that have become great instruments in our cause. Not
just having an indifference to the Enemy, as so many of our simple-minded patients do, but
developing a true hatred for Him and everything associated with Him. A blinding hatred
that not only overpowers whatever vestiges of trust they had in Him to begin with, but
positively turns them into sincere mouthpieces for our cause. They, like us, will know He
exists, of that there will be little doubt for them, but unbelief is not our goal with
such as these. No, you want to go for sheer rage at the Enemys apparent action which
has been imposed in their lives, and a complete unwillingness to trust Him ever again, not
even for their daily bread. You want them to see the Enemy as He truly is, as we see Him,
for the unreliable, mean-spirited, hated, two-faced,
giving-with-one-hand-and-taking-with-the-other, cosmic sadist who causes not only their
pain, but ours as well.
Remember the first rule in force here. At all turns, try to continue to push the patient
in the direction of anger. That is your prime directive. Each of your patients
comforters will say things, and this is the delightful part, that they think really will
help. This makes it even easier for you to place in the patients mind the thought
that their visitor is an insensitive, callous, and uncaring lout. It is an amusing little
game, is it not? But take care that you do not become drunk on their emotions as some
have, and let down your guard. The taste of their hatred will be sweetly intoxicating to
you, but do not drink too deeply of it just yet. The Enemy will be at work as well, so you
must be on alert at all times. Handle them carefully. Build their store of hatred and
anger slowly and gradually until you have gorged them completely full of it, and when you
dispatch them to us with your final, triumphant stroke, you will be able to savor the
glorious fruits of your labor for many ages to come. It makes a most excellent vintage,
full-bodied and with a distinct flavor of gall.
Each of these phrases has been developed by some of our best people. You must know how to
use each of these lines as an arrow to strike at the heart with full force if you are to
use them to your best advantage. Following is a list of the basic ones you should commit
to memory, and the standard follow-up action which you should then initiate.
"It was Gods will." (Note, I use the Enemys formal name here by way
of identification only, so I am breaking none of the literary statutes with regard to its
use.) Though normally the mere mention of that ridiculously simplistic and banal word, not
to mention the name of You Know Who, brings to us an excruciating pain when spoken by one
who is actually speaking to the Enemy, in this context, it holds for us no more import
than when it is used in the rather amusing little curses which the humans have come up
with. "God damn" indeed! As if the spineless wretch would do anything of the
sort! By the way, did you know that they came up with that one themselves? We had no hand
in it. Creative little monsters, arent they?
Now, your response to this bit of advice is simple. This is your chance to do some real
damage, and you should press your advantage to the fullest. If what was once a true
friendship is sundered, all the better, for we know that once used, the carriers of our
messages of despair to the grieving are expended and are of no further use. So do not hold
back, you have been afforded a rare treat, make the most of it.
You must, immediately after this comment is made, bring all the anger of the
patients that you can muster to the fore. Usually they are too polite to explode
outright. (Oh, how I hate that word, "polite." The undercurrent of
"polite" behavior has been a stabilizing force in their society for many of
their generations, but we are making great progress with the young ones these days, most
specifically through our influencing the behavior of many of the more visible and
celebrated members of their society, though their self-absorbed and overworked parents who
are too busy to give proper oversight have been of great assistance to us as well. We have
hopes that in one or two more breeding cycles we may very well have them all in complete
chaos and anarchy.) Where was I, oh yes, usually they are too polite to make a scene
(delightful though they are to us). It is enough that they start to seethe and boil
inside. Their anger will be kindled against three things. They are as follows.
A.) Their anger is kindled at the one who made the comment. This being useful in repaying
your brother fiend who brought them to you. They will then be able to use it against their
patient who will have thought that they were only trying to help, and of course you know
how well we can manipulate and play a hurt feeling such as this for all its worth.
Through one resented hurt, we can gradually turn that person into an empty shell, knowing
no trust, no joy, and ultimately, no faith.
B.) Their anger will be kindled against themselves. We have made great strides in taking
the very natural (for them) attitude of taking responsibility for ones actions (This
of course was the Enemys invention. You can see on the face of it how completely
absurd it is!), and by pushing it beyond its natural limits have turned it to our purposes
as Guilt. And here, it is imperative that you remember the definition you learned under
Tinwipe in Normal Psychology in the Academy, not the Enemys version of Guilt [E],
which is solely based on Justice [E] and Truth [E]. ( I have noted here, as with many of
these volatile terms which are defined in more than one sphere, the [E] which is the
Philology Departments standard notation for distinguishing the Enemys
simplistic and simperingly altruistic definition from our own standard and fully
Once you have initiated Guilt, they will find it inescapable. Well, there is one way to
escape it, but we will not speak of that just yet. The ultimate triumph on your part will
be to make the patient feel guilty not only about the things they could have affected, but
also about the things that they could never have even begun to influence. (We have found
that men are particularly susceptible to this very neat trap.) This is the real key, for
this brings your patient to despair.
Once in despair, your patient will come to feel that they do not deserve any good thing,
that they do not deserve even to get better, and that their loneliness has sentenced them
to a life of misery from which there is no escape. From there, it is merely a short hop to
full-blown depression, and if you can manage it, destruction of the patients body.
And this is worth mentioning. If you can get your patient to violently destroy that roving
conglomeration of water and chemicals which harbors their soul (how proud I am of our
freedom of movement when I look at one of those hideous forms), and which the Enemy so
delights in nurturing and bringing pleasure [E], you will bring about a cascade of
self-perpetuating tragedies, affecting many lives, and falling as dominoes, one after
another. You will have quite trumped us all. A sub-under-assistantship may quite be in
your future for such a coup.
C.) The patients anger will be kindled against the Enemy Himself. The patient will
begin to hate the Enemy with a passion which will become so tangible that both you and
they will be able to taste it. This is because of a remarkable little concept which we
have been gradually introducing into their society through our Capitalism Task Force. It
has been around for years however, fostered by a whole profession, many of which I
personally had under my wing, and whose spirits I now have aging exquisitely on my rack,
reserved for very special celebrations. This concept is called Quid pro quo, and as
I know that we are no longer teaching that discontinued human language in the academy, for
it of course has no practical use to us anymore and has been discarded by nearly all
except for a very few fiends in one of our Rome offices, I will translate for you. Quid
pro quo -- Something for Something. This, my young protégé, is where we can corrupt
both the mind and the heart at once, so listen carefully.
First, you must put into the patients mind that for some reason the Enemy is angry
with them. That they are being punished for something of which they are unaware. The
unfairness of this will become immediately apparent to them. Add to that, the seeming
punishment of the child as an innocent victim (We know that they are not truly innocent,
and we know that death is not a punishment for anything, but the parents will not see
these minor details, trust me), and you have the beginnings of the rift between your
patient and the Enemy.
Even if the patient has had a measure of faith in the past, this one perception of
injustice can undo it all. They believed the stories of the Enemys love [E], why
would He now do such a hateful thing to them? They feel the Enemy made certain promises to
them, why has He now broken them? They prayed for protection daily for their child, why
are they now betrayed? Where was the Enemy for them? Why did the killer live? Why
couldnt they have died in their childs place? All these questions will arise
naturally. You must ensure them fertile ground. Deals will be made, you must encourage
them. Accusations will be leveled, you must feed them.
The patient must rage for as long as their body will sustain them, and then beyond. To
accomplish this, you must torment their minds. Give them no peace, for if their minds do
not rest, neither will their puny little bodies. You can see the Enemys inherent
design flaw here, use it for all its worth. If you can, get them to over-medicate
themselves with alcohol and pharmaceuticals. Keep their body running on anger for as long
as possible. You will see them gradually spiral further and further down into exhaustion.
Once there, you will have them at your complete mercy, for they will not care if they die,
and they will not be functional enough to live. They will be your puppet to torment at
your leisure for as long as you like until you finally dispatch them to us.
You want to numb them. The Enemy needs them alert to accomplish His purpose. That is
partly the natural function of the pain they feel. The secret to circumventing His plan,
however, is to let them dwell on their thoughts without engaging their consciousness. Keep
them from writing. Dont let them have substantive conversations. Make them sleep too
much and eat too little. Above all, dont let them read anything written my someone
who has experienced a grief such as theirs, especially that horrid little book by
Snozgrobbins former patient. Instead, put something incomprehensible into their
hands. Something by a disinterested psychologist, doctor, or social worker perhaps. Even
the Enemys own treatise will serve, as long as it is an enormous volume with lots of
maps and color pictures written in their medieval tongue. You know the one I mean. The
more they dwell on how they feel and the more they feel that no one else really
understands what they are going through, the more you can get them to doubt their sanity.
Your patient will feel betrayed by the One they thought they could trust the most. They
thought the promise of joy meant the promise of happiness. They thought the promise of
protection extended primarily to their physical well-being, not to their spiritual as
well. They heard the promises of provision for the body and missed the promises of
challenging the soul. They heard the promise for comfort, and overlooked the part about
why comfort would be so sorely needed in their lives. And they thought that they would get
"something for something," that there was in fact a bargain involved, not
realizing that the Enemy has no need or use for bargains (and we certainly have had some
bad experiences on that front, let me tell you). They find what they perceive as the
paycheck for all their hard work staying busy about the Enemys activities and
dedicating themselves to His service a cheat. As long as you can keep them focused on the
unfairness of it all, the Enemy will gain no ground and establish no beachhead.
Indeed, the Enemy often helps us along in this regard, for in an attempt to let the humans
reach their own conclusion about their need for Him, the Enemy will often retreat like the
utter coward He really is. You must look for this. The Enemy always shuts down the lines
of communication with his pets and so creates a further confusion in their already
befuddled little minds. Little do they realize that this condition lasts only briefly, and
is designed to bring them back to a relationship with the Enemy stronger than any they
have ever known. This is why you must strike now. In the time when the patient feels
furthest from the Enemys face. When the door is locked and no amount of knocking
seems to bring even a whisper of an answer. Now is the time for you to set your hook. Give
them no rest for their bodies, give them no challenge for their minds.
He really does take an enormous chance here, you know. In allowing a grieving human to
examine their own hearts and beliefs beyond their formal dogma in a completely objective
way, seeing what life (albeit for a short time) without the Enemys presence is like
(of course, we experience it continually and are no worse off), He risks alienating them
for good. Sometimes He wins. Sometimes we do. Such is the battle for souls.
I often wonder that the Enemy takes as many risks as He does. Leaving His entire
reputation to chance like that. Depending on the pitifully unpredictable creatures to see
His quiet during the storm. Well, it is our job to see to it that the storm ever rages, so
have at them my young fiend!
Having now covered the most important and most frequent comment we will send your way, let
me finish by quickly summarizing some of the others.
"Your child is in a better place." This is a good one, especially for mothers.
For what better place can a parent imagine than for their child to be with them? Much
bitterness can be raised by these words, primarily because the patient doesnt fully
realize their role as caretaker of the Enemys creation. Thus, you begin a battle
over a sense of property and ownership, "It was my child;" rather than of an
entrusted gift, "They were given to me to care for, and I did all that I was
asked." I see from reviewing your patients records that you have already given
your patient the standard full work-up in the area of greed and have achieved some
potentially promising results. Play on that groundwork, it will serve you well here.
"You can have other children." Also a good one for mothers, especially the young
ones, though it works equally well with fathers. With humans, there is a sense that having
something now is better than the hope of having something in the future. Thus, while this
simple statement of fact is intended to be hopeful, the comment comes off as grossly
insensitive because it is incomplete. Taken as it stands, it assumes that the grief can be
alleviated, forgotten even, by replacement. As if the tears over a broken doll can be
turned to smiles by replacing it with another. Again, get the patient to focus on the
past, rather than the future. Do not let them realize that it is not a question of
replacement at all, nor is it a question of forgetting. Nothing will ever replace their
dead child, and they never will forget them, though if you let them slip through your
fingers to the Enemy, their pain will become bearable, their open wounds will begin to
heal over, and they will adjust to a new standard of what is normal for them. This is
their true hope and you cannot let them think on it for a moment. Keep them focused on the
loss which lives in the past, rather than the promise of healing which lives in the
"I know just how you feel." A fine all-purpose classic which has served us well
for many years. Of course the visitor has no idea how the patient feels, they are just
trying to be "sensitive and caring." The patient will see right through the
attempt, I assure you. If any of these comments can generate an outburst of rage, this one
will do it. Use those ripples well, you may affect several lives at once with some
One very important point. It has come to our attention that on occasion, the Enemy will
catch us off-guard with this one. Vet your visitors well. Check their credentials
thoroughly. More than one tempter has lost all because he allowed himself to become
distracted elsewhere after hearing the initial comment, and returned later only to find
the patient had been engaging in meaningful conversation for some time. The visitor turned
out to be none of ours, but one whom the patient immediately recognized as actually having
shared their pain through a similar loss. The Enemy really is a sneaky one, and you must
be on your guard constantly for these white sheep. Just one of these will undo all.
"They needed another angel in heaven." This one holds much promise of late,
primarily because of the ignorance we discussed before regarding their spiritual natures.
It is common knowledge among us that dead humans simply do not become angels. Angels, like
us, are fully spiritual beings, and, if the rumors about their land are true, will be
subordinate even to the littlest of children (the very idea!). But, thanks to our recent
diversionary propaganda blitz on the human society, they are actually beginning to regard
our counterparts as more important than the Enemy Himself. Some humans have even begun to
offer up prayers and worship to them. I must remember to compliment old Trussthistle
sometime on his cleverness as the head of that project. Anyway, if you can manage it, get
the patient to believe this one wholesale. Several things will come of it to your
First, the temporal child will be replaced by a spiritual child in their minds and memory.
This non-corporeal icon will then become more than perfect in their memory. All flaws,
failures, imperfections, and in time, all resemblance to the actual child will disappear.
As a result, siblings or later children will have little chance of living up to the
expected standard the parents will now have set for a child living in their household. The
toll this will take on the future generation is obvious.
Second, the parent will now begin to conceive of the child as being ever-present, perhaps
even a protector of sorts. They will become completely distracted by the dead childs
presence, hopefully even to the exclusion of their mate and the others in the household.
You must look for the point at which they begin to talk to the child. Now, this is not in
itself helpful to us. In fact, there is some evidence that shows that this is actually a
sign of healing and progress, so as always, you must push it beyond the healthy expression
into an unhealthy obsession. Ultimately, if you are successful in this purpose, the
patient will spend more time talking to the child than to the Enemy, and the scales will
tip in our favor, bringing about exactly the opposite effect He desires. Some children
have even been deified in their parents minds in this way, and thus the trap of
idolatry can be sprung as well.
Third, the parent will forever consider the desires of the dead child in every decision
they make. This is an exquisite trap, and if old Snozgrobbins patient had not seen
through it himself, we may well be reveling in his obscurity by now. The point is, the
patient will never be able to judge just what their loved one would have wanted, and so
they project their own desires onto the dead. Of course, the dead child is now so
perfected in their guilt-ridden minds that anything that smacks of their own benefit is
suspect. As a result, they run around in circles, considering this non-present
partys wishes in everything they do, and denying themselves anything which would
bring even the slightest benefit or peace. Through this delicious diversion we can prevent
them from making any decision of any value whatever for a long time to come.
And Fourth, the patient will forever see their child as existing tantalizingly just beyond
their reach. Let the patient believe their child is an immortal, but do not let them
comprehend just where their child actually dwells. That too can be your undoing. The
thought of their child abiding forever in a land which is more real than their own, with
deeper joy than they can ever imagine must never enter their heads (it sets my teeth on
edge just thinking about it). No, you want your patient to keep their loved one next to
them at all times. Keep them on the earth, in their minds, it doesnt matter where,
as long as they dont see their child frolicking with unbounded joy in the
Soon your patient will begin to get desperate. If you have sufficiently undermined their
trust, they will resort to anything except approaching the Enemy to get a glimpse of their
child again. They will turn to their dreams. Initially the child appearing in a dream is
all very natural as their unconscious mind tries to deal with the absence, but again, you
must push them beyond the natural into trying to conjure dreams themselves in order to
experience their childs presence. The obsession for contact will lead them to look
to psychics for comfort instead of the Enemy. When fully realized under your tutelage, the
spiritualists will take over your patients life. Comfort will come from them, all
spiritual contact will be with them, the patients faith in the unseen world will
atrophy in the face of the tangible, and they will never again think to talk to the Enemy
when they can talk to a human who can tell them what they so desperately want to hear.
This ultimately results in our greatest goal, separation of the patient from the
Enemys voice and face for such a length of time that they completely forget what He
looks and sounds like.
The more your patient refuses to give their child over to the Enemys hand by keeping
them beside them, in a shrine, or in the ground, the better your position. Their resolve
will be strengthened against Him, and their intransigence will drive them further into
defiance. They must be prompted to hold on as tightly as possible to their own concept of
their child. For if they ever come to the point where they release them to the Enemy,
where they realize that the only true conduit to their loss is through Him, He in turn
will give back to them a conception of the child which will be disastrous to us in its
assuring fullness and satisfying reality. He will give them a promise of future eternal
reunion which will make their immediate yearning to join the dead vanish without a trace.
It is another one of those horrid ironies of the Enemys, that the humans can only
hold on to something when they let go of it; they can only possess their hearts
desire by giving it up to Him. You must convince them that the shadow they clutch so
tightly now is to be preferred over the fully realized and joy-filled eternal
companionship that the Enemy offers them for the future.
These then, are the standard-issue platitudes which we will do our best to send your way.
Doubtless, other comments will make their way to your patient as well. Some will be of our
making, some of the most insidious and hurtful comments of all will come from their own
ignorance. Be quick. Think on your feet. Make the most of these opportunities while you
One warning which must be heeded, lest you find all your efforts lost. Remember I noted
earlier that there was one way out for your patient? It is simply this. It is imperative
that under no circumstances should you allow your patient to succumb to the Enemys
directive to engage in Forgiveness. If they begin to embark down this path, you will find
me most displeased, and most heartily relishing in the anticipation of your complete
failure. You may indeed find your way into my rack of spirits yourself, there to join my
finest magisterial vintages.
If your patient, through your incompetence, begins to physically recoup their energies; if
you do not keep unsuitable reading matter out of their hands; if you allow them to
cogitate and compose coherent thoughts; if you allow the wrong sort of people access to
them, the kind of people who listen more than they talk and who quietly sympathize more
than they advise, then the inevitable course will be that their faith will be rekindled
with a deeper fire and they will rise up to blind you as they don their shining new plated
armor, ultimately disappearing from your sight in a suffocating cloud of the Enemys
protection as they approach that maturity of spirit of which we spoke before. Their
prayers will become continuous, for now they will see the world as it truly is, and they
will begin to perceive the things which require continuous prayer. They will see their
connection to the Enemy which goes back through His own grief (much of it I am happy to
say caused through our efforts), and connecting them even to First Man and First Woman and
their grief at their own childs loss (Oh, what glorious days those were!). If you
allow this, ultimately your patient will come to an irredeemable and life-changing
decision. They must forgive. They must forgive the people at fault, themselves, and
finally, the Enemy Himself.
If they reach a point where they forgive all three, you are lost, and I will most heartily
welcome you into my collection. You will be relieved of your assignment and a more
experienced devil will be appointed. Few things will be able to touch your patient now,
and only our Experimental Division even dares to take on such an assignment. Even then,
they will be making it up as they go along -- trying various things and looking for any
access to the patient that they can manage. It will be all clinical work Im afraid.
The data will be saved for later use, but no satisfaction for our ravenous hunger will
ever be realized from this particular soul. The best we can hope for, or perhaps attempt
to arrange, is as early a death as possible in order to prevent them from corrupting any
more of our food supply. This will be difficult as well, for these humans are hard for us
to track. The Enemys protective armor makes them remarkably stealthy to us, and
often their corruption and demolition of projects we thought long ago wrapped up is
discovered far too late for us to recover appreciably from the damage. I fear failure on
your part will bring a severe drain on our resources down here if you lose this one.
There is hope however. If you can get your patient to withhold forgiveness from any one of
these, you may still retain some control over the situation, thereby keeping your station,
and your head. If you can keep them from forgiving the person who caused the death, you
still have resentment to trade on. If they do not forgive themselves, you still have
guilt. If they do not forgive the Enemy, you still have a spiritual barrier to your
advantage. It is only when they forgive all three that you have an utter catastrophe. Hold
onto that. Keep some resentment in reserve, and you will not go far wrong.
In my next missive, after I hear back how you are getting on, I shall discuss how you may
go about sundering that most contemptible of relationships between your patient and their
mate by convincing each of them that they must be strong for the other one, rather than
realizing their value to each other in their honest weakness. It is a common ploy and
results in such exhaustion from maintaining this untenable facade that they begin to feel
themselves a failure and inadequate to the task of supporting the other one in their
grief. Thus, the relationship begins to crumble. It has met with great success in the
hands of many a tempter, and indications are that it has promise for your case as well.
We are all pulling for you down here, expecting a rousing success which will bring a rich
feast to our ravening bellies. If you fail, of course, the standard punishment will
prevail, and I dont think that any sort of appeal will do in a case such as this
where so much is at stake. I believe you have seen, have you not, the images dancing in
the fires on the walls of the Academy which serve as a gentle reminder to all the students
there that they must always put forth their best efforts, lest they lose their patient to
the Enemy. The assuredly excruciating way with which we dispatch an incompetent devil in
preparation for his appearing as the course of honor in our feast is always very patiently
and deliberately executed by the assembly and attended to by our finest chefs. An
interesting and amusing little game of dismemberment which results in some rather tasty
morsels, if I do say so. Good hunting my delicate, tender, young, little protégé. I
trust you will not return to me empty-handed.
Anticipating only success,
Chief Under Subvisor,
copyright 1998 by Bill Jenkins
A short story written for the MereLewis Listserv discussion group
just before Easter 1998:
One does not usually write what one cannot imagine will ever be
believed. Noting the recent discussions
however, I will risk recounting the following with the hope that it may be of interest.
It was as normal a day as could be.
I was working in the back yard, doing a bit of spring gardening and tending
to the new daffodils, when the sky darkened. It
appeared, as I was looking down, that heavy clouds were moving in, fast. But when I looked up, there were no clouds in the
noonday sky. In fact, it wasn't noon at all,
but long about dusk. Looking back down again,
I saw that this wasn't my garden. An English
garden? An unfamiliar hedgerow? Something very odd was happening, but despite the
evening chill, I was not cold. And despite
the strange surroundings, I was not afraid. Indeed,
it was the most peaceful moment of my life, if life this was.
I stood for what seemed a very long time. In the dim light, I was able to make out a small
brick cottage, distinctly English, I could tell from the chimneys right away. A few lights glowed in the windows. I looked around.
Shrubbery, a line of silver birches. I
knew this place from pictures, could it be the Kilns?
But Doug had written that the birches were long gone, and I saw no signs of
modern development or renovation. Could this
be the same place?
I began to suspect the truth of my situation, when I heard the rear
door open. Resounding male voices bid those inside a good evening, and around the side of
the cottage, two men emerged, walking sticks in hand.
Before setting upon their path, the larger of the two stopped to refresh the
fire in his pipe, and by the matchlight I could see clearly, it was Jack. The other -- moustache, military bearing, must be
Warnie. And I must be...oh my.
As they approached, I gradually became aware that I could recall
everything I had ever read of Jack's. In
fact, all the books that had ever revealed to me truth were coming clear in my memory. Story books, whole chapters of the Bible, even
second grade textbooks. Long forgotten
lessons were drawing themselves on my consciousness like the magician's map. And Jack's words, all there. What a predicament!
To finally be face to face with the one for whom I had so many questions,
and now with nothing to ask.
I approached. "Sirs,"
I began. With a gaze in my direction, and a
hearty laugh (just as I had imagined it), Jack interrupted.
"Look brother, we have another Inkling joining us tonight. I wonder if Tollers or the others will be adding
some to our numbers as well? Come along my
boy," he said as my mouth hung open. "Don't
want to keep the group waiting."
"Sir," I began again, and again was cut off.
"Now, now. We'll
have none of that here. I'm Jack, this is
Warnie. First name basis only. That's the way things are now. Did you have a good journey? Some arrive a bit confused, I'm afraid."
"Thank you, yes." I
began feeling more and more like a foolish schoolboy as we set off. Breathlessly, I followed as best as I could. A bright step, walking canes swinging merrily,
Jack and Warnie made good progress down the lane. Jack
moved the conversation along, perhaps to put me at my ease.
Warnie interjected his own comments at various points of interest along the
way. I answered their questions as best I
could, still trying to take it all in. "He
was right," I thought. "Everything
good is here, nothing is lost. The
quintessential golden age, preserved, suspended perhaps, enduring forever at its pinnacle
of development, before corruption takes men's hearts and minds astray, leaving ruin in its
Suddenly needing to initiate a topic, I found myself blurting out,
"We have a discussion group of our own back, well, back I suppose on earth. We talk to each other about you over the computer
network. It's all connected through the
telephone lines, you see."
Immediately, I realized how positively idiotic that sounded.
We stopped. "Indeed? And just what is it about me that you find so
intriguing?" I couldn't tell if he was
serious or humored. I sensed that the Don
was now before me in all his fullness, and for all my own years of teaching, I felt as
green as a freshman on the first day of class.
Carefully, I ventured forth. "Well,
we try to stay informed, mostly. We discuss
your works, their impact on our lives, that sort of thing.
We like to think of it as sort of an unofficial Inklings group. For me, it has been a complete joy, and a welcome
"Much as the real Inklings, I expect. To be informed is good. To encourage one another is even better. I approve, though the medium does seem to be a bit
hasty. Any gossip?" He asked as the professor's facade began to fade
to a smile.
"No sir, ah, Jack. None
at all. Well, I don't think so. Does speculation count?" I dearly wished I could change the subject.
With a hearty laugh he said, "The trouble with gossip is that it
invites an insatiable desire for novelty. And
you know what Screwtape said about novelty, don't you?"
"I think I begin to see what you mean." I did remember, of course. "I suppose that all speculation is not
gossip, but all gossip is speculation, isn't it? Speculation
in itself is not wrong, but we must guard against putting a stumbling block in another's
path. Is that it?" I asked, hoping for the professor's approval.
"Exactly," he replied.
"And above all, helping people to become more focused in their prayers,
not providing them with distractions or excuses, as it were. And do not neglect Charity. It will help you determine the right course of
action with regard to many such questions.
"What else do you talk about?" he asked as we resumed our walk, apparently
confident that I had learned the lesson at hand.
"Well, there has been some discussion lately of making you a
saint," I said with a smile.
He turned and raised an eyebrow.
I hoped in the dim light, he would realize the humor behind my
pronouncement. I heard Warnie chuckling off
to the side.
"Oh, I don't suppose there's anything to that," he said. "I seriously doubt they could ever come to a
consensus, don't you?" Then, suddenly
serious, "But surely you realize, the day will come when the whole of the concept of
sainthood will be moot."
I thought for a moment. "Yes,
Jack. I think I am beginning to realize that
"We're almost there. I
think you will be quite delighted with our little group.
It has grown mightily of late, and we meet much more often," he said,
winking at Warnie. "Oh, by the
way," again he stopped and turned, this time with a twinkle in his eye. "Every so often, we get a special
He leaned toward me. Warnie
was smiling. The tobacco smell was strong
now. I began to feel lightheaded, even dizzy. "I was right, you know. About the Lion."
Suddenly, I felt an irresistible pull.
It was compressing me, drawing me back from whence I came. I felt I was being forced into a suit now many
times too small.
"Jack, what's happening?"
I cried as the light began to change to blinding fluorescents.
"Don't worry, my boy. You'll
be back at the end of the term. I think you
will find that the holidays here really are quite wonderful."
As the whirr of machines, the beep-beep of heart monitors, and the
awareness of the ER flooded in on me, I caught one last glimpse of them as they stood
under the square sign of the pub. Warnie was
saying, "Medical science certainly has come a long way, hasn't it?" To which Jack thoughtfully replied with an
enigmatic smile in my direction, "Yes, I suppose it has. I suppose it has, indeed. Well then, shall we go in?"
Voices were shouting at each other.
The light from a flashlight invaded my sight.
"He's back! We've got him! Sir, that was close. We thought we had lost you there for a
I opened my eyes. The
ache in my heart, I suspected, resulting from much more than its recent rough treatment at
the hands of the doctors.
"No," I said weakly, "I wasn't lost." But I don't think anyone was listening.
copyright 1998 by Bill Jenkins