by Mark Antokolsky, 1880
The rock is cold, but it will either warm or he will become accustomed to it. He had to rise early to watch. He meant to bring his little cloth to sit between himself and the rock, but he forgot. Everything is dark in the morning, so he didn’t even remember the existence of the cloth, let alone remember to bring it along, until his butt rested on the cold stone. Besides, a devil on a rock since dawn is way more menacing than a devil who brings a cloth along so his butt doesn’t get cold.
The wind is strong on this morning – and so it should be, he silently declared, in his best dramatic tone. He would have to be dramatic today, if he’s going to seal this deal.
But now he’s just cold. He folds his legs so his knees touch his chin.
“I hate incarnation,” he mutters. Of course, the demon’s self-importance confused his choice of noun. He is not an incarnation exactly. He can inhabit physical bodies, sort of shoving the consciousness that belongs to that body out of the way so he can move in for a time. And he can manifest, which is a type of incarnating. This is the mode of appearing that the Enemy favors. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t done it, which you haven’t. The motion involved is like swirling. The consciousness, or presence, remains still. “How does a non-corporeal consciousness stand still,” you wonder discerningly. It concentrates, that’s how. Without a physical form, it can be anywhere, right? Well it can also be anywhen, which is a strange, yet surprisingly accurate, thing to say. So the spiritual (non-corporeal, noumenal, say it how you like) consciousness thinks on a moment, which is a thing in time and in space. It thinks on that moment and the dust swirls around, eventually settling into a shape.
Manifesting is hard work. To simulate the focus necessary to achieve manifestation, try to concentrate on a moment. Pick a moment and think about it. Do not let any other moments invade that space.
Anyone that’s done it first tries to think on the moment at hand. “I want to interact with that human at such-and-such moment,” they say, “So I must think on this minute.” Well that never works because it’s been announced. And once a visitation has been announced, the Enemy (of either side really) will disrupt any attempt. They may not be able to manifest in that moment either, but they will confuse things. They’ll change the weather, or attempt to communicate with the human’s spiritual existence, as opposed to the more direct physical existence. Sometimes a mere gust of wind can disrupt a moment and ruin the spiritual being’s manifestation.
Many foolish demons cannot manage it. Humbling oneself is at the center of every manifestation. Denying one’s ability to see all spaces at once, including all moments, is a condescension many are simply unwilling to make.
One demon that’s quite famous for manifesting is Mephistopheles. He was doing it before Man even walked the earth. In those days between the Descent and the Terrible Warning, Mephistopheles was trained to concentrate on moments by the Dragon himself. Moments were easy back then because the days were uncomplicated. Humans were days away, and beasts still hadn’t been made.
By the time of Faust, he was pretty good at it. Maybe even the best. He bragged about being the best next to the Dragon, but he was probably better at manifesting than even he. Of course, the Dragon was more powerful in other ways so he dare not express this most minimal advantage.
This point should be clarified. Though spiritual beings can see all of time, they cannot easily travel through it. It can be done. It’s just easier to not do it. Besides, journeys through time don’t last very long, if you can say that. The traveler snaps back the second he stops paying attention. It’s sort of like reading a book. If you are fully engaged in the book, it’s as if you’re in another place and time. If a loud noise disrupts your reading, or if you doze off for a second, the facade is shattered and the reality of your pathetic situation is brought jarringly back to your attention. No physical being can maintain an engagement with a book indefinitely, likewise can no spiritual being maintain an engagement with a time other than his own indefinitely.
Mephistopheles tinkered with time travel during the first Age of Light. But he abandoned it after discovering he wouldn’t survive the coming Second Age of Light no matter when he hid. So he never thought of it again. Contented to torment those in the present, he mastered the art of manifesting.
This was still a generally unpleasant activity, especially given the coldness of this morning. But unpleasantness is not measured in the same terms for demons as it is for humans. It’s not a simple “everything they like is opposite to what we like” equation. But there is a type of delight they take in discomfort that isn’t entirely dissimilar to asceticism. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Both are founded in that basic pride of self which sets humans and demons apart from their mutual Creator.
The wind has picked up, probably an attempt to disrupt his manifestation by an agent of the Enemy, and merely chilled Mephistopheles’ recently organized skin. “The fool,” he thought. “He blows the wind after I’ve materialized. The illustrious Dr. Faust is surely in my hands if this is the best defense the Enemy can manage. Why, I imagine I could even use this wind to my advantage.”
The wind blew harder as the agent of the Lord of Heaven discerned a change in Mephistopheles. He assumed to read worry on that demon’s new and temporary face. It’s a subtle trick that the demon risked. He wagered whoever was doing the blowing had never encountered him before, so he could rely on his old methods. And it worked. The wind blew harder and pieces of Faust’s roof were blown off. Blindly comforting the doctor, the enemy of Mephistopheles encouraged thankfulness for the rest of the house that had stayed intact, which was most of it. This usually works just fine. Take something away and the human becomes thankful for all that he’s got left.
Faust was beyond thankfulness and its dark twin, worry. Mephistopheles knew it. So at the first second he felt that wind, he fidgeted, feigning worry over the success of this mission if so great a weapon as wind was being used by the Enemy! And so the wind increased. But to the wind-maker’s (not the Lord, but the Lord’s agent) shock, Dr. Faust merely groaned.
He was not thankful. He was not scared. He was not lamenting the cost of fixing the roof.
He was bored.
Mephistopheles added his howl to the wind’s, just enough to bring the devils to the doctor’s mind.
“The hard part is over. Time to have fun,” said the devil on the cold rock.