We should make a point of clarification before we begin. This is “Conversations with A Devil”, not "the". Though, I’m flattered that you would mistake me for HIM. Or is it yourself that you think too highly of? Trust me, the Man Downstairs has much more important things to do than talk to you.
And you don’t?
Well, zing! That was quite the witty riposte. Bravo. That’s the sort of thing I would say, so I would watch that mouth, if I were you. Then again, when have you ever watched it, really? All the millennia of human history and that one lesson you’ve never learned. Oh, how many troubles you could save yourselves, if you would only shut up.
Sometimes, to say nothing is the wrong thing.
True. But it’s a pale excuse to never stop talking for fear you might miss the opportunity to say the right thing at the right moment. Contemplate silence, then maybe you’ll understand.
Oh, but look at us. Two minutes in and we’ve already traded insults, this does not bode well for our continued dialogue, and I would like it to continue. I would.
That does beg the question as to why you’re here?
Ooh, that’s a doozy. Not sure we have time to cover that. Why are any of us here?
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind a good existentialist debate, but we have so many other, more pressing matters to discuss.
Of course, I know what you meant. But you must learn to be specific if we are to get anywhere.
Why? “Why?”, is a question you don’t get to ask. Suffice it to say I have my reasons, as do we all. Of course, you will no doubt draw your own conclusions. I won’t stop you. Maybe we can even discuss them; that should be mildly entertaining.
So, where shall we start? “In the beginning…”?
What are you?
You know what I am. But for your “readers”, (assuming they exist, let’s not let that head get too big, my boy), I’ll explain.
I’m a demon. Unholy fiend of the underworld. Hell spawn. The fallen. Citizen of Pandemonium. Absolute evil. Et cetera. Et cetera. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Your “readers” will no doubt paint some ghastly picture of me: horns, tail, or maybe they’ll be creative and render something vaguely Halloween. You’ve always had such poor imaginations when it comes to real evil. Is it fear, I wonder? Like a child, afraid of what might actually be there, if you peeked under the bed.
How surprised they might be if they actually saw me.
Probably. So, who are you?
I just told you. Ah, but that was what, you want who. Well, that's where it gets difficult. See, you don’t want who. Not really. You say you do, but you don’t. What you want is a name. Just a name. Something to call me. That’s your problem. Well, one of them. You don’t really want to know things, to know people. To know who they are, really, as a person, as a being, their hopes, dreams, personality. Their naked soul. No, you want the simplest tag to hang on them. And so you give things names, to make it simpler. To dumb everything down to the barest codifier. To make it easy for you. That’s what you’re always doing. A whole universe of wonders beyond words and all you can think to do is label it.
I wonder sometimes if you realize everything already has a name. A perfect title that describes it so flawlessly that to add anything else would be mockery. Everything. Even angels. I had a name once. It was light and music and beauty.
But I fear I’ve wandered from your original question. Pardon me. You want a name. And in this I shall oblige you. But that presents something of a problem. As I said, I had a name once. You wouldn’t understand it, of course; it’s in a language not meant for human ears. I doubt you could even pronounce it. And in any case, it doesn’t exactly apply anymore. Hell changes you. We are not what we once were.
But don’t worry, I may have lost that name, but I found a new one. Several actually. I’ve built up quite the collection over the years. You see, though I may, at times, belittle human culture, there are a few aspects that fascinate me. Over the millennia, I’ve developed a taste for mythology. I must say you really are very creative when it comes to paganism. I played my part in shaping it, of course. I’ve had many incarnations. They called me a “trickster” god, which I’ve never felt really captures my essence. There’s so much more to me than mere mischief. But these things do tend to be very one-dimensional. Archetypal, you know. They did always like to make me more palatable, more manageable. More funny than frightening. But who could blame them? People tend to shun the truly horrifying. Oh, the stories they told. Anyway.
Let’s see. To the Greeks, I was Hermes; Mercury, to the Romans. The Norse called me Loki, god of fire; they may have been the nearest to the mark. To some I’m the Fox. To others, Coyote, Anansi, the list goes on. But there is one that stands out. I picked it up some centuries back. I rather like it.
I know what you’re thinking: me, a fairy? Still, I think it suits.
Yes. Puck. That is what you may call me.