Title: "Matthew & Mephistopheles"
Author: Mistress Sarah
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. They belong to JMS and a horde of other people. And I'd like to say, that I would have treated THEM ALL BETTER than that shadow spawn TNA network.
Summary: Matthew bonds with the Apocalypse Box
Notes: This is for the American Gothic Chicks :D
"Matthew & Mephistopheles"
by Mistress Sarah
I hated it.
And it knew it.
To the average person, it was nothing more than a gaudy box that some tourist might have picked up on some back water world, but for me, it was a soul trap, though a very tacky looking one. And the soul it had trapped was my own.
For the average person, I would be certifiably insane. A wooden box is not a sentient being, no matter how UGLY the box. But then again, the average person has never met the Apocalypse Box.
It's simple really, the way it gets from place to place. It attaches itself to someone, like a parasite, and then when the person is no longer useful, it drops off, waiting for its next victim. And the victim? Dead, sucked dry by the parasite. But usually DEAD in some sort of extraordinary WAY. I have no doubt that I'm going to be dead, sooner or later, when my usefulness ends... to that damn box.. but.. it's going to be spectacular, the way I die.
Men have hoped for less.
And men have deserved far, far less.
I look back and bitterly regret the card game. I shouldn't have accepted the box as collateral. There was something eerie about that man, the way he looked at me. As a gambler, I can read just about anyone. And.. He.. knew that.. he's lose the card game.. but.. somehow.. he'd THOUGHT he end up winning the big stakes.
I won the box, and he got his life back. He was FREE for all of ten seconds, before he stepped in front of the skimmer that killed him. They called it an accident. I KNEW it was a suicide. But he had died, with a smile on his face, as though.. HE HAD WON. But I doubted he had. I truly did, and that's what gave me nightmares at night.
I shouldn't have opened the damn thing. Can you hear it? It's laughing at me, mocking me. For some reason, I'm reminded of Faust and his bargain with the devil. Faust, being arrogant, had summoned the devil and wanted KNOWLEDGE. And the devil promised that he would
1. to serve Dr. Faust for as long as he should live,
2. to provide Dr. Faust with whatever information he might request, and
3. never to utter an untruth to Dr. Faust.
The price? After twenty four years, Faust's body and soul would be the devil's.
I had knowledge from a devil older than humanity, and.. my life and my soul was his. I didn't really believe in god, heaven and the devil, but I knew that the universe was far stranger than I could ever imagine. And the worse part is, that damn thing wouldn't abide by the third promise. It gave me information, but oftentimes with a twist.. or sometimes.. withholding information from me. Ok. it LIED, just enough for me to never trust it.
That was the box, and.. it was using my voice. I had noticed that as the years went on, it sounded more and more like me. Was that the parts of my soul that was trapped in the box? And when the box sounded EXACTLY like me, would my soul then be completely trapped? To "live" unending trapped in a wooden box until the next person picked it up, and made the mistake I had done. [Oh god, I hope it's not Matheson. Don't choose him.] I feared that, and that's what my nightmares usually focused on. John Matheson, finding out I was dead in my quarters due to some fluke, would turn, and see IT. And he would be drawn to it, while I screamed at him to drop it into the closest supernova. But he would open it, and his soul would be trapped, forever, in the never ending night.
Sometimes I wondered about it. I thought that Eilerson, the mouth that roared, might know something about it. I had daydreamed about showing it to him. He'd would have understood, what the quest for knowledge can do to someone, how it can twist and turn and destroy one's soul. I looked at Eilerson, and I saw a man, exactly like myself. Which is probably why I didn't like him and why I didn't trust him. Like Faust, we were both arrogant, looking for knowledge for immoral reasons. I wanted to avenge my dead crewmates from the ill-fated Cerrebus, and he wanted fame and profit. I didn't trust him, especially after that garden of Eden speech he had given me. He believed that humankind would have been better off just eating of the tree of knowledge, leaving any type of morality out of it.
I had done so. And look what it had done to me. And.. look what had almost happened to him. Better keep your morality firmly intact when dealing with knowledge. Too much knowledge without morality can kill you just as easily as morality without knowledge can kill you.
I had daydreamed one day, about showing Eilerson the box. He would have first given me a speech about the meaning of the word Apocalypse. It was Greek - meaning revelations of the end of time and the last judgment. Apocalyptic literature deals with such subjects as heaven, the future of this world, the activities of angels and the soul's future existence. I knew where my soul was going to end up, in the clutches of that damn wooden box. It also was any of several early Jewish or Christian writings on divine revelation that symbolically depict the ultimate conflict between good and evil.
I would have told him to cut to the chase, to tell me what he knew about it. You see, I already knew this as I had been searching for information on it, for years now. I wanted.. something that could get me out of this deal with the devil.
"I know.. there is no escape. Don't remind me. Allow me my delusions, o' wooden box."
There were six of them out there.. "attaching" themselves to others, and they were older than humankind. I wondered what would happen if the six boxes ever ended up in the same spot. What would happen? Would the universe come to a complete and total end?
[Don't worry... ]
"I know, I'll be there when it happens, my wooden friend."
No doubt, screaming all the ways down the years. What a pleasant thought to rest on. I still got nightmares thinking about it. I had nearly gotten Eilerson killed. Actually, my little wooden box had nearly gotten him AND Matheson killed. Don't deny it, my friend. You nearly killed them both, just to warn me against people knowing about you.. and your hold on my soul.
Silence? No comment from the wooden peanut gallery?
The day I had been most tempted to ask Eilerson what he knew about that THING was the day he nearly ended up being completely, permanently and irreversibly DEAD. It was a fluke. It never should have happened, and according to Galen, it Should NOT have happened. Apparently, my little box, you play with the laws of physics..Hmmm... much like a technomage?
"Oh ho! I forget.. you don't like Galen and his kind, now do you?"
I had scored on the damn thing, and it knew... FEAR. But like a trapped animal, it would attack when it felt that type of fear. Wildly, without reason.
But I had nearly gotten MATHESON killed alongside with Eilerson when that trapped animal had attacked. It hadn't injured me, no.. it was just warning me what type of power it held, over my soul, over my people.. over Earth's search for a cure.
Eilerson had been working on some dig.. in some long dead city, when the supposedly safe wall had collapsed. Matheson had tried to protect him, and both of them had ended up.. buried. Matheson had mind touched me carefully when his communicator wouldn't work. [I'm alive! But I can't move.. But Eilerson's unconscious and .. he doesn't look very good.] I knew then that the Box was warning me. IT would kill Eilerson and Matheson to protect itself. And by killing them, Earth was probably as good as dead.
We had spent most of the day digging them out, wondering if the rest of the wall would fall on us. I was there, watching, waiting, growing angrier and angrier at that gaudy box. The taste of fear was growing inside of me. I could had gotten them killed!
[EILERSON?!?!? MATHESON!!! DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU! I SHOULD CHOP YOU FOR KINDLING!]
It had laughed. [As though you could.] And the voice had sounded so strongly like my own, that I had wanted to vomit in the dirt of that long dead city. Then I had promised to that damn thing. No one would ever know about it, I would never willing reveal it to anyone. Just get Eilerson and Matheson ... MY PEOPLE from where its petty spite had put them.
And.. they had been saved. Eilerson had been damn lucky, Galen had told me, with a hint of.. question in his voice. The largest rock that could have landed on the two of them, killing them both, and but instead, had narrowly missed his face, merely breaking his glasses. "It was though, someone or something, had guided it there. Unnatural!" he had said.
"Like a technomage knows about natural things!" I had told him bitterly. Galen had gotten so upset with that comment that he had disappeared for two months... right after making sure both of them were safe. They would be, thank the maker. Or should I thank that gaudy box?
"You like it when Galen isn't here, don't you?" I mockingly asked him.
"So.. where to search now?" I was hoping for something from a ranger or a scout or anyone. We had reached a dead end in our search and time was running out.
So I turned to my devil, and asked him "Mephistopheles.. Where do we search now?"
After all, I had about fourteen years left. Might as well find the cure to the plague during what time I had left. Perhaps having saved humanity, eternity screaming in that ugly wooden box, wouldn't seem so bad.
That's all that kept my hope alive...
And it's all that kept me sane.