OVERVIEW and INFLUENCES
A fantasy adventure, with horror and humour and hope.
Derek, after a rather significant decision, finds himself with the body of an imp and the worries of a new recruit in Hell. Imps are the slaves of the underworld, but some were also conditioned and trained in the delicate art of Soul Taking (or “transferring” as it was known – since it sounded less, well, wrong). Death was supposed to be only for the really bad and deserving of Hell, but someone was having other ideas…
With conscious attention to the worlds’ Myths and Religious beliefs, “Imps” follows a small group of rather confused and terrified new recruits, who find out gradually that they are quite probably the reason why the end of the world was finally able to happen. They meet the Devil, and Beelzebub and a scary Elite called Gemma.
Then, surprisingly, they find themselves on the front line as the final battle between Good and Evil: Armageddon.
The story could also be seen as a philosophical reflection on the concepts of Good and Evil and why an Omnipotent God would include the concept of Hell into the Universe’s design.
If you have an interest in any of the following, you may well enjoy this work.
Influences: The Old and New Testament, Koran, Tao Te Ching, Jeet kune Do, Ancient Egypt mythology, Neale Donald Walsh, Benjamin Hoff, Bertrand Russell, Garfield, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Douglas Adams, Sophie’s world, Dante, Sartre, Nietzsche, Camus, Kant etc, Dennis Wheatley, Marquis de Sade, Richard Dawkins, The Dice man, Calvin and Hobbs, Steven King etc, George Lucas, Stan Lee, Bill and Ted, Highway to Heaven, Walt Disney, RPG and computer games, ACzDC, Karl Orff, Barber etc, Terry Pratchett., Monty Python and Psychology, Theoretical Physics etc…
EXTRACTS from "IMPS"
Alien abductions…yeh, right. As if any aliens would care enough…
It must have been hours since he had first noticed the head, it must have been. Steven felt so tired. His eyes ached. The lifeless stare of the coal black eyes bore into his brain. He so wanted to sleep. He blinked again and automatically tried to cry out in alarm. The creature had moved again. It was now standing at the end of the bed. It had not moved. It didn’t have time to move. He had not seen the form shift or sway or even glide. It had just appeared afresh. Scant arms still by its side, lipless mouth unmoved. Its slanted, huge eyes still staring right into him.
The shock forced a nerve-sickening flood of adrenaline uselessly through his responseless body. Again Steven tried to move. His mind racing to comprehend why and how. But all the time the thought of sleep filled his throbbing head. The headache, the unnatural pressure behind his eyes, was the result of his body’s attempts to run and his mind’s insistence on sleep. But he must not sleep. Must not, must stay...
Steven’s mind screamed at him,
“your eyes are closed, your eyes are closed, you fell asleep!”
Eyes snapped open. How long? A second, an hour - the creature? Not at the end of the bed... It was right by him!
Ten minutes to take a soul, but it is vital that the world thinks it is all an accident. The best are given awards and shown as training videos…
The world fell into bits, broken, shattered. Flashes appeared in places, grew more rapid and numerous. A whirring sound, not heard before, entered into perception and started to lower in pitch. There was an eye stunning brightness. All was white, then darkness and a noise could be heard; a disembodied whap-whap-whap sound that slowly slowed.
“Lights” a voice commanded, and there was light; although it was not good.
Darkness at least had been kind enough to hide the hideous, gruesome, yukky apparition that had given the order.
The few hundred or so little red imps watching the training film blinked uncertainly around the lecture theatre-styled cavern as torches returned to glaze them in a flickering light.
“Now that,” the blob on the stage emphasized, “is how you do it. That is how you take a soul.”
So what souls become Imps? Well, most have to live just an ordinary, non committal, not bad but not really nice life. Certainly if a soul was too sensitive and empathetic it would definitely not be able to make it as a calculating killer…oh…Introducing Derek!
It was the middle of the day, in the middle of the summer and the rain splattered down. It had no care to be subtle. The drops were loud and big and hard against the glass of the small conservatory. The random rhythm hypnotically ticking a nature’s lullaby. The sullen background’s dull colour and unobtrusive glow; the gradual journeying of droplets, accumulating into nothingness. A stage set to unhelpfully help induce memories and stir feelings that had no right to still be alive.
Another tear followed the pattern of the drops on the cold glass. Starting slowly, pausing to wait for enough moisture to continue then cascading with unashamed pace to fall into an oblivious lap. A hunched figure merged into the mood of the weather. The rain’s music had become soothing. He was using its white noise to blot out any shapes of constructive thought. This was the domain of emotion. Weather to stare at without seeing, through unfocused windows and sharp focused rain ridden grass, or the other way around depending upon where the eyes were led.
Time could only swirl around such a bubble. It could continue its pulse but it would continue unheeded. In cases such as these, time would become like a spoilt child who is no longer the centre of attention, and in an act of moody revenge it doubles its speed without a care for how much such moments need to be timeless….
… Memories are perversely chameleonic. The same scene can provide the sweetest warmth, soothing and calming to a longing heart, or it can be venomously taunting, teasing and cruel. And the only difference, the determining factor, is simply whether or not the memories are just needed to bridge the gap until more moments can be created. Or whether they are the reminder that no more moments will ever be made again.
Imps were often created because a normal person died accidentally (actually accidentally) before they had lived long enough to realise they were really asses and could then do something about it…some died because they were careless (introducing Trevor, Lee and Kerry). Some were just unlucky, like Adrian (who ran into Trevor, Lee and Kerry’s upturned car).
And then the sharp white lights came into view. Only now that the headlights were pointing directly at the dead car did Jeff register the change in brightness and the noise of another midnight traveller. He moved his head around in alarm, hopes that the car had seen him and was pulling wide shot through the haze in his brain.
But they had ended up too close to the next turn for there to be any chance of that. The driver of the other car glided smoothly around the bend, saw the upturned obstruction and hardly had time to touch the brakes before slamming into the metal. Jeff was practically ripped in two as his car shot forward, his side guillotining upon the doorframe.
“Oh, f***ing, b******ing, sh***ing c***...,” was all
The cars did not even have the decency to explode. They just lay there as if embarrassed and unsure of what to do next.
New imps needed to be trained, specialised. Their old lives forgotten, their new hell understood. The blob given the task of motivating the latest recruits was called Thrax (although he was once called Terry).
“Are there any questions?” Thrax was quite surprised when, after a short you-have-got-to-be-joking pause, a skinny red hand was raised. “Well?” he snapped.
“I was just wondering,” the imp said in a steady, business like voice that seemed to prove that this individual just had not quite come to grips with exactly where he was. “Why do we have these new bodies? Why could we not look the same as we used to?”
Thrax sneered, or smiled - it was hard to tell which. “By all that is vile, you rancid piece of shit. You are fortunate. You have the form of an imp for as long as you are useful. This is Hell. Your old bodies have no place here. It is the shape of your soul that exists in this realm. Twisted and diseased by the sins you chose to embrace in life.”
“F****** hell,” muttered one imp, “he must have been one s*** evil b******.”
It was a common thought, but only
“You better believe it.” he growled softly, loud enough for the front rows to hear.
Training involved the practice of the skills that would help an imp to be subtle in their ‘transferring’ of a soul. But when the imps were not training, they were given more menial tasks to do…to keep their spirits as depressed as possible.
The imps were suddenly gagged by the foulest smell. A sewer stench drifted heavily in the still air, getting stronger as the imps gingerly stepped through the door. They found themselves on a small landing, lit by two torches, which ended quickly in an unprotected steep drop. A narrow staircase hugged the wall as it snaked down into the squalid depth of the room. Grimacing, the imps tried to see into the murky shadows to get a glimpse of their fate. The Troll pointed towards the stairs and grunted bruskly. The imps complied automatically, giving each other wary looks. They paused and looked back when they heard the heavy door grate shut and the bolt being locked into place.
The rancid smell was becoming overpowering as they neared the bottom. The light was squalid at best, the only source appearing to be the torches back up by the doorway. It was difficult to make out the size of the dungeon; the walls were dirty and quickly merged into the shadows. Trevor reached the bottom first and let out an exclamation of disgust.
“Yeek! The floor’s covered in something gooey,” he informed.
“What is it?” asked Lee. Trevor crouched down slowly to try to get a better look at the ground in the gloom. He reached out and hesitantly collected a small sample of the dirt onto his fingers.
Slowly, and with a growing grimace, Trevor brought his hand closer to his eyes. “I think…I think it’s….”
“Oh bloody Hell!” acknowledged Trevor, flicking the brown slime off his hand. The others stopped on the stairs, reluctant to follow into the disturbingly warm goo.
And to ensure the highest level of commitment and focus in the imps, towards the special mission they were being trained to perform, a few examples were used to aid motivation. It really only took a few examples…
“I think a few of you have not yet understood what that really means. And I do not want to be accused of not being clear. Of not helping you understand exactly what the alternative is…” Thrax’s face contorted even more into a mocking smile… “Make sure you pay attention – there may be a test later…”
At that moment, a new object slid into view from the darkness of the ceiling. It looked like a hosepipe, just a little wider and dark. It snaked its way down towards the head of the imp and then stopped menacingly. One of the dark demons came forward. It reached over the prone figure’s head and pulled its nose, forcing the imp’s head backwards. The imp saw the object above it, and finally started to struggle. He had no chance though; the demon was far too strong. The tube lowered further until it was almost touching the imp’s mouth. The demon then shifted forwards and slammed his taloned foot down onto the imp’s little red toes. The exclamation of surprise and pain was an obvious mistake. The instant the imp’s mouth opened, the tube slipped in. It seemed to only enter in a few inches. Enough so that the imp, no matter how much it wriggled, could not get the end of the tube out of its mouth. It was stuck, with its arms and legs at full stretch and its head forced back at 90 degrees.
It certainly looked uncomfortable, but to the observing crowd, it did not seem to be that extreme, given the imagination and the rumours about Hell. The imp would definitely get a stiff neck, maybe a few bruises around the wrists and ankles, but nothing that a good “La stone” hot oil massage could not fix.
But something was wrong. A faint whirring noise could be heard. The restrained imp had stopped moving and his eyes were wide and wild. An involuntary gurgled whimper bubbled from the panicked victim. Then, to the shock and disgust of the audience, some drips of clear bile fell from between the imps spread legs. Then a splurt more before a sleek black object emerged. As one, the spellbound watching imps moved their heads backwards and winced in gross fascination. None of them could turn away as they watched the tube shluck its way out of the imp’s body until it hung down about a foot. The imp was impaled completely, skewered from above. Now this was a little more like a torture befitting the reputation of Hell.
Another short pause as the audience took in the sight. It looked horrific, but a few, more observant imps noticed that the captured figure, although not exactly relaxed, did not seem to be suffering any real pain. His eyes were still open and straining to look around. There was a definite air of uncomfortableness about the whole position, but no screaming, no pleads or moans that would be expected if you had just been spiked.
After a minute or so, another change occurred. The dangling tube started to shrink in length, but increase in width. It was reforming into a solid block so it looked like the imp was astride a black seat.
The audience looked at each other and a few even dared a little comment, thinking that the demonstration was at an end. Very embarrassing and unpleasant, but it could be worse; they could have turned the guy inside out!
Thrax continued to smile – this bit was so satisfying.
The slight whirring noise returned. The prone imp let out a surprised grunt, which quickly changed to a burbled shriek as the tube was retracted – with the “seat” still in place. The silenced audience watched in fascination and then there was complete revulsion as the poor creature centre stage slowly crumpled upwards. The little red feet lifted from the ground and the legs did a strange improvised jig when released from the poles, before being pulled inwards after the black stopper. The body shrunk as it folded in on itself.
The jostled imp’s muffled protests suddenly ceased as the tube pulled further upwards. Then, sickeningly, the imp’s insides slowly emerged through its own mouth. The audience cried out in horror, a few expelling bile at the shock, as they saw the little imp being slowly turned inside out. It looked like a rubberised toy as the legs almost completely disappeared up the imp’s own rectum – except that the imp’s rectum was now, in fact, above his head and inside out.
The whole of the imp’s torso had spread out of the imp’s mouth, its jaw looking broken as the stopper completed its journey. As the raising had started, the posts moved inwards slowly, giving the outstretched arms the angle necessary to fold neatly up into the newly created cavity to lie smoothly along side the imp’s legs. There was a weird folding of the body, since only the upper part of the face and the attached hands and forearms remained the right way round. The weight of the upturned body was being taken off of the twisted wrists by the stopper that had wrenched the form inside out. So now, visible to the whole auditorium, were the red and purple throbbing organs of the imp.
The hall was eerily silent. Not one of the faces in the audience could turn away. They were transfixed, disbelieving at the hideous sight. Any distancing benefits, due to the observers’ mind still not connecting the little red form as one of their own kind, was slight. No matter how many violent movies they had seen, such extreme and impossible cruelty was intensely worse in person. They could see that the twisted imp was still, inexplicably, alive – and even worse, conscious. Its eyes were wide and pleading, the registration of pain obvious upon the imp’s forehead.
But that was not the end of the ordeal. Thrax slid back towards the inverted prisoner and uncoiled a thin, many tailed whip.
“As you see, your new bodies are quite versatile. They can be twisted and bent and stretched and you are able to be aware of it all. Your body may not break, but be assured, you are able to feel the pain of every single action.”
On his last word, he flicked his arm and revelled in the stunted shriek from the imp as the flayed whip lashed against the exposed organs. The audience sat in shock as Thrax attacked again and again, altering the point of contact, moving leisurely around the hopelessly writhing figure. The question was asked by many in gasped whispers, what did he do to deserve this? The answer to this question gave the dreadful scene an extra coating of horror…
…This wretched creature had fallen below the expectations and requirements of his tasks…he had only managed to hover a basketball for 9 seconds.
The imps were taught many skills, but they had a few others that were not made known, for safety reasons…?????