In that strange place between wakefulness and dreams, between reality and illusion I found myself in a cold dimly lit room. There were no real distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card file cabinets. They were like the ones you would find in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings.
As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "People I Have Known". I pulled open the little drawer and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.
This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began frantically and randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "People" was next to one marked "People I Have Betrayed."
The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird.
"Books I Have Read", "Lies I Have Told", "Comfort I Have Given", "Jokes I Have Laughed At", “Places I Have Been”, “Music I Have Listened to”.
Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Done When No One is Looking."
Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath" “Things I Have Done in Jealousy”, “Bad Things I Have Wished on Others”.
I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes they were much fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 25 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth.
Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Things I am Learning", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, surprised, not so much by the type or quantity of knowledge, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Bad Thoughts", I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such moments had been recorded.
An almost animal rage suddenly ripped through me.
One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In a wild frenzy I yanked the files out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty them and burn the cards. But as I took the drawer at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card.
I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. It would not budge, bend, or break.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the card to its slot.
Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh and began to quietly weep as I slid my body toward the ground to sit. And then I saw it. A file all the way down toward the bottom, close to the floor. The title bore "Things That Have Not Come to Pass".
The handle was darker than those around it, rusted, almost unused for centuries. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than four inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. Yet the words scrawled upon them were shocking. The cards read “You Have Failed”, “Your Fate is Sealed”, "Your Dream Are Lies", “You Must Die.”
And then the tears came pouring down even harder. I began to scream.
Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of horror, from the overwhelming hopelessness of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. Then I must flee.
But as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.
No, please not Him. Not here! Oh, anyone but this dark angel mortals call The Devil. I watched helplessly as he began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch out of horror as a malicious smile spread across his sinister face. And in the moments, I could bring myself to look at him, I saw a savage cruelty and sense of disgust deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally, he turned and looked at me from across the room. His dark soulless eyes boring into me almost like lasers piercing through the very crux of my soul.
He looked at me with a savage lust in his eyes. But this was a lust that didn't anger me. Somehow, I knew as the memories all came crashing down around me. Knew that I had lived the wrong kind of life…knew that I belonged with him. For you see, my heart was equally dark and equally disturbed.
I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put his clawed scaly hand out to me. He could have said so many things. But he didn't say a word. He just stared at me with those commanding eyes. Eyes that mesmerized me.
I stood in front of him paralyzed and unable to grasp his hand. Then he turned and walked back to the wall of files.
Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign his name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted rushing to him.
Words stuck in my throat and all I could do was keep screaming "no, no," as I pulled the cards from him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name Satan covered mine.
It was written with the blood of other souls he had chosen. He swiftly took the cards back. He smiled a devious smile and began to sign more cards. There was nothing I could do to stop him. Nothing I could say for fate was never in my hands. I don't think I'll ever understand how he did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard him close the last file and walk back to my side.
He placed his hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished. You must follow me." Resigned and defeated I took his hand as he led me out of the room. He turned around and with the wave of his hand began a raging fire that consumed the room. I took one last glance over my shoulder as I watched my life burn to ashes and go up in smoke. I turned back to walk with the devil…the cards had all been written.