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Hell’s Game

Since’s Story

In my eon’s of servitude to the great game of life, I have witnessed a great many things. In fact, because of my age and the time since my last purging, I am quite sure that I have seen every great thing at least twice, possibly more. It would be a safe assumption to think that I find life quite boring. So here I am, in search of something new. It is possible that I have done this before, but I honestly can’t remember. Perhaps this is because it is a bad thing that I am doing and it will result in a forced purging. This, of course, is fine with me, since I’m too cowardly to do it to myself.

Nevertheless, I am here and I intend to carry through with my plan, so please do me a favor and listen. Life is a game, and therefore, a lie. It has been told in every possible way and suffered in every circumstance, yet there is still no truth. There are some who claim that the truth is in the details. The meaning of reality is in its constants: its facts. However, facts aren’t truth, only elements of structure. The architect remains a mystery. The purpose still escapes us.

The game itself is a propagation of possibilities. If it can, it does. This structure would suggest that truth, in any form, must exist somewhere, even with this foundation of lies. At this point, I can only relegate it to concept, but I search still. We all search.

The investigation itself has taken many forms. Some call it religion, others science. It is all about finding the fundamental reason: the why of the world. Some put faith in ideas. Others put trust in observable phenomena. Why does the game exist? Who does it amuse? When will it end? Will it end?

As an overseer, I have an esteemed position in the game. One would think that some greater power must have intervened to grant me this position, but such a thing did not happen. I was “born” here, and here I serve. I am a ferryman of souls: a guide for players between lives and I am an observer. While I cannot actively pursue my own inquisition, I can certainly live vicariously through others.

This brings me to the point of my story: the many lives of Jeb Zeike. I believe, that above all others, he best represents the pursuit of truth. While I am certain that you would question his methods, I am also sure that you would find it hard to ignore his results.

Jeb came to me after he was murdered here on earth. He had been an important businessmen who was into money, women, and drugs. He had no quips about his “evil” intents and he had no reservations about his general status as “scum.” Making money was his primary concern and stabbing other people in the back was merely a means to accomplishing that goal. He died because his competitors paid one of his many girlfriends to slip some poison into his bedtime drink.

Usually, I am irritated when a purge comes my way. They are all too naïve and stupid about the game for my patience (even considering my powers of persuasion). However, Jeb was a special case. I had known him before he purged himself and now I would be the first to welcome him back. Normally, whenever a purge is done, it is total. This includes wiping all memories of the said purge from the people who knew the person. I, being in the important position that I am, am exempt from that general rule. I knew who Jeb was, and I knew what he had been.

When I met Jeb, he was scared. I must admit, I took advantage of his general ignorance and gullibility and sunk him in the mire of his own personal horror as well as I could. It would be one of the few times when I would ever see Jeb Zeike scared. I couldn’t help myself.

I let him think that he was in hell and that I was Satan pronouncing judgement. I didn’t lie to him so much as mislead him. In his own mind, he was correct. Life is hell. Once I had my fun, I settled down and explained the rules of the game. Coming into my parlor as a purge, he had limited options about where to go next, because of his relative lack of experience. I told him that he was done with the purge’s land and would now face real life. Any hell that he had envisioned in his limited capacity, was now entirely his for the choosing.

Once Jeb understood the rules, he snickered in such a way that applauded my own mischief. It had already begun. I could sense him getting comfortable with the new idea of life. He was laying out a game plan, not just for his next life, but for his entire existence. I was tempted to ask him about his plans, to see if they suggested what I knew he would become. But I didn’t for fear that the powers above me might frown on my interference with a purge. It didn’t really matter. I would know soon enough.

Jeb made his decision quickly, but not lightly. It was almost overwhelming to be in the presence of so much greed. He choose an existence similar to his last one. It was a world with the same laws of science and a power structure built on wealth. I guessed that he wanted to start easy.

Jeb had come to me as a short, ugly man with little hair. When he left, he sported a leaner, taller, more wraith-like figure which was not terribly dissimilar to the one I present to you. I thought the body suited him, and he stuck with it when he could.

After he left, I stood by and watched him perform. As the years rolled by, he built himself an empire that covered the entire world. Without fear of “the ultimate judgement” and without remorse for any of his sins, Jeb really let himself go. He committed numerous and horrible atrocities that make your Hitler seem like a kindergarten bully. Jeb was always a rational man, but he was more than willing to let the masses before him fall prey to irrational hatred, bigotry, and religious zeal. He found every cord of power, wound it around the people, and gathered them to him. When he finally died, it was because of old age and only after his legacy had been forever secured in their history. When he came back to me, he was smiling in utter satisfaction with himself. When I pulled out the list of possible lives, he immediately started going over it in a precise and calculating fashion. Before I could even start a casual conversation, he was off again.

And so the histories repeated themselves. Time and time again, I witnessed Jeb conquer the worlds. In the beginning, they were all similar to the original Earth, but they gradually began to change, and Jeb changed with them. Whatever the equivalents of power, wealth, and domination were, Jeb sought them and accomplished them. Sometimes the demands where physical, mental, or even telepathic and spiritual. Whatever they were, Jeb built himself into the perfect machine for their tasks.

And never once did the idea of kindness or general decency enter his mind except as a cold calculation towards power. With the game as he saw it, there was no need for such frivolous behaviors. He was right. Every move he made was perfect.

As I continued to watch his lives, I looked for the little cords he pulled from each one. Whenever he stepped out of a portal from a previous life, it was possible to notice the gossamer thread that he towed with him. Each one he carefully wrapped around the bench in my parlor like a magnificent spider laying the palace of all traps. Before long, I had to step carefully in my own parlor. Not for fear that I would break one of his strands, but that I might instead slice myself upon one.

The silk web was something that no one else could conceive. Born out of pure greed, it assured Jeb’s legacy in the history of each of the worlds he touched and it bound them to him. Even after he had left, he still maintained dominance over them.

As the web got bigger, Jeb went into the impossible. There were worlds that nobody was supposed to escape. These worlds were based on the perpetual experience of a single emotion or sensation. Those who joined them did so in desperation to absolve themselves of identity. These worlds were nothing more than a single pool of hatred, pain, woe, exhilaration, or sorrow.

But Jeb didn’t join these pools. Instead, he drank from them. He became a fish and swam in them. All of the other emotions and sensations became his. He became their master. Sometimes, it took thousands of years, but Jeb would always maintain dominion until the eventual mutation came that would allow the “big fish” to escape. And when he floundered out, he merely smiled and then jumped right back into another one.

Once Jeb was done with them, the sense of him was overwhelming. With a touch, a look, or even a thought, he could flood my mind into the pools. In those moments, it wasn’t only as if I had joined them, it was if I had experienced thousands of years in them. Jeb’s smile wasn’t any more sinister, but his power was now coming close to the level of greed which it represented. I found myself becoming more subservient to him with each life he left. Soon enough, I was kneeling before him when he stepped into my parlor.

Then he was ready. Then he could face the worst manifestations that life had to offer: worlds that were steeped in anarchy and bridled with fear. These places held no respect for laws of any kind. Not the laws governing reason, not the laws governing science, and certainly not the laws governing people. These worlds were chaos in every sense of the term. Violence and murder were rampant, and absolute horror and fear were the only constants. Jeb went in with a skip in his step.

Drawing on his power from the pools, Jeb easily washed all before him. He didn’t do much to change the nature of the worlds, since he decided that he rather liked them the way they were. However, he did replace all images of horror and fear with his own. Now, all of the horrid nightmares, and terrible occurrences could be attributed to one man: Jeb Zeike, the devil himself.

That was what he became. That was what I knew he would become. If life truly was hell, then Jeb Zeike was its Satan. There were an infinite number of worlds, but Jeb had touched enough with his web to spread his influence to the others. Once he truly came into his power and he had finally met the terms of his own greed, things began to change. My parlor became a throne room and the web elaborated itself into a jungle of finery and self-indulgence.

For a while, he sat on his throne and looked gleefully unto the worlds which he had conquered. All of them paid tribute to his role as the ultimate symbol of power. No one had been able to stand before him, and no one would now. For a while, Jeb Zeike was happy.

However, as I knew it must be, his happiness was only temporary. It wasn’t long before that old greedy smile became warped with weariness and disappointment.

Then the tears came. I was standing at his side when the first one rolled down his cheek. Jeb Zeike was a master of all emotions. Like anything else, they had been crafted into weapons which he had used to secure his power. He could only be overwhelmed if the emotion was sincere and unbidden.

When he realized that he was crying, he looked down upon me and said, “I have done it again, haven’t I?” His age, wisdom, and power had allowed him to see the truth behind his origins. He had done this all many times before, and would do it again. Like everybody else, he was a player with a designated role. Whatever sense of accomplishment he had been striving for all this time had failed to appear.

“Yes,” was all I could say.

He shook his head sadly, “All that effort, and for what?”

“You are the most powerful being that has ever existed,” I replied, “a god if there ever was one.”

“Yes,” he said. “A god of nothing.”

I stood there, silent, unable to think of anything to say.

“I had hoped for something more,” he continued. “Some great resistance. Some great revelation. Don’t you see? I don’t want to rule this place. I want to break it!” He slammed his fist hard on the shimmering throne.

I continued to stand there silently. I had heard this speech before and I knew that nothing I said or did would change its outcome.

“There has to be something beyond this bane immortality. Some meaning, some function, some purpose! Why haven’t I offended it yet? Haven’t I perverted life enough?”

“I don’t know,” I replied truthfully.

“Then perhaps I should try again.”

That was the only warning he gave. Although I knew what was going to happen, it still seemed to strike swiftly and suddenly. It was the greatest purge that life will ever know. Suddenly, the whole world seemed to be caught in an immense vacuum as every detail of memory of Jeb Zeike. Every being that he had ever known and influenced forgot him. Every world that he had touched reverted back to a state before his coming. It was as if he had never existed.

When the haze cleared, I stood and looked around. My parlor was as I remembered it before his coming: cold and nondescript. It had been inevitable, but it was still depressing. Nothing about my existence has ever been more saddening than those few moments I spent alone after his disappearance. I don’t think I felt sorry for him though. What I felt was more like empathy. I think that we all go through life with some goal towards uncovering a fundamental truth. Most of us accept that we will not succeed in a manner that is a revelation to all of those around us, but Jeb should have been different.

I don’t know if he originally designed his rise to power as a way of finding fundamental truth, but I am sure that, as time went along, it would be the only outcome that could please him in the end. It is possible that it was his own evil that thwarted him. Perhaps a kind heart and a benevolent soul were key to this all somehow, but I’ve seen plenty of people like that. All they do is suffer at the whims of the other less “good” citizens of life. No, Jeb knew the way of it. He had dominion over everything, and he should have had the power to squeeze the truth out, to force the facade to drop. But he didn’t, and that is what saddens me so greatly. Is there no hope? What else can possibly be done to change the way things are?

To be honest, I don’t know. While it is true that I have gone much longer without a purge than Jeb Zeike, I have no further wisdom because of it. I merely place the remainder of my hope in finding some small detail that has been overlooked. Perhaps Jeb Zeike was premature in his decision to purge. Perhaps he knew too little in his early ambition to dominate life. Perhaps he should know his role before he pursues it, so that he may do something different himself. Whatever it is, I think that this existence is key. It is here, where hope is reborn in ignorance, that something must be changed. Here is the only place that was never affected by Jeb Zeike.

So I will tell you my story and you will publish it in your book. Then, if the world wants to, it may know. Perhaps there can be renewed hope, without the ignorance. Perhaps Jeb Zeike will find a new way, and then discover the answers that we all seek. Perhaps now, something will be different.

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