He sat and stared at the blank screen as he waited on it to illuminate with that glorious screen that he loved so much. Slambook. The social media site that allowed him to become something of a warrior against sin. A man that could sway sinners to argue to the point that they would have to know their souls would be condemned to hell for all eternity. Yes, good old Steve, he was working for the Devil and he didn’t even know it. He was so wrapped up in his condemnation of the sinners that he failed to see his own sins had turned his heart as black and dirty as the dark sludge waters that pour out of fifty-year old sewer pipes that have been holding back crap year after year.
Steve was a loud and obnoxious man. He was the kind of man that men didn’t really want to claim as friend. As for women, well, they just wanted nothing to do with him at all. He was eerie and odd and not the kind of man that most would want to consort with. Steve was the kind of man that would tell you he could get you to heaven but then curse you to hell when you asked a question about how to get there. He was a mean old man and one that was prone to gossip and slander when it came to anyone that disagreed with him. He was a revenge plotting sort of man that would go to any length to discredit anyone that disagreed with him and the theories he had about life, religion or anything else.
Tap. Tap. Tap. His fat fingertips were getting numb from tapping them on the edge of his desk while he waited on Slambook to load on his old and dusty laptop. He was missing the ‘tab’ key and had to manually move the mouse down the screen when he wanted to skip to a new area of a site. Steve thought to himself, “Why the heck is this taking so long today? I paid the darn bill a week ago and this cable company always seems to slow down the internet right after I pay the bill.” He thought the cable company was out to get him and he heard a small voice in his head that told him, “Call them and give them a good cussing out Steve! They deserve it!” He ignored the voice however and continued to wait on the pages to load on his screen. Every once in a while, he could resist the temptation to be mean. This was one of those times.
Suddenly, the screen came to life and he signed in to his beloved internet worship page, Slambook. He used this website as a tool to follow the commands of the “good one” that whispered in his ear throughout the day to tell him what to say to the sinners that lived in his small town. Half the town knew he was nuts but there were some that, scarily enough, thought he was a very smart man. The devil inside of Steve was the only one that knew the truth. He knew that old Steve was leading those that followed him and those that he judged straight to hell.
As Steve started reading posts on his Slambook page, one stood out to him immediately. Kathy Beals. A single mama that lived about a mile down the road from him and had three kids out of wedlock. The filthy woman had never been married and each of her three spawn had different daddies. Steve knew in his heart that she was a horrible sinner and was wrecking her children’s lives because of the way she lived. She had posted 8 minutes ago a picture that said, “When you wake up, smile and thank Jesus for the day!” She had also typed above the picture something about being thankful to God for saving her and for giving her the beautiful kids she had. Old Steve almost gagged when he read that and he knew that he had to say something so her very soul would not be condemned to the pits of hell for all eternity.
Steve sat and thought for a moment about what he needed to say to Kathy and then, the most brilliant advice he could think up at the time started flowing from his fingertips onto the keyboard. Slowly but surely, the words in his mind started showing on his computer screen and they said, “Kathy, you need to stop posting this blasphemous stuff because you are not going to go to heaven with the way you live your life. If you really want to get to heaven one of these days, I would be more than happy to show you the real way to get there.”
He sat and stared at the post for the next twenty minutes anxiously awaiting Kathy to respond. Suddenly, he heard that beautiful little dinging noise to alert him that someone, hopefully Kathy, has responded to what he said. The voice in his head was telling him to let her have it and tell her that she was s sinner heading to hell because she wasn’t a member of Steve’s church, the Church of Freedom. The church had very few members and they were dead set against any and all people that were not members. According to their church laws, anyone that was not a member was a sinner heading to hell in a handbasket. Steve, and the other members, had one job and that was to indoctrinate people to their church to save their soul.
What Steve didn’t know was that the Devil was behind the Church of Freedom and he alone was waiting to grab the souls that Steve and his congregation recruited to him. Steve’s job was to convince outsiders that the church they went to was bad and sinful against all that was true and holy. Steve was good at doing this and he went about it so well that even those that disagreed with him ended up arguing in anger with him ended up turning their backs on the truth and eventually, the Devil knew, they would be sitting in his fiery pit of hell screaming for all eternity. The Devil loved what old Steve was doing for him and he laughed a little every day as he watched the gullibly old fool mock the truth and not even realize what he was doing.
Kathy’s sister was the one that responded to Steve on the Slambook post and she was having none of what old Steve was trying to tell her sister. Her name was Eloise and she responded by saying, “Steve, you are a no good man that lived a life drinking and drugging and all of a sudden you act holier than thou and try to condemn the world to hell. My sister nor anyone else needs your insanity this morning.”
This pissed Steve off and he had to sit back and take a deep breath before he responded. He spoke to the voice in his head and asked him what to say. The voice, the Devil, smiled and told Steve to tell her that the good book said the Church of Freedom was the only church that was real and true and that if she didn’t change her ways and join the real church, she was going to go to hell with the rest of the sinners. Steve typed those words and he added, “If you want a personal lesson, I’ll be glad to meet you and prove that I am right. I just want to help you Miss Eloise.”
Eloise responded by questioning Steve with a question he could not, or would not answer. She asked,” Where exactly does it say in the good book that my church is wrong and that your church is right?” he responded with a verse that proved nothing at all and when she told him that it proved nothing, he told her she had always been a bad person and that she was probably doomed because she associated with the wrong people.
Eloise was a woman that had been married for more than 30 years to the same man, had three children and she played the piano at her little Baptist church. She was a good woman who worked hard to show her children and others how great the good book was and she would never do anything to harm anyone else at all. Steve was so against the Baptists that he told her she was going to burn in hell for her sin of denying the truth. Eloise was one of the few that ignored Steve and turned his words away. The Devil was not pleased with this.
A man named Robert Finch was sitting on his coffee break at work and he read the post that Kathy made and then he saw what old Steve had posted underneath. He saw the bitterness and anger. Robert had been invited to go to church the coming Sunday but when he read the hatred of Steve’s words, he decided right then and there not to even bother with church at all. His mind was made up and the Devil smiled because yet again, Steve had handed a soul right over to him without even knowing what he had done.
Steve went day by day without ever knowing the harm he was doing to others and anytime anyone tried to tell him, well, he just ignored them or put them down so harshly that they turned against all that was good. As each new day began, the Devil whispered into his ear and Steve, like an obedient dog, did exactly as he was told. As he did the Devils duties every day, his heart hardened and became like stone. Unknowingly, he was preparing a place for himself in the very center of the fiery pits of hell. The Devil licked his lips as he thought about how wonderful it was going to be to have old Steve right in the middle of the souls that he unwittingly sent to him.
Slambook was a powerful tool for the Devil, especially when it came to having old Steve around to help out. The best was the fact that Steve was a clueless man. The Devil was not worried at all about losing souls thanks to Steve and his ignorance. Steve sure loved Slambook and feeling like he was in such control of those around him.
One day Steve woke up early from a deep and troubled sleep. He was dreaming that he was in the middle of the desert somewhere and that it was hotter than it had ever been outside. When he opened his eyes, he couldn’t figure out where he was because it was so dark. He felt just as hot when he woke up as he had in his dream and for a minute, he was sure his house was on fire. It took a few minutes but his eyes finally started to adjust to the darkness that surrounded him. On all sides of him, he could see people that he knew. They were screaming and writhing in pain. Suddenly, it hit Steve that he must still be asleep and dreaming because this was a horrible place and one that he did not recognize.
Suddenly, an all too familiar voice penetrated the darkness and rose above the screams of the others. With a chuckle, the Devil said to Steve, “Welcome to Hell. You did your job and now, you can live here for all eternity with the rest of those that you doomed.” When Steve heard those words, he knew what he had done was wrong but now, it was too late to change things. He was in Hell and couldn’t even post on Slambook to tell everyone he was wrong. All Steve heard after that was screams from the souls and laughter, evil laughter, from the Devil.
This story is another entry in the Writing Mind Short Story Contest. Writer Susan Thomas would love it if you took the time to comment and let her know what you think and if you enjoy it, be sure to share it with your friends to let them enjoy reading it as well! Susan writes short stories for fun and wants to one day be a professional writer.
More stories will be published over the next few weeks until we award the winner in October.