Take your time, Mr. Paddock. I’m sure you’re quite surprised to find yourself here – and in fact, to find yourself anywhere, since you decided long ago you didn’t believe in a hereafter, a God of any kind or any religion, and, of course, you didn’t believe in a mighty demonic personage like myself.

You thought, when you pulled that trigger and blew your brains out in Las Vegas, that you’d never know anything again, that the “lights would just go out” and you’d cease to exist. No more worries, no explanations or apologies, just blissful nothingness. Right?

Well, you see you miscalculated. My name? Oh, I have several, some of which you’ve heard and some you haven’t – but why would you have cared, since you had convinced yourself I don’t exist?

My name is Satan.

Some call me Beelzebub, the devil, Lucifer, Old Scratch or other such appelations. It doesn’t matter to me, and the fact that so many either trivialize or disbelieve in me entirely just makes my work much easier. I prefer my name through the eons of time, Satan, which means in Hebrew “accuser.” I proudly answer to that name, which, by the way, is what God – the other everlasting Person you decided not to believe in – calls me Himself.

If you’d read the oldest book in the Bible (which I hate), the book of Job, you’d have read about Him summoning me to consider his “servant,” Job, a man He had blessed mightily and who He considered therefore unalterably loyal to Him. We had quite a contest for a while, as I took virtually everything away from Job – everything but his very life – and the poor dumb clod still professed his belief in God and even said, “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him”!

How could I compete with that? God had him completely brainwashed and duped, and even gave Job double everything I’d taken from him when we called a “truce.” I considered the game was “rigged” and went away – but ever since then, I’ve been proud to wear the name Accuser or Satan, because I stake my very existence on my claim that God was unfair to me when he deposed me as “The Beautiful Angel” and leader in the worship of Him, simply because I decided I should have my turn as the Omnipotent God of all Creation and not always having to be subservient to Him – though HE had actually created everything, including me.

So, Mr. Paddock, here we are, you and I. This is my home now. We call it Hades – or Hell. God created this for me and a third of the angels who joined me in the war in Heaven I instigated, but lost. How could I win? HE had me outnumbered and overpowered, and I’ve hated him with all my being ever since.

Yes, it’s hot. You’ve noticed. And have you also noticed your body is gone? Here you stand, a stripped soul, naked alone and quaking – but though you destroyed your physical brain, you still possess all your senses, don’t you? Especially the sense of pain right now, as relatively low-level flames lick at your inner being, burning you like the flames you ignited in Las Vegas, but without consuming you! Oh, you will wish, you will scream, to be consumed completely, not to exist any more – but that is not to be. You are here with me, in this place prepared, as that contemptible Bible declares, “for the devil and his angels” FOREVER! Ha, ha, ha, ha. Oh, this is my only joy, knowing I have the power to claim all who don’t believe in God and His plans for man, to experience this unspeakable, unimaginable horror FOREVER!

Doesn’t seem fair, you say? Ha – that’s what all you fools say. By the way, that blasted Bible says that explicitly: “The fool says in his heart, there is no God!” You claim ignorance, but a little child can look around and see the evidence of a Creator, while great human scientists, acknowledging all the evidence around them, look for and even make up “theories” about how a perfectly performing cosmos “just happened,” with no plan whatsoever.

That accursed Book also says “even the devils believe … and tremble” – and we do. But just “believing” doesn’t make us love Him. We hate Him – but He holds all the cards, so what can we do but tremble? Even in this heat!

Oh, you’ve noticed, it is getting hotter, a lot hotter! And you’ve just arrived. Well, Mr. Paddock, we here in Hell were cheering you on as you picked up those automatic weapons and began indiscriminately to fire at hundreds and hundreds of men, women, even children there in Las Vegas. You’re something of a hero, at the moment. Well done! And speaking of “well done,” you’re about to occupy a newly designed flaming pit, where you’re joining a recent group of deluded religious fanatics, who most called terrorists, who thought they were going to be rewarded by their idea of a God with virginal maidens to enjoy forever. Imagine their surprise. It was hilarious here! You can hear their screams now, can’t you?

Hmm, you’re starting to sizzle now, Paddock, old boy. Let’s go meet a couple of old-timers, like Adolf Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Josef Stalin, Karl Marx … oh, so many. No one will hear your screams for mercy as we turn up the heat even more.

You’re mine now, Mr. Paddock. And you’ve just begun to fry! Bwwha, ha, ha, ha!

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