Most characters are such hard noses that it is rare to get any cooperation. But Mephisto was feeling so talkative, he allowed me to record a full interview. Anyone who has read the books will need a stiff drink to swallow along with this week’s column. It is a weird thought experiment of low brow comedy which I use to explain Mephisto’s issues. Click through for the entire ?interview.?
Mephisto squashed out his first cigarette. ?Yes,? he said. ?And thanks for the compliment.? I went on, ?But none of it is true, is it?? He rolled his eyes, then glanced at the tape recorder. ?I don’t follow,? he stated.
I leaned back, saying, ?Well, the reality is you have made countless donations to anyone who asked, even to the rich and the newer heroes who you perhaps should be corrupting. You are revered as being good, helpful, lovable, generous, a dream come true, and a delight in the eyes of do-gooders. Some would say you are a bit of a pushover.?
Mephisto, for the first time I have ever seen, became defensive. ?No. I can explain all that.?
Mephisto took a deep breath and regurgitated a story he had told many times before by the sounds of it. I later found that he had also regurgitated some lunch on my guest chair from a hidden mouth no one knows about. ?Eternity is a real long time,? he explained. ?No one can stay evil for that long. I used to be pure good for several trillion years. I’ll probably go back to being good when the evil ride gets exhausting. For now, I am content with being killed repeatedly. It provides some diversity. Now mind you, we are talking about the past ten years. This does not even amount to a hiccup of time in the grand scheme of things. I mean, jeeze, some of you pecker heads accuse me of being as cuddly as a box of puppies. Those days are over.?
I was not willing to let it go so easily. ?But if you have been killed so many times,? I inquired, ?you should be more expert at self defense. You seem to just get easier.?
A few seconds passed. Blood dribbled all over my table. ?You would think that,? Mephisto argued. ?But the problem is if I really apply myself, people won’t come back for more. They will move on to Andariel, who?let’s not kid ourselves?is much more attractive than I am in more ways than one. I mean, have you read this thing about Andariel dropping a Stone of Jordan every so often if you know what you’re doing? Those things are made from her gal stones. But don’t tell anyone. Actually, can you take this part out?? Little did I know he was referring to his eyeball. He had snapped off a triangle of glass from the gin I gave him and spent the past few minutes carving out part of his face. He cringed, but I could see it growing back remarkably fast. Some demons tap their fingers, others do this.
There were many questions to ask. Some people wondered how it was possible to keep going back to Mephisto’s worldly hang out and consistently find him there. He is always waiting as though nothing had happened before. I wanted to ask if he had considered not showing up for fights. After all, he could not be killed if he was absent when his would-be killers arrived for the showdown. But it was clear that Mephisto was really into self harm.
Mephisto told me about his addiction to getting killed and how he had to keep a steady supply of treasure to his killers for their service. ?I was on top of the world,? he said. ?But eventually, things started spiraling out of control. Signs of my mismanagement were everywhere. The wife was asking a lot of questions. To keep supplying the adventurers with loot, I had emptied the coffers of Hell. It was a poorhouse. You see Dante paintings showing naked people in Hell for a reason. I had to take all their stuff.?
?I have seen your wife,? I noted. ?She is pretty. Pretty ugly, that is. Did this contortion have something to do with your shady policies?? Mephisto nodded, reluctantly. ?She contacted someone from Infernal Affairs to do some digging,” he said. “But you know what Hell is like. All the digging went on in her face. They take irony very seriously in Hell.?
?If I can shift gears for a moment…? I said, looking through my notes. ?Gears?? Mephisto blurted, brightening up to the occasion. He was quick to take his Mara’s Kaleidoscope off and present it to me. ?You mean you want some stuff? I got stuff. Here, take it all. Just ask and it’s yours.? Always a bit suspicious when this happens, I declined. ?No, no. I’m good. It’s an expression. I want to change topics for a moment.? I also did not want to be lured into months of hanging out at his place, which is a dump. Most of what is in his refrigerator is unfit for human consumption.
Secretly lingering on the theme of demonic niceness, I asked, ?When did you decide you would become vegan? And, was it more for environmental concerns or the cries of animals’ souls creating white noise in your cortex??
Mephisto blushed. ?How did you know I was vegan?? It was a guess, but apparently a good one. ?Oh, you know,” I said casually. “Bag of bones, too pale, tiny muscles, lethargic, this is you.? After an uncanny silence, I added, ?You have read the column before, right??
?Yeah,? he said sarcastically. ?I particularly like the Slab #29: Who Will Stillman Offend This Time?? I was quick to respond with, ?Well, hey, the truth hurts.? Getting all philosophical now, Mephisto grumbled, ?What is truth, really? And don’t you think your bedside manner is…questionable??
Demons, Why They Are Stupid
My interview with Mephisto was reminding me of my old career of chasing station wagons in my trench coat with the chubby camera guy trying to keep up?the career in my imagination, that is. I also write the colorful poetry on the boxes of adult entertainment videos. Mephisto looked uncomfortable, like he was stirring in his own juices. But they were juices…of lies.
?Tell me, Mephisto,” I said. “What do the soulstones do REALLY??
He shrugged. ?Beats me. A placebo, maybe? We make Standards of Heroes out of them. Seriously, why would immortals like myself care to even look into it? We can always do it later…like in fifty billion trillion eons.?
?Mephisto,? I said sternly, ?People are asking: why is Mephisto so easy and exploitable? How can this character rule anything in Hell?? He smirked. And vomited. Wiping a sleeve or two of half digested frozen pumpkins away, he said, ?Ah, but remember when those people first encountered me? Remember when I first hit them with that ball that nearly killed them and also chilled them? I’ll bet they really filled their diapers back in the day.?
He had a point there. As it stands, big bosses seem to be designed for the very first fight only. It is a shame, really, because that first impression constitutes a tiny fraction of one percent of the time you spend with them. After many, many encounters, they are much less intimidating and totally lack challenge.
?Maybe big bosses should be a fright on every encounter.? I suggested. ?What if, for big bosses only, some of their attacks took off a percentage of life, thus making them a threat to everyone? Or even better, what if they had a chance to bite off a vitality point permanently? They would then administer the fear and thrills they were made for.?
Mephisto waved a skeletal hand. ?Why should I care about people’s experiences? I’m a freaking demon. I’ve got my own problems. Like, how am I going to tell my wife that I had nine hundred and seventy two thousand affairs last month? How many roses do you buy for a situation like that??
I moved on. ?Tell me about Hell. It seems like a very tiny place. One can easily fill up all of Hell with bone walls in short time. Well, if the bones weren’t those of old ladies with osteoporosis which crumble too fast, that is. There has got to be more to Hell than what we see.? Mephisto chuckled, and said, ?Oh, of course. We just like to present the glamorous bits. Great detail goes into nailing people onto wood. We like to display a lot of that, like garden gnomes… …tortured, screaming garden gnomes. Heh heh heh. The parts you don’t see are, in all honesty, quite embarrassing. Heh heh.?
A line of drool threatened to descend on my interview table. Mephisto passed me some tissue, and I requested that he tell me about what we can expect to see in Hell. I was sure to add that we are assumed to be non-participants or non-residents. I showed him the Monopoly board below to really explain it.
I had to prod Mephisto to get some good examples. When the cattle prod ran out of juice, I used a pitch fork. ?So one thing we have a lot of in Hell is these tall buildings full of people who just lie in bed all day,? he said. ?All the work is done for them. It all sounds pretty nice, but here is the fun part: they cannot use the washroom without getting an awful lot of help doing it. Every time they have to go, they must request help from a complete stranger who is busy and stressed out. We often get attractive young girls to do the up-close-and-personal cleaning just to make things more awkward and humiliating. Occasionally, we throw a dude in there and, heh heh, this only makes it more awkward. It’s bad no matter who is watching you void your wastes. It’s great! Hell is for everyone. I had myself cut off from the waste down so it can never happen to me. So those girls last month—they were only fondled. See how smart I am??
?You are weird, Mephisto,? I said. This whole column was turning out pretty wierd. Mephisto was probably corrupting me as we spoke.
Giggling uncontrollably, he provided another example. ?And then we have this entire world where we give one man billions of gold pieces, and everyone else gets five gold pieces. The billionaire must use his wealth to absorb everyone else’s gold until they are all down to one or zero, which is obviously pretty easy to do. The billionaire is happy while everyone else suffers miserably fighting the losing battle. It’s great! And since most of the idiots are in the 0-1 gold bracket, many of them support and praise the whole idea! Later, we torture them all equally, just to make it more unfair. It happens in the capital of Hell, so we call it ??
I interrupted. ?Some time ago, you vastly expanded your Durance of Hate. Yet this has done nothing to stop people from skipping the entire thing. Let’s face it; no one wants to go through that many exploding dolls. And even if all the monsters were fun, is bland repetition really the best answer??
Mephisto replied, ?Apparently, it is. People have been killing the same old me thousands of times over for many years. Do they want an alternative? Certainly. But as long as I keep shelling out the goods, those suckers will keep crawling back. My brother likes the song ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, but I prefer ‘Under My Thumb’. Heh Heh.?
Mephisto went on to explain that he will ultimately flood the world with so much material, the added mass will have a dire consequence. The gravitational well surrounding Sanctuary will pull in a great meteor from the sky. This will happen soon, with the return of his younger brother, Diablo. I realized that the big boss demons are not so stupid after all; rather, they are products of an eternal existence. It is understandable for them to stop caring after a while, or stray from what we think is appropriate, or just be mysterious. I cannot shake the suspicion, however, that this is really about laziness. The path of least resistance seems to apply not just to people, but the higher ups as well.
And so, Mephisto has his train of problems, but people love him nonetheless. The fact that he has clones of himself that donate their brains (literally) for a good cause make him even less frightening than he should be. Mephisto reminds me of reading a Jonathan Kellerman book. The characters are all rich and flaunting it. The protagonist buys expensive jewelry for his wife, and even the detectives are out eating lobster all the time when discussing cases. It’s just not the right mood for the gruesome murder investigation they are supposed to be handling. With Mephisto, it’s rich people easily taking down a rich guy, to get richer and richer. All this success makes you long for some kind of resetting of the whole economy. You just want the corporate ladder to dissolve and be reset, much like a new season melting all the snow. If only there was a way.
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Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.