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Kieran's idea of an adventure with Tamaz started off as a good one, but degenerated into something much more disturbing, thanks to forces beyond his control. He began by taking Tamaz up into the ether, which was what Angel had once done to him. He had the idea that he wanted to make love to Tamaz in the weightlessness of alternative space.
It took a while though for Tamaz to lose his fear about having nothing solid underneath or around him. They went up even further and found themselves in an area covered in a deep purple haze, that was almost velvety in its texture. It was an area that produced atonishing sensations, as though they could see and sense all the different stars, planets and galaxies that surrounded them. It was also very cold, too cold for normal humans, which was why Kieran had said he couldn't take Joby with them.
Tamaz was very much a creature of the earth though, and although he shared many of Kieran's powers, he couldn't bear the complete etherealness of this area. It left him at a loss as to how to function. Kieran conceeded and began to take him down again, slowly though so that he could savour it for a while.
Suddenly they found themselvs inexplicably on a train. A dark, clapped-out effort, with darkness pressing on the windows on either side. They were in a tunnel. The compartment was full of passengers, all people as disconcerted and afraid as they were. Some were openly panicking. One young boy, who looked as though he'd been fed on a very unhealthy diet all his short life, was bleating to anyone who would listen that he had to get out of here, as someone was after him.
"It's the tunnel, one of the network of tunnels", Kieran whispered "You remember the one where we nearly lost Toppy? That's where we are".
Tamaz though had more prosaic matters on his mind. Kieran had dragged him away without giving him a chance to dress properly, and so now he found himself sitting on this crowded train, wearing only a t-shirt and his winter bloomers! An old woman, small and hideous like a gnome, suddenly emerged out of the throng and jammed a needle into the back of Tamaz's hand. She disappeared again, whilst Tamaz was distracted by a greyish lump which immediately swelled up out of his skin.
"Kieran, where are we?" he sobbed.
"Going to Hell", said Kieran.
"But why?" said Tamaz "What have I done that you should take me there now?"
"You haven't done anything", said Kieran "This isn't my doing".
The train came to a stop, and everyone began to decant from it, looking and sounding confused. They were at a platform, which was blanketed in thick fog. The young boy was still going on that someone was after him. It simply didn't occur to him that he no longer had any reason to be afraid, not on that front at least. Whoever it was had already caught up with him, and that was why he was here.
"Keep hold of my hand", said Kieran to Tamaz, urgently "If I lose you here I might never see you again".
A young woman staggered past them, lugging a suitcase which was far too big and cumbersome for her. She was actually weeping with the strain of hauling the heavy great thing around.
"Why doesn't she simply put it down?" said Tamaz.
"Because she won't", said Kieran, sadly "And there's no telling her otherwise, and that's why she's here".
Kieran thought of Old Marley's Ghost, clanking around in the after-life, hindered by all the heavy chains he had to drag around with him. Each link of the chain had been forged mentally by himself during his lonely, arid, joyless existence on Earth.
Suddenly (there are a lot of suddenlys in Hell, it never gives people a chance to get used to anything, because then they might learn how to cope with the situation). Suddenly Kieran heard the sound of waves crashing on a beach nearby, somewhere out there through the gloom and the fog. He remembered the last time he had been here, with Joby, Hillyard and Ransey.
"That damn beach", he muttered "Tamaz, we have to get out of here, now".
"Why can't you do something then?" Tamaz wept "You're supposed to be the Vanquisher of Evil!"
"I am, but you see, I have no power here", Kieran confessed "This place is beyond my control".
"Too right", Angel emerged out of the fog "You're nothing here, Kieran, nothing at all. People have been asking 'emselves one question for centuries, if God exists, how can He allow Hell to exist too?"
"Because He doesn't allow it!" said Kieran, fiercely "Hell is a man-made place. People make Hell. Not just for other people, but for themselves, God is the God of Love. People can avoid this place entirely if they would only accept that. They bring themselves here. THEY BRING THEMSELVES HERE!"
Suddenly the crowd from the train grew angry. They knew the truth of what Kieran was saying, but to accept it was too appalling.
"You came here by rejecting love", Kieran thundered, preaching in Hell "Love for others and for yourselves, most importantly, FOR YOURSELVES! You deny yourselves love! You, and you alone, are the reason you're here!"
"Kieran, they'll tear you to pieces", Tamaz hissed.
"Well why not?" said Kieran, sarcastically "It wouldn't be the first time, would it?!"
Tamaz was desperately trying to think of a way of steering Kieran from this destructive course. Suddenly, in a moment of inspiration, he pulled Kieran towards him by his hair and kissed him with as much passion as he knew (and that was a lot!) full on the mouth. Angel let out a cry of acute despair that Tamaz felt it would haunt him forever.
In no time at all he and Kieran were flying, literally flying, out over the sea beyond the fog-shrouded coast. There were people on the beach, masses of people. All of them straining to see across the horizon, all desperately wanting to reach whatever lay on the far shore. The sick joke was that, when they looked down as they flew over the sea, Kieran and Tamaz could see that the water was very shallow. With a bit of effort and exertion, the people on the shore could have waded across.
There was nothing stopping them, other than, as Kieran had pointed out, themselves.
"Come on out of the corner", said Kieran, trying to coax Tamaz away from the corner of Persephone's guest room "I've poured us a brandy".
"I keep hearing his scream", said Tamaz, who had been crouched huddled with his hands over his ears.
"Hm, serves him right", said Kieran "He shouldn't have played such a rotten joke on us. I wanted to blow your mind with something erotic and out of this world, not drive you half-crazy with a trip to the other place! I wasn't banking on Angel meddling!"
"He did that as a joke?!" Tamaz exclaimed.
"The Devil has a bizarre sense of humour", said Kieran, gently tugging him towards the bed "But then, I suppose it's his only pleasure in life. After all, he can't have sex. I don't know where the blazes anyone ever got the idea the Devil was sexy! He couldn't fock for toffee! Show your cunt and scare off the Devil, as they used to believe in olden times".
"That's why he screamed when I kissed you?" said Tamaz.
"You did absolutely right there", said Kieran "It's the one thing he can't handle, a show of genuine loving intimacy between people. It means he has no control over them himself, and it shows him what he's incapable of, and what he's never been able to achieve, in spite of all his great superantural powers ... tenderness".
"Couldn't you have taught him?" said Tamaz.
"No, he's my biggest, worst failure", said Kieran, staring into his brandy glass "I couldn't show him love. Perhaps if I had, things might have been different. But when it came to the crunch, I just couldn't bring meself to do it. I have to say it as candidly as I can, he revolted me. Everything he stood for, everything he'd done. I kept thinking of Fobbett with his guts torn out. And yet at the same time I understood, I understood everything. But I still couldn't help him. You see, if I had managed to make love to him, I would have been stuck with him. He would have hung round my neck like a millstone forever. I would have ended up like the woman on the platform, carrying a great weight of emotional baggage around with me. Love doesn't redeem all. Sometimes it just creates further problems. If I had stuck by Angel, I would have lost everyone else, and I wasn't prepared to pay that price, not just for the sake of saving one soul. Sometimes people see things far too simply. There is no all or nothing. Sometimes you have to prioritise and compromise, for the sake of the common good, for the sake of everyone else. Anyone who says any different is a fool. But like everyone else, I have to live with my mistakes, and so that is why Angel is still around".
"I get the impression he seems to think you like having him around", said Tamaz.
"He mistakes tolerance for liking", said Kieran "I tolerate him, I'll be civilised to him. But if I never saw him again I wouldn't weep any tears. He causes too much harm to my psyche for me to like him. I feel so drained after being with him. Because at the end of the day he encourages hate and fear and callousness to grow in people, and I can't bear that".
"You'll feel better when we see Joby", said Tamaz, patting his hand.
Joby. Kieran thought. The amazing Joby. The man who had been born bereft of any gifts from the gods. Deprived of good looks, loving parents, money, a sunny disposition, charm, and a high intelligence. And yet what he had achieved was worthy of monuments and orders of merit. In his own unique, catankerous way he had helped the savage half-human creature who had kidnapped him and subjected him to terrible humiliations. Due to Joby, Tamaz had gone from a bestial, demonic creature in a cage, unable to even keep himself clean, to a vibrant and stimulating member of their small community, without whom it was now hard to imagine them being without.
All because Joby had been blessed at birth with one virtue: immense courage, a refusal to be daunted. It was what had enabled him to stick by Kieran. He had fibre and backbone. Unconsciously he strove endlessly to make life easier for those he loved, because he had from an early age given up any hope of it ever being easy for himself. It would never have occurred to him that he was supremely unselfish.
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