So that was it. I remembered the phone number that my supervisor had given me for emergencies, that I could always call and be helped, immediately evacuated from whatever country I was in at the time — sort of like an "emergency" for a sick person. You've drawn too much attention to your personal. Enough, no more adventures, and it's time to disappear from the radar screen. The question is, where will the Speedo boots take me? That's for me and me alone to decide. Well, of course, there can be no doubt: Barcelona, the international airport El Prat with a not very euphonious name, but the largest in Europe. For some time, though, not really Spain, but the autonomous Principality of Catalunya. Something awaits me there, what new adventures, adventures? But no one must know. Alas and ah, I would have to part with Miriam. Such is life. Without parting, there would be no meeting.
The doorbell did not catch me off guard: I had ordered home delivery. And who do you think I saw when I opened the door? The Boss, of course, my dear Samael, whom I hadn't seen in ages. He finally materialized, and for some reason, I wasn't surprised. My Boss - and the courier? Why not? He was always good at disguises and changes of scenery. Almost all angels and demons go door-to-door and offer to make a pact, promising boons in exchange for your soul and obedience. They do not differ from mere mortals. They come to you as real estate agents or representatives of Internet service providers, offering to re-shingle your roof or plant a garden under your window, to equip your recreation room with a basement or to hang a new garage door. Hell and Heaven are stuffed with double agents. This one, at first glance, did not make much of an impression. It was hard to suppose that under the guise of a small man standing on the threshold, a Demon was hiding. He was short, with a bald head that hid his age and lively brown eyes. He might pass for a clerk in an institution, but he is completely unremarkable. You don't pay any attention to him on the street.
- Hello! It's been a long time.
- Did you order tickets and a passport? Or is this a bad time?
- You are welcome. You're welcome. Tea, coffee?
- Thanks, I wouldn't mind a glass of water.
- You're right," he said, listening to my confused account of my experience. - "But the experiment isn't over. You've seen a little bit of the other side of life. And if you're not ready to give your opinion, I'll wait. As they say today, the red lines have not yet been crossed. Besides, we set them ourselves. It's like that anecdote.
- I am a master of my word: I give it to you if I want, and I take it back if I want.
- Exactly. All is not lost. The battle between Good and Evil is not over and is unlikely to be over in the next few years unless, of course, some lunatic pushes the nuclear button ahead of time and the whole world goes to Hell. Figuratively speaking, though not to speak of the devil in vain. If you resort to metaphors, you get something like: the glass is half full or half empty. And no one can tell which way the scales will swing. There is simply less and less time to decide: to be or not to be? There's less and less Good and more Evil, though. Life, as you must know, is just a way of being matter, but death? What is death? - A deep endless sleep without dreams.
- Actually, I was counting on being protected.
- Aren't you? If you haven't seen me, it doesn't mean anything. You're going to tell me you've been having a hard time. Let me ask you this: who has it been easy? To the Creator, all people are one, black, white, coloured, tall, short, smart and dumb, speaking English or Russian, Hebrew or Swahili. These are all the smallest details of a single picture, a panorama, a panel, which He once painted and gave it its first impulse, impetus, breathed life into inanimate matter. In the intervening millennia, you could have figured out by now what is good and what is bad, don't you think? It's true that you can't comprehend God's plan, but doesn't your mind tell you what to do and in what direction to go? What do you think it is given to you to do? In any case, even if it sounds like a requiem for humanity, the program has been started, and there is no stopping it. The sentence must be passed! I have already told you about it more than once. Here I am powerless to change anything. I know that it will be as our Heavenly Father has planned. I, and in this case you too, are the doers of His will. The difference, of course, is quite palpable. I have more responsibility, but I also have more authority, so to speak.
- I just have a lot of questions.
- Do you mean there are still doubts? You and I both know that Good looks unnatural in this world: there is war, destruction, destruction. And if the last war happens, the era of fear, superstition, and ignorance will return. The Creator's supreme task, as I understand it, is to teach people to do without Him. Which so far, for known reasons, has not succeeded, and therefore it would not hurt to offer prayers to Judas, the patron saint of hopeless causes. It is foolish to trust in the Almighty as a shepherd to shepherd our lost sheep. I can say for the hundredth time about myself: I am only His messenger, His mediator, He wanted His world to be in order, everything to have meaning, cause and effect, for the law of universal gravitation to work equally with the law of entropy, dissipation of energy, for stability. Then external control, His interference will not be needed, right? The essence of evolution and development is natural selection. But what do we see today? - Lifespan is breaking records, and medicine brings old and infirm to their feet. We might as well raise the dead. But this is unnatural, you agree. This is not our agreement. And this means that the end of civilization is near, an era of universal prosperity and the human swamp will be covered in mud. Mind you. Hell is deserted. All demons have gone to the front. And I'm the one who's been put in charge of the dirtiest job, and it's got to be done. All men have their way, but yours is my way. You have a good heart. Listen to it. Well, is it time to say goodbye? Don't worry, I'll look after you, and I won't let you get hurt. We'll see each other again and again.
- Any instructions?
- Of course, there will be. Of course, there will be. You'll find out in due time. You've done well, my boy! You'll be rewarded in Spain. Take care of yourself. See you...