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A Man of Yet a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

The Devil In The Detail

A chauffer driven limousine passed through the gatehouse security checks and drove into the compound. It stopped in front of an impressive glass and steel structure which had the name of the corporation emblazoned in huge letters above the entrance. Here was the headquarters of one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer systems and mobile devices.

The chauffer opened the car door for Robert, and he stepped out to be greeted by a tall man in his late forties.

‘Hello Mr Daniels,’ said the man. ‘I’m Bart L. Zeebub, public relations manager. You can call me Bart.’ He shook Robert’s hand. ‘Please come with me.’

As Robert walked with Bart into the building, he thought back over the events that had brought him to this place. One week ago, he had purchased a new tablet made by this company. It possessed the usual capabilities of Internet access, worldwide communication, photography, the ability to play music, show films and so forth. Robert had been very pleased with its performance. Unfortunately, just over an hour ago he had accidently dropped it on the concrete path in his garden and its sealed plastic casing had broken open.

Robert immediately feared that the internal circuitry of the device would be damaged, but when he picked it up and looked inside the cracked housing, he could see that this was not the case. It was obvious because there was no circuitry inside.

He noticed also that the screen had been smashed but, despite this, when Robert touched the buttons on the control pad, an image appeared, floating in space where the screen had been. Stranger still, when he touched this seemingly holographic image, the capabilities of the device appeared unaffected.

He carried the tablet back into the house with the screen image floating above it.

Robert was still trying to make sense of what he was seeing when his doorbell rang. It was a man in the dress of a chauffeur.

‘I’m sorry about the damage to your new tablet,’ the man said. ‘Please come with me and the matter will be resolved.’

Many years previously, Robert had volunteered to assist a stage hypnotist. During the act, Robert had been fully aware of his own actions, but had complied with the bizarre requests of the performer without ever feeling the need to question them. In the same way, as the chauffeur indicated the open rear door of a waiting limousine, it seemed to Robert to be the most natural thing in the world to carry his broken tablet to the vehicle and get inside.

Even as he walked with Bart to a lift inside this building, it seemed no more than a curiosity that the drive from his home in Birmingham, England to the headquarters of this computer giant – a location he knew to be in California, USA – had taken less than an hour.

As the lift descended, however, his quasi-dream state began to fade and Robert was confronted with full realisation of the logical impossibilities that had recently occurred. ‘What the Hell’s going on,’ he said in alarm.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Bart, reassuringly. ‘I realise that this is a very odd situation for you, but please bear with me for a few more minutes and then I will explain everything.’

Robert remained anxious but reasoned that, in the absence of obvious alternatives, he may as well await developments.

The lift doors opened and Bart led the way along a corridor to an office. The office was spacious and well-appointed with a long, curved window along one wall which looked out over a deep cavern. Robert could see the shadows of flickering flames on the granite walls of the cavern, as if many fires were burning in its depths.

Robert accepted the offer of a coffee and they both sat down in leather armchairs.

‘Let me come straight to the point,’ said Bart. ‘That tablet,’ he indicated the casing that Robert was still holding, ‘should never have passed the factory quality inspection.’

‘It worked OK,’ said Bart.

‘It didn’t have any electronics in it.’

Robert paused, still bewildered by that fact. ‘How did it work without any electronics?’

‘Did it never occur to you that the capabilities of modern computers, phones and tablets are unbelievable?’

‘I sometimes think how clever they are, but there’s so much of this technology about that it somehow becomes unremarkable.’

‘That’s what most people think. If you had pondered on it for long enough, however, you might have come to the conclusion that it’s all impossible.’

‘But it happens.’

‘Not with electronics, it doesn’t.’

‘How do these devices work, then?’

‘Witchcraft,’ said Bart. ‘The R and D teams of all the major manufacturers have made pacts with the Devil.’

‘That’s impossible?’

‘You saw it for yourself. We install fake electronic circuits in the products to allay suspicion. You saw a tablet working without any electronics. You were then identified and collected immediately by a demon who transported you four thousand miles within an hour to meet me here.’

Robert was stunned. ‘Why are you telling me this?’

‘Did you not read the small print in the contact that came with the tablet?’


‘No one ever has. The important bit is written in Sanskrit in the section that deals with suppression of electrical interference in accordance with FCC guidelines. Essentially, purchase of electronic products, such as that tablet, includes the pledge of the buyer’s soul to the Devil. That happens either at death or when a user discovers the supernatural basis of the technology.’

‘What’s going to happen to me?’ said Robert in alarm.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Bart, pointing to the window, ‘torture in the fires of Hell, down there, isn’t done any more. As a disciple of the Devil you must undertake other tasks. For example, you might work in a computer store or a mobile phone shop, or an IT call centre – there are many locations where you can undertake the work of Lucifer in gaining more souls for the Lord of Darkness.’

Robert was about to protest but then began to feel very sleepy. He blinked and instantly found himself sitting in a chair in his own front room, an unbroken tablet on his lap. His girlfriend had just come into the room, having arrived home from work.

‘I just had the weirdest dream,’ said Robert.

‘There won’t be time for you to sleep in the afternoons, in future,’ said his girlfriend. ‘I’ve got you a job in the computer store where I work.’

‘How did you manage that?’ he asked. ‘There were no jobs available when I applied.’

She gave him a strange smile, and he noticed that her eyes seemed to be pulsating with an iridescent, red glow. ‘It was easy,’ she said, ‘now that you are one of us.’