The Yezidi Contract
“Goodman,” my boss said “are you a Satanist?”
It was Monday morning, and far too damn early in the week and the morning for this shit. Mephistopheles “Topher” MacCain was the kind of boss you dread to get: promoted above his competence but not above his ambition. He didn’t have the credentials to move up unless it was into a warm pair of dead man’s shoes, but he defended his power and position with all the blind rage and canniness of a rabid mother wolverine. Every conversation became a contest of wills, every idle comment or correction perceived as a personal attack, and every probing query into my personal life designed by some misguided corporate self-help grimoire to eek some measurable greater fraction of productivity out of me.
“My grandfather was a supplicant at the Temple of Set. Dad was a lapsed LaVeyan. He saw my brother and I through our first degree and all, but he never cared for the Schrecks and after that it was basically a Samhain and Imbolc thing.” I said.
MacCain gave me a look that would have better fit a judas goat. It was a practiced idiot glare that gave absolutely no hint as to whether anything you had said was absorbed. The guys in Marketing mistook it for Topher paying strict attention; the guys in Engineering even thought it might denote comprehension. I knew better. When MacCain gave people that look, he was picking apart their statements for ammo—and this time I was downrange.
“So you don’t have any strong personal beliefs in the Left Hand Path?” he asked.
That was a trap, and I knew it, but the dangling promise of getting fired lingered, so I opted for honesty.
“I think I’ve seen a little too much of it to take seriously.” I answered with a shrug. “I mean, I took a couple history courses in college, and you get to really see how Satanism was derived from the earlier, polytheistic religions—daevas from Mazdaism, Jewish angelology, the demonization of Pan—and then the whole—excuse my language—Christ cult thing in Rome. I mean the inverted cross and pentacle, Black Masses, the antipope, that stuff was never about the devil, really—it was all politics and rebellion, a deliberate subversion of Pauline beliefs. Even most of the popular mythology of the Satyr-like devil and fiery hell and all was built outside of the core texts, it’s all folklore—at least, the stuff that wasn’t made up like most of the new cults these days, all those Hollywood Satanism with their satin robes and orgies. Evangelicals knocking on my door, asking if I’ve found Lucifer yet.”
I was half-parroting my final essay from The Satanic Bible and the Literature of the Occult—one of those mandatory liberal arts classes that state universities like to foist on unsuspecting undergrads, though I hadn’t really minded. It had given me an excuse to poke through some of dad’s old books and talk with him on the subject. With any luck, the boss wouldn’t want to get into any of the metaphysics or—Buel protect me!—recruit me for something. I wouldn’t be able to take it. Whenever Ahriman’s Witnesses showed up at the door, I laid into them with enough Christ-filled profanity it would make an unwed mother cover her unbaptized bastard’s ears.
“Well, Goodman, the reason I ask is that we have a new, very important client, and if our proposal succeeds we will need to meet some very stringent staffing requirements as we put the documentation together.” MacCain said. “I’m an Antimason myself, though I joined the coven when I married my wife. But what we really need to make sure of is that we don’t have any atheists—the client was very stringent about that—or secret Paulines.”
“Why in Hades does that make a difference?” I said, and immediately regretted it as his eyes narrowed and nostrils flared. “I mean, freedom of religion and all that.”
“The government can respect freedom of religion all it wants.” the boss replied “But this is a business. Now I want you to drop whatever you’re doing and start reviewing the materials for this job. Don’t lose anything either, those are originals.”
Little piggy sausage fingers thrust a stack of crap six inches thick in my general direction, and I accepted the dead tree and humped it back to my cubicle. A gentle elbow sent my inbox into the trashcan, clearing just enough room for me to set down the load and spread it out. The top pile were thick, heavy, off-white sheets, like spongy sandpaper—vellum, maybe—and covered in a neat scrawl of computer-printed Arabic, or something similar. Underneath it, an industrial clip holding on for dear life, was regular paper, in English, with a sticky note attached that read “Yezidi Contract.”