What is Your Pleasure?

My, my, my. What have we here?

Come here, boy. Step into the light so that I may look upon you. Hmm, a bit scrawny, are you not? Do they not feed you properly from where you come? Is there a pestilence of inadequacy sweeping across your homeland?

Oh my, a thousand pardons! Please forgive me, my tiny lord. I meant no disrespect. It is such a rare treat for me to have company to entertain. Given that you are such a “fine specimen” of manhood, I thought we could share in some friendly banter.

So, weary traveler, would it be presumptuous of me to assume you have journeyed from afar to seek my counsel on matters of great importance, hmmm? Were none of your sisters available or your mother not up to the task? No? What a pity.

Hah, hah, hah. Oops! Again, forgive me kind sir. I meant no insult, surely you can see it is all in good fun? Is it such a terrible sin for friends to jest among themselves? Heh, heh, hee!

Oh my, such a serious little man you are. Very well, onto the matters at hand. I am guessing you have come before me because you desire something, am I right? You need something that you cannot possibly do without. You covet something so special and unique, only I can provide it. Does that sound about right? So, what has left you with such emptiness that would tempt you to enter this den of serpents? Tell me, good sir, what is your pleasure?

Wait, let me guess! Is it jewels and gold or is it power and glory? Do you crave vengeance over a rival to restore your honor or is reclaiming a stolen birthright the heart of your quest? Perhaps you desire to be concealed from Hades himself and be made an immortal? Coincidentally, I hear there is a vacancy for the god of the impotent and flaccid. You’d do nicely in that role, I would predict. Will you beg for me to give you a face of a hero from old? A bold and handsome face that is so pleasing to look upon, that all will be enchanted if found under its gaze? Understandable, you are quite the hideous little beast, are you not? I imagine the feral cats within your town’s square cause much property damage as they flee in terror upon your approach. Heh, heh, heh.

Ah, could it be a woman? A soft and delicate creature, whose beauty rivals that of even Helen of Troy. Or is it a man? Which honestly makes much more sense. With some work, I see potential in you for becoming an adequate housewife. At the least, you would make a pleasant trick, a fun toy or plaything for the true men of your village. Oh come now, worry not! I am not one to judge; I believe everyone should be free to love whomever they want. Ha, ha, ha!

My goodness, little one, such a frown. Can you not see the humor in yourself? For I do not mock you, well not entirely. However, I must admit that I do get carried away at times. Nonetheless, you are right, a terrible host I have been, and most inconsiderate towards your moment of glory. This moment is not for me, this day was made for you! You, oh brave knight of unfulfilled dreams! It is for you, oh wise scholar whose knowledge is unsurpassed in how not to please a woman. This day was made for you, oh mighty adventurer from the land of hairless men with unusually high voices! Your quest awaits, oh prince of disappointment to your father!

Ha, ha, ha. Shall we begin?

My game is quite simple though much is at stake. Listen to my three tales that hides clues that reveal my true name. When you know the answer, call it out and you will have won the day! Yes, good sir, that is all that I ask. Every one of your heart’s desires will be yours for the taking. You will never know rejection or failure for the remainder of your days. All is within my power, except perhaps making you pleasing to the eyes or preventing a woman from laughing when you remove your clothing. Tee-hee! Even an all-powerful, eternal being such as I have my limits. Hee hee, hee.

But seriously, listen carefully and consider all of what you know of me. Three times have you to speak my name. If you do that, you will walk away from here forever changed. Fail? Well, failure would be quite a humorous end, indeed.

Listen, for I speak these words only once.

I am one of three siblings, born from an exile,
We had no mother or father, but we have one son.
When spoken aloud,
My name echoes three times proud.
Live your life and times that by two,
You’ll see my name all too soon.

Speak, boy! Speak like your manhood has dropped! Let them hang with pride as you vanquish this dark entity with the sound of her own name on your lips! Not a single guess do you have to offer? Oh very well, let us continue. (Giggle).

It is the beginning of time and the end of space,
From all to nothing, eyes on an eternal face.
Round and round, never to stop
Over and out, then back to the top
Do it again and break it in half,
Line it up and hear my laugh.
Take one piece and toss it away,
Now three of us in front of you lay.

What say you? Anything? No? One more tale before we come to the end.

My name has no letters,
No sound of mere words.
It’s a name of a King,
The one you have heard.
This mad and insane King,
His kingdom did burn,
His lyre he played as his people did mourn.

Now this is truly my favorite part: the dull stare of a cow and the look of a fool you show. The dread soon begins to creep from the pits of your stomach and is reflected in your eyes. Yes, there it is! I see it! The realization begins to form inside your puny, little head. The truth of the matter strikes you like the sting from a scorpion’s tail! The terror builds as understanding crashes down upon you from the simple fact that life, as you knew it has come to an end, for the game, is now over, and I have won!

What is this, tears? Please, show some dignity, man-boy! All that blubbering and carrying on, how will you hear the answer to what you failed to deduce? Listen to my final rhyme. Tell me, can you identify me now?

Now that it does not matter?

My name is of numbers,
The same as my brothers.
One by one, I follow next.
Encircled by them, I stand betwixt,
The same, they too are called “6” and “6”.
The youngest child, one of three,
I complete the triad, our dark trinity.
We are the same, not more or least,
We are the mark, the Mark of the Beast.

You look confused, son of Adam? Do you not know of me? Many names and titles have I carried in my time, but “6” is definitely the one I have favored the most. What? Oh, did you truly believe we were mere ink to be embedded in the skin of your flesh? Did you honestly believe that we would forget about your vain hearts and believe you would voluntarily blemish your own face with our mark for all to see? Did you think we were such incompetent fools to allow our purpose and design to be spread like mundane chit chat in a book of revelations? You are such simple creatures with such simple thoughts! You know nothing of the world and its higher planes that interconnect it all! Sight, sound, touch, and smell- such primitive means in which to view your world. I almost feel pity for you, if it was not for your arrogance.

Now come here, slave, so that I may claim my prize!

Oh, stop your cowering, child! You flatter yourself with your laughable delusions of grandeur! I would not waste my exertions on the likes of you to merely dance on your innards and bathe in your blood, or whatever nonsense you’ve conjured in your head! Ugh! That is so twelfth century! Hear me clearly, for I bestow valuable insight that will prevent future “misunderstandings” between you and I! You may boast to be created in the image of God, but do not forget this one simple fact, son of Adam! It was the dirt from which you were created! Dirt, tainted with the defecation of the worms and infested with the larvae of insects within the ground! That is what you will forever be to me, nothing more than just plain dirt!

Servitude! That is what I value, and that is what I have won! I now claim you as mine, both in heart and your soul. The glyph of my order, I cut into the flesh upon the back of your neck with my own talon. That will signify to all others that you belong to me and are not to be touched; unless they have obtained my permission of course.

Now be gone! Leave! Remove yourself from my sight until I summon you again!

Hesitation? Now that is a first. Never has one paused nor shown anything but relief at that sound of my dismissal. Have you a question? Yes, I can see it burning in your eyes. I can almost hear it as it comes to rest on the very tip of your tongue. You wish to know, “What is the Mark?”

Well, you are full of surprises! I am embarrassed to say, but I am slightly impressed. Such bravado from such a sickly looking thing. Fortune smiles upon you this very night, for I have grown fond of your girlish mannerisms. Your company is much like having an effeminate pet at my side. Heh, heh, heh. I will excuse this insolence.

Just this once.

However, reluctantly I cannot grant such a request. What you ask cannot be known, it is forbidden, even though it devours me from within to shout it aloud! Ugh, it is maddening, for I hold a glorious secret! It is the greatest of deceptions and the finest joke I have ever told! I do love a good joke, as you can tell. Sadly, I am bound to silence by forces so wicked and cruel; even I shudder at the mere possibility of earning their disapproving eye. Unlike me, they are far less forgiving and have no sense of humor that I can detect, hmph!

Be that as it may, I am not permitted to reveal to you the nature of the Mark. However, I will tell you this; The Number of Man is not what you think. The Mark of the Beast is not a physical mark. It is a mark of the spirit, a mark of the soul, not seen by the naked eye! Our brand is a spiritual mark, and a symbol of actions and deeds: symbolized by the mark upon the right hand! It is also a symbol of thought and belief: symbolized by the mark upon the forehead!

It fills me with convulsions of uncontrollable laughter that can overcome me for hours. Often I fail to contain it, much to the disapproval of my brothers. Oh, how I yearn to announce it to all! More than anything and above all else, I want to be the one who tells mankind this:

It is already too late. The Mark of the Beast has already arrived and is amongst you. Despite all your caution and all your prayers, chances are, you have already taken it by your free will. It secretly rests upon your right hand and sits upon your head. It clearly announces your damnation, and you don’t even know it yet!
  • Vulcan

    I wouldn’t call this one scary or creepy, partly due to the way the narrator addresses the reader- there’s no real sense of immersion or threat. But I really enjoyed this story regardless- I loved the narrator’s voice and how it stayed consistent and in-character throughout, and I liked the overall plot. Good job!

  • Cari

    Perhaps the “mark” is a cell phone? Eh?