I have sinned against Satan and now, as I sit here at my desk writing these words, I am tormented by guilt over what I have done. My hand shakes badly as I write. I have offended against the Infinite Magnificent Malevolence of our Lord Satan, Father of all Falsehoods, Weaver of Webs, and Fabricator of Illusions. He trusted me and I have let Him down. I have served him falsely. I have mocked his glory. I have besmirched his Name. I have betrayed Him.
Satan asks so little of his loyal servants and I have proven myself unable to carry out even this. A wave of remorse sweeps over me: “Forgive me Satan, forgive me Satan, forgive me Satan, Forgive me Satan, forgive me Satan…” I blurt out uncontrollably like some kind of a hysterical fool.
But even as I babble away like this, imploring Satan’s forgiveness, I am aware of the profound irony of what I am doing. Forgiveness is not exactly what Satan is known for, after all. It is after all not exactly his style! I become silent, trembling in the awareness of the enormity of my sin. How could I have done this thing, I wonder. How could I have let down our Lord Satan like this?
I am overcome with the urge to harm myself, that I might wreak a small portion – an infinitesimal portion really – of Satan’s incalculable spite on myself for selling him short in this way. To take an active (if admitedly infinitesimal) part in the enactment of Satan’s fury on me will, it seems to me, make waiting for the event to happen – as it is inevitably going to – somewhat easier. I look around my desk for some sort of instrument to use against myself, but find nothing but a black ballpoint pen. I break off the little plastic clip-thing from the lid of the pen and start repeatedly scratching my arm with it, working away methodically and crying out in a tone of low anguish as I do so, “Satan curse me, Satan curse me, Satan curse me, Satan curse me…”
I am just getting into this when I hear the sound of footsteps approaching and I realize that it is my line manager Susan coming to check on me. I should say at this point that I am a community mental health outreach worker, part of a large team of various mental healthcare professionals working out of an open-plan office in the Honeypot Lane Centre in Harrow and Wealdstone. It is a massive office housing over 60 people so I am able to hear her a good while before she gets to me. I pull my shirtsleeves down over my slightly scratched arm and act as normally as I can. Which isn’t very normal. It seems to be good enough to pass muster, however. Susan informs me that my note-keeping has not been up to scratch recently and that I am going to be audited in two weeks time to check that I have rectified matters in this regard. She also mentions that a few co-workers claim to have heard strange sounds coming from my cubicle. I explain this away as being due to the fact that I have contracted a bit of a chest infection, which has been making me cough rather a lot recently. I wheeze noisily a few times to show what I mean and she leaves. I can’t tell if she believes my story.
When she’s gone I go back to brooding about Satan and how badly I have let him down. I could hardly have told this to Susan, my line manager. Susan didn’t know that I was a servant of Satan. I had given her no reason to suspect that I might be. As far as she was concerned I was just another generic mental healthcare worker, just another overworked employee of the Central and Northwest London Foundation Trust…