I dreamt of Samsimeon again last night. He occupies my every thought now, night and day. And each time I think of him, I feel myself move one step closer to my own death. Not that it frightens me; it’s been a long time coming and any fear that death once held for me has long since dissipated.
It is over 200 years since I first met him. I was then – as I am now – thirty years of age. A child of nobility and heir to my father’s estate, I was a deeply dissatisfied young man. I was – to my parent’s displeasure – still single, and had yet to find a position in society that suited me. That night, it found me.
I was in my room reading when my attention was drawn to a minute shaft of light in the corner of the room. At first I thought it was a trick of the light, but it began to grow larger until it filled the entire corner of the room. Then I heard the voice. It seemed to come from inside my head.
“I have business to discuss with you,” it said.
When I heard the malignant evil in the voice I was sure it was the devil himself come to bargain for my soul. When I put this to him a rattling sound echoed around inside my head. I realised he was laughing.
“The fallen one has enough willing souls entering his domain as it is … he has no need for such contrivances. I am not the devil. I am Sansimeon, a lord of the realms of Chaos.”
He went on to tell me of other worlds that exist outside of our own. Other dimensions, spirit worlds – places I had heard and read about in folklore and fairytales but had never dreamed existed.
He told me of the realms of Order and Chaos, and of the ongoing war between them – a necessary and unending war that had crossed over to the Earthly plain through human agents who had sworn allegiance to either side. Then he told me that he could grant me immortality, if I would join him and spend the rest of my days carrying out the ways of Chaos.
“But, why me?” I asked.
“Because you already have chaos in your heart,” he said. “All you have to do is to harness it.”
He chose not to explain what he meant by this, nor what would be required of me if I accepted his offer. Indeed, soon after, he left me, and two sleepless nights passed before he came again to ask me if I had made my decision. I imagine I had made my decision before he had even left that first night.
To this day, I still do not know why I accepted his offer – the lure of immortality, perhaps, or a dormant evil within me that longed to be unleashed. Whatever the reason, I told him my answer and asked what would be expected of me.
“Wherever there is order, you must spread chaos,” he said. “Order brings with it laws, morals, principles … you must break and corrupt them.”
And, for two hundred years, I have done that. Two hundred years that could be divided down into a human lifetime.
In the early years – the first hundred or so – I was like a carefree teenager, carrying out my tasks with a youthful zeal that must have pleased my masters. I travelled widely, moving from country to country, continent to continent, always moving.
I remember only a handful of the incidents from those years. Why these, and not others, should remain in my memory is a mystery to me.
A young Indian girl I murdered by the river Ganges, her rich red blood mingling with the sacred waters; an old gypsy woman in Eastern Europe who prayed for me as I choked the life from her body; an old man in Bucharest, who was so convinced I was the angel of death that he made no effort to stop me as I slit his throat.
Most of my victims were peasants and this – and the fact that I moved continuously – afforded my actions a welcome obscurity. It was only on occasions that I overstayed my welcome in certain towns that my actions would begin to generate hysteria among the locals, forcing me to execute a careful and speedy exit.
Otherwise I went about my business unhindered. I loved my work – if you could call it that – and wherever I went, I spread the word of Chaos to whomsoever would listen: rebels, anarchists, political dissidents, and although during all those years I had no contact with my masters, I knew they would be as pleased with my progress as I was.
But time passed quickly, and with its passing I found myself growing weary. Weary of the murder and insanity, weary of the constant moving, but most of all, weary of the loneliness that eternity carries with it. I had committed every act of human indecency known to man, and the weight of it lay heavy on my heart. How could I know the love of a woman or a friend when the very concept of love and friendship formed the basis of the one thing I had sworn to destroy?
I was lost. I didn’t have enough humanity left in me to form any kind of bond with another human being, but by the same token, I didn’t have enough belief left in me to continue my crusade.
My acts of aggression became less frequent and less volatile. Where I had once murdered, I now accosted and robbed. I told myself that I was still spreading Chaos amongst the order of things but, after a while, even those small transgressions stopped and towards the end of the 1800s I locked myself away in a house in Paris, where I spent the next ten years of my life.
It was there that Sansimeon came to me for the third time. He told me that he had observed my reluctance to spread the ways of Chaos and that, if I wished, he would end my life there and then. I should have said yes, but my fear of death was still far greater than my fear of life and I begged for another chance.
And so I returned to Chaos, albeit reluctantly. Indeed, I spent my time trying to find some way in which to carry out my work and, at the same time, lift myself out of the depravity into which I had descended.
And so it was that I came upon what was to be, to some extent, a solution to my problem.
I chanced upon the idea in 1914, while living in Sarajevo. One day, I came upon a large gathering of people on the main street of the town. It had been a year since I had carried out any acts in the name of Chaos and I knew I couldn’t delay any longer. I was searching the crowd for a suitable victim, when a procession began to make its way down the street. At its head was the monarch of the country, the Archduke Ferdinand.
Then, it struck me. Why kill a simple peasant, whose death would be of little consequence to anyone, when I could kill a monarch, whose death would have an infinitely greater effect on people’s lives? I made my way to the front and fired at the Archduke. In the pandemonium that ensued, I made my escape. I later found out that someone else had been arrested in my place. It wasn’t until weeks later, however, that I discovered the far-reaching effects of my actions.
The World War that followed lasted 4 years, the duration of which I spent in hiding. As the body count continued to rise the onus was removed from me.
And in the years following the war, I employed the same tactics again and again. No longer killing constantly and at random, I now chose my targets very carefully. A famous actor in the 50s; a president in the 60s; a famous singer in the 70s. People who were idolised by millions, and whose deaths would leave a great hole in their lives.
The lasting effects of their deaths were enough to suffice my masters and give me a few years respite from the insanity. It had been a long time since I had killed for pleasure; I killed now merely to stay alive.
And then it happened. I was living on the outskirts of Czechoslovakia and one day while out walking, I came upon a small child – a gypsy girl – lying in a ditch, bleeding. I knew where the gypsy’s caravans were located and I carried the girl back there.
As I handed the child over to her parents, her mother whispered a prayer for me. It was the same prayer that I had heard on the lips of another gypsy woman almost two-hundred years before. And for the first time in those two-hundred years, I wept. Because I knew I had reached the end. I had crossed the line; I had chosen Order over Chaos. The reason I had done so was no clearer than the reason I had chosen to follow Chaos in the first place.
And now I wait. I wait for Sansimeon to return and ask me the same question he asked me all those years ago in the house in Paris. And this time, I will answer ‘Yes’.
As I lie here, I think of how I have lived over two-hundred years, and yet, have not lived a fraction of the lives most people live. And I think of what Sansimeon said the first night he came to me: that the devil has enough willing souls entering his domain as it is. And I realise, he was right; I am one of them. I chose to walk the dark path, knowing it could only lead to one place: the gates of hell.
Derek Flynn is an Irish writer and musician with a Masters in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. Derek’s short story “The Healer” was recently featured in Surge, an anthology of the best new Irish writing published by O’ Brien Press. He is also a regular contributor to http://www.writing.ie where he writes his “Songbook” column. And because he obviously has a lot of time on his hands, he is currently working on his latest solo album.
Like most writers, he is fuelled solely by caffeine and self-doubt.