There were once 3 demons sat in a hole at the end of the world and they were very bored. They had deep, cruel eyes that could read the naked hearts and minds of any human or beast; they could run, jump and fly around the world in the time it took a drop of their acidic saliva to hit the ground; and they could devour any creature in the world, tearing the flesh off their bones while the heart – the juiciest morsel of all – was still beating n the skeleton…
And yet they were utterly bored.
‘Anyone hungry?’ said the white demon with slanting green eyes, licking the scabs on his thin, springy legs.
‘What’s on the menu?’ asked the fat, yellow demon whose head was one big mouth.
‘Anything on the earth.’
‘Had that yesterday.’
‘What about if we go and start a war between the humans?’ the blue demon lisped, a slithering blue creature that never stopped writhing around.
‘Do you really think they need our help with that?’ the white demon sneered, squeezing out the pus from his foot and slurping it up.
And so they sat about in their stinking hole, picking at themselves, fidgeting and slithering about; masters of the earth and with nothing to do.
‘Wait – I’ve got it! the yellow demon announced with a loud fart, ‘We’ll play a game!’
‘Which one? I-Spite?’ the white demon asked excitedly.
‘Hide and Shriek?’ the blue demon hissed.
‘No. Treasure Hunt. We’ll take turns at stealing whatever is most important to the humans.’
‘Great! I’m going first!’ the white demon declared and with one spring of his scabby legs he was gone.
In a matter of moments he was perched on a rooftop of one of the great cities of the world, a cloth sack on his shoulder, studying the humans to see what they would miss the most.
‘They love looking at things, he observed to himself, I could take all their eyes… not very subtle though. Got to be cleverer than that. Ha! I’ve got it!
The yellow and blue demon awoke from a lazy nap to see the white demon scramble in the hole, splattered with red spots.
‘Been in a fight?’ the blue demon inquired, his tongue darting about curiously.
‘No! I’ve gone and stolen the colour red! It’s all here!’ the white demon snorted, slapping down his full sack, ‘You should see ’em! No more pretty sunsets – the sun looks like a bit of ash going down! No more kissing – grey lips like old iron aren’t very inviting! And best of all, everyone keeps burning themselves on fires the think have gone out! What a laugh!’
‘You’re nothing but an amateur,’ the yellow demon sighed, ‘Let me show you how it’s done.’ He inhaled deeply, slurping in the air greedily and his already swollen belly began to inflate and he drifted up off the ground and out of the hole. Then, hitchhiking on a passing wind, he was blown thousands of miles through the sky in a heartbeat.
He came to a halt floating above a marketplace in Africa. He watched for a while and saw that though the humans had to work to make a living, they got through their day with plenty of smiles and laughter to keep their spirits up. This really is a doddle, he thought and opened up his sack.
Back in the hole, the white and blue demons heard the sounds of muffled giggling as the yellow demon approached.
”That dumb glutton. He’s gone and forgotten about the game and just brought back some kids for lunch!’ the white demon snarled.
Simpletons. The both of you. To take what the humans value the most you have to understand what holds them together. Just watch.’ The blue demon slid out of the hole, his body hugging the ground jealously and in a moment he was gone.
Unlike the other two, the blue demon didn’t need to sit and think about to steal for he’d lived among the humans since the earliest times and knew full well what was most important to them. Opening his cloth sack, he crawled through the world and stole all the stories.
A World Without Stories
‘Stories? What difference is that going to make?’ the white demon scoffed.
‘Can’t even eat them.’ the yellow demon sniffed.
‘Fools! Stories are what held their whole society together. Without them their world will come apart at the seams. Just watch.”
And to the grudging admiration of the white and yellow demons, that’s exactly what happened. Without stories to inspire them, the humans stopped building and creating. Without stories to help them see the world from another’s point of view, everyone blindly believed that they alone were right. And without stories to teach them the lessons of the past, people just went and made the same mistakes again and again and again.
Without stories to help them see what they had in common, the humans began to think only of themselves. Without stories to teach them values, everyone did exactly as they pleased without a thought for anyone else. Without stories to connect them to the deep, magical mystery of life, people began to lost all hope and will to carry on.
In her dream she saw three disgusting demons sitting in a deep hole somewhere with drips of a colour she couldn’t remember ever seeing splattered on the ground. They were taking turns to sip from a cloth sack and falling to the ground in hysterics afterwards. Then, from another sack, they pressed their ears close and listened intently, quite absorbed in whatever it was that they heard.
Those rascals, she thought, It’s all their fault. Awaking, she knew at once what she had to do. She filled her lunch box with apples, cheese and biscuits and set out to take back what had been stolen.
Libi’s Long Walk
On the 7th day of her journey she thought she saw a small creature dart across her path and disappear down a hole. She stood very still and after a few moments a pair of gleaming eyes could be seen in the darkness of an underground tunnel, sizing her up. Presently, out stepped a white fox, so perfectly suited to his environment that Libi could only see him at all by his eyes and his shadow on the ground. The fox stared at her intently and finally said:
There wasn’t a shadow, or a scent on the wind or the slightest sound but something told the fox to dart at once into the nearest hole.
‘Miserable ball of mangy fur!’ the white demon cried, ‘I’ll teach you to meddle!’
‘I’m going to floss my teeth with your tail.’ the yellow demon bellowed.
‘I’m going to poison your soul drop by drop.’ the snake demon promised.
‘Oh I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ the fox laughed from deep inside his hole.
‘Oh no? Why not?’ growled the white demon, getting ready to jump down and grab him.
‘Because then you wouldn’t find out how to keep eating humans.’ the fox simpered.
‘But we promised to leave them alone from now on!’ the snake demon hissed in rage, ‘And it was you who taught that little brat the trick!’
‘Oh, of course but that was when you just snatched them up. I’m sure no one would hold it against you when you’re invited to dine.’
‘You better start making sense quickly!’ the yellow demon moaned, overcome with hunger.
‘You just have to start eating them up from the inside.‘ the fox explained, ‘No human wants to give you his body to eat but the soul is pretty much up for grabs, I’d say. Just look around. All the humans who have given up on life, who have given into despair, who chase dreams of lust and glory while dragging their hearts through the mud – doesn’t that sound like an invitation to you?’
The three demons looked at one another in astonishment and slowly, surely, a smile formed on their lips and they began to laugh maniacally. How had they never thought of that before? Already they could smell desperation and despair on the wind blowing in from the nearest city. Forgetting about the fox, they turned around and set off in search of lunch.