Tales from The Asylum. Text is on the wall of a cave, steps lead up to a door, partly opened, rays of light coming in. Black and White

Don’t Be Afraid

Fearlessness may be a gift but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions…

— Aung San Suu Kyi, "Freedom from Fear"

“Don’t be afraid.”

Without looking up Craig Thompson slid the last brick into place on the planter he built that day in the front yard. He did not recognize the voice and the interruption annoyed him. As if no one had said anything to him he adjusted the brick precisely where he wanted it, then after a full minute raised his head and turned toward the voice to say, “Do I look afraid?”

“Do you know who I am?”

“Can’t say that I do,” Craig said mildly as if he had just been introduced to a friend’s friend at a low-key get-together. “I’m Craig, nice to meet you.”

“I have many names. Some call me Devil, some call me Lucifer, but you know me as Satan.” The giant twelve-foot figure stood in front of Craig. It looked like Satan and I’ll let you decide what Satan looks like. I know I’m breaking the fourth wall, but a lot of things need breaking today.

Craig said calmly, mockingly, “You look smaller and better looking in paintings. How do I know you’re who you say you are?”

“Silence!” the creature boomed.

“I’ll need some identification,” Craig said without the slightest hint of fear or hesitation. “You got a driver’s license? Passport? Any references?”

“This facade does not fool me!”

“Well,” Craig said, “I’m not trying to fool you, I’m sure you’re much too smart for that. But this kind of thing doesn’t happen everyday, particularly to a nobody like me. I would assume Satan has more important people to deal with. I do like the red horns, though. Design them yourself?”

“Cease commenting on social media or I will kill you.”

Craig did not maintain a Facebook or Twitter or Gab or Gettr page, but he used his accounts to comment on the posts of others while he sat on his old wooden chair in front of his computer situated on a small, well-worn antique desk. And his comments had attracted a huge following. On each platform he called himself OldManHangingOn because Craig had walked this earth for many years and had always felt that no matter when the Grim Reaper arrived, it would be too soon.

“Well, I’m 93, so give it your best shot.” Craig stared at the figure with a slight smile that grew into a mischievous grin. Satan did not speak. Then Craig slowly picked up the shovel that had rested against the planter and walked onto his concrete driveway toward Old Scratch.

“You can’t hurt me,” Satan bellowed.

Craig swung the shovel at his foe. It passed through harmlessly. “Interesting,” Craig mused like a scientist might who is intrigued by the expected results of an experiment.

“I told you.”

“Yup, you sure did.” Craig said sarcastically. “I’m not going to stop commenting. So I guess you’ll have to kill me.” He looked up into Satan’s eyes. “Well? Let’s not waste any more time than we need to. I’m sure you’ve got places to be and people to tempt.” Craig smiled broadly, leaning on the handle of his shovel.

Long pause.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Craig said accusingly. Suddenly the creature transformed into a tank with a long barrel pointed directly at Craig’s head. Behind the tank, as if on a movie screen, explosions lit up the darkening sky. “This is quite impressive. Your tank is almost exactly to scale.”

The tank regenerated into a round, pinkish, spiky Covid virus twenty feet in diameter that floated a few feet off the driveway. “I’m the next variant that’s coming and I will kill you.” Its gravelly voice reverberated off the house and garage.

“Are you sure about that? Your boy Satan had his chance and he just passed it up.”

The virus changed into an older gentleman in a black suit.

“Klaus? Klaus Schwab,” Craig said in a friendly manner as if he had just met and recognized an old friend. “How have you been? How is that Great Reset1 thingy coming along? Man, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been wanting to ask you about bug recipes. Is there a book you’d recommend?”

“Mr. Thompson,” Schwab began almost lazily.

Before he could continue Craig said,  “I’m wondering about termites and crickets. Can you mix those? More importantly what wine would you suggest with them? Or is beer more appropriate?”

Klaus morphed into a ten-foot green alien with long, translucent, dark eyes. Above it a saucer-shaped spacecraft hovered effortlessly.

Craig laughed mercilessly. “You look like every other green alien I’ve seen since my childhood.”

The alien transitioned into a raging fire at a chicken farm, then a riot on a city street, hearings in Congress, a mass shooting and another UFO until finally the variations happened so fast they became only a blur like an out-of-focus television screen. A low whine started slowly, then escalated until it echoed like a ship’s fog horn through the rural neighborhood, then it all instantly stopped. No transformations. No Sound. Dead quiet.

Craig had watched the whole spectacle unimpressed. With his shovel in hand he absorbed the familiar tranquility of the desert evening. The warm, summer air in Arizona blew past his wrinkled face and bald head. He continued to stand for a few minutes then he chuckled to himself, dropped his chin to his chest and stared at the driveway. He exhaled slowly twice, raised his head then pressed his lips together firmly while he curled the fingers of his right hand into a fist. Then slowly, after a few seconds, he unfurled his fingers, picked up his tools and returned them to the garage. He strolled into his empty house, grabbed a bottle of beer from the refrigerator, popped off the lid, sat down at his computer and browsed through some social media posts. He raised the beer to his mouth, swallowed a large mouthful, set the bottle back on the desk, then started to type.

He began, “Don’t be afraid…”


  1. COVID-19: The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab is available and has been available on Amazon since it was first published on July 9, 2020.

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