“Hell’s Greater Triumphs”

My dear Wormwood,

You mustn’t ask those sorts of questions. If you entertain faulty notions within your own little mind, just imagine how much greater those notions would reflect on the mind of your patient.

“If they are so eager to exterminate each other, why should we intervene at all?”

Firstly, I would have you recall that the humans’ eagerness is a direct result of centuries-worth of painful labor on our part. We started by introducing a sense of general unhappiness into human lives where the vermin ordinarily found such a disgusting sense of joy. We then began to push further the already-present human instinct to elevate one’s own needs over all else. That instinct, nephew, is one of the easily apparent symptoms of Our Father Below’s first fateful touch on primordial humanity so long ago.

The result was inevitably the general hive-mentality that children ultimately bring responsibility into human lives. I will take a moment here, dear nephew, to momentarily reflect on one of Hell’s greater triumphs over the human psyche in recent years. By conditioning humans to never cease thinking of themselves as children, we have created a multitude of fissures for the human race, which previously only children were naïve or immature enough to plunge into. To necessitate such a change we altered both the physical and mental interpretations of an adult in general culture.

A laxity in parental discipline throughout the entirety of a human child’s home life has introduced a general refusal to mature that now stays with human beings throughout their entire lives. This phenomenon is quite evident if you were ever to take a moment to listen in on the average work-or-schoolplace conversation in the world. A human’s inability to either register or care for one person’s words and experiences, and an all-consuming, overpowering need to twist the conversation until the listener is again the talker, is so petty and delectable to the ears of any respectable hellion. Then there is the laughably evident readiness, even eagerness, to take offense at the slightest perceived wrong; the bellicosity behind every gesture and underneath every sentence.

We have coupled this with suffusing into popular culture an attraction to what is ultimately the physique and mindset of a prepubescent boy, a damning combination now strived after by men and women alike, and which is utterly impossible to attain after twelve years of age. The result is a profound abhorrence in the minds of humans at the symptoms of adulthood. This renders any thought or inclination toward responsibility effectively neutralized.

And so, women are hurling themselves every which way out of the path of responsibility. Especially that awful responsibility, that atrophies their bodies, destroys their careers, that burns checkbooks and shatters intimacy, that is motherhood. They think (never overtly) something like this: If only women can fly from the burden of a child until they cross the safe threshold of menopause– or until such a time as we let them decide they will make ready mothers– then they will be successful and happy for the wispy remainder of their mortal lives. We seeded their irresponsibility, now we simply provide mortals with the tools to maintain it.

You know the tool of which I speak.

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

 

“This isn’t what I meant by ‘invisible,’ Sully,” Cooper said.

“What’d you expect?” Sully asked as he stitched the last thread of photo-reflective wiring into Cooper’s ghillie suit. “Grass and leaves?”

“Kind of,” Cooper answered, shrugging. Glints of sunlight glimmered off the synthetic fronds of his suit as they slid over each other.

“That’s ’cause you’re old,” Sully answered. He tightened one of the straps under Cooper’s arm.

“Probably,” Cooper conceded. “I’m from a time before death rays and lasers and Invisible Man suits.”

Sully sighed. “Lasers are so nineties.”

“I was actually thinking seventies.”

“Like I said.”

Sully padded a few keystrokes into the screen on his gauntlet, and with a series of little ripples, Cooper was reduced to glassy silhouette as the fronds of his suit mimicked the ambient light behind him.

“This is disorienting.” Cooper said dryly. “I think I prefer old-fashioned camouflage. You know, green and black and you could see your arms?” He held out his hands, and the wrinkles in the fabric caught the sun and formed unsettling floating shadows in the air.

“I think I remember reading about passive camouflage in history this one time,” Sully whispered distantly.

“Brat.”

“The active camo isn’t for human eyes anyways. The train is going to have sensors. That’s why I can’t be around when it gets here.”

“You didn’t bring your own suit?”

“They’re expensive, and I guess SOCOM didn’t think I was worth it.”

Sully handed Cooper an anti-materiel rifle and trotted off into the hills. “Make it count!” he shouted wryly over his shoulder. “Remember about humidity and wind speed and gravity and all that. Oh! And remember they discovered the Coriolis effect since you were in sniper school.”

Cooper muttered profanities as he settled into a prone position overlooking the tracks, and waited.