We’ve looked at a few of the different characters in Grey Wings, those who dwell in Heaven and those who live on the Earth. But we haven’t looked at the denizens of Hell.
One of the main antagonists (although I am loathed to label him a ‘bad guy’) is also one of my favourite characters, he was almost as fun to write as Aurelius. I’m talking, of course, about Mephistopheles. He is an interesting character as categorising him is difficult. He’s neither good or bad, he’s selfish perhaps but certainly not ‘evil’. But he certainly isn’t a good guy either! Mephistopheles is a fallen angel bent on bringing another angel to Hell and is willing to kill Jason, a young boy, to accomplish this.
Mephistopheles was designed to be a ‘grey’ character, playing solidly into the themes of the book of morality and how real life is far more complicated than the dichotomy of good v evil.
I was pleased with how Mephistopheles came out on the page. His motivations are clear, and people will be capable of emphasising with him even if they do not agree with his actions. He loves his friend; however, he is willing to ignore what his friend wants, and even kill an innocent, to be with Aurelius. He deludes himself into thinking that Aurelius will change his mind and pursues his own selfish desire rather than considering his friends wants and needs.
Mephistopheles is a dangerous character meant to represent the selfish desire in all of us to get what we want. But while he is selfish and can be brutal, he is also charming and capable of compassion.
Charming and quick-witted Mephistopheles was a lot of fun to write, I always enjoy writing confident, fun characters, smooth operators who are out only for themselves but still capable of charming the money right out of your pocket.
GREY WINGS CHAPTER FOUR EXTRACT
Hell’s Custom waiting room was the opposite of Heaven in every possible way. Burning stonewalls dripped with condensation, which rapidly evaporated into steam. The rough floor cut into feet and many trips on the sharp uneven stone. The heat is oppressive, slowly crushing those who enter. The stink of brimstone and burning hang heavy in the air adding to the feeling of oppression. But the most noticeable difference between Heaven and Hell is the crowds. Here people are crammed into every corner of Hell’s small, poorly built waiting room. Many are confused, others terrified, all huddle around and sit on broken chairs, and benches that cut them as they sit. The walls are lined with desks, which are crammed with computers, filing cabinets and small desk toys. One desk, in particular, is covered in cheerful plastic rabbits of varying sizes. The place resembles a welfare claims office. Although instead of mortal officials, the desks are manned by demonic workers.
Some had argued with Lucifer’s idea of placing True Daemons in Customs, but Lucifer believed it set the right tone, that it gave the right first impression of Hell and those who argued with Lucifer did not do it more than once.
The desk closest to the entrance, which all must pass before they can be registered and subsequently filed away, sits Mephistopheles a fallen angel his blackened wings and small horns atop his forehead are a dead give away. A woman shuffled forward and stopped by his desk, she must have been beautiful in life, but now she looked small and ragged. Her lace nightdress was torn, and her long brown hair hung limp and greasy.
“Hello sweetheart,” Mephistopheles smiled at her, she managed a weak smile back to him.
“Hello,” she said in a small voice, her tears made her makeup run, “I think there has been a mistake.”
“Lets see,” Mephistopheles interrupted her feeble attempts to speak “what’s your name?”
“But I don’t think…” again the woman tried to speak
“Ah here you are love,” Mephistopheles interrupted again, “Walker, Miss Janet Walker, my that is a pretty name.”
“I shouldn’t be here,” Janet sobbed, “I want to go home, I want my mother.”
“Now, now pet,” Mephistopheles reached forward and petted her arm, “we all miss our mothers, you just go and stand over there next to the gentleman in the damp tweed shirt and we’ll take care of you,” Janet moved on. Mephistopheles smiled and shook his head, looking at her file had been CEO of a successful trading company, full of pride and vanity no one would know it looking at her now.
There was a tug on his shirtsleeve, Mephistopheles looked and jerked away from the Demon. The Daemon was a small cat-like creature, it walked on its hind legs and its skin was furless and melting. It smelled like seaweed.
“Lord Mephistopheles,” its voice sounded like snakes sliding over gravel, “the men.”
“They are not men,” Mephistopheles interrupted, “none of you are men or women, you are Things.”
“We are sick,” the Demon hissed louder this time.
“Of course you are sick,” Mephistopheles rolled his eyes, “there are Innocents in Hell. Of course the Demons are sick,” the Fallen Angel sighed and glanced to the flames that served as the entrance to Hell, Aurelius was taking his own sweet time coming down. If he took much longer Mephistopheles would not be able to hold the Innocents here unnoticed, someone would become aware of them and the results would be unpleasant for everyone, but especially for Mephistopheles.
With a nod to the Daemon who walked awkwardly away, Mephistopheles turned back to his desk. There was a small man standing before him now. Physically he was in worse shape than Janet. Mephistopheles opened his mouth to speak but caught a familiar scent in the air and abruptly lost interest in the man. Instead he looked behind the man to the entrance to Hell. Hells Gate raged with bright orange flame, but pure white fire was beginning to leak in around the edges, and it was slowly getting brighter, Mephistopheles grinned.
The Demons closest to the Gate were the first to be effected, many of them hissed and ran, but some remained and were burnt. One was swallowed completely in the white flame and disappeared screaming, never to be seen again. The white fire grew to be blinding and all but the Souls and Mephistopheles looked away, Mephistopheles smiled wider. It had been a long time since he had seen Aurelius and despite the Angel’s temper he was still Mephistopheles only friend.
Mephistopheles fidgeted with his hair for a moment before turning his attention to his wings, pulling free a lose flight feather and smoothing the rest down. He turned back to the entrance and smiled. The white fire dimmed and Aurelius stepped out of it. The Demons all cringed back, some hissing until a hard look from Aurelius silenced them. The lost Souls in the room stirred and stepped up. Some fell to their knees at Aurelius’s feet, all who touched him refused to let go. It was almost comical to see Aurelius becoming buried under what he hated most. Mephistopheles stood spreading his arms and went to aid his friend. The Souls saw him and some cringed back but the braver or more desperate did not and were rewarded with sharp kicks and hits from Aurelius. Hell did not have a Union or a Soul Rights Charter such as Heaven so Aurelius was free to push the Souls back by force.
“It has been too long my friend,” Mephistopheles smiled and put an arm around Aurelius’s shoulder, Aurelius licked at the blood under his fingernails.“I have missed you.”
“You should have remained in Heaven then you would not have to miss me so.” Aurelius muttered, Mephistopheles rolled his eyes at the routine banter.
“I had thought you would side with Lucifer when he kicked off, your dislike of the mortal souls is not something you are subtle about.”
“Nor is my love of my home,” Aurelius sighed “Mephistopheles I am in a hurry,” Aurelius stepped back from his old companion and tried to look stern. But Mephistopheles could see him trembling, despair was a solid force here.
“Could have fooled me,” Mephistopheles said, “it took you long enough to get down here.”
“There were delays,” Aurelius sighed, “but tell me,” he spoke as they walked to the storage room where the Innocents were being held, “how did you know it was I on the Gate? What if your bird had spoken with Peter?”
“You are the only creature I know of who is arrogant enough to send Innocents to Hell my friend,” Mephistopheles laughed, and opened the door to storage. Those who were inside looked up instantly, but it was only Richard who spoke.
“You took your time Mr Angel,” he said throwing his phone at Aurelius. It fell short of its target and clattered to the floor, “I want to talk to your supervisor!” he shouted earning him a glare which was enough to silence him. Mephistopheles laughed and clapped Aurelius on the back knowing the Angel’s silent desire.
“No you cannot leave him here,” Mephistopheles couldn’t help but laugh as his friend cursed under his breath and forcefully crushed the damaged phone under a pale foot.