I felt it appropriate to have his report begin with the recognition that he was leaving something he will later come back to. This is not cyclical, but progressive. By saying goodbye to his old age, he is not saying that he has been there yet, but that he will one day be there. And the day that he is in his old age is a day quite similar to the days to which he has said goodbye. I hoped he would see it cyclically, however, so that his life could be wrapped up like a neat little box…
Anyway, you get all this. Forgive me. You know that I have always thought of myself as a writer. That is why I have called myself the Scribe on all of my separate reports. Too many of my colleagues think of themselves in the most banal respects. One fellow I know – he works just across the court from me – thinks of himself as a garbage man. I cannot handle thinking of souls as garbage. I know that I am not the most silver-tongued correspondent – but my God! – at least put a little effort into it, fellows!
Anyway, as Abraham slept and tossed and turned in bed that night, I intervened. I put him into a deep sleep, a very deep sleep – you are familiar with the procedure – and called him into my office. And it was I that entered into him.
If you have not seen it (our experts say that you can see every place), my office is a poorly lit sort of den, but one in which I have managed to imprint my own style. When I was a correspondent in ancient Greece, the architecture of the amphitheater was attractive to me and I wanted to copy it. It cost me a collection of valuable pictures for the labor, but when it was done, I was proud. My office can comfortably accommodate an audience of three hundred fellows. There has never been an occasion for this – and there likely never will be – but sometimes I will go up into the highest seats and sit and look down at my desk and think.
The amphitheater looks down at my tiny desk which is on stage. I have a lamp on my desk because of the poor lighting (there is poor lighting everywhere in our caverns) and behind the desk there is a tall wall with a set of portraits of the most famous fellows. It begins at the top with a portrait of our holy Dragon. Azazel, the artist who I commissioned to paint the portraits, depicts him as a serpent. All of the portraits are somewhat fantastical in their portrayal. For example, near the lower corner of the wall, there are two portraits of Screwtape and Wormwood. Their appearances are based on their names. Wormwood is seen as a plant and Screwtape is seen exactly as you might see him in your imagination. Judas’ scribe is depicted as a noose. Having read enough about that fellow, I can easily say that he would despise being called a scribe. He preferred to think of himself as an executioner.
When I woke Abraham up from his deep sleep, he found himself in the third row of the amphitheater near the right. It is quite dark up there and the only thing that you can see while sitting there is the light from the little lamp on my desk.
When he first opened his eyes, it took him about ten seconds before he screamed. He screamed so loudly that it had some odd effect on him and he vomited. This was a great shame to me and I wrote down on a piece of paper to call the cleaning lady. When he finally cleaned the vomit from his mouth, he asked with a weak voice, “Where am I? Who are you?”
“I,” I said, speaking with a soothing and soft and smooth voice, “am your scribe. You do not know me besides some faint clues.”
I had my face near the lamplight, so that he could see my face, but could not see the rest of me. I had my hands folded over each other on the desk. I have the hands of a human for both my feet and hands. Besides this, I appear to men as a goat standing on his hind legs. I like to wear brown suits with a brown tie and a dark yellow oxford.
“What is the scribe?” he asked.
“Well,” I said, “The scribe is me. Since you were born, I have been in charge of recording your life so that I could compile a personal report of it at the end.”
“How come I have never known about you?”
“You have known of me on a number of occasions. Well, I shouldn’t be so bold. You have seen past the veil or at least felt you have.”
“What do you mean?”
“What do I mean? Abraham, you encountered spirits throughout your childhood that wanted to influence you. You have spent the rest of your life trying to suppress it. Of course, these spirits were not me nor did they work for me. I am the one who has tried to make you forget about them.”
“But I thought you were only recording my life?”
“Oh, you see, this is a difficulty for you to understand. Forgive me. There is quite a bit to explain. Let’s begin with preliminary questions before we go into my actual role. Do you have any preliminary questions?”
“Yes, what the hell is this place?” he screamed, panting.
“Quiet!” I said, “You’re going to wake the Dragon.” I silenced his mouth, so that he could not speak. “Now, just listen to me. I will answer your questions. I already know what they are. You are in the Depths. This is the realm of the Dragon. Humans prefer to call it Hell and he Satan, but they go by the former down here.” I tapped all of my fingers simultaneously on the top of the desk which was covered in a thick layer of paper. My fingernails were in need of trimming. I found it exciting to be speaking finally to Abraham Whitely.