“Ah, Wormsap. Isn’t this just a cursing? Sitting in my corner office watching the central-heating magma fountain do its work?”
“You seem content, Master Screwtape.”
“Indeed yes, Wormsap. But if you breathe so much as a word about this to Grandfather, or any demon else, so help me I’ll bury you in daffodils so deep that the [hoick!] perfume will be forever embedded in your hide and will burble permanently in your miserable lungs!”
“But it’s such a savory vile sin! And why wouldn’t I be content? With the contracts we’re procuring as a result of this Santa Barbara business and all the hate and mistrust it’s generating, we’ll be able to wrest a whole province from that inconsequential Printphubar and use it to build the required accommodations ! Even the magma’s temperature has jumped a few hundred degrees in celebration, helping to keep the souls of our worthy shareholders well and thoroughly toasted without taxing our demonpower resources.
“We grow stronger, Wormsap. I grow stronger! Strong enough to howwl my defiance at the [ptui!] Adversary! Hit me with your best shot, Doggy boy, and let’s see who’s the master! And it had better be better than this stupid “no competition” nonsense you’re putting out. Dear Lucifer, how lame!”
“Um … I’m, um, disappointed to hear you say that, sir.”
“Oh? How come?”
“B-b-because, that’s not one of the [ptui!] Adversary’s o-operations, sir. It’s o-one of ours!”
“What?!? Explain! And this had better be evil, Wormsap!”
“W-we think it is, sir. A-and the more innocuous it seems, even to you, the better for our purposes.
“For one thing, everyone topside is in ferocious competition with everyone else, all the time, whether they like it or not, whether they think so or not. The [ptui] Adversary tried to warn them with Malthus and Darwin, tried to tell them that their population growth will always, always, strip resources, and they will constantly be fighting over the not-enough that there is left. Ha! Doggy boy (I like it!) hasn’t got a prayer against all the stratagems we’ve got to keep the topsiders piling on the population pressure! Just look how ‘evolution’ [hoick!] is faring in the culture wars against ‘creation science’ fans – who hate abortion and all other forms of population control. Beefcake, mommy bloggers, hard porn, Miley Cyrus … they all work for us! Competition!
“And on the resource side, we’ve got a cadre who’re working their butts off to ensure there’s less food to fight over, by trying to get ‘genetically modified organisms’ banned. They, of course, are the wealthy ones who expect to be able to afford to pay the famine food prices that banning GMOs would bring on. What? Can’t pay? Don’t have access to land so you can grow your own? Aw, too bad! Competition!
“How can you not compete in this world? You can’t! Not without getting rolled over. But if you somehow can get people to believe that you’re not, you might not have to work so hard at competing. Heaven, you might even get other folk to do your competing for you! ‘Hey, she’s a good egg, I’ve got her back, don’t hassle her or you deal with me!‘
“Uh huh. ‘I’m not interested in competing, I just wish to be a better person.’ Sure, honey – so you can get your way without having to lace on the gloves or risk getting your face gouged. If you truly were opting out of the game, you wouldn’t be interested in the ‘better’ part – too much work for no gain, and you’d have to do it all yourself. Good thing about those gloves, though, they leave your hands free for the contract on the condo in Hadean Estates Luxurious Living that you just bought. Sign here, and welcome to our proud and growing group of shareholders. Snicker.”
“Damn it, Wormsap, for a minute you had me thinking that I’d have to reevaluate your job performance. But this adds to my successes. Hooowwwllll!!! I’m going to report what I’ve done to the Committee. You get to work securing those contracts!”