The Books Of Blood Advent Calendar
“The finished building was the size of half a dozen cathedrals, and boasted every facility the Angel of the Pit could desire. Fires burned behind its walls, so that to walk in many of its corridors was almost unendurable agony. The rooms off those corridors were fitted with every imaginable device of persecution – the needle, the rack, the dark – that the genius of Satan’s torturers be given fair employ. There were ovens large enough to cremate families; pools deep enough to drown generations. The New Hell was an atrocity waiting to happen; a celebration of inhumanity that only lacked its first cause.” – Clive Barker
A Season In New Hell
Belief, in the Judeo-Christian sense, implies acceptance of the divinity of God and for Christians, the godliness and perfection of Jesus Christ. This belief, by inference, posits the absolute evil of Satan under any of the myriad names used throughout history and across cultures and sects.
Many readers are familiar with Clive Barker’s theological writings. Gods abound and not all of them fall into traditional Western concepts of gods and demons. And yet Barker just as often uses the ideas of God, the capital G god of Moses, Abraham, and the New Testament. Jesus isn’t around quite as much but Satan certainly is.
Volume Four of Books of Blood reveals the story of the wealthy Gregorius, a man who first sought God’s favor but frustrated by the lack of acknowledgement turned his attentions to the adversary.
Gregorius builds what he calls “New Hell” in North Africa and uses the palatial estate to conduct what he sees as the Devil’s business: torture, murder, vice of all manner. The construction financially bankrupts Gregorius and Barker implies that Gregorius was already morally bankrupt. The rich man’s efforts were to bring Satan back into the world, to give the Devil a place He could be worshipped and spread evil from throughout the world.
Gregorius, rich beyond measure, just wanted a roommate.
Belief, again, is an acceptance of divinity or at least power. Gregorius doesn’t believe in Satan or in God. Rather, he acknowledges the existence of these supernatural beings but does not submit to any authority or control they might have over his life. The opening line of the story should have made him think otherwise.
“Circumstances had made Gregorius rich beyond all calculation,” Barker writes. We know nothing of those circumstances. Gregorius—a once-faithful Catholic—came by his amassed wealth in mysterious ways. Did he inherit it? Did he make one or two sound business decisions at the right time? We don’t know. What we do know is that Gregorius was sad to have lost his faith and tried to use his wealth to rectify the situation. He is a man who acknowledges there is a God but does not believe in the power of that God and the submission that God requires for true faith to work. We must, then, acknowledge that God has a presence in this story, even if we do not see Him in action.
The same goes for Satan, whom Gregorius attempts to call into his presence. Horrendous mutilations and murders take place in Gregorius’s New Hell, most of which are off page. We don’t see them. We also never see Satan. “The Prince of Darkness was here, Gregorius could have no doubt of it, but he was keeping to the shadows,” we read.
Just as God rarely makes personal appearances in order to push His believers into doing good works, Satan need not show his face to convince humans to practice evil. Gregorius’s stated mission was to continue with his degenerate acts until Satan revealed himself. Why then would Satan ever appear to Gregorius? Had the earthly authorities not intervened, Gregorius would have continued killing and spilling blood. “Enough to drown all belief and its delusions, he swore,” according to the trial of Gregorius. Of no further use to Satan while locked in an asylum, Gregorius dies shortly thereafter.
By his actions—actions without faith, actions based on pride and human vanity—we can imply that Gregorius never truly believed in Satan or in God. He wanted the fame their existence came with. He was an acknowledger, a person who knew enough to say higher powers were real, but he was never a believer. Imagine what he might have accomplished if he really did believe in anything beyond his own hubris?
T.J. Tranchell was born on Halloween and grew up in Utah. In 2020, Cry Down Dark, his first book, was named the scariest book set in Utah. he has published another novella and two collections. He teaches English composition at a community college and has work forthcoming from Manor Vellum, Fangoria, Madness Heart Press, BearManor Media, and more.
For signed copies in the United States, along with news on various projects, visit www.tjtranchell.net. All books are available via Amazon.