The Historian: Flash Fiction
Milton Baxter is a historian. He has a PhD., so its proper to call him "doctor." "Its Milton," he always said, rebuking the gesture. His field is Comparative North Atlantic History---basically Western Europe and North America, because one has to specialize these days.
He thought of himself as a world historian, though, a chronicler of all times and all places. Dr. Arnold Toynbee, the greatest world historian of all time, is Milton's idol.
Milton Baxter taught at the university level. He gives courses like: Medieval Central Europe; Feudalism in the High Middle Ages; Aftermath of the American Revolution 1776-1783; The American Nineteenth Century West: Fact Versus Fiction; Sixteenth Century European Land Privatization; Social and Racial Dynamics of Later Nineteenth Century Railroad Speculation in the American Midwest; The Hundred Year War Between Medieval France and England and the Road to Globalization; and The Seventeenth Century Western European Thirty Years War and the Road to Globalization; and so on.
As a tenured professor, under the publish or perish grind, Milton Baxter writes books. He didn't mind because he's good at it. He is frequently invited to give talks about the books he wrote; and sometimes he appears on "panels" with other historians to talk about this and that. And occasionally, he appeared on C-span Book TV and American History TV.
At this very moment Milton Baxter is waiting in the wings for Dr. Pritchard, another historian, to get through the comprehensive introduction of Baxter himself and his work and his latest book, before taking to the microphone.
Milton Baxter couldn't decide which was more meaningless: his public speaking or his teaching. One time he had thought about killing himself. Strangely enough, the only thing that stopped him was the amusing thought of himself interviewing the demons for a history of Hell.
So Mr. Possessing-Demon, tell me, do you feel a sense of rejection, when a priest performs an exorcism and drives you out of a human body?
He put off killing himself to write two books: one fiction and one nonfiction. Milton Baxter wrote a thirteen-hundred-page phone book about the world history of the ideas about the Underworld/Hell.
The second book was a comic novel about a historian who kills himself, goes to Hell, and interviews various demons for a history of the place of damnation. But since he's dead, how's he going to write the thing? Its not like he can return to the land of the mortal living.
No problem, he'll just possess the body and mind of his wife---actually a cousin, whom he had illegally, and some might say, immorally, married. But only a certain class of demon can visit the Earth and possess living human beings, and the historian, formerly a living mortal, was not that kind of demon.
No problem, he'll just get the all-powerful Lord Satan to transform him into that kind of demon. The Boss can do anything.
But getting an appointment to see The Artist Formerly Known As Lucifer, is neither quick nor easy.
No problem, time is meaningless in Hell. A thousand years down there is like ten minutes Earth time.
The historian gets his appointment. And what's more, he finally gets in to see Satan. Our protagonist outlines his proposal and Satan enthusiastically agrees. Lord Satan tells the historian that he will be given all the resources he needs.
"You're to be given full cooperation. Talk to anybody you like. Would you like to interview me as well?"
"Would I? No history of Hell would be complete without your perspective. This is really far more than I could have hoped for."
"Fine," Satan said, "I'll have my secretary save some time for you. Anything else?"
"Uh, when the time comes... you will transform me into a possession-demon?"
"Oh, sure, sure," Satan shrugged. "No problem... that is, on one condition."
"What do you want," the historian said, "my soul?"
They both laughed. The historian genuinely enjoyed his own humor. Lord Satan was being polite.
"Anyway..." Satan said. "I rather have something else in mind."
Lord Satan had a peculiar look in his eyes.
The historian noted it and said, "What?"
At this point, Lord Satan let it be known that he found the historian "hot to trot," as it were. He also let it be known that his cooperation with the historian's project was entirely contingent upon the scholar's acquiescence in granting Satan's sexual ardor release.
This historian was taken aback. When he hesitated, Satan pointed out that the scholar was in no moral position to be prudish.
He really wasn't.
"Fine," the historian said. "What the hell, I'm dead anyway."
And then what happened next was...
Sorry, if you want to know what happens next, you'll have to buy the book. Dr. Milton Baxter has just been called to the podium.
Or stick around. He has some riveting things to say about the 1066 Norman invasion and conquest of England.