Corrigan was getting pretty exasperated.
Confound it! Mr Balrog was stalking him with a butterfly net again! Trying to catch his sparkles!
It was really starting to bother him! Here he was, trying to read these reports from Advertising, and the hunk they put in charge of Operations was STILL trying to catch his sparkles!
They were just leaking out like always of course – but it was really getting annoying! Even to a guy from California.
(Corrigan, Smiling) “May I help you?”
(Balrog) “You will tell me why the forces of light hang about you doing nothing! How do you channel them!”
(Corrigan) “I was born this way! Why do you keep asking? I always tell you this, and it’s not like you’re hideous!”
(Balrog) ” I must know the secret of channeling the light! That lack of that knowledge is all that holds me back!”
(Corrigan) “Hmm . . .”
Corrigan didn’t want to say “good genetics”. That would be discriminatory, and as a good HR man he had to avoid that!
He wound up giving Mr Balrog a quick lesson on human genetics. Hadn’t he taken biology in battling business school?
(Balrog) “Are you saying that only humans can channel the light? That cannot be true! The Vala too channel the light!”
Corrigan scratched his head. He’d never really been that much for fantasy fiction.
(Corrigan) “I don’t understand… do you want lasers?”
(Balrog) “Mine is the power of darkness! Only the light can oppose me!”
Darkness? That sounded like something from his old days at church!
(Corrigan) “Darkness? As in evil?”
(Balrog) “Of course!”
Well, no wonder Fred had been so bothered, then! He didn’t understand the ways of the Tao, so he didn’t realize that good and evil were both necessary!
(Corrigan) “You want to achieve balance, then?”
(Balrog) “Balance? Is that what is required? I was of the light, and turned to darkness… Is it like humans, that I must stand between?”
(Corrigan) “If that is how you are moved, certainly.”
(Balrog) Look at me Mortal! Do not blind yourself! What am I?
Corrigan looked. Still one Balrog – massive, flaming, demonic…
Somehow that seemed to sink in a bit more than usual. It might be something to do with the fact that he was actually focusing at the moment.
(Corrigan) “Oh, wait, you’re a demon! No wonder Jenkins has been complaining about fire prevention costs!”
(Balrog) “A demon? I am no mere demon! I did not fight and loose beyond the circles of Arda! I followed Melkor into Arda to claim it! I am a Maia, of those who helped to call the world into being!”
(Corrigan) “I have no idea what you’re talking about, but creating an entire world is really impressive!”
(Balrog) “You have the light… And you say that one must be between the light and darkness to wield both… Like a human.”
(Corrigan) “Well, that’s one way I’ve heard of. I suppose Jenkins’ Numbers might know another – but you don’t want to deal with them! They make the accountants unhappy!”
(Balrog) “Very well! I shall attempt this! You will show me how to be human and to stand between light and the darkness!”
(Corrigan) “Well, why don’t you meet me after work? I know this wonderful club in the Village.”
(Balrog) “So shall it be!”
Work went tolerably well – although there were an awful lot of employee files that came in and went straight to storage; apparently they were only backup copies for employees working in an external branch. Corrigan arched an eyebrow at that – but he had other concerns, like advertising and Terry Jenkins. The woman was perpetually unhappy, and ever since Fred had disappeared, she’d been even unhappier. If only she would take her Proma-17 – but she couldn’t even get near her without her sticking a sharp object in him even if she had seemed to be slightly happier for the last day or two (even if she did still stab him every time he called her “Terry”). Oh well! At least the evening promised to be fun!
The Balrog was waiting – with an oversized motorcycle.
(Corrigan) “Nice bike! Where shall we go?”
Corrigan had selected a club with a nice, diverse crowd of gays and straights – and few flammable objects. He gave the Balrog the direction – and it cheerily ran people down (normal enough for Battling Business World), kicked cars out of the way (kind of over the top), and took a shortcut though the neonatal wing of a local hospital, cheerily catching babies in the wheel-spokes! (More than a bit over the top, even by Battling Business World standards).
It was a good thing he’d brought his Proma-17 injector! They’d never remember!
(Corrigan) “There, there… that’s a good boy…”
“WAH… Wah..waa… aahhh…”
The nurses were outraged. Babies were not proper targets!
Corrigan sighed. Would they rather have the little things bleed to death? It took a day for them to learn how to heal, and they were so unhappy when it happened.
Oh wait: they’d rather that the Balrog not be crashing through the neonatal wing! That was no way to behave! It was against every code of conduct! Only parents were allowed to kill un-abandoned babies!
(Corrigan) “All right, Mr. Balrog… your first lesson in being human is to respect others’ feelings!”
(Balrog) “But… Are they not there to kill and torment?
(Corrigan) “No, they exist to help the world grow and change. The more people exist, the more delightful the world is.”
(Balrog) “Growth… Like calling the world into being so long ago. The harmony before the dissonance.”
(Corrigan) “Yes, exactly!”
(Balrog) “But… I am of the Maia! I have always been of one nature or the other! Always pure!”
(Corrigan) “Do you have to be? Seeking purity seems to have made you unhappy.”
He would have used Proma-17 on the Balrog, but the tough hide and the flaming aura were a bit much for his poor little injector.
(Balrog) “So I should not – say – burn this child to death, but hand it back to that short nurse who cannot reach past my waist?”
(Corrigan) “Yes, that would be a good start.”
The Balrog hesitated – but if channeling the light involved nothing more than such small concessions, it would be well worthwhile. It reluctantly handled the child back to the nurse.
(Corrigan) “Now let’s go back to the street. Infants are no match for your skills!”
The Balrog absent-mindedly wheeled the bike down the hall, rather than crashing through a wall. Corrigan patted the Balrog on the back; he was learning!
(Balrog) “Why does this feel so… unprecedented? I was kind often enough before I descended in the service of Melkor!”
Corrigan shrugged. He wasn’t exactly familiar with the Balrog’s life story.
(Corrigan) “Maybe being nice is making you remember. Keep it up!”
The nightclub was large, busy, and crowded. The riot hadn’t started yet – but it was close as always. The disco ball was smoking already, it looked like someone had lit the fuse early. Corrigan was pleased; he’d been afraid that the Balrog might light it early by accident!
He started the lesson on nightclub behavior…
(Corrigan) “Okay! When someone bumps into you, what do you do?”
(Balrog, hesitantly) “Incinerate them in unholy flame?”
(Corrigan) “No, no… you say, ‘Excuse me.’ Or you just ignore it. The club floor often gets crowded, and people can’t avoid bumping into each other. If they’re overly pushy or insulting about it, you punch them. That’s how some of the best riots get started!”
(Balrog) “But… Isn’t that being sociable?”
Corrigan had never thought about that before. He’d always assumed that, if it was obviously an accident, there was no need for him to hit people. Besides… He was used to having the crowd part in awe when he hit the floor in the first place.
(Corrigan) “Well, yes, but unholy flame is right out! That ends the party BEFORE the disco ball explodes, and no one likes that!”
Corrigan decided to try and get Mr Balrog drunk. OK, lots of people did things they’d regret later while drunk, but loosening up the Balrog might be well worthwhile. His behavior would be hard to make worse! What could he do, set the entire place on literal fire? They had the foam sprays for that; they couldn’t have the place burning down until the disco ball blew up, everyone died, and they woke up at home with no hangover or lingering drug effects! If they slept naturally, all that stuff carried over!
Quite a few people did ignite when they brushed against the Balrog, but that was hardly his fault. A lot of them were so high that they didn’t notice anyway, which was one reason for the fire extinguishers staying available until the disco ball went off!
The Balrog did seem to be enjoying himself. Oddly enough, the drugged-up folks often seemed to really see him but accepted him as he was anyway.
Of course! They were finding their own happiness, and when you were happy, you didn’t worry about other people’s looks!