This is actually the draft of a research project I'm handing in for the capstone project for my religious studies minor. I'm hoping that sharing it with people will give me some inspiration and a push to finish it (it's a little rough right now, and I haven't started writing up the footnotes that will provide the research part of the project). So, any feedback you might feel like giving me will be greatly appreciated.
The premise is as follows: the devil figures from Christianity, Islam and Buddhism are roommates and their next door neighbors are the charismatic teacher figures from their traditions. Hijinks ensue. As Satan is more of a job description than a name, I've gone with Lucifer for the Christian Devil. Mara is from Buddhism, and Iblis is from Islam (al-Shaytun is the same as ha-Satan; job description as opposed proper name). I'm using Joshua for Jesus' name (Jesus comes from the Greek Yeshua, as does Joshua and I find him easier to write with if I'm not addressing him as Jesus). Right now, Buddha is pre-enlightenment so he'll be referred to as Siddhartha, Shakyamuni (sage of the Shakkas) and the Bodhisattva (in Theravadin Buddhism, the term for Buddha pre-enlightenment). And Muhammad is Muhammad or the Prophet.
Please don't be offended at this trifle of a story and enjoy :)
Iblis was sitting on the living room floor playing X-Box, crushed cans of Amp and empty bags of cheese curls scattered around him. The remaining bag of cheese curls sat in his lap, and he had a can of bacon bits in easy reach to sprinkle over the top of the bag before each scooping handful.
Lucifer ran through the room trying to simultaneously button his shirt and tuck it into his slacks. Iblis barely noticed him.
Lucifer was taller than Iblis, lean and muscular with fair skin and thick dark hair. He'd been stocky and ruddy like Iblis at one point, but man's obsession with him had prettied him up over the course of the millennium, and sometime between Milton and metal kids he'd become an object of tragic male beauty.
Of course, the metal kids wouldn't recognize Lucifer if they happened to pass him on the street (unless Lucifer wanted them to); his elegant long limbed form was hidden in the generic three piece suit of a bureaucrat, and his long raven hair was tamed in a rather boring, slicked back ponytail.
The anarchy had been fun and all, but even a fallen one needed to make a living. Lucifer had gone crawling back to Yahweh to get his job back, and was once again a heavenly prosecutor, which he did in addition to his duties overseeing the eternally damned.
Iblis supposedly worked for Allah in a similar capacity (leading potential sinners astray as opposed to torturing the condemned), but it was beyond his roommates to figure out when he put in his hours. It seemed like he never moved from his nest of snacks and video games in the living room. Lucifer wasn't sure he'd ever seen Iblis leave the house sine they'd moved in. He managed to acquire new snacks though…perhaps he tempted humanity away from Allah on the way back from the 7-11?
That was another thing, considering what he ate and how little he moved, Iblis' physique was much too perfect. He still looked like the radiant warrior being Allah had fashioned from fire, something between a jinn and an angel. Only now that perfectly toned muscular form was hidden by the low riding baggy sweatpants of a gang banger and a t-shirt with powdered cheese stains in the shapes of finger prints.
As he passed through the room, Lucifer's bare foot came into contact with one of Iblis's abandoned snack foods. It was in a state of ripe festering: a three day old Taco Bell burrito (or half of it, anyway, also sprinkled with bacon bits). It was slimy with age, and quite slippery. Lucifer's foot squelched in the mess, and then slid across the floor. He landed in a heap, both in the sense of his limbs being an actual heap and that there was a heap of dirty laundry and garbage for him to land in.
"Eugh! Eugh! ARGH!" Lucifer yelped and flailed; Iblis barely noticed. "Iblis!"
He did respond to being directly addressed, however minutely. "Mm?"
"Pick up your damn trash! This is the living room, not your personal dump! You're supposed to keep the common areas of the house clean!"
"Right, because your brimstone never wafts out here," Iblis snorted, rolling his eyes (which had yet to move from the television).
"This is different! This is grody! Oh damnation, is that a used tissue stuck on my elbow?" Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a burrito wrapper that had been used as a tissue. "Look Iblis, I am already running late for work and I cannot show up at the kingdom of Heaven wearing your old burrito!"
"Well I guess you'd better shower."
"You're an asshole." Lucifer ripped off his now-stained shirt and stalked off for the stairwell in the front hall, which lead to the bedrooms. Mara was just getting in from his own job, and they almost walked into each other in the hall.
Mara was the last of the roommates to move into the house and was a bit of an outcast, something that suited him just fine. Frankly they were all outcasts. Lucifer and Iblis had fallen from grace with their creator-gods, something they bonded over, but Mara knew of no creator-god to fall from grace with(though he'd sure like to try if given the opportunity).
Mara was the most volatile of the roommates, something that even extended to his physical appearance. Most of the time he was lean and slender like Lucifer (though always short), with flawless golden skin and a honeyed voice that could mesmerize you into following his whims before you realized it. He was more effeminate than the warriors, and very vain, spending hours in his room fussing over the elaborate clothing and jewelry he wore. On some days though he looked downright devilish, and his slender form would expand with cords of muscle, his dainty fingernails would grow to claws, and his delicately pointed teeth would grow to the large fangs he wore that morning.
Even his skin color changed on a daily basis. At the moment he was blue, but he'd probably be red or white or green before an hour had passed.
If Mara's fangs were showing he probably wasn't having a very good morning either. Lucifer decided to poke the hornet's nest.
"Hey Mara. How goes tempting Shakyamuni away from the Bodhi Tree?"
"I don't want to talk about it," Mara muttered, barely audible around his enlarged teeth. He almost knocked Lucifer over in his haste to get upstairs. A moment later his bedroom door slammed shut with a sound like a gunshot.
Lucifer took his second shower, changed fully in his room, and then began the lengthy excavation of his shoes from the pile of yet more garbage in the front hall where the shoe rack was supposed to be.
He left the house but stopped to take a good look around once he was in the yard. The sky was dark and overcast over most of the street, which was fitting given his and his roommates' moods. However, there was a break in the clouds allowing sunlight to beam down onto their neighbor's neat little house.
Lucifer scowled as he looked at their house, with its well-tended garden and general atmosphere of tranquility. The rest of the street was a picture of suburban gloom; dirty half melted snow banks that were mostly brown ice, litter, overgrown grass (or half-dead brown sludge, where there were more snow banks), and dilapidated front porches and shitbox cars.
But not at the holy house, oh no. As if their pretentious neatness wasn't enough, they had a perpetual rainbow above their roof proclaiming their superiority to all lesser beings.
Lucifer hated them so very, very much. But he was not jealous, not in the least. Wrath had always been his favorite sin, something he and Yahweh had bonded over in the old days. Ah the good old days, before he'd gone and had the stupid kid.
Still though, he'd bet his last goatskin garter that Joshua never had to peel three day old half eaten burritos off of his work clothes in the morning.
Siddhartha was sitting under the Bodhi Tree, which stood in between their yards. His large amber eyes were shut, a serene smile barely formed on his perfectly shaped lips. His begging bowl sat in front of him, already half-filled with rice, probably from the man's roommates. As Lucifer watched, bile rising in his throat, a young deer skipped up to Siddhartha, knelt before him, and shut its eyes.
"A deer? We're two streets away from a highway and jammed between two strip malls! Where did that thing come from?"
"Good morning Lucifer," Siddhartha said, eyes still gently closed.
"Heya," Lucifer said lamely, throwing a little wave the Bodhisattva couldn't see his way. He slipped out of his suit jacket, placed it over his arm, unfurled his massive wings, and flew to Heaven.
A few minutes later Joshua walked across the front yard and stood across from Siddhartha. He lazily patted the deer, which came out of its meditative trance to appreciatively nuzzle at the young messiah's hand.
"Good morning Siddhartha. Blessed art thou."
"Good morning Joshua. You just missed Lucifer."
"Yes, I know. I had hoped we might commute to work together, but he seemed a bit cranky. I thought it best to give him some space."
"Wise of you. How are the duties of the household progressing?"
As Siddhartha had been sitting under the Bodhi Tree for over a week, he was a bit out of touch with the goings on of his roommates. His morning chats with Joshua allowed him to catch up. Beyond that, the chats were just pleasant. Siddhartha and Joshua hadn't met until they moved in together (Siddhartha had responded to a roommates wanted ad, more than meeting their requirement for similar interests), but they'd become fast friends. Though they'd only been living together for a few months, Joshua felt as close to Siddhartha as he did to Muhammad, whom he'd known for considerably longer.
"The household continues to run quite smoothly," Joshua informed him. "I'm afraid our poor neighbors cannot say the same."
"Yes, they do seem to be bearing the ills of their actions quite strongly at the moment. Mara was insufferable, as usual."
"What did he try today?" Joshua asked.
Joshua stifled a giggle, and observed his normally stoic companion's lips quirk into a true smile. "Did he really think that would work?"
"I believe he's getting desperate. His nieces were quite lovely, but they left me unmoved."
"As expected." Joshua placed a loaf of bread in Siddhartha's bowl. "Peace be with you Siddhartha."
"Goodbye Joshua. May you experience wellness and equanimity."