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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)

TITLE: Deception Strategy
By Sheri Gordon


The seven associates eagerly assembled around the oak table, settling into plush red velvet chairs. Contrary to the ambivalent atmosphere at many corporations, these colleagues relished their weekly meetings. As the Boss swaggered to the head of the table, the excitement in the room was palpable.

“I’m told that we had another record breaking week.”

“Absolutely, Boss.”

“Your deception strategy is brilliant, Sir.”

The seven coworkers nodded in agreement as affirmative assessments were being voiced around the room.

“Asmodeus, you’re up first.”

“Well, Boss, the Olympics provided us with a huge windfall. Between the gymnasts’ leotards, skimpy volleyball outfits, and scanty runner’s attire, the male audience is glued to television sets everywhere. And the men divers have women guiltily letting their eyes roam. Even prissy evangelicals are allowing themselves to view semi-nude athletes—all in the name of patriotism. The entire world is buying into the charade that it’s not about sex, it’s about sports. Yeah, right. Sex sells. What a bunch of fools.”

“Well done Asmodeus. I look forward to hearing how you capitalize on the lust that has been created.”

The Boss nodded toward Beelzebub.

“The summer has been prosperous for us, too. Cruise season is running full, which is welcome news after the slow start to the year. It’s easy to convince people to gorge themselves on a cruise. ‘After all,’ we tell them, ‘you’ve already paid for it, you might as well get your money’s worth.’ Then we deceive them into believing that they’ll be able to lose the weight after they return, which of course won’t happen because we’ve got stores already displaying Halloween candy, and then the holiday season—yuck—right behind that. What simpletons—so easily duped.”

“Yes, Beelzebub, I heard those cruises were doing wonders for gluttony. I see your latest report shows that the average person gains eight pounds on a one week cruise. Marvelous. Start pushing some of the longer cruises, and really ramp up those numbers.”

“I’ll go next, Boss. My report coattails on Beelzebub’s.” Leviathan shuffled his notes before continuing.

“The travel shows have proven to be a great place to entice envy. They broadcast from exotic locales, millionaire yachts, fancy-smancy resorts…all stuff the average joe could never afford. People spend hours surfing the net...trying to live like the rich...going into debt. And as summer ends, we lure them into starting to plan for next year’s vacation—hinting that maybe they’ll hit the lottery or something. A masterful chicanery.”

“Indeed, envy is a fun game. Nice job. Mammon, what do you have?”

“As you know, Boss, the rapidly rising cost of living plays right into greed. It’s easy to sell people on the idea that they need to ‘save for their families,’ and then bingo, we’ve got ‘em. No more giving to charities—it’s all ‘me, me, me.’ Under the pretense of saving, and thus doing something good, we’re actually breaking the backs of non-profits. Churches are especially hard-hit.”

“Excellent news, Mammon. Belphegor?”

“It’s not called the ‘lazy days of summer’ for nothing, Sir. And we did great—also thanks to the economy. When people are let-go from their jobs, it’s not hard to convince them that they deserve a break. ‘Summer isn’t a good time to look,’ we whisper, ‘wait until fall.’ Once we’ve tricked them into not looking for employment, we simply slide them into the system. Then our work is done. We don’t have to create the charade any longer, because they do it to themselves. ‘Tomorrow I’ll look for a job…besides, I’ve paid into the system, I’ve earned this time off.’”

“Oh yes, laziness has always been a pretty easy one. Take some time off, Belphegor—you deserve it.” The group around the table chuckled with their Boss.


“Again, summer and the struggling economy play right into anger. Hot weather, skyrocketing costs, lost jobs…it’s easy to provoke anger. But the best part is, most of them feel it’s righteous anger, and therefore okay. We don’t even have to disguise it, and they think it’s justified. No game-playing for my department—we just throw it out there.”

“And saving the best for last…Lucifer.”

“I would like to humbly say that pride is on the rise.” Lucifer waited for the demonic laughter to subside. “Seriously, have you seen some of those athletes in the Olympics; pounding their chests and taunting their competitors?”

Lucifer turned to their Boss.

“Yes,” Satan concurred, “pride is alive and well.”


Peter Binsfeld’s classification of demons, prepared in 1589:
Lucifer: pride
Mammon: greed
Asmodeus: lust
Leviathan: envy
Beelzebub: gluttony
Amon: anger
Belphegor: laziness

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Joanne Sher 08/23/08
A wonderfully perceptive and convicting look at our culture today. Wow - and ouch. Probably truer than most would like to admit. Excellent.
Beth LaBuff 08/24/08
This is very interesting, well thought out, and thought-provoking. I've never heard of the classification of demons that you mention. You've fit this together perfectly.
Cheri Hardaway 08/25/08
This was brilliant and masterfully written. Wonderful job, and a very unique take on the topic. Nice work. Blessings, Cheri
Melanie Kerr 08/25/08
Well done! Ihave to admit to being guilty of some of the things your demons highlighted!
Jan Ackerson 08/25/08
Ouch...so many places here that all of us have fallen to temptation, and some of them "seem" harmless--the Olympics, a cruise...

You captured the scene perfectly, I could practically smell the sulfur in the air and hear their sizzling voices.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/26/08
You proved "deception strategy" very well with your many examples of Satan's temptations--right-on in today's culture.
Donna Hogue08/27/08
Whew!!! Stepping on my toes!!! Well done!
Chely Roach08/28/08
This was frightfully good. What a scary insight as to how satan and his minions touch and influence our society. Excellent.