If You Give Moloch Your Baby

If you give Moloch your baby, he’s going to ask for a snake’s egg.
 
When you give him the egg, he’ll probably ask you for a straw. His fire-and-glass fingers will prick a hole in the leather shell, suck out the eggwhite, and blow your first born’s soul back in.
 
When he’s finished, he’ll ask you for a napkin.
 
Then he’ll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn’t have an ectoplasmic mustache. He will. He’ll make you look over his shoulder, into his terrible mustache, where the dregs of the babesoul are crusting.
 
When he looks in the mirror, he might notice his horns need sharpening.You’ll bow your head and distend your jaws so that his black iron barbs may scrape your teeth.
 
As his horns are sharpened your teeth are sharpened too, into needle-point fangs, black with iron shavings. He’ll need a fine, smooth skin to make you a fine, long coat. You’ll give him yours. He’ll start stitching. He might get carried away and stitch you a fine leather ensemble. He may even end up minting bright gold cufflinks from your fillings!
 
When he’s done, he’ll probably want to beat the drum of the conqueror. You’ll have to build it carefully from batwings, brass and bone. He’ll scratch its membrane, releasing its harpy shriek and summoning a chitin spire from the babesoul egg. He’ll probably ask you to read him a story. So you’ll tell him first your fondest dreams, then your secrets, then your nightmares. He’ll ask you to do the voices.
 
When you try to do the voices your lipless mouth will rasp and choke. He’ll want to build you a conch-shell crown, to amplify your squeaks. He’ll ask for broken geodes and molluscs. He’ll bolt it directly to your head. When your crown is finished, he’ll want you to sign your name with his clammy ink-drenched tongue. Then he’ll want to hang your picture on his tower. Which means you’ll need an army. Your followers will come, and they will know your name, and they will pray to you King Moloch, Wise Moloch, Endless Moloch. There will be no-one behind you, but his voice will curl in your ear.
 
Basking in the tower’s shade will remind you of what you’ve given up. So you’ll call forth a peasant- a family man, loyal to the dirt, but hungry as you were hungry.
 
And chances are when you ask for him, he’s going to bring his baby.

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