Smite me, Crowley thinks one day, about three or four days into the Beginning of the World. You cast me out, why not just finish it off?
He feels rather daring about it, especially when God doesn’t answer. Puts a bit of a swagger in his slither, or so he tries to tell himself.
If he’s being honest with himself (which he hardly ever is), it’s not the the daring of standing up to someone, but the daring of standing at the edge of a cliff with a backpack that may or may not contain a parachute and opening your mouth to invite a person (who may or may not be standing behind you) to give you a good hard shove. It is exhilarating. It is terrifying.
It quickly goes downhill from there.
It becomes a silent litany over the next few days. He tries to provoke Her, mostly by thinking a lot of annoying questions as loudly as he can, because that worked the first time. It doesn’t work now. He might as well be alone with his thoughts.
He tries new things – he dunks ducks underwater, he convinces one particularly nimble mosquito to buzz right around Adam’s left ear for four hours straight, he uproots plants here and there. Smite me, he thinks. I’m meddling. I’m putting my sticky fingers all over this lovely thing You made. Smite me.
Smite me. I’ll make them touch that thing you said not to touch. I’ll do it. Don’t think I won’t, because I will. And he does, to boot. Adam and Eve eat the apple, and he turns his back for two seconds and they get kicked out. He’s furious – God is apparently paying attention, just not to him. He’s going to have to escalate things, and he looks around for something that might be more precious to Her than a bloody tree.
Smite me, he taunts. Smite me down. Look how evil I am, oooooh, I’m talking to this angel on the wall, I might tempt him if You’re not careful, God. COME ON, YOU COWARD, DO IT.
He doesn’t hear Her reply. He hasn’t heard any of Her replies, and in any case he’s very busy talking to the angel about that flaming sword, but nevertheless She answers: Smiting, is it? Well, if you insist.
The angel mumbles, almost too quiet to hear, “I gave it away,” and Crowley is… poleaxed. Utterly poleaxed, and more than a little impressed, and so delighted that he entirely forgets his other, silent conversation.
“I gave it away!” cries the angel.
There, God says, infinitely satisfied with Herself: There. You’re smitten.