Dear Wordworm, I read with great interest your case report on the female.

So many juicy details, so much raw data — it makes one positively slaver to taste the soul. Proceed with discretion, and you shall.

It is only 122 miserable mortal days until your client, the prissy Victoria, will join with mine, the vulgar Patrick, in the Enemy's sanctified breeding ritual. In that time, we must lay the groundwork for a lifetime of dynamic, self-replicating evil. Together we will ensure that each one's lazy foible, or harmless indulgence, becomes in the other's eyes the gravest sin — a personal insult, demanding vengeance.

Likewise, we'll engineer their natural powers to jangle against each other like an untuned piano. Make sure Victoria's energetic disposition disrupts Patrick's need for peace and quiet — which in turn we'll teach her to judge as rank laziness. Inflect her tone of voice — so sweet to him now — so that each time she sincerely offers him her help, he takes it as a sly suggestion that he is needy, even unmanly. In a few short years — how long they will seem! — we'll make of their home a little model of what the Enemy calls the “Holy Land": a sacked shrine poisoned by mutual hate.

Accomplish that and we'll feast on both of them. And what a culinary treat these couples can prove — the pungent, commingled flavors of misery and resentment, of one soul's glee at the other's suffering, made piquant by despair. One can almost see what the Enemy had in mind by ordering them to mate in pairs. What we squeeze from the goose will be sauce for the gander.

Do note that Victoria is keenly attuned to the needs encoded by the Enemy in mortal males. (She is also “devout"; the two qualities go together with disgusting regularity.) For now, she does sincerely love both her man and her Maker. She is sadly responsive to Patrick's crass emotional cravings for admiration and respect — and more prepared to foil those viral “upgrades” that our father cleverly hacked. She is wise to the vices of virility — rank lust, boastfulness, bravado and blustering rage — and responds to them with woeful firmness and a cloying compassion. A most dangerous woman! A few million more like this and whole generations could be lost.

Ordinary appeals will not avail you here. Victoria's old tempter — poor bumbler — never managed to breed in her the haughty self-centeredness and intellectual pride we pioneered in the 20th century Endarkenment. She likes her job and values her talents but does-n't fancy them a fragile treasure, something her still-unnamed and un-conceived children might someday threaten, like abdominal ego parasites.

While she's no simpering pushover, Victoria is also no feminist. She is glad her fiancé earns more money than she, but she wouldn't despise him if he didn't. She's happy Patrick considers her beautiful but is not obsessed with the question. (That's where the women's magazines can help us.) And she really does think him brave, dependable and strong. On the surface, this may appear a hopeless case — a marriage made in the other place, which we will be helpless to harm.

But Victoria has her vulnerabilities — located just behind her strengths. That's how it always works. A brave man is tempted to recklessness; a generous one to gambling; a devoted mother to suffocating neediness ... and so it goes. And this is where we must strike. We must remold this bride into a fair-haired Pharisee.

Victoria is a recent, fervent convert to the Enemy's religion. She fell in with a crowd who knows its superstitions and practices its groveling rituals. Now past the initial “high,” she still trudges off to its rites day in and out, regardless of mood or metabolism. She spins her beads, mouths their slogans and chews the Death Cookie every day — having learned that so-called “virtues” depend more on habit than on momentary “sincerity.”

Rather than try to undo the damage, it is much better simply to push Victoria ever further in one direction, until she's neurotically driven to pray while Patrick is speaking, to serve him TV dinners while watching religious TV, to make the marriage bed a sink of scruples.

Instead of discouraging her interest in the Enemy's Church, it is much better to feed the beast until she becomes obsessed. Slowly transform her faith into her hobby, her fascination into fanaticism. Make sure Victoria reads (aloud, to him) the most discouraging news about their Church — “in order to defend it.”

Teach her to tut-tut while reciting the heresies of faraway theologians and the sins of deposed archbishops. The worse the sins she reads about, the more trivial seem her own — until at last she's glad to examine anybody's conscience but her own.

Finally, fan in her a “righteous” anger against the Enemy's Vicar on earth — and eventually against the Enemy himself for tolerating the sins she sees. Manage that, dear nephew, and she is securely ours.

Next month, I will unfold for you our pastoral strategy for the male.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screedbait

Written by New Yorker J.P. Zmirak with apologies to C.S. Lewis whose Screwtape Letters invented the literary device of letters from demons.