It appeared that Nelson was right.
After what seemed like a small eternity of drudgery and paperwork, reconciling souls and running Hell like a well-oiled machine, all Hell broke loose…literally. The best guess from topside was that Lucifer had been biding his time, winning over some of the condemned souls and rallying his old loyal friends from the old days, eventually pooling his power and staging the biggest jailbreak of all time. Once out, he collected those who once rallied around him, mustered more dark troops from the wicked of the living world, and set his evil army up in a base near Megiddo. To all who knew, it seemed as if there could be no mistaking it.
“Well,” Steve said as he began gathering his papers into neat piles, “At least he’s got a soft spot for the classics.”
“And the dramatics,” Sara muttered as she watched him dilligently organize things, “is he really doing what I think he’s doing, Steve?”
“He’s trying to,” Steve said with a grunt as he yanked a drawer open and stuffed file folders into it, “He thinks if he forces God’s hand, he can bring around the final battle a little early.”
“Exactly,” he slammed the drawer shut, “He’s really going all out this time: the first was fallen angels, the second was him alone, and now this…he’s got every weapon he can possibly think of. He’s just itching for a fight, he’s trying to see if I can get God to react.”
“Is he going to?”
“You tell me,” Steve clicked the latches shut on his briefcase, “everyone still loyal to God, above and below, is being called on. He’s mustering his own troops, including those loyal here in Hell, and that’s where we’re going today.”
He stood up from his chair, slid it under his desk neatly, and walked around the mahagony structure to face Sara.
“We’re being called to pledge the support of Hell. If this isn’t the end of the world… I don’t know what is.”
Sara saw then that he looked a little scared. Her eyes flitted to the desk momentarily, and she thought about how meticulous Steve had been about organizing it. Was he just nervous? A little panicked? Or maybe…was he leaving it that way for his successor, should he not come back? She would have asked him, but he gripped her hand suddenly and they were both transported in the blink of an eye to a very energetic and mobilized heaven, sitting before a tribunal the likes of which creation would probably never see again.
At the tribunal sat Jesus Christ, the prophet Muhammad, Abaham, Buddha, Shiva, and a number of other deities representing every religion the world over. One by one, different grounds of faithful or celestial beings would be called upon to plead their case and offer their services to the fight. After the Elders of Zion were approved, Steve’s case was the next heard.
“The tribunal calls forth Steven Ambrose Waterhouse, steward of Hades and its inhabitants, and Sara Donlon, executive assistant to Mr. Waterhouse, both representing the Christian underworld.”
“Thank you, Hermes,” Jesus said with a nod, and the willowy looking man flitted back to his place. Despite it all, Jesus’ face was still warm and gentle, though he lacked his usual smile, wearing instead a mask of a face that bordered on grave.
“I do not believe I have to tell you the situation,” he said, “and you are not blamed for the incident. The truth behind the escape of Lucifer is one none of us had anticipated, but it is one we must now be ready for. We call upon those in Hell still loyal to the the Light, who understand Hell’s purpose and its place, who know of the necessity of right’s triumph to join us in the fight against a collective evil. Do you, Steve Waterhouse, speak for all still in Hell when you answer the call?”
“And do you,” Jesus turned slightly and fixed his eyes on Sara Donlon, the act of which would have given her a heart attack if she was still alive, “Vouch for those remaining in Hell that they know the purpose of Hell, the imperative for good to succeed, and the reason for their incarceration so that they will fight loyally for the Light?”
Sara gulped audibly as millions of eyes, the entire future of creation hinged on the word she would utter next. She closed her eyes and sought peace. The face of Mr. Drake appeared to her, smiling and nodding slowly, gently. She re-opened her eyes, and found the word for the world.
“Excellent,” a hint of Jesus’ familiar smile played back upon his features, “You will repair to your chosen domain, as have all the rest, and await orders. You will know when and where to report, and when to move out to Megiddo. We cannot understate our appreciation for your strength and sacrifice, and I speak for all assembled when I thank Our Father above,” he spread his arms to include all present, “When I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The time has come.”
And with that, Steve popped them back into Hell, where a fresh, lumiscent memo lay on his desk: marching orders.
“Well,” he said, snatching up the paper and scrutinizing it, “we’d better get to work, hm?”
It appeared that Nelson was right.