The following entry should be placed somewhere shortly after Sara’s introduction to Hell.
“So!” Steve was almost annoyingly chipper, “What do you think?”
They had returned to his office, a fairly normal looking affair… despite the location.
“Well, it’s much nicer that I thought Hell to be,” Sara replied, strolling around the office. Steve’s diploma was on the neutral colored wall, along with his Bar certification, and pictures of his family. Sara made a mental note that, now in the afterlife, they should have some sort of big family reunion so she could learn all the embarrassing childhood stories about Hell’s new master.
“Well, the thing of it is,” Steve plopped into his ergonomic chair and plopped Chuck Taylors onto his desk, “It’s not exactly Hell… per se… anymore… technically… as you would think of it.”
“They had to bring in a lawyer,” Sara smirked, “What are you calling it, then? Post-corporeal rehabilitation? Soul Restructuring? A calculated effort of Fire & Brimstone on the eternal and ethereal?”
“You’ve been working in government too long,” Steve smirked right back, “No, actually, it’s a pretty long and complicated story.”
“Well, I’ve got all of eternity now and it’s…” she glanced at a watch that didn’t exist on her wrist, “Tuesday, so I think I’ve got time for a long and complicated story. Go ahea–”
“Uh, yes…” Sara replied quizzically, “That demon in the miniskirt you call a receptionist had a big ol’ calendar on her desk.”
Still paying little attention to her, Steve leapt up from his chair and very nearly skipped to the office door. He turned back to Sarah, grinning madly.
“I love Tuesday.”
“Would you like to tell me why, Steven?” Sara asked, arms folded across her chest as the new Satan stood at the door, bouncing like a Cocker Spaniel.
“Come on! You’ll see.”
“What about the ‘long and complicated story,’ huh?”
“I can explain on the way!” he was nearly twitching now, moving his arms in little motions to simulate running, “Let’s go!”
They exited his office and briskly made their way through the main section, where succubi and hellspawn occupied desks along with normal, everyday folk. A fishnet-clad demoness swiveled her chair around as they headed out, but Steve cut her off.
“Hold my calls, Barbara. It’s Tuesday.”
Her black lips parted in a fanged smile that wrinkled the red skin of her cheeks in a way that was almost endearing.
“I wondered when you’d be heading out, boss.”
Sara wasn’t exactly pleased with the reception her former boyfriend was getting from his, well, receptionist.
“I think Barbara has a thing for you, Steve.”
“She’s a succubus, Sara,” Steve rolled his eyes and lead her out of the secretarial pool, “She does that to everyone. Want to try it?”
“Hunh!” Sara felt a slight bit of heat rush to her cheeks, “When are you going to get to that story? What did you mean that it’s not really Hell anymore?”
“Well, this place wasn’t always all Lake of Fire and whatnot,” Steve began as they headed down almost identical beige corridors, “Way way back, before the Angel Wars, this was gehenna and sheol: the first a place for the wickedness to be burned out of people so they could enter Heaven, and the second, well… that was the realm of the dead. Exile from God at the fundamental level, completely without the presence. You didn’t want to go there.”
“When did it change?”
“Well, I’ll answer your question with a question,” he said, flashing ID to a demon guarding a door. They stepped through into a corridor that was a different shade of beige, a bit darker with some burgundy accents.
“What do you remember about the book of Daniel?”
“Steve Waterhouse!” Sara replied, taken aback, “After all we’ve been through, and all your self-imposed ignorance… you’re quizzing me on the Bible?”
“World turned upside down, I know,” he replied with a grin, hands in his pockets as they strolled down the hallway, “If you’ll remember, there’s a bit in Daniel where the angels says that he was delayed in getting his message to the author. Now, what on Earth… or, rather, not on Earth would cause an angel of all things to be late for an appointment?”
“You mentioned the Angel Wars earlier… those really happened?”
“You betcha,” Steve nodded, “and it was the result of those wars that created the Christian Hell. Lucifer, fresh off his exile, decided to throw a great big temper tantrum and got rid of gehenna entirely, choosing instead to just punish everyone because, well, he’s a bit of a jerk that way.”
“Why didn’t God stop him?”
“God gave him Master down here, first and foremost,” Steve shrugged, “and second… I think the Big Guy wanted to see if he would, given enough time, wise up a little.”
“Sympathy for the Devil,” Sara shook her head. It was still beyond her comprehension to understand the nature of God, even after meeting him face to face.
“Instead of fighting jerk with jerk,” Steve continued, “God decided to try a different way, attempting to nip things in the bud before they even got to the Afterlife. And there’s your New Testament.”
“And more: Muhammad, Buddha, the whole Nine Yards. God really pulled out all the stops trying to keep people away from Lucifer’s little playground. Of course, after Lucy decided to take on the throne AGAIN, God finally decided that solitary was the best thing for him. The Big Guy wasn’t pleased about it, either, from what I heard… and that’s when they hired me.”
Sara let out a long breath as they reached another door, another demon, and another checkpoint.
“You’ll forgive me if I doesn’t make 100% sense,” she sighed, shaking her head.
“Yeah, it doesn’t for me, either,” Steve smiled. They stepped into another corridor now, completely different from the others. In here, it was black: the walls looked to be covered in black velvet that shone in the slightest of light like it was studded with tiny stars. The carpet was black as well, featureless but comfortable, and very little light emanated from tasteful brass sconces on the walls. It was very dark, but not necessarily uninviting.
“Let me guess,” Sara crossed her arms, “you designed this room.”
“How did you know?”
“You always wanted to decorate our apartment in dark colors,” she muttered, “makes the room look so small.”
“Well, don’t worry about this one,” Steve said, striding down the corridor, “It’s just a hallway. It’s supposed to be small. It’s what’s beyond these doors that’s where the action is!”
Sara shook her head at Steve.
“I don’t think I remember you being this giddy the entire time we’ve known each other.”
“Sure I was!” Steve responded, feigning offense, “Remember that time you bought that skimpy outfit, and we–”
The New Satan tried hard to stifle his laughter until tears flowed.
“Oh, shut up,” Sara hissed, trying to hide a smile of her own. Steve seemed so much more relaxed now, and HERE of all places.
“Are you going to tell me what all these doors are for? I’m guessing we’ve reached the end of our little journey, so this must be what makes Tuesdays so exciting.”
“You hit the nail on the head, Donlon,” Steve gave a smile and gestured down the hall. There were about twenty black doors on either side of the corridor, “this is why I love Tuesdays?”
“So… you like to spend Tuesdays re-enacting scenes from Scooby Doo?”
“You’re hilarious,” Steve shot back, “Through these doors are… celestial, ethereal holding cells for almost every human religion that has ever existed or will ever exist. The dearly departed, if they are of a certain… criteria, wind up there for their judgment and processing.”
“Oh, God!” Sara exclaimed, “You’ve made it like the DMV! Truly, this is Hell!”
She slapped both palms to her cheeks in an exaggerated show of horror which quickly fell into deadpan boredom.
“And you’re trying to tell me that you only need twenty doors for this?”
“Eh, there’s a miscellaneous door at the end of the hall,” Steve said with a wave of his hand, “I think you can see at this point that it doesn’t matter all that much.”
“I know so many people who would punch you for that.”
“And you’re one of them.”
“Yep!” Sara responded, not pleased, “So, are you gonna show off your magic waiting rooms in Hell?”
“I suppose so… but you’re kind of ruining the scope of all this.”
He swung open a door into a room that was utterly devoid of everything except for a mysterious light that illuminated the room full of people, all standing about and looking absolutely confused. Steve stood in front of a black podium and addressed the masses as Sarah shut the door.
“Okay, folks, so here’s the deal. Y’all are listed as dyed-in-the-wool Atheists: no God, no Architect, no Flying Spaghetti Monster, nothing. Obviously, you’re wrong, because… you’re here.”
“Who says?” An angry voice from the back piped up.
“I says,” Steve replied, rolling his eyes.
“And who are you?”
Steve gave a little sigh and snapped his finger. In a trice, he was replaced by a towering, winged, horned monstrosity, its maw dripping acid from thousands of needle-teeth. The beats clicked its fingers again and returned to a gangly redhead with a Boston accent.
“I’m the guy in charge down here, capisce?”
There was general agreement.
“So, you got two options: option one, you keep to your Atheism: we wipe your memories of this event, and we put you in the special Atheist section where you can enjoy absolute nothingness for the rest of eternity. Sound good?”
“Who is the peanut gallery in the back?” Steve asked, exasperated.
“My name’s Steve… sir.”
“I’m Steve, too,” the New Satan gave a smile, “not sir. Anyway, Option Two: we forgive ya, and you’re free to go into Heaven. Option One, stand over there, Option Two, over there.”
He gestured to opposite sides of the room and continued speaking in a very businesslike fashion.
“Those of you who have enough sins will need to be sterilized for a period in Hell, but don’t worry. It’s standard procedure: you do some stuff that you hate for a while, it sucks, you feel bad, then you’re good to go. I had to listen to a lot of Britney when I got here, and watch a lot of reality TV. A demon will be by shortly to take your decisions. His name is Harold, and he’s a Sox fan, so he’s not all bad. I’ll be seeing some of you guys soon, feel free to say hi!”
And with that, he ushered Sarah out of the room and closed the door. Once the door was closed, his glee was almost overwhelming.
“Now… wasn’t that awesome?!”
“A lawyer’s wet dream, I would assume,” Sara sniped back, but couldn’t keep from smiling, “come on, devil-boy, let’s go mess with the Fundamentalists next.”
“Oh, you’re gonna love them!” Steve beamed, “Some of them still refuse to believe me. I even got Jesus to vouch for me once, still nothing, so we created a little walled in section upstairs so they can be blissful alone.”
“That sounds like a bad joke.”
“How about the Jews?”
“I can’t tell you how many Rabbis I’ve freaked out,” he said proudly, “I get them all worried with the whole ‘you chose the wrong Messiah’ thing, then I totally let it drop and they just wanna kill me. It’s hilarious.”
“Buddhists?” Sara raised an eyebrow as they walked by a door emblazoned with the appropriate logo.
“You don’t wanna open that one,” Steve noted off-handedly, “It leads to Nirvana.”
“What’s that like?”
“You ever stare at a really pretty screensaver for too long? It’s kinda like that.”
“And you do this every Tuesday?” Sara asked, almost incredulous with it all.
“And I come along with you?”
“Well, you are my personal assistant,” Steve replied, trying not to seem too forceful, “so if I need someone to accompany me…”
They walked past a few more doors, their footfalls padded on the black floor. Sara finally replied to put Steve’s mind at ease and affix an almost permanent smile to his face.
“…Can I do some of the scaring sometimes?”
Steve stopped dead in his tracks. Worried, Sara did too. They both stared into each others’ eyes for a moment before Steve snatched Sara up in a massive hug, whispering in her ear, powerfully and emotionally.
He put her back down, trying to banish tears from his eyes. Sara’s smile certainly helped as Steve turned back down the hallway and kept on walking.
“Come on, Donlon. Let’s go send the Westboro Baptist guys to Haight-Ashbury for a few millenia.”
“They get their own door?”
“They get their own door.”