We Rule in Hell

From the special Halloween post

Lucifer hated boredom, and the sad truth about Hell was that it was almost always boring. Oh, sure, he could find a fire to kindle somewhere if he looked hard enough—Fundamentalists plotting the second coming, logical positivists trying to create the perfect linguistic formula to prove hell couldn’t exist by definition and so (by definition) they couldn’t be there, a revolt by some new terrorist group who thought they could bomb their way out of hell the same way they bombed their way into it, one of the Bush’s campaigning for Lucifer’s job, the prospect of having to deal with Sara Palin when her time was up.

But every new fire seemed like a fire he’d seen before. And his arsenal was becoming increasingly tiresome: pee gasoline on them to make them toast faster, find some new hell with a new name at least a dozen words long (“How about the Hell of Having to Come Up With a New Hell With a New Name Only to Find That Hell’s Already Been Used, or Some Variation Thereof, Only to Find Yourself Further Behind Quota and If You Thought This Hell Was Bad, Wait Until You See the Next One?”)

He leaned back in his arm chair made from the arms of Peddler John from the thirteenth century, the first peddler to shake down people with both hands extended as though to double the perception of his desperation. Every evening he would leave the London square with his pockets sagging with donations, change into his evening wear and join his wealthy friends in a game of kick the beggars who are so poor they have to keep begging even after dark.

Lucifer liked his new armchair. It was a comfortable armchair. But it had an annoying habit of grabbing at Lucifer’s wallet whenever he pulled it out to use his credit card number.

Lucifer leaned back in his armchair with his ankles draped across the corner of his desk, dangling his Manolo Blahnik leopard-print shoes sewn from the genuine skin of Manolo Blahnik. Struggles had brought him a bucket full of deep-fat fried popcorn priests who loved His All-Arrogance but loved little boys even more.

He cracked them between his teeth like pistachios and then spit the bones into a chamber pot at his feet. He really loved the fat ones because they squealed the most when he bit down hard.

Lucifer dithered like this through most of the Twentieth Century and into the first decade of the Twenty-first. Finally, he decided he should probably do something. Swagger down the halls of the Homeland Insecurity Complex tossing grenades into office doorways. Convince some crazy to launch a nuclear missile top side. Not that he would convince them, really. Deep down inside they had convinced themselves and were only waiting for someone to give them an excuse.

He rose from his desk, and kicked off his Blahniks. Poor Manolo gave a little squeak when the left shoe landed in the fireplace. Let him sweat some of that extra weight off, Lucifer grinned to himself. It’s not as though he can suffer any permanent damage.

He pulled his Osama Bin Laden Speedos from his underwear drawer. “This is most degrading to the man who brought down New York City,” Bin Laden complained. Lucifer adjusted his Speedo so that Bin Laden’s face was smashed against the spiny midsection of his dismember.

“My, aren’t we crotchety? You should be honored to be so close to me,” Lucifer replied. He struggled to climb into his lizard skin pants with the lizard still in them. He decided to go shirtless to show off his new velociraptor tooth nipple piercings, so he pulled down his bling necklace with the heads of Tupak and Biggie Smalls. He finished his ensemble with razor sharp roller blades, the better for rolling over the toes of demons too slow to get out of his way.

His intercom buzzed. “Not now,” Lucifer swore and skated toward the office door. Too late, Lord Byron reached from underneath his desk calendar to push the speaker button.1

“Lucifer? Lucifer? Are you there, sir? Are you there? Lucifer, sir, are you there? Lucifer? Lucifer? I have a question. Are you there, sir?”

Damn it, Lucifer thought to himself. Ever since that show “Big Bang Theory” reached Hell’s airwaves with the announcement that Chuck Lorre thought he signed a deal with the devil to get three series broadcast on the same network, the imps had decided to emulate the character Sheldon. They thought that if they pestered him until he acknowledged them they would somehow avoid punishment when he blamed them for not bringing something to his attention.

Lucifer wished Lorre had sold his soul to him so he could send him to the Hell of Being Locked in an Echo Sound Chamber while Skinny Nerds Pound on the Door Ceaselessly and Shout “Chuck, Chuck” Until Your Ears Bleed Endlessly Only They Don’t Stop Pounding and Shouting.

Unfortunately, Lorre’s deal was only with CBS, and His All-Stuffiness had been a fan since Dharma and Greg. Even masturbation jokes on Two and a Half Men couldn’t get Lorre on His Most Arbitrary’s shit list so that Lucifer could finally get his hands on him.

“Yesssssssss,” Lucifer hissed, hoping his venomous acknowledgement would intimidate his receptionist into deciding the message wasn’t worth relaying after all.

“There’s a Fed Ex package for you, sir.”

Lucifer’s skullcap separated from his skull and blew into the ceiling on a crest of foaming hot steam. He closed his eyes and waited until it fell back into place.

“Well, sign for it and don’t bother me,” he said.

“I can’t,” the receptionist pleaded. “The delivery guy says you have to sign for it personally.”

Lucfer placed his hand over his skull cap to hold it in place. His anger swelled back down into his brain, down through his throat into his legs and blew out both knee caps instead.

“Tell him I’ll be right there,” he growled. Right there, he thought to himself, meaning anytime in the next million years.

He grabbed his baby seal cape, the baby seals still mewling, and threw it around his shoulders. He stormed out of his office and swept majestically down the hall so that demons and imps would scamper in every direction just to avoid him.

Not only didn’t they notice him, they were all standing around in groups, each one holding a small square device in their claws or a device about the size of a tablet.

“You already installed the haunted house?” One was saying. His tail was wrapped over his shoulder and eyeing his palm sized device with the eye in its tip.

“No, I don’t have the coins yet and I didn’t want to spend the mojo,” another replied. His tablet sized device was cradled between his second and third tongues. “How can you play on that tiny little iPhone anyway? You can barely see anything.”

“It’s easier to hide when my supervisor drops in. He’s already incinerated three iPads.”

“Tell me about it,” a third demon said, dangling by his toes from the ceiling. “I spent four hundred dollars on mojo last week alone and I still didn’t move past 200,000 on the leader board.”

“It’s just a cynical ploy by ngmoco;( to keep us in debt,” the second demon said. All four nostrils flared and a puff of smoke rolled from each. “It gets me all fired up just to think of it.”

A fourth demon, who had been running while pushing a cart of souls reduced to essential oil during the weekly anaerobic aroma therapy training session, stopped to look over the first demon’s shoulder.

“I like the way you’ve stacked those cemeteries,” he said. “I bet it makes it especially hard for humans to touch on one to order.”

The first demon’s claws bled with pride. “I managed to stack one hundred straight across,” he said.

“I don’t know how you do that,” the second demon said. “I can barely stack two ruby groves on top of each other.”

The demon’s tail uncoiled fully and stretched forward so that the two demons could see eye-to-eye. “Well, don’t expect me to tell you. If I give my secrets away you could get ahead of me on the leaderboard.”

A fifth demon squeezed through a ventilation grate in thirty-six segments. Once he was free he reintegrated and pulled out his iPhone. “I’m at 300,” she announced. The other four dissected her with their eyes. Buy the time she could pull himself together, the others had stolen her iPhone were staring at her kingdom.

“Unholy Lucifer,” the third demon said. “She must have six thousand diamond groves packed into her western realm. That’s like….” He squeezed his third eye so tightly Lucifer thought it would pop like a zit. “…That’s like….”

“Sixty thousand mojo,” the fifth demon said, finally managing to reassemble into something that resembled her former self.

“No, way,” the second demon said. “I was thinking more like six million mojo.”

“That would be my guess,” the third demon said.

The fifth demon rolled all seven eyes. “Six thousand diamond groves times ten mojo each. That’s six hundred thousand.”

The second demon dropped his iPad and squeezed her throat with all four tongues. “Are you making fun of my math skills?”

Lucifer came to his senses and realized he’d been watching this entire scene without frying, flaying, filleting or flambeing a single one of them for dereliction of duty, dereliction of ambition and dereliction of judgment, which was actually doubly derelict since he was standing right in front of them.

Lucifer picked each one up by the nape of the neck, each with a single sharpened claw, making sure to painfully pierce a body part in the process. “Don’t you have jobs to do?” He made his voice rattle like their bones should rattle as he shook them.

“Pardon me, you most dishonorable,” the first demon said, his eye opened wide from the tip of his tail. “But we finished our jobs.”

Lucifer tossed them all against the wall, making sure to keep them secured on the tip of one claw.

“You,” he said to the first. “How can you possibly have scrubbed the puke off the walls of our thousand perpetual vomitariums since, I might point out, the vomit in the vomitariums is perpetual?”

The demon waved his iPhone in front of Lucifer’s face. “Pardon me, your most disagreeable, but there’s an app for that.”

The demons shook their heads in unison. “There’s an app for the urinarium as well,” the second demon said.

The first demon pushed an icon on the screen of his iPhone and the retina display showed an image of a thousand mops scrubbing the vomitarium walls. “I even earn points,” the demon assured them.

Lucifer dropped them all to the floor and scratched his tail across the white phosphorous coated carpet. The carpet immediately ignited and consumed them in flames, but not before Lucifer snatched the iPhone away from his screaming subordinate.

He looked at the device seven ways from Saturday. “Where did you get these?” He demanded. Even before he heard the distressed answer warbling from six voices in unison, it occurred to him that he already knew.

“Pilgrim,” they all said.

Even as they said it, he swore the name Pilgrim under his breath.

Pilgrim, that monstrously obese perpetually happy pain in the ass assigned to hell on a clerical error. The Supreme Butt In’s personal punishment for Lucifer’s superb administration of perdition.

“How could Pilgrim possibly,” Lucifer stuttered, “possibly get these.”

“When you sent him topside, sir. To corrupt five innocent souls. Evidently the factory that manufactures iPads and iPhones screwed up an entire production line by stamping the wrong logo. He said he made a hell of a deal to get the rejects rerouted to us.”

The mere thought of it made Lucifer want to explode and splatter everyone in the room with acid blood and stinky guts. And he would have if they weren’t already being consumed by fire. Lucifer had sent Pilgrim topside to corrupt five souls, a simple job at it’s worst. Instead he redeemed countless thousands.

Lucifer turned the iPhone over. There, on the back, in addition to the glowing silver apple were two horns—one extending from each side.

“He said they were presents for the Halloween holidays, sir,” one of the demons wailed from the bubbling pile of demon entrails that made it impossible to distinguish any of them any more.

Lucifer began to stamp on the sizzling and smoking remains with his foot. “Halloween is not a holiday, you ignorant, in-sightless, inbred, insipid, inspiration-less idiots. There are no holidays in hell.”

One of the demons pled with him in a voice that faded into the carpet with the rest of their remains, “Don’t be jealous, your most unpleasantness. I’m sure he got one for you too.”

Lucifer tossed the iPhone into the wall. It bounced back harmlessly into his fingers. So he peeled the pink foam skin away from the iPhone and hurled the device again. This time it shattered into a thousand satisfying shards.

He waited until the last bubbling bit of demon flesh dissolved into the carpet, and then stormed down the hall to the reception area. Every six feet, and in a place as infinitely large as hell every six feet seemed to last forever, he found more demons with their noses buried in their iPads and iPhones.

“I can’t believe it. I installed We Rule Quest and they set my level back to 1. I lost everything,” an imp complained to a demon. The imp had his tail wrapped around a steam pipe and dangled from the ceiling.

The demon scratched his head, scooping out a large section of his brain and wiping it on the wall. “We don’t you post a comment on The Hidden Grimoire?”

The imp rolled his eyes. They fell from his head and bounced on the floor for several seconds until he could retrieve them. “A lot of good he is. All his does is spout off about buying rubies.”

“You should buy rubies. Pack your realms with them, although you can’t stack anymore, which really pisses me off.”

“Don’t you have work to do?” Lucifer demanded. His voice fell into the low registers and then rose quickly toward the end, raising the heat until the imp and demon couldn’t touch any surface without singing their sensitive skins.

“We’re doing product reviews for our afterlife styles blogs, Your Most Heinous,” both said at the same time.

Lucifer flipped his hand, releasing all eight razor sharp nails and slicing them like cucumbers. The slices wriggled at his feet, prostrate with apologies which they couldn’t speak because their speaking parts were no longer assembled. “No one has time for blogs or style,” Lucifer hissed. “Your afterlives should be devoted to monotony, suffering and perpetual regret for sins you can’t even remember.”

With another flick of the wrist he banished them to the Hell of Trying to Connect to the Internet with a 600 Baud Modem and a Handspring Visor While Internet Connection Fees Continued to Rise and Wrap Users in an Inexhaustible Contracting Bandwidth of Fibre Optic Feedback Frustration.

Lucifer had no idea what that even meant, but he was in no mood to make Hell either meaningful or comprehensible at the moment.

Even after his two little object lessons, his minions seemed to miss the message.

“Do you think they should have gotten rid of the aliens in We Farm?” a demon asked him before Lucifer pounded his head into the wall and then pushed the rest of him through so that he would plunge into an infinite web of asbestos insulation.

“Did you see the eighty percent sale on mojo?” another asked him before Lucifer pulled his tongue through the balls of his feet and stapled him to a KISS poster.

“I bet you could make ngmoco;( give us storage space and let us move buildings,” another said before Lucifer grabbed a vacuum cleaner and swept him—tonsils first—into a bag that hadn’t been changed since Struggles had vacuumed the ruins of Pompeii.

Six thousand, six hundred and sixty six permanently punished and plundered demons later, Lucifer arrived at reception to find a Fed Ex delivery boy waiting with the electronic signing pad and a box the size of a large book.

“You Lucifer?” he asked without looking up. “Sign here.” He shoved the tablet at Lucifer. Lucifer ripped the tablet from his hand, his hand from his arm and his arm from his shoulder.

“You couldn’t have just left this with my receptionist?” he demanded.

The delivery boy tried to staunch the bleeding with his remaining hand. “It’s Apple, sir. They’re really anal about who signs for their products. That’s why I have an Android.”

Lucifer signed the tablet and handed it back. Before the delivery boy could leave, Lucifer removed the iPad from its box and stuffed him inside, making sure to wrap the box with three rolls of clear plastic boxing tape. Then he tossed the box with the delivery boy inside into the incinerator.

“Apple is anal indeed,” he snarled. He looped his neck to stick his head under the receptionist’s desk and demand, “What the hell are you doing there?”

“Hiding, your most disagreeable. I didn’t think you would be happy to see me after I made you come all the way to the front.”

He reached from underneath the desk and clicked an icon on Lucifer’s new iPad before Lucifer could disembowel, dismember or do something equally disagreeable to his person.

The screen began to glow and Lucifer saw a picture of an iron maiden with a little devil beside it. “We Rule in Hell” the type display said. Underneath, in smaller letters, it said “Iron Maiden at Level 32.”

The receptionist stuck his head out from underneath his desk. “Isn’t it cool, sir? I mean, wickedly hot.”

Before Lucifer could answer, he crawled out from under his desk and showed Lucifer how to plant corn, build farms, add a mine and expand his kingdom at Level 10. He walked Lucifer through his first quest, ordering from a barn, a lumberyard and butcher to earn a pig pen.

Lucifer kicked the receptionist back under his desk and sat down to play. Within minutes he had his tailor shop and butcher and three customers waiting to order from his kingdom. He quickly worked his way to Level 20 where he could install the prisons.

Lucifer wanted to install lots and lots of prisons. He had already earned 150,000 points and thought that would buy plenty of prisons. That way he could get to Level 32 faster and install the iron maiden. But when he clicked on the prison icon a dialogue said, “You need to purchase this with mojo. Buy more at the mojo store.”

Lucifer was flabbergasted. He had spent all his mojo harvesting crops and returning orders like the tutorial told him to do. Now he had to buy mojo. He clicked on the mojo store. “Five dollars for thirty lousy mojo,” he shouted.

The thought of spending cash in hell infuriated him, especially since he had banned cash. The only way to buy mojo in hell was on credit, and he had set the floor on credit in hell at 120% interest compounded every half-second.

Credit might be acceptable for a demon, but he sure as himself wasn’t going to pay 120% interest compounded every half-second for 30 lousy mojo.

Lucifer responded as Lucifer was best equipped to respond. He trashed the iPad, the desk, the mail slots, the portraits of himself smiting Michael, Gabriel and a couple dozen minor angels. He smashed the phone, the intercom, the receptionist, the remaining limbs of the receptionist, the remaining pieces of the torn limbs of the receptionist and even the pulp that remained after he trashed the torn limbs.

When all that remained of the lobby was dust and blood, especially the finally ground dust of his iPad, Lucifer’s rage finally subsided. He took a deep breath and straightened his Speedos. His only regret was that there was nothing left to trash.

That was the moment another Fed Ex delivery boy appeared with a book-sized box under his elbow. “Are you Lucifer?” he asked. Without waiting for an answer, he shoved the signing tablet into Lucifer’s stomach. “You need to sign in person. Apple’s really anal about who signs for these.”

Flabbergasted, Lucifer took the box and looked inside. Bundled in the box was a brand new shiny iPad with the misprinted logo.

And a note.

A note from Pilgrim.

A note that said: “I figured you would need a new one about now. Don’t worry. I ordered several for you since I know how you are with your toys.”

Lucifer stared at the iPad, speechless with horror. He could take just about anything from His Most Self-Righteous. Anything but this. He smashed the new iPad in the delivery boy’s face and stormed back to his office where he found two dozen more brand new iPads waiting for him, each with a happy note from Pilgrim.

He settled into the carpet, launched an iPad, bought a cask of mojo for 25 percent off and filled his western kingdom with prisons.


1Too learn more about Lord Byron and how his wish to rule in hell rather than serve in heaven turned out, you will have to read the novel, which will be posted in the Pages section.back

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