Friday, November 30, 2012

Back Home


I did it.

I had successfully teleported to precisely where I'd intended to go--and it was a completely different part of the universe, or maybe part of a different universe.  I hadn't just jumped from one location in Hell to another location in Hell--I went all the way back to the house I grew up in.

Astonished at the ease of my success and enthralled by the comfortable environment of my former home, I wandered around the house in awe for a few moments, taking in every detail of my surroundings.  Then, slowly, I began to remember my objective.  The reason I'd come here.

My family and friends were in danger.

I didn't have a lot of information to go on.  All I really knew is that two Low Order Demons had been dispatched to raid my funeral and, I'd assumed, kill the people I cared about.

I briefly wondered what would motivate someone to do that.  But then I remembered that demons were personifications of evil and that they all seemed batshit and power hungry to boot.  And I didn't want to waste time that I could spend saving my loved ones on worrying about demonic motives.

I searched the house for information about my funeral.  I found my obituary and read it hungrily--a very surreal experience.  The last paragraph mentioned that my funeral would be held at 11:30 AM on Sunday, March 11th at the Hollis Funeral Home.

Okay, so I knew the time and place, but I had no reference for the time.  There seemed to be no real concept of days in Hell (I suddenly realized I hadn't slept since I died) and Gus had said that time moved at a different speed down there.  So what day was it?

I looked around helplessly.  The calendar on the wall at least told me I was in the right month, but it didn't help with the specific date.   I pulled out the cell phone I'd gotten in Hell to check the date there--if it could even be relied on to have the right date for the realm of the living.  The whole screen was taken up by an animation of flames.  None of the buttons did anything to change it.  Maybe my Hell Phone didn't work outside of Hell?

I finally found my dad's laptop open on his desk.  I moused over the clock in the corner and it gave me the date--March 11th.  My funeral was today.

Actually, my funeral was in less than twenty minutes.

Fuck.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Departure


Gus was now in charge of Hell.  Or, more accurately, he was about to be.  The way he'd explained it, the spell worked only in my absence.  When I departed, he would instantly be granted the ability to sign Satanic Orders (which apparently are extremely difficult to forge) and all debts to me would be transferred to him--which meant that, for example, Vilnius would be his puppet until I got back.  He would remain fully human and acquire no telekinetic powers, but otherwise, he'd pretty much be the Devil.

He was not happy.  But he understood. 

He frowned at me as I prepared myself to jump back to the realm of the living.  "I have a bad feeling about this, sir," he said glumly.

"About what I'm doing or about what you're doing?" I asked. 

He gave a halfhearted shrug.  "Mostly just everything."

"You'll be fine," I assured him with confidence, closing my eyes.  "I'll be back soon." 

"Good luck, Boss-man," he said.

I nodded in acknowledgement, focused as wholly as I could on my parents' house, and willed myself to return to the place I'd been so many times.  I experienced, for the first time, the sensations that accompany an intentional journey between the land of the dead and the realm of the living. 

It felt...weird.

Something that seemed like air but probably wasn't rushed through my body and I felt momentarily separated from it.  My flesh was chillingly cold but my consciousness felt unpleasantly warm.  There was a brief burst of disorientation, nausea and vertigo, followed by a second rush of pseudo-air, and then I was standing.

I opened my eyes.  I was staring at a portrait of my family taken a few years ago.  It was hanging on the wall in my parents' living room. 

Holy shit--I was home.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Preparing for the Interregnum


Wait!" Gus shouted, breaking my concentration.  I opened my eyes and glared at him.

"Sorry," he said more calmly.  "Um, Boss-man, sir, with all due respect, you probably shouldn't go just yet."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because if it takes you an hour to find those demons and stop them, it could be days down here," he explained.  "You need a temporary replacement to keep some order while you're gone."

"Oh," I said.  "Yeah, okay.  Um...you're in charge."

"Me?" Gus was taken aback.  "No, I didn't mean me.  I meant maybe him," he said with a nod toward Jorge.

"Sure," Jorge said with an odd smirk.  "I'll do it."

"No offense, man," I told him, "but I don't actually know you that well just yet.  I'm more comfortable with my loyal sidekick here holding the reins."  Jorge silently put his hands up as though he were voluntarily withdrawing his name from consideration.

I patted Gus reassuringly on the shoulder.  "You'll be fine.  Now what do we have to do, is there some kind of spell?"

Gus hung his head.  "Yeah, there's a spell.  But for the record, I am one hundred percent against this.  And I'm totally uncomfortable with it to boot."

I smiled thinly.  "There is quite literally no one else I can trust, Gus.  I can't just let my friends and family get butchered, so I kind of need you to do this.  Not as an option."

He sighed heavily.  "Okay, but just so long as I'm on the record saying how terrible of an idea this is."

"Noted," I replied tersely.  "Now let's get this spell over with so I can go."

"I need a mortar and pestle and a few ounces of your blood and we can get started," Gus murmured glumly.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Going Upstairs


"Whoa," I said sharply.  Wyver now had my undivided attention.  "They're going to kill everyone at my funeral?"

"That is what they said, sir," Wyver said mutedly, still not looking up at me.

"Wait--what day is it?" I glanced wildly at Gus.  "How long have I been down here?  Hasn't my funeral happened already?"

Gus shook his head sympathetically.  "Doubtful.  Time moves much more...sluggishly in the pit.  Part of the torture of Hell is that the pain always lasts longer than you expect because time passes more slowly than you're used to."  He glanced upward as though he were checking a clock in the world of the living.  "You might have only been dead for 24 hours up there.  Who knows?"

"So those two demons are going upstairs to crash my funeral and kill everything?  Can they even get up there?"

Gus shrugged.  "I'm not personally aware of the spell they were talking about, but rumors of spells like that have been around since way before I got tossed down here.  It might be legit."

I felt the uneasy sensation of my blood pumping hard in every part of my body--including the tips of my ears.  "Okay, so how do I get this spell?" I asked.

"You don't need it," Gus said, placing what must have been meant as an encouraging hand on my shoulder.  "You're the motherfucking Devil."

That wasn't particularly helpful.  "Okay," I said curtly.  "Meaning what?"

"You can teleport to anywhere you've been before," Gus reminded me.  "Demons have trouble getting upstairs because they were born down here.  You were born up there.  You should be able to teleport back."

"Okay," I sighed, psyching myself up.  "That makes sense.  I'm gonna go kick some LOD ass then." 

I closed my eyes and focused on my parents' house.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jorge's Office


Gus said Jorge needed to talk to me now. 

But I really, really wanted to enhance my supernatural powers.  I'd just repealed the Satanic Order that Kivra had made me sign, but I realized that, sooner or later, I'd have to stand up to her in person.

And for that, I'd need a little more oomph.

So I closed my eyes, focused as intensely as I could, and practiced teleporting.  I intended to teleport straight into Azraal's old office, which Jorge had recently settled into.  I failed.  But I did find myself standing in the middle of a barren wasteland of fire-tinged stone--within shouting distance of the front door to the Department of Transportation. 

I tried it again, and I found that this time it came a little more easily.  I'd missed my mark again, but I was standing right outside the door to Jorge's office.  I couldn't complain about my less-than-perfect success, because until then I hadn't really had any kind of success at all.

I opened the door and entered a room full of worried faces.  Jorge, Gus, and an LOD that I presumed to be Jorge's new aide all looked at me with the same somber expression.  The expression that says, "Oh, he is not going to like this."

"What's going on?" I asked.

Jorge, who was seated behind the desk, cleared his throat.  "Sir," he began, "two of my Low-Order Demons have gone AWOL.  In the course of my investigation into the whereabouts of my employees, I met this LOD who bunks next to them in the barracks."  He motioned toward the LOD, who, it appeared, was not actually his aide.  "Tell him what you told me, Wyver."

With his head angled downward in either fear or respect, Wyver stepped forward.  "Sir, I heard them talking yesterday.  They said they'd found a spell that would allow them to teleport into the world of the living."

"Oh," I said, impressed.  This did seem kind of important.  "So is that where they went?"

"I think so," Wyver nodded.  "They were talking about someone--I'm not sure who--who gave them the spell and wanted them to use it to go to your funeral, sir, and slaughter everyone there."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sylnie's Selection


I quickly typed up a brief paragraph on my computer that stated that I was repealing Satanic Order Number 53464552.  No matter how I worded it, it sounded forced and fickle and frivolous.  But I was determined to keep Kivra from pushing me around, so I felt the need to stand up to her now before she got me totally under her sexy heel.

I printed it out and signed it.  Then I scanned it and sent copies to the Personnel Department.  And the Department of Torture.  And the Department of Enforcement.  And I sat back in my chair, thoroughly proud of myself for standing up to a bully, even if it was after I'd caved in person. 

There was a knock on the rear entrance to my office.  "Sir, it's me," Sylnie called softly.

"Sure, come in," I said.  I turned to watch her enter and my jaw dropped. 

She smiled at my reaction.  "You like it?" she asked hopefully.

"An entire warehouse full of clothes," I murmured, "and you picked this?"

She frowned.  "You don't like it?"

I stared at her.  She was wearing a sexy French maid outfit that looked like it came from the set of a bad porno.  She looked fantastic in it, of course, and it gave her cleavage so deep it appeared to be endless.  "I love it," I admitted.  "But I'm not sure it's any less distracting than you going around naked."

My phone rang.

God, her boobs were enormous.

My phone rang.

I wasn't even a butt guy, but hers looked positively juicy in that little skirt.

My phone rang.

"Your phone's ringing," Sylnie said.

"Yes it is," I said, still half-entranced, as I blindly groped for it on the desk.  I brought it to my ear.  "Hello?"

"Boss-man?" Gus said.  "Listen, I'm here with Jorge and he has something that you're definitely going to want to hear."

"Okay," I said.  I was beginning to notice that the white fabric in Sylnie's outfit was thin enough to be semi-transparent.  "Uh, give me like ten minutes."

"I think you want to hear this now," Gus said with uncharacteristic forcefulness.