Friday, March 29, 2013

Making a Deal

"I need more demons," Kivra snarled at me.  "Obviously," she added with contempt.

She had me by the neck.  My toes swung six inches off the ground.  Wyver didn't seem anxious to help.  I didn't appear to be in a position to negotiate.  Plus there was the fact that I was trying to rush to General Gavsot's aid.  Gavsot probably thought I'd fallen into the pit of lava or something.

This was taking too long.

"Fine," I choked.  "You can have your three hundred demons back."  I felt like shit for caving, but Kivra had this power over me and I didn't have time to try and wriggle free of her physical and mental hold on me.  I figured if I made a deal with her quickly I could find a way to weasel out of it later.

But she just laughed at me--as obnoxiously as possible.  She didn't laugh because she thought I'd said something funny--she laughed to dismiss what I'd said with as much humiliation as possible.  She put her sensuous mouth tantalizingly close to mine, opened her smooth lips and blasted me full in the face with the loudest, most forceful laugh of disdain I'd ever had the misfortune to endure.  And I discovered something about Kivra that wasn't overwhelmingly sexy--her breath.

"Three hundred?" she said once she'd finished laughing in my face.  "You owe me more than that after your last little asshole stunt.  My price has gone up.  I want three thousand demons."

She smiled at me.  "And you're going to give them to me."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Defiance

I needed to win back some power.  I needed to show Kivra she couldn't walk all over me.  The problem was, however, that she was currently demonstrating the extent of her power over me by holding me off the ground by my throat.

"You can't force me to make a deal with you," I said defiantly from a position of supreme weakness.

Kivra's eyes blazed in response and her eyebrows rapidly shot upward and back down once.  It was kind of sexy.  "I'm pretty sure I can squeeze it out of you," she hissed.  She clearly intended the pun because her grip on my larynx tightened as she spoke.

"I can teleport away from here instantly," I reminded her.  "You can try to force me to do what you want, but you can't physically restrain me long enough to accomplish anything."

She stared me down for a long time before responding.  "Maybe," she finally replied, pressing her body against me.  She reached down to my crotch with her free hand and massaged the arousal I couldn't control. "But I can still make you squirm," she whispered.  Then she bit fiercely at my ear lobe.

As intensely embarrassing as this was, it wasn't entirely unpleasant.  It was the most action I'd ever gotten in life or in death.  I glanced over at Wyver again.  Still not participating in this confrontation, he was looking on with an expression of disgust--and I got the sense that his disgust was with my vulnerability, not with Kivra's unscrupulous means of manipulation.

I could have teleported away.  I should have teleported away.  But I was in a hurry and Kivra knew it and her hand rubbing my erection felt so good and my powers of reasoning were considerably compromised.

"Just for curiosity's sake," I murmured, "What kind of deal did you have in mind?"


Friday, March 15, 2013

Kivra's Retribution

"Just the chickenshit piece of horse-fellating seagull excrement I was looking for," Kivra snapped.  Damn was she sexy when she was angry.  Which, of course, was all the time.

I'd felt so powerful when I'd defied her by repealing the Satanic Order which had granted her department three hundred additional demons. I was striking back, not allowing her to control me with her intimidation and seduction.  I was standing up for myself and taking control.

But I did not feel in control now.  As always, in Kivra's presence, I was completely powerless.  "Listen, this really isn't a good time," I said, trying to step past her to descend the steps from the landing.

She stepped in front of me.  Her breasts were directly in front of me.  They were nothing in size compared to Sylnie's, but they were pleasantly shaped and firm and the way she held her arms crossed in front of her propped them up wonderfully.  "You abysmally stupid fuck," she snarled.  The anger and disrespect kind of dulled the pleasantness of her cleavage a little.  "I don't care if this isn't a good time, you pusillanimous shitstain," she continued.  "You will make some goddamn time."

My throat was dry.  "Okay," I conceded.  "What's this about?"

She shoved me backward so roughly that I practically ricocheted off of the hull of the cable car.  "You know damn well what this is about, you incompetent coward," she sneered acidulously. "You repealed my order for demons.  You broke an agreement.  You neglected an obligation."  Her hand was around my throat and my back was up against the cable car.  "And most importantly, you strained an already tenuous mutually beneficial relationship and crossed the only truly powerful ally you have in the entirety of this treacherous cavern of despair."

She was lifting me by the neck.  My toes began to swing freely an inch off the ground.  I looked over at Wyver, who was waiting at the foot of the stairs.  He looked so bored that I swear if he'd been wearing a watch he would've taken that moment to check it.

"We're going to make a deal right now," Kivra said, her beautiful and terrifying face frighteningly close to mine.  "And you're going to give me back my fucking demons."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Across the Lake of Fire

The cable car moved quickly.

It was really some kind of weird hybrid of a cable car and a high-speed monorail, as best I could tell.  We were hurtling with frightening velocity across a terrifyingly empty expanse.  A quick glance over the side confirmed that there was a roiling pit of lava directly beneath us.  A quick glance was too much, and once I looked, I vowed never too look again.  Wyver seemed to think even less of me as I lay cowering in the corner of the cable car as it was propelled precariously toward...wherever it was we were going.

When I gained enough courage to look forward, I realized we were heading toward the fang of rock that hung from above.  Apparently it was some kind of hub or way station for the cable car network.  Scores--or possibly hundres--of other cables ran out of this central location above the lake of fire.  The cables hummed busily with full loads of poor, hopeless humans being transported back and forth.

While I couldn't speak for the efficiency of the system, it certainly had speed.  We presently entered a tunnel inside the massive column of stone and slowed to a stop by another little metal landing.  The raw fear of being suspended above a volcanic reservoir was abating.  This, however, was quickly replaced by a wholly different fear as I stepped out of the car.

Standing on the landing waiting for me, arms crossed, was Kivra.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Barracks of the Damned

Eventually objects on the horizon began to loom closer and take on recognizable shapes.  We were getting close to the Barracks of the Damned and nearing the edge of the fearsome cliffs as well.

"This is taking too long," I muttered in frustration.  "By the time we get to General Gavsot, he'll be overrun."

Wyver didn't seem concerned.  "It'll take as long as it has to," he said simply.

As we drew closer to the Barracks, I began to see movement and bustle around the massive buildings that protruded with an angular, grotesque chaos from the sides of the burnt-red cavern walls.  Instead of appearing to have been built around the natural formations of the rock, the Barracks seemed to have been surgically implanted into the stone by a nervous or possibly schizophrenic first-year medical student.  Humans by the thousands moved in various directions between the buildings and what appeared to be cable car stations at the edge of the cliffs, shepherded by hundreds of demons and numerous patrols of pit guards.

"Just follow me," Wyver said calmly as we approached the fringes of the organized madness.  "I'll get us one of these cable cars."  He confidently surged into the fray, cutting across six different streams of damned souls at once.

We entered the currents of damned souls between the Barracks and the cliffs, and the noise became overwhelming.  The moans and whines of humans returning from a hard day of getting their entrails fed to them mixed with the whimpers of those about to began a new day of fresh torture.  Above it all were the brusque barks of the demons keeping them in line.  The arrangement was filled out by the baritone grumbling of the pit guards as they prodded stragglers with their short spears.  The result was a dense, senseless cacophony of uninterrupted, unintelligible pandemonium.

I tried to follow Wyver's lithe movement through the mess but I eventually fell behind as I struggled to squeeze in between each shambling dejected soul.  He had to come back and retrieve me from a particularly confusing makeshift intersection.  He gripped me firmly by the arm and hauled me through a knot of people, knocking some of them aside like eternally condemned bowling pins.  "All due respect, sir," Wyver growled at me in annoyance, "But you should remember that you're the Devil.  You rule this entire domain, which is dedicated to the torture of all these people.  You don't need to be polite to anyone.  If they're in your way, you remove them from your way."

I swallowed dryly, taking a moment to catch my breath.  "I'll try to remember that."

Wyver scowled at me and pulled me up onto a rusting metal landing that stuck out over the edge of the cliff.  A cable car had just arrived next to the landing and a cargo of freshly tormented souls was disembarking.  As soon as the last one stepped off, Wyver hauled me bodily onto the car, slammed the door shut behind us, and turned to the low-order demon who appeared to be acting as the driver.  "Go," he ordered.

Our cable car pulled away from the station and out across the wide volcanic chasm.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Breaking the Silence

It was a long walk.

And after his emotional endorsement of torturing damned human souls, Wyver became pensive and reticent. Perhaps he was pondering the finer glories of what a knife could do to human skin.  He hadn't seemed to be much of a conversationalist before, and now it appeared that he held the silence in some sort of reverence.

I may be the Devil, but I'm still a teenager.  I was born in the nineties.  Like most of the millennial generation, I like to be entertained.  And I don't like walking if I'm not reaching a destination soon.  Despite the fact that we'd clearly left the Department of Enforcement far behind, it didn't look like anything else had gotten any closer.

I was antsy.  I needed to speak.  I needed to do something to pass the time.  I needed to hurry up and do something that would require less time for our travels.

"Don't you guys have, like, vehicles or anything?  Like a Jeep or something, so we could get there faster?"  I felt like a junkie walking into a pharmacy and trying to convince the nice lady behind the counter to give me drugs.

"No," Wyver replied.  "The Department of Transportation is mostly responsible for the transport of souls from their barracks to their torture and back again.  The shuttles almost exclusively run between the Barracks of the Damned and the Department of Torture."

That answer, though unsurprising, was very unsatisfying.  And not just because of the tone in his voice that made me feel like I'd asked a ridiculous, laughably uninformed question.  Like I'd just asked the President of the United States if he was an actor because he looked really familiar.

"You don't have an old golf cart laying around or anything?" I asked.  It was a brilliant follow-up question.  Imagine me and this scrawny cornflower blue demon bouncing across the bleakest deserts of Hell in a beat-up golf cart.

"Why would we have a golf cart?" Wyver replied.  "You think Kivra pulls someone's entrails out of his throat and then goes off to play a quick nine holes before inserting live piranhas in his rectum?"

"I guess not," I admitted.  "You demons sure have an unsettling knack for imagery."

"You think that's creative," he murmured with pride, "wait until you actually get inside the Department of Torture."

"I'm literally tingling with anticipation," I replied dryly.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hellscape

Wyver and I teleported to just outside the Department of Enforcement.  It was just as eerily calm outside as it had been inside.

"Okay, Wyver," I said.  "Where to?"

"This way, sir."  He led me up the stairs, away from the enormous steel door at the front of the Department of Enforcement.  Somewhere three flights up, two hallways over, and two more flights down (assuming I'd kept track properly) we exited the building and faced a broad, landscape of the most hellish variety I'd seen since I'd been in Hell.

The cracked, burnt-red shale at our feet spread out before us in a perfectly flat plain interrupted by only a few jagged spikes of rock.  These spikes were collected in bunches at various intervals, poking up from the dry surface in a manner halfway between a peaceful copse of trees shading an oasis and the claws of a monstrous hand erupting from the earth.  Beyond the plain, almost at the limit of my sight was what appeared to be a sharp cliff extending in both directions beyond visibility.  The lighting from below the precipice seemed to indicate a pit of lava, glowing furious shades of red and yellow and orange.  Descending from a ceiling I couldn't see was a massive inverted conical formation of the same burnt-red rock that hung like a single gruesome fang.  The scene was immense, barren and stark.  It gave a sense of heat, oppression and utter, inescapable despair.  I had a feeling I was walking into the kind of Hell Jonathan Edwards warned his congregation about way back when.

"Sir?" Wyver said.  I realized he was several steps ahead of me, wondering why I'd stopped.  "I was under the impression you were in a hurry."

I quickly caught up to him as he headed across the desolate plain.  "Where am I, exactly?" I asked.

"You are currently somewhere between the Department of Enforcement and the Barracks of the Damned," he replied.

"Do me a favor," I said distractedly, staring at the vast expanse of lifelessness and fierce imagery around me. "Dispense will all that formal crap for a while.  I don't want that sanitized tour guide crap.  Where am I, what's over the cliff, and what is that spike coming from overhead?"

Wyver, still ahead of me and moving at an impressive pace, turned back to give me a proudly evil wink.  "Well, sir, you're heading into the heart of darkness.  Most of the Department of Torture is over the edge of that cliff.  That's where Kivra and her friends stick needles in all the best places, tear out organs, spin lies, crush hopes and mutilate flesh.  When you hear people talk about the pit or the eternal flame or the lake of fire and brimstone...this is what they're talking about."

He actually took a moment to stop and make direct eye contact with me.  With a sentimental choke, he said, "This is where all the magic happens."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Aide-on-Loan

"Of course, sir," Jorge said numbly, still a little shocked from my sudden, urgent presence.  "Where is it that you'd like to go?"

"I need to speak to General Gavsot," I explained quickly.  "He says he's just outside the outer edge of sector 248 in the Department of Torture."

"And you can't teleport there?" he said quizzically.

I shook my head impetuously.  "No, I can only teleport to places I've been before.  Can we hurry this along?  I need to get there now."

"Of course," he assured me.  "You'd probably want to take a shuttle from the barracks.  Have you been to the barracks?"

"No," I said curtly.

"How about the Department of Enforcement?" he asked.  "That's pretty close to the barracks."

"Yes, I've been there."

"Wonderful," he replied in a smooth, businesslike tone.  He leaned forward and pressed an intercom on his desk.  "Nuver, can you send in Wyver, please?"

After a quick confirmation from the other end of the line, the door to Jorge's office opened and Wyver, the same demon who'd informed us of the plot to ambush my funeral, entered the room.  I wondered if he'd been in on the conspiracy to overthrow me while I was absent from Hell.

"Sir?" Wyver said expectantly.  It seemed he was talking to Jorge.  He didn't even acknowledge me.

"Wyver, the Devil is going to teleport the two of you to the Department of Enforcement," Jorge explained.  He had a very authoritative, measured quality to his voice.  He was a natural leader, and, it would seem, an adept delegator.  "You are to guide him as quickly as possible to the shuttles leaving from the barracks.  The two of you will board a shuttle and you will take him to the outer edge of sector 248 in the Department of Torture and anywhere else he should need to go after that."

Wyver nodded to signify his understanding of his responsibilities.  Jorge turned to me.  "Sir, you now have an aide-on-loan.  Let me know if you need anything else."