I died again.
I didn’t mean to—especially since, on the third iteration, it was starting to become pretty annoying. But I kind of couldn’t help it. Damn Niven’s speed and my sluggish reaction time.
I came to in what appeared to be the same bare, austere room as the last time. I felt weak again. To be honest, I felt human again. Like a teenager instead of a devil. Plus I had cottonmouth and an urgent pang in my gut like I hadn’t eaten for months.
I suddenly realized that I hadn’t eaten for months. Or for whatever amount of time it had been since my first death. I was ravenous. But I also felt too listless to summon the strength required to open a typical refrigerator.
The red light above the single entrance to the room buzzed to life and presently the door opened. The same man in the lab coat, who I’d recognized as the previous devil, entered briskly. The same devil who'd tricked me into taking his job. My great grandfather, Conrad Reilly.
“Back so soon, are we?” he said chidingly with a shake of his head. “Well, I guess I can’t blame you this time. From what I’ve heard you’ve had some troubles. I guess we should be grateful you weren’t yanked back here sooner.”
“Where am I?” I asked him hoarsely. I was afraid he’d just stick me with a needle again without answering my questions. But he seemed a little more talkative this time.
“You’re not in Hell,” he answered vaguely.
“How did you get here?” I asked him. Then I coughed dryly. Speaking was mildly painful.
He took pity on my curiosity and flashed me that disarming smile of his. “So you recognize me, do you?”
“You looked better with the beard,” I groaned, holding my stomach.
“Okay,” he said with a sigh. “You’ve done some good work, and even though I’m not supposed to tell you much at this point, I guess you deserve some answers. So pick your questions carefully and fire away before I have to send you back to Hell.” He knelt beside me, syringe full of pale green liquid at the ready.
“Where am I?” I repeated. It seemed like the most logical thing to ask. I could base any follow-up questions on the answer I got to this one.
My predecessor smiled warmly. “You’re in Heaven,” he said.