Monday, June 30, 2014


“Well, it’s good to have you back,” I said.  “Especially right now, since I’m going to need you to work alongside Gavsot while I’m gone.”

“Where are you going?” Gus asked.

“A bunch of demons are invading my home town and tearing up my high school,” I explained.  I spoke casually, as though demonic attacks on important landmarks from my past were as commonplace as buying bread and milk.  “I’m going to go stop them, and I’m taking Jaelin, Sylnie and Torvin with me.”

He appeared confused.  “And you’re giving me to Gavsot…?”

“I’m having Gavsot take over as interim Devil,” I told him.

What?” he practically shrieked.  “Are you kidding me?”

“Uh…no,” I stammered, taken aback by his vehement disapproval.

“Look, I’ve obviously been having a bad time of things lately, so maybe I’m overreacting a bit, Boss-Man,” Gus admitted.  “But what was that one thing that I told you not to do even though I can’t tell you what not to do?”

I’d long since forgotten about that moment between us.  Way back when I was still a fledgling Devil, I’d suggested promoting a demon to take my place and Gus had been uncharacteristically adamant that it was a bad idea.  Apparently his position on the subject hadn’t changed much since then.

“Look, it’s Gavsot, okay?” I said, hoping to assuage his fears.  “He’s loyal, he’s reasonable, we can trust him.”

“We can trust him as the Director of Enforcement, maybe,” Gus corrected bitterly.  “But don’t underestimate how badly it can backfire to give any demon this kind of power.”

“I feel so loved right now,” Sylnie commented.  She seemed mildly amused by Gus’s opinion of her species.

Torvin, on the other hand, was irate.  “All demons are capable of is corruption, deception and betrayal, right?” he snapped.  “That’s okay.  Humans are only good at being soft and weak.”

“At least not all of us are selfish!” Gus shot back.

“I’m one of the least badass demons around and I could still beat the shit out of any ten humans,” Torvin argued.  “You’re messy, slothful blobs of flesh and emotions but you’re all too arrogant to see it!”

“That’s rich,” Gus drawled acerbically.  “A demon is actually trying to give me a lecture about arrogance.”

“That’s enough!” I thundered as Torvin opened his mouth to rebut.    “I have too many problems right now without the few friends I have fighting each other.  I understand your concerns, Gus, but I need a strong, experienced leader who isn’t afraid to deliver some hurt, and Gavsot is the obvious choice.  Torvin, I’m proud of you for having the courage to speak your mind, but sometimes you just gotta learn when to shut the fuck up.”

Friday, June 27, 2014

Homeward Bound

"Hello, sir," the demon said.  "I wasn't sure if you wanted your human aide returned to you, but I brought him by just in case."

It was the dark purple demon we'd met in the Department of Torture.  The one with the silly name.  The silly name that I couldn't remember.

"Thank you," I said awkwardly.  "Um…what was it?"

"Doorknob, sir," he replied, unfazed by my inability to remember.  He seemed exuberant that I'd recognized him at all.

"Doorknob!  Yes!  Um, you can release him."  The demon let Gus escape his grasp.  Gus looked so relieved to be free that I thought he might actually kneel down and kiss the bloodstained carpet.  "Thanks for returning him.  I'm glad to have him back."

“Not half as glad as I am to be back,” Gus mumbled.

“You okay?” I asked him, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

He nodded.  “Yeah.  Yeah.  I’m good.  Not having the best week, but I’m good now.”

I posed the obvious follow-up question.  “What happened to you?”

“We got attacked,” he said.  “By those demons in the costumes.”

“Yeah, I know about that,” I said.  “Jorge and Sylnie filled me in already.  But what happened to you?  Where were you?”

“I was in the Department of Torture, Boss-Man,” he explained somberly.  “Sylnie…she was kicking ass, man.  She’d just like torn a friggin’ chunk out of some demon’s neck and then roundhouse kicked him in the face.  He stumbled in my direction and he must have collided with me just as he tried to teleport away.”

“So you got dragged along with him to the Department of Torture?”

Gus nodded.  “Yeah, but he figured it out pretty quick and teleported again without me.  So I’ve been wandering through that god-awful place trying to explain to any demon I met that I wasn’t supposed to be there.  Finally I ran into Doorknob, who thought I looked familiar.”

“Although I’d assumed at first that you’d put him there intentionally as a punishment for a professional misstep of some kind,” Doorknob admitted.

“He took some convincing,” Gus agreed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


"Yes, sir?" Gavsot answered.  It was a relief to hear the strong, energetic voice of someone who wasn't lovestruck, heartbroken or recovering from near-mortal wounds.

"General, I need a big favor from you," I said.


Behind me, I heard Torvin's strained, throaty voice inquire, "Jaelin…is it true?"

"I need you to appoint someone to run your department for a while.  I need to go back to the Living Realm and I need you to be acting Devil because this could take some time."

There was a brief pause.  "I accept," he said simply.

"Thank you, General," I replied sincerely.  "Get to my office as soon as possible so we can do the spellwork."  I hung up.

"Torvin, you need to understand," Jaelin explained.  "Things were nice with you.  But Talamur and I were together for a really long time.  I can't ignore him and the bond that we shared."

"You can't just dump Torvin, either," Sylnie responded.  "That's not fair to him."

"It's not fair to me either," Jaelin replied sharply.  "I was forcibly separated from my lover for hundreds of years.  If I have him back, I'm going to be with him.  It's not even a choice."

Torvin sat slumped against the wall.  "Wow," he said numbly.

"Maybe this will cheer you up," I told him.  "I need you to come with us to the Realm of the Living and help us eradicate the demonic horde that's currently ransacking my home town."

"You want me to go into battle with you?" he said incredulously.  "Why would that cheer me up?"

"Because," I told him, "It's a sign of trust.  I don't necessarily trust you not to fuck up, but I do trust you to follow orders and act with good intentions.  And you've been more and more useful lately, so maybe this whole fucking up thing is becoming a thing of the past."

He smiled weakly.  "Coming from you, that's almost not even a backhanded compliment."

"Sylnie," I added, "You're welcome to come with us too, provided you think you're healthy enough."

She glowed.  "It would be an honor!"

"Great!" I concluded.  "So we just need Gavsot to get here and then we can go upstairs and kick some ass."  I heard the sound of an arrival behind me and turned around.

It wasn't Gavsot.  It was Gus, looking tired and terrified.  A demon was holding him by the hair.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Losing Control

"Fifty demons?" I asked Jaelin.

"At least that many," she confirmed.  "Maybe more," she added redundantly.

I sighed, but it was mostly to steady my breathing.  I was continually failing to collect information on this new threat and they were continually finding new ways to be a pain in my ass—although admittedly their strategy seemed to be to keep invading Earth over and over again until it succeeded.  After all the work I'd done to legitimize my authority, surround myself with allies whom I could usually almost trust and keep a solid lid on the level of violence and usurpation down here…it still felt like all I'd been doing was losing control slowly.  Gracefully, perhaps, but slowly and inevitably. 

I needed to be in the Living Realm because I was the one best equipped to defend it.  But how could I be certain that this wasn't all another elaborate trap?  How did I know that this unnamed organization wouldn't oust whoever I put in place in my absence?  How could I be sure I wouldn't return to a Hell that was no longer mine?

I pulled out my cell phone.  I tried to do so with dignity and resolve, but it slipped from my trembling fingers and clattered onto my desk.  I picked it up and started dialing.

"Who are you calling?" Sylnie asked.

"General Gavsot," I said.  "I need him to mind the store while I'm gone.  Desperate times call for big badasses in charge."

"I still want to know who Talamur is," Torvin sulked.

I pushed him roughly in response, but I threw him across the room with my mind and held him pinned against the wall.  "Talamur is Jaelin's ex," I explained a little too loudly.  "He was banished to the Living Realm. We bumped into him up there and it was all hugs and kisses and high-speed copulation and it was a beautiful reunion and she doesn't give a shit about your sorry ass anymore, so you might as well shut the fuck up already."  I released him from my invisible grip.

"Damn," Sylnie said softly, filling the extremely awkward silence that followed.  "That was kind of harsh."

I huffed.  "I was stressed.  I snapped at him.  I'm sure he's used to it by now."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bad News, Good News

"Jaelin!" Torvin exclaimed.  "How are you?  I missed you so much!"

"Good to see you," she replied with a slight nod.  Torvin was clearly confused by her tepid reception.  She turned to me. "I have news."

"Great," I said.  "Good news or bad news?"

"It depends on how you look at it," she said.

"And how will I look at it?"

"Bad news," she admitted.  "There's a group of about fifty demons destroying one of your human settlements."


She patiently repeated herself.  "There's a group of about fifty—"

"No, I heard you," I cut her off.  "But how could that possibly be a good thing?"

She smiled dreamily.  "Talamur and I have been working together to fight them and it's brought us so much closer."

Torvin's eyes went wide.  "Who's Talamur?"

"It's just like old times," Jaelin continued with a contented sigh.  "Fighting alongside each other, laughing together…there's something so erotic about uninhibited violence when you're with the one you love."

"The one you love?" Torvin echoed fearfully.  "Who is this Talamur guy, anyway?"

"You're sick," I told her half-seriously.  "And I don't mean love sick.  I mean you're not well, and you're contagious, and you're making me feel sick."  I paused.  It was probably a good idea to move past this and get to the important stuff.  "Where is this invasion?  What town are they attacking this time?"

"And more importantly, who's Talamur?" Torvin cut in.

Jaelin ignored him and chose to answer me instead.  "I don't know the area very well, but Talamur says it's a place called…High Peter Quincy School?"

"Peter Quincy High School?" I blurted.

"Yeah, that's it," she said.

"Demons are attacking my high school?" I shrilled incredulously.  "Seriously?"

"Will somebody please tell me who Talamur is?!" Torvin shrieked.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Whole Lot of Nothing

“Sylnie!” I cried with a level of genuine joy that surprised me.  I rushed to her side.  “You’re awake!” 

She eased herself up onto her elbows, wincing.  “Yeah.  I feel like somebody ran my internal organs through a meat grinder, though.”

“I’ve heard that’s actually part of Ted Bundy’s regular schedule down here,” Torvin said quietly.

“Did I…heal?” Sylnie asked me in astonishment.

“I got you started,” I told her.  “But you did the rest.”

She touched her skull gingerly.  “My head…it was broken.”

I nodded.  “Your leg got cut off, too.”

“There’s no way I would have been able to heal something that severe before, with or without your help,” she said, beaming at me.  “I’m definitely getting stronger.”

“You almost died,” I reminded her gently.  I guess I expected her to feel a little more in touch with her mortality or something.

“But I didn’t,” she pointed out.  “Because I’m getting stronger.”

“That’s great,” I told her.  “I heard you really kicked some ass back there.  But now that you’re alive and well…what can you remember?  Did you recognize any of the demons who did this?” 

She shook her head.  “Sorry, it was all masks and robes.  I didn’t see enough of anybody to recognize anything.”

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes in disappointment.  Everything was amounting to nothing.  I turned back to Belvidon’s head.  “That brings us back to you,” I said.  “Spill it.”

“Spill what, sir?” he replied.  “I already told you, I don’t know who The Leader is.”

“But you know about the organization,” Torvin said.  “Your leader mentioned a secondary hideout.  Tell us where that is.”  It was truly shocking just how handy it was to have Torvin back.  Had he always been this useful?

“I don’t know where it is!” Belvidon insisted.  “When I said I was a new member, I meant I was the newest member.  Why do you think I was still in the old hideout when you captured me?  Everybody else had disappeared and I hadn’t figured out where I was supposed to go.”

“Assuming he’s telling the truth,” Torvin summarized, “We’ve just captured the most useless member of the entire organization.”

“Yeah, thanks,” I snapped.  “I kind of worked that out for myself.”

That was when Jaelin appeared in my office.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Stepping up to the Plate

"Well, what can you tell me about the leader of this group?" I asked Belvidon.  "Is there any clue about who he is, or what department he's from?  Anything?"

Belvidon tried to shake his head, but it only toppled over sideways.  "Nothing," he said. 

"What about Fikhos?" I continued.  "What exactly did he tell you when he recruited you?"

"I really can't say, sir," he replied firmly.  "The Leader will kill me."

Niven had given an identical excuse.  I did not like that excuse.  "And you're not afraid of me?" I challenged my new captive.  "What about what I'll do to you if you don't answer the fucking question?"

Belvidon eyed me appraisingly.  "I'm definitely afraid of you, sir.  But not like him.  He is capable of far worse."

Niven had been a little more dramatic about it, but he'd made basically the same argument.  Apparently a seventeen-year-old kid didn't naturally command the kind of fear and respect that was required to keep the denizens of Hell securely under his thumb.  It wasn't a shock to me, but it was becoming increasingly frustrating considering how well I felt I was growing into the role of Lord of the Damned. 

"He is capable of far worse," Torvin said suddenly, agreeing with my uncooperative witness.

I narrowed my eyes at him.  "Thanks for the help," I hissed.

"He's capable of a whole lot," Torvin continued, speaking directly to Belvidon.  "But he's not capable of forgiveness or any real level of trust.  What do you think is going to happen when he finds out you were captured by the Devil?"

Still lying on its side, Belvidon's head murmured, "Nothing good."

"He already threatened to kill any one of you who gets caught or discovered," Torvin pointed out.  "And he'll probably assume you told us something just to be on the safe side.  Face it—you're in over your head.  Your only hope here is to cooperate with us because we're not vindictive psychopaths and we might actually let you out of this alive."

"That's actually a pretty good point," Belvidon admitted sullenly.

I turned back to gaze at Torvin with a new respect.  "Where the hell did that come from?"

Behind us, Sylnie stirred and moaned.  "What happened?" she asked groggily.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Yet Another Interrogation

The cavern had almost emptied out already, but I managed to snag a lanky gray straggler.  I teleported us both back to my office and immediately beheaded him.  A captive wouldn’t be much good to me if he could instantaneously transport himself to safety.

“That was…gruesome,” Torvin said.

“It was necessary,” I replied tersely, dumping the head out of the hood.

“I know,” he said with a shudder.  “But still…your bare hands….”

I glared down at the head resting in a thick pool of blood on the carpet.  “What’s your name?” I demanded.

He regarded me with unmitigated fear.  “Belvidon,” he said.  “Sir.”

“Belvidon?” I echoed.  “That sounds like a made-up dinosaur.  What is it with these names?”

“It means ‘Bringer of Famine’ in the ancient demonic tongue,” he explained meekly.  “Sir.”

I hadn’t expected him to answer my pointless question.  “Whatever,” I dismissed.  “I need you to tell me about that creepy little gathering I just witnessed.”

“No way,” he said.  “If I tell you anything, he’ll kill me.  Sir.”

“Who?” I pressed.

“Our Leader,” he said.  “Sir.”

“Who is your leader?”

“I don’t know who he is,” Belvidon said.  “Sir.”

“You don’t have to end every sentence with ‘sir,’” I told him irritably.

“I know that,” he replied.  He started to make the S sound, but it petered out into a low whistle when I shot him a threatening glare.

“How can you not know who your leader is?” I asked.  “You all were just talking to him.”

“Everybody wears masks.  Each member only personally knows a handful of other members,” the gangly demon explained.  “We keep anonymity as high as possible so that if someone gets caught, there’s a limit to how much information he can give.”

“So who did you know?” I asked.

“I was a new member,” he said.  “I only knew the demon who recruited me.”

“I’m not hearing a name,” I prompted.

“It was Fikhos.”

I sighed.  “Of course it was.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Rescue

The other demons had seemed hesitant to attack me.  It felt like an eventuality, given that their creepy leader had given them an order to kill me or chase me off.  But I liked to think that my fearsome reputation was what kept them cautiously circling around me.

The assassin, on the other hand, had no qualms.  He wielded the same severed Firstborn blade that must have been smuggled off the battlefield in the Department of Torture. And he'd attacked with such speed and ferocity that, as I gripped his wrist, I was failing to keep him from pressing the weapon closer and closer to my throat.  Apparently my throat was the most popular target for my enemies.  Niven had definitely been a fan.

Again remembering I had strength beyond what had been available to me during my human life, I executed a Vader-esque telekinetic push while simultaneously setting his eyeballs on fire.  It may have been a predictable signature move on my part, but I couldn't resist the twisted pleasure of igniting my enemy's ocular organs.  As he flew backward in literally blinding pain, I reached out wildly for Torvin.  Before the assassin could recover or rally his fellow initiates, I grabbed my captured aide by the scruff of the neck and teleported us both home.

When we were back in the relative safety of my office, I turned to Torvin.  "Okay, what the fuck is going on?  Please tell me you know something!"

"Bits and pieces, maybe," he said waveringly.  "It was all so stressful and I was pretty out of it most of the time."

"Great," I snapped.  "As usual, you turned out to be really useful."

"Well, why don't you just teleport back down there and grab yourself a prisoner before they all leave?" he suggested.

"Wow, that's actually a good idea," I admitted.  "Now I kind of feel bad about what I just said to you."

It was clear from his expression that he thought I was being sarcastic.  But I didn't have time to worry about his fragile self-esteem, so I returned to the cult's hideout without another word.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Take Me To Your Leader

Fikhos stared straight at me as he died.  He didn't look angry or even particularly surprised.  He looked scared.  It seemed weird to me that demons could fear death, considering that I'd always assumed that kind of thing to be a human trait.  But eventually, his expression slackened, the demon who'd slain him removed the Firstborn blade from his body, and my late Director of Housing fell lifeless to the cavern floor.

I turned to face the leader of the group as his loyal assassin returned to stand at his side.  "I demand that you let my friends go and explain exactly what's going on here," I shouted toward him.

"You're in no position to make demands of me, Abomination," he spat.  "I owe you nothing."

To that, I could only impotently respond, "Who the hell are you, anyway?"

Ignoring me, the leader barked to his followers, "This location has been compromised.  We need to move the operation to our secondary hideout.  Take the psychic with us, but kill the other one.  We have what we need from him.  And kill the Devil, too, if he doesn't scurry away first.  Anyone whose identity is revealed and anyone who is careless enough to be followed…you know what you can expect."  He gestured toward Fikhos's corpse and disappeared.  And that's when every single demon in the room turned a creepy masked gaze in my direction.

It seemed best to act with swiftness.  I teleported to Tithenai and yanked the gag out of her mouth.

"Thank you very much!" she gushed.  And then, inevitably, she continued, "Mr. Roboto, for helping me escape just when I needed to!"  It struck me as amusing that, in such a stressful situation, she'd managed to use an unusually relevant lyric.

"Sure," I said, speaking quickly.  "Listen, I need to know—."  Before I could finish, the assassin appeared, gripped her by the hair, and whisked her off.  Perhaps she'd just been transferred to the group's secondary hideout.

I moved over to Torvin and, rather than wasting time with removing his gag, I set fire to the cords around his wrists and ankles.  That was when I noticed his raw abdominal wounds—the same kinds of wounds typically found on inmates in the Department of Enforcment.  His captors must have used the limiting cocktail on him to keep him confined.  "You can't teleport, can you?" I asked him.

He pulled out his gag.  "No!" he shouted hysterically.  "They kept draining me of my power, over and over again!"  Then his eyes focused on something behind me and went wide with fear.   I whirled around just in time to block an attack from what had to be the same demon who'd killed Fikhos.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I was unsure how to react to my new surroundings.  I glanced warily around the cavern, which appeared to be about the size of my old high school's gymnasium.  There were lots of mysterious masked demons standing around.  Not enough to make up an army, but more than I'd expected—and definitely enough to give me the willies.

My presence in the midst of this sinister clandestine meeting had clearly not been planned.  I was drawing looks ranging from raised eyebrows to the indignant how-dare-you-sneeze-during-church kinds of glares.  My gaze, however, was focusing on two bound and gagged figures near the center of the cavern, at the feet of what looked to be the leader of this freakish assembly.

"Torvin!  Tithenai!" I blurted excitedly.  "Are you guys okay?"  Neither one of them was able to speak, of course, but Tithenai gave me a weak nod.  Torvin let out a whimper like he was intentionally contradicting her. 

"Fikhos!" boomed the unidentified leader sternly.  "Why have you brought him here?" 

"He followed me, sir," Fikhos said, his voice strained and reedy.  "I didn’t mean to."

"He has discovered you," the leader admonished.  "You are of no use to our cause without your secrecy.  He will no longer trust you."

"Wow," I muttered to myself.  "Yeah, I get it, he was a spy the whole time and I shouldn't have trusted him.  Thanks for twisting that knife."

"I can still be useful," Fikhos insisted.  "I'll show you.  I can prove myself in other ways."

"But none of them will undo your failure," the leader returned curtly.  He turned his shrouded, masked face to a demon next to him and muttered something.  The demon instantly appeared behind Fikhos and the bloody tip of an amputated Firstborn's blade erupted from Fikhos's chest.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Slip of the Tongue

I was covered in my own blood again.  This was becoming a regular thing for me.

“Ugh,” I said.  “I really need to bring a change of clothes with me whenever I die.”

Fikhos extended an arm to help me up.  “How did it go, sir?” he asked.  “It didn’t take as long as last time.”

“It went pretty badly, to tell you the truth,” I griped.  “Conrad wasn’t very helpful.  He didn’t know a thing about the demons in masks.  But he did say something interesting about how he needed me to—”  I stopped suddenly, feeling my heartbeat pulsing in my temples.

“Sir?” Fikhos said.  “Are you okay?”

“How do you know anything about how long it took me to come back from the dead last time?” I asked him.  I was pretty sure I already knew the answer.

“What do you mean?” he asked.  It was possible that he was genuinely confused, but it was more likely that he was stalling while he floundered about for a lie to cover his mistake.

I narrowed my eyes at him.  “The only people that were here the last time I died were Gus, Sylnie, General Gavsot, the prick who killed me, and the unknown demon who rescued him.”

“I heard about it from General Gavsot,” Fikhos said in desperation.  But he was backing away from me.  He knew I’d figured it out.

“I guess the demon who was working with Niven isn’t so unknown anymore, is he?” I snarled, approaching the traitorous sycophant.  “So, what, once you got away clean, you decided to wriggle your way into my inner circle so you and your fucked up friends could spy on me?”

He laughed softly.  “Pretty much,” he admitted.  “It’s amazing how far a little ass-kissing can take you.”

I glared at him.  “I’d tell you to go to Hell,” I said.  “But, well…you know.”

I lunged at him and he instinctively teleported.  I wrapped my arms around his torso in a flying tackle just as he departed.  The two of us collapsed in a heap in the center of what appeared to be a meeting of the very cult I’d been trying to locate.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Getting Snippy

I was completely taken aback by my predecessor's hostile response.  "I need information about what's going on," I explained.  "I don't know what to do."

"So you killed yourself?" Conrad said incredulously.  "This is not a motel.  You can't just drop by for a while whenever it's convenient."

"Oh, I'm sorry," I snapped.  "I thought you needed me to do something, so I thought you might want me to have a fucking clue so that I could actually do it.  Which was what again, by the way?"

"Don't get snippy with me, boy," he rebuked.  "Every time you come here, it gets more and more difficult to send you back. If somebody kills you, that's understandable.  But don't go committing hara-kiri every time you want to pop in for afternoon tea."

He tried to inject me again but I swatted the needle away.  I was determined to stand firm despite the hunger and frailty that accompanied my arrival in Heaven. "Since I'm here anyway," I said sternly, "maybe you could shed some light on some things for me."

He was seriously pissed at me.  His nostrils flared and he shook his head like he was trying to clear away the bloodlust.  "There's no time.  You need this injection now or you're of no use to anyone."

"I guess you better tell me something useful pretty quick, then."

He rolled his eyes.  "Fine.  What's on your mind?"

"There's some freaky group of demons running around Hell.  They wear masks and they've kidnapped a couple of my allies and I'm pretty sure they're trying to invade the living realm.  You know anything about them?"

He shook his head.  "Nope.  Now give me your arm."

I backed away from him again.  "No way.  You have to give me more than that!"

"Okay, we'll look into it for you," he sighed.  "Happy?"

"Not really," I said.  "I still don't know what you expect me to do."

He rolled his eyes so hard this time that it actually looked painful.  "We need you to repair the pathways from Hell to Heaven.  But of course that's meaningless to you right now anyway because you don't know what the fuck I'm talking about or why it needs to happen, but let me assure you that the kinds of things you're doing now are laying the groundwork for it, so just keep doing what you're doing, running Hell, gaining control, and protecting the living realm.  Satisfied?  Wonderful.  Here's an injection so you'll go away and leave me alone."

Stunned by his speech, I didn't protest as he plunged the needle into my arm.  A moment later I awoke in Hell.