This week’s Terribleminds.com flash fiction challenge is all based around Hell. We have to write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 1000 words based in or about Hell, which is kinda one of my favourite topics. Why? God knows. That’s something a psychologist and a defense lawyer can worry about.
Not going to bother about writing any pre-amble this time, so let’s get straight in to the fictiony goodness…
Early to Fall
Peter never felt a thing. One moment he was walking down the street wondering if that Buick he had sold would get to the end of the street before the engine fell out, when a large out of control car swerved, killed him and made those thoughts terminally moot.
Now he was here still dressed in his cheap grey suit, and polished shoes. He hadn’t really given the afterlife much thought, but this was not what he was expecting. The room looked like the reception area for a big corporation. The floor was highly polished granite, the furniture high-end upholstered leather and the statues of demons re-enacting works of art were large and bold.
The receptionist looked up at him from behind her desk. Her skin was brick-red, and a pair of wire rimmed spectacles perched on a pair of twisted black horns.
“Peter? Peter Lennox?” asked the demon secretary politely.
“Yes, that’s me.” People passed him wearing expensive suits, taking about WeSH figures, and how the vending machine on floor 12 always stole their money.
“Satan will be with you soon“
Peter sat on one of the leather chairs. Why wasn’t he scared? He should be. Even the most rational mind would have to admit that the idea of being dead, and being told by a demon to wait for the King of Evil, should be at least slightly daunting.
“Peter?” said a male voice.
Peter looked up from his thoughts and saw a slight and happy looking man smiling down at him. This man was certainly not wearing a cheap suit and his aftershave was not a free sample from a magazine like his. “Yes”.
“Excellent.” The man extended a hand and smiled at him. Peter shook his hand, noticing his black fingernails. “So sorry, I’m late. I’m afraid it’s been hell here this morning.” Satan roared with laughter.”Shall we.”
The scene changed, to what Peter assumed was Satan’s office. His office was bigger than Peter’s apartment. Satan sat behind his desk and gestured to a black leather chair. The entire back wall was large glass windows that looked out on to hell. Flames licked up out of the cracked stone floor, and yellow sulphurous clouds hung around the black rocky outcrops.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Satan grabbed a remote control and pointed it towards the windows. The scene shifted to a perfectly ordinary day, the sun couldn’t decide if it was out or in and the sound of traffic could be heard below. “I keep it on hell setting, it stops me getting homesick.”
“Why am I here?” asked Peter. “Do you see everyone personally?”
“You’re here because you didn’t lead a particularly good life. As to why I’m seeing you, I am a little confused at that myself. I am usually only brought in for extreme cases, and although you are mostly evil you are by no means someone who warrants my personal attention. So, I just need to have a good look at you, and then we can see what we need to do.”
Peter’s heart started thumping; at least he knew he could get scared. “Are you going to torture me for all eternity?”
Satan smiled showing Peter his fangs for the first time. “Torture you? Good god no. We’re not in the 15th century anymore. There really is no need.”
“No need to torture the evil?”
“Not at all. We came to an arrangement, me and her…” Satan gestured upwards with his head. “We realised that we only need to keep the threat of eternal damnation we don’t actually need to do it. Anybody who would be convinced by that thought, to lead a good life would continue to do so. To anyone who it wouldn’t make any difference to would still be destined to end up here. So why waste time and resources torturing them when they get here? It seems rude, and certainly costly. I have a business to run.”
“Ermm yes. Good point, I guess. What’s heaven like?”
“Heaven? Well to be honest, it’s very similar to what we’re doing right here. They tend to go more for a white leather and marble approach to decor but we’re in the same business. Right, so what can you do?” Satan tapped away at his keyboard; a bleep told Peter that Satan had found his record.
“You were a car sales rep and you got run over by a car you sold with faulty brakes? Remind me to congratulate the Ironic Death Department; they are doing stirling work this month. Hang on what’s this?” Satan leaned towards his computer and frowned. That’s interesting!”
“What?” Was Satan being concerned a good or bad thing? “What is it?”
“In short you shouldn’t be here.”
Peter smiled “You mean I’m going upstairs?”
“Oh no, you’re heading here, just not yet. American date format. Not 4th March but 3rd April, you see?”
“Oh. Well at least I have time to change?”
“Not really. Anything good you do now, is only to stop you ending here which is a selfish motivation, and ergo a sin. So you can’t really change where you’re heading. My advice is to really have fun over this next month. Drink, sleep around, and steal. Maybe, punch that annoying neighbor of yours who lets his dog crap on your lawn. Hell, shoot him you’re heading here anyway. You might as well enjoy yourself.”
“Hmmmm I guess you’re right. Thanks” With a slight wave of Satan’s hand Peter disappeared and woke up in hospital with a severe headache and an immense sense of freedom. “Yes, fun” Peter said to no one in particular before falling unconscious.
Back in Hell, Satan smiled. “That was close, almost lost him” Satan sat down behind his desk, and clicked the switch to change the windows to Hell view. “Yeah, we don’t need to torture people for eternity” he said in a mocking tone. “… But we do really, really enjoy it.”