He looked into the demon’s eyes. She looked back.
He’d been an atheist all his life; from the moment he was aware of religion, his mind had rejected the idea. Sky fairies, gods, angels, demons! Ha, bollocks to all that; he knew better. He realised, as he sat with this demon, that he had been wrong.
“I am not a demon,” the not-demon said. He looked her over, ‘her’ being a relative term. It was a demon, a not-demon, boobs, check, legs, check, sexual allure, check. “So, what are you?” he asked, then as an afterthought, “and how did you know what I was thinking?”
Tuck away those thoughts. It’s a demon… not-demon!
“I’m a succubus, not a demon; different things, different. Very, very different,” the not-demon stressed this last point. “And no, I can’t read your mind. You people always think we are demons.”
“But…” He looked around. Red walls made of human (?) bones. Lava flowed freely throughout the land, smoke bubbling from fire pits. “This is Hell. You’re a demonic creature, demon, everything else is semantics.”
“Semantics? Semantics!” she tensed her lips together, running her tongue along her teeth. “Do you think it would be acceptable for me to go to a dog and say, ‘Hey human, how’s it hanging?’ No, it wouldn’t be. But, oh look, you both live in the same place; you must be the same.”
“Okay, okay. Point made,” he said.
Jesus Christ, she goes on and on.
“Do you know where you are?” she asked.
“Duh, Hell,” he replied. It has blurted out like ketchup from a tube; once it started, it would not stop. “But really, Hell? Like this? It is all a bit ‘stereotypey’, isn’t it? Couldn’t you have done something original? It is the look I’d expect a toddler to come up with!”
STOP! The brain engaged before the mouth.
“First, this is not Hell. This is a circle of Hell. Do you decide what Earth is like? No, you do not. Same as we don’t choose this.” She paused and took a breath. “Second,” she held up her hand, two fingers showing long, painted manicured nails. “This is Heresy. You are here because of the crimes you committed on Earth.”
“Crimes? Crimes!” he stuttered. “I did not commit any crimes. Was it because I did not believe? Is that a crime?” he asked.
“You not believing, not a problem. That is your choice. The fact you formed that organisation…”
“Come on, that was a joke. I even gave it a stupid name!” he pleaded.
“Yes, Faith And Religions (are) Trash. We are aware, but the fact is that at last count, you had over three million people subscribing.” She took another breath, “You made money from people by selling your version of the truth.”
Guilty as charged.
“I sold an idea to people. I don’t apologise for that,” he protested. “That people bought it, is on them. I admit I was wrong, but I didn’t change people’s minds! They already didn’t believe!”
“That’s not true; your seminars and videos convinced many people. I have a list here.” She leaned over and picked up a wad of papers. Sheet after sheet, printed from an old-style dot-matrix printer. Bullet holes down each side. “I can read them all out if you’d like,” she suggested with a smile.
“No,” he said, dejected. How do you argue with a succubus? “No, it is fine. Now I am damned to be here forever?” he asked.
Bugger, Bollocks, Arse, AHHHHHH!
“Here?” She smiled at him. It was the type of smile that made him feel like he had farted but was not sure if it was only a fart. “No, not here. We have a task for the likes of you,” she finished.
Wait, what! Hold on. Timeout here. Brain, speak to me. What’s the catch?
“What’s the catch?” he asked, very aware now of the smile on her face. The woman, not-demon, looked at him, and, for a moment, he felt that ting of electricity in his trousers. Not now, brain, he thought.
Run away, run away, run away NOW!
Nowhere to run. It was like a paralytic was flowing through the legs. He couldn’t move. Stuck to the chair. Everything from the groin up worked; below was dead. “You are going back to Earth,” the succubus said.
Shit! What! Oh damn. I am going to be a rat, aren’t I? Oh, please, God, not a boyband member, please anything but that!
“You will not have any memories of this, nothing at all, but you will do what we want you to do when you get there,” smiling again. She looked like someone about to deliver the punchline to a long joke. “What is it you want me to do?” he stuttered, aware that for the first time in his life (death), that his fate was not in his own hands. This did not sound good. Are they going to make him a killer? Something worse?
Her smile got longer. It dragged over her face, from ear to ear. She leant forward and looked directly into his eyes. She loved this moment, the complete lack of hope that drained from the whites. The moment they realised that Hell does not sound that bad. “Can’t I stay?” Many of them had pleaded. They died a little more inside.
“You will go into politics.”
She cackled with laughter.
We can hear the screams behind us. Some things are much worse than eternal damnation.