If there were any intelligence in the whole of existence for whom the phrase, “Same Shit, Different Day,” fit it was the Devil himself.
To many who have read the works of Dante, Hell would be exactly as they would expect. The fires from the pit burning and disfiguring the damned as demon spawn constantly attacked them. In Hell a soul knew no respite, no comfort, only eternal pain of the most excruciating kind. No one in Hell was safe from some form of misery. Not the demons that tortured the condemned, nor the creatures that roamed the fiery plains and crags. No, Hell was the most dreadful place in all of existence. Especially for the Lord of Darkness himself.
“We’ve had twenty Islamic fighters sent down today, five American Soldiers. We also have the usual mix of pedophiles, adulterers, and those people who don’t turn off their cellphones in movie theaters. All of which require your personal sentencing My Lord,” the sniveling demonic bookkeeper, Eugene, that walked beside Lucifer said. He was a stout creature, no more then five feet tall. His nose was rather pointy, too pointy if you asked Lucifer. The horrid caricature he was forced to exist with on Earth shrunk down and made even more hideous as the keeper of Hell’s records.
Lucifer no longer cared much about what to do with those who came before him. They had already been judged and their fates sealed by the angels who stood at the gates of Heaven. He had long since grown bored with thinking up new torments. When one specializes in torment they were quick to run out of original ideas. Adulterers and Murders often suffered the same in his court, if only because he was too bored to come up with something special. Oh there were times someone especially nasty was brought down, or someone who considered themselves a Man of God had discovered that even salvation by grace had its limits. He had more then once lately had to break the news to many who had committed mortal sins in God’s name that the big guy really didn’t like that.
“Alright, just sort them and send them down to pit forty-two. They’ve all been condemned for eternity, whatever their torment is doesn’t matter,” Lucifer said.
Seemed a rather cruel joke to play on those Islamic folk whose cleric had promised seventy-two virgins. But Lucifer tried something original there, making it seventy-two virgin homosexuals who were all tops. That joke however was short-lived for the Prince of Lies, and soon became yet another dull standard. Everything down in Hell was dull. Perhaps that was fine for his demons, who had never known anything other then hate or sadism. Lucifer however remembered much more. He remembered a time when he stood by the Lord and conversed with him for hours on end. He was after all the very first sentient creation God made. Even mortal man could not make that boast. God however had only made Lucifer as equal to himself. Man was above angels and demons because God granted them souls and the choice of their fates. The angels that had followed him were created with only obedience and service to choose from. Even his demons craved nothing save what they were created for. Not one Angel or Demon cared to become something more then what they already were.
Lucifer had the misfortune of being eternally bored. He craved more then what lay within the borders of his domain. Conquest had long since left the taste of ash on his lips. All the one known for evil wanted now was just something new to occur. An end to his boredom could provide him at least a reason to stick around Hell for another few centuries. Barring that he had even considered just walking around Earth until the end of time. Maybe test the faith of men like he had in the first centuries. That had been when he was at his best, throwing out one obstacle after another at the poor humans. Doing everything he could to make them renounce their faith. He and the Almighty had a running tally of who won those little encounters. How he longed for those days again, when the game actually was fun.
He needed some time off. It had been at least five centuries since he had taken any time off.
“Also sir, the Archangel Micheal is here to see you,” Eugene said. Lucifer simply sighed as he trudged towards the thrown room. Perfect, the patron saint of conformity and mediocrity.
Lucifer just walked into the thrown room and threw himself into his chair. The impressive thrown was simply another artifice that never changed in the eternal sameness. Everything always the same from the cape he wore to the spiked shoulder guards. The clicking sound of his boots on the stone, the feel of the leather of his pants and satin of his tunic always felt the same. Lucifer simply leaned on his right hand and closed his eyes. The sounds of boots on stone filled his ears as the Archangel Micheal walked in. Lucifer simply stared at him. The white wings and golden armor one could see the perfect reflection of the soul just disgusted the Lord of Darkness. Not because of their purity but because it simply never changed.
“What do you want?” he said in a tired voice.
The holy creature began prattling on about something or another in that superior obey or suffer tone he always used. Lucifer simply nodded appropriately and listened just enough to know that it was nothing important. It was just more mundane shit, and he was expected to sit there and listen to it then say “I understand” and let the angel be on his way.
It was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. Lucifer stood up as Micheal was in mid sentence and proceeded to leave the room. Micheal was speechless, which gave way to righteous indignation.”Just one moment beast! This is vitally important, you will not turn your back on me and walk away. The Lord expects you to receive this message!”
Lucifer simply turned and looked at him with a tired and disinterested look, “It’s the same message you delivered last week, and the weeks and months and years and centuries before that. Let’s just skip it for today and you can be off.”
Lucifer simply walked past the bookkeeper and muttered, “I’m going for some coffee.”
The Bookkeeper simply stood there stunned as did everyone else.
Of all the creations that humanity had come up with over the millennia, coffee and chocolate were two of Lucifer’s favorites. The combination of the two was an obvious treat for him so it was no surprise to find him reclining in a Starbuck’s somewhere in what was lovingly known as the “Bible Belt.” He just sat and watched humans walking back and forth from the counter to their tables or out the door. To amuse himself he had purchased a newspaper and was intently reading the comic section. He was particularly amused by a Dilbert strip. The pen and ink toon seemed to capture his frustration perfectly.
“If he only knew how right he was about Cubie Hell,”Lucifer thought as he chuckled at the cartoon. He was just about to start the crossword puzzle when someone sat down beside him. He looked up and felt his mood take a down turn. It was the last person in all of existence he wanted to see right then.
“I’m doing the crossword, I’ll get back to you in ten years,” he said to his unwelcome guest. The older looking man simply sips his cocoa and then opened his magazine. Lucifer noticed it was something on fishing.
“Hard time at work?” his unwanted companion asked.
“You could say that,” he answered shortly and went back to his puzzle. Now what was a five letter word for the Greek god of the Underworld? AH… Hades.
“Sometimes you just got to do what you got to do.”
The Lord of Darkness couldn’t help but growl a little as he continued his crossword puzzle. Couldn’t that old fool see he was trying to relax? He ignored the old coot as he filled out the blocks with letters. Considering the near infinite amount of knowledge he had it should have been easy. Operative term is should have been. No wonder the New York Times Sunday crossword was the hardest in the United States. Whom ever crafted this mind straining puzzle was truly inspired.
“Can’t spend the whole day like this. Got to get to work some time,” The old fossil of a man next to him said.
“I’m taking a personal day,” Lucifer said and went back to his puzzle.
“I see. I suppose everyone needs to take some time off every once in a while,” the old man said as he turned a page.
Lucifer just couldn’t hold it in. With a wave of his hand time stopped and he looked at the person next to him. The old man who conspicuously was not frozen in time.
“Why are you here? Really old man, the disinterested bystander routine isn’t fooling anyone who isn’t human.”
The old man sighed and closed his magazine, “Micheal told me what happened.”
Lucifer scoffed, “Of course, something as unexpected as that would through him off his game. Anything abnormal is always enough to through him and the others into fits to last decades.”
“What’s really wrong Lu?”
Lucifer sighed, “What’s wrong? You never bothered to ask me that before Father.”
The old man sighed and leaned back, “I know, and I should have. You’re too much like me for your own good.”
Lucifer chuckled, “Except for the humans I’m your only other creation that actually has the capacity for imagination.”
“What about the muses?”
“They don’t count. All they can do is excite creativity in a soul that already possessed it. They can’t actually come up with anything on their own.”
Lucifer sighed, “Even the eternal struggle between good and evil has lost it’s interest to me.”
“Oh come on, aren’t you even the slightest bit eager for Armageddon?”
The old man always knew that was an event his oldest creation looked forward to. He knew it was bad when Lucifer just sighed and said, “I can’t say it matters really. We both know how it’s supposed to turn out one way or the other so there isn’t anything to really look forward too. There’s sadly more suspense from a season of American Idol.”
“Nuts, you really are down in the dumps aren’t you.”
It was then that Lucifer folded his paper and set it in his lap, sighed, and closed his eyes, “Everything large scale like that is predestined. You and I already know what, when, where, why, and how these things will happen. Not to mention that it’s all supposed to go your way. When one knows that everything they will do is an exercise in futility it becomes impossible to really care.”
“Then what brought you here?”
“I just wanted some coffee and to do the crossword puzzle.”
When a deity of any kind, be it divine or profane, feels their existence isn’t what it should be certain things start to happen in the universe. A star going supernova, perhaps some creature evolving that could save or condemn and entire star system. Or the worst thing possible, at least if you asked the epitome of evil. Not a damned thing… or holy for that matter.
The old man just watched Lucifer go back to his puzzle and sip his coffee. With a flick of his wrist time started back up as he sat there. The old man knew that eternity was hard on entities like himself and his younger companion. The Angels and Demons below them couldn’t understand the issue. It was why he had reduced humanities life space from a millennia to a century. Even the supernatural creatures in the world had problems handling immortality. Especially creatures like vampires and werewolves who were just as human as they were creature. Anything that didn’t have it’s purpose dictated and set in stone, anything with free will, never handled the idea of eternity well.
It just so happened that he and Lucifer were the only entities in Heaven and Hell that had that particular gift. So it shouldn’t really have been a surprise he’d get like this. But what could a concerned God do about Lucifer ending up in depression like this? No, depression wasn’t the right word for this. Perhaps more of a rut. Like a man who had been working his whole life and was waiting to retire and get the gold watch.
“Maybe what you need is an extended vacation,” the old man said.
Lucifer actually stopped to think about that one, “Maybe, I haven’t actually done anything not related to the job in nearly three-thousand years. I suppose I could use a few decades off. Take some time on a beach, maybe see some sights. I’ve always wanted to go watch the Aurora Borealis. The Stone Roof of Hell is just so dull.”
The old man smiled, “Then it’s settled. I’ll get someone to take care of Hell for you, you go ahead and start your vacation.”
The Old man got up and walked towards the exit. Before he left he heard Lucifer say with a grin on his face, “Thanks, Old Man.”
The old man just smiled and left, leaving Lucifer to finish his crossword.
“SIR?!” Eugene cried as the Lord imparted upon him his wisdom. The old man just smiled as he repeated himself.
“I said the Lucifer will be taking a sabbatical for the next few decades. He’s just a little stressed and needs some time off. When he gets back he’ll be all nice and evil and ready for another eternity of punishing the damned.”
Eugene was not relieved, “But sir, who is going to handle things for the time being? No one else can do the job.”
“Oh no reason to freak out. I’ll just send Gabriel down here to handle things for a while.”
Eugene’s jaw dropped, “Gabriel sir? Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
The old man’s smile never dropped, “What could possibly go wrong?”
Eugene just turned away and went to ensure all the books were in order. The whole time the thought, “Famous last words,” echoed in his head.
Lucifer walked around the park near the Starbuck’s the old man had left him at. He was enjoying the peaceful feel of the sun filtering through the trees as he thought about where to go first. It was a little early in the year to go north. Maybe some time on the beach first just laying out and enjoying the scenery. It was summer, it would be nice to be somewhere nice and cool. Considering where he lived everywhere was cooler.
He passed a hot dog vendor and picked up a chili dog. He loved these with onions and mustard, maybe some shredded cheese. He found himself a nice bench overlooking a pond and enjoyed his treat. The good thing was that he wouldn’t really have to worry about over eating, or clogged arteries. Some ducks swam by as he ate. They just quacked and he finished his snack.
This was going to be a very good day.
Night was coming, and Lucifer had decided to walk through downtown. Even for the first few hours of his vacation he was already starting to feel better. So he decided that he would walk through downtown and check out the clubs. He hadn’t had time for a while to update himself on these things. It wasn’t like he’d have to dance at all, the feel of the humans around him would be enough. Though he had to admit, once he was in the club past the bouncer there was a little bit of a shock. The lighting flashing around him was rather intense. He stopped at the bar and got himself a beer of some kind. It didn’t really matter.
It would shock many to know that the Devil wasn’t even thinking about how to corrupt the souls surrounding him. It didn’t even entered his demonic mind. He was more focused on the music around him as he enjoyed the cold fluid that poured down his throat. He preferred a decent red wine but this beer was okay. He found himself a nice corner of the club that let him see everything and was nice and dark. Lucifer took the time to let himself reflect on the changes in the world over the centuries.
So little had really changed. Younger people enjoyed dancing, maybe find someone to share the night with. Not that Lucifer had ever had the pleasure of such a night. Of course it wasn’t for lack of desire. He just wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of an Anti-Christ popping up because of his indiscretions. That and his eternal schedule.
“Wait, I don’t have to worry about my schedule now. I’ve got all the time in the world to enjoy things,” Lucifer thought to himself, and for the first time in ages a smirk grew on his lips.
Eugene was extremely nervous right then. Gabriel had shown up just as the Old Man said she would. The demon bookkeeper did his best to bring the Arch-Angel up to speed. Lucifer only made administration of Hell look easy and boring. At least if you asked Eugene it was hard and required everything to be handled with care. After all, if there was a mistake in the paperwork it could take eons to sort out. Lucifer’s unusual departure had already thrown things immensely and Eugene was trying his best to get it all back on track.
Gabriel had a small calm smile on her face as Eugene fretted, “Be not afraid little hellion. Everything will be just fine.”
Eugene just muttered under his breath, “Just fine she says. Lucifier decides to just up and take a holiday, damned souls start backing up while the Old Man comes down and tells me about M’lord’s holiday. Do you have any idea how much this is going to upset things?”
Gabriel’s smile never wavered but the Angel couldn’t help but think, “No wonder Lucifer started not caring about this job. If this hellion is this stressed out over this I don’t even want to know how the other demons are.”
Before Eugene could start on a rant about the impropriety of an Angel being responsible for condemning of souls the throne room doors opened. Two large demon guards escorted a soul and tossed him down before Gabriel. She was about to mention something to the two demon guards about their behavior but stopped herself. This was Hell after all, and she was simply the caretaker for Lucifer’s Realm. Also, if this soul was before her it must have done something wicked.
Eugene handed her a sheet of paper that gave the important information, “Thank you, Eugene. So, Corporal Jack Simmons, Lets see what you are damned for.”
The corporal looked rather shocked for a moment, “Are you an Angel?”
Gabriel answered back absently, “Arch-Angel, yes.”
“But I’m in Hell?”
Corporal Simmons was understandably confused.
“Lucifer is on vacation, I will be your tormentor for the time being. Now it says here you died exchanging fire with insurgents in Afghanistan.”
Simmons was still a little stunned from dying and finding Hell run by an Angel as he nodded, “I was just following orders.”
Gabriel continued to skim down the sheet, her lips curving into a disapproving frown, “Did your orders include the rape and murder of a sixteen year old Afghani girl while her two year old watched. Or the subsequent cover up and burning of the body and house and reporting it as collateral damage to your superiors? Soldiers aren’t condemned just for killing in battle. This list of sins committed off the battlefield more then condemns you.
I sentence you to burn for eternity for the suffering you knowingly and willingly caused on Earth. Your lack of mercy to your fellow man will be returned to you a thousand fold.”
Simmons sputtered as the demons grabbed him by the arms, “But you are an Angel! Aren’t you supposed to be merciful?”
Gabriel smirked, “Why? After all, I’m only following orders.”
As the damned soul was taken away by the guards Gabriel leaned back in the thrown Lucifer usually occupied and smiled, “I could get to enjoy this. Eugene, have someone bring me a black leather chase lounge and a goblet of wine.”
Eugene’s glasses fell to the tip of his nose, “Ma’am, you really shouldn’t redecorate Lord Lucifer’s thrown room.”
Gabriel just waved dismissively at the statement, “We’ll put his thrown in storage until he gets back. If I’m going to be doing this I’m going to make myself comfortable. I suppose I should change my outfit as well. The Blessed Angel damning souls just doesn’t seem to feel right. I’ll be right back and I expect that wine and lounge here when I return.”
Eugene just shook his head and relayed those orders to some of the other demons as Gabriel walked out of the room to where ever it was she had decided to set up shop.
“This will do nicely,” Lucifer said as he inspected the loft apartment he decided would be a nice spot for the next few years. He paid the landlord his sum and smiled as he was left to his own devices. He walked around the apartment, mentally placing where he would put everything. He’d need to put up the pretense of moving in without arousing suspicion. Sides, vacation or not he’d want something to make this place livable.
“Hey, this is nice Lue. You could put something like a Hawaiian Wet bar over there. The luau feel might make things more fun,” A voice said from behind him.
“I don’t know, it might be a bit tacky,” Lucifer said with a light grin on his face. He turned around and faced a man in combat boots, military pants, and a tight black shirt with the words “Born to Die” printed in evil red letters on it. The man was clean shaven and had his hair cut in a crew cut. He looked like any young man ready to serve the military.
“Maybe. Either way this place has potential.”
“Yes it does. So what brings you down here J.C.?” Lucifer asked.
“Eh, got bored topside figured I’d wander around down here awhile. Dad said you were taking a break from Hell so I figured I’d stop in, say hi, help you move into your new place,” J.C. Said, a big smile on his face.
Lucifer pulled the other man into a hug and slapped him on the back. Then he pulled out a cellphone and placed a call.
“Eugene, it’s Lucifer. How are things down under?”
“M’LORD! Please tell me you’ll be back soon,” Eugene’s stressed voice said over the phone.
“No such luck, Eugene. Have a few of the Demons box up my movie and music collection as well as some of my other nick-nacks. Box it up and grab a moving truck from somewhere. Oh and have them load up some furniture. A regular house set should suffice. Thanks,” Lucifer said as he made to hang up the phone.
“Wait! Sir, please reconcid….” Eugene got out before the phone hung up.
Lucifer put his hands on his hips and draped his coat over the bar.
“Lets see what we can do with this place.”
The demons had made short work of the furniture. Lucifer and J.C. had with their help arranged the bigger pieces easily enough. The entertainment center and computer setup took a little longer. Mostly because Lucifer couldn’t see the need for the high end computer system.
“But isn’t this more then enough for my needs? After all, I’m mostly just going to be web surfing and checking emails. It’s not like I plan to let myself be corrupted by World of Warcraft.”
“Maybe, but you don’t want to have to upgrade too soon. They come out with better stuff daily,” the demon Craig said.
Lucifer just shook his head and gave in. Craig had a point after all, best to get more then you need just in case. J.C. and the other demon, Lesley, were looking at HDTV’s trying to pick the best for the money. They had already picked out a more then sufficient sound system and video game equipment for it and just had to decide on the TV itself.
“This looks pretty kick ass Les,” J.C. said, pretty certain that the forty-two inch display.
Considering how complex the setup was going to be, and the fact it was getting late in the night the four decided to pay for installation by a professional. That and as smart as Lucifer was he just didn’t quite want to do it all himself. This was his time off after all, why not let someone else do it and make sure it’s done right. They arranged for the delivery and setup with the clerk and left with a few bags full of other things for the loft that might come in handy.
Pizza was the order of the night. Lue, Les, Craig and J.C. sat back and enjoyed their dinner with some beer. It had became a regular guy’s night at that point, with a game of Texas Hold’um afterwards. The beer flowed well past midnight, until the small party crashed. Lucifer in his four poster bed, J.C. on the couch, Craig in a recliner and Les on the floor. It was just like any other party any other Bacholer would have had with friends.
Lucifer enjoyed every moment of it.