“I’m going to need a different set of forms, I’ll be right back.” The devil vanished in a puff of red smoke, but a second puff made him appear again before the first dissipated. He reached into the breast pocket of his dark suit for a dark red fountain pen, then handed it to Craig Fillmore along with an obsidian clipboard. He pointed out several X’s on the top form.
“Initial there, there, there, and signature there,” he said. Craig eagerly filled out the sheet and excitedly returned the clipboard to the devil. He took off the top sheet, then handed it back to Craig and pointed out another set of X’s. After Craig filled them out, the devil took the clipboard, smiled, and offered Craig a handshake.
“Congratulations, you’re a devil!”
“What do you mean A devil?” Craig asked as he stretched his hand to complete the deal. The moment he made contact with the devil’s hand he felt a whooshing plume of smoke push down on him. When it cleared he found himself in a small cubicle sized office surrounded by stacks of paper on every surface.
“You asked to replace me,” the devil smiled and gave Craig a friendly punch on the shoulder. Craig felt a warmth spread through his body from the point of contact. He looked down at his hands and watched his skin become dry, and dark red. He felt two spots tingling on the top of his head. The devil in front of him began to change also. Craig watched the man’s skin lighten from dark red to a smooth olive color and the two dark glassy horns on his head receded into his skull. He knew he was growing those same horns.
“I made the same deal a while back. The only way out is for someone to wish your job,” the former devil said. He opened the door to leave the small room.
“Wait!” Craig grabbed the man’s shoulder. “What do I do? I thought I was going to get to rule over hell?!” he asked. The man almost continued through the door, but he paused with a sigh.
“What do you think hell is?” He asked. He closed the door, swept a stack of papers to the floor then sat in the chair under it.
“Uh, you know. I sit around on a throne and make people’s lives shitty.” The former devil smirked.
“There’s your throne,” He pointed to a dark red leather high-back office chair, then he leaned down to pick a random piece of paper off the floor and handed it to Craig. “You can go make Woody Robertson’s life miserable.” He dropped the sheet, then reached down for another. “Or Clara Andrez,” he tossed the sheet up. “Any of them.” He shrugged at the sheet of paper riding the air down to the ground.
“But the devil rules the underworld! What about my legions of demons?” The former devil chuckled with a gleam in his forest green eyes.
“It started out like that, but Hell is a service industry like any other. We strive to give people what they want, and now everyone has their own personal Hell, instead of the communal vision of sulfur lakes and pitchfork wielding demons. These days devils are more like social workers than punishment enforcers.”
“What are you talking about? No one wants this,” Craig pointed out.
“No one thinks they want this, but we give people what they think they deserve,” he shrugged.
“So, what does that mean for Heaven?”
“Different branches of the same company,” Craig said. He stood from the desk and opened the door. “That’s what those people think they deserve.” He took a single step out the door.
“That’s all the advice I can give. As far as the actual job, you’ll figure it out. Just grab a sheet, and listen to what they have to say.” He shut the door behind him leaving Craig alone in the small office. Exactly what he wanted.