Flayer the Frightful made a gesture with his red, scaly hand and immediately the screaming agent collapsed unconscious.
“Take her to the kitchen,” Flayer commanded. The other demons were already filing out of the summoning chamber laughing and talking amongst themselves. Flayer sighed, walked to the sleeping woman, and tossed her over his shoulder to deliver her to the cook. As he navigated the halls he turned a corner and bumped into an apprentice demon who was more focused on his friends than where he was going.
“Watch where you’re going,” Flayer said with his most authoritative tone of voice. The young trio of demons looked startled for a second. They seemed ready to apologize profusely until they realized who they ran into.
“Sorry, Flailer,” the one that bumped into Flayer said while his two friends did a poor job of stifling giggles. Then they moved to the side as one to go around him. Flayer did not bother correcting the boy, he was used to the mean-spirited nickname, “Flailer the Failure”. The name genuinely hurt his feelings, but as a demon he did not really have anyone to complain to. He took comfort in the knowledge that the Dark Lord understood him when no one else did.
Flayer arrived at a set of tall, black iron, swinging doors and pushed through to the kitchen. The chef, a short, round, yellow-scaled demon, looked up from his spot in front of the stone oven and his face dropped.
“I’ve already started cooking and you’re changing the menu on me?” he complained. “This is why nobody likes you,” the chef, Flayer’s only real friend, complained. Flayer shrugged and dropped the unconscious woman on the solid block of obsidian that was used as a prep table. “Careful!” the chef reprimanded Flayer. “Last time you bruised one, the Dark Lord was fuming for a week.” Flayer sat in a nearby chair and gave the chef a weak smile.
“It’s getting worse, Cookie” he complained. “The youngsters are learning to disrespect me from the other summoners.” The chef walked over and patted Flayer on the back.
“You knew this was going to happen when you gave him the job,” Cookie said. Flayer nodded. “Stay strong. It’ll pass when they realize you made the right decision. The main buzz in the cafeteria for the past few weeks has been about how everyone’s pulling in way more souls than when you were the Dark Lord.” Cookie rubbed his friend’s back. “Right now they only see that he’s doing better than you. Eventually they’ll figure out that’s why you gave him the job.” Then, Cookie shoved Flayer off the chair. The tall red demon scrambled to get his feet under him, but he managed to stay upright. “Go be sad somewhere else, I’ve still got work to do. We’ll hang out later,” the chef said. Flayer nodded and walked out of the double black metal doors again. Cookie turned and looked at the unconscious woman wearing a red shirt and khaki slacks, then shook his head.
“You’ve got some weird tastes, Dark Lord,” Cookie chuckled to himself and approached the woman. “There’s got to be a more efficient way to do this,” he complained as he grabbed a black cleaver.
Cookie lifted his arm and brought the flat side of the cleaver down on the woman’s nose.
“Boop,” he said with a chuckle. The woman’s eyes flew open, and she screamed immediately at the sight of a rotund yellow demon waving a cleaver at her. She tried crawling away from him, but she fell off the obsidian block and hit the ground hard. By the time she picked herself up ready to run Cookie stood in front of her holding the cleaver up over his head.
“LISTEN!” he yelled. The scream startled her enough to calm her down for a second and Cookie took the opportunity to point at the cleaver with his other hand to make sure it had her attention. Then he carefully laid it down on the obsidian table and backed away from her with his palms stretched outward.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I woke you up instead of killing you, right? Listen.” He said in a softer tone. The woman’s body seemed to relax slightly but her eyes kept darting around the room to look for exits.
“Where am I?” the woman asked. Cookie chuckled.
“Really?” He brought his hands to the top of his head and pointed to two stubby brown horns poking out, then he reached behind him to pull his pointed tail forward.
“But I was a good person…,” she said. It seemed like she might have a breakdown, but Cookie was quick to interrupt.
“You’re not dead!” he said. “You’re a guest.”
“A guest?” She asked. Confusion washed across her face. Cookie nodded.
“Our Dark Lord is having a feast tonight, and he wanted some company. That’s it, just join him for dinner then you’ll be sent back.”
“I’m not gonna get eaten?” Though she did not know exactly where she was, the fact that she was in a kitchen was obvious to her. Cookie shook his head.
“No. You’re just here because I’m the chef and I need to know what you like. So, what do you want to eat?” he asked. He hoped it would be something simple, or maybe even something he was already working on for the Dark Lord. The woman exhaled a laugh and smiled.
“Really? REALLY??” Cookie nodded.
“I like all kinds of stuff I guess. Chinese food, fried chicken, pizza, sush-” Cookie interrupted the rest of her list.
“Pizza? You like pizza? Great, you’re having pizza tonight. Dark Lord loves pizza.” Another flash of confusion covered the woman’s face for a split-second.
“Pizza? The Devil likes pizza? I thought it would have been virgin blood or something.” Cookie gave the woman a look that, despite having never seen a demon in her life, she immediately understood as “wow you’re stupid.”
“Virgin blood is a drink, not a meal,” he said. “And I said the Dark Lord, not the Devil.”
“They’re not the same thing?” Cookie shook his head.
“Hell is complicated, but they’re all basically different titles. Devils are ranked higher than Dark Lords, but in any case the point is there are more than one. They’re more like regional supervisors. OUR Dark Lord happens to like pizza,” Cookie said, then gave another soft laugh. “Hell, you might even know him.” For a third time, confusion washed over her fact.
“Why would I know him?”
“Well I’m not saying you definitely will, but the possibility is there. He used to work at State Farm too. Do you know anyone named Jake?” The woman made an off-putting face.
“No, but he sounds hideous. I hate that name so much.”