Sharp Bookkeeping

Leonard woke in a white room. He sat up to get his bearings and noticed the walls glowed with a soft white light. He found himself on an obsidian slab and swung his legs over the edge; the floor also emitted the same dim white light. He knew he was dead.

“Mr. Parsons, I hope you enjoyed your life,” a voice said behind him. The startled man swiveled his head toward the speaker. His stomach dropped as soon as he recognized the rotund blonde man dressed in a white suit.

“Welcome to Hell,” Lucifer smiled. Leonard was sure he woke up alone. He quickly spun his head around expecting the rest of the buyers to appear. “Something wrong?” Lucifer asked.

“Why am I here?” Leonard asked.  Lucifer giggled with high-pitched squeaks that sounded odd coming from his round frame.

“I know you got a bit delirious at the end there, but you sold your soul to me, remember?” Lucifer asked. Leonard couldn’t help but nod.

“Yeah, but..,” Leonard continued looking around the plain white room hoping to see anyone else show up.

“But what?” Lucifer asked. “You seem to be waiting for someone,” he added after a few moments of Leonard not answering. That caught Leonard’s full attention. He turned to Lucifer and nodded. He hoped being honest would start the show. Hell had rules to follow and if his soul was promised to others, they couldn’t do anything to him.

“I am,” Leonard admitted. “My soul has other buyers.” Lucifer chuckled.

“That’s not possible.” Leonard also laughed but shook his head.

“It is because I did it. I sold my soul to the fairies to guarantee financial security for my descendants. The witches guaranteed health and longevity for my soul. The vampires promised protection. And obviously, you were there for our deal.” Lucifer tilted his head slightly and narrowed his eyes.

“Were you trying to cheat Hell?” he asked. Leonard laughed again; more obnoxiously this time.

“OF COURSE!” he said. “You’re Hell.

“Oh. Well, this is a problem. Just to avoid any misunderstandings, I need to get this straight. You knowingly sold your soul to multiple parties, is that right?” Leonard nodded enthusiastically. The fact that Lucifer said it was a problem seemed promising. Lucifer chuckled; his laugh was deeper, and more intimidating than his giggles earlier.

“Mr. Parsons,” Lucifer smiled. “How disorganized do you think we are in Hell?” he asked. “Do you think we lack simple bookkeeping skills?”

“What?” Leonard asked. A tight knot began to form in his stomach. “What do you mean?”

“The moment you agreed to our deal, your soul was marked as Hell’s property. No one else could possibly claim it.”

“But…the fairies…,” Leonard said. “.. witches… everyone accepted my deal.”

“Accepted?” Lucifer asked. “Or… amended?” he said with a grin.

“Huh?”

“Mr. Parsons, you’re not the first to think himself clever by selling to multiple parties. If you were, you might have gotten away with it. As it stands, Hell now has procedures in place for this kind of thing. Once your soul is ours, it’s off-limits to anyone else. It leaves a mark on you visible to any parties that trade in souls. They’re not allowed to actually purchase it, but they can promise you anything you like. When that happens it simply amends your original deal with me.” Lucifer said. 

“Well…,” Leonard sighed. He was starting to realize he was about to spend an eternity in Hell. “… at least I got more out of you,” he chuckled. Lucifer shrugged.

“You could have done that in our meeting,” Lucifer said with a smile. “You sold your eternal soul, you had all the negotiating power.” 

“Oh,” Leonard felt foolish, but still content. He would endure torment for eternity so long as his family was taken care of.

“It’s a shame you tried to cheat Hell, though,” Lucifer added with a gentle shake of his head.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, there are a few different outcomes from this scenario,” Lucifer said. “Sometimes people don’t realize what they’re doing is considered cheating, or at least don’t admit it. In those cases, the amended deal is still in effect. Hell is, at its core, a customer service industry after all. The customer is often, always right.

“That’s what I-,” Leonard began to protest, but Lucifer shook his head.

“On the other hand,” he spoke over Leonard. “Some people try to cheat Hell. Then, they’re stupid enough to admit it when they get here. That voids all amendments.” Lucifer smiled. “Your descendants get nothing for your time here.”

“But….. but…,” Leonard sputtered trying to find a way out. Lucifer shrugged.

“You were gifted the ability to see and interact with Fae in exchange for your soul,” Lucifer said. “That deal was completed, so, let’s get started on that eternity of torture.”

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