Summoning Answers

“Sorry, pal,” the demon said. “Not interested.” The red-skinned demon in a navy blue suit waved his hand dismissively at William.

“What?! Why?” William shouted. “You buy souls and I’m ready to sell.” He’d known about the summoning ritual for years. He’d had a fairly rough life, but he swore he’d only sell his soul as a last resort. And now, it seemed it wasn’t even an option. The demon rolled his eyes, but sighed. He wasn’t in a hurry to get back to work and he could kill some extra time if he took time to explain. Plus, William looked like he needed a win.

“We do buy souls,” the demon replied. “The problem is, yours isn’t for sale.” William shot the demon a confused look.

“I’m telling you I’m ready to sell,” he said. The demon shook his head.

“Yeah, that’s not up to you,” he said. “It’s up to your soul.”

“Bull,” William said. “A good buddy of mine sold his soul a decade ago; he didn’t have any problems.” The demon nodded.

“He probably wasn’t a Unique Soul, like you.”

“What’s so special about my soul?” William asked.

“Well,.. uh..,” the demon hesitated for a moment as he looked for the right words. “Alright, I don’t want to deal with a whole lot of questions,” he said. “I’ll explain it to you, but just take everything I say as fact for now. If I have to go into every aspect, … well I don’t want to,” he said with a chuckle.

“Okay, sure,” William said. He already didn’t have anything left to lose when he summoned the demon.

“Alternate universes exist,” the demon said. William’s eyes shot wide, but he managed to hold his tongue. “Your buddy that sold his soul; he probably has a Zero-,” the demon noted a new look of confusion on William’s face.

“Zeros are his alternate universe doppelgangers,” he said. William seemed to accept that and he continued. “He probably has Zeros in other universes. Those Zeros exist because his soul is still fragmented. So, what your friend sold was only a small portion of his soul. Fragmentation is part of the whole process; your soul gets divided up and sent out into the universe to learn different lessons. Over time, as the Zeros die off, they get reconstituted into a single, Unique Soul; like you.  There’s more nuance, but that’s the gist,” the demon said.

“So… why can’t you buy my soul? It seems like it would be a good thing for Hell to get a whole soul.”

“A few different reasons. The first is, as I mentioned, you don’t have the power to make that decision. Zero souls are only fragments so their body gets to call the shots. In your case, you’re a complete soul, so it’d be kind of silly to let your body decide things when you’re not even awake.”

“What do you mean?” William asked, then immediately clapped his hand over his mouth. “Sorry,” he squeaked out.” The demon nodded in understanding.

“Unique Souls have two phases. Slumbering, or Awakened. You’ll be Slumbering until you get your number, 52, etched on your skin. Tattoos are the most common. Though other things, like branding work too. Once you’re Awakened you get to unlock the full abilities of your soul.”

“Abilities?  Like superpowers?” William asked. The demon shrugged.

“Some are like superpowers, like super strength or regeneration. Some are just handy abilities like talking to fish, or, in your case, talking to plants.”  William burst into laughter.

“So, you’re telling me if I get a tattoo with the number 52 on it, I can talk to plants? How’d you know my favorite number?” The demon raised an eyebrow at William’s questions, but decided to answer.

“Yes, you’ll be able to talk to plants. And, your favorite number is your favorite number because that’s what your soul chose during the process. The easiest way to identify a Unique Soul is to ask them their favorite number. If they instantly answer a number between 1 and 54, without hesitation, they’re probably a Unique.”

“So I go get a tattoo and you can buy my soul?” William asked. Although, he was a bit less interested in selling it and instead started to wonder what he could do with the ability to talk to plants. The demon shook his head.

“Simply put, it’s against the rules for Hell to buy Unique Souls.”

“Oh c’mon. Hell’s following rules now? Whose?” The demon chuckled and simply pointed upward.

“I thought Hell’s whole thing was breaking rules.” The demon shrugged.

“Religious propaganda. Hell exists to serve a purpose, and we do it well, while following the rules.” William grew comfortable with the demon answering his questions.

“So what’s the purpose?” he asked.

“That’s going to be your last question,” the demon said. A sulfury, yellow plume enveloped the demon. It began to clear immediately and the demon was gone. But, William heard his voice one more time.  “Have you ever tried playing chess by yourself?” 

Divine Enjoyment

“And you are?”  The old man in an elegant white and gold gown blocked Nina from entering the room.

“She’s with me,” a smooth, gentleman’s voice spoke from behind the man blocking the door.

“Of course, My God,” the old man bowed his head and stepped out of Nina’s way without hesitation. Nina walked in and found a medium-sized boardroom with a long table. Old men in white gowns sat at every seat and they all focused their attention on a younger man. He looked in his mid30s, with a smooth, clean-shaven face and a chestnut crewcut. He wore a navy blue business suit, and he was God.

“Nina had some questions about the universe and I thought it’d be helpful to bring her along for this meeting.” Nina felt slightly embarrassed at the special treatment. She was just a barista that happened to find God in an alley.

“So…,” God smiled at the room. Nina found it slightly amusing that other than her, he was the youngest-looking person in the room. “Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. Who’s right?” he asked. Nina looked closer at the gowns. Though all the men appeared to be dressed in the same uniform, each also had a small golden logo on the collar representing their individual faith.

“None of you,” he said. He waited a moment while the men all looked at each other and him in confusion. Then, he continued, “And, all of you,” God chuckled. “It matters more to you than it does to me; I do my thing regardless of what you believe.”

“We can enter the kingdom of Heaven without belief?” An old man with a cross on his collar asked.

“Ah,” God nodded. “I knew there was a reason I brought Nina,” he said, and looked at her. “You were curious about Heaven too. The truth is, Heaven, as any of your religions imagine it, doesn’t exist.” He shook his head for effect. “Eternal paradise? That gets old mighty quick. There’s no, ‘end state’, “God used air-quotes. “There’s no permanent happiness. It’s unsustainable once boredom sets in.”

“If there’s no Heaven… then there’s no Hell,” one of the men said from the table. “Then, what happens after we die?”

“Oh, there’s a Hell,” God nodded, then, he shrugged. “But, again, it’s not what your religions have come up with. At this point, it’s little more than a name with a lot of bad stigma attached. As for what happens… there are options,” God said. “Most of the time you’ll get another life on another Earth. Do it all again with no memories except for the lessons you learned deep in your soul.”

“There are other Earths??” one of them asked. God nodded. Nina wanted to point out that God brought her to this meeting from a different universe, but she did not want to step on his toes. If he wanted to mention it to them, he would have.

“Why?” one of the men asked. “Why not have one perfect Earth? Did you make a mistake?”

“God doesn’t make mistakes!” one of the men berated the other one from across the table.

“That’s not true,” God said. “I have, in the past. But, having multiple Earths is intentional on my part. You’re asking why I didn’t make one perfect Earth, my question to you is, perfect for what? If my goal only required one Earth, I would have stopped at one.” Nina tilted her head at him. She knew she was the only one in the room brave, or at least, familiar enough with him to ask the question they all had.

“So.. then what’s your goal?” she asked. God smiled and every white gown in the room stiffened as the men all sat up straight and perked their ears up.

“I’m having fun,” he said.

Devil’s Night In

“Who’s that scary guy?” Arthur giggled with the toddler in his arms while he pointed at his husband, Eric. “Who’s the scary man?” he repeated while Eric got emergency contact information from the child’s parents.

“Are you sure it’s okay?” Debbie, the baby’s mom asked for the twentieth time in as many minutes. The men seemed like a nice couple but she wasn’t sure ‘nice’ was what her baby needed. They were a far cry from what she expected when the Satanic temple offered her a child-free date night. She and her husband desperately needed to reconnect and she jumped at the chance.

The well-dressed, obviously in love, couple that showed up at her door instantly put Debbie’s mind at ease. That only lasted a moment before guilt took over. These men had no idea what they were in for; how frightening her child could be.

“Maybe we shouldn’t,” Debbie turned to her husband. “You know how grumpy Set can be,” she added. Murray sighed at his wife, but shook his head. Then, he looked up at Arthur and Eric.

“You boys are from the temple, you know the situation with Set, don’t you?” Both men nodded, Arthur bounced the baby in his arms while he did.

“They’ll be fine,” Murray grabbed Debbie by the arm and pulled her toward the door.

“Bye honey,” Debbie waved at Set while Murray opened the door. A small whine escaped from Set’s mouth as if he realized what was happening. Debbie stepped through the door; before it closed Set let out a demonic, gravelly wail. A faint cloud of yellow sulfur flowed out of the baby’s mouth. It’s soft skin darkened, hardened, and cracked into crimson scales.

“Oh no,” Debbie turned around to walk back into the apartment, but Arthur shook his head.

“We got this,” he said with a comforting smile.

“RAWAAAAWWWR!” Eric’s tan face was covered with red scales and his eyes glowed orange while he made devil faces at the demonic child. Set giggled. He was so distracted that he didn’t notice his mother turn around and leave.

Death & Experience


“What if I say, ‘no’?” Kyle asked. Elsa shrugged under her black cloak.

“You stay here until you change your mind,” Elsa replied. She gestured at the elegant bathroom around them. Kyle had a bad night. An overflowing toilet and a slippery floor guaranteed he’d never have a chance to propose to his girlfriend. It was the only reason they were in the upscale restaurant. He went to the restroom to find his nerve and never returned.

He managed to see his girlfriend for a moment during the initial commotion of someone finding his body. But, Death showed up shortly after and kept him from going after her. Now, paramedics were carrying his body out and he was left alone in the restroom with Elsa.

“As a ghost?” Kyle asked. Elsa half-shrugged and half-nodded.

“I guess, technically. Sure,” she said.

“I’m going to stay,” Kyle said decisively. Elsa nodded at him.

“‘Kay,” she said. “How long?”

“Uh..,” Kyle hadn’t expected Death to be so accommodating. But, he also didn’t expect her to be a young woman in her early 20s with a chestnut brown ponytail. She looked like a fresh-faced intern on her way to becoming a permanent employee. “…Forever?” he said. Elsa grinned at him and shook her head.

“Let’s start with a shorter timeframe first,” she said. “I’ll come to check on you in a year, sounds good?” she asked.

“And I can still say no then too, right?” Kyle asked. Elsa nodded.

“Sure, if you want.”

“Great! I’ll take the year!” Kyle blurted out. He immediately began wondering how to best haunt his girlfriend to let her know he was there.

“You got it,” Elsa replied. Then, Kyle blinked. The second he opened his eyes Death spoke up.

“Ready?” Elsa asked.

“But, you just gave me a year,” Kyle whined. Elsa nodded.

“Yeah, I did. Do you want another one?”

“It hasn’t even been 30 seconds!”

“No, it’s been a year,” Elsa nodded. “But, you blinked and missed it,” she grinned. “I can prove it,” she walked out of the restroom and encouraged Kyle to follow her. He hesitated for a moment, but his curiosity got the better of him.

He exited the bathroom expecting to find the staff cleaning up and the patrons gone after his accident. Instead, he found an empty, dusty dining room full of cobwebs.

“Congratulations,” Elsa said with a giggle. “Your accident ruined their reputation. They closed three months after you died and haven’t been able to sell the location.”

“But you said I could stay,” Kyle complained again.

“And you can; I have to make sure you don’t affect anything. The easiest way to do that is to time-lock you.”

“But, I don’t get to experience anything like that,” Kyle said. Elsa nodded.

“Well, that would be cheating. You’ve had your turn at experiencing life and now you have to get in line again if you want another turn. Just like everyone else. Other people want to enjoy life too, you know.”

“Wait… again? I get another life?” Elsa shook her head but smiled.

“Where do you think I’m supposed to take you?”

Sharp Discussion

“He’s going to let this continue?” Satan asked. The giant red-skinned man sat in his cavern office behind a large obsidian desk. In front of him sat a young woman with sea-green curls and olive skin. Isla nodded an answer to his question.

“He wants to see, ‘how it plays out’,” she said. Her exasperated eye roll gave away her true feelings on the subject. Satan sighed.

“I feel like he’s losing interest in the whole thing. Between this and letting Ballisea run wild,” Satan gestured at Isla with his hand. “He didn’t even come in person.”

“He has been doing it for a while,” Isla agreed. “Some of the Middlemen think he’s following your example. He might be considering a successor.” Satan’s eyes went wide in shock; but, he couldn’t say he was surprised.

“You can’t mean…,” Satan paused looking for the right words. “She’s a Zero! She was at least. now she’s -,”  Isla interrupted him.

“Now she’s running her own afterlife. After being just you two for so long, the big guy thinks a third competitor could spice things up. He thinks she couldn’t possibly make any headway this late in the game,” Isla shook her head. “We’ve been trying to convince him he’s underestimating her.” Satan nodded vigorously.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned,” he chuckled. “Even if the bossman said, ‘I have no doubts Dana Sharp will win this round’; that would still be underestimating her. He sees everything, but he doesn’t notice everything.” Isla nodded.

“We know. The scarier part is; she’s found somewhere to hide.”

“What?!” Satan asked. “That’s… that’s impossible! Where?” Isla rolled her eyes again and giggled.

“If we knew that she wouldn’t be hidden.”

“And he’s still not going to step in and stop it? That’s cheating.”

“Big man says it’s not cheating if we can’t catch her doing it. Which, we can’t.” 

Satan grumbled under his breath for a few moments, the finally shook his head.

“You know what I just realized? It’s not my problem anymore,” he said. “Julie’s almost done with her quest, then I’m out of here. If he’s not going to worry about it, I’m not going to either.”

“That’s what the Middlemen decided too,” Isla nodded. “It’s business as usual, just a bit slower,” Isla said. She stood from the chair. “Was there anything else you wanted to bring to his attention?” she asked; a black portal opened to her side. Satan shook his head.

“That was everything. Thank you, Isla,” he said. Isla nodded, waved, then stepped through the portal.

Lunch with Death

Death sat at the counter and pulled her hood down to reveal a light-brown ponytail. She let her obsidian scythe fall forward, the blade sliced through reality and made a small black gash that it fell into. The hole disappeared once the scythe was gone.

Mundo abandoned her cleaning the moment death walked in. She greeted the regular customer with a mug of hot chocolate by the time she sat down.

“Rough shift?” Mundo asked. Death nodded and gave an exhausted, frayed chuckle.

“There was a bus on its way to a Christian retreat; it took a shortcut off a cliff. A whole bus load of, ‘This isn’t the pearly gates!’ ‘Where’s God?’ and ‘Are you an angel?’.” Death rolled her caramel eyes and blew on the cocoa, then took a small slurp. Mundo giggled.

“Well, what’s for lunch today?” Mundo asked. Death looked up and into the kitchen but did not see anyone else.

“You’re cooking?” she asked. Mundo nodded.

“Nice!” Death smiled. “Surprise me,” she said. Mundo nodded and disappeared into the kitchen while Death enjoyed the quiet restaurant. Five minutes later Mundo walked out with two slices of steaming pizza on a plate.

“When did you start serving pizza?” Death asked. She pulled the pate closer and hoped Mundo did not think she was complaining. Mundo giggled.

“Leftovers from dinner earlier; surprise!” Death laughed and picked up a slice.

“Looks like it’s gonna be one of those nights,” Mundo said. She nodded at the entrance behind Death, then turned around to prepare a cup of coffee.

A black-hooded figure walked in the door holding a scythe. It walked up to the counter and pulled his hood down. Loose, stringy black hair obscured most of his stubbled-face.

“Elsa, Mundo,” he nodded at the two women and released his scythe. It fell forward and disappeared into its own hole exactly like Elsa’s did.

“Miller,” Elsa nodded back then continued eating.

“How’s it going?” Mundo asked as she set his coffee down.

“Still tiring,” Miller sighed. “I didn’t know we could get this exhausted.”

“I know!” Elsa joined in. “You know how your shift ends right after it starts? By the time I’m done I can’t even fast forward the eight hours of my shift. On the plus side, it’s like an extra eight hours of sleep, which I totally need.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of weird having 32 hour days now,” Miller agreed. “I have more time, but I’m also much more tired. It’s not really a gain if the extra time is spent sleeping.  Isla said it’s supposed to get easier,” he added. Elsa nodded.

“Yeah, Chase said the same thing but I’m not seeing it yet.”

“What’s for lunch, Miller,” Mundo asked. He cast his eyes at Elsa halfway through her second slice.

“You serve pizza now?” he asked. Mundo smiled.

“Just for tonight. I’ll get you a couple of slices,” she disappeared into the kitchen while Elsa and Miller chatted about work some more. He got a laugh at her expense when she relayed her troubles with the bus.

Mundo returned from the kitchen and put a couple of steaming slices in front of Miller. As she did, a black scythe fell out of the air and landed propped up against the counter next to Elsa.

“Back to it I guess,” she sighed as she stood from the stool. “Thanks for lunch Mundo, you’ve got the best café.” Elsa grabbed her scythe and headed for the door. Mundo waved from behind the counter.

“You say that every time. Bye Elsa, see you tomorrow.”

Hellish Rolemodel

“It’s not uncommon for a boy growing up with a single mother to hear that his father belonged in Hell,” Eric began his speech. A gentle laugh ran through the small crowd of familiar faces. Despite being a very lavish wedding, the guest list was kept to a minimum. “Though, it is more rare to learn that your dad is Satan,” Eric turned and smiled at the giant red man sitting next to his wife: Eric’s mother. The red man in a black suit smiled at Eric and held his wife’s hand.

“What can I say about my dad? He’s an evil, conniving, snake of a man that left his wife as soon I was born. But…,” Eric smiled at his dad to let him know there were no hard feelings. “…He’s also a man that learns from his mistakes. A man that learned how to keep his job and his home life separate. A man that is giving up his limitless power to get back together with the woman he loves because he now knows what’s important to him. Because of his example, I know what’s important to me.” Eric reached down and grabbed Arthur’s hand to encourage him up. Arthur stood next to his husband proudly.

“You showed up kind of late, but you’ve been the number 1 dad ever since. You’re Satan,” Eric chuckled. “Everyone has something bad to say about you, but you don’t let what others think get in the way of you doing what you have you to do. You taught me how to be happy with who I am and I wouldn’t be standing here next to the man I love if I never learned that lesson. Even on my Earth people are a little backward about things like this,” Eric leaned over and kissed Arthur on the cheek. A soft cheer ran through the crowd. “Not a lot, but enough to deter me, if I didn’t have the role model I did. Thank you, dad. For being the most loving demon ever. This may be Arthur’s and my wedding, but we’re celebrating you too.”

Slow Day in the Afterlife

“Shouldn’t you be out reaping?” Isla asked Miller. The lean man with long stringy hair relaxed on a chaise looking out over the ocean. He was shirtless, showing off his silver scythe tattoo; it had the number 14 in red on the blade. He shrugged without looking up; his gaze was focused on his node.

“Dispatch says no jobs,” he said. “I thought you were nice enough to give me the day off.”

“Death doesn’t take days off,” Isla said. Miller looked up at her through mirrored sunglasses.

“It doesn’t?” he asked. “You might want to find out where all your clients are going then.” Isla shook her head and sighed. She let herself plop down on a lounger next to Miller’s.

“I know where they’re going. I just didn’t know it was this bad already,” she said. Isla wiggled her fingers and opened a small saucer-sized black portal in the air next to her. She reached in and pulled out a frosty beer. “Want one?” she asked Miller. He nodded.

“Where are they going?” Miller asked as he popped the top off his bottle.

“There’s a Zero named Dana Sharp,” Isla said. “Well, she was a Zero. Now she’s running her own afterlife, and it seems to be off to a good start.” Isla and Miller watched the waves and sinking sun for several minutes.

‘So…,” Miller broke the silence. “… the big guy’s okay with that?” Isla laughed.

“The big guy is bored. It’s why he lets Ballisea run amok, and I guess that wasn’t enough excitement. I guess I can’t blame him though, he’s seen and done it all already.”

“How old is he?” Miller asked. Isla shrugged.

“Older than we’ll ever know,” she said. “This isn’t his first multiverse.”

“What?” Miller sat up and turned around to face her. “You’re kidding, right?” Isla smiled but shook her head.

“We’re not even his first attempt at Uniques,” Isla leaned back on her lounger and relaxed. “The very first Unique Souls were conquerors; he called them the Conquistadors. A corona, sirena, corazon, diablito and calavera and they were all much stronger than the Conquerors we have now. They were so powerful the only thing he could do was seal them away.”

“So we’re going to just let Dana Sharp take all our souls?” Miller asked. Isla nodded.

“Nothing we could do anyway. It’s all up to the big guy. If he’s letting it happen, I’m okay with it too,” she said.

“I’m good with that too,” Miller nodded then settled back onto his seat. He watched the waves and took a sip of beer. 

Hellish Plan

Satan gawked at the opened photo album on his obsidian desk. He had high expectations going into the meeting; Ms. Sharp’s personal assistant had to be organized if nothing else.  But flipping through the photos shattered all his expectations. He expected to give her some notes, maybe a helpful hint here or there but she left him nothing to critique.

“Are they okay?” Melody asked. She sat across from him in her black suit. Satan got a kick out of the question; it wasn’t an unusual question, but it somehow sounded insecure. It was the first time Satan ever talked with Melody alone; he now realized Ms. Sharp’s presence gave Melody her usual self assured demeanor.

“Your ideas are better than anything I could ever come up with; your work is honestly very impressive,” Satan replied.

“Thank you.”

“Let me ask you,” Satan closed the photo album and slid it to the side. Then, he leaned forward on his desk. “Why do you want this job?”

“It was Ms. Sharp’s idea,” Melody replied. “She wants me to report back anything I think she’ll find interesting. However, aside from that; it’s always been a hobby of mine. A passion, you could say.” Satan blinked at her candor.

“I suppose Ms. Sharp told you to tell me all that?” he asked. Melody nodded.

“Ms. Sharp thought it best to not try and slip a lie past Satan himself.”

“She’s a smart woman,” Satan chuckled at Melody. Her expression didn’t change but she nodded.

“Yes. She is,” she replied.

“Well if it were up to me, you’d have the job already based on your handiwork alone. But it’s not,” he chuckled again. Melody gave a faint smirk that Satan decided was a laugh. “I’ll hold on to this,” he patted the album,” to show off what you can do.I’ll get back to you with an answer by tomorrow.”

“Please inform Ms. Sharp of the decision. She may have changed her mind or have additional stipulations by then,” Melody stood and gave a curt nod to Satan. Then, she turned and left his office.

When she was gone Satan grabbed the album again and sat back in his chair to admire the photos. Bright whites and chocolate browns dominated the decor. An elegant centerpiece decorated each table in the picture and Satan couldn’t help but smile at the 9-tier wedding cake.

“My boy’s all grown up,” Satan sniffled.

Blessed by Satan

“Mr. Satan, there’s an ‘Arthur’ here to see you. No appointment but he says he knows you?” Debbie’s voice came over the intercom. Satan sat alone in his cavern-like office. His obsidian desk was covered with several short piles of paper. He was in the midst of moving papers from one pile into another; he paused to try and think of an Arthur he knew.  Only one came to mind; but, he doubted that was his visitor.

“Kind of busy. What about?” he asked through the intercom.

“Eric,” a young man’s voice replied. It was the Arthur he knew!

“Send him in!” Satan said. He jumped out of his highback leather chair. He ran around the desk and reached the door just in time to see a young man walk in. He wore a coffee brown suit that went well with his short, light brown beard. It was the first time Satan had seen him so dressed up; and, it was odd he was visiting Hell alone.

“Arthur! What a surprise!” Satan extended a hand and was relieved when Arthur shook it. “What brings you down here?” Satan showed Arthur to a seat in front of his desk, then returned to his own chair.

“I won’t take up too much of your time..,” Arthur started to explain. Satan immediately regretted saying he was busy. He didn’t know Arthur very well at all; but, Arthur was his son’s closest friend. If he needed something, Satan would do what he can.

“Don’t worry about it,” Satan leaned forward and placed a burly, dark-suited arm on the desk. In one smooth motion, he swept all the stacks of his desk and onto the floor. “I’m Satan,” he winked at Arthur. “I can finish things at my own pace.” He instantly regretted the action, he put himself quite a bit behind schedule. Fortunately, he did see Arthur relax a little.

“So take your time,” Satan smiled. “What can I do for you?”

“Well, first I wanted to apologize to you…,” Arthur bowed his head. “…for hurting Eric’s feelings. You were kind enough to give us a tour of Hell and I reacted…,” he sighed and his head dipped lower. “…poorly. I couldn’t take it out on you, so I directed my frustrations to Eric.” Satan grinned broadly and shook his head.

“Don’t worry about it! All things considered, you handled it pretty well. And, you’ve made up since then; something Eric’s very glad for. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy,” Satan said. He caught a slight smile on Arthur’s face that he tried to hide.

“Me neither,” Arthur said. “I mean, he makes me happier than I’ve ever been too,” he clarified, then, he took in a deep breath and released it in a heavy sigh. “Which is why I’m here,” Arthur said. He stood from the seat and took a step closer to Satan’s desk. Even seated, Satan towered above Arthur; he looked up and into Satan’s eyes.

“Your son means the world to me, and I’ll never hurt him like that again,” Arthur said. “So, please..,” he clasped his hands together as if begging Satan. “…please.. will you give me permission to marry Eric?”

Arthur stared into Satan’s eyes. Their usual red glow faded leaving inky black spheres; Arthur held the uneasy gaze. He felt like he was staring into an abyss, but he would stare into forever for Eric. After a few silent moments, red liquid gathered in the corner of Satan’s eye. It overflowed, ran down his cheek and landed on the obsidian desk with a hiss as it tried to ignite the stone. Satan chuckled. He reached up, wiped away the rest of the red from his eyes, then blinked a couple of times.

“Well, It’s a good thing I cleared those papers,” he said with a broad grin. “I was not expecting to cry today. But…,” he nodded at Arthur. “…I’m definitely expecting to cry at the wedding.”