More Flash Fiction fun! Here’s a wonderful story from ghost story semi-finalist Heather Lindstrom, of Hammond, Wisconsin.
“Work of the Damned”
Ghost stories abound about nights when the Devil walked among us… But listen closely to what really happened…
In Satan’s opinion the most evil thing he had helped mankind create was the concept of employment. The entire affair from job hunting, creating resumes packed with lies, mind-numbing interviews and, finally, to be employed/enslaved in meaningless menial work for a lifetime was an infernal exercise in futility. Truly, it was a perfect torture.
How embarrassing to be embedded in it himself.
But a bet was a bet - and he did take the Vikings to win the playoffs. Somehow, it seemed unfair that God would decide to listen to the conversion prayer of a Packer late in the fourth… Never mind that he - the Devil, Ol’ Scratch - was himself mere moments away from finalizing a deal for the soul of a linesman which would have his team clinch the win… if the twit had simply hurried up, signed the form and not stopped to read the fine print! Oh, well… he had to face up to the terms of his wager with God if he was to keep Hell up and running… Might as well get it over with…
Still, how absolutely humiliating to have to spend one mortal year working - working in HUMAN guise - on Earth.
Satan sighed. Losing the wager even had him reconsidering his annual poker game with the Old Man.
Looking back, the first six months working off his bet had not been that bad. He took perverse enjoyment being employed at a carnival’s haunted house. Amused, he helped his slow-witted co-workers design a self-described “Haunted Hell House”. It was a sadistic pleasure to excel at this “job” by ensuring every detail was correct. The Devil chortled remembering how the terror rose as the doors opened and the undeniable stench of brimstone poured out. Smugly, he recalled how horrified the sickened “boo crew” had become at the sight of an infernal fiend standing before them – elongated jaws awash in blood and gore. The cries of the damned, the visions of torture were all paraded in front of the human audience not just to scare them but to offer a succulent preview of what was waiting for them after death. And best of all, he had gotten paid for this!
But of course, God had no sense of humor and after the Devil literally scared the unknowing workers the carnival’s haunted house to death on Halloween night, the Old Man declared that particular work experience invalid for the terms of their bet. So, if Satan was to keep the key to Hades, he had to hit the pavement and find a new gig sooner rather than later.
It wasn’t as easy it sounded. The economy hit everyone hard. He found it appalling how often his skills in management were overlooked. Clearly, most people had no innate sense of leadership, which was why he found himself here.
Grimacing, he closed his eyes, rubbed his temples and reminded himself that he only had six months left until his debt was paid in full. He could do almost anything for six months. After all, he had been part of the Heavenly Host for how many eons? Soon, he would be back on his throne in his rightful place as the Lord of Hell.
But until then…
Slowly opening his yellow eyes, Satan reached his long fingers up and adjusted his greasy hat. Smiling his most charming smile, looking directly at the man in front of him, he inquired: “Do you want fries with that?”