Excerpt From an Unnamed Work in Progress.
Meanwhile, in Hell, the Devil was in a state of genuine displeasure over the events in Sestina. For a being whose entire existence consists of moping around in a frozen lake, generating evil and eating traitors, displeasure may seem an emotion somewhat insignificant in the general miasma of misery; however, like a man who is carrying his obese brother to hospital on foot, and who is then also asked to carry his obese brother’s obese rocking horse, microwave, large pizza and highly visible and painful-looking sex toy, Satan had had enough. He vowed to bring the Sestina embarrassment to a satisfactory conclusion within the week.
The embarrassment originated in the undeniable fact that for two years now, no one in Sestina had gone to Hell. For the entire town was in such terror of the supposedly “possessed” Paulo that they had become three times more devout than any sensible person ever has the time and effort to be. Priests found themselves trapped in the confession box for hours, listening to the most banal and obscurely sinful confessions: “Father I whistled loudly in the presence of an old man, I told my son he needed a hair cut, I brushed my hair twice before leaving the house.” One woman even broke down into tears and admitted to dropping spoons on the floor and not washing them before serving dinner to her husband. Priests began to take sandwiches and small buckets in with them, a sin that they then had to confess to the bishop, who’d taken to hiding out in local crypts.
Beggars received so many donations that they became rich, began lording it over the other townspeople and purchased expensive watches. Blind people found themselves at the mercy of hundreds of would-be Samaritans desperate to help them across the road, often whether they liked it or not. Everyone’s right hands were exhausted from crossing themselves the whole time, and as a consequence of this the entire town became left-handed. In short, the various actual demons knocking about Sestina were so under-employed that they had started doing charitable deeds themselves just to have something to do. The insult was compounded by the fact that since modern society had invented whole new methods of intricate and painful torture, Hell had recently had to update its repertoire to include bureaucracy. And the embarrassment in Sestina was generating enormous quantities of red tape.