Writers Meetup: Short Story Tuesday
Updated: Jul 21, 2022
SPICY STORIES this week from Hong Kong!!!!
Oh man, it was a busy Tuesday for me. I had a job interview, practice tests for my HSK 4 exam, and another potential job lining itself up. I got hope, I got gumption, and I am back and ready to create!
Our writing group had some excellent entries!
Such as one about 'Dolphins and the people who love them' a piece about this unfortunate NASA funded research facility.
And another who wrote about my prompt "Into the River" which spoke about the murkiness of life and the future.
My prompt was the 'Seven Deadly Sins' and I think we all have seen an anime or two where these sins are personified. Well, I didn't do this.
In fact, I wrote a story involving really only two of the sins, and it's about Hell more so than the sins themselves.
Last week I wrote a very serious piece, this week, I lightened it up.
“I hope you enjoyed that sixty-six minute and six second powerpoint presentation titled ‘Why, you, yes, you are in Hell.’ If you have any questions you can submit them in the form of a scream and we will get back with you in 24 to 48 business years.” The demon spoke in a dreadful monotone.
Linda straightened up in her hard seat behind the school desk. She had hoped they’d give her a nice pen she could pocket, but they hadn’t.
Instead she studied the demon in front of her wearing a gray suit way too nice to be worn in a sterile classroom like this.
His name tag read: 'Jeff', and under it read: 'Gluttony: Ate Neighbor’s Prized Guinea Pigs and decieved Applebees out of thousands.'
Jeff looked like a normal enough young man, except had a small set of horns showing from under his long curly hair. He clacked his long acrylic nails, or maybe they were claws, on his clipboard and stared at Linda to see if she’d scream.
He hadn’t been assigned to ‘Onboarding trainer’ for long, but so far every trainee he had broken down into tears, or screamed. All he wanted was to take his fifteen minute break and eat his twix bar, and play his new mobile game.
“Is there a ladies restroom on this floor?” Linda asked, scanning around the sterile classroom.
She’d already cased the place. The projector that showed the presentation was bolted to the ceiling, way too high for her to get to. Everything else was just furniture that she wouldn’t be able to carry herself.
Maybe she could steal the remote controlling the projector? It could be worth a dollar or two, but she knew in places like this, workers were stupid enough to leave out vases or extra containers of soap in the ladies restroom that she could pocket and put on facebook marketplace later.
Jeff gave her a look.
“....You didn’t listen at all to the presentation did you? You’re in hell, your body doesn’t function like that anymore.” Jeff facepalmed as he put his clipboard down. “They do not pay me enough for this.”
“Wait, you get paid?” Linda asked, eyes lighting up.
She just knew Jeff had money, his suit gave him away.
If he got paid, then there had to be a bank or an atm somewhere. Maybe she could finagle another skimmer onto the atm. Even quicker, she could try to lift his wallet off of him.
“You really didn’t listen to a damn thing in the presentation. I bet Malcolm assigned you to me because he knows I vibe with all the seven sins except Greed.” The irritated Demon said, and pointed at her nametag.
Underneath hers said “Greed: Stole sister’s identity and bought three houses.”
“I’m not greedy,” Linda sniffed. “You just can’t get rich on an honest day's work. The game’s rigged.”
Jeff chuckled like she’d said something he secretly agreed with.
“I’m sure your sister saw it that way.”
Jeff maneuvered his way from around the podium but paused when Linda stood up like a shot.
“Tammy’s a no good snitch! If she had just heard me out, we would’ve been rich together off that passive income, sipping margs in Bora Bora, or some other fancy place but no! She ratted me out, she’s a self-righteous goodie-two shoes who thinks her farts smell like roses.”
Linda balled her hands into little fists from the white-hot ball of rage within her.
It’s not like she meant to ruin her sister’s credit. If things had fallen her way, she would’ve paid off at least half of the value on the houses. She sold the flats in Orlando and Miami which were under different identities of course, to fix the situation, but her sister ratted her out before she could move the money around.
Through stinging eyes, she stared down at her Myrtle Beach T-shirt and jean shorts. If she had known she’d die, she would’ve worn her green Prada dress. She’d heard of that movie, the devil’s favorite designer was Prada or something.
Jeff sighed through his nose and slumped a bit. Usually when people cried, they cried about how they didn’t deserve to be here, what they did wasn’t that wrong, and so on.
Linda didn’t cry because she ended up in hell, she cried because she never got to see her dream, and well, Jeff could relate to that.
Most lost souls in this realm of hell could.
“Stop crying, we don't have tissues in here.” Jeff finally responded.
“Yeah, I noticed. You guys don’t have jack, no wonder you look like you could die of boredom.” Linda deadpanned, wiping her eyes.
Jeff narrowed his eyes a bit and smirked, so she had cased the place. He didn’t care if she stole every stick of furniture out of it, he only got paid in enough credits to make sure she didn’t reach the fourth floor of hell without knowing what was going on.
And even then, they still didn’t pay him enough for that.
“I’d die of boredom if I could. Now follow me, you’re going down to the fourth floor to be with the rest of your klepto-, crypto bros.” Jeff jutted his head over to the elevator and Linda followed the thin, tall demon to the elevators, his black tail twirling.
“What’s a den mother, and when do I get a tail?” Linda fired off another set of questions as she swiped the remote to the projector and stuffed it in the waistband of her shorts.
If she could get a tail, it’d make lifting wallets out of big purses so much easier. Plus it could itch that one place on her back that got so sweaty.
“By the Infernal, I’m transferring departments after this. First, you don’t get a tail unless you’ve passed your eligibility hearing.” Jeff swiped his keycard on a device above the elevator buttons, and pressed the down button at least five times.
Linda made note of how the elevators operated.
“Eligibility hearing? Who’s in charge of that? Lemme meet them, I’m a good interviewer. Once I snagged a job as an advertising executive when the only thing i’d ever advertised before was half-off blizzards in the DQ drive-thru.” Linda preened.
The curly haired demon turned around, tonguing out his bottom lip as if debating something.
“Linda, while that’s…actually pretty dope, you need to listen up because I’m only repeating myself just this once." Jeff began.
"You are going to be assigned to a den, like girl scouts. Your den mother will assign you your R.T. Redemption Task, which I hope for you is abject, soul-crushing boredom. When you’ve earned enough credits, think merit badges, to match the severity of your transgressions, you will be eligible to either go to Purgatory where you may or may not be reincarnated as a slug or a pekinese or something, or you can remain here, get your tail and horns and become a demon.” The irritated demon zipped through the main points of his presentation.
“Why would you want to stay here? Glutton for punishment?” Linda smirked.
She had learned if you used humor on your mark, that they’d be a bit more distracted than usual.
“Hah, you got some wit to you, that will go far down there. And no, once you get your horns and tail, you realize there’s just no place like hell.” Jeff smirked, showing off his fangs.
Linda frowned, she didn’t fangs either which would be great at taking off those pesky security tags on clothing. However, she had to solve the problem in front of her first.
“No place like hell? This just looks like Spartanburg Community College in South Carolina.” Linda side-eyed Jeff's keycard in the back pocket of his nice suit trousers.
Maybe the demon had eaten something that had messed with his eyesight or his brain to make him want to stay in a place like this.
“This is just what you get to see. Besides, have you seen the surface-world recently? Monkey Pox? Global Warming? Kanye’s new album? Hard pass. Either way, your eligibility hearing is way off. Doing down.” The elevator door dinged open and Jeff stepped inside.
Linda followed, looking at her reflection in the mirrored elevator. She’d always been a patient, smart woman. She could wait, especially since she had finished aging and didn’t have to worry about getting more wrinkles or gray hair.
That much of the presentation, she did listen to.
“I’ll be gettin’ that eligibility hearing before you know it. Then I’ll be on Bora Bora sipping margs, just you see.” Linda said, holding her chin up high.
“I won’t see. After I pass you off to your den mother, I’ll never see you again.” Jeff took out his keycard again to swipe it above the buttons inside the elevator.
Linda’s father had told her to always know exactly where she was if she was ever ‘in the shit’ so she made a mental note of all fourteen elevator buttons.
The top two buttons were labeled ‘D’ and ‘SW” which Linda thought could mean Devil or Demons, and Surface World. The two below that were ‘G’ and the floor they were on currently was ‘LG’
The next nine were labeled ‘BG1— BG9’, then one black button next to BG9 was labeled simply ‘X’.
There was no door close, door open, or emergency button, but she supposed in hell you wouldn’t have those.
“What a shame, you’re such great company. Jeffro.” Linda’s voice dripped with sarcasm.
Jeff eyed her again.
The demon noticed that Linda didn’t look like much, slightly overweight woman with bleached poofy hair in a ponytail and wearing flip-flops with a purple pedicure, but she had shown better resolve towards the whole ‘being dead and in hell thing’ than harder ex-cons he’d on-boarded.
Hell, even he had shouted like a banchee when Malcolm told him where he ended up.
“If you don’t like my company, just wait till you meet your fellow ‘Redemption Scouts’.” Jeff defended himself as the elevator doors closed, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
Linda didn’t even wait for the elevator to descend to BG2 before she lifted the keycard from Jeff’s pants pocket.
Thank you for reading, and please comment about what you think!
As always, I'm embracing the paper hurricane!