Estimated reading time — 24 minutes
Heavensville was stunning to look at, with tall and lush trees lining the sidewalks, beautiful forests and lakes surrounding almost every corner, and gorgeous, low-priced homes for its residents that stood on $1 plots. The folks of Heavensville were polite and kind, albeit a bit quirky at times. But we really couldn’t have made a better decision. My wife and I were incredibly happy to finally be homeowners in this place. Coincidentally, all the residents of Heavensville seemed equally happy and perpetually smiley. And how could they not be? They lived in a place straight out of a catalogue.
At first we did find it a bit unnerving, how perfect it all seemed. But we slowly grew to fit right into the mold of things. With incredibly cheap and delicious restaurants all over town, breathtaking nature right outside our front door, free movies at the park at least three times a week, a local clinic with all the amenities, free yoga and meditation classes, and two dozen other perks, there was really nothing we could find wrong with Heavensville. Well, except for one thing.
The people of Heavensville seemed to really love starting bonfires. And when I say love, I mean that there was a bonfire almost every night in most backyards. The odd thing was that there was no fire department in the town, which we found to be rather dangerous given the amount of daily fires that were started. The smells from the fires wouldn’t have bothered us if it weren’t for the fact that everyone seemed to love to cook goats in the fires, which left a strong, pungent odor in the air. In fact, the residents of Heavensville really seemed to love goats in general. Goat cheese, goat meat, goat milk. Everything goat.
One evening, the goats seemed particularly loud, almost as if they were being tortured.
“Do you think they’re cooking them alive?” my wife, Yesi, asked me.
I laughed, picturing my seemingly perfect neighbors cooking a live goat. “What? Of course not. That would be insane.”
“But, they get so loud sometimes.” She was now very seriously thinking about it. She had a spaced-out look in her eyes.
“Goats are loud sometimes, honey. Even when they’re not being cooked alive,” I replied, chuckling.
She thought about it for a little and nodded.
“What about the Town Hall? Don’t you find it a bit bizarre?” she asked, suddenly sounding like a conspiracy theorist.
“I mean, yes. I do admit that the red is a bit over the top. But remember what the neighbors said? The mayor loves the color red because he’s a passionate man.”
The Town Hall had been built by the mayor and was a large, oval shaped building, which would have probably been beautiful if it weren’t for the loud, neon red walls it bore. We were told that residents were not allowed inside without an invitation and that it was heavily guarded.
“But, then, what about the movies at the park?” my wife continued. Yesi did this often. Sometimes she was too curious for her own good.
“What about them?”
“Well, they always show uplifting movies about love, triumph and good things overall.”
“So then why do the people living here always seem so scared when they’re watching them? I mean, who’s scared of people saving each other? Or people falling in love?”
“Hmm,” I said, thinking back to the movie nights we had spent at the park. She did have a point. The time we saw the Lion King, people seemed to giggle when poor Simba tried to wake up the obviously dead Mufasa. And many did gasp when Scar died. I’m pretty sure I even heard someone crying for Scar.
“Okay, well, what are you getting at?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she answered, with an inquisitive look in her eyes. “Just something seems off sometimes.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Maybe, but it’s a small town. Small towns can be creepy some times.”
Yesi finally stopped asking questions that night but it wouldn’t be long before she would find the answers to questions she wished she wouldn’t have asked.
Yesi and I owned a graphic design company which allowed us to mostly work from home. But every once in a while, we did have to meet some of our customers. About a month into our tenure in Heavensville, we got a client that wanted to have a face-to-face meeting.
This is when things began to unravel.
Yesi and I drove out of town to meet our client, following the directions on her phone. But we quickly realized something was terribly wrong.
“Weird,” Yesi said, looking down at her phone, “I just don’t understand.”
The directions she was giving me kept bringing us to exits that always led us back to Heavensville.
“How is this possible?” I asked, frustrated by the fact we couldn’t seem to be able to leave the town.
After many failed attempts to leave, we stopped at the local gas station to ask for directions but the clerk was not very helpful.
“Why do you want to leave, though?” he asked, confused.
“What?” I asked, even more confused. “Look, I have a meeting for work and I just need to get to this address. How do I get out of Heavensville?”
Finally, frustrated with our questions, he threw his hands up in the air and said, “You know what? The streets get messed up sometimes. They bug. The best place for you to get them fixed would be at the Town Hall. The folks there can help you.”
Feeling a bit spooked but not really having another choice, Yesi and I drove down Angels road, which led directly to the Central Plaza and the Town Hall. We parked the car and walked towards the entrance. This was the first time we would be entering the opulent, oval, red Town Hall. We had been told to stay away but the clerk at the gas station had said it was the best place for us to get help, so we decided it was a good enough excuse.
“Oh look. Here’s a directory,” Yesi said, pointing at a large sign that greeted you at the entry.
The directory made no sense.
The Incinerator: Room 111
Aamon: Room 123
Human Sources: Room 150
Miracles & Other Tricks: Room 251
Weapons and Strategies: Room 283
Possessions: Room 376
Baphomet: Room 399
Goats: Room 493
Infernal Spa: Room 555
The Mayor’s Office: Room 666
Portal to Hell: Room -666
“This must be some kind of joke,” I said, chuckling at the cleverness. Yesi didn’t find it funny
“I’m telling you Jake, something’s off.”
As we walked past the sign, we could barely pick up our jaws from the floor. It was stellarly beautiful inside. With high ceilings, white pillars lining the hallways, tropical plants everywhere and elegant windows and decor, it really took us by surprise. We also noticed that it was not guarded at all.
We walked over to a pair of red elevators, as according to the sign, the mayor’s office was on the 6th floor. The doors immediately opened and we walked inside. I was bobbing my head to the elevator music, which was very catchy, when the doors finally opened.
The 6th floor bustled with busy people. There were many rows of cubicles with glass walls. People with headsets sat on their desks, monitoring graphs and maps on their screens. There were people walking around with stacks of papers. There were people on telephones. Everyone looked very busy, focused and sharp.
We noticed that there was a front desk but there was a sign that said “Back in 5 minutes.”
“Let’s try to blend in,” Yesi whispered, pulling me by the arm.
“Wait, it says to wait 5 minutes at the front desk,” I whispered back.
Yesi winked at me and motioned for me to follow her, completely ignoring what I had just said. I had no choice but to follow her. She walked all the way down the floor until we reached a red door.
“Are you gonna knock?” I began to ask, but before I could finish my question, Yesi opened the door.
Sitting by a large, circle-shaped window, sat a tall man with black rimmed glasses. He had his hair in a swoop pompadour and was dressed in a pristine, white suit. He was on the phone.
“Yes, but we are slowly phasing out those types of possessions. The days of green vomit, urinating on folks, screaming like hyenas, all that- they’re long gone. I’m looking to invest into some of this new technology,” he said as he looked over his shoulder, sensing our presence.
Shit, I thought to myself, as he looked in our direction.
“Uh, listen, Bob, I gotta go. But get me the number for that priest please. We’re gonna need to get those idiots outta there as soon as possible. We don’t want another mess like the girl in Germany. Yeah, okay, thanks,” he said, hanging up the phone.
He then swiveled his chair and looked at us. “You folks lost?” He grinned, revealing a perfect smile.
“Are you the mayor of Heavensville?” Yesi spoke up with all the confidence I was suddenly lacking.
“I am,” the mayor replied, smiling. “Come in, have a seat.” He motioned for us to sit down.
Yesi and I sat down on two large, red chairs.
“What can I do for you today?” he asked.
“Well, first, it’s nice to finally meet you,” Yesi replied, putting her hands down on his desk. “I’m Yesi, and this is my husband Jake. We’re new in town. Listen, we’ve been trying to exit the town for a while now and can’t seem to be able to. The clerk at the gas station said the streets sometimes get wacky. What’s that about? In fact, what’s up with that directory downstairs? And actually, while I’m here, how come you guys love goats so much?”
“Yesi,” I said, pulling on her shirt, begging for her to stop with all the weird questions.
“I love movies,” the mayor replied, smiling. “That’s what that was about. The phone call, I mean. You see, I have an idea for a movie about demons and I was telling my agent about it.”
“Oh,” I said, laughing, “well that explains that!” I smiled. Yesi did not.
The mayor continued. “Could you imagine? Demons taking over the world?” He burst out laughing. The laughing grew louder and louder until it was obvious it would be rude if we didn’t join in. So Yesi and I started laughing too. We were all laughing loudly until the mayor suddenly didn’t find it funny anymore.
“Well, it’s not that ridiculous, guys,” he straightened his tie, adding, “Demons could take over the world one day. Or not. Or they could. I mean, who knows? Maybe. Maybe not.”
Yesi and I cleared our throats.
“Oh, well, I wouldn’t know,” Yesi replied. “My husband and I don’t believe in make-believe.”
I feigned a smile. “What my wife means, Mister Mayor,” I said, clearing my throat some more, “is that we are both practicing… atheists.”
“Practicing?” the Mayor asked, chuckling. “I didn’t know you could practice a non-religion.”
“No, I mean, I’m sorry,” I laughed. “You’re right. We are just atheists.”
“Well, now that you mention it, that’s very strange,” the Mayor said, as he took a file out from his desk and started to look through its pages. “Martha never picked up on your atheism. But that wouldn’t be surprising. For being a clairvoyant she’s actually very bad at picking up on the details. And you know what they say?” He grinned, pointing his index finger at us. “The devil is in the details.” He winked.
I nervously smiled. Yesi did not.
“Well, listen here,” the Mayor continued, “it’s okay. The atheism bit, I mean. I can see that you still meet a lot of the other good points.”
He continued to shuffle through papers that I now understood had information about Yesi and I.
“It says here you both donate every year to the Humane Society. It says you volunteer at the YMCA. It says you’re both very kind and respectful. No traffic tickets. No criminal record,” he continued to read. “Oh! And you’re both Canadians! Good for you.”
I nodded, smiling some more and feeling proud. Yesi did not.
“I don’t understand?” Yesi asked.
“Oh, well, you didn’t think we sold land and loaned money to just anyone, did you?” the mayor answered. “We like to make sure the residents of Heavensville are good upstanding folks. After all, it is Heavensville. And you two seem like very good humans–err–people. People. You two seem like very good people.”
The mayor paused for a moment before adding, “So, about those directions… let me give you this map with directions here so that you can go. I think some of the boards on the streets might be incorrect. But this map here will show you how to–”
As he pulled out a map out from his desk, a woman burst through the doors.
“I’m so sorry, Mister Mayor! It’s my fault that these two have been compromised! I apologize, sir. They didn’t wait by the front desk. I was just taking a break in the Incinerator and I left the sign and yet, clearly, they didn’t follow the instructions. But don’t worry! All is taken care of, sir. I’ve already called the people from the second floor to bring up the Flame Throwers. The programmers fixed the bug on the portal this morning so it shouldn’t be an issue getting them straight to Hell after we burn them. I’ll take care of it. And I’m very sorry once again, sir. But if it’s any comfort to you, obviously these two are not good humans because they couldn’t even follow simple instructions on a sign.”
“The Flame Throwers?” Yesi asked.
“Hell?” I responded, no longer finding these quirks funny.
“Well, Cindy, it isn’t any comfort actually. Because half of the families that come to Heavensville become compromised within a month or two thanks to dimwits like yourself. These two weren’t compromised before. But now, after your little speech there, they are. So good job. Having to deal with your incompetence is beyond exhausting sometimes. You can go ahead and leave now. And cancel the Flame Throwers. Also, can you tell them the streets are bugging again? It seems we’ve been disconnected from Earth again. Can you at least do that, or is that also too hard for you, Cindy?”
Cindy started crying and ran out of the room. Yesi and I turned back to face the mayor, who was now mumbling, “Every damn time.”
He finally looked up at us, nervously smiling. “Look, I can explain.” He hesitated, clearly not knowing where to begin.
“I’m just gonna tell you straight like it is,” he finally said, taking a deep breath. “Heavensville is a… special place. On Earth, I mean. It’s the headquarters for the most powerful company in the universe. Hell Inc. Ever heard of it? We’re pretty popular.”
Yesi didn’t answer. I shook my head.
“We own lots of things. For example, cats. Kittens, too. We own all of them. They work for us,” he proudly said before his voice went down to a somber tone. “We’ve tried with dogs. But they’re too good, those cute bastards.”
He got lost in his thoughts for a couple of seconds before continuing.
“So, as I was saying, I work with fallen angels. Cindy, the receptionist you just met? She’s a fallen angel. Your neighbors? Fallen angels. The folks out there working, they’re all fallen angels. And part of what we do here at this headquarters, is recruit humans so that we can learn from them.”
“Why do you have to learn from humans?” Yesi asked, genuinely intrigued.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie, The Exorcist? Well, we used to be pretty bad at possessions. You know, twisting the human body in unnatural ways, vomiting everywhere, speaking in languages no one ever understood. Complete waste of time, really. Not only did it bring us a ton of negative attention, but we were never able to achieve anything constructive. But then one day, one of my most gifted fallen angels – we’ll call him Steve – came up with a better idea: What if we possessed humans by acting as humanly as possible? They would never suspect us and we could slowly take over the world. Well, as it turns out, it’s the best way to possess people. It has completely changed our business model.”
Yesi and I sat wide-eyed in silence.
“I told you!” Yesi suddenly screamed at me. “I told you there was something weird going on!”
“I–uh,” I stumbled over my words, “I don’t know what to say.”
“Well, listen here, guys. Don’t take this as something bad. This is a good thing. In fact, this is probably the best opportunity you’ll ever have in the entirety of your life. I mean, you’re about to make a deal with the most powerful guy in the universe,” he smiled, clearly speaking about himself.
“Wouldn’t that be God?” Yesi asked mockingly.
This angered the Mayor. “No,” he scoffed, “that’s just a common misconception. As is the idea that he’s a good guy. God is not a good guy. I’m a good guy. And aren’t you an atheist anyway? Don’t atheists not believe in God?”
“Touché,” Yesi nodded. “So what’s this deal you speak of?”
I tugged at her shirt, attempting to get her to stop, but she shoved my hand out of the way.
“Well, see here. You both are good folks. And I have a whole group of amateurs who need to learn to be more human. They’re mostly your neighbors. Normally they would learn by living in the same town as you, hence the need for Heavensville, but since the whole plan has been exposed again, I have a better idea this time. It would be much easier if they could learn directly from you in a classroom setting. So… how would you like to teach a class of fallen angels how to be human?”
“And by fallen angels, you mean… demons?” Yesi asked.
“We prefer the term ‘fallen angels,’” the Mayor quickly corrected her.
“For how long?” Yesi asked.
At this point, my mouth was hanging open in disbelief that Yesi was actually considering this.
“One year,” the Mayor replied.
“What’s in it for us?”
“A guarantee of a beautiful and peaceful afterlife.”
“I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in the afterlife.”
“Well,” the Mayor replied, laughing, “there is an afterlife, whether you believe in it or not. But okay… how about a lifetime job guarantee at any of the 500 plus companies that work for me? I’m talking about big-time corporations with seven-figure salaries, lots of power, lots of perks.”
Suddenly, my ears perked up. Yesi looked over at me and then back at the Mayor.
“Deal,” she said, extending her hand.
The Mayor smiled wide and laughed. He shook her hand before adding, “And that’s how you make a pact with the Devil.”
* * * * * *
I’m almost certain I’ve killed someone.
But let me back up for a second.
After my wife sat me down and convinced me there was no other way but to accept the deal the Mayor offered, I agreed that it was the safest thing for us to do. I mean, can you really turn down Satan knowing he has the power to burn you into ashes right then and there?
We each got one class of 55 students. Obviously Humanology 101 was a very popular course to take in Heavensville. Being that I had never taught a class before in my life, I found it very difficult even if I was pretty good at the subject… you know, being human. Still, I tried my best considering I didn’t want to displease any of my students considering the fact they were demons.
“So, welcome to Humanology 101. I thought we could start the class by introducing ourselves. I’ll go first. My name is Jake, and I’m a human. I’ve been a human for 36 years now, most of which I lived in a country named Canada. But I’ve been living here, in the United States, for about five years now. I mostly work with design and computers, but I also dabble in other human hobbies such as guitar playing, hockey and cooking. So, who wants to go next? How about you?”
I pointed at a young man sitting directly in front of me. He was sharply dressed, had short brown hair, hazel eyes and a kind smile. He calmly stood up to introduce himself.
“My name is Asag. I’m ten-thousand, five-hundred and twenty-seven years old. I’ve lived in various places over the years, but now call Heavensville home. I love it here. For a living, I make people sick. In my true form, I’m so hideous that I can make anything boil alive from just looking at me. Especially fish for some reason. For my hobbies, I enjoy possessing humans. In the past I’ve gotten in trouble for it because I’m not very good at it. But, that’s why I’m here. My goal is to possess a politician, like some of my friends have been able to successfully do. Either that, or, I’d also like to possess a celebrity. That could be fun.”
The class eagerly clapped as I wondered which politicians he was speaking of.
“Can I go next?” a woman sitting in the back asked. She wore a delicate, silk violet dress. Her movements were soft and landed with precision. Her hair was tied back into a sharp and shiny ponytail that ended in a perfect curl.
“Yeah, go ahead.”
“My name is Belphegor. A very long time ago, Lord Lucifer made me ambassador to France. I have lived there for most of my life. I love brie, macaroons and pain au chocolat. My hobbies include reading French novellas, trying out Michelin restaurants and suffering-watching. For a living, I reveal new discoveries or inventions to humans. In fact, I’m responsible for many inventions in the human world today. For example, I helped invent the guillotine with the purpose of widespread use in France. But my biggest success thus far has been to reveal to a certain man a small, handheld gadget. Some of you might know it as a smartphone. My purpose was to slowly dumb down the human race so that they would be easier to possess. I impacted the earth in a tremendous way, so Lord Lucifer has awarded me with more powers over the years. I’m here to learn more about humans. I’m not very interested in possessions, but Lord Lucifer has told me I should give it a try.”
The class gave her a standing ovation as I slowly tossed my iPhone into the trash can.
The next introduction came from a young boy that couldn’t have been older than five or six years old. He was a redhead with dozens of freckles on his small face. He wore a white button-up shirt with jean overalls. You could almost call him adorable if it weren’t for the fact that he was a demon.
“Hey, guys. I’m Baal. I’m one of the most-worshiped demons by humans. I’m the Duke of Hell. I lead 66 legions of demons. I really enjoy feasting on human suffering and pain, the kind that causes them to harm themselves or harm others around them. I love to hide in the dark, behind doors, or on the walls, from which I can jump on humans and watch them squirm as they try to pry my claws off from them. I like to eat them too, complete with their souls. I’m here because I really want to cause some pain on Earth. Hey, Teach, I’m looking forward to your class. Don’t let us down.”
I swallowed all the saliva that had accumulated in my mouth from the nerves as I obediently nodded to Baal.
The rest of the introductions left me in an existential crisis. My students were evil and their sole purpose was to rid the world of its humanity.
Somehow, I got through half of the year. There was a lot of vomiting in the mornings before class. There were a ton of nightmares on most nights. But I got through most of it relatively unscathed… until the second half of the course.
During rotations, I would teach on one day, but on the next, one student would be allowed to possess me for a day and try to act like me. But the truth is, most demons are a lost cause. They just want to have fun and rarely take things seriously.
Some mornings I woke up with severe pain in my muscles, from all the deformities they had twisted me into. Other days I woke up halfway across the world and I’d have to board a plane back to Heavensville. The only nice possession was from the Ambassador of France. I woke up in a beautiful Parisian hotel overlooking the Eiffel Tower. The room was filled with all sorts of cheeses, pastries and wine. It was a pretty nice considering I had never been to France before.
But I had a few rotations that were downright awful. On more than one occasion I woke up with a strange taste in my mouth, like I had eaten something raw. There was blood on my clothing and under my nails. I had scratches on my limbs, as if someone had tried to fight me off. When I’d get to class, the demons would snicker, asking me if I was a cannibal.
So yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve killed some people.
The rotations went on for a while and there was nothing I could do about it. What impressed me was Yesi’s determination to make the best of things. She was having a much easier time with her classes and even with her rotations. She was really getting through to the demons. She was always better than me at most things and this was not an exception.
One day in class, I was discussing the Chapter of Love with my students.
“Why do you say that?” I asked a student who claimed that love was Satan’s greatest tool and the human’s biggest weakness.
“Well, love creates jealousy. Love creates obsession. Love can make you sick. Love sometimes even causes psychotic breaks which end in fatalities. I mean, if used correctly, love is one of the best tools for Lucifer to use against humans.”
“Interesting point,” I replied, realizing that practically anything could be turned to be used against humans.
A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts. A figure with a human body and a goat’s head slowly opened the door and walked into our classroom. At this point, nothing seemed abnormal to me anymore.
“Guys, we are going to need to evacuate the building,” the goatman said.
My class moaned. I was proud. For once they seemed to be enjoying my course.
“Listen, this is a very serious matter. The Portal to Hell has been breached and it’s not looking very good. They’re saying that a chunk of Earth could fall right into it, causing widespread destruction inside Hell itself.”
“And what about Earth?” I asked, suddenly worried.
“Well, that’s the only good thing. We would cause destruction on Earth. But the destruction of Hell outweighs the benefit so we need to stop the breach,” the goatman replied.
“But why do we need to evacuate the building? We’re in the middle of a class,” Baal protested.
“Because… it seems the breach came from inside the building. We have a mole. The Mayor thinks that God has a mole in here who has been feeding information to his hackers over at Heavens Inc. This is a big deal, guys. This would mean God is breaching the Peace Treaty of the Battle of the Burning Sleph,” the goatman replied.
“Wait, wait a second. You’re saying God has hackers in a place called Heavens Inc. and these hackers got into the Hell Inc. system and have now caused a breach into the Portal to Hell?” I laughed for the first time in ages. “Why would God even want to cause damage to Earth?
“He doesn’t. He’s an idiot. He never knows what he’s doing. Everything he does has bugs and viruses in it. This is just another one of his idiotic plans.”
Well, that explains a lot, I thought to myself.
They made us exit the Town Hall and stand outside on the lawn as they checked the entire building for bugs and evidence. As I stood there, waiting for news, I saw Yesi walking rapidly towards me. She grabbed me by the arm and dragged me away.
“What are you doing?” I asked.”What’s going on?”
“They’re onto me, Jake,” she said, stopping for a second.
“I’m so sorry. I’ve been lying to you for a while. I’m not really Yesi,” she calmly stated.
“I don’t understand.”
“Yesi allowed me to enter her body many years ago. My real name is Ariel, and I’m an angel. I’m the mole. And we need to get out of here before they figure it out.”
* * * * * *
Let me begin by telling you that I consider myself a Satanist now.
But once again, let me backup to give you some details before you judge me.
When I found out that Yesi was an angel named Ariel who had been working with God all along, I was relieved. I assumed that all my problems would be fixed and that I wouldn’t have to deal with demons and possessions anymore. But you know what they say: Satan is full of surprises.
The angel Ariel insisted that we needed to go to God so that he could help protect us and to sort everything out. I had no reason to think otherwise. Ariel drove us a couple of hours away from Heavensville to a Dunkin’ Donuts.
“I didn’t know you liked doughnuts. You always seemed to hate sweets,” I said, surprised she had chosen this place for a snack.
“No,” she replied, getting out of the car, “there is a Portal to Heaven here.”
Of course, I thought to myself. Makes sense.
We walked inside. All the employees seemed to know her as she made her way to the back of the Dunkin’ Donuts, grabbing a Boston cream doughnut on the way.
“Do all these humans have angels living inside them?” I asked.
“Do the humans know?”
Ariel shook her head.
“Only a few of them know,” she said, taking note of my train of thought. “But Yesi knew. And you’ve never actually met her. It’s always been me.”
This made me feel an immense sadness. My marriage had meant nothing.
“Are these considered possessions?” I asked.
“Well,” Ariel tilted her head and squinted her right eye, “I guess you could call it that, but that word is mostly reserved for the demons.”
That’s a bit hypocritical, I thought to myself as I looked back at my arranged marriage to an angel.
Finally, Ariel stopped in front of the storage room door. She turned back and looked me straight in the eye before opening the door. “Jake, we are about to enter Heavens Inc. I have to warn you, God is… not like the Mayor. He’s not like Lucifer. Please be respectful and behave. Remember that you will be in the presence of your creator, and there is a certain reverence you owe him.”
I suddenly felt very nervous. I was about to meet the God. I nodded my head to Ariel.
She turned back around, twisted the doorknob as she opened the gateway to Heavens Inc.
I had imagined rays of light immediately breaking through a floor of puffy, soft clouds. I had imagined angelical strings playing in the background as the pearly gates slowly opened into a city of eternal bliss.
But instead, the door simply opened into a storage room in the back of a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Noticing my disappointment, Ariel asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Umm,” I paused, sheepishly rubbing the back of my neck, “I just thought it would look different.”
She nodded in a disappointed agreement. “Tell me about it. Heavens Inc. has been under construction for thousands of years. Not even us angels have been able to take a peak at the Promised Land.” She seemed sad, and continued. “Alright, stand in the corner, because I need to summon God, and he tends to like to make an entrance.”
I stepped back, getting ready to meet my maker. I was nervous until I saw Ariel take the Boston cream doughnut and wave it in the air while speaking in a language I didn’t understand.
Is she really summoning God with a doughnut right now? I thought to myself.
Suddenly, light started to slowly break through the white wall as a luminous circle emerged. The light was completely blinding. I had to cover my eyes and face and look away. It was unpleasant, to be completely honest. When it finally toned down, I noticed Ariel bowing down, so I immediately did the same. I looked up at Ariel a couple of times, wondering when we could get back up, as it was getting quite long and my back was still hurting from all the distortions my body had gone through during the demonic possessions. But the reverence went on for quite a while.
Finally, the light completely disappeared and Ariel straightened back up. I followed suit.
God was incredibly tall. His hair lightly rubbed against the ceiling. He had many muscles, some that didn’t make anatomical sense. He had perfect, unblemished skin and remarkably handsome features. He sported a hipster beard and a tight, white T-shirt with a pair of jeans. I wouldn’t be able to tell you his ethnic background as it was mixed enough as to become indecipherable.
“My dear Ariel,” he said in a low tone, “you always know how to get me to appear.” He softly took the doughnut from her hand and started to munch on it.
“Yes, my Lord,” Ariel replied, before changing subjects. “My Lord, my cover has been blown over at Heavensville, Hell Inc.’s headquarters on Earth.” God continued to devour the doughnut, spilling cream all over his beard. “More importantly, there was a breach in the Portal to Hell, which has placed a piece of Earth in danger. And to add to all this, Jake’s life is also in danger now.”
God was still very busy licking all his fingers and sucking on some of the hairs on his beard to get to all the cream that had spilled out from his doughnut. To be frank, it was quite disgusting.
Noticing that I was unimpressed, Ariel feigned a smile and softly shrugged her shoulders at me as we both waited in silence for God to finish his doughnut and to address us.
“First of all,” God finally began, clearing his throat, “the breach wasn’t really my fault. The hackers obviously didn’t follow my instructions correctly. But they’ve been taken care of. They’ve all fallen into Hell as of this morning. Second, at this point, a little human cleansing wouldn’t be such a terrible idea, so I don’t really see what the issue here is.” He wiped his mouth before letting out a rather loud belch. “And third, this human here, Jake? He’s an atheist. And he has insulted me. When he was sixteen years old he said, and I quote, ‘Fuck God. If he’s so good, why didn’t he stop the prequel Star Wars movies from happening? Fuck him! He’s a dick. And doesn’t even exist.'” As he was quoting me, he even went so far as to speak in my own teen-aged voice.
God cleared his throat and added, “He deserves no mercy from me.”
I was profusely sweating by this point, completely embarrassed by my actions as a teenage boy. I noticed that Ariel looked over at me with pity.
“But sir, with all due respect, we are angels and we protect your creations. You are his father. He is your son. You have a duty to protect him,” she insisted, begging God for help.
God simply laughed at her. “I can’t protect someone who doesn’t believe in me.”
“You mean, someone who doesn’t worship you,” Ariel blurted out, changing the tone of her voice. “You know what? That’s it. I’m tired of all this. You should be ashamed of yourself, sir.”
A thunderous sound suddenly came out from God’s mouth as he opened it in anger. He stomped his foot and the ground began to shake. I fell to the ground, hitting my pinky finger on one of the shelves. I heard it crack as the small bone inside of it broke. I yelped out in pain and tremendous fear. God resembled a monster at this point. After a couple of minutes, the ground slowly calmed down and God stopped screaming out thunder.
“How dare you speak to me like this?” he asked, his voice human again. “How dare you tell me that I’m shameful? How dare you do all these things? I will have you sent directly to Hell Inc., you blasphemous angel!”
Ariel’s face changed. She helped pick me up and softly touched my finger with her hand, removing all the pain.
“You know what?” Ariel asked God. “You can do whatever you want. I’m done with you. I’m tired of you messing up everything you touch. All you care about is creating things so that they can worship and adore you. And if they don’t, you punish them. I mean, is there anyone or anything more self-centered in this universe than yourself? Your narcissism always gets the best of you, just like the time you cast away your smartest and brightest angel. And what happened then? He created Hell Inc. to spite you! So, essentially, you created Hell due to your selfishness and need to be adored and worshipped.”
God suddenly became defensive, his skin turning a bright red color. “What? I have no idea what you’re talking about. You have read the wrong history books, missy.”
“Oh, yeah?” Ariel asked mockingly. “How about this: Where is Heaven? How come no one has ever seen it? Why do you continue lying to humans by making them believe that if they worship you, there will be a beautiful afterlife waiting for them when in reality, all there is at this moment is a severely overcrowded purgatory where human souls float in confusion for eternity!”
“What?” I asked, shocked.
God didn’t reply and instead began to whistle as he looked at his fingernails.
“You want to know what I think?” Ariel continued. “I think Heaven is no longer under construction. In fact, I think Heaven was finished a very long time ago and you’ve been keeping it all to yourself because you truly are the most self-centered being in this universe! And this is why we keep having to meet you in storage closets and bathroom stalls and abandoned hospitals! This is why human souls are stuck in an eternal purgatory! And I’m not the only one who thinks this, by the way! There are plenty of other angels to back up my feelings.”
God, tired of Ariel’s accusations, finally had enough. He looked at her and said, “You know what? You really want to know what?” But he didn’t have much else to say after that, which led me to believe Ariel’s accusations were most likely true. He continued, “I’m the almighty God! You are a blasphemous angel who doesn’t know what worshipping God means. And… and… you’re a stupid, idiotic, dumb cun–” Before God could finish his sentence, he snapped his fingers.
I screamed in protest as Ariel and I tumbled together through a dark abyss, hoping God wasn’t sending us into purgatory.
I was still screaming when I felt Ariel softly patting me on the back saying, “It’s okay. It’s okay. You can relax now, Jake. We’re in Hell.”
* * * * * *
Ariel was a good angel. But she now had been cast into Hell to become a fallen angel, also known as a demon. The Mayor was ecstatic to have another fallen angel in his legions, especially such a powerful one as Ariel. And this is when I came to realize, Hell Inc. itself was overpopulated with angels that had been cast away from Heavens Inc. by an unforgiving and overzealous God. In fact, due to his constant removal of angels from Heavens Inc., Hell itself was undergoing a tremendous change. And Satan, or the Mayor, seems to welcome it with opened arms. Because as it turns out, he too was one of those angels once.
Now, I’m not saying Satan is perfect. There are certainly some demons, like the ones that attended my class, whose sole purpose is to cause harm and pain in human souls. But the fallen angels who live in Hell Inc. are mostly good. Satan was once one of these angels and still carries a touch of that inside him. He is not as self-centered as the God I met. After he finished fixing the breach, he didn’t even punish Ariel and I for seeking help from God. He is actually quite forgiving. And Hell is not such a terrible place when you get to share it with millions of good fallen angels.
I now know that there is a God. I know that there is a Heaven. But I also know that God is keeping Heaven all to himself, on top of enjoying the adoration of his followers. Instead, he sends all human souls into a limbo of darkness for eternity. And if that isn’t worse than Hell, I don’t know what is.
What petrifies me is the idea that a vast majority of Earth’s population worships God. What terrifies me is that most of these human souls will end up in an overcrowded, dark place, with a broken promise from a deity whose vanity and ego will never allow him to share the eternal bliss that he is capable of creating.
So, now, I am a Satanist. And I hope that when I die, I end up in Hell.
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