The phone had been ringing in a low, calming beeping noise for the past three minutes. Janice raised an eyebrow; there was only one entity that would be willing to be that persistent. She took the phone off the receiver. “Satan’s Office.”
She nodded cool and took some notes, “I’m sorry, Jehovah, but Satan’s in a meeting right now,” She massaged her wrinkled temples, “No. He’s not always in a meeting… Yes, I’ll personally tell him you called.” She hung up.
Janice glanced at the clock and sighed. It was already fifteen past three and there was still so much to do. She got up and straighten her pencil skirt, then proceeded, clipboard in hand to the front door which read;
Janice braced herself and then opened the office door. A wave of heat crashed over her, throwing back her graying brown hair into a wild frenzy and forcing her blazer to dance to and fro. She adjusted her spectacles. “Mrs. Timely? I have a three fifteen appointment with Mrs. Timely?” she shouted into the flames.
There was a general chorus of screams, groans, growls and crying, but no response to Janice.
“Present!” came a reply.
Janice turned to greet the woman, and raised an eyebrow. She was used to seeing faces down here that didn’t necessarily match the condemned-for-all-entirety profile, but sometimes she was still caught off guard. Mrs. Timely was a head shorter than Janice, with long brown hair that looked like it needed a good brushing. She was old enough to have laugh lines on her face, but too young for wrinkles of any other sort. Janice nodded. “This way.”
- Timely followed Janice into the office and breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh! It’s so cool in here!”
Janice put on her work-smile. “Yes, we fixed the AC last week. It was torture otherwise. Please, take a seat.” Mrs. Timely did as she was bid. “Satan will be with you shortly, but first I must clarify your visit.”
“Alright,” said Mrs. Timely, rubbing her hands together.
Janice took up her clipboard. “I already have your name, so… age upon death?”
“Catholic, or I was born into it,” she smiled nervously, “I never really practiced.”
“Few do.” Janice smiled reassuringly, “Finally, cause of death?”
Janice nodded without batting an eye. Mrs. Timely almost seemed surprised. “We don’t judge here, Mrs. Timely, we just take what comes in.”
“Ah,” nodded Mrs. Timely, but it was clear that she didn’t really understand at all. “C-can I ask you something?”
Janice checked her wrist watch. “Hm?”
“Why was I asked here? I’m not sure what procedure is down here, but I-”
When the hand hit twenty past the hour exactly, she gestured for Mrs. Timely to stand up. “Satan will see you now.”
Janice lead a shaking Mrs. Timely into the next room. Satan liked a simple, sleek decor, much to Janice’s disapproval. The room was laid out in black and white, both colors making a bold, artistic statement against each other. Satan, a lover of dramatics, had his chair facing away from the door and out toward the fiery canyon beyond his window. All that could be seen of him as his obsidian spiral horns that crested over his chair. “Please, make yourself comfortable, Mrs. Timely.” His voice was deep and cold, almost like thick snow crunching together.
Per the norm, Janice had to lead, almost drag the woman to the flush chair in front of Satan’s desk. When Mrs. Timely sat, Janice patted her on the shoulder, trying to give her some reminiscence of strength.
“Thank you, Janice,” Satan turned his chair around and Mrs. Timely gasped. Janice knew that sound and it was one more so of surprise than horror. Satan’s skin was a deep, blood red and his eyes were completely black, as black and shiny like his horns. His face was narrow and came to a point at his chin where he wore a goat-like goatee. Janice liked to joke that it was the goatee that they gasped at, but no, rather, it was how kind his face looked. Everything else aside, it was hard to be frightened of Satan. Unless, of course, he wanted you to be.
Satan looked at Janice with an eye that told her she should linger at the door, so she did. Then he turned his attention to the shivering woman. “Welcome, Rebecca, I hope you’re well.” Timely seemed to shutter at her own name. She almost spoke but her words were all mumbled.
“I see.” Satan placed his hands on his desk, “Do you know why I called you here?”
“Because… I took my own life?”
“No. I mean, that’s the reason why you’re in this general area, yes, but not why I set up this appointment.” He cleared his throat, “Rebecca, there are two kinds of people who come to Hell, you see. Those who deserve to be punished for whatever time is necessary… and those who believe they belong here.”
Janice stood ready; this didn’t always go was well as Satan had hoped.
“Rebecca, you belong in the latter category.”Timely looked up, confused. “B-but I took my own life… that’s a sin.”
Satan nodded. “You’re right, that’s a sin. One really shouldn’t squander the gift of life, but we need some context first before we proceed.” Mrs. Timely tensed up. “You killed yourself for a reason. Can you tell me what?” Timely’s breath became audible and shallow. She couldn’t keep looking at Satan and just focused on her shoes.
“Should I start?” asked Satan.
Timely froze. “You know?”
“I know that you were married for six years, Rebecca, to a man that thought he was ‘fixing’ you.” Mrs. Timely grasped the arms of the chair, bracing herself from her own convulsions.
“I know that you fell in love with someone, someone who wasn’t your husband, because you never really loved him.”
Timely threw her head up and protested, “I loved Henry!”
Satan looked her dead in the “But not in the same way you loved Samantha.”
“Timely threw back the chair she was sitting in. “Is this what you do here?! Is this another form of torture!? You’re just rubbing it in aren’t you?! The reason why I did it! The reason why-!” Mrs. Timely suddenly collapsed and held herself tightly. “I knew it was wrong. I knew I shouldn’t. But she seduced me! She knew my weaknesses and… and I was happy with her! Happy!”
Janice ran to Mrs. Timely’s side and knelt beside her. “Mrs. Timely?”
“Henry found out… Henry knew what I had done and told me of my sins. I knew I was dirty. I was horrid. There was no hope for me. None… so… I…”
Satan put a hand on Rebecca’s shoulder, and she stopped shivering. “Loving someone is not a sin, Rebecca,” he said firmly, “But you have to believe that to get out of here. Otherwise you’ll just linger…”
It took Janice thirty minutes to collect Mrs. Timely together and send her away with another appointment within the week. “It was good to meet you, Mrs. Timely,” said Janice.
“Meet you…” Mrs. Timely echoed as she left.
Satan sighed and leaned on his desk with a long, sad look on his face. “Did I miss any calls?” he said finally, trying to let the stress of the appointment slip away.
“Christ!” he swore, “I forgot today was our coffee day!”
Janice pinched her lips into a tight smile. “Yes. He wasn’t too pleased…”