“Where am I?”
The boy gave an impish smile and waved a hand around him. “Where do you think?”
It was hot and the man could see fires burning. “I should not be here,” he said in the defiant tone. “I made a deal and I was told that I would not end up here.”
“You were lied to,” the boy told him without emotion. “Look, come this way and I will take you to where you will spend your eternity.”
“I should not be here!”
“There is nothing that you can do about that now,” the young boy remarked. “You can stand here, or you can follow me and discover what your fate is. Either way really, as we do have an eternity that we can wait for you.”
“I demand to speak to somebody,” the man demanded as he looked about him. He could not hear the screams that were commonly associated with hell, but it was hot and he could smell something burning, something that smelled like the acrid stench of burning flesh. Not that Michael knew what that smelled like, of course.
The boy rolled his eyes. “Who would you like to talk to?”
“Whoever is in charge of this place.”
“You mean Lucifer?”
Inside of his own head Michael was unsure of this plan, because everybody knew that Lucifer had been an Archangel before he had fallen, and so he was extremely intelligent. Michael very much doubted his ability to fool him. However, he was out of options, and so he squared his shoulders. “If that is what it takes then that is what I will do. Send him to me.”
The young boy shrugged. “Your funeral.”
The young boy disappeared, and Michael sat down and waited. Even though it was hot, it was not unbearably hot. The temperature was very similar to the temperature of Las Vegas at the peak of the season. Unfortunately, there was no sun and so he could not relax, and get himself a suntan. He also did not have anything to drink which, he was sure, made the heat feel worse.
It did not take long for the young boy to return. “Okay Michael, if you follow me then I will take you to Lucifer who is waiting for you.”
“How do you know my name?”
“I know a lot of things Michael,” he said with a grin. “You forget where you are.”
There was nothing that Michael could say to that, and so he simply stood and followed the boy as they walked towards the great Hall. As they walked, Michael could not help but wonder what such a young boy had done to deserve being in that place.
“I chose it,” he said. “I prefer hell to what you know as heaven, and you may find the same. Don’t be so quick to make your decision about where to spend eternity. Things are more… Interesting down here.”
Michael just gave him a nod, not quite understanding why somebody would pick hell over heaven. They reached an ornate doorway and the young boy nodded his head towards it indicating that Michael should go inside.
Michael did so, expecting to see a large throne made of bones or something that Lucifer would be lounging on. This was not the case though, as when he walked in a woman was sitting and reading a book. “Hello Michael,” she greeted him without looking up. “You wanted to see me?”
“I asked to see Lucifer.”
“That is my name, well, ish anyway,” the woman said as she finally looked up from her book. “You were expecting something else?”
“A man no doubt?”
“That is the way that it is written,” Michael said in the end. This could not be right, it went against everything that he had learnt, that he had understood, and that he had believed. “Lucifer was close to God, and then he fell from grace, and became Lord of the underworld. Satan.”
“You can’t believe all that you read,” the woman replied. “Come on in and sit down anyway. Death is never an easy thing to go through and so you must be tired. Put your feet up and have a drink.”
“You are tempting me?”
“Who do you think you are? Christ?”
“Not at all. My name is Michael, and I had a deal while I was still alive that meant I would not end up here.”
“Look, I am not trying to tempt you. Come on in, sit down, and have a drink. The man that you made to deal with was not the man you thought he was. He was not a messenger from God, and he does not control God’s will. God decided to send you here, and he had good reason to do so. Michael, you are murderer, a cheat, a liar, and thought you could buy your way into heaven. God is not going to stand for that kind of behaviour.”
Michael’s mouth worked, but no words were forthcoming.
“My name is Lucy,” the woman said. “You would have to speak to God about where this whole Lucifer story came from. I mean, yes I was an Archangel, and now I am not.”
Michael walked towards her, and accepted the drink she offered. “But you were close to God, right?” Michael asked, desperate to salvage some of his belief.
Lucy laughed. “You could say that,” she said. “I was what you could describe as his right-hand man, or to put it another way, I was his wife.”
“We are the original fighting couple after a bitter divorce. You see, after Eve God thought that all women were going to deceive and hurt. He did not throw me out at that point though, although it was close. You see, then he began to formulate a plan to send our son down to earth. In order to do this, he had to create a vessel in which his son would be carried, and this was in fact Mary. He thought that the simple act would be enough to forgive all women for the acts done against him by Eve. What he did not count on was my reaction. I did not want to give my son to some mere mortal to raise, and then have her celebrated as a Queen. I opposed him then, and that is when I got cast down.”
“Hell hath no fury…”
“And now you know where the saying came from,” Lucy said with a smile. “Of course he went ahead with his plan, and all I could do was try to oppose it from every angle.”
“Even though that was your son?”
“Jesus is immortal of course, and so his mortal death meant nothing to me. The man that walked the earth in God’s name was just that, a man. It was not my son.”
Michael said nothing, and looked down into the drink that he held. He was thinking how he could best use this knowledge to his advantage. “Surely I have done nothing wrong, when compared to what God has done to you. It must make you so mad to have to live down here and be excluded from your own son’s life.”
Lucy shook her head, her black hair waving around her face. “God has done many things, but cheating, murdering, and downright lying are not part of him.”
“You cannot buy your way into God’s good books, and you cannot barter your way out of hell.” Lucy gave him a smile. “I must say though, I admire you for even trying. Just relax a bit, and you may find that you grow to like your time here.”
“You think that I will start to like suffering for my sins?” Michael asked incredulously.
“I would not say suffer exactly.”
“What would you call it?”
“Don’t believe everything that you read Michael,” Lucy said with a grin. “Welcome to hell!”