“Well that went down like a lead balloon” Alex sighed
“It’s over now,” added Loz who was torn between consoling her partner and focusing on the road. She had been worried about her Polo struggling with all Alex’s possessions. As itr happened Alex’s parents hadn’t even afforded her that luxury. All Alex had was what she’d grabbed on her rushed exit from the house and the much smaller bag she’d left in Loz’s car should things go south. There was a pause. “I’ll sleep on the floor,” Alex said finally
“The hell you will,” Loz replied
“You have a single bed,” Alex insisted
“I thought you loved my hugs?!” Loz said with mock offense
“I mean yes but you move a lot in your sleep,”
I’m fighting imaginary homophobes!” Loz explained
“What do I do?” sighed Alex. Alex was close to crying. Loz wasn’t sure what to do without pulling the car over.
“Well you were technically a tenant,” she began. “You have your own bank account and job. Your commute will be a bigger pain in the arse but we can deal with tha-,”
Loz never knew who was at fault. Her or the big car with the bull bars. As it collided with the side of the small hatchback she gave one of her last thoughts to why the hell someone in the centre of Plymouth needed bull bars. Maybe to deter Llamas or sheep on Dartmoor. Her actual last thought was that she was a bit embarrassed that that was what came to mind and not Alex. However Alex’s last thought was of Loz.
The car skidded down the road and came to a stop after some time. Alex and Loz reached out to each other as they gradually opened their eyes. “Are you o-oh,” Alex stopped mid sentence. “What the heck?”
“What happened to Plymouth?” Loz asked, looking out at the buildings around them. The road stretched out in front of them, cracked and broken. Either side were buildings in a state of collapse with broken windows. Overhead the sky was a deep vivid orange through overcast clouds, lighting the whole scene like glowing embers. “I am okay though,” Alex remarked “completely, in fact. No aches whatsoever,”
“Same, very weird, although there’s a high standard of weirdness going on right now,” Loz said, getting out of the car and looking around. They both raised their hands to shade their eyes as a wind blew dust into their eyes.
“There is an explanation for this,” Alex suggested “We could be in hell,”
“There it is!” A voice said. Alex and Loz turned to face the speaker. A tall, slim man in a long leather coat, worn cargo trousers and goggles to keep out the dust. “I’m sorry?” Loz asked.
“I’ve been doing this a very long time and I never get tired of hearing mortals work out where they are,”
“You’re very coherent and talkative for a dream,” Loz replied, “and this is quite original for a dream, it’s usually my childhood home or a
place I went on holiday as a child.”
“No, don’t call it a dream!” he sighed and pointed at Alex. “Anyway she said it was hell first,”
“Alex is sometimes wrong,” Loz suggested
“Hey!” Alex said defensively
“No offense, Al. Anyway she might be a dream too,”
Alex walked up to them. A good six inches taller than Alex and a foot taller than Loz. They both noticed he was barefoot, which couldn’t be comfy. “Do you remember going to bed?” he asked
“Do you ever in a dream?” Loz suggested.
“I wouldn’t know, I don’t sleep,” he replied
“We might be in comas,” Alex said, getting some bravery from holding Loz’s hand “some kind of shared coma, I’d hate to think one of us
“Well you’re both real and both really in hell,” he said impatiently.
“And you’re what, a demon? You don’t look like one,”
“I look human because I sometimes have to go to Earth and horns and hooves tend to stick out,”
“Why are you in hell then?” said Loz with the confidence of someone convinced they’re in a dream.
“I’m covering a shift for a friend, now come on!,”
Loz suddenly ran for the nearest building. Almost dragging Alex along with her. Alex Stumbled and lost her grip on her Girlfriend but quickly realised what was going on and ran after her for the cover of one of the ruined terraced houses that line the road. They ran through a doorway that had long since lost its door and weaved their way through the rooms of the house into the house’s long garden, not that it had anything growing in it. Behind them they heard a roar of anger and a shout of “Get back hear you daft bastards!” that resonated in their rib cages. They ran out into the alleyway that led off the back gardens of the ruined houses and looked both ways along it. At one end was the so-called Demon, walking down at them. With an almost fearless giggle Loz ran with Alex away from him.
The two of them were hit with a wall of air hiding them in the face. Ahead of them, out of the air formed another figure, as tall as the first but suspended in the air on flapping wings. It descended to the ground, landing on cloven hooves. “Not so fancy with your toes now are you Steve,” he commented. He walked up to Alex and Loz. “There’s nowhere to run, you’re coming with us,”
“Bloody hell. You really are a real demon” Alex commented
“No. He’s just a dream!” Loz insisted. The new Demon sighed as first demon, apparently called Steve, arrived. “Melphor, what are you doing
here? Don’t tell me the boss said I needed support”
“No I was in the area, just dropped someone off at processing,”
“Adulterer, tried to convince me he was polyamorous,” Melphor the demon explained
“Polyamory isn’t a sin,” Steve replied, raising an eyebrow.
“Acting without consent in a relationship isn’t polyamory,” Melphor said. Loz and Alex found themselves nodding in agreement.
Steve waved his arms and a wooden door appeared from thin air. Melphor pushed Alex and Loz from behind “come on then”. Steve opened the door and they walked through. Melphor closed the door after them and The three of them found themselves in a wide open area that looked like the lobby of a building. Nondescript rey walls rose up either side of them, displaying plain doors overlooking them. At one end of the hall was a row of desks with doors behind them. “Is this still hell?” Alex asked “Looks like the cheap place where we stayed on my hen do,”
“Welcome to arrivals, the second level of hell, This is where you’ll be processed and assigned your torment,” they walked up to one of a row of desks with demons sitting behind them. A female looking demon with short sharp horns in a leather harness and tattered clothes looked up at them as they approached.
“Elboreth” Steve greeted them
“Steven,” she said abruptly. She then looked to Loz and Alex “Names?”
“Alexandra Lily McCrae”
“Laura Jane Smith” there was a moment as the desk demon typed their names in. “Date and location of birth”
“16th March nineteen ninety two, Derriford hospital,”
“1st August ninety five, Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” more typing. A sigh. More typing.
“Oh” Elboreth picked up the phone on her desk “Hello, Targaal, yeah is Ellie, good thanks. I’ve got a couple of people who aren’t showing up on our arrivals records,” she put the phone down and another demon walked out from the back of the room naked but for a loincloth. He walked over to the desk and bent over, looking at the computer screen. Alex couldn’t help but look at his toned body while Loz looked around at the vast room they were in.
“That can’t be right,” the senior demon commented.
“It’s what it looks like,” the senior demon looked up at Loz, “Laura “Loz” Jane Smith, one eight ninety five,”
“That’s me,” she said, the awkwardness of the situation taking away some of the tension
“Grew up in Selly Oak, first kiss age thirteen to a guy named,”
“Michael Thompson,” Loz finished his sentence,
“Was immediately disgusted, thought boys were gross but took you another three years to work out you could kiss girls, at which you kissed
Elizabeth Jones, a fellow class-”
“Oh fuck you,” Loz managed,
“You do know we’re demons, that confirms who you are, okay, well,” he paused, “fuck,” another pause. He looked to Alex, “and we don’t even have you on record,”
“Hang on, so I’m supposed to go to hell and Alex isn’t?” Loz asked indignantly “What condemned me to hell but not her? Because its
obviously not the homosexuality,”
“Oh no, absolutely not!” The senior demon said apologetically, Loz and Alex were a little surprised at this, “In fact a lot of homophobes are down here, which was often a surprise to them,” he chuckled, both Steve and Elboreth joined in. “No, we have a shared system with,” he pointed upwards “and you’re on their record, not ours!”
“Oh,” Loz managed,
“Hang on, so where do I go?!” Alex finally spoke up, having mostly been quiet, “some kind of limbo,”
“No, that’s the thing, nowhere, they’re Laura in heaven right now, Alex, you’re not,” he was interrupted by a door opening and a man
stepping through. He wore a smart, slim fitting suit and looked human to Loz and Alex’s eyes with stubble and short black hair
“Amon, what the bloody hell is going on here!” Amon, the senior demon turned to face the newcomer. Amon turned round quickly. “Boss! Sorry, this, we’re just resolving this!”
“I’ve got bloody Raphael on the phone, one of his Seraphim was expecting someone to turn up and not only have they not turned up, he travelled down to their death site to find out their souls have departed, for down here, now I bump into Melphor. Alex noticed Steve was gesturing silently at Loz. Amon glanced at Steve then back to the newcomer, “Ah, we might have an answer, this, is Loz Smith, and her girlfriend, Alex McCrae,”
“I didn’t ask about an Alex McCrae,”
“And yet boss, here she is,” Amon explained. The newcomer looked at Steven.
“Steve, you picked these two up,”
“Yes I did Mr Morningstar, I received the orders about an hour ago, with an arrival location and everything, out in the shadow of Plymouth, Britain,”
“Are you Lucifer?” Loz spoke up,
“Yes. yes I am,”
“Why do you look and sound like,”
“I’m aware who I sound and look like, that’s just your newly arrived brain processing my appearance, anyway, yes I am Lucifer Morninstar,”
“You’re satan?” Alex asked,
“No, that’s my boss, I am his right hand man, well, me and Beelzebub, I handle new arrivals, B more handles long term punishments,” he explained, sounding a little bored. He looked to Amon, and then to Elboreth. “She shouldn’t be here should she?” he asked
“No boss,” Amon explained. “Smith is on upstairs’ records, McCrae isn’t at all,”
“Which suggests she arrived too soon, well, left the mortal plane too soon, free will and all that,” he sighed “but here is the summoning order that Steven here received, signed by several members of the scheduling staff with the authority of, myself, Balls,” he looked to Loz, then to Alex, “Right then, let’s get this resolved before it Raphael refers this all the way to my father, Loz,” he looked to the screen, “you should be in heaven, according to this you lead a good kind life, most notably the kindness you showed, oh, Alexandra McCrae, who in turn you should not be here at all, you should have at the least survived the car crash,” he stood up. “Fine then, Steven was it? If you could take Ms McCrae upstairs, her body is battered and bruised but waiting for her, she will make a miraculous recovery, then Ms Smith, you will wait here while we untie the awful paperwork that has lead you to be here,”
“No!” Alex said
“I beg your bloody pardon,” Lucifer said, walking around the desk to face Alex
“Oh dick,” Steve muttered,
“I’m not doing back to um, back to Earth, not without Loz,”
“Loz is dead, Alex,” Steve explained,
“So am I, send us both back,”
“She is awaited in heaven,”
“I’m not going to heaven, I’m staying with Alex,” Loz said, grabbing Alex’s hand, “Send us both back, or send us both to heaven
“Well tough, we can’t send you back, literally my bloody father is expecting you, and I can’t send someone to heaven,” sighed Lucifer
“Firstly imagine if I of all people could send people to heaven, and secondly Alex has to earn her way into heaven,”
“How long will that take,”
“I could just kill myself,”
“No, he takes that personally, he’d just have you make a miraculous recovery,”
“That’s not fair, what about people who,”
“Listen, if you argued every moral argument against the law of God we’d be here all day and there is no such thing as night here! My father is a dick!”
“I mean, you would say that,” Loz suggested. Lucifer raised his eyebrows concedingly.
“So when would I go to heaven,”
“When you died, at the right time,”
“But that could be decades, I don’t want decades without Loz,” Alex said quietly, “So I’m not going back to Earth,”
“And I’m not going to heaven without Alex,” Loz said insistently. Alex looked to Loz and held both her hands. “You’re literally turning down
heaven for me,”
“Heaven without you, doesn’t hold much appeal,”
“That is so cheesy,” Alex sighed
“Not really, we are literally stood in Hell’s lobby, and are dead,”
“You do know he can just make you go,” Amon explained, Lucifer raised a hand.
“Actually, no I can’t,” Lucifer chuckled, then burst out laughing “She’s still mortal, she has free will, that’s the linchpin of it all, dad can’t make her do anything, it defeats the point, Alex, you can stay right here and Laura, well, there is so much paperwork I need to make my way through,” Lucifer said sarcastically, “Wouldn’t you agree, Amon?”
“Oh tons, Mr M, loads,” he chuckled.
Loz and Alex watched as Steve walked down the hill into the sprawling ruins that were the other Plymouth in the first level of hell. Loz turned to look at the surprisingly intact bungalow they were standing outside, “Did you hear what Steve said? This was originally created to punish an extremely vain person whose idea of hell was having one bedroom and a single floor,”
“Land too,” Alex regarded the ground around the flat, amongst the dead grass that seemed to go on for miles in amongst the ruins was a patch of verdant green. Smart borders of red roses marked the edge of their cottage. Hand in hand the two women walked around the outside of the building. “We could probably dick up the lawn you know,” Loz said, looking at the back lawn,
“I mean it, grow some plants, make us less reliant on Steve and Amon’s so-called care packages,”
“Which just sounds worrying coming form a pair of demons,” Alex commented
“This is actually quite nice, not quite where I expected to get on the property ladder” Loz commented as they walked in through the back door. Alex smiled and kissed her on the cheek and walked inside. “They’ve given us a kettle and everything!” she commented, she yawned,
“how am I tired, I’m dead,”
“No, you’re not dead, you’re alive but briefly in hell,”
“Speaking of which then,” Alex walked out of the kitchen and into the hallway. She called back “Hey Loz!”
“There’s a double bed in here!”