The Devil Is Hiring
“But I’m not dead,” I complained, pushing over a lamp to prove it. It fell, sending the cat out of the room at an impressive speed for something so impressively rotund. “I’ve literally never been dead.” She looked up at me, chewing gum loudly against her right molars, then back down at her phone.
I paused. “So are you going to make a phone call, or fill out a form, or-” She texted something, then looked up at me, clearly annoyed to find I was still there.
“Are you going to tell someone I’m not dead?”
“Oh,” she replied, disinterestedly. “Nah, we’re good.”
“Are you an intern or something?” I asked. “Is there anyone more senior who I could talk to around?” Clearly the afterlife was run by the same people as HMRC. “Maybe someone who deals with this sort of stuff?”
“Nope,” she yawned, sliding her phone into her jumper sleeve. “You’re well dead.”
“I take it you haven’t finished the condolence and trauma sensitivity training course yet,” I say sarcastically. “Or would that require some semblance of funding or investment?”
“What?” she said, pulling her phone back out.
“Never mind. If I’m dead, what happens now? Heaven? Hell? And who are you even texting? Why do spirits have a Nokia 3000 anyway? Is it some kind of company incentive?”
She glared at me. “I can’t even with you. You’re dead. Okay? Just go receive your workload, god.”
“That’s a mistake, then,” I said quickly, trying to hide the fear in my voice. “I lived a pretty good life. I was a romance columnist. Brought a lot of people together.”
“Yeah I know,” she said. “You’re our new copywriter.”
I stared at her. “How would that even work? I don’t even know how death works.”
“Look dude, I don’t know either. But the Devil got it into his head that we needed to have a new writer in the office after reading some dumb self help book. The old one got crucified when he spelt a tweet wrong.” She turned, pushing the door to reveal a garishly lit shared office space. “You’re next to Colin, there.” She pointed at a chair squeezed between two desks, one with a man who looked like Boxer on his way to the Glue Factory in Animal Farm.
“You’re fucking kidding me,” I snorted. “We have a seating plan at work? What are we? Kindergarten?”
“Just sit down. Your Nokia will be delivered shortly. By the way, the letter K won’t work on your phone keyboard. It’s a thing, here. The devil bought them in bulk and won’t like you spending money on working equipment.”
“Wait, so we do all our work on Nokia phones?” I say incredulously.
“Wow.” She sighed. “You are so much negative drama. So toxic.”
“Fine. What are our work hours?”
She laughed, and so did Colin, before he broke into a coughing fit. “Dude. You work when you are told. And we don’t have overtime. You start at 4am, which is when the Devil start texting you. Oh, and he says he’ll fire anyone who leaves the office on time. Literally.”
I sighed, going over to my desk. It was freezing, ice growing on the inside of the window. No doubt Satan bought this office space on the cheap. I thought better than to bring up turning the heating on. I looked to the empty desk on my left. In it, in big black letters, was the word
“Who is Ninny?” I ask aloud, hiding a smile. “Is this an office joke?” Colin gulped. Hell fell uncomfortably silent.
“Ninny is our Most Supreme Glorious Marvellous And Most Revered Excellent Comrade of Senior Slave Driving and Shifting of Blame, actually,” he whispers. “Don’t fucking cross her. Total snake.”
I stare at him. “But there are six people working in this company.”
“Oh yeah,” he shrugged. “But she gave herself that title. Make sure you tell her she’s great.”
At that moment, the most ridiculous woman I’d ever seen swung into the room, holding a cup of low calorie blood between her bright red nails. She collapsed against the wall dramatically, and pouted. “Apparently you’ve been causing a lot of drama.”
I stared at her. “I’ve been here for three minutes.”
“I’m so busy,” she sighed, holding up her phone as if to prove it. “I don’t have time for your drama.” Flicking through her phone, she squinted at me, thoughtfully. “I can’t do a disciplinary until this afternoon. Is that okay?”
I stared at her. “I’ve got a disciplinary for not liking my job?”
“Yeah,” she moaned. “It’s really negative and draining for me for you not to like your job, so as your manager and your Most Supreme Glorious Marvellous And Most Revered Excellent Comrade of Senior Slave Driving and Shifting of Blame at Satanic Surprises Inc, it’s my job to make sure you never complain.”
“Fine.” I sat down heavily, annoyed. “See you after lunch.”
Colin pats my arm apologetically, passing me a Nokia. As predicted, the keyboard didn’t have a K. I turn to him, lowering my voice. “Is there like, an eternal burning hell I can go to instead? With pitchforks and stuff. And damnation?”
Colin laughed. “Dude, utopian stuff like that isn’t real. Get a grip. This is hell.”