The Paperwork Of Beelzebub

Short black comedy story

Madelaine Lucy Hanson


Not unusually for a Thursday, it had begun to rain frogs. Which would have been fine, of course, except Glunk had left his umbrella back at the Department of Minor Inconveniences. As he hurried through the screaming mass of newly arrived traffic wardens, geography teachers, and tax collectors, all of whom were rather alarmed by the sight of fat, angry frogs raining from the heavens, he reflected on his disorganisation.

This would be yet another example of his rampant apathy towards efficient torturing, Minister Binfire would say over his thick glasses. Then that dreaded word: disappointing. Glunk did not consider himself wholly a disappointment.

Yes, as devils went, he lacked the natural sadism, but he was hard working, dedicated, and in many ways an exemplary citizen of hell. He enjoyed contemporary jazz, dropped litter with ease, and insisted on reading his erotic fiction to the human underlings in HR. It was entirely unfair to dismiss him as a candidate for Advanced Devilry ministerial positions on the grounds of being a little too cheerful and good natured. His mother agreed.

“Excuse me,” said a round faced man in a bowler hat, straddling the pavement in frustration. “I’ve been standing here for fifty-six minutes.” Glunk sighed, eyeing the man’s umbrella.

“Banker, was it?”

“Corporate Dispute Lawyer. Important one.”

Of course. Of course he was. He had that face. A face in which festered and decayed a thousand wrongdoings and a million incredibly boring sins. But he did have that umbrella.

“Well, you see that clock,” Glunk replied, pointing up at it as frogs clung on in an ungainly fashion from its hands, “Every time they tell you there will be an announcement on departures for the inner circle in ten minutes, that hand will go back ten minutes.”

“So,” the man said, his blue eyes colder than Lucifer’s coffee, “My torture is to stand here forever?”

“Yeah. Basically.”

“Right. Who do I file a complaint with? Which department?”

“Oh, you can, but it’ll just get filed in the Department Of Unread Complaints. We outsourced that to Royal Mail. But I can help you out…



Madelaine Lucy Hanson

27 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually.