Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30 Days: "Satan's Bad Day" by Emily Simmons

Satan’s Bad Day
By Emily Simmons
Satan woke up Thursday feeling out of sorts.  He didn’t get out of bed for breakfast but picked at his bowl of Lucky Charms until the marshmallows got soggy and turned the milk an unnatural blue-gray color.  
Hector arrived with the day’s schedule.  “Good morning!  And how’s the Lord of the Underworld today?” Hector opened the window; the rotten-egg odor and the screams of the souls drowning in eternal torment in the nearby lake always brightened the day.  He spied the devil’s uneaten cereal and listless expression.  
“Boss, what’s the matter with you?  You look like your dog just got reincarnated.”
“Nothing.  I don’t know.  I don’t feel like myself today.” Satan sighed deeply.
“Well, I’ve got today’s schedule and it’s guaranteed to cheer you up.” Hector took the cereal bowl and put it on the bedside table.  “There’s going to be a riot in Manila this afternoon.”
“Meh.” Satan looked out the window.
“Meh?!  You love riots!”
“Been there, done that, got the commemorative plate.  What else do you have?”
“A refugee boat from Cuba is going to sink and there’s only three life jackets on board.  It’s going to be chaos!” Hector grinned widely, anticipating the grisly scene.
Satan shrugged his shoulders.  “What else?”
Hector glanced at the clipboard in his hand.  “The usual – urban unrest, drug warfare, domestic violence.  The Hate-o-Meter is running pretty strong lately – must be an American election coming up.”
“If that’s all you’ve got, I’m going back to bed.”  The Father of Lies fluffed his pillows, then snuggled into them, pulling the worn comforter around his shoulders.
Hector had never seen his boss look so depressed.  He decided to pull out his big guns.  “Wait!  I’ve got a project I’ve been working on and it’s almost ready.  We could do a trial run today.  It’s called the Wheel of Havoc – spin one wheel to determine the disaster and the other wheel to pick the place.  So we can finally have a tsunami in Tulsa, or a blizzard in Bermuda.  Isn’t that great?!”
“It’s okay,” Satan said, his voice muffled by the pillows.
Hector frowned.
“But I don’t care.  In fact, I feel sorry for them.”
“Sorry for them?  Sorry for who?!  Since when does the Prince of Darkness feel sorry for anyone?”
Satan sat up in bed and looked at Hector. “For all of them.  For the refugees and the rioters and the Bermudans who will have no idea how to drive in the snow.  It’s weird, but I feel bad.”
“You are bad.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Boss, don’t talk like that.  You’re Beelzebub, the Master of All Evil! You wreak misery and despair!  You destroy faith and crush hope!  It’s what you do!”
Satan sat back against his pillows. “Maybe I’m just having a bad day.”
Hector jumped on that.  “Yeah, a bad day, that’s all this is.  You know what you need?”
“A shrink?”
“A vacation!  You’ve done nothing but work, work, work for centuries.”
“That’s true, I guess.”
“So get out of here!  Take the weekend off and by Monday you’ll be ready to stick it to those mortals again.  Plus it’ll give me time to put the finishing touches on the Wheel of Havoc.”
Satan looked wearily at his assistant, then reluctantly heaved himself out of bed.  “All right.  I’ll be at the summer house if you need me.”  He walked slump-shouldered from the room.

On the Strip, humans hurried from one air-conditioned casino to another, but on the gritty back streets of downtown Las Vegas, the Son of Perdition strolled with the August sun beating on his face.  The 110 degree heat should have warmed his spirits, but he felt as sad and confused as he did on arrival three days ago.  Sin City was one of his favorite places on Earth but the sight of old ladies dragging their oxygen tanks around as they deposited their retirement pay into slot machines didn’t make him giggle with glee like normal.  The depraved men and debased women spending Sunday afternoon in a strip club didn’t make him gloat at his masterful perversion of nature.  Instead, his stomach felt heavy and his heart felt sick.  Was this more than sympathy he felt for these humans who had so easily fallen prey to his temptations?  Was this guilt?
Satan sat on the steps of a building and put his head in his hands.  How could he go back to Hell and continue leading the souls of men to their eternal doom if he felt sorry for them?
“Something I can help you with?”  A man with solid gray hair and a face that was both hardened and kind looked down on Satan.  Here was someone who had seen life.
“I’m okay,” Satan sighed.
“Are you sure?  People I find sitting on the steps of my church are usually here for a reason, even if they don’t know it.  Looking for a Gamblers Anonymous meeting?”
“No, I’m just…having a bad day.  But I’ll be okay.”  Satan stood and started to walk away, but the man stepped in front of him.
“Wait.  Sit with me for a minute.  It’s my job to listen to people and I bet you’ve got a lot on your mind.”
Satan hesitated. “I’ve never talked to a priest before.”
The man smiled.  “Pastor.  Call me Pastor Mike.  And I won’t bite.”
Against his better judgment, the Tempter found himself sitting on the steps and pouring out his problems, albeit vaguely.  
“…and now I’m feeling lost, I guess.  The job I’ve done for ages isn’t fulfilling and I’m starting to question if I’m even doing the right thing with my life.”
Mike nodded.  “That’s a hard place to be.  Tell me, is this job something that used to speak to your soul?”
“Yes, totally.  I used to jump out of bed in the morning to see what was on the agenda.  Now everything feels rote and mechanical.”
“Your heart isn’t in it.”
“Exactly.” Satan nodded.
“How’s your relationship with God?”
Satan thought for a second.  “Well, we’re on speaking terms, but I don’t think He’d invite me over for dinner, if you know what I mean.”
Mike laughed.  “And do you think you are doing what God wants you to do with your life?”
“Then my advice would be to stay the course.  It sounds to me like you’re more bored than anything.  Liven things up a little bit.  Add some variety.  The job has gotten stale and made you question your purpose.  I want to tell you that God has a purpose for everyone.  You have a role to play in God’s kingdom – we all do.  Maybe it’s not fun right now, but if you can focus on the important part you play in the lives of those around you, you’ll get that spark back.  And if I can paraphrase Paul, ‘…all things work together for good to them who are called according to his purpose.’ You’re a lucky man to know God’s will for you – now you’ve got to do it.”
“I have an eternal role?”
“Yes, you do,” Mike said.
“I make a difference in the world?”
Mike looked the Destroyer in the eyes.  “The world needs you.”
Satan smiled. “It does, doesn’t it?”
Mike smiled back, satisfied with himself.  It felt good to help people get their lives back on track.
Satan stood.  “Thank you, sir.  I better be off.  I’ve got work to do.”
“Go with God, son.”
Satan turned to walk away, then turned back.  “Do you have a card or something?  I want to send you something special when I get back to work.”  Pastor Mike handed Satan his card.
Chuckling, Satan walked away, his steps feeling lighter than they had in a long time.  He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and hit speed dial.
“Hector, it’s me.  I’m heading home early.  Warm up the Wheel of Havoc – I’m ready to do some damage.”


Julie Daines said...

Fun and clever story. I loved the devious bit at the end!

Michelle said...

Really funny!

Scott said...

Very cool Thanks for sharing!

Cathy Witbeck said...

What a great story. I'm dying to know what he sent the pastor.

Emily Simmons said...

Thanks, everybody! And I don't know what he sent, Cathy, but I bet it was ironic. :)

~ Amy W ~ said...

Aha, is Pastor Mike really someone else???

Emily Simmons said...

No, he's just a guy trying to do the right thing and getting burned in the end. Can't most of us relate to that? :)

Taffy said...

Clever story! Thanks for sharing.