The year was 2012. Beelzebub passed me the sales report, and almost missed my hand entirely from the sheer darkness of our office. We had to save money in any way possible. Things weren’t looking good for our new start-up fast-food business—Satan’s Supper. Corporate America was nothing like anything we’ve experienced before. Despite this, Beelzebub, “the Lord of the Flies,” kept a similar aesthetic as the days when we were buddies in Hell. He was a squat individual with small beady eyes, large round glasses, and dirty white clothes so that the stains were visible. He stunk of horrid waste and always had a fly or two buzzing around him. However, despite his physical characteristics, he was incredibly bright and my first choice of who would join me in this experiment—creating a monopoly of the fast-food industry so large that humanity forms a reliance on us which corrupts them and compels them to abandon everything, especially their belief in God, in their desire to consume our delicious burgers and fries.
Other than Beelzebub, my team consisted of Typhon—known as “the Father of All Monsters” to the Greeks even though in reality she boasts a female form, Loki—the trickster god of Norse myth whose inclination towards mischief has caused several disputes between the two of us in the past, and Apep—the sullen deity who was forcefully declared “the Lord of Chaos” by the Egyptians before he even had a chance to think for himself. Oh and of course—I can’t forget myself: Lucifer. The Prince of Hell.
Beelzebub was frustrated at our slow start, and understandably so when before we had known nothing but success, but now he finally broke down. “I still don’t understand why you chose Typhon of all our Greek contacts! You knew that she’s been trying hard to be a good parent for her kids. And to her, that entails being at every soccer game and dance recital. So she’s never around to help out!”
I sighed and shook my head. “We’ve been over this, Beelzebub. There’s no way in all of the Nine Circles of Hell that I’m working with Cronus—that guy literally ate his own children and besides, he’s completely unapproachable as it is. And Hades kidnapped a woman just because he was in love with her. Like, who does that? And sure, none of us are angels, but the times have changed. We’ve all made attempts to adapt but both of them are just too stuck in the past. They’d be too much of a risk in the modern world when brand safety is of utmost importance. Typhon was my only realistic option.”
He slammed his fist on the table as if he were a toddler and grumbled, “I-I’d much rather be back at home, being fed rotten grapes and corrupted souls.”
“Beelzebub, I know this is completely unbefitting of our status as the Prince of Hell and one of its Lords. But I warned you all that it’d be difficult at first. Everyone I picked has a key role to play in my plan, including Typhon, so just trust me, alright?” I came off a little more aggressive than I had intended. Sincerity wasn’t my strong suit. Faking sincerity was.
He sighed in defeat and went back to his paperwork. I understood his frustration, I truly did. In each of our respective times, we were some of the most feared beings across the planet. And yet, here we were in a deeply materialistic present—a world we would have loved in our prime—and yet the conditions we were living in must have been worse than the souls condemned to the Seventh Circle of Hell.
Nah, who am I kidding? Those delinquents would give anything for a release from the burning blood of the Phlegethon. The thought garnered an internal chuckle.
The office phone began to ring. I hesitated. Each call we got on this phone was either a potential opportunity or hazardous obstacle. …Surely it’s good news.
“Lucius Atsan speaking, how may I be of service?”
My nerves calmed when I heard Loki’s new female voice on the other end, “Hi Lucy, um, we’ve got trouble.” She explained the situation and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end yet again.
“I’ll be right there!” I slammed the phone down and rushed out of the office, heading for our restaurant’s front desk. Beelzebub waddled after me, confused.
Until I was confident in the ability of our business to easily stay afloat, I had decided not to hire any extra outside help from humans. Hiring now would just lead to too many complications later. After all, in the grand scheme of things, the performance of this restaurant didn’t really matter. Such is the reasoning for its very bland design. There would be no point in refurbishing this old office building, which I had charmed my way into purchasing for less than half of the listed price, until people actually gave a damn about our company. And with so many other giants in the fast-food industry, that wasn’t going to happen unless we forced it to.
For now though, Loki was perfect to play the role of a minimum wage fast-food worker. As the god of trickery, she can take any form she desires. The sight of Loki, who normally chose to take the shape of a sly man with curly red hair that went down past her shoulders, appearing as a female, freckled, red-haired high schooler always put a slight grin on my face. Well every time but this one. For standing in front of her was none other than an archangel—the enforcers of the brain-dead morons who still believe in God. He was in a human form but I always know when those bastards are around. It’s been a long time since I was among them but his stoic expression, chiseled jawline, stocky build, and wavy blond hair could make him none other than Raguel—the Angel of Justice. His name may mean “Friend of God” but he was never a friend of mine. I took a quick glance behind me and noticed Beelzebub beginning to sweat.
Upon spotting my entrance, Loki uneasily shifted her weight behind the counter and casually said, “Here you go sir, this is my boss.”
“Hello sir, how may I be of service?” Best to play nice for now. While I didn’t doubt my ability to slay a singular angel, actually doing so would essentially be a declaration of war against the heavens.
Raguel had his arms crossed and his radiant gold eyes bore right into me, “There is no need for charades, devil scum. This is a warning. While I have no desire to provoke a war against the forces of Hell”—So he’s not just a meathead after all—“I have come to warn you that we are watching your every action. Be warned,”—I’m not positive but I think he’s warning us—“if we see anything remotely suspicious, we will strike you down with the might of God’s wrath.” Color me impressed, this thug can actually create complex sentences.
“Pardon me, Raguel. Here I am, trying to turn over a new leaf as an honest business owner, and the first thing I’m greeted with is suspicion! Honestly! And you wonder why demons are hardly ever redeemed? If you treat them all like this shit, the answer should be obvious to you!”
Loki was on the phone, panicking. “Y-yes sir, there's a really big man here at our restaurant. He’s insane! He’s threatening us with ‘God’s wrath,’ just because we’re a minority start-up. Yes, sir. Thank you!”
A smug smile crept its way onto my face. I have to give it to humans, their technology sure does come in handy. I began to move my hands in a shooing gesture, “If you stay here any longer, you may just be the first angel in history to be arrested by human police.”
And as easy as that, he was scrambling for the doors. He couldn’t even dream of tarnishing the honor of angels. But I wouldn’t settle for anything less than an indisputable victory. I snapped my fingers and appeared next to him.
As he was rushing through the doors, I put my hand on his shoulder and whispered into his ear, “The next time you make baseless threats invoking someone else’s name, remember to use a myth that isn’t fake.” He shot me one last glare but was outside a second later.
I looked at Beelzebub. There was a puddle taking shape underneath him. As smart as he is, even he has some irrational fears.
And with that, Loki began to laugh, “Damn, those guys really take themselves that seriously? I feel bad for you two, Lucy, Bubby. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with them on a regular basis!”
Her laughter was contagious and soon all three of us were enjoying ourselves. Today was looking a bit less bleak.