George listened with
approval to screams of agony from the fiery,
sulphurous pits of Hell as the flesh of his
charges again was seared.
In life, no one had
considered that George might be ideally qualified
as one of Hells Torture Overseers. He had
demonstrated kindness and charity to all.
Upon death, however, the
Eternal Life Committee, comprising God and Satan,
had examined Georges behaviour together
with his hidden thoughts and feelings. When alive,
George had frequently raged inside with intense,
pathological anger and malevolence towards those
who dared to offend him.
Having been a Catholic,
George well understood that those thoughts and
feelings would inevitably preclude him from
Heaven. Thus had he feared the possibility that
enacting retribution would offend someone who
could, one day, become his Torture
Overseer in Hell. Such a person might subject
George, for all eternity, to similar merciless
inhumanities as George deemed appropriate for
those who had slighted him. The prospect of such
unspeakable horrors moderated all his actions.
After death, the ELC could
not dispute that George should be judged
good by virtue of his earthly deeds,
and thus must be spared torment in Hell. George
had been correct, however, about exclusion from
The sole remaining option
was for George to enjoy eternity in Hell, and the
only role that fulfilled this criterion, bearing
in mind his personal disposition, was that of a
Torture Overseer for his choice of damned souls.
George selected another can
of cold beer from one of the infinitely
replenished refrigerators and then continued
along a walkway above the pits.
He paused and glanced below
at the car mechanic who had made a labour charge
of seventy pounds for the replacement of his
handbrake cable. Such a cable was now noosed
around the miscreants neck. Their eyes
knowingly met as George, for the one hundred and
five thousand six hundred and twenty-fourth time,
pushed the button to operate the trap door.
Tied in the next pit was
the editor of a publication who had rejected one
of Georges short story submissions as
rather didactic. George manipulated
remote controls to close steel teeth around this
critics fingernails and savoured taking
longer than usual to rip them from his hands.
George experienced some
sympathy for the hapless occupant of the next pit.
The lad had simply worked in a factory that had
manufactured speed cameras. He had never
considered his personal culpability for the
consequences of his labour. George selected
another beer as he enjoyed the familiar sound of
a steamroller, crushing bones.
Hell was fully automated.
George personally supervised just a handful of
selected tortures each day before retiring to
party with colleagues.
Before leaving the walkway,
he pressed the Auto button and left
boiling oil to be robotically poured upon the
Inland Revenue and VAT inspectors. Water levels
rose inexorably in pits containing bankers and
politicians, as figures for their pensions and
expenses flashed on display screens before them.
At the party, the usual
daily festivities and debaucheries were in full
swing. A great time was being enjoyed by everyone.
Of course, all were being very careful to avoid
causing offence. Today they were equals. Eternity
was a long time, however, and who could tell how
the balance of power might one day change?