If it hadn't been for inflation, the Devil could have bribed them.
“The little buggers know too much,” Lucifer says as he slides into the chair next to Hades at the bar. Hooves, the only establishment open during the day in the Lower Levels, is nearly empty. Not surprising, considering it’s Halloween on Earth.
“Of course they do – that’s one of the reasons you pay them so poorly,” Hades says, ordering a whiskey sour for the Devil. The zombie behind the bar, a pleasant fellow named Greg, nods slowly and shuffles over to the line of liquor bottles along the back of the bar.
“I don’t pay them to blackmail me, Hades.”
Hades chuckles under his breath, shakes his head. “Perhaps if you paid them a real wage, instead of a handful of souls every few weeks, you wouldn’t be in this position.”
“Greg, focus!” The zombie looks up from the arm he’s just ripped off a paying customer, his rotting teeth halfway to the flesh of its forearm. He nods, sets the arm down on the bar, and sets about pouring Lucifer’s drink.
“They couldn’t have picked a worse time,” Lucifer says. “It’s Halloween – I need them downstairs, wreaking havoc and scaring small children all over the globe.” He feels a tapping on the back of his hand, looks down to see the recently detached arm calling for his attention. He turns to the woman who lost it a few moments ago. “Madame, if you’d be so kind…” She retrieves it, settles it back into her shoulder socket, and goes back to her conversation.
Greg drops the whiskey sour in front of him and frowns, mumbles something unintelligible, then shuffles away.
“What do the boys want?” Hades asks.
Lucifer pulls a folded piece of paper from the pocket of his jacket, slides it over to his business partner. “It’s a list of their demands,” he says at Hades’ questioning look. “Make sure you take a look at the signature on the bottom.”
Hades opens the sheet, reads it over. His head pops up when he’s finished, his eyes wide. “She didn’t.”
“Two thousand years running and those jerks have been perfectly happy getting souls every week. Never asked for another thing. Now I get a list of demands and a strike notice within twenty-four hours of their first HR meeting with Hers truly.” He slings the whiskey sour back in one gulp, throws the glass at Greg, who catches it simply by turning to the side and allowing it to land in his hollowed out rib cage.
“You’ve always said the two of you can’t get along…”
“She stole my demons on Halloween, Hades. This requires retribution.”
Hades sighs, rests his chin in the palm of his hand. “I’m going to regret asking you this, but what kind of retribution were you thinking?”
Lucifer turns a terrifying, toothy grin on his business partner. His irises have gone a violent shade of magenta and there’s smoke rising from his pointy ears. “Vengeful retribution.”
“That’s mildly redundant…” Hades starts, but he’s unable to finish.
Lucifer jumps up from his chair and throws his arms up in the air, startling Greg in the process. The zombie topples to the floor as Lucifer’s body swells to a size twice as large and far more purple than before.
“Vengeance will be mine!”
He sprints off, away from the bar, and Hades shakes his head as he watches him disappear through the door. He leans over the bar to check on Greg.
“You okay, buddy?” he asks.
“Urghdmanadamam,” Greg mutters and Hades nods.
“Ridiculous, I know.” He sit down, finishes his sea breeze. “Two thousand years of being the Goddamn Devil and he’s still just as big a drama queen as he was the day I met him.”