It was a cold day in Hell, and Uriel could feel it. Fallen only lately, punished for staring down human women’s tops, he was shivering so much that feathers were drifting from his wings to land on the snow.
He hugged his knees to his chest, his night-dress gown not holding the heat in at all; a thin dribble of snot worked its way down his pointy nose, mingling with the residue of many tears.
The crunching of feet on the snow brought him back to reality, and, wiping his face, he stood up. A demon was coming. It was short and round, a hooked bird’s beak with tentacles for hair. It stopped in front of him and coughed, politely covering its mouth with one fin.
“Good evening,” it said. Its voice was like jelly disappearing into a meat grinder.
“Um, hello,” Uriel said.
Uriel frowned. There was a second time? “Uh, yes, first time. I came from, you know, the other place.”
“Ah. One of those.” The creature stuck out a chitinous appendage and Uriel gently shook it. The grip was firm. “I’m Syzygys, by the way,” it said.
They stood for a moment, Uriel now realising that he could no longer feel his bare feet, and wondering at what point frostbite would start to set in. He cleared his throat.
“So, Hell. I thought it would be, y’know, warmer.”
“Ah, well, people – humans, I mean – often say that they’ll do things when Hell freezes over. In the end, the boss figured it was easier to force their hand this way. What’s Heaven like?”
The angel’s head filled with golden images of blistering heat, eternal peace, as much food as he could eat and the hours playing chess in the evening with all of the female angels.
“It’s…” he began, then paused and let a slow smile play over his lips. “It’s shit.”
“Yeah. It’s hot, I mean, we’re talking about the heat of a thousand thousand suns here. See this golden skin? That’s the only way we don’t burn to a crisp. Reflective, see.” Syzygys nodded his head as Uriel carried on.
“There’s no sex. All-you-can-eat means that we all watch our weight. There’s a branch of Weight Watchers in Heaven, y’know? And it’s just boring. No conflict. There’s a newspaper, but it just prints headlines like “No news again today. Sorry.”
“Ah.” Syzygys shrugged his massive shoulders and a pair of technicolour wings flapped out. Uriel stared up in admiration.
“Those are amazing. Is that a part of you? The colour, I mean?”
The demon laughed, and shook his head. “When I came down here, I had ones just like yours. You got to learn to live a little, y’know?” He clapped Uriel on the shoulder, and began to lead him away. “I know this place, Uri, they’ll do you any pattern in any colour, and it’s all completely reversible…”
Arm in arm with the demon, the fallen angel took his first steps into Hell. He was going to like it here.