8 Demons

Even after a year, the memory of Lucie’s attack makes Kali’s heart race. She pushes the ordeal out of her mind. She needs to focus on the six demons making their way to the chambers. She must be in top form today. Lucie put a condition on her punishment: If she prepares the meeting room perfectly for a year, she will be relieved of this soul-crushing job. Today makes exactly a year. Things must go smoothly.

Kali runs through her mental checklist as she moves the furniture into place. The Demons of Privilege will arrive first. Azazel and Lilith are the most arrogant of all the Lead Demons. Azazel, aka “Bug Girl,” is the Demon of Insects and Parasites. She’s in charge of all the creepy, crawly, and winged insects that inhabit Hades and Earth. She demands a footstool for her ugly feet, and then allows her disgusting pet bugs to run around the meeting room floor and over the feet of the others. At the last meeting, Kali took action to stop this nonsense. She set up Roach Motels around the room. The bugs went in, but none came out.

The others laughed when Azazel looked for her pets and found them dead inside the bug traps. She was livid and vowed to get even with Kali. Every demon knew what this meant. Azazel has all the weird stinging locust creatures at her beck-and-call. In the alley after the bug-killing incident, she had one of the four-foot locusts sting Kali on the bottom as she walked by. Though it hurt for days, Kali was sure her bug murders were worth the pain.

Lilith, aka “Man Eater,” will arrive right behind Azazel. She is the Demon of Relationships. Next to Lucie, Lilith is the most beautiful demon in the underworld. Like Lucie, she uses her looks for evil and often flaunts her knee-length auburn hair. To meet Lilith’s demand that her hair never touch the ground when she sits, Kali raises her chair five inches higher than the other demons, while also being careful not to place it higher than Lucie’s chair at its usual twelve inches above the others.

When setting up the first meeting she was responsible for, Kali purposely placed Lilith’s chair higher than Lucie’s. Lucie was so angry she lit Lilith’s hair on fire with a flaming spear lobbed at her head. Three of the demons laughed so hard they fell out of their own chairs. Lilith had to run down the stone path and dunk her head into the Dark Well to put out the flames. Lilith got Kali back by snaring her human boyfriend into an affair with one of the Imps.

Lilith openly hates all women. For that matter, she hates all men. She claims displacement from the Garden of Eden, telling anyone who will listen she’s Adam’s first wife. She accuses Adam of being unfaithful to her. Whatever the truth, Lilith’s hatred of both Adam and Eve prepared her for the assignment Lucie bestowed upon her: destroying relationships.

Lilith has a great record of ruining marriages throughout the centuries—and her power is just beginning to spike. She beams with smugness when she tells the others the Millennial Generation mocks the notion of true love. She tells them they are becoming addicted to easy thrills such as pornography, prostitution, and affairs. Though Millennials are not shying away from marriage and the traditional roles of spouses, neither sex seems willing to be faithful.

Lilith believes modern women just want “equal rights to cheat.” She is quite versed—and opinionated—on the sexes. One of her most persistent beliefs is demons are better off in female form. From her assessment, men are gullible, selfish, and inept at reading emotions. They do not master attributes ideal for winning wars. She finds women to be manipulators, instinctive, and driven by raw emotion—all attributes that are perfect for winning wars. Lucie always applauds Lilith’s opinions on the sexes. After all, she bet her life on this exact outcome. With the Great War looming, Lilith’s observations have never been more relevant. The other demons are beginning to tune into her rants.

The next to arrive will be the Demons of the Flesh—Valentina and Amy. Valentina, aka “Sewer Girl,” is the Demon of Water, and so is in charge of the planet’s water supplies. Over the years, she has been slowly increasing the pollution levels in the waters of Earth by bleeding chemicals and human waste into lakes and streams. She recruited greedy men to help her reroute water from reaching villages in Third World countries. At times, she also recruits them to burst dams after rain waters put them at capacity. Her manipulation of water has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. She gloats when people in Third World countries die from lack of clean water.

She also takes pleasure in seeing homeowners lose everything they own. “Serves them right for building in a flood plain or near oceans. Let them wallow in self-pity as they fill out their insurance company claims.” She mocks the wealthy for spending their disposable cash on bottled water. They buy because they fear Earth’s water resources are full of pollutants and carrying disease. They are correct in their assessment. Water will be weaponized in the upcoming war – and she will be in charge.

Valentina insists on having two bottles of spring water by her seat. When the other Lead Demons complain about the temperature of Hell, Valentina hydrates herself and lectures them on the benefits of sweating. She tells them Hell is the “perfect hot yoga class.” She fancies herself the “healthy one”—reason enough for the other demons to despise her.

Kali doesn’t know why she hates Valentina as much as she does, but in Hades, you don’t need a reason to hate. To spite her, Kali fills Valentina’s porcelain bottles with human toilet water she brings back from Earth. She recaps the bottles, wipes the rims, and places them by Valentina’s chair. Each time she sees Sewer Girl take a sip of the toilet water, she has to cover her mouth to hide her snicker.

Amy, aka “Corpse,” will arrive next. She is the Demon of Disease, responsible for every illness known to man and animal. Amy’s ashy skin and pale eyes make her appear as if she could die at any moment. Her weakened state is the result of the curses and hate lobbed into the universe by people who are angry about their illness or losing a loved one to an illness.

If they knew the entire story, the people of Earth would—and will—hate Amy more than they already do. The demons know God put cures on Earth for every illness man would ever know. Amy hid the ones that grow outside of Eden. She moved some of them to the deserts, some to the rainforests, and many to the bottom of the oceans by relocating spores and buds. Her disguises and redirects have worked well. Man has a habit of giving up right before he is about to succeed. He came close to finding the cure for AIDS, but found the lucrative market for treating the symptoms instead too tempting to resist. Most cures for the illnesses of man are found in the Garden of Eden. Almighty vowed to open Eden, and its cures, to man after he established peace on Earth. That day never came.

Even when scientists discover a cure that exists outside of Eden, Amy participates with the physicians, insurance companies, and sponsoring drug companies to keep the cures under wraps until profits are tapped out. They all know it takes time and patience to lure the highest-bidder. Millions of people have died needlessly because of  apathy and greed.

In her weakened condition, Amy is often sick herself. Kali puts out the Kleenex and antibacterial gel at Amy’s request, but sneezes and spits all over her chair, spreading mucus where Amy is likely to rest her hands. Since Amy’s illnesses are a continual source of humor for the Lead Demons, they all bring back germ-ridden items from Earth’s surface to help Kali infect Amy.

Finally, there will be the arrival of the gruesome twosome, commonly known as the Demons of Greed: Abaddon, Demon of War, and Jezebeth, Demon of Wealth. Abaddon, aka “Vampire,” is in charge of making men hate each other to the point of extracting blood. She is the busiest of the demons, so she expects to be seated front and center of the room. Abaddon rarely speaks in the meetings. Instead, she just thumps her tail annoyingly as if her precious time is being wasted. Lucie lets Abaddon get by with this because she is her favorite. Not because she is endearing in any way, but because she is extremely effective.

Since Abaddon has been charge of war, Earth has not known a single day of peace. She can twist the logic of men until they believe they are justified to go to war on some moral ground. Over the years, Abaddon has insisted men go to war for only one of two reasons: envy and religious disagreement, which is little more than justification for their envy. The more trivial the reason she can get people to kill each other, the greater the thrill for Abaddon.

The last to arrive will be the very spoiled—and very curvy—Jezebeth, Demon of Wealth, aka “Fat Brat.” She demands her chair be made of pure copper and decorated with diamonds. She wants a mirror placed in front of her so she can attend to her primping and admire herself while others are speaking. Vanity is her motivator. For every evil deed of man discussed in the meetings, Jezebeth finds a way to tie it to the pursuit of wealth and demands to be in charge of it. Since she rarely loses the argument that the misery of man originates in greed, she’s in charge of a lot.

One of her wins in the last century set Jezebeth apart from the others. She won praise for her original work of increasing the wealth of the greedy while limiting the wealth of the compassionate. In her opening argument, she hypothesized, by manipulating wealth, Lucie could keep the riches of Earth in the hands of those who could purposely collapse the economies of the world—in other words, the greedy. “Poverty limits the acts of charity that can be done by the sympathetic. This would block members of the human race from receiving the blessings that come naturally for helping their fellow man.”

The instant she heard the idea, Lucie was onboard. Up until this time, most of the wealth on Earth belonged to the righteous and the compassionate. Jezebeth’s idea would completely reverse the distribution of wealth. Of course, a big change like this affects the Great Game, and it must be approved by Almighty. Lucie took the idea to him immediately. She was able to negotiate the use of this new “manipulated wealth” tactic in exchange for granting Almighty access to one of the nations under her control.

The nation in Asia she offered up as a trade had blocked religious freedom a century earlier. Lucie felt good about the exchange. The people of this nation had a long history of evil. They starved their elderly citizens to death once they conclude they have little left to contribute. They bury their newborn girls alive if a boy had been preferred. She was convinced they had gone too deeply into sin to return to Almighty.

Lucie held a victory party after Almighty accepted the deal. She considers herself the winner in most of her negotiations with Almighty. Her secret weapon has been exploiting Almighty’s weak spot. She knows He will give away almost anything just to spare the souls of a few wayward men. She doesn’t understand His game tactics, and she doesn’t need to. She just needs to stay with her winning strategy.

After she finishes setting up the room for the others, Kali sets a chair for herself. Per Lucie’s orders, she sits behind the others. The back of the room is fitting for Kali’s demon assignment. She is in charge of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem—all things on the rise as the Great War draws near.

Only Abaddon is seeing more of an increase of devastation on Earth than Kali. She believes it is only a matter of time until Lucie acknowledges her contributions. Her “crowning glory” right now is the spike in teen suicides. She can manipulate these young people to move from personal pain and rejection to complete hopelessness. From there, it doesn’t take much to convince them to kill themselves with a gun, a rope, or the new drug that is the rave on Earth right now—heroin.

Getting someone to commit suicide on Earth earns a jewel on a crown in Hades. People who commit suicide must go through three days of living in isolation on the banks of the Lake of Fire. After the third day, they are sent to their final home. Some are picked up by angels, while others are dragged away by demons.

Their destination was determined before their deaths. The three days in isolation is required for them to think through the value of life. Almighty does not take suicide lightly. He finds it to be an affront to his gift of life. Just as he turned his back on Jesus for the short time he spent in Hades, he also turns his back on his children who take their own lives. Lucie loves to taunt these souls when she has the spare time to cross over the Lake of Fire where they are kept for their short, albeit horrifying, visit.

Jesus went through this painful experience in Hades as well—but for a different reason. His spirit was the tormented guest of Lucie’s from the time of his death by crucifixion until he returned to Earth three days later. He has never shared what happened during those three days—probably because it was his sacrifice. He went on his somber journey to Hades willingly so he could pay the final debt for man’s sin.

Kali also found fertile ground for suicides in the Millennial Generation born 1983-1996 AD. Unprepared for the real world by their overbearing parents, Millennials are disillusioned. Their parents gave them everything they desired as children and teenagers—mainly freedom without supervision. Now that they are adults, the giving has stopped. They’ve hit a wall. The promised opportunities are not materializing.

Specifically designed to seek power, Millennials view life “through a lens.” As impatient opportunists, they want the opportunities they see others enjoying their three-inch phone screens—and they want them now. The catch is, most of them secretly fear they cannot measure up to the “screen people” who “have it all.” Kali knows excessive interaction with social media leads to low self-esteem, depression, and, her personal favorite, suicide. She is quick to use it to her advantage.

Kali also finds an endless supply of Christians who struggle with low self-esteem. They are forever singing what she calls “blood and unworthy” songs. She thinks it is no wonder so many of them “off” themselves or choose to live a life of ineffectiveness. From what she knows about Almighty, Kali is sure he wants his followers to be happy and sing praises to him—not wallow in self-pity. Humans think they are being selfless when they carry on this way. In truth, nothing could be more about self.

The good news for Kali is these habits support low self-esteem and keep non-believers from wanting anything to do with Christianity. Exclusive churches and their judgmental members give most non-religious people about eight reasons to move in a different direction. Kali smiles as she pushes her chair into the last position.

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Triple Digit TOC by K.M. Sheridan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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