"Damn that bloody woman," the demon 53 Eville growled to himself, "who could have expected such a lazy fat lump to be such a tough assignment? And now I have to go explain myself to the Henchman!" He shook his head vigorously, ruffling up his fur and flicking his tongue out briefly. It was gonna be one hell of an interview. Bloody on-the-job appraisals.
In a infernally bright room 53 Eville's pupils were dialled down to narrow slits, and the Henchman stood in the far corner, cowled and dark, contrasting blackly with the room. 53 Eville though he couldn't have sucked in more light if he'd been a hard up office girl intent on getting the last dregs of the happy hour cocktail outta the bottom of the glass.
"ELUCIDATE," came the dark dude's command.
"Well, where to start? You know I was assigned to the woman Janice to encourage her to make the usual contributions, and well, on the face of it she looked an easy target. I mean, she lived alone with that black cat, she could do with losing a few dozen pounds so couldn't have expected a long life anyway. Well, you know the sort?
"So I incarnates into this form, you can see I'm a particularly handsome ginger tabby if I do say so myself, I mean, ideal for stealing any lonely old bitch's heart away. And, you know, it seemed to be working, I'd got an in to the flat and she set out two bowls so it was kinda like she'd made room for me there, so I thought I would have lots of opportunity to start the usual scarification program, yeah?
"YOUR TIME HAS RUN OUT," the Henchman said. 53 Eville had felt like he was burbling a bit, and wiped his white paw across his marmalade cheek. Sure, the Henchman was supposed to be impassive and weigh up the bads and the goods in the fiendish scale of things, but he wished he didn't feel so bloody nervous around him. Then it dawned on him, the Henchman was saying that this wasn't an on the job routine check up, it was the reckoning. He gulped, he had to explain himself as his life now did depend on it .
"Well, I started with the usual, dumping of mutilated mice, mangled birds, you know? And you know what was kinda weird? Although I caught and placed dozens of the bloody things around the flat,she only seemed to see them on the odd occasion? Well, that was when I realised I had to get rid of the other cat, musta been some sort of bloody guardian angel or something...
The Henchman waited, unmoving. 53 Eville flicked his tail nervously.
"Well, that took alot longer than I expected, ended up having to go for the ground glass in the food trick, takes a while but gets them in the end. And you know, my guess was right cos when the black cat form was sick enough, the angelic agent left the body pretty damn quick. The Janice woman was pretty upset by then, so I thought we would have her for sure, got the documents sent up from the Bureau, but she didn't look at them at all, straight into the bin they went.
"YOU HAVE STILL TO EXPLAIN YOUR FAILURE," rasped the Henchman
"I tried, I really tried!" 53 Eville yowled. "I sat on her hair so she thought she was paralysed to panic her, I shoved hairs into her mouth while she was sleeping to choke her, I sat on her shoulders when she was in the bath sleepy and drunk to get her head under the water; but I couldn't get her to believe! She doesn't think there is such a thing as hell, and I just couldn't get her to sign up with Infernal Insurance.
"YOU KNOW THE PUNISHMENT," the Henchman stated, "AND SOON BELIEF WILL NOT BE A PROBLEM."
And yes, 53 Eville did know the punishment, the fate that awaited him. He really had tried his hardest to avoid it, but now he would be transferred inside the body of the woman Janice while she had a free rein back here in Hell, taking over his sales job; as it seemed fewer and fewer people these days believed in the afterlife, perhaps she would fail also and return back to the hell that was Earth.