A faustian agreement!
The return of Sham Fraudruse!
Top-notch corporate responsibility!
Big hero man Buster Dauntless vs. conniving fiend Dr. Blechnik!
A peek inside Hell!
Bunkum: the taste that satisfies!
A faustian agreement!
The return of Sham Fraudruse!
Top-notch corporate responsibility!
Big hero man Buster Dauntless vs. conniving fiend Dr. Blechnik!
A peek inside Hell!
Bunkum: the taste that satisfies!
After a very unusual somersault, Donut found herself at the rubble that used to be the Statue of Liberty. She leaped on top of a giant toe to get a better view. It would have been just a jump, but her newfound powers upgraded it to a leap.
As she steadied herself from the leap’s unexpected impressiveness, Donut scanned the scene for the Redressers. She spotted them as they took turns making out with the chunk of statue that contained the mouth. What a bunch of creeps, right?
Donut assumed a heroic stance, pointed at her newly-evil former teammates, and shouted, “Hey! Lady Liberty didn’t give you her consent!”
The Redressers turned to face her. They recognized her and started laughing. “Look out,” said Kathryn, “that banana’s loaded!” Oooooh, that just burns me up.
Donut looked around, excited about the potential banana. When she saw there wasn’t one, she got really embarrassed. That embarrassment manifested itself as anger, which then led to shame for allowing her anger to distract her from Buddha’s teachings.
Just then, Buddha appeared two toes over from her. “Hey-y-y-y, Donut! How’s it going?”
“Not great, sir. Those guys blew up the Statue of Liberty and made fun of me. It’s making me really upset. I’m not controlling my emotions or letting go of my ego at all.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. There’s plenty of time to shed the baggage of earthly life. Right now the bigger issue is those guys causing trouble.”
“So it’s okay if I get mad and take things personally?”
“What’s important is you’re aware of it and work to improve in the long run.”
“I dunno, that sounds like an excuse.”
“Think of it as training wheels. No one finds enlightenment in one day. We’ll work on clearing your mind tomorrow. Right now, you’ve got to stop these jerks from wrecking more symbols.”
“Okay. Thank you, sir!”
Donut leaped at the Redressers. This time it was a fully intentional leap and her form was inspiring. She shouted, “Monkey rise!” and grew until she was a hundred feet tall. She shouted, “Monkey staff!” and her magical staff materialized in her paw. She swung it at the Redressers and knocked all five of them out over the harbor.
Carl quickly waved his hands and created a huge portal in their trajectory which popped them out behind Donut. The force of five people hitting her at full speed knocked Donut prone.
Kathryn smirked and said, “Let’s get rid of that stick, eh, little monkey?” She grabbed the butt of the staff and turned it into water. Can you believe it?
As her weapon splashed away, Donut rose to her feet. Though she was much larger than her opponents, she was outnumbered. She tried kicking at them, but they dodged nimbly.
“Donut!” Buddha called. “I gave you other powers!”
“Like increased awareness and control over my pulse?”
“No! Like finger lasers! You have finger lasers, dude!”
“Holy crap!” Donut yelled. She spread her fingers out and fired ten lasers at the Redressers. She only hit Frankenstein and Kathryn, but they were all terrified. “This is amazing! Thanks, Budda!”
Frankenstein shot a death beam at Donut, but she shrank down to fifty feet and it went over her head. Dwayne shot his machine guns at her, but she turned her body to kevlar and the bullets bounced off her. Jeez, I can’t believe I used to like these guys. Well, not Dwayne. He always kind of sucked. Anyway.
Mia looked around for anything technological to take over, but only saw a bunch of dumb old copper and concrete. Ha! How about them all-natural, organic apples?
Just then, Skranenflon appeared. “To me, my Redressers!” he called. “Hey, what gives? You’re making us look bad up here!”
“It’s that monkey,” Mia said, not mentioning her inability to contribute to the fight in this setting. “She somehow got Sun Wukong’s powers and we can’t stop her.”
“Aw, man! Is that Buddha guy here? Ooooh, I hate him! He’s like a walking coexist sticker. I’d better power you guys up.”
Skranenflon wiggled his nose and the Redressers were suddenly much buffer. Dwayne and Carl were now well over six feet tall and covered in veiny muscles. Frankenstein was now ten feet tall and looked more like a Hollywood action star than a stitched-together pile of corpses. And Mia and Kathryn were now standing back to back and wearing sports bras, knee-high boots, bikini bottoms, and random straps on their arms and legs. Mia’s hair was now purple and Kathryn’s now had a white streak. They also had a strange urge to make out with each other. Mia looked over at Skranenflon, who was staring at them with a big, pervy grin. Gross!
Mia and Kathryn shook their heads to clear the horniness and all five Redressers punched the air in front of them, each discharging different types of energy. Dwayne’s was plasma, Mia’s was electricity, Frankenstein’s was dark energy, Kath– Oh, who cares? Donut fired her finger lasers back at them and all the various beams met in the middle, pouring more and more power into a bright ball of energy. The ball exploded, knocking all six of them back on their butts. Wow!
“Aw, come on!” Skranenflon shouted. “This isn’t working at all!”
“I know,” Buddha said. “This is ridiculous! We’ll be here all week at this rate.”
“Forget it,” Skranenflon said. “I’m calling in our fleet.”
Skranenflon tapped a few buttons on his gauntlet and within seconds, hundreds of starships came out of hyperdrive in the sky above New York. A loudspeaker from the ship in point position crackled, “This is Pandemonium-1, reporting in.”
“All units, fire!” Skranenflon commanded.
Just then, Buddha drew a mystical sign in the air and another fleet of starships appeared overhead. They immediately started firing on the Pandemonium ships.
“Great job, Nirvana,” Buddha said into his earpiece. “I knew you’d get here in time.”
“Time is a construct, sir,” Nirvana-Red-Alpha replied. “We’re concerned with higher things, like kicking some infernal tail.”
“Atta boy,” Buddha said.
The Redressers and Donut looked up at what would surely be the greatest science fiction movie of all time if anyone wants to buy the rights from me, when they suddenly disappeared.
They rematerialized in the cockpits of the lead ships for their respective sides, Donut with Buddha in Nirvana-Red-Alpha and the Redressers next to Skranenflon in Pandemonium-1.
“What’s happening, sir?” Donut asked.
“I guess it’s time you knew. This was all a proxy war in the eternal battle between Skranenflon’s and my rival alien empires.”
“That’s mind-boggling and all, but shouldn’t you be worried about the innocent people down there? They could get killed!”
“Oh, right.” Buddha wiggled his fingers and the Earth disappeared. “Sorry to scare you like that. Earth was a hologramic arena we created to play out our moral conflict in more concrete terms.”
The space battle raged. Every second, more ships from the opposing alien races exploded into dust. Before long the only ones left were Pandemonium-1 and Nirvana-Red-Alpha.
“Oh, poo,” Skranenflon said.
The universe dissolved to reveal Skranenflon and Buddha sitting on either side of a sophisticated video game console.
“Hmm, looks like another tie,” Skranenflon said.
“Shall we play again?”
Skranenflon sighed. “It’s so tedious. Can’t we just do it directly?”
“You mean with our fists?”
“Yeah, why not?”
The two beings stood up and started kicking and punching each other. Neither was getting hurt, so the fight was pointless.
After a few minutes, Skranenflon said, “Nope, this still isn’t getting us anywhere.”
“No bodies, then?”
Both beings dissolved into amorphous clouds that slowly grew. The clouds slammed into each other, intermingling and then pulling apart. Each collision resulted in a few particles of each cloud winding up inside the other cloud, then being destroyed by their equivalent of white blood cells. After several millennia and countless collisions, both clouds had only experienced nominal losses.
“This is getting us nowhere,” Helen said.
“I can’t believe it,” Methuselah said. “Over eight billion simulations and we’re still no closer to determining if people are generally good or evil.”
“It seems like it’s mostly determined by the almost random conditions you grow up in, with some influence by characteristics that you’re born with,” Helen said.
“Yeah, I know,” Methuselah said. “I was working on the same experiment. Why are you being so expository?”
“Why are YOU being so expository?” Donut mumbled. She stirred, realizing she had been talking in her trance. The Redressers, Buddha, and Skranenflon had stopped fighting among the rubble on Liberty Island and were staring at her.
“Heh. I guess you heard all that, huh?” Everyone nodded. “Then I guess we can just cancel the fight and move on with our lives.”
Everyone shrugged and shook hands. Donut looked at the camera and winked.
I read over the last sentence. “Looked at the camera and winked?” I said. “What am I thinking? This is text! Ugh, this arc is so stupid. I’m not even posting this episode.”
I crumpled up the paper I was writing on and threw it on the floor in disgust, quitting my Redressers story forever.
As I walked away to drink seven more coffees, the wad of paper looked at the camera and winked.
Mia, Dwayne, Kathryn, Carl, and Frankenstein looked from the three-story demon in a tuxedo to their infernal surroundings.
Kathryn shook her head. “Ha! I did not expect this.”
The demon twirled his walking stick and let it rest on his shoulder. “I suppose I ought to get the tour out of the way so we can begin your eternal torment. My name is Skranenflon and I’ll be your attendant while you’re here. Anything you need, just wail and gnash those pearly little whites. You’re all here because you did lots of nasty things up there like breaking out of jail and eating shellfish. Ooooh, He hates that! (It’s a texture thing. They’re so chewy!) Anywho, up there is a limitless void separating us from the mortal plane and everywhere around you is a burning lake of fire. Any questions?”
“So is there like, sex stuff here?” Carl asked. “Lotta pervoids? Where do you keep them?”
“In the boiling lake of fire like everyone else,” Skranenflon said. “We used to specialize the punishments to match the crimes — you know, starving the gluttons while showing them food just out of reach and beating the greedy with bags of gold — but we’ve had such an influx of sinners over the last five thousand years and their sins are so varied and intermingled that we had to simplify everything. I tell you, some days I don’t know why I show up at all. Long story short, if you’re looking for perverts, you’ll have to ask around while the flesh melts off your bones.”
“Hmm. Well, it’s an icebreaker, anyway,” Carl said.
“That’s the spirit. Now, before we get started, there’s a technicality to take care of. We give all newcomers the option of either serving as minions of evil or being tortured for eternity with a chance of parole in a few million years, give or take based on your case. It’s a very difficult decision and–”
“We’ll do it,” Dwayne said.
“Are you sure? Everyone else has chosen the torture and hope for eventual redemption rather than doing evil.”
“Nope. No, thank you. We’ll do it.”
“Does that go for all of you?” The Redressers shrugged and nodded. “Wonderful! I’ll get the paperwork started. Hey, Adolf! We’re going to need a few badges over here!”
Before long, they were outfitted with black leather outfits of varying degrees of coverage and were reading the user manuals about their new satanic powers. Mia was now a cyborg with a robot arm, a laser eye, and a spiky red metal mohawk. She also had the ability to interface with any technology and take it over. Dwayne had grown into a gravelly-voiced muscle man with throbbing veins, a face tattoo, enormous guns, and lots of pouches. An inordinate amount of pouches. Kathryn had the power to transmute materials from one substance to another. Her new uniform showed even more cleavage than her old one, but she didn’t mind anymore since she was working for the devil. Carl had the cosmic power to transport people anywhere and create special “survive in space” bubbles if necessary, Finally, Frankenstein could now shoot beams that could kill and other beams that could bring stuff back to life. It was pretty impressive, honestly.
“What do we do with this incredible power?” asked Kathryn.
“You’ll be working with the terrestrial reclamation team,” Skranenflon said. “The main focus is spreading as much evil over the Earth as possible in order to drive more souls down here. We made some great strides in the 20th Century, but these darn millennials just aren’t taking the bait like their parents did. Do you know how many twenty-somethings killed someone because of their race or religion last year? Two million! When you say it out loud, that sounds like a lot, but it used to be much higher! So you need to stir up the hornets’ nest. Spread fear. Destroy some buildings. Blame it on some kind of group. Have fun with it! And don’t worry about the morality. You’re already in Hell. Okay, Genghis. Let ‘er rip.”
Genghis waved a glowing sword and the Redressers disappeared. “Boy,” Skranenflon said, “I thought they’d never shut up.”
The Redressers appeared in the alley where the Sand Witch had killed them. Their bodies were still there. Frankenstein tried out his new abilities by re-animating the arm of Dwayne’s body and making it wiggle around. “Yoo hoo, Dwa-a-ayne,” he said.
Everyone had a good laugh except Dwayne. He growled, “Cut it out!” and shot Frankenstein’s legs off. Frankenstein made the arm flip Dwayne the bird and then de-re-animated it before making his legs grow back.
“Well,” Mia started, “what do you guys wanna do?”
Carl said, “I guess if we’re supposed to spread fear and violence, I’ve got a pretty good idea.”
He waved his arm and a vertical disc of blue light appeared. “Step in. This’ll be fun.”
Meanwhile, remember the monkey who ran away a few segments ago? She was hanging out on a fire escape, eating a cantaloupe she found in the trash, when a chubby old man approached on the ground below. She shrieked and jumped up.
“Hey, up there. Don’t be startled. I’m a friend.”
The monkey squatted low, then slowly raised her head to look at the potential threat.
“Here, this will help us get to know each other.”
The old man wiggled his fingers in the air and the monkey suddenly felt like her brain was exploding, but without any pain. Just expansion. She gasped and then made a few vocalizations.
“Puh! Puh! Fuh! Muh muh muh. Oh, wow! I can talk!” She clasped her hands over her mouth. “This is amazing! What did you do? Who are you?”
“No biggie. I’m Buddha. Nice to meet you.”
“Wow! Like, THE Buddha? You’re a big deal.”
“Oh, I do okay, I guess. I try not to let it go to my head.”
“Oh, right. That’s kind of your thing, isn’t it? Wait, how do I know that?”
“You’re wise, little monkey. I just made you a little wiser. Speaking of, along with speech, I went ahead and gave you Sun Wukong’s other powers. Crazy strength, somersaulting halfway around the world, changing shape and size, all that. I threw a couple of extra ones in as a surprise. I figured you could use them.”
“Use them? For what?”
“Well, you know those people you used to hang around with, the Redressers?”
“Old Scratch has given them superpowers. He wants to wreak havoc, drown the world in blood, yadda yadda yadda.”
“That’s, uh, not great.”
“Right. And since you know them, it seems like you’d be a good one to stop them.”
“Yikes! That’s pretty heavy stuff, sir.”
“I know, but the finale’s coming up so we have to make sure things are set up for the big battle.”
“Okay, I’ll do my best. But isn’t fighting kind of antithetical to your teachings?”
“You’ll find a way. You’re a pretty clever monkey. By the way, you should think up a name. ‘The monkey’ is pretty impersonal.”
She thought for a minute. “How about Donut?”
“Donut! What an excellent name. Something that brings you immense childlike joy. Very good, Donut.”
“So what do I do now?”
“I’m sure your former colleagues will make themselves known before too long. Then just go to wherever they are and do something about it. You good?”
“I think so. Hey, there aren’t any sexual politics underlying a female monkey getting powers from a semi-divine male, are there?”
“Probably. But I think you saving the world from weaponized masculinity makes up for it.”
“Come back when you’re done. We’ll grab some churros and empathize with whatever’s around.”
“Sounds like fun. Thanks!”
It was about that time that the Redressers blew up the Statue of Liberty. News crews in New York started broadcasting live footage immediately, and Donut saw the the images on a TV in a sports bar she was passing in Big City. She planted her feet for a somersault and took a deep breath.
“Time to fling some righteous poo.”
Here’s “One Day, In Hell”:
Hi, everyone! Welcome to the Q2 team meeting. Lucifer’s going to come up in a few minutes with the quarterly report, but first I’ve got a few notes to go over. And stick around after the big presentation because we’re awarding a prize to the colleague with the most souls under contract!
All right, ha ha, let’s settle down. Settle down, now. First, where are my false witness crew? Hi, guys. I’ve got some clarification for you. They’ve determined that yes, eye witness testimony is usually inaccurate, but because it’s an honest mistake, it does not count. We’re finalizing the draft of the apology letter. Those will be distributed very soon. Any questions on that? Yes, Urmazel? On average, they will get about two and a half million years off their sentence.
Speaking of divine clarification, on behalf of myself and the entire Board of Tormenters, I’d like to apologize for the influx of souls who worked on the Sabbath over the past couple of millennia. We’re working on getting the word out that the Sabbath is in fact Wednesday, but since that is already regarded as “hump day”, there’s been some difficulty. Plus, let’s face it, people have been less prone to listen to prophets after the mix up about circumcision.
And yes, we are very close to wrapping up that issue with the supposed 72 virgins loophole regarding murder. That was a sting operation from On High to try to root out the pedophiles. There was a joint session between the forces of Light and Darkness and we all agree that it was a severe miscalculation. We’ll be working together to correct this in a partnership unseen since before the Great Fall. It’s very exciting.
And finally, there’s a big push to ramp up punishment for old school sins. Classic sins. With homosexuality and fornication practically benign, we’re looking at a big drop in future soul collection. But don’t worry, we’ve still got our greatest hits: murder, theft, and worshipping false idols. Those three will never go out of style. And I think if we all work together and use those noodles, then we can recoup those losses with some of those lesser-used sins. Tattoos are more popular now than ever. Let’s tap that market! What about men shaving their beards? Let’s tighten up on that! Be creative! Use your imagination! And study up on your Leviticus and Deuteronomy. You’ll be meeting with Shabelleh this week to review those two books.
All right, we’re gonna bring out Lucifer in just a minute. But first, are you ready to laugh? This can’t be Hell because I can’t hear you! I said are you ready to laugh? Then bring out the sinners and get those plastic sheets ready because it’s time for Pandemonium’s favorite splat-tacular comedian, the eviscerater of evil, the hammer of hedonism, the malicious masher of mankind’s moral misfires: Galgeron!
Thank you for holding. You have reached the Disputes department. My name is Azbineth. How may I help you today? Yes, I can assist you with your claim. For verification purposes, may I have your name and the number marked on your forehead? Thank you. How may I help you?
Okay, ma’am, it sounds like you’ve been judged unclean and have gone into collections. Tell me, are you a priest? Good, then we can skip those chapters. Any history of leprosy or plague? Good.
Now, this action is usually taken due to either food or genitals. Let’s start with food. Tell me, have you ever eaten any of the following, beginning with water creatures: Shellfish? That includes anything that has an exoskeleton or shell. Yes, I’m afraid shrimp do count. That’s okay, it’s not too terrible; you’re just stuck with their carcasses in abomination. Okay, moving on to birds. Eagle? Vulture? Raven? Owl? Hawk? Little owl? Yes, they are different. Okay. Great owl? I know, it’s an odd distinction, but an important one. Swan? Pelican? Gier eagle? It does fall under eagle, but we try to double check the gier eagle restriction. It’s more commonly known as the Egyptian vulture. Does that ring a bell? Right, it is distinguished from other vultures. No, I don’t know why. That’s above my pay grade, ha ha. Yes, anyway. Stork? Heron? Bats? Yes, I’m aware that bats aren’t birds. You’re not the first to point that out to me.
Okay, moving on to bugs. Have you eaten any bugs besides locusts, beetles, or grasshoppers? Good. No, we don’t care that you don’t eat any bugs. Right. Uh huh. Well, things were different back then, I suppose. Yes. Let’s try to stay on track.
Last up is land animals. Have you eaten weasel? Mouse? Tortoise? Ferret? Chameleon? Lizard? Snail? Mole? Camel? Coney? Hare? Pig? Yes to pig? Okay, how many times? Can you make an estimate? I see. Well, it may not count. Tell me, when you finished cooking the bacon, did you destroy the stove? Right, every time. I see. Oh dear. Let me just make a note of that on your history. One moment, please, ma’am.
Okay, let’s talk about your genitals. I’m assuming you had a normal, healthy menstruation cycle throughout your teenage and adult life until menopause? Excellent. Now, when you had your monthly cycle, did you remove yourself from society for seven days? Ha ha, yes, I bet it would have been nice. That’s fine. Very few women do that anymore. I’m assuming you showered? Okay, good. And you took the two turtledoves or two young pigeons to your priest for sacrifice? Oh dear. Okay, let me make a note of that, too.
And finally, did you have any children? A daughter, okay. Did you continue in the blood for 66 days after she was born? It’s for purification purposes. Yes, I’m sure they were as clean and sterile as possible at the hospital, ma’am, but this is a divine uncleanliness, you see. 66 days, that’s right. No, it’s only 33 for boys. I understand, ma’am, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. So is that a “no” for continuing in the blood for 66 days? Okay. And I’m guessing you didn’t sacrifice a lamb and either a young pigeon or a turtledove? I see. Well, I may be able to help you. Can you sacrifice a lamb and a young pigeon today? How about a lamb and a turtledove? What if we put you on a sacrifice plan? You could sacrifice half a lamb today, half a lamb next month, and either a young pigeon or a turtledove the month after that. Is that something you would be able to do? Yes, I’m afraid they’re pretty strict about young pigeons or turtledoves. I don’t know why. No, ma’am, I haven’t. Asking questions like that is what sent me down here in the first place. Now these are pretty typical sins, so your dispute might still go through. Would you like to stay on the line or have the results sent to you via burning bush? Okay, hold please.
Ma’am? Your dispute has been processed and I’m afraid it’s not good news. It seems you had also sowed different kinds of seeds in a field and wore mixed cloth of wool and linen, so you’ll need to report to Hell immediately. One of our trained specialists will be there momentarily to escort you to your nearest Hellmouth. Ma’am? Please control yourself, ma’am. This was all covered in the terms and conditions. I understand this is not the ideal outcome, but it’s not all bad. Well, I guess it is.