Hell just ain’t what it used to be.
Part of the problem is that there are no sins anymore. The Ten Commandments were cunningly worded so that they caught absolutely everybody with at least one of them, but many of them are now outdated. “Honour thy father and thy mother”, for example, has been changed to “go and tidy your room”, and is now more a plea than a commandment. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ass” is almost impossible, especially if Kylie is your neighbour (what’s wrong? She owns a very nice donkey). God himself scrapped the one about not taking the name of the lord in vain after the day he dropped a hammer on his foot.
Basically thou shall not kill or steal are the only two left, though even here they have remission, following the case of God v the Great Train Robbers, where interfering judges decided that eternal damnation was too high a sentence, and it was reduced to two years standing in a bucket of sick.
And the judges were nothing compared to the environmentalists. Because of noxious fumes Hell was made to put out the fire, and there had never been any brimstone anyway, since no-one knew exactly what it was. Now the worst they can manage is a steady all-day drizzle, a lunch menu consisting solely of egg sandwiches, and a man sitting beside you with his iPod on slightly too loud.
They are allowed a two-bar electric fire in winter, in case Hell freezes over.
So Hell would be pretty empty, had not God and Satan have come to an arrangement (after all, God doesn’t want everyone up in Heaven, it’s supposed to be an exclusive place) whereby people with names beginning with odd numbered letters (A, C, etc) go up, while B, D, etc go down. This is especially annoying for me, since if I’d kept my real name instead of going for Tinman I’d be ok now.
Now that you’ve worked out where you’re going (I know you did it) let me assure you that Hell is not too bad, as they have cultural exchange programmes, where you can swap with a person from upstairs for a week each year. Obviously Hellicans are keen to move up, but you’d be surprised how many Heaveners are willing to swap with them. God (who remember never had a girlfriend) thinks that a life of spiritual contemplation is the ultimate paradise, and would be surprised if he knew how few of his flock agree with him. Women, especially nuns, who have lived lives that were chaste and pure get a bit pissed off to find out that their reward for so doing is an eternity of the same, and quite fancy a week of letting their hair, among other things, down. Good living men are also keen on the move, as they’ve heard that’s where the bad girls are. What usually happens is that they end up getting off with each other, and return to Heaven a week later and sit beside each other in embarrassed silence.
What goes on on tour stays on tour, even in the next life.
So times are hard for the devil. Mention the dark lord and most people think of Voldemort. Speak of the Prince of Darkness and people recall early Michael Jackson. Say Beelzebub and most people think you’ve sneezed.
He tries to keep up appearances. He still wears a dress suit, but the fiery redness has gone from his eyes, his horns have shrunk back into his head and he quite literally walks with his tail between his legs. He thinks he looks evil, but in fact he looks like the guy from the Go Compare ad.
And why should we care? Well, no reason, really, except I noticed last night that this would be my post number 666, and decided that I should mark it in some way.