“Do you see them, Boss? Do ya? Huh? Do ya?”
Diemos rolled his eyes behind the binoculars. Hektor was already on his last nerve. Diemos had cringed - even more than usual - when Ba’al, his boss, had pawned the kid off on him. To say the least, Hektor wasn’t the brightest of demons. He was a floater, always being reassigned. And now it was Diemos’s turn to babysit.
“Would you like to take a look, Hektor?” Diemos asked.
“Sure, Boss!” Hektor grabbed the binoculars and hungrily held them up to his eyes. “Wow! That’s one big valley! Remember when that little boy killed that giant in the valley? That was something, wasn’t it, Boss?”
“Hektor…” Diemos seethed. “Do not – ever – speak of battles we’ve lost. Only those we win! Do you hear me?”
Hektor hung his head. “Sorry, Boss. I forgot.”
“Give me those.” Diemos yanked the binoculars away. He smiled sinisterly as he watched those milling about in the valley below.
“Look at them, Hektor. They’re right where we want them. In the valley, trying desperately to figure out how they ended up there in the first place and how to make their way out. This is where we come in.”
Hektor jumped up and down like the juvenile he was, pumping his arms into the air. “Yesss!” he hissed. “So what do we do, Boss?”
“We, Hektor, need to make sure they remain in the valley for a very long time. Or at least blame You-Know-Who for the fact that they’re in the valley at all.”
“Who?” Hektor asked, frowning.
“You imbecile! Do NOT make me say His name!”
“Oh. Right. That You-Know-Who.”
Diemos thrust the binoculars into Hektor’s chest. “Here’s your lesson, Hektor. Think of those humans as little dolls.”
Hektor peered through the lenses, scanning the valley.
“See Barbie and Ken down there? They think they can use their looks to escape the valley. Outside, they look fabulous. Inside, they are deteriorating. Exactly the way we like it, Hektor! It’s our job to keep them focused on their outward appearance so they don’t look into their hearts. Got that?”
“Uh, I guess so.”
“And look at Chatty Cathy over there.”
Hektor moved the binoculars vigorously, trying to locate Chatty Cathy.
“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. She whines and complains to anyone willing to listen. She thinks that talking about her valley will get her through it. Now it’s up to us to lead people into Cathy’s life that will listen and commiserate with her. Misery loves company, you know.”
“Okay. I think I got it.”
“Now spot the Tiny Tears doll over there.” Diemos pointed and Hektor followed with the binoculars.
“All she does is cry. Wah! Wah! Wah! As if tears will get her through her valley! Ha!” Diemos sneered. “Keep her crying, Hektor. Keep her sad. Depressed. Opressed - whatever. As long as Tiny Tears feels defeated, she’ll stay in the valley.
“Do you see the red-headed Rag Doll, Hektor? She’s the one who can’t even sit up straight. She’s using alcohol and drugs to get through her valley. But what she doesn’t know is that those things will only keep her there! Too bad, Ann!” Diemos screamed.
Hektor was silent.
“Did you get all that, Hektor?” Diemos poked Hektor in the head.
“I sure did, Boss. Hey – can I look around for a minute and come up with a doll? Pretty please?”
“Gag me with a spoon, Hektor. Never use the word ‘pretty’ in my presence. Search away. See what you come up with.” Diemos waved his hand. Might as well let the kid have some fun. As he waited, Diemos took a moment to sharpen his nails.
After several moments, Hektor spoke up. “Ooh! Ooh! Boss! I got one!”
“This one’s great. She looks exactly like the doll, too. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d think she actually was the doll!”
Diemos rolled his eyes impatiently. “Spit it out, Hektor. Which doll are you talking about?”
“That praying doll. The one on its knees that recites prayers? You know, that one? That lady down there looks just like it!” Hektor handed Diemos the binoculars and clasped his hands together with obvious pride.
Diemos closed his eyes and cursed. He wanted to choke the life out of the little idiot. Instead, he put a hand on the stupid kid's shoulder and squeezed, bringing Hektor to his knees.
“Come along, Hektor. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
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