I gotta say, the rollicking good times have been even better than usual. As the top vacation slot of all time…and I mean all time, we have a packed house. Even a couple of the bigwigs, His Royal Highness Prince "Ippie" Ipes and Chief Logician Caym, have dropped in for a few days of sport.
Yesterday, I hardly stopped laughing, what with all the shenanigans, particularly when Ippie sent several solemn-eyed newbies on a fruitless jape for hidden treasure in the village. They slunk back in shame, blood dripping all over the place from their teeth gnashing and self-gouging, groveling before his stern countenance. Our host was so maddened by their aimless antics that Ippie bust a gut guffawing and applauded those dazed loutish wannabes for a job well done.
I can hardly wait for tonight when this season's Grand Marshal Flavros conducts the thirty-second biannual ghost hunt in Gerasenes Cemetery. I've missed the last couple hunts overseeing inventory at Pyrotechnics Park. The Boss gets so persnickety if six months goes by and even one sparkler-sprite's been redirected without the proper paperwork filed giving his okay. Actually, I'm here now on the hush, hush, knowing he's going to call me up any second. In the last three months, the Missing Mischief-makers Site has begun posting record-high numbers. All hell's going to break loose…and I mean all hell, once the Boss catches wind of that, let me tell you.
Anyway, for the past month, it's been a hoot watching the villagers frantically increasing the height of the stone wall around the cemetery, adding crisscrossed double chains, the whole while screaming at our host to keep us away. Like that'll work. Won't they ever learn such acts merely incite us to greater subterfuge and rabble-rousing?
Wait a sec, who's shrieking like the Boss is after him? Belphagor? He's supposed to be leading President Malphas's 40 honor guard companies on a dragnet through the cemetery in preparation for tonight. Everyone's flapping around, desperately seeking the exits. Except we never got around to putting any in because no one's ever wanted to leave. Even Azazel the Mighty's blubbering. What in the name of the Boss?!
"Flavros, what's going on?" I holler.
"It's the Man, King Abaddon, the Man." My eyes widen in horror. The Man? Here? I thought he stayed on the other side of the lake. I feel myself tremble like some infantile imp and curse Flav for identifying me aloud by my title. I tear my way to the front to see You Know Who staring me down and, as if He doesn't already know it, demanding our name.
"Legion," I declare and think, The Boss is not going to like this.
I rack my brain, scanning the roster for someone to help, but my best negotiator is Flavros and he's cowering behind the newbies. Then Caym holds up a hand, confers with Malphas and Ipes, and beckons me. "The pigs, Ab. Have him send us into them and we can relocate from there. If he sends us back to The Abyss, you know what'll happen."
Do I ever. If the Boss was in a good mood, he'd only kill us. I gaze at the swine herd flooding the hillside. Hope surges through me—there's plenty of room. We have got this made. Hotel Horde is staying on the map.
With requisite undertone of moan, I beg, "Master, please, oh please, let us live in those pigs."
Behind me, I hear Caym directing the chant, "The pigs, the pigs, the pigs."
We brace for transfer. After stomach-wrenching whirling and twisting, I finally land with my feet over my head staring into a pig's snout and feeling claustrophobic. Everyone's still screeching. Oh no, no, no. Are we all in this one swine? Didn't Caym tell them they had to spread out?
"Guys, move out—one squad per pig and then launch yourselves into the herders," I bellow.
And snort water up my nose. Other splashes and gluggering groans of terror alert me that we didn't disperse quickly enough. The entire herd…we…are all drowning in Lake Gethsemane.
And here comes the Boss. We're doomed.
I shoot Caym a dirty look. Why hadn't he known pigs can't swim?
Great, back to inventory. If I'm lucky.
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