“Hey Insults. Come ‘ere.”
“Whadda want – you sniveling pack of miserableness?”
“Steady on! Remember who you’re talking to.”
“Ah. I’m sorry, got wrapped ya know. How can I serve your Royal Highness of the State of Misery?”
Misery peered through bifocals at Insults and then back at the red clipboard. “Um. Oh – that’s right. I have an assignment for you and the seven dwarves.”
“Seven dwarves?” Insults was perplexed.
“Yeah – Wounded, Offenses, Indignant, Self Righteousness, Smug, Slurs and Abuse.”
Insults laughed lightly, “Oh them. Hang on a minute while I call them.”
Insults raised his voice, and called, “Oi. You lot. Get over ’ere chop-chop!”
“What is it? Don’t raise your voice at me. Are you mad at me?” Whined Wounded.
“I always respond immediately,” Self Righteousness nudged Smug.
“Me too,” Smug added.
Insults looked around, “Where are the others?”
“Coming. Sheesh, hang on a minute!” Indignant yelled.
Slurs sauntered over, “Oh I see the gang’s all here.” He pointed at Smug, “What a pity your mother’s only a third rank demon – hardly worth letting you into the group.”
“Hey, I’ll get you!” Smug balled his fists. Slur looked at Insults, “What did I do?”
“Nothing,” sighed Insults.
Last to arrive were the fraternal twins, Abuse, and Offenses. Although completely different in looks, they were inseparable, the Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee of the underworld.
Insults gestured to them, and they took a seat on a piece of brimstone and turned their attention to Misery. With a wave of his talons, he brought up a hologram of earth, and zoomed in on a house. One flick of his wrist and the door opened to reveal a family sitting down to dinner.
“This is your assignment,” Prince Misery said. “This family is not all they appear to be. They just went over the ‘other side’…”
“‘Other side?’” Insults interrupted. “You mean to tell me they’re no longer ours? What happened? Who slipped up, let me go and chew them a new ear hole!” Insults leapt up, cape billowing, ready to hurl his venom at whoever was at fault.
“Sit down.” Misery ordered. Insults glared at him.
“That’s an order, soldier!”
“As I was saying,” Misery continued, “All is not lost just yet. This where you lot come in. This family, the Malcolm’s went to church for the first time last week, and the enemy there turned them. They now have that ridiculous glow all new converts get, but they’re ignorant. They don’t know half as much as we do about the God they profess to love, and time is on your side. Here’s what you’re all going to do.”
The eight of them leaned forward, excitement electrified the air. “Ok. Self Righteousness and Smug – you grab the parents. Make them feel superior to their friends, and even to members of their own family, especially their own parents, who raised them in church and now cannot understand this sudden enthusiasm. Give them that ‘Holier than thou’ attitude which works so well.”
Smug and Self Righteousness high-fived each other, and then settled back to hear the rest of the plan.
“Insults and Wounded, you two work together. Work on the kids. Insults, you take the boy, Wounded you take the girl. You know how to manipulate the situations. Remember, you can’t touch the kids. They’re under the ‘force field’ of the Blood, but you can work the circumstances to your advantage. Slurs, I want you to take their flank, and weasel your way in with the parents. One was raised Catholic, the other Baptist, bring in your best religious slurs, pit them one against the other as they read that darned Bible. Indignant, you have Slur’s back on this one. You have a choice, but make one of the parents indignant.”
“You got it Chief,” Slurs and Indignant said.
“Last but not least — the twins — you know what to do. You can’t physically touch them, but go after the family as a whole. Heap trouble upon them, maybe verbal abuse from work for the man, and then Offense you can take over. Have them bring a lawsuit against the company, a long, messy process whereby they lose everything, including their hope, and then their new found faith in God. By hook or by crook we’ll get these people back! Now, this is a big assignment, don’t fail me, or you’ll answer to a ‘Lower Authority’.”
In one motion, the demons took flight. Far below, a family of four bowed their heads in prayer.