3 - What's a Hungover?
“This was not my idea, Lucifer,” Valeria assured her when Lucifer let herself drop in the oversized leather armchair behind the desk.
Lucifer leaned back and crossed her combat boots on the tabletop, raising an eyebrow at Laurenzo. “Explanation?” she demanded.
Laurenzo sighed theatrically and sat down in the same place across the desk he had formerly occupied. Valeria crossed her arms in front of her chest and remained standing behind him.
“Do I really have to retell the entire story?” he complained. “Why did you send her in the first place then?” He nodded his head in Valeria’s direction without looking at her.
"Excuse me?” She glared at his back, but to no avail.
He picked up his abandoned tumbler and sipped it. It took him a full two minutes to realize Lucifer was staring at him motionlessly, not breathing, not blinking, her black eyes trying to burn a hole in his skull. When he finally noticed, he chuckled.
Valeria cracked her knuckles.
“You know, Lucifer, this was a lot more impressive when you still looked like a testosterone stuffed bull,” he remarked, but was quick to add: “To make it short, your old man developed a serious alcohol problem, Gabriel is stressing the hell out of everybody – ” Valeria cleared her throat, “and as a consequence almost all the angels have descended to one of those party islands.”
“Party islands?” Lucifer retorted. “I’m not aware we have any party islands. What’s that even supposed to be?”
“Descended to earth,” Laurenzo specified. He put his glass away and sat up a little. Valeria pictured his golden eyes glowing with excitement when he told the girl in front of him:
“Mediterranean islands humans go to for holiday. According to my research, during the day, they’ll lie at the beach until their skin goes all red with disgusting little bubbles – it does peel off a couple days later, isn’t that nauseating? – and as soon as it gets dark, they’ll get drunk out of their minds and fuck whoever can’t manage to stumble away fast enough.” He laughed at Lucifer’s uncomprehending frown. “Then, the next day, they’ll sleep till noon and lie at the beach again complaining about how they are so hungover, only to repeat it all over again a few hours later.”
Lucifer’s eyes wandered up to meet Valeria’s. “What’s a hungover?”
“Hangover,” Valeria corrected her. “It happens when the human body processes large amounts of alcohol. They feel sick, dizzy, get headaches.”
“That’s awful. What’s the point?”
Valeria shrugged. “Does it matter? Anyway, this is why Laurenzo figured it would be okay to bring some more souls down here, because they were left unattended and he felt personally bothered by them.”
“I see. And how am I supposed to accommodate them? Thanks to your refusal to relax the laws, we’re crowded. Thinking about it...” Lucifer clicked her tongue, picking a loose string from her dress. “...this party-island-culture might be just the reason we’re getting so many prospects.”
“You’re supposed to have just enough space for every sinner that the Creator decides to send down here,” Laurenzo reminded her.
Lucifer wrapped the string around two of her fingers. “Those guys out there weren’t sent by Him though, were they?” She asked, then sighed and looked up at him again. “See, Laurenzo, it’s a simple calculation. If you sentence people to burn in Hell for all eternity, it’s only natural you’ll be faced with a logistical problem sooner or later. I told you centuries ago.”
“Well, He isn’t exactly fond of your opinion, you know,” Laurenzo responded, his eyes lingering on the cut-out of her dress a little too long. “I tell you what. Show me the guys you have down here, and I’ll see if we can...find a compromise. Actually...”
Valeria heard it in the tone of his voice. She could see it in Lucifer’s eyes. Something very pointless was about to happen. Something bordering on insanity.
“Why don’t we pick some guys I consider eligible to ascend to Heaven and have them compete? And the souls I brought can stay in their place.”
Lucifer had jumped to her feet before Valeria had even processed what was going on. “But your souls are competing, too. The top three are going back up with you, the rest can stay,” she said, clapping her hands.
“What – ” Valeria started, but Laurenzo beat her to it.
“We can pull it off like a casting show,” he suggested, excitedly.
Lucifer tilted her head. “A what?”
“I say, we’ll take the candidates to a party island. They’re not allowed to party, naturally. The three of us will be the jury – each round lasts a day and a night and each morning we send the worst of them back here until only three are left.”
“So they’re getting a free holiday and all they have to do is not party?” Lucifer frowned, clearly doubting the adequacy of this undertaking.
Valeria, on the other hand, was doubting Lucifer and Laurenzo’s sanity. “Have you lost your mind? This will do nothing to solve our capacity issues! And you have just busted the library!”
Lucifer nodded approvingly. “See, I need a break.”
“It’s not the time for a break! What about the angels? You’re supposed to get them back!” Valeria now turned to Laurenzo, knowing full well she was going nowhere with Lucifer.
Laurenzo waved it off. “We’re going to pick them up as soon as we’re there. Two birds, one stone.”
“I’m not going to come with you,” Valeria said, crossing her arms in front of her chest, glaring at Lucifer beneath furrowed brows. “This is by far the worst idea you ever had, Lucifer.”
Lucifer laughed, cheerful, like a kid. “Good one.”
Valeria suppressed the urge to stomp her feet. “It’s at least among the top hundred.”
Lucifer frowned as if she was thinking about that really hard, then shrugged. “That’s debatable. Come on, Laurenzo, I’ll show you around.”
Laurenzo was quick to follow her to the door. Valeria stayed rooted to the ground.
Lucifer snapped her fingers, holding the door while Laurenzo had already disappeared into the corridor.
Valeria sighed and trotted after them.