4 - Lucifer's Handpicks
Lucifer lead them to the cellars. They stopped in a immense, circular room the stone walls of which were perforated by countless gates, each with an attached metal plate and flanked by a torch at either side. The only gate without an inscription was straight ahead, twice the size of the others and did not lead to a corridor but another, unsteadily illuminated staircase – the one thing separating them from the burning Heart of Hell.
Laurenzo didn’t take a minute of standing there to complain: “It’s so hot.”
Lucifer shrugged, ambling towards one of the gates, Laurenzo following suit. “Purgatory should be, don’t you think?”
As Valeria remained in the middle of the vault, their voices were carried to her with a distinct reverberation. Her hopes of this being a joke they pulled off just to see how long it took her to blow up were shrinking by the minute.
Laurenzo had stopped in front of a gate to her far right. ”Vegans?” He read out what the sign said with a frown.
And here we go.
Lucifer’s ways of categorizing souls were questionable, to say the least.
“I thought vegans were the guys who don’t eat meat? How is that a sin?” Laurenzo questioned.
“Oh, that’s not why they ended up here, of course,” Lucifer said with a mischievous smirk. “I just found they like to label themselves, so I thought I’d do them a favor and do the same.”
That proved not to satisfy Laurenzo’s curiosity in the slightest. “I heard abstaining from meat opened the mind and was regarded an act of compassion.”
Oh, you unfortunate, clueless bastard.
Laurenzo was now peeping in the corridor behind the gate as if he’d never seen a vegan in his life. Well, they didn’t look too different from other humans – or himself, for that matter.
Lucifer threw her head back laughing. Valeria felt the increasing wish to cover her ears.
“Refusing to drink lactate does not erase every other sin, including daily lectures and spreading feelings of guilt wherever you go – although, granted, that one is quite fun.”
Valeria crossed her fingers behind her back. Just let it be, Laurenzo, just let it –
“Neither of that is a sin, though,” Laurenzo interrupted her silent pleas.
Lucifer clicked her tongue as she wandered over to him. “File it under stealing – people’s nerves, that is.”
Valeria almost grinned at Laurenzo’s startled face. But Lucifer was apparently starting to realize he had probably really never met a vegan in his entire existence.
“Shall we take one of them?” she offered with a generous smile. “You guys are into sermons, aren’t you? Some of them are almost entertaining. A little repetitive, unfortunately.”
Laurenzo’s eyes found Valeria, who shook her head almost unnoticeably. She was not going to be trapped on an island – which had the tendency of being in the middle of the sea – with Lucifer and a vegan. No way in hell.
She breathed out a silent sigh of relief when Laurenzo said: “Nah. Let’s see what else you’ve got.”
While Lucifer pouted, he passed three gates Valeria knew were labelled Boring Sinners, and Some More Boring Sinners and The Real Bad Guys. He stopped for the one left of that.
"Handpicks?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh, you can’t have any of those,” Lucifer was quick to object, but Laurenzo had already taken one of the torches from its holder and disappeared in the corridor.
Lucifer cursed and followed after him, and Valeria, too, finally moved.
By the time she reached Laurenzo, he had stopped in front of the iron bars to a vault in which she could clearly hear Morgan Wallen asking the bartender to hit him again.
The young man sitting in front of the stereo system and fiddling with the adjustments wore his long, dark-blond hair in a ponytail and didn’t bother to look up when Laurenzo asked Lucifer:
The man cursed and muttered something about the fucking generator again under his breath as the country song broke off.
Lucifer pointed to the wooden plate that said Don Eckovic, gotcha.
Laurenzo frowned, then nodded in the guy’s direction. “Yo,” he said. “What are you doing here?”
“I said you can’t have any of them,” Lucifer reminded him, now pulling on Laurenzo’s arm to get him going, but to no avail. He just shrugged her off, and Lucifer sighed.
“He always said he was going to hell, so I figured I could have him. He’s also funny. Tell him a joke,” she demanded excitedly, clapping her hands.
They guy whose name was Don Eckovic frowned at her. “I’m not talking to him.”
Lucifer turned back to Laurenzo. “He’s not in the mood,” she explained disappointedly, as if that wasn’t obvious. “He’s probably out of cigarettes.” She reached her hand out, palm-up, obviously expecting Laurenzo to give her some.
He just raised an eyebrow at her. “He’s allowed to smoke in here?”
“What do you think I’ll do, set freaking purgatory on fire?” Don Eckovic interfered, getting to his feet.
Lucifer giggled. Valeria rolled her eyes. That had ceased to be even remotely funny the third time he’d said it.
But Laurenzo seemed to consider it funny enough, since he fiddled with his black coat for a moment and then tossed him a silver metal case which Don Eckovic caught single-handedly, flicked it open and lit one of the thick cigars he found inside immediately.
“If he didn’t do anything, why is he locked in?” Laurenzo turned to Lucifer again.
“Oh, he’s not.” She pointed to the lock. Told by the way his brows furrowed, it was only now that Laurenzo noticed the gate was ajar.
“I would hide down here too, if I could,” Valeria mumbled. Don Eckovic raised his cigar at her, making her almost smile.
“So, would you like to compete for a new room?” Laurenzo asked him. Don Eckovic frowned at the broken generator, visibly pondering. “In Heaven,” Laurenzo added in the voice of a salesman offering you a penthouse in exchange for a rabbit hole.
Don Eckovic’s head spun. “Oh, hell no,” he said.
Laurenzo turned to Valeria, putting his hands on his hips. “He’s allowed to say it, but I’m not?”
Valeria shrugged. “It’s his favorite word.”
Snorting, Laurenzo turned back to Don Eckovic. “Come on, it’s going to be fun. We’re going on vacation and all you need to do is neither getting drunk nor laid for, like, a week.”
Don Eckovic laughed. “There’s no way in hell I’m staying sober for an entire week.”
Lucifer winked at him and said: “Good boy.”
“What about getting – ” Laurenzo started.
“Fuck off,” Don Eckovic said.
This was going to be a damn long night.