Lucifer sat on his marble throne as his dark servant waited patiently for his answer.
Stifling a sigh, Lucifer flicked his hand impatiently. ‘So be it. Bring him forth.’
The dark servant turned and walked back through the entrance of Lucifer’s throne room, his long dark hair splayed against his white back, the tips of his long, black wings trailing along the molten rock floor.
Lucifer leaned back with his hands behind his head, one leg crossed over the other as he gazed up at the ceiling. Even through the thick, volcanic rock of his home he could hear the distant screaming of the damned as they burned in his hellish fires. He could feel each of them, all the billions of tortured souls as they suffered the agony of their sins. He could hear their useless begging; he could feel their hope that God, even now, might yet answer their prayers.
Too little. Too late.
Raking his hands through his short, golden hair, he yawned. He didn’t hold much hope that this new potential would be any different to the last one. They were all the same: nasty but not cruel, sick but not vile. Only a demon sheathed in human skin and wreathed in human blood could signal The Reckoning.
He’d been waiting millennia, ever since the moment he’d shut out God’s light and turned his face towards the darkness. He’d had countless souls brought before him. They’d been corrupted, true. Some had even been foul: rapists and child killers, pedophiles and tormentors. But none had ever achieved the depth of wickedness he needed to herald the coming of a new age.
Bad wasn’t good enough. He needed evil.
At the sound of footsteps, he turned back towards the entrance. His servant returned with his potential, hauling him along by a red-hot chain wrapped around his scrawny neck. Choking, the man staggered behind him. The smell of burning flesh quickly filled the cavernous throne room. Smoke coiled from the man’s sizzling skin. He kept scrabbling at the chain, only for his hands to burn. Lucifer would be surprised if he had any fingerprints left.
His feet were black and blistered from his long trek through the heat of hell. His lips were cracked and bleeding. Little did the man know that he would never know the sweet succour of water again. Out of all the tortures and cruelties he was about to suffer, that would be the worst. The damned always begged for water more than anything else.
His eyes were red-rimmed beneath a pair of thick, cracked glasses. His hair was short and neatly cut, though singed and covered in ash. Like all of the damned, he was naked, all proof of a life ill-spent now consumed by the fires. His dick hung limp and wrinkled between his skinny legs. Like the water, he wouldn’t know pleasure again. He was so thin Lucifer could see all his ribs as he breathed. Knobbly knees. Pallid skin. Weak and pathetic. Not the usual type.
Lucifer frowned, more out of curiosity than disappointment. What had a man such as this done to warrant the scrutiny of Satan himself? Uncrossing his legs, he leaned over, bracing his chin on tented fingers.
With a hard yank and a scowl, Lucifer’s dark servant pulled him to the floor. The man screamed as he landed on his arm with a crunch. The throne room shuddered violently as somewhere nearby a volcano blew its top. Bits of molten rock broke away from the ceiling and crashed to the floor, shattering into pieces.
Another shudder made the man scream again.
Lucifer stood and walked down the marble steps of his dais. Cradling his arm, the man stifled his crying as he looked up at him, his mouth open, his eyes wide. It was always the same—their hopeful looks. With Lucifer’s golden hair and white wings and aura of angelic light it was an easy thing to be misled as to whom he truly was. Even after all these millennia, humans never seemed to have learned that appearances were often deceptive.
Then again, Lucifer could say the same for himself. The closer he got to the pathetic creature the more he realised how he misjudged the man. He could sense his sin like a thick, dark pall. He could taste his vileness like a coat of slime in the back of his throat. And his smell—it was as though he was rotting from the inside out.
If Lucifer had a heart it would be pounding. If he had blood it would be rushing through his twisted veins. Excitement—a feeling so unfamiliar he’d almost forgotten what it felt like. He raised his eyes to his servant, who, with a bow of his dark head, released the chain and backed away.
The man was still staring up at Lucifer in awe as Lucifer stood over him in all his false glory.
‘Have you come to save me?’ the man said.
Lucifer didn’t answer, only smiled as he leaned over and gently took his chin. ‘Shhhh.’
The man trembled but did not pull away as Lucifer stroked his cheek. At each brush of his fingers, Lucifer saw—and knew. The man’s victims were few but his crimes were countless. A dark basement. Screaming. Blood. Laughter. Heavy chains covered in spikes. Long nights of agony, of ceaseless torment. And yet, throughout all that, Lucifer could see a family. A girl with blonde curls. A boy with blue eyes. No, not a family—a cover. A falsehood. A lie the man needed but despised. Much like his appearance.
Not only was he evil but cunning too.
The man had only just begun his wicked ‘hobby’ before he was killed. But at each stroke of his sooty cheek, Lucifer could see the man’s reign of terror. He could see the decades of horror he’d never got a chance to unleash.
Lucifer stopped his stroking. A bead of sweat trickled down the man’s throat as he continued to clutch at his broken arm and tremble.
‘Shhh,’ Lucifer repeated, dragging his finger down the man’s sternum, following the trickle of sweat. It led down through his chest hair and between his nipples where Lucifer stopped, keeping his finger pressed against him. He raised his blue eyes to the man, who locked his dark eyes with his. ‘Have no fear. It’s all going to come to an end.’
The man’s trembling eased. His lips pulled back into a smile of relief.
Lucifer smiled too. ‘Welcome home.’
The man’s eyes widened. He sucked in a breath. He seized onto Lucifer’s wrist—too late as Lucifer thrust his hand deep into his chest. The man’s mouth gaped open as he arched back his head with a gurgling cry. He was warm inside. Wet. Twisting his hand up behind his ribs, Lucifer felt his heart. It was dead, sitting like a ripe but lifeless plum in his chest, as all hearts did in hell. And yet he could tell that this one was not like the others. Just as Lucifer had thought, just as he’d hoped, it was festering.
As he pulled it free, maggots spilled to the floor. Pus oozed down his wrist. It was no red plum—black with necrosis, green with corruption. It smelled as foul as it looked.
Lucifer laughed. Leaping to his feet, he raised it high above his head in triumph as maggots rained down, as pus wreathed his forearm. The throne room shuddered from another violent quake.
The Age of the Angel had begun.
Let the Reckoning begin!