Data-Driven Soul Collecting, or Lucifestus Wrecks the Reckoning

Lucifestus stood with his arms crossed over his crimson barrel of a chest, a look of utter disdain on his face. From the front of the chamber came the countdown, “Three. Two. ONE!” Then a shout from 28 or-so of the forty-two Devils in attendance at The Reckoning,“Trustfall!”

It wasn’t the most enthusiastic group shout, but enthusiastic enough that it masked Lucifestus’ own shout of, “Bullshit!” as he let himself fall backwards into the arms of Lucicretion, one of maybe five or six Devils in the underworld capable of catching Lucifestus’ massive bulk. Also one of those just as dismissive of the recent reforms in Underworld management.

How awesome was that?” asked the voice from the front with enthusiasm that didn’t seem to come naturally. Some of the Lucis cheered, some sat down indifferently. Lucifestus, Lucicretion and a couple more around their table, including the alluring succubus Luciballus, shook their heads and made wanking gestures and soft raspberry sounds as they settled back down.

“How awesome was that?” mocked Lucicretion in a nasal falsetto mimicking Lucixtelus, the Devil at the podium leading this odious abomination of a Reckoning. Everyone at the table reached out and marked the “How awesome was that?” square on the cards titled “Reckoning Bingo”.

What a great start, everybody. We’re going to have a great, productive day. And fun too. Welcome Devils! To the 200,183rd Annual Underworld Reckoning!” Lucixtelus’s high-pitched voice rang throughout the chamber, “Woohoo!”

Lucifestus took deep breath and exhaled loudly. Closing his eyes, he counted to ten, trying to will himself to relax.

*****

The Reckoning dated back to the first appearance of proper humans. As soon as they came along, with their souls, the Devils of the Underworld began gathering to account for, and brag about the number of human souls consumed. Each of the Lucis would stand and announce a number, proudly if a big number, with some degree of contrition if a small one. Each report was greeted with cheers, jeers, or some level of devilish banter. Highlights, brags, and anecdotes, like so many fishermen’s tales, would be told. It would take an hour or five for all Devils to make their accounting. The rest of the day would be spent drinking, gambling, arm-wrestling, playing raucous games of mumblety peg or cerebral games of chess. And fucking. Lots and lots of Devil fucking. Male/Female, Male/Male, Female/Female, whatever the parts. Get a bunch of Devils all drunk and worked up, it’s all good. There was not a Devil in the Underworld who did not look forward to each and every Reckoning.

And so it had been for roughly 200,177 Reckonings. Until the rotation of Chair-Spawn, and it’s century-long commitment, fell to Lucixtelus. Unlike Lucifestus, with his massive size and blacker-than-black, imposing bull horns, Lucixtelus was much more compact. In human terminology he might be more readily identified as an Imp than a proper Devil, maybe even a demonic pixie. Lucifestus and his friends referred to Lucixtelus as “Poindexter.” He spent as much time earth-side attending modern management seminars as Lucifestus spent at card rooms and race tracks. Fastidious and exacting, Lucixtelus brought an obsession with minutia to his Chair-Spawnship. The last six Reckonings had become increasingly what the new Chair referred to as “Data-Driven.” Reckonings now began with team building “ice-breakers,” even though all forty-something Devils of the Underworld knew each other intimately. Then, the entire day, maybe two, would be spend looking at PowerPoint presentations of data, bar graphs, pie charts, tables – you name it – representing Underworld goals, failures, and achievements.

*****

I hope everyone has an agenda? Does anyone need an agenda?

Lucifestus flipped through four pages of small-font agenda items. If Devils had souls, his would have been sucked out at the sight. “Let’s see, what fresh paradise do we have in store today?” He traced down the items with a jet-black fingernail. “Oh, shit. ‘Mission Statement Mad-Lib’ followed by ‘Collective Commitments Fishbowl’. Just kill me now.”

“You’re immortal,” reminded Lucicretion. “It wouldn’t take.”

“Then just rip an arm off. That’ll get me laid up for a month and I won’t have to be here.”

“Then you’d have to stay here in the Underworld while you re-gen. Poindexter’ll visit you every day.”

“Good point. Fuck that shit. Nevermind.”

*****

The prize for this year’s Largest Single Ingestion award is a signed copy of Tony Robbins’ book, “Unleash the Power Within.” And it goes to . . . Lucifestus! For ingesting a diner-booth full of nuns at one time! Five I think it was. Come on up here, Big Guy!

Lucifestus slowly rose to his towering height and strolled forward to smattered applause, waving with the feigned enthusiasm of a prom queen. Poindexter held out the prize, seemingly nonplussed that such a prestigious award was going to a Devil who was clearly dismissive of his New Order.

“Fuck you very much,” Lucifestus mumbled quickly.

What?”

“Thank you. Thank you very much,” more loudly, clearly enunciated.

The Imp shook Lucifestus’ big hand vigorously and beamed a broad smile to the room.

*****

Hour Two: . . . This new leader-board will be prominently posted in Charon’s boathouse so every time you come in or leave, you can see where you rank . . .

Hour Three: . . . We still have two or three openings on our steering committee. Please think about donating your time. This committee will go a long way toward getting us all on the same page.

Hour Four: Let’s take the next, say, ten minutes, get up, walk around and ask someone wearing a different colored name tag to share their best practices.

Hour Five: You can see here on the pie chart, yes it’s the same information as on the previous bar-graph, that . . .

*****

I’ve only received about Sixty percent of the personal SMART goals I’ve requested from each of you. And some of the one’s that have been submitted are still unclear on the idea. So, once again, just so that we’re all on the same page, your goal needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

Lucifestus shrugged, “My dick IS measurable.”

“I don’t think your dick would be considered a ‘goal’,” said Luciballus, adding air-quotes for emphasis.

“Should be. Have you seen it?”

*****

As we always have, we outpace the Opposition by around 70:30 since the last Reckoning. But if we were to get on the same page, work together, share and agree to implement only our best practices, I, and our Soul Consumption Committee, estimate that we could actually achieve a 100:0 ratio within ten years. And that’s the challenge that I put to you today. A bold new initiative to wipe out the Opposition entirely!

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Lucicretion hissed. “Nobody bats a thousand. At anything. Ever. Even with infernal powers. That’s not Realistic or, what’s the A? Achievable.”

“Besides,” Lucifestus leaned in. “What if we were to eliminate the Opposition. We’d have no Opposition. Game over. Then what the fuck are we supposed to do? Give each other reach-arounds for the rest of eternity?”

“That might be a point in their favor.”

“Oh, shut up. What I mean is, what’s worse than not having a dog in the fight is having a bad-ass dog with no fight to put him in.”

“Then why don’t you stand up and say something instead of just preaching to this little choir?”

“Whatever.”

*****

Hour Ten: Lucifestus, head in hands, elbows on table, “Say ‘Same Page’ again. I dare you. I double dare you.”

*****

“Why’d you do that?” asked a couple of bewildered Devils.

“Yeah, sorry. I just kinda snapped. My bad,” Lucifestus addressed the gathering a bit ruefully.

Luciflotus, Poindexter’s right-hand She-Devil asked, “How long do you think this’ll take?”

“Dunno,” Lucifestus answered. “Make sure you get all the parts. There’s an arm over there, underneath the projector cart.”

Devils spread out and moved across the room like police doing a grid search. Lucixtelus was all over the place, digits, limbs, organs scattered about like so many hellish Easter eggs. His re-gen would be much faster, and less painful if they had all the bits and pieces in the same place.

“Brother, you sure know how to put the wreck in Reckoning. When’s the last time we had an honest-to-goodness decapitation?” asked Lucicretion.

“Ha!” Luciballus spoke up. “I can tell you for sure. It was Reckoning 101,003. Lucitanius kept trying to put it in the wrong hole. I warned him, like three times. He left me no choice. Ripped that fucker’s head clean off.”

A murmur of remembrance ran through the gathering. “How long that take?” asked Lucifestus.

“A year, at least. He wasn’t back yet by double-aught-four.”

“Then, that whole ‘Down to Georgia Fiddling’ debacle was him. Man, we should, like excommunicate that dude. Can we do that?” Asked Lusicretion.

“You know what this means?” asked Luciflotus.

“We get to start drinking and fucking now?” Lucifestus grinned hopefully.

“No, you big lumbering dumbass. It means you’re Interim Chair-Spawn. It’s in the by-laws. Look it up.”

“Oh, fuck. That’s not what I . . .”

“It’s a fact. Now, what’s your directive? What’s your plan, bigshot?”

“Well. I say we drink and fuck. Then, let’s go out. Eat some souls. Come back next year and party some more.”

And so, for the rest of the day, the Underworld drank, and gambled, played mumblety peg, and fucked. All with a reckless abandon that it hadn’t felt in a long, long time.

©  2016 Whiskey Leavins

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