The Devil is in the Details (Flash Fiction)

On the eve of Armageddon, Satan and his mighty armies grew in formation near the portals that would spill out into the mortal world. Built on a mountain made of burning bodies writhing in pain and agony was a tent of fire where Satan and his generals assembled.

“Yes, yes, gather ’round everyone,” said Satan. “Don’t be shy, plenty of room. Gruul, there’s a seat there for you. No, no, Bael. I need that space open for my minion Bob.” With hoofed feet and jagged teeth, these demons came together to listen to the Prince of Darkness and his final speech before the invasion.

“Now this is the final battle,” Satan said. “Armageddon.” He looked around the burning room and asked loudly and slowly, “Are there any questions? Please, ask them now. Don’t get out there knee-deep in angels blood and human skulls and forget what your assignments were.” The brutes around him were silent save for their grunts and burps. “Good. Now, I know we’ve all been working very hard and putting in a lot of overtime, but let me tell you, this Earth place is pretty sweet, okay? Lots of trees and shade and cool water. Fresh fruits and vegetables. There are some amazing spas in the bay area, and don’t even get me started on crab cakes.” More grunts and snorts.

“But keep focus,” Satan continued. “Those angels are tricky little fuckers. They like to talk a lot and play pretty music, and they’ll do their best to confuse you and make you question what you’re really doing. So, say it with me now, don’t listen!” The generals, only able to communicate in shrieks and roars, did their best to obey their leader.

“Okay. Good. Yes, Bob, you have a question?”

An old and pudgy little man was tapping Satan on his red leg, holding a small book in his hand. His hand shook terribly, and a dark blood oozed from festering wounds that covered his body. Satan took the book and opened it to the page that Bob had marked with his dirty thumb. “What’s this then? The Bible!” Satan said with a laugh. “Oh, very good, Bob, yes! This shall give us all a good laugh on the eve of our triumph.”

But Bob, still being stabbed in the back with a red-hot poker by a tiny imp no bigger than his thumb, only shook his head. “Read it, master. You must read how it ends.”

Satan rolled his eyes and looked around at his generals. Questions filled their inhuman faces. “Oh very well, Bob, you silly old thing.” Satan opened the book and began flipping through the pages. At first he skimmed, then, as he turned through the verses of Revelation, he began to read. The room became very quiet. Only the sound of the tormented souls outside could be heard.

Satan gave Bob a sideways look, and Bob begged him to continue. After a few minutes, Satan closed the book and gave a nervous look to his generals. With snot and ooze dripping from their black faces, Satan addressed the crowd.

“Okay,” said Satan, “small change of plans. We’ll not be invading tomorrow.” The sound of shocked grunts rippled through the tent. “Yes, well, Bob here was kind enough to point out one little tidbit that you’ll all find very interesting. Apparently here,” he said, flipping some pages, “yes, apparently we lose.” Satan scanned the faces of those before to see the look of surprise on their faces. “Yeah. I don’t know if we have a spy in our midst or what, but our entire invasion, at least the general summation of it, is all written right here plain as day. And yeah, we lose. If we execute this plan, we’re gonna lose.”

A horrendous shriek, long and filled with vitriol, came from the back.

“No, Malphas, we lose!” shouted Satan in response.

As the realization sank in, Satan could feel the strength and confidence flowing out of his generals. “Now, now,” he said. “Listen, everyone, we’ll just take some time and come up with a new, even better plan. Don’t lose heart! We have all the time in the world.” As the crowd dispersed, Satan gave one more attempt and keeping the morale of his troops up. “Just remember, folks. Those clean white beaches, Hybrid cars that drive themselves, infinity pools!”

They grunted with indifference as they dispersed into the burning night.

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