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02 March 2017 @ 01:19 pm
LJ Idol Season Ten: "Managerial Discretion"  
Managerial Discretion
idol season ten | week ten | 1033 words
Take a hike!


Griblitz loved his job in Hell.

Well, -ish.

As much as one could love anything in Hell. The combination of Hell and "love" was confusing, like a triple negative that kept flipping from Yes to No until it was spinning. Much like his Afterlife, really…

What Griblitz did not love was working in Limbo, or the relocation costs of moving from Limbo to Hell and back, depending on his current Evilness Index standing. If Hell was confusing, Limbo was even more so. Griblitz would have preferred to stay in Hell full time, but he kept tripping himself up and crossing over one line or the other. He aspired to be Bad with a capital B, to fulfill his demon calling.

He just wasn't very good at it.

His last job evaluation came back with a personal scorch mark of disapproval from the big "S" himself: Needs More Cruelty.

Griblitz tended to be preoccupied with fairness, but he tried to force himself to ignore it, rationalizing that most of the people in Hell and Limbo wouldn’t be there if they didn't deserve it. He sometimes felt he was too hard on the people in Limbo, but his harshness occasionally resulted in a transfer back to Hell, so maybe he was on the right track there? He also tried not to be overly kind to people in Hell (though it seemed like the place was bad enough already), but more than once he'd been told to immediately report to Limbo without even knowing what he'd done wrong.

Sometimes, a supervisor would summon Griblitz to his foul-smelling cave-icle. Griblitz would just be coming around the corner when the supervisor yelled, "That's it, you're out!" — before Griblitz had even glimpsed any potential desk photos of the supervisor's prized hellhound or marabou stork. Once, Griblitz had stepped into a passageway and encountered the Vile One himself. Before he could even fall to the ground in prostration he heard Satan say, "Bzzzzt!" and in the next breath Griblitz was waiting in the cafeteria line in Limbo. Where the lunch serving was mashed bananas and rutabaga casserole. Again.

Usually, Griblitz and his belongings traveled separately—not by choice, but from lack of warning. The shipping costs were murder, mainly for obnoxiousness' sake. Griblitz had a single box of belongings, and he was compelled to move it every time he changed residences so the landlord could rent out his old place. He had once tried to persuade his Hell landlord that he would be back in no time (because he generally was, sometimes even within the same day). Instead, he was gone for the length of sixty-five conflagrations and twenty-three damnings.

Never again.

That had probably been about thirty landlords ago. After the first few back-and-forth episodes, Griblitz had mostly stopped even unpacking.

He spent a great deal of time thinking about his predicament. In Limbo, he funneled amateur autobiographies and detailed expense reports past the souls assigned to the meaningless-review pool, watching his skin turn grayer with every piece of paper he touched and wondering how he came to be there. In Hell, he would blare disco music at the lava swimmers or flog the vat-stirrers, and ask himself exactly what the Devil expected from him?

Griblitz had seen other demons taunt the Devil and be banished to Limbo for eternity. For himself, he showed the Devil the proper respect, and still spent more time in Limbo than out. So honestly, how did the rules work?

After a long, long time, so long that Griblitz couldn't remember his pre-death name or the smell of roses—so long that he'd gone from moving his box of belongings around to just keeping everything in a bag tied around his neck—he decided he'd had enough. The whole thing was making him crazy.

He requested council with the Devil, but was refused an appointment. He tried sneaking in through the back door and was spit right back out again, into the path of the Eternal Tour Bus. He tried bribing the Devil's staff with money, then baked goods, then hangnails and an assortment of roadkill toads—all to no avail. He even crafted desperate, handwritten pleas to the Devil, the accuracy of which he could not gauge, as they always wound up looking like chicken scratches on dead leaves.

Finally, he took to monitoring rumors of the Devil's doings, and lying in wait.

He spotted the Devil in the outer sulfur pits one day, and quickly approached him with obsequious offers of service. The Devil glanced at a him and made a *Bzzzzt!* noise, and Griblitz suddenly found himself running the laundry room in Limbo and enforcing quality control on the permitted seventy-two shades of gray.

He was almost encouraged by the convoluted logic that could be inferred from that experience.

In his off hours, he moved around Limbo skulking along the edges of where he hoped the Devil might soon appear.

After one impossibly long day filled with murky laundry and a lunch menu consisting of tapioca and watery oatmeal, Griblitz came across the Devil while journeying to the Worthless Platitudes station.

"Your Vileness, if I may—" Griblitz began, but stopped when he noticed the Devil's horns beginning to smoke.

Logic, he told himself, heed the logic: "That is, I demand an explanation for the ridiculous treatment I've received from you!"

The Devil said nothing, and he and Griblitz just stood there staring at one another.

Griblitz fidgeted. As far as he could tell, he hadn't been punished and he certainly hadn't been promoted to Hell. In fact, it seemed nothing had changed at all. "I… don't understand," he said.

The Devil raised an eyebrow at him. "You're wondering why you're constantly being moved around, and why it seems so arbitrary. Why it never matters what you do, because the results are usually the opposite of what you expect."

"Yes!" Griblitz said. "I mean… yes?" he whispered.

The Devil laughed. "Haven't you ever considered that maybe all of this is your version of Hell?"

"But… that's not fair!" Griblitz said.

"Exactly." The Devil stepped around him, his cape rippling through the air.

"This is Hell. That's how we do things here."


If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on March 3rd, 2017 12:53 am (UTC)
I enjoyed all the fine details in this from the nasty food to the seventy-two Shades of Grey! Fun story with a great way to end!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 3rd, 2017 01:09 am (UTC)
What's sad is that that's the Limbo food. It isn't _terrible_, it's just not interesting or good. So you know whatever passes for food in Hell has to be really bad.

Glad you enjoyed it!
cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on March 3rd, 2017 05:49 am (UTC)
i love that ending! poor griblitz, consigned to hell as a punishee disguised as an employee. all the details of limbo are so great - the food, the laundry, the cafeteria line - as is the passage of time in hell (marked in conflagrations and damnings).
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 3rd, 2017 07:26 am (UTC)
One of the fun things about writing a situation like this is that the character has no idea of what the actual reality is-- it all runs through his personal filter. It might be exactly as it seems, it might be entirely different, and not being able to ever know or have any control over it is all part of the deal. :D
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 3rd, 2017 05:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! You're probably all too familiar with relocation for job purposes, though at least you get to travel to more than the same two places. :)
i_17bingo: toileti_17bingo on March 3rd, 2017 09:30 am (UTC)
I loved this, but especially how utterly mundane you made hell in your world. I imagine they serve boiled tofu in the cafeteria too.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 3rd, 2017 08:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Ugh, ugh, boiled tofu. That is an excellently disgusting idea!
mamas_minionmamas_minion on March 4th, 2017 01:38 am (UTC)
I love the story and I am surprised Griblitz hadn't figured it out sooner or perhaps that is also the nature of hell. Great story!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 4th, 2017 08:13 am (UTC)
I think there will always be this tendency to assume things are pretty much what they look like-- especially when you have a large-level structure with routine. The idea that the weirdness is a form of torture, or that potentially the entire thing could be a fabrication, just doesn't occur to you right away.

We like for things to make sense! And how it thwarts us when they won't. :D
tonithegreat: cattonithegreat on March 4th, 2017 03:35 am (UTC)
But of course hell is that kind of workplace! This was delightful, especially considering it's relationship to the prompt.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 4th, 2017 08:28 am (UTC)
We SO want things to be reasonable, but considering where Griblitz is... why would anything be that predictable.

Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading!
Shadow Wolf Byrdshadowwolf13 on March 4th, 2017 04:31 am (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 4th, 2017 08:28 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Teo Sayseternal_ot on March 4th, 2017 07:17 am (UTC)
Oh!Well..he's doomed!! This was hilarious and quite a clever take on the prompt. Love the details.
"Instead, he was gone for the length of sixty-five conflagrations and twenty-three damnings. This made me Laugh out loud.

Well well written!! Kudos! *Claps*

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 4th, 2017 08:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! I've written a couple of things in Hell before, and one of the areas I always wonder about is how you would mark time. There's no sunrise or sunset, nothing obvious like that.

Events, though... that has possibility. :)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
rayasorayaso on March 4th, 2017 04:20 pm (UTC)
From the trial of Peter Rabbit to rogue trolley cars to hell -- you are on a wonderful, funny twisted streak! The details were marvelous and added to the fun. The idea that this is Griblitz's punishment was great.
Trying to bribe the Devil's staff with the assortment of money, baked goods, hangnails and roadkill toads was absurdly wonderful. This was too much fun for words.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 5th, 2017 08:08 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! Probably not what you thought I was working on, but it was a much more fun use of the prompt than the other ideas that came to mind. :)
penpusher: Lost Logopenpusher on March 4th, 2017 09:45 pm (UTC)
Very cleverly constructed and sprinkled with a lot of funny/gruesome stuff throughout. If hell is anything, it's definitely not fair!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 5th, 2017 08:09 am (UTC)
Much of my childhood was spent struggling with the concept that unfairness was more common than not, and I'm not a lot better with it as an adult!

I almost linked a picture of a marabou stork, but thought it might actually be too much for some people. Those are nightmare birds. Ugggghhh...
Rebeccabeeker121 on March 5th, 2017 02:28 am (UTC)
I admit that I think overly detailed expense reports are hellish not just limbo, but I suppose that's imposing my Hell on poor Griblitz. If even the demons are tortured than that is a version of fair, I suppose.

This sucked me right in, with all the wonderful detail.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 5th, 2017 08:11 am (UTC)
I don't like the idea of expense reports either, though I think it would be more hellish to have to create them, perhaps continually.

Actually, that sounds like a really good punishment for an IRS auditor!

I'm glad you enjoyed this and had fun reading it. :)
bleodsweanbleodswean on March 5th, 2017 10:26 pm (UTC)
Heh. I love how you almost always enrich your offbeat humourous writings with a very solid lesson. This one is no exception! You had some really well done detail throughout and it absolutely breathed a nasty breath of life into it! Excellent!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2017 07:51 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you liked it, as well as the details. The mundanity for Limbo was new territory, and it turned out to be fun to work with. :)
dmousey: cheesedmousey on March 5th, 2017 11:33 pm (UTC)
I love this. This character you've created is so likeable in his bumbling way and weirdly naive. It kept me laughing. Thanks for that. Hugs and peace~~~
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2017 07:52 am (UTC)
I'm glad you got the essence of this poor guy. He is earnest and possibly neither as bad nor as good as he might seem, mainly because even his own perception of himself might be part of the illusion in his personal hell. There's no way of telling!

Except to say that any previously experienced degree of paranoia is probably inadequate for this situation. ;)
Murielle: Scrunchedmurielle on March 5th, 2017 11:57 pm (UTC)

Brilliant! Of course that's the way they do things! Brava!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2017 07:53 am (UTC)
I imagine that it still hasn't occurred to the poor guy that it could all continue to change even now. There are no guarantees! That's one of the reasons it's Hell!
Hillaryxlovebecomesher on March 6th, 2017 04:39 am (UTC)
Love this!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2017 07:54 am (UTC)
:D Thank you!