HELL MADE TO ORDER

Michael sat in a muggy, brightly-lit office and waited for somebody to die.

It wasn't long. There was a knocking on the door. "Yes, you may come in," Michael answered.

Someone opened the door and stumbled into the office. The room was small, but extravagantly ornate. The walls were filled by paintings of breathtaking realism and detail. The art was not on canvases; they had been done upon the walls themselves. There were no lamps in the room, but the ceiling and floor were both slightly translucent and let through a sharp, golden-tinted glow that left no quarter for shadows. Michael sat at the desk in the center of the room, and there was a single stool set across from it. Michael instructed its guest to sit.

Michael asked, "What is your name?"

"I'm Mark," replied the guest. The guest was a form, almost but not-quite human. He walked slowly toward the stool, taking in the details of the room. He stared curiously at Michael as he sat.

"Surname?"

"Lintel. Mark Lintel. Who're you?"

"I am Michael. I will be handling your transition from your mortal life to your afterlife." Michael opened one of the numerous drawers on its desk - each one much wider than tall - and retrieved a paper covered in peculiar symbols. It also found a pen on its desk, and began to calligraph near the top of the paper in English, "Mark Lintel". Then Michael inquired, "A name is a first step. But it does not say who you are." After a pause: "Who are you?"

"Where are my classmates?"

Michael insisted, "You must tell me who you are."

"What do you mean 'who I am'? I'm Mark Lintel. I'm fucked-up, and mental - ask anyone."

"Very good." Michael wrote again on the paper. It said, "How did you die?"

Mark shot it with an askew glare, and then stifled a pleased chuckle. "I killed myself. Shot myself right through the roof of my mouth." The form that was Mark put its hand under its chin and jerked. "Now the interesting part, though, is right before that, when I downed maybe two dozen of my classmates, and a couple professors, too."

Michael asked, "Who were your parents?"

"My dad was a bastard," he answered immediately. He looked coldly aside. Then he continued, more passionately, "Mom got the short end of the stick, got pushed into marrying that abusive, drunk prick. She never hurt anyone." He frowned.

"Very good," answered Michael. It put finishing touches on its writing. "How will you spend your eternal afterlife?"

Mark thought for a moment. He almost jumped off the stool for excitement when he replied. "I want to relive that last day, when I finally got to make those mother-fuckers pay. I want to see them die, by the bullets out of my guns, over and over and over again." He smiled viciously. "That's how I'm going to spend it."

Michael stowed the pen back in its place and put the paper on top of a pile. It said, "It is done."

Another guest entered the office. "Jackie," she responded when asked about her name. "Though all my pals called me 'Jack'." The form of her tilted its head. "How about you? Are you a pal?"

Michael said, "Take a seat."

"Well, you're not much fun." She sat gracelessly.

"Surname?"

"I'm Jack Morris."

Michael extracted a paper from its desk and began to write on it. It said, "A name is a first step. But it does not say who you are. Who are you?"

"Gorgeous, is who I am!" Jackie laughed. Michael's face stayed expressionless. Her pose straightened. "Uh, I didn't do a lot of really important stuff. My husband was the bread-maker and I was his maid more than anything else... except in the bedroom. Oh, the good times we had! And such beautiful strangers who would join in. It was ecstasy."

Jackie continued without leaving room for a reply. "But enough about me. Who are you? You're very pretty." She meant the compliment sincerely.

Michael was unaffected. "I am Michael. I will be handling your transition from your mortal life to your afterlife." Jackie looked disappointed. It asked, "How did you die?"

Jackie slouched. She glanced around the room for the first time since entering. "DUI. The other vehicle was a tree," she chuckled half-heartedly. "I guess I should just be glad I didn't hit another person. The party before that was good, though." She glared curiously at Michael. "I still haven't decided whether or not it was still worth it."

Michael wrote. "Very good. Who were your parents?"

"My parents?" Jackie smiled softly. "Mom - her name was Ivana - was wonderful... she taught me almost everything I know that's actually worth knowing." Her smile faded. "I never knew my dad. He didn't stick around."

"How will you spend your eternal afterlife?"

"Oh," Jackie exclaimed, "that's a big one! I suppose I should put some thought into that. Eternity, you say?" She squirmed on the stool while she pondered. Finally she grinned and said, "In ecstasy, that's how! I want to be surrounded by sexy people. I'll have an eternal orgy of wonderful, perfect, divine pleasure."

Michael put the paper on the pile. It said, "It is done."

The form answered uncertainly, "I... my name's Glen."

"Surname?"

"Uh, 'Carver'." He sat himself gently on the stool.

"Very good." Michael wrote on a paper, "Glen Carver". Michael said, "A name is a first step. But it does not say who you are. Who are you?"

Glen looked nervously around the room, trying to take in the paintings. After a pause he said, "I'm a writer." He corrected, "Uh. Was. I wasn't too successful, though. Uh, I... was married to a girl. We were going to, well, we were gonna divorce. I think she wanted it mostly 'cause the income was mostly on her shoulders, my writing not being very good on money and all. I kept telling her I wasn't doing it for the money but... she didn't like that even worse. We never had any kids, but we never wanted them, either. Made it even easier to call it off than it might've been otherwise."

"Uh." Glen swallowed. "Are you God?"

"No," said Michael. It stated, "I am Michael and I will be handling your transition from your mortal life to your afterlife."

Glen's face contorted. "You're to send me to Hell, aren't you? God, you wouldn't do that to me. Would you? Sure, I deserve it, but... you wouldn't!"

Michael remained unphased. "How did you die?"

Glen grimaced. But he still answered, "I really can't say. Last thing I knew I was only falling asleep. I'm betting on it was my wife murdering me somehow. God knows why."

"Who are your parents?"

"Momma was Miriam Carver an' my Dad was Fred Carver." Glen sighed, distraught. "Uh, got married when they were just teens, they bragged. They had me when they were in their early twenties, and they had my sister two years after. Momma was a housewife mostly, and she liked to make plants happy. Dad was a accountant. Or something like that."

Michael wrote. It asked, "How will you spend your eternal afterlife?"

Glen asked, "What, I get to choose?" Michael confirmed. "I guess I'd just want to write... I want to have all the stuff to write, and inspiration for it. Uh, people to show it to would be nice."

"It is done."

Mark Lintel savored the sight of crimson. On the floor. On the walls. Seeping through clothes and spattering onto his face. He laughed and choked on the smell of gunpowder and his ears rang with the concussions of gunfire. He grinned while he shot himself through the roof of his mouth with his final round.

The people were nothing but terrified of him, and there was noplace to be but the campus. He savored it again. And again. And again. He savored it until he was sick of it. He savored it until the killing sickened him. He ran out of amusing ways to shoot people and amusing ways to torment them.

Mark cried to be let free of the afterlife he chose, but it kept on.

Jackie Miller moaned, filled to the brim with an overwhelming pleasure. Her hairs stood on-end and her mouth watered with insatiable lust. The bodies writhing around her smelled sharply, sweetly of sweat and saliva and ejaculate.

They possessed a perfect youth and flawless beauty rivaled only by her own. Tasteful bodies of every color, build, sex, and desire provided an endless variety of ecstasies. Jackie separated herself from the unending orgy and watched the bodies move and heard them scream until they were breathless. How long had it been since she had begun? She surprised herself by feeling bored of the sex and the bodies. She wished for more to do, for something beyond the sensations to which she felt she'd become numb. She wished for substance, but it was never given.

Glen Carver slid his fingers delicately over a spotless typewriter, just like the antique he'd enjoyed using when he was a teen. He sat motionless for awhile. Then he began tapping at the keys. The ink stamping onto the paper, tempo set by the ring of the carriage return, was music to his ears. Sometimes people would watch over his shoulder as he obsessed over his work.

He produced a biography. He distributed it to gather opinions, and then he began to write another work. He finished that one, wrote another. He authored classics and masterpieces, epics and ditties. He filled spaces greater than the whole of Earth with drafts. This trait, his drive to create, seemed to be wholly endless.

In an eternity, he never thought to want to spend it differently.

Written by Sophie Kirschner