The sky is dark and the rain starts to pour, and I am not bothered because I am prepared. In this country, it is a must to always have an umbrella with you- rain or shine.
But I curse myself as the bus stops and I realize that I have left mine just when I need it.
I tell myself it’s no matter. I can probably hail a taxi as soon as I get off the bus, and I hope it doesn’t rain harder. I am already feeling light headed because of the flu, and the usual Manila traffic isn’t helping either.
I pretend not to hear, but the footsteps behind me catches up and I am suddenly shielded from the rain. I look up and see a smiling face, holding an umbrella on both of our heads.
“Hi.. Sorry, but maybe I can help you get a cab? Or walk you to where you’ll go? You might get sick if you get caught in the rain..”
Same scenario of how we met before, and today is your fifth year death anniversary. He has the same eyes as you, warm and kind, and I’ve noticed the law books he was carrying. You’ve always wanted to be a lawyer.
I thought I’ve forgotten you, but here you are again, reminding me of your last words.
I’ll always be there when you need me.
Satan gives you a personal tour of the place. You didn’t have much choice when he captured you for the job as the new torturer. You had been in the hospital, brain dead after a car accident. You aren’t religious, and never believed in an afterlife, so you screamed when he came for you, in all his glory, a demon who was a human dragon. You are crying, begging for mercy, but Satan doesn’t want to deal with your petty begging- although it is acknowledged by the law of the divine that as an average human being, you were offered the job.
Hell is terrifying to behold. All the books that described it were right, even ten times more. You never liked horror movies, so it is quite a shock for you to see the ways all souls are being tortured. Wailing souls, oh the sound of it isn’t like anything you’ve heard before- the cries of people who have realized that they are submitted to Hell for eternity.
Satan turns to you, and your heart stops upon seeing his face. “Do you not see why we are running out of ideas? Souls here have been around since mankind sinned, this is the end, and yet when punishment comes to you everyday, the souls have learned to expect it.”
He brings you to the section where the oldest of them were punished. Their wails are not like the new ones, as their cries have only turned to anguish, the way people sob when the same things happen to them over and over again. You see how much they welcome torture more; their bodies bleed and they are fixed again.
You finally understand.
“You measure their tolerance of physical pain.. and that is the pain that is easiest to accept. Especially when it comes to you everyday and you are fixed after. A wound only hurts when it bleeds.”
“You question me, human?” His voice is something that will make you shake, and so you do.
“I… I.. you have hired me…” you stutter, but you continue. “I am speaking as a human myself. Physical pain is expected, our lives are short- we are frail, weak.. but their heart.. our hearts.. that is the punishment we all avoid, because we always expect the best. Break their spirits.. look back into their lives and see their regrets, their feelings.. and take it from there.. we.. we have enough of that within our lifetime. then.. then.. you can alternate between physical torture and that..”
You tell him your ideas in a blabber. How you can reenact the way a father rejected his daughter, how a boy you trusted most leave. How friends stab you in the back. How you missed to tell people you love them because you were too stubborn to do so, and you regretted it.
The devil walks to you, his size changing according to the average, and little by little, you notice his features. For in the beginning, the devil was the most beloved, the Morning Star- Lucifer, the most beautiful of all angels, God’s favorite.
In a flash, you see the hurt in his eyes, now turning as gold as the sun. You see him as Lucifer.
You gather courage to ask. “…do.. do you have regrets?”
He doesn’t answer, and return to his former form. For a moment it is as if Hell had gone quiet under the powers of its master.