Spite Your Fear

Mathew Ferguson

‘Budget cuts.’

‘Budget cuts? What the Hell are you talking about?’

‘Look, I’m sorry but this comes from above. I wish I could help you, I really do.’

The kid in the brown suit with his brown clipboard shook Satan’s unresisting hand and left the office.

Satan walked over to the window and looked out over Hell. Already the billboards were going up and he could see the line of demons waiting for their official shirts and hats.

On the desk sat–he could barely begin to even think the vile words–the ‘promotional’ pack. Shirt, hat, keyring. Three stickers, two erasers and a pack of engraved crayons.

Corporate retooling or else. So says The Man.

Satan stared at the bag sitting there on his desk. There under its colourful exterior was much more than a few engraved trinkets. There was the end of thousands of years of tradition. These new people had no idea about tradition. No care for the old ways. The smarmy slicked back twenty-somethings throwing words like ‘synergy’ in his face. Flow charts and cutbacks. Risk management and strategic planning. Shareholder value and corporate culture. Coffee cups with little cheerful logos.

Forced retirement.

After all this time, all the years of service. The dedication and the sacrifices (literally). All over with two little words.

Budget cuts.

Thanks for all your time, you’ve been an inspiration, new blood and new directions, we’re sure you understand.

Satan kicked his wastebasket over in a sudden pique. It’s not like I have any other skills. What am I meant to do now he had asked them. What do you expect me to do? I’ve only ever had one job.

The wet-behind-the-ears fetus that had fired him had tried to cheer him along. Give you time to pursue other interests. What if I don’t have any other interests apart from torture, maiming and hearing damned souls scream? The kid didn’t have any answers for him. The kid with his black shoes, gold watch and BA in marketing.

All these years and it was out by lunch. Please don’t make a scene. Go with dignity, the fetus had said. Satan picked up the paper bag he been allowed to put his personal belongings in and looked around his office. Already their vile influence was in here, a poster showing a man climbing a mountain. Courage means going forward despite your fear it said.

Despite your fear. Satan mused over this as he walked the last long walk. Spite your fear. Despite your fear. There are plenty of opportunities out there. Maybe do some courses. Sail that boat. Run a marathon. Live dammit!

He paused on the threshold, mind swirling, pregnant with possibility. Out There. The Real World. With skills in torture and dealing with damned souls there must be heaps of jobs out there. Politician, nightclub owner. Maybe even be a P.E. teacher.

Satan stepped across the threshold and into his new life.


“I am a uni student in Melbourne, Australia who started writing to avoid doing my degree homework. It’s much more fun.” Mathew can be reached at mathewferguson[at]angelfire.com.

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