"Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Belzspa. This is a lovely office," Beatrice Virgil extended a well manicured hand toward the demon sitting behind a wide, basalt desk.
Mr. Belzspa rose, the small bat wings on his shoulders fluttering ever so slightly, and shook Beatrice's hand. His crimson skin was dry and scaly, and his palm was warm like a sidewalk in the summertime. He wore an immaculate three piece pin stripe suit.
"It's my pleasure Ms Virgil. The boss said you had a very interesting proposal. Won't you have a seat?" With a wave of his hand a stone chair rose from the floor.
Beatrice sat. Catching the demon staring at her legs, she smoothed her skirt and cleared her throat. Flustered, the demon focused his attention on her blue eyes.
Beatrice said, "The network wants to shoot a reality show featuring the nine circles of hell and follow one soul through the process. We expect it to be a ratings super star. Not only will we get the conservative religious folks, but the non-religious folks will tune in out of curiosity. The demographics are unbelievable and sponsors are already falling all over themselves to buy air time."
"I did read your projections, they are quite impressive. Personally, I'm afraid it may hit our bottom line, after all, if folks know what's going on here attendance very well could drop. But the boss seems to think that there is no such thing as bad publicity."
"Amen to that," Beatrice said. There was a rumble from beneath the floor and the room shook. Mr. Belzspa's desk lamp tumbled to the ground.
"Let's be a little careful with our word choice, shall we?" Mr. Belzspa said. "Anyway, as I was saying, the boss likes your proposal and what the boss wants, he gets. I'm just here to clear up a few details."
"Certainly, I can answer any question."
"Excellent," the demon steepeled his fingers. "First off, if I remember correctly, you're planning to focus the first three episodes on the second circle, Lust. However, later on you gloss right over the sixth and eight circles, where we deal with Herecy and Fraud. There is some mighty fine work being done in those areas, real innovative, cutting edge punishments being rolled out. I think you are missing an opportunity."
"What can I say, sex sells," Beatrice smiled charmingly. The demon remained stone faced. Beatrice stopped smiling. "Look, no one is interested in Herecy now-a-days, and fraud, well, fat bankers are fun targets, but not for three episodes."
"I suppose I understand, but the imps on those levels will be disappointed. Also, I need to ask about the clause requiring the Succubi to wear bikinis."
"That's to get by the censors. Topless women are topless women to those people, regardless of whether they have fangs and wings or not."
"That is not going to go over well with the Succubi. We could get in trouble with the union."
"Oh, well, I suppose we could just blur them out," said Beatrice.
"Good. The last item is regarding the soul you intend to follow around. While we have a steady influx of new, um, members, privacy laws strictly prohibit us from making that information public."
"Not to worry, we are currently working on several, volunteers. We have not one, but two, psychopaths who recently went on shooting rampages. We're going to get the courts to... are you drooling?"
"Oh, excuse me," Mr. Belzspa dabbed his chin with the hanky from his suit pocket. "I can't help it. The thought of a psychopath, they're just so scrumptious. The trick is not to devour them all at once, but to take your time and suck the..."
"Whoa, whoa, save some for the show," Beatrice held up her hands.
"Yes, of course, so rude of me. Well, I have to say I can see why the boss is interested. If you'll just sign these forms." A set of papers and a plumed pen appeared on the desk in a flash of black smoke.
Beatrice smiled. "Nice try. The lawyers are taking care of all the paper work and they reminded me not to sign anything while I was here."
Mr. Belzspa laughed. "Well, you can't blame an old demon for trying. I look forward to doing business with you."
"And I you. I think it's going to be a hell of a good show," Beatrice smiled.
Copyright 2012 John Lance