The office was a square of beige walls and cream colored furniture. The desk was set a precise 90 degree angle to the door and held nothing that was not absolutely necessary for the owner to do its job. The being to whom the office belonged was, in its own way, just as forgettable as its workspace. It was a thin, weedy thing with no gender. Its skin was a matte grey, just smooth enough to avoid interesting looking wrinkles. Though young, it had been created for its job and was perfectly at home in Hell’s structure. The entire subset of punishment or judgement related afterlives took on the collective name of Hell after the Christian variations began to multiply exponentially.
The office door swung open with a squeal. In rushed a harried looking demon from Hell’s Registration Area. The new comer was a blue skinned male demon, the three horns over each of his five eyes telling a tale middle to old age. He was followed by a human soul, a young female around two to three decades old. The only reason a human soul would be in its office was if there was a mistake in her registration.
“What,” it snapped, letting its skin darken from grey to green in irritation.
“This one can’t be sorted,” the blue skinned demon said in a shaken tone. The being rolled its internal eyes. Demonic sorters were so dramatic.
“Can’t be sorted,” the being repeated skeptically. “Everyone can be sorted.”
The demon’s jaw spikes curled in agitation, “Look!!!”
The being looked over at the human soul. She was a little more placid than most. But frankly the lack of tears and screaming was a relief. Other than that she looked like every other human soul that has passed through Registration.
“Look at what?” The being demanded.
“Just look” he snapped back.
Feeling the paperwork piling up, the being looked at the soul with its Hell Sight. At first nothing unusual appeared. Everyone qualifies for a minimum 39 hells, with the 40 Christian variations supported. The soul had all forty but that wasn’t unusual. Neither was the qualification for Jahannam and Sheol respectively. The first Norse Helheim marked her as a non-soldier. The lack of the second marked her as a brave soul regardless.
Then things got a bit strange. The being squinted all eight of its external eyes at the soul’s Hell List. “I wasn’t aware we offered a hell for that particular Baptist sect.”
The blue skinned demon hung his head, “We don’t. ‘Everyone but us’ is still too general. Keep looking.”
The being wrinkled its nose in confusion but continued anyway. “Hmmm…not many have the right rituals to be judged in both the Greek and Egyptian traditions.” It read further in list before wrinkling it’s nose again. “That is not a human Hell. That judgement is reserved for non-human mortals.”
“I know. Keep reading”
A little further before an entry caused it to go rosy pink in shock, “How can a human soul be eligible for Gielyzkyl? That’s one of the Hells for Czzatizea in the Andromeda system. It’s outside my jurisdiction.”
“Keep reading,” the blue demon interrupted.
The being huffed, green overlaying pink in its irritation at the interruption. The green faded under the darkening red of abject shock. “This soul qualifies for all 300 recognized Hell and Judgement afterlives in my jurisdiction. She also qualifies for 45 hells outside my jurisdiction attached to planets spread through 25 galaxies. She qualifies for the Summerland, two of the Valhallas’ are willing to accept her. Three variations of Swarga Loka are listed here. And…No, this can’t be right. Six of the Christian Heavens are laying claim to her. She is slated for their associated Hells. If that is the case she shouldn’t have even made it here.”
The being went over to a pure white phone hidden behind a false wall in the corner of its office. There were no rings before its heavenly counterpart answered. “I do hope this is to tell me you have approval for that poor misplaced soul. He won’t stop twitching and crying, even in paradise.”
“Unfortunately not, four of the major Hell realms are trying to use this as a grab for power. No, this is a new situation. I have a soul here that qualifies for several of the Christian Heavens and their associated Hells. Those lists are mutually exclusive.”
“Hmmm. What Soul?”
The being rattled off the soul identifying number and waited while the voice on the other end of the line looked over the file.
“Ah. Yes. I did find her.” The voice took on the faintly haughty tone it always did when dealing with the Christian divine. “It seems she meets all criteria for those heavens except for being Christian. Normally that would be an automatic disqualifier but apparently she also would have qualified for partial Sainthood if she had even implied she was praying to the Christian god once. But upon closer inspection she doesn’t qualify for any of the Christian Heavens.”
The being hung up the phone, questions answered. “Now that that is sorted…What?”
There was no relief in the Sorting demon. If anything it looked even more miserable. “That wasn’t the issue.”
The being waited a moment, then two. “Well, what is the issue? So she has more qualifying Hells than most. She is far from the first person with multiple qualifying Hells.”
“Look at the Adjusted List,” the blue demon all but wailed.
The being sighed. Then it semi-reluctantly adjusted the Hell Sight. This should clear out any of the Hells the soul did not truly believe she was qualified for. At first it looked like nothing had changed. Looking closer revealed the changes. Helheim was fading out. Also the entry for the Egyptian Judgement had faded. That was it. The paperwork for this would take centuries.
“Stand here” It commanded the soul. Placidly the soul moved to the section of office the being pointed to. She stood above the seemingly decorative shape in the floor.
The being breathed out a sub vocal set of syllables. The tones were a language that had never been heard by a being under its jurisdiction. It was outside the auditory range of almost all mortal and demonic beings. It was the language of its people. Inscribed upon its very being at the moment of creation. The decorative design, all spikes and triangles mixing with soft circles, flashed first violet then white, blue, and yellow before shining a strange indescribable grey.
“What?” The blue demon asked, sounding stumped. The being almost felt sorry for him. There was no training that could prepare one for this.
“Manual sorting.” The being answered curtly. “Another instance of myself has already come into being to take care of all other matters. Another sorter is being dispatched to take you place in Registration. We must begin.”
At the end of the Manual Sorting the being was brick red, the deepest shock it had ever known. After viewing the Souls life four hundred times, once for each entry into her Adjusted List, the situation had only grown worse. They had went from far too many choices to none.
Incorrect funeral rites disqualified her from the polytheistic category afterlives. Lack of belief barred her from the Monotheistic reward and lack of any other crime except nonbelief barred her from their punishments. The very process of Manual Sorting had made her ineligible for the Reincarnation Department.
The being turned to the Soul. “Child of Strife. Supplicant of Eris. What shall we do with you?” A strange, contemplative smile spread across the beings features as an idea struck. “I do have need of an assistant.”
There was a sharp crack followed by the cackling of a Greek Goddess of Discord. The soul began to move of her own free will, her eyes widened, “Where am I?”
The being rolled half of its eyes. Of course, now there was fear. Something pressed in and then relaxed. A new desk appeared from nowhere. A new position created and locked in place. The being smiled at its new assistant. Strangely the mortal soul didn’t seem to be comforted.
“No need to worry, Unsortable One, your duties will be simple enough.”
This did not appear to help. Mortal Souls…
Such strange creatures.