The Complaint (part 14)

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“So, what’s good on TV tonight?,” she asked.

“I don’t know, love. To be honest I don’t watch it much since I got here, it makes me miss life. There’s a bar in the adjacent building, I was gonna get a beer, do you want to join me?”

“Why not,” she said, wondering what everyone’s reaction would be when they walked into a bar together. She imagined they would think she was paying him.

They walked down a tube that was made entirely of glass like so many structures in Hell. Dollar bills fell from the sky above the tube and blew around and around it in a maddening, hypnotic dance.  Ellen couldn’t help but want to grab them, even though she knew they were worthless there.

“The tubes are a spectacle the first time you see them,” Kyle said breaking her trance.

“There amazing, do they all have singles or are there some with higher denominations?”

He laughed, “They don’t all just have money, some have pornography, some have video games playing all around others have meat or drugs or weapons.  Some days I just go for a long walk through all the tubes, you should try it this weekend.”

“I was going to ask if there were still weekends here.”

“I should warn you they’re only every ten days and there is a mandatory play that you have to watch.”

They arrived at a bar called Arbuckle’s which was an impressive three story establishment with a restaurant on the main floor a dance club in the basement and a small tavern on the third floor. Kyle began to head downstairs.

“I should warn you I’m not a very good dancer,” Ellen said looking for an out.

“Oh, were not the ones that will be doing the dancing.”

“Oh, is it like strippers?”

“Nothing that much fun I’m afraid.”

They entered the basement to find several naked, middle-aged people hopping up and down on hot coals. Some of the patrons lobbed rotten eggs at them.

“Who are they,” she asked.

“Former bureaucrats; they were lazy in life and so they’re never allowed to stop dancing, or trying to.”

 He grabbed several eggs and handed them to Ellen. He grabbed a handful for himself and they began throwing them. At first Ellen found it hard to get angry, she didn’t even know these people. Then she remembered an aggravating financial aid rep she had to deal with at Jr. college and a rude employee at the DMV. She lobbed her eggs a little harder at the thought of them.

She couldn’t help but be a little envious of the punishment planner who thought of this one.

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The Complaint (Part 13)

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Ellen ran back downstairs and began typing out her punishment. She had decided that Barrett the Bully would have to spend the rest of eternity eating his own vomit. It was metaphorical in that everything he ever said in his life was a rejection of what was inside of him; it was economical in that they wouldn’t have to feed him or hire any torturers and it was environmentally sound in that this new resident would leave absolutely no carbon foot print whatsoever.

She printed it and proudly showed it to Rhonda.

“H’mm,” Rhonda said glancing at it. “Well, I guess it’s not so bad for a first try. We’ll hand it in and see how she flies,” she said in a bit of a condescending tone.

Ellen went back to her desk deflated. She wondered how many chances she got before she got fired. She wondered if she could get fired. She wondered if she got fired would she just be assigned to another job or would she get some sort of eternal punishment? If so, what would her punishment. It occurred to her that they might dislike her punishment so much that they would decide to make it her punishment.

She returned to reading the news website. There was a story about next year’s elections for Satan. No less than seven demons were running for the office and it was a two party system. The Brimstone party was known for adhering to very strict satanic ideals.  From what Ellen could surmise, the Brimstonians believed in evil for evils sake whereas their counterparts the Treacle Party believed that money, being the root of all evil, was what society should be striving for.

There was a fat round demon who had worked on earth as a factory farmer and an oil tank owner. He was running on a platform of environmental destruction. He was a member the Brimstone party. His opponents included a tall, thin pink demon who had been a cult leader, a curvy lady demon who had run a pay to kill hunting farm and a strikingly bright orange demon who had been the host of many swinger’s parties.  All the Brimstonian candidates were ganging up on him as they felt he leaned to close to the treacle party. They said the swinger’s parties just provided a distraction from serious matters rather than being truly evil themselves.

The Treacle had an equally horrifying roster of candidates. The included a two headed red demon who had been a venture capitalist on earth, he was running on a platform of pure greed. There was a long polk-a-dot demon who had been a corporate attorney on earth. He’d gotten hundreds of corporations of the hook for doing horrible things. Still, he was the center of some controversy as there had never been a polk-a-dot Satan. Rounding out the group was the incumbent Satan, a square green creature who had been a Hollywood producer in the world. He had been involved in a scandal earlier that year when it came out that he had raised a good deal of money for starving orphans back in his old filmmaking days. Although he had repeatedly stated that the charities were just a cover and he had stolen most of the money, his approval ratings had dropped considerably.

After reading about them Ellen was very happy that she didn’t have the vote. She didn’t like any of the candidates and although she was apparently evil she didn’t really know that much about how it all worked.

Her stomach was in knots all the way home. She told Virgil about her experience at work and he attempted to comfort her.

“It’s very rare for anyone to get fired from any job, it’s basically government work. They’ll give you lots of tries. Worst case you would get reassigned. The only workers I’ve ever seen get fired are the subversives; people who don’t do as they’re told.”

“I just don’t want to be eating SpaghettiOs and living in the dorms forever.”

“I think you’ll be fine. Hey, Ellen, there’s an orgy on Friday at one of the clubs in the fourth circle, would you like to go with me?”

“Oh,, your sweet, but, I really don’t think I’m ready for that yet,” she said grateful that they had reached the dorms.”

“I understand,” VIrgil said trying not to sound hurt.

Ellen entered the dorms and made a bee line for the bathroom. She tried not to look in the soul mirror as she passed by. She went into the kitchen where she found Kyle enjoying a sandwich. She heated up her much loathed dinner and sat down to join him. She told him everything that happened including the part about Virgil inviting her to the orgy.

“I’ve been to those things they’re really boring”.

“Really?”

“Yeah, they have all these games but it takes forever to get them going. I prefer my experiences to be one on one,” he smiled at her.

“So Where’s Danni,” she asked feeling herself beginning to blush.

“”She moved into an apartment. I’m happy for her. She’s a bloody hard worker.”

“Yes, well that’s good for her than. How did your haunting go last night?

“Pretty well, I’m really close to signing this one girl, I just have to wine her and dine her a bit more. I’ll probably go back tomorrow night and seal the deal.”

It occurred to Ellen that she and Kyle would be the only ones in the dorm that night.

 

The Complaint (part 12)

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She picked up the file folder and began to read it. It contained information about a Mr. Barrett Kraft, a 70 year old man who had been a bully all his life, he was on life support and his family had just pulled the plug. He would be arriving in Hell soon and Ellen was supposed to design a punishment for him.
She paged through the folder as she sipped her disappointingly weak office coffee. She was appalled by what she read.
Barrett had been born and raised in Evanston, Illinois and was the son of an ACLU Attorney and a Podiatrist. He had an older sister who was apparently his first victim. She had thick glasses and buck teeth and he used to say she looked like an ugly jackrabbit. He would tell her that no one would ever want to marry her and that her friends all laughed at her behind her back. He had even tape recorded them doing this.
In school he picked on a younger smaller boy whose hands shock. He would call the boy an epileptic and ask the boy why he was such a nervous wreck right in front of the girls. In high school he and his friend looked though the yearbook and decided that a girl named Mary Rogers was the ugliest girl in the school. Barrett had been the one to call her and tell her what they all thought of her.
His parents never did anything to stop him, they didn’t believe in censoring their son. Ellen took this into consideration, but he still came across a douche bag.
His test scores were too low to get into college, so he’d gone into the army and fought in the Vietnam war in spite of having full knowledge that the war was illegal. He was a cook in a medical unit where he sexually harassed the women and beat up a smart, but awkward medical assistant who was always reading. He’d gotten married to a shy woman who he verbally abused and they had two kids. He loved his daughter who was class president and a cheerleader, but he ridiculed his son who was awkward, a bit fat and suffered from a learning disability.
“God, I’d never read anything so horrible in my life”. She said to Rhonda in the break room.
“Have you thought of a punishment yet,” Rhonda asked.
“Well, he could be forced to walk the streets of Hell with all the maladies that he made fun of.”
“What streets? It’s all rivers here, hon?”
“Oh, well he could be locked in a small room with nothing but one of those soul mirrors.”
“Well, that might get accepted, but I doubt it. The higher-ups like a punishment that’s both physical and psychological. You want to make him do something to himself that he did to others, but it should be kind of metaphorical. He should do something to himself physically that symbolizes what he did to others emotionally.
Ellen went back to her desk. She wondered what to do, she was so tired of SpagehtiO’s. She attempted to surf the net, but all that would come up was that day’s news. At lunch she sat in the restaurant and stared down at the sinners being punished. She watched everyone eating; then she got an idea.

The Complaint (part 11)

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Ellen watched TV for as long as she could stay awake. Aside from the news it was all reality television. She marveled at the variety of different plots they had thought up.

The first one was a show about the life of Ted Bundy in Hell. He managed to avoid his punishment of being in a device that would constantly shove a Samari sword up his ass, by agreeing to be on an endless dating show. The show entailed a stream of insane and hideous woman who had written to him in prison competing to be his bride. Bundy was forced to sleep with all of them including a four hundred transvestite covered in boils.

The next show was called Gia and Anna Nicole and it was about the life of the former bachelor star and the former stripper rooming together for the rest of eternity. They were cursed with IBS and most of the show took place in the bathroom, They weren’t allowed to wear any make-up or brush their hair and they were forced to read all the classics aloud, which was a problem, because neither of them seem to be able to read very well.

Another show featured Richard Nixon locked in an oval office where the pictures of angry Vietnamese people yelled at him, Ellen assumed the show was aimed at old people.

The news came on again and Ellen saw her mother crying while being interviewed.  She wondered why she hadn’t cried yet. She had after all died. No one had told her weather she would see her family again and yet she felt a strange sense of calm. She felt almost as though she had stepped out of a hot tub after a long soak –limp and in a bit of a daze.  Her futile crush on Kyle was the closet thin she had felt to emotions all day and even that didn’t evoke the kind of nervousness it would have when she was alive.

Feeling drowsy, she headed back to the bedroom. She groped her way through the dark and lay down on the far corner of the enormous bed. She could here Danni and Kyle whispering at the other end of the bed, then she felt an ominous tugging at the sheets. Somewhere in the middle of the night she fell asleep. They were all awakened by an alarm at 3:00 am and Kyle had to get dressed and go haunt an aspiring entertainment news blogger who wished to become the next Perez Hilton.

The alarm when off again at 7:00 AM. Ellen was happy to see a fresh set of clothes laid out on a chair for her. She showered ate her SpaghettiO’s and caught the boat to work.

“So, what did you think of the dorms,” Virgil asked as soon as she got in the boat.

“It was okay. I hope I don’t have to live there too long. I really didn’t like the soul mirror very much at all.”

“Well, you should get used to that, there’s one in every residence in Hell,” he told her. “Why what did you look like?”

“I don’t know, weird and old.”

“Having and old soul isn’t so bad.”

“I guess I didn’t look at it that way,” she smiled.

“What do you look like in that thing?”

“I think you’d be surprised.” He said.

They arrived at the office and Ellen arrived at her desk to find a fat green file folder on her desk, it was her first assignment.

The Complaint (part 10)

compShe finished her SpaghettiOs and excused herself to have a look around the dorm.
She went into the bathroom where she tested the water in the shower and as she suspected, it was ice cold. After using the facilities for the first time in the eight or so hours she’d been in Hell she looked in the mirror. She saw a short fat woman with deep crow’s feet and white hair and a rather reddish complexion.
She heard the door open and saw Danni walk in.
“Hey,” Danni said coldly.
“Hey,” Ellen said.
She turned back to the mirror and was astonished to see a morbidly obese acne ridden bald woman crossing in back of her.
“You’ve found the soul reflector, I see, ‘the woman in the mirror said as she passed. Ellen turned back around to see the stunning Danni in the same position as the woman in the mirror.
“It freaked me out at first as well, now I just don’t look in it.”
“What do I look like to you,” Ellen asked in a panic.
“About five foot five, straight brown hair,about 135 pounds slightly crocked teeth vaguely smallish chest; good skin though and nice blue eyes,” Danni said in a rather unimpressed tone.
“So I look the same as I did in life to other people?”
“Yes, that’s right. It’s just Satan’s way of reinforcing the idea that other people’s opinions are everything.”
“But, I mean, how you get ready in the morning?”
“Well, the way I look is part of my job so I have a special mirror to look in before I go to work. You’ll just have to find a buddy to tell you if you look okay.”
Ellen wondered who she would trust enough to do something like this. She wandered back out into the hallway and found an unoccupied TV room.
She turned on the TV and a small blond anchorwoman appeared on the screen.
“Good evening, I’m Jessica Savitch and this is News Unearthed on HNN.”
Five people are dead and seven were wounded in a mall shooting in Chicago, IL today, by a man who appears to have been a disgruntled ex-employee of The Bed and Bath store there”
Ellen gasped as the picture flashed on the screen. It was Morton Tepper, the manager who had been caught stealing from the cash register.
“Witnesses say Tepper ran though the mall screaming, ‘I am an agent of darkness. I am sent here by Satan!
Statin denies any affiliation with Tepper and says that he is disappointed in the paltry death toll.
The dead include Ellen Turnblue a 24 year-old Bed and Bath Store employee, Steven Potsman a 30 year old attorney, Rebecca Kienman a 22 year-old mall employee and Justine and Karen Pitswater two eighteen year old twins who were apparently playing hooky from school that day.
All of the victims were unremarkable in their accomplishments and each of them will come to reside in Hell.
Satan says that he hopes the victims’ families will come to enjoy the media attention they will receive as a result of their loved ones having such highly publicized deaths.
No punishment has yet been designed for Mr. Postman at this time. Mr. Tepper was taken into custody and a hearing is set for tomorrow morning.
Satan stated that he hopes the low death toll and the fact that the gun was not registered to the offender will not strengthen the argument for gun control and and will not encourage health insurance companies to cover mentally health care.”

The Complaint (part 9)

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“You have to recruit three. I only have to have one approved punishment before I can move on, I guess I got lucky.”
“Maybe, love. I have a feeling you’ve got a harder job. It really isn’t that hard to get someone who wants to be famous to do something stupid.”
She wondered if he could see her blushing when he called her love; did souls blush? A long uncomfortable silence passed as she tried to think of something else to say to him.
“Hey, there heart throb, how’s it going?” Ellen heard a woman’s voice behind her.
“Hey, mean girl how tricks?” Kyle said perking up.
Ellen turned to see a tall sultry brunette standing in the door way. The woman was about 5’9 and dressed in a black-jumpsuit that hugged her large breasts and small waist perfectly. Long dark hair framed the woman’s face and offset her enormous blue eyes.
“They’re amazing, so good I’m moving to level two tomorrow”. The woman said sitting down next to Ellen without acknowledging her presents at all.
“What happened,” Kyle asked, it occurred to Ellen that she had ceased to exist.
“Two anorexics and a suicide all from my Vodka ad.”
“Wow, you’ve got dangerous curves lady.” He said impressed.
Oh Ellen, this is Danni, she’s helps to induce self-loathing and suicidal tendencies in the living”
“Hi,” Ellen said putting out her hand.
“I’m moving in with roommates tomorrow.”
“Well’ I’m happy for you love, but I’m a little put off we won’t be bedmates anymore.”
“Not, for a while at least.” She said coyly.
Ellen felt her stomach tighten it occurred to her that they would all be sharing a bed that night.

The Complaint (part 8)

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“So, how did you die,” she asked in between slurps.
“I was shot by a jealous ex-girlfriend, I’m afraid.”
“Did you deserve it,” she asked shocked at her own vibrato.
“I suppose I wasn’t so terribly attentive when we were going out. The thing is she stalked me for six months after we broke up and shot me early in the morning when I was leaving another girl’s apartment It made the papers, so I guess I wasn’t just another tree falling in the forest.”
“Wait a second, are you that actor who played the brother in A Gentleman’s Diary”?
“Yes, Kyle McCrady.”
“It said in the paper that you had a film that was coming out that you were staring in. All the headlines said you were the next big thing.”
“Yeah, that’s what they were saying,” He said rather wistfully.
“So, I mean how did you…well, are you under twenty five as well?”
“Oh no I’m thirty,” he said.
“Well, then how did you get a job instead of a punishment, were you just a really good guy? ”
“I worked out a special deal when I was 15. I was always sort of an awkward kid, skinny, pimply. My family moved to LA from London when I was 15. I went to Beverly Hills High. I was surrounded by pretty people all the time. One day I ditched school and went for a long walk up Hollywood Blvd. I stopped at this Thai place right near the Vibe Hostel and there was this really pretty woman at the next table. We got to talking and she ordered a rum and Coke and I ordered a Coke and we pulled the old switcheroo. Eventually, after four or five drinks we went back to her room at the Vibe where I lost my virginity in a round bed with neon sheets. When we were finished she told me that I could have everything I ever wanted for fifteen years if I would just agree to having a certain job after death.
Well, when you’re fifteen, fifteen years seems like a lifetime, plus I figured she was full of malarkey. So she gave me these pills to take every morning for thirty days. I figured they were sugar or something fun. I took them every morning and over the course of a few mouths I began to gain muscle, my grades improved, my skin cleared up. I had my first girlfriend and I began to get modeling jobs.
When I turned 18 I began to get commercials and guest starring roles in films. At twenty one I tended bar on Hollywood Blvd and, I met all kinds of interesting people there. I began to get small parts in major films. I was with the kind of women most men only dream about and they actually approached me. I got bigger roles and quit my bartending gig. When I was 28 we filmed On the Outside; which was my first big starring role. The release date kept getting pushed back; nobody thought it would make any money. I thought it would go straight to video.
“Really,” Ellen asked. The way they were talking about it on TV, I thought it was going to be a huge hit.”
“Well, know it will be, now that I’m dead. They modeled there plan for me after James Dean and Heath Ledger . I’m a legend of male sexuality and unrealized potential.”
“So, what kind of job do you have down here.”
“I’m a ghost. I haunt young actors and encourage them to participate in all sorts of garbage. I’ve already gotten two o tem to be on reality TV; one more and I move up to the next level. “

The Complaint (Part 6)

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The Maitre’ d led them to a table near the window where they sat, munching on breadsticks and drinking water. The restaurant slowly revolved and Rhonda pointed out all the various sections of Hades to Ellen.

“Right over there are your famous leaders, Pol Pot is there he labors all day at growing potatoes that he only gets one bite of when they grow. He’s only weighs like 90 pounds; he’s got scurvy and liver disease too.

Hitler is right there. He constantly has to make clothing out of his own skin.”

Ellen looked down to see a boney man tearing skin off his leg with a large knife and screaming.

“That’s exactly the kind of punishment Satan likes most by the way. You’ll get further faster if you think outside the box a bit.”

“Have you met Satan?” Ellen asked.

“Oh, no that would be like meeting the president. In fact there’s an election every four years, only the demons get to vote.”

Their meals came without their having ordered anything. Rhonda was presented with a Caesar salad while and Ellen got SpaghettiOs.

“Um, we didn’t order yet,” Ellen said.

The waiter walked away without a word.

“It’s not a mistake, it’s what you get,” Rhonda said. “You get SpagettiOs until you get your first approved punishment. The quality of your meals improves from there.”

The same thing goes for housing. You will live in a dorm with six other interns. You’ll all sleep in the same bunk until you have three approved punishments.”

They moved into the next section of Hell which was devoted to heirs and celebrities.

Ellen looked down to see a group of people wrapped in bubble wrap who were trying to climb an endlessly long shoelace, one of them was wearing George Bush.

“Just be glad you get to eat better than the Hollywood producers, “ said Rhonda pointing to a group of men in sunglasses. “ When they first got here, they were force feed a diet of stale popcorn and  gas station nachos;  now all they get to eat is their own vomit.”

“Oh my God; is that Whitney Houston over there? “ Ellen asked pointing down at the singer who appeared to be locked in a vice.

“ Oh yeah that was mine, actually. She’s watching The Bodyguard: she’s always watching The Bodyguard,” Rhonda said a bit sadistically.

 

The restaurant turned another inch or so to reveal an ugly naked woman in a glass box she was surrounded by mirrors. Ellen knew without having to ask that the woman had been a gossip.

 

 

 

The Complaint (part 5)

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“OK, Ellen said.
Virgil will take you to your desk
Virgil and Ellen got into Ellen’s private motor boat and traveled a few miles down the river. Ellen marveled at the amazing array of plastic palm trees and mechanical animals that lined the shore. Enormous bags of garbage floated down the river, some people rode on the bags.
“We love plastic around here, makes the earth die faster.”” Virgil said. “Those people you see floating on the bags were coach potatoes. “See that island of trash over there? “That’s all from movie sets; do you like movies?”
“They’re okay, Ellen said sensing that another question was coming and wanting to avoid it.
They docked in front of a building marked operations.
Virgil gave her a brief tour as they walked towards her desk.
“This first section over here is acquisitions. That guy in the grey is Bill is in charge of bribery, the one in blue is Sam he’s in purchasing.”
“That lady he’s with looks just like Sarah Palin. “ Ellen commented.
“That is Sarah Palin A.K.A Mussolini the demon of a thousand faces as we call her; she’s like seven hundred years old “ Virgil said.
“Over here is marketing, they do product placement, spray on tans, if you ever saw Sex and the City that was their special project. They do a lot of blogging these days.
Here’s the kitchen, coffee, vending machine and oh we have a book sharing station.
Ellen was disappointed to see the coffee was Folgers, the only candy in the machine was white chocolate and the only book was Fifty Shades of Grey.
Virgil lead her to the Planning and Danger department and showed her to a small cubicle. She sat down and waited to be told what to do. She was sitting wondering what her funeral was like when a loud voice interrupted her.
“Hey, you must be the new planner, I’m Rhonda!”
Ellen, looked up to see a plump woman of around thirty with enormous hair and bright red lipstick standing over her.
“I’m Ellen”.
“Are you hungry, I was just about to go to lunch?”
The two women took headed upstairs to a restaurant on the roof of the building called the Observatory.”
Ellen was amazed at what she saw when she entered the dining room. The room comprised entirely of glass and every window had a different view of Hell.

The Complaint (part 4)

All Of a sudden the people in the room began to turn black and white. First the color went out of their clothes then their faces. Their hands slowly faded from flesh.
A man pushing an extra-large shopping cart approached Ellen.
“Get in,” he said coldly.
“I beg your pardon,” Ellen said.
“Get in the shopping cart.”
“I Will not.”
“Miss, I’m afraid it’s not a choice,” he said.
She began to walk away. He seized her by the arm. She screamed and fought him. Ellen screamed again but no one turned around or even looked up. She looked over at Mr. Kaden who was dutifully climbing into his shopping cart.
She climbed in and the man pushed her to the shopping cart escalator placed her cart on the escalator and left her to ride down alone. She traveled for what seemed like an eternity down at least a hundred different flights and she didn’t recognize any of the shops she saw except for Starbucks. After a time she began to feel very hot. Suddenly the levels of the mall disappeared and she was traveling down a long tunnel surrounded by very bright lights while annoying bagpipe music played in the background.
The cart finally landed in a river. She floated until she saw a tall, thin balding man waving her ashore.
“Hi, I’m Virgil. You must be Ellen.”
She stepped out of the cart and they walked into a large office building marked “Human Resources”.
“Have a seat, Ellen, Emily will be right in, Virgil said.
“Excuse me, am I dead?”
“Emily will be in in a minute” He said gently closing the door.”
In a moment a rather large woman in a pink business suit entered.
“Hi, Sorry I’m a little late my name’s Emily, “she announced in a brass New York accent.
“Am I dead”, Ellen asked again beginning to panic.
“Well let’s have a seat and talk about it”, Emily said sitting down behind a desk that seemed to be made of pure ivory.
“Ellen, we don’t like to use the word dead around here. We prefer to think of it as being dimensionally reassigned.”
“OK”, Ellen said “and where have I been reassigned to?”
“Well, Ellen as you’ve probably heard when ya die ya go to one of two places. If a person has lived an exemplary life he goes to Heaven and if not you come here.
“Am I in Hell?”
“We prefer to call it a soul rehabilitation center.”
“Does that mean there’s a way out?
“No, we just prefer to call it that?
“Why am I here,” Ellen asked beginning to cry.”
“Ya lied, you swore, you fornicated, you stole a couple of time, you lusted after your best friend’s father , you worshiped, money, you didn’t kill but you wanted to kill a whole bunch of customers and you ate dead animals that had been killed for you,”
“Oh.”
“But, there is one bright spot. You were under twenty five when you died and you were murdered, so technically we can’t send you for punishment. “
“So, I get reincarnated”
“No, not exactly.
“What do I get?”
“You get a job here with us.”
“It isn’t retail is it?”
“Oh, no . We knew how frustrated you were with that. We knew you always wanted to do something creative. Ellen, congratulations you’re our new Punishment Planner apprentice.”