Author’s note: Yay, another story with one of my favorite demons! Oops, devil! Don’t tell him I slipped!
When I arrived at the coffee shop for my shift this morning, I immediately noticed two unusual things. First, Calcifer had already arrived, and looked surprisingly awake and alert. Second, he was not sitting at his usual booth in the back of the shop, but was instead perched at a table up front, near the customer line.
Normally, a slight change in a regular’s schedule wouldn’t have thrown me for a loop. But when that regular is a genuine honest-to-badness devil, I tend to pay more attention. Giving a slight wave to Danny, behind the counter, to indicate that I would need a few minutes, I pulled up a chair next to the grinning fallen angel.
“What’s so funny?” I asked. “What are you doing here so early, and up front?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t miss this for the world!” Calcifer chortled in response. He nodded towards the front counter. “I’m about to watch someone blow about a million points. This is going to be hilarious!”
“Hold on,” I broke in, waving my hand in front of Calcifer’s face in a futile effort to get his full attention. “Points? What are you talking about?”
Finally, the devil turned to look at me. “Points,” he repeated. “You know, the game of life? How much you’re winning by?”
My confusion must have been obvious. With a reluctant sigh, the devil turned to face me. “Look, do you ever compare yourself to other people?” he asked. “In terms of looks, success, money, education, smarts, whatever. You don’t need to answer – I know you do. All humans do it. They’re determining who’s winning more at life; the winner is the one who has more points.”
“But it’s like that one TV show, right? The points don’t matter?”
This elicited another laugh. “What? Of course they matter! How else would we measure your success?”
I stared at Calcifer, trying to understand. “You mean when we die?”
“Yes, of course when you die!” he snapped. “When you die, you head off to be judged, to determine what happens to you next. If you’ve got a lot of points, it means that you led a successful life, and you get top pick of the prime real estate. If you don’t have a lot of points, well, your choices are a lot more limited.”
“I don’t believe this!” I sputtered. “I thought that you just had to live a good life, and you get into Heaven!”
“And living a good life gets you points!” retorted Calcifer. “Land a nice steady job? Couple thousand points, more if you work for a do-gooder company. Meet your wife? You just brought a lifetime of happiness to someone, that’s definitely worth some points. Have kids? Creating new lives must be worth points, don’t you think?”
I shook my head as I thought about this. “Okay, it’s a messed up sort of judgement, but it’s still a judgement system of sorts,” I finally conceded. “But that doesn’t explain what you’re doing up here.”
This brought a grin to the devil’s face. “Points are important, but you only get them if you succeed,” he said happily. “If you fail at an opportunity, however, you lose points. The bigger the missed opportunity, the more points down the drain. And this is going to be a doozy!”
Part II can be found here!