The four friends entered the convention hall, gazing around to take it all in. They had been attending these events for years, decades even, and they all followed the same pattern: Speakers, teams building exercises, information kiosks and items for sale. And this year Gideon would be one of the speakers. Victor, Beth and Myrth had been a great help in assisting him to prepare his presentation.
The occasion meant a full day off the job and an opportunity to re-acquaint themselves with colleagues normally not encountered in their day-to-day life. As an added bonus the conference fell on Monday morning. Since no souls could be collected while all the agents were off work, temporary labour had been contracted. The Fallen Angels department filled in and sent his clients to Mr.D, for a fee, of course. The Fallen Agents were doubly pissed off at the DAMN conference. The beginning of the week was a bitch.
The large group banner hung at the front of the room on the wall behind the podium where the guests would present. The red, yellow and orange background appeared to resemble fire and printed in black, the group’s name:
Devil’s Agents Management Network – D.A.M.N.
The elegant chandeliers gleamed, highlighting the few people dotted around sitting at the tables, gravely speaking to each other, with bent heads and serious expressions, but most milled throughout the large room making new connections and soliciting favours whenever possible.
Tables were set up, seatings of eight, with white crisp table cloths, fine-boned china, crystal stem-ware and sterling silver flatware. No flowers. The refreshment table carried champagne, caviar, fine cheeses, a variety of breads and biscuits, thinly sliced rare roast beef and Black Forest ham. And deviled eggs (very spicy), naturally. Soul collectors had good appetites from all their running around the territory which consumed a great deal of energy. The hot lunch would follow in a few hours.
Beth broke away and ran up to an old friend she hadn’t seen in thirty years. He somehow normally did not attend these functions. Myrth found her coven and danced over to the witches’ table. Gideon and Victor both gravitated to the moderator, Gideon to discuss his presentation and Victor to say hello to his mentor. On their way to the head dais they each glad-handed old friends and greeted people.
Victor and Gideon paid their respects to the upper management. Mr. D wore his best red velvet suit, nothing like Santa Claus — if one wanted to get his goat one could compare the two, but frankly the punishment wasn’t worth the joke. The attendees wore their normal work uniform, black suits, and even the women wore ties though theirs were generally more colourful than the men’s.
Finally the two gentlemen found a table, shaking hands with the other colleagues and joining in the gossip. Everyone gossips even devil’s agents. Ted told them about the lower demon who was fired for insubordination, a pity as he had been such a genial fellow. Murray, quite the ladies’ man, mentioned his latest lover and the tricks she performed for him. And Fred, who was gay, earnestly discussed the discrimination he still felt among his peers. Political correctness was not a high priority for the mid management team. Though judging by a few of the activities listed on the agenda, that attitude might be changing.
The moderator rapped the mic for silence and the meeting began. After his opening remarks the first presenter took over.
The speaker said to call her Cass. She smiled a lot and gave the impression people could talk to her. “You guys have done this before so you know the drill; we’re going to do a few exercises and games to help everyone get to know each other. We are all here not to judge but to help however we can.”
The audience as one groaned. Why after all these decades they still insisted on these absurd exercises was anyone’s guess. Maybe to help acclimatize the newer employees; several of them had worked their way up from the lower ranks and might require assistance in learning how things were done at this level. Due to the overabundance of HR personnel in Hell these activities were to be expected.
This year the games included:
— Two Truths and a Lie – this one was ridiculous – asking devils agents to be honest about themselves, what the fuck were they thinking?
— Life Highlights Game (should have been death highlights)
— The One Question Ice Breaker Exercise (silly buggers)
— Picture Pieces Game to encourage team work, very amusing.
The HR folks finally ended their nonsense and a 15 minute break was announced. Several agents strolled out to the veranda to get some air and to vent in private. Their need for oxygen propelled them out of the main hall. One of the human waiters welcomed them to the patio, with the warning to beware of the mosquitoes. Beth giggled. Soul collectors were never bothered by mosquitoes or their ilk; even insects feared their soul might be sent to Hell to be placed in that “special” room.
Later everyone enjoyed Gideon’s presentation. They may be soul collectors and work for the Devil but they can still be surprised. Gideon continually found it fascinating the different ways peoples’ lives can end:
— death by falling toilet seat,
— circus and zoo accidents,
— and one guy who swallowed a bible – kind of ironic that one was. The audience loved that one
— And as he said lots of lawyers too; like the lawyer who fell out of the office window while trying to prove that the glass would not break – it did not break but fell out of the window frame and the lawyer fell with it.
— also the fellow in a porto potty explosion. The guy lit a cigarette and exploded It is good we have the housekeeping section in the corporation to clean that mess up.
Examples of coffee mugs for sale. Devil’s agents did love their java.
When I’m good I’m very good, when I’m bad I’m fantastic with a pic of a large devil grinning. A tail formed the handle (too much of a stereotype and it didn’t sell)
The demons made me do it with little demons on the cup. The demon contingent used a similar item but with devils on it.
Horny self explanatory
Devil of a job a ‘devils working’ logo complete with black suited attire
Devil of a time a clock showing midnight
All rather pedestrian but ad men would try anything.
Gideon, pleased that his presentation was well received, tucked the badge into his briefcase, smiled and rushed to the car park to retrieve his BMW. He was anxious to get home and tell Phoebe all about the day. He had bought one of the horny coffee mugs for her. She was going to throw it at him; he knew that, he mentally ducked, and grinned.
Mr.D is the devil who the agents work for collecting souls of his contracted clients and sending them on to Hell.
Myrth is a witch and also a devil’s agent
Blogophilia week 31.5 – Beware of Mosquitoes
(Hard, 2pts): Include a need for oxygen
(Easy, 1pt): Use the phrase “Monday mornings”