Four Torments and a Judgment
by Erik Williams
The demon Yarsloth sat in the back of the church, invisible to the flock of worshippers around him and bored out of his mind. A Mid-Level Demon, Yarsloth held a title demanding important work. The last century alone he had spent implementing a family curse over five generations. But Dispatch had needed to fill a hole, so here he sat, yanked from his curse work and assigned a menial task barely fit for a lower-caste imp.
The congregation around the demon broke into song. Yarsloth lowered his head and tried to block out the unsatanly noise as he flipped through the file on his assignment. As he read, his motivation dwindled.
Adramelech had assigned Yarsloth to perform four torments followed by a judgment. Only one torment was allowed per week, however, and it had to occur on Sunday during worship. Which meant Yarsloth faced a month of Sundays sitting in this blessed church.
Clown work, he thought.
Sure, he would get to create mayhem, but it paled in comparison to a century of destroying a family generation by generation. And he would have to sit through four weeks of evangelical revivalism. No demon should ever have to endure that.
Yarsloth shook his head. He hated this type of job. Why not judge the target and get it over with? No, Hell had to drag it out and give the sinner a chance to truly repent. Only if he failed to do so could judgment be passed and Hell gain the damned soul. But for things to reach that point, Yarsloth had to perform the overly-dramatic torments first.
The demon read the case file further and sighed. In addition to it being clown work, he had a boring target on his hands. The file said reverend John Simms didn't practice what he preached, instead worshipping at the altars of kiddy porn and child molestation. No necrophilia. No cannibalism. Nothing Simms had done warranted the attention of a Mid-Level Demon.
Might as well be guilty of tax evasion, Yarsloth thought.
Reverend Simms finished his sermon. Yarsloth had to admit to himself that what he had heard had actually sounded pretty good. Full of hellfire and brimstone. Always good topics.
Simms now walked amongst the congregation, asking for individual testimony. Yarsloth took this as his cue. Showtime.
"A demon visited us last week," Simms said to the flock. Many nodded their heads in agreement. "But we drove that demon away through our faith in Jesus!"
Yarsloth shook his head. The resolution in Simms's voice pissed him off.
"That demon is still here..."
Can he see me? Yarsloth thought. Then he shook his head again. No human could see him unless he chose to reveal himself.
"...in all of our hearts," Simms continued. "It is a representation of our sins, of our guilt, and of our shame. But through faith, we can drive it away like a bird on the wind."
Yarsloth seized on Simms's words and unleashed the second torment.
Yarsloth prepared to unleash a horrible third torment. No more clown work.
The church had been cleaned, but the congregation had not returned. Maybe ten parishioners sat there the next Sunday, listening to Simms trying to explain the events of recent weeks. Yarsloth resolved to make sure the third trial would chase off the last few believers and cripple Simms's faith.
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"Four Torments and a Judgment" is roughly 2500 words.
Erik Williams is a twenty-nine-year-old writer who lives with his wife in Southern California. Since October, 2005, he's found homes for his work at Down in the Cellar, From The Asylum, Black Ink Horror, and other small-press venues. Not a large list of accomplishments, but Erik's wife seems impressed.