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   Chapter 1 November st.

The Devil's Diary By Paul Kater Characters: 10487

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:04

Dear diary.

It was quite the day again. It started off nicely, with the lawns all clean, the clientèle mostly happy and even the workers did not seem to have much of a problem with everything. Of course, there were the usual petty things, but nothing to get worked up about. Well, not until the afternoon anyway. That is when the stuff that you don't want to tread on really hit the ventilation systems. Urgh. Ventilation systems. Don't want to hear about those in a LONG time!

It started with someone coming in, complaining about sore eyes. Sore eyes what? The guy muttered something about smoke, but was mostly incoherent, so I told him to see a medic, get his eyes checked and don't bug me as there was more stuff on my desk to handle. You'd think that people around here would be able to take care of themselves, wouldn't you?

Anyway, about an hour later a few more people came in who had asked to see me. Maurice showed them in. Man, did they look sad!! So what could I do. I asked them what their problem was, hoping it was not another set of sore eyes. But that was not the case. Unfortunately.

They said they were the day-shift operators of the smoke machine in the Christian section. It took a while, with all their complaining and cursing, before I found out that the ventilating machine is malfunctioning.

So I asked them why they did not fix it. Well, they did. Or rather: they had tried. And it had not really yielded the results they had aimed for. The idiots broke it even further. Well, that at least gave me a clue why that other guy had shown up with smoked up sore eyes. Thanks a lot, folks.

So I had to call up a repair crew for the venting system of the Christian section. They could have done that themselves, but they waved their contract to me. There was some glitch in it, that they were not responsible for stuff like that, and so they expected me to do all that. Dammit.

After that these folks left and refused to go back to work until the problem was fixed. Right, I can understand that. Hanging out in a room that is filled with smoke is not something a person would opt for when they are in control of their full mental capabilities. But hey, it takes all kinds to make the world go round, as they say there. And they're right. We have a space for everyone here. (Sounds like a motto, maybe we should have banners like that. Must talk to Maurice about that.)

So I made my way down to the Christian section. It had been a while since I went there, so basically that was a good thing happening with a bad thing. Too bad the day-shift operators neglected to inform me that the elevator had broken down as well, so I had to go down all these stairs! Do you know how deep down that pit is? Blimey, I should have been smarter when I dug out that hole. I am sure there are tricks we can do with mirrors and such. Better planning next time.

But all well and good, I get to the bottom there, locate the smoke machine engine room and decide to switch off that thing completely until the air conditioning system is up and running again. Okay, that would keep the operators away, no more complaining from them and all things are cherry. Hah. Forget about that.

There I was, coughing from the smoke, and hauling myself up the stairs again. I almost made it to the exit, when Humphrey, one of the managers of the Christian section, came chasing after me. You never had dealings with him, and believe me: you do not want dealings with him.

He went off at me, demanding an explanation for the sudden absence of smoke. I explained to him that the operators could not work the machine because of the ventilation and so on. He understood that, but he wanted to know when the bloody thing was getting fixed.

"We have a reputation to uphold, you know, " he said to me, "and we don't want to cut back on services. Our local clients expect smoke among other things, and smoke then is what they will have."

So I asked him what he was going to do about that. Hire a bunch of smokers and stuff their faces with cigarettes?

And honest, as real as I am writing this, the bugger's face lit up and thanked me for the idea. Wow. I had not expected to get rid of him that easily. And of course I didn't.

When I finally made it to the top of the stairs, my phone rang and it was the same guy again, Humphrey. Could I please provide a truckload of cigarettes, and would it be okay for the smokers to use the room where usually the smoke system operators sit, because otherwise the cigarettes would be reduced to ashes before they had a real good puff. (Haha, that's funny.)

So I called Maurice to first check the operator's contracts. I don't want my ass chewed over the fact that there are smokers in the operator room, causing a bad health environment. But according to Maurice there was no clause in the contract about that, so I gave the manager the okay for the smokes. You have to take a chance at times. But I did tell Maurice to modify the contract for eventualities like that, so we are safe for future events from now on.

On the way back I saw a few folks heading towards the pit. I asked them where they were going and learnt that they were actually the repair crew. They were going to

have a look at the thing, to see what needed fixing. I told them about the elevator and that they had to fix that also. But they said that they were not the elevator repair people and I had to call another division for that.

Somewhere something has gone terribly wrong here, diary. I am seriously considering to raise a new Hell and see how I can avoid all these things next time. Shiver me timbers, or what is it that pirates say.

On the way back to the house I met a bunch of souls that were not all too steady on their feet. After my asking them what was wrong with them, they explained that there was nothing wrong. They were Pagan souls that had been out and about for Samhain. Oh, right. Halloween. So what has taken you so long to come back here, I asked them.

They had a bit of difficulty finding the right words when they started talking, and they also had problems remembering that everyone talking at once makes for hard understanding. Finally they managed to inform me that they had popped over to a pub where the living had set up food and drink for the ancestors, and the drink had been mead. Mead that had been flowing liberally too.

And that was the reason they were not all that stable on their feet, and it had also very much affected their sense of direction. I hope they are not making a habit out of that, because then THEIR mead will give ME a headache! I told them that they were way off course also, since they usually have no business in or near the Christian section. They immediately had funny ideas of playing ghost there, but I told them that they were missing the point, as there were no living souls there that would be scared of them.

The drunk Pagans were a bit disappointed about that, but that did not last long. Lacking someone near, I took them out of the Christian section myself, guided them through a shortcut through the African section (which I hope they don't remember later) and then delivered them in their own area again. Good thing too, most others there were already looking for these guys, so that was a deed well done.

When I got back to the house, Maurice handed me a note that had come in from Pete. You guessed it, it was about the smoke. Pete kindly requested that I take care of the smoke problem they had experienced for some hours in Heaven. Their clients should not have to deal with things like that, as they had lived decent lives and therefore were selected for a pleasant afterlife

"If we want smoke, we'll organise a barbecue, " he wrote. Yeah, he does have a good sense of humour, the old chap. Well, sod them anyway, I have other things on my hands than that. But at least the repair crew was working on the ventilation system. Now I just hope that the smokers don't blow it (haha, that's funny), I can do without these notes. Pete's a really nice guy but when he gets miffed about something, he really becomes a pain in the rear end.

I do have to remember to fill out and send the order for new oil and coal for the old "eastern block" section, they let me know that their supplies are running low. There's a genuine problem with the mindset of these guys, they don't seem able to place that order themselves. All has to be done in their bureaucratic ways, every level doing its own thing and nobody ever dares to venture into something new. Bloody Bolsheviks with their forms and stamps. Oil. Coal. And there was something else. Maurice will know.

The elevator repair group called me just now and told me that they will go and have a look at the elevator in the Christian section somewhere next week. They have a lot of their people out on trainings. There are some new automatic escalators, and some clever sausage managed to make them responsible for maintenance on those things too. Way to go, I should find the guy who pulled that off and give him a bonus. And make him an assistant or something.

I do hope that Humphrey, the manager there, is going to lay low for a while. Must remember to send him a note that the repair team will be with him as soon as they can.

There was an interesting tidbit in the mail today. A big brochure from a company that has a really new approach to the core business: a high-tech setup for Hell. Sounds interesting. The pictures are very appealing also, lots of gleaming chrome, interesting electrical appliances and stuff like that. I am sure that especially the Americans here will appreciate stuff like that. I must ask Maurice to give these guys a call and see if they have something more that I can have a look at. Maurice will handle the technical stuff, I don't want to get caught up in that as well. And he likes all that stuff, so good for him.

Right. I should be getting myself cleaned up now. A visit to that smoky pit makes for a messy appearance, and I am up for a poker game with Pete, Gabe and Baal this evening. Long time ago that we had such a relaxed night, we should do that more. Pete said he'd supply the drinks and knowing him he'll be bringing the really good stuff. Hah, the pope would cry his eyes out if he knew about that!

Oh, shit, still need to get that container of cigarettes out, before Humphrey comes after me again... Hope I won't show up late for the poker game.

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