Short Story: "Heck Hath No Fury"

by Amy Bills

Glancing down at his cards, he knew he’d trump the Queen of Hearts, and he and his partner would win another hand. 

Sam heard a low voice command him. He thought he had found the perfect hiding place for their card games. How did his brother always know where to find him? He’d chosen the stifling and dismal room hidden behind the wall of brimstone. It was surely the last place anyone would look.

Sam lowered his cards and slowly turned his head to meet his older brother’s disappointed gaze. He’d been caught once again, playing cards and drinking with his underachieving cohorts. Without a word, Sam put down the cards, shoved back his chair, and followed his older brother. His brother was terrifying, bulky, and loomed over him. He always wore a permanent frown and had eyes that glowed like lava.

“Card games with the subjects again? And how many times do I have to tell you that people in Hell don’t get ice water?” Satan began.

“Aww, come on, Satan,” said Sam. “We’re just taking a break and playing a few games. We got thirsty.” Sam had a difficult time keeping pace with his much larger brother. He had to jog to keep up.

“You hang around a bunch of lemons. They do nothing but gossip, lie, overeat, and make quiet trouble. They can’t commit to being completely evil, just obnoxious. They don’t belong in Hell and neither do you,” said Satan. “I give you some of the best jobs, but you never take your responsibilities seriously. You can’t work here in Hell anymore. You’re going to have to go make your own life. Call it Heck since you aren’t cut out for Hell. And take your minions with you!”


It had been decades since Sam and his buddies had been cast out of Hell. Sam looked out at the place of Heck he’d created. What started out as an idea was now a concrete and brick building enclosing a large office, home to one of the biggest corporations in the world. He’d taken the lessons he’d learned in Hell and created his life on Earth. During the years he’d been on Earth, he thought out of the box. In his business, he continued to add value and rely on his team-building skills. Everything about the place was gray. The outside of the building was gray. The cubicles that boxed the employees into tiny spaces were gray. Painted walls, melamine desks, industrial carpet – all shades and tints of gray. Even the mood was gray. The office showcased rows and rows of unity and monotony. Stacks of papers, folders, pens, staplers, and paper clips littered the surfaces. It had taken many years to develop Heck. Unlike his brother, he hadn’t been looking to create mayhem and despair. His dream was to develop an oasis of exasperation and annoyance. Where the spark of life fizzled out and people experienced a little slow death every day. 

In Heck, people wished their lives away, dreading Mondays and longing for Fridays. They spent their Saturdays bustling around running errands and catching up on the piles of laundry, household chores, and yard work. Sundays were spent wishing Mondays wouldn’t come.

Sam took a moment to look out over Heck and admire his work. He’d received word that his brother was coming to visit. He had not seen Satan since he’d left Hell, and Sam nervously awaited his brother’s arrival.

Susan and Mel stood close together gossiping at the copy machine as they did most mornings. As Alice approached, they stopped talking and went about stapling papers.

“I like your skirt, Alice,” said Mel, smiling up at Susan, who grinned back at her.

Alone in the breakroom, Don pulled a small bottle from his pocket, unscrewed the top, and tipped the liquid into his mug filled with black coffee. “I’ve got to get rid of this headache,” he thought.

Kim opened her desk drawer to reveal dozens of Snickers, Milky Way, and 3 Musketeers candy bars. She picked a Snickers and closed the drawer. Watching Kim bite off a large piece of the candy bar, Sam’s eyes moved to Richard and Dean. Richard was blocking the entrance to Dean’s cubicle. Dean took some money out of his pocket and handed it to Richard to cover his losses from the bet he’d lost on the football game the night before.

Many of the people were hard at work. They were hunched over at their desks, writing and working out problems. They all faced impossible deadlines and hours of thankless tasks. Most of the office workers were burnt out and dissatisfied with the daily grind, but there were a few out there employees that seemed untouched by this unrewarding existence. They liked milling through paperwork and problems in the quiet, humdrum office. The lack of sunlight didn’t seem to bother them. These people ate their lunches of leftovers in the breakroom in silence and rarely complained about anything.

A security guard slowly walked through the narrow aisles of gray, carrying a cardboard box. People nervously watched the man, unwilling to make eye contact. There is only one reason the guard would be carrying a box – someone would be cleaning out their desk.

Satan finally arrived and found Sam in his office. They were glad to see each other and talked while they toured the massive office building. When they made it back to Sam’s office, Satan said, “I’m not sure what to make of your Heck. It’s not what I expected. The atmosphere is oppressive, and dissatisfaction is evident. Many of the people are discontented and appear bored, so why do they stay here?”

“I pay them,” replied Sam. “I pay them enough to keep coming back. Some of them make a substantial amount of money, but they still want more. I believe most of them would rather do other things, but they like the idea of job security.”

“I see,” said Satan. “Heck has potential.” 

All photos by Margaret Mendel.

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Amy Bills is a creative southerner passionate about writing and art who resides in Mississippi, just outside of Memphis, Tennessee. She loves drawing, painting, and photography. She is married and has two children, a cat, and an aussie-doodle. She started drawing before she started school and discovered a love for writing soon afterwards. She has accumulated stacks of sketchpads, notebooks, and journals over the years. She received her bachelor’s degree in fine art from the University of Memphis and her master’s degree from the University of Denver in professional creative nonfiction writing.