The Oddly-Shaped Box

“As per regulation 14.4 of the Celestial Treaty, all misdirected souls are to be given top priority and directed to their correct resting place with due dignity, and in an appropriate and timely manner. The soul in question was delivered to us in a cardboard box that noted its previous contents as ‘One DeWalt Pitchfork. Size: Large’.”

Satan stopped talking and looked up from the Heaven-sent memo.

“You fool demons used the box they delivered my new pitchfork in? Seriously?!”

Hobal looked at the floor, shuffling his hooves. Greador coughed as he wrung his hands together.

“It’s all we had in stock, Sire. We had a rush job on, you know, because some idiot decided to escalate the war in the Middle East – again! And then the South American volcano erupted, plus there’s a bad flu outbreak in Europe at the moment. We’re all backed up.” Greador gesticulated wildly.

Satan’s tail twitched and he frowned.

“I don’t want excuses Greador. There are rules. I know we’re backed up. This is Hell. We’re always backed up because humans just don’t know how to behave. That’s no excuse for doing a bad job. You know how easily irritated St Peter is. He’s a stickler for the rules.”

“Yeah.” Hobal smiled, “I bet we really wound him up. Remember when we had to send that dog back and he refused to accept the lead as it wasn’t in the soul’s inventory at death.”

Greador laughed. “It took him three weeks to realise that the dog wasn’t going to move without it.”

Satan frowned, “Gentlemen, if we could concentrate on the soul in question.”

“Sorry Sire”, said Hobal.

“Sorry,” said Greador. “Tell you what. We’ve got the proper velvet lined regulation boxes now. I’ll repack it and send along a little something…”

Satan raised an eyebrow.

“…in another box, obviously. A little present from us, just to say sorry. I mean, it’s almost Christmas. It’s the least we can do, right?”

Satan nodded.

“Alright. Just make sure that it’s in the proper box, correctly labelled, and it complies with all the regulations. And no more odd-shaped boxes.”

Satan threw the memo into the nearest fire pit and walked away. Hobal looked at Greador.

“Do you want me to order some chocolates?”

Greador gave him a wicked smile and pulled some wrapping paper, and a label from a drawer.

Bending to write ‘Do not open until Dec 25th’ on the label, Greador said, “Forget chocolates. Let’s see how well St Peter’s curiosity gets on with a pea in a matchbox.”

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The Oddly-Shaped Box