This is part one of a three part series.
Toby was in serious trouble. The auditors had taken an interest in his little project. Over the years he had worked hard to remain average, and stay below their notice. Despite all his hard work and caution, they had come for him that morning. His only hope now, was that his escape plan would come to fruition.
Sitting alone in the dark and dank interrogation room, Toby’s mind ran wild with fear. All the rumours he had heard about the auditors flew through his mind. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw a horror show in vibrant colour. He heard cries of anguish and their cruel laughter in high fidelity sound.
After hours of panic, he rested his head on the cold steel table in front of him and succumbed to mental exhaustion. Slipping into a fitful sleep, Toby dreamt of his life and the events that had lead to this moment.
Toby was a demon, one of the countless mid-level functionaries who lived and worked in Hell. He part of the research and development division of Evil Incorporated. His role was to review and approve requisition orders.
Evil Incorporated was the new name for Hell. A few years ago a team of management consultants had brought ‘disruption’ and a ‘start up culture’ to Hell. The new mission statement was to bring ‘new ways of thinking’ and ‘synergy’ as part of a new ‘agile’ environment. To revolutionise and bring ‘disruption’ to the torment of lost souls.
When Toby started he took pride in his work. He felt that someone with his potential would have a meteoric rise through the ranks Over time, he came to realise that this was not the case. Mid-level demons such as himself had their place, and they would stay in it until the end of days.
He now spent his days taking the forms from his in-tray, marking them as approved, and putting them in his out-tray. The dull routine of the work gave him time to think, and thinking was a dangerous habit for a demon like him.
Toby started to consider his place in Hell, and turned envious eyes to the land of the living. He looked forward days such as All Hallows’ Eve. When the wall between realms was thin, and all could visit the land of the living for one night. His all to brief forays into the land of the living inspired him. They taught him that there was a world outside of Hell that was full of possibility.
He yearned for a future, beyond the walls of his cubicle. He wanted a future where he had control over his life, and could set his own direction. It became an all-encompassing idea, and he became obsessed with thoughts of escape. He made it his mission to break free from Hell, and take control of his destiny.
A mid-level demon such as himself could only visit the land of the living, on a few prescribed days a year. In contrast, sorcerers could summon high-ranking demons and form pacts with them.
In return for helping sorcerers, a demon could get a measure of freedom. If the demon was especially lucky, the sorcerer made a mistake and died during a summoning. The demon would then be free to roam the land of the living and do as it saw fit.
The chances of a sorcerer summoning Toby was minuscule for two reasons.
First, a sorcerer needed to summon a demon by name. Nobody would think to summon a demon named Toby.
Second, with the rise of science and technology, the practice of sorcery had waned. The ability for sorcery now lay dormant in a tiny percentage of the population.
Six months ago, a requisition form crossed his desk that changed everything. The form was from a team in the torment division. It asked for adult colouring books, colouring pencils and pens. As well as other art supplies. The team was exploring ways that they could use these materials to torment lost souls.
Toby asked around, and learnt that human adults used colouring books as a hobby to reduce stress. The torment team wanted to explore ways to make colouring as distressing as possible. He soon realised that he could use this hobby to escape Hell and make his dreams a reality.
In his spare time, and in absolute secrecy, Toby developed a summoning spell. One that was unique to his aura. He hid it within a lager more complex pattern. The result was a summoning spell that looked like any other colouring page for adults.
For any human without magical ability, it would only ever be a pattern to colour. The summoning circle would only activate when coloured in by a sorcerer. Or at least someone with latent magical ability. Once activated the spell would transport him from Hell to the land of the living. He took great care to introduce a subtle flaw that would allow him to escape.
He would then finally be free.
On the most recent All Hallows’ Eve Toby found an artist who contributed to colouring books. In a dream he implanted the pattern in their mind, and waited with increasing impatience. All he needed was for the spell to activate and he could be free.
With a shudder Toby awoke from his dream. He heard the scrabbling and scratching of something crawling in the shadows. Despite all his hard work and caution, the Auditors had come for him that morning.
His only hope now, was his escape plan.
This is part one of a three part series. Continue with part two.