He floated within eternal blackness, drifting on dark shifting tides like flotsam upon a never-ending sea. For how long, he could not say. A day, a year, a lifetime? But now he’d awoken, as if from an endless dream. Who he was or how he found himself to be here, he did not know. All he knew, was now there was a light in the distant vastness ― a pure white light, and it was calling him.
Lucifer, the lord of shadows, master of the Underworld and Hell magazine’s ‘Creative Torturer of the Year’ every year running since records began, sat upon his throne of bones staring into the flickering fire. The red and orange flames reflecting in Lucifer's fixed black eyes, made it seem as if his very pupils were ablaze. Other than the firelight, the room was dark ― just how he liked it.
Lucifer sat in contemplation, a deep frown creasing his devilishlyhandsome face. His hands gripped the bony armrests of his throne with such force the effort turned his knuckles white. His jaw clenched and unclenched, and as his anger grew the veins at his temples throbbed and his face began to twitch.
Lucifer had lived through this outpouring of emotion every night since last Christmas Eve, and the only remedy to the condition: a vigorous abundance of torturing.
Yet tonight, Lucifer didn’t want to calm his anger. Tonight, he allowed the sensation to fester unchecked. He wanted to feel the blood boil in his veins, to feel the hatred burn inside his black soul, to enjoy it, savour it ― because at last, he was ready to have his vengeance.
‘Who does this boy think he is? Without the Morning Star, he is nothing. He’ll know pain. He’ll know pain every day for eternity!’
Lucifer spent more time than was healthy plotting the demise of Timothy Williams. For long months since that fateful night, the demon king was but a shadow of his former glory, reduced to a desperate thing, mewling and feeble. The power channelled through the Morning Star on Christmas Eve had very nearly destroyed him, and in those dark times when recovery seemed a distant promise, it was Lucifer’s rage and what he was going to do to that cursed boy that kept him alive from one day to the next.
Now with his strength returned, it was time. Time to take back what was rightfully his. Time to rise from the depths of darkness. Time to take his revenge.
‘The boy will come to me, and then I’ll have him and the Morning Star,’ announced Lucifer with a grin. He leaned back into his throne triumphantly, finally allowing himself to relax. ‘What do you think of that, girl?’ he asked into the darkness.
There was no reply, only a quiet whimpering from somewhere inside the chamber.
‘Oh, yes, how remiss of me. You can’t speak, can you? Well, I do hope you’re going to be a good little girl from now on. For your mummy and daddy’s sake, if not your own.' He chuckled. ‘Of course, you will.’
Lucifer watched the fire cast playful shadows that danced upon the walls. He winced. The only trouble with a throne entirely constructed of bone was that the thing was so damn uncomfortable. There was no doubting the original concept and craftsmanship involved, but the throne’s functionality simply wasn'tpractical. Lucifer admitted defeat and pushed himself up from the unforgiving chair.
Suddenly, and to Lucifer’s irritation, the throne room was instantly illuminated. The light sparkled down from four magnificent chandeliers hanging from the throne room’s high vaulted ceiling.
‘Oh, sorry, Lord,’ said Astaroth, a foul demon of the first order. ‘I didn’t realise you were in here. My apologies.’
‘God, Astaroth, do something about your breath. I could smell you even before you switched the lights on.’
Lucifer wasn’t a fan of this new-fangled electricity, although the light did present him with the opportunity to admire himself in the full-length mirror. It was something he liked to do as often as possible. Impeccably handsome, he declared, despite his once golden hair now turned to silver ― a side effect of his near destruction, and no amount of dark magic or overpriced hair dye could change that. ‘Turn them off and get out!’
Modelled on Louis XIV’s lavish seat of power within the Palace of Versailles, Lucifer’s throne room was equally as grand and more than acceptable for any long-dead French king. Luxurious velvet carpets covered the floors, and although there were no windows in Hell, floor-length curtains of rich fabric with tasselled cords hung from gilded rods. An eclectic mix of classical antique furnishings filled the spaces, and all presented in vibrant shades of red, befitting Lucifer’s station.
Competing for space on the thick panelled walls hung portraits, weapons and instruments of torture. A great hearth stood at the heart of the chamber, where pokers and branding irons waited in their scuttles, ready to be cast into the flames on an evil whim.
In a shadowy corner of the throne room, suspended from the ceiling on a thick metal chain, hung a human birdcage. It was here Ursula Le Rouge spent her days, broken and beaten, both physically and mentally. She sat cross-legged in her prison, dangling high above the floor with her head slumped forward, and her long dark hair with its streak of red spillingacross her swollen face.
Lucifer moved to a chaise longue on the other side of the fire. The sofa was adorned with plump cushions and soft blankets and compared to the bone throne was simply heaven.
Fixed to the wall opposite, was an enormous state-of-the-art plasma screen. There were some technologies requiring electricity that Lucifer did like. Watching news channels with their twenty-four hours of doom and gloom was an absolute favourite, and he was partial to the odd soap opera too. They were guaranteed to be gloriously woeful.
Post-apocalypse, Lucifer rather fancied hosting his own Saturday night game show. Lucifer’s game shows wouldn’t be like they are now ― watching boring people win prizes. Instead,they’d be watching boring people get tortured if they didn’t win prizes. The thought gave Lucifer a warm, satisfying feeling inside.
‘Yes, Lord. Getting out, Lord. But might I just acknowledge how well you’re looking, Lord? Nice to see you up and about, and in good health.’
‘Yes, yes, yes. Now get out! Your stench offends me.’
The demon with dog’s breath stopped and turned, bowing low before his master. ‘Yes, Lord?’
‘On the eve of the black spirit dance, when next the moon is full, and the fourth star of the celestial rift aligns with Saturn―’
‘Next Tuesday night, Lord?’ interrupted Astaroth.
Once more, Lucifer’s face began twitching with anger. ‘Yes, Astaroth, next Tuesday night!’ Lucifer didn’t appreciate interruptions. ‘I require you to fetch someone to me.’
‘Of course, Lord. Which lucky soul do you have in mind?’