Blog Tour: Two Degrees Closer to Hell by David Fingerman

Title- Two Degrees Closer to Hell
By- David Fingerman 

Speculative fiction writer, David Fingerman, is back with a series of short stories guaranteed to curl your toes and raise your hair. If you're looking for some quick thrills, let these stories take you on a ride that will bring you two degrees closer to Hell.


From the short story 'The Devil Takes a Vacation'

Cries of anguish bounced off a blood-and-gut-smeared hallway as two demons forcefully escorted a kicking and screaming Clarence Hogswell. This was going to be his first personal face-to-face with Master.
The royalty chamber seemed an endless cavern, now virtually empty. Clarence hadn’t seen it since being denied the Pearly Gates all those years ago. At that time, multitudes of damned souls filled the room and cowered, but at the same time cheered Great Satan. Ironically, many prayed to God for Satan’s favor.
Hollow footsteps echoed throughout the hall as the demons led Clarence past the thousands of bones and carcasses that littered the floor. Finally he was in front of the great stage, and the two guards threw him to the ground.
“Hogswell!” the voice boomed.
The self-proclaimed King of Kings rose from his throne, leaned down and picked Clarence up, grasping the trembling man’s head in a taloned hand.
“No time to mince words, Hogswell, I know you’re wondering why I summoned you, so I’ll get right to the point. It’s been over two centuries and I’ve decided to take a short vacation. I’m getting burned out.” Beelzebub waited for a reaction. When he got none, he dropped Clarence in a heap. “Humor has always been lost on you, Hogswell. Anyway, for the next few years, or whenever I feel like coming back, I’m leaving you in charge of Hell.”
Fear and shock wrapped itself around Clarence like linen strips around a mummy. He couldn’t have heard right. Out of all the great world leaders throughout time, now residing here in splendor, there was no way Satan would leave a timid bumbler in charge of anything, let alone all of Hell.
“But your Glorious Eminence…” Clarence cowed.
The Greatest of Greats sneezed. Flames shot from his nostrils, incinerating one of the demon escorts. Little balls of fire dripped from his nose and sizzled on the ground as he continued. “No need to thank me, my boy. I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”
Clarence felt convinced this was just one more in a long line of cruel jokes. But never before had he been the butt of a joke from the top leader himself.
“But your Grand Inquisitor, I’m sure there must be others more worthy than myself.”
Satan’s pupils glowed red and expanded over his entire eyeballs. Steam escaped from his pores and his hair ignited in blue flame. “Of course there are, you stupid little turd!”
Lucifer’s aura pushed the tiny man tumbling down the great hall. The Sultan of Sulfur then hurled a burning spear with pinpoint accuracy. As Clarence prepared himself for the torturous pain, the spear stopped an inch from his face, then turned and struck the other demon. Both the spear and the demon evaporated.
“Now, now, my boy.” The Prince of Darkness appeared, standing over Clarence, His voice sounded almost meditative. “To be perfectly honest, your work here has been, well, quite disappointing to say the least.” He lifted Clarence up onto his feet. “Helping your comrades, always eager to please – you’ve been told hundreds of times that kind of behavior will not be tolerated. That’s why I’ve been telling your supervisors to lean on you. We don’t need, nor do we want, any goody-two-shoes.” The King of Lies’ voice turned from calm to threatening. “I know what you’ve been trying to do, but repent all you want, it won’t work. You’re here to stay.”
Clarence shivered as he remembered the various tortures he’d endured. Being thrown into the lava pits, drawn and quartered, and the worst, being de-boned and left to wriggle like a worm until the supervisor shoved the bones back in. It took weeks for Clarence to rearrange them so each bone went to its proper place – and he had to do it on his own time.
“I’ve decided it’s time for you to prove yourself,” The Evil One continued. “Show some initiative, like when you were alive. Did you show any compassion for all of those people you swindled?  That poor widow who invested her life savings into your care?  How about all of those families that were put out on the street after you conned them out of thousands? Of course not! You were a leader then, a thinker. That’s why you’re here.”
Clarence looked down at his feet as shame spread throughout his body. The Devil sensed the guilty conscience and grabbed him by the throat, lifting him off the floor so they were eye-to-eye.
“Listen you little butt-hair. A guilty conscience means squat around here.” Phlegm sprayed from Satan’s mouth, burning like acid through Clarence’s flesh.
Just as quickly as his temper flared, the Evilest of Evils morphed into the gentleman’s gentleman. “Now, I’ve already sent out the memo explaining that you’re in charge. I’ve let it be known that if anybody gives you problems, they will be dealt with accordingly when I return. I don’t think there’s anything else. Oh, one last thing. You’ve got a great deal of responsibility now. Have fun with it.” A sneer crept across Satan’s face. “If you do well, I’ll reward you greatly. Screw up, well, you’ve only been here fifty-three years. You’ll remember those years as heaven compared to what you will go through for the rest of eternity.”
Hogswell froze as he watched the Devil turn and walk away.
“Oh yeah, and one more thing.” Satan turned back around. “Stay off the throne. You don’t know how long it took to make that cushion fit just right.”

With that, Lucifer began to spin. Faster and faster he went until he burst into flames and disappeared.

About the Author

During the summer months when the sun is shining and birds are singing, David is perfectly content to sit in his office, with blinds drawn, typing away at the computer. His favorite day of the year is the first day toward the end of summer that’s cool enough to pull a flannel shirt from the closet.

As a student at the University of Minnesota, David realized that if he switched his major from journalism to speech, he could graduate that quarter. It was a no-brainer. After 24 years of working in the court system, he walked away to write full time – another no-brainer.

Two Degrees Closer to Hell will be his second collection of short stories. He has also written three other novels.

David is married and lives in Minneapolis.

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