You die and find yourself in hell, where apparently everyone spends time to negate their sins before they go to heaven. The guy in front of you, who cheated on his wife, gets 145 years. Feeling like you led a fairly average and peaceful life, you’re not worried. You get 186,292 years.
“There is… one thing you can do to decrease your sentence,” The creature said from behind the counter. Jeff couldn’t decide if it was a demon or an angel, but either way looking at it made his eyes burn with glowing letters, after images shaking across his head and itching across the folds of his spirit.
“Alright! What is it?”
The creature stared at him for a long moment. “Jury Duty.”
Jeff hesitated and stared up at the beast, watching the trailing golden letters smoothly replace any scrape of the creature that he could see. His brain simply refused to process the imagine beyond a frame at a time.
“Jury Duty?” Jeff asked.
“Jury duty,” the creature replied, simply. “There are always trials to be had, from people who think they can reduce their sentence through the courts.”
“Is that an option?”
The beast looked down at the list Jeff had given them, played long bone fingers against the wood, then shook their head. “Not at all for you, I’m afraid.”
Jeff curled his fingers into fists and dug the nails into his skin. He had places to go. He had things to see.
He had people to chase after. He wasn’t going to just let some bureaucratic bullshit lock him out of that.
He had a son to chase after.
“What does being a juror get me?”
“Out of hell,” the beast said. “Instantly. You move up to purgatory, where you’ll reside over every ambiguous case from now until your much reduced sentence. The tower only rises, you understand.”
Jeff blinked. “The tower?”
“The pillar of heaven. It is an eternal stair case filled with levels, each holding the sinful back.” The beast jerked a finger down at the ground. “You’re stuck at the ground level, and by our calculations, a wretch like you will take 200 thousand years to get to the top without short cuts.”
Jeff was no wretch.
“And what,” Jeff said, gritting his teeth. “Does it take to be a juror?”
The golden script receded around the beast’s maw as they smiled, baring teeth made out of thousands of skulls, curled up on top of one another, descending into infinitesimal small points.
“Why,” The beast said, long tendril fingers briefly revealed before the censorship of gold took effect. “All you need to do is survive a little bit of a hellish ordeal.”
On some level, Jeff knew it was stupid to take a deal with something he found in hell.
On the other hand, he knew full well that he couldn’t wait long enough for the hike to the top.
“Tell me what to do.”