Chapter 1: Gray Hair
A man walked up to a large white desk with a shimmering gold counter. Behind the desk was a woman dressed in the brightest white the man had ever seen. He shyly approached the woman unsure of how she would react to his presence. She looked up at him and smiled.
“Welcome, could I have your name?” she said, carefully scanning a large screen on the right side of her desk.
Jeremy paused for a moment.
“I don't know my surname. In fact, I'm not sure that I have one.”
The woman cautiously scanned Jeremy’s face. His cheeks flushed red.
“Okay,” she began. “Occupation?”
“Ummm…” Jeremy paused. “I’m Hell's secretary.”
The woman’s jaw dropped. Her face went pale. The bright room dimmed. A loud bell beat against Jeremy’s ears. He reached over with his hands quickly silencing his alarm clock.
“What a night!” Jeremy said.
He rolled out of bed and made his way to kitchen. He opened the refrigerator, startling awake small winged creature in the corner of the room.
“Good morning, did you sleep well?” Jeremy asked.
The creature with a beaver-like tail let out a large yawn, revealing his sharp teeth and pointed tongue. He stretched his leathery wings and hopped onto the countertop.
“Yes, I slept just fine, aside from the fact that you haven’t fluffed my bedding in a few decades.”
Jeremy smiled and threw some meaty scraps into a large bowl with the name Orbert etched across it. He then walked over to the cupboard to grab a bowl for his breakfast. Glancing out the window to the early hell sunrise. Jeremy paused for a moment, taking in the view from his apartment. There were a few buildings outside, each bustling with people getting ready for their daily activities. Directly across the way Jeremy could see one of the newest arrivals from Earth making himself at home.
“Looks like Mr. has moved in across the way. I really hope he enjoys it here. He seemed pretty shook up when he arrived yesterday.”
“Don’t they all seem shook up when you see them?” Orbert asked, his voice comfortably monotone.
“I guess you’re right.”
Jeremy poured himself a bowl of Devil’s Crunchies and sat down at the dining table. As he ate, he couldn’t help but think about the strange dream he had that night. It was rare for someone in Hell to ever dream, since most of the people that live there already lived on Earth and experienced the fullness of their lives.
“Orbert, I had a dream again last night.”
“Another dream? That’s very interesting. It’s also very concerning. What was it this time?”
“I’m not sure. It’s a little fuzzy, but I do remember seeing a beautiful woman, and she was asking me all sorts of questions.”
“Like what?” Orbert asked.
“Like my name, my job, and my employer. Funny thing is, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out my surname.”
“Makes sense, considering you’ve never had parents and haven’t been born. Seems to me you were just dreaming of your work, except this time you were the new arrival, not the secretary.”
“Hmm, maybe you’re right, Orbert. I guess that I’ll just have to move on, I mean it was just a dream anyways.”
Orbert nodded and returned to tearing apart his meat scraps. Jeremy looked at his bowl of cereal, slowly scooping up the pieces and watching the milk drip back onto the drier pieces on top. A hint of wonder glistened into his brown eyes. As he was about to drift into a daydream, his watch let out a repetitive cry, signifying the time to prepare to go to work. Jeremy set his half-eaten breakfast in the sink, signaling to Orbert that anything left was up for grabs. Jeremey walked back to his bedroom and pulled out his pre-assorted work outfit: a dark suit with a gray shirt. He searched through his array of ties and chose the skinny, maroon one. As he fastened the tie around his neck in the mirror, he observed something he’d never seen before in his many millennia of life.
“Orbert! Come quick!”
The clanking of a cereal bowl being dropped in the sink was heard, followed by the four-legged thumping of Orbert running down the hall. He slid into the room, milk still dripping from his furry chin.
“What is it?”
“I’m not sure how to explain it to be honest, but look!”
Jeremy gestured to the bangs of his black hair, which was still unkempt from his night’s sleep. He would comb his bangs back once he was ready for work. There in the middle of his bangs was a large streak of gray hair.
“You’re aging…” Orbert paused.
“Aging? How can I age? I’ve never had a physical body before, let alone been born.”
“I’m not sure, but a lot of weird things are happening to you that I’ve never heard of before, and I’ve talked to a lot of other demon pets in the area. I mean, first the dreaming, and now you’re aging?”
“I know, weird right? You gotta promise me you won’t tell anyone about this Orbert. I’ll talk to Luci about it at work when I get the chance.”
“And what if I do tell somebody?”
“You know, I’m surprised Luci’s dad didn’t give you big ears, considering how much you love gossiping. Oh, and I’d clip your wings if you were to snitch on me to the others,” Jeremy said winking.
Orbert’s eyes grew two sizes. He quickly sat down and stared at the floor in defeat.
“Please don’t diss on my miscreation,” he paused, “You wouldn’t actually clip me, would you?”
“You wouldn’t test me, would you?” Jeremy asked.
Orbert grunted and flew his large body into the other room, nesting on his cushion by the window.
“That’s what I thought!” Jeremy yelled toward Orbert, smirking at his reflection in the mirror.
He stared for a second at the growing gray streak in his bangs. He wondered how long he could keep such an obvious sight a secret. He slipped on his shiny black shoes and double-checked himself in the mirror one more time.
“Ready,” he said, nodding at his reflection.
On the side of Jeremy’s bed was a small safe. He shoved a few of his most precious belongings inside, including a small yo-yo like trinket, then locked the safe tight.
“Well, Orbert, it’s time for me to go to work. I’ll see you when I get home.”
Orbert didn’t say anything. He just scratched the side of his head with his foot and curled up in his bed. Jeremy felt a little sorry about what he’d said, but wasn’t sure what to do in the moment. Besides, his watch was beeping again, so he hurried out the door.
Chapter 2: Welcome to Hell