By Tony Russell

The Inferno, December 22 -

It was time for the shift change in the furnace room. "How'd it go?" asked Modoc, who was just coming on.

"I don't know," said Belial, the group leader he was replacing. "Maybe I'm getting too old for this shift. Century after century, the same old shift. Make sure the rotisseries keep turning, baste the clients on the half hour… I'll be glad when this batch moves on to the waterboard. You won't hear all that whining about people being thirsty after the first few minutes of being tilted downward, their faces covered with plastic, while heavy streams of water pour into their mouths and noses."

"Well I've got something that will improve your mood," chortled Modoc. "Did you hear about the Boss's new gimmick?"

"I got a hot tip," said Belial. "Isn't it beautiful? Absolutely fiendish!" The tip of his forked tail quivered like a cat's when it's stroked.

"You've got to give the Boss credit. He knows a good idea when he comes across one, and he's not afraid to swipe it," said Modoc admiringly.

"Hey, I've always given the Boss credit for stealing!"

"Sure, sure. No offense meant."

"Spreading the story we don't torture in Hell! Isn't that a hoot?!" Belial gave an evil smile. "How's he gonna work it?"

"He's paid some columnists to write the stories and bribed some papers to run them," said Modoc.

"A page from the Bush administration! All the news that's fit to plant! What happens then?"

"He says there are plenty of fools out there who'll read them and figure they're got a blank check to do anything their shriveled souls desire. Why not launch a war? Or bomb civilians? Or poison the landscape with uranium? Or sell government to the highest bidder? There won't be hell to pay because we don't 'torture' any more." ... Read more at readtonyrussell.blogspot.com

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