Hell Is For Children
FROM: Flavros, Great Duke of Hell
TO: Mammon, Prince of Hell
RE: Children’s Wing
Hey, Manny —
Sorry to interrupt you on your vacation. I hear Florida is really nice this time of year; here’s hoping you get a chance to stop in on Merihem at Wet ‘n’ Wild. I don’t want to take any time out of your and Debbie’s schedule, but this whole thing is turning in to a total clusterfuck.
As you know, the Equal Infernal Opportunity Commission laws passed back in 1999 — and, more relevantly, the revised No Child Left Undamned Act of 2004 — requires us to provide equal facilities for all lost and condemned souls, regardless of religion, gender, race, and, most importantly, age. This has seen very mixed results; Carnivale and his team are doing very exciting work in the area of eternal geriatric punishment, and teenagers are taking to this place like cats to milk — they’re sulking and complaining at nearly seven times the rate they did when they were alive. But here in ToddlerTown (and I once again would like to emphasize my strong opposition to that name, regardless of what the marketing demons think), we’re running into one brick wall after another.
I don’t want to rehash our budgetary issues. I know you’ve told me time and time again that there’s only so much money in the budget, but frankly, I still don’t get why all divisions are being funded equally when we’ve got so many more regulations, requirements, and basic needs to cover. $1.5 billion seems like a fair amount to fund each age group, but we’ve got to child-proof everything, round off the sharp corners on all of our torture instruments, and run a background check on every imp to make sure they’re not illegals before we even bring in our first subject, whereas all the guys over in the Males 45-60 division have to do is show their subjects their old high school yearbooks. Construction is going along at a snail’s pace because we have to keep putting covers on all the electrical sockets, the Dora the Explorer branding is bankrupting us, and to be honest, the Wiggles music is tormenting our own people a lot more than it is any of the kids. It’ll be a miracle if we come in at $3.5 billion and it’s only May. I don’t even want to think about what Christmas is going to be like around here.
Frankly, Manny, I’m beginning to question the wisdom of bringing toddlers in here at all. Things were a lot simpler when we just sent them to Limbo along with heathen babies and people who don’t speak English as their native language. I know that Rome fucked us on that one, but if we could just cut some kind of deal with Purgatory to put them in a big holding pen and parade a bunch of evil animals around in front of them until we can figure out something better, I think it would save us all a massive amount of headaches. (This is a whole separate issue, but if you ask me, the list of sins that can get two- to five-year-olds condemned to an eternity in Hell is getting so big that I can’t help but suspect God just doesn’t want them tearing ass all over Heaven.) Budgetary issues aside, it’s a huge sinkhole of labor costs and lost time; most of the male demons just ignore them and check their fantasy leagues while pretending they’re researching new and exciting punishments, while the females take tons of pictures of the kids and post them on Facebook. It’s killing our data plan.
One of the biggest problems is that none of the kids react the way they’re supposed to with anything. They’re not yet at the age of reason, but they’re a lot more reactive than infants (and while I’m on the topic of money, it seems pretty unfair that Verrier and I make the same salary when his shades spend 19 hours a day asleep), so most of the torments that we come up with are met with either blank stares or giggling. Fire in particular is like cotton candy to these damn kids — and I don’t mean that metaphorically. Give them a big wad of cotton candy or a shovel full of hot coals, they react exactly the same: they smear it all over their faces, knock all the pens off of my desk, and then cry for 20 minutes if I tell them to put their shoes on so we can go to the lava pool. The ball pit, made with iron balls circled in hellfire, was supposed to be the centerpiece of what the CEO called “our McDonaldLand PlayPlace of the Doomed”, but the kids all find it more delightful than horrifying. We thought putting a thousand-fanged acid-tongued hydra at the bottom of the red plastic slide would really shake them up, but they fight over the privilege of jumping into his slathering maw. And the most common response to the jack-in-the-box that says “YOUR PARENTS DON’T LOVE YOU” when it pops up is about two seconds of blowing raspberries and then running off to hit some poor demonic creature in the ears.
If I can make any process improvement recommendations moving forward, they would involve getting out from some of the safety regulations that we’re swamped with (honestly, we’re never going to manage to instill the terror of the damned into these kids if we aren’t even allowed to give them sugar after 11AM); be a little less strict about the pre-employment screenings (if we start encouraging the caregivers to let their charges wander off into some of the more hideous of the Nine Circles, instead of punishing them for it, we might see a real sea change); and really let ’em go all Lord of the Flies on each other instead of separating them according to that goofy personality test the CFO’s sister came up with (I don’t even understand the ratings system, or if a dragon is better or worse than a cantaloupe). If things go on the way they are, they’re going to be running the place by the time you get back from the Keys, and they’re already a lot better at scaring us than we are at scaring them.