ELIZABETH MARSHALL STORIES


Rules in Hell:A Halloween Fantasy



"This really is hell, isn't it?" Claude glowered at Neil.


"Purgatory, technically," Neil said for what seemed to him to be the hundredth time. "It's a hell subsidiary." He'd stripped to his boxers and still he was sweating. The ring of flame surrounding the cubicle they shared grew ominously higher as Claude stamped in a frustrated circle before the computer station.


"Whatever. Why the fuck did Yahell! outsource Mail and Groups to us? How am I supposed to answer this email anyway?" Claude asked, gesturing toward his screen.


"Politely," Neil suggested. "Yahell! is our major client. Remember how you got here in the first place, please, and try to restrain yourself."


"You're so mean, Neil," Claude fumed. "I don't know how in hell I ended up with you!"


"Now, now, now," Neil said gently. "You ended up with me, as you so graciously put it, because you grabbed onto me in line in front of the gates and cried, 'Don't let them take me there alone!' I was sucker enough to say 'I won't,' and so I got given a guest pass."


"Well, you're a Top, you have to be here, or I'd never have a chance of getting out," Claude said petulantly.


"Ah yes," Neil sighed. "That much is true. So basically, I get to roast my cojones here for a good portion of eternity, just to keep you from roasting yours here for all eternity. And that's fair because?"


"Well, it's not very fair," Claude admitted reluctantly. "But Neil, I wouldn't be in hell if I'd had someone to help me out while I was still alive; that's not fair either!" Claude was quiet a moment. "And Neil..." His voice trailed off.


"Yes?" Neil said, unable not to ask.


"I'd be toast without you." Claude shivered despite the heat.


"Hush," Neil said. He wasn't one to waste time looking back. "We're here, we're together and we'll try to limit what portion of you gets roasted. I don't like to punish you, but..."


"It's a spanking from you or a taste of the fire, I know," Claude said with a sigh. "I'll take your spankings any day."


"Until you're actually over my knee," Neil said ruefully. "In any case, that's the deal I made with the Devil. If there's any punishment to be administered, I administer it. The Devil delegates, like all good management. You want me as your Top, he wants me as your Top, so you deal with me. "


Although what I did to deserve you is a mystery, Neil thought. Yes, my area of expertise was employee assessment and training and I might have been a corporate hack, but I didn't embezzle anyone's pension fund, I wasn't guilty of insider trading and I didn't defraud my stockholders.


However Claude's plea had been so piteous and Claude had looked so damn fine in the reflected red light, his nude body warm and rosy and covered with a fine sheen of moisture...


Perhaps I do deserve to be here, Neil thought, feeling himself harden at the memory. I may not have been guilty of greed, but lust is also a sin.


"You look hot, Neil," Claude said, looking at Neil's crotch and licking his lips. "Want me to do something for you?"


"Jesus Chr–" Neil looked around apprehensively. "Shh! Claude, just *how* long do you want to be down here?"


"Well, *sorry*," Claude said, not very repentantly. "I didn't know it was a sin. If He had wanted us not to enjoy it, He wouldn't have made it feel so good."


"I think we'd better stay away from theology and oral sex," Neil said practically. "It's time to get back to work. People are going to start wondering what's going on with their email if you don't send some responses through the Groups server."


"Who the fuck ever heard of servers in hell, anyway?" Claude muttered sulkily. "I thought the one perk of being here was ruling, not serving. Explain to me how I've ended up on the wrong side of both those equations?"


"Well, "better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven" worked fine as long as there was only light traffic on heaven's servers," Neil said tendentiously. "It's no wonder hell got the bulk of the underground servers; there's no way that all those graphics-heavy porn sites can be hosted upstairs. The whole universe would tip over. You wear the chains you forged in life, as someone once said. Since you were quite the porn aficionado, it is your duty to answer those emails in death."


"But paperwork is hell," Claude said despondently. "I'm dying here, Neil."


"In point of fact you're already dead," Neil pointed out.


"But this isn't even gay porn, it's some kind of polymorphously perverse erotica," Claude moaned. "Listen: >>Would it be considered excessive for a Top to paddle his Brat for half an hour three evenings in a row for eating chocolates containing alcohol and then falling asleep and nearly drowning in the bathtub?>> How the fuck am I supposed to answer that?"


"Just try and follow the rules, all right?" Neil said sententiously.


Unfortunately, not only is the road to hell paved with good intentions, hell itself is slippery with them.


Claude typed rapidly:


>>What makes you think there's enough alcohol in liquor filled chocolates to knock out a normal adult male even if he downs a box of them? Have you ever actually tried getting drunk on liquor filled chocolates?>>


Without hesitating even long enough to use his spell checker, Claude hit Send.


A sharp lick of flame leapt across the barrier and receded, leaving in its wake a barely charred wooden paddle. Claude looked from it to Neil.


"Noooooooooooo!" Claude wailed in horror.


"I did warn you about being polite," Neil said ruefully. "I suppose I should have spanked you then; now we're up to the level two punishments. Very well, come here."


"It's not fair!" Claude protested. The wall of fire surrounding them loomed ominously higher, tips of flames pointing inward.


"No need to turn the heat up," Neil said sharply. "I have this under control, thank you." The flames lowered. "Claude, come here this instant. Upper management's breathing down my back and I'm not going to have this situation go up in flames." When Claude still did not move, Neil took two steps forward and grasped him by the wrist, tugging him from his chair. He seated himself and without pausing, flipped Claude expertly over his knees.


Claude's bare buttocks were damp from the heat and so the first spank stung like fire and the subsequent spanking hurt like hell. He knew better than to try to escape: It had only taken one quick, early dip in the flames before had Claude realized that although Neil's punishments might hurt, the Devil's sanctions were a hell of a lot worse.


"Why are you going to be paddled?" Neil asked, praying that Claude would answer the question and not be smart; he hated adding licks for rudeness, but there was hell to pay if he didn't.


"Because you're a sadistic devil. OW! All right, all right: Because I have to realize that there are a lot of lonely people who enjoy online life as a substitute for the real life they don't have but wish they did and there's nothing to be gained from engaging them in heated and inappropriate discourse," Claude said quickly, hoping that he'd get points for prose style.


"Because you were being rude," Neil said succinctly. "It's just as easy to be nice."


"That's why you were on the other line," Claude muttered under his breath. "It's a lot harder to be nice. Please Neil, don't paddle me! I wasn't rude! It was a joke! It was a misunderstanding."


"People get hurt when you play those kinds of 'jokes,' Claude," Neil said soberly. "And you understood perfectly well what you were doing. I'm sorry, Claude, but you've got this coming."


Neil was soft hearted enough that he wouldn't have paddled Claude for his offense if the alternative, leaving Claude to the Devil's dubious mercy, hadn't seemed worse. Steeling himself, Neil did his best to ignite Claude's rump. By the end, the heat in Claude's reddened rear end rivaled the ring of flame surrounding them.


"All done now." Neil tossed the paddle back into the fire and gathered Claude in his arms, making soothing noises.


"It hurts," Claude cried piteously. "I hurt!"


"I know," Neil said, stroking Claude's hair back from his hot, tear stained cheeks. "I know."


Claude sniffled for a little while longer, enjoying the cuddling, if not the reason for it. Why couldn't he have met Neil sooner? Neil could have kept him in line, in life. They might both be in heaven, not in hell, and things might be altogether different. If only he'd discovered discipline relationships a hell of a lot earlier!


The stream of emails continued apace.


>>I am concerned about my Brat's frequent colds. I read somewhere that there is a psychological component to most illnesses and so I wondered if anyone had any experiences with spanking as punishment for viral infections?>>


>>If you're stupid enough to believe that, you're stupid enough to deserve the kick in the balls your Brat should give you if you try it>> Claude typed.


A sudden sulphurous flare alerted Neil to Claude's less than empathetic response.


"Claude," Neil said, exasperated. "What does the phrase 'common courtesy' mean to you?"


"If it were that common, I'd be more familiar with it," Claude muttered. Neil had him on his feet before he had time to reconsider his words. "OW! Shit, Neil, that stung! OW! Stop!"


"Watch! Your! Language! Young! Man!" Five swats later, Claude was dropped back into his chair.


"Ow," Claude said. "Fine." He highlighted and deleted his earlier answer.


>>I think it's possible that some couples might find spanking for viral infections an acceptable practice, as long as they had mutually decided it was reasonable.>>


 A puff of smoke hovered for a moment overhead.


"Let me see," Neil said resignedly. "Mild sarcasm," Neil said to the smoke. "I'd be inclined to allow it."


As the smoke dissipated, Claude pressed Send.


"My good Brat," said Neil. "You deserve a treat. Tell you what, why don't I make a

reservation in one of the lower circles for this evening?"


"At Divine Comedy?" Claude asked, excited. "I've heard great things about it! Wow, thank you, Neil." He kissed Neil soundly.


"Excuse me for interrupting, but Lucifer would like to see you in his office," a voice said to Neil. The flames parted, leaving a smouldering pathway.


"Be good until I get back, Claude," Neil said. "Behave so I'd be proud of you. I don't want to come back and find you've been fried."


"I promise," Claude said. "Cross my heart and hope to...whatever."


"Come in, come in," Lucifer said. "And how is your reclamation project going? Ready to call it a day yet?"


"I think he's beginning to respond to me," Neil said. "All he needs, in my opinion, is a firm hand. He's basically a decent guy."


"The thing of it is, I've gotten a memo from upstairs," Lucifer said. "Apparently they're doing some kind of affirmative action admissions program and Claude's name's come up. I'm willing to work with you on this, Neil, I hate to think of you stuck here until hell freezes over. If you think you can handle him without my fire and brimstone as back up, I'll sign off on the transfer."


"Thank you," Neil said sincerely. They shook hands.


"Be sure to take your complimentary paddle on the way out," Lucifer said. "I doubt your guy's an angel yet."


Neil made his way back to Claude. He'd walk over hot coals any day for his Brat.


"I was good," Claude told Neil. "Not even the least bit snide."


"Virtue is its own reward," Neil said to Claude, kissing him thoroughly. "We're moving on. Heaven awaits us."


"I think I can wing it," Claude said with an angelic smile. "As long as I'm with you."


***FIN***

LS 2005 Fall Challenge