Boss flowed into the office. Shadows roiled in his wake. He loomed over banks of low screens, desks and cowering office workers.
“Martis!” he roared.
Allie winced, lifting a sickly hand: “Here.”
Boss changed trajectory, pulling up short when he spotted her. “You’re not Martis.”
“You fired Martis last week.” Allie spun her chair, folding her long legs, flashing him a dazzling smile. “I’m in charge now.”
The demon looked her over skeptically. He was seven feet of huge, dark, mostly unclad muscle. Bat-like wings shed sparks of agitation. He displayed sheets of papers in a clawed, blood-stained hand.
“You seen this?”
“Yes,” Allie lied.
“This your doing?”
“Maybe?” the demon growled.
“Definitely,” Winston snarked, from the desk opposite. “You’re in charge, Allie.”
Allie gave her 2IC a filthy look. Winston had gone for the same job but had muffed the interview. Necromancers lacked the people skills to excel in an office environment. They were all brooding and hexes. Allie was very good at interviews.
She flashed a second bright, sunny smile. “I’ll fix it, Boss.”
Boss checked the office. Everyone cringed into their work, studying screens and keyboards intently. The demon’s handsome face was crumpled with worry.
“We’re not ready for this. Hell-lords are on holidays. The rift-mages are on strike. The fallen angels are mid-election…”
Allie lifted a comforting hand: “I know, Boss. I’ll sort it out.”
“By lunchtime?” A plaintive whine crept into his voice.
“Before lunch time,” Allie soothed.
Boss stalked off. The papers in his hand exploded into flames and ashes.
Winston narrowed his eyes at Allie. “How, exactly, are you going to fix this?”
“Watch and learn,” Allie suggested. The first step would be figuring out what the Hell had happened.
She clicked her screen on, then blinked in surprise. “3000 emails?”
Winston smirked. Allie skimmed the chain, frown deepening as she read the subject lines. She scrolled to the bottom and gaped, re-reading an email in disbelief.
“Cinders!” she shouted, shoving her chair back violently.
Allie stormed across the office. A thorny, ugly-as-sin demon blinked up at her in confusion, lifting an ear-bud out of her ear. “Cinders’ hot-desking.”
“Said… you said…?”
Allie ground her teeth and stalked through the office, scanning faces. Cinders was at the far end, out of Allie’s line of sight. The Hell-Witch lazed in her chair, playing with her phone, swiping left methodically. She jolted upright when she spotted Allie.
“Cinders, what did you do?”
“You declared war on Heaven.”
“What? When? No.”
Allie pointed at Cinder’s screen. “4:53 yesterday afternoon.”
“Check,” Allie suggested, grinding her teeth.
Cinders clanked forward in her chair with a long-suffering sigh, setting her phone face-down to hide her Burn matches. She squinted at her screen, clicking with deliberate slowness, face furrowed and baffled.
“Whoa, that’s a lot of…”
“Yes. Check your sent box.”
Cinders’ black-nailed finger clicked. Shock blanketed her face. “Oh.”
“I thought it was a party invitation.”
“With angels!?” Allie growled.
Cinders gave her a sullen look. “What I do in my own time…”
“Torture, blood-feuds and enslavement?”
Cinders lifted her shoulders helplessly: “Party?”
“Cinders! You hit reply all!”
“Did I? Oh, wow. I did.”
“You said ‘we’re in. Bring it on’.”
“I meant me and Sammy.”
“Well, you just sparked Armageddon. Again. What part of ‘on notice’ don’t you get?”
Cinder’s eyes, ringed with kohl, narrowed. “People make mistakes, Allie.”
Allie leaned over the desk, glaring so close she could see the souls writhing in the Hell-witch’s yellow eyes.
“Not as many as you do, Cinders. Focus on what you’re doing. Consider this your final warning.”
“Or I fire your ass,” Allie growled. “Right here. In this chair. Just like Wally last week. Do you remember Wally?”
Cinders shrank back. Allie pointed at the drawer. Cinders hesitated, then slid her phone off the desk, face down, into the drawer.
“Touch that phone before lunch-time, Cinders, and I’ll break your hand.”
Allie pushed off the desk. She stalked past the rest of the office. They were watching her curiously.
“You’re gonna fix this, right?” A sludge-demon burbled. “’Cause I have tickets for Limbo this weekend. Cruise on the Styx? Should I… cancel?”
“No,” Allie growled.
A skeleton warrior popped to his feet, waving his hand about: “Um, um, Allie, I was finishing early today because of…”
Allie raised her hand to block his story. “Stop. Everyone, stop. Back to work. I will fix this.”
“How?” Winston smirked.
Allie dropped into her seat, giving the necromancer a sunny smile. She picked up the phone.
“It’s why I earn the big bucks, Winston.”
She tapped keys confidently. Allie knew her old team-leader’s number by heart. Time for some sweet-talking. Luckily, angels – even fallen ones – were very good at that.
This story previously appeared on Nichole Walsh.
Edited by Marie Ginga
Nicole Walsh is a cat enthusiast from the east coast of Australia who loves fern gardens and long dresses. She writes short stories and novel-length speculative fiction and urban fantasy that spans from a little bit dark, a little bit amusing through to a little bit steamy. Visit Nicole at NicoleWalshAuthor.com and on Facebook.