Excerpt: My Life in Hell

“Seth, honey, we’re moving to Hell,” my mom announced to me over pecan praline pancakes one morning.

I stared at her and then I looked to my new stepdad, Balthazar, with his dark red skin that was nearly black and the bit of crinkling around his eyes where sometimes I could see a bit of fire coming through. He was a literal demon, one of probably hundreds, if not thousands, that had been openly walking around Earth with us humans for the past decade. They’d revealed themselves one day, on a live talk show of all places, but they’d probably been with us for a lot longer.

Demons walking among humans was one thing. But this? Going to Hell? Humans didn’t do that. At least, not live ones. That wasn’t how this worked at all.

I shook my head with instant rejection. “I’m not going. I just graduated from high school. I have plans this summer, and maybe the most important reason of all, I’m going to college this fall. I can’t move to—”

“We’re moving, all of us, as a family,” Balthazar said.

They’d only been married for three months, and now my mom expected me to move to Hell of all places? And Balthazar felt comfortable in speaking for her? Not only no, but a big old Hell No. “Are there even any humans in Hell? Live ones, I mean.”

“Some. Not a lot. But a few.” Balthazar put down the paper he’d been reading. There were little smudge marks on the edges where the paper had smoldered even under his careful touch. “Seth, I think a change will be really good for you. I’ll get you a great job down there. Something safe for a human, of course.”

“Of course,” my mom chimed in.

I groaned. “How about if I move out? I could stay up here and you two could move down there.” How did a human even get to Hell anyway? I had no idea. Was that something mom already knew? It sounded painful. And dangerous.

“You don’t have a job or money,” Balthazar pointed out unhelpfully. “Look, come try out Hell for a little while. You might like it. There’s lots to see and do there. Plenty of shopping and boys your age. Maybe you could make some new friends there.”

My mom was smiling as she nodded along. “Or a boyfriend. A nice demon boyfriend, like the one I found, only younger. Your age. With a good job, a stable income, and a nice home life.”

I rolled my eyes. I’d come out to them both only six months before, and now every chance she got she was trying to get me to date. At least she was being supportive, I supposed. Not that that was a comfort to me right now. “I’m fine how I am,” I grumbled.

She reached across the kitchen table and took my hand. “Honey, you’re not. Give Hell a chance. I promise, if you hate it after a few months, you can move back up here. You’ll have plenty of money then, and it’ll be a big deal that you got a job in Hell. Not many people can say they’ve done that. It’ll look great on a resume.”

I hated being practical. And I also hated that she was making sense. “Two months.”

“Three,” she tried to bargain with me.

But I wasn’t having it. “Two. Not a day more. Just sixty days, or whatever two months ends up being down in Hell.”

She patted my hand. “Sure. Two months and not a day more. I promise.”

“Fine,” I grumbled.

Balthazar just smiled, showing us both a bit of his fangs.

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