Hell on Wheels
This was something I started a while back in response to a call for submissions from an anthology. The deadline passed and I left it hanging until now.
So you want to know if I feel threatened by technology? My answer? Hell no!
Ha, ha! Company joke.
Seriously, technology is what has made this division the success it's been. When we first started, well, I'm not sure that anybody really understood we'd be standing here today doing the volume we do. I mean it really is phenomenal; it's a miracle!
Ha, ha, ha! Ok, another little joke.
You really have to look back at where all this started. I mean back in those Garden of Eden days nobody was coming to Hell so the Boss came up with a plan. Ok, ok, so you know that story already, but you have to think about what it was like for us. We were all ready to jump into action , claim our share of souls, look good for the Boss and all. We'll I wasn't one of the top dogs back then, so the other guys wound up with the really prime stuff, the seven deadlies and such . The rest of us had to be satisfied with whatever we could come up with.
Now it may seem obvious to people now, but when the Boss asked who wants to take wheels, well, there was this silence. Nobody wanted it. I mean when humans got kicked out of the garden it was instant reduction to ape hood even if they did get to keep their souls. Still, what it comes down to is no technology.
So, why would I want wheels? No wheels; no profit. Murder? Lust? Yeah, those were the earlier producers. Boy, did lust turn a profit! Still does. Technology isn't even a sin. How do you claim a soul based on technology? Why would the Boss even think of technology divisions? I'll tell you with one word: vision. The Boss had vision.
The Boss had all this figured out. The biggies give us recognition; that's who we are and what we're all about. But another thing is that sometimes they're just as likely to backfire on us. I mentioned murder so let's take it as an example. Murder is a clear cut, instant soul damner, right? Pure profit in the soul business. Right? Wrong! Somebody has to be murdered and they're usually some innocent! You break even at best and if it's a multiple it's a loss. Sometimes you get lucky and the person that gets murdered was already damned so you get to collect before they can repent, but that's pretty rare. And mass murderers? Satan help us! We almost had to declare bankruptcy!
And another thing is if it's clear out sin, then most people will avoid it and that does us no good. We needed a way to disguise it, build it into the subtext, move things from omission to commission. Most of us didn't see that, but the Boss did. Like I said: vision. I didn't see where he was going with this wheels thing, but I trusted the boss then and I still do. Otherwise, there would be Hell to pay.
Ha, ha, ha! Yeah, bad joke again. But is it a sin? Hell yeah! Ha, ha!
So technology related sins started off in the pits, but moved forward. Let me give you a point in case on when I first saw this. Nurdguk had just invented the wheel (so had some other guys, but the idea died with them) by chipping away at a boulder. He'd noticed the boulder rolled when pushed and was getting some vague idea that this might be useful. He pounded away until he got this big fat wheel. So, he rolled it back and forth a bit and then he rolled it up a hill. Of course, Nurdguk was a prehistoric loser so everybody ignored him playing around with his wheel and proceeded to make the guys over in Lust Division rich. Nurdguk standing uphill with this massive, heavy wheel looks down to see this big guy club another guy to death and then throw himself on top of the woman. Now Nurdguk is wishing he was big and strong enough to club down the big guy and get the girl, but he isn't. He wishes he had a giant club to smack him with. Then, he realizes he's got a boulder! What does Nurdguk do? He goes bowling for Cro-Magnons! Big guy gets sent down here to be followed shortly by Nurdguk when he tries to use his wheel idea on the clan next door.
Who gets the credit here? Well, technically murder is murder so it goes to that division, but, since the motivation was envy and lust, they get some of the credit, as well. Here's the beauty, though. It was the wheel that made it possible so I scored my first, albeit partial, credit. Because of the wheel, an impulse turned into pre-meditated murder. Not bad, huh. Sure, it wasn't much, but it was a start and it certainly wasn't the last time somebody wheeled down the competition.
Things picked up from there. It was still slow, but the division was moving forward. It was with the partial credit that I began to grasp the Boss's vision for the wheel. Wheeled carts were used to advance greedy purposes. Carts and wagons as symbols of wealth and status were sources of pride. They elicited envy and incited to murder. Small scores to be sure, but I savored them all in those early days.
Staying with the original concept, the growth of my division has been assured. Development of the automobile certainly gave us boost. Even the bicycle helped.
You're laughing at me. No, that's alright. You might think I'm stretching things with the bicycle. It's too innocuous, you say. Well, let me set you straight, the bicycle has been a part of this. Think back a bit to that "bicycle built for two." Him, her, riding off together, no chaperone. Yeah, you get the picture.
Now getting back to the automobile. Think how much sin is invested in it. Talk about laying golden eggs! Pride? Always have to have a better car than the neighbor. Envy? The neighbor has a new car; don't you want one, too? Anger? Give me some more of that road rage. And, of course, it's been used for murder, but we already saw that that is a little iffy. Greed? You shopped around for a car lately? Lust? Of course, sex in cars, but there are even some that have sex with cars; true auto erotica. Ha, ha! And on top of all this (believe me, if I were working upstairs the expression on my face would be positively beatific) gluttony and sloth. Millions of lazy fat slobs driving around buying tons of fast food!
Oh, but believe me this division of Hell is not sitting back getting fat and lazy. While we aren't abandoning wheels we've been able to expand by extending some concepts. A wheel is round; a wheel turns. Maybe you can see where I'm going with this? We've moved beyond wheels to add disks into our division.
Now you're with me, right? Bestarastripus really thought he was going to be the Boss's dark-haired child over in the Entertainment Division. Yeah, it was really looking good for him until that day I said, "Hey, Be! See those kids wiggling to the music. You did notice that the music ain't live, right? It's playing on that <i>round</i> thing."
And it just got better from there. Of course, certain agreements with the recording industry prevent me from going into details, but you get the picture. CD's.. DVD's...
Along side all this has been the incredible growth we've experienced with the personal computer and the internet. Sure it's wires and chips, but mainly it's all those whirring disc drives.
Yeah, no matter what you're doing these days... there's Hell to pay!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
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