A red light drew her attention, and she called over one of her colleagues.
“What’s going on, Cass?”
“This one is fading. We need to intervene.”
Kushiel looked closer at the board. “Who’s on?”
“Maal. Which is perfect.”
“Agreed. Get a couple of the lesser host down to his stage, and let him know what is going on. I’ll go retrieve our patient.”
Cassiel nodded and began typing out the orders to be sent out. Kushiel went from the control room to one of the adjacent antechambers. The identity of their patient popped up on a screen, and he entered a few commands. Almost immediately, the man he had summoned appeared in the chamber.
There was a question on his face as he looked at Kushiel. “You asked to see me? I hope it won’t take long; I was at choir.”
Kushiel smiled. “We will get you back as soon as possible. As you know, this place is for your benefit, a reward for your life of service and faithfulness. As such, your happiness, as well as that of your brothers and sisters, is of paramount importance to us.”
The man nodded. “Yes, I know.”
“Your happiness, however, has begun to wane.”
“I suppose it has, but singing helps.”
“Yes, but it is still below acceptable levels. That is why I’ve asked you here. You may recall from your life that happiness requires suffering. Thus we find it important to occasionally remind our residents of what suffering is so that they can rejoice once more in the benevolence of Our Father.”
“You mean to torture me?”
“Goodness, no! No, we simply show you the suffering of the damned. We find it is very uplifting.”
“Good. Have a seat on the couch. Past this curtain, a screen will show you a vision of their suffering. Would you like anything while you watch?”
“Actually, I haven’t had popcorn in forever.”
“Very well.” A tup of popcorn appeared in front of him. “I will leave you to your viewing.”
The curtain opened. Two men were tied to posts as flames from the rocky ground beneath them licked their feet. A demon, horrifying in appearance, walked into view. His smile dripped evil as he sharpened a wicked looking blade.
Kushiel left and reentered the control room.
“How is it going?” Cassiel asked.
“Fine. He was already engrossed. Any effect yet?”
“Starting to tick up. Probably won’t take long.”
After nearly half an hour, the red light turned yellow and then green. Cassiel nodded to Kushiel, who went back into the antechamber. Cass threw a few switches, and the lights in Maal’s theatre turned from red to green.
Maal immediately shed the appearance of a demon to return to his normal robes. The two principalities stepped down off the posts.
“I’m glad that’s finally over,” one said. The other agreed.
“You both did well. Another soul uplifted,” Maal said. “Please return to your other duties.”
They left, and Maalik began cleaning up the stage.