The fireplace crackled softly in his quiet mahogany themed office. He had just returned from a class graduation ceremony and he was too lazy to move from his chair behind the desk, even if he was starting to get a chill from the lack of heat in the room.
He often blamed his age for his inability to stay on his feet for long hours, but it was simply a lame excuse. The fact was, Slubgob had grown to be rather sluggish after his retirement and it was not a trait to be celebrated, unlike his apathetic personality. Nobody could blame him though, for he had nothing else better to do these days. He was filled with head knowledge and the lack of fieldwork left him reading old dusty books to kill time.
Having surrounded himself only with books, Slubgob was rather surprised when he received the invitation to the graduation at Tempters’ Training College for Young Demons. He actually thought the invite was out of respect. But when he found his seat three rows from the stage, among the bored, agitated and noisy parents, Slubgob knew he was there to be made fun of. Makallous, the newly appointed principle, had invited him just so he could whisper among his fellow subordinates of how the ‘old one’ had finally left his glory days to rot in an office.
When Slubgob realised the childish plot, he decided to keep his ego and remained seated throughout the ceremony. He didn’t want to give Makallous anymore joy in seeing him leave.
Joy, what do any of us know about joy, Slubgob thought.
Finally finding himself so close to a sneeze, Slubgob hurried to the fireplace and added more wood. The temperature was fluctuating these days and Slubgob could only suspect more victories from the enemy. He hoped their father below had not suspected the change, for if he did, they would all be in trouble. Though none of them would end up taking a beating as bad as Makallous.
The imagery of Makallous being punished made Slubgob smile. Why would Slubgob be in trouble when he did nothing, nothing at all?
This sedentary lifestyle isn’t so bad after all, Slubgob concluded silently, returning to his desk.
As he reclined in his chair, ready to catch a shuteye, he noticed a letter sitting on top of his stack of reread books. Scribbled on the brown envelope was his name and when he turned it over, he saw no seal or name of whom it was from.
Slowly taking out the letter, oddly finding himself not at all interested at what it had to say, Slubgob found himself staring down at three words, so poorly written that he started to wonder if he now needed glasses.
“Please help him,” Slubgob read aloud, after a few attempts of trying to piece the alphabets together. Signed beneath the three-word letter was an initial, one he recognised all too well.
That would explain the bad handwriting, Slubgob thought.
Bledbrush was a very old friend who fell from grace. He lost both his hands after he failed a special assignment that was personally handed to him by their father below.
Perhaps he wrote the letter with his feet. The sudden flashes from his rusty imagination made Slubgob laugh.
“Oh Bledbrush, this is your job,” Slubgob said with a sigh. Slubgob did not need to guess whom the letter was referring to as he began thinking about his godson.
Bledbrush had a son named Vilefire. Vilefire was part of the graduating class that morning, and at the memory, Slubgob recalled not seeing Bledbrush among the group of parents.
Where was Bledbrush? Was he in trouble?
Bledbrush used to be a good friend, until he messed things up. The community was kind enough to accept his son, but Bledbrush was no longer welcomed at family barbeques or invited to any festive celebrations. He went from the number one Tempter to the number one outcast, and in Slubgob’s honest opinion, he deserved it.
Bledbrush was to lead his patient away from the enemy, but instead, he lost him to the enemy. That patient ended up leading an entire generation in the enemy’s ways, wasting all efforts and destroying all future chances of winning any of them back.
Pitiful… Pitiful Bledbrush. Should I help him? Slubgob asked himself.
With such a father, Vilefire had no choice but to fend for himself. Forced to make up for his father’s abhorrent reputation, the boy could definitely use Slubgob’s help.
“That’s a poor way of asking for a favour, Bledbrush. The enemy forbid, your manners are appalling. But… I’ll help you anyway,” Slubgob said, as though speaking to someone across his desk.
Just as he had decided on that, a knock came from his office door.
“What is it Mrs Gregious?” Slubgob asked, slightly annoyed at the disturbance. His caretaker knew better than to disturb him at any time of the day.
“I have a letter for you, sir,” Mrs Gregious said, as she opened the door and hurried to his desk to hand him the letter.
“Another one?” Slubgob was surprised at the amount of attention he was getting that day.
Mrs Gregious nodded and left without saying another word.
Not hesitating, Slubgob tore the letter open and read.
This is to inform you of the disappearance of former Tempter Bledbrush.
If you have any information on his whereabouts, you are to report immediately.
Demons who withhold information will not be spared.
(Captain of the H. G Security)
“Ah. Well done Bledbrush, you angered our father below. You should think twice about making it a hobby,” Slubgob said, as he shook his head in disappointment.
That explained the letter from Bledbrush, and Slubgob was glad that Bledbrush’s letter was just that. Anything more would get him in trouble.
Contemplating on what to do next, he decided to give Dartloath a call. If Mrs Gregious decided to speak about the mysterious letter he received earlier, he would not be able to have a day without the Hell’s Ground Security knocking on his door. So, he decided to come clean.
That night, Slubgob invited Dartloath over for dinner. Dartloath was not as old as he was, but the towering demon was well into his age. He also had a scar on his right eye, making it the eye no one dared to look into.
“Doctor, I know you are one with little friends and surely I am not one of them. What is the reason for this dinner?” Dartloath said, just as he emptied his glass of wine.
“You have enjoyed my food and now you fear not in jumping into questions and reasons. I respect the thickness of your skull, Dartloath.”
“I waste no time. I am a busy one.”
“Of course. Well, earlier today I received a letter from Bledbrush, he-”
“Does it say where he is?”
“No. He simply asked me to look after his son, who happens to be my godson. But, I think I do know where he is.”
“What are you waiting for? An invitation to dinner at my house instead?” Dartloath did not like waiting, it seemed.
“Tell me this first, what are you planning to do with Vilefire?” Slubgob replied, as he took another bite at his red meat.
“We’re keeping him under surveillance. Bledbrush might attempt to contact him and vice versa. We-”
“Now, tell me what Bledbrush did that made him run,” Slubgob interrupted, completely ignoring the steam that was rising from Dartloath’s head. Literally.
“It’s confidential. Our father below gave orders not to disclose any information on Bledbrush’s offense.”
“So, where is he?” Dartloath snapped.
“Well, since Bledbrush is not down here, he must be up there, frolicking with our fellow patients,” Slubgob replied with a smile.
“Do you think this is funny, old one?”
“No. I’ve simply told you all I know. Now if you would excuse me-”
“Where’s the letter from Bledbrush? I want to see it,” Dartloath interrupted him this time.
“You won’t be able to read it. He writes with his toes now that he has no hands,” Slubgob casually replied as he got up from his seat. “Just take my word for it. I called you here, didn’t I?”
“I’m not sure what your reason is for such an invite. You know, it is true what they say, a lonely, bored old one is what you are,” Dartloath replied without hiding his spite. As he stood up, he tugged his suit and left without even thanking Slubgob for the delicious meal.
Not taking any offense, Slubgob returned to his office and decided to write a letter to Vilefire. With a mystery as such, he foresaw less idle days in his office and it excited him. Slubgob could also put his knowledge to the test and do a real field task at last. If it got him in trouble, he could always pretend to be senile.
Pulling out his favourite fountain pen from his desk’s drawer, Slubgob stared briefly at the flickering shadows that dominated his office before he began to write.
You are probably wondering why I am writing to you. To be honest, your father sent me a letter asking me to help you. I suspect it could mean to help you in your new assignment, but it could also be a plea to keep you from harm’s way, now that he has fallen from grace again.
I know I have not been a very good godfather to you, but I am not one to build relationships. As you might have heard from your lecturers in college, or even your fellow classmates, I am as unfriendly as an alligator and as cold as a snake.
Oddly, I find myself writing a letter to you, hoping to do your father one last favour. He was once a good friend and a good Tempter, and you would do well not to forget that.
Of course, I will not barge my way into your mediocre life, but if you would like my assistance, I am sure to have more head knowledge than anyone you have met.
Write back to me once you have decided. There is no rush, only the time wasted to do great things for our father below.
Your willing Godfather,
You have just read Chapter 1 of Dr. Slubgob’s Letters. Want more? Grab the entire novella HERE!