[Prompt: Satan gathers up all the lesser demons and announces that they’re going to be adding another sin to the seven deadly sins and whoever comes up with it gets to be in charge of that department. ]
When Murzim first heard the news that a new department was opening in the Seven Deadly Sins branch, he’d been skeptical. At first, he thought it was a rumor someone had started to break up the monotony of eternal pain and suffering. But when he received the memo with Satan’s official seal, there wasn’t any questioning the validity of the claim. What’s more, Satan was calling upon all demons to submit their ideas for what the Eighth Sin should be. And if that wasn’t enough to perk a hellion’s attention, whichever sin Satan chose, the lucky producer would get to head the new department.
Murzim wasn’t used to having feelings that felt…good. But this news summoned them forth, bringing a wicked grin to his face and putting a spring in his stomp. Murzim needed this promotion. He had been waiting ages for a chance to prove himself to his Overlord. Hell had gotten so crowded over the years, it was difficult not to be considered ‘one of the lesser demons’. He knew this was his chance to achieve notoriety.
Unlike other demons who might need ample time to contemplate such a significant topic, Murzim knew immediately what the Eighth Sin should be. He knew the proclivity of humans in this day and age, and he knew what transgression would acquire the most souls. Cyberfixation.
Murzim knew that most humans were facebooking, tweeting, instagraming and vine-ing. Humans that were too busy tending to a skewed representation of themselves on a screen. They didn’t need to send a birthday card when they could easily post on a wall. They didn’t even need to remember when important dates occurred, their alerts urged them to type empty words to a recipient. They no longer made eye contact when they were on the bus. They didn’t greet a stranger on the street. They didn’t talk to each other over dinner. They were free to be selfish and irresponsible, with weak, mortal consequences. But even though these humans were the scum of the surface, not many of them made it down to Hell. The technicalities of how the Seven Deadly Sins worked currently placed these people in a grey area. Murzim’s plan would capitalize on the oversight.
If you’ve never been to Hell, you might think it reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno. Flames, corpses, torture, etc. But that imagining of Hell is the medieval era, the olden days. Just as the surface world has changed since knights, arenas and castles, Hell has gotten a few upgrades of its own.
High rise condos dot the smoldering landscape, housing the countless demons that reside there. ‘Parks’ (areas where demons can gather to torture socially), have grown in numbers, proving to be a great way for minions from different departments to get to know each other. There have also been some technology upgrades. Anyone crossing the River Styx is sure to find Charon using his tablet to check their name off his arrival list, and a visit to any household would reveal a personal computer, networked into the Purganet.
Murzim had been involved in the infrastructure of the Purganet. Although he had just been an installer, it had piqued his interest in the system. He had been one of the first lesser demons to have access to the it in his home, and because of this, he had a lot of contacts.
There was one subset of computer users that had quite a number make it to Hell: the hackers. Murzim had familiarized himself with most of them, pulling toenails or poking eyeballs every now and then to get a good story. Murzim found himself feeling…happy that he had abused so many of the hackers. Their cooperation was going to make his sin proposition even more appealing to Satan.
You see, Murzim wasn’t merely going to offer his idea for the Eighth Sin. Although that was his first step, he was determined to have a plan in place with all the loose ends tied neatly into nooses so that when Satan started asking questions, he had the answers.
It had taken all day for Murzim to finish his powerpoint presentation. With the assistance of the hackers, he had the necessary groundwork in place for a team capable of monitoring surfacers for cyberfixation. As he waited patiently in the lobby of Satan’s Tower, he noted his poorly prepared peers. Murzim glanced down at his briefcase in his lap and smiled at his savvy planning. He was the only one in the lobby with a laptop, so he was fairly confident his powerpoint presentation was going to be the perfect touch to his pitch.
Murzim wiped his sweaty palms on his legs as he approached Satan’s office door. All of his hard work was about to pay off. Straightening his tie, he rolled his shoulders back and adopted proper posture before entering the door. Satan sat behind a tall, iron desk. A pen twirled idly in his hand as he looked Murzim over. Satan’s face remained blank, eyebrows raised questioningly, and then his deep voice asked, “So, Murzim, is it? What is your grand scheme for the new sin?”
Murzim felt…excited as he nodded at Satan, eager to reply with the aid of his presentation. Setting his briefcase on the chair provided, he answered as he retrieved his laptop, “Well Master, I have put a lot of thought into this question, and I’ve prepared a slide show to enhance my findings.”
Satan tilted his head thoughtfully, a smirk stretching his lips to reveal his pointed teeth, “Murzim, you are piquing my curiosity. Continue.”
Murzim opened his computer and glanced around for a place to set it. His eyes flickered around nervously as he realized there wasn’t anything meant for his set up. He felt sweat tingle on his back as he looked to Satan. Murzim tried to keep his composure. Relenting for a computer space, he faced the screen towards Satan. He rest the laptop in the crook of his arm and pressed the play button.
A picture of a teenage boy sitting at a computer appeared as Murzim cleared his throat and then began his speech. “Cyberfixation. The wickedness that is plaguing humans at a staggering rate. Sitting anonymously behind their keyboards, humans partake in diabolical discussions.” The photo on the presentation changed to show a screenshot of a food blog. “Caught up in sharing real experiences with the virtual world, humans have become unappreciative of what they have before them and instead obsessed over the number of likes a post gets.” The next slide showed a little girl playing on a tablet. “From a young age they groom their offspring to become familiar with the technology, ensuring they too will join the throngs of callous, screen addicted fools.” A bar graph appeared on the screen, “Which leads me to figure A. As you can see, the percentage of souls projected to partake in cyberfixation doubles annually, with no sign of decreasing as the humans move further into the age of technology.” The next picture was of a crowd of people at an internet cafe. “If we were to capitalize on the souls partaking in cyberfixation, our numbers would infinitely grow, ensuring our legion would become unstoppable in a surprisingly minimal ten year time span.” The final image was a thumbs up emoji. “With small oversight from our end and no additional advertising needed, cyberfixation can be the next Deadly Sin to supply a plethora of souls for you, Master.”
Satan stared at the screen, remaining silent for an uncomfortable amount of time. Murzim shifted his weight back and forth, wondering if he should put the computer away. He didn’t want to disrespect his Master. Finally, Satan reclined back in his black leather chair, his eyes shifted to Murzim’s and he grinned. Reaching forward to press a button, he spoke to someone in another room, “Cancel all my other appointments.”
Murzim stood at the window of his new office and admired the torment below him. Glancing at the large digital counter on the wall, he smiled as he watched the predicted soul numbers rise. He felt…overjoyed.