What had happened was this - at the time of the Great War, fought between Angels and Demons, Hell had not been completed. So when Lucifer and his fellow fallen were cast out of Heaven they had nowhere to go, other than to try and mix in with the inhabitants of the Earth and hope that nobody noticed. Apologies from the celestial council had been forthcoming with the promise that their new abode would be ready in time, but as to what time was never made clear. During this time the great Architect, The Watchmaker himself had decided to take a vacation, as he was about due and quite frankly needed the rest. Obviously the job of running everything, everyone and every time was not something that could not be left to its own devises, and so an advert was placed in the job vacant section of the Celestial Times and read thus:
INEFFABLE BEING. MUST BE ABLE TO MUTLI-TASK.
OMNIPOTENCE A MUST.
FULL TRAINING WILL BE GIVEN, AS PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE IS UNLIKLY.
APPLY TO ANY DIETY YOU WISH AS THEY ARE ALL ME ANYWAY.
Within the hour there appeared in the spiritual inbox an email from a Mr. Lewis Cipher, and attached was a résumé of such an impressive nature that it was hard not to give him the job there and then. Still, protocol had to be observed and so Mr. Cipher was invited to an interview at ten o’clock the next day.
There was a knock on the main office door at precisely ten followed by a fumbling of a door handle that would not turn due to sweaty and nervous hooves. After a drying them on his pants the owner of the knock got a grip on himself and the doorknob and was able to let himself in.
He peered around the half opened entrance as if unsure as to whether this was in the right place.
‘Mr. Tecked?’ He asked.
There was a puzzled look offered by The Watchmaker to accompany the one of alarm that Lewis was already wearing.
Lewis looked down at the piece of paper he held in his claw.
‘Mr Archie Tecked?’
‘Oh, I see – yes, please come in Mr.?’
‘Cipher, Lewis Cipher’
The Watchmaker peered over his glasses at the strange little man who stood in the doorway. He had a familiarity about him.
‘Have we met before?’ he asked.
Lewis stood panic-stricken for a moment as he considered his answer.
He was an odd little man whose nervous disposition made him appear to dance on the spot without actually moving.
‘I don’t think we’ve met before’ he ventured, and then stepped back a little as if expecting a reaction for giving the possible wrong answer.
The Watchmaker smiled.
‘You have never been here before?’ he asked.
‘Never’ lied Lewis.
‘I expect you just have one of those faces’ he said.
Lewis adjusted his false moustache and said,
‘No, it’s definitely my face – honest’
After a resolute sigh The Watchmaker invited Lewis in and offered him a seat.
He looked down at his notes.
‘Yes, that’s me’ answered Lewis. The sweat on his brow was a mixture of nervousness and heat caused by the large woollen hat he had chosen to wear for the interview.
‘What qualifications do you have that would suit this position?’
Lewis had practiced this bit over and over in the mirror – well, a mirror that had not screamed and dissolved when he looked into it.
‘Well, I am very effervescent, and I believe that was one of the main skills you were looking for’
He beamed a little at how well it was all going, so much so that it nearly took his mind off of how much his new shoes pinched his claws.
‘Ineffable’ said the Watchmaker.
‘Bless you’ replied Lewis.
‘No, Ineffable - too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words’
There was an awkward pause before Lewis said,
‘What does my word mean then?’
‘It means you’re fizzy’
A spiritual bundle of tumbleweed rolled by as if the emphasise the harrowing gap that had appeared in the conversation.
‘Still, never mind’ smiled The Watchmaker, ‘let’s continue shall we’
Lewis let out a small sigh of relief, and a little something else that he hoped would go un-noticed.
‘It was stated in the advert that omnipotence was a requirement’
This brought a smile from Lewis.
‘Well sir, you will have no worries there. Mrs. Cipher will contest to that – if you know what I mean’
He tapped the side of, what would loosely be called his nose and offered a conspiritual wink to his interviewer by was of an explanation.
The Watchmaker gave Lewis a blank stare.
‘Mr Cipher’ he said.
‘Yes’ said a smiling Lewis.
‘Omnipotence is the quality of having unlimited power’
The smile stayed frozen on the ‘face’ thing that Lewis now wore.
‘And what does my word mean again?’
‘I am sorry to say that the word you maybe referring to is ‘Impotent’ and is something that you and the ‘lovely?’ Mrs. Cipher would need to talk to someone about’
An air of suspicion crossed the mind of Lewis as he replayed a conversation that had taken place with his wife the previous night.
‘Moving on’ said the Watchmaker.
Lewis was sweating quite badly now and had started to leave a small puddle where he sat. The Watchmaker poured him a glass of water.
‘You look very hot Mr. Cipher, would you like to remove your hat?’
‘What horns?’ he said defensively.
‘Hat’ said the Watchmaker ‘I said hat’
‘Hat?’ came the reply. Lewis looked around wild eyed, ‘what hat?’
‘The one that is on your head?’
‘Err – no thank you, it keeps my horns warm – HEAD’ he said, almost shouting his correction, ‘It keeps my head warm’
‘As you wish’
The Watchmaker looked back at his notes once again.
‘Ah’ he said, ‘I notice that you live ‘down under’ – is it nice there?’
‘It’s Hell’ said Lewis absentmindedly. He was sure he had got away with the horn reference, but you could never be too sure with The Watchmaker.
‘Is it hot there?’
Lewis smiled grimly.
‘You can say that again’
‘So I guess a nice couple of weeks working on this side of the celestial plain would be just as much of a holiday for you as it would be for me?’
‘It would indeed’ Maybe he had gotten away with it. It seemed that his interviewer had no clue as to his secret identity.
‘So the job entails’ continued The Watchmaker ‘the basic day to day running of Heaven and the other seven celestial realms’
‘Wow’ He had done it – he had really done it. He was going to be given the keys to Heaven, and seven other realms that he had no idea existed.
Now things would be different – create man in our own image huh? well we will soon see about that. And this free will rubbish - that sounded like a day one change if ever he heard one. His thoughts were interrupted by the voice of The Watchmaker.
‘Would you like to be shown around Mr. Cipher?’ he said as he stood up. He walked to the door in order to open it for Lewis,
‘So that you can get a feel for the place’
‘Oh that’s okay, I know my way around’
A look of confusion crossed the face of The Watchmaker.
‘You do? – I was under the impression that you had never been here before’
‘Why would you think that?’ He held back the panic in his voice, hoping against hope that his long time enemy had not seen through his disguise.
‘Because that’s what you told me at the start of the interview’
‘Think man shaped entity, think’ he muttered to himself.
‘Maybe this place is like your face’ said The Watchmaker, as if throwing Lewis a lifeline ‘it seems familiar to everyone’ he smiled a reassuring and comforting smile.
‘Yes’ sighed Lewis in relief, ‘that would be it’
‘Indeed it would, well Mr. Cipher, I will leave you in the capable wings of my assistant Gabriel to show you around before you leave’
‘How did I do?’ said Lewis with genuine hope in his eyes. It had been a long time since he had sought approval from The Watchmaker and was surprised at how much he still craved it.
‘You did your best I’m sure – there will be a letter in the mail for you in the next couple of days. But for now I will say goodbye, and thank you so much for coming – back.’
Lewis offered a gloved hoof to shake to which The Watchmaker looked down at with alarm in his eyes.
‘Thank you, but no’ he said. ‘We will talk again soon - Mr. Cipher’.
Accompanied by the Archangel, Mr. Lewis Cipher was shown around a place that he knew so very well. A place he had once lived in until he was shown the door a long time ago for being very ‘naughty’.
Having completed the tour, Gabriel escorted his guest to the large pearly gates that served as entrance to, and the exit from, paradise.
‘Well thank you for your time’ said Lewis.
‘You are very welcome’ said Gabriel ‘ and you are welcome to come back here again anytime you like’
With that Lewis smiled and walked towards the hidden lift that would take him home. He turned to wave at the winged figure standing at the gates.
‘Goodbye Gabriel’ he called.
Gabriel smiled and waved back.
‘Goodbye Lucifer’ he said.