Friday, September 12, 2008
Dis went computerized in the late eighties when the new processors reduced the price of paperweights to under a grand for Amstrad with twin 3 ¼ disc drives. It’s all swish now, naturally, with 16GHz processors pushing data along almost faster than thought (unless you want to play a game, of course – then each screen is rendered impossibly slowly).
This left the records for 1969 shelved in an old toilet cubicle on index cards. It too me three hours* to find a record of the invoice sent to Harold.. It turns out that it was already marked overdue, and Harold had been sent a collection agent twice already in his lifetime; once in 1974 and once in 1994. I’d have to ask him how he survived those – it’s not just anyone who can hold off a reaper.
The paperwork led me to an office on sub level 73 of the council offices. Steliphigor was an undistinguished quill-pusher; a stickler for rules and regulations and a demon I could (hopefully) intimidate.
“Stelli, old boy,” I said, affecting the posture of a demon several grades higher. “I’ve just had this brought to my attention by a subordinate.”** I thrust the invoice under his nose. “What are you going to do about it?”
He picked it up with his claws and read it with one eye closed.*** “It’s overdue,” he said. “I’ll have a collector sent.”
“Good.” I made as if to leave then turned back, as if a thought had occurred to me. “Make sure it’s a level five,” I said. “In fact, send Jasfoup. He’s superb at his job.”
“All right. I’ll make a note of it.” Steliphigor picked up a pen and scrawled a note. “Who shall I say gave me the order?”
I was already half way out of the door and pretended not to hear. I wasn’t even half way back to my little cottage before my i-phone went off, announcing I had a new task in my inbox. I thumbed it open.
To Do: Collect the soul of Harold Waterman.
* What I mean is that I waited for three hours in the Brothels while an imp fetched it.****
** I was counting Harold as a subordinate.
*** Avian-headed demons do this all the time. Their beaks get in the way.
**** As a customer, obviously.