"I suppose—" Mrs. Peterson was turned in a small circle by the ever-shifting sands, her face etched away by the abrasion and heat "—not. Still, nice to be back home for a bit I expect. On holiday are you?"
"Not really, no. I live over there." He pointed to somewhere in the distance. "I had to open a portal in a hurry and this is where I ended up."
"My good fortune then." Her eyes were beginning to re-form. It was almost a shame she hadn't seen his cottage on the edge of the fifth circle overlooking the lake of blood. He was quite proud of it.
"I suppose it is." He stooped to pour red hot sand in her mouth but it was only out of courtesy. His heart wasn't in it.
"Pfft. That's very –pfft--- kind of you sir."
"Think nothing of it, dear lady." Jasfoup stood, letting his clothes dissolve away and releasing his true form, tentacles and all. What was it about tentacles that mortals found so abhorrent? They were jolly useful at times and his intimate lady friends never seemed to complain. Nor, come to that, did his gentleman ones.
"Must get on, Mrs. P. Things to do and all that."
"Right you are. Where are you off to now? Back upstairs?"
"Soon, yes, but first I've got to check on current possessions. I've just had an argument with a demon I didn't recognise."
"Is that unusual? You can't know everybody, Mr. J."
"I suppose not but I found it unsettling. The way it would rather possess a corpse than shift shape into something resembling a mortal."
"The ways of demons are a mystery to me." Mrs. Prendergast paused while her face went under again. "Perhaps he wanted to feel like a mortal."
"Perhaps. That makes a kind of sense, I suppose. Never could understand the desire to limit yourself in such a fashion, personally."
Jasfoup released his wings, revelling in the freedom as they became taut, the tingle of fire through the membrane a feeling of utter bliss. The mortal world had been his habitat for centuries but was it any wonder most demons preferred to live at home in Hell?
Mrs. Peterson called to him from the sands, her flesh charring and renewing in a constant, eternal cycle. "You're looking a bit peaky, Mr. J. have you been away long?"
"A minute is too long, Mrs. P." He held up his hand and willed the skin tone to darken to a healthy black. "Better?"
Mrs. Peterson had already been swallowed by the sand. Jasfoup let the updraft from the boiling sands fill his wings and with three beats he was up and away, soaring through the umber skies of hell toward the tiny city on the horizon: Dis.