Pandora’s Gift is an absurd novella, 18,000 words long, written in 2006.
A short, stocky man with a curly goatee sat behind the desk, scribbling away furiously. When they arrived, he looked up, and the pen stopped abruptly.
“Ah,” he said.
He wrote a few more lines over a yellowing scrap of parchment, set it aside, and looked up again.
“Welcome,” he said.
“Hi,” said Pablo. “Who are you?”
“My name is Lucifer,” said the man.
“You mean Satan?” said Ryan.
“Did I say Satan? Did I look at you and say, Hi, my name is Satan? No? Well.”
“But like, are you the Lucifer?” pressed Pablo. “Angel, fell from grace, took over Hell, signed a book deal with John Milton, sued Dante for libel? The Devil?”
“Damn straight,” said Lucifer. “Look, that’s not really what I’m here to talk about. We need to be moving on. Now, you see that gate in front of you – ”
“Is this Hell?” asked Ryan.
“Do you see Oprah Winfrey here?” snapped Lucifer.
“Then it’s not Hell, is it?”
“What’ve you got against Oprah?” said Pablo.
“Listen,” said Lucifer, leaning forward in his chair (and making it squeak), “there are three things I hate: Jews, Asian-Americans, and black women.” He leaned back again and sneered. “How do you like them apples?”
Ryan thought about it.
“You don’t seem that evil.”
“I’m the one who caused the Black Death.”
“I’m the one who wrote the script for Batman and Robin.”
“I’m the one who canceled Earthbound 64.”
Ryan’s eyes narrowed. “You bastard.”
“Like I was saying,” continued Lucifer, “there’s this gate in front of you. The gate leads to the first of two challenges that you must pass before you can gain entrance to the Inner Sanctuary, where you will find Pandora’s Gift. Both challenges are most difficult! None have yet succeeded!”
“Two challenges,” said Pablo. “I bet they just happen to correspond to some particular talent that each of us has, so that we get through them by harnessing our strengths, and we all learn a lesson about friendship.”
“Stfu,” said Lucifer. “Go through the stupid gate.”
“Hey Lucifer,” said Ryan, “how come you’re not in Hell?”
“Are you serious?” he answered, returning to his paperwork. “Hell sucks.”
They went through the stupid gate.