In my new series, Demons After Dark, the entire night shift crew in the SuperMax level of Hell are branded as traitors and exiled to the human plane. They’re wrongfully accused of plotting to kill Lucifer to start a civil war. Being exiled is a violent, disorienting process where their souls of thrown into the unsuspecting bodies of random humans–the human souls run screaming in the other direction, leaving the body intact. The twelve exiled demons come to be known as Trinity demons. Benn and Vanek are two of the SuperMax crew.
“Hey guys, thanks for sitting down for an interview today. I know you’re busy trying to rescue the others, but my readers want to hear from you. This won’t take very long. Let’s start with how you ended up on the human plane. How does a demon get kicked out of Hell?”
Vanek throws me a crooked smile and scrubs at his jaw. “Nutshell version? There’s a creepy-ass secret society called the Da’vinRa’ who think they need to replace Lucifer and enslave the human race. They want to take over Hell so they can release all demons onto the human plane. Lucifer’s advisor decided someone needed to be blamed for it so they could operate without detection. So they decided that our crew would take the fall.”
“But can’t demons leave whenever they want to?” I ask. “Why don’t they just leave now?”
Benn leans closer, eyes glinting with annoyance. “Myth and fairytale. Contrary to your human beliefs, demons don’t just run amok. There are rules. Lucifer’s got strict exit requirements. You have to apply years in advance and get special permission to work topside. These assholes who run around possessing people and creating chaos are licensed, believe it or not. But most of us have no interest in seeing humanity. Hell has everything we need.”
“Do you want to add on to what Vanek said? Any details you want to share about the conspiracy?”
Benn grinned and flipped a casual hand. “Well, you know, the usual. Super-secret group of crazies. Old, old, magic. The leader’s turning the world over trying to find an ancient weapon that will neutralize Lucifer. It’d make it easier to overthrow him if he were dead.”
“And, yet, here you are. How are you adjusting to living as humans? What’s the toughest part?” I ask them both.
Vanek winces and says with a frown, “You know how tough it was for me. I woke up in a friggin’ sanitarium shot full of Thorazine. No real memories. Nothing but nightmares and flashes from my transporter’s brain. Disorienting as fuck.” He shudders, and adds, “If it weren’t for my girl, Dylan, and Nash, I’d still be in that place.”
Nash is his half-brother and the shift commander who took control of the Trinity. He’s actively hunting the rest of the team and is gradually tracking them down.
“Benn? How are you adjusting?”
He grins again and says, “Once I got over the shock, I realized this place is awesome! Mountains and cliffs! Rivers to raft! Forests to bike in! And the cities!” He stood up to pace; enthusiasm written all over his face. “Don’t get me wrong. I miss home, but I’ve been doing more free climbing and parkour than I’ve ever done before. It’s so big up here!”
“Okay, yep. I know you’re an adrenaline junkie. Your adventures in Ta Rom were sweet, yeah?”
“Oh, yeah. Lainey and I are planning another research trip once we hear back from Raphael. I hope he sends us someplace cool.”
“Is there anything you’d like to tell my readers?”
Benn answered first as I knew he would. He fed me the question yesterday. “I’ve noticed that humans have a negative view of demons. They think we’re all soul stealing monsters without heart or conscience. I don’t know where they got these ideas. I’m assuming it’s more angel propaganda, but it’s not true. Sure, there are soul brokers who make hinky deals with people and others who are just plain evil, but those are the minority. We’ve not that different from humans. We’ve got families and jobs too. I was raised by intellectuals; went to medical school; became a shrink for SuperMax souls. There’s a whole world beneath the human plane.”
Vanek gave a snort of disgust and added, “And the movies? Please. Trust me–Lucifer isn’t trying to take over humanity–”
“At the moment,” Benn interjected.
“The point is, he’s got his hands full running Hell and dealing with the insurrection.”
“Point taken. Is there anything else you want to add before we wrap up? I have work to do with Koivu. He’s waiting for me.”
Benn shrugged and stretched his arms over his head before pushing to his feet. “I think we’re done here. I’ve got shit to do and Lainey’s got a surprise for me.” He dropped a quick kiss on my cheek, and ordered softly, “Get back to work.”