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Lawyers in Hell snippet, May 6th 2011

May 6, 2011

A flyer on Eddie’s desk caught his eye. The ad promised a unique dining experience at the Inferni Club. Eddie smiled at the tag line – Fais Ce Que Tu Voudras: Do What Thou Wilt. He fondly remembered the many clubs in Chicago that felt the same way. Since he now had a way to pay for his meal without having to haggle over the current exchange rate for diablos or denominations of hellnotes, it seemed as good a time as any to check this place out. Besides, he could take the H-pad with him. If the H-pad didn’t need a wire to work in the office, it shouldn’t need a wire to work anywhere else. He stuffed the H-pad in his battered case and left.

Walking anywhere in hell was never boring. Again, Eddie felt oddly at home. Hell, like most places of his time, was perpetually either dilapidated, destroyed, or being rebuilt. Several men in togas moved purposefully across the street. Eddie didn’t stare. You had to get used to seeing the damned in all kinds of clothing; anything from a grass skirts to capes to flayed skin if you were going to make it down here.

He disturbed hell’s pigeons, lizard-looking things that flew, squabbling over an amputated hand lying in the gutter. They scattered until he passed, then returned to their prize. Eddie had walked by bodies before, both in Chicago and in hell. It was just another day.

He arrived at his destination without trouble. The instructions on the flyer had been amazingly correct. Interesting looking place, thought Eddie as the Inferni Club’s massive church doors swung open easily under his hand. He looked around and it hit him: this place was old. Not old like his time; old like paintings he had seen in museums. A man dressed as a monk stood just inside.

“Greetings, please step this way. Party of one?”

“Um, yes.”

From ‘The Adjudication of Henrietta (Hetty) Howland Robinson Green’ by Allan Gilbreath, in Lawyers in Hell ((c) Janet Morris 2011, all rights reserved.)

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Lawyers in Hell snippet, May 3rd 2011

May 3, 2011

“Ah, my dear Clarence,” said a voice from behind him.  Clarence Darrow, fierce litigator and civil libertarian, turned to face his client, a fallen angel named Penemue.  The fallen angel was long-limbed and exquisite, lounging amid the luxurious library of his Lost Angeles mansion, into which Darrow had been spirited without warning.  “I called you here for a most serious matter.”  Penemue leaned back into his chair and closed his cats’ eyes.  “I need your professional services.  It would appear that I am being sued for plagiarism.”  The fallen angel opened his beautiful eyes and focused them on Darrow’s grizzled face.  “Another author charges that I have taken his work and claimed it for my own.”  He cracked his fingers then laid them in his lap.  “As you know, my own work is just that:  mine.  I have no reason to steal from another.”

“Who made such a claim?” asked Darrow, trying to get to the heart of the matter.

“Some lesser being of no particular repute, who claims that I stole from him.  Can you imagine that, Clarence?  The nerve!”  Penemue got up from his chair and paced through the room, which looked a bit unnerving due to his height and facial expression of beautiful disgust.

“So, how did you find out about this charge?” asked Darrow.  The fallen angel stopped pacing, and blinked his red eyes at his lawyer.

“That damned fiddler, Paganini, told me last night,” he hissed.  “I am the fallen angel who gave man the use of ink and paper.  It is absurd to think I would then steal the work of a mere human.  Will you aid me in this matter?  You have been quite a capable representative before and I see no reason to call upon anyone else for this.”

Darrow closed his eyes and ran a hand across his jaw, rubbing the stubble.  This might be the most interesting case he’d encountered since he defended the right to teach Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in public school in the famous Scopes trial.  Someone dumb or crazy enough to accuse a fallen angel of plagiarism had to be taken seriously; the game was most assuredly afoot.  He opened his eyes, pushed his hair to the side of his face and said, “I’ll take the case.”

From ‘The Dark Arts’ by Kimberly Richardson, in Lawyers in Hell ((c) Janet Morris 2011, all rights reserved.)

Lawyers in Hell snippet, April 29th 2011

April 29, 2011

Silently the Delphic Oracle rose and bent over the water on the altar, staring into it.

She babbled in a hushed tone:  first in ancient Greek, then in a language he didn’t recognize.  He understood some Greek:  fighting in Tartaros beside Alexander and his heroes, Nichols had learned Koine Greek, the lingua franca of the Hellenistic old dead, but he was at a loss to understand this gibberish.  Too bad Welch wasn’t here:  his boss had had lots more linguistic training….

The oracle started calling out numbers and what sounded like equations.  Nichols pulled out his hellphone and keyed the video function for later analysis by linguists because he couldn’t go back to Welch saying the oracle blabbed her head off but he had no idea what she said.

Then something went very wrong.  Her hushed tones turned cacophonous.  She was shuddering, writhing; contorting her body, tearing at her face and eyes; screaming and shrieking.

“Kill me,” she sobbed.  “Kill me, emissary of Satan.  Now.  Please.  Relieve me of these frightful visions, I beg it of you.”

Sure, honey.  Just hold on a sec….  But then he realized he wasn’t sure if he should kill her.  Welch hadn’t said anything about killing this oracle.

A dull foreboding crept up his spine.  Since Welch hadn’t prepared him for killing the oracle as part of this mission, then killing her wasn’t part of his mission.  Her antics turned nightmarish.  She raved and screamed and shook and threw herself at his feet.  She frothed at the mouth.  Her head wagged, her body thrashed.  The acolytes stationed around the room broke formation, put their heads together, and started toward her.

Enough was enough.

Croesus, king of Lydia, would be pissed, for sure, but Croesus damned well needed a new oracle anyway.  Blood poured from the oracle’s empty eye sockets.  She couldn’t see the acolytes converging on her.  They grabbed her as she struggled.

Nichols knew exactly what to do.

While the acolytes held her head still, he fired two quick shots from his Desert Eagle, hitting her cleanly and perfectly between the eyes.

She slumped like a puppet whose strings had been cut as his gunshots reverberated throughout the suddenly silent chamber, reechoing off the dome above.

From ‘Island Out of Time’ by Rich Groller, in Lawyers in Hell ((c) Janet Morris 2011, all rights reserved.)

Lawyers in Hell snippet, April 26th 2011

April 26, 2011

Captain Joseph McCarthy shouted, “Ready men, this is a combat drop.  Hostile territory.”  Over the angry buzz of engines in the C130, McCarthy was hard to hear.

Lieutenant Roger Upton Howard, III, Esq. rolled his eyes at that.  He says that every damned time.  We know it’s hostile.  It’s hell.  We’re lawyers.

In life, Roger had never imagined he’d wind up like this.  It was a joke, then:  Sell the devil your soul.  The lawyer asks, “What’s the catch?”

The catch was, hell was real, and he hadn’t even signed a contract.  Those vague maunderings about ethics were all it took.  Was it right to defend drunk drivers and petty crooks he knew were guilty?  Apparently not, since the universe had seen fit to have a drunk driver crush him.  Death had been close to instantaneous.  He recalled a moment of pain, and then waking here.  Here, pain was part of the scenery, and it seemed eternal.  He couldn’t say how long he’d been here, just ‘a lot of days.’

Then Roger stopped reminiscing, because it was time to jump.  The light blinked, and McCarthy shouted, “Hook up!”

This was hell:  he couldn’t die permanently, and every drop was terrifying because there were endless new ways to suffer.

The Coordinating Legal Airborne Platoon (CLAP) shuffled forward toward the paratroop doors, and Roger’s guts and sphincter clenched.  He joined the shuffle, hit the door, and jumped out over the choking clouds of hell – or, more accurately, Ashcanistan.

The static line tugged his canopy open.  He didn’t realize his leg straps were loose until they suddenly drew up and yanked his groin.  He gasped, flinched, and tried to separate them.  By then he was directly over Henry J. Summers, IIHe dropped, scrambling through Summers’ canopy as it blocked the air.  They didn’t quite tangle, and Roger made it into the open.

That was worse.

Now he could see that the denizens of nearby Kabum were expecting them.  They didn’t like lawyers in death any more than they had in life:  What price repercussions to the already damned?

From ‘Heads You Lose’ by Michael Z. Williamson in Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), (c) 2011, all rights reserved.

Cover Art for “Lawyers in Hell”

April 22, 2011

This is the cover art for the upcoming Lawyers in Hell anthology, created by Janet Morris. Artist is Sebastiano Ricci. Cover design by Sonja Aghabekian. Look for the book this July 2011 on Amazon.com and other retailers.

Hell snippet, April 19th 2011

April 19, 2011

A golden beam rose from the building, a column no wider than a knight in full armor.  The beam soared into oblivion above, ending as a prick of light in the charcoal-gray ceiling of hell.  Nay, not a ceiling, thought Willie, but a barrier, like rising into a thick cloud that could be entered but never broken through.  He’d known a pilot, that’s what they were called, a rider of an airship, who had flown to that awful height and seen it, that’s what he’d said.

But that golden beam broke through, went beyond, because its essence was of the Divine.  The truly evil could not look upon that beam, those cursed by Satan for the most heinous crimes.  Lesser evil like Willie could gaze upon it and feel that grace, because in seeing it they would be tormented – they would be reminded of their sins and why they could see that grace but not be with it.

Back in his life, one fine spring day in 1596, when he’d been a struggling reiver trying to feed his family the best way he knew how – pillaging and robbing, but only English – Willie had been taken by a zealous English deputy, Salkeld, may his soul rot in Hell, as he probably did.  Minding his own business on the Scottish side of the Liddel Water, Willie had been shocked to see Salkeld and 200 Sassenach scum cross the stream and give chase.

Aye, he gave them a good chase, Willie thought, and had he a hobbler as fine as Jamey and 500 lances at his back, they never would have caught him.  But they did, hauling him to Carlisle Castle and the hospitality of the queen.  Through stratagem and subterfuge, not to mention a bit of bribery and bravery, Scott, the Bold Buccleuch, and eighty good reivers against England’s might broke Willie from Carlisle Castle.

Ah, that had been a great escape, Willie thought as he looked at the rapture elevator.  He had done the impossible once, with a little help from his friends.  Could he do it again?  Down below from the Hall of Injustice some essence rode the beam of the elevator up, the column collapsing below it, until the beam shut off.  A shaft of clean sky, cleansed by god’s grace, remained behind until bats and dust and wasps filled the shaft with their corruption.

From ‘Rapture Elevator’ by Michael A. Armstrong in Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), (c) 2011, all rights reserved.

Lawyers in Hell snippet, April 15th 2011

April 15, 2011

Guy Fawkes will always remember the day he died and went to hell:

He leaped from the gallows scaffold. The rope went taut.

A sharp pain lanced through him. His neck snapped but he didn’t hear it.

Fawkes was falling. Forever. Plummeting through space. Neither rope nor earth existed.

Then he landed with a loud ‘thump’ on a hard stone floor in a dark chamber, lit only by fiery torches flickering from wall sconces. A sulfurous stench rode air as hot and dry as central Spain in summertime. Before him sat a huge stone dais and, behind it, a torchlit figure gleamed, bat-like wings spread wide and black from the middle of his back. He was both beautiful and terrible to behold: proud face, massive form, manlike but distorted. A creature like a large house cat with bat-wings that mimicked his own and a bat’s head perched upon his shoulder, gnawing absent-mindedly on his collarbone.

The winged being said with a voice like the thunder of stones in a landslide, “I’m Satan. You may have heard of me. Enjoy your stay in my domain. You’ve earned it.”

“Hell? Satan? Mary, Mother of Jesus!” exclaimed Fawkes as his bowels let loose in terror.

The Devil frowned. The bat winged thing on his shoulder hissed and its spittle steamed when it hit the ground. “Too late to call upon those Above. Choose your words carefully, Fawkes.”

“Why am I in hell?

Satan shook his head. “‘Why?’ For attempted murder, for the Gunpowder Plot. For choosing one group as good and another as evil and trying to kill those who disagreed with your religion. Religion brings me many damned souls who sinned in one of its manifold names. Faith is meaningless in hell. Here are only the damned. And you, Guy, are surely damned.”

From ‘Remember, Remember Hell in November’ by Larry Atchley, Jr. in Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), (c) 2011, all rights reserved.