“Anything to say, Greeley? Final remarks? Pleas? Curses? Nothing?”
Todd was still stunned by this revelation. “I... I don’t get it. What did I steal?”
Satan peered at him. His mouth twisted unpleasantly. “You don’t know?”
“Kind of!” he said. “This is the part where the memory comes back to you and you break down sobbing and screaming! The constant reliving of the choice that killed your chances for salvation is supposed to be worse than the physical torment! You don’t remember *anything*?”
Todd shook his head. The tail squeezed tighter, perhaps to force out an answer. “No! I don’t! I didn’t! I didn’t steal anything, I’m no thief!”
“According to your record, you were sentenced to sector seven for two counts of theft. Theft of money and time.”
“I‘ve never stolen before!”
“You’ve embezzled millions! Then you invented time travel so you could do it all over again, as well as evade death for over eight hundred years!”
The tail wound tighter. Todd cried out in pain, but that did nothing to sate the devil’s anger at his apparent amnesia. “You remember none of this?” he spat.
“I feel like I would remember if I’d done any of that! And considering that I’m only thirty, I don’t think I did too well on the ‘evading death’ bit!”
Todd was suddenly flying through the air, free of the tightening coils. He hit the desk so hard he didn’t even roll. His head felt like it was thrumming. His vision was an iridescent red blur when he opened his eyes. Todd was too weak to move. He just wanted to get his breath back. He lay there, watching Satan pace the length of the desk.
“Insolent fool,” he snarled. “You dare lie to the king of liars? Try to deceive the one who can deceive *all*? Imbecile! Johnson! Get this sinful vermin out of my office and to his torturers. Tell them that on my orders, they are to make the torments more intense than any mortal’s ever had. I will listen to his agony with pleasure."
Todd still hardly moved. Just breathed.
Johnson landed behind him with a thump.
*No. Please. I didn't do this,* he thought.
A big paw wrapped around his shoulder. Todd was gently shaken.
"Inspector?" Johnson asked. "Inspector?"
Then he whispered. "Todd?"
Todd recognized his name and managed a twitch and a small murmur.
"Inspector, listen to me. You must stall. Can you do that? You can't go to sector seven yet. Buy time. I will aid you."
"How?" the inspector croaked. "Why?"
Mr. Johnson snorted, blowing a puff of smoke in Todd's face. Todd coughed and hacked and managed to sit up, gasping. Johnson murmured a few words in his ear and pulled him to his feet. “You understand?”
The devil hadn't been paying attention to this exchange. He didn't see Todd shakily regain his footing and point an accusing finger at Satan. "You owe me," he said.