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sordid details following

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Arthur Young is retired. He’s spending more time with his wife, more time with his son, and as time passes he can’t quite remember why he didn’t do this sooner. He also can’t remember what he used to do. Something important, he thinks. Or maybe that’s his ego talking. But, he feels like whoever he was before doesn’t fit in with the image of Arthur Young. That’s unimportant though. He’s got a son to look after, make sure he grows up properly. He doesn’t have to remember what his job was.

(Sometime in the late eighties, or early nineties, or a nebulous time after an imagined 1983 and prior to 11 years before the end of the world, in hell a discussion is had. Or what passes for a discussion. A decision is made. There’s a bloke (demon) who’s not quite doing his job any more. He’s got disillusioned. Or lazy. So, take him off the luring dead coppers away from the pearly doors of a manchester pub assignment, and set him up on earth. Not quite a punishment, except for having to live on earth with humans.)

Arthur is an uncomplicated man with a common story. He met his wife straight out of school and they were married quickly. No kids until they both got as far up the career ladder as possible. A nice house, out of the city, a decent car that Arthur religiously washes and polishes. And that's religiously as in it’s a calling, not half heartedly at christmas easter and weddings. Their wedding was a Church of England affair, her parents insisted, his were indifferent and he wanted to make her happy. He isn't religious, but knows a lot of bible stories and quotes. He assumes he knows these because of the pervasive christianity everywhere in the UK, his upbringing being culturally Christian.He instills the same vaguely Christian values in his son, and doesn’t feel like he’s betraying anything.

On a perfectly ordinary day, well ordinary for Tadfield which means the weather is perfect for the time of year as it has been for the last eleven years, Arthur wakes with a feeling. Something is going to happen. He doesn't know why, or what, but he knows. The day proceeds as normal, until he finds himself driving to an airfield. He has no intention of going to the airfield, but he’s there. Unexpectedly.

His son is shouting at what looks like the devil.

Arthur listens to Adam telling Satan that dads don't wait eleven years to show up, and feels emboldened to tell his son that he is grounded. Adam has just run out of the house and broken into an airbase after all.

Without knowing why, Arthur finds himself standing in the same place as the devil was, and looks at the gathered people. He doesnt recognise them, except, he does a bit. It’s all coming back now. Hazy at first, then clearer. Arthur Young was a figment. He never existed. Arthur Young was a construct for Jim Keats. A back up plan for hell that absolutely hasn't worked.

He laughs maniacally. Hell’s got nothing on Jim Keats for ruining plans.