New Employee Orientation Filmstrip, Part One
This weird ficlet written back in March was inspired by a dream I had in May of 2009 and dim memories of a stand-up routine by Rowan Atkinson (various versions of the 'Hell' skit can be found in transcript or video form online), as well as the most recent mandatory drug training session at work (which consisted entirely of a video of still images and pre-recorded patter, accompanied by a multiple choice test which a ten-year-old could have passed without the help of the video filmstrip).
This fic (which isn't an actual story so much as a transcript of some Hellish orientation filmstrip) is set post-"Chosen" for BtVS but contains no spoilers for season 5 of Angel until the last two chapters (chapters 3 and 4 are definitely set post-"Not Fade Away").
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended by the use of any of the BtVS or AtS characters or plots, and no profit is being made. Any resemblance to The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis is semi-unintentional and probably pretty much unavoidable.
New Employee Orientation to Hell (1/4)
Somewhere in a classroom in Hell...
"This filmstrip contains part of an overview of section 6.6 of the New Employee Handbook: 'Avoiding Mistakes That Lead to Employee Termination and Eternal Evisceration.' Please give your full attention to the images on the overhead screen, as there will be a test at the conclusion of this presentation."
"This, as you all know, is a picture of the Standard Vengeance Demon.
"All inmate areas in this Hell Dimension are, of course, completely shielded against audible wishing, so that already over-worked Vengeance Demons aren't distracted from essential tasks elsewhere by the interminable wishing of damned souls. However, the shielding in employee-only areas of Hell is much thinner, due to necessary budget cuts.
"It is therefore your responsibility to ensure that the 'W' word is never spoken aloud by you or your co-workers. Although we are all, technically, on the same side, some Vengeance Demons have lately proven to be unreliable, and under no circumstances are they to be invited into this dimension by careless employees."
"See handbook appendix 3.2, sub-section 'Anyanka', for what can happen 'When Bad Vengeance Demons go Good.'"
"This is a recent picture of some individuals who potentially pose an even greater threat to the 'Efficient and Eternal Maintenance of Unendurable Suffering' (hereafter abbreviated as 'E.E.M.U.S.' and not to be confused with the older version 'E.M.U.S.' which omitted the 'Efficient' part until funding cutbacks in the last two millennia required its addition) which is the heart of our company mission statement.
"Collectively, this group is sometimes known as 'The Scoobies,' and there are documented cases of at least five of these individuals (including the aforementioned Anyanka) causing major losses to this company in the last seven fiscal years."
"This is Buffy Anne Summers, the last person to be accurately known as 'THE Vampire Slayer,' since there have been two or more Slayers in existence ever since her much-too-temporary death during her second year of Slaying.
"Be on the lookout for this woman or any of her known associates, since her appearance usually coincides with a drastic loss of productivity and staff members.
"For an example of the Worst Case Scenario with Miss Summers, employees are advised to review the footage taken by one of our sister corporations in a different dimension, when the Slayer not only directly killed numerous employees but also removed much of the slave labor upon which their profits relied. They were forced to close down a large part of their operation that quarter in order to focus on damage control.
"For an example closer to home, in what is known as 'The Acathla Incident' (see appendix 3.1a in your employee handbook for more detailed information on the demon Acathla), Miss Summers was directly responsible for preventing our long-planned hostile takeover of the entire mortal dimension on earth.
"Instead of acquiring every soul and asset on earth, which had already been factored into our income projections for that year's budget, our only acquisition through the Acathla portal was one temporary inmate in the form of the en-souled vampire Angel."
"This is a recent photo of Angel, taken during another abortive apocalypse in the Los Angeles area. See appendix 3.1b for a condensed dossier on 'Angel, the Vampire Sometimes Known as Angelus.' See also the suggested cross-references to 'Europe, Scourge of.'
"The means through which Angel was able to escape from our custody and return to the mortal world are still undiscovered, although Internal Security has reason to believe that one or more employees may have been bribed by The Other Side to assist in his unauthorized transfer. At this time, interrogations of suspected collaborators are ongoing in the 'Pit of Unbearable Abdominal Pain and Flatulence,' as well as several other departments."
"While we are on the general subject of unexpected collaboration with The Enemy, another disturbing facet of 'The Acathla Incident' is that Miss Summers was materially aided in the initial stages of the climactic battle by this vampire: 'Spike, Sometimes Known as William the Bloody.'
"Further information on this vampire is also available under 'Europe, Scourge of' as well as in appendix 3.9 of your handbook, in the sub-section titled 'Spike and Drusilla: a case study in the dangers of long-term dating between soulless demons.'
"Since Spike's voluntary re-acquisition of his soul (the case study on that incident is still undergoing review) did not occur until at least four years later, there is no satisfactory explanation for his aberrant behavior in deciding to aid the Slayer against Angelus and his minions.
"Later developments suggest that prolonged contact with Miss Summers in her Vampire Slayer capacity (or possibly in combination with her entire team of allies) has a degenerative effect on the minds of some demons, causing them to lose sight of their amoral compass and become confused in their loyalties.
"For this reason, among many others, Miss Summers and her associates have been deemed a 'Level Four Contaminant,' to be handled by company employees only at extreme distance and with multiple layers of magical shielding.
"Employees coming into direct, unprotected contact with this group must undergo immediate prophylactic flaying, to remove any threat of further contamination through possible Slayer Effect residue left on their hides, skins, or other external bodily layer."
"This is the witch Willow Rosenberg. As you'll note, she normally has red hair. However-"
"—you will note that in this photo she has white hair. If you see Willow Rosenberg with white hair, consider her a 'Level Five Threat' and immediately report her whereabouts to the senior demon in your division. Our experts are convinced that this white hair is a sign of accessing some very old and very powerful earth magic of a decidedly Good nature.
"On the other hand—"
"—this is how Willow Rosenberg appears when high on dark magic. During what is known as 'The Proserpexa Incident' (see appendix 3.7), Miss Rosenberg was prepared to single-handedly drain the earth of its life force, and then use Proserpexa's effigy to burn the earth to a cinder. We were within minutes—as time is measured on earth—of acquiring a massive influx of human souls (though the exact number that would have been allotted to us has long been in dispute).
"Miss Rosenberg's heroic effort was derailed, however, by the company of her childhood friend, a seemingly normal human male, whose image appears next."
"Although the available data is shaky, several of our top analysts have become convinced that this man, Xander Harris, has acquired some covert and heretofore unknown ability to cloud the minds of certain demons.
"However, there is insufficient evidence as yet, and so that hypothesis is being hotly debated even now in the 'Pit of Interminable and Pointless Meetings.'"
"This concludes part one of today's orientation filmstrip.
"To begin part two, please load the next filmstrip.
"If you would prefer to take the test on part one separately before proceeding to part two, please take out your number-two fountain pen and tap the vein of your choice.
"As always, all tests must be written in blood and filed in triplicate."