I met my roommates the way most people do – online. They had introduced themselves as Gabriel and Beelzebub, which I had taken as a joke. It was funny, especially since their address was 7666 Other Way, but when I actually drove up to the house, I began to think they took the joke a little too far. I mean, they were friendly enough, but half of the lawn was scorched and the other half just overgrown.
Gabriel was a slob. As someone who had been raised in the faith, recently backslidden, it was jarring to meet someone who claimed to be an archangel subsist entirely off of Doritos and Little Caesar’s Pizza. Old candy wrappers seemed to leave a trail from anywhere he had been, but his face was always bright and he was always jovial.
Beelzebub was his opposite. He was a total neat freak – bordering on obsessive – and a strict vegan. He always wore bright colors but they never seemed… right on him. Looking at his face for too long always made some primal sense lingering at the fringes of my mind tense and he seemed to have too many teeth.
Over all things were fine. Beel, as I had started to call him, told me to never venture into the basement. That was his space, and he’d made some kind of a joke about his friends sacrificing me to the devil if I ever went down there. Thinking about it now, with all that I know, he probably hadn’t been joking. I guess it’s a good thing that I value people’s privacy.
Gabriel worked at the nearest Little Caesar’s down the road, no surprise there. He was always bringing food back and permanently smelled like buffalo wings. There were worse things you could smell like, and I always had free food so it was a win for me.
Beel worked at a gym teaching yoga and CrossFit classes and volunteered at the local no kill animal shelter on the weekends. I take some of his classes, and let me tell you, they’re torture. There’s a reason the job appeals to so many demons.
As for me, I work IT for a large tech company. It’s good work, if dull, but man did it pay well. I was making more in first few months there than I had years at my previous job. Still, it was a tech company, so I wasn’t needed all that much. I found myself surfing the web for vegan pepperoni recipes – Gabriel insisted that when he returned to Heaven it would have to be vegan pizza only, but I suspected he just wanted to get Beelzebub in on the fun.
So one day I worked a full shift and my coworker Clara calls in sick. There’s been a nasty bug going around and she has kids in school and one of them got it and you know how that goes. Long story short I picked up her shift and stayed late. That was a mistake I would never make again.
My first indication that something was wrong came after I had missed three calls from Gabriel. He was an extrovert to the extreme, but when I missed a call from Beel? That worried me. Naturally I called him back right away.
“You need to come home right now,” Beelzebub had said. “What are you up to? You’re never out this late.”
“I had to cover a shift. Relax, I’ll be home in another three hours.”
“Three hours?” Beelzebub groaned. “The city won’t survive another three hours. I know you don’t see it because you mortals are so funny about this kind of thing, but I need you to really open that third eye that’s been closed for the past five centuries. An archangel and a demon can’t live together without someone to bring balance. Get home.”
“You’re taking the joke too far,” I’d replied. “You’re pissing me off. I’m at work.”
“Just talk to your manager. She’ll understand. I swear.”
I ended the call as dramatically as my smartphone would allow and went back to work. Not even five minutes had passed before the first earthquake hit. Someone turned the news on and it was… Well, unbelievable doesn’t begin to describe what it was. Wildflowers, trees, bushes, and springs sprang up out of nowhere, growing in cars and on the sidewalk, in houses, all to the left of the house on 7666 Other Way. To the left of the house fire broke out, burning the roads. It was a literal miracle that no one was injured.
Within minutes of the first earthquake half of the city was overgrown, the other half destroyed. My manager sprinted to my desk. “What did you say your address was?” she asked.
I blinked. The woman standing before me no longer looked… Human. Two purple horns grew from her perfectly coiffed hair, her tongue was too long to stay in her mouth, and she was at least two feet taller than I’d remembered.
She smiled, a wicked, cruel grin flashing a terrifying number of teeth. “Oh good,” she said with a bit of a hiss. “That third eye is opening. Go home. If I’d realized you were their roommate I wouldn’t have had you work a double,” she said.
I was speechless, but I was not about to fight with my boss, who was quiet possibly a fiend from hell. I was fairly certain she winked at me as I left, but her eyes were so snakelike I couldn’t have been sure. I couldn’t drive with the roads the way they were, so I ran home. I ran, and I’ve never run that fast before or since.
Inside was quiet chaos. Beelzebub was much taller and larger than I remembered, his eyes were bright red and snake like, and he was literally hissing in rage. Gabriel was glowing, and I mean really glowing, and he held a sword that was on fire and raised at Beel. I could see them, for the first time since we met I could see them in all of their supernatural terror and glory.
Beelzebub turned to me, fire springing from his hands. “Would you please tell this idiot that vegan pepperoni is disgusting and to get it out of my face?!” he screamed.
“Did, did you destroy half the city over pepperoni?” I stammered.
Beelzebub shrank down to a more appropriate size, his skin and eyes and tongue returning to normal. With an awkward laugh he scratched his head. “Sorry, we’ll fix that,” he said.
Gabriel calmed as well, sheathing his sword and letting his light fade. “Old grudges,” he said. “We’ll put it all back together.”
And that was that. Gabriel kept working on a recipe for vegan pepperoni. It’s terrible, but according to him he has another seventy years of his shift on earth to perfect it. Beelzebub adopted a couple of dogs to help bring balance to the place should I ever work late again (corgi mutts, if you can believe it. Apparently, demons love corgis). And me, well I take care of the lawn. I go to work, and I’ve even started dating my manager. I know, I know, it’s a bad idea to date your boss, but at least she swore she’d never sacrifice me to Satan.