The next day, she’s sitting at the counter, working on what will become a purse. She squints and holds her work away from her above the hard, gray surface. The woman with raven-colored hair behind the counter mechanically wipes glasses and straightens a stack of menus. Her eyes are tired and glassed over, and she says nothing.
Tinny music and the clinking of silverware fill the diner.
A man with messy brown hair and wire-rimmed glasses quietly slides into the seat next to Bess. He has a notepad sticking out of his pocket.
“Hey,” he says, startling her a bit. She’d been focused on her knitting.
“Hey what, young man?” she replies coolly, still counting her stitches in her head. “I hope you haven’t come here to ask me how to get out of Hell, because it’s impossible.”
“My name is Harrison. And that’s exactly why I’m here,” he whispers with eyes glowing. “I know why you knit those scarves and hats.”
That gets her attention, but she tries not to let it show. “Oh do you? Enlighten me, then.”
“You are making them for someone. Someone back in the mortal world.” By now, his voice is barely audible.
“That’s ridiculous,” Bess whispers emphatically but unconvincingly.
“You’re not alone,” the man presses on. “Everyone wants to get back to someone. And they can’t take us all to The Room.”
Finally, she looks intently at the man. Seeming to decide she can trust him, she reaches into the pocket of her flowy dress and takes out a worn picture.
“My granddaughter,” she says, her blue eyes softer than they’ve been in a long time.
With pain in his eyes and the corners of his mouth just barely turned up, the man says “My wife.”
Back to her grumpy self, granny Bess grumbles “Alright. Well, you’d better have a good plan.”
And she returns to her knitting.
That’s when he takes his notepad out and holds it out to her under the counter. Annoyed but intrigued, she puts down her knitting, takes it and glances at it. It’s a list of everyone who he’s been able to observe and exactly who they want to get back to. Bess Evans -- granddaughter(?) is scrawled in small writing on the second page of the list.
I’m on the list too, but it might be unwise as of yet to reveal too much about all of that. Please trust that everything will be clear in time.
With a slight frown, Bess looks up and down the extensive list of names. Part of her would much rather Harrison respected people’s privacy. On the other hand, she’d had no idea how many people were just like her…
On the third page of the notepad, there is a message.
Resistance will meet regularly. Location TBD. Dates to follow location.
Sensing glaring flaws in this plan, but unable to come up with a better one on the spot, Bess grunts, nods, and passes the notepad back to Harrison.
On the walk to her room that night, Bess notices something she hasn’t before. Somewhat hidden, towards the back of the diner, is a private room.
“Satan And Colleagues ONLY. High Security.”
That room wouldn’t have cameras inside. It’d be perfect. But how are we going to get in?
High security means dogs ready to be called. A plethora of cameras outside the room. Robotic traps. If only there was a way to watch how a person gets in without that person noticing…
Hopefully Harrison’s spy skills are as good as he makes them out to be.
The next morning dawns dark and gloomy as usual. As Bess passes everyone in the diner, she can’t help but look at them differently.
Amelia Johnson -- daughter, Avery Liu -- brother, Monica Thomas -- fiancée.
There, at a table in the corner, is Harrison scribbling away. Reluctant to appear too eager, Bess slows her step a bit and is careful not to smile as she approaches.
“Hey you,” she whispers. “I got an idea for you. Mind you, I still think you’re all kinds of crazy.”
“That’s good enough for now,” Harrison grins. “What is it?”
And Bess explains the private room and how she wants to find out how to get in, reminding Harrison that he’d better not get caught or well he knows what they do to people.
After expressing playful indignation at the insinuation that he could get caught, he agrees to do what he can during the next day’s lunch meeting.
No one is supposed to be in the diner during these meetings. They are to keep to their rooms and read the approved nihilist philosophy books.
However, at 1 pm the next day, Bess is tucked in a corner with Harrison, watching and listening.
With a neat suit and a slimy grin, Satan comes into view at 1:03, and our two spies are on full alert. They can’t help but notice that, for the devil, he looks surprisingly…boring. Slicked back brown hair and expressionless brown eyes, a crisp red tie. The only interesting thing is a tie clip in the shape of a skull, but even that is so tiny, and put on so straight that most people would overlook it.
“Yes, you do make good points. But perhaps you’ll understand where I’m coming from after this meeting,” he says to a man who looks remarkably like he does.
Now he’s come up to the security line.
“There is no such thing as morality, and the very idea that there is good and evil is indicative of a primitive mindset not open to nuance. Also God is a prat who can kiss my ass,” he speaks into a microphone.
“System Temporarily Disabled. Proceed.”
And the group moves into the conference room.
After looking at each other and suppressing a bit of a laugh, Bess and Harrison carefully ascend the stairs back to their rooms. As much as it pains them, they can’t speak of what they found until tonight when the diner reopens.