On October 31, 1856 the body of Herr Rupert von Schnapzwasser lay prostrate in his coffin, enjoying what was probably the only quiet he’d had in the past 15 years. He lost his second wife in childbirth, and subsequently (or rather quickly) married his mistress of 9 years, the ravishing but shrewish Esmaralda Verfluchten. She made his waking hours Hell, and his pitiful attempts to sleep noisily painful; which was just as well, since Hell was where he now found himself. Hell’s Waiting Room, to be more precise.
The town of Ampflwang, Austria did not mourn Herr Rupert; he was a notorious womanizer, who drank to excess, ate to excess, had his business and political rivals murdered and ultimately died from his dalliances with the working women of Paris and Rome. Herr Rupert had no illusions about what awaited him. Thanks to his awful wife, who had not called for a priest, he had died unshriven of his sins. And the Devil – Lucifer himself – had greeted him warmly when he arrived.
“Herr Rupert, you have been a Dark example for us all. It is not often I get someone of your black disposition, a man who has committed all but one of the Deadly Sins.”
“I beg to differ, Sir.” Rupert fixed the Devil with a cold stare. Lucifer was stark naked, and blindingly handsome. He was also wrong. “I have committed all seven.”
The Bringer of Light’s eyebrows arched. “You’re an arrogant asshole.” He reached over to Rupert and ripped his head off. “Now listen to me you worthless son of a worthless father – yes, your father is here in Hell but he doesn’t have anything to say to you…mainly because he has no mouth, a fate you’ll also suffer if you’re not careful – there is an 8th Deadly Sin. It’s rare, and only happens on this day, and only when certain conditions are met.”
Rupert’s head was tossed in the air. When it eventually landed, he saw he was back in his home, in the Salon. Next to him sat Esmaralda, and next to her was a very pale, balding man dressed in threadbare clothes: Hans, her idiot brother, the sin-eater. For a minute, the Devil’s face superimposed itself over his. Esmaralda stood up, walked over to where her late husband’s corpse lay, and placed a corpse-cake on his chest.
In mere seconds, her brother was at her side, reaching for the cake. Tasteless, dry and often made with little skill, they were his penance for his secret sin. Eating corpse cakes, he absorbed the sins of the deceased, letting their souls enter Heaven. He doubted his brother-in-law would ever set foot there, but Essie was paying him. She stopped his hand and brought it to her lips, where she licked each finger, setting him aflame. Rupert was astonished, and heard Lucifer laughing.
“Essie, No,” he weakly protested, “I promised myself never again. We have waited long enough, I must clear his way to redemption.”
“Your promise is never stronger than this!” Esmaralda sneered, grabbing his crotch through his thin pants. Hans broke away from her, and fled through the door, shouting, “His damnation be on your immortal soul!” Rupert’s wife howled.
“I’m too much of a woman for any man – no one and nothing can satisfy me!” And she began to laugh.
Throughout their little scene, Lucifer had gone to Rupert’s body. He lifted the hard cake and brought it to his mouth. Rupert thought, at first, the Devil meant to eat it. Instead, he blew on it, and set it back onto Rupert’s chest, as it was enveloped by a dark brown swirl. “Rupert von Schnapzwasser, seeing as that pathetic creature that you once called ‘wife’ brought a sin-eater to you, albeit for no other purpose than to satisfy her own sinful desires, and that the sin eater – through no wish of his own – was forced to flee without performing his duty, I, Lucifer Morningstar, ask you: Do you seek redemption? In this hour, on this day am I granted the power to absolve you.”
A moment passed, and the Devil chuckled. “Oh, I forgot. You may speak.” And suddenly his head was back on his body, and Herr Rupert found his voice once again. He cleared his throat.
“I enjoyed my life. I regret nothing.”
Lucifer laughed so hard the walls shook. Several pictures fell from the walls, and what remained of the house servants could be seen running through the front door.
“Some day that’s going to someone’s catch phrase. What a shame it won’t be you. Now, answer the question: Do you seek redemption?”
“No, I…” Rupert began…
Lucifer clapped his hands. “I was so hoping you’d say that!”
…and found his voice stuck in his throat.
“Now, may I draw your attention, you vile asswipe, to your corpse.”
Where the misshapen corpse cake had been was a huge cake, covered in the darkest frosting he had ever seen. It was as if every master baker in Austria had worked on it. The smell was indescribable. And Esmaralda was spellbound by it, walking slowly towards it. She never ate sweets, he thought. It was how she stayed so thin, she had said. He watched as she began to devour the former corpse cake, in a matter of minutes.
“ Watch carefully, you disgusting excuse for a human being, because this is the only time you won’t be in the audience.” She had finished all but a small chunk of frosting when the Devil whistled, and the frosting chunk disappeared into his body.
“You see,” began the Devil, as Rupert’s right hand was chewed from his body, “the 8th Deadly Sin…’
Rupert saw the jagged bone of his left index finger rip a hole through her cheek…
…is indifference. Not caring one way or the other about anything. And if you don’t care, why should I?”
…she was somehow really eating him. Her nails were opening his ribcage…
The Devil’s head was suddenly level with his own. “She’s not feeling anything. She’s dead, you see. Hans came back, and killed her when he saw her eating your face. She is mine too, now. And she is cursed to eat you forever, and regurgitate you, and eat you again. She admitted it – she’s never satisfied. And you – you will get to feel it all.”
Rupert wanted to scream, but he couldn’t.
“It’s all right. She think’s she’s eating cake. In a way, she is, because you’re Devil’s Food now. Devil’s Food Cake. Frohliches Halloween, Herr Rupert.”