I knew what I was getting into. At least, I knew what it was supposed to be; several people had told me, and plainly they believed what they said. But equally plainly they had never gone inside to see for themselves.
The building over the stairhead, with its white clapboard walls and open door, certainly didn’t look like an entrance to Hell. They told me the look would change quickly enough once I was inside.
“Will the door close behind me?” I asked. “Have you ever seen it shut?’ They couldn’t or wouldn’t answer me. I was tired of them, their habits and their fears. I set my hand against the wide white door. It didn’t stir. I put my foot on the threshold. Still no movement. I stepped through, balancing on my toes, ready to leap back if the door showed signs of slamming. It didn’t move. Looking back through it, I saw an empty field; they had left me to my folly, or I had left them to theirs, whichever way you cared to think of it.
I inched my way down the long hallway toward the only door, which was at the far end. If this was truly the way into Hell, there was still no sign of it. No screaming, no smoke . . . heck, it wasn't even hot.
Finally reaching the door, I pulled it open, ever so slowly, as if--despite my skepticism--I feared a backdraft from the lake of fire would blow it off its hinges. Inside was a desk behind which sat a horrible horned demon. His skin was red, his eyes glowed, his feet--cloven hooves--were crossed on top of his desk as he leaned back reading a copy of O magazine.
"Are you . . . him?" I asked.
"Him?" he said. "Oh, you mean . . . No, no, I'm just the receptionist. He's in there." He pointed to an iron door twice my height. "Go right in; he's expecting you."
I'd come this far, and who knew if turning back was even an option? The door opened with a screech and I entered. I spoke immediately, before I could lose my courage: "Greetings, EE. Her Love Slave is a 60,000-word romance about a . . . "
Opening: Joanna Hoyt.....Continuation: Evil Editor