Satan Loves You - By Grady Hendrix

To Amanda —

I owe you everything.

Including an apology.

But I still don’t think that life raft

Would have supported both of us.

Grady Hendrix’s fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Strange Horizons, Pseudopod and is forthcoming in The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination. His nonfiction has appeared in Variety, Slate, Playboy, Time Out New York, the New York Sun and the Village Voice. He attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop in 2009, and you can follow every little move he makes at


Terminal C of the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport at 8AM on a Monday morning was no one’s idea of a good time. And right now, with the fruits of a freak snowstorm clumping on the skylights and whipping past the windows; right now, crammed with domestic passengers going nowhere and growing angrier by the minute; right now, with planes jamming up the gates and sliding gently off the runways and into sudden snowbanks, it was a little slice of hell on earth.

A long line snaked away from the Starbucks register where a frazzled US Airways Express passenger, who until then had worshipped exclusively at Dunkin Donuts, was trying to order.

“A large?” the register jockey said. “We don’t sell large.”

“I’m begging you,” the woman said. “what do you sell?”

“Short, Tall, Grande and Venti.”

“Which one’s the large?”

“There is no large. There’s Short, Tall, Grande and Venti.”

“Give me the biggest one.”

“The Venti?”

“Yes! The Venti!”

“You have to order it.”

“I’ll have a Venti coffee.”

“I’m sorry, we’re all out of Venti cups,” the register jockey said. He carefully kept his face blank and expressionless, but inside he was smirking.

Over at the Tie Hut, a wooden stand with decorative wagon wheels specializing in ties, scarves, cuff links and seated massage, an iPod was blaring out some of the worst country music ever written. This was, in turn, irritating five-month-old Ariella Kipling who was strapped down in her lightweight Gracco Travel System. At five months old, infants enjoy and respond to music and Ariella was responding to Lee Ann Womack’s “There is a God” by screaming her lungs out.

“It’s okay,” her mother cooed.“It’s okay, good girl. It’s okay. It’s only Lee Ann Womack. She can’t hurt you.”

“Just pick her up,” Paul Kipling snapped.

“That’ll make it worse,” Nancy Kipling snapped back.

Paul rolled his eyes and tried to pick his daughter up but his wife was right. It was worse.

At the Carolina Sports Bar, Carl Willers couldn’t enjoy his Hearty Style Southern Breakfast because he couldn’t stop coughing. With every hack, his throat felt like it was being gouged from the inside by a giant ice pick.

“Jesus Christ,” he thought to himself, as he hacked up chunks of gray phlegm. “I’ve got some kind of infection. Holy God, this is painful. I need Cipro or some kind of antibiotic. Oh, Sweet Jesus...”

Seated nearby, a young man in a navy blue suit, with a non-descript haircut and a forgettable face, sat drawing on the cheap Carolina Sports Bar napkins. Every time Carl Willers coughed, the young man winced reflexively, but it was clear that his mind was a million miles away. Something was eating at him. Something was inside of him and he had to get it out onto these paper napkins. He scratched his pen against the crummy wood pulp paper.

Scratch, scratch scratch, scratch scratch scratch...

Trying to strike up some neighborly good cheer amongst the mob of seething, short-tempered, indefinitely stranded passengers, the New Light Fellowship Tour Group broke into a spontaneous line dance to Jake Owens’ “Eight Second Ride” now blaring from the Tie Hut.

“What was that other size you said?” the woman in the Starbucks line begged. “The one below Venti?”

Her hands were shaking. Every day for the past year she had started her mornings with an enormous Dunkaccino and it really took the edge off. She worked in the HR department of a company that sold a complicated financial product she didn’t quite understand, and her job mostly consisted of laying off people she had only recently hired. The Dunkaccino was the chocolate-infused, caffeine-saturated treat that got her out of bed in the morning, the wonder drug in a cup that soothed her seething brain, the liquid injection of love that settled her shaky synapses for the hateful day that lay ahead. And here she was, stuck in an airport far from home having to make do with Starbucks, trembling like a junkie trapped in the drunk tank over Fourth of July weekend, getting sicker by the minute and trying to treat her shakes