Demon Makeover! A small demon sat behind his desk and scribbled over a sheet of white parchment. The paper screeched with each stroke of his pen, and the blood-red ink left a tiny line of fire before slowly soaking through the page. Around the table walked a much larger creature, surrounded by a swirling white mist entwined with black streaks of dust and dirt. Necklaces of gold weighed down the demonâ€™s neck, and each finger was wrapped with multiple jeweled rings. Its head was white and gauntâ€”almost skeletalâ€”and a mane of floating silver dreadlocks drifted in the air. This was the Lord of Hatred. â€œDear brother,â€ the great demon dictated, while the small demon behind the desk wrote, â€œplease accept the return of your latest spy. I have kept his skin, so that I may inscribe upon it further curses on your already-shriveled gonads. His heart, I shall mount over my bed and let fester for sixty-six days, and then I shall feed it to my most hideous pit hounds, so that their insane hunger for your flesh will grow all the stronger.â€ The Lord of Hatred paused while the scribe caught up with his words. He concluded, â€œI look forward to our next conference. Surely, my assassins will not fail to remove your head this time. Love, your brother.â€ The scribe finished the letter. The Lord of Hatred wandered over while the small demon dripped black wax onto the parchment. The Lord pressed one of his rings into the drop and formed his arcane seal. â€œHave that delivered, slave.â€ â€œYes, lord,â€ the little demon said. It hopped off the chair and shuffled out of the room as quickly as it could. As soon as it left the there was another knock at the door. The Lord of Hatred snorted, â€œWho dares disturb me?â€ The Fist appeared in the doorway. He was one of the Lordâ€™s greater servants, a commander of many legions of demons. He wrung his hands together and bobbed his head from side to side. â€œWhat do you want?â€ the Lord shouted. â€œI have to tell you something, master.â€ The Lord of Hatred scowled. The Fist fidgeted. â€œA few of us Council members were concerned about yourâ€¦ahâ€¦image.â€ â€œWhat are you babbling about?â€ The Lord rose up to his full height. The air crackled around his head. â€œMy image?â€ â€œWeâ€™ve brought in some consultants. Theyâ€™re here right now.â€ â€œConsultants? What?â€ Then, suddenly, a knot of men swarmed through the door behind the Fist. Dressed gaily, hair poofed up into vast bouffants, they chittered and chattered and immediately ran up to the Lord of Hatred and surrounded him with pawing hands and fingers. A crew of cameramen took up positions around the room. â€œHis hair!â€ one of the men screeched. â€œThose clothes!â€ another sniffed. â€œLook at this room!â€ â€œWhat is this?â€ the Lord of Hatred bellowed. â€œHow dare you touch my divine person?â€ He lifted up his hands to form a spell that would wipe away the human vermin, but the Fist leaped up and grabbed the Lordâ€™s hands. â€œPlease, master, this is costing a lot of money.â€ â€œMoney? What concern do I have for money?â€ The consultants had spread throughout the entire room. They were overturning furniture and wandering through the other doors into the innermost sanctum of the Lord of Hatred. The cameramen followed them and poked their lenses into every corner. â€œJust listen to them,â€ the Fist pleaded. â€œOnly for an hour. If you donâ€™t like them, then you can suck out their souls and consume their bones.â€ The Lord narrowed his eyes. The Fist quickly added, â€œMy master, have you not always advised your Council to present you with all options and ideas, no matter how farfetched, as long as they assist in your rise to dominion over your brothers?â€ â€œYes, I have said that, butâ€¦this?â€ The Lord waved his hands over the room. â€œThese are humans!â€ â€œThe dÃ©cor is so medieval,â€ one of them said in a pleasant, gravelly voice. â€œReminds me of a sex hotel I went to in Tokyo,â€ the blonde-haired man said. â€œHow did they get past the succubi?â€ the Lord of Hatred asked. The Fist shrugged. â€œTheyâ€™re in my bed chamber!â€ the Lord shouted. He left the Fist behind and stormed through the next door into his sleeping quarters. Sheets had been tossed all over the floor, and one of the men was tearing down the tapestry that celebrated the Lordâ€™s victory over the Hordes of Hemmeran. A man threw pillows to the floor. He raised one eyebrow. â€œWhereâ€™s your bathroom?â€ â€œBathroom?â€ The man, in a tight blue shirt and black leather pants, darted over to the Lord. â€œYour skin is so dry and flaky. We need to get you some good moisturizer. What other products do you use?â€ â€œProducts?!â€ The Fist appeared next to his Lord. â€œJust for one hour, master. Please?â€ # â€œNo, really,â€ the man asked. â€œWhat products do you use on your skin and hair?â€ â€œI bathe in the blood and organs of my foes!â€ â€œYeah, thatâ€™s the problem.â€ â€œWhat problem?â€ â€œWell, you see, your pores are all clogged. And your hair, look at it. Matted and nasty. Donâ€™t get me wrong. I love the dreadlocks, but they donâ€™t have to be so disgusting.â€ The man snapped his fingers. â€œNo more blood baths.â€ The Lord of Hatred narrowed his eyes into tiny pricks of black light. â€œHow else am I supposed to feed upon the power of my enemies?â€ â€œAnd these nails! When was the last time you had a manicure?â€ # The blonde-haired man was very thin and energetic. With waving hands he dragged the Lord into one of his infernal closets. He took down a long robe, lined with golden fur, and rubbed his fingers over the material. â€œThis is so soft. Suede?â€ â€œSuede? Itâ€™s human skin!â€ The man dropped the robe. â€œIck! See? You are completely stuck in the past.â€ â€œThe past?â€ â€œWe need to get you into some hipper couture. I mean, we all know that youâ€™re evil, but that doesnâ€™t mean that you have to dress in tattered robes and chains.â€ The man stepped away and clapped his hands. â€œHow about this? You, and Al Pacino and â€˜Devilâ€™s Advocate.â€™ Isnâ€™t that fabulous?â€ â€œAl Pacino?â€ â€œArmani suits! Hugo Boss shoes! You, draped in Versace and DG! Itâ€™s the new face of evil. Itâ€™s nouveau evil!â€ â€œBah!â€ the Lord of Hatred shouted, raising fists into the air. â€œThat was a terrible movie!â€ â€œWell, what do you prefer, Mr. Iâ€™m-so-big-and-bad? To you, what movie personifies evil?â€ The demon said instantly, â€œâ€™Legend.â€™â€ â€œThe big red guy in the loincloth? Eww! No, absolutely not! Besides, isnâ€™t Keanu Reeves so much more scrumptious than Tom Cruise?â€ # The man with the soft, gravelly voice wandered through the Lordâ€™s suit. He had his arms crossed and said nothing as he examined every item of festering furniture, every swath of cursed curtain. He turned to face the Lord of Hatred. â€œSo, what were you trying to go for here?â€ â€œI donâ€™t understand.â€ â€œI mean, Iâ€™m pretty sure Iâ€™ve seen all this in a fifteenth century Dutch painting. Itâ€™s very Bosch.â€ â€œI designed these rooms myself to strike fear into the hearts of my foes!â€ â€œThis all reminds me of a teenage Goth girlâ€™s bedroom.â€ The man pointed at a drooping light fixture. â€œGargoyles are so trite. Some Philippine light sculptures would look great here!â€ # The Fist took his Lord to the torture pits, and they spent several hours flaying slaves. Their screams were like music to the Lord of Hatred, but in the back of his brain wormed images of the puny humans moving and replacing his furniture and clothes. A cameraman scooted closer to zoom in on his twisted face. â€œBegone!â€ The man scurried away. â€œOnly a little while longer, master.â€ The Lord growled, â€œI should throw you on the rack for your insolence!â€ The Fist shrugged. â€œSurely, master, youâ€™ve noticed the recent stagnation in the Lower Pits. You and your brothers are locked in a deadly stalemate. This may give us a vital edge in recruitment and fundraising.â€ â€œRecruitment? Fundraising? What do these words mean to me?â€ The Lord squinted at the Fist. â€œWhat have you and the Council been doing behind my back?â€ â€œMaster, do you have any idea what it takes to run an infernal empire? The manpower? The budget?â€ â€œWhat budget?â€ the Lord screeched. â€œArenâ€™t you all slaves?â€ â€œWell, yes, master. Technically thatâ€™s true. A certain percentage of our staff is composed of slave labor, but how motivated do you think slaves are? We can only whip them so much before they die, you know. The best and most skilled talent is paid talent.â€ â€œYouâ€™re wasting my treasure on paying slaves?â€ â€œOf course not, master! Your private funds are separate from our operating expenses, and weâ€™re constantly carrying out capital campaigns to increase both. Direct mailings, telephone solicitations, corporate donations. Last quarter alone we increased income by fourteen percent!â€ â€œFourteen percent? Thatâ€™sâ€¦uhâ€¦good?â€ â€œYes, master. The accountants were quite pleased.â€ â€œWhat are accountants?â€ # The Lord of Hatred stalked back to his suit. The Fist followed closely and continued to inform his master of how his wretched domain really operated. â€œThe pit hounds alone require food, kenneling, handlers. And training evil wizards becomes more expensive every year. Did you know that these days it takes two doctorate degrees before one can complete the arcane rites?â€ â€œTwo, you say?â€ â€œEven worse, universities worldwide continue to increase their tuition rates! Theyâ€™re outpacing inflation!â€ â€œCanâ€™t we negotiate better prices with them? Send the wizards in bulk?â€ â€œFine idea, master!â€ The Fist scribbled on a pad of paper. â€œIâ€™ll take that to the budgetary council.â€ â€œAnd if they donâ€™t lower the tuition rates, weâ€™ll kidnap their children!â€ â€œExcellent, master. That is truly thinking outside the box. Now you understand. We need to synergize old and new modes of thought in order to maximize our evil potential.â€ They reached the Lordâ€™s door. The consultants stood outside it and talked quietly. They saw the demons approach, along with the cameras, and they leaped into action. One took the Lord of Hatredâ€™s arm and pulled him into a nearby room. It was filled with stylists and hairdressers. The Lord sat still, fidgeting only a little while the puny humans hovered around and scrubbed his face with soft sponges and worked shampoo through his hair. â€œAnd for your special needs,â€ someone said, â€œweâ€™ve added drops of blood! One part per one hundred. Youâ€™ll find that itâ€™s just as effective as a one hundred percent solution.â€ The Lord of Hatred nodded with approval. A woman carefully knotted loose strands of cleaned hair into his dreadlocks. The man in black leather pants was the stylistsâ€™ leader, and he sat down next to the demon and explained how to use facial cleanser. â€œYou have wonderful features,â€ he said. â€œJust take care of your skin! Itâ€™s very sensitive, and all that blood has damaged it. All of these productsâ€”the cleanser, the moisturizer, this shaving creamâ€”will provide a long-term care regime that will improve your complexion and skin tone.â€ â€œYou look very nice, master,â€ the Fist said. After that, the blonde-haired man came into the room. He pulled a large cart piled high with clothes. He held up hangers draped with expensive, dark suits. â€œYouâ€™ll look great in a double-breasted jacket! And look at this. Iâ€™ve incorporated some of your own vintage items. On this jacketâ€”Armani, of courseâ€”I went and replaced the buttons with the tiny little skulls had you kept in a drawer.â€ â€œVery stylish,â€ the Fist noted. â€œAnd practical.â€ The man continued, â€œAnd I had some of your tattered robes remade into these fantastic vests. I just know that human skin will be the next must-have fabric.â€ The Lord of Hatred stood up and the man dressed him in one haute couture outfit after another. Someone pushed in a mirror and the demon stood admiring himself. He did sort of look like Al Pacino. â€œIf you werenâ€™t the very personification of foul hatred Iâ€™d take you to San Francisco and file for a marriage license!â€ the man cried, flapping his hand in the air. He tied a cloth over the Lordâ€™s eyes and led him by the hand into his suit. â€œYou wonâ€™t believe what weâ€™ve done. Youâ€™ve gone from Middle Earth to absolutely fabulous!â€ The gravelly-voiced man spoke, â€œThe terrible problem with your rooms was that they were stuck in a medieval kind of evil. That attitude infected not only your dÃ©cor, but also your attitude.â€ A hand whipped the blindfold away, and the Lord of Hatred gasped. His crimson walls, his heavy furniture crafted of human bones and cursed wood, the flaps of human skin dangling from the ceiling, were all replaced. Everything was sleek and low, in shining black, and the walls were coated with a muted creamy paint outlined with a deep brown or red. The focal point of the sitting room was still a human skin, but the designer had spread it flat and framed it, mounted it over the cleaned fireplace, in which burned dozens of flickering candles. â€œWow,â€ the Lord of Hatred muttered. They went through the other rooms of the suit. â€œI call this modern evil,â€ the man said. â€œSee? Itâ€™s very subtle. The skin in the sitting room? Who would think that it was stripped off the hide of a little girl? And all the sofas are stuffed with human souls.â€ â€œI noticed,â€ the Lord of Hatred said. â€œOf course you did. Thatâ€™s because you have an eye trained for evil. To everyone else itâ€™s just a sofa. Only after theyâ€™ve been lured in by its comfort do they realize that itâ€™s evil.â€ â€œAnd by then itâ€™s too late,â€ the Lord of Hatred cried. â€œInsidious evil is both more enticing and more degrading than blatant evil!â€ â€œMy master is wise,â€ the Fist stated. But then they reached the Lordâ€™s private torture chamber. The blood-stained tables had been removed. The frames of spikes and hammers and pincers and knives had been taken down. The Lord of Hatred roared at the low desks lined with banks of sleek computers. Short demons sat before each flat screen and peered at the bright displays. â€œMy torture chamber! What have you done?â€ The designer touched his hand. â€œDonâ€™t be so upset, your evilness. This is the new face of intelligence.â€ â€œBut how? How am I supposed to wring information and pain from my enemies?â€ â€œThatâ€™s the point: information. Youâ€™re so behind the times. The best way to get information isnâ€™t through torture. Itâ€™s through the internet! Each of these little demons is busy scouring the web for news and clues on your enemiesâ€™ plans. This little team over here is being trained in hacking and programming. In no time at all youâ€™ll be spreading viruses and other nasty things.â€ The Fist nodded. â€œYour brothers are very clever, master, but none of them have an operation like this. Now they can hide nothing from us.â€ The designer held up a roll of paper. â€œLook at this. Just one Google search on your brothers turned up all this information.â€ The Lord shook his head. â€œThis is too strange!â€ The man patted his shoulder. â€œDonâ€™t worry. Youâ€™ll get the hang of it.â€ He went to a door and opened it to reveal the torture table shoved up into the closet. â€œAnd this is still here, when you want to relieve stress or anything.â€ â€œHeâ€™s very good, master,â€ the Fist said, nodding at the designer. â€œI hear that Pier One Imports just hired him as their spokesperson.â€ Everyone wandered back to the sitting room. The Lord of Hatred rubbed his chin. On his bookshelf he noted books by strange authors: Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Trump. Presumably it was all part of the campaign to make the Lord of Hatred more subtle and ingenious. The Fist stood with the consultants and spoke quietly with them. He signed several forms that they held out. â€œServant,â€ the Lord snorted. The Fist stalked over to the Lord of Hatred and dipped his head low. â€œYes, master?â€ â€œI assume that youâ€™re arranging payment?â€ â€œYes, master. Human consultants are among the most expensive, but the cost is one that we can easily afford.â€ â€œWeâ€™re not letting them go.â€ â€œExcuse me, master?â€ The Lord of Hatred arranged the lapels of his jacket. He reached toward a potted plant on the coffee table and removed a flower. The severed stem screamed as he positioned in his pocket. â€œLet them go, and risk them betraying our new secrets to my brothers? I think not!â€ â€œMaster, Iâ€™ve made them sign a confidentiality agreement.â€ â€œAnd how long will that last under the knives of my brothers? No, that is not enough.â€ The Fist leaned in to hiss, â€œBut, master, we canâ€™t. Itâ€™s bad business.â€ The Lord of Hatred waved his hand through the air. â€œThey cannot leave.â€ He flashed a smile. â€œThrow them in the dungeon. Hire them to renovate the entire complex. I donâ€™t care. Convince them that they donâ€™t want to leave.â€ â€œBut how?â€ The Lord moaned, and he shoved aside his servant and stalked toward the gibbering humans. Why was he surrounded by such incompetence? Didnâ€™t anyone know how to be subtle?