""Hi," said Crowley, giving them a little wave. "Sorry I'm late, but you know how it is on the A40 at Denham, and then I tried to cut up towards Chorley Wood and then—" "Now we art all here," said Hastur meaningfully, "we must recount the Deeds of the Day."
"Yeah. Deeds," said Crowley, with the slightly guilty look of one who is attending church for the first time in years and has forgotten which bits you stand up for.
Hastur cleared his throat.
"I have tempted a priest," he said. "As he walked down the street and saw the pretty girls in the sun, I put Doubt into his mind. He would have been a saint, but within a decade we shall have him."
"Nice one," said Crowley, helpfully.
"I have corrupted a politician," said Ligur. "I let him think a tiny bribe would not hurt. Within a year we shall have him."
They both looked expectantly at Crowley, who gave them a big smile.
"You'll like this," he said.
His smile became even wider and more conspiratorial.
"I tied up every portable telephone system in Central London for forty-five minutes at lunchtime," he said.
There was silence, except for the distant swishing of cars.
"Yes?" said Hastur. "And then what?"
"Look, it wasn't easy," said Crowley.
"That's all?" said Ligur.
"And exactly what has that done to secure souls for our master?" said Hastur.
Crowley pulled himself together.
What could he tell them? That twenty thousand people got bloody furious? That you could hear the arteries clanging shut all across the city? And that then they went back and took it out on their secretaries or traffic wardens or whatever, and they took it out on other people? In all kinds of vindictive little ways which, and here was the good bit, they thought up themselves For the rest of the day. The pass-along effects were incalculable. Thousands and thousands of souls all got a faint patina of tarnish, and you hardly had to lift a finger.
But you couldn't tell that to demons like Hastur and Ligur. Fourteenth-century minds, the lot of them. Spending years picking away at one soul. Admittedly it was craftsmanship, but you had to think differently these days. Not big, but wide. With five billion people in the world you couldn't pick the buggers off one by one any more; you had to spread your effort. But demons like Ligur and Hastur wouldn't understand. They'd never have thought up Welsh-language television, for example. Or valueadded tax. Or Manchester.
He'd been particularly pleased with Manchester."