Plot Details/Summary

The story opens in Hell, with the Devil having just been visited by an angel messenger who told him God was dead (no, it wasn't Nietzsche). The Devil did not believe the news, and ripped a handful of feathers from the angel's wings. When no retribution in the form of a thunderbolt smites him, he realizes it must be true.

The Devil decides he needs to visit Heaven, and find out what exactly has happened. I remember he decides he'll need to pack a lunch for the trip (the story has a semi-serious, semi-comedic tone). The lunch is rather diabolical in nature - I distinctly remember the Devil packing a flask of "Raped Virgin's Tears" to drink should he get thirsty on the way.

When the Devil arrives at the pearly gates, he is confronted by Peter. Naturally, the arch-angel assumes the Devil has come to gloat and/or attack. The Devil does his best to assure St. Peter that he is only there to find out what happened. I forget the details, but God has died and now it appears that Heaven will falter and come to an end without God's power.

The Devil proposes a deal with Peter, offering to let them use a portion of Hell to relocate Heaven. I believe his rationale is that he feel he owes it to his old rival (i.e. God). Or something like that.

I believe the story ends with Heaven being moved to the upper reaches of Hell, where it continues to function and maintains the balance of things, or something like that.

Timeframe/Publication Details

It sticks in my mind this one was in a sci-fi magazine of some sort, and was probably written in the mid-80s or thereabouts. I know for sure that is when I read it.

  • 8
    Is St. Peter an "archangel"? I thought he was supposed to be a man who had died and had gone to Heaven. I suppose there is that popular stereotype among illiterates that that is what angels are. Is that among the premises of the story? Nov 14, 2017 at 20:53
  • 4
    Michael Hardy - you are correct. Peter is the gatekeeper, not an archangel like Gabriel, etc. My mistake.
    – Helbent IV
    Nov 14, 2017 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


This is "Our Resident Djinn" from the Crown of Stars anthology by James Tiptree Jr. (a pen name of Alice Bradley Sheldon) which you can read in full here.

[This story] cold with the death of God. Satan has just gotten the news of his rival's death from an angelic messenger and decides the best thing would be for him to fly up to the heavenly kingdom to pay his last respects to his old adversary. St. Peter gives Satan a tour of the empty capitol, which is to be sold off piecemeal in a sort of divine Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

For the record, a quick search for the very distinctive phrase "raped virgins' tears" would have instantly found you the result.

A hearty sandwich of broiled liars’ tongues (in which one of the smallest imps seemed to have become entrapped, so that he had to pluck it out and fling it away screeching. Little cannibals!) And a flask of raped virgins’ tears, yes — and some pickled bikers’ parts, a nice contemporary touch. He must remember to commend them on his return, he thought, munching pleasurably. Perhaps they’d like a plump politician all to themselves to torment? Gratitude was, of course, unheard of in Hell; but a good administrator knows how to keep the help functioning.

It has been multiply collected, but you probably read it in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1986.

  • 5
    Unquestionably the story I was looking for. I read it in the October '86 issue of SF&F. The cover of which, incidentally, answers another story title I've been trying to remember ("The Boy Who Plaited Manes")!
    – Helbent IV
    Nov 14, 2017 at 18:02
  • 2
    @HelbentIV - I remain baffled by my downvote, but I'm glad that you found your story. Happy reading :-)
    – Valorum
    Nov 14, 2017 at 18:15
  • 48
    A quick search for "raped virgin's tears" sounds like a good way to end up on a list. Nov 14, 2017 at 19:16
  • 4
    @mikeTheLiar - I'm fairly sure I've popped on the NSA's radar a few times; scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/53226/…
    – Valorum
    Nov 14, 2017 at 20:52
  • 4
    @user14111 - The apostrophe is key
    – Valorum
    Nov 14, 2017 at 23:14

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