One morning, everyone in Hell woke up to find that the Devil was gone. They didn't know what to do. No one had seen him leave, and they didn't know when he was going to be back.
At first, they tried to get on with business as usual, but there was no one to decide who was going to possess, who was going to tempt, and who was going to think up new and excitingly frustrating automated phone menus. They didn't get past press 9 for more options. They tried to get Beelzebub to come out of his office, but all they got were form letters that kept sliding under the door, over and over. (Beelzebub hadn't come out of his office since Y2K hadn't happened. He was trying to figure out what he'd done wrong.)
Soon, Hell was full of more forms than fire; mind-blowingly dull paperwork was no longer being exported from Hell at anything like a steady pace. Junk mail piled up because no one wanted to bother sending it out- everyone and their mother was out possessing people, but no one troubled to think of new ways to do it, so the foolish humans just put all the head-spinning and vomiting down to a particularly aggressive flu. Eventually the only bad that came out of the whole thing was that a couple of carpets got ruined, and there was a flu scare. In the end janitors were the only ones really suffering, but they'd seen puke before.
There was a serious crisis in the second circle of Hell when Cerberus was found to be deadly afraid of the sound balloons make when you rub them. Cerberus was locked in the bottom drawer of the Everlasting File Cabinet for all eternity, and it was decided by mutual consensus that he would not be talked about anymore.
There was a shock when a pair of particularly assertive Jehovah's Witnesses arrived at the gates of Hell and no one could figure out how to get them to leave.
Everyone decided to go out the back door from then on.
A great deal of demons were becoming tired of the smug e-mails from heaven, all full of glowing emoticons ushering less glowing emoticons into an emoticon of the pearly gates, that included lots of self-righteous statistics about how much Heaven's Soul Intake had increased.
A lot of Satanists got very worried about the fact that they were having holy thoughts. Demons got very worried about what Satan would think when he came back, if he came back. The internet worked everywhere, cell phone batteries only died when people could easily recharge them, dropped toast landed on the unbuttered side.
The Smelly Gym Shoes wing of the Annoyances Board building in Hell began chanting "What's the point?" very loudly, for weeks on end, only stopping to munch on popcorn and sip Kool-aid.
When somebody mentioned making one of the Souls stand in flaming worms for a few years, everybody said they'd rather watch daytime television. So they did.
Earth got very nice. The Ozone Layer healed for reasons mankind couldn't quite understand. They discovered a way of powering all the world's cars off of oil synthesized from Heavily Proliferating Bamboo shoots.
People in Hell discovered that you could get ice water if you asked for it.
They hoped that the Devil and God had gotten into an argument about snails again, which inevitably led to a return to an older argument about marsupials. "Why the pockets?" the devil always wanted to know. "Just… why?"
The problem with God was that more often than not, He wouldn't say anything about it. It was hard to argue with Him, and always put Lucifer in a snit.
They all hoped that had happened. It would explain his extended absence, but… the demons were concerned. The Ancient and Haggard Immortal Mistress of all Prostitutes read Pride and Prejudice and cried. All of Hell's denizens walked around in listless, disorganized herds and took strolls through Hell in the morning, with parasols. One of them found a peony sticking out of one of the oozing intestinal walls and they wondered about their leader-
What would happen if he didn't come back?
What would happen if he never came back?