The Unexpected Choice
You die at the age of eighty-five, in your sleep. It’s a nice death, quiet, painless, and relatively dignified. You leave your mortal body behind and reappear in an empty room. The floors, the walls, even the ceiling are a gloomy gray color. That’s the first thing you notice. The second thing, and probably the more important thing, is that you’re back to your twenty-something year old self, when your whole life was still ahead of you. You marvel at your body, you haven’t seen it in ages, after all. Wow, you looked good at that age! Your body is covered by gray pants and a gray shirt, and you think that you match the room very well. In another situation, you’d probably be more curious or alarmed, but you’re dead now, at a ripe old age, so you’re content to just see what happens.
Your self-inspection is interrupted by a booming voice.
“Heaven or hell, what’ll it be?”
What’s going on? Where’s the voice coming from?
“Well? Come on, I don’t have all the time in the world! Well, I do, but...make your choice!”
“You mean, I actually have a choice,” you say, daring to speak, but this is just so surreal.
“Of course you do, now, heaven or hell?”
Is it even a choice? Heaven, of course! You deserve it, by now. Not that you’re the paragon of excellence, or a shining beacon of virtue, but you’ve not been a bad person either. Except, if everyone gets a choice, then everyone you ever knew, they either are or will end up in heaven. And as much as you want to see your family members, the idea of seeing Becky from the apartment next door or your old rival Tom is just too much. Oh, and seeing that sanctimonious bastard that fired you from your favorite job? No thank you! You’ve suffered enough.
The room shifts, the gray swirls past you, and before you can even do anything, you’re in what you suppose is Hell. You don’t know what you expected, but it certainly wasn’t this. Where’s the fire and brimstone? The tortured souls, screaming out in pain? Instead, you’re in a strange, wide-open field, surrounded by nobody at all. The field isn’t even a burnt wasteland, devoid of all life! There’s grass everwhere, and even some patches of flowers.
This is great, you could get used to this! No socialization? No being nice to people that you don’t give a shit about? This is the life. I mean, you know it could get boring, but you’re eighty-five, and dead. You’re okay with boring. Now, if only Hell had an orientation packet or something, like they gave out at your old nursing home. Then you’d really know what’s up.
A man appears, you’d previously not noticed him because he was lying down behind a bush. What kind of strange man is this? Did he also choose hell? He bounces towards you like a kid on a sugar high.
“Finally, a friend!” The man shouts, and shakes your hand vigorously.
You notice that he’s got two tiny red horns, sticking out of his head.
“Satan, I presume?”
“Yes, that’s me! And I already know your name, of course. It’s so exciting, you’re the first person I’ve seen in ages who actually chose to be here! This is wonderful, we’re going to be the best of friends.”
“Okay, okay, slow down there, Satan. This is Hell, yeah? Where’s all the fire? Where are all the people who’ve done bad things in their lives?”
Satan answers, “Oh, I keep them on the lower levels, obviously. Not everyone gets a choice about where they go, you know. If they’re really bad, they end up here, regardless of what they want. I deal with them when I have to, but I otherwise leave them alone, my minions can handle them.”
You say, “And another thing, you’re completely different from everything I expected. What gives?”
“The propaganda’s really great for our brand, it’s really built up Hell’s reputation. But I’m not like they make me out to be! Acting so evil is just exhausting.”
“Okay,” you say, still confused, “Well, what am I going to do here?”
“Let me show you around! We’re going to have so much fun! Best friends forever!”
This is all pretty weired, and for a moment you wonder if you’ve eaten one of those weired marijuana brownies Ted’s grandkids bring to the nursing home. Yet somehow, this is a lot better than having to talk to all your acquaintances in heaven. You can deal with even Satan if you don’t have to see those people again.