To Inferno and Back
by Bill Kowaleski
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Dan felt so relieved to be out of that most unpleasant Hell that he didn’t even care what came next. He was quickly alone, drifting through the impenetrable milky mist until once again, he spotted a shape in the distance. As he approached, he became very excited. The old man at the podium was wearing white and there was a very noticeable halo above his head.
“Did I make it this time? Is this Heaven?”
The man at the podium looked up and smiled. “Oh, yes, this is Heaven. You’re finally here, Mr. Turley, and we are very excited to accept you into our community.”
“You look just like the images I’ve seen of St. Peter at the pearly gates! Amazing that those turned out to be true.”
“And all the other variants are true, too. To some, I look like the prophet Muhammad; to others, Buddha; to others, Ganesh, the elephant god, and so forth. It’s all to make you more comfortable here, you see.”
“What do the atheists see?” Dan wondered.
“They see a scientist in a lab coat, and their experience of Heaven is a huge university.”
“So they can get in, too?”
“Of course they can. All this stuff about belief you’ve heard, that belief is a prerequisite for getting into Heaven; well, in the end, everyone believes in something.”
Dan contemplated that for a minute and realized the truth of it. Even the most rigid scientist bases his theories on at least some assumptions. It was comforting to know that Heaven really could be for everyone, even a rude self-important jerk like he had been.
“Do you need to place me in some particular part of Heaven?”
“No, but you do need to decide what kind of eternity you want to experience. There are two kinds, you see. There’s the eternity of timelessness, where you’ll pass time very slowly. And there’s micro-eternity, where every second is divided into incredibly small pieces, and you experience each piece like an entire human lifetime.”
“Well, I’m not sure. Why would I choose one over the other?”
“In Heaven, you can do whatever you want. The spirits that lived in a tradition of reincarnation often prefer micro-eternity so that they can return to life quickly, before the earth changes so much that the human species may well have passed out of existence. Others want to stay in Heaven forever. They usually choose timeless eternity.”
“So I keep my options open with micro-eternity?”
“Yes, but you will only experience other spirits living in that eternity. The timeless-eternity spirits will appear rigid and unmoving to you, because they will be living at a pace trillions of times slower than yours.”
“If I return to life, reincarnate, then I could be setting myself up for more time in Hell, right?”
“Oh, yes, definitely; there’s always that risk. Where you go at death depends on how you lived your most recent life. If you’re thinking of reincarnating, you should know that you were in Hell a long time. The world you’d go back to would be very different, though there are still people living there.”
“I don’t want to go back. I’ll take the timeless eternity, please.”
St. Peter wrote in the big book that sat open on his podium, and Dan drifted through the gates to begin eternity in Heaven.
Some time later, Dan Turley was lying on a cloud in a bright blue sky, looking down on the earth. He felt joyous and content, which was only natural since he was in Heaven. Another cloud floated in his direction, and he noticed a female spirit on it. He waved hello.
She waved back. “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
“Just like every day in Heaven.” Dan laughed.
“Been here long?” she asked.
“Hard to say. Not too long. Spent some time in a few Hells before I got here. Name’s Dan Turley, by the way.”
“Hi, Dan, I’m Eve. I did my time too, in three Hells. Glad that’s over!”
“You said it! This is so great. My only complaint is that I still haven’t gotten the chance to meet the Chief. I’d think he’d have looked me up by now.”
Eve laughed. “The Chief? We just say The Spirit, with a capital S. Now I know you really haven’t been here long. Are you sure you haven’t met the Spirit?”
“Well, I certainly can’t recall meeting him, though I’ve met many spirits here, all very pleasant and friendly just like you.”
Her cloud was beginning to drift away. She lifted herself up. “Just open your eyes, Dan. Every time you meet another spirit, or see a beautiful sunset, or enjoy a warm breeze you experience The Spirit. In fact, even when you met those devils that stood in front of the Hells we visited, you met The Spirit.”
Dan was confused. This didn’t make sense. “Wait, don’t drift away. I don’t understand!”
Her voice was like the tinkling of a tiny bell as she disappeared. “Don’t try to understand, Dan. Just open your eyes.”
Copyright © 2018 by Bill Kowaleski