Heaven looks nothing like I expected it to. I daresay I am underwhelmed. Unless of course this isn’t heaven, and God is good-naturedly ribbing me. In that case, He has a delightful sense of humour. But how could this not be heaven? It has just the right mix of architectural ingenuity and polished believability. It is an enormous white hall with a towering ceiling and magnificently arched beams. The floor is a sweeping curtain of white marble, extending farther than the eyes can see. There is a feeling akin to awe settling on me. Granted, the choir that I expected to greet my arrival is nowhere to be seen, and the place is disappointingly lacking in the snacks department. You know, something to nibble on as the verdicts come in? But there are two glum looking dudes standing on either side of a high door to my right. I hold up a peace sign, my equivalent of “what’s up?”, but they are staring straight ahead. A bad day to be an angel, then.
And then things begin to happen all at once. There is a loud sounding of a trumpet somewhere. The air before me begins to shimmer, and I am soon aware of a figure striding purposefully towards me. It occurs to me that this must be God, and the confidence that had been swirling around my chest dissolves instantly.
My first impression is that God looks a bit like Dumbledore. He has a long, grayish beard that hangs down to his waist, and His eyes are half hidden behind a pair of oval spectacles. I half expect Him to reach into his robes, pull out His wand and turn me into a tree. Instead, he stops right in front of me and puts a hand on my shoulder. It is a simple gesture, but it stirs such turbulent feelings inside me that I cannot think straight. I feel as though that penetrating glare of His can see right into my soul, and I am afraid that there is no good to be seen there. Guilt descends mercilessly upon me. I cannot stand to look at Him.
God’s voice is calm and composed, nothing like the terrifying boom I expected to hear. It is almost musical.
“Son,” he says, and I am compelled to look up at Him. “Welcome to your judgment.”
A nervous chuckle escapes my lips, but God is suddenly all business. It is at this point that the reality of my situation finally sinks in. Damn it, the atheists were wrong.
“You, sir, stand accused of a bunch of things. First of all, there is a bit of a conundrum as to where we should begin your judgment. As you might know, you have repented a record one hundred and thirteen times. These are only the genuine times you repented. Your most recent one was a week before you died, when you said, quote unquote, ‘Get me out of this shitty situation, Oh, Lord, and I won’t mess up ever again.’ There was a bit of a debate about that one, by the way, as most angels felt the honesty of the prayer was diluted by the obscene word. So we shall begin the judgment from the 2nd of February four years ago, which is when you gave your life to Christ for the eighteenth and last time.”
“So… since then, you have accrued an impressive amount of sins, capital crimes and generally questionable vices. If I may just read through the list, you seem to be on trial for breaking all the Ten Commandments to begin with. No, they were not cancelled out by the New Testament, I’m sorry. Aside from that we have lying and cheating, particularly when you did so for personal gain. There was that post you made on Facebook saying ‘it is a man’s responsibility to lie to the women he loves’. Yeah, you messed up there, bro. And then there are the sexual sins. Fornication, entertaining evil thoughts about your elders, adultery…”
“I’m sorry, sir…Your Honour…God, I’m not familiar with the adultery charge.” I had not intended to interrupt; the words are out before I can stop myself.
“Oh, you know, admiring your best friend’s girlfriend and other people’s wives. We could break out the flat screen if you like; we have video evidence…”
“No, that won’t be necessary.”
“Right, so we also have stealing; a few cases of uncleanliness; swearing; liberal use of the b, c, f and p words; some minor violence charges. Oh yeah, and listening to secular music. The pop and rock collection was mostly okay, but reggae, bro? Konshens? And the hip hop was pretty much a death sentence.”
“It seems we’ll have to speed this up. Lots of judgments to get to today. I’ll skip to the really bad stuff. There was the very disappointing atheism, when you denied me in your heart and questioned my existence. Also, there was the blasphemy. You know, singing along to ‘I Am A God’ and whatnot. There was also that dark period when you turned three of my flock against me, and the instances when you used the talents I gave you to further ungodly agendas.
So, that’s pretty much it. You have had several chances to live according to my teachings, but you ignored them all in favour of the fleeting pleasures of the world. You turned your face away from me. You barely said an honest prayer, and when you did, it was to ask for things you knew in your heart you did not deserve. I am somewhat moved by the kindness you showed to the people in your life, and the fact that you loved truly and selflessly. But at the end of the day, you denied me, and now I must do the same.”
It is so unreal, the finality in His voice. There is a small part of me that is still convinced I am in some kind of dream. At the back of mind, though, I know that the judgment is painfully accurate. I look up to find a tall, dark, well-dressed man smiling calmly at me. My heart drops into my lower intestines.
“Lucifer?” I ask, the colour draining from my face.
“Nice to meet you, man. Officially. I hear you’re Kenyan? Shit, you guys are crazy!” He is grinning as if we share some twisted inside joke. “This way, please,” He is waving a hand in the direction of the high door; the grim angels are stepping aside. “Let me show you to your electric chair”
I look up sharply.
Lucifer smiles more broadly. “Oh, yeah. We had to do away with the fire. You know, budget cuts, global warming, all that shit. Now everyone in hell fries for all eternity.”
This has got to be a dream. A very realistic one, but a dream nonetheless. Any time now, I am going to wake up wrapped in sweat soaked sheets, trembling. I am going to spend the first few moments after waking up in a terrified haze, and then reality will begin to take shape around me. I am going to wake up presently. Any time now…