Something definitely wasn’t right. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
I stared around. It was really bright here, I noticed. Everything seemed to be pure white, glowing and radiant. There wasn’t even any graffiti. They must be constantly repainting.
Everything seemed to be curved, too, and slightly squishy. It felt a bit as though I was standing on a floor of marshmallow. But that wasn’t what was off.
I looked at the man standing in front of me. Well, he was kind of standing. His feet didn’t seem to be quite touching the floor. Was that what was off? No, I don’t think so.
My eyes roamed up from his feet. He was wearing some sort of white robe, somewhere in between a toga, a monk’s robe, and one of those Snuggie blankets with the sleeves. Just like everything else, it was pure white. I wondered how he kept stains out of it. But that wasn’t what was bothering me.
My eyes kept on going up, reaching his face. He had blonde hair, trimmed fairly short, and a chiseled jawline that would probably make most movie stars fall to their knees and weep. His eyes were big and luminous, his pupils looking like they were shaped from burnished gold.
Was that what was off? No, that wasn’t it.
My eyes kept on moving up. Something above the man’s head was glowing, hurting my eyes something fierce. It looked like a ring, a disc carved out of the sun itself, shining out in all directions. It was about the size of a salad plate and was bobbing about six inches above the man’s blonde hair.
That was it.
“What the heck?” I said out loud, raising up one hand to shield my eyes from the glowing halo. “That’s so bright!”
The man floating in front of me (man wasn’t the right word, was it?) jumped, as if I’d just revealed a secret to him. “Oh, my apologies!” he said quickly, his voice melodious and musical. “Here, let me turn it down.” The brightness dropped by an order of magnitude, and I could open my eyes all the way again.
“What’s going on?” I asked him, now turning and looking around at the sea of white marshmallow-ground. “Where the heck am I?” I paused. “And why do I keep on saying ‘heck’ instead of ‘heck’? I mean, heck. Heck!”
The man (yeah, there was another word. I just couldn’t quite remember it.) winced. “Er, you’re dead, I’m afraid,” he said, quite apologetically. “This is, well, Heaven.”
Angel! That was it. “Dead?” I repeated back. “Are you sure? I don’t think I’m dead.”
The angel waved one hand vaguely in the air, and a screen shimmered into existence, floating in space. On the screen, I could see a man who looked suspiciously like the man who stared back at me in the mirror every morning, standing at an intersection. The footage was slightly grainy, as if it had been shot by a security camera, but I could still recognize myself.
I was jabbering into a phone, bouncing on my heels at the edge of the intersection. The light changed, and I strolled quickly and confidently out into the intersection.
An instant later, I was gone.
“Let me play that a little slower,” the angel said, and waved his hand again. This time, as I watched the footage in horror, I was able to see the semi go barreling through the intersection before splattering me across its grill like an insect. Even the angel winced at the impact.
There didn’t seem to be much arguing with that. “Okay,” I agreed. “So I’m dead. Now what?”
The angel clearly had been waiting for this question. “Now, you’re in Heaven!” he announced, the screen blinking out of existence beside him. He turned and gestured grandly at the marshmallow landscape, and from some unseen location, trumpets and horns blared out in fanfare.
I looked out at the landscape without much excitement. “It looks kind of dull.”
This was not what the angel was expecting. “Dull?” he repeated. “But it’s heaven! We made it just like in all the movies and things!”
I gave the marshmallows another look. This didn’t seem quite right. I had only a vague idea of what Heaven was supposed to be like, but I thought that it was a huge party of some sort. Piles of cheeseburgers, pools of jello to swim in, sexy supermodels lying on the cheeseburgers, things like that.
“Okay,” I finally let on. The angel looked so downcast, I had to say something to cheer him up. “This is Heaven. Do I get a tour or something?”
This made the angel blink a couple times. “Well, I suppose so,” he said, his tones full of uncertainty. Follow me…”