It’s horrific when you die.
Not for the reasons you might think. It’s the queuing really and the apologizing. Especially the apologizing. You have to get that just right. You have to mean it. Otherwise you’re off down the chute to the infernal regions and that’s not where you want to go.
(There’s an induction video on arrival with graphic scenes. Believe me – that’s not where you want to go. So, make your apologies warm and convincing.)
The first queue I joined was to say sorry to Norbert Johnson. He was at school with me and I’d punched him in the face. No particular reason. Everybody did it. I think it was because he was called Norbert but I can’t remember now.
It was quite a long queue.
He was insufferably smug, of course. They all are. My only consolation as I wheedled and whined was to note that his nose looked a bit off kilter. I fervently hoped that was down to my punch (while also worrying that my rebellious thoughts might be being monitored).
It’s lucky that life becomes eternal after you die because I had one hell of a dossier to get through. I couldn’t believe how many people I’d upset and offended. I wasn’t the worst either. Some of my wheedling colleagues could hardly lift theirs and had to push or drag them through the marble porticos and passageways.
Some kind of sack truck would be useful.
So, on I went. Girlfriends who thought I had dumped them for unacceptable reasons. Work colleagues who felt that a disaster was my fault when it was clearly down to them. Drivers of astonishing incompetence who thought accidents were caused by me.
I could go on, but I won’t.
I joined a queue. I waited. I apologized profusely. I joined another queue. I ground my teeth.
But now, it’s all over. What bliss. I rest in a comfortable chair in an airy white vestibule with the dazzling light of Heaven streaming down on me through windows of the purest glass. I close my eyes and bask in the warmth. There is just one more task to perform before I go to my eternal reward.
And this one I’m going to enjoy.
The door opens. My first wife, Helen, comes in hesitantly, wringing her hands. Outside I can see a long queue of hunched and weary people. One of them is that bastard Jules – the guy Helen ran off with.
She speaks. “Oh Simon, how can I ever apologize enough for what I did to you. I am so sorry.”
Rob lives in Reading in the UK and has previously been published in a number of print and online magazines including Perihelion, Shoreline of Infinity and Daily Science Fiction. Some of his work can be found on his Amazon Page.