Lonnie Hatch took his usual morning stroll to the local bagel joint, when a taxi driver lost control of the wheel, hopped the sidewalk and struck a fire hydrant, breaking it free. The water pressure sent the hydrant flying right into Lonnie’s face, killing him instantly.
It was labeled a freak accident by the press, but that moment had been planned from the moment Lonnie took his first breath. It was written beside his name in the Book of Life.
Normally, Lonnie, having lived a righteous life, would have met Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, but somewhere along his transition, he was rerouted to an orientation room, and seated along with one hundred and fifty thousand freshly transitioned souls.
“Welcome, Heaven Seekers,” said the orator, who appeared in front of the gathering, from seemingly nowhere. Although Lonnie had never seen one before, he knew that it was an Ophanim, an angel in the form of a wheel with spokes and a rim covered with eyes all the way around.
“Some might have realized this already,” the Ophanim said. “But for those who have not, allow me to confirm that you are dead, or more properly stated, the life you grew accustomed to, no longer exists.”
The Ophanim waited for questions, and when none came, continued, “Your entry into the Kingdom has been postponed because Heaven needs your help. The Earth has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, and while this is certainly not the End Times, the scale balance has tipped in a way not favorable or conducive to our cause, and we are now looking to hire, for lack of a better term, a staff of volunteers with excellent credentials to return to Earth in completely new identities to assist in the de-escalation of the devastation to come.
“As you let this request sink in, we hope that you will join us in our efforts to help both the Earth and Heaven, if not return to status quo, then at least usher in a new, more manageable normal. Keep in mind that deciding not to return will not affect your acceptance into Heaven, but becoming a volunteer does have certain benefits, none of which I am at liberty to discuss at the moment.”
This wouldn’t have been that hard a choice, if Lonnie was still alive, he would have simply pulled himself up by his bootstraps and got on with the work that needed to be done. But being this close to Paradise, being able to finally rest, was such an enormous temptation, which made him wonder if he and the others were being tested. The final exam question that determined one’s grade, and decided their placement into Heaven, Limbo, or Hell.
Things were never easy, not even in the afterlife.
Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys