My friend Jon Rhodes gave me this great opening line! I started writing and this is the story I got.
'That interview went well," so he thought but the golden gates faded into the dark.
The world around Henry turned to shadows and the sounds of laughter and cheering on the other side of the gates faded.
For a moment Henry had a sense of falling and then realized he was in a forest. Between each of the trees was a cubicle where someone was busy typing away at a computer. A man in a rumpled white shirt and gray tie walked up to him.
“This isn’t Heaven, is it?” Henry asked.
“No, fortunately for you it isn’t.” The man said.
“So they’re making me go to hell?” Henry looked around, certain that at any second a demon would come running at him with a flaming chainsaw.
The man laughed, “You weren’t bad enough for hell. When you were alive you were a fairly decent guy when you had to be, but did you really need to buy ALL those video games? If you’d given just some of that money to charity you could have probably saved an entire African village. And even after Ms. Johnson got hip surgery you never offered to shovel her driveway. And in High School when your friends beat up Tommy Jenkins because he was gay you didn’t….”
“I get it!” Henry held up his hand. “I wasn’t the most aggressive guy at being good. Where am I?”
“The in between place. We mostly work desk jobs with moderate benefits. We eat chips with medium salsa. On Fridays we wear toned down Hawaiin shirts, and during our time off we go out on dates that are fun but nothing special, read books by Dan Brown and Dean Koontz and watch movies like Cool Runnings and Die Hard 2.”
Henry ran his hands through his hair. “So it’s too late to get into heaven?”
The man shrugged. “Do you really want to? I mean despite common belief Heaven’s more intense than just sitting around on a cloud playing the harp. Everyone’s climbing mountains, swimming oceans and jumping off cliffs just for the thrill of it. Everywhere you turn you’re forming really close, intense relationships with complete strangers. And there animals EVERYWHERE!
Henry thought it did sound a little overwhelming but it was still Heaven so he said, “Maybe I should at least try.”
“Sure you can try, but to be honest you might end up going to hell.”
“Or you could do nothing and hang out with us here.”
Henry looked around at the people typing away in their cubicles. They didn’t necessarily look happy but they weren’t unhappy either.
“Did I mention that tonight we’re watching Hook?”
Henry grinned and shook the man’s hand, “I’m in!”