The tall, gold-brimmed gate towered over the bright sunless sky as the old man walked out from the front of the line with a red ‘Rejected’ stamped onto the card in his hand. It was his seventh time standing in front of a guardian---different every time---of the gate.
Like a veteran poker player he hid his smile among his wrinkled face and walked towards the hole in the wall marked as ‘Exit’. The guardian letting the bodies through the gate one-by-one, kept the man in his line of vision. He walked slowly like a dog approaching his last days; his shriveled body resembled that of a distorted young tree; the suit hanging off his skeletal, dry body. His face would be the most forgettable face in the world if not for the wrinkles that showed his age. The bureaucracy of the afterlife knew of this man and the authorities were amused by his attempts to cheat death. It was an inside joke, amusement over-the-coffee for those that controlled heaven.
The guardian, however, watched the struggle of a man with kindness. There walked a bright mind in a dead body, a stubborn old man refusing to accept that his body longed to die. The management would not listen because there were orders from way above: let the man suffer until he decides it’s time. There were bets in the lunch room of how many times he will seek to be rejected.
He was the first man in history to avoid death six times; this was his seventh. He is, however, the first to cheat death by living the life so unglamorous neither of the underworlds wanted to take him. He is the most boring, the most unremarkable and the most bland living thing alive. His case is so famous, the Devil himself banned him from hell and referred him to heaven to be dealt with. The archangels long pondered what to do with such a man. He will not be accepted into hell and he does not deserve a place inside heaven; and he would never qualify for purgatory - he is too neutral to be purged of anything.
So they just let him drift in-and-out of life in the waiting area of heavens. First it was a matter of great frustration, now it became an amusing way to pass time, which lasts an eternity when you are an immortal being. Time after time he walked these halls only to be rejected. It became a game, a surprise where all the parties knew of the outcome, a ritual of life and death.
So he walked back to the life for the seventh time, sure that there will be an eight and a ninth, maybe even the tenth…
Now near exit, he brought out his smile.
They ought to give me a jump-queue card next time for such a loyal customer. Even better, I could get my rejection in the mail next time.
Yes, it was amusing...
Aldas is a writer and editor from Dublin, Ireland. He holds an MA in
Creative Writing and dreams of a career as a full-time writer. His work
has been published in Cabinet of Heed, The Fiction Pool, Qutub Minar Review and elsewhere. His website: http://aldaskruminis.com/