Crawford had died and his soul was in the hands of Death, a small man in a well-made suit and a bowler hat, nothing like the depictions of him as resembling the grim reaper.
For Death it was another routine job. A person dies, Death collects the soul, delivers it to the processing centre, job done.
But Crawford was curious, a little more chatting than most souls Death collected, as mostly they were struck dumb by the fact that Death existed and was the man holding their hand as they moved towards a destination they had never thought actually existed.
Even the most devout showed a surprise though often it was accompanied by hymn singing, which Death loathed as he himself, couldn’t sing a note to save himself.
But today Crawford was chattering away asking questions and being his ever-curious self.
He asked about sin as they made their way over rainforests, which looked, so green and inviting. Death thought a minute before answering as he had no great understanding of it as so many whom he carried to the processing centre were besides themselves in grief over apparently sins they thought would bring them down.
Death explained that it didn’t matter what they thought now their lives would be assessed at the processing centre, a determination and a decision made about which they could neither protest nor appeal. After all Death reminded him God was omnipresent and never once got anything wrong so how could you complain to him with a track record like that. It was too late to wail and gnash your teeth; you took his decision and went where you were sent. In some cases you could negotiate but it was unusual. God ran a tight ship, was all merciful and loving at the same time.
The mass murderers he pointed out never had an ice blocks chance when it came down to it. They immediately stood on the trapdoor, which after a few seconds opened and down they went.
He did point out to Crawford that as loathsome as Crawford had been in life he’d probably get the choice of three. Wandering aimlessly forever, reincarnation or the darkness*.
But all that was for later consideration right now Death was intent on getting Crawford to the processing centre as he had a pressing engagement later in the afternoon, his weekly staff meeting with God himself. This time he was going to press more strongly for an assistant, world population was increasing, his work load was out of control, thank God he’d thought of limbo.*
As they drew near to the Processing Centre Crawford was heard to ask the question about the devil. Death sucked in a big breath, which was unusual for him, as he didn’t need to breathe and informed Crawford that the way he was going the Devil would be his first port of call.
As it was the Devil, or Alf to his friends, was almost as powerful as God but not quite. Alf and God got along fine and Alf didn’t need to search for souls in these times as they readily came to him. But Hell Death pointed out was as its name suggested, a place of torment in which each soul found its own degree of discomfort.
Suddenly they stopped and Crawford was left in front of a large wooden door. He stood on the welcome mat and pressed the button.
The door opened and a chorus of voices all wishing him welcome greeted him. Crawford felt relieved at such a welcome. He was directed to another door, he knocked and as it opened the booming voice of God was heard to say: Crawford welcome to the rest of your eternity.
Behind him the chorus of voices went into a Halleluiah chorus, flower petal cascaded down upon him and ahead of him the mist cleared away revealing his eternity……
A road that stretched out as far as he could see. Next to him was sign:
“No. 1 Please start here. Watch out for hidden obstacles. Good luck.”
Away on the horizon he saw the number two.