“Please, take a seat.” Said a voice.
You look around, unable to comprehend its origin.
“Who is this? Where am I?”
“Oh, your eyes haven’t adjusted to the dark yet – have they? Here, I’ll turn on the light.”
Suddenly everything becomes white, and you see a simple wooden table with two chairs at opposite ends, facing each other.
Strange, you think to yourself, wherever that light is coming from, it doesn’t appear to be casting any shadows.
And it was peculiar indeed. The light had no obvious source, it just… was.
It didn’t seem as though someone had turned on a light. Rather as if someone had sucked away all of the darkness, leaving behind a white nothing – with some wooden furniture that looked very uncomfortable to sit in.
Since nothing seemed to happen, you decide to approach the chair and take a seat.
It was uncomfortable.
“Are you feeling a little… ill at ease?” The voice continued with a chuckle. “Don’t worry, this will either last a few moments, or forever. You get to decide.”
“Decide? What am I deciding?”
“Well young man, you’re dead. The proximate cause appears to be a number of arrows penetrating through your lungs, and one particularly nasty one straight through the heart. The –”
Memories begin to fill in the blanks, working their way back through time. At first a sharp pain comes back and you feel as though you’re suffocating. But then it fades, and more memories flood through. The red of the battlefield, the screams of the dying. Somewhere in between the chaos, a few scenes of peace and quiet slip through.
“Now that you’ve remembered your past – may I continue?” Not waiting for a response, the voice drove on. “The ultimate cause of your death is a series of decisions you took, the first one when you were 12. Do you remember that day you decided to fight back against those kids?”
Yes – how could you forget? For months they had been picking on you, just because your hair was different. So one day you took your father’s dagger with you, found the kids, and brutally slaughtered them. Three of them you killed, but one… one managed to get away. You had to leave the village that day, or you knew you would be hung. The orphanage would have loved nothing more than to get rid of its “white-haired devil”.
“I remember. You’re saying that decision led me to my death?”
“Yes… and no. It was the first of many steps, and you could have turned away at any time. But the truth is, every mortal dies. In a world filled with hatred and strife, it is one of the few things you share. There are a number of paths you could have taken leading to a death further away. One particularly cowardly path sees you living into your sixties. But had you strayed from the path that led you here, we would not be talking right now.”
“And who are you? You never answered me before.”
“I am the God of Death, and this is your lucky day.”
You died today… how does that make you lucky?
“I know what you’re thinking. This is your lucky day because I’m going to give you a choice.”
Behind the empty seat in front of you, two doors appear. The doors have no frames. The door on the left is black, the one on the right – red.
“With the door on your left, you can choose the fate of all other souls – darkness. You will walk through your memories, good and bad. Reliving them as you wish. You will feel the same pain and happiness as you felt then, and you will have ample time to think about what you have done with your life, but your memories will slowly fade away with time.
“When enough time passes, the world around you will recede and darken, until your only remaining course of action is to lie, sit, or stand, in an empty room with no walls. You will see and hear nothing, and the darkness around you will last for what seems like a lifetime. Having expended its final energies, your soul will cease to exist.”
“That’s it? That’s the afterlife? No heaven or hell? No rewards or punishments for what we’ve done?”
“Your own memories are your reward and punishment for the life you’ve lived. What more fitting end is there? But let me be clear, this is an end. I’ve seen some desperate souls hang on for over a hundred years, but sooner or later everyone fades away into the great nothingness.
“But you don’t have to. Choose the red door on your right, and I will bring you back, again, and again, and again. Every time you die, I will be there, bringing your soul back from the other side.”
“You’re offering me immortality? Why me, and what’s the catch?”
“You won’t be immortal. You will be killed, many, many times. Every time you die a violent death, you will feel all of the pain associated with it. And the catch? You must continue your path of death and destruction, and bring me souls ahead of their time. The energy surplus from their early deaths will feed your frenzy.”
So he wants me to kill for him, and in return I will never cease to exist…
“How do I know you’re not lying? What if the afterlife is actually a heaven, and this is just some trick?”
“What, so that’s it? You’re ignoring me now?”
You’ve killed people before. Most of them deserved it, some of them didn’t. Were you ready to do this for the rest of… eternity?
As the furniture around you begins to fade, you stand up briskly, and the chair behind you falls over, seemingly disappearing into the nothingness. While you stand there and think, the doors begin to disappear too, leaving behind them an unending whiteness on the other side.
“Quickly now.” Said the God of Death. “I can only make this offer under very rare circumstances, so I suggest you act now, before you become stuck in this limbo of indecision forever.”
Stuck here? Rats!
In a panic, you run for the black door… but then you pause.
Is that it? Am I just going to end my existence like this?
Quickly running towards an almost faded red door, you jump, crashing through…