Jay(presenter, male, 30s, dark haired, smooth)
Walking along a deserted beach, talking to camera
So, you’ve got your life all planned out, celibacy, monogamy, polygamy, kids, no kids, job, no job, whatever suits your style. But there is one decision left to make. All those low fat, lo-cal meals and gym workouts can’t put it off forever. He stops, looks straight at the camera. You’re going to die. Pause, then continues walking.
Of course that doesn’t mean that everything has to come to an end. Sure, you can choose to rot away in your coffin, but there’s no need to. Thanks to a variety of deities there are a wide range of paradises, nirvanas, utopias and even dystopias available, sufficient to satisfy the eternal needs of the most demanding of you.
There’s only one problem, with such a bewildering array of options, which one should you choose? It can be very difficult to get balanced information on which to base a decision. There’s no shortage of advocates for any particular choice, but these salespeople always make out that their product is the only possible one, making it very difficult to shop around. Until now. Now, for the first time ever on Network Television, for your entertainment and enlightenment, we present … the definitive guide to the Afterlife.
Cut to mid-20s, attractive, blonde presenter, Sasha standing in front of St Peter’s Gates. They are ornate, gilded and vast. It is impossible to see anything beyond or to the side of them. She speaks to camera.
… And what better place to start than Heaven. After all, there are … she consults her notes …2 billion Christians down there on Earth, so we’re starting with the most hoped for destination. There is a chuckle off camera, and Sasha turns towards it. There is a very venerable but kindly figure there, with an unostentatious halo hovering above him. This is St Peter. He explains himself, smiling apologetically… I’m sorry, it’s just so unusual to hear the word “destination” used entirely correctly. Sasha looks somewhat discomfited, but tries to get on with the interview.
So, she pauses, obviously unsure how to address him – Peter? Saint Peter? Saint? And finally settles on … Sir. You are in charge of the pearly gates?
Yes, I am, although as you can see, the pearls aren’t actually there anymore. We decided they were rather showy, not particularly suitable for a faith that preaches self-sacrifice and the lack of importance of material wealth.
Does that mean you have to deal with applications for entrance to Heaven? Do souls actually turn up at the gates?
Goodness me, no. That’s all sorted out long before anyone actually arrives here. The gates are just to signify the actual entrance to heaven. And admission is entirely decided by God Himself. The rest of us just aren’t infallible enough, I’m afraid.
So what is your actual role? Just a glorified doorman?
It’s a little more important than that. It’s obviously a big psychological transition going from earth to heaven and I play an important role in helping people through that. He looks slightly miffed at the question as well as not entirely convinced with his answer and rather brusquely tries to usher Sasha elsewhere.
Now, I believe you were to be given the tour. I think St Cuthbert is ready for you.
Cut to Sasha and St Cuthbert wandering around. For a monk who was martyred by Viking raiders on the north east coast of Britain in the 9th Century, he bears a surprising resemblance to the annoying bald one out of Seinfeld (a show which, rest in peace, has not got anywhere near heaven). The buildings are mostly white, classical design, set in your basic stunning green-hills-overlooking-deep-blue-seas backdrop. Cuthbert mentions that there have been experiments in using different colour schemes, but people preferred appearances to remain similar to earth. He looks mildly put-out by this. The population of heaven is very heterogenous, people of every different race walk past them, attired in outfits that represent fashion across the span of human existence.
Sasha speaks to camera.
There is an extensive range of taught activities in Heaven. Here for instance you can learn how to play the harp. She opens the door to reveal 40 or so people, all dressed in white, playing away at the instrument. The sound is indescribably awful. She shuts the door quickly. Cuthbert smiles and says: Of course, this room is thoroughly soundproofed.
But surely you can just grant them the ability to play perfectly?
Absolutely, but for some people, the feeling of having earned their proficiency is important. Though, to be honest, many of them like to earn it blessed only with prodigious natural talent…
They walk into a large chamber, packed with people, many in the clerical dress of a broad spectrum of Christian faiths. They are all arguing vigorously. Cuthbert speaks again: This is where people have theological debates. You might think that the fact that they all made it into Heaven might have put their minds to rest, but they still seem fascinated by it.
They continue, and Sasha points out a large building, asking what is in there.
Ah, that isn’t actually in Heaven; that is part of purgatory. That particular building is for those who disregarded the dictum that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.”
And what happens in there?
Well, mainly they are forced to read the collected works of various socialist philosophers. It’s not very pleasant, unfortunately.
But weren’t most of them atheists?
Well, yes, of course they were, but just because you’re an atheist doesn’t mean you can’t be divinely inspired. In fact, I’m surprised that Engels’ name didn’t give it away.
Sasha looks confused, but carries on anyway:
And how do they eventually get out?
They have to pass through the eye of a needle, naturally. It isn’t an everyday needle, of course, it is more like a spiritual version of the security devices you have to walk through in airports. Ironically enough, they are transformed into camels for some time as part of the process. Very good for the eternal soul apparently, though I’ve never tried it myself.
Sasha is now looking completely bewildered. Cuthbert looks at his itinerary. I think that God is ready to be interviewed now. He pauses briefly, as if waiting for confirmation. Seemingly satisfied, they move on.
Cut to Sasha and God. God appears in traditional long white haired old guy in cloak fashion. He is talking, she is listening intently.
… of course, this is heaven so we allow people to do pretty much whatever they want to do.
But if people can do whatever they like, does that mean that people can steal and kill here?
Not really. As we have very strict criteria for admission, those who arrive in Heaven are not particularly prone to committing such heinous acts. However, there are several souls who seem to react against the goodness they showed in their earthly lives. For these individuals we create an artificial ethereality in which their behaviour does not impact upon others.
Cut to Mother Theresa addressing a group of sick people. No, I’m not going to help you, you wretched cripple. Get the fuck away from me, you smelly, pus-ridden sacks of shit.” Cut back to God and Sasha. Sasha is talking.
So none of those are real people?
Well, mostly not. There are some who choose to be there; you’d be surprised at what constitutes paradise for some people.
I see. Now, you say that you create artificial environments for those that come to Heaven, how different is life on Earth to the afterlife here?
There are some changes to the corporeal form, although people generally don’t seem to appreciate too many changes. We’ve bestowed the ability to fly and we’ve made the feet much more attractive, but those are the only really major changes. We have also suppressed the need for many functions that are essential for life on Earth, so breathing, eating, drinking and so on are no longer indispensable. Naturally most people choose to continue indulging in the pleasures of food and drink, and some even choose to continue urinating. They claim it is because they are used to it, but I suspect it’s just basic fetishism.
As they talk, inhabitants of heaven walk by, occupied in the daily afterlives. Sasha’s attention is caught by a woman in a monk’s habit. She asks God about it.
People are free to where whatever they choose, although many people seem to stick with what they are used to – at least people who lived after loincloths were fashionable.
But a female monk…?
What you need to remember is that Heaven is not stuck on the same time as Earth. There are many people here who were born long after you lived
Clearly not mentally equipped to deal with this concept, Sasha decides to bring the interview to a close and links back to the studio.
It sure looks fantastic up there, and for those who agree there are some fabulous offers at the moment for admission to Heaven.
The Lutheran church offers a special Sola Fidei package, which must be great news for those on a tight budget. A more thorough deal can be made with Roman Catholicism, at the cost of just a few sacraments, while risk takers can have a gamble on Calvinist predestination. It should be noted that all potential entrants must be individually vetted by God, and there is a possibility that some people may be redirected to Hell, Purgatory or other destinations.
Speaking of which, tune in next week for a thorough examination of the pros and cons of Hell. Everything you ever wanted to know about eternal damnation, but weren’t prepared to die to find out. Only on this channel, same time next week. Take care till then, we wouldn’t want you to die uninformed! He grins cheesily, as the credits start to roll.