Whoever coined the phrase tempus fugit weren’t kidding. Time in ethereal space fairly trots along, out pacing earth by an unknown quantity. Arthur, has just returned to Heaven after his death at the ripe old age of ninety nine, leaving behind quite a large legacy of six children, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren. He couldn’t believe the changes that had taken place up here.
Standing outside the once sparkling white and shimmering gates, now rusting away and barely hanging onto their hinges, he looked around for St. Peter and his angels.
‘Where the bloody hell is everyone?’
The mist swirled behind him, but in front of the gates was a desolate wasteland where nothing existed; no St. Peter to give him a hard time, no chubby faced naked cherubs floating about singing sweet heavenly songs, no girly boy angels in tight gold pants prancing about like they were forever off to a Dale Winton convention, the place was deserted. Just emptiness as far as the eye could see.
Not having a mirror to inspect his image he brought his hands up in front of his face. ‘Blimey, ain’t seen them for a while.’
Gone was the rich chocolate colour that he had become so accustomed to in his second life. He also felt different, sort of shorter, a lot shorter in fact. ‘Oh well, it was good while it lasted.’
He had been hoping to find Sal, to catch up on old times and let her know the kids were all okay. She had died ten years before him so he hadn’t seen her in a while. They’d agreed to meet up in the afterlife and resume their relationship for eternity, though he worried over how she would feel when she saw him as he really was.
This can’t be right, he thought. This place is supposed to be eternal. Walking up to the gates he expected to pass straight through, instead he gave his face a good crack on the rusty bars, falling backwards in shock to land on his rump.
Rubbing his head he got up, grabbed the bars in both fists and gave the gates a good old shake. A loud creaking sound echoed throughout the vast empty space.
Arthur looked up to see the gates toppling towards him. ‘Bloody Nora.’
He turned and ran, stopping at the edge of the mist as the gates hit the floor. A resounding crash reverberated throughout heaven, echoing back to him many times before it faded away, and leaving an eerie empty silence in its wake.
Arthur walked back down and stepped over the gates into what used to be heaven.
‘Hello. Anyone here?’ His loud voice travelled around the vast emptiness. ‘Anybody there?’
The silence returned as oppressive as before.
There was no point going any further as he could see for miles in all directions and it was all the same, empty.
‘Methuselah. He’ll know what’s going on.’
What came natural to him before, traversing through space in the blink of an eye, no longer happened.
‘Nothing bloody works here any more. How am I supposed to find him if I can’t even traverse space?’
Sitting on a seat of his own making to try to work out what to do next, it came as a shock when he hit the deck, cracking his head on something quite solid. He cried out as the pain rolled around his skull like thunder.
Climbing to his feet he shook his head. ‘Bloody hell. That hurt.’ He tried to think the pain away but no matter how hard he tried the throbbing was worse than a three day hangover.
’All the magic’s gone. Nothing works. Maybe time has run out and it is the end of everything. ‘Don’t be bloody stupid. I’ve only been gone about sixty years, how could time have run out? No. something happened here, something is terribly wrong.’
‘You know you’re talking to yourself.’
Arthur spun around, bringing further waves of pain to his already aching head.
‘Who said that?’ The silence was getting to him, it seemed to be seeping in to his very soul. Looking around one last time he walked off. I’m bloody losing it, he thought.
As he wandered about in the mist he wondered why he hadn’t met up with any other souls. ‘Used to be thick with them in here, all lost and sent here as a penance by old jobs worth. You couldn’t help bumping into them there were that many. Now there’s not one soul to be seen. I wish Archie was here. I’d even settle for Jethro at a pinch. They promised they’d be here to meet me, some promise.’
‘You’re doing it again you know.’
’Arthur stopped his wandering. ‘Who said that?’
‘Who said what?’
‘Where are you? I can’t see you.’
The silence returned and as the mist thinned he looked all about but saw he was still alone.
‘Stop playing stupid bloody games. Come out so I can see you.’
The mist swirled around him and closed in again.
‘The only other soul up here and he wants to play silly buggers.’