Jos Crane

Official website of Jos Crane, author.

Another meeting. Shit. This is my first week, but in each meeting, I don’t hear anyone discuss anything. They’re not even meetings! They’re just venting sessions where the ventor is only one of us: the big boss. I only started a few days ago, but I’ve already heard the tirades from other meetings as my desk is next to the meeting room, which is placed directly in the center of the office. Selma, our office manager, walks through the door and closes it quickly behind her. She whispers as loud as possible, “okay, who the fork stole the boss’ lunch?” She combed her fingers through her semi-short blond hair as she found a seat across from me.

The gentleman next to me, whose name I do not know, leaned towards me and whispered, “He is going to be really pissed now. He is a very hangry person.” I nod. The man is so skinny I wonder if he has a negative body index. I think he’s in sales, but I’m not sure. What I do know is that he’s been yelled at twice this week already by the boss.

The boss enters the room and sits down at the end of the table. He looks around and begins, “Okay, so I took a look at the data that Jared provided-“ he gestured towards the skinny man next to me, “-and I don’t know what the fuck is going on! Can somebody explain to me why we’ve had no one enter the gates?”

Everyone looks down at the table. The lady on the other side of Jared speaks, “God, Hell isn’t having anyone enter either.”

“Why the fuck should I give a shit about Hell?” He asked aggressively. “This is our problem! Not theirs!”

Jared added his thoughts, “maybe it’s the same reason we aren’t getting anyone in Heaven.“

God leaned back in his chair and rocked himself a few times as he thought. “Any other thoughts?” He looked right at me as if I had the answer. I wanted to shake my head, but every vibe in my body told me it would be a mistake. Then I remembered about reading the Bible when I was alive and younger. I eventually became an atheist. Ironic how I ended up in God’s office, come to think of it. Then the answer hit me, “The Bible has contradictory information where no one can be sinful enough for Hell, but good enough for Heaven.”

“Do you have any examples?” Asked the boss.

“Luke 12:10 contradicts Romans 10:13, where you cannot be forgiven for sins, but also can be. Hebrews 8:7 and John 3:16 about the lack of and then promise of an afterlife. Exodus 20:13 and Exodus 32:27 contradict about killing as a sin but also isn’t. And what about-“

God cut me off, “Okay. Okay, I get it. It was written by many men who, shall I remind you, are imperfect.” He was leaning forwards with his elbows on the table now. He examined the room before speaking again. “I want you to fix the afterlife.”

“I’m not sure I understand how I can fix history,” I responded.

“It’s not some kind of damn rule book!” He yelled. “You’re supposed to be the expert, not an idiot. Figure out a way to fix it!” He stood up and started to walk out. “We probably have a lot of hauntings and paranormal activity because of this fuck up!” He slammed the door behind him.

“Where do I even start?” I asked no one in particular. Jared answered, “Well, he did say the Bible wasn’t a rule book, so that means a rule book probably does exist somewhere. You should look into it.”

Just on the other side of the room, I heard the boss yelling, “Where the fuck is my lunch!?”

I spent days, maybe weeks or months, it’s hard to say, looking for a rule book. I went to St. Peter with no luck, and he referred to me to various angels like Gabriel. Gabriel referred to me demons like Beelzebul. No dice. I even paid a visit to Hades – who doesn’t like his alternative name, Lucifer – with no luck. I spoke to Máni. She gave me a lead that Freyja may know. Fun fact: Máni hated when I called her by that name because Monday is based on that name, and she really hates Mondays. She prefers her Greek name, Selene. Anyways, I eventually found the goddess Freyja of Fólkvangr. It turns out, in a strange twist of irony, that the rule book is based on the Old Testament. I found this confusing since the Old Testament was based on other books like the Tanakh, but someone at some point determined this was the new rule book. That person had obviously been fired for reasons since forgotten, but I’d like to think the discrepancies and contradictions would be amongst the obvious. Freyja told me his name was Aaron, and if I recall the Quran correctly, he was the older brother of Moses.

I knocked on my boss’ office door. “Come in,” he requested as I opened the door. Piles of papers littered across the floor and there were stacks of various binders and books on his desk. He hid behind a little monitor that looked like it was from the 1980s, but it didn’t seem to bother him. I’m curious how an omnipotent being is okay with this.

I clear my throat and begin, “I discovered that the rule book was based on the Old Testament.”

“Okay,” was all he said. He licked an envelope and placed it on a stack to the left of him. “And?”

“Well, I propose we write a new one based on the old knowledge and make it more modern.”

“So, why are you bothering me?”

“I wanted your advice.”

He stood up and pointed at me as he began to yell, “I hired you to figure this out. You’re the expert and now you need to act like one. You can’t keep bitching to me about your problems! You deal with it!”

I walked out without saying a word as he continued to lick the next envelope. I’ll never understand what was in those envelopes. I returned to my desk and began rewriting a new rule book. I spent the next few weeks researching and developing how the afterlife is handled so it could accommodate all cultures. The proposal was this: after someone passes away, their spirit visits a beautiful meadow surrounded by a lake, mountains, trees, and a desert. Within the meadow there are stalls like one would see at a festival. Each one has information about a different offering of the afterlife. However, each stall also has a test one must pass. Their sins as a human are washed and each exam contains simulations that cannot be forged; not like a school test that you could cheat your way through.

For example, in order to go to Valhalla, one exam may be a simulated battle with your brethren. If you sacrifice yourself and don’t run away and hide, then you pass the exam. For reincarnation with Hinduism, you will have a test of accomplishing something like a “fetch quest” of finding 10 apples. However, on your way to the test, there may be others asking you for deeds like a little girl that needs an apple to avoid starvation and you count only 10 on the tree. Do you give the girl the apple? If you have positive karma by the end of the exam, then you reincarnate back on Earth. Those who do not pass the exam can attempt one more of any other belief, but a second fail obliterates your soul. I talked to Hades about this and he was fine with it as he didn’t want to deal with more “hellgoers” as he called them. I asked him how he planned to recruit new demons and he just said, “when I feel like it.” Ominous and vague, but whatever.

God came over to my desk with a piece of paper and lay it in front of me. It read:

Please come see me in my office.

So, I did.

“I want to let you know that this isn’t working out, and we’re going to have to let you go,” he said before I could even sit in the chair in front of his messy desk.

“Um, okay,” was all I could muster. I didn’t care. I was tired of his shit and constant yelling over the past few weeks, or months, or whatever the fucking length was anyways.

“I’m having Selma delete your account, just as a security precaution,” he said. I almost laughed and forced out a cough to hide it. He continued, “if you need a reference, then I’d be more than happy to provide one.”

“Well,” I started to speak as I stood up, “thanks for everything and sorry it didn’t work.” I walked out of his office and closed the door. As I started to say goodbye to some of the other staff there, I began to realize that my afterlife rule book would also be deleted since it was stored in a folder connected to my specific account. That’s okay, though, because it’s not my problem anymore.

No person is without sin, thus deserving of Heaven. Yet, no person has committed so much sin to deserve the eternal torture of Hell. The afterlife is broken, and you have been put in charge of fixing it.