Heaven Or Hell This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

January 18, 2011
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An old man and his dog walked along a country road, enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to the man that he was actually dead. In the distance he could see earth and the magnificent skies of space. He remembered dying, and that his dog too had been dead for many years. He wondered where the road might lead them, and continued onward. After a while, they came to a high, white stonewall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, a tall white arch that gleamed in the sunlight broke it. When he was standing before the edge of it, he gazed at a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like the mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate appeared as pure gold. He felt pleased that he had finally arrived in heaven, and the man and his dog walked toward the gate. As he got closer, he saw someone sitting at a beautifully carved desk off to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, but is this heaven?"

"Yes, it is, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Would you happen to have some water? Its been a long walk." the man Said. "Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."
The gatekeeper gestured behind him, and the huge gate slowly opened.

"I assume my friend can come in?" the man asked, gesturing toward his dog.

But the reply was "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."
The man thought about it then thanked the gatekeeper, turned back toward the road, and continued in the direction that he had been going in. After another long walk, he reached the top of another long hill, and he came to a dirt road that led through a farm gate. There was no fence, and it appeared as if the gate had never been closed, as grass had grown up around it. As he approached the gate, he saw a man just inside, sitting in the shade of a tree in a rickety old chair, reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the reader. "Do you have any water?"

"Certainly, There's a pump over there," the man said, pointing to a place that
Couldn’t be seen from outside the gate. Come on in and make yourself at home."

"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog

"He's welcome too, and there's a bowl by the pump," he said.
They walked through the gate and, sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a dipper hanging on it and a bowl next to it on the ground. The man filled the bowl for his dog; he then took a drink himself. When both were satisfied, he and the dog walked back toward the man, who was sitting under the tree waiting for them, and asked,

"What do you call this place?"

"This is heaven," was the answer.

"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "It certainly doesn't look like heaven, and there's another man down the road who said that place was heaven."

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold streets and pearly gates?"

"Yes, it was beautiful."

"Nope. That's hell."

"Doesn't it offend you for them to use heavens name like that?"

"No. I can see how you might think so, but it actually saves us a lot of time. They screen out the people who are willing to leave their best friend’s behind."

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