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Marcus sat in the white-walled room patiently. His head still ached from the semi-truck running over it, but other than that his feelings were neutral. He supposed it was the neutral state he was in. Not heaven nor hell. He crossed his legs and began drumming on the table. The door opened and a man walked in. The man was as neutral as the setting. He wore a white shirt with khaki shorts, as if he was on vacation. The man sat at the table opposite Marcus.
"Ok, so what is it?" Marcus placed his hands on the table as he asked. The man seemed baffled by the question.
"I'm sorry?" Marcus detected a British accent, which was odd to him. Why would people retain their accents in death? Ignoring it, he persisted.
"I assume I'm being judged on whether I go to heaven or hell?" The man sat across him, and his solemn face cracked into a boyish grin as he began to chuckle.
"What does that mean? Who would be judging you?" Marcus removed his hands from the table, feeling a bit defeated, for some reason.
"Well, God or The Devil or something?" The man ceased his laughter as the word Devil left Marcus' lips.
"The Devil?" He cocked his head to one side as he asked.
"Yeah, like on whether or not I should go upstairs or downstairs." The man closed his eyes and sighed.
"Ah, I see. Every time we get a person from your culture, this always comes up."
"Well, your ideals, your upbringing. You seem to believe God determines your residence after death."
"Of course not!" The man seemed to be irritated, as if he had explained this countless times to an infinite number of the deceased.
"Well, I doubt Satan does it." Marcus tried to salvage his initial beliefs.
"You decide, Marcus. The reason you are here is because you haven't decided where your true values lie. We are all waiting for you to make up your mind." Marcus leaned back in his chair. Now he was the one with the confused look on his face.
"So, I get to choose Heaven or Hell? Well that's easy, Heaven!" Marcus almost laughed. But the man shook his head.
"Marcus, what do you think both of those places are like? Your honest opinion, what do Heaven and Hell look like?"
"Well, the movies show heaven on a cloud with golden gates and angels all around. And Hell is shown as in a cave, with lava and screams of pain."
"Yes, those depictions are among the most popular, but wrong."
"So Hell is made to seem all great, right? Like everything we ever wanted?" The man considered his response.
"No, it's not made to seem that way. It is whatever you want. If you want it to be on a yacht with beautiful women and tons of friends money, then you will live eternally that way."
"But we have to worship Satan, I'd assume."
"Who?" The man seemed genuinely perplexed by the name.
"The Devil?" The man realized what Marcus was trying to describe.
"Oh, this again. The Prince of Lies? The Antichrist?"
"That's the guy."
"Does not exist." Short and frank. The man said it quick, he shot the words at Marcus' ears and sat back, waiting for them to settle. Marcus wasn't getting it.
"Well, I mean he may not be called or that or even be a guy. But I just mean the opposite of God, you know? The reason for all the pain and suffering. The keeper of Hell." The man cleared his throat, getting ready to shatter Marcus' illusions.
"Marcus, there is no 'Devil'. There isn't some evil thing that whispers in your ears to lie or cheat or steal. Humans invented the idea of Satan to excuse all their wrongdoings. I don't blame you, if any other species had that many problems, I'd invent a scapegoat too. But he isn't real. The keeper of Hell? That's you, Marcus. The opposite of Heaven is reveling in your own filthy avarice. The catch isn't worshiping the Anti-God. It's worshiping yourself. The Devil is just a synonym for your own malice, greed, lust, violence, and hatred." Marcus stared into the eyes of the man, looking for some sign of a lie. He saw none. The man wasn't just hypothesizing, he knew it to be fact.
"So, I choose Heaven or my own self?"
"That's right. You can either enter Heaven, worship the Creator, live by the same morals and rules of every good faith, or go to your Hell."
"What does that mean, go to my Hell?" The man shifted in his seat. Marcus could tell this was always the turning point of the conversation.
"You'll be reincarnated, any way you like. You can design your body, your personality, your charisma, and your future. Every single thing about your life you can customize, then we reinsert you into any time you like. To ancient Rome as an emperor, to your time as a movie star, or to the future, with interplanetary travel. Whatever you want." Marcus looked down. His entire vision of good and bad was blurred before his eyes. He thought he would simply have to choose between God and Satan, which was easy. Choose good or bad. By choosing reincarnation, he wan't necessarily choosing evil over God, was he? Besides, he would never even be aware of his choice.
"What happens when you die in the next life?"
"You make the same choice again. You can live an infinite number of lives." Marcus looked down at the table, then told the man his choice. The man left the room.
As James King looked out of his penthouse, he sipped his champagne and thanked God for his blessed life. He had money, friends, power, and he thanked God every day. We know, however, that he shouldn't be thanking God. Because James King decided he would have money, friends, and power.
"That makes 563,872 times he has made the choice." The neutral man said to himself as he watched James in his life. "He choose Hell 563, 872 times."