Main Index

 Chapters

 Editor's Note

 Preparations

 My Trip

 My Arrival

 The Stench & Flames

 The Cigarette Man

 The Unpersuaded

 The Valley

 The Rich Man

 The Ministry

 The Island

 The Angels

 Homeward

 Reflections

 The Bible & Hell
 

The Cleft


 
The Unpersuaded

I might add at the beginning of this report something about the landscape of Hell.

Whether it is a globe, perhaps a planet, or simply a plane of some sort, I was never able to clearly determine. I can say however, that it never became night. Or can I say that? In another sense, of course, it was always night. Blacker than any night on earth, for there was no moon and no stars.

But what I mean is that it is always dimly illuminated by the distant glow of Heaven. In this land just a dim smudge a few degrees above the horizon. But unlike the sun, it never set. It never moved. And while I am unsure of the distance I have traveled so far, the heavenly light doesn't seem to drop closer to the horizon as I move around. So, perhaps Hell is a plane.

The landscape is mostly gray, not just from lack of light, for I have shined my flashlight upon the rocks and gray it remains, and mostly flat, though at points it sways up and down like swells on the sea. However, no point I have so far encountered is much higher than my head.

The region of my cigarette-butt companion was apparently more heavily populated than the region of those who hid in shadows, for scarcely had he left me and I had resumed my trek when I saw another individual.

As I approached he wrinkled his nose.

"Excuse me," I said. "I am a visitor here and was wondering if you could tell me about this region. I have noticed that many of the inhabitants of this area find the glow of Heaven to be unpleasant, but are able to tolerate it.

"Is that so?" he replied. "Well, you're wrong. Everybody can tolerate it. Even those slugs who lurk in the shadows can tolerate it. Even when we drag them out into the flames with us they can tolerate it. They may scream like a steam whistle, but they're still there, so they tolerate it, now don't they?"

"Well," I said, when you put it like that... Yes, I suppose they tolerate it, but they certainly don't like it."

"Haw! Haw! Really? And you think I like it? Where are you from that you don't know this?"

"From there," I said, pointing at the distant glow of Heaven.

"No kidding, idiot! Have you forgotten? We're all from there! From that cursed day when we stood in the white hot fire of his ugly face and were forced to breathe his putrid breath of death. Don't you remember that day? Isn't that seared upon your mind? Can you forget that day when we were condemned and thrown out of his presence? 'Guilty!' he said. 'Willful disbelief!' he said. Ha! Yes, I was, and never more happy could I be than to be removed from his presence as quickly as possible. A thousand times more guilty I'd plead if only I could be farther still from him.

"I'm afraid you don't understand," I said. "I am a subject of Heaven. Heaven is my home. I was not thrown out. I am just here as a reporter for my newspaper, The Light.

"Oh are you now. One of them, are you. Well then you tell your readers that God is a thousand times more guilty than I."

"How can you say that? God is just and merciful and loving."

"I'll tell you how I can say that. When I lived on earth people told me about Jesus but I didn't believe them. I really, honestly, truly didn't believe them. And for this honest disbelief I am in this Hell hole instead of reveling in Heaven. Is that fair?

"But I thought you were glad to get out of Heaven. I thought you said you were guilty."

"Of course I was glad to get out, but it is wicked that you enjoy Heaven and I can't.

"But if you wanted Heaven, why didn't you believe in Jesus?"

"Damn you! Didn't you hear me? I said I didn't believe."

"Why not?"

"I didn't think the evidence was enough. God should have made himself much more clear to me. He could have spoken to me directly or reached down a hand from Heaven or something."

"Did God not speak to you at all?"

"Just those cursed whispers. You know what I mean. I mean.. I mean..." he said, his voice cracking, then becoming steel, "I mean those little hints in the stars and the spring leaves. Those little wonderings about where we came from that catch you unawares and unprepared. Just those damned whispers that only now do we recognize as being the voice of God.

"But you didn't respond to what he showed you?"

"How did I know it was him? And anyway, what he showed me was nothing! Nothing! What proof did he give me? None!

"But wouldn't even a nudge be enough to get you to look for God if you really wanted him?

"Enough of this third degree! I don't have to answer your questions! You are one of them. You don't understand. You never did. Your God doesn't understand."

"I am sorry. I don't mean to give offense. It seems you just partly turned away from God, so now you are partly damned."

"No, I am afraid I am fully damned. While my surroundings may not be as severe as for others, my regret burns worse than the flames of Heaven that engulf those fools in the rock beds. My regret and my bitterness. God should have forced me to see; he should have forced me to believe, so there could be no doubt in my mind. How could he be so cruel not to force me into a corner and make me believe. He is strong enough. Why wouldn't he overrule my mind and make me his slave? Tell me why! It's all his fault! Go! Go back to Heaven and tell your God how wicked he is! Write that in your newspaper article. Now go away. Leave me to my misery. Have not you caused me enough trouble? Go! Go now!



Copyright 2003, Brad Haugaard