I came next to a valley strangely lush with ghostly plants and inhabited by ghostly people sitting around thousands of tables, eating and drinking. It seemed to me a dreary affair, for, as in the rest of this God forsaken world, the darkness was severe and the land was cold.
But the participants in the festival appeared not to notice the cold or darkness. They grabbed and fought over food and drank and laughed like pirates.
At the corner of one of the tables nearest me as I approached sat a blond ghost. In his right hand he held a translucent cup and in his other a bone through which I could see the table, and through the table I could see the ground.
How, I wondered, can these people be enjoying Hell? And I sat down to watch.
A serving girl set down wine and lamb on a platter. Blondie grabbed a bottle and shank and ate and drank.
I finally said to him, "Pardon me, I'm a visitor from Heaven. What is your name?"
"Helgi" He said. "And what brings you to these parts?"
Well, I am here as a reporter for my newspaper. And I admit that I am surprised to find that you appear to be enjoying yourself. I find it odd that you could enjoy yourself in Hell.
Helgi burped and laughed. "You take what you can get," he replied.
"I wanted Valhalla, and Valhalla is what I got."
"This is Valhalla?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes. We eat and drink and fight and do it again the next day, except, of course, there isn't really a next day. It's more like we eat and drink and fight and fall asleep and then eat and fight and drink again. That confounded bright light is very unpleasant, however."
"Bright light?" I said, without thinking.
He pointed at Heaven. "Annoying, isn't it? We're neighbors. You'd think they'd be kind enough not to shine bright lights at us."
"Um, ah yes. Actually, I find the light a bit dim. Do you enjoy Valhalla?"
"You take what you can get," he said.
"Yes, you said that. What do you mean by that?"
"I'm not really enjoying it the way I thought I would. After a while it wears on me. And of course, there is that infernal blazing light."
"Do you regret not believing in Jesus?"
"I didn't know about Jesus until the judgement. I followed Thor. Still do."
"If you could follow Jesus now, would you?"
"Hmmm. I might. But it is too late, now, isn't it?"
"I.. I guess so. But you might try!
"Well, I don't know. Heaven is rather hot and the winds bring in an unpleasant smell from there."
"But Heaven doesn't really stink; it smells wonderful. And it doesn't feel hot when you're there. You become used to it and enjoy it."
"Well, you become used to Hell too. Hell isn't so bad, once you get used to it, you know."
"But Heaven is reality. This is insubstantial. Why, I can see right through you! You look like a ghost."
"Huh?! Well, I can't see through me. Just because you have X-ray vision doesn't mean this isn't real."
"Well, okay. I guess it's real, but Heaven is so much brighter and complete. Jesus is there."
"Yeah, I know it's bright. Too bright, if you ask me. And it stinks too. Anyway, Thor is here. I picked Thor. I know Heaven is all those things you say. I've experienced God. I was at the judgment just like you, you know. I remember what it was like. Damned unpleasant. I looked around and I could tell it wasn't my home. Then I looked in those eyes of his and knew for sure I wanted out.
"Though," he said, "I remember Snorri. Though he'd never heard of Jesus before, there he stood gazing at him with eyes of love. I think somehow he knew him even on earth. Maybe he didn't know his name, but there was something different about Snorri even then. I think deep down Snorri longed for Jesus, somehow knowing he was there."
He paused for a moment, and a look of anger came over him. "The traitor!" he muttered.
"But me," said Helgi. "I stayed true. I picked Thor. I still do."Previous | Next
© Copyright 2003 Brad Haugaard