The Dream – Vincent Edward Manda
I had a dream once. They are really hard to interpret aren’t they? These dreams of ours.
I’ll let you make of this what you will.
There I was in the clouds. St. Paul was there too, smiling. I approached him and the pearly gates behind him opened up. A naked male angel was knelt in front of Paul like a podium facing me. The angel’s face was blank. He had no nose, no eyes and no mouth. He was engulfed by a bright light but I could make his shape out clearly. His golden wings spanned thousands of meters if not more, as far as the eye could see.
‘You see we don’t actually have scrolls in heaven,’ Paul said. ‘The names are carved on his wings using a hammer and chisel.’
‘Doesn’t that hurt?’ I asked.
A hollow voice came from the angel’s empty face ‘It is all in service of Him Who is Love. This is how we show loyalty and love to He Who Created All’
‘How long are the wings?’
‘Ten million meters to the left and two million to the right’
‘And on which side are heaven’s names?’
‘And on which side is my name?’
He took me to where my name was etched. I was relieved when we drifted to the right wing. My name was freshly carved halfway down the wing. The writing was a millimetre in size and it was placed below another name which was just below another and which was etched underneath a multitude of names stretching throughout history. From the newly chiselled names, like my own, a golden liquid seeped out were the wing had not healed yet.
‘How long has he been here?’ I whispered to Paul whilst pointing at the angel.
‘Since the death of the first man.’ he replied.
Suddenly a man in grey garb appeared next to me. In his hands were a giant hammer, fit for Thor, and a small chisel. He began to hammer at the left wing. The sound was frightening. The golden blood seeped out as a new name appeared. The chisel disappeared briefly into the wing and bits of feathers and blood fell into the clouds creating golden rays in the clouds we were floating on. These were marks that would last forever.
Suddenly we were back in front of the angel. There was still no expression on it’s face as the hammering pounded on ferociously.
‘Who was the man hammering the names into the wings?’
The man with the hammer suddenly materialised next to me and said, ‘I have served a million years in purgatory and this is my only chance to make it.’ He disappeared and the sound of heavier, louder and faster hammering commenced to the left. I looked there and the clouds under the angel’s wing were golden. I looked at its’ face and it was blank and serene. I felt a tear in my eye but did not know why.
‘Come heaven awaits thee!’
I smiled, my reward was here.
We walked through the pearly gates leaving the hammered upon angel behind.
Heaven was big and fairly empty.
‘Well, I’ll leave you here,’ said St. Paul. ‘I have to fill in for Peter. Fun night last night’ he chuckled to himself and vanished.
It was all I imagined heaven would be, and more. Oh so much more.
I approached a large congregation of souls dressed in white. They had formed a large circle and were watching the clouds in between them. I moved closer and saw that they were looking at images of people left behind on earth. The images were being played on a series of flat and opaque clouds.
‘Hi, I’m J. we don’t have tours here cos…well paradise is pretty much everything you want it to be. Makes my job as tour guide easy cos you already know what’s up here.’
The calm and soothing voice that spoke these words came from behind me so I turned around. It was issued from a white robed man who wore a long red beard that reached his waist and a military haircut. Altogether his facial features were very appealing and left one feeling a sense of peace.
‘I noticed,’ I replied, ‘Everything I could have dreamt of is here. Except the TV I would never have had a TV in my heaven.’ I added, slightly puzzled.
‘Well yes, er, couple of ground rules in heaven. There are two compulsory televisions for R and R. This is the earth channel and all the way over, on the west side, is the hell channel. The TV’s are pretty fun man. Oh and err, yeh the other thing is you can’t choose who’s here. And you have to do whatever the G-Man asks you. Er that’s about it…really.’
‘So you mean that if my all family and friends went to hell then I’d be here alone?
‘Well no, of course not, you’d have your heavenly family, which is all you really need. Besides, they were warned. Don’t worry, The rest will soon be a distant and forgotten memory. Heaven is all you want it to be.’ he said with a convincing smile.
‘Yes it is…’ At that moment there was a whiff in the air of my favourite meals being prepared.
‘Dinner is served’ a sweetly booming voice called out. It was everything I could have dreamt of.
My old family became a distant memory.
After a sumptuous dinner I went to the earth channel area.
‘Ohhhhh he’s so going to hell.’ Someone shouted joyously. Everyone pointed to the cloudy telly and laughed heartily. Then they broke into Songs of Praise for Him who is Love.
‘What did he do?’ I asked J, having missed the image.
‘Oh you can rewind if you want,’ he said.
‘Won’t that interrupt the others?’
‘Oh no. we can all control it at the same time without disrupting each others view of the images. It’s pretty cool huh?’
I looked into the screen and replayed the images.
The man in question had run over and killed a reverend, his wife and their eighteen year old child. He had then shot himself in the head with with an anguished and remorseful looking face. Suddenly the reverend and his wife appeared next to me in heaven. ‘Hi, I’m The Reverend Hearty.’ he said with a sly smile. ‘I had a plus one so I brought Minnie here with me.’
‘Oh reverend we have watched your work for so many years.’ someone from the populous shouted.
‘Your words have moved thousands and you deserved your earthly rewards and now you have gained your heavenly ones. You are truly a saint in our eyes.’ Another voice from the populous added.
‘Yes, I worked hard knowing I would reap the rewards. I tell you, friends and family, it was all worth it. I could have stayed home adulterating and sinning but no, I knew that if I did that! I would never make it here. I did the work. This is my reward and I deserve it. We all deserve our rewards.’
I looked back at the screen and blinked. The images on the screen melted into another series of images.
There were children starving and dying. I blinked again and the images changed to soldiers dying in bomb blasts. I blinked a third time and there were women and children walking on a long road; some with no limbs and others with atrocious sores all over their bodies. It was all too much for me. I blinked one last time and saw a happy family at dinner having their favourite dishes served on silver platters.
Maybe the hell channel would hold a different sight.
Hell was everything I had imagined it to be. People were starving for eternity. Bomb blasts ripped bodies apart then minions came and sewed them together only to rip them apart again. People suffered and burned. Limbs were being cut off bodies every which way. Some people walked a road that never ended and some unseen thing inflicted sores upon their bodies. The fire, the fire was everywhere. I turned my head to look at the heavenly hosts; they all had smiles on their faces.
The Reverend appeared next to me again.
‘I tried to save them and told them to do as He commanded. They said they wanted to be free, that they wanted to live. Look at them now. They are fools who deserve their punishment.’
‘We all tried to save them’ echoed the heavenly hosts.
‘Can their suffering not be eased?’ I asked.
The reverend replied ‘Never. They shall suffer in eternity for not following His command. For being atheists, murderers, suicides, sycophants, liars, adulterers, non believers, seekers of a truth other than His, alcoholics, smokers…’
The list went on and on and I woke up. I could not say if it was a dream or a nightmare. Was there reason that people should suffer so? That morning I sent money to an African charity. Then I prayed to God that I would not go to hell. Then I went to work to saw off the limbs of people who had met unfortunate accidents and treated sores afflicted by terrible diseases. Outside, by some hotel on the west side, a bomb exploded again. The paramedics arrived at the scene promptly and began sewing people together immediately to curb the loss of blood. Some would have to be opened up again in surgery…
I prayed again that I would not go to hell.