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To Save The Plurality: An Unfinished Novel: Part Five
Author's Note: This is another installment in an uncompleted novel. I personally find the underlying premise compelling, but I really don't know how I'm going to handle it yet. I add to it as inspiration strikes.
This is a novel about the afterlife. I am supposing that humanity's physical and biological existence on Earth is finished. I am further supposing that the afterlife turns out to be multifaceted, that there are as many "Heavens" and "Hells" as there are and have ever been, people on this planet to concieve of them, and that they diverge and overlap. For example, I might be featured in your (whoever 'you' might be) version of Heaven along with others you were well disposed to in "this life."
On the other hand, I might be featured prominently in someone else's Hell----he or she would be in "Heaven," looking at me deservedly burning in Hell.
Anyway... if you'd like to catch up on the previous parts, here they are.
This novel asks the question: What would happen if somebody, discovering the true, rather malleable nature of the afterlife, tried to use this fact to amass power?
It had taken a very long time. The insight came against his will. The realization had struck home despite his best efforts to thwart it. Heaven was simply too malleable to his will.
He had tried to believe that glorious paradise was his just reward for keeping the faith on Earth. The afterlife was exactly as scripture had said it was, the way the great evangelical ministers had preached that it was, the way he, Mark, himself had preached that it was.
Perhaps it was the very perfection of everything, its pat-ness that had tricklingly alerted him. Perhaps it was boredom. He began to wonder if he could get himself banished to Hell. Not that he wanted to go to Hell. Hell was for bad souls.
However, since he could manipulate Heaven so easily, mightn't he be able to do the same in Hell should he be condemned there? If so, he could simply transform Hell into another Heaven. But if this were true, then who was arbitrating cosmic justice? Where was God?
He accepted the fact that the divine carpenter that he spoke to everyday was not The Christ, but a mere ventriloquist's dummy with Mark's hand up his back.
Mark began to wish-manifest darker and darker pleasures, things he had known to be far beyond the pale, as it were. Quite unacceptable, un-Heavenly behavior, he was engaged in. But no reproach came from any quarter. There was no punishment. His status in the afterlife was not in the slightest diminished.
With the frustrated rage of a three-year old throwing a tantrum, Mark had both mentally and verbally demanded to be sent to Hell.
Again, its not that Mark had wanted to go to Hell. He certainly did not want to be scorched by its fires. It had been fortunate for him that, just by coincidence that he had wished-manifested himself to Hell, a version of it, of course, which happened to be run by a "Devil" who liked comfort.
Mark popped into Hell one day.
When he did this, the boss of the place said, "Who are you?"
"Where am I?" Mark said.
"You are where people like me belong," the boss said, "in Hell."
Mark looked around, frowning. "It looks like the inside of a bank."
"Exactly," the boss, who was not Bruce Springsteen, said. "I don't do fire and brimstone."
"You run things here?" Mark said.
"Yes, you could say that."
"Are you," Mark said, "... are you...?"
"The Devil, yes," the boss said, "Satan."
"Are you the real Devil?"
"Sure. Why not?"
"You said 'people like me' before?"
"When I came here you said I was where 'people like me' belong. You are not of Hell originally."
The boss, who was not Bruce Springsteen, smiled and shrugged. "Okay, you got me. What you say is true. But I am in charge around here, and believe me, I earned the title."
"Where is the real Devil?" Mark said.
"REAL Devil?" the boss said. "Who knows? Whose to say I'm not the REAL Devil? And what's this REAL Devil supposed to be like? Would you know the so-called REAL Devil if you met him?"
"Its chaos," Mark said.
"Welcome to my world," the boss said. "You're not one of mine. What brings you here, then? Come to see how the other half lives?"
"Something like that," Mark said.
"What's your name?" the boss said.
The boss extended his hand. "Nice to meet you, Mark. I am Liam, Liam The Devil."
As they shook hands, Mark stopped himself from saying out loud, "I think I am God."
Mark returned to Heaven to sort himself out. Liam certainly had a rather cavalier attitude about the situation, the crisis. God was gone. The Devil was gone. Liam had arrogantly taken for himself the title of the Father of Lies.
The afterlife was in chaos. At that moment things began to click into place for Mark. God and the Devil were... missing.
Had he allowed himself to entertain the thought that perhaps "God" and "Satan" had never existed at all in absolute terms, he would have had a mental breakdown.
But instead of allowing his proverbial marbles to get away from him, Mark decided that Indian philosophy had been onto something when it had conceived of the cyclically creating and re-creating nature of the universe. The universe, with all the stars and planets, came into existences, persisted for billions of years, burned out, and was created again---over and over and over again.
Perhaps he, Mark, and Liam were meant to be the masters of this particular universal age. He began to think of himself and Liam as inheritors. A Duke, say, had his aristocratic title, land, property, money, and the like; and he had several children. After the oldest son came of age, and after the father died, the oldest son would inherit the property and the title, thus becoming the Duke himself---the Duke of Earl or some such, for example. And the process goes on and on, one Duke of Earl at a time.
The One who had been God before had decided that Mark was a worthy successor, giving him the title and power of the Almighty. The same had been the case with Liam, Liam The Devil, he called himself. Though Liam had mentioned something about having "earned" the title, with a particular inflection of the voice. Well, Hell was a dark and violent place. There must have been some kind of violent struggle from which Liam had emerged victorious.
No matter. Liam was The Devil, and he, Mark, was The God, which made him positively jubilant.
He roared, voiced booming throughout the universe, "I AM A JUST AND MERCIFUL GOD!"
And now part six.