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What Happens When You Die? (Short Story)

Updated on November 19, 2019
Thomas Swan profile image

Dr. Thomas Swan is an avid writer of science fiction and short stories with a philosophical slant.


I materialize inside a stuffy office. According to the brass nameplate on the desk, the bearded man sitting in front of me is God. My unfortunate predicament becomes abundantly clear.

"Hello God. Am I dead?"
"That’s a downer. Did I die well? I can’t seem to remember."
"No-one does. Let’s cut to the chase. You’re here because it’s judgment time. I’m going to decide if you’ve lived a benevolent and worthwhile life."
"Who made you the judge?"
"I did."
"That seems fair" I mutter sarcastically.
"Hey, it’s my house, my rules! If you don’t like it, you can always get yourself a free pass."
"How do I do that?"
"Just believe that my son, Jesus, died for your sins and rose from the dead."
"That seems a bit far-fetched."
"Does being in limbo between worlds seem far-fetched too?"
"Fair point God." I stop to think for a moment, "OK, I believe! I believe that your son… um..."
"Yes, Jesus, died for…"
"Our sins."
"Our sins, right. Then he rose from the dead! Can I get into heaven now?"
"Hmm, I don’t know."
"What do you mean you don’t know? Aren’t you omniscient?"
"I am, but I’m trying to break it to you kindly that I don’t think you’re as committed as other people I’ve let into heaven."
"What else can I do to convince you?"
"You have to really feel it in your heart."
I consider the terms, "hmm… hrrrnnnggghhh, errrggghhhh" I start sweating, "see, would you look at that, I think I’m starting to cry. I really feel it in my heart now."
God sighs audibly, "I’ll tell you what. Rather than throw you into hell, I’m going to send you next door."
"What’s next door?"
"Someone else."
"Oh, well it was fabulous meeting you God. Fist bump? No? OK."

I leave God's office and find myself in a narrow corridor. To the left is another door. I enter to find it's identical to the room I just left. This time, however, there's someone else behind the desk.


"Hi, who are you?" I say.
"I’m Vishnu, your friendly Hindu God."
"Wow, you have four arms, and you’re blue like those things from Avatar."
"You’re not Hindu are you?"
"No, I’m, well, nothing particular. God sent me here. I don’t think he wanted to deal with me."
"Which God?"
"The one who can’t think of a name for himself?"
"Yes, him."
"OK, I’ll do my best to help you. As you’re not Hindu, I can give you two options. Either I can reincarnate you, or I can send you next door."
"Reincarnate me? Awesome! Send me back. I’m ready to live again!"
"It’s not that simple. You won’t be the same being you were before."
"What will I be?"
"A penguin."
"Sweet mother of… Vishnu, a penguin?"
"Yes, humans keep killing all the other creatures, but they think penguins are cute, so there’s lots of vacancies."
"That’s cold."
"You won’t feel it. Penguins have lots of blubber."
"No, I… never mind. I don’t want to be a penguin."
"Then I’ll have to send you next door."
"OK, it’s been nice meeting you Vishnu."
"And you."
"I’d shake your hand, but I feel a bit outnumbered."
"That’s understandable."

I leave Vishnu's office and return to the corridor. I enter the next door on the left.


"Hi, Vishnu sent me, who are you?"
"I am Allah."
"Oh, I was told about you."
"Nothing bad I hope."
"Errr, yes, all good."
"What can I do you for?"
"I was wondering how I get into Muslim heaven?"
"You must obey, worship, and submit to me; you must be disciplined; and you must punish yourself by fasting during Ramadan."
"That all sounds very S&M."
"Get out."

I feel the full force of Allah's words and leave the office immediately.
"Well that sucked. I wonder who's through this door."

I step inside the next office and find an empty desk. "Hello? What’s this nameplate on the desk? Zeus? I wonder where he is. Oh, there’s a note… Due to budget cutbacks Zeus cannot be here right now. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please direct all queries to Anubis next door”. "Drat, I’d better see Anubis then."


"Hello Anubis, I’m looking for a… holy crap… you have the head of a jackal."
"Woof, woof."
The animal in front of me points to a scale of some sort. "What’s that you got boy? A weighing scale? What goes in there?"
"Woof" it points a finger at me.
"But I'm too big to fit in that little scale."
"Woof!!!" The animal shakes its head and pushes a finger against my chest.
"My heart? I’m not giving you my heart. We’ve only just met."
"Woof woof grrrr!!!" Anubis swiftly pulls a knife from his armor.
"Oh Christ! I mean Anubis! Sorry pooch, but my heart's in the right place."

I run into the corridor panting.
"Looks like I’m out of doors. I’ll try God again."

"Hey God, I talked with the others. They couldn’t help me either."
"Yes, that happens sometimes. You’ll have to wait in the corridor for a new position to open up."
"When will that happen?"
"When some wise ass dreams up a new religion with a new god and a new afterlife."
"That could take forever!"
"Not my problem kiddo."
"I demand to see your manager."
"You think I have a manager? I’m God."
"No, you’re a God. I’ve seen the others. I want to meet the one who fired Zeus."
"Oh her. She doesn’t like visitors and she won’t like you."
"What choice do I have? No-one can help me."
"You could let me judge you."
"No offence, but I don’t trust your judgement. Didn’t you flood the entire Earth, killing everyone?"
"That was the old me. I was a different god then. I became a right hippy two thousand years ago."
"Yea, well, I don’t want to end up in hell forever, so I think I'll pass."
"You could wait. Look, I’ll make a call and see if there are any new afterlives on the horizon."
"Shouldn’t you already know?"
"Don’t test me boy." God dials a number on his telephone and waits. "Hi, Dave, it’s me, God. I’ve got someone here asking for a different afterlife. You got any being cooked up down there?" A few moments pass. "Uh huh… oh, that’s interesting. I’ll let him know. Thanks Dave." God hangs up the phone and stares silently at his desk. I start getting impatient.
"Well?! What’s the gig?"
"Sorry, I was answering a prayer. Dave said the pantheists are looking good for it."
"How soon?"
"It could take a few years, but you should know that it won’t be your typical afterlife."
"What do you mean?"
"The pantheists have a strange way of looking at the universe. Basically, you’ll be disassembled and every part of you will fuse with every part of everyone and everything else. It’ll be like one massive orgy from which you cannot escape."
"I told Allah I’m not into that sort of thing. Is there anything else?"
"No, that’s all there is. Now if you don’t mind, I have prayers to answer and people to judge."
"Hold on, I still want to see your manager."
"I knew you were going to say that."
"Well you are God."
"She won’t be happy to see you."
"I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it."
"Oh boy, this isn’t going to be pretty. Alright, get ready."

I hear a loud zapping noise, after which I find myself floating in space. Apparently, being dead means you don't require oxygen. A bizarre sight greets me.


"Wow, what are you?"
"I’m Mother Nature."
"Why are you female?"
"Because some wise ass… never mind that, do you have a problem with me being female?"
"No, I really don’t. What I don’t understand is why you look like a supermassive black hole."
"Are you calling me fat?"
"No, oh God, this isn’t going well."
"He can’t hear you now. I look like a black hole because I’m always being shafted by people like you. I also happen to like eating star systems such as the one I’m currently pulling into my event horizon. Don’t worry yourself though; the people on those planets have their own afterlife department."
"Lucky them."
"Lucky indeed. None of them will feel a thing when they die. How many can say that?"
"Not many I suspect. Can I ask you something?"
"If you must."
"Well, I’ve been trying to get into an afterlife, but none of them will have me. Can I visit a different afterlife department?"
"You know, you’re not the first person to ask that."
"Really, who was the first?"
"Oh, God’s friend?"
"No, why would you think that?"
"I don’t know. I guess everyone knows a Dave. Anyway, err… can I?"
"Sure, but you won’t be happy. You’ll be the only human there."
"What about Dave? Isn’t he there too?"
"No, he hated it so much he converted to Hinduism and was reincarnated as a beaver."
"Ouch. Well, I want to try it. There must be an afterlife for me."
"Hold on, I’ll put you on one of the planets I’m gulping down. You’ll have to join the queue."
"How long is the queue?"
"About twenty billion souls long."
"What? No, stop! I can’t wait that long! Oh for the love of God!"

© 2015 Thomas Swan


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    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Carrie Lee Night 

      17 months ago from Northeast United States

      Excellent writing skills. Interesting imagination.

    • mandalinlady profile image


      23 months ago from Dover Delaware

      You kept me at the edge of my seat. I kept laughing though. But it kept you waiting for the right and happy ending. Like him coming back to God. But you gave this article great imagination and it was greatly entertaining. I really enjoyed it..

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      2 years ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Hilarious and entertaining. The presentation of reincarnation and existence of soul is well depicted.

      A nice entertaining reading.

    • Larry Fish profile image

      Larry W Fish 

      3 years ago from Raleigh

      That was masterful, Thomas. You had me in suspense and laughing at the same time. You have a great way with words. You should be very proud. I have to read more of your work.

    • rjbatty profile image


      5 years ago from Irvine

      Very clever stuff. I must have really enjoyed it because I wanted the adventure to continue to some final conclusion. You skipped over Buddhism and Taoism, and they might have been funny trips as well. Neither "religion" believes in a supreme being, so maybe understanding this, you cut them out deliberately.

    • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Swan 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Missy!

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Oh my goodness!! That was an amazing story! So imaginative. I'm kind of speechless. I enjoyed it so much I really don't know what to say but...Bravo!

      I'm definitely sharing!

    • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Swan 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Catherine! I think a sequel about living in an afterlife fit for aliens could make for some funny moments.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      6 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I can't bear the suspense. What happens next? Please do a sequel. I loved the very clever an humorous story. Voted up ++++

    • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Swan 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you the rawspirit, Kristen Howe, and Productwise for the kind and downright flattering comments! Cheers!

    • the rawspirit profile image

      Robert Morgan 

      6 years ago from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert AZ

      This is one of the best hubs I have ever read. Gave me a little bit of an ouch!!! But, you know how to get your point across and make us all smile while you are doing it. Great job. Vote up, heck I would vote this Hub of the year lol. Best you. Bobby

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      6 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thomas, this was a great short story. It was a bit of humor to it. Voted up for awesome!

    • profile image

      Ismael Morelles 

      6 years ago from UNITED STATES

      funny post. Thanks for sharing this my friend.

    • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Swan 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you Venkatachari M, glad you liked it.

      Cheers bizarrett81 for reading and liking. Clever and entertaining is what I was going for!

      Thanks Jonas! Someone I follow here gave me the idea with one of their hubs, but that was a very Christian perspective. A longer version would be fun. I was trying to channel Douglas Adams a bit with this, and that guy could write!

    • profile image

      Jonas Rodrigo 

      6 years ago

      Funny! God and mother nature having voices (and appearing humane) was a good idea. This has the stuff that can possibly make it in a longer version.

    • bizarrett81 profile image

      Elizabeth Barrett Kearney 

      6 years ago from Maine

      Clever and entertaining! I really enjoyed this. Especially "the one who can't think of a name for himself?" Lol voted up :-)

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      6 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting story. Enjoyed a lot.

    • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Swan 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Savvydating, thank you for the kind comment. You're quite right about the name. I think he's also been called Yahweh and Jehovah. I guess God is his most popular name these days though.

      Say yes to life. Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! I'm not familiar with that site.

      Cheers Flipsgeraldine, I suppose I didn't go much beyond what happens immediately after death. I guess the next step would be to create an afterlife for aliens.

    • Flipsgeraldine profile image

      Yvette Marshall 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Nice dialogue but you never answered the question...I guess we can never answer that question.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      6 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      Fabulous! I wonder if the near-death experience site will take it!

    • savvydating profile image


      6 years ago

      I must say this story is very clever. Awfully clever. That being said, Vishnu had it wrong. The Hebrews often referred to God as Elohim (of elohim), meaning God of gods. She could call him that, although she might not want to share the spotlight since she is technically an elohim too---just not with a capital E.

      Voting funny. Even if I am a am not agnostic or athieist, I can appreciate your writing style.

    • Thomas Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Swan 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Cheers Chris, Buildreps, Colleen, and Austinstar for your comments! Hub of the year? I wish! Thank you also Austin for the source and info. That's more than I thought. I expect you're quite right, but that would have been a long story!

    • Austinstar profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      Wait! " claims to have figures for 4,200 religious groups currently existing on Earth." And I think each one of those groups has their own god or gods. Although, I'll grant you, Mother Earth is a last resort!

      At least you didn't find the door for Huitzilopotzli, the Aztec god of war. He loves to rip out your still beating heart and eat it!

    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 

      6 years ago from County Durham

      This is a humorous and must read, well done Tom.

    • Buildreps profile image


      6 years ago from Europe

      Hahahahaha that was really very funny! If I have the opportunity I will propose this for the Hub of the Year... :)

    • Chris Antonaros profile image

      Christos Antonaros 

      6 years ago from Athens, Greece

      That was funny! Very interesting dialogues! Good job!


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