The Moment After Death

Writing prompt: All religions are real and the world just ended.

How did I get here? Jake looked around at the surrounding people packed into the white abyss. Slowly he was being shoved towards the same direction as the person in front of him. The last thing he remembered was a sudden blast then, Poof! Here he was alongside thousands.

There has to be some kind of mistake, He continued to think as he suddenly heard several shouts in front. The closer he got, the louder they had become as several people stood holding signs and waving their arms.

“Christians over here! Line up in the denomination once you’ve reached the markers!”

“Buddhists this way. You can choose your reincarnation after having tea and a group meditation!”

Jake stopped, allowing several people to push past as they began to herd towards the shooting men on stands, boxes and even rocks that lined against several gates, halls and building entrances. They were dressed in robes of different colours, sizes and even emblems related to each religion. To his belief, it reminded him of a university club week trying to recruit members for their activities. Jake made his way towards the closest man who was standing under a booth. The sign above was blurry as it shimmered with different symbols and characters before clearing up into a language he understood. It read, “Information booth.”

Jake waited until the man finished pointing to the lost soul before stepping up to inquire about his own fate. “Good Sir, I-“

The robed man interrupted. “Oh no no, I am not good. I am neutral. How may I help you?”

Jake bit his tongue a moment before giving it a shake. What an odd person!

“Hi, I am a little confused about what is going on here!”

Without hesitation, he replied to Jake.

“Well, you are dead. Which faith, belief or ideal did you follow in your life?”

Jake blinked for a moment. How could this man be so blunt!

“Wait what?”

The being before him gave a small sigh while giving a sympathetic smile. “This is the gates to your end. Everyone has different thoughts and believes and we are here to help direct them to the appropriate one.”

Jake shook his head. “What if they aren’t sure and change their mind?”

The man pointed towards a building behind them and to the side, one Jake didn’t see before on his way. “That there is a presentation where you can see the benefits and information clearly. Sometimes down on Earth, it gets a little muddied by changes and misinterpretations.  For those who are still unsure, they can stand by the gates in a waiting area to observe until they have decided.”

Jake scratched at his head. “But what of those who believed in hell and satan? If they know they are going to be judged harshly and meet their demise, why would they choose that!”

The man chortled. “Oh, you mortals. Fear isn’t always the driving factor to the decisions made in your lives. That you can clear up when you meet the doorkeeper where he can judge your life. Either you believe you were “good” or “bad” is all placed on a biased perspective. All we care about is making sure you get to the right place you want to be.”

“Well can I leave if I change my mind?”

The man scoffed, throwing his hands up. “Well of course! Seems kind of silly to stay in one place forever! Of course, you need to meet the requirements or terms needed before making religion changeovers, but that will be covered by the gatekeeper as well when he gives you the pamphlet.”

Jake stood perplexed. Was everything really that easy compared to what they believed on earth?

“Well, what if I was an atheist?”

The being lightened up. “Oh, well if you didn’t believe in any of the religions, then you must be the new helper! Take a robe of any colour and see who needs help ushering the lost souls to the right gate. You will figure out things fine. If you need anything else, let me know!”

And with that, Jake looked at the lined boxes behind the booth and picked a robe. What a strange place this is. He donned his robe and off he went to help the people.

Overtaking Kings

Kicking the doors open, Athello stepped into the vast empty halls prepared, his companions beside him as they stood at the ready. This was the moment he was waiting for as the battle spread across the castle. He fought long and finally the tyrant king would be brought to justice. At the end of the long hall, sat the king. His crown brightly glinting on the top of his head, his robes neatly pressed and cleaned. He was magnificent to behold, as the rumors had rang true. King Galford was a beast of a man as he sat waiting, holding the arms of the grand chair as the light of the torches gave him a sinister appeal. Holding his hand to halt his comrades, Athello walked forward alone. It was a long stretch from the door to the chair as his footsteps echoed off the walls. 

Time itself seemed to stop as Athello’s body shifted into that of a different being. The embodiment of Chaos stepped out from the shell of the man while he smiled mockingly. With a grand gesture, he opened his arms wide as if to accept an embrace from the king. Stopping with still space between them, he called out to him.

“It has been a while, Order. Or shall I call you ‘Brother’?”

Hiding a wince, the king grumbled. “Chaos. I should have known you would have been behind this all.”

Chuckling, Chaos dropped his arms as he took upon his true name. “Yes, it wasn’t hard to find you. Being that it was always easy to seek you out. To come and destroy what you have built so meticulously. Although, I must say, you did a fine job making it difficult at first.”

Order gripped with white knuckles at the King’s chair. “And what was it this time that called you out of your hole? Was it the structure of peace between the other countries? The strong alliances of nobles and their resources? Surely there was no reason to besmirch my efforts.” 

Standing up the king waved his hand off towards the farmlands he knew laid in the far distance for his window. 

“I have made this kingdom more prosperous than it has ever been. Our lands are rich in soil and abundant in harvest. We have ships and armies that could conquer our enemies and change the way of things.” 

Order took a few steps towards the wall, placing his hands behind his back as he stood with such regal beauty. With a heavy heart, he sighed as he closed his eyes. “Everything was going according to plan, so why must you bring your influence here?”

Tiptoeing towards the King, Chaos giggled like a child. “Because it was not ‘free’ brother. Your obsession of influence was stifling.” 

Dramatically sliding the rest of the way to stand beside Order, Chaos conjured with his hand across the wall, sharing the image of the castle from afar.

“You see prosperity, I see devastation. The people of the lands were suffering while the rich were feasting and plumpening up.To see those who work their hands to the bone, tilling the soil with blood and tears while those who were born into better lives sit on the carcasses of the hard working. Fat pigs on fertilizer, they stop the innocent into the ground and to their deaths.” 

The image flashed as it showed the farmers in their fields, weak and frail, some passing out from the heat. From there it showed carts full of those who have died from hunger and starvation. The king gruffed. 

“This is necessary to build. Without their sacrifices, we could accomplish nothing. They provided food for the soldiers to fight and keep peace.”

The image flashed to the guards enforcing the time curfew as well as beating those who could not pay taxes.

“What about the suppression? Adding the curfew to those who wandered around the streets? How the people feed the armies that in turn beat and assault them?”

Order turned snarling, “I gave them a choice! Offering help to those in need and asking only of them to work. Instead they lazed about and drank away their gains, gambled their fortunes and whored at the brothels. They refused to listen so I gave them guidelines to reconstruct their failures. The weak are only in their will, abiding by the rules would have saved them.” 

Chaos tilted his head, curious to learn more. “And yet they starve, unable to provide more than what was taken from them. Death tolls increasing, food stores drying up and yet the nobles throw parties. Even while you throw balls and festivals, doing the very thing you punish your people for.”

With a dominating presence, Order pointed his finger up towards Chaos. 

“Since when did you care for the people and suppression? Are you not the one that brings misery to those around you? To hurt the innocent bystanders in your war as you trampled them at the gate? Had they listened to me there would have been no death or blood shed. Harmony alongside others. We could accomplish great things and yet they turn their backs on those they do not know!”

Chaos swung his sword in hand, playfully as the sound whirled around it. “It is as you would say part of the cycle. It’s not about the death’s or emotions of those involved. If not for your disturbance in the balance, there would be no need for either mine or your influence. Your power had over reached its limits, giving me power. The power to pull at the small tethers of rebellion in the hearts of the free wills. Without my chaos, there could never be order. Your power is to keep those in line, yet when that line is to narrow it is hard to keep a strong step. The bridge over the water would crumble as those trying to cross would parish. The lines of power are too much push and no pull.” 

Order fumed, his fists clenched tightly as he held dearly to the body of the king. “Everything was fine! I was so close to perfection and beginning this world to a new order! Laws and expectations finally match! The only influence you brought was to undermine my greatness!

Placing a hand on Order’s shoulder, Chaos gave him a tender smile while trying to calm him. 

“I am not destroying your work, Dear brother. I am only helping encourage it. With my help you can rebuild again, stronger and more unwavering than before. The slate will wipe clean and a new path reborn.” 

Order held stern to Chao’s eyes, shaking in his anger only for a moment. Had he been blind to how out of control of the influence he had been? Scanning the sincerity of his brother’s face, he looked back to the images of the present. The pain of the people unable to keep up and the gluttony of the ones who rode on their backs. It was not his plan at all as he defeatedly dropped his hand to his side. Yes, his brother had been right to come and cleanse the land of this terror that had ruled over them all. He had been so blind and focused on the goals that he had truly lost sight of the real goal he had come to achieve. The utopia he sought to bring had fallen short and the glass had now shattered. Looking back to Chaos, Order accepted his fate as the skin of the King faded away. There in a golden glow was Order’s true form. 

“You are right, little brother. You were always right. I have overstayed my time, warped the minds of the people. Please forgive my shortcomings and may you do better to succeed in my stead.”

Reaching out to grasp his brother’s shoulder, Order smiled with care as they held each other. “It was good to see you once more brother. Next time I shall make it more exciting for you and not keep you too far out of reach.”

Chaos smiled brightly, nodding proudly. 

“I await with anticipation.”

It was a flash as the peasant cupped the back of the King’s head, thrusting the sword deep into the rib cage and into the heart. Chaos looked down to see the sword thrusted into him, his appearance shaping back into that of King Galford. He looked up as Order held strong unto the hilt, the shape of Athello covering his face. King Galford coughed up blood as it dribbled down his chin. Athello grabbed tight to the King’s body as he helped him lay down to the ground. They watched each other as the life seeped out of Galford’s eyes. Waiting a few moments more as the air finally let loose from his lungs, Athello ripped his blade from the body and stood up. Looking down at the now dead King, he nodded with solemn eyes. “Goodbye brother. I will miss these family meetings.”

Athello turned to the men by the door as they cheered. The tyrant king now slain and a new leader born as Athello took the crown from the body and placed it upon his head. The war had ended as they exchanged the hands of power. As Athello now became ruler of the land, he stood on the steps of the castle as he took in the faces of the people who fought beside him.

“The King is dead! And I in his stead will lead us to the new beginnings! I will bring order and peace, as we rebuild what the king had destroyed. This time, I will do it right.”The crowd’s cheer was deafening as Athello looked out across the sea of people. Order smirked with determination. Yes, I will do it right this time.