This fictional short story was inspired by C.S. Lewis’s book “The Screwtape Letters.” This story is entirely fiction. The characters and places in this story are made up. The Bible doesn’t necessarily go into detail about what happens after we die, so I made up some of the concepts and scenarios. You could potentially consider this an introduction into “The Screwtape Letters” when Mr. Wormwood has to deal with a new Christian convert. I hope you enjoy the story.
Is time so trivial? I once thought so.
My wife shook me awake one morning. My eyes–open, but glazed–slowly began to adjust to what I perceived to be morning. Slowly, her face began to focus and I recognized the playfulness in her eyes.
“Wake up, goofy head!” she said smiling.
I returned the smile and began to stretch my various limbs beneath the warm comforter. After stretching, I began to relax and felt myself drifting back into sleep.
In an instant, my warmth was gone and I was left bare to the frigid world.
“Get up Alex,” my wife sternly said, but still having a playful tone.
I let out a loud groan and sigh, but eventually got out of bed. My wife scurried downstairs.
Looking at the time, I realized it was nine in the morning. The day was Sunday, so I knew I had about thirty minutes to get ready for church services before heading out. Our church started at ten.
My wife was already dressed, but had yet to do her effects (hair, make-up, shoes, etc.). She had went downstairs to begin making some scrambled eggs and toast for us to eat.
“Hurry up and take your shower,” she yelled at me from downstairs, “I’ll have breakfast ready by the time you get out.”
I headed towards our up-stairs bathroom and began basking in the warm water of a shower. After the shower, I quickly got dressed and headed downstairs to the dining room to eat my breakfast. My place at the table was already set. My wife had already finished her breakfast and was putting the finishing touches on her make-up.
While I ate, I could hear the low groans of our settling house. We had no kids, so the house was eerily quiet at times. Sometimes it got so quiet I would turn on the radio or TV in order to balance out the quietness.
I finished breakfast and placed my dishes into the dishwasher in the kitchen. I walked up the stairs to the same bathroom and began brushing my teeth and combing my hair. My wife was already in the bathroom applying her make-up.
I looked at my watch. The time read 9:25 a.m.
“We’ve gotta get goin’ hon,” I said to my wife.
Applying mascara, my wife replied while still looking in the mirror, “Almost ready.”
“Ok,” I said rather impatiently, “I’ll meet you downstairs.”
I headed downstairs and located my wallet and car keys. I looked at my watch again (9:26 a.m.). Growing impatient, I decided just to sit on my couch in the living room and close my eyes.
After what seemed like forever, my wife came down the stairs. I looked at my watch, which now read 9:40 a.m.
“Sorry,” My wife said, observing me looking at my watch.
I didn’t say anything, but she could see I was a little upset. I hated being late. We headed out to our vehicle and began the drive to church. We arrived at a little past ten, but we weren’t late by church terms. For some reason, our church had a habit of never starting on time. I guess sometimes that bad habit worked out in our favor.
The church we went to was fairly small. It seated about a hundred and fifty people. The sanctuary had three columns of pews, with about ten pews per column. There were two doors that enabled entry into the sanctuary, both at the start of the walkways created by the gaps in the columns.
To walk into the sanctuary, we first had to walk through the church foyer. I always regretted this because I was not a morning person and I would inevitably end up talking to someone that was.
Since we were somewhat late, I didn’t run into the problem of meeting people in the foyer. My wife and I walked through the foyer and cautiously entered the sanctuary just in case services had indeed started. They had not. The sanctuary was crowded, with most of the pews filled. We decided to sit in a back pew near the aisle.
Soon after we sat down, services began. Church started by the singing of some hymns. After the hymns, the ushers began passing around baskets for the offering.
After the church collected the offering (or the pastors, elders, and deacons collected their weekly salary), the preacher walked from another door leading into the sanctuary–although not from the foyer–and began his journey to the pulpit. The crowd sat silent, with the occasional cough and seat-shifting.
The preacher wasn’t the stereotypical preacher. He was rather young; He was in his mid-thirties. He had a beautiful wife and two toddlers. He was definitely a preacher, as opposed to a teacher. His love of preaching over teaching didn’t both me any. I just liked to sit there and listen to him rant about what was bothering him this week, and was fairly amused at his attempts to back up his musings with scripture from the Bible.
It’s not that I didn’t think of our pastor as a man of God. I felt the pastor used the pulpit as his soapbox. If he saw something negative on TV, he’d preach about the media. If the church didn’t get enough money, he’d give everyone a guilt trip and preach about giving. God forbid if someone hit on his wife; we once receive a two-part sermon on adultery.
His rant today seemed to be about driving.
“How many of you have been cut off on the freeway?”
I chuckled to myself as I saw a handful of people raise their hands. Someone must have made the pastor mad while he was driving.
He continued, confirming my hypothesis, “Because someone cut me off yesterday and I wasn’t too happy about it.”
First life fact from his last statement: He didn’t write his sermon until yesterday. Our pastor is a procrastinator. I smiled to myself at this discovered revelation.
“The sad thing,” My pastor elaborated, “Was that the car had a ‘What Would Jesus Do’ sticker on the bumper.”
The pastor went on, “As I prayed to the same God as the rude people who cut me off, I couldn’t help but to think of what a bad example that driver was to the Christian religion.”
“Let me guess…” I thought to myself, “The pastor followed the driver home, but in order to keep up with the driver, the pastor had to break several laws and be a bad example himself to the Christian religion.”
The pastor interrupted my thoughts, “I was about to follow him home, when something hit me.”
The crowd gasped at his poor word-usage. I knew what he meant.
“Not literally.” The smiling pastor said, correcting himself, “But something came to mind that perhaps I have no right to tell other Christians how to behave.”
Amen! Our pastor just talked himself out of a career.
As I laughed to myself at the pastor’s expense, I felt utterly uncomfortable. I couldn’t locate my discomfort, but felt rather uneasy. I looked up at the pastor, and he appeared to be frozen in mid-sentence. Was this some kind of joke?
I felt that the room was eerily quiet. I was afraid that perhaps some of my thoughts and laugher had been made out loud. Did I say my comment out loud? I questioned myself.
I looked up from my thoughts and observed almost everyone facing towards the pastor. The pastor himself wasn’t moving, still paused in mid-sentence. In fact, nobody in the room was moving. I couldn’t hear anything, not even the traffic on the roadways or in the air. It was as if my entire world had been put on pause.
I looked at the figure next to me that was my wife. She appeared to be in-between blinks because her eyes were closed. Growing more uncomfortable, I got up and walked towards the pulpit. I viewed the church from the pastor’s perspective. I saw a bunch of well-dressed, mannequin-like figures. The entire congregation was still.
I sat down next to the pulpit when I heard the far-left door–a door leading from the foyer into the sanctuary–open. A man walked through the door and stopped at a distance halfway from the door and the pulpit. He just stared at me.
The man finally spoke, “Come with me, Alex.”
I was startled. Not only was my world paused, but a stranger had just walked into the church and knew my name.
Astonished that he knew my name, I asked, “Who are you?”
“My name is Alias. I have been your personal care-taker.”
“You mean,” Half believing what I was asking, “That you’re my guardian angel?”
Alias smirked, “You could say something like that.”
I looked around, the room still quiet, “Why is everyone so still?”
Alias explained rather matter-of-factly, “You’re dead now. You are no longer in their world of time and have entered into the Father’s presence.”
Father? What did he mean? I probed for an answer, “By Father… You mean God?”
“No.” Alias said with a childish laugh, “Your real father. The one I’ve been preparing you to see.”
My words stumbled, “S-S-Satan?”
Correcting me, Alias stated, “Satan is the word the Enemy, or who you refer to as God, has given our Father. The Enemy is very good at propaganda against our Father.”
Continuing, Alias suggested, “Our father is a really good guy, which is why I want to take you to him. He is not one to turn people away, unlike our arrogant Enemy.”
“Our enemy?” I asked, seeking clarification.
“You have chosen to fight with our Father. We are both united against the Enemy.”
I pleaded, “I don’t want to fight God. I want to go back with my wife.”
“I’ve already told you. You have left that world. You have made your choice. You no longer exist in time and cannot go back.”
I argued, “But if I was taken out of time, I can be put back in.”
“Only the Enemy and his minions, and our Father and his angels can enter in and out of time.”
“That can’t be true!” I argued further.
Changing the subject, Alias reiterated, “Look, the Father is anxious to see you. He’s expecting you.”
Being a smart aleck, I replied, “Well, since he’s out of the time domain, he’s not exactly on a tight schedule.”
This comment appeared to anger Alias. He walked closer.
Sensing danger, I reached for a nearby Bible on the pulpit. I held up the Bible while yelling, “Get away from me!”
“What are you going to do with that?” Alias asked, mocking me, “Hurl it at me?”
“You’re not even supposed to be in a church. You’re a demon on Holy ground.”
Alias walked closer, “You think I’m scared of a church? Churches do most of our work. I don’t mind visiting the Father’s factories.”
Factories? How dare he refer to the church as Satan’s factory!
“Just as the Enemy uses churches for his purpose, we use churches for ours. Church bodies grow arrogant, turn people away, or make going to church a joke and gab fest.”
“No, that’s not true!”
“Your pastor is one of us.”
I denied it, “He’s a Christian!”
“He may be the Enemy’s property, but his thoughts and actions belong to us.”
Alias approached the pulpit, grabbing the pastor’s still hand, “Good job pastor… One more for the Father.”
Still in denial, I screamed, “I don’t believe you! The pastor is not one of you!”
“You’re here,” Alias said calmly. “That’s evidence enough.”
“God will prove you wrong,” I firmly stated.
Alias smirked, “But God is a joke to you.”
I repeated myself firmly, “God will prove you wrong.”
“We’ll see,” Alias said, grabbing my arm tightly, “Come with me.”
I resisted, but could not break free from his grip. He began dragging me from the pulpit. I clawed at the floor and passing pews, but his strength was too strong.
Alias stopped at the door leading to the foyer and looked around at the congregation, “They can’t save you.”
Alias walked through the door, with me dragging behind him. I could feel a force preventing me from going through the door. Alias yanked my arm with all his might. I felt like my arm was going to be pulled out of its socket.
The force seemed to be grabbing at my legs, pulling me towards the pulpit. I was in a tug-of-war between Alias and some unseen force. The force seemed to be winning, as Alias was forced back into the sanctuary.
Alias let go. I dropped to the floor with a thud.
Alias spoke, “We’re not done yet.”
I closed my eyes, and nothingness surrounded me.
I awoke in a hospital room, with my wife asleep in a chair next to my bed. I could hear the beeping sound that represented my heartbeat, as well as the rush of medical staff in the hallway. My wife must have sensed that I was awake. She opened her eyes.
“How you feeling?” my wife asked.
Looking around, I asked, “What happened?”
She explained, “You had a pretty bad heart attack. You died right next to me.”
She went on, “The pastor yelled for someone to dial 911 and just stayed at his pulpit, stunned. Nobody moved. It was as if no one knew how to react.”
“I bet,” I said, imaging what it must have been like.
“Then…” She explained further, “A lady behind you laid her hand on your shoulder and began praying for you. The pastor began praying, and soon everyone was just praying.”
“Praying for me?” I asked.
“Yep. Praying for you,” my wife said smiling.
I returned the smile and asked sarcastically, “I’m assuming it worked.”
My wife laughed, “You never regained consciousness, but the paramedics said your heart was fine when they got there. I was shocked. I checked your pulse and everything and could feel nothing.”
I sat dumbfounded. I was saved by the prayers of my church, and the pastor that was supposedly working against me.
“Honey,” I said looking at my wife, “There’s something I need to tell you.”
“What, baby?” she asked.
I confessed, “I’m not a Christian.”
She sat quietly for a moment, not knowing what to say. Finally, she spoke up, “Well… Would you like to change that?”
I smiled and looked towards the heavens, “Yeah.”
Somewhere, I knew Alias was shuddering.