by Jake Christie

a story.

He woke up, or something like it, and knew immediately that he was dead.

There were a few pieces of evidence that led him to this conclusion. First, he'd been someplace completely different just moments before. He'd been piloting his spaceship between the fourth and fifth planets of Zug, surrounded by black specked with white stars, whereas now he was surrounded by a calming, seemingly endless blue. Second, his alarm systems had all blared to life in the intervening moments between the black of the Zug system and the blue of now, announcing that his ship was about to explode and that he was about to die.

Third, and perhaps most convincingly, he was now staring at a being he recognized instantly as God.

“Hello,” said the spaceship pilot.

“Hello,” said God.

The spaceship pilot hadn't believed in God just moments before, and with good reason. Across the civilized systems of the galaxy there were hundreds of religions, sects, cults, and denominations, and they all had wildly differing views about deities, doctrines, and the afterlife. There were too many interpretations to count, let alone choose, so the pilot simply hadn't. Now, faced with God Himself, he was quick to come around to the idea of His existence. He'd seen aliens large and small, of unspeakable beauty and unimaginable horror; he'd been to planets on opposite sides of the galaxy, with acid waterfalls and twin suns and purple fields and singing flora; he'd watched scientists bend time and space and race ahead of beams of light. So why not a God?

“Nice to meet you,” said the pilot. “Is this the afterlife?”

“Yes,” said God, “this is the afterlife for every being in the universe, believers and non-believers alike. You'll find there are no problems to trouble you here. No pain, no hunger, no sadness. Infinite bliss. Except for the screams, it's quite a pleasant way to spend eternity.” As if on cue, a scream echoed across the expanse, then faded as the screamer retreated into the calming blueness.

“What was that?” said the pilot.

“Human beings,” said God, “from some uncivilized backwater planet that hasn't yet mastered space travel. Harmless enough, but for some reason they always show up expecting a pale old biped with a beard.”

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