A short story about meeting the gatekeeper of hell and the deal he claims he wants to make
|By Will Dursens
As the dark of the night began to brighten up once again, I noticed that the light was a bit different than just the normal daylight as I had been used to.
Instead of being a light of brightness, the dark was opening to a hazing light that was highlighted by a tint of red.
It was then I heard the incredibly rich, deep, powerful laugh that took over the quiet of the moment. A laugh that was both incredibly enriching while at the same moment a bit intimidating.
“Welcome to the gateway of the grand world of HELL,” said the voice of the person coming to view from within the haze. “I assume you must be Steven Hayswood?”
Cautiously I kept silent until I was hopefully able to view more of the individual behind the voice, but unfortunately the haze would not lift enough to make a full view of the person or thing with the voice. Instead, all I had was a rather tall, maybe around six-feet-eight, well-muscled figure with a strangely sizable head that was shaped like a disjointed triangle.
“Well – are you not who I said you were?” commanded the voice.
I stood up straight and took a hold of my emotions while trying to show strength and no intimidation by responding, “If you already know who I may be than why would you need to ask? And why if you are so immensely proud of this so-called gateway to the world of hell are you hiding within a haze of illusion and wonder?”
Throwing his arms across his chest in another attempt to present more of an intimidating presence, the voice sternly noted, “Yep, they warned us that you do not shy away from confrontations and can or will be a bit of a smart ass in your responses. I like that in a person. But I think you know why I already know who you are as you are one that believes in either heaven or hell and it should be obvious which gateway this is. This is no illusion, but truly the gateway to the GRAND (he made sure to emphasis that he thought his domain was better) WORLD OF HELL!”
“Yes, I do believe in heaven and hell,” I replied rather sternly. “So, if this is truly hell, then why are you not revealing the opening to me in much more grandeur way? Do I intimidate you?”
That response brought a hearty laugh in return before he spoke again, adding, “Why should I be intimidated by you, do you think you are Jesus Christ himself? I do not think so. But I will say that the word is – you are a borderline candidate for the grand world of hell and I, as the gatekeeper, have been ordered to give you the opportunity to turn back and avoid all the wonders, the joys, the embellishment as well as the harsh standards of our world.”
Now that information raised questions in my mind, like what did I do in life to end up so close to the walkway of hell and so distant from the glories of heaven?
After taking a moment to gather my thoughts I again sternly responded by saying, “Nope, Jesus Christ I am not, and it isn’t even close as he was and always will be one of a kind to represent the glories of heaven. While I am very much aware that my life did not go as I had hoped or planned, and yes, while I did not lean or discuss my walk with the glory of the above, I was hoping that I could still walk through into the glory of heaven by the hope I always tried to embellish, the faith for which I never let out of my grasp and heart, the love I shared with so many that traveled my life journey with me and the grace for which I was given through the words of the great spirits.”
Those words must have hit a chord with the man in the haze as I saw his hands throw up into the air before grasping his head around his ears as if in sudden and great pain.
“Damn you Hayswood,” shouted the voice. “You are just what they say you would be and that means you are just too solid a person to enter our hollow gateway of hell because if you did you would intimidate too many and possible throw the whole scheme of hell out of balance.”
With that I just stood as tall as I could and threw a huge smile of confidence back at him.
“Because of those truths which you speak of, my brother, the king of hell, has instructed me to give you an opportunity to help us deal with borderline crossovers like you,” added the voice.
As I brought my hands together to my chin almost as if I was entering a moment of prayer or meditation, I then drew them outward toward the voice, pointed all fingers and thumbs his way as I gave him another stern word, “Ok, then what is it that I may be of help to you and the world of hell as you see it? What could I possible help you with that would even remotely help both you folks from hell as well as the glories of the Great Spirits?”
“We want to strike a deal with those Great Spirits as you call them by giving folks like you to another avenue of their first steps of afterlife,” explained the voice in a much more subdued tone than previous. “We would call it the World of Heck. You know like that phrase so many like to use in the earthly world – ‘how the heck did I get here’.”
I took a step back as the idea seemed to be so organized and so out of the ordinary for what many saw as the whole concept of hell and what it normally entails. Never in my time of study about heaven and hell would I have ever considered a deal being made as if they were politicians in Washington.
“Okay, so let us say that I might be interested in the idea of helping,” I slowly spit the words out even as I thought of just how un-godly it seemed to be that I would be in any way helping anyone from hell. “Just what would it be that you want me to do?”
Putting his hands on his waist, the figure representing the voice continued his plea by saying, “We are willing to give those folks that may be some what like you another opportunity. Let us call it a get out of hell card.”
“What, you are attempting to make heaven and hell like a game of monopoly? I would think there is a whole lot more at stake than just some fictitious names of streets and play money.”
Sounding a bit more witchy now, the voice added, “Oh it would indeed put a lot at stake for those individuals. But even us in the grand world of hell know what a pain in the ass a slightly more ‘goodie two shoes’ is than a ‘hell raising devil type’ can be when they enter our enduring world. We just want to, let us say give them a second chance, an opportunity to right some wrongs so they can end up spending eternity in a world they are better suited for or rightly deserve instead of what we would have instore for them.”
“So, what you are asking is for me to give you directions for like a mid-world to work with, where one can see where they went astray and then show what kind of an individual they really are than what they seem to appear from an outer view?”
Now smiling, the voice responded, “Exactly. You are already heading in the right direction. Just give us a game plan on what would determine how one would end up in heck instead of going straight to hell while also giving us several ways for which we can punish or establish them for falling in the middle? Ways for which the final decision could be made as to whether they end up in what many of you call the glories of heaven or spending eternity enjoying the grand self-absorbing world of hell.”
Now the concept is a highly interesting direction of thought and viewpoint, but what would be in it for the leaders of hell for having such a spot or opportunity to be even considered is not like anything of the hell for which I have read or studied for I never dreamed they would be seemingly anything like cooperative, but instead would be jumping on anyone who fails in life and falls anywhere close to the gateway to their world.
“Oh, I not only think the idea or concept of a mid-world sort of destination is not just a good one, but it could also may be one that already exists and maybe we just do not know it yet,” I noted with a noticeably confident tone in my voice. “I think the question I should be asking first is, just what does the world you claim is so wonderful get out of such an idea of giving others a second chance or like you said, a ‘get out of hell card’?”
Within the haze I could see that this body, this thing with the voice understood my question and knew I had a strong point to be made.
“Yep, you Steven Hayswood are just what we expected when we got the latest list of possible arrivals to our world and with that, I do believe that you already know the answer but just want me to admit to the possible idea that those borderline arrivals have become a nuisance. They seem to find that strength of faith and hope that so many felt they had wandered away from in the world of the living, and then they use that strength to combat all the self-absorbing, greedy, lustful opportunities that come their way in our world, making it miserable upon the leaders of our world to get their duties done without worrying about others turning on them as well.”
Got him is what I thought as I listened to his words, I knew that those many borderline believers in the high standards of faith, hope, love, and grace taught to us by the Great Spirits may have slipped through the cracks of our world but at the final moment of eternal destiny may have found that strength once again that comes from utmost belief in the leadership of the Great Spirits.
The voice continued, “Yep, I can see in your face and body that you think you got me, but don’t be so sure about that. One of the reasons one ends up at the gateway to our grand world of hell is by being selfish or humanly weak, by caving in to urges that block the unselfish, actions of belief your so-called Great Spirits require. Our issue is with those who may have caved into those urges and suffered but may have realized the error in their ways and maybe were working on correcting them before the issue of eternity pulled their name up and put them on the dividing road between the two worlds of hell and heaven.”
With that I had to point out something which I grew to believe, noting, “So, you do understand that even though one has fallen to those urges of selfishness, greed and more, they can still redeem themselves when they see and understand the true benefits of holding on to faith, hope, love and continually reaching for grace which is our true ticket to heaven.”
For the first time, what I could make out of the face to the voice began to present a look of not so much defeat but disappointment.
I continued by adding, “If you want a level in between our two worlds of eternity, this so-called world of heck would be appropriate if heck stood for the following: H – would be HOPE for redemption; E – would be for the EFFORT to ask for forgiveness; C – would stand for the COMFORT we get knowing that Grace is always available from the Great Spirits; and K – obviously stands for the KNOWLEDGE that the love from the Great Spirits is unconditional and highly forgiving.”
Now the face of the voice bent downward with a frustrating look of near defeat, as he did not seem happy with the reflection of expectations and direction our entire discussion seemingly took.
Raising his head slowly, the voice readied with a response to my chat and as he twisted his neck with wrenching sounds of bones cracking, he said, “You are a true believer in the Great Spirits for which guard all living things with such crazy love and grace. You, Steven Hayswood, are truly the kind of individual spirit that should not be anywhere close to our grand gateway to hell. You should have been the user of the abilities you had to convey those traits so treasured by the Great Spirits
and so despised by the selfish, greedy, lustful leaders of our world of glory.”
As he spoke, I realized he knew me, he knew my travels of life, he knew that at one point in my life I turned away from the travels of pastoring because of fear that I could not live up to the expectations of my predecessors like my father and grandfather, he knew.
Before I could reply, the voice raised his left arm and pointed the palm of that wickedly abstracted hand of his as if to say stop, “Do not finish following your thoughts as I know those fears you felt so many years ago. Those fears that you let turn your life down a road of constant distractions and disruptions. Those fears for which along the way you confronted but never forgave, but now it seems that forgiveness has arrived for you and your soul. Let your soul be treasured by the Great Spirits as they deserve you much more than you deserve to enter our gates of hell.”
With that I knew I had defeated the keeper of this gateway to hell and with a smile I left him with a suggestion, “That is true, my fears were allowed to overtake my life and the road I followed to the point that fear overshadowed ever opportunity I may have had to lead others with my Great Spirit style of living. So, with this I tell you ‘Shalom’ and maybe I will become the caretaker of that world in between, the one you want to call heck, so that I can truly show those individuals on the borderline as you call it, the true differences to enjoying the glories of love in heaven as to the grand illusions you call hell and save them in their final moments before entering the non-returnable road of eternity.”
With those words, the body with the voice began to shudder and I could hear a painful sounding growl growing from within until……
GOOD MORNING, THE TIME IS 7:30 A.M. and IT IS TIME TO RISE AND SHINE FOR ANOTHER DAY OF EARTHLY SUNSHINE, BLUE SKIES AND ENOUGH WIND TO BLOW YOUR SOCKS OFF.
I shook my head, relaxed for a moment before opening my eyes and realizing that yes I had been blessed with another day of opportunities on this gift I call earth, opportunities to enjoy the love, faith, hope and grace found with a life of true belief while taking a short moment to exclaim much relief that maybe it was only a really intense, dream - one which, if fortunate, I will not visit again anytime soon. But then again maybe it was a new awakening, guess I have given my soul and mind something to consider and work on, but for now I am ready for some toast and orange juice.
(Copyright@2021, CrossDove Writers/Will Dursens)