That was the sound that awoke Benjamin from his death. Thank goodness, too, since it had been over a month since his funeral and already insects were beginning to get through the sides of his casket.
“Who is that? Where am I?” he asked the sound.
“You’ve died and are now in a coffin. Don’t worry about who I am. Just push the casket open.”
Benjamin pushed, but to no avail.
“It’s not opening,” he said, unsurprised (being the age he was) by the news of his death.
“Don’t push the top door of the casket—it’s packed down with dirt. Push open the bottom.”
Benjamin pushed and the door swung open, causing the deceased man to fall three meters and land at the feet of the devil.
“Am I in Hell?” asked Benjamin, getting to his feet.
“Technically, yeah,” said the devil. “But don’t fret too much over it—there isn’t really an alternative. It’s all what you make of it.”
“What about Heaven and God?” Benjamin asked.
“Right, God—great guy, and by title he’s the president of this operation, but he’s not much more than a figurehead at this point.”
Benjamin looked around and saw Hell as he had expected it to be. The walls were brimstone, the floor was made from hot coals and fire, tortured bodies hung from the ceiling while hell-hounds hungrily paced and barked.
“Are all men destined for this fate?” Benjamin asked, wincing at the sound of anguished cries around him.
“Oh, heavens no. Tell me, Bennie, have you ever heard the expression ‘you can’t take your money to the grave’?”
“Yeah, sure I have.”
“First thing you need to know about Hell: that isn’t true. Think about it, why would you go through the whole ‘living’ process just to shed all that stuff when you get down here? What would be the point? No, life is like a game and if you’re successful, you rake up the earthly goods. ‘Points,’ you could call them. If you’re successful, you’re able to buy your own divinity.”
“Oh,” said Benjamin. “And me, was I successful?”
The devil smiled.
“Yes, Bennie. As the founder and CEO of an oil company, I’d say that you are quite divine.”
Benjamin rejoiced. “What does that mean for me?”
“It means another go around. You’re able to have a second run through life, equipped with certain benefits depending on what you were able to amass last time. Looking at your wealth charts, you’ll be able to afford the whole “easy-ride” package: white, male, American, rich family,” said the devil. “Looks like you’ll have an okay time up there, Bennie. Of course, you’ll remember none of this.”
“Great!” said Bennie.
He then looked at the suffering souls before him.“But what about them? Who are they?”
“These,” said the devil, “are the artists, the activists, the altruists, the humanists.”
“Hell of a way to earn a living.”
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