“Heaven,” Hes said, “is a shit-hole.”
The young man looked shocked. “I’m sorry?”
Hes finished his shot, and repeated, “Heaven is a shit-hole. A slum. A ‘wretched hive of scum and villainy’, if I remember the quote right.” then tapped the shot-glass twice on the bar.
“Heaven is perfect, y’see. Not my perfect, or yours, probably. But perfect in God’s eyes. Not perfect for people.
“It’s designed for a certain number of people, and what those people are supposed to do is worship God. That’s the point of Heaven, right? You follow God’s laws perfectly in life, and you’re granted access to the ultimate gated community. And what you get for being a good little worshiper, is an eternity of doing the same. You get to love God with all your heart, forever.
“With no distractions. None. You get a place to sleep, in a crowded barracks. You get a place to eat. And you get a seat in the big amphitheater. What’s in the amphitheater? A walled garden, with God’s throne in the center. You sit there, looking at the radiance of God, which is like staring into the sun, by the way, and sing his praises. That’s what you do, in Heaven.”
Hes downed another shot.
“That was the idea, anyway. A long time ago. God designed heaven, sat down on his throne, and apparently hasn’t moved since.
“So the angels run the place. Not all of them, most are off doing whatever the hell it is angels do. The angels of Heaven were made specifically to run Heaven, and their orders were real basic. Keep the monkeys housed , keep ‘em fed, and, most importantly, keep the amphitheater full. Keep those hosannas coming.
“So you get to Heaven, you get your bunk, you get a seat in the chow hall, and another in the amphitheater. Then, you’re on your own. The angels don’t give a fuck about you, won’t even notice you, unless they need you in the ‘theater. And the ‘theater? It’s only built for one hundred and forty-four thousand souls.
“You have any idea how many people have made it into heaven, over the centuries? A damn sight more than one hundred and forty-four thousand, tell you that. Which means, you can land in the Holy City, get processed in, and never see another angel; never set foot in the ‘theater. They send teams out to grab souls when the need asses in seats, but there’s millions of souls around.
“And that, in a nutshell, is why Heaven is the worst slum you ever imagined. The angels keep expanding the housing, ‘cause more souls keep coming in, and creating more chow halls, but that’s it. There’s nothing else in Heaven but five things: angels, souls, bunks, chow halls, and the amphitheater.
“No bars, or bookstores, or movies. No parks, no open spaces, no trees. Everything’s made from stone that you can’t chip or wear away. The sky is blank a couple shades lighter than the stone. The robes don’t tear. There’s nothing to read, nothing to see, nothing to do.
“It drives people crazy, all of them, in one way or another. People start doing terrible things to one another, just out of boredom. You can’t kill, or maim anyone, but you can still hurt them. Some souls fight constantly, just to be doing something. Souls don’t experience sex like a living body does, but there’s a lot of fornication, consensual and non-. There are streams of people who just run, anywhere and everywhere, until the drop from exhaustion, and then get up and run some more. Holy men from all over fight about points of orthodoxy, first with words, then fists. Some others just sit in the same place, doing an saying nothing, some plead with God for answers, some pound there heads against walls over and over… Some do all of these, at different times. It’s madness, and it never ends.
“Unless you find a way over the walls. Unless you cast yourself into the outer darkness, and fall. Hell is a balm to the soul, by comparison. Mostly because Satan seems to have given up on the whole game, and while He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you, either, he doesn’t set up any rules. Oh, you’ll get punished in Hell, don’t doubt it, but it’ll more than likely be by other souls. It’s easier to escape from, too. Everyone’s so caught up in there own little things, see? Nobody’s counting heads, ‘cause no one cares.
“Which means, that if you keep traveling, you might just get somewhere you can finally get a goddamn drink…”
Hes tapped the shot-glass on the bar again.”