Prompt 219-Afterlife

What do you believe happens after we die?

“Where am I?” the woman on the other side of the desk peered around at my immaculate office. She stared in wonder at the perfectly symmetric walls and high ceiling, at the orderly stack of pamphlets perfectly arranged on my desk, and the framed Reaper Honor Graduate plaque on the wall behind me. Her eyes widened in disbelief when they fell upon that.

“You’re dead!” I proclaim in my cheeriest customer service voice. “You might have considered this Purgatory when you were alive, but truthfully that’s a separate department. This is Heaven’s Realm.” I drop my voice to sound sinister for a moment. “Or maybe it’s Hell’s Realm for you.” Her ghostly face pales near to transparency and I chuckle. “Ah, but that’s a bit of an HR joke. This is just the crossroads to the Afterlife. I’m to be your guide!”

Again she takes in the room, my plaque, me. I wonder how I appear to her. Every soul is different. Even in death, the human mind clings to that which is most familiar. I’ve encountered my fair share of “relatives” who were beside themselves with joy at their reunion. At least, up until I explained the situation to them.

Then again, most of those would choose to follow the path of their forebears and join them for eternity, particularly if they followed a monotheistic belief in life. The people who followed the pantheons or had no gods whatsoever were more challenging to place, but none were as challenging as the agnostics. I liked the challenge though. That was why I had worked hard to be placed here.

This woman had held many different beliefs over the course of her long life. Her file sits on the desk before me, but I don’t need to reference it to recall that information. I’ve read about her childhood in a Christian household, her adolescent fascination with the pantheons of ancient peoples, and the atheism of her young adulthood leading her to the wiccan religion for a spell. She returned to monotheism as she matured, but instead of a Christian rebirth, she studied Judaism and Islam to better understand the correlations between the so-called Big Three. As she aged, she took an interest in learning Eastern philosophies and incorporating aspects into her own life.

To put it bluntly, she had a great resume to become a Reaper. One of the pamphlets on my desk goes into detail about the process of joining our family and her hand reaches for it. “Recruiting?” she asks.

“It’s uncommon, but sometimes an agnostic like you comes along, one who, while still living, readily accepted the truth that all the different beliefs in the world could be true. Among your many options for eternity, becoming a Reaper and helping people to the Afterlife is among them.”

She flips through the pages carefully, scanning each word and internalizing them. She doesn’t reach for the Christian Heaven pamphlet as so many of her family before her. As soon as she had seen the Reaper pamphlet, her mind had been made up. She tosses it back on the desk and flashes a grin at me. “So, when do I start?”

Notes: As soon as I read this prompt, I thought of this old tumblr post about the grim reaper being the HR of the Afterlife and I knew I wanted to put my own spin on it. I had wanted to go into more detail about the different departments and how some spring up and disappear as new religions rise and fall but I am at my limit for tonight. Perhaps in a future rewrite.

Have a great night! See you tomorrow!

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