Paved With Good Intentions

CRACK! BOOM! . . . and both men slip briefly into oblivion. Puns aside, they would later reflect on what a shock it was that they, being the devout and Godly men they were, would actually be struck by lightning. Tragic really. Paul Wilson, Father to a congregation of sixty-odd lost sheep, devoted servant of the church, struck down on his sixtieth birthday while gripping the business end of his cast iron lob wedge. John Snow, age twenty two, had the misfortune of holding on to the other end of that club, having been selected as Father John's caddy for the day.

Paul could feel a weightlessness taking hold of his consciousness. The sensation spreads from his mind to the chest, then down the arms and legs. His eyes open up to a vast nothingness, giving rise to a startling feeling of solitude. The smallest pinprick of light catches his hungry eyes, drawing him in, seeming to provide comfort and warmth in a vast darkness. Paul gives a startled yelp as something grips his shoulder, but it is just John riding along behind the old priest.

The light grows and envelopes them, draws them in faster, and Paul thinks how this all falls in line with the countless tales of the light and tunnel one passes through at death. His mind wrestles with the idea of 'the end'. The next room. Not being alive. Being dead. Recoiling from this, his mind seeks a comforting thought and segues to lessons from seminary on how various cultures view the afterlife. There are Godless heathens who believe they will die and go to a place of everlasting sunshine where they can ponder the circumstance of their last life and plan for the next. He had often thought on how joyous it would be when he could look down on them from heaven and -

"Hello there - ooooh what a lovely couple! I'm Lilith - how can I help you lads?"

Other memories now filled John's mind in a rush. Lessons on the form and nature of devils, demons, and their masters. In particular, he remembered the impish Pan. "Aaayyeeeeee!" A guttural shriek escaped him as he tried scrambling to his feet

"Run for your life - it's a demon!" Paul yelled as he to use John as a handrail, succeeding only in pulling them both back down in to a tangled heap.

Lilith, an eyebrow raised in concern, asks, "A demon? What is a 'demon', young man?"

"What?! Don't try your tricks on us you foul fallen fiend of the afterlife! We know well how to spot your ilk, and will have no part of your filthy philandering!"

Now with both brows raised, "Guys, listen, I think there might be some sort of mix up here. You two aren't - "

"You do realize how preposterous it is that, after all I've accomplished, after a lifetime of faithful service to God, I am now standing in the very pit of Hell, surrounded by half naked nubile -"

" - some more than 'half'!" John interjected

" - whatever! - am now standing here being told by a half-goat in this vile place that there's been a mix up!?"

Lilith stops short at the phrase 'half-goat'. Before she can censor the words she snaps, "I'm a satyr, you dullard."

John's usually dull expression suddenly brightens with recognition. "You're Satan?" Hearing this, Paul draws a deep breath and begins shouting, "Lucifer! Asmodeus! Beelzebub! Belphegore!! Lucifeeeer! Asmodeuuuus! Beelzebuuuub! Belphegooore!!"

Lilith's long, dark lashes close as she quietly counts slowly backwards from ten. Her job is to greet the new arrivals, care for their needs, and see to it that everyone makes a smooth transition. Being attacked by one who obviously did not belong somehow seems to fall outside the scope of these responsibilities. Sure, there is the occasional administrative duty, but this? Reaching the end of the calming exercise, she opens her eyes and resolves to help these two get what they needed.

"Belpha-who?" she asks, cutting John off as he takes another breath. "Umm... Nooo, none of them are in this pantheon. I think we just need to figure out where you two belong. I need to call in a nice higher being or two and see if anyone can figure out what part of the afterlife you kids are slated for, k? You wait right here."

Lilith watches with interest as John's agitation visibly deepens. "What part of the - ? How dare you condescend to us! What do you mean what part?! There are but two ultimate destinations - Heaven and Hell! Where we belong is obviously heaven - not this venue of veritable vulgarity and vanity vestments! All you must do is send us to that place which is not here!"

Paul decides he'd better support the Father and offers, "She's not to bright fer a wily demon type, is she?"

"Yyyyyes. Well - let's put it like this: There are any number of ways one might get from here to there, aaaaand I just need to get some advice on how that might be best made to happen. You say you need to be in 'Heaven', right? And who's the big cheese there again - 'Say...ten', was it?"

John begins stomping the earth and yells, "Again with your mind maddening mischief! The Great and Glorious God is the only higher being there is for you to consult!"

'Patience,' Lilith thinks to herself, 'Patience.' "Oh sure... yeah - 'God' right? Yeeeaaah... ummm say - can you narrow that down for me a little more? Does he go by any particular name? God is more of a position, you know? - and it might be a little hard to -"

"You dare to mock the names of God?! The King of Kings?! The Savior?! I pity your wicked soul. If you must persist in this derisive questioning then I say to you he is Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, Theos, Kurios, and -"

Paul exclaims, "Don't forget Lord - we all call him Lord too!"

She nods sagely at them, hoping this is a comforting gesture. "Riiiight - great, I think I've got it. You two try to make yourselves comfortable here in the Summerland for a bit then, OK? Ummm... Tell you what - try not to talk to the locals to much - they might think your trying to make friends and Goddess knows where that could lead. I'm just going to go non-corporeal for a bit and see what I can find out. Ta ta!"

With that she winks blithely out of existence. Well, at least out of one state of being and into another. It's hard to describe how something feels or how something is done when an ability is second nature. What appeared as a great feat of high witchery to the misplaced men was to Lilith a simple awareness that it was time to shift into another existence, and in so thinking it making it so. Composing her thoughts and preparing her mind, she approaches God with reverence. Stopping at the outer boundaries to take the customary draw from a massive mead horn, she enters into his presence.

"Little Lil! What a pleasure - come in - come in! You don't visit nearly often enough," He says. Lilith inhaled the sweet air, laden with the fragrance of we fermented wine and fresh cheese, and listened contentedly to the sounds of merriment. As always, where the Lord is, the party is.

"I come with a warm heart and joyous thoughts -"

"Herumph! Not nearly warm enough I'll wager. You did drink from the mead horn en route, yes?"

Winking slyly at Him she protests, "Of course, my Lord Dionysus! It would be a dark day in the Summerlands before I would break with your traditions. However, it is my unfortunate duty this day to bring a minor administrative issue to your attention."

God looks his acolyte in the eye and sighs heavily. "Go on."

"It seems we have a pair of lost souls on our hands. They appeared through the veil as one normally does, but these two appear to have landed in the wrong pantheon for some reason. I know there must be some way to move them to their proper afterlife, but I've never been faced with such a task."

His interest peaked by the strangeness of the situation, Dionysus leans forward. "Very interesting. So - where do they belong then?"

"Weeell," Lilith began, "That's the odd bit - I've never met someone who follows the path they describe." She then went on to recount the odd encounter and the preposterous claims made by the pair.

"Yahweh, you say? Hmm... no - I don't remember anyone by that name at my parties. Perhaps he is one of the minor deities? Hmm... Let us go and speak with them. Perhaps they can describe him in greater detail, no?"

Placing a great arm around His assistant, He wills a shift of place. John and Paul don't notice their appearance as they continue an apparently heated debate on what action to take next. Dionysus reaches out and casually taps Paul on the arm. "Aaayyeeeeee!" "Demon!"

Lilith rolls her eyes and steps forward. "This is my Lord, my God," she states, indicating the deity beside her. "If you have a moment, He would like to ask you a few questions to see if we can get this whole mess straightened out. He is not your god Satan or Yahweh, but He may be able to figure out where they are for you, OK?"

John blanches and stammers, "B-b-ut we don't want to go to Satan. We need to get to Yahweh."

"Riiiiiight - sorry - my mistake. Anyway listen, tell us again what he's like, OK? We need to find the right circle of people to track him down in."

John composes himself and delivers well practiced sermons on the nature of God, the proper behaviors for ordained clergy, and the role of the common practitioner. Lilith decides to keep her annoyance to herself concerning a certain euphemisms involving sheep and flocks and defers to Dionysus for guidance.

"Boys," He says with a wry grin, "honestly, this is tragic. What a bizarre dilemma! Did I understand you correctly - how long has it been since you were laid? You're in the Summerlands - it's time to loosen things up a bit, yes? Look - you're not the greatest catch, so if we can't cajole anyone else into it, I'll... take care of it, k?"

Paul's anger returns in an angry flash. "Demon! How dare you continue to mock God! I'll have you know that -"

"Well well well - that's just fine," he interjects, "I believe we have enough now to proceed. It seems obvious now that your 'Yahweh' would not come to my celebrations, but I believe I know of someone he might associate with." Dionysus winks at her and disappears. Lilith spends a little time trying to create some meaningful conversation with the pair, but it becomes clear that neither of them will accept she is not 'an evil demon from Hell'.

As she considers giving up, her God returns with another deity in tow. On seeing this turns urgently back to John and Paul. "Listen," she says, "the fellow he's bring back with him is Mr. Thor. You kids will want to be nice to - he's a smiter he is - OK?" Paul meets this with a derisive snort while John begins shaking in fear.

Thor demands immediately, "You are the two that seek Yahway?"

"Yes, of course!" Paul states with brevity.

Pulling what appears to be a super-sized post-it-note out of his pocket, Thor states, "I've spoken with him. He gave me a message:" and then reads from the paper, "There's been a mistake. It's not your time. You've got more to do. Go back." He folds the note and slides it back into a waist pouch. "Got it?" he asks.

Dumbfounded, the two men look up at him. Paul is uncharacteristically speechless. Thor looks at Dionysus, who shrugs and offers a jolly grin. Thor frowns, looks down at the two lost souls, and waves a dismissive hand at them.

Sterile plastic, definitely. It's the only smell he can detect and Paul feels he must be enveloped in it. There is movement too. Slow and rhythmic, then jostling, then a sudden bump, then slow and rhythmic again. He opens his eyes to a small room. Room? 'No,' he thinks, 'This is a truck. This is an ambulance. I'm... alive.'