by Jim Schicatano
"It's the distance from God that gets to you really," the angel noted. "Hell, I mean."
Dorner remained silent in disbelief. The angel observed his somber demeanor and said, "You deserve it, you know. He doesn't make mistakes. You must have been unrepentant, blasphemous, or lacked faith."
As the two luminous entities continued their journey, floating in pure blackness, Dorner realized that the angel did not know his specific transgressions. Apparently only God knew everything. He also experienced no sensation of movement, yet the angel had assured him they were moving. Dorner's thoughts quickly returned to his current dire situation.
"It's not forever... right?" he asked in trepidation.
The angel responded, "This isn't permanent. When you arrive there you will not be told the length of the sentence. That's part of the punishment: the uncertainty. But it will definitely end. And eventually you'll be gathered with the others for the Final Judgment."
"Yes, hell is inundated with transgressors."
"So I won't be alone? The Lord does have mercy!"
"Don't raise your expectations. Remember who resides there: murderers, thieves, hypocrites, liars, rapists and an assortment of blasphemers and non-believers. They will be your companions, and they are allowed to set the rules. You see Dorner, God created hell, but He lets the inmates run the prison. That's another part of the punishment: existence without His guidance and laws."
The angel grew silent for a moment before emitting a small sigh. "I was there once, you know. Not as an inmate, mind you. Just to be allowed to see it. It was an abomination!"
Dorner finally broke down. "Please!" he sobbed. "Please help me! Tell me there's another way!"
The angel shook his head in disapproval. "It's the same with all of you. You finally understand the significance of your behavior once it is too late."
The entities arrived at their destination but Dorner continued to see only utter blackness. "We are here," the angel announced.
"I... I don't see it," Dorner stammered in fear.
"You will in a moment. Now here is my final message. When you enter you will no longer remember your life and you will forget everything that has transpired before your arrival. You will not know the duration of your sentence, nor will you be aware that you are serving a sentence. And God will not recognize you during this time. You can cry out to Him and plead for His mercy and guidance. But it will do you no good. He can hear you but He will not answer you.
"After a while you will even question His existence. You will endure pain and suffering, and will be guided by unpredictable emotions. Your fellow inmates will betray you, cheat you, lie to you and plot against you. Any moment of happiness you should happen to experience will be fleeting, and you will continuously be on guard against jealousy.
"Sadness, frustration, and a sense of loneliness will permeate your entire existence. You will be aware of your limitations and the vulnerability and fragility of your being. You and the occupants of hell are on your own."
"No!" Dorner cried out in despair. "Dear Lord, NO !"
But the angel continued. "You failed to accept His laws; now you are about to find out what it's like to live without them. You failed to nurture your love for Him, now you will live in His absence. Like I said, it's the distance from God that will get to you. Good-bye, Dorner."
Dorner's luminous entity began to dissipate into the blackness. He suddenly began to scream as waves of sharp unbearable pain swept over his body. Moments later, he was born as a baby girl in a remote mountainous village on the planet called Earth, better known throughout the celestial heavens as "Hell."