Disclaimer: Whatever views that are protrayed are not meant to offend anyone.

Heaven or Hell…?

It seemed like forever, but it finally happened…He was at the crossroads. What would he do? Where should he go? To most, the answer seemed obvious. "Take the path to glory, ease, happiness! Don't consider the path to more work, hardships, and pain!" they would say. However, for this man, the choice was difficult. He cursed the heavens for giving him this gift. Well, he supposed he should be angry at the Underworld as well, but people down there are always up to no good, so he wasn't too bothered by them giving him this choice.

In any case, he was in a situation which considered much thought. After a few more minutes, the figure behind him let out a sigh. It spoke, "I knew this would happen. It almost always does. Some people skip happily off to Heaven while others, riddled with guilt, drag their feet down to Hell. And then there are people like you, who just stand there like an idiot, debating as to which one is better. I mean, these people are the more interesting ones, but still, it really gets to me, especially when they take days, sometimes even months to decide that they want to choose another option. This waiting thing is just getting too tiring. I'm the Grim Reaper for His sake. Sure, I have my subordinates running around, reaping the souls for me, but man…So, here's the other option."

The Grim Reaper walked up to the split and with much pomp and grandeur, she flared her arms out. A dark portal appeared behind her. She leaned against her scythe and said, "This will take you to both of the realms. Once you see them, you can choose. Now, go on, get in there!"

The man was confused. He never thought the Grim Reaper would be a woman! After all of those frightening images of skeletons as representations of death…Pushing these thoughts aside, he nodded and entered the portal. For a few minutes, his surroundings were pitch-black and he couldn't see anything. Suddenly, a bright light poked through the curtain of darkness and slowly got bigger. Once it was big enough, he slipped through and landed on a meadow. Well, to be specific, he landed in a field of many different flowers. A few people dressed in dazzling white robes sat off to his right, chatting happily and laughing heartily.

The field itself comprised of sunflowers, scarlet lilies, some witch-hazels, mints, ox-eyes, and lavenders, and a few other flowers scattered around. The man took note of the flowers and stood up. He brushed off a few petals and began to walk towards a lone tree that seemed to be situated in the middle of the field. As he walked towards there, many of the heavenly beings turned around to look at him. Some even pointed and laughed. He felt as if he were on display, and he didn't like it, not one bit.

When he got to the tree, he sat down and leaned against the trunk. He looked up, searching the blue sky for any other heavenly beings, in case they were flying about. Not noticing any, he sighed and wondered what others thought of this place as. He turned his head right and saw a group to his right. He walked over and asked, "Is this place really Heaven?"

The people laughed. Someone nodded and said, "Yep, it's the real deal. We sure are lucky to not have gone down to Hell, aren't we?"

The others agreed, nodding swiftly. Another spoke up, "Honestly, who would want to do all of that back-breaking work that they have to do down there? We were good during our short lives on that silly little planet. It seems so insignificant now. How long have we been up here in this paradise for? Maybe 200 years now?"

Another nod of agreement rippled around the circle. The same person said, "So yeah, we were good, worked hard, and now we reap the benefits. No need to do anything laborious. Honestly, those poor idiots down there must be cursing their pathetic existence. Hmph. In any case, you, my friend, should stay here. It's a smarter choice, wouldn't you say?"

The man shrugged. After a few more interviews with other people, he had decided. He was going to go take a look at Hell. He didn't like this place. Not one bit. Even the angels pontificated. He hated being around people who act as if they were superior. It gets very, very annoying. So, when the Grim Reaper showed up at the place where she dropped him off, he was glad to leave.

He stepped into a portal similar to the one that took him to Heaven, except now, a slightly greyer light cut through the darkness. He stepped out and found himself in a dark, grey world. A few places to his right had pits of fire while some places to his left had pits of ice. Almond trees dominated most of the landscape, although these were few in number. Even fewer were the rue and anemone flowers. Broom shrubs were the scarcest, but they were still there, scattered around.

Everybody around him toiled away at their own work; each was assigned a certain duty for their greatest sin. Those who were prideful had been forced to carry giant, heavy, rocks on their backs. Envious people were forced to have their eyes sewn shut. The wrathful suffered by walking around in acrid smoke. Those who indulged in being lazy were forced to run around. Avaricious people were tied to the ground. The gluttonous were fed, but their necks were elongated and small, while their stomachs were huge. Finally, those who were filled with lust were forced to walk around, covered in flames.

The man looked at these tortured souls and cried. He couldn't imagine the great pain that they were going through, but it still affected him. Once he managed to compose himself, he walked around, asking these people what they thought. He was surprised. An overwhelming amount of them answered in a positive manner. They were hoping that doing this would free them from the chains of Hell and get them into Heaven.

He returned to the place where he was dropped off. With these new perspectives, he thought he could choose, but…Everything he was taught was wrong. Every assumption made about these two realms was completely shattered. This was a distressing thought, of course, but when the Grim Reaper showed up, he knew she would force him to choose one way or the other. He still couldn't decide. Torture and hope, or bliss and haughtiness? The Grim Reaper stepped into his line of view.

"Interesting…You still can't seem to choose where you want to go. You're one in a million, you know that? Alright…this is the final option that I have to give you. Come with me."

She created another portal, and the two of them were sent back to the crossroads. She then took out her scythe, spun it around, and slammed the end down on the ground. A new path appeared from it, snaking in between the other two paths. She turned around to look at him. "This is your final resting place. I certainly do hope you find it comfortable. Well, enjoy your new life!"

She waved and disappeared. The man stood there and sighed. He tried to walk towards the road to Heaven, only to encounter an invisible barrier. The same also happened when he tried to follow the path to Hell. He grumbled and let out a long sigh. Giving up, he decided to simply go with the path given to him, the middle way. It seemed like a long walk, but it only took him a few minutes to reach the portal. He stopped. Did he really want to go here? It's not like he had a choice, but still…What would happen if he didn't go through this portal?

Frustrated and angry, he decided to just go through with what the Grim Reaper had planned for him. He took a deep breath and stepped through. What he found was…Earth? No…Just a plane that looked like Earth. There were only a few people here, and they all welcomed him when he entered. People threw a party for him, telling him that he made the right choice, that he was smart in choosing this place. He could see why. He was free to do what he wanted, but he, like everyone else here, knew when to stop doing it in excess. This realm had everything any intellectual or religious leader would ever need, and they wouldn't even need it!

Although all seemed like play and fun, there were still things to do, stuff to work on. That made it more human. More believable. No extremes, but two combined. A world that can truly be called paradise.