Now I lay me down to sleep,

A pile of books about my feet.

And should I die before I wake,

It's another test I won't have to take.

Java

Sarah sighed; sometimes higher education just wasn't worth it. Finals were coming up, and she still had three subjects to cram. "But at this point" she thought "I'm confusing genetics with poetry". Bummer. What she wouldn't give for a beer, or a cig, or sleep, or even all of the above, but still three subjects to go. She hadn't slept in thirty-six hours. Double bummer. She really should have started studying earlier, but Billy had had those parties and Shelly had invited her boating... "Oh well, time for the coffee run" she sighed, stretched, and walked out the door. She passed several zombies on her way out. They too were cramming. She groaned "hope seven-eleven still has coffee with this crowd about".

Sarah made it down the dorm steps without mishap; the level ground, though, made her knees wobble. Catching her balance, she started towards the glowing, orange sign two blocks away. "Right. Left. Right. Left" was her mantra as she forced her legs to carry her towards the bright haven. She sniggered as the slogan "oh thank heaven for 7-11" ran through her head. Then she heard a voice in the back of her mind. It seemed to say "Oh really?!". Well, what the hell? She was tired; she should have started to hear voices earlier than this, so she played along. "Who's that?" she questioned. "My names Java, nice ta meet'cha lady" it replied. "I'm here to offer you the standard deal; I help with exams in return for your immortal soul". Now he had her attention. Preoccupied, she tripped on the convenience store curb. Thankfully, Java refrained from comment.

She opened the large glass door, entered the bright lights of 7-11 and forgot all about Java. Her buddy, Rudy, looked up from the counter. "Coffee?" he asked, then he pointed "that pot there's is especially for college crammers". Grateful for his understanding, she headed for the pot. The pot held a thick sludge that resembled pitch more than any form of caffeinated beverage. Sarah shrugged and added an extra dollop of creamer. They were out of coffee stirrers, so she used a spoon. What could it hurt? She paid Rudy and carefully negotiated the door, then started home. About halfway back, she sat on a low stone wall, and started to eat her coffee with the spoon. It packed quite a kick, and she immediately felt a bit of a buzz. Good coffee. Feeling giddy, she stood up and started to walk again. Suddenly she felt a searing pain shoot through her body and she collapsed.

Sarah felt funny, like she was floating. She opened her eyes and the feeling intensified. A voice floated out towards her "wake up kid, your dead!" Startled, she sat up, and spun in several circles as she was floating in a clear blue sky. "Dead?" she squeaked. "Yep" Java replied "that was some good coffee!".

" Well I agreed to your help, but if I'm dead I can't take my exams now can I?" she asked the voice in her head "I certainly won't need to study in the afterlife". "No you won't" he agreed "No exams in the afterlife". Miffed, Sarah asked " I thought it was all sunshine and feasting and stuff".

"Um, no" came the reply "You can have a lot of plain, simple food that you grow yourself, lots of saints and stuff, everything's white and the sexes are segregated. Sound boring doesn't it?". She had to admit it did, but she thought it might be a trick. "I want to go there Java".

"Well, seeing as how you're newly dead and don't know any better, I'll bring you there and you can judge for yourself." She thought she heard a mental sigh, but she could have imagined it.

It took an hour for Java to teach her how to fly properly, but she got it. Then he started to give her directions. "UP" he said. Well, she could do up. Suddenly, there was a great big wall in front of her. She touched down on a cloud and craned her neck. It was white. Big surprise. Then she saw the NO SOLICITING sign. It was printed in about fifty languages. Below it was a door. It could have been a door from anywhere in the real world. It said ENTRANCE, again in fifty languages. "Aren't budget cuts wonderful things?" Java whispered in her head "this place used to be almost as impressive as Hell." Sarah giggled, then the door opened. A dried up prune of a man peeked out at her "I suppose you want in don't you?" he rumbled. "Well come in, we got room for one more I suppose". Sarah wisely didn't answer as she stepped through the door.

Through the door were six white plastic chairs, five of which were occupied. She sat down in the last chair. As soon as she did so, another door opened and a pert blonde walked into the room. "My name is Barbie" she said "would all entrants follow me please". Then Barbie walked out. All the others stood and trooped through the door, so Sarah did too. Their blonde guide led them to a classroom with six desks. "Please be seated while I hand out the exam" Barbie called. "Exam?" Sarah shrilled to Java. "Well" he replied "this is inproccessing. Here's where you take the entrance exam. Sighing, she picked up a pencil and started writing.

"Number thirty-two is wrong Sarah".

"I don't care" she hissed.

"Well I'm supposed to help you with your exams remember?".

"But these are impossible! Look at this "How many primary feathers can be found on the angel glorious subspecies anthemus?" Who cares?". "The answer is seven, but I don't really care either, so just write it down so you can get out of here".

"Oh all right" she grumbled

Sarah sat and twiddled her thumbs. The exams were being graded. The door opened, and Barbie entered the room. "Good news people" she crowed "all of you pass par! Please pick up your white robes on the way out." Sarah stood up and walked towards the far door where robes and books were being passed out. "Let me guess Java, Bibles?".

"No, that's the rulebook".

"Joy"

Sarah stood on the street. She needed coffee. "Java, where do they sell coffee?". She heard uncontrolled laughter "they don't sell coffee, soda, tea, juice, or alcohol. You can drink water if you want". Sarah's face drooped; perhaps one of the locals could help her? She reached out and grabbed a young man's arm. The man flinched and pulled from her grasp, "You are violating rule number 1187" he said as he left. "Java, what's rule 1187?".

"Um, I think it's "neither sex shall have contact with the other unless properly wed." They're real sticklers for that.". Bummer.

"You know what Java? I don't want to stay here, let's go.".

"That's the easy part! Get thrown out!".

"Thrown out? How?"

"You could kiss someone.".

"All right, I can do that.

Sarah tumbled lazily through the cobalt sky, watching the big, white wall recede. "Let's go to Hell Java!" she cried gleefully. "What makes you think we're going to Hell?" came the reply. Sarah thought for a moment "wasn't that Heaven Java? Doesn't God live up there? ".

"Oh no! God can't stand that place; it was created by nuts! God's a lot more laid back; you two can meet when we get there.".