(Lights up. A Podium stands alone on a platform. It is white with a very big blue “A” on the front. A murmuring crowd can be heard, questions are being asked. “Where are we?” “What’s going on?” “I was just eating a sandwich . . .” Then a man dressed in sand colored clothing, very loose fitting and very comfortable, walks up to the podium and stands. He raises his hands in grand triumphant gestures, and then slowly lowers them. The crowd hushes.)
Petey: The great question before us is, “What happens now?” Where do we go from here? Is it what I’ve always heard of, with the light and the harps? Or with the fire and pain? Is anything I heard in the past even remotely true? Where do we go? How does this happen? When do we eat? Because I know you are all hungry, yes? (the crowd murmurs a yes) Well, in about half an hour, or, what you all think of as half an hour. Time is different here. As for the rest of the questions, the easy answer is no. Nothing you heard on Earth will apply to what goes on now. (a hand is raised from the crowd) Yes?
Dead Person 1: What’s the difficult answer?
Petey: No. But it is more complex. Now . . . (another hand is raised) Yes?
Dead Person 2: Where are we?
Petey: (looks around) A lecture hall. (hand raised) Yes?
Dead Person 2: What are we doing?
Petey: Receiving a lecture. Now . . . (raised hand) All right. One more and then that’s it. There are many questions and none of the ones you asking are the right ones.
Dead Person 2: What’s going on?
Petey: (pause) You’re all dead. (the crowd bursts into a fit of despair) Hold, silence! Not to worry. This is only the beginning. The rest is much more laid back, I assure you. We just need to get through all the boring stuff and then you will be on your way.
DP1: How did I die?
DP3: Is this heaven?
DP4: Can we go back?
Petey: Enough! I don’t know. More to the fact, I don’t care and neither should you. It doesn’t matter how you went, but you are here, so take a deep breath and calm down. And no you can’t go back, don’t be silly. If you all will be quiet, I will explain. (the crowd goes silent) You all are dead. Your bodies in the living world have gone out, like a light bulb, all for various reasons. Sickness, murder, stupidity, and many more. You are now in the LDK Lecture Hall, one of many before you enter through the gates of (points at the “A” which starts to glow) Afterlife. Population of 50 billion, and rising. My name is Petey, and I will be giving you a rough guide to things you will need to understand to function in our society. There is no heaven, no hell, no nirvana. Just this. A vast landscape of green hills, blue oceans, rocky cliffs, and camels await you, along with all the lobster you can eat plus powdered soft drinks. There is housing and occupations for you all, but only lofts and mostly garden work. If you are an accountant, a soldier, an actor, a doctor or garbage man, you will have to make do. Unless you are a skilled musician, we are always looking to expand the orchestra. There are other jobs, but you need to put in a certain number of generations before you can qualify. You’re deceased loved ones are waiting with lobster cake and Tang at your new homes and I am sure they’re dying – ha ha – to see you again. May I continue with my normal topic? I’ve been doing this for about 2000 years and I got a certified routine. (the crowd, confused, stays silent) Good. Now. The question before us is, what happens now? Plainly, nothing. We go on to a life of leisure that is some what monotonous and yet at the same time very satisfactory. There are no criminals, no paparazzi, and no politicians. For some reason, they never show up.
DP2: So this is a paradise?
Petey: If you want to call it that. I wouldn’t.
DP3: Is there anything bad here? Can you die?
Petey: What, again? While there are many forms of living of many different levels, there is only one death and thankfully, it’s out of the way now. As far as anything bad, just what you get when you put many people together in a space. No more, no less.
DP1: So is there war?
Petey: It was tried at the beginning, but since you’re already dead, getting stabbed or shot wasn’t very useful. Besides, we don’t have the resources to make gun powder. It degenerated to the point where we were just beating each other with sticks, and by that time we had all grown pretty bored of it. There is also no language barrier here, so ideas come across very simply without misunderstanding or confusion. War is a game now, something to be done at parties when everyone has run out of ideas of things to do.
DP5: Where is God in all of this?
Petey: We think he has already progressed to the next step, probably even a couple more after that. He sends us messages to try and help the rest of us continues on, but he likes his solitude so he is very cryptic and sparse with them.
DP5: Are you saying God is a human being?
Petey: The first. First to live and first to die. The only thing that makes him special is he did it before anybody else.
DP5: I don’t believe that.
DP5: What you say of God. It isn’t true.
DP5: I’ve lived my whole life as a devout Christian. I have experienced the light of God firsthand. He is greater than any of us, more powerful than five suns. He is all.
Petey: Well, he would certainly take that as a compliment, but no. You religious types need to understand that what you call God doesn’t exist.
DP5: (angrily) What about Jesus?
Petey: He’s all right. He’s gone into seclusion because of all you bastards trying to find him and praise him.
DP5: (sarcastically) You know Jesus.
Petey: Likes to play bocce ball.
DP5: This is wrong. How can I live in a world without my God? I spent my whole life serving Him and praising Him. I lived my life the way He told me to, I lived correctly.
Petey: And what have you to offer now? You think that you fill you life with “good” deeds and then you would be able to do whatever the hell you wanted to afterwards? Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you get to slack off being a good person. Just because your childish fantasies of a supreme being that could forgive your every bad action haven’t come to fruition doesn’t mean there is still not a purpose to be good. All it means is that you take responsibility for your own actions, that you have to guide yourself through the darkness. It’s not that hard, that’s what you have really been doing anyway. (some of the crowd harrumph at this) Listen, we’re not saying to stop believing in something. There are still a number of things we do not understand and much more we have to see. Faith is still important, but it is faith of a different nature, not so much religious. (some of the crowd harrumph at this) Of course those of you are still in denial will find churches of every creed to keep your delusions going strong. (a hand is raised) Yes?
DP6: I have a young daughter and a teenage son. Will they be all right?
Petey: I’m sorry, I don’t know.
DP6: Is there a way to check up on them?
Petey: Subscribe to The Living Herald. Once a month you will get a magazine that will chronicle the lives of all your loved ones, so you will be able to keep track of how they are doing. Comes with pictures and VHS of proud and important moments.
DP6: Will I ever be able to talk to them again?
Petey: Not until they arrive. (silence) I wish I could tell you all there was a phone, but there isn’t. That is one of the hard parts. Unless you know someone here, you have to wait for those who you left behind. Sometimes things can become very lonely.
DP6: I wish I could send them a message.
Petey: Think about them. All the time. You see, while we all die, our love does not. Love never dies. It’s like magic. It is what is left behind in our wake, and the only baggage we carry onwards. The bonds you made, the people and lives you touched, will continue to feel your presence. As long as you continue thinking about them.
DP1: If all we do is garden, live in lofts and eat lobster, what real purpose is there to this “life”?
Petey: While there is no sickness, no real evil, there are still chances to do great things, to really help people for this is not the end of the road, it is merely a step to the next step, and the ability to help someone progress is a great wonderful thing. There’s no pamphlet on how to do any of this. The only way we will all continue on is if we help each other and become friends. IT won’t be easy, but I bet it will be worth it.
Petey: All right. I didn’t follow the game plan exactly, but I think you all got the idea, and I’m sure some of you are starving by now. So if you all we enter those doors to your right (a sound of humongous doors opening) food and drink will be waiting. If you still have any questions, you will learn the answers to them in greater detail as you start to make a home for yourself. I hope you have a wonderful afternoon, and welcome to Afterlife.
(Petey walks off stage. Lights fade.)