“What is this place?” Stan silently wondered. He was shocked when he heard someone answer him.
“You’re in limbo,” the voice said. Stan looked all around the barren, empty landscape into which he somehow found himself to see who had answered his unspoken question, but he was alone.
“Is anyone here?” Stan asked aloud.
“There are many others here,” the strange voice said. “This is the place where the souls of those who have not been baptized and who, therefore, are barred from entering heaven reside.”
“Am I dead?” Stan asked the mysterious voice.
“Some call this place the first circle of hell,” the voice said. “Others refer to it as the edge of hell. But what it really is is a place for people, like you, Stan, who have committed sins. However, even if you have apologized for your sins, you have yet to pay the price or the dues to the people that your sins have hurt. So, you remain in limbo in order to be punished for your sins. Then, at the time of judgment, if you have atoned for your sins, you will enter heaven.”
“This is a dream, right?” Stan said. “Or a nightmare.”
“Everything is both a dream and a nightmare,” the voice responded.
“But if this isn’t a dream, and I’m dead, why am I here?” Stan asked. “I am not a sinner. I am — or was — a good person.”
“You were born a sinner,” the voice said, “and even though you lived your life as a good and decent man, you never admitted your sins or repented for them. And unless you do, you will spend an eternity in limbo.”
“And where are the others you said are here?”
“Everyone experiences limbo in a different way, so even though you are not alone here, you don’t experience limbo the way anyone else does,” the voice explained.
“So what now?” Stan asked.
“Follow the path of your choosing to the horizon,” the voice answered. “One leads to heaven, one to hell, and one to purgatory.”
“And what happens when I reach the horizon?”
Then and only then will you….”
“…Wake up!” Stan heard a familiar voice say. His wife started shaking his shoulder. “Wake up. You were groaning and moaning. Were you having a nightmare?”
“Please don’t ever let me eat a whole pint of ice cream right before bedtime,” Stan told his wife.
Written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge #204. Image credit: Hossein Zare.