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Story 3

Once again, Shafali has done it!

Still having probolems getting started but, this time, I decided to go for it when I wsn’t high.  I think I can see the difference, I wonder if you can?

What's she thinking? Who's around?

Every job has it’s good bits.

She was getting fed up. She knew she shouldn’t ought to be; the job was safe and the boss had said it was important. Nevertheless she was very fed up.

She sat in this box, gatehouse, porters’ lodge, call it what you will, for what seemed an eternity, challenging anybody who wanted to come in.  The numbers were increasing every day relentlessly. At first there had been quite a few of them, sharing the load, but some had disappeared and, with the numbers involved there was now no chance of a brief nap in between the knocks. They’d had to go on a sort of shift work system so that they could get a chance to keep in touch with the main business.

Paradise was getting crowded!

Peter used to look after one bunch, checking them in. He’d been very busy for what must be a couple of millennia and she’d been relieved that he’d turned up to take some of the work from her and the two others, the Greek and the Roman, but their numbers had dropped to virtually zero once Peter had started.

He wasn’t keen on her crowd.

“Hel” he used to say, “I don’t understand the system for your lot. Some are straightforward, but others seem to turn up here every evening, make a terrible noise, then expect to go back to Valhalla for the day”.
I told him that we used a similar system to the Egyptian one, although there wasn’t such a turnover with them, and it was not really different from the Indian one, although they only went out once a lifetime, sometimes in disguise, and eventually they stayed for good.  He even objected to the early ones from his own bunch, who also believed that, like that Pythagoras guy, you got more than one chance. Though that stopped when Origen got the boot from the main crowd. He still wanders in and out now and again, looking somewhat bemused.

Nevertheless, sorting them was now becoming very difficult,  the overall numbers were increasing at an alarming rate and there was an increasing proportion who were, frankly, surprised to be here. Peter had had to give up some of his accommodation in Limbo where they were sent to sort themselves out and decide on their preference. And then there were those who had turned up with old style ID cards and a few of her colleagues had been brought out of retirement to deal with them. She herself was seeing more and more of the documents she had once dealt with on an hourly basis. She enjoyed these folk, checking their knowledge and chuckling to herself at how they had twisted things since her heyday. Pete had eventually to knuckle down as his numbers also began to decrease steeply and it was on this basis that he’d been persuaded to make over that section of Limbo.

But now it was frantic! While Peter took a break, she had to cover her hairstyle, slip a cowl over her head and morph her features so that the dead would think she was Pete. And she’d had to learn his version of the one Truth in order to check on them. He was still having trouble getting to grips with the idea that they were really all doing the same thing, put here to please new arrivals, so that they felt at home and could be introduced slowly to what was actually going on.

She leaned back in her chair and and reached up with her right arm to stretch at her shoulder – she always wrote in the book with her left hand and it was aching. It had been a bit quieter for a few hours. And then she smiled, a glint of pleasure shone in her eyes as she noticed, coming over the horizon, one of her favourites, one of those who could never answer the questions but wriggled and twisted to convince her of their credentials. This would be fun. A politician always made her feel the job was worthwhile.

Copyright Ian Holliday 2010

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Shafali permalink
    September 16, 2010 6:04 pm

    Hi Ian,

    I am speechless! The way you’ve woven human emotions using the threads of theology is beautiful. This was a tough one – and I know it. I don’t know how many people will take this challenge…though I hope that many do:)

    And yes…she is right about the politicians. I often think that if there were no politicians, we’d be bored to death.

    Thanks again for the story:) May I request you to please add your link in the comments section of the Announcement post at my blog. I might inspire others to join in:)

    Warm Regards,


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