Opinion » Bill Cope

Return to Heaven

And this time, I wasn't there for the fun parts

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Months ago, I told you of my trip to Heaven. Cynics might have misinterpreted my revelations as a ploy to exploit the popularity of books by people who have returned from the afterlife following near-death experiences, or "NDEs." Some might even suspect I was fishing for a book deal, as Heavenly travelogues seem to be an easier path to getting published than actually writing something worth reading.

What... ever. When I made the decision to relate my trip beyond the Pearly Gates, I expected to be doubted, perhaps even to be called a charlatan. Besides, it didn't work. Not one damn publisher contacted me with a proposal. I was prepared to come up with all sorts of inspiring crap, enough to fill a six... seven book series, but noooo!... I guess my near-death experience and ensuing trip to Heaven weren't good enough for those bastards at Simon & Schuster.

So I abandoned the dream of having the story of my Heavenly drive by on the best-seller list. That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when I learned of another ex-dead person making her mark in the other-worldy market. Julie Rowe had her NDE in 2004, and her two books (A Greater Tomorrow and The Time Is Now) have caused quite a stir among a certain group of people who expect things to go south any day now. You know who I mean. They're the people who have been stockpiling pork and beans and camping equipment in the basement for years. And by "things," I mean the economy, law-and-order, civilization and/or the world.

I haven't actually read Ms. Rowe's books—my approach to research does not include having to buy anything or be bored—but it is my understanding that while she was in Heaven, an ancestor of hers showed her visions of the near future: martial law is declared, organized society goes kerflooey, Satan runs around like a drunken teenager kicking up shitstorms—you know... the usual stuff.

Now that I've learned of Ms. Rowe's publishing success, I realize what I was doing wrong. See, I was trying to tell of all the cool things Heaven has to offer and how great it is to die, while Julie Rowe is focusing on what a crap-hole it's going to turn into down here on Earth. Well hell, I can do that, too! I told myself. So I went to the same fast-food joint in which I'd choked before, repeated my NDE with another chunk of un-chewed chicken, and popped back up to Heaven. Luckily, I got the same Orientation Angel (O.A.), and when he (she?) tried to show me all the groovy stuff, I insisted on being shown the tribulation stuff. Following are a few of the horrific visions I was given, but you'll understand that I'm saving the best stuff for the book.

Incidentally, I made sure to call for an ambulance before I started wolfing down nuggets. Ain't no book deal unless I'm around to write it, right?

•••

It all starts in Texas. Dallas, to be exact. The Earth cracks open like a rotting cantaloupe and out pours all the pestilence and evil and cultural degradation you can imagine.

"Why Texas?" I asked my O.A.

"Because the Big Guy doesn't like anyone telling Him what he can mess with," she (he?) said.

We were watching the horror unfold on what looked like a 3-D IMax screen, only it was really, really huge. Like, as big as Mount Everest, I'd say. And the popcorn was free.

Much of what was said by the vision's narrator—who sounded just like Orson Welles—was hard to make out because as the images grew ever more dire, the musical background grew louder and louder. It was that thudda-thudda music from Carmina Burana, of course. Seriously, what else could serve as a score for the end of the world? Gilbert and Sullivan? Not bloody likely.

If I was hearing Orson right, it seems that once everyone gets covered with boils and frogs, and all the currency loses its value, and people are so hungry they are eating their lawns, the evil president—it was hard to see his face but I think it was Joe Biden—will declare martial law and bring in foreign troops to lock up all the militia and Second Amendment guys in concentration camps. Only the foreign troops aren't quite human. They're like a combination of hellish demons and San Francisco Gay Pride paraders.

As America looks increasingly like a nationwide, 24/7 Burning Man festival, only with no marijuana or sunscreen, the devout few will pack all their freeze dried food, gold shares they bought on Glenn Beck's recommendation and their videos of Red Dawn (to serve as a training film) into fifth wheels, and take to the hills. However the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse will not make it easy for them.

That's right, there's only three Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War, Famine and Death are still around, but not Conquest. I asked my O.A. why and he (she?) explained, "Ah! That Conquest was always a big spoiled brat, you know? And when he heard of videogames, he took off. Haven't heard a word from him since."

Just as it was getting to the good part where the vision would have shown what will happen to people like Kim Kardashian and Bill O'Reilly, I could hear the ambulance coming into the parking lot and I knew my NDE was soon to end.

"Gee, I wanted to see more," I complained, and my O.A. stamped my wrist with an ultraviolet ink stamp. "That'll get you back in any time you want," he (she?) said. And that's when the EMTs got to me.

Stay tuned for more chapters... er... visions.