Pastor James O'Malley knew his final moments were upon him. His sleeping spells had grown longer and longer with the passing days. Somehow he knew today would be his last. His breathing had become erratic and halting. He found it almost impossible to speak; the lungs which had been filling slowly over the last two years had finally sealed the deal.
Pastor James' vision was blurred and clouded. He could feel his wife's hand on his. His eyes closed for a moment. When they opened again he knew time had passed. He could see Pastor Johnson to his right slowly praying. He tried to smile; he knew it would be time to go home soon. Time to rest. He tried to lift his right hand to his protg, failed, but the younger man saw the gesture and placed his own hand over James'.
Pastor James's last breath was ragged, but deep, as he inhaled he was suddenly filled with dread. He must confess, he must tell Pastor Johnson. He must speak, must clear his conscious, must be availed of his crime. He grabbed the younger pastor's sleeve with unexpected force. He tried to pull the younger Pastor down to his mouth, tried to make his voice be heard. He felt his wife's hand on his forehead gently pushing him back. No! He tried to rise against his wife's gentle restraint.
James tried to spew the words from liquid clogged lungs. It wasn't his fault. He must be absolved. It was the smallest lapse. The girl had known the darkness of sin long before she came to him in confession. Even at her young age she knew what she was doing. He must tell Pastor Johnson, must explain he was tricked, he had too.
Pastor Johnson saw his mentor try to sit up. Saw the slacken jaws miming speech as they slowly flapped open and closed, gurgling in a mimicry of the powerful orations the older Pastor had delivered for so many years. He saw his mentor's eyes close, the jaws stop, the body settled back to the final rest. He saw the tension of his mentors shoulders fade, the faint single tone of a hospital machine coinciding with a final total exhale.
"Go in peace brother."
The void was vast, incomparable for the human mind, but it was truly empty. Only when the faintest of lights appeared in the horizon was Pastor James even aware that the void had existed. His new consciousness willed itself towards that light, away from the indescribable void.
The horizon was interrupted by a vast figure. A brief register of fear passed through the Pastor James' awareness. He quenched it, surely his life merited the eternal peace, and reward. He had nothing to fear here.
There was no approach. The winged figure was on the horizon, and then it was there. Its vast wings surrounded the Pastor, creating their own alcove. The body of the being now faced James fully. Blonde locks, beaming grin, the jaw of a warrior and the eyes of judgment all faced the Pastor in their glory. James saw the strength and glory of a David met with the innocence of the Cherub.
The voice, in so much as voice existed in the void, was gentle and deep when it spoke.
"You have lived. You may choose to return to the void or come to your God." The wings spread up once more before they folded behind the archangel. The demi-god turned to the side gesturing for Pastor James to pass.
The void of the horizon was gone, in its place giant translucent gates stood open. The angel extended a hand to the former Pastor. The Pastor took the delicate massive hand, his own heart lifting in joy at the promised reward.
"Thank you, thank you." The angel looked down on the Pastor and smiled. Then they were at the gates and into the city. John could not discern building details; there simply were structures of vast variances of light. They flew by in all colors of the spectrum. The two figures were suddenly entering what could only be an immense chapel. For the first time James saw "others". They went as far as he could see inside the chapel well past its apparent exterior. Floating, almost translucent, forms of indistinguishable features were all sitting in cloudy pews, singing praise. John watched them for a moment before he looked to the sky they sang to. The brightness was overwhelming. Nothing but yellows and whites filled the Pastor's vision when he looked towards the heavens, towards the face of God.
"Well we're here, have a seat." The Archangel gently nudged the Pastor's new form into a pew.
For the Pastor the world suddenly changed. The moment his incorporeal form came in contact with the cloudy pew he found himself crying out. His voice rose up involuntarily and joined in the choir. The Pastor found himself unable to move as he sang. The light above had grown and now burned to view, the sounds around him pierced his ears yet he was unable to stop singing. He felt racked and bound, unable to do anything but cry out in melody and stare into the burning brightness. Internally the Pastor tried to wrench himself away, tried to turn back to the angel and explain. It wasn't a transgression, they didn't understand, they didn't, couldn't, know how painful and unjust this was. There was no sense of time, just the eternal choir, as a result Pastor James didn't know how long it was before he found himself out of the pew and facing the angel again, he only knew that when it the bondage stopped he whimpered.
"You wanted something?" The angel's smile was still vibrant, his countenance pleasant.
"It's painful, unbearable, I couldn't do anything, what happened?" Even in his thoughts his voice was broken and halting.
"But Pastor, its heaven, you sit with God and sing his praises for all eternity. Its all you could ever want, or need." The angel's hand rested again on the Pastor's spirit shoulder.
"It's not, it hurts, it blinds, I couldn't do anything, it was hell." The spirit that had been the Pastor continued to whimper to the angel. With a sigh the Angel pushed the incorporeal form back into the pew, immediately the blinding brightness resumed, the Pastor tried to cry out one last time, tried to beg for the nothing of the void, but his voice simply joined the vast choir.
"For some it is hell; but consolidating does help keep the overhead down." The Angel, his smile eternal, drifted with no particular haste back to the gates.