For a minute Rudolph McMurdo had been worried. He was hardly old. At the age of eighty-two he was still a year short of another media magnate, and his own news empire supplied him with the best health care money could buy. Yet he had been warned by medics that he had cardiac problems and the crushing pain in his chest had felt like the end. It wasn’t entirely comforting to realise it was. At least he had the satisfaction of knowing his demise proved he wasn’t has heartless as the smug bastards in the liberal media claimed. Nevertheless, it was cruel that death had finally come on his honeymoon night with his fourth and presumably final wife.
It was a sense of injustice over this that gave him an anchor in this new place. It was hard to tell exactly where he was. It was black, but well lit — though from no visible source. It certainly wasn’t dark. He could see himself well enough, a cursory examination of the back of his hand revealed the usual mottled. That was another thing someone would have to sort out. If he was dead then there was no need for him to be old.
The noise from behind was quiet, but was the only sound in the otherwise silent place. Rudolph spun round in surprise. Some distance away an old man in what may have been a robe, or possibly a toga, was shambling towards him. His gait was hindered by the need to avoid his overgrown beard that could have slipped beneath his feet as he walked. His head was stooped, like the most fascinating things in the world were his toenails. The image was everything Rudolph associated with religious nutters. Christ! You can’t even escape the bleeders in the afterlife. The man seemed to be muttering to himself. As the figure got closer it wasn’t what Rudolph had expected.
“…and then someone says ‘let’s have some religiously-inspired genocide.’ It would be nice if, just once, they thought of the poor sods who have to process everyone afterwards. I told him ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and ‘Turn the other cheek’ were too ambiguous, but would he listen? Ooof!”
The final syllable punctuated the man’s collision with a fascinated Rudolph. The man looked up and into Rudolph’s face with benign incomprehension. Rudolph waved his hand in front of the man. “Hello? D’yer work here?” Rudolph asked.