Lance has committed enough sins to know how life plays out when the final bell begins to chime. The good are greeted by darkness whilst the evil must face the never-ending white plains, a world where the ground upon which one stands is pallid with scorn, bleak because hope is expired — whited out —, unsympathetic because second chances, already rationed on earth, have gone extinct there, their corpses long buried by the tundra. One who ends up there does so only because he has torn through saving grace like shot bullets take to paper. A man is condemned to hell’s white, an eternal mockery of heaven, when he has refused every single attempt of rescue.
Lance has been waiting for this, for this slow descent into madness that comes once in a lifetime to take one’s all, ignoring all protests and struggles. God does not forgive; God has retreated into isolation from all of mankind for the pure can only stay pure through avoiding contamination. But the Devil. The Devil shall cleanse him of prior evils. The Devil is magnanimous; He is the one who shall bestow Lance the gift of true pain and pleasure. Suffering is earned, and Lance has done his fair share of toiling for his enslaver’s satisfaction. The human capacity has been filled. There is no more room for mistakes. The earth has stopped turning for one man, and this man is on his knees pleading for his reward.
He can hear the familiar footsteps. The tap-tap of metal-tipped boots. Someone is running towards the street. Lance sees the car turning in from the corner, accelerating. The driver’s seat has blurred into emptiness, another black hole created in this flawed universe. The revolver’s chamber is spinning, clicking back into place. He can see it in his mind, the shine of the barrel, the finger on the trigger, the brakes being applied a second too late. Fate has a one in sixth chance of fatality.
Maybe, Lance thinks. This is how the world ends.
And when it hits, the bang is not as loud as he expects, a soft, innocent whimper of something far, far away.
Sophia Li is a writer from Houston, Texas.