When I opened my eyes, I found myself in a windowless room with white walls, floor, and ceiling. The room was the size of a basketball court, and most of it was empty. I was sitting on a white, comfortable sofa, wearing white clothes and shoes. Next to me, Liz was lying on the same sofa, her eyes closed, wearing a white dress. Not like a wedding dress or a sundress, more like one of those 19th or early 20th-century garden-party dresses you see in period movies. It wasn’t quite her style—too high-necked, and her legs were covered—but she looked fantastic. For a moment I just watched her chest rise and fall.
Soft music was playing in the room. Hymns, I thought vaguely, though there were no words to jog my memory. A short man wearing a white tuxedo was standing in front of us. I couldn’t see his face since his bright halo threw it into shadow.
He had huge, outspread white wings extending from his shoulders.
I blinked and looked around. I felt foggy. The last thing I remembered was standing in front of a firing squad. Now I was here, Liz beside me, meeting a man who was the very picture of an angel. There was only one conclusion I could draw: Liz and I were in heaven.
And Venom was quiet. Yep. This was definitely heaven.
One problem, though: I was agnostic, which was only one step away from being an atheist. What the hell—no pun intended—was I doing in heaven? At least Liz was a devout Catholic. Maybe I was here on account of her?
Liz sat up and looked at me with sleepy eyes. She gasped and covered her mouth, then burst into tears and threw her arms around my neck. Between her sobs, I barely made out her saying, “I thought I’d never see you again.”
I held her hand, trying to comfort her. I wondered what exactly people did in heaven. Could we have sex? I heard voices behind me. I turned my head and saw Kurt and Allen, also wearing white, looking around, eyes wide.
The Super Assassin and the Butcher were also in heaven? This was getting weird .
“Um. Hello,” I said. “Are you . . . ?” Was there a particular angel who welcomed you to heaven? Was I supposed to know? Elizabeth prided herself on her social savoir-faire, so she probably knew.
“Please allow me to introduce myself.” He snapped his fingers, and both the halo and the wings disappeared. He looked Native American, with brown skin, black hair, high cheekbones, and almond-shaped eyes. He was wearing a white hat with a blue peacock feather on it.
Okay . . . maybe heaven has weirdos?
He continued, “My name is Commander Tarq, and no, unfortunately, you are not in heaven, and I am not an angel.”
Then he burst into laughter. “But you should have seen the look on your faces!”
Dumbfounded, we looked at each other. This whole you-are-dead-and-in-heaven thing was a freaking prank? Who on earth would do that? Liz was clutching my arm. I considered kicking his teeth in, but I was too calm, almost listless. Kicking someone sounded like too much effort.
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