Tom was a cynic. Tom didn’t seem to enjoy Bach or the Sistine Chapel or mystery stories. To Tom the world was small and reasonable and he preferred it that way.
Tom died and stood before God. He was not happy that there was more than he thought to this world. He was not happy there turned out to be something supernatural. So when God asked Tom if he wanted to live forever with Him in a glorious supernatural kingdom with surprises and beauty, but he warned him that God's kingdom may not seem reasonable to him, Tom rather chose his own eternal kingdom. It would be all his and he would be in control, and he was very thankful to find out there would be nothing supernatural.
As Tom settled into his kingdom he thought to himself how clever he was. This hell wasn’t bad at all. It was actually quite comfortable and it was filled with other people exactly like himself.
The hills were green and rolling, the sky was blue and the temperature was warm. The trees and animals were exactly as they were on earth. The people and animals were just as they were on earth. It turned out that the reality of hell was no more than his own reality. Small and understandable.
Recalling the scary mysterious hell Tom’s church had warned him about made him scornfully laugh. There was nothing supernatural about hell, no silly myths, no absurd faith in the illogical.
Tom felt just as he did on earth for a long time. Comfortable, reasonable.
One day a group of the people right over the hill, began to loudly sing a drinking song about loving the perfect woman. Tom didn’t drink and he had long since quit believing in love or the perfect woman and Tom definitely didn’t enjoy the people enjoying themselves. He wished the people would go away. His kingdom would be much better if other people weren’t there. And the sound vanished. Tom assumed the party broke up and the people went back home.
So now it was a perfect. Just himself and the cute, loyal animals and the trees and nice weather and rolling green hills and distant mountains. After a very long time without hearing or seeing any others, Tom wondered what happened to all the people. Not that he really wanted to see them, but it didn’t make any sense to him. Where did they go? They couldn’t have vanished, that was impossible, so Tom sat down with a pencil and pen and made a list of all the scientifically plausible reasons as to why the people disappeared. He spent a lot of time scribbling.
Frustrated at their mysterious disappearance Tom began to make a trek around his kingdom looking for the people to prove seemingly magical disappearances were always explainable.
Even though he hadn’t gone too far, Tom saw something that looked like heaven, all glorious, sparkling and perfect--way in the distance. Well, he mocked, there was no such thing, so when he bumped into the edge of his kingdom with the picture of heaven on it, he shook his head knowingly. He knew it had only been a picture. Since the facts proved that the people were not in this direction, he turned to go in another.
Tom’s hell was like Tom’s heaven; it wasn’t too big, for that might contain things he had never thought of or worse, surprises. Though he had not gone far, these mountains irritated him. However a step in front of him the ground leveled out and became a plain. Thankfully Tom never saw a snow capped mountain again- ever.
Under a beautiful tree, he decided to sit down. The leaves above him began rustling and when he looked up he saw an unicorn reaching his neck up nibbling away. This upset Tom. He had always believed unicorns to be a myth. So he killed the unicorn. Then an African Penguin waddled up to him and although Africans know they have penguins, Tom didn’t believe a penguin could live in Africa, so he killed it too.
Since all the people had disappeared, a dog had been his faithful companion. But even the dog began to irritate him. It was just too cheerful and Tom wasn’t sure he believed this dog was really his friend. So he kicked him and the dog ran away never to return.
“Finally, some quiet,” Tom thought. As the aeons went by Tom’s kingdom continued to be just what he wished. His kingdom followed his reality and became smaller and smaller.
As he was attempting to open a coconut one day, he smashed his fingers so hard upon a rock that he broke bones in two of his fingers, gnarling them terribly and causing such excruciating fiery pain that he began to scream expletives as the top of his lungs. He called out for someone to come help him and when no one came, he recalled as a child his pastor taught him to pray in these situations. More vile expletives came out as he swore he would never pray as there was no God (forgetting he had once met Him). He had always believed in evolution and that man came from apes. And as more and more angry expletives raged, what Tom didn’t realize is that his sound became strange and animal-like and his tongue swelled so no words could be formed.
As he jumped around in rage swinging his long hairy arms in a fiery pain that seared from his hand out to the rest of his hairy black body, he wailed and wailed and gnashed his teeth. As the aeons passed by Tom seemed less and less aware of his surroundings. His hand never healed, and so he could only swing in the trees with the other.
It wasn’t that Tom rejected mystery anymore, but rather his stubbornness and fear made him begin to reject the trees for they had shadows and noises and so he was made more comfortable when he became forever running closely upon the ground with four legs.
How long it was Tom had no idea, but after what seemed ages, he wanted the hills to go away, they caused him so much fiery fear because he could not see past them---so they disappeared. Tom’s world became what he believed he could see around him.
One day, after Tom had been in his kingdom a long time, he no longer understood what that light was, it wasn’t that the brightness irritated him, but it made him see things like green below and blue above, things he no longer understood and that caused fiery fear. So the kingdom dimmed. Again much later, he began to feel that the soft strands of something under him was a mythical creature and he determined not to believe it. And the grass disappeared.
Tom, in his dark, tiny world began to wiggle his mammal feet and since he couldn’t see them, he didn’t believe in them and they scared him so they disappeared. Eventually as he lay there, he felt these four sticks coming out of his body, and that scared him. So his legs disappeared.
Eventually, the sounds of the breeze gave him the impression that there was something he didn’t understand, some space that he couldn’t see, so his ears disappeared.
And one day, aeons and aeons from then, Sally died and went to her own kingdom, just like Tom. She too didn’t believe in anything supernatural.
One day in her kingdom, she looked down and saw a strange little creature, nothing more than a tiny worm crawling around the ground. She picked it up and looked at it carefully. It was the oddest looking worm she had ever seen. It looked as if it had the face of a man. After trying for the longest time to figure out what this creature could be, for it certainly couldn’t be something mythical, she put the little worm down for it irritated her.
Though the worm crawled away, It disappeared from Sally’s sight and she would never be able to see him again.