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Cosmic Joke
by Phil Temples

Bob Butler felt an intense pain in his temple, almost as though someone had kicked him in the head. One moment he was walking his German Shepard in the park. The next moment, Butler’s world grayed out; time lost all meaning. The pain in his head was gone now. Butler felt like he was floating in nothingness—not fully aware of what was happening to his body, yet still conscious in some sense of the word. A serene yellow-gold shimmering glow surrounded what seemed to be.

For Susan Sheraton, the last moment of her existence on earth was a terrifying realization that the bus in front of her was out of control and headed right for her and her bicycle. The bus loomed large in front of Sheraton. Time seemed to fold in on itself like some cosmic accordion playing her swan song. At some point there must have been physical contact; she wasn’t sure. The panic gave way to a peaceful sort of pinkish-white calm. The bus no longer occupied Sheraton’s thoughts. Instead, she felt herself carried along at a gentle pace to—something.

Frank Gartenhaus’ dream had been horrifying. He had fallen out of an open window from a building of great height. He remembered tumbling head over heels. At one point the ground receded from view, as though his fall would continue forever. He had experienced this dream before. It almost always ended in his waking up in a cold sweat. Instead, however, the dream continued with his being somewhere else. It was warm and wet here, a subterranean space like a cavern, or the womb. He felt some sort of gentle motion pulling him towards some purpose. It was not altogether unpleasant. Gartenhaus was in no hurry to wake up.

Three conscious entities drifted along, only semi-aware of their existence. Three former human beings—now Spirit Entities—were about to experience the first of many surprising revelations about the afterlife. Their bibles, torahs, their belief systems had never prepared them for this.

Up ahead through the mist, through the gentle, swaying current and eddies they perceived an odd monument: a brightly-colored red-and-yellow MacDonald’s restaurant sitting underneath two enormous golden arches. The arches rose so high they disappeared into the heavens.

Below it, a sign flashed its message incessantly: “Over 60 Billion Sold”. The Spirits thought this a strange greeting, indeed.

“Just kidding,” the Universe said, via the sign. “It’s really only 52 Billion.”