In the beginning, there was light – blinding, soul-sucking light. Our protagonist is gently hovering in a pool of all-luminance, staring loosely beneath him at the vague remains of what seems like a memory. Gradually, at the pace of a setting sun, that memory acquires a face – a rather familiar face.
“Is that me?”, thought he.
A moment ago, Brother Carl – a priest at the Blessed Temple of Light – was wholly immersed in the sacred duty of washing the idols within the shrine. Lightning struck, the ground thundered, and before he knew it, the priest was crushed beneath the weight of the idol. An act of God, some would call it. And now, as his spectral remains drifted in limbo, Carl is slowly reminded of the moment of his own dying. He is convinced now that the blood-spattered face he sees beneath him is his, and the smashed body it is attached to is also him.
Realisation strikes. “I am dead.”
A floodgate opens. Carl’s mind is bombarded with a multitude of questions - inquiries of anger, of confusion, of fear. “If I am dead, then who is this that thinks now?”, he thought. “What is this that thinks now?”
“Is it me?”, thought he.
And as he muses such, it begins raining outside the temple. Through the haze of his riddled mind, he sees mortal men and women fleeing for cover. Rain drops pelt the earth like the tears of a Father mourning the death of his child. Carl watches as raindrops strike his body and melt though like he wasn’t even there. And even as he processes this, a wind blows and drags his ethereal body along.
“Am I on my way to Heaven?”, he thought desperately.
Just then, another gust of wind grabs hold of the priest’s hand and lead him gently into an old church. “Is this Heaven?”
A bell strikes – ding! dong! ding! dong! ding! dong!
Carl’s body comes to rest in front of a massive statue of Christ, The Messiah. “Oh! I must pray!”, he thought. “How else can one reach Heaven!”
And thinking such, he begins praying - “O Dear God Almighty, Show Me The Way! How Must I Attain Salvation? How Does A Ghost Die?” Hour after hour, day after day, Carl worships his lord, desperate now for an exit. “Dear Lord, Show Me The Way!” A week passes by, fear begins to possess the priest. He weeps his spectral tears, he mourns, he screams, “Lord! Show Me The Way!”
A candle stand falls at the altar! A little boy lunges from behind the pew, grabs an apple from the feet of Christ and darts out the church. “This must be my mission! How dare this boy steal from God’s Home!”, he thought chasing after the child. The boy runs though the drizzly streets, turns around the corner and disappears into an abandoned house. Carl follows, determined to do what seemed like the Lord’s Final Bidding.
As he enters the dilapidated house, a distant wailing floods the air. A baby is crying somewhere. The boy springs up the staircase in the direction of the sound and disappears around the turning with Brother Carl close at his heals.
Suddenly, the howling stops. Carl arrives at the scene and watches as a tiny little girl eats the apple out of the boy’s hand. He is immediately assaulted by a wave of guilt. “A hungry child, all alone in this decrepit house, left with no choice but to steal from the Lord himself!”
“This must be Hell”, he thought.
He observes the children for many weeks, watching as the boy darted in and out the house, sourcing a loaf of bread some time and a piece of cloth in another, all in the service of his little sister. He thought to himself, “Why would He allows this to happen? What sort of a God creates so much sadness, so much suffering?”
Eventually the skies part and a drowsy sun slowly reclaims the horizon. It had finally stopped raining. The boy packs up their scattered possessions, wraps his sister in a tattered bundle of cloth and exits the house. The ghost, having grown curious, follows after. The boy walks northward, one foot after the other for three straight hours until he finally reaches the edge of a forest. Invisible to all mortality, our ghost continues his observation. Now within the canopy of wilderness, the boy sets up a small fire and sets his sister warmly besides it. He then proceeds to feed her yet another stolen apple and calmly tosses the residual apple core over the tree line. Entranced by this human ritual, Carl floats through the trees until he is in the company of the apple core.
“Where is Heaven?”, he thinks, “Where is God? Is there even such a thing?”
An eternity passes by in Carl’s contemplation. The seeds of the apple core gradually take root, over the years growing from sapling to shrub to holy bark. What was once a stolen apple core, in due course, becomes a glorious tree. Another eternity passes by. He watches as the tree grows old, flowering and bearing fruit season after season until it eventually smoulders, decaying back into the earth it came from. And in all this time, our friend the dear Ghost patiently watches, waiting for the day he would finally be set free from his spectral chains. He watches as an army of ants feed away on the rotting remains of the apple tree, watches as fresh flora begins blooming in its place and finally thinks to himself – “If there is a Heaven, if there is a Hell, then this is it.”
And thinking this, our ghost disappears into thin air.