One of the angels, Jophiel I think it was, handed me a gun. "You can shoot him if you like," he said.
I was ready for him. I'd never used a gun before but, before they could stop me, I swiftly pointed it at God's chest and pulled the trigger. The recoil almost knocked me off my feet. The noise was much louder than I’d expected and my ears whistled. I seemed to have scored a hit, though. God slumped, his lights went out and he slid from his throne. His halo shattered on the floor. There was silence.
"What now?" I asked, keeping the gun between me and the angels. None of them had moved. I had the initiative but I had no idea what to do with it. "You," I said, pointing the gun at the smallest of the angels, "what's your name?"
"Can this gun kill you, Uriel?"
"I believe it can, sir."
"Do you wish to die, Uriel?"
"In that case, Uriel, you will answer me truthfully."
"Of course, sir." He seemed offended. None of the other angels had moved. None seemed inclined to assist God. None seemed inclined to attack me, although with adrenaline flooding my system I'd have been glad of the opportunity to shoot somebody else.
"What happens now?"
"I beg your pardon, sir, but I think that's up to you."
"What usually happens?"
"When somebody shoots God."
"Nobody's done it before, sir."
"Why do you talk like a butler, Uriel? No, forget that. Are you going to attack me?"
"Attack you, sir?" He looked at the other angels. "I don't believe so, sir. Why would we do that?"
This was too surreal for words. Whatever I had expected, it wasn't this. Could angels be trusted? If I put the gun down, would they overpower me? When the adrenaline rush wore off, would I still be able to shoot them? Didn't they care that I had just shot God? I reminded Uriel of this pertinent fact.
"Whatever happens, happens," Uriel said.
That seemed very cold-blooded. "Didn't you like God?" I asked.
Uriel seemed as confused as I. It was as if I were at a trial and they were at a wedding. Our conversation was based on entirely disparate premises and neither could make out what assumptions the other held. Uriel seemed uncomfortable as spokesman and looked round at the other angels for support. None of them seemed inclined to speak, so he replied, "we neither liked nor disliked him, sir. He was God; we are angels. He did his job and we did ours. We didn't socialise."
Then what," I asked, "should I do now? Do I go to heaven? Hell? Pitch a tent here? What?"
"I'm afraid we have no tents, sir," said Uriel apologetically, although we could create one if it pleases you."
"In the fullness of time," interjected Gabriel.
"In the fullness of time," echoed Uriel. "If I might make a suggestion, sir, you could try out your throne."
Uriel motioned towards the seat previously occupied by God, whose remains had unaccountably vanished. It was indeed a magnificent throne and looked very inviting now that my body's accountancy system was beginning to demand payment for the earlier excitement. I felt as if my legs would give way at any moment. I approached the throne and stroked the upholstery. It was very soft. "This is my throne?" I asked.
"It is God's throne," replied Uriel. "and you are now God. It is most certainly your throne, sir."
I inspected it suspiciously. It didn't seem to have any hidden traps. I lowered myself cautiously into the seat. It was every bit as soft as it looked. I sighed as all the care was lifted from me. This was the kind of throne God could relax in for eternity. I tried out my judgement. "You," I thundered, "have been a good little doggy and you shall have a bone. Whereas you, yes you, are an evil little pooch and shall have your nose rubbed in your poo." The angels clapped.
"Oh, well done, sir," simpered Uriel. "A fine performance, if I might say so. Will you be needing the gun, sir, or should I return it to Jophiel? He wants it for the next show."
"Then by all means he shall have it," I said magnanimously. "And double the manna rations all round. Let us dine on sausages and gin." I was light headed and the throne seemed to be doing something to my loins, something not at all unpleasant. "What time do we knock off? I - er - oooh..."
The angels were busy preparing for the next performance as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Uriel approached me holding a halo, which he set to 'hover' before placing it above my head. He handed me a device that looked a little like a TV remote control. I tried to concentrate, although the throne's gentle but effective massaging made it difficult. On the control were two buttons. One said: Do Everything Everywhere Eternally. The other said: Don't. Under Uriel's polite but firm guidance, I pressed the first. He seemed satisfied and left me to become better acquainted with my seat of extraordinary power.
For the next few centuries I was fully engaged with God's private rapture and barely noticed my surroundings. The angels seemed to manage well enough without me so I let them get on with it. Every so often I emerged from my ecstasy to find a gun pointing at me, but nobody ever pulled the trigger. I smiled benignly at them as the throne continued its ministrations. Some fell to their knees; others wept. Occasionally I wondered whether I should eat or take a potty break, but such earthly things seemed unnecessary here in heaven. If indeed this was heaven. But I couldn't imagine anything more heavenly than this. If it wasn't heaven, it was a pretty good substitute.
As the centuries skipped into millennia I found myself becoming a little detached from the heavenly experience. This was all very well, very good indeed to give it its due, but it was a bit, sort of, samey. Was there anything else? I didn't seem to have had full value from the afterlife; I still didn't know what the meaning of my earthly life had been, and if my current situation had any purpose I had yet to discover what it was. What, I wondered, would happen if somebody did shoot me? Was there an after-afterlife? Did it make any more sense than this?
During one of my periods of lucidity my hand felt something that had slipped down the side of the throne cushion. I pulled it out and looked at it. It was the remote control. I glanced at the angels; they were busy with their latest customer and nobody was looking in my direction. My finger hovered over the 'Don't' button. "Oh, what the hell," I thought. I pressed it.
I was standing outside a door. To the left and right the corridor stretched as far as I could see. It was full of people and each seemed to be standing outside a door, waiting to be admitted. Seconds later the door in front of me opened and a being who seemed to be an angel, wings and all, beckoned me in. "We're ready for you now, sir," he said.
The interview wasn't at all what I expected. Instead of questioning me about my life and good deeds, or lack of them, they only seemed concerned about whether I'd enjoyed my experience. "Would you rate the climate as balmy, inclement, brass monkeys, tsunami or don't know?" I tried to concentrate, but somebody at the back of the room was shining at me, he didn't even have the consideration to dip his headlights, and I couldn't think. "Very satisfied," I said, "no, make that distinctly dissatisfied. Oh, charmed. I mean, marginally disgruntled. I'm sure that's what it was."
Then they began to ask me about God's performance. They indicated the person at the back of the room and I realised it was God himself shining on me. I shielded my eyes, squinted and tried to get a look at him. One of the angels turned God's illumination down until I could make out a figure with an elaborate halo sitting on a red-upholstered throne. If I'd got God, I wondered, who was supervising everyone else's interviews? For a moment I felt rather flattered.
Then I recalled my mission. If ever I found myself in the presence of God, I had promised myself, I would kill the bastard. I bet others have had the same thought, then chickened out, decided to give the little prick the benefit of the doubt. Well, not I. I tried to judge the distance between me and the throne. Could I make it before the angels intercepted me? Would he be too hot to touch? How would I kill him?
My problem was solved a moment later when one of the angels, Jophiel I think it was, handed me a gun. "You can shoot him if you like," he said.