|Thank you Martin Rownson for this image!|
"You know, Chris, all good people are admitted to heaven, whether or not they believe in God, and since you've done a lot more good than bad, and being a non-believer, God has made special dispensation for you - Archangel Gabriel will take you around so you can decide where you want to set up shop" nattered St Peter.
"Set up shop?" said Hitchens, feeling ever more confused.
"Sure, God found it refreshing that there's always people trying to solve the 'Is there a God?' problem from the other side of the fence".
"Oooookaaay ...." said Hitchens, now thinking that he is in a final delusional stage as his dying brain cells uses up the last oxygen molecules in his cerebrospinal fluid. "Why the hell not. Show me around, then."
Just as Hitchens said that, Gabriel flew in looking all excited and landed with a large "Whoooosh" as his anti-gravity belt switches off. In his angelic right hand is a super-efficient mini jet-pack. For Hitchens, apparently. Gabriel with no wings.
"Put this on, Chris, and we'll be able to see everything much quicker, and with better vantage point!" grinned Gabriel, "and don't be alarmed if other angels start to tag along with us. You're quite the enfant terrible amongst the thinking beings".
"Ummmm ... why can't I have an anti-gravity belt like you? And I thought angels traditionally have wings?" Hitchens groused, even more alarmed at the preposterousness of this situation.
"Dude, you won't know how to work anti-gravity belts. You lot on Earth haven't cracked it yet. Would I appear to Moses or Job with a Jet pack for example?" Gabriel tittered like a loon high on Nitrous Oxide, "Wings!" gasps Gabriel hysterically, "only used them when appearing to people who don't understand Science. Seriously, Chris, wings!" Gabriel was getting red in the face from laughing, and nearly choking himself in the process.
So, Hitchens put on his jet-pack and went a-flyin' with Gabriel to explore "Heaven" and see where he can "set up shop" as St Peter has put it simply. His brain hurts.
First, they came across a familiar figure of Einstein arguing with an exotic looking creature that on closer inspection looks suspiciously like a Pierson's Puppeteer. The two are engrossed with a 4 Dimensional projection of a mathematical function that is supposed to represent a 5-Dimensional Peano Curve. Just looking at the projection is enough to make Hitchens' brain threaten to implode into a Mercator projection of a Klein Bottle.
"Is that (pointing at the Puppeteer) what I think it is? What are they talking about anyway? It's worse than Greek to me!"
"Oh, that's Einstein and the 51st Hindmost of the Puppeteers, they're arguing about the latest results from CERN regarding the faster-than-light neutrinos"
"Ummm ... wouldn't Einstein already been shown all the solution for Theory of Everything? Why is he still working of the latest (before I died, at least) human discovery? And an alien in Heaven?"
"Einstein is adamant that no information should or could travel faster than light, so he decided to stay in 'Linear Time' with the rest of humanity's Physics. That's his idea of heaven; all the time in the world to read all the publications on all latest physical discoveries of the age. That way he's not violating causality."
"And the Puppeteer - well, do you really think that humans are the only self aware species - wait till you meet Quintaglios; but make sure you only approach them after they've fed... and make sure you have your jet-pack on you. They get a wee bit peckish at very odd moments. Of course, any limbs you lose to them can be re-grown quickly but if they chomp your head off, you essentially lose what you learnt from them in that particular meeting up to the chomp."
"Since you don't really care for causality I can tell you why Einstein is very upset with the Hindmost: the neutrino wavefunctions collapses depending on the observing apparatus and the sentient observer. Them postgrads and postdocs at CERN should lay off operating the synchrotron while high on Red Bull - it makes the neutrinos all hyper! They (the neutrinos) really can't handle traveling faster than light. I should know, the essence of me is based on neutrinos, and Red Bull really gives me wings!" Then he pulled a serious face and added, "Plus, God doesn't like me drinking Red Bull much, either. Makes me all humming-birdy hyper and annoying".
On they traveled, the neutrino based-being and the formally very dead Hitchens. Heaven is very pleasant; neither too warm nor too cold, unless you personally change the intra-climate control system field around you to suit your sense of adventure; and of course, the Field is generated by a General Atmospheric Interchange Apparatus, GAIA, for short.
They saw Buddha playing Extreme Battle Chess with Gandhi, where captured and killed Pawns gets reincarnated into Dragons, Rakshasa, Hanuman, and other mythical beings from Indian cultural lores. There's something oddly disturbing about seeing them playing that rather violent chess game, until Hitchens realised that the 'deaths' are necessary for the pieces to attain the highest state of Nirvana.
However, everywhere they go, Hitchens saw some interesting, massive, Toroidal structures floating just above the horizon - and Heaven being an Infinite Open Space, it's a bit hard to focus his eyes on them - imagine being able to see into infinity and see infinitely many infinite toroids floating over the infinite horizon. When he asked Gabriel about them, Gabe just shrugged, and smiled maddeningly, and dragged Hitchens to another part of Heaven.
They stopped for a while to watch Farrokh Bulsara (Freddie Mercury) jamming away with Pyoir Ilyich Tchaikovsky, while Beethoven added extra harmonies with a DJ's mixers, with Tupac Shakur provided the vocals. The results just resonates with the peculiar aether of Heaven, producing interesting visual effects that are then re-arranged by Vincent van Gogh (with both his ears intact).
Further on, they witnessed a boat race between Noah, Utnapishtim and Quetzalcoatl, with Moses mediating, when suddenly a bunch of Vikings appeared and demanded to join, with promise of endless supply of Mead. After the race they all (Vikings and prophets, too) went to see an archery contest between Temujin, Wilhelm Tell, and Philoctetes.
And they talked, Gabriel and Hitchens, about many a thing, for many hours, yet when questioned about the floating toroids yonder, the former remained silent. After seeing many wonders around Heaven, they came back to where they first started, at the Pearly Gates.
"So, Chris, where do you think you want to start your stay? You can uproot and move as many times as you wish - Jules Verne gives really nice personal tours of the more remote spots, too, when he's not too busy writing. He even considered cloning himself so he can do both things at once!"
"I still want to know what are those toroids are for! You keep avoiding and changing topics, now I'm not so sure if I want to stay" Hitchens sulked.
"Yea, God did warn me that you agnostic and athiest .." Gabriel started but was quickly interrupted by a very vocal Hitchens:
"Okay, okay! Geez, anti-theist if you will, dear Chris, God warned me about you triple A's type always being a pain in the woo-hoo, but for some reason God really has a capital time listening to your arguments, I swear he dotes on you pain-in-the-ass people!"
"So, spill, what's in the toroids, before I really become a real pain in your angelic arse, where incidentally I do believe the sun does shine" Hitchens just couldn't resist poking a barb.
"The toroids, my good man, are a bunch separate closed universes".
"What are they for, then?"
"Can't you guess, man?"
"No ... tell me."
"They're for the Fundamentalists. They think they're the only one in Heaven; and in a way it's true - they're in their own Heavens in their own separate Universes"
"So why am I here?"
"Oh, God thought he'd piss you off a little .... like he did Nietszche some years back ... speaking of which, I think you'd get along with him just fine"
This story is purely fictional with characters borrowed from real and fictional universe(s).
Rest in Peace, Chris Hitchens. I hope you're not too pissed off in Heaven.