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Literary Crunk
Wednesday, May 10, 2006   |    Fiction

When You Die—Ten Scenarios

by John Leary & J. Chris Rock

You learn that the laws of karma and reincarnation are true. Good begets good, bad begets bad. You also learn that plants are living things and therefore included in this universal equation. Every time you mowed your lawn and mercilessly trimmed along the driveway counts against you as a moral transgression. You are reincarnated as a pencil sharpener, a pencil sharpener that realizes only ascetics who eschew yard work have a shot at enlightenment.

Time slows as you approach the singularity of your death. The instant of your passing lasts, in your relative perception of time, forever. Problem is, you’re stuck staring at whatever was in front of you at the time—a cracked windshield, a ball of flame, a doctor’s infrequently groomed nostrils—forever.

At the end of a long tunnel of light, you find yourself in another long tunnel of light.

Eternal non-existence. Your body is nothing more than a machine that has been switched off. Permanently. You don’t realize this, however, because you no longer exist. Nothing we do matters later because there is no later. Your neighbor’s wife is looking pretty good right about now, isn’t she, sailor? Go out and live! Remember, no one ever wrote a book called The Five People You Meet in the Never-Ending Void of Non-Existence.

The ancient Egyptians were right. Cats do play a prominent role in eternity. The afterlife, or CatWorld as it is called, is a series of auditions, rehearsals and performances of Broadway musicals with cats in starring roles. The cats can talk. You can’t. But you can purr. You spend eons as an understudy for a non-speaking role in Barnum.

You discover that money was God’s way of keeping score. The universe is a simple place and the person with the most material wealth on earth, no matter how obtained, has the best afterlife.

There is no hell. There is only heaven and “pirated heaven.” In pirated heaven, the dialogue is out of sync, the scenes are all jerky and God is played by Tom Arnold.

It’s sort of like a slinky.

You awake in a white cornerless room with every other thing that died at the exact same moment as you. An array of crude weapons in the room’s center make it clear that you must fight and defeat everyone else in order to enter eternity. There can be only one. God is a big fan of cage matches. You grab a pair of brass knuckles and a spiked club. You dispatch the bugs, the elderly, and the little girl with the grapefruit spoon easily enough, but then you spot the mustachioed Hungarian carving a path of destruction toward you with a machete and you think, “If only he’d died a second later.”

Heaven is now known as Cool Ranch® Doritos Presents Heaven.

John Leary and J. Chris Rock put the fun in Function, the ass in Passage and the dip in Oedipus. They actually do know what happens when you die, though they buried it among nine lies. You'll figure it out soon enough. Their work, together and separate, has appeared in: Hobart, Barrelhouse, the Science Creative Quarterly and McSweeney's Internet Tendency.