Writing Prompt - A man dies and goes to Heaven, only to find that every day there is a mandatory viewing of everyone in hell, where he sees his mom and wife burning.
UPDATE on May 6th: Whoo, I'm #1 on reddit's r/bestof!
Everybody loves Hitler.
It's 8 o'clock sharp, not that time matters in the eternal kingdom of heaven, and the Impale Adolf Hitler Interactive Exhibit opens up right on schedule. The angels have been waiting. Popcorn in one hand and pitchforks in the other, the moment the exhibit opens, all the good people of heaven go wild stabbing the ever-loving shit out of a scared defenceless German.
Tyler doesn't care for that. Not today. Today, he's finally worked up the courage to see the two exhibits he's avoided all his afterlife. One, his biological mother. This will be the first time Tyler meets her. Two, his widowed wife. This will be the last time Tyler can bear to see her.
The Tour Guide took time out of His almighty schedule to personally show them to Tyler.
"Are you ready, my child?"
"No." Tyler adjusts his halo. "Let's do it."
Starting from the ticket booth, they walk slowly through the Museum Of Eternal Damnation (Formerly Known As Hell). They stroll past Jeffrey Dahmer, being skinned alive by angels. They go around Ted Kaczynski, being strung up by fishing hooks. They make a right on Pol Pot, being boiled alive in his Pol Pot.
Tyler needs to ask. "Why are they here."
"Well, my son, amongst acts of cannibalism and necrophil--"
"No, uh... I mean Casey and my mother. The biological mom, that is."
"Ah." The Guide pauses. "Tell me about your wife, Casey."
"You're the omniscient one, you tell me."
"Humour an old man."
"Sigh. She saved my life. My pathetic, miserable excuse for a life. Well... apparently you judged otherwise, but she was my angel, you-dammit.
We met on my 21st birthday. I was partying and drinking with my college frat friends, instead of studying for the finals. Suddenly, Casey. She crashed the party, and I mean crashed. She looked like she was, what, late-twenties? I later found out she was actually 33. At first we all thought she was a professor or something -- she's certainly got the smarts -- but around the moment we were making out half-naked on the beer-stained couch, I figured differently.
Jerry teased me for months about being a cougar's cub. He was my best man.
Casey turned my life around. She is... well, was... the founder of some really big biotech startup. She got me a summer internship, my first real job, doing community management for the company. Basically, tweeting. But she made sure I got opportunities to learn and do more skilled jobs, and I moved up and up until I became the Chief Marketing Officer!
Then some asshole hit me with a truck. And here we are."
The Guide was silent for a while.
"Thank you, my child. Would you like to know how she died?"
"Wow. You gotta rub it in like that?"
"...yes. Tell me."
"Fuck. Fuck you, fuck you. Is that why she's here? Because we loved each other so much she couldn't wait to see me again?"
"Well... yes and no."
"WHY CAN'T YOU ANSWER QUESTIONS NORMALLY."
The angels outside the Stuff Albert Fish Into A Meat Grinder Interactive Exhibit were getting concerned about the angry angel behind them arguing with the big guy. They pretended not to notice, and casually continued turning the crank on a half-ground-up Fish.
Tyler and the Guide silently moved on.
They were now in the far back of the Museum, the wing of the lesser evils, or rather, the less famous evils. Almost no-one visits this section. Hence, rather than being granted individual exhibits, the captives here get filed away in glass boxes, clearly labelled with their primary sin. To Tyler's left, "These Peeps Killed Someone To Death". To his right, "These Peeps Assaulted Someone With Their Dick".
It's a long walk.
"My son, how are you feeling?"
"Oh that reminds me. How's my son?"
"Your best friend and best man, Jerry, adopted him. He's giving your son the best medical care they can afford. He might even grow up to have a healthy, normal life."
"Jerry's a good guy."
"I'll remember that in forty years' time."
"So... what about my mother?"
"What about your mother?"
"We've talked so much about Casey. Aren't we going to talk about my biological mother? I mean, I've never met her, so I can't tell you anything about her."
"Okay, fine. I know she dumped me at a hospital. I know she left a note saying 'I'll find you someday'. I know she never did. Look, dude. I think I deserve to know more about my biological mother. Can't we talk about her?"
"We already have."
"Sheesh. See, that's the kind of cryptic answer nonsense I'm talking about. I know you like to 'work in mysterious ways', but it puts people off. Seriously. Have you noticed you've had a lower percentage of active members across all Abrahamic religions recently? I think after a couple millennia, it's high time you reboot your brand. Build a new identity. I could help! We need to make your brand cleaner, more cool, more hip. Remember that thing you did with the Top 10 List? On the stone tablets? That was genius. Way ahead of its time. Maybe if we did more of that again, this time on modern-day tablets, we'd--"
Tyler spins his head around to where the Guide is pointing. He doesn't look at the box's label. He doesn't spare a glance at the thousands of starving people covered in piss and shit and blood. He only sees her.
He looks into her pale blue eyes, partially obscured by unkempt blonde hair. She's still beautiful. Covered in her own faeces, but still beautiful, at least to Tyler. He looks directly in her eyes, but...
"She doesn't recognize me."
Casey blinks. She scratches the rope burn on her neck. She blinks again, and turns away to look at an inmate trying to lick their own elbow.
"She doesn't recognize me."
"My child, I am so sorry."
"Why doesn't she--"
"Sometimes, people lose their minds before they're lucky enough to lose their life."
"What?! You can't, like, restore their minds or something?"
"I can. Would you like me to do that now?"
Tyler looks back at the glass box. That broken woman, wearing the skin of his former beloved, is not his former beloved. The mouth they once shared passionate kisses with, is now idiotically attempting to lick an elbow.
"Then I shall not."
"I'm done. I can't do this. I don't want to see my biological mother anymore, either."
"What. What now."
"...you've already seen her."
"Oh. Did we walk past her on the way here? You didn't say anyth--"
At that moment, all the pieces fall in place, as Tyler's mind falls to pieces. It's not true. He's never seen his biological mom. It's not true. She promised to come back for him. It is not true. Casey went directly towards him at that college party. It's a lie. Casey turned his life around, she took care of him, she raised him. It can't be true. Tyler and Casey's son came out deformed and sick. No, no no no please God it cannot cannot CANNOT BE--
Casey successfully touches her elbow with her tongue. She lets out a victory squeal.
Tyler hears her, and looks up. This time, he sees the label on the glass box.
"These Peeps Fucked Their Kids, Holy Balls"
Written in 3 hours. Misc Notes to Self: - Write with an ending in mind! - Well-woven clues throughout the story, I hope. I don't know if they're too obvious, because I knew the plot twist/ending from the moment I started writing. - The best opening line ever. - Love this method of mixing dark humour with an emotional core, all the way up to the final two words, "Holy Balls". - An clever and funny reinterpretation of Heaven & Hell. - Wrote this in four parts, in linear order, often going back to fix previous sections. But for the most part, other than the ending, I made it up as I went along. Pretty happy with how I dealt with the encounter with his wife: her not recognizing him, thus totally avoiding a conversation that would be hard to write. - Repeating minor plot elements throughout, such as Jerry and Tyler being a marketing guru. - On the other hand, I'm not sure if this story really works by itself, that is, if you didn't know the writing prompt beforehand.