Justice Served by Casey Pendelton

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SUMMARY: Mistakes happen, but what happens when a mistake lands you in hell?

The view from up here is incredible. It makes me feel like justice is served. 21,369 days of hell, and now, to simply see the sky and breathe fresh air is heaven on earth.

I look up at the smog-filled skies the way others admire a stained glass windows in a great cathedral.

"Excuse me. Can we begin?" The petite reporter in the camel tweed suit shoves a mircrophone in my face.

"What do you want to know?" My voice is gravelly, deep and foreign to my ears.

"The AP reported you were the first soul ever released based on an error? How did that come about?"

"It was a computer error. My name is Carl A. Brightworth of Akron, OH. Someone recorded the deeds of Carl A. Brightworth of Acorn, OK in my file. So, when I appeared for judgment, it was a no brainer. I was sent, you know, there." Even thinking the word turns my stomach.

"And ten days ago a clerk found the error?"

"Yes. It turns out everything was one big mistake. I wasn't scheduled for termination for another seventy years. By all rights, I should be a great-grandpa now."

And Kelly Maye Rebard should be my wife. That was the plan. It was six months and three days until our wedding day when everything went wrong.

"What was it like?" Asks the reporter; her nose wrinkles up as if she has caught the odor of something bad. She has no idea what bad is.

"It was everything you have ever heard—fire, brimstone, endless tortures, the screams of lost souls as their flesh is seared away to ash before your eyes." I pause, unsure how much to say, how much this world is ready to hear. How do you describe everlasting damnation? Or the horrors that not even the most talented movie producer could capture on film?

"The worst of it was the dreams. They always started with life as it was meant to be. You know, blue skies, green hills, you and your lady making out on a blanket after a lazy day picnic. Only from there, things go crazy. The clouds roll in and the sky turns into a blood bath of destruction. Lightning destroys everything around you as you run for cover. But there is no cover. There is only more devastation and rotting carcasses; but the worst of it is the locusts, swarming down, beating at you with steel tipped wings, tearing at your flesh." I feel the sweat building on my brow and upper lip. My voice grows hoarse with emotion. "And if that's not enough, the molten hot brimstone pellets against you, searing your clothes, your back, and your hair is singed to the roots. You want to wake up, but waking up is no better because you are in hell. You are in the belly of the beast, and the smell and fire and pure evil is still with you." I stop to catch my breath and wipe the sweat from my face.

The reporter waits, quietly, looking everywhere except at me.

My voice, a whisper, my words meant more for me than the reporter and that confounded microphone she keeps pointed at me, accusing me of holding something back. "But it's done now. Just a bad dream. Just a bad dream that I have to put behind me."

She clears her throat and looks to the cameraman for guidance.

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