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When you're dead you're dead. That's what I had always heard. After all, who really believes in life after death? Yet, there I was. I can still remember the twinge in my left arm and the throbbing ache in my chest that seemed to paralyze my entire body. As the last breath of life oozed out of me, the pain vanished and suddenly for the first time in my life I felt really alone. I was dead.

My whole being seemed to float away. Whatever death embraces, I was aware of it, for all of my faculties still functioned keenly. I had been transported from the state of life into a new existence. My past life seemed like the twinkling of an eye as I entered an eternal void. I was suddenly horrified at the possibility that death was the ultimate reality, not the final end I had dreaded, but an open door to eternity.

Upward, ever upward, spiraling through an endless tunnel to oblivion, I had no idea what to expect, nor could I know my destination. For some reason I sensed that my present state was part of a master plan, that somewhere, someone was drawing me to my ultimate end. Suddenly an awesome thought passed through my consciousness. Could this someone be God? I dismissed the thought immediately. There is no God. Why, everyone knows that! Well, almost everyone. Certain radicals, I remembered, still prayed and retained their absurd claims that God would judge the world. I recollected an old preacher standing on a street corner who proclaimed doom to everyone that passed him. What was it he said? It's appointed unto man ... once to die ... and then the judgment. That's it, once to die and then the judgment.

Judgment, there's that word again. Could I... no, there's no such thing as judgment. Be calm. Stop worrying. You didn't expect anything after death anyway, so what's the difference? These few moments after life are like a bonus. Right?

It didn't help. The more I conferred with myself, the more distraught I became. If this was my final hour, that day of reckoning with an Almighty Being, I knew I was totally unprepared. Not only had I rejected God, but I had cursed Him and mocked Him throughout my life. If God actually existed and I was hastening toward judgment ... I was in big trouble.

These were terrible thoughts for one lonely soul surrounded by darkness. Up ahead of me at the end of the tunnel, in the darkest part of the heavens, appeared a giant closed door. I couldn't help wondering what was on the other side, but I wasn't sure that I really wanted to know. Somehow I felt much safer out in the darkness. Traveling so fast, I didn't see how the door could ever open in time. It didn't. I passed right through it!

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