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A Halo Sent to Hell

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White.

That’s the first thing you see when you open your eyes. As you begin to arise from your slumber, the blue sky and blazing sun also find their way into your vision. The scenery gives you a calming sense before you realize your situation: you had no idea where you were. Nothing around looked like your home, so how did you get here? Panic begins setting in your mind as you try to find any memories that could explain why you were here. Then it hits you. Suddenly, in a single moment, you recall the reasoning behind your predicament: you were dead.

You can feel yourself go pale, unable to fully accept that you had passed on. Even though you remember every vivid detail of your death, it still felt unbelievable. You give yourself a quick pinch on the arm just to check if it was a dream, but no such luck. This was real. You died. But soon, you realize something. If you’re seeing white all around, does that mean you made it to Heaven? You were at least able to find solace knowing that. You’d be able to see family and friends that also crossed the rainbow bridge! Just thinking about all the faithful reunions that would come makes you perk up. Maybe you would feel happy being in the afterlife after all.

“Oh good, you’re finally up,” you hear someone say behind you, pulling you out of your thoughts. A woman walks towards you, a gentle smile worn on her face. The lady wore all white, complementing her golden hair. Her most distinguishable features, however, were what caught your immediate attention: large, pearl-white wings on her back and a halo which hovered above her hair. She was the true embodiment of an angel.

“Welcome to the Golden Gates! I’m Miranda, and I’m here to guide you through your new home!” she says in a cheerful voice.

“M-my new home?” you ask with a shocked expression. “So, I’m going to Heaven?!” you can’t hold back the sheer joy in your voice.

She chuckles a bit. “Of course, you are. We are standing on the clouds, aren’t we?”

You look down to your feet, and, low-and-behold, you were walking on clouds. “Huh, I guess we are, haha,” you say a bit embarrassed. How did you not notice that sooner? “Oh wait!” you suddenly realize, “I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m—"

“I know,” Miranda interrupts, surprising you by saying your name before you can utter it out. “Don’t worry, it’s my job to know everyone that comes to enter Heaven. I introduce every new angel to our world.”

“Huh,” you respond lamely. You scratch your head awkwardly, but then you feel something odd on your back, or, more appropriately, you don’t feel anything at all. Not even angel wings. “H-hey, if I’m an angel, don’t I get my own wings?”

Again, she chuckles, “Ah, you newcomers always ask that. I suppose it should be expected,” she turns around to fully show off her feathered wings. “Every angel does not instantly get their wings. An angel only gets wings when they earn them.” She turns back to face you, prepared for the next question every new angel inquires.

“Well, how do I earn mine?” you ask.

“It depends. There are no real specifications for when an angel earns their wings. It just depends on when God feels you earned them. The way I earned mine was by taking this position of greeter. But I’m sure you’ll earn your wings in no time.” She responds. “You do, however, get this,” she begins, stretching out her hands. Suddenly, a beam of light shines down onto her palms, a large ring manifesting from nothing. You soon realize what it is: a halo. “This is for you.”

You stand there, just staring at the accessory. Slowly, you reach your hand out and grasp it, bringing it up to your head. Wondering how it stays in place, you hold it up. It soon makes a *click* sound, signaling it’s in place. “Wow,” is the only word you can utter at the moment. Miranda shows you your reflection in a hand-held mirror, and you notice the white ring hovering over you.

“You can also take it off any time you wish. Believe me, it can be a hassle to sleep while wearing those, so feel free to keep it there or remove it whenever you please,” Miranda informs you. You decide to keep it on, for now, wanting to indulge the moment, the giddiness inside you not only increasing in size. “You seem excited,” she notes, “are you ready to enter into Heaven?”

With a wide grin, you shout “Yes!” You couldn’t believe this was truly happening! All of your life, you’d done your best to be a good person. Of course, you were by no means perfect, but knowing all of the good you had done in your life greatly outweighed the bad, you weren’t ashamed to admit you were proud of the life you lived. All those years finally built up to a beautiful afterlife, and you couldn’t wait to start the new chapter of your life. ‘Well,’ you think to yourself, ‘I guess this would be the epilogue of my story since I’m already past the end.’ That didn’t deter you though, as it meant you would truly have a “happily ever after” conclusion.

With a sincere smile, Miranda takes your hand and walks with you to Heaven - your new home.

----

Charlie was… admittedly nervous about the interview in a few days.

But excited to unveil her project! …

But worried about embarrassing herself on TV…

But excited! …

But worried…

Maaaaybe an 80-20 split on excitedness and nervousness?

Okay, so she was, possibly, a liiiiitle more nervous than she let on but could anyone blame her?! She was about to be on 666 News with Katie Killjoy and Tom Trench: two of the biggest names in all of Hellywood! Sure, she may be the princess of Hell, but not the popularity one would think would come with royalty. What if she stumbled on her words or everyone laughs her off the show? Maybe she should sing to get her point across? She’d always done better with song than speech. Or what if—

“Charlie?” she hears as she paces in the lounge of the Happy Hotel. She’s stopped by the voice of Vaggie, her best friend and co-owner of the hotel.

“Vaggie!” she startles, “Ehehehe, w-when did you get here?”

“Just a few seconds ago. Are you doing alright, hon? You’re gonna leave a hole in the ground with how much you’ve been pacing,” Vaggie notes.

"Ah, yeah, I'm just... preparing for the interview," Charlie replies lamely, "trying not to psyche myself out, y'know?"

"I know you're a bit worried, but I know you're gonna do great. The worst thing you can do is overthink it. Just stick to the script and you'll do fine," Vaggie offers in comfort. Even with those words, Charlie can't help but feel unsure of the whole plan.

"Do you really think people are gonna wanna come to the hotel? What if I mess up and completely ruin everything? What if they all see me as a joke?"

Vaggie thinks for a moment before speaking next. "Listen, I understand why you're nervous, but know that no matter what happens, I'll be there to support you. This is our project, and we're gonna make it work, no matter what. And if anyone laughs at you, they won't be after I'm through with them." That gets a laugh out of Charlie. That was just one aspect of Charlie that Vaggie really liked-her laugh. It was a joyous sound, one that lit up any place that it could be heard. Vaggie couldn't help but let out a few laughs just from her reaction.

With her mood brighter, she asks one more time, "You sure I shouldn't sing instead? I think it'd really get people's attention!" This wasn't the first time Vaggie had been asked that question, and it was the same answer everytime.

"Believe me, it would definitely get attention, alright. But we need to be professional about this to show everyone that we are a serious operation," she responds. "Now come on, we've still got some cleaning to do for our grand opening."

As Vaggie walks out to get some supplies, Charlie takes a breath. The reassurance from her friend had truly shaken most of the anxiety away, and she felt this new wave of confidence for the upcoming event. Her big passion project was finally getting the attention it needed. No demon would have to be brutally slaughtered by the angels in another extinction. Soon, hundreds of sinners would be lining at the door, waiting to receive the help they need to become better people! She could already envision the bubbling atmosphere of the Happy Hotel filled with new patrons, embarking on the journey of self-betterment. Just the idea gave Charlie faith in her beliefs- it's never too late for anyone to change. Sure, there'd be naysayers like her mother and father but she knew that this is what Hell truly needed.

A newfound feeling of giddiness arises inside of Charlie as she goes to help Vaggie prepare for opening night.