“I do hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I am sorry to say that you are dead.”
The old man bowed his head before me. There we were, in a sea of clouds. They stretched out as far as the eye could see, perhaps even farther than that. Amidst it all, we sat together on a small square of tatami mats. Four and a half tatami mats, to be precise. It was a simple little room, though that description was a loose fit since it lacked both walls and a roof, and was floating in the clouds. It was furnished with a small tea table, a set of drawers, an old CRT TV, and an old-fashioned telephone. It was all very classic, if nothing else.
But all that aside, back to Lord God. Or at least, the man who claimed to be God. This God guy claimed that I had died in some accident of his making. But honestly, for a dead man, I certainly didn’t feel very lifeless.
As I remembered, rain suddenly started pouring while I was on my way home from school. I was taking a detour through the local park, at which point I was assaulted by a blinding light and a thunderous roar.
“I am afraid to say that I have made a bit of a blunder when I dropped some lightning into the world below. Truly, I am sorry about my mistake. I never intended for it to strike anyone... the chances of it happening are so low to begin with! Really, I cannot apologize enough.”
“So the lightning scored a critical hit, which killed me? Well, that makes sense. So... is this Heaven, then?”
“Ah, no. This is actually far above Heaven. It is where all the Gods live. You could call it the Divine Realm, I suppose. I actually had to summon you here myself. Humans ordinarily cannot ever hope to come here, you see. Now, um, Mo... Mo-chi-zu-ki...”
“Ah, Mochizuki. Mochizuki Touya. Touya’s my given name.”
“Yes, yes, young Touya.” Old Man God addressed me as he poured us both a cup of tea.
Oh, look at that. My tea stalk’s upright. Lucky me, I thought.
“Young Touya, are you not a tad too calm in this situation? You are very much dead. I had thought you would have been more panicked, or perhaps even furious.”
“I’m a dead man talking. Quite frankly, I’m having a hard time believing this is even real. Still, what’s done is done. No use pointing fingers over it.”
“That is a rather philosophical outlook.”
Even so, I never thought I’d die at fifteen... I sipped my tea as that thought crossed my mind. Ah, delicious.
“So, what happens next? Heaven or Hell, which way are you sending me?”
“Oh, no. Perish the thought! This was all my fault, and I will gladly take responsibility for that. You’ll be resurrected in a moment, don’t you worry about that. But...” God stumbled over his words for a moment.
I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong.
“I can certainly restore you to life, but I cannot simply place you back where you came from. There are rules about this kind of thing, you understand? Once again, allow me to profusely apologize for this situation... Now, to the point.”
“Go on,” I said, encouragingly.
“It is possible to grant you a life in a different world. A chance to begin anew, so to speak. Of course, I will understand if you don’t like the idea, but—”
“Sounds good to me.”
“...It does?” Finding his endless apology cut short, God’s face was now almost comically blank.
“If that’s the way it has to be, then that’s all there is to it. I’m honestly just happy I get another chance, so that’s fine by me.”
“You truly are an amazing young man... You definitely could have made something of yourself if you were still alive down there... Please forgive my carelessness.” Poor old God looked very downtrodden indeed. I was very close to my own grandfather, so it felt a bit bad for me as well.
I knew it was silly, but I definitely empathized with him. Besides, I was talking to God of all people. I had never been very religious, but I wasn’t so stupid as to get up and start yelling at the guy, demanding he make everything right again. I did feel very sad about never being able to see my family or friends ever again, but that wasn’t something that could be fixed by blaming God. My granddad told me to be a good person, the kind of person who forgave other people when they made mistakes. By all accounts, Gods were people as well. Probably.
“At least allow me to make it up to you somehow. I am permitted to grant you small favors like that... Does anything come to mind?”