Losing My Religion
I admit it, I got it wrong. Years in church, confirmation, the collection, transubstantiation, stained glass, hymns, ashes on the forehead, confession…all in vain. I’ve been worshipping the wrong god. Gods. So have we all, it seems, for the last two thousand years. Woops.
I remember driving my car. It was night time, the road was wet, I took a shortcut across a deathtrap roundabout. Someone drove too fast, too reckless…maybe it was me. Twisted glass, flashing lights, a siren, the scrape of tarmac against my face.
And then, a silence, a puff of smoke, a numbness that spread through my body then my mind. And, finally, a long resounding howl of a creature whose form I could not even begin to imagine.
It turns out those Egyptians didn’t bother undertaking the mind-blowing feat of constructing the pyramids for no good reason.
I wake in a long, pillored walkway that is enclosed and endless. It is white marble, with hieroglyphics streaming down the walls. There are some kind of ushers here, standing silently against the walls – when I ask one of them what will happen to me, he barks in an ancient tongue and gestures for me to wait quietly.
Is this heaven or hell? I am not that keen to find out.
At length, an usher beckons me to follow him through a trapdoor set into the stone floor. Beneath is a chamber lit by long torches and, at the other end, standing triumphantly on a raised platform is the jackel god, Anubis. Lord of the afterlife and master embalmer.
Anubis was always my favourite Egyptian god, but I suppose to tell him that now just looks like sucking up. In front of Anubis, who rears his head back in a growl to greet me, is a table with a large set of brilliantly shining scales. Ah. This rings a bell. The Weighing of the Heart. So that must mean that, yep, at the feet (paws?) of Anubis sits a chained and terrible creature with the head of a crocodile, the body of a hippo and a ravenous appetite. If my heart is weighed and found too light of good deeds, it will be thrown to this beast for his lunch.
I am flanked by two silent ushers as Anubis places a golden feather on one side of the scales and a scrawny lump of flesh, my heart, on the other. All I remember is that if they balance, I’m ok. I don’t want to think about what happens if the feather is heavier than my heart.
The scales swing up and down for some minutes, while I sweat and tremble in a way I didn’t think possible in the afterlife. Eventually, they come to an agonisingly slow halt. Perfectly balanced. Anubis gives a small, satisfied nod and shakes his head at the hungry creature at his feet which shuffles off with such a disgruntled expression on its crocodile face that I can’t help but laugh.
The laugh turns into hysterical exhilaration. I have passed.
But what now?