Bowling For Souls

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Boyd had a major heart attack while bowling and died. At the funeral, his family all said that at least he died doing what he loved.

The next thing Boyd saw after he dropped his bowling ball and died, was a giant bowling alley, and he realized he was standing in an empty parking lot. It was pitch black outside. The interior of the bowling alley was lit up like a lighthouse in a sea of souls.

He knew he was dead, but somehow it didn’t bother him. He’d devoted his whole life to bowling. He even won a state championship once. He didn’t have friends, and what family he did have, didn’t like him.

No wonder. He was a small selfish little man who had no empathy for others. Now, this bowling alley looked like heaven to him.

He walked up to the front doors and peered inside. The place was packed with people bowling. This was too good to be true, he idly thought. Then he was inside. The cacophony of bowling balls slamming into pins sounded like celestial music to him.

He wandered around for a while looking for a place to sign up and play. Then someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and saw a middle-aged man wearing glasses too big for his face.

“You’ll be playing on Lane 13, against Stanley Benning in ten minutes,” the man told him and then blended back into the crowd. Turning back to the lanes, Boyd saw a projection above each one with different messages.

“You lose. Report below.”

Congratulations, you won this round.

“Good job. You’re one step closer to salvation.”

Boyd’s stomach started churning. Alarms were going off in his head. This wasn’t heaven. Was it hell? 

He zombie-walked over to Lane 13. A thin man with bright red hair was sitting at the scoring table. He was holding an animated conversation with himself.

“Why am I here?

Because you were a shit! 

Boyd waited until he stopped, then introduced himself.

Yeah right. I was expecting you,” the thin man with bright red hair, and whose name was Stanley Benning, replied.

“Is this hell?” Boyd asked.

“No, that’s the next stop from here, if you don’t win and make it to heaven,” Stanley said.

“Is God keeping score?”

“I have no idea. All I know, is that you have to win five games in a row against five different opponents to cash your ticket to heaven.”

“Do you mean,” asked Boyd, “that the good and bad souls all go here first?”

“Oh heck no! The good souls go directly to heaven. We’re somewhere between heaven and hell.”

Frame-after-frame they stay tied, until the ninth when Stanley left an open frame. Both of them bowled the game of their lives. Boyd was better that day, and won. Stanley simply disappeared.

Not sure what to do next, Boyd sat down at the scorer’s table. He watched the end of the lane intently waiting for a message. One down, four to go. He just might be able to pull this off he thought.

Then the projection on the wall read, Next Opponent…Earl Anthony!

Even though Boyd knew it meant he was going to hell, he couldn’t help but feel honored to get to play with one of the greatest PBA legends of all time.

As It Stands, I get a kick out of envisioning the hereafter!

Trouble In Dreamland

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The dreamers twitched nervously in their sleep.

I watch them breath.

Some are breathing too lightly for a good sleep. Something must be tormenting them. They are tossing and turning in their hospital beds.

My job, as the guardian of Sleep Land, was to protect sleepers from bad dreams. Nightmares could kill. I’m not sure how I got this job, or mission if you will, but I feel great satisfaction watching people wake up from a long sleep, rested and happy.

I don’t think many people would want my job. It does get stressful, and I’ve seen some horrendous things. But it was never my choice to become a guardian. That’s because I’m always sleeping. Been in a coma now for eight years.

I don’t know what will happen if I ever wake up. I quit thinking about it years ago. I’m comfortable with my routine at the hospital, checking in on patients all night. The hospital holds 200 patients. I manage to stop in on all of them before dawn arrives.

When I sense a patient is experiencing something unpleasant, I step into their dream to see what I can do to make it better. Usually, I end up dealing with small annoyances that flee when they see me.

There have been exceptions. I’ve dealt with nine full-on nightmares in eight years. Each time it becomes more exhausting, and I sense my body weakening.

Make no mistake. A nightmare is a powerful thing. It can even make people do evil things after they wake up. That was the case of four of the nightmares I confronted. Each patient woke up with murder in their eyes.

Luckily, none of the four were able to carry out their desire to kill someone. They all ended up in an insane asylums. The remaining five nightmares, were defeated in Sleep Land and they never made it to the patient’s consciousness.

I’m feeling a bit odd today. Normally, I don’t let my mind wander around the hospital during the day because it’s too stressful watching life-and-death situations. That’s when I spotted him! A nightmare in the making.

He was there to get surgery on his knee. An armed correctional officer accompanied him. The prisoner had facial scars from countless fights in the day yard. The guard, Eli Benson, had to stay with him (with the exception of the operating room) every moment until he was released by another guard taking his place.

The knee replacement surgery took place shortly after Benson and his prisoner, Hans Hartmann, arrived. Still asleep after surgery, Hartmann was taken to a special room that only had a hospital bed, and one chair in it. Benson took his place on the chair.

When I saw Hartmann’s nightmare a few hours later I knew what was going to happen.

As night descended, I prepared myself. I saw enough. Hartmann was going to kill the correctional officer, a nurse, an old woman there to visit her sick sister, and one highway patrolman outside the hospital as he was getting away.

I had to stop the nightmare from stepping into the daylight.

The nurse who was monitoring my vitals was startled. I was waking up! She called for the doctor on duty, and ran to my room. The bright light blinded me for minutes. I kept blinking, trying to focus my eyes. I felt a sense of urgency.

When the doctor came he was all smiles, and told me he’d contacted my sister about my miraculous recovery. For the next two hours, nurses unplugged me from monitors and took the feeding tube out of my throat.

When I was finally free of all the life-saving equipment I was able to talk. My voice was raspy and words were difficult to form. I was able to get the attention of the last nurse before she left.

She was in her forties and knew her way around the hospital and how to work with patients. I asked her to do me a big favor. Of course she agreed right away. I asked her to get a security guard and to go check on the room with the prisoner who had knee surgery yesterday.

She looked at me like I was crazy. I couldn’t blame her. I told her that I had a terrible dream and would really appreciate it if she would check on the prisoner. I could see the doubt in her eye, but my sudden awakening had an impact on her.

She said she would. I waited impatiently, wondering if it was too late. It seemed like eternity before she returned. There was awe in her eyes. The prisoner was caught fighting with the correctional officer. With the help of the security guard, Hartmann was overcome.

I’m waiting for my sister right now. Something bothers me though. Who will take my place, and be the guardian of Sleep Land after I’m gone? I was in the lobby when I saw my sister, and something else. My replacement.

A small group of family members were crying as a doctor told them their daughter was in a coma, and he wasn’t sure if she would ever come out of it.

As It Stands, the idea of being in a coma has always fascinated me, but I’m in no hurry to lapse into one and find out what happens next.

Pete’s Last Hope To Stay Out of Hell

Do, or Die

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Questionable souls, standing in line, waited for one last chance to save themselves from the fires of hell.

There were two lines that stretched into infinity. One coming into the arena, and another going out.

The sounds of the Celestial Games filled the air.

“Do you have any idea what our challenge is going to be?” Pete asked the hulking soul in front of him.

“I heard it was different for every soul,” the hulking soul named Tyson replied.

The cacophony of sound increased as they walked into the enormous coliseum packed with Saved Souls seeking entertainment. Super sports fans. They were so good that they didn’t have to compete to stay out of hell. They went directly to Heaven after dying.

God sat on a huge golden throne on the other end of the coliseum. He was wearing a baseball cap and a sports jacket that glittered like diamonds. “Let the games begin!” he roared.

The games consisted of a variety of sports. Baseball. Football. Basketball. Hockey. Soccer. Golf. And boxing. The contestants were assigned a sport. Those in the football line had to tackle famous running back Gale Sayers before he got a touchdown.

Sayers, was one of the happy souls that got to play the game again…and again..in his version of heaven. Determined souls slid right off him as he barreled for touchdown after touchdown.

The souls that were assigned basketball had to make a basket with Wilt Chamberlain guarding them. He happily swatted away desperate shots without working up a sweat.

Those souls in the baseball line had to get a hit against Sandy Koufax. When it came to hockey, the souls had to keep Gordie Howe from scoring a goal. The souls assigned to golf had to play – and beat – Arnold Palmer in a 3-Hole sudden death.

There was one line – in the center of the coliseum where the souls waiting to fight against Mohammad Ali, were groaning out loud with fear.

Pete was in the basketball line. He watched Tyson dribbling the ball around Wilt…looking for a shot. Finally he thought he saw an oppening and took it. Wilt smiled and waited until the last second before sending it into celestial orbit.

Pete had a few basketball moves, but never played with an organized team. He grew up playing street ball. The were few rules in that version of basketball. He stepped onto the court and was handed a ball.

Pete looked up at Wilt who was smiling at him.

Flashback.

Pete and a four teenage friends are playing pickup basketball at a local gymnasium. Their team is playing one of the tougest groups of thugs in the neighborhood. The “No blood – no foul” rule was in effect.

The other teams center was taller than anyone in the gym. His arms looked unnaturally long and it was nearly impossible to get a shot past him. The game was tied at 19-19 (a point for every basket). It took 20 to win.

Realizing that he couldn’t get around, or shoot over their center, Pete dribbled to half court. Without even trying to drive and pop against their big man, Pete stopped and took aim.

He always had a good set shot. The range wasn’t impossible. He’d made many shots from there before. The center was content to let him make the shot. Everyone else was closely guarded.

Pete fired away. The ball arced and came down smoothly, barely moving the net in its descent. Game over.

“C’mon man! Bring it on! “ Wilt said, with a note of irritation.

According to the rules, a soul had to drive on Wilt and score. But Pete was never too worried about rules. This was sudden death. A deep breath…and Pete released the ball!

As It Stands, this tale was for all of you sports lovers.