1 He's Leaving Home After Living Alone For So Many Years

All Norman Workman could hear was the rushing of water. He could feel it encompassing him, so he knew he was in it, but his eyes refused to open, no matter how hard he tried. His eyes jolted open as he felt the electric shock course through him. He saw the toaster sparking in the bathtub, and he saw his legs, and he felt the pain of the shock, but he didn't feel any less alive. That shock had to have killed him. 110 volts is fatal to a human. But no, he was still very much alive. Was this a sign? He didn't think so. He sunk lower in the tub, tears silently streaming out of his eyes. Going on would be more detrimental to his mental health than if he killed himself right now, but he couldn't bring himself to try something else.

Some time passed before he got out of the tub, shivering as his body left the water. It was finally morning, and he could just barely hear someone walking around outside.

"Norman?" an old voice called out. "Are you in there?" He sighed.

"Yeah grandma, I'll be right out."

He wrapped a towel around his waist and walked out of the bathroom and across the hall into his own room. Various things were strewn about the floor; clothes, cords, papers, you name it, it was probably on that floor. He pulled some clothes off the floor and slipped them on before going back out into the dining room. Something was off. Maybe it was the staircase in the yard … wait.

"What is that thing?" His grandma was staring at it too.

"It looks like a staircase," she said, walking towards the patio door, almost as she gravitated towards it.

Norman followed her, and as he exited the house, a feeling of relief seemed to wash over him, as if he was finally free.

"Do you think we should see where it goes?" she asked.

"I guess," he replied back.

Grandmother Workman reached over and grabbed her son's arm. He was nervous because the staircase was so steep, but she leaned against him and they began to climb. The staircase seemed to go on forever as they went higher … and higher … and higher. They could barely see their house, and then their street, and then their town, and then the land just became one big blob, a complete sea of green below.

"Where are we going?" Grandma Workman's son asked.

"I have no idea," Grandma Workman replied back, her voice wavering slightly. The staircase looked like it was finally coming to an end just past the clouds. In front of them: a bored-looking guy dressed in all white, and a pair of gates. Not pearly white gates, mind you; they almost seemed rusty, like the caretaker of them had suddenly stopped caring about them a few years ago. The man looked up from whatever paperwork he was working on, noticing the pair standing at the top of the stairs.

"Can I help you?" he asked in a monotone.

"Where are we?" the son asked.

"Hmm, let me think," the man replied sarcastically. "We're way up in the clouds, there's a gate in front of you, where do you think you are?" No response from the pair. "You're in heaven, damn it!" he said after a while. Grandma Workman looked down at her hands, then back up at the man, then back down, then back up. She radiated an aura of anger and sadness inside, but didn't show it.

"Oh well, my time was up anyway," she said after contemplating for a while. Oddly enough, her son didn't seem that upset that he was dead either. He was pretty young in comparison, maybe 30 or 40. She approached the man. "So, does this mean I'm going to heaven?" she asked.

"Not necessarily," he replied. "Let me look you up on my list. Can I get your name?"

"Rose Workman."

He grabbed a folder and magnifying glass from under his desk. Grandma Workman looked at all the neatly-arranged papers in the folder, but the text on them was so tiny that it just looked like a blob of gray. The man leaned in close to the page, holding the magnifying glass up to his eye. Grandma Workman's son approached the man as well, as he seemed to hide behind his grandma.

"It says here that you died from old age. And it looks like you have a pretty clear record, so congratulations, you're allowed into heaven!" the man said. As he said the magic words, the gate slowly opened. Grandma Workman started walking towards it, her son following shortly behind.

"Hey, you!" the man said, pointing at him. "You haven't been checked off yet. Name?" He froze. Name? What's that? Could he just get by with a fake name? Wait a minute, this was heaven. This guy probably knew the ins and outs of every damn person here.

"Norman," he said softly.

"Norman Workman?" the man asked. He nodded. The man went back to scanning his document. His expression changed from one of tranquility to one of disdain. "It says here you died from suicide. I'm afraid I can't let you in."

Grandma Workman turned around. "There's gotta be a mistake. He didn't commit suicide. Right?"

"I'm sorry Mrs. Workman, the documents don't lie."

Grandma Workman looked at her son solemnly. "Is that true Norm? Did you kill yourself?"

He looked at his grandma, then at the man, then back to his grandma. "Yes … yes, I did." Grandma's jaw dropped.

"How could you?" she asked.

"I couldn't take it anymore. I was sick of the torment. Depression gnaws away at your soul, Grandma."

"Well, I'm afraid that since committing suicide is a sin, I won't be able to allow you into heaven. I'll have to send you back so you can learn from your mistakes."

"You can't do that!" both of them screamed.

"Oh, but I can. This is heaven. I am the gatekeeper. I decide who goes in and who stays out. If I let every sinner into this place, it wouldn't be very desirable, would it?"

Norman made a run for it. The man snapped his fingers, and two burly-looking angels appeared in front of the gate, just in time to block Norman from getting in.

"Would you guys mind showing Norman here the exit?" The two angels nodded as they picked him up, heaving him towards the cloud's edge. He put up a fight, but it was no use. They flung him off the cloud like a baseball heading towards the outfield.

He had no recourse. No way to save himself now. The last thing he could remember was the crunch of his bones as the world cut to black.

...

"Welcome to our new baby boy, Norman Workman!"