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All Full Up

Copyright 1982, 2002 by Bruce Jaeger. All rights reserved. 

       The biggest of the muggers came at Harry from the front with a baseball bat, while the little one with the smashed nose came from the left and the one with the biker vest and chains came from the right. Behind Harry was a wall. He never had a chance. As the bat crushed his skull, the little one had the knife in his ribs.
       Harry experienced briefly the pain of his body giving up, then a brown haziness overcame him as his brain admitted defeat. Harry was dead.
       Which was why he was at first a little disoriented when he sat up and saw a white-haired man sitting on a folding chair next to a turnstile. Harry stood, noticing that he felt no pain as he did so, and looked around him. There wasn't much to see. Just clouds, or fog or foam rubber or whatever it was, and the old man and the turnstile.
       "Hello, Harry." said the old man. "I'm Peter."
       "Um, hello, Mr., uh, Saint Peter. I'm dead, right?"
       "Yes, I'm afraid. Oh, just call me Peter. In spite of what you've heard, we don't stand too much on ceremony up here."
       "Yes, sir." Harry took a deep swallow. "Does the fact that I'm up here mean I passed the admission test?"
       "Oh, yes," said Peter. "You've led a pretty good life. And we've given you extra points for little things like always mowing that little stretch of grass between you and your neighbor's.
       "But there is a problem though, I'm afraid. We're all full up."
       "How's that again?"
       "Look, when the Lord told you men to 'Be fruitful and multiply,' He didn't mean to go crazy about it! Boy! Are there a lot of you! All the available space is filled up, Harry. There's just no more room in Heaven!"
       "Now wait just a minute!" Harry tried to stamp his foot, but the fog or whatever it was wasn't really solid enough. "What do you mean, 'No more room!' I thought Heaven was infinite!"
       Peter sighed. "Where did you get that idea? Everything is finite, if you just look long enough. Now our only problem here is that Man is way ahead of schedule. Heaven was going to be expanded, but that's not supposed to be for a thousand years yet!"
       "Well, why doesn't He just take care of it now?"
       Peter laughed. "Oh, you're all alike! Think you're Numero Uno! The top bananas! Look, Harry--you're sitting here on the edge of a backwater galaxy, way off in the hick part of the universe, and you think you rate your own personal, full-time God? C'mon! He's a circuit rider, Harry!"
       "What?" Harry scratched his head, noticing that it didn't hurt where his skull was dished in.         "When's He due back?"
       "Actually," said Peter, looking worried, "He's overdue by a few hundred years. I sure hope he didn't have any trouble with Wezen blowing up like it did."
       "Oh, right after He was last here, a couple of thousand years ago, there was a Supernova out where the Wezen Nebula is now. Of course, I was real new then, just been promoted--you've read that story--so I may not have all the facts straight. But Gabriel told me the Wezen system was Their next stop, and that They'd be back here around A.D. 1500 for the opening of the New World. Well, They're not back yet, and I'm getting worried."
       Harry looked around at the fog and the surrounding nothingness. "Well, am I just supposed to stand here and wait?" he demanded.
       Peter shook his head. "No, I'm afraid even that's impossible. All this might look big to you, but it's just an illusion. This loading dock is actually only about twenty feet square. Any more people die, and I'm in trouble! Unless they go to Hell, of course. Plenty of room, there! Old Nick planned big!"
       "You're not planning on sending people to Hell now, are you?" Harry took another deep swallow.
       "Are you kidding? You know what it's like down there? I'd never hear the end of it--might even get sent down, myself! No sir! I'm just going to have to turn you all back."
       "You mean send us back to Earth?"
       "Yes. I'll have to put a hold on Death for awhile. It'll cause a lot of confusion for you folks, but what else can I do?"
       Harry felt his head, and the hole in his side where the knife had entered. "How about pain, and my wounds? And how about the overcrowding we're going to get?"
       "I'll take care of the pain and such--it's the least I can do. As far as the overcrowding, you'll have to make out the best you can. You've brought it all on yourselves, anyway!"
       Peter made a waving motion with his hand, and things started going brown again for Harry. Just as he drifted off, he could hear Peter say "See you later! You'll be first in line, you know..."

       The muggers were going through Harry's pockets when he came to. He grabbed the knife out of the astounded hands of Broken-Nose and slit the little man's throat. The big mugger pounded on Harry's head and body with the baseball bat, but Harry didn't feel a thing. He grabbed the bat in hands that should have been shattered doing it, clubbed the big man insensible.
       The third mugger, the biker, thrust his hands in the air and started to cry. "Please, mister, I give up!" He threw a knofe and a set of homemade brass knuckles on the ground. "See! Please! I quit!" He got on his knees.
       Ignoring the man's pleading, Harry clubbed him square over the forehead, and watched gleefully as he fell over dead.
       Immediately Harry's body was wracked by the immense pain of all his wounds. Harry fell, dying again, and as he did he heard a voice:
       "Oh, Harry! Harry! What did I tell you!
       "There's still plenty of room left in Hell!"


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