This story includes the following prompts:
(See the end of the work for notes.)
One afternoon, Charles Sullivan went into a second hand store and bought an old, tarnished lamp resembling
Aladdin’s lamp. He took it home and polished it, and was startled to see an actual genie materialize.
The genie bowed. “What is your wish?”
“Whatever I wish for, are you bound to grant it?”
“That is what has always happened.”
“I want you to tell me where I would go, were I to die at this moment.”
“Is that your wish, to know where you would go?” the genie asked.
“No. It is just a question.”
“If you were to die now,” the genie told him, “you would go to Hell.”
“Then this is my wish. I want to go to Heaven when I die, regardless of the state of my soul.”
“You, a Catholic, should realize that that is one wish I cannot grant.”
“I stopped being a Catholic years ago,” Charles said.
“You may no longer be a practicing Catholic, but didn’t you learn as a child that your baptism left an indelible character on your soul?”
“How do you know such things?” Charles demanded. “Are you a Catholic?”
“Genies have no religion, but if we did, I very well might be.” The genie looked at Charles and added gently, “Why not go back to your Faith?”
“Because I no longer believe in it.”
“And yet you do believe that there is a Heaven?”
“Yes. For some reason, I do.”
“And,” the genie said quietly, “you still wish to go there even if you are in the state of mortal sin?”
“Yes,” said Charles.
“Then I have no choice but to accept your wish, but I must warn you that I cannot guarantee that it will come to pass.”
And then the genie was gone.
Not long afterwards, Charles became gravely ill. He died within a week.
At once he found himself in a place beautiful beyond all Earthly beauty.
“So my wish did come true,” he thought.
He heard music sweeter, lovelier and richer than any music he had ever heard before.
He saw and smelled flowers with the most gorgeous, brilliant, luminous colors imaginable, and a fragrance
beyond all description. No roses, no violets, no lilacs, no hyacinths, in fact none of the fragrant flowers
on Earth, ever smelled so exquisite.
He saw and ate from fruit trees covered with such fruit as he had never seen before, fresh, ripe, delicious.
No. Not delicious. All the words for “delicious”, in every language, taken together, could not even begin to describe the flavor of that fruit.
In fact, it was all he’d imagined Heaven would be, and more.
But then he noticed that there were no other people.
There were no angels.
Not one person.
Not one angel.
He was alone.
He had never felt, had never thought that he could feel, so lonely.
So very, very lonely.
No words, none whatsoever, could adequately describe his feelings of loneliness.
There is no place lonelier than Hell.
This story is a fantasy.
As a Catholic, I do not believe that there are any Earthly pleasures whatsoever in Hell.