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After Robyn let the air out of his vacsuit with her blade, John Glenn knew he was finished. He saw black dancing dots, his face and fingers went numb, and he sank to the ground in a faint. As deaths go it wasn't the worst. He saw the sky change from black to white, and heard a small child crying. Glenn had expected to be wearing a robe. Instead he found himself in his ripped spacesuit. A pair of attractive women helped him twist his helmet off. Yeshua was kneeling beside him, smiling to put him at ease.

Who do you say that I am, John Glenn? Yeshua asked.

The question jostled Glenn's memory of the scriptures from his Presbyterian background. You are the Christ, he said, and feared that he was right.

You are not a spirit, John, there is no such thing. Just a mind, and you need a brain to have one. You were not using that brain when you committed suicide by Robyn. She can see the future. You could be locked in a room with her unarmed and you with a shotgun and you'd never get a clear shot.

Glenn saw that the two women who helped him get his helmet off were now loading a scroll into a watertight backpack and securing it to the shoulders of the crying girl, and he was disturbed. Why is she so sad, Lord?

That is Inge Lange. Her time here has been cut short. She is being returned home and she will never see most of her friends again. And Inge is crying also because she believes it's all due to something she did.

When Yeshua mentioned that she was going back he felt a glimmer of hope. So people do return from the dead. Aside from you, of course, Lord.

This isn't the afterlife, John. Little Inge actually came here without dying. So did you, in fact. Back at the Moon there's a John Glenn who is dying without air. The John Glenn who is sitting here is one of the multitude of copies of you that the universe makes from instant to instant. I could pull one of your copies here because it doesn't break the chain.'

Why did you do that, Lord? Am I to be punished?

No. Traditionally at this point I heal the subject of whatever injury or infirmity led to their death, because as you might have read I'm a very good doctor. But you are in remarkably good health. There's an entirely real timeline, the one where Apollo 17 was the final American moon shot, where you live well into your nineties. You even go into space once more on a shuttle and are given a ticker-tape parade. That John Glenn will finish out his life and that will be the end of his great, great story. This John Glenn right here was not so amazing. You made a bad turn somewhere, but I think there is time to show you what you did wrong before you go to the next level up from here, which really is the afterlife. And it's not really for your benefit that we discover the pivot. I really want to know. This is an experiment for the education of myself.

So I suppose the Roman Catholic Church had it nailed down all along, Glenn mused. There really is a purgatory and Presbyterians come here.

Close enough, John. If there is to be a punishment, you already suspect what it is. You'll begin to miss your wife Annie very much, and you will know she will soon be grieving for you but there is nothing you can do to comfort her. And all I can say is you should have thought about it before you joined Abaddon on his suicide run. The name Abaddon was a clue.

They watched as young Inge was lowered into the Sacred Pool. She gave a final sob, went head down, kicked her way under, and did not rise again.

Don't entertain the idea that you can go home that way, John. It will not work for you or for anyone else who came here the hard way.

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Strangers In Paradise