Story inspired by the following prompt: New arrivals in eternal Hell may choose either of the following: a small wooden spoon, or a 100-trillion year vacation in Heaven.

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I’m not an expert on the bible. That should be obvious, considering that I ended up here, in Hell.

But I do remember one description that Jesus gave of those in my current residence, something I heard long ago on one of those few Sundays I actually had made it in to church.

It would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

And he was right. Hell isn’t one millstone around the neck. It’s one millstone for every sin.

“That’s ninety four thousand, two hundred, and twelve, 90 percent of those from sins of sloth and omission.” Said the clerk after I stood in the twenty five year line to gain admittance, “Each to be fastened about your neck. Now you have two options, damned. You may delay the inevitable, and visit heaven for a hundred trillion years, or you may keep this small wooden spoon.”

“Excuse me?” I said, raising an eyebrow. “One spoon for a near eternity in heaven?”

“And a full eternity remembering it.” Hissed the clerk. “Some say it makes Hell worse, just knowing what could have happened. What they could have had.”

“Jesus, why would I take the spoon?”

“Make that ninety four thousand, two hundred, and thirteen sins. He took the Lord’s name in vain. But this is not ordinary spoon. You see, you can never lose this spoon. And no matter what happens to it, well, it always comes back. It’s you’re forever, while heaven is just yours for an instant in the span of eternity.”

“So it’s the spoon or madness?” I asked.

“Madness will likely occur either way.”

“Spoon it is, then.” And the clerk handed it to me. The millstones were fastened about my neck, and I was cast into the sea. But high above me, almost out of sight, I could see the glimmer of heaven.

That was 99 trillion years ago. And today, I do what I have done every day for the past 98 trillion years. I scrape my spoon against the millstones.

I’m not proud to say it took me a trillion years to find it out. In fact, I don’t think I ever would have figured it out if Hell had not gotten the budget increase at the end of the world, and had installed a new sound system.

But one eventful day, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” played among the endless repetitions of “Hell’s Bells”, and sparked my idea.

I scrape my spoon, and it wears away, but always grows back. The splinters accumulate in piles to be washed away by the sea, but every year a single pebble is rubbed loose of the stone.

And a trillion years later, they’ve began to stack up. After five trillion years, my mound cleared the sea water, and I breathed my first breath in eons. That in itself was a small heaven.

I worked those sins of sloth away, day by day. And now, just as my mound grows so tall that I can nearly glimpse into heaven, the souls of those that took the clerk’s bargain have begun returning to Hell, screaming like comets into that sea.

And I thank God for my spoon.