Standing Room Only

‘No, I’m sorry. You were all warned. Every last one of you. And …

‘What extenuating circumstances? …

‘No, no, no, there will be no exceptions! So, if you would kindly arrange yourselves into groups of eleven …

‘Because eleven is the maximum capacity for the elevator …

‘Yes, the elevator! You will be going down, but we like to emphasise the elevation option, which, although rare, is a process we are proud of …

‘What? …

‘Yes, in fact, it’s very rare. And looking at your resumés I don’t believe any of you will need to concern yourselves with it. The level of contrition required to qualify for redemption is not usually associated with the heinous crimes I see before me. And you …

‘Forgiveness? Confession? Beads? No, no, no, that only works with single transgressions. Repeat transgressions do not qualify for absolution …

‘Never told you that? Well they wouldn’t, would they? So, if you wouldn’t mind

‘Oh, what now? You at the back? …

‘Degrees of sin? No, no. Can you imagine the difficulties inherent in grading sins? …

‘Levels? Who told you there were levels? Ah, of course, Alighieri. He was the worst kind of trouble maker … But, be assured, you will all undertake this final phase of your journey as equals. So, for now, would you please get into your groups and …

‘What do you mean, you’ve never sinned? Your details would have been triple-checked. However, if you are convinced of your wrongful accusation, then you will have to make an appeal. You will be able to obtain the appropriate forms at the check-in gate …

‘No, there is no compensation for wrongful placement! So, if you would very kindly … Oh, forgive me, I’ll have to take this call … Yes, hello Bub …

‘Oh dear, what do you mean? …

‘Well, how long will it take you to complete the current incineration? …

‘But, that’s ridiculous!

‘No, I can’t return them to Purgatory. In fact, the reason I’m having to fast-track you such an unprecedented number is that Purgatory is currently also quoting Standing Room Only …

‘Well, what do you suggest I do? …

‘But that’s against protocol! Peter will never agree to it …

‘You’ve already spoken to him? Why wasn’t I informed? What did he say? …

‘A fuck load of room up there? … You, stop sniggering at the back there! … Sorry, Bub, I … look, could you ask Peter to text me directly? …

‘Right, well, I suppose there’s nothing to be done about it. If you ask me, He should have hand over responsibility long ago. Lack of proper design. No contingency planning. And what’s more …

‘A plague? Really? When is that going to happen? …

‘Any minute now? Are you sure? …

‘Well, thank God for that!

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