A light that could blind the sun went off around him. He stood in a winding cave of smooth white stone. He looked down at himself, dressed in white, soft, virginal. He began to walk. The ground was a little warm. He touched the walls. They were smooth.
Eventually the passage opened into a vast cavern, the insides of a yawning pearl. Frank gawked up and down.
“Holy–” he muttered, before movement caught his eye.
“Hello?” He called. The movement paused. Barely discernible from the backdrop, Frank squinted. It was a dog. A great big white one. It turned.
“Hello!” it said, in a friendly, child’s voice.
“Oh hell no,” Frank cried. Frank ran. The dog bounded in toe. A moment later, Frank slammed into something big, soft, hairy. Him and the man he ran into crashed to the floor.
“Oh boy!” The man said. Frank pulled himself into a sitting position. He looked around. A man lay beside him, big and bearded. He smiled. The great white dog sat not far off, watching.
“Who might you be?” The man asked.
Frank looked suspiciously at the dog, then back to the man.
“Charlie,” Charlie said.
Frank looked back at the dog.
“Oh don’t worry, he won’t hurt you.”
Frank still backed up a bit.
“What’s going on?” Frank asked.
“Oh, we’re in hell.”
“Shut up Charlie!” The dog snapped in its childish voice. Frank couldn’t peg whether it was a girl or a boy. Charlie laughed.
“Okay,” he admitted, “we aren’t in hell. But you will be if you touch that mutt.”
The dog moved forward. “We aren’t a mutt,” it growled. “We are the unified consciousness. If you touch us you will see, and if you wish, you can join us.”
Frank only stared. Then, almost giggled.
“What–what?” he managed.
“It’s true,” Charlie said.
“You touched it?” Frank asked.
“Oh yeah,” Charlie nodded.
“Then why are you here?” Frank asked.
Charlie shrugged. “You have a choice.”
“Everyone joins us,” The Unified Consciousness cut in.
Charlie stood up. “Not everyone mutt.”
He held out a hand to Frank. Frank took it. He stood next to Charlie, looking at the Unified Consciousness, almost eye-level.
“What does it show you?”
“Everything, everyone, the whole universe. It’s cute.”
The Unified Consciousness growled.
“Why didn’t you join it?”
“Because he’s a coward.”
Charlie laughed. “I had no one and nothing in life, what use have I got for everyone and everything?”
The Unified Consciousness rolled its eyes. “Boo-hoo.”
“Why are you a dog?”
The Unified Consciousness shrugged, the best a dog can shrug. “Who doesn’t love a talking dog? It comforts people, plus it doesn’t hurt to be politically correct. No one gets mad that god turned out to be a talking dog. You see?”
Charlie chuckled, darkly. “You’re not god, you’re a cage.”
There was a snapping sound behind them. Frank and Charlie turned. An obese man popped into existence. He turned. He looked at the three of them in turn. Finally letting his eyes rest on the Unified Consciousness. Suddenly Charlie ran forward, grabbed the man around the shoulders and cried,
“Run man! for the love of god run! It’s going to eat you!”
Blood drained from the man’s face his eyes went wide. He screamed, turned, and ran.
The Unified Consciousness bounded after him. As it passed it growled, “Dammit Charlie, you’re a real piece of shit.”
Then, as it rounded the corner, it called back “I’ll be back for you later Frank!”
Charlie was keeled over, nearly pissing himself laughing.
Frank couldn’t help but smile.