May 18, 2021 3:12 AM
April, Lynne, Tintin, and Ari in the Good Place
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She opens her eyes.

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EVERYTHING IS FINE, reads the wall in front of her.

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Does it.

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"Veronica?" says a woman poking her head out of her office. "Your turn, hon."

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"My turn to what?" But she does get up.

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"Well," the woman says, "first things first, I'm Johanna. And you're dead."

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"...nice to... meet you?" Is she for real?

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"You too! You can verify that you're dead by holding your breath for a full minute, or by stabbing yourself in the hand with this letter opener and observing how you don't bleed."

Johanna offers up a letter opener.

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"Do you say that to everyone or just the ones who look at you skeptically?"

She takes the letter opener. She does not stab herself in the hand with it.

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"The latter. You in particular, because I thought you might be amused."

She clears her throat. "That being said... ultimately, what you need to know is: The people on Earth had it broadly right. While 'heaven' and 'hell' as you know them aren't real, there is a good place... and a bad place. The universe cares about what people do. Good things, bad things. And when you're done, you get what you deserve. And you deserved this." She pauses for effect. "The Good Place."

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"I did?" she says blankly.

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"You're very modest. I guess I'd expect that, from someone with your record! You helped so many people - saved so many people. It's folks like you who make me wish we had something better to offer than eternal happiness."

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...okay. So. That's happening.

...the only play here is to play along, right? Because, if she buys into this story at all, then there is a Bad Place and she belongs there, and somebody fucked up and sent her here instead, and simple self-preservation dictates that she try to drag out this misunderstanding as long as possible.

Question one: how the fuck does she pretend to be whoever they think she is? She saved people, apparently? Who does that??

 

After a pause that is really kind of too long, she ventures, "Did I really...? I mean, obviously that's what everyone hopes for, right, but I don't...you always worry in the back of your head that nothing you're doing really matters..." Ugh, she can't believe those words just came out of her mouth. Is she sure this beats being on fire?

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"Well, believe me, it did. Everything matters. What you did just happened to matter more than most. And you devoted so much of your life to it - learning philosophy and law, devoting all the privilege you inherited to traveling the world contesting unfair legal decisions and reversing wrongful judgments. The final count, if you're curious, was eighty-seven people saved from unjust imprisonment and two hundred and three saved from unjust execution." She lets the numbers sink in. "It's amazing. And to have your career cut short because you were..." She squints at the page in front of her. "Hit by a car while jaywalking? Is monumentally unfair. But it does mean you get your eternal reward that much sooner."

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The first thing she thinks about those numbers is that they seem way too big and the second, weirdly, is that they seem way too small—surely someone who devoted their whole life to making the world a better place could have had a bigger impact? Well, maybe not at her age—and then she hears 'hit by a car while jaywalking' and the memory of her death blots out everything else.

It hurt, which was bad, but that wasn't the worst part; the worst part was how crushingly stupid it felt. Lying there with her vision slowly darkening and nothing to blame for it but her own carelessness.

 

After another too-long pause, she opens her mouth hoping that words will come out. They don't. She is completely unable to come up with a single thing to say. She makes some sort of a speech-like noise and closes it again, hoping that everyone is this supremely awkward five minutes after dying.

(—and wait—they're wrong about everything else but right about that? How??? How is that the single thing they know about her?)

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"I'm sorry. I know it's a lot to take in."

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"...thanks. Is, uh... what... happens now...?"

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Suddenly, they're standing in a field of chairs. "Well, we have an introductory presentation in a few minutes. Then, an eternity of happiness!"

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"...neat?"

Wow, could she have thought of a more inane response than that?

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Johanna pats her shoulder. "You'll love it."

Then she's gone.

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Somehow, she gets the feeling that she is not, in fact, going to love it.

Okay, chairs. Where is the nearest chair. There? Great, hers now.

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And a gentleman looking uncomfortable in his suit sits next to her, with equally little consideration of his options.

"Hi," he says. "I guess you're, uh, new here too?"

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"You could say that."

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"Cool. I'm Ari. Really looking forward to the part where we're happy forever."

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"Veronica." (They called her by name, right? Yeah.) "Same, I guess." She should probably make some kind of comment about how she wishes she'd had more time to help people or whatever but that sounds exhausting.

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"Nice to meet you, Veronica!"

The presentation begins.

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