Chapter 1

mos Green was just an ordinary man, but he was now on a most extraordinary journey. You see, he had just died that evening after a relatively short, but unsuccessful battle with cancer.

Everybody had always called it just that - ‘his battle’ - but Amos never really liked that way of looking at things, He knew it was always going to be a struggle he could never win. Life was an inevitability, if the cancer didn’t get him, then something else would eventually. It was no different for anyone else. He’d had a lot more time to think about things lately; all those weeks just lying about in bed. He’d never really been very good at anything; a mediocre student at school, he went along with the flow never asking for help and never getting any. If you asked any of the teachers or other students about him, they’d probably almost remember him, but not quite. It was the same for the rest of Amos’s life. He had an ordinary job in a local chemical company and an ordinary relationship with an ordinary girl called Delilah which didn’t really work out so well. Perhaps she was just bored. In the end she did come back to say good bye, perhaps out of pity or perhaps for a bit of personal closure. Apart from Delilah, Amos died in obscurity, neither rich nor poor, neither tragically young nor memorably old. He left neither property nor a car. He wasn’t quite smart enough to do anything indelible. In a few short years the chalk markings he’d managed to scratch on the grimy pavement of life would be washed away and he’d become just another one of the faceless, unrecorded millions that have lived, toiled and died on the planet.

At the very end, with nothing left to lose, he grasped onto the hospital chaplain’s message. Could it really be that his unremarkable life was just the tiny, but necessary first baby step, in an endless onward journey of learning and self-discovery? With only hours left, he was beyond caring really, but what Father McKenzie has said excited him – possibly for the very first time in his life. It gave him the first glimmer of hope that it all didn’t just end here and now, and there might just be something more. It lifted his mind briefly above the stupor induced by the chemical cocktail of chemo drugs and painkillers coursing through his veins; just before his vital signs flat-lined, one after the other, in the quiet of the darkening empty room.

Amos Green awoke on a flat bench in a small chamber. Everything around him was a brilliant white. “Where am I?” was the first wordless question that came to him. “Is this a hospital?” He figured he must have had some kind of accident, but his mind was a blank; he couldn’t remember a thing. He looked around but everything seemed too perfect. People were moving around him, clothed in garments, uniforms perhaps, of pure white. Their fabric shimmered, almost alive, barely hiding a rainbow of spectral colours – all visible yet combined into a dazzling white brilliance. He couldn’t hear them speak but seemed to be able to sense everything that they were thinking.

"Look, Amos Green is waking now. Let us prepare and attend to his needs."