36 Strategists

“The best way to learn about the other Heavens is to visit them. So let’s go.” Seneca walks up to another area of dense fog and steps through. This is obviously the main transportation system here. I need Seneca to show me how he locates these Dimension Portals to each Heaven. He moves confidently from dimension to dimension and seems to know how to prepare me for what lies ahead.

Though I’m a little annoyed with the postponement of uniting with my father, I must admit I’m flattered to have been chosen to lead a mission here. I’m hoping I get a team of strong men so I can succeed. It may be the last thing I do before I face my dad, and I would like to make him proud.

I push my hand through the fog first. The air is slightly cool and tingly. It reminds me of the feeling in the air right after a thunderstorm. I close my eyes and step through. When I open my eyes, I find Seneca standing in front of me—laughing once again.

“Okay, what’s funny this time?”

“You—a Navy SEAL sniper—closing your eyes when you step through fog. When did they teach you that?”

“Ha! I’m happy you’re having some laughs at my expense.”

“That makes two of us. Welcome to the Sixth Heaven—home of the Strategists. Look around and tell me what you think.”

As I look, I see a very different scene than I experienced in the Fifth Heaven. Instead of trees, lakes, and wilderness, I see buildings, fountains, and parks. The buildings range from single floor flats to multi-floor skyscrapers. They have a clean and crisp look—as if newly constructed. The landscaping around them is pristine and the grounds are perfectly manicured. “This looks like a cross between a street in Boston’s technology district and the eighteenth hole of the Augusta golf course.”

There are many people moving around. They are conservatively dressed and perfectly groomed. Several wave at us as they pass by. They aren’t moving quickly, but they are moving with purpose. It catches my attention that people are walking along streets without cell phones held to their ears.

“Are you picking up on the energy here, Grayson? It’s very different from the Warrior Heaven. And, guess what? No beaches.”

“Then this must be the boring heaven.” Once again, my humor seems to go right over Seneca’s head.

“The people who live here might say the same thing about the Fifth Heaven. The Strategists value

excellence, order, and perfectly executed plans. They are meticulous record keepers.”

“Record keepers of what exactly?”

“Of everything: the history of Earth, history of other civilizations, history of births, deaths, marriages, divorces, crimes, innocence, abuse, victories, faithfulness, and especially, prayers. They record changes on the planet like weather trends, extinction of animals, etc. They also keep the records of all that happens here. The data-server system I discussed with you is kept here. These people manage all its functions and data. They strategize solutions and suggest next steps for us. The only record keeping that is not here is The Book of Life. That’s in the Tenth Heaven with the Saints.”

“But these people all look as if they are heading to work. Shouldn’t Heaven be about resting—or enjoying the outdoors?”

“You have to remember not everyone values the things you do.”

“We are all unique; that’s for sure.”

“Well, we are unique in experience and p

erspective. But, interestingly, people fit one of four basic designs—all carefully sculpted by Almighty. People who share a design are very similar in values and goals. The way they approach opportunity and challenge is strikingly similar. This is the reason for the multiple levels of Heaven. People basically choose one of four versions of ‘Paradise.’” Seneca smiles as he watches the scene on the street.

“Oh, I remember now—this is your level. It has to be, because you’re passionate about it when all I want to do is yawn and leave.”

“This is all part of the experience. We are designed to fit one of Almighty’s behavioral styles. There are four of them. I was born a Strategist. On Earth, I was a financial planner. I arrived here shortly after the Stock Market crash of 1929.”

“You didn’t jump out a window, did you?”

“I know you’re making light of my situation, but it was a dark time for analytic Strategists. We plot our lives completely upon data. When the data fails us—as it did in the Crash—we have nothing to cling to, or so we think. I knew many men who did jump that day. It was as sad as watching the NYC terrorist attacks of 9/11 when people jumped hand in hand from windows to escape the flames. No, I didn’t jump. I didn’t have to. Our boss poured gasoline through the hallways, barricaded the exit doors with chains, and lit a match. He locked himself inside with us. He burned the records and the building. He massacred one hundred and two

employees—including me.”

“That’s awful. I’m sorry your life was cut short like that. Did you leave behind children or a wife?”

“No children and no wife. I was one of those men who stayed married to his work. It’s a very selfish way to live a life. It’s behind me, and I’m here to carry out the rest of my purpose. You should know, no one has their life cut short—except those who commit suicide.

“Almighty and the angels know exactly when a human soul is set to cross dimensions. That’s why we were prepared for your arrival. Life on Earth is only the first phase of who you are—and who you will be. Every soul continues. Now that you are a resident of the Heavens, you have a new body. How are you enjoying it?”

“It’s great. I was wondering about that. Since I have been here, my body has been tingling with good vibes. It feels like Christmas—or when you fall in love. I am relaxed and sense this great positive energy. I haven’t been hungry or felt the need to go to the bathroom.”

Seneca lets out another great laugh. “I guess you are only experiencing minimal changes as compared to others. You arrived here at an early age of thirty-one—and with a body already in great shape. When most people arrive here in their new bodies, they find themselves healed of aging, illness, obesity, and disabilities. These people are ecstatic.”

“So, everyone is restored to a healthy age and condition? That makes sense. I noticed everyone here appears to be about my age, in shape, and looking very happy. How does all this work?”

“Everyone is given a healed body when they transition to Heaven. Their soul enters a newly created body that represents their best possible health, age, and appearance. All physical ailments and disabilities are healed—all the way down to blemishes. They are relieved of anything that was a physical or mental burden for them.”

“So, everyone here is at the same age physically?”

“Pretty close to it.”

“That’s interesting.”

“Let’s head to the Assembly Hall of the Sixth Heaven. There are two people waiting there who are excited to meet you.”

After a half-mile walk on the cleanest sidewalks I’ve ever seen, we step into an entry hall finely decorated with steel molding. The nickel flooring is shining as if it was polished for our arrival. The walls are neutral gray and the draperies are pure white.

We step into the Assembly Hall to find much of the same style. The seats face the stage and look to be “practically comfortable” with padded headrests and recliner footstools. A guy and a girl are seated by the entrance who appear to be waiting for us. They stand and walk to Seneca and shake his hand. As I watch, I’m confused. Why would Seneca put a woman on the Mission? And this guy looks as if he worked on his grooming for an hour. He’s a total pretty boy. I hope this isn’t indicative of the entire team, or we could be in trouble.

Once the three of them catch up with a few niceties, they turn to greet me. “Grayson, I would like to introduce you to Seiko from Japan. She transitioned from Earth at age twenty-four. She was a student on a humanitarian trip and was infected with the Marburg hemorrhagic fever. She is a whiz at analyzing data and is fluent in five languages. She will be a great asset to your team.”

“Hello. Seiko? Great name! Marburg fever? I’ve always feared being exposed to Marburg when I traveled to countries where people were known to be carriers. I’m sorry to hear you went through that. I understand it’s very painful.”

“Hello, Grayson.” She shakes my hand firmly. “Also, a great name. Yes, it was pa

inful. I envy the people who get to leave Earth in an instant—a car accident, or from heart failure. With an infectious illness, you’re not only in pain, but since you are contagious you usually die alone. That was the tough part. But it’s behind me and life is very, very good. We were told you were coming even before your death on Earth. We are all thrilled to be working with a seasoned soldier.”

“Thank you, Seiko.”

“This is Sterling. He is from the U.K. He was twenty-nine when he transitioned. He was a public defender until an unstable parent of a murdered child brought a gun to his office and shot him at his courthouse desk.”

Grayson extends his hand. “That’s a tough break, Sterling. Being shot and killed on the job is something with which I can sympathize. Did they at least catch the guy and figure out how he smuggled a gun into the building?”

“Yes, they caught him. Guards were in the hallway. They just misread this guy and let him walk in. My secretary was at lunch. He had access and took the shot. He smuggled a small handgun in by making multiple trips through security with pieces of the gun attached to his key ring. He hid the pieces in a janitor’s closet until he got them all inside. Once the last piece was in, he assembled the gun and came after me. But that’s in the past. I share Seiko’s feelings about working with you.”

“I appreciate that. It’s good to be working with you as well.”

“If everyone is ready, we will continue on to the Seventh Heaven.” Seneca heads out with the three of us following closely behind. According to what Seneca said earlier, there are no permanent residents of the Seventh Level. It’s a neutral area shared by all the citizens of the Heavens. This is where people come to socialize. He says when people of Earth visualize Heaven, this is usually what they see.

“As surreal as this day has been, I’m looking forward to seeing angels fly and walking on streets of gold. I’m going to hear the music of heaven and find out if it includes any of my favorite rock classics. When I was a teenager, my mother used to say there’s no way my music was going to make it into Heaven. She says angels will be serenading us with their harps. I hope she’s wrong. And I hope she’s wrong about the harps. I was forced to listen to harp music every Sunday in Church—not pleasant.”

“Here is our portal. Grayson, I’m going to suggest you go through first.”

“Why? Are you setting yourself up for another good laugh at my expense?”

“I’ll take this one.” Sterling steps forward to answer for Seneca. “The Seventh Heaven is one of the most spectacular views of your life. It’s best enjoyed by stepping through with no one blocking it. Trust him. He’s right.”

“Ok. I can do that.” Even though I agree to take them up on their invitation, I’m suspicious of their intent. I’m always concerned about manipulation. It’s part of my nature. I’m uneasy with anything I’m told to do until I can figure out the other person’s angle. I want to know what they stand to gain by getting me onboard. I would usually say no to an offer like this, but I need to prove my leadership abilities—which includes bravery. I move to the front of the group. This portal is different. The misty fog has gold flecks. “What’s with the sparkly stuff?”

Sterling answers for Seneca again. “It’s flakes of pure gold. A little hint of what’s on the other side.” I’m unsure if Sterling is fielding my questions because he likes to be the center of attention, or if he really doesn’t know that I’m addressing our group leader. Civilians often dismiss protocol such as this. I make a mental note to cover this in the training.

“Ok, then. Here I go.”


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Triple Digit TOC by K.M. Sheridan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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