Eleanor Shellstrop is supposed to be dead. No, doubly dead. She died on
Earth, went to what she was told was the Good Place, went through all
sorts of bullshirt with her new friends as they found out it wasn't the
Good Place but the Bad Place, and finally got admitted into the real Good Place. Except it wasn't. Again.
Long story short, there is a door in the Good Place, one which, if walked through, will dissolve you from reality forever. The Oblivion Door. One by one, her friends and her lover, Chidi, walked through it. So did she.
But she isn't dead.
Holy motherforking shirtballs!
I had a hunch as I watched myself dissolve and the world go dark. I was like, Wait a minute...!
I was used to this routine. Very, extremely, Oh shirt, not again! kind of used to it. That was another clue—the whole darkness bit before I went unconscious. The only time I didn’t sense it was the first time, when a truck advertising boner pills slammed into me, killing me instantly. Mercifully, the only thing left of that was the brief burst of intolerable pain just before the darkness, nothing more.
And then I was awake, staring at big green lettering painted on a white wall across from me:
Everything is fine.
This time, when I woke, I was staring at a new sign, this one in the same font, but in red and which read:
Welcome, you nose hemorrhoid.
Everything is not fine.
The double doors on the left, where Michael’s were, but which were definitely not Michael’s, were closed. I already knew who was going to step out of them.
Was this where Chidi and the rest went too? What did that evil motherfucker want with them? Was this where everyone ended up? What happened to them?
I stood and went to the door and banged on it with both fists. “Open up! Open up, you dickweed! Open up!”
I wasn’t scared; I was pissed. What and who else did he fuck with?
I noted that I could curse again, and, despite my predicament, smiled. “Hey, fucknut! Open this fucking door right fucking now!”
“Just give me a second and I will.”
I wheeled about.
Shawn, holding two bags and drinks from In N Out and sporting an evil grin.
We sat in his office and ate. I had to be convinced, of course, that the meat wasn’t smashed shit, that the tomatoes didn’t have maggots in them, that the lettuce wasn’t moldy toilet paper or something.
He sat across from me, dipping his fries in ketchup and slurping his drink like a ten-year-old.
His office had changed from a drab battleship gray (what I remember it looking like when he called Michael in the past) to a color very similar to Michael’s. The furniture was scarlet red, the cabinetry cherrywood, the ceiling lofted. Those were the differences. Sunlight (or the light from a massive fire; this was hell after all, wasn’t it?) streamed through curtains covering the big picture windows.
The burger was delicious, every bit as good as anything I’d ever eaten in the Good Place. That made me suspicious.
“So, what? Food poisoning? Is some sort of alien gonna burst outta my chest now?” I demanded after wiping my mouth. “What gives? I see you haven’t decommissioned your Earth-door.”
He grinned, wadded up his burger wrapper, and threw it at me. It struck my forehead and bounced to the ground.
“Dickhead!” he mocked, twisting his face.
“What do you want?”
“What do I want? ... What do I want? ...” he yelled, staring. “I’ll tell you what I want! I want some goddamn answers!”
“I’m supposed to be dead! Gone!” I yelled back. “Did Chidi come here? Is he still alive? Where is he?”
“Where is he? Where is he?” he taunted. “If I answer your questions, will you help me?”
I held up. “Twat.”
“Stick n’ stones, blondie,” he grumbled in that trademark monotone manner. “So do we have a deal?”
“If your answers are satisfactory, yes,” I said gratingly, sure I was in for a real nightmare. “I’ll help you find whatever stupid answers you’re looking for.”
He took a pull from the straw sticking out of his soda, belched, and sat back, folding his fingers over his stomach and studying me carefully.
“He was here.”
“You seriously don’t expect me to repeat everything I say, do you? Here’s your one freebie—he was here!”
“And the others?”
“So that suicide door ...”
“Not all of us bought the whole ‘let’s remake the afterlife’ schtick. Not completely, anyway. A few of us have had serious questions about it. When Michael and the Judge and your boyfriend and the demonic architects remade the afterlife, a few of us ... let’s say we tampered with the escape hatch, what you people think will dissolve your souls into oblivion.”
“So it doesn’t?” I yelled.
“You’re here, aren’t you?”
“I possess the only real oblivion door.”
Before I could shout, “You made a goddamn oblivion door?” he, probably knowing I was about to shout it, said, “There is a point when consciousness—the soul—cannot be erased. It happens when sentient self-aware beings truly come into their own. Yeah, Chidi was here; so was that idiot Mendoza, and so was Legs al-Jamil. Humma humma.”
“Now I know you’re full of shit. Tahani is working with the demons!”
He sighed and waved his hand. A large screen came up next to his desk. There was Tahani and Shawn, talking. She appeared very interested in what he was saying.
“Turn up the sound!”
“Because I don’t want to.”
He waved his hand, and the screen vanished. “I kept you in limbo for a long time in case the others didn’t come through.”
“How long have I been unconscious or whatever?”
“Long enough. A few years. Or centuries. Does it matter?”
I grabbed what was left of my Coke, calmly took off the lid, and slung the ice at him. Then I jumped on his desk with every intention of throttling him.
Credit him: he was ready. Somehow he came into instant possession of a gun, and shot it. The bullet tore into my neck, and I lost consciousness.
I woke on the couch at the back of his office. He was staring down at me, a shit-eating grin on his face. He was still holding the gun. It was casually pointed at my left boob.
“Am I going to have any more trouble from you?”
“See? You didn’t die. Because you can’t. You already had that party on Earth. Boner pill truck ring a bell? Get up. We have things to discuss.”
I sat up, staring at the weapon. He seemed to be reading my mind, because he flicked his free hand, and a screen went up.
It showed him shooting me as I made to jump on him. The gun made a loud pop!; the muzzle flared; and I ... exploded into a momentary ... fractal? ... before coming back together and collapsing on his desk. It was utterly freaky to watch.
“Play it again,” I demanded.
I couldn’t help myself: I chuckled. “Dude—that’s some weird shit!”
He studied the pistol. “I only used this when a human got loose from whatever torture he was going through and came after me. God, I miss the old days.”
The realization struck me then, so I kicked his ankle as hard as I could. He wasn’t ready for that; he yelled, “Hey!” and collapsed to his knees. It was enough time for me to grab the gun. We fell to the carpeted floor fighting for it.
He was much stronger than me, but that didn’t matter. I’d dated enough big jerks to know what to do next. I kneed him in the balls.
Demon or not, it works every time. He gave a coughing groan and clutched his package, his eyes rolling up in his head as he rolled up into himself. The gun was free on the floor.
I jumped over him and grabbed it, then kneeled and pressed the barrel into his forehead. He was turning purple.
“Let me guess,” I said, just holding on to my temper, “the whole ‘I’m losing interest in existing’ bit was all you, too. Answer me!”
I pressed the barrel harder.
He responded by puking his In N Out on me. All of it.
“Dude!” I yelled, covered. “Dude!”
The smell was hideous. In the past, on Earth, whenever one of my drinking buddies blew grits, I would too. It’s just so, so gross. I could feel my stomach lurching.
“You fucking asshole!” I yelled, and pressed the trigger.
Shawn didn’t explode into a fractal; he exploded all red and gooey all over the fucking place, throwing me back first against the wall, the wind knocked out of me, so too my lunch, which exploded from my mouth in one huge, convulsive blast.
I was covered in rancid red Shawn goo and rancid-er puke, half of it my own.
Weirdly, the goo started evaporating almost immediately. It was a slow process, and I wasn’t sure at first that it was happening; but … yeah. It was going away. I hoped that meant that Shawn was going away too.
The puke wasn’t going away. I stood and, grimacing, inspected my person. The explosion did no damage to me physically save give me a headache. Holding my nose, I stumbled for the door, which was dripping Shawn, including the doorknob, which I opened with my hand under my sweatshirt, in one of the only dry spots near the bottom of it.
“Uuuuuck!” I gagged.
I looked for a bathroom. I recalled Michael forgetting to include bathrooms in an architectural plan he gave to my mother’s suburban sugar daddy, and— “Shit! I need a fucking bathroom!”
As I watched, amazed, a tall rectangle in the wall to my immediate left formed as though by magic, or an invisible Janet. It resolved with a gold sign with black letters on it: LADIES.
“Huh!” I got out, staring.
I took the three steps necessary to get to the knob. I turned it and pushed.
A gleaming bathroom waited for me!
I stepped in fully and let go of the doorknob. The door swung shut.
I’d never dreamed of a bathroom in my life, but if I had, this one would have been the frickin’ gold standard. It was small and cozy and perfectly clean.
It was also designed perfectly for my circumstances. Almost.
“Damn,” I mumbled, my hair still dripping Shawn, “I sure could use a shower!”
Presto!—the wall to my left dissolved into a fog, then solidified.
The shower had a glass door, double showerheads, and came with big, fluffy purple towels. All next to the toilet, which, across from it, was a small closet-cove complete with hangers.
I blinked. Did going through the Oblivion Door that wasn’t an Oblivion Door somehow gift me with Janet powers? Was there a short-circuit in the universe somewhere, and I was the recipient? How long were these powers going to last?
Shawn and my sick brought me back to the present. I glanced down at myself with disgust, then got undressed, leaving my clothes in a pile at my feet.
“I need to wash you,” I said to them, then looked up and said, “I need a damn washer and drier!”
The entire bathroom seemed to stretch and expand. The wall next to the closet cove went all misty, then solidified. A washer and drier, laundry soap and more hangers and even an iron, which I used to use to the amusement of my old roommates, appeared.
“Well, I’ll be!”
I had Janet powers!