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  Angel Under Cover  
by: Vivek Pereira   

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The Heavenly intercom came alive.

"Jack , are you there?", asked a commanding voice.

"Yes, I am", replied Jack." Reading you loud and clear.... who is it?"

"As if you didn't know", said the authoritative voice with a hint of sarcasm in it," This is Mr.God speaking. In my capacity as the editor of The Divine Times , I am sending you on a secret mission to hell."

"But, sir", said Jack in a quivering voice. " That is mission impossible. If they realise that I am an angel from heaven , they would definitely make mincemeat out of me...(pause) or rather angelmeat."

Mr. God laughed. He was quite amused. Very few of his angels had ever dared to speak to him like that since the very beginning of time. There had been a few exceptions of course. There was the time when Satan and a few other bad ones had revolted against him, and ditched the path of goodness by establishing the path of evil. However, this had been an extreme case. There had been just a handful of other instances when angels had ever hesitated about certain tasks assigned to them. The special training course on obedience which angels usually attend was instrumental in getting these creatures to do their respective tasks in spite of their reservations and doubts. Mr.God's instructions were always obeyed. After all, he was the founder and CEO of World LTD , the ultimate organisational entity in the universe. He was also the chief editor of The Divine Times, the leading newspaper in the entire world.

Mr. God continued with a sigh. "I want you to write an article on Hell. You will have to go to hell as an undercover agent in order to dig up some more dirty facts on hell. Give it a nice, juicy angle."

"What will be the angle ?", asked an innocent Jack.

"Well", said Mr. God in a surprised tone." As usual, you shall have to portray hell as an unhappy, evil place with all it's inhabitants in a miserable plight. Are you up to this task ?".

"I'll do it, sir", promised the angel.

"If your report is good," guaranteed the universal Supremo," Then I will promote you to archangel ". Jack was thrilled. He was getting the opportunity through this dangerous mission to become an archangel. It was the ultimate fantasy of every angel. He would be promoted ahead of many senior angels with much higher grades. Michael and Gabriel would be his peers. This was just the incentive he needed. He suddenly became much more enthusiastic about the mission.

"Sir, when do I leave ?", he asked the Creator.

" Anytime", beamed the Creator. " Your forged papers are ready. You will easily pass off as a rookie devil on his first trip to hell. The arrangements shall be taken care of.".

"Meanwhile, I shall do some research on hell at the library", Jack informed the Big Boss.

"It is a burning issue", joked the Almighty. " But, be careful ," he said in a much more serious tone. "They must never guess who you are."

"Don't worry", said the still enthusiastic Jack. "I shall succeed in this mission."

"You shall have my blessings for this mission", said the Master Architect.

A few divine hours later, Jack ( masquerading as a devil) was aboard a hell-bound space ship The Supernova . He was wearing a false tail and a pair of artificial horns. There were plenty of devils seated all around him. He was a bit nervous. He had never been in the midst of such evil before. Some of the devils were quite hep . They sported sunglasses and listened to some cool inter-galactic music by means of earphones. They cracked a lot of sarcastic jokes which is the main type of jokes currently doing the rounds on planet earth.

"You look a bit uncomfortable ", a friendly Devil informed him. " Is this your first trip to hell?"

"Yes ", Jack replied.

"Just relax. It will be a terrific experience ".

During the space flight, Jack wondered about the mysteries of the universe. It was ironical, he thought, that the singer of The Road To Hell was in heaven whereas the singer of Stairway To Heaven was perishing in the damned place. Jack also wondered why neither heaven nor hell could be spotted through powerful telescopes on earth.

The Captain announced that they were approaching hell. He wished them all the best on behalf of Eternal Spaceways . Jack spotted the evil place through his window. It was an oblong-shaped , planet-like celestial body that existed in the middle of nowhere. It was a very surrealistic place that almost did not exist. The first impression that came across the mind of our hero was that there was something amiss.

" What happened to the fire ?", he asked the friendly foe.

The devil was startled. " What fire ?", he asked with a puzzled expression running all across his sinister face.

"I'm talking about the famous flames of hell ", clarified Jack.

"Don't tell me that they have made you a sucker. That was just a marketing strategy adopted by heaven to make hell appear as miserable as possible. The angels superimpose fire on their films to depict hell in the worst possible way. It's not as bad as all that ".

The Supernova finally landed . Jack got out of it. He looked around. He had not expected Hell to be anything like this. The scenery was picture perfect. Beautiful , snow-capped mountains stretched majestically on the eastern side of the Spaceport. A river of gold flowed from one of the mountains on to the plains. It glittered brilliantly as it flowed. There were plenty of beautiful animals and birds in the area surrounding the spaceport. The view was breath-taking.

Jack handed his forged papers to a security guard at the gate. A few minutes later, he was walking quite blissfully on the main street. Bright, Yellow disco lights ( Which might be mistaken for fire) illuminated the whole area. The people on the street appeared to be extremely cheerful. They were having a hell of a time.

Jack was feeling quite hungry. It is strange how one never thinks of people eating in places like heaven and hell. He entered an Indian restaurant ( Yes, they have them over there ,too) for a spicy meal . He was quite astonished to see so many familiar faces inside the restaurant. There was the impish Javed Miandad , sitting comfortably on a chair reading an Inter-Galactic sports magazine. By his side, there was the famous broker nick-named the Big Bull explaining the concept of e-broking to a bemused Mr.Hussein from Iraq. Dawood Ibrahim was busy chatting with his aide Chhota Shakeel . They were reminiscing about the evil they had unleashed on the city of Bombay. There were many other popular personalities around including several Bollywood film stars.

While Jack was in the process of devouring his scrumptious meal, a gorgeous blonde joined him at the table. She had the looks of a Marilyn Monroe, the figure of a Samantha Fox and ( as he later found out) the voice of a Whitney Houston . The lady winked at him. He, playfully, winked back at her. Then amidst Jack's incessant munching and slurping a healthy conversation developed . Her name was Jane. She had murdered some guy called Tarzan, and so was sentenced to Hell for 'n' years, where 'n' equals to eternity. She told Jack that it had actually been an act of self-defence but nobody believed her. Jack decided to change the topic.

" What's he doing here ?", he asked Jane, pointing to Jumpin' Javed.

" Well, Javed committed the cardinal sin of hitting a six off the last ball of a crucial cricket match against India", explained Jane.

"How does the 'Big Bull' pass his time?"

" He is a renowned broker in the HSE ( Hell Stock Exchange ) . He is always bribing the officials."

" Doesn't he get punished for it?"

" No, on the contrary he gets rewarded . In Hell, you see, the system is the opposite. You get rewarded for your sins, and punished for your virtues. You mush have just arrived here."

" Yes".

" I'll show you around."

" I would definitely love that."

The meal finished, they went for a stroll outside. As they were walking, she slipped her fingers into his. It was from then onwards that Jack's life was transformed. He was no more Mr. Nice Guy. He had lived by the rules throughout his life, and what good had it brought him?

" Excuse me for a minute, please" , Jack requested her. " I need to send an important fax message right now."

" Sure", she said. " I'll wait right here ."

Jack went inside a shop at the side of the street. He typed a message on a sheet of paper and faxed it to heaven. The message was clearly visible on the Inter-Universal Fax machine in heaven. It read as follows :

"Dear Mr. God,

I have reached Hell safely. I find the life here is full of evil but it is exciting, whereas the life on Heaven which is full of goodness does seem extremely boring. My whole perspective on life has undergone a drastic change. I do not intend to continue further with my mission. I have decided to remain permanently here on Hell.

Yours Sinfully,

Jack"

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