“I’m sorry this is all so sudden and jarring,” said the paramedic, “it’s a lot to take in. We’re going to take you out to meet Nabeeha now. I have to prep the room for the next person.”
The imam took Saleem by the hand and helped him off the bed. They kept walking and Saleem could not see an exit to the room. A few steps later a wall with a door appeared before them, as if the imam had willed the wall into being. The world outside seemed familiar, a lot like earth itself. Paved roads, but no cars. The trees and grass were present, too. But there was something different. It was hard to see and breathe. A constant warm fog lay over everything.
In the distance Nabeeha was examining a leaf on the ground. It lay there amongst the others, lifeless and void of colour. All the leaves on all the trees were the same, and so too the grass, lifeless.
“It’s true what they say,” the imam pointed out, “the grass is greener on the other side.” If anything hell was not void of humour.
Saleem started to rush toward Nabeeha.
“Don’t,” said the imam as the couple went into an embrace, “don’t do that.”
Nabeeha and Saleem felt a warmth between them, as one would would in an embrace like this. Body heats meshing in a hug. Skin touches skin enhancing emotions. But this embrace was unlike any other. Their warmth turned to a sharp pain, and they let go of each other. The punishment for embrace is pain, it’s the price you have to pay to be with a loved one in hell.
The imam caught up to the couple, “I’m sure the two of you have many questions.”
“Where’s Mariam?” they two said together.