When Billy ran into the living room chasing his dog, he hit the fine crystal vase on the coffee table with his elbow. The vase fell to the floor and shattered in a million pieces.
“What was that, for heaven’s sake?” said Billy’s mother emerging from the kitchen.
“Uh, er, Obed broke your vase,” Billy said, pointing to the young lab.
“My precious vase!”
“I’ll take Obed out,” Billy said. “Come on, boy.”
Billy led Obed to the backyard and then climbed the stairs to his room.
“Phew, I am glad mom didn’t see me.”
Billy lay on his bed staring at the fake stars in the ceiling. He was feeling a little “fake” himself.
Toc, toc—a noise from the window. A kid he had never seen before was signaling him to open the window and step out. Maybe he was a new neighbor. Not really sure why, Billy opened the window and climbed down the tree after him. The kid was taller than Billy, but probably the same age as him, almost ten. He was wearing a funny-looking suit, one Billy had only seen on TV, like on movies about the future.
“Come with me.”
“Where?” Billy said.
But the galactic kid—that’s what Billy decided to call him—just started walking very fast. After a few blocks Billy caught up with him.
“Wait! Where are we going?” Billy said.
They were before a large neon building with huge glass doors and a sign that said SHEOLAND.
“I didn’t know they’d built this place in the neighborhood,” Billy thought.
Inside, hundreds of kids—boys and girls—were playing video games and running all over the place. He didn’t see any adults.
Billy noticed that everyone there had some sort of sign across their chests. One boy’s sign read CURSE WORDS; another girl’s sign read DISOBEDIENCE.
“Why do they have those—?” Billy turned to ask galactic boy, but he was no longer there.
Then, a loud voice coming out of a speaker said: “ENVY, come to the black door in the back of the room. Now!”
Several kids whose sign said ENVY started walking to the back. But one chubby kid refused to go.
“No, I don’t want to go in there!”
Two older kids (who had no signs on their chests) grabbed him by his arms and carried him to the black door. Although they looked pretty mean and scary, Billy followed them.
The black door was opened and one by one the ENVY kids were thrown into a hot and dark room. Horror screams escaped from within the room to the hallway where Billy was spying. He had goose bumps.
After the last kid was thrown in, the black door was closed and the mean kids went back to the video game room. Billy had hid in the space between a broken video machine and a wall.
He came out and stretched his arms. On the wall by the broken video machine, was a long list of sins with check marks halfway through the list. The last checked item was ENVY. Next to ENVY, still unmarked, was LIE.
Billy’s strength broke like his mother’s vase: on the black screen of the broken machine he saw the reflection of his own chest sign. LIE.
Billy ran for his life away from the black door. Back in the game room, he looked in vain for the exit door. There was no way out. His heart was beating fast and his hands were cold.
“I am sorry I lied!” Billy shouted.
“Are you?” said galactic boy, now by Billy’s side again.
“Yes, please forgive me,” Billy said, almost crying.
“God forgives you, because if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Galactic boy now looked more like an angel to Billy. “The consequence of sin is death, as you have seen.”
“Yes, I saw the black door,” Billy said, covering his face, shaking his head.
“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When Billy uncovered his face he saw his ceiling stars.
“Mom?” Billy cried out.
A few seconds later she opened the door of his room.
“I have to tell you the truth about the vase.”