No one seemed to hear her. How could that be? She was shouting with the voice that had made studio heads duck for cover whenever she raised the volume.
She heard her name called out, and wanting to get the matter clear, she stepped forward, primed to give somebody a piece of her mind.
His gaze felt so penetrating to her, she almost wavered, but she gathered her famous strength of character and stood tall and ramrod straight, her famous trademark bun hairdo telling everybody this could only be HER.
“Who are you? Where is this place?” she demanded.
“I am Jesus, the Christ,” the man on the white, thronelike chair replied. Her senses leaped at the thought, but she kept on. “What did you say? I don’t believe it. Anyone can claim that.”
Her voice sounded to her raw, too strained and high, almost like a screech. But that she could understand. The indignities and discomfort she had been subjected to—-wherever it had been-—a nasty, dark, hot place seemingly stuck beneath the earth—had been almost too much for her. She had fought back, of course, despite the constant verbal attacks of innumerable things that looked to her like scorpions, snakes, bats, and such. They roosted on her shoulders, clung to her long hair, taunting and tormenting her “day and night” for what seemed ages. Then suddenly she was led out of that Disneyland of horrors with a multitude of others and brought into this great, forbidding, mountain-crested valley leading upwards to the chair.
The things she had already said came forth again, in a torrent. She had already tried to shut her eyes and deny the existence of what was around her, but that hadn’t worked. Forced to confront the awful things, she had fought with them verbally until she had nothing more to add. Now she was facing yet another thing that wasn’t supposed to exist—-what could she say?
“Everyone knows me, and everyone knows I don’t believe in an Afterlife, or heaven and hell. I've gone on record saying so in interviews, and that settles it for me! So what are you presuming on me like this for? I demand to be let go. I will not submit to this kind of treatment!”
The man on the glistening white, thronelike chair merely repeated himself, “I am Jesus, the Christ.”
“But I distinctly told you I don’t believe that rubbish! You couldn’t be!”
“My written Word testifies of Me. Why did you not believe that then?”
“Ha! You mean the Bible? You couldn’t be serious! Why, it’s full of errors and mistakes and fairy tales! Every intelligent person knows that! Many of the greatest theologians said the same thing. I know because I read some of their statements. So how could I believe a word of it?”
The Man on the chair gazed more sadly on her. “Those who wrote my Word are present. Let them speak to you. Tell me if they are not men of intelligence.”
Sixty six beings appeared on the same floor where she was standing at the base of Cirque where the chair was positioned on high.
The first writer turned to her as he slowly passed. “I am Moses, and my books tell of the Creator, who is seated before you. My whole story of how I was brought to witness before great Pharaoh, is it not in my account? And how the Lord God brought me and the children of Israel out of bondage and across the sea to safety, destroying Pharaoh’s hosts in the mighty waters when they rolled back upon them when they pursued us—did you not read my words? I wrote a faithful account. I told of the fathers, from Adam to Noah, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with Joseph taken to Egypt when his brothers turned against him with evil in their hearts. All this I recorded faithfully for you, using the earliest records of my people and those of most ancient peoples aforetimes, that you would believe the ways and acts of the Lord God your Maker—“
He said more things, but Katharine was not listening, she was so stunned. He passed, and another began speaking.
In this way all sixty six writers, from Moses to the Apostle John, spoke to her of what he had witnessed and recorded, that she might know the truth and majesty and grace of God, through Jesus His Son.
“I don’t believe one word of these men,” she blustered in response when they were finished. “The Bible, everyone knows, is full of mistakes, and can’t be taken seriously. I’d be a fool to do that! Is that what you think me, a fool just because I'm a woman?”
Even as she said it she felt the penetrating gaze from the man on the chair, and knew he saw that she couldn’t possibly mean a word she had just screamed out at Him. She had seen all sixty six books of the Bible speaking to her in person! She couldn’t deny a thing they said, except that she denied everything. What if she had admitted she had been wrong? Where would that lead? What would that get her?
She looked again for a way out of this place she found herself in. But as before there seemed no way out. Multitudes of people stood behind her, awaiting their turns. She sensed her time was running out rapidly. She felt a growing desperation.
“Wait!” she cried as mighty beings looking like angels in a Cecil B. DeMille blockbuster moved toward her with swords of glowing fire. “I made a mistake. The Bible is the truth. I've changed my mind. I see it now! Don’t let them take me! I don’t want to go anywhere! I am staying here!”
The guards continued toward her despite her lowering herself to compromise her former beliefs in public, and she backed away in growing terror. “Can’t anyone make a mistake? Why is my mistake unforgivable? I believe! I believe! Now are YOU satisfied? Why must you humiliate me like this?”
She had humbled herself at last—-but why wasn’t it causing the man on the chair to do anything? Surely, if God was a God of grace and love, how could he allow the prison guards to seize her and drive her away to whatever lay beyond?
“Depart from Me, for I never knew you,” the man on high said, with infinite sadness. “But I am Katharine Coburn! You know, the MOVIE QUEEN! A hundred films! Maybe it was two hundred! I can’t name all the awards they gave me. My Oscars, you can have them all! My money! Take it! The sculpture I did of Spencer--take that too! You can’t do this to me! I won’t let you! And where is Spencer anyway? What have you done with him? He’ll speak for me, and tell you all where to get off! Nobody could get anything over on me while he was around! If you dare do me any harm whatsoever, then you’re nothing but a feckless thug, as far as I’m concerned!”
She was still screaming this and other invectives when the angels drove her over the edge, and she joined a vast company of souls that were pouring down a tunnel through the mountains. Nobody listened to her from that point on, she found. Nobody recognized her. Nobody came to her aid. Being herded together with millions of nobodies--it was so humiliating! And they were jabbering all sorts of things in languages she had no way to translate. She of all people could have organized a protest of some kind, and appealed to the Supreme Court if necessary, but she couldn't get anyone to listen--evidently she was speaking a language they couldn't understand either! Only one person she caught sight of for a moment--a producer of a film she had done in the forties, or maybe the fifties--anyway, a man she had fought on set after set, winning her point each time--well, he recognized her too, but had this gleam of "You're going to get yours now, baby!" in his eyes that told her he wouldn't be the slightest help.
The river of humankind continued until it met the lip of a gorge, and beyond that was fire leaping into the sky. Smoke and fire, an infinite-looking lake of it spread below the gorge as far as she could see as she peered above the heads and shoulders of men, women, and some young people ahead of her. Her first instinct was to fight the current, find her way back to safety, but everyone behind her pushed on her body (which had never been much for weight), so that she couldn’t fight her way back through them. She and hundreds clinging together with her were in turn pushed right off the edge toward the boiling, volcano-like fires below. "Spencer, you've got to call somebody in the studio--this couldn't be happening to ME," was her thought as she plummeted down toward the sea of flames.