Heaven in Hell by William Rabkin (47North, 2011)
Hell in Heaven is the third novelette in the Dead Man series (looks like I’m on a roll here). Matt Cahill, the simple man who died and was resurrected three months later is still in search of answers to the mysterious Mr. Black. This episode takes him to the town of Heaven, located somewhere in the state of Washington. It’s a little bit Pale Rider mixed with No Way Back. With just a dash of Lovecraft.
When Matt rolls into the town of Heaven, he finds the town square decorated with a large banner which reads. “WELCOME HOME, MATT”. All the townspeople are hiding indoors until a young girl emerged from a store and says: “It’s him.” The town folk then shuffle outside to meet their expected guest. Matt notices they are all wearing depression-era clothes, with nary a corporate logo in sight. And the story continues to get weird. I don’t want to reveal more of the plot as would spoil it.
As Rabkin writes:
“The people of Heaven looked just like the ones Matt had left behind—burdened with care and determined to press on, even though they knew things would never get better. And yet there was something wrong here. He just couldn’t put his finger on exactly what it was….”
To be brief, Matt finds himself in the middle of a clan war. It’s the sort of bloodshed which has been going on since the dawn of time. The names of the characters from Hell in Heaven might be “Orfamay” and “Gilhoolie”, but they could be Sheahada, Hsang, or Boris. The author makes a concise statement on the futility of blood feuds and it works.
This is another great chapter in a good series.
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