I remember reading a short story from an anthology of Short story Science fiction. I was probably 13 or 14, which was 45 years ago. I believe the paperback was old, perhaps from the 30's or 40's. The basic plot is a man wakes up in his same dreary apartment looks up at the same wallpaper, and I believe a crack in the ceiling plaster. He's bored, he goes to work, he has a boring life. But he senses something is different. He eventually learns he was killed weeks earlier, perhaps getting hit by a car and he is actually in heaven, he's confused, upset that this is not what heaven should be. His counselor or Angel explains that since he never tried to make any changes to his world when he was alive they assumed he was happy with his life and surroundings, so his life in heaven had been patterned after the life he settled for on earth. One last clue, for some reason I believe the author had an unusual name, like "Rod of Rodnan" Can somebody help me, I've been trying to find this story for four decades!


1 Answer 1


This sounds very like "Hereafter, Inc." by Lester del Rey. If it is, then one notable fact missing from your description is that the dreariness of the main character's life resulted entirely from his trying to give himself as miserable a time as possible while alive, in the mistaken belief that this would give him a greater reward in the afterlife.

The author clearly didn't much like him (or organised religion in general), and depicted him as having taken vindictive pleasure from the thought of the "sinners" (i.e. practically everyone else except him and his fellow hair-shirt-penitents) suffering in hell - and being very annoyed indeed that this wasn't happening to them!

I'm not sure if it was a crack in the ceiling plaster - it may have been mould on the wall. I haven't read this story for over a decade, I'm afraid.

Link to collection of del Rey short stories including this one can be found here.

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    By the way the story is available for free here.
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 13:19
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    "And 408 was his old room number; the room was identical to the one he had lived in, even to the gray streak on the wallpaper that had bothered his eyes for years."
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 13:28

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