(With all due apologies to the authors of The Divine Comedy, and of Angels in America.)
It was so long that he'd run the race, across the burning plains of Hades. His hair was still glossy black, his eyes, still shining darkly. Only his skin had changed: sunburnt in a place with no sun, scarred all over with the stinging gnats and flies that spurred him onward, onward over the desert sands that hid fire in their grains. Past the groups of Blasphemers, L. Ron Hubbard, Anton Szandor LaVey, past the False Money-lenders, sitting dumbly on the edges of the abyss, their faces forever erased, and identifiable only through the corporate logos on the moneybags (the most recent was Enron) hanging around their necks, past Geryon's Lair, over and over and around again. He knew, as he had found out early and over and over again, that he could tire, but never exhaust, that any attempt to sit or lie down would soon have him on his feet again.
And all at once, there was a change. A sudden gust of cold wet wind caught him by surprise as the sky was rent by an immense clap of thunder. Out of the blast, an Angel was flying.
Hir wings were dark, like those of an eagle, and hir face was both beautiful and terrifying to look upon. Descending, with slow wingbeats, se alighted before him, and took out a scroll. For the first time in an eternity, he stood, stock still, and utterly refreshed.
"You are Alan Matheson Turing?" Se asked, in a more-than-human voice, with a bit of a shriek in it.
"Yes, I...suppose I am." The angel's presence had, temporarily, at least, rehydrated a small circle of desert, and he felt, growing under his feet, a patch of cool green grass. A daisy lifted its head.
Se frowned, for no real reason, and consulted her scroll before regarding him again. "Come with me! There has been...A Mistake!.." And, seizing him by the hand, they left Hell.
The procedure at Pearly Gates was short, and to the point. "You see, the procedure here in Heaven is rather like that in Hell, in that you're sorted according to your defects...we tried putting all the souls together, and it just didn't work out...Soldiers kept on wanting to fight, some people just didn't want to be separated from their loved ones and families, and so on..." a kindly old angel explained to him after he'd been waved through into a small, dark office "...but here we're much more interested in the whole picture. We also take into consideration your virtues, as well, your likes, dislikes... Now as to your good points..."
"I can play a good game of Chess..."
"And I can play the fiddle, though not very well..."
"'Not to be taken into the Choir.' I'm writing."
"I'm rather relieved." he laughed nervously, showing long teeth.
"I wrote a paper on whether a machine could be said to think."
"Astonishing! Well...we're going to have to do something with this! Contemplative...Sphere of Saturn, do you say?"
The first angel looked witheringly at Alan. "I'm afraid not...Sphere of Ganymede." se said, sighing. "He'd be a distraction, otherwise..."
"Hm. Have you any interest in the arts?"
"And this is the Paradise of St. Aelred..."The Angel said, sometime later, after he'd bathed, gowned, and been anointed with aloes (which helped his sunburn considerably)."Our newest addition!" se screeched to no one in particular.
He walked through. It was very much like being back at Cambridge: tall trees and green lawns, with a small rivulet running here and there past lush gardens, with benches inviting conversation and old low, stone buildings, from which wafted the scent of old leather books and furniture and freshly made tea and toast. Everywhere, there were the most beautiful of young men in each other's arms...smiling at him in loving content. There were the Angles who tempted St. Gregory, here was the novice who'd been the model for St. Matthew, there was Leonardo da Vinci with his apprentice, the model of St. John, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, sharing a joke. Looking around, he saw William Shakespeare, with his W.H., Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, and Aubrey Beardsley, Lytton Strachey, and all the Bloomsberries, W.H. Auden, Quentin Crisp, handsome soldiers and sighing dandies, stalwart outdoorsmen and dozens of other, lesser souls, barred from full holiness only by the memory of a friend in school...a passing fancy...
"And this is your place in it..." the Angel smiled, leading him into one of the buildings. Wet British Spring made way for dry climate controlled eternal 70 degrees, sunshine gave way to flourescent light, gentle ground gave way to raised flooring.
Alan looked, and there were computers beyond his wildest dreams: creamy shiny Macs and slick workstations, vast mainframes and even more exotic machines. A workshop full of the finest tools awaited his expertise, and a full set of O'Reilly books was at his disposal. With mounting awe, he was told of the possibilities of RepRap, of nanotechnology....
"May I ask for one thing?"
"The wish and the fulfillment are one here. Ask!"
"Could you find me a pair of Nikes?"
It's about time! Yay, Turing!