I was rehearsing my excuses as I walked through the corridor. Aah well I couldn’t have done that you see because I didn’t have correct authorization… I wasn’t to know that at the time… I was only trying to be helpful… how was I to know that would happen… I was off sick that day and I knew nothing about it… that wasn’t my fault at all someone had given me the wrong information… well I wasn’t feeling the best that morning… that’s just the way the system works… my hands were tied there you see there was nothing I could do… I didn’t know nobody had told me… that wasn’t my fault at all… that had nothing to do with me… well it wasn’t my idea to do that that was the other fellow… you’ll have to talk to him about that…
The excuses were oozing out of me like some kind of unhealthy fever-sweat. Hopefully they would be enough to get me through. Hopefully I was now sufficiently prepared. Hopefully I had thought of everything. I went through it all one last time – ‘yes’ I said to myself, ‘I think I’ve got all possible issues covered.’ I was a bristling mass of excuses. I had an answer for everything. I had a response for every question. I had a get-out clause for every eventuality.
I entered the chamber. Anubis stood to one side and the Dread Devourer squatted solidly to the other, obviously looking forward to having another soul to devour. The Devourer hunkered down on its ungainly hindquarters – ‘let’s get the formalities over with,’ its eyes seemed to be saying. I could see the drool starting to gather at the corners of its ugly mouth. I started immediately to come out with my preliminary excuses – the ‘pre-excuses’, as I call them. Laying down the groundwork, you could say. A good defence is all about laying down the groundwork. Anubis silenced me with a look. ‘That’s not how we do things here,’ he informed me coldly, ‘this isn’t a committee hearing. These are the Halls of the Dead…’
I couldn’t answer, much as I would have liked to. It was as if some supernatural force was clamping my mouth shut. ‘We like to cut through the BS here,’ Anubis continued, ‘our process is very straightforward: we rip out your heart and weigh it against the feather of truth with these scales. Simple as. If the balance goes in your favour then everything’s cool, but if it doesn’t then my friend here gets to eat you. The Dread Devourer allowed itself a slight smirk at this point, obviously having its own opinion about how the judgement process was going to go.
I had to think quickly at this point. Obviously things weren’t going the way I had hoped they would. I had to take the initiative and turn things around somehow. Buy myself a bit of time. I gestured frantically at my mouth and Anubis reluctantly gave me back my voice. ‘That’s all very well Anubis,’ I said, ‘and I hear what you’re saying but aren’t we being just a little bit philosophically naïve here? I mean, what is ‘the truth’ anyway? Surely that depends upon one’s viewpoint? What’s true in one context may not be so true in another. And what is it that Nietzsche says about truth?’ Anubis stared at me blankly at this point, clearly unsure as to where I was going with all this. ‘You know,’ I continued, pressing home my advantage, ‘about truth being defined by whoever it is that has the most power in any given situation. Let’s examine the present situation. Who has the power here?’
Anubis and the Dread Devourer exchanged glances, apparently lost for words. Not that the Dread Devourer ever seemed to have much to say anyway. I could feel my heart beating painfully in my chest, which was ironic, to say the least, given the circumstances. Had I succeeded in my ploy? Did I have a chance of getting out of this? I allowed myself to hope again – philosophy was always a good way of throwing a spanner in the works. You can bamboozle anyone with philosophy if you know your stuff. Time seemed to slow down weirdly and then all of a sudden Anubis and his unpleasant-looking companion came back to life again and burst out laughing. I had totally misread the situation – they had been sharing a joke. The Halls of the Dead shook with their mirth.
‘Nice try Nick’, chortled Anubis, ‘but I think we’ll stick with the plan here. We’ll let your heart do the talking…’