He opened his eyes as he felt something solid under his feet and tried to gain balance. It was like someone had picked him up, and plopped him gently on the ground. Now eyes wide open, it did not seem like a normal ground. It didn't seem like anywhere he'd been before. There was an eerie silence, and yet his ears were ringing. The ringing that he felt after listening to loud music constantly. In front of him was a wall of thick fog, the kind that he experienced every winter; but this time he did not feel cold.
Gingerly, he took a step further, hoping to see what lay on the other side of the fog. But it continued with him, it was like a tunnel, not dark, yet not lit up. He kept walking. With no recollection of time. With no memory of how long he had been walking. "Is it a dream?", he wondered, looking at his hands. And a shiver ran down his spine. His hands looked the same, yet weren't like his. The jagged lines had smoothed out. The calloused edges had eased. The ugly scar, just below his right thumb had faded. Instinctively, his hand moved to his forehead, fingers searching for the stitches, which he presumed would still be raw. But all he could feel was smooth skin. No pain. No stitches. Flustered, he shook his head to break away from the dream, closed his eyes and turned around.
"Take a deep breath."
"Count to five."
"It always works."
He willed himself, opening his eyes. But, he was still there. Amidst deep fog. He continued walking, knowing that the dream would eventually end. Until he heard his name.
He blinked and the fog had disappeared. And in front of him, stood an old gentle man. Gentle, the first thing he thought of looking at the man. His kind eyes. His warm smile. His soft voice. Calling out his name. He responded, "Where am I?"
"Before I get to choose between heaven or hell?" He chuckled.
The old man smiled. "You don't get to choose, because there is no hell or heaven."
"Then why am I here?"
"To answer one question."
He sighed. Eyes expectant.
"Who would you be?", the old man continued.
"If they wipe away your work?
If they strip you off your talents?
If they seize all your possessions?
If they take away all your money?
If they un-changed what you have changed?
If they take away what you have brought?
If they destroy what you have created?
If they forget who you are?
Would you still be you?"
The old man's kind eyes were piercing him now. Probing for an answer. He held out a glimmering shard of glass to him. "Look into this mirror. You will know the answer."
He took the mirror in his hands. The razor-sharp edges not hurting his fingers. Taking a deep breath, he held up the mirror in front of his face. The mirror reflected a thick wall of fog, instead of his reflection. In the mirror, in his own reflection, he did not exist. He had ceased.