Reports claimed people saw the thief run away with Heaven pressed under his arms. Investigations that followed were swift with special joint orders from world powers.
Despite prompt measures, people took to the street. They organized mass demonstrations with strong messages such as “Restore Heaven, or Go to Hell”, “Our Taxes, our Heaven, Your Negligence”, “Return our Taxes If You Can’t Find Heaven”, and “Heaven Theft: A Government Conspiracy?” Government officials appeared on television and the internet to pacify the masses. Huge billboards were erected illustrating a flying dog chasing a donkey swimming through dirty water; the tagline said, “Heavenly Intervention to Hound the Ass”.
Yet the thief remained elusive.
A week later, The Society of Psychiatry & Neuroscience expressed their worries. A short extract from their published report said: “[…] the theft is a major concern for public health—not just because the loss of Heaven is being felt by patients but more importantly—because its retrieval is not. A proper transparency in the official investigation process is the only cure for the growing psychosomatic disorders that have spread, like wildfire, across the nations. […] It must be taken into account that death has always been an alternative solution for people in times of such crisis. Subconsciously, they always knew—failing all else—death was a panacea. Notwithstanding most religious scriptures, in their most desperate hours, they believed it was their ticket to Heaven. Ever since the theft of Heaven, however, the same people now believe—if everything else failed—so will death. This has given rise to what might be called a ‘collective skepticism’. For people, death has at once devolved from an optimistic option to a pessimistic perversion […]”
Everyone who read the report felt diagnosed by its contents. Those who did not read related it to those who did. The report spread like a virus and therefore what was meant to bring the imminence of what had been colloquially termed “The Great Depression” to the attention of the authorities—ended up ensuring its advent.
Cases of severe depression increased to such an extent that medical practitioners were less worried about depression itself and more about the infrastructure to accommodate the sheer number of cases. People, even though depressed enough to have committed suicide in normal circumstances, refrained from doing so now. Each of them ended up in a hospital bed. The majority reported respiratory issues or abdominal problems which were found to be entirely psychosomatic in nature. Their lungs and livers were in perfect condition; the problem was with their lives, as they were too afraid to end them.
The governments, however, were quick to notice the aftermath and decided to take swift measures, once again. They replaced the old billboards with new ones: “Fear not. Death does not kill.” They also shot an official commercial in which a teenager was shown cutting her wrist with a razor blade and later, flying above the clouds with wings as white as clouds.
A few months later, military forces claimed the thief had been discovered hiding in the desert between two sand dunes, Heaven still clasped under his arms. They were planning to approach with caution, as the man was deemed to be dangerous. They realized they needed to bomb the dune closest to the thief so that he could be approached and cornered. However, which dune to bomb became an international debate. A week later, two nations with conflicting views and without each other’s knowledge, decided to bomb their individually chosen opposite dunes. The bombing was a simultaneous show of power. This facilitated the thief’s escape. Both dunes then lay open, with each nation claiming that the thief fled from the opposite side, due to the negligence of the other nation’s bombing.
Following this, the alliance of nations decided to make public the sketch of the perpetrator—who had finally been identified—with a handsome reward for anyone who reported whereabouts of the man. This, they claimed, would make it even harder for the thief to find himself a new dune.
In an unprecedented incident, an elderly woman who had been in a coma preceding the theft of Heaven, unexpectedly blinked her eyes twice on being shown the sketch. Thus, it was established, without a doubt, that the thief was her son.
The problem was—despite several efforts by police and military and secret intelligence agencies—the thief’s mum remained mum. She never broke from her coma again. All questions hurled with varying trajectories and forces were answered with her selfsame expressionlessness which felt to the questioners like an insult to their intelligence.
Further investigation revealed that the woman suffered a cancer that had affected her brain, catalyzing her comatose state. The doctors reported she had been—and continued to be—in severe pain. However, she could no longer express her pain. Before the thief became the thief and absconded with Heaven, he had fought relentlessly to get his mother a sanction for euthanasia, which was denied time and again.
That’s when the motive for the theft became evident, and authorities devised a plan. They broadcast a message across all media, specifically addressing the thief: “We give her death, you give her Heaven. No strings attached.”
The next morning a parcel arrived at a military base. Inside it, they found Heaven gift-wrapped in the newspaper edition that contained the thief’s sketch.
The old woman’s euthanasia commemorated the first death post-retrieval of Heaven, after which normal suicide rates once again prevailed. The newspapers reported: “Heaven restored on Earth and across all nations.”
And they died happily ever after.