The crowds whispered among themselves when dr Berger rose and approached the platform. He was a very successful man. Even in his years at university he had made important contributions to medical science. By the age of 30, he had secured his Ph D. For many years he'd been working in the pharmaceutical industry. Now, at the age of 50, he was a very wealthy man. It was said that he was being considered for the Nobel Prize. And today, he was being appointed professor at his old Alma Mater.
-Ladies and gentlemen, this is a great honor. -
Yes, dr Berger had every reason to be proud of his accomplishments. A professor didn't earn nearly as much as he had grown used to, but various patents still brought in enough to live comfortably on. Enough to pay for his mansion on the hill, and the summer house on the island. And now that he would be able to enjoy a longer vacation, there would be more time for his precious yacht, Gold Card. Above all, for many years to come, he would be performing his great service to humanity.
But fate had another future planned for him. After no more than a week in his new position, he experienced sudden chest pains, and he blacked out. When he came to, he could see his students standing in a circle, looking down at something or someone on the floor. Who is that? As he walks closer, he already knows the answer. I must be dreaming. He turns and runs away.
I'm dead. Those words echo over and over again in his mind. When he comes to a stop, he finds that he has made his way out into the countryside. Have I run this far already? Suddenly, he is confused. Some distance away, he sees a crossroads. Hesitatingly, he walks closer. One of the roads continues straight ahead, one turns left, and the final one to the right. Road signs point the way. On the left sign it says Hell, on the right one, Heaven. No sign names the middle road. I wonder where that leads to? But that's nothing for me to worry about. I know where I am headed.
Decisively he chooses the road turning right. There must be a big reception waiting for me. A hero's welcome. After all the good deeds I have done for humankind, surely that is no more than I deserve? He breaks off his musing as he realizes he has reached the end of the road. Towering above him is a magnificent gate. Without a trace of hesitation, he steps up to the gate and rings the doorbell. The gate is opened by an older man.
-Good day to you. My name is dr Berger. The old man looks through a large ledger.
-There is nothing here about any dr Berger.
-My good man, obviously there must be some mistake. Let me speak to your superior and Im sure everything will be straightened out.
When the old man returns, he's carrying a large tome.
-Here we have a record of all your actions.
Dr Berger begins to relax again, as he recalls all the great deeds he has performed.
-Go ahead. Read it and you will see what a mistake you were about to make.
The old man's face clouds over as he reads on.
-No. There is no mistake. You do not belong here.
-What do you mean? Don't you know how to read?
Dr Berger grabs the book to see for himself. He turns the pages and eventually finds a one with the following text: Dr Berger has in his time on Earth intentionally killed 350 000 animals and 15 000 people. 500 people have gone blind as a result of Berger's actions. Dr Berger does not have the right to enter Heaven.
But they were just animals. And the people, - The medicine he had sold to Tanzania and Romania had not been subjected to the full array of tests deemed necessary in the industrialized world, that was true. But they could always have tested the stuff themselves. Berger can't smother a smile as he recalls that it was the proceed of this particular sale that had financed the purchase of his yacht.
-That is not my concern. And anyway, they were just -
Searching for a suitable description dr Berger breaks of in mid-sentence.
-They were uncivilized. I did it all for the sake of humankind. As he is being thrown out of Heaven, he calls out one last time.
-I deserve to get in.
Eventually he gives up and returns to the crossroads. What if my students could see me now? How embarrassing. He turns towards Hell. At the end of this road, there is another portal, every bit as grand as the one leading to Heaven. Surely they will let me into this place? And he rings the door bell. The gate creaks as it swings open. A large, muscular man appears in the doorway.
-My name is dr Berger. By now he has lost some of his poise.
-Dr Berger? At last. I have been waiting a long time for you.
At last, someone who appreciates my achievements.
-Step a little closer.
The big man's voice is deceptively mild. Dr Berger takes one step forward. Suddenly, he receives a stinging blow to his face and before he has time to react, he is hurled out of Hell.
-That was for the bad medicine you manufactured. I have an ulcer. Ever since I tried your defective medication I've been unable to sleep. Now get going. I never want to see you here again.
After being turned out Hell, Berger returns to the crossroads. Close to despair he looks around for another way to go. What now? That is when he remembers the third road. Maybe I should try that one. There doesn't seem to be any other alternative, so he walks straight ahead. By now, it is almost completely dark. After a while, he lies down to rest.
The light gets in his eyes and he wakes up. Suddenly, he discovers that he is no longer on the road. He is behind bars, surrounded by some large animals. As he is being lifted out of the cage, he recognizes the place he has come to. He is back in his old lab. When the needle punctures his skin, he realizes what he is about to experience, in the days and weeks ahead -