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Christopher Hitchens Meets Kim Jong Il and the Class of 2011

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Inside what looks like the bar in an airport departures terminal. It's dimly lit, with dark wooden tables and faux leather chairs failing to give the place the touch of class it aspires to. Cigarette smoke wafts through the air.

Nearby, an airport gate which -- despite giving off a faint glow -- exudes the unmistakable sense of long-running delays.

Christopher Hitchens, British-American man of letters, is holding court at a table with Muammar Qaddafi and Osama bin Laden, when a disoriented-looking Kim Jong Il walks in, wearing his classic 1950's civil servants suit and Floridian retiree sunglasses. His hair is in a perfect pompadour.

"Do join us," Hitch says, pouring another glass of whiskey. "We've been waiting for you."

Collecting himself, Kim sits down and grabs his glass and immediately begins to make a toast.

"As befits my the great and glorious reign of the myself, the Dear Leader, I'm greeted in paradise by a table of visionaries! Let's drink to - "

"Visionaries! You're no visionaries!" Hitch sneers. He takes a drag on his cigarette. "You saw Vaclav Havel sail on by the other day. He was a visionary. Alas, there's a reason why we're stuck here. As much as it repels me to use such a term, this is purgatory."

"Purgatory?" Kim asks.

Qaddafi nods. "I've been here for months."

"We're the Class of 2011," Hitchens says.

Osama bin Laden looks unconvinced. "What right do you think you have, Infidel, to share the afterlife with me?"

"Yeah," Qaddafi says, looking up. "You're an atheist. Why are you even here at all?"

Hitch shrugs. "At least I'm here by the volition of thought," he says. "A lifetime spent arguing against the compulsive need of people to invent a celestial dictator to which they willfully subject themselves, because the lack courage to live lives based on free thought."

Hitch takes a sip from his drink.

"That, and decades spent combating those who are so arrogant, so corrupt and manipulative, that they assume the ability to hear from a divine being, in order to influence the secular affairs of state." He downs the rest of his drink.

"I could go on," Hitch says.

"Bullshit. You're here for dissing Mother Theresa," Osama sneers.

"Yeah," Kim laughs. "Are you finally going to admit that you're wrong?"

"We don't know that yet," Hitch says, still confident. "We don't know what's on the other side of that gate," he says, gesturing to the faint glow. "It could be nothingness."

"And it could be the 72 young virgins sent to celebrate my martyrdom," Qaddafi says.

"Ohmygod - you were so not martyred!" Osama says. "You died at the hands of your own people - not for the great Allah! There are no virgins for you!"

"Oh, and I suppose getting shot in the face by US Navy Seals instead of an evening spent jerking off is going to get you face-time with the Prophet?" Qaddafi retorts.

Hitch ignores them to calmly finish his point.

"Gentlemen, isn't the fact that I'm here proof that prayer is useless? After all, if supplication were some kind of entrance requirement to meet a Master Deity, then why am I here at all?" Hitch reaches for the whiskey bottle. "The arguments I made in my lifetime remain beyond reproach."

"I love, love, love supplication," Kim Jong Il pipes in. "And prostration. Have you seen Pyongyang this week? So much wailing and gnashing of teeth!"

"Gnashing of teeth because there's nothing to chew," says Qaddafi.

"Oh - like your people are so much better off." Kim retorts. He downs a quick shot.
"My son, the Great Successor, will carry on with my work and that of my father, the Supreme Leader. Your sons are going to end up in the Hague."

"Maybe you should drop the 'Supreme Leader' bit," Hitch says drily, "If you're so convinced that you're imminently going to meet someone who's even more so. You're running out of superlatives."

Kim's annoyed. "Go waterboard yourself, Hitch."

"There's no one greater than Allah," interjects Osama.

"Oh for god's sake," Hitch yells. "He doesn't exist! And you know it!"

Osama's about to speak when Hitch stops him.

"If you were so keen on impressing an Almighty Being," Hitch asks, "What did you ever accomplish? Driving Americans out of the Holy Land - that was just a premise to feed your own sick ego - that had absolutely nothing to do with improving the lives of the Muslims you claim to hold so dear."

Hitch downs another shot. "What did it get you? Driven out of Afghanistan, a hundred thousand Muslims dead in Iraq."

"A war that you supported!" Osama yells.

"Yes, I did!" storms Hitch. He takes a look around. "Come to think of it, where is Saddam? I've got a bone to pick with him about the Kurds."

Suddenly, an electronic chime rings, as if a boarding announcement is about to be made. The table immediately quiets down, as everyone turns to look at the gate - which glows a little brighter. For a moment, they all hold their breath.

"Nothing," says Qaddafi. "It just does that sometimes."

"Gentlemen, I think we're here for a while more," Hitch says, pouring more whiskey. "Let's put money on who's next. Assad? Mugabe?"

"Kissinger?" Kim Jong Il offers brightly.

Hitch smiles. "I'll drink to that."