Free Republic -- A native son and newspaper carrier for The Standard-Times in Falmouth, Howard Storm went on to earn a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and for 20 years was an arts professor at Northern Kentucky University. An avowed atheist, he believed that there was no such thing as life after death -- until the day in 1985 when he died and went to hell.
Speaking to about 125 people at Smith Mills Church last week, Mr. Storm became very emotional, often stopping to compose himself, as he described his near-death experience, which transformed his life.
In 1985, Mr. Storm, 38, and his wife, Beverly, were in Paris on the last day of an art tour. Buckled over by searing pain in the middle of his stomach, he was rushed to the hospital. Awaiting emergency surgery, he knew he was dying. He said good-bye to his wife and drifted into darkness.
Standing up, he realized he was between two hospital beds. He looked at Beverly, who was motionless, staring at the floor, sitting in the chair next to his bed. He spoke to her, but she didn't seem to hear.
As he bent over to look at the face of the body in the bed, he was horrified to see the resemblance that it had to his own face. But he knew that was impossible because he was standing over the person and looking at him.
Off in the distance, outside the room in the hall, he heard voices calling him. They were pleasant voices, male and female, young and old, calling to him in English.
"Come out here," they said. "Don't you want to get better?"
He stepped out into the hall, full of anxiety. The area seemed to be light but very hazy, and he couldn't make out any details.
He followed them shuffling along in his bare feet with the memory of pain in his belly, yet feeling very much alive. The fog thickened as they went on, and it became gradually darker.
Overwhelmed with hopelessness, he told them he would go no farther and that they were liars. He could feel their breath on him as they shouted and snarled insults.
Then they began to push and shove him about, and he began to fight back. A wild frenzy of taunting, screaming and hitting ensued. As he swung and kicked at them, they bit him.
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