All he knew was, that breathing was no longer an option. Then what do you do? Well, stop trying. He did. And then he waited. He lay still waiting for… well, something. Or maybe rather – nothing. He was sort of expecting to kind of switch off. But he didn’t. He double-checked. No – he certainly wasn’t breathing. But he hadn’t stopped thinking, which did come as something of a surprise.
He tried for philosophical – I am thinking, therefore I am. Right. Only – I am what exactly? Not breathing was supposed to mean dead, but he didn’t feel dead. On the contrary – he felt very much alive – or at least very alert.
He tried moving his head. He couldn’t. He tried harder – and with enormous effort he lifted his head. Then he tried one arm – then the other. It was difficult. Like he had to think all the orders you normally give your body on automatic. All the ‘move’ and ‘bend’ stuff. He laid down again. No reason to push it as it were. He probably had all the time in the world.
That hit him. And it would have scared him stiff if he hadn’t already been … flexibly challenged. All the time in the world. Wow. Shit. I kind of need a hobby, I guess, he thought. Hey, maybe that’s why there’s so many chain-rattling ghosts. Something to do on a Sunday evening.
He felt his humour drain away. Being funny while staring eternity in the face is kind of hard. He tried philosophy again. Okay, so I am thinking, so I am. And I’m pretty sure who I am – but what? Ghost? Zombie? Vampire? Yrdk. Hope not. Blood’s not my thing. He tried licking his teeth. No – teeth normal – phew. Zombie then? Not much better, is it. Mr. ‘dont-leave-home-without-your-sowing-kit’. Going green and falling to pieces all over the place. Not much of a career move. Ghost then? But he could move his body? Ghosts are – well, ghosts. Like transparent or something. Not in need of a full body massage.
God, he was aching. This bed or whatever it was – hard as steel. Oh, it was steel. His hands touched the surface, and it was not just hard but very cold indeed. He opened his eyes. Whoa – he thought. Full vision. Great. Mmm, maybe not so great. Well, he had got total night vision, but the view lacked a certain something. Like decorations. Or windows. Or a handle on the door! Where was this place? And why was it so damn cold?
He lifted his head again and looked to the sides. There seemed to be other people there. In shrouds. Still. He looked down himself. Ah – he had a shroud too. Must have fallen off his face when he tried lifting his head the first time. And he suddenly felt very naked. I want out, he thought. But there’s no door handle and I’m definitely lacking in the clothes department, though I could of course fashion some kind of toga out of this. At least if I borrow some stuff from my friends here.
No, no – no robbing of corpses. He almost felt ashamed. But I’m a corpse too, he thought. So it’ll be kind of borrowing off a colleague. Not robbing at all. I could ask of course.
He tried to open his mouth and something fell out. Ah, that would explain the tinny taste. He didn’t try to pick it up, it would take far too much effort and he knew what it had to be. Payment for Charon – despite the family being Christian, but some habits die hard. He wondered if it would be enough for the bus. Probably wouldn’t. Fares had definitely gone up since the time of Charon. He lay back to contemplate a bit more.
Suddenly there was light – a brilliant bright light flooded around him. It totally engulfed him and he even felt warmer … and he heard a door creak and then someone screamed and screamed, and there were footsteps vanishing at a fast pace.