DEAD? Alive! He hadn't been dead more than a little while when he realized that he was not dead after all. He wasn't sleeping, either.
He'd misplaced his name but he could still do simple sums in his head, so he couldn't be dead ... two plus two is four, one hundred eighteen plus eighty-two is two hundred ... and it was nearly like an electrical light being switched on. Why had it been off in the first place? He couldn't comprehend. Focusing his mind was difficult. Nonetheless, he tried philosophy. He quickly put an end to philosophy.
Well .... If he wasn't dead, why couldn't he wake up? Or feel anything? Or scream? He tried to scream; it didn't work. If he was dead, why was he thinking? The popular notion of an afterlife seemed a suitable conclusion at the moment, yet he could recall all sorts of odd images that didn't jibe with "judgment day": a piping hot apple pie he'd relish if he could figure out where his mouth was; baroque music; the scented body of Lowia, his off-and-on girlfriend the past two years he'd relish if he could figure out where his ....
And he determined that an afterlife of this kind of disoriented cerebration could be mighty boring. A hell. Hot as hell? No, he dismissed the inferno scenario immediately, having given up the Catholic faith of his childhood sometime during his sophomore year at the University. A man's entitled to his own beliefs. Besides, from what he remembered of those religious indoctrinations, he knew he hadn't lived the kind of a life to deserve damnation. A little healthy punishment, perhaps.... This didn't make sense! Heaven, hell, or the celestial green room before you step out on stage to meet thy heavenly host, you simply don't hang around in space after death trying to visualize classic Hord Fawks westerns. He wasn't dead. He wasn't in New Jersey, either.
What was called for was some hard corporeal tangibility, he decided. A toe wiggling, the blink of an eyelid, the glimmer of an erection, a bubble of indigestion .... He calmed himself as best he could. He emptied his head. He concentrated. Like beaming the ray of a flashlight down the stairs into a darkened cellar, he aimed a mental probe around for signs of spatial dimension. He sang to himself as he explored. He whistled inwardly as he worked. Anybody at home?
He imagined himself the way he remembered he looked. That was the first step. If he willed his physical being strongly enough where he ought to be, maybe, like congruent shapes, the whole would come together and shake off this curious vacuum he occupied. It was a theory, anyway.
Last seen, he was wearing non-designer jeans (faded blue), dirty white sneakers and a brown windbreaker over a plaid shirt. Although he was several inches shorter than six feet, his lanky frame made him seem taller than he was, so many of his friends often remarked. A bit of a nonconformist, too, he deliberately kept himself unkempt and, sometimes, sported gigantic wire-framed eyeglasses (reading only) for effect: his costume was overt advertising of the group, the political and social stratus within which he functioned.
A fact. He and his colleagues weren't exactly revolutionaries. (Truth be told, they worked for a living.) No, they were not like the beatniks or hippies or dugongs of former times - though they often wished they could be. Unless they did something of an extremely violent or reprehensible nature, the Government simply left them alone. This is because there were so few of them left. And their ranks dwindled down to a precious few, year after year.
However, there were the times. Oh, there were the good times .... He remembered.