Death doesn't exactly hurt, but it's plenty unpleasant trying to squeeze through a tiny hole where the planes touch.
It's a bit like being forced to hold your breath longer than you think you can, desperately needing to breathe but unable to move and then, suddenly, you're fine.
I say 'death,' but I should really say 'dying.' I've been staring at my own corpse for an hour now and I haven't seen a single sign of that ol' reaper anywhere.
I can walk around, sure, but part of me remembers the whole "if you want to be rescued, stay where you are" thing.
The real world has a vibrating gray quality to it, almost like an old recording. It's fuzzy and I can't interact with it, and yes I've tried.
I might have seen a glimpse of color a bit ago, and I guess since it's been a few hours now I might as well look around.
Not two steps out the door before I run into another patient. The blue gown tips me off he's dead, like me.
"Sir? Excuse me, I can't seem to reach my daughter, the phone line's gone dead," he starts.
I spend a moment with him but it becomes rather clear his mind went long ago, and there's no way I can convince him he's dead.
I maneuver past others, walking through various nurses who are still alive, before finally making it outside.
The commotion of the real world makes it all pretty confusing, but I eventually flag down what looks to be a pizza delivery boy.
His arms are bent at awful angles and half of his face is missing, but he seems to have his wits about him.
"Sorry, um... I died recently, could you let me know how to move on?" I ask.
He laughs, "so you're new, huh? Ho' boy. Short version: wish I knew, pal." The expression on my face gets him to continue.
"Alright, so here's the rundown. Death's gone. Just up and left.
We think it's 'cause nobody ever thanked him for the escort, or maybe even 'cause we don't bury our dead with coins on the eyes no more. Followin' so far?"
I nod, somehow digesting this information as though it's totally normal.
"Without Death, nobody really knows where the entrance to Heaven is. No reports of a stairway, no Pearly Gates, no nothin'.
I'm willing to bet a few have found it anyway, but they walk right on through instead of tellin' anyone."
Makes a bit of sense, but if that were the case I would have expected far more ghosts wandering around. And yet, it had been difficult enough to find this one.
"So then why isn't this... purgatory? Filled with souls?" I ask.
"Well the thing is," he explains, "we've found plenty of portals. Just no clue where they go."
I move to speak, but he interrupts. "You willing to risk a 50-50 shot at Hell? Yeah, me neither."