Let’s talk a little about cold while we’re standing here, all right? No, it’s fine, go ahead and enjoy your smoke.
We’ve all felt cold, like the kind you feel on that winter morning when you wake to a foot or two of fresh snow on the ground, so you quickly gulp down that first cup of life giving coffee, then bundle up and go outside to man the snow thrower and shovels in order to clear the sidewalk, driveway, and that monumental wall of frozen boulders left at the end of the driveway by the plow trucks that went by as you slept.
This is, after all, New England, where you cannot watch an hour of daytime television without enduring about thirty minutes of commercials for personal injury lawyers. Trust me, you want to keep those walkways clear and avoid that nonsense.
By the time you’ve successfully cleared all the snow and put away the tools, a level of cold has settled inside you, but one that can be eliminated simply by walking back into the warm kitchen and pouring another cup of coffee, this one to be enjoyed at leisure as the warmth surrounds you.
That’s cold, the cold we all know so well.
Then, there’s the deeper, more invasive bone chilling cold that I used to call the Dead Cold when I was a kid. That’s the one that burrows in to the very core, rendering you unable to stop the shivering and shaking, unable to feel your fingers or toes. There is no remedy for the Dead Cold that I know of, other than to bury yourself under numerous heavy blankets and fall asleep shivering, hoping it will be done and gone by the time you wake up.
In cities like Chicago or New York, there are elevated subway trains that thousands of commuters use each day for work, for school, or simply to avoid the congestion of traffic. Locals tend to call them the ‘El’. The tracks and platforms the passengers wait on are about two stories high, a peaked roof above but no sides to protect against the January cold and wind. You stand on this platform early, before the meager warmth of the sun arrives, the ferocious wind driving that frigid air against you from all sides. It doesn’t matter if you’ve dressed in layers, it will find a way in and it will chill you to the very core. If you have facial hair, the condensation from your breath will freeze over it, giving you the look of a malevolent snow demon. Your extremities will go numb and you’ll be racked by violent, uncontrollable shaking and shivers that nothing will eliminate other than those hours of constant warmth. It was on one of those platforms that the name first occurred to me, now that I think of it.
I didn’t know just how accurate a name that was back then.
Of course, now that I’m dead, I’ve found that now you basically feel that ‘Dead Cold’ all the time, as though the bones themselves were formed of dry ice instead of… well, bone. At least you don’t get the shakes anymore, so that’s good.
Oh… I’m sorry. I suppose I should have warned you about that sooner. I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. I never woke up dead before, and it doesn’t come with a book of instructions, so I’ve been winging it so far. I don’t know exactly how I died; I mean I don’t see any wounds anywhere on me in the mirror, unless they’re in the back? I just realized something was off, I mean WAY off that one morning, so I checked my pulse.
Nada. Still as stone.
One change I noticed early on is that I have no appetite at all now. All that stuff about eating brains or drinking blood? Bogus. Pure movie nonsense, no truth to them at all. I seem to have found the perfect diet, although I wouldn’t recommend it to others.
I also noticed my skin was unusually pale, a pallor I’d never seen before, but I guess the lack of a pulse might have something to do with that. I remember reading somewhere that the brain is the first organ to go when death occurs, that the cells collapse and release some kind of liquid. I did have some sort of thick nastiness dripping from my nose, and oozing out from behind my eyes after a couple days, but if that stuff was my brain goo, then how am I still thinking and moving around?
What I do find disturbing lately is that my newly pale skin seems to be changing again, more of a greenish gray hue showing now. I’m wondering if this is the onset of decomposition, and if so, will the resulting putrefaction start making bits and pieces of me fall off at random before I eventually become a bowl of bone soup?
And… would I still be thinking and aware when that happens?
That thought absolutely fucking horrifies me.
So, that’s why I’m here, standing in front of the most respected hospital in all of New England. I don’t hold out hope they can somehow reverse whatever happened to me, but please… please don’t let me keep on thinking while the final decay occurs!