Drop a frog into a scalding pot of water and it will leap out.
Leave the frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature, then it will boil itself alive.
The doctor had succeeded with a profound achievement while in the clutches of the otherworld.
This made him different from the beings that inhabited this strange place, the shadows with vacant faces and absent expressions.
After an incalculable amount of time, and with incredible persistence, he had fought against the gravitational pull intent on stealing his memories and managed to maintain a sense of self.
The state wasn’t permanent, however.
Sometimes he would be up, like when he remembered how to roll a mandrake joint.
Sometimes he would be down, like when he forgot how to walk.
The cigarette extinguished with a fizz as he submerged in the tin bath. He opened his eyes underwater and was somewhere else entirely. He could see beyond the leaves, spider webs, and trees. He was drifting high over hills and deep into valleys like a fly-by cut scene.
He could focus on the sound of every insect as they maintained their perpetual chorus.
He could detect the shadow animals as they crawled in the corners, ready to strike like deadly sentinels.
A spasm shook his body.
He repressed the desire to breathe and instead concentrated on the name of the avatar that he’d just reset to level one; Izanagi.
Dr Vegas was the chain-smoking, hair growing, free-thinking know-it-all of the afterlife, but he was also the frog, and the temperature was rising.