Somewhere in the red haze of his existence, there was a name. Egon, that was it. His name. Egon Turow.
"But I'm dead," he said. "How can I have a name?"
Talking made him feel as if he had a hairbrush in his throat. Not a comfortable feeling. Stupid question, anyway. He had glorsted -- that is, he had caused himself to explode -- and therefore, he had become a glorst.
"Bad luck," said Egon.
Statistically, most people became neither ghosts nor glorsts. When they died, they were done, and their next step was a confrontation with God or (and here beliefs differed somewhat) with Magara the Bonescraper or Hedaglancha the Eyeless One. Whatever the outcome, you were certainly going to be saying goodbye to the world of greeting cards and blood pressure checks.
Usually, then, the life of the living meat was not followed by a period of spectral existence. You went either nowhere or Elsewhere, but you most certainly went. However, a spectral phase was acknowledged to be one of death's potential side effects. It did sometimes happen. And both ghosts and glorsts could hang around for a long time. Egon's spectral existence might quite possibly end up being longer than his years as (briefly) a taxpayer and then (for much longer) a welfare cheat. Conceivably, much longer.
"Still," said Egon. "At least I'm a glorst, not a ghost."
Logically, that had to be so, since he had glorsted, and the spectral survivals of glorsting were always glorsts, never ghosts. And it was better to be a glorst. Why? Because ghosts were largely incapable of acting effectively on the world of atoms and molecules. A ghost was little more than a voice and an apparition. By contrast, a glorst was a spectral deathform capable of exerting perhaps ten percent of its living force on the world of kittens and taxpayers.
In theory, at any rate.
But, at the moment, Egon could find neither his hands nor his feet. Perhaps they weren't findable. Maybe he didn't have any. And he could see nothing but red. A blurred haze, devoid of definition. And he could hear -- what? Sounds climbing and swooping, far off.
Yes, that was one of the sounds.
Perhaps he would find himself getting a little more coherent as he adjusted to the afterlife. Perhaps he would be able to apprehend the world from which he had immigrated. But what good would that be?
"I'm never going to eat pizza again," said Egon, with a feeling of dismay.
It had, he realized, been a totally insane thing to do, to blow himself up. And, looking back, he began to realize that perhaps he had been exactly that: insane. Mad. Off the edge. Out of the cage and into the wombat zone, to coin a phrase.
Well, too bad. He was dead. Or, more exactly, undead. And he would just have to make the best of it.
He could see. At least, he could see the color red. He could feel. Well, he could feel his own throat when he ventured to talk to himself. That was a start. And he could hear. Not clearly, but he had heard the distant siren. And the power of taste also remained with him: he could still taste, in his mouth, the tangy flavor of Higlin's Curried Jellychips.
And that was when he began to notice something most unfortunate. An itching in his ear. A most infernally annoying itch. Which was good news and bad news. At least he had an ear, which was an improvement over being totally incorporeal. But -- bad news -- he had no way to scratch his itch.