“Don’t let them,” he advised. “There is a way. I learned it myself, down in the dungeons, when Massie and I got ours good and plenty. I pulled through. But Massie croaked. If I hadn’t learned the trick, I’d have croaked along with him. You’ve got to be pretty weak first, before you try it. If you try it when you are strong, you make a failure of it, and then that queers you for ever after. I made the mistake of telling Jake the trick when he was strong. Of course, he could not pull it off, and in the times since when he did need it, it was too late, for his first failure had queered it. He won’t even believe it now. He thinks I am kidding him. Ain’t that right, Jake?”
And from cell thirteen Jake rapped back, “Don’t swallow it, Darrell. It’s a sure fairy story.”
“Go on and tell me,” I rapped to Morrell.
“That is why I waited for you to get real weak,” he continued. “Now you need it, and I am going to tell you. It’s up to you. If you have got the will you can do it. I’ve done it three times, and I know.”
“Well, what is it?” I rapped eagerly.
“The trick is to die in the jacket, to will yourself to die. I know you don’t get me yet, but wait. You know how you get numb in the jacket—how your arm or your leg goes to sleep. Now you can’t help that, but you can take it for the idea and improve on it. Don’t wait for your legs or anything to go to sleep. You lie on your back as comfortable as you can get, and you begin to use your will.
“And this is the idea you must think to yourself, and that you must believe all the time you’re thinking it. If you don’t believe, then there’s nothing to it. The thing you must think and believe is that your body is one thing and your spirit is another thing. You are you, and your body is something else that don’t amount to shucks. Your body don’t count. You’re the boss. You don’t need any body. And thinking and believing all this you proceed to prove it by using your will. You make your body die.
“You begin with the toes, one at a time. You make your toes die. You will them to die. And if you’ve got the belief and the will your toes will die. That is the big job—to start the dying. Once you’ve got the first toe dead, the rest is easy, for you don’t have to do any more believing. You know. Then you put all your will into making the rest of the body die. I tell you, Darrell, I know. I’ve done it three times.
“Once you get the dying started, it goes right along. And the funny thing is that you are all there all the time. Because your toes are dead don’t make you in the least bit dead. By-and-by your legs are dead to the knees, and then to the thighs, and you are just the same as you always were. It is your body that is dropping out of the game a chunk at a time. And you are just you, the same you were before you began.”
“And then what happens?” I queried.