Thank you...for gracing my life with your lovely presence, for adding the sweet measure of your soul to my existence.
But now, in the final hours, even hope had vanished. Yet he could smile. At a point without hope he had found contentment. He knew he had tried and there was nothing to be sorry for. And this was complete victory, because it was a victory over himself.
If men only felt about death as they do about sleep, all terrors would cease. . . Men sleep contentedly, assured that they will wake the following morning. They should feel the same about their lives.
Failures plagued me. Things I had omitted or ignored, neglected. What I should have given and hadn’t. I felt the biting pang of every unfulfillment.
Each memory was brought to life before me and within me. I could not avoid them. Neither could I rationalize, explain away. I could only re-experience with total cognizance, unprotected by pretense. Self delusion was impossible, truth exposed in this blinding light. Nothing as I thought it had been. Nothing as I hoped it had been. Only as it had been.
Because there was only one thing worse than dying. And that was knowing you were going to die. And where. And how. (“Death Ship”)
Not only did I rediscover every experience of my life, I had to live each unfulfilled desire as well—as though they’d been fulfilled. I saw that what transpires in the mind is just as real as any flesh and blood occurrence. What had only been imagination in life, now became tangible, each fantasy a full reality. I lived them all—while, at the same time, standing to the side, a witness to their, often, intimate squalor. A witness cursed with total objectivity.
…Not that it was unjust; not that the scales were forced out of balance. Where there had been good, it showed as clearly. Kindnesses, accomplishments, all those were present, too.
He thought about that visionary lady. To die, he thought, never knowing the fierce joy and attendant comfort of a loved one's embrace. To sink into that hideous coma, to sink then into death and, perhaps, return to sterile, awful wanderings. All without knowing what it was to love and be loved.That was a tragedy more terrible than becoming a vampire.
God, how impossible life is without money. Nothing can ever overcome it, it's everything when it's anything. How can I write in peace with endless worries of money, money, money? (“Disappearing Act”)
I'm sitting in my office trying to squeeze a story from my head. It is that kind of morning when you feel like melting the typewriter into a bar of steel and clubbing yourself to death with it. (“Advance Notice”)
God help me, he thought. God help all us poor wretches who could create and find we must lose our hearts for it because we cannot afford to spend our time at it. (“Mad House”)
Very well then! I'll write, write write. He let the words soak into his mind and displace all else.A man had a choice, after all. He devoted his life to his work or to his wife and children and home. It could not be combined; not in this day and age. In this insane world where God was second to income and goodness to wealth.
In a typical desperation for quick answers, easily understood, people had turned to primitive worship as the solution. With less than success. Not only had they died as quickly as the rest of the people, but they had died with terror in their hearts, with a mortal dread flowing in their very veins.
He stood there for a moment looking around the silent room, shaking his head slowly. All these books, he thought, the residue of a planet's intellect, the scrapings of futile minds, the leftovers, the potpourri of artifacts that had no power to save men from perishing.
It was a fairy tale, no fooling. It was unreality becoming real. This frightened her. Because people don't care for unreality becoming real. It pricks their well-fed minds, you see, with something like a hunger pang. They prefer the logical stuffiness of expectancy. It is only at certain times that they weaken, letting imagination in. That's the time to get them. (“The Disinheritors”)
It was more than a spider. It was every unknown terror in the world fused into wriggling, poison-jawed horror. It was every anxiety, insecurity, and fear in his life given a hideous, night-black form.
But it was hard to keep his hands still. He could almost feel them twitching emphatically with his strong desire to reach out and stroke the dog's head. He had such a terrible yearning to love something again, and the dog was such a beautiful ugly dog.
He kept thinking about Mary. What a fool he'd been to let her go. To think, with the thoughtless assurance of youth, that the world was replete with endless possibilities. He'd thought it a mistake to choose so early in life and embrace the present good. He'd been a great one for looking for greener pastures. He'd kept looking until all his pastures were brown with time. (Old Haunts)
But are his needs any more shocking than the needs of any other animals and men? Are his deeds more outrageous than the deeds of the parent who drained the spirit from his child? The vampire may foster quickened heartbeats and levitated hair. But is he worse than the parent who gave to society a neurotic child who became a politician? Is he worse than the manufacturer who set up belated foundations with the money he made by handing bombs and guns to suicidal nationalists? Is he worse than the distiller who gave bastardized grain juice to stultify further the brains of those who, sober, were incapable of progressive thought? (Nay, I apologize for this calumny; I nip the brew that feeds me.) Is he worse, then, than the publisher who filled ubiquitous racks with lust and death wishes? Really, no, search your soul, lovie--is the vampire so bad?
This, he knew, was courage, the truest, ultimate courage, because there was no one here to sympathize or praise him for it. What he felt was felt without the hope of commendation.
Perhaps jungle life, despite physical danger, was a relaxing one. Surely it was free of the petty grievances, the disparate values of society. It was simple, devoid of artifice and ulcer-burning pressures.
He took the woman from her bed, pretending not to notice the question posed in his mind: Why do you always experiment on women? He didn't care to admit that the inference had any validity. She just happened to be the first one he's come across, that was all. What about the man in the living room, though? For God's sake! he flared back. I'm not going to rape the woman!Crossing your fingers, Neville? Knocking on wood?He ignored that, beginning to suspect his mind of harboring an alien. Once he might have termed it conscience. Now it was only an annoyance. Morality, after all, had fallen with society. He was his own ethic.Makes a good excuse, doesn't it, Neville? Oh, shut up.
After a while, though, even the deepest sorrow faltered, even the most penetrating despair lost its scalpel edge.
…They think of suicide as a quick route to oblivion, an escape. Far from it. It merely alters a person from one form to another. Nothing can destroy the spirit. Suicide only precipitates a darker continuation of the same conditions from which escape was sought. A condition under circumstances so much more painful.
There seemed no answer. He wasn't resigned to anything, he hadn't accepted or adjusted to the life he'd been forced into. Yet here he was, eight months after the plague's last victim, nine since he's spoken to another human being, ten since Virginia had died. Here he was with no future and a virtually hopeless present. Still plodding on.Instinct? Or was he just stupid? Too unimaginative to destroy himself? Why hadn't he done it in the beginning when he was in the very depths? What had impelled him to enclose the house, install a freezer, a generator, an electric stove, a water tank, build a hothouse, a workbench, burn down the houses on each side of his, collect records and books and mountains of canned supplies, even - it was fantastic when you thought about it - even put a fancy mural on the wall?Was the life force something more than words, a tangible, mind-controlling potency? Was nature somehow, in him, maintaining its spark against its own encroachments?He closed his eyes. Why think, why reason? There was no answer. His continuance was an accident and an attendant bovinity. He was just too dumb to end it all, and that was about the size of it.
How shall I typify what happened? Passion play? Somewhat. Weird tale? Indubitably. Horror story? Pretty close. Grotesque melodrama? Certainly. Black comedy? Your point of view will determine that. Perhaps it was a combination of them all... So, to the story. A chronicle of greed and cruelty, horror and rapacity, sadism and murder. Love, American style.
You can get used to horror, he thought. When it has lost immediacy and is no longer pungent and has become a steady diet. When it has degraded to a chain of mind-numbing events. (“Lover When You're Near Me”)
Yet, despite all, it is a difficult thing to admit the existence of ghosts in a coldly factual world. One's very instincts rebel at the admission of such maddening possibility. For, once the initial step is made into the supernatural, there is no turning back, no knowing where the strange road leads except that it is quite unknown and quite terrible. (Slaughter House)
She sounded angry. That was the way she'd been as long as he'd known her. If she became ill, it irritated her. She was annoyed by sickness. She seemed to regard it as a personal affront.
She felt all right. Her heart was like a drum hanging from piano wire in her chest, slowly, slowly beaten. Her hands and feet were numb, not with cold but with a sultry torpor. Thoughts moved with a tranquil lethargy, her brain a leisurely machine imbedded in swaths of woolly packing.She felt all right.
Everyone has something to hide. And if they couldn't hide it the world would be in a lot worse mess than it is.
The foraging for food and water, the struggle for life in a world without masters, housed in a body that man had made dependent on himself.