“Sometimes,” Sebastian said, “I have dreams.”
“About what?” Bob Lindy asked.
“A sort of forest.”
“And that’s all?” Lindy demanded.
“One other.” He hesitated, then said it. “A pulsating black presence, beating like a huge heart. Enormous and loud, going thump, thump, rising and falling, in and out. And very angry. Burning out everything in me it disapproves of… and that seemed to be most of me.”
“Dies Irae,” Father Faine said. “The Day of Wrath.” He did not seem surprised. Sebastian had talked with him about it before.
Sebastian said, “And a sense on my part of it being so alive. It was absolutely living. By comparison–we’re a spark of life in a lump that isn’t alive, that the spark makes move around and talk and act. But this was totally aware; not out of eyes or ears, just aware.”
“Paranoia,” Dr. Sign murmured. “The sense of being watched.”
“What was it angry at you about?” Cheryl asked.
He pondered, then said, “I wasn’t small enough.”
“‘Small enough,'” Bob Lindy echoed in disgust. “Feood.”
“It was right,” Sebastian said. “I was in reality much smaller than I realized. Or admitted; I liked to think I was larger, with large ambitions.” Like seizing the Anarch’s corpse, he thought wryly. And trying to cash in big; that was an example, a perfect one. He hadn’t learned.
“Why,” Cheryl persisted, “did it want you to be small?”
“Because it was true. A fact. I had to face the fact.”
“Why?” Lindy demanded.
“That’s what happens on the Day of Judgment,” R.C. Buckley said philosophically. “That’s the day you have to face all the reality you’ve been avoiding. I mean, we all lie to ourselves; we tell our own selves more lies than we ever do other people.”
“Yes,” Sebastian said; that expressed it. “It’s hard to explain,” he said. It would be interesting, if they could bring back the Anarch Peak, to talk to him about it; he might know a good deal. “He–God—can’t help you until you understand that everything you do depends on Him.”
“Religious victuals,” Lindy said contemptuously.
“But think about it,” Sebastian said. “Literally. I raise my hand.” He raised his hand. “I think I do it, can do it. But it’s done by a complex biochemical, physiological apparatus that I inherited; I inherited it, I didn’t construct it. A blood clot on one side of the brain, a clot no bigger than a pencil eraser, and I couldn’t lift my hand again or move my leg or anything on that side for the rest of my life.”
“So you grovel,” Bob Lindy said, “before His majesty?”
Sebastian said, “He can help you if you face it. It’s just so damn hard to face. Because when you do you–cease to exist, almost. You shrink down almost to nothing.” But not quite; something real remained.
– Counterclock World. Philip K Dick
Art: Kurt Wenner