Their conversation ceased abruptly with the entry of an oddly-shaped man whose body resembled a certain vegetable. He was a thickset fellow with calloused and jaundiced skin and a patch of brown hair, a frizzy upheaval. We will call him Bell Pepper. Bell Pepper sidled up beside The Drippy Man and looked at the grilled cheese in his hand. The Drippy Man, a bit uncomfortable at the heaviness of the gaze, politely apologized and asked Bell Pepper if he would like one. Why is one of your legs fatter than the other? asked Bell Pepper. The Drippy Man realized Bell Pepper was not looking at his sandwich but towards the inconsistency of his leg sizes. You always get your kicks pointing out defects? retorted The Drippy Man. Just curious. Never seen anything like it before. I was raised not to feel shame and hide my legs in baggy pants. So you flaunt your deformity by wearing short shorts? Like you flaunt your pockmarks by not wearing a mask? Bell Pepper backed away, kicking wide the screen door, making an exit to a porch over hanging a dune of sand that curved into a jagged upward jab of rock. He is quite sensitive, commented The Dry Advisor. Who is he? A fellow who once manipulated the money in your wallet but now curses the fellow who does.
In her mind's eye she saw it, saw it all at last: the rolling armies and the flames of battle; the graves and pits and dying cries of a hundred million souls; the spreading darkness, like a black wing stretching over the earth; the last, bitter hours of cruelty and sorrow, and the terrible, final flights; death's great dominion over all, and, at the last, empty cities, becalmed by the silence of a hundred years. Already these things were coming to pass.
If it happens that the human race doesn't make it, then the fact that we were here once will not be altered, that once upon a time we peopled this astonishing blue planet, and wondered intelligently at everything about it and the other things who lived here with us on it, and that we celebrated the beauty of it in music and art, architecture, literature, and dance, and that there were times when we approached something godlike in our abilities and aspirations. We emerged out of depthless mystery, and back into mystery we returned,and in the end the mystery is all there is.
He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.
I steal one glance over my shoulder as soon as we are far from the foreboding luminance of the neon glow, and it is there that my stomach leaps into my throat. Squatting just shy of the light and partially concealed by the shade of an alley is a sinister silhouette beneath a crimson cowl, beaming a demonic smile which spans from cheek to swollen cheek.
At the round earth's imagined corners blowYour trumpets, angels, and arise, ariseFrom death, you numberless infinitiesOf souls, and to your scattered bodies go ;All whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow,All whom war, dea[r]th, age, agues, tyrannies,Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you, whose eyesShall behold God, and never taste death's woe.But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space ;For, if above all these my sins abound,'Tis late to ask abundance of Thy grace,When we are there. Here on this lowly ground,Teach me how to repent, for that's as goodAs if Thou hadst seal'd my pardon with Thy blood.