The living, he thought, should never be used to serve the purposes of the dead. But the dead—he glanced at Bruce, the empty shape beside him—should, if possible, serve the purposes of the living. That, he reasoned, is the law of life. And the dead, if they could feel, might feel better doing so. The dead, Mike thought, who can still see, even if they can’t understand: they are our camera.

“Imagine being sentient but not alive. Seeing and even knowing, but not alive. Just looking out. Recognizing but not being alive. A person can die and still go on. Sometimes what looks out at you from a person’s eyes maybe died back in childhood. What’s dead in there still looks out. It’s not just the body looking at you with nothing in it; there’s still something in there but it died and just keeps on looking and looking; it can’t stop looking.”

He heard nothing now. And forgot the meaning of the words, and, finally, the words themselves. Only, he sensed Mike watching him, watching and listening, hearing nothing; he did not know, he did not recall, he felt little, he felt bad, he wanted to leave. The Vacuum in him grew. And he was actually a little glad.

The church of my choice is the free, open world.

Probably she should not have gotten away with it for as long as she had . . . but sometime, he had often thought, the retribution will come: reality denied comes back to haunt.

What he did not know then is that it is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.

Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, it doesn’t go away.