His heartbeat thunders beneath flesh, muscle and bone. He’s sleeping now, I can tell by the steady rise and fall of his chest. He doesn’t snore, but I can hear a quiet whistle blow from one of his nostrils.
The windows of the car are fogged over, our body heat battling with the cold of autumn meeting winter. It hasn’t snowed yet, but it’s getting closer. I enjoy the first snow of the season. It’s a fresh start, a blank page.
The Penultimate Truth is a novel by one of my favourite authors, Philip Kindred Dick (b. 1928 — d.1982).
Pee-Kay-Dee — as fellow D***heads call him — story, is set in a Post WW111 earth ravaged by nuclear weapons and based upon one of his countless short stories, namely, The Defenders (1953).
The novel was published in 1964 in what many regard as Dick’s Golden Era, which included The Man in the High Castle (1962) that won the Hugo Award for best novel in 1963.
Whilst The Penultimate Truth won’t feature too highly in devotees top ten lists, as it lacks the many-layered aspects of his best work, it is still a good book.
The World Jones Made (1956), Time Out of Joint (1959), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Ubik (both 1969), Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974) and A Scanner Darkly (1977) illustrate that throughout his life PKD continued to grow as a writer of original, philosophical fiction, albeit his latter years being increasingly devoted to an exploration of theological matters — most famously with Valis (1981).
Week 54 will herald the last round-up of stories published on LS in 2015.
We return 4 January 2016.
In honour of Phil I have dubbed Week 53 ‘The Penultimate Week.’
Zayde died last Saturday. This afternoon we gathered to attend a service over a plain pine coffin and to remember him over cold cuts on rye. I remembered my grandfather chiefly as a madman.
“He died happy,” said my mother. “That’s all that matters.”
He hadn’t meant to do it. As his muscles strained against their tendons, sweat pouring from his brow, reality blurred like the trees standing behind rain-covered windows. Adrenaline coursed though his veins, filled his mouth with a metallic taste- He wondered if she’d tasted it too, in those few brief moments of chaos.
He hadn’t meant to do it. Really. But, in the moment, it was the only choice he had.
Jason Mattis was old. Not in the physical sense — though a few gray hairs had begun to work their way into his shadow of a beard — but in what he’d experienced over his 26 years of life. Growing up, Jason had watched his mother deteriorate in a mess of tubes and needles and medication, the whirring machines sucking the life from her as fuel for their colorful blinking lights. Sunken eyes, sagging skin, and the shadowy shapes of bones resting just beneath the surface. Smaller and smaller upon that white bed, until one day, she simply wasn’t there anymore.
Like the agonizing drip of a faulty faucet, they file into the church of my youth. They wear black clothing and looks of pity. There are many of them and they mean nothing to me.
I sit far away from the others, perched in the pew like a crooked angel on top of a spruce tree, uncomfortable and temporary. The austere wooden seat is familiar from the Christmases and Easters I spent here, the two days of the year my mother thought it important to be Christian. Two too many, if you ask me.
In a large detached house surrounded by high privet hedges at the foot of a low hill range there is a room filled with books. Some of them date from the 19th century. There are books about geology and Greek mythology, there are books about the flora and fauna of far off lands. There are books about subjects that no longer exist. Phrenology, mediumship, gruesome racial theories. There are books whose pages have crumbled to dust. There are books that have not been looked at since the day they were pushed into place on the high shelves that surround the walls.