The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

 

  • You found them in forests of hair, lurking among a constellation of freckles, or peering from armpit caverns, diamond eyes aglitter. Each seemed intent upon his own activity; each was a separate gallery portrait.
  • They were awfully young, Wendy and Peter, for death thoughts. Or, no, you were never too young, really. Long before you knew what death was you were wishing it on someone else. When you were two years old you were shooting people with cap pistols.
  • There were differences between memories and dreams.illustrated
  • So it was with Lespere and himself; Lespere had lived a good full life, and it made him a different man now, and he, Hollis, had been as good as dead for many years. They came to death by separate paths and, in all likelihood, if there were kinds of death, their kinds would be as different as night from day. The quality of death, like that of life, must be of an infinite variety, and if one has already died once, then what was there to look for in dying for good and all, as he was now?
  • The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and the ton, it hacked at the jungle and cut the trees like scissors and shaved the grass and tunneled the soil and molted the bushes. It shrank men’s hands into the hands of wrinkled apes; it rained a solid glassy rain, and it never stopped.
  • Chinese water cure. Remember the old torture? Rope you against a wall. Drop one drop of water on your head every half-hour. You go crazy waiting for the next one.
  • They had to walk inland six miles to a place where the river boiled out of the earth, suddenly, like a mortal wound.
  • Once she said the light was too strong at night. “But there’s no moon this week,” I said. “There’s starlight,” she said.
  • He listened to the wind and the falling ocean and my voice, always with a rapt attention, a concentration that almost excluded physical bodies themselves and kept only the sounds.
  • He was watching the stars wheel over the sky.
  • For what are we but books, and when those are gone, nothing’s to be seen.
  • I mean see it. I’ve always been that way. When I’m in Boston, New York is dead. When I’m in New York, Boston is dead. When I don’t see a man for a day, he’s dead. When he comes walking down the street, my God, it’s a resurrection. I do a dance, almost, I’m so glad to see him. I used to, anyway. I don’t dance any more. I just look. And when the man walks off, he’s dead again.
  • “Those aren’t real, either,” he said. “What?” asked Clemens. “The stars. Who’s ever touched one? I can see them, sure, but what’s the use of seeing a thing that’s a million or a billion miles away?”
  • “You liked the idea of space travel? Going places?” “I don’t know. Yes. No. It wasn’t going places. It was being between.”
  • You see. You have no mental evidence. That’s what I want, a mental evidence I can feel. I don’t want physical evidence, proof you have to go out and drag in. I want evidence that you can carry in your mind and always touch and smell and feel. But there’s no way to do that. In order to believe in a thing you’ve got to carry it with you. You can’t carry the Earth, or a man, in your pocket. I want a way to do that, carry things with me always, so I can believe in them. How clumsy to have to go to all the trouble of going out and bringing in something terribly physical to prove something. I hate physical things because they can be left behind and become impossible to believe in then.
  • I’d like to know what a place is like when I’m not there. I’d like to be sure.
  • I thought how I’d like to be in a rocket ship, in space, in nothing, in nothing, going on into nothing, with just a thin something, a thin eggshell of metal holding me, going on away from all the somethings with gaps in them that couldn’t prove themselves.
  • Living out their short time until the neon bewilderment fell from the sky.
  • The perspiration of frightened men arose. There were islands of sweat under their arms.
  • For the streets were like tongues, and where the men passed, the taste of their heels ebbed down through stone pores to be calculated on litmus.
  • For some reason the electric humming, the queer cold light suddenly visible under the door crack, the strange odor and the alien sound of eagerness in Mink’s voice finally got through to Henry Morris too. He stood, shivering, in the dark silence, his wife beside him. “Mom! Dad!” Footsteps. A little humming sound. The attic lock melted. The door opened. Mink peered inside, tall blue shadows behind her. “Peekaboo.” said Mink.
  • Turn their eyes down to their hands and to your junk yard, not up to the stars.
  • The rocket smelled of time and distance. It was like walking into a clock.
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