Newton Pulsifer had never had a cause in his life. Nor had he, as far as he knew, ever believed in anything. It had been embarassing, because he quite wanted to believe in something, since he recognized that belief was the lifebelt that got most people through the choppy waters of Life. He’d have liked to believe in a supreme God, although he’d have preferred a half-hour’s chat with Him before committing himself, to clear up one or two points. He’d sat in all sorts of churches, waiting for that single flash of blue light, and it hadn’t come. And then he’d tried to become an official Atheist and hadn’t got the rock-hard, self-satisfied strenght of belief even for that. And every single political party had seemed to him equally dishonest. And he’d given up on ecology when the ecology magazine he’d been subscribing to had shown its readers a plan of a self-suficient garden, and had drawn the ecological goat tethered within three feet of the ecological beehive. Newt had spent a lot of time at his grandmother’s house in the country and thought he knew something about the habits of both goats and bees, and concluded therefore that the magazine was run by a bunch of bib-overalled maniacs. Besides, it used the word ‘community’ too often; Newton had always suspected that people who regularly used the word ‘community’ were using it in a very specific sense that excluded him and everyone he knew.
He'd never asked for an exciting life. What he really liked, what he sought on every occasion, was boredom. The trouble was that boredom tended to explode in your face. Just when he thought he'd found it he'd be suddenly involved in what he supposed other people - thoughtless, feckless people - would call an adventure. And he'd be forced to visit many strange lands and meet exotic and colourful people, although not for very long because usually he'd be running. He'd seen the creation of the universe, although not from a good seat, and had visited Hell and the afterlife. He'd been captured, imprisoned, rescued, lost and marooned. Sometimes it had all happened on the same day.
People said there had to be a Supreme Being because otherwise how could the universe exist, eh?And of course there clearly had to be, said Koomi, a Supreme Being. But since the universe was a bit of a mess, it was obvious that the Supreme Being hadn't in fact made it. If he had made it he would, being Supreme, have made a better job of it, with far better thought given, taking an example at random, to things like the design of the common nostril. Or, to put it another way, the existence of a badly put-together watch proved the existence of a blind watchmaker. You only had to look around to see that there was room for improvement practically everywhere. This suggested that the Universe had probably been put together in a bit of a rush by an underling while the Supreme Being wasn't looking, in the same way that Boy Scouts' Association minutes are done on office photocopiers all over the country.So, reasoned Koomi, it was not a good idea to address any prayers to a Supreme Being. It would only attract his attention and might cause trouble.
He had never been interested in stories at any age, and had never quite understood the basic concept. He'd never read a work of fiction all the way through. He did remember, as a small boy, being really annoyed at the depiction of Hickory Dickory Dock in a rag book of nursery rhymes because the clock in the drawing was completely wrong for the period.
But that wasn't the chief thing that bothered me: I couldn't reconcile myself with that preoccupation with sin that, so far as I could tell, was never entirely absent from the monks' thoughts. I'd known a lot of fellows in the air corps. Of course they got drunk when they got a chance, and had a girl whenever they could and used foul language; we had one or two had hats: one fellow was arrested for passing rubber cheques and was sent to prison for six months; it wasn't altogether his fault; he'd never had any money before, and when he got more than he'd ever dreamt of having, it went to his head. I'd known had men in Paris and when I got back to Chicago I knew more, but for the most part their badness was due to heredity, which they couldn't help, or to their environment, which they didn't choose: I'm not sure that society wasn't more responsible for their crimes than they were. If I'd been God I couldn't have brought myself to condemn one of them, not even the worst, to eternal damnation. Father Esheim was broad-minded; he thought that hell was the deprivation of God's presence, but if that is such an intolerable punishment that it can justly be called hell, can one conceive that a good God can inflict it? After all, he created men, if he so created them that ti was possible for them to sin, it was because he willed it. If I trained a dog to fly at the throat of any stranger who came into by back yard, it wouldn't be fair to beat him when he did so.If an all-good and all-powerful God created the world, why did he create evil? The monks said, so that man by conquering the wickedness in him, by resisting temptation, by accepting pain and sorrow and misfortune as the trials sent by God to purify him, might at long last be made worthy to receive his grace. It seem to me like sending a fellow with a message to some place and just to make it harder for him you constructed a maze that he had to get through, then dug a moat that he had to swim and finally built a wall that he had to scale. I wasn't prepared to believe in an all-wise God who hadn't common sense. I didn't see why you shouldn't believe in a God who hadn't created the world, buyt had to make the best of the bad job he'd found, a being enormously better, wiser and greater than man, who strove with the evil he hadn't made and who might be hoped in the end to overcome it. But on the other hand I didn't see why you should.
Back then, living hadn't had any meaning. Every so often, without any warning or any real reason, he'd even caught himself thinking, 'Maybe I'll try dying.' He'd had one foot in the world of the dead, and yet the other foot had been chained to the world of the living, and he couldn't pull it out; he'd just looed on disinterestedly, sort of like it was all happening on the other side of some window, as the dull, vague world passed him by. Never making any more to walk out into it himself. Somewhere along the way, though, he'd stopped thinking about trying to die. He wondered when that had happened.
As Ian looked at her, he felt something in his chest slip and shift. The pressure came with a blood-tingling rush of triumph and satisfaction, pride and a deeply burning sense of possessiveness. His inner caveman warrior had been awakened and wanted to rush around the room, peeing into the corners, marking it—and her—as his own, while shouting Mine! and randomly smashing things for emphasis.But he knew that was he was feeling was the equivalent of emotional and hormonal indigestion. He hadn’t done this in a long time. And he particularly hadn’t done it with a woman he liked as much as this one. In fact, he’d never had sex with anyone that he genuinely liked as much as he liked Phoebe.
There seemed no answer. He wasn't resigned to anything, he hadn't accepted or adjusted to the life he'd been forced into. Yet here he was, eight months after the plague's last victim, nine since he's spoken to another human being, ten since Virginia had died. Here he was with no future and a virtually hopeless present. Still plodding on.Instinct? Or was he just stupid? Too unimaginative to destroy himself? Why hadn't he done it in the beginning when he was in the very depths? What had impelled him to enclose the house, install a freezer, a generator, an electric stove, a water tank, build a hothouse, a workbench, burn down the houses on each side of his, collect records and books and mountains of canned supplies, even - it was fantastic when you thought about it - even put a fancy mural on the wall?Was the life force something more than words, a tangible, mind-controlling potency? Was nature somehow, in him, maintaining its spark against its own encroachments?He closed his eyes. Why think, why reason? There was no answer. His continuance was an accident and an attendant bovinity. He was just too dumb to end it all, and that was about the size of it.
What the hell?” Ian asked, holding his hands over the front of his Christmas briefs. Sara had ordered them from the Internet, and he'd worn them to please her. Too bad there hadn't been enough time for the underwear to meet with an unfortunate accident. A lot could be blamed on a washing machine.
Orlando had a Pinto, a car that hadn't been in existence for thirty-plus years. He still hadn't figured out why a strong, strapping werewolf would want one. Orlando said it was because he'd customized it. Painted pink with purple stripes, the younger male could often be found cruising up and down the streets of Wolf Town, with his terrible music blaring out of the windows. The car was a ticking time bomb. Already, more than one werewolf had offered to blow it up. Orlando better enjoy it, Connor doubted he would have it for very much longer.
Never mind that. What's going on with you and Heath?"Annabelle pulled a little wide-eyed innocence out of her rusty bag of college acting skills."What do you mean? Business.""Don't give me that. We've been friends too long."She switched to a furrowed brow. "He's my most important client. You know how much this means to me."Molly wasn't buying it. "I've seen the way you look at him. Like he was a slot machine with triple sevens tattooed on his forehead. If you fall in love with him, I swear I'll never speak toyou again." Annabelle nearly choked. She'd known Molly would be suspicious, but she hadn't expected an outright confrontation. "Are you nuts? Setting aside the fact that he treats me like a flunky, I'd never fall for a workaholic after what I've had to go through with my family." Falling in lust, however, was an entirely different matter."He has a calculator for a heart," Molly said. "I thought you liked him.
Myrnin, who hadn't said much, suddenly reached out and wrapped his arms around her. She stiffened, shocked, and for a panicked second wondered whether he'd suddenly decided to snack on her neck... but it was just a hug. His body felt cold against hers, and way too close, but then he let go and stepped back. "You've done very well. I'm extremely proud of you," he said. There was a touch of color high in his pale cheeks. "Do go home now. And shower. You reek like the dead."Which, coming from a vampire, was pretty rich.
A month ago, Gavin had given his employer four weeks' notice. "I'll get a job around here," he'd told her. "Something low-stress, part-time, maybe. We're not paying rent, and Dad's left us plenty. You should quit, too." A year earlier this news would have filled her with delicious, full fat, chocolate-coated joy. But now, after a grueling routine of shitty work, shitty- weird home life in a house where the shadow of a dead boy walked more solidly than the grownups, shitty headaches, shitty worry about a husband who couldn't keep his dick out of other women, the golden offer just weirded Laine out. She didn't trust it.
His mouth opened, nudging her lips apart, and she let him in. He tangled his tongue with hers and made it impossible for her to breathe without him.The kiss took turns at tender, hot, relentless. She loved them all. She could kiss him all night, the passion and intensity always there -- in her mind, her body, her heart. This was the kind of first kiss she'd dreamed about.,,,She knew he'd just wiped out every other kiss she'd had. Knew deep down in her soul that no one would ever compare to Zane.Her Mr. Right Now.
Maybe that's why he had started to fear suffocation. It wasn't so much drowning in the earth or sea but the feeling that he was sinking into too many expectations, literally getting in over his head.Wow...when he started having thoughts like that, he knew he'd been spending too much time with Annabeth.
I watched the black ocean in his eyes and saw this flash behind them and understood what he had meant the night before, about the insanity that had gripped him. He was not so far gone as to be lost, but he was close, and I knew it had come from me turning my back on him as I had started to flee. Whether I wanted to or not, I anchored him to this world, and I was the only thing he'd known, maybe for his whole life. He had watched me, yes, he had stalked me, oh yes, but it had driven him to the edge. I inhaled sharply at the wildness I saw in him, the despair that was threatening to rise.
Part of the problem was that I couldn't seem to get past the fact that I hadn't tried to escape from Kas. Even in France, when he'd left me on my own for several days, I'd carried on working [as a prostitute] and doing all the things he'd told me to d. And although I knew that it was because of the fear he'd so carefully and deliberately instilled in me, I still felt as though I'd somehow colluded in what had happened to me - despite knowing, deep down, that nothing could have been further from the truth.
The phone rang. It was a familiar voice.It was Alan Greenspan. Paul O'Neill had tried to stay in touch with people who had served under Gerald Ford, and he'd been reasonably conscientious about it. Alan Greenspan was the exception. In his case, the effort was constant and purposeful. When Greenspan was the chairman of Ford's Council of Economic Advisers, and O'Neill was number two at OMB, they had become a kind of team. Never social so much. They never talked about families or outside interests. It was all about ideas: Medicare financing or block grants - a concept that O'Neill basically invented to balance federal power and local autonomy - or what was really happening in the economy. It became clear that they thought well together. President Ford used to have them talk about various issues while he listened. After a while, each knew how the other's mind worked, the way married couples do.In the past fifteen years, they'd made a point of meeting every few months. It could be in New York, or Washington, or Pittsburgh. They talked about everything, just as always. Greenspan, O'Neill told a friend, "doesn't have many people who don't want something from him, who will talk straight to him. So that's what we do together - straight talk."O'Neill felt some straight talk coming in."Paul, I'll be blunt. We really need you down here," Greenspan said. "There is a real chance to make lasting changes. We could be a team at the key moment, to do the things we've always talked about."The jocular tone was gone. This was a serious discussion. They digressed into some things they'd "always talked about," especially reforming Medicare and Social Security. For Paul and Alan, the possibility of such bold reinventions bordered on fantasy, but fantasy made real."We have an extraordinary opportunity," Alan said. Paul noticed that he seemed oddly anxious. "Paul, your presence will be an enormous asset in the creation of sensible policy."Sensible policy. This was akin to prayer from Greenspan. O'Neill, not expecting such conviction from his old friend, said little. After a while, he just thanked Alan. He said he always respected his counsel. He said he was thinking hard about it, and he'd call as soon as he decided what to do.The receiver returned to its cradle. He thought about Greenspan. They were young men together in the capital. Alan stayed, became the most noteworthy Federal Reserve Bank chairman in modern history and, arguably the most powerful public official of the past two decades. O'Neill left, led a corporate army, made a fortune, and learned lessons - about how to think and act, about the importance of outcomes - that you can't ever learn in a government.But, he supposed, he'd missed some things. There were always trade-offs. Talking to Alan reminded him of that. Alan and his wife, Andrea Mitchell, White House correspondent for NBC news, lived a fine life. They weren't wealthy like Paul and Nancy. But Alan led a life of highest purpose, a life guided by inquiry.Paul O'Neill picked up the telephone receiver, punched the keypad."It's me," he said, always his opening.He started going into the details of his trip to New York from Washington, but he's not much of a phone talker - Nancy knew that - and the small talk trailed off."I think I'm going to have to do this."She was quiet. "You know what I think," she said.She knew him too well, maybe. How bullheaded he can be, once he decides what's right. How he had loved these last few years as a sovereign, his own man. How badly he was suited to politics, as it was being played. And then there was that other problem: she'd almost always been right about what was best for him."Whatever, Paul. I'm behind you. If you don't do this, I guess you'll always regret it."But it was clearly about what he wanted, what he needed.Paul thanked her. Though somehow a thank-you didn't seem appropriate.And then he realized she was crying.
Stop!" Narcissus got to his feet. "This is not right! This person is obviously not awesome, so he must be..." He struggled for the right words. It had probably been a long time since he'd talked about anything other than himself. "He must be tricking us." Apparently Narcissus wasn't completely stupid.
Grover wore his fake feet and his pants to pass as human. He wore a green rasta-style cap, because when it rained his curly hair flattened and you could just see the tips of his horns. His bright orange backpack was full of scrap metal and apples to snack on. In his pocket was a set of reed pipes his daddy goat had carved for him, even though he only knew two songs: Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 12 and Hilary Duff's "So Yesterday," both of which sounded pretty bad on reed pipes.
Lumani had never managed a failed delivery because, in the end, no matter how skilled or how hard they fought back, pressure applied in the right places caused even the strongest men to fracture.But this one? He'd watched her. Studied her. Observed what maybe even Uncle, the reader of people, had missed. This one was already fractured, and the lines between her broken pieces were not fissures but scar material stronger than whatever had once filled those spaces.
You're letting me go?"He curled his upper lip, his expression painfully bitter as he took a step back from me. "Apparently... I never had a hold of you." He turned sharply, and without another word striding down the street into the dark.Braden never once looked back and that was a good thing.If he had, he'd have seen Jocelyn Butler crying real tears for the first time in a long time, and he would have known that I'd lied. And lied big. For anyone who saw me, knew they were watching a heart in the process of it breaking.
Mortimer had maxed three credit cards stocking the cave with canned goods and medical supplies and tools and everything a man needed to live through the end of the world. There were more than a thousand books along shelves in the driest part of the cave. There used to be several boxes of pornography until Mortimer realized that he'd spent nearly ten days in a row sitting in the cave masturbating. He burned the dirty magazines to keep from doing some terrible whacking injury to himself.
Merda! Her lace panties had snagged on his ring, the signet ring he'd inherited from his father, Giacomo Casanova. His father had seduced hundred of women without any problems whatsoever, and he was having trouble with just one. This was the real reason he never used the Casanova name. He could never live up to his father's reputation. The old man was probably laughing in his grave.Nine circles of hell," Jack muttered.Hell?" Lara asked. "I thought I was the Holy Land."You're paradise. Unfortunately, I am stuck there."Her eyes widened. "Stuck?"Normally, I would love being stuck to your lovely bum, but it would look odd if we go sightseeing with my hand under your skirt. Especially in the basilica."She glanced down. "How can you be stuck?"My ring. It's caught in the lace. See?" He moved his hand down her hip, dragging her undies down a few inches.Okay, stop." She bit her lip, frowning, then suddenly giggled. "I can't believe this has happened."I assure you, as much as I had hoped to get your clothes off, this was not part of my original plan."She snorted. "No problem. Just rip yourself loose."Are you sure?" It will destroy you undies."She narrowed her eyes with a seductuve look. "Rip it."Very well." He jerked his hand away, but the panties came with him. He yanked his hand back and forth, but the lacy, latex material simply stretched with him. "Santo cielo, they are indestructible."Lara laughed.He continued to wage battle, but to no avail. "They could use this material to build spaceships.
It worried him. Like him, she had to be exhausted. She smelled like gasoline; her clothes were torn. She had a small white bandage on her forehead where the EMT had cleaned her cut. Dirt smudged her face, her arms, her legs. He knew she still didn't have any underwear, and for the first time, he felt bad about it. Real bad. He wanted to protect her, make her feel secure, keep her from harm—and all he'd done was lose her underwear and practically get her blown up.
she had graduated from the Beaux Arts in Caen. She worked entirely on her body, she explained to me; I looked at her anxiously as she opened her portfolio. I was hoping she wasn't going to show me photos of plastic surgery on her toes or anything like that - I'd had it up to here with things like that. But no, she simply handed me some postcards which she had had made, with the imprint of her pussy dipped in different coloured paints. I chose a turquoise and a mauve; I was a little sorry I hadn't brought photos of my prick to return the favour.
The plane banked, and he pressed his face against the cold window. The ocean tilted up to meet him, its dark surface studded with points of light that looked like constellations, fallen stars. The tourist sitting next to him asked him what they were. Nathan explained that the bright lights marked the boundaries of the ocean cemeteries. The lights that were fainter were memory buoys. They were the equivalent of tombstones on land: they marked the actual graves. While he was talking he noticed scratch-marks on the water, hundreds of white gashes, and suddenly the captain's voice, crackling over the intercom, interrupted him. The ships they could see on the right side of the aircraft were returning from a rehearsal for the service of remembrance that was held on the ocean every year. Towards the end of the week, in case they hadn't realised, a unique festival was due to take place in Moon Beach. It was known as the Day of the Dead......When he was young, it had been one of the days he most looked forward to. Yvonne would come and stay, and she'd always bring a fish with her, a huge fish freshly caught on the ocean, and she'd gut it on the kitchen table. Fish should be eaten, she'd said, because fish were the guardians of the soul, and she was so powerful in her belief that nobody dared to disagree. He remembered how the fish lay gaping on its bed of newspaper, the flesh dark-red and subtly ribbed where it was split in half, and Yvonne with her sleeves rolled back and her wrists dipped in blood that smelt of tin.It was a day that abounded in peculiar traditions. Pass any candy store in the city and there'd be marzipan skulls and sugar fish and little white chocolate bones for 5 cents each. Pass any bakery and you'd see cakes slathered in blue icing, cakes sprinkled with sea-salt.If you made a Day of the Dead cake at home you always hid a coin in it, and the person who found it was supposed to live forever. Once, when she was four, Georgia had swallowed the coin and almost choked. It was still one of her favourite stories about herself. In the afternoon, there'd be costume parties. You dressed up as Lazarus or Frankenstein, or you went as one of your dead relations. Or, if you couldn't think of anything else, you just wore something blue because that was the colour you went when you were buried at the bottom of the ocean. And everywhere there were bowls of candy and slices of special home-made Day of the Dead cake. Nobody's mother ever got it right. You always had to spit it out and shove it down the back of some chair. Later, when it grew dark, a fleet of ships would set sail for the ocean cemeteries, and the remembrance service would be held. Lying awake in his room, he'd imagine the boats rocking the the priest's voice pushed and pulled by the wind. And then, later still, after the boats had gone, the dead would rise from the ocean bed and walk on the water. They gathered the flowers that had been left as offerings, they blew the floating candles out. Smoke that smelt of churches poured from the wicks, drifted over the slowly heaving ocean, hid their feet. It was a night of strange occurrences. It was the night that everyone was Jesus......Thousands drove in for the celebrations. All Friday night the streets would be packed with people dressed head to toe in blue. Sometimes they painted their hands and faces too. Sometimes they dyed their hair. That was what you did in Moon Beach. Turned blue once a year. And then, sooner or later, you turned blue forever.