Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Daydreaming of Ancient Terrors

"What are you thinking about, dear?" Bridie asked Cris one sunny day during their engagement.

"Oh, of all the ancient terrors," Cris said, "of the Sea Monster that is the most primordial of the terrors, of the loathsome and murderous disease that will be diverted from its victim only by another victim, of ghosts that return with the sea-wrack of their deaths still on them.  And most of all I was thinking of the terror of falling, though in the sunny little daydream reverie I've just been having the fall is only a piddling thousand feet.  But the terror of falling is the most over-riding terror of them all.  Did you know that even bright Lucifer, a winged creature, was so terrified of the depths before him that he forgot to use his wings and so fell like lightning?"

"Cris, Cris, maybe you are just terrified of marrying me."

"Fear of marriage is one of the ancient terrors, yes, but it's a minor one of them.  But strangely enough, in my afternoon daydream, I do not marry you."

"Then throw that daydream away.  It's flawed.  Forget it."

-R. A. Lafferty, 'Square and Above Board' (first appeared The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1982; also collected in The Year's Best Fantasy Stories: 9, Daw Books, 1983).


gwern said...

That Lucifer comment appears in _Annals of Klepsis_ as well. I wonder how many places Lafferty used that thought?

Daniel Otto Jack Petersen said...

Ah, interesting. I've read Klepsis twice and still haven't even begun to catch all these little details, much less the overarching themes. It's one of my very favourite novels by Laff though.

'It was all strong talk with the horns and hooves still on it.'
(R. A. Lafferty, The Devil is Dead)