the Statue of Liberty's got this invitation: 'Give me your tired, your poor, your reeking homeless-' 'Huddled masses, ' said Ira. 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.'... Okay, fine. So like everybody in the old countries says, 'Hey, I'm a huddled mass, ' and they all wanna come over.
I distinctly remember a conversation with my band in the van where I was having a complete meltdown. It was 1984, I think, and I was huddled in the back corner of our van and saying, "I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this." I didn't want to play any more shows. I just wanted to stop.
We divert our attention from disease and death as much as we can; the slaughterhouses are huddled out of sight and never mentioned, so that the world we recognize officially in literature and in society is a poetic fiction far handsomer, cleaner and better than the world that really is.
Socialists do not merely want a welfare state, they absolutely must have one. They must have a grovelling dependent class from which to obtain their daily opiate: an hallucinogenic euphoria which comes from the delusion of being superior to and more altruistic than all others. They must have 'the poor, huddled masses' in much the same manner as vampires must have the blood of their victims.
Looking back, I wonder if mom saw it in my eyes: the storm clouds gathering, the dry crackle of electricity in the air. But it was already too late. No warning sirens were going to save me. I guess you never really know the danger, not until you're the one left, huddled on the ground, surrounded by the pieces of your broken heart.
People nowadays like to be together not in the old-fashioned way of, say, mingling on the piazza of an Italian Renaissance city, but, instead, huddled together in traffic jams, bus queues, on escalators and so on. It's a new kind of togetherness which may seem totally alien, but it's the togetherness of modern technology.
J. G. Ballard
No one should be ashamed to speak up. Shame makes it easy for neglect and abuse and bullying to stay huddled together in their dark corner. It's time to throw the switch on this spotlight. If I can inspire other kids to speak their truth, then everything I've been through will have been worth it.
O America, I am your Liberty, and you are that huddled mass yearning to breathe free. I am your Lighthouse, the One beaconing [yea, beckoning], and you are that wayfarer-strayed, grayed, and frayed ... Now, return, you tempest-tost; lift up your gaze to the lighted torch aloft the golden door and come home.
We stayed huddled that way until the early hours of the morning. The shootings and explosions had lasted less than an hour, but they had frightened us badly, because none of us had ever heard gunshots in the streets. They were foreign sounds to us then. The generation of Afghan children whose ears would know nothing but the sounds of bombs and gunfire was not yet born...
... a gaggle of old ladies is glued to the window at the end of the hall like children or jailbirds. They're spidery and frail, their hair as fine as mist. Most of them are a good decade younger than me, and this astounds me. Even as your body betrays you, your mind denies it.--There are five of them now, white headed old things huddled together and pointing crooked fingers at the glass.
My brothers' faces haunt me. I hear their children, my nieces and nephews, asking me why I came home without their daddies. I think of their wives, imagine their questions. Our parents, forever seeing the faces of their lost sons when they look at me. They will want answers, demand to know how I survived. And what do I tell them? That I huddled like a baby inside my tent while their killer beckoned me forth for one last stand?
When common objects in this way be come charged with the suggestion of horror, they stimulate the imagination far more than things of unusual appearance; and these bushes, crowding huddled about us, assumed for me in the darkness a bizarre grotesquerie of appearance that lent to them somehow the aspect of purposeful and living creatures. Their very ordinariness, I felt, masked what was malignant and hostile to us.
I let myself go at the beginning and write with an easy mind, but by the time I get to the middle I begin to grow timid and to fear my story will be too long. . .That is why the beginning of my stories is always very promising and looks as though I were starting on a novel, and the middle is huddled and timid, and the end is...like fireworks.
My mother's mother came to this country in the usual way-she got on a boat with other immigrants and sailed from Sicily. She wasn't one of them, however: neither tired nor poor or part of any huddled mass. Instead, she traveled alone, with her money in one sock and a knife in the other, coming to the new world with an old world motive-to murder the man that had left her for America.
The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things -- praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts -- not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.
C. S. Lewis
Everyone I have lost in the closing of a door the click of the lock is not forgotten, they do not die but remain within the soft edges of the earth, the ash of house fires and cancer in sin and forgiveness huddled under old blankets dreaming their way into my hands, my heart closing tight like fists. - "Indian Boy Love Song #1
Since humans first huddled around campfires, stories have been told of wild horses with wind in their manes, fire in their eyes and freedom in their hearts. Those horses eluded capture, and scorned the comforts of civilization. Americans have insisted they want their wild horses to live that way, forever.
Then, just at the peak of complacency, when it was assumed that the climate of the world had changed forever, when the conductor of the philharmonic played Vivaldi's Four Seasons and left out an entire movement, and when to children of a young age stories of winter were told as if they were fairy tales, New York was hit by a cataclysmic freeze, and, once again, people huddled together to talk fearfully of the millennium.
Cities on the ocean have a choice whether to turn their faces or their backs to the water, lining the shore either with pretty hotels and rich homes or dim warehouses, narrow streets, and greasy piers. All prairie towns turn away from the prairie, however. The huddled houses form a storm-battened island in the midst of endless space.
A crimson fire that vanquishes the stars;A pungent odor from the dusty sage;A sudden stirring of the huddled herds;A breaking of the distant table-landsThrough purple mists ascending, and the flareOf water ditches silver in the light;A swift, bright lance hurled low across the world;A sudden sickness for the hills of home.
'Easy, female, ' Cade soothed as he crept closer to where Holly huddled naked in a corner... When he began unbuttoning his shirt to cover her, she gave a cry, and bloody claws swiped out at him. Then she stared in horror at her fingertips... When he removed his shirt, she bared her small fangs and hissed, then looked aghast at her reaction. 'There, now, a good hiss never hurt anyone.
The rat, huddled in the hollow of her palms, squeaked glumly. Delighted, she hugged him to her chest. "Oh poor baby, " she crooned, almost as if he really were a pet. "Poor Simon, it'll be fine, I promise-" "I wouldn't feel too sorry for him, " Jace said. "That's probably the closest he's ever gotten to second base." "Shut up!" Clary glared at Jace furiously, but she did loosen her grip on the rat.
As we lay huddled together under the tent, which leaked considerably about the sides, with our baggage at our feet, we listened to some of the grandest thunder which I ever heard, -rapid peals, round and plump, bang, bang, bang in succession, like artillery from some fortress in the sky; and the lightning was proportionally brilliant. The Indian said, 'It must be good powder.' All for the benefit of the moose and us, echoing far over the concealed lakes.
Henry David Thoreau
Every instance in my life, I've felt like the exact opposite of Superman. Except this time, this moment right now. I don't care. I don't feel like a weak, insipid sissy. Because right now I know I would save the girl. I know that I would rather risk the planet than let harm befall Eliza Wishart. I would save her in a second. Because I can imagine her and me huddled safe together while the earth falls under evil designs, but I can't imagine the world without her in it.
Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens - leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children.
George W. Bush
Lucy swayed in shock. A gust of wind moaned through the conservatory and blew out all but one of her candles. Simon must have done this. He'd destroyed his fairyland conservatory. Why? She sank to her knees, huddled on the cold floor, her one remaining flame cradled in her numb palms. She'd seen how tenderly Simon had cared for his plants. Remembered the look of pride when she'd first discovered the dome and fountain. For him to have smashed all this . . . He must have lost hope. All hope.
Synchronize watches at oh six hundred' says the infantry captain, and each of his huddled lieutenants finds respite from fear in the act of bringing two tiny pointers into jeweled alignment while tons of heavy artillery go fluttering overhead: the prosaic, civilian-looking dial of the watch has restored, however briefly, an illusion of personal control. Good, it counsels, looking tidily up from the hairs and veins of each terribly vulnerable wrist; fine: so far, everything's happening right on time.
Tana would sit near the door to the basement with fingers in her ears, tears and snot running down her face as she cried and cried and cried. And little Pearl would toddle up, crying, too. They cried while they ate their cereal, cried while they watched cartoons, and cried themselves to sleep at night, huddled together in Tana's little bed. 'Make her stop' Pearl said, but Tana couldn't.
The 'medium' is unaware of its attractiveness, that's all. Everyone loves comics. I've proven this to my own satisfaction by handing them out to acountants, insurance brokers, hairdressers, mothers of children, black belts, pop stars, taxi drivers, painters, lesbians, doctors etc. etc. The X-Files, Buffy, the Matrix, X-Men - mainstream culture is not what it once was when science fiction and comics fans huddled in cellars like Gnostic Christians dodging the Romans. We should come up into the light soon before we suffocate.
Oh, Mercede¨s, I have spoken your name with sighs of melancholy, with groans of pain and with the croak of despair. I have spoken it frozen with cold, huddled on the straw of my dungeon. I have spoken it raging with heat and rolling around on the stone floor of my prison. Mercede¨s, I must have my revenge, because for fourteen years I suffered, fourteen years I wept and cursed. Now, I say to you, Mercede¨s, I must have my revenge!
When men live huddled together without true communication, there seems to be a greater sharing, and a more genuine communion. But this is not communion, only immersion in the general meaninglessness of countless slogans and cliches repeated over and over again so that in the end one listens without hearing and responds without thinking. The constant din of empty words and machine noises, the endless booming of loudspeakers end by making true communication and true communion almost impossible...
There was some kind of scuffle two hundred yards down the street, again strangely noiseless, and a huddled knot of men opened up to reveal two brawlers being separated and pulled away from their fight. What I saw next gave me a fright: in the farther distance, beyond the listless crowd, the body of a lynched man dangling from a tree. The body was slender, dressed from head to toe in black, reflecting no light. It soon resolved itself, however, into a less ominous thing: dark canvas sheeting on a construction scaffold, twirling in the wind.
Fireheart dashed to the warrior's side. Cloudtail was standing stiff-legged, every hair in his pelt on end as if he were facing an enemy. His eyes were fixed on the limp heap of tabby fur huddled at his paws. "Why, Fireheart?" Cloudtail wailed. "Why her?" Fireheart knew, but rage and grief made it hard to speak. "Because Tigerstar wants the pack to get a taste of cat blood," he rasped. The dead cat lying in front of them was Brindleface.
Fireheart dashed to the warrior's side. Cloudtail was standing stiff-legged, every hair in his pelt on end as if he were facing an enemy. His eyes were fixed on the limp heap of tabby fur huddled at his paws. "Why, Fireheart?" Cloudtail wailed. "Why her?" Fireheart knew, but rage and grief made it hard to speak. "Because Tigerstar wants the pack to get a taste of cat blood, " he rasped. The dead cat lying in front of them was Brindleface.
It's no understatement that the church has done a poor job in teaching our young people that reason and faith are not opposites, and that atheists are far from being on the side of reason. You can find on our website a chart which I use to demonstrate the various worldviews work out, and which one, Christianity, is rational. Many kids, however, who grow up huddled in a Christian environment find themselves in the university setting completely unequipped to defend the rationality of the Christian faith against the secular humanist worldview so prevalent on college campuses.
Epitaph. Not next year, not the next one, Not the year after that. But ages From here, Clad in love stained sleeping bags, Dying with feet wrapped in endless Shirts and pillow cases, Crumbling with 99 flakes clutched Between thumb and palm, dripping Yellow cream from twig fingers, Basking our white haired chests on Green grassed parks under purple Skies. Laughing over coffee after Bath tubs of coffee have passed Through our guts. Huddled, lonely, Under heaped clothes, here lay us...
Alan C. Martin
There's a theory that snoring at night in sleep is a subconscious defence reflex-a warning sound that frightened potential predators away from the mouth of the cave when our lower-paleolithic ancestors huddled in vulnerable sleep. That group of nomads, cameleers, sheep and goat herders, farmers, and guerilla fighters lent credibility to the idea, for they snored so thunderously and with such persistent ferocity through the long, cold night that they would've frightened a pride of ravenous lions into scattering like startled mice.
Gregory David Roberts
Deep patriots don't just sing the song, 'America the Beautiful' and then go home. We actually stick around to defend America's beauty -- from the oil spillers, the clear-cutters and the mountaintop removers. Deep patriots don't just visit the Statue of Liberty and send a postcard home to grandma. We defend the principles upon which that great monument was founded -- 'give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.'
Fifty-thousand were gathered (March,27th,1933) in and around Madison Square Garden, supportive rallies were at that moment waiting in Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Houston, and about seven other American cities. At each supportive rally, thousands huddled around loudspeakers waiting for the Garden event, which would be broadcast live via radio to 200 additional cities across the country. At least 1 million Jews were participating nationwide. Perhaps another million Americans of non-Jewish descent heritage stood with them.
None of this was part of the plan all the girls I'd grown up with had been given. Not a written plan, unless the book about Cinderella counted. The plan was in the water we drank, the air we breathed. It was poured into the pavement on the streets we called home. Marry a nice man, one who was a good provider, and live happily, or at least comfortably, ever after. Safe to say I'd followed the plan. I'd married a banker. Had a baby. But the plan had failed me. It left me alone huddled in a window seat with every emotion I'd refused to let myself feel seeping through my pores until the air in my bedroom was heavy with sadness and angst and confusion. (p. 235)
Today in America, unions have a secure place in our industrial life. Only a handful of reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions and depriving working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice. I have no use for those - regardless of their political party - who hold some vain and foolish dream of spinning the clock back to days when organized labor was huddled, almost as a hapless mass. Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
One weekend it rained for 48 hours without stopping. The rain beat like bony fingers against the window panes. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Fungus was growing on the walls. I polished off a bottle of gin sitting huddled over the two-bar electric fire and wrote a poem, one of the few that has lasted through the moves and the years. It is called 'Where Can I Go?' If this is not the place where tears are understood where do I go to cry? If this is not the place where my spirits can take wing where do I go to fly? If this is not the place where my feelings can be heard where do I go to speak? If this is not the place where you'll accept me as I am where can I go to be me? If this is not the place where I can try and learn and grow where can I go to laugh and cry?
RELUCTANCE Out through the fields and the woods And over the walls I have wended; I have climbed the hills of view And looked at the world, and descended; I have come by the highway home, And lo, it is ended. The leaves are all dead on the ground, Save those that the oak is keeping To ravel them one by one And let them go scraping and creeping Out over the crusted snow, When others are sleeping. And the dead leaves lie huddled and still, No longer blown hither and thither; The last lone aster is gone; The flowers of the witch hazel wither; The heart is still aching to seek, But the feet question 'Whither?' Ah, when to the heart of man Was it ever less than a treason To go with the drift of things, To yield with a grace to reason, And bow and accept the end Of a love or a season?
Winter came in days that were gray and still. They were the kind of days in which people locked in their animals and themselves and nothing seemed to stir but the smoke curling upwards from clay chimneys and an occasional red-winged blackbird which refused to be grounded. And it was cold. Not the windy cold like Uncle Hammer said swept the northern winter, but a frosty, idle cold that seeped across a hot land ever lookung toward the days of green and ripening fields, a cold thay lay uneasy during during its short stay as it crept through the cracks of poorly constucted houses and forced the people inside huddled around ever-burning fires to wish it gone.
Mildred D. Taylor
The red haired waitress arrived with their drinks, dancing about the table as she placed their orders in front of them. "Hiya, keeds. Peachy place, ain't it?" Before anyone could respond, she kicked her heels in the air and flitted off again. Waldo lit up a cigarette and tasted his drink. "Listen, I don't think we ought to stay here very long... " "No shit, Sherlock!" Brisbane chortled. "But first I want to have a little fun. I think I'm gonna talk to some of these guys." The fredneck left the table and walked over to a group of five men, all of them clad in the old baseball uniforms that were apparently quite popular at The One Year Wonder And All-Around Oddity Bar. They were huddled together on one side of the bar, and Brisbane broke into their conversation with a burst of fredneck chutzpah.
No wonder that the ghost and goblin stories had a new zest. No wonder that the blood of the more timid grew chill and curdled, that their flesh crept, and their hearts beat irregularly, and the girls peeped fearfully over their shoulders, and huddled close together like frightened sheep, and half-fancied they beheld some impish and malignant face gibbering at them from the darkling corners of the old room. By degrees my high spirits died out, and I felt the childish tremors, long latent, long forgotten, coming over me. I followed each story with painful interest; I did not ask myself if I believed the dismal tales. I listened and fear grew upon me - the blind, irrational fear of our nursery days. ("Horror: A True Tale")
John Berwick Harwood
The non-jocks, the readers, the gay kids, the ones starting to stew about social injustice: for these kids, "letting your freak flag fly" is both self discovery and self defense. You cry for this bunch at the mandatory pep assemblies. Huddled together, miserably, in the upper reaches of the bleachers, wearing their oversized raincoats and their secondhand Salvation Army clothes, they stare down at the school-sanctioned celebration of the A list students. They know bullying, these kids-especially the ones who frefuse to exist under the radar. They're tripped in the hallway, shoved against lockers, pelted with Skittles in the lunchroom. For the most part, their tormentors are stealth artists. The freaks know where there's refuge: I the library, the theater program, art class, creative writing.
Lobsters fascinated me. Everything from their name to their claws to their magnificent red had me hooked. My hair was that read, the kind of read that looks okay on everything but people, because a person's hair is not supposed to be red. Orange, yes. Auburn, sure. But not lobster red. I took my pigtails, pressed them against the glass, and stared the nearest lobster straight in the eye. Dad said my hair was lobster red. My mother said it was Communist red. I didn't know what a Communist was, but it didn't sound good. Even pressing my hair flat against the glass, I couldn't tell if my dad was right. Part of me didn't want either of them to be right. "Let me out, " said the lobster. He always said that. I rubbed my hair against the glass like the tank was a genie's lamp and the action would stir up some magic. Maybe, somehow, I could get these lobsters out. They looked so sad, all huddled on top of one another, antennae twitching, claws rubber-banded together.
The rapid nightfall of mid-December had quite beset the little village as they approached it on soft feet over a first thin fall of powdery snow. Little was visible but squares of a dusky orange-red on either side of the street, where the firelight or lamplight of each cottage overflowed through the casements into the dark world without. Most of the low latticed windows were innocent of blinds, and to the lookers-in from outside, the inmates, gathered round the tea-table, absorbed in handiwork, or talking with laughter and gesture, had each that happy grace which is the last thing the skilled actor shall capture-the natural grace which goes with perfect unconsciousness of observation. Moving at will from one theatre to another, the two spectators, so far from home themselves, had something of wistfulness in their eyes as they watched a cat being stroked, a sleepy child picked up and huddled off to bed, or a tired man stretch and knock out his pipe on the end of a smouldering log.
We read off the ancient Hebrew words, with no idea of what they might mean, and the congregation responds with more words that they don't understand either. We are gathered together on a Saturday morning to speak gibberish to each other, and you would think, in these godless times, that the experience would be empty, but somehow it isn't. The five of us, huddled together shoulder to shoulder over the bima, read the words aloud slowly, and the congregation, these old friends and acquaintances and strangers, all respond, and for reasons I can't begin to articulate, it feels like something is actually happening. It's got nothing to do with God or souls, just the palpable sense of goodwill and support emanating in waves from the pews around us, and I can't help but be moved by it. When we reach the end of the page, and the last "amen" has been said, I'm sorry that' it's over. I could stay up here a while longer. And as we step down to make our way back to the pews, a quick survey of the sadness in my family's wet eyes tells me that I'm not the only one who feels that way. I don't feel any closer to my father than I did before, but for a moment there I was comforted, and that's more than I expected.
He pointed to another number, changing as rapidly as the first, but on a lower trajectory; it rose to a high of 8.79 rem per hour. Several lifetimes of dentists' X-rays, to be sure; but the radiation outside the storm shelter would have been a lethal dose, so they were getting off lightly. Still, the amount flying through the rest of the ship! Billions of particles were penetrating the ship and colliding with the atoms of water and metal they were huddled behind; hundreds of millions were flying between these atoms and then through the atoms of their bodies, touching nothing, as if they were no more than ghosts. Still, thousands were striking atoms of flesh and bone. Most of those collisions were harmless; but in all those thousands, there were in all probability one or two (or three?) in which a chromosome strand was taking a hit, and kinking in the wrong way: and there it was. Tumor initiation, begun with just that typo in the book of the self. And years later, unless the victim's DNA luckily repaired itself, the tumor promotion that was a more or less unavoidable part of living would have its effect, and there would appear a bloom of Something Else inside: cancer. Leukemia, most likely; and, most likely, death.
Kim Stanley Robinson
There was the bulge and the glitter, and there was the cold grip way down in the stomach as though somebody had laid hold of something in there, in the dark which is you, with a cold hand in a cold rubber glove. It was like the second when you come home late at night and see the yellow envelope of the telegram sticking out from under your door and you lean and pick it up, but don't open it yet, not for a second. While you stand there in the hall, with the envelope in your hand, you feel there's an eye on you, a great big eye looking straight at you from miles and dark and through walls and houses and through your coat and vest and hide and sees you huddled up way inside, in the dark which is you, inside yourself, like a clammy, sad little fetus you carry around inside yourself. The eye knows what's in the envelope, and it is watching you to see you when you open it and know, too. But the clammy, sad little fetus which is you way down in the dark which is you too lifts up its sad little face and its eyes are blind, and it shivers cold inside you for it doesn't want to know what is in that envelope. It wants to lie in the dark and not know, and be warm in its not-knowing.
Robert Penn Warren
He'd spent the night in the boat. Next to the spaghetti queen. William glanced at the hobo girl. She sat across from him, huddled in a clump. Her stench had gotten worse overnight, probably from the dampness. Another night like the last one, and he might snap and dunk her into that river just to clear the air. She saw him looking. Dark eyes regarded him with slight scorn. William leaned forward and pointed at the river. 'I don't know why you rolled in spaghetti sauce, ' he said in a confidential voice. 'I don't really care. But that water over there won't hurt you. Try washing it off.' She stuck her tongue out. 'Maybe after you're clean, ' he said. Her eyes widened. She stared at him for a long moment. A little crazy spark lit up in her dark irises. She raised her finger, licked it, and rubbed some dirt off her forehead. Now what? The girl showed him her stained finger and reached toward him slowly, aiming for his face. 'No, ' William said. 'Bad hobo.' The finger kept coming closer.
DO YOU KNOW WHERE THEIR CHILDERN ARE? DO YOU KNOW EHERE THEIR CHILDREN ARE?...DO YOU CARE?/THEY'RE WITHERING AWAY ON DESERT PLAINS/ROTTING FLESH IN WITHERING PAIN/SICKLE SKELATONS WHO SLEEP IN PISS/COVERED IN FLIES AND FUCKING SHIT/ DO YOU CARE?/THEY'RE QUARANTINED BY BARBED WIRE FENCE/FILLED WITH DISEASE AND MASSIVE STENCH/THERE IS NO SHELTER THEY SLEEP ON STONE/THEY WATCH EACHOTHER TURN TO BONE/DO YOU CARE?/THEY'RE RETARTED ZOMBIES IN HUDDLED MASS/LEFT TO ROT LIKE FUCKING TRASH/ATTENTION DROPS AS BODIES MOUNT/TOO MANY VICTIMS TO FUCKING COUNT.../DO YOU CARE?/ THEY'RE WITHERING AWAY ON DESERT PLAINS/ROTTING FLESH IN WITHERING PAIN/ SICKLY SKELATONS WHO SLEEP IN PISS/NO HUMAN BEINGS SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS/YET YOU KNOW WHERE THEIR CHILDREN ARE, YOU SEE THE PAIN AND THE SUFFERING FROM YOUR LAVISHLY FURNISHED MATERIALISTIC SHITHOLE/YOU CRY CROCODILE TEARS FOR THE POOR WRETCHED CHILDREN THAT INHABIT THE TWO-MINUTE TIME SLOT BETWEEN YOUR FAVORITE SITCOMS THAT SEEM TO MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER/WHO SHOULD YOU CARE, AFTER ALL, TEHY'RE NOT YOUR CHILDREN...FOR NOW!
(...)Through the ship's telescopes, he had watched the death of the solar system. With his own eyes, he had seen the volcanoes of Mars erupt for the first time in a billion years; Venus briefly naked as her atmosphere was blasted into space before she herself was consumed; the gas giants exploding into incandescent fireballs. But these were empty, meaningless spectacles compared with the tragedy of Earth. That, too, he had watched through the lenses of cameras that had survived a few minutes longer than the devoted men who had sacrificed the last moments of their lives to set them up. He had seen... the Great Pyramid, glowing dully red before it slumped into a puddle of molten stone... the floor of the Atlantic, baked rock-hard in seconds, before it was submerged again, by the lava gushing from the volcanoes of the Mid-ocean Rift... the Moon rising above the flaming forests of Brazil and now itself shining almost as brilliantly as had the Sun, on its last setting, only minutes before... the continent of Antarctica emerging briefly after its long burial, as the kilometres of ancient ice were burned away... the mighty central span of the Gibraltar Bridge, melting even as it slumped downward through the burning air... In that last century the Earth was haunted with ghosts - not of the dead, but of those who now could never be born. For five hundred years the birthrate had been held at a level that would reduce the human population to a few millions when the end finally came. Whole cities - even countries - had been deserted as mankind huddled together for History's closing act.
Arthur C. Clarke
Until one morning, one of the coldest mornings of the year, when I came in with the book cart and found Jean Hollis Clark, a fellow librarian, standing dead still in the middle of the staff room. "I heard a noise from the drop box, " Jean said. "What kind of noise?" "I think it's an animal." "A what?" "An animal, " Jean said. "I think there's an animal in the drop box." That was when I heard it, a low rumble from under the metal cover. It didn't sound like an animal. It sounded like an old man clearing his throat. Gurr-gug-gug. Gurr-gug-gug. But the opening at the top of the chute was only a few inches wide, so that would be quite a squeeze for an old man. It had to be an animal. But what kind? I got down on my knees, reached over the lid, and hoped for a chipmunk. What I got instead was a blast of freezing air. The night before, the temperature had reached minus fifteen degrees, and that didn't take into account the wind, which cut under your coat and squeezed your bones. And on that night, of all nights, someone had jammed a book into return slot, wedging it open. It was as cold in the box as it was outside, maybe colder, since the box was lined with metal. It was the kind of cold that made it almost painful to breathe. I was still catching my breath, in fact, when I saw the kitten huddled in the front left corner of the box. It was tucked up in a little space underneath a book, so all I could see at first was its head. It looked grey in the shadows, almost like a little rock, and I could tell its fur was dirty and tangled. Carefully, I lifted the book. The kitten looked up at me, slowly and sadly, and for a second I looked straight into its huge golden eyes. The it lowered its head and sank back down into its hole. At that moment, I lost every bone in my body and just melted.
March 1898 What a strange dream I had last night! I wandered in the warm streets of a port, in the low quarter of some Barcelona or Marseille. The streets were noisome, with their freshly-heaped piles of ordure outside the doors, in the blue shadows of their high roofs. They all led down towards the sea. The gold-spangled sea, seeming as if it had been polished by the sun, could be seen at the end of each thoroughfare, bristling with yard-arms and luminous masts. The implacable blue of the sky shone brilliantly overhead as I wandered through the long, cool and sombre corridors in the emptiness of a deserted district: a quarter which might almost have been dead, abruptly abandoned by seamen and foreigners. I was alone, subjected to the stares of prostitutes seated at their windows or in the doorways, whose eyes seemed to ransack my very soul. They did not speak to me. Leaning on the sides of tall bay-windows or huddled in doorways, they were silent. Their breasts and arms were bare, bizarrely made up in pink, their eyebrows were darkened, they wore their hair in corkscrew-curls, decorated with paper flowers and metal birds. And they were all exactly alike! They might have been huge marionettes, or tall mannequin dolls left behind in panic - for I divined that some plague, some frightful epidemic brought from the Orient by sailors, had swept through the town and emptied it of its inhabitants. I was alone with these simulacra of love, abandoned by the men on the doorsteps of the brothels. I had already been wandering for hours without being able to find a way out of that miserable quarter, obsessed by the fixed and varnished eyes of all those automata, when I was seized by the sudden thought that all these girls were dead, plague-stricken and putrefied by cholera where they stood, in the solitude, beneath their carmine plaster masks... and my entrails were liquefied by cold. In spite of that harrowing chill, I was drawn closer to a motionless girl. I saw that she was indeed wearing a mask... and the girl in the next doorway was also masked... and all of them were horribly alike under their identical crude colouring... I was alone with the masks, with the masked corpses, worse than the masks... when, all of a sudden, I perceived that beneath the false faces of plaster and cardboard, the eyes of these dead women were alive. Their vitreous eyes were looking at me... I woke up with a cry, for in that moment I had recognised all the women. They all had the eyes of Kranile and Willie, of Willie the mime and Kranile the dancer. Every one of the dead women had Kranile's left eye and Willie's right eye... so that every one of them appeared to be squinting. Am I to be haunted by masks now?