Father Stone moved in silence beside him. And at last he spoke:
“The way I see it is there’s a Truth on every planet. All parts of the Big Truth. On a certain day they’ll all fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw. This has been a shaking experience. I’ll never doubt again, Father Peregrine. For this Truth here is as true as Earth’s Truth, and they lie side by side. And we’ll go on to other worlds, adding the sum of the parts of the Truth until one day the whole Total will stand before us like the light of a new day.”
“That’s a lot, coming from you, Father Stone.”
“I’m sorry now, in a way, we’re going down to the town to handle our own kind. Those blue lights now. When they settled about us, and thatvoice . . .” Father Stone shivered.
Father Peregrine reached out to take the other’s arm. They walked together.
“And you know,” said Father Stone finally, fixing his eyes on Brother Mathias, who strode ahead with the glass sphere tenderly carried in his arms, that glass sphere with the blue phosphorous light glowing forever inside it, “you know, Father Peregrine, that globe there——”
“It’s Him. It is Him, after all.”
Father Peregrine smiled, and they walked down out of the hills toward the new town.
* * *
The Last Night of the World
“WHAT would you do if you knew that this was the last night of the world?”
“What would I do? You mean seriously?”
“I don’t know. I hadn’t thought.”
He poured some coffee. In the background the two girls were playing blocks on the parlor rug in the light of the green hurricane lamps. There was an easy, clean aroma of the brewed coffee in the evening air.
“Well, better start thinking about it,” he said.
“You don’t mean it!”
He shook his head.
“Not the hydrogen or atom bomb?”
“Or germ warfare?”
“None of those at all,” he said, stirring his coffee slowly. “But just, let’s say, the closing of a book.”
“I don’t think I understand.”
“No, nor do I, really; it’s just a feeling. Sometimes it frightens me, sometimes I’m not frightened at all but at peace.” He glanced in at the girls and their yellow hair shining in the lamplight. “I didn’t say anything to you. It first happened about four nights ago.”
“A dream I had. I dreamed that it was all going to be over, and a voice said it was; not any kind of voice I can remember, but a voice anyway, and it said things would stop here on Earth. I didn’t think too much about it the next day, but then I went to the office and caught Stan Willis looking out the window in the middle of the afternoon, and I said a penny for your thoughts, Stan, and he said, I had a dream last night, and before he even told me the dream I knew what it was. I could have told him, but he told me and I listened to him.”
“It was the same dream?”
“The same. I told Stan I had dreamed it too. He didn’t seem surprised. He relaxed, in fact. Then we started walking through the office, for the hell of it. It wasn’t planned. We didn’t say, ‘Let’s walk around.’ We just walked on our own, and everywhere we saw people looking at their desks or their hands or out windows. I talked to a few. So did Stan.”
“And they all had dreamed?”
“All of them. The same dream, with no difference.”
“Do you believe in it?”
“Yes. I’ve never been more certain.”
“And when will it stop? The world, I mean.”
“Sometime during the night for us, and then as the night goes on around the world, that’ll go too. It’ll take twenty-four hours for it all to go.”
They sat awhile not touching their coffee. Then they lifted it slowly and drank, looking at each other.
“Do we deserve this?” she said.
“It’s not a matter of deserving; it’s just that things didn’t work out. I notice you didn’t even argue about this. Why not?”