The Cosmic Puppets
Philip K. Dick
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Following an inexplicable urge, Ted Barton returns to his idyllic Virginia hometown for a vacation, but when he gets there, he is shocked to discover that the town has utterly changed. The stores and houses are all different and he doesn’t recognize anybody. The mystery deepens when he checks the town’s historical records . . . and reads that he died nearly twenty years earlier. As he attempts to uncover the secrets of the town, Barton is drawn deeper into the puzzle, and into a supernatural battle that could decide the fate of the universe.
I don’t understand. If I knew more I’d tell you.” There was a moment of silence. “Ted,” Peg said, with hard calm, “if you don’t come back and get me in the next twenty-four hours, I’m leaving. I have enough money to get back up to Washington. You know I’ve got friends there. You won’t see me again, except perhaps in court.” “Are you serious?” “Yes.” Barton licked his lips. “Peg, I’ve got to stay here. I’ve learned a few things, not much, but a little. Enough to tell me I’m on the right track.
tossed it. The air was turning chill; it was cold and late. “I won’t try that again, for a while.” “You better not try it again ever,” Peter said quietly. Something in the boy’s voice made Barton’s head jerk up. “What do you mean?” “Just what I say. You were there seven hours.” Peter’s confident smile broadened. “I was the one who kept you there. I twisted you up in time.” Barton absorbed the information slowly. “It was you? But you finally got me out.” “Sure,” Peter said easily. “I kept you
them, a grim figure in his long overcoat and hat. Barton and Christopher halted warily, as he came up behind them, a massive .45 clutched in his fist. Barton let the tire iron hang loosely, ready for anything. Shady House loomed up ahead. The front door was open. Many windows were yellow squares; the patients were still awake. The large fenced-in yard was dark and gloomy. The cedars at the edge of the hill swayed and rustled with the cold night wind. “I was in my station wagon,” Doctor Meade
visible, as the sun left the mountains and began to illuminate the world. They had grown fast. In the brief flash, like a billion suns exploding, the two gods had swept beyond the limits of the Earth. A momentary pause, and then the impact. The whole universe shuddered. They met head-on, body to body. Direct impasse, one against the other. The blazing swath that was Ormazd. The icy emptiness that was it, the cosmic wrecker, trying to swallow its brother and absorb Him. It would be a long time
told you to get in the car.” He opened the door and slid in behind the wheel. “Give me a call, Mrs. Trilling, if those antihistamine pills don’t do the trick. I’ll probably be over tonight for dinner, anyhow.” Nodding and wiping her eyes, Mrs. Trilling disappeared back inside the boarding house, to the hot kitchen and the piles of dishes left over from lunch. Mary moved sullenly toward the station wagon, hands deep in the pockets of her jeans. “That ruins the game,” she muttered. Peter slid off