The manner in which a man has lived is often the key to the way he will die. Take old man Donegal, for example. Most of his adult life was spent in digging a hole through space to learn what was on the other side. Would he go out the same way?
it was good.
You old bastard, he thought, you got no right to enjoy life when nine-tenths of you is dead already, and the rest is foggy as a thermal dust-rise on the lunar maria at hell-dawn. But it wasn't a bad way to die. It ate your consciousness away from the feet up; it gnawed away the Present, but it let you keep the Past, until everything faded and blended. Maybe that's what Eternity was, he thought--one man's subjective Past, all wrapped up and packaged for shipment, a single space-time entity, a one-man microcosm of memories, when nothing else remains.
"If I've got a soul, I made it myself," he told the gray nun at the foot of his bed.
The nun held out a pie pan, rattled a few coins in it. "Contribute to the Radiation Victims' Relief?" the nun purred softly.
"I know you," he said. "You're my conscience. You hang around the officers' mess, and when we get back from a sortie, you make us pay for the damage we did. But that was forty years ago."
The nun smiled, and her
Ugh. Boring and foul.
A wonderful, moody, short story that predates Elton John's "Rocket Man" by 30 years. Very well written, much better than most pulp fiction of the time. It pulls no punches and the character of Donegal is a sad man at the end of his life, without being bitter.
This is a well-written short story, though the subject is a bit gloomy for my taste.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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