Terry Pratchett

Johnny and the Dead

"`She says witches are abroad on Halloween,´ said Wobbler.
`What?´ Johnny´s forehead wrinkled. `Like ... Marjorca and places?´
`Suppose so,´ said Wobbler.
`Makes ... sense, I suppose. They probably get special out-of-season bargains, being old ladies,´ said Johnny. `My aunt can go anywhere on the busses for almost nothing and she´s not even a witch.´"

"Behind it there was the canal, which wasn´t used any more, except as a rubbish dump; old prams and busted televisions and erupting settees lined its banks like monsters from the Garbage Age."

"[...] most of the time the sky was that odd, soapy colour you´d get if you lived in a Tupperware box."

"`Ghosts,´ said Yo-less, when he´d finished.
`No-oo,´ said Johnny uncertainly. `They don´t like being called ghosts. It upsets them, for some reason. They´re just ... dead. I suppose it´s like not calling people handicapped or backward.´
`Politically incorrect,´ said Yo-less. `I read about that.´
`You mean they want to be called,´ Wobbler paused for thought, `post-senior citizens
`Breathily challenged,´ said Yo-less.
`Vertically disadvantaged,´ said Wobbler."

"If you had to be somewhere frightening when it got dark, Johnny thought, the Joshua N´Clement block rated a lot higher on the Aaargh scale than any cemetery. At least the dead didn´t mug you.
It was originally going to be the Sir Alec Douglas-Home block, and then it became the Harold Wilson block, and then finally the new Council named it the Joshua Che N´Clement block after a famous freedom fighter, who then became president of his country, and who was now being an ex-freedom fighter and president somwhere in Switzerland while some of his countrymen tried to find him and ask him questions like: What happened to the two hundred million dollars we thought we had, and how come your wife owned seven hundred hats?
The block had been described in 1965 as `an overwhelming and dynamic relationship of voids and solids, majestic in its uncompromising simplicity´.
Often the Blackbury Guardian had pictures of people complaining about the damp, or the cold, or the way the windows fell out in high winds (it was always windy around the block, even on a calm day everywhere else), or the way gangs roamed its dank passageways and pushed shopping trolleys off the roof into the Great Lost Shopping Trolley Graveyard. The lifts hadn´t worked properly since 1966. They lurked in the basement, too scared to go anywhere else.
The passages and walkways (`an excitingly brutal brushed concrete finish´) had two smells, depending on whether or not the Council´s ninja caretaker had been round in his van. The other one was desinfectant.
No-one liked the Joshua N´Clement block. There were two schools of thought about what should be done with it. The people who lived there thought everyone should be taken out and then the block should be blown up, and the people who lived near the block just wanted it blown up.
The odd thing was that although the block was cramped and fourteen storeys high, it had been built in the middle of a huge area of what was theoretically grass (`environmental open space´), but which was now the home of the Common Crisp Packet and Hardy-Perennial Burned-Out Car.
`Horrible place,´ said Wobbler.
`People´ve got to live somewhere,´ said Yo-less.
`Reckon the man who designed it lives here?´ said Johnny."

"Clint was Bigmac´s brother´s dog, which had reputedly been banned from the Rottweiler/Pit Bull Terrier Crossbreed Club for being to nasty."

"`Now, personally, I think you´re very nearly totally disturbed and suffering from psychosomatica and hearing voices and seeing delusions,´ he said, `and probably ought to be locked up in one of those white jackets with the stylish long sleeves. But that doesn´t matter, ´cos we´re friends.´"
- Yo-less about Johnny

"There was a new library in the Civic Centre. It was so new it didn´t even have librarians. It had Assistant Information Officers. And it had computers. Wobbler was banned from the computers because of an incident involving a library terminal, the telephone connection to the main computer, another telephone line to the computer at East Slate Air Base ten miles away, another telephone line to a much bigger computer under a mountain somewhere in America, and almost World War Three.
At least, that´s what Wobbler said. The Assistant Information Officers said it was because he got chocolate in the keyboard."

"`Let´s face it,´ said Wobbler, eventually. `this is a town where famous people don´t come from. It´s famous for it.´"

"There was something about Mr Grimm that made you want to be on the other side."

"Off all the forces in the universe, the hardest to overcome is the force of habit. Gravity is easy-peasy by comparison."

"Mr Fletcher looked around the little room. It was currently occupied only by Adrian `Nozzer´ Miller, who´d wanted to be an astronomer because he thought it was all to do with staying up late looking through telescopes, and hadn´t bargained on it being basically about adding columns of figures in a little shed in the middle of a windy field.
The figures the telescope was producing were all that was left of an exploding star twenty millon years ago. A billion small rubbery things on two planets who had been getting on with life in a quite sort of way had been totally destroyed, but they were certainly helping Adrian get his Ph.D. and, who knows, they might have thought it all worthwhile if anyone had asked them."
- inside the little wooden hut that houses the controls of Blackbury University´s radio telescope

"`You know, I wasn´t expecting that. I thought things went dark for a moment and then there was a man handing out harps.´"
- dead Alderman Bowler about afterlife

"The clock of the world turns under its own shadow. Midnight is a moving place, hurtling around the planet at a thousand miles an hour like a dark knife, cutting slices of daily bread off the endless loaf of Time."

"`I believe it´s very hard to have fun in Iceland without fish being involved in some way.´"
- Mr Fletcher