All illustrations by Virgil Finlay…
Hal Yarrow stared through steamshapes into big brown eyes.
He shook his head.
And arms like branches?
Or branches like arms?
He thought he was in the grip of a brown-eyed nymph.
Or were they called dryads?
He couldn’t ask anybody.
They weren’t supposed to know about such creatures.
Nymph and dryad had been delated from all books
including Hack’s edition of the Revised and Real Milton.
Only because Hal was a linguist
had he had the chance to read an unexpurgated Paradise Lost
and thus learn of classical Greek mythology.
Thoughts flashed on and off like lights on a spaceship’s control board.
Nymphs sometimes turned into trees to escae their pursuers.
Was this one of the fabled forest women staring at him
with large and beautiful eyes through the longest lashes he’d ever seen?
He shut his eyes
and wondered if a head injury was responsible for the vision and, if so,
it if would be permanent.
Hallucinations like that were worth keeping.
He didn’t care if they conformed to reality or not.
He opened his eyes.
The hallucination was gone.
– Philip José Farmer –