from Chapter 9
It made even less sense that he’d never managed to escape this suburban hellhole in an entire lifetime, but he could not tell how long that lifetime had lasted. Whether he had sought its edges for years, or whether he had amassed all his decades in a few hours, monotony had blurred the difference. His life here was more a memory than it had been an experience—as brief, and as tedious, as his reflections cared to leave it.
He knew the place should have terrified him.
Quiet woods were one thing. There was a lot that might hush them, all natural things. Winter, for one, and incoming weather. A hunting cat might pass, its scent chasing away everything for hours. You might feel watched when the woods are quiet, but nothing watches you when the woods are empty. In the cities, it is different. The alleys, the streets—at night, they seem darker than any grotto, than any bower of deadfall. The banks of windows peer, haunted hives, like the exoskulls of dead spiders, crawling with the shadows of old, alien thoughts. When the woods are empty, there is nothing unseemly about it. When civilization is empty, it is the void that watches you.