What Dreams May Come - By Richard Matheson

To the Reader
AN INTRODUCTION TO a novel is--almost without exception--unnecessary. This is my tenth published novel and the thought of writing introductions to any of the preceding nine never even occurred to me.

For this novel, however, I feel that a brief prologue is called for. Because its subject is survival after death, it is essential that you realize, before reading the story, that only one aspect of it is fictional: the characters and their relationships.

With few exceptions, every other detail is derived exclusively from research.

For that reason, I have added, at the conclusion of the novel, a list of the books used for this research. As you will see, they are many and diverse. Yet, despite their wide variation with regard to authors and times and places of publication, there is a persistent, unavoidable uniformity to their content.

You would, of course, have to read them all to prove this to yourself. I urge you to do so. You will find it an enlightening--and extraordinary--experience.

RICHARD MATHESON Calabasas, California August 1977 For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause.

--Hamlet, Act III, Sc. 1

THE MANUSCRIPT YOU are about to read came into my possession in the following way.

On the evening of February 17, 1976, our doorbell rang and my wife answered it. Several moments later, she returned to the bedroom where we were watching television and said that some woman wanted to see me.

I got up and walked to the front hall. The door was open and I saw a tall woman in her fifties standing on the porch. She was well dressed and holding a large, bulky envelope in her hands.

"Are you Robert Nielsen?" she asked.

I told her that I was and she held out the envelope. "This is for you then," she said.

I looked at it suspiciously and inquired what it was.

"A communication from your brother," she replied.

My suspicions increased. "What do you mean?" I asked.

"Your brother Chris has dictated this manuscript to me," she said.

Her words angered me. "I don't know who you are," I told her, "but if you possessed the least knowledge about my brother, you'd know that he died more than a year ago."

The woman sighed. "I know that, Mr. Nielsen," she said, tiredly. "I'm a psychic. Your brother has communicated this material to me from--"

She stopped as I began to close the door, then quickly added, "Mr. Nielsen, please."

There was a sound of such genuine urgency in her voice that I looked at her in surprise.

"I have just undergone six exhausting months transcribing this manuscript," she told me. "I didn't choose to do it. I have my own affairs to deal with but your brother would not let me be until I wrote down every word of his communication and promised faithfully to bring it to you." Her voice took on a desperate tone. "Now you have got to take it and give me peace.''

With that, she thrust the envelope into my hands, turned and hurried down the path to the sidewalk. As I watched, she got into her car and drove off quickly.

I have never seen or heard from her again. I do not even know her name.

I have read the manuscript three times now and wish I knew what to make of it.

I am not a religious man but, like anyone, would certainly like to believe that death is more than oblivion. Still, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to accept the story at face value. I keep thinking it is nothing more than that: a story.

True, the facts are there. Facts about my brother and his family which this woman could not possibly have known-- unless one goes on the premise that she spent months of laborious--and expensive--research in uncovering them before writing the manuscript. In that case, what is the point of it? What could she have gained from such a course?

The questions, in my mind, about this book are manifold. I will not enumerate them but permit the reader to form his own. Of only one thing I am certain. If the manuscript is true, all of us had better examine our lives. Carefully.

ROBERT NIELSEN Islip, New York January, 1978
A blur of rushing images
"BEGIN AT THE beginning" is the phrase. I cannot do that. I begin at the end--the conclusion of my life on earth. I present it to you as it happened--and what happened afterward.

A note about the text. You have read my writing, Robert. This