“I can give you a faithful answer, or I can give you a true answer,” said the luminous figure. “Only one, not the other. And I can guarantee you that, whichever you choose, you will be wracked with regret until you cease to be.”

“I’ll take the true answer,” I said.

“Ask your question again, then.”

“Who are you, and why am I here?” I said. I suppose it might have counted as two questions, but the being of blinding light accepted it nonetheless.

“I am a manifestation of your need to believe in an all-knowing and higher power,” came the reply, “a comforting voice to tell you what you already believe and, in your heart of hearts, know. And what you know is this: the injury was fatal, and you are experiencing the slow death of neurons that will lead you and all you have ever been down into darkness. All that can be said has been said, all that can be done has been done, and there is nothing left but the throes of a mind turning on itself left to you.”

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