When Gmork spoke, his voice was like the jangling of chains.
'Have you seen the Nothing, sonny?'
'Yes, many times.'
'What does it look like?'
'As if one were blind.'
'That's right - and when you get to the human world, the Nothing will cling to you. You'll be like a contagious disease that makes humans blind, so they can no longer distinguish between reality and illusion. Do you know what you and your kind are called there?'
'No,' Atreyu whispered.
'Lies!' Gmork barked.
Atreyu shook his head. All the blood had gone from his lips.
'How can that be?'
'You asked me what you will be there. But what are you here? What are you creatures of
Fantastica? Dreams, poetic inventions, characters in a neverending story. Do you think you're real? Well yes, here in your world you are. But when you've been through the Nothing, you won't be real anymore. You'll be unrecognizable. And you will be in another world. In that world, you Fantasticanswon't be anything like yourselves. You will bring delusion and madness into the human world. Tell me, sonny, what do you suppose will become of all the Spook City folk who have jumped into the Nothing?'
'I don't know,' Atreyu stammered.
'They will become delusions in the minds of human beings, fears where there is nothing to fear, desires for vain, hurtful things, despairing thoughts where there is no reason to despair.'
'All of us?' Atreyu asked in horror.
'No,' said Gmork, 'there are many kinds of delusion. According to what you are here, ugly or beautiful, stupid or clever, you will become ugly or beautiful, stupid or clever lies.'
'What about me?' Atreyu asked. 'What will I be?'
'I won't tell you that. You'll see. Or rather, you won't see, because you won't be yourself anymore.'
Atreyu stared at the werewolf with wide-open eyes.
Gmork went on:
'That's why humans hate
Fantasticaand everything that comes from here. They want to destroy it. And they don't realize that by trying to destroy it they multiply the lies that keep flooding into the human world. For these lies are nothing other than creatures of Fantasticawho have ceased to be themselves and survive only as living corpses, poisoning the souls of men with their fetid smell. But humans don't know it. Isn't that a good joke?'