On hearing the news of Richard Matheson’s death this week, our emotions were less of grief than of gratitude.
Matheson was, after all, 87 years old, and experienced much more critical and financial success than most writers ever dream of, so the grief of his loss is somewhat leavened by the undeniable conclusion that his was truly a life well and fully lived.
But gratitude? Seriously, consider the journeys on which Matheson compelled us to join him. With him at our side, and leading the way, we fought in the foxholes of World War II, slung guns against outlaws in the Wild West, paced nocturnal, neon-bathed streets with a .38 in our pocket and a femme fatale on our arm.
We accompanied him as he diminished in size, first just a little, then to the point where his combat with a black widow spider was hand-to-hand and most definitely life-and-death. We shared his terror as he watched a malevolent gremlin on the wing of an airplane methodically ripping parts out of an engine. We fled from a seemingly insane 18-wheeler as it sought desperately to run us off the road, braved hideous phantoms in a wicked house that once belonged (and, to some degree, still belonged) to a disfigured and very egotistical man, relentlessly hunted zombie-like vampires and then threw their bodies into a flaming pit, traveled through time to be with the woman we adored.
Matheseon, in What Dreams May Come, even took us to Heaven and Hell.
We mourn his passing – and will greatly miss the outpourings of his remarkably imaginative mind – but more than this, we thank him for all the stories, those in books and magazines no less than those on cinema and television screens. We thank him for the chills and thrills, the shivery frights, the bold adventures and the spooky nights.
We thank him for all the wonderful journeys and wish him Godspeed on this, his last – at least in this dimension.