Prologue

A cold wind sweeps through a city street.  Cars are strewn across the road without regard for order or safety.  Many have crashed into each other or the buildings around them, windows smashed or flipped wheels up in a scene of unrestrained chaos.  No person is visible. There is no sound save the susurration of the wind, no movement but soft debris and leaves blown down the street.

A second glance reveals more details incongruous to the scene.  Plants have breached the concrete, fighting to reclaim this urban environment.  Durable weeds and vines crowd every gap that allows for growth, while trees have taken root in the larger cracks that are spread across the pavement.  The tires of every car are cracked and deflated. What metal is visible has deteriorated and rusted so far as to be near unrecognizable; several of the buildings seem to be sagging under their own weight.  Whatever has happened here, it was a long time ago.

A figure wanders out of one of the derelict buildings.  It wears the ripped and tattered remains of a suit, though the cloth is so far gone that it gives more the suggestion of covering than any true attempt.  It turns its head, looking around the deserted street. Its eyes come into view, betraying the notion that this could be a person living amidst the wreckage of the city.  There is no spark, no suggestion of intelligence or thought within, and the merest glance at its face conveys a deep sense that something about it is wrong.  It takes a step closer, eerily silent, but then begins to get smaller.  The entire street does the same, allowing other blocks to enter the frame, faster and faster.  There is more movement from dead-eyed creatures all around, but still the view zooms out until eventually the entire city is seen from high above.  There is a swarm of movement below, countless of the people-shaped things crawling through the remains of civilization.

Everything goes black, and when vision returns a much more rural setting is seen, endless plains of grass broken by modest hills and lone trees that sporadically dot the landscape.  The view swoops down, following a cracked and broken highway road that splits the countryside in two. After either a few seconds or several hours—time seems slippery and distant—a dozen figures can be seen below, disdaining use of the road to travel quickly through the tall grass.  The direction of movement alters to follow them. While they are humanoid in shape, there is little else about them that resembles a person. Each one is taller and more heavily muscled than the largest human, with green skin and long curved fangs that fold back their lips. All are topless, wearing only a leather skirt though both genders are represented within the group. 

The view soars past them and travels once more for an indeterminate period of time.  Eventually a collection of single-story buildings and a web of roads branching off from the main highway mark a small town where more humanoids can be seen.  There is a variety of beings present, all of which mix together rather than dividing into segregated groups . More of the green-skinned creatures are visible, though many have vastly different apparel from the traveling group.  The majority wear collared shirts or flannel and jeans, tailored well to their larger frame. Alongside them are shorter creatures, nearly as broad as the first but less than half of their height. Most have beards that reach to their chest.  The third type of being is closest to a human in appearance, though their pointed ears and impossibly graceful movements ensure that they would have difficulty passing as such. Beyond the buildings a plot of tended land can be seen where crops have been planted. The view pauses over the town for a moment before fading to black once more.

The vision cycles rapidly when color returns, forming a scene for only a few seconds at a time before shifting.  A sculpture of black metal stands resolute in the shape of a person, its face smooth and featureless. A shiver runs through it, and it begins to march toward some unseen destination.  A gust of wind blows on a mountaintop. A section of the wind starts to glow, displaying all the colors of the rainbow in a rough outline of a humanoid shape. A shark circles its prey beneath the sea.  A curious patch of dark brown skin covers its back. A man in a long black leather duster and hat walks down an empty road. He turns around with a big smile, tipping his hat as the vision dims. A green gorilla pounds its way through a forest, leaving a trail of slime with every step.  The gorilla stops momentarily and collapses into a pile of goo.

Finally, the parade of images ceases and focuses on a single view once more.  It is night now, and points of light far below mark the presence of another settlement.  The light of the moon reflects off of a lake of still water that snakes off into the distance in a long line.  At the front of the lake is a huge, curved dam, built to fit into the walls of the canyon it spans. The view begins to plummet, closing in on the settlement with growing speed.  Figures become discernible in the light that quickly resolve into individual humans. Before any amount of detail can be gathered, the vision approaches the ground, halting just as an impact seems unavoidable.  

For a moment, bare dirt is all that can be seen.  Then the vision flips to face the sky above. The black backdrop is framed by thousands of stars, steady glimmers reminiscent of the lights seen when looking down on the town from above, expanded to numbers beyond imagining.  The scene seems to be frozen in place. The only evidence that what can be seen is more than a still image comes when the stars begin to wink out. One by one, slowly, inexorably, the light above is overcome by the press of darkness.  In the midst of the loss of uncounted legions of stars, a discrepancy hovers at the edge of awareness. A flaw in the shifting landscape that cannot be fully articulated. The sky becomes emptier, more suffocating before the realization is made. 

The positions of the lost stars, the points where the darkness swallows up the light, are not truly darkness at all.  It is a trick of the mind, an unconscious self-deception that can no longer be maintained once the sites of the illusion become too numerous to cover up.  The stars have been replaced with… nothing. Not light, nor darkness. Neither black nor white. The night sky is dotted with places of absence, holes in the fabric of reality that, once noticed, cannot be unseen.  In the moment after the realization, the rest of the stars disappear. The pinpricks of absence expand their sphere, swallowing even the darkness.  

Nothing is left.

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