You step into a world collapsed. It is as if you were the only thing mobile in the still nature of this city possessed by tendrils of green, sunk under surfaces of water that reflect a clear sky. It is also as if, allowed to take its time in the canvass of this world in stasis, reality had managed to invent some new colours for you to get lost on. Gradients of fungal grunge in the skin of collapsed skyscrapers, dusk playing a frantic platformer over labyrinths of glass.
There is no-one home, home is so beautiful.
But stasis is an artefact of your senses maladapted to a world marching at a different pace. A pace where the blades of glass trembling, a beetle conquering a hill, the slide of the sun past a murder of loitering clouds, the metronome of water dripping, and the far-away caw of a nameless bird are epoch-defining events, waves of an earthquake that opens rifts into the mantle of epiphanies.
Your heartbeat dissolves into a drone.
When you awake it is night. It is cold. You are alone. You realise that everyone you love is dead.
Every single individual gesture of every single person who ever cared for you accretes into a mound of insurmountable sadness. You know you are walking over the mulch of their bodies after they were hunted by a killer virus escaped from a biotech lab or an evolutionary dead-end. After they were murdered during the chaos following whichever flavour of apocalypse created this world where you now grieve.
Or maybe you aren’t alone. And maybe being alone wasn’t such a bad thing. Isn’t the ground where you had collapsed a pyramid of skulls prised open?
First one, then another, then many lights flicker palely in the darkness like evil fireflies. A covenant of witches atop every decayed ruin. Humming of the hymn of a new republic fuelled by extreme violence. You hear a band marching over the rubble to your left, you hide under the skeleton of an office den, and hold your breath.
For a moment you entertain the idea of announcing yourself to them, but then they walk inside the white moonlight.
They look in your direction with blank headhunting eyes, rotting teeth grimace through poorly stitched gashes in emaciated cheeks, everything about them is serrated, implies fine gradations of depravity and pain.
You gasp, they head towards you.
You spell yourself into nothingness with Dutch’s Bane, and scamper away.
Ahead of you, two houses.