The world was ending.

This wasn't what I'd been trying to do. I hadn't wanted to cause collision. But I knew what was happening. Bits of many worlds spun around in the vortex, towards their imminent destruction. I caught a glimpse of blue—a fragment of the Tile Sea, with a frightened cheep-cheep swimming frantically in her newly tiny tank. A segment of Crag whirls past, like a dusty stone in a rockslide.

I never meant for this to be the way it all worked out. I looked around frantically. Was that—no. But where...

My hand brushed against something. The something caught hold of me and tried to pull me into the vortex. "You! If we're all going to die, I'm bringing you with me!"

"No!" I shouted. "Get—off—me!" I struggled to pull away, but her grip was too strong. I was slipping towards the center.

It wouldn't really matter if I was drawn into the whirlwind. This was the end of the line, the end of my game. I was finished.

"Grab onto something!" I shouted at the top of my voice, over the howling roar of the cyclone.


"I don't know! Anything!"

"Like what?"

"It doesn't matter! A tree! Something of yours! The—Count!" I reached out and grabbed him as he went shooting by.

"Remove your hand, you filthy--"

"Uh-huh. Maybe later?" I swung him towards the pathetic girl. "Fight it!"

"We can escape?" Her voice sounded incredulous. "You could have mentioned that!"

"First, no we can't, ad second, we don't want to."

"Why wouldn't we?"

"Just trust me!" It wasn't until after I said it that I realized how that sounded. "That is—I mean—what I--"

I was distracted by a flash. "One of you, catch her!"

She spun past, and I tried to snatch her hand, but it was too late. A white glove caught her, and she struggled to hold on. I tried to grab her, but I couldn't move without slipping farther towards the void. Lose-lose. There was no way out.

Or, perhaps I should say there was no way out until She was swung towards me. I grabbed her hand—she was amazingly even harder to hold on to, as she had so much less resistance. I desperately clung to her clutching hand, only to feel her slipping away.

"Grab something!" I shouted at her.

"Like what?"

I was getting rather irritated with this conversation. "Anything!"

She looked around wildly, and then stretched out for something. "Nassy!"

Natasia was dragging at something as well. O'Chunks! She grabbed for Natasia's hand. "Thanks!" called Natasia.

I laughed. "I guess that's all of us, then," I said, and braced myself against the vortex. I planned to make my visit to the Underwhere as brief as possible, and the best way to do that was to jump in just before the void closed. Otherwise...if I could even resist past that...I didn't like to think what would happen.

Everything was spinning into the center, faster and faster. I watched carefully, and then relaxed. the vortex spun us inside.

But as we were dragged to the center, I started to lose my grip. It was either lose two or lose three. I looked from side to side, unable to choose. Just as we struck the void wall, her hand slipped. Before I could think, I grabbed for her with both hands. I caught her—but the other two had been torn away. It didn't matter now. I felt her slipping.

First her hand was gone. She screamed, and ten the sound was cut short.

Then, everything vanished.

The second eternity was over.