My name is Shoji. I live in hell.

Oh, it used to be a nice town, I think. People can hardly remember back then. All we can remember is the pain. And the ball. It rolls, inexorable, unstoppable- oh, you can shake a few things off of it, maybe, but it will just leave, pick up small things, grow bigger...then it finds you. And when it does, God help you.

God? There is no God here.

It started off small- little things would disappear, things that nobody would miss- mice, little knicknacks around the house, maybe a crayon or two. Some people said that they saw a little ball with a very tiny green man rolling it going across their living room, but they always laughed nervously and shook it off as just a dream or some sort of odd hallucination. If only they had known.

The people across the street said that their cat was missing one day. It returned shortly afterward, but there was something wrong. Its eyes were glassy, and it became mean- it hissed at anyone who tried to approach it. They assumed it was rabid, and put it down. I think it is buried in their backyard. It's an unmarked, deep grave, so I think that they are safe from any further resurrections.

Then, other animals disappeared, and became mean when they were mysteriously found. Sights of the ball were becoming more common as the green man rolling it grew more bold- it began to roll up our food, our goods. We saw it in the city square- interested and confused, we followed it. It rolled around, picking up everything in its path, until it was the size of a small person.

Then it turned on us. It knocked over a young boy, couldn't have been more than five, knocked him far and left him incapacitated. Then, it picked him up by the legs through some strange magnetic force and continued to roll. But the weight of the ball pushing down on that poor little boy as his little body was crushed against the ground...dear God, his screams were horrible. Every time he hit the street, his screams grew louder. Then, after too long, they stopped. Just...stopped. At that point, he was just unrecognizable viscera on the ball, his blood leaving a red trail.

We ran. We all ran and scattered. It got at least four people, and their screams of agony echoed throughout the entire city. Then, suddenly, it stopped. It stopped, and as we all hid in terror, a great prism of light shot down and picked it up. Families mourned and the entire city was left clueless as to what had attacked us, but at least it was over.

We thought it was over, anyway.

One day, the same people were somehow found unharmed in random places in the city. They were unharmed, but they were also completely mad. They gibbered and laughed and screamed, holding their heads and running around.

"Star!" the little boy yelled. "The star! The King! The King! Long live the King!" He screamed in terror, then began laughing again.

Two minutes later, the ball came down to earth. We all tried to hide, but it scouted us out. Many were taken on that day. And, again, they were restored to us, mad, right before the ball came down to earth again.

It has passed through this city many times. It has rolled through the schools, the buildings, the houses...Many of us are now mad, and the ones who aren't are scared and broken. There is a cult around it, a cult that has been here many years before. The cult claims that the ball is rolled by the Son of the King. All people who are absorbed by the ball are then taken up by the Son to the King, and turned into a flaming star by his infinite power. They will not die, and will be returned, unharmed, to the planet just in time to be rolled up once again by the Son. Those who take a glimpse at the King during this time will become irrevocably mad, as his magnificence is too great for one to behold. We ignored them for many years. After the school was attacked and many children were sent back to their parents completely insane, parents attacked the cult, trying to kill their leader. They were immediately rolled up and returned back here comatose and unresponsive. They stay in one place like statues, sometimes starving to death before the ball rolls them up. The cult claims that for their sins, their souls were forsaken by the great King and destroyed.

I have met the leader, met a little girl called the Messenger, the one who has some sort of connection to the King and is supposed to be able to sense the state of the Universe itself. There is something very wrong about her- she is polite, if not too mature for her age, but something in her gaze that makes one feel as if there is some sort of mad, malevolent creature just behind her eyes. The cult's members have been absorbed by the ball before, but they return with their minds intact. They claim that to be absorbed and turned into a star is an honor, as it burns away one's sins.

We can't leave. I've tried. I walked towards the city limits, ignoring the feeling of terror that was blooming in me. Would the ball come rolling towards me, dropping suddenly from the sky? Would I be trapped in a star forever, never to be restored? A cold wind picked up, blowing back my hair and scaring me even further. But I was determined to leave. I was almost out, almost into the next city...

Then, suddenly, a great hand, a hand belonging to a god himself, appeared suddenly. I fell to the ground, overwhelmed by sheer horror. It remained there for a second, a gloved hand bigger than a building, then disappeared.

I ran. I ran as fast as I could, and from that day forth I have not approached the city limits. I have heard stories, though, of people attempting the same thing I did. Old men tried to leave, then had heart attacks or strokes as the hand suddenly blocked their path. The ball would usually roll up their corpses afterwards, sometimes when they were still warm.

People have described the feeling (when they have enough of a mind left to describe) of being part of a star like being on fire forever and never being able to die. Then, after their minds have been twisted and destroyed by the agony, they are restored here, like some sort of dark miracle. But they never forget the pain, and each day for them is torture as they wait to be rolled up again. I have a safe spot- a little place under my house that I board up. By the time the ball is big enough to roll me up, it can't reach me under there. But there is a cost- it is only big enough to hold me. No one else would fit.

This has kept me safe so far, but not for long. Someday, as the cult fortold, it will roll up the world, tearing up continents, oceans, absorbing all in its path. Then, using the massive power of all that it has taken, it will create the universe anew and destroy us all forever.

That is all anyone wishes for anymore. Not salvation, not freedom- just the quiet peace of eternal oblivion.

Perhaps that would be best.