Ará Orún
rating: +86+x

Previously

But it is.

They wrestle him to the ground and pin his arm out flat, forcing his fist open to give access to his left index finger. The dread idea is beating on the door of his mind, demanding to be let in. It's wrong, the shape of it is awful and it's too big and slick with poison and he knows if he lets it in it'll swamp everything he is, filling his home up with sludge and broken glass. It wants to drown him in it and he knows it'll replace everything he is with itself. He knows it's taken the rest of the world already and all of the people around him, and he holds out, and he continues to hold out right up until one of the people pinning him produces a chisel █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ overrides everything else █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ Yes, he says, yes, he throws the door open, █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

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█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

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█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ the world is ruined. █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ beautiful things, and smash them or cover them with filth. Find delightful people and disfigure █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ We, who are drowning in and driven by వ, who radiate █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ They, who number in the billions, and are █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ for the engine █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ In the centre of the city █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ where people can be fed in and the door locked █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ irreversible █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ intact, and watching, █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ this last splinter of Adam Wheeler █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

█​█​█​█​█​█​ starts to work against that which it knows to be wrong.

█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ a ray up there, a narrow yellow nourishing sunbeam. He follows it, █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ over the top of the walls. █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ and out of the city, █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ away from the core. █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​ A kind of thread unravels behind him, an infestation █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

A black slug drops from his tear duct, falls to the asphalt and shrivels. █​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​█​

*

He regains consciousness on a hard, scrubbed floor in a wide, cool corridor. He is lying against one wall of the corridor, as if tossed there like a ragdoll, with his back to the wall and his right arm stretched out, clenched into such a tight fist that his finger joints are hurting. He releases the fist, gasping. Disoriented, aching, he rolls and plants his other hand on the floor, and it's then that he discovers what's happened to that hand.

He reacts as he must react. He clutches the stubs where his first two fingers were, and screams and cries hopelessly at the echoing building. Nobody answers him.

The last thing he remembers, he was playing Shostakovich. He was flying through it, unimpeded. In his mind, he can hear what he was playing, note-perfect, right up to the instant the memory cuts off. And he can't think of what comes next. Instead, that last incomplete snippet of music goes around and around in his head, abruptly ending mid-note and slowly fading back in again from a few seconds back, an earworm. He can't jolt himself out of it. He's a stuck record. He can never play again.

He tries to make the right shape with his remaining fingers. His hand won't do it. He rubs his eyes with his… his good hand. He feels like garbage, hung over, dehydrated. He's missing his shirt, and his arms and chest are almost grey with muck.

He can never play again.

He sits there, huddled, for a long while, being small and unhappy and lost. He knows he's going to have to move eventually. He's working his way up to it.

He looks up the corridor, eyes gradually recovering. He can see alright without his glasses, as long as he doesn't have to do much reading. He's in a school. There are notice boards, banks of lockers, a rainbow mural. The place is deserted and silent. There is a dull red light coming through the windows in the classroom doors on the far side of the corridor, suggesting that the Sun is low on that side of the building, rising or setting. He has taught one-off music lessons in one or two schools, but he doesn't recognise this one.

With some unease, he examines his bad hand. The stumps of his fingers are lumpy and uneven and have healed badly. A mass of scar tissue and scabs, and no stitches in sight. As if the digits were removed with great imprecision. Hacked off. Or bitten off? It troubles him that he can't remember. His memory is normally so sharp and clear. He thinks he's thinking clearly, but when he concentrates and tries to access the lost time, something in that gap pushes him back. A fierce red heat.

It occurs to him that, though his severed digits have healed very badly, they have healed. They certainly aren't bleeding, although there's a continual ache. How long would that take?

How much time has he lost?

What the hell happened?

Way down the corridor, away from the classrooms, an office door is standing ajar. In that office, a telephone starts to ring.

*

The office is poky and dimly-lit, piled high with paperwork. Two small desks, battered office chairs. He finds the ringing phone and picks up.

"Hello?"

The voice is synthesised, female. "Mr. Wheeler?"

"Yes. Who's this?"

With a measured tone, the robotic voice replies, "Mr. Wheeler, you have been sick for an extended period of time. I will be pleased to answer all of your questions, soon. But not now. There is a woman in room W16. She is dying."

"I— I'm not a doctor."

"I know. There is nothing you can do to save her. Nevertheless, you must go to her. Now."

"I feel like I'm… I'm not the best person to do that. I'm not in the best place today."

"It has to be you. There is no one else."

"…Who is she?"

There is a pause. It is as if the entity on the other end of the phone is unable to choose her words. "She is… significant. Go now, please. She does not have much time."

Wheeler is at a loss. He doesn't seem to have the strength to not do what he's told. He doesn't have any other direction to go in. The phone handset is corded, or he'd take it with him. He frets a little about not being able to take it with him. "You'll still be here?"

"Yes."

He leaves the handset off the hook. He goes back along the silent corridor. He finds the door numbered W16 and peeks through the safety glass into the orange-red-lit classroom, squinting at the sunlight which floods it from the far windows. It's still not clear to him whether it's dusk or early morning. There is nobody in the classroom that he can see.

He opens the door and goes in. There are elaborate, colourful biology posters and coursework displays, desks in disarray, scattered books and felt-tip pens, brightly-coloured backpacks. He takes a pace or two up the central aisle, not seeing what he thinks he should be seeing, and turns around, and jumps, startled. There is a huge chalk sketch on the blackboard, a highly realistic rendering of a woman's head and shoulders. He would swear the board was blank when he walked in.

The image is moving. It's as if it's being drawn and erased and redrawn, five or ten times per second. The woman looks about his age. Her face is framed with masses of hair, although with the negative colour effect of being drawn in white chalk on a black background, it's difficult to tell what colour her hair ought to be. The one splash of colour comes from the thick, bright blue frames of her glasses.

She looks distraught. And she seems to be saying something, and though there is no sound, there is text written beside her:

Adam?

He says, "Yes?"

She says,

I remember everything

And then the words scrub themselves out and become,

I can't forget a single minute of it

More lines come out. Each new thing she says erases the old.

I know everything he did now

I was blind, and he ran rings around me

I made mistake after mistake

He killed everybody I love except for you

After this, her lips stop moving. The last phrase lingers for longer than the others, before scrubbing itself blank.

Wheeler spends a long moment absorbing the final statement, turning it around, trying to figure out where, if anywhere, it slots into his life.

He has never seen this woman before.

But… is that true? He studies her features, and his memory cycles around, and he unearths something deep and significant in his past, a bizarre encounter he hasn't devoted thought to in what feels like a century. Her! That one time at the hospital, remember? You gouged a chunk out of your foot, backstage, after a show. You spent half a night in the emergency room, and she was there and you got talking. God. Who was she, now?

A… government agent, or at least in that sphere. She was unreal. On a whole other level from me. Tough, skilled, beautiful, sharp like a sapphire. We talked about music. Film scores, and the trash which passed for TV sci-fi those days, and David Lynch. It was… well, you don't know, that early, but… it was promising.

But nothing happened. They patched up my foot, and we never went anywhere.

Did we?

"Marion," he breathes. He's almost got it. He holds a hand up, fearful, as if motioning for her to stop. "No. This can't be—"

I sent you away, because I was trying to save your life

He remembers. It reconnects, all at once, the years upon years of inextricable shared life. There's too much energy there. It crashes through him, violently, it's like grabbing a frayed electrical line, it's like being shot. He stumbles backwards, disbelieving. He never imagined how much he was missing. "No. No, no. Marion."

And it didn't work

"What happened to you? I should have been there!"

And he ruined the world

And now you have to live in Hell

"Where are you? Someone said you were dying—"

I'm already dead. I'm the memory

But now the memory is dying too

He's found his way into Heaven, and he's ruining it

Like the Earth

"What do you need? I'll stop him. I'll help you. I'll do anything I can. I love you."

She says nothing.

After a moment or two, Wheeler realises that her image has frozen.

He goes up to it and peers at the chalk work. Hesitantly, with his right hand, he reaches out to the heavy chalk shading of her hair, and touches it with one finger. He leaves a dark dot. The chalk dust is real, on the board and on his finger. She's just a drawing.

She's gone. It's all gone.

He blacks out.

*

He regains consciousness on a hard, scrubbed floor at the front of a school classroom. He is lying there as if tossed beneath the blackboard like a ragdoll, one arm stretched out along the wall. He rolls over, gasping, and plants his other hand on the floor, and it's then that he discovers what's happened to that hand.

"Dear God," he says, staring, uncomprehending, at the mangled stubs. In a strange, abstract way, the loss of his first two fingers just doesn't connect with him. It's as if he woke up already accepting it. "What the hell happened?"

He compares his left hand with his right, which, mercifully, is pristine. He flexes them, mirroring the action as best he can. There could be a little nerve damage in his left hand; he'll have to talk to his specialist. But he should be able to wield a bow.

"I suppose I'm playing left-handed from now on," he says to himself. Good God. How long is it going to take him to get to the same level of proficiency? A good while.

He thinks back. The last thing he can remember is playing Shostakovich. He was flying through it, and he was having no trouble. He can almost hear what he was playing, note-perfect, right up to the instant the memory abruptly cuts off. But he can't think of what came next. Instead, that final snippet fades in again from a few seconds back, repeats itself right up to the cut-off point, and stops, almost with an audible click. It's an earworm. He feels like a stuck record.

So he does what he always does: hums a different song to displace it.

He feels strange. He is hung over, dehydrated. He's missing his shirt, and his arms and chest are almost grey with muck. And he is dying, positively dying, for a cigarette. But he feels strangely upbeat. As if he's recovered from a prolonged illness. As if the worst is over.

He gets up, eyes gradually recovering. He can see alright without his glasses, as long as he doesn't have to do much reading. The classroom is silent, lit red-orange from a Sun which could be rising or setting. There are elaborate, colourful biology posters and coursework displays, desks in disarray, scattered books and felt-tip pens, brightly-coloured backpacks. The blackboard is blank.

Wheeler has taught one-off music lessons in one or two schools, but he doesn't immediately recognise this one.

Way down the corridor from the classroom, an office door is standing ajar. In that office, a telephone starts to ring.

*

The office is poky and dimly-lit, piled high with paperwork. There are two small desks, each with a beaten-up office chair. Each desk has a phone, one of which is off its hook. He puts it back, obeying a hard-wired instinct to tidy up. It's the other phone which is ringing, though, of course.

"Hello?"

The voice is synthesised, female. "Mr. Wheeler?"

"Yes. Who's this?"

With a measured tone, the robotic voice replies, "Before we begin, may I ask you a quick question? Does the name 'Marion Hutchinson' mean anything to you?"

It rings the tiniest, faintest bell in the back of Wheeler's mind, but… no, it's gone. "Not as such. Should it?"

The synthesised voice makes it impossible to tell whether the caller is dismayed at this, indifferent or relieved. "No. …My name is Ulrich. I'm part of an organization called the Foundation. The objective of the Foundation was to prevent what has happened from happening."

Wheeler turns around, suddenly afraid. But there is nothing behind him. "And what," he asks with some trepidation, "has happened?"

"The world's gone to hell, Mr. Wheeler."

"Well. Bad luck there."

There is a long pause. Long enough that Wheeler wonders to what insane degree he might have understated the situation. "…Yes. Very bad luck. Mr. Wheeler, we need your help. And by 'we need your help' I mean I need your help. Because there is no one left of the Foundation but me. And I have no one but you. And I am dying."

"I'm very sorry to hear that, Ms. Ulrich," Wheeler says. He finds that he means it. He chooses his next words with some care. "What do you need?"

"I need you to find a man named Bartholomew Hughes. Please take a seat. I will explain everything."

To be continued

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