All tagged how it all ends

Elliott found the first piece of his death under his fiancé’s pillow when he was only eighteen. It was a cogwheel of sorts, wrought from black iron, and he knew what it was the moment that he found it. Once he felt its weight in his hands, he walked out the door while she was still asleep, and left his ring behind.

We rode the elevator to the skyscraper’s peak, where its monstrous caldera awaited us. The goddess took my hand and led me to its ledge, and together, we gazed down into the pit. Fifty stories beneath us, a lake of molten rock could be seen churning and bubbling and folding in on itself. Only the furthest edges of the tower’s former floors remained, as most of the interior had melted inward from the heat.

The end of the world is neither exactly a time or a place; rather, it is a four-dimensional surface, curved and chaotic, which courts the path of the planet on its journey through space-time. Were one to visualize it using only three dimensions, it would seem almost ribbon-like, a black helix of fluttering death. Asteroids entangled by this dark fabric are certain to be drawn into the Earth’s gravitational pull.

Most who tell the story agree about how it started, but not where- some say Fargo, others, Des Moines. On a handful of computers in some high school’s library, clouds of gray and black pixels began flowing across their monitors until nothing else could be seen. Eventually, an overwhelming pressure behind the glass caused it to shatter, allowing clouds of virtual smoke to escape.

“This won’t be like your average rainbow-riding operation. We’ll be placing you inside of a research-grade kaleidoscope,” she explained to me as we ascended. “Hundreds of bifurcations per square millimeter. The human brain can absorb the patterns and colors of maybe half this, but the optic nerve is going to attempt to take it all in at once. I can imagine that you’re worried right now, but I promise that you’re going to witness something really special.”

The batteries bulge at the seams when inserted into your flashlight, as though filled with flesh or bubblegum. There’s no satisfying click of connection- only a sense that they don’t belong in such a device, and that any more pressure would cause them to burst. “Do not squeeze,” reads the mostly-black label in seven different languages. This warning is printed next to a cartoonish silhouette vomiting some sort of jagged fluid.

At times, the glass bulb on your bookshelf is filled with violet sands; at others, it is completely empty. You’ve watched the fine powder emerge from nowhere on several occasions, swirling outward from a needle’s-eye hole in space. You’ve also observed the grains sliding through one another until none are left, leaving it hollow once more. This is apparently no illusion; the bulb is far heavier while it appears to be full.

As a child, you accidentally fell asleep on the couch one night while watching the Discovery Channel; however, the thing that believes it is you (which you know as your body) stayed awake for several hours thereafter. During that time, it learned everything there was to know about chameleons from a National Geographic special. Just before you regained consciousness, a stray curl of your hair snapped a horsefly from the wall, beginning a long and terrible process of transformation.