Gary stood still in the center of his home for a moment, standing there glancing about the living room, his boots pressed against the hardwood floors. Gary pressed his hand up against the side of his head – for a moment, it felt as if the room were spinning. He quickly regained his balance. He gazed about the room. Through the kitchen window, beams of light cast themselves through the kitchen window, bathing the hardwood floors in soft light. Gary crouched down slightly, and he crept over toward the kitchen. Overtop the floors, there was a menagerie of Aggies: the intruder, bearing its resemblance to a typical house cat—the intruder, bearing its resemblance to a spider, with black, bristly tendrils poking out of its sides—the intruder, a ball of ceramic floating above the ground, overlooking reality, Gary, and everything in between.
Gary’s posture grew taller. He marched into the kitchen, pushing past Aggie’s many avatars. The cats backed away from Gary as he fumed across the tiled floor and slammed open the fridge. He began digging foodstuffs out of the fridge—pickle jars, leftovers, anything he could get his hands on. Gary tossed it all onto the floor. He snatched his revolver from out the back of the fridge, and he swiveled around to face the living room once more. Gary cocked the gun. He stared down at the crowd of Aggies. He held the pistol out in front of him, and he pulled the trigger. Smoke spewed from out of the barrel as black blood spread across the floor. Gary pulled the trigger again and again, adjusting his gaze on every deformation of his cat. At once, he stopped. His ears were ringing. The floor was sticky, coated in a thick layer of viscous black blood, some of which splattered up his sweatpants.
Gary stomped overtop the spill, wandering out into the living room. He held his hand up against his chin, glancing about the room. He stopped, his attention fixated on the front door—he threw a pen at the door, and stomped outside, his tennis-shoes squishing against the floor, trailing a thin film of black goo behind him as he stepped. As he stepped onto the white void surrounding his home, the filth coating his home—what remained of the Aggies—converged into a black ball, and it flowed against the ground, following swiftly after Gary, trailing just behind him.
Minutes passed as Gary circled in spirals around his home. Sometimes, like mist, his home faded from his view. Sometimes, as he walked away from the structure, the world seemed to fold back in on itself, and Gary would arrive just outside the structure all the same. His time spent in the void was taxing on his body. His heart raced—it felt as if his soul was splitting in two—he could sense Aggie’s consciousness. Gary could sense something else, something greater.
He continued to spiral about the blinding landscape. In the back of his mind, he could sense that Aggie had hidden something. Like someone else’s voice invading his thoughts, he understood: In some unreachable crevice of reality, there remained something that Aggie could not destroy. And he explored, so far as one can explore a blinding white void. He counted his steps after coming back to his home. If time had any meaning, this escapade was bordering on days. Gary had grown accustomed to not feeling the need to eat or drink. He was dead, of course. Not in the sense that he was any less real than anyone else, of course—everyone else’s souls had collapsed. He had grown accustomed to the inconsequences of life.
As he prodded and poked at the universe, keeping his tracks in mind, he felt the curvature of the universe, of their bubble of the universe. It was an embedded shell. Every straight route led him in circles — He tried every straight route. There was one exception: Gary followed the spiral. At the edge of his periphery, Gary spotted an ornate red box. He stepped closer toward it. There was something on top of it. He stepped closer. Something white was curled up on top of it. He stood beside the box. It was Aggie. She was sleeping.
Carefully, Gary crept up to the wide box. He bent down, and he reached for its handle. Behind him, the black goo that had been trailing him sped up. It flew between him and the box—Gary flinched, and he stumbled, and he fell down onto his back. The goo split apart beside the chest, taking the form of two shiny ceramic locks holding shut the box’s two handles. Gary promptly pulled himself back up to his feet. He stared up toward Aggie.
Before him, the box shimmied. From inside, there was a pounding on its door. At once, Aggie awakened, standing tall on top of the chest. She stared across the landscape, gazing up toward Gary. Aggie stared down at Gary as the box shook off the ground. The silence remained for a minute, unbroken. The pair stared at each other in solitude.
Slowly, Gary raised the pistol out before him, and he pointed it up toward the cat. He pulled the trigger. There was a puff of smoke. In an instant, Aggie opened her mouth, and a bristly black appendage slithered out, catching the bullet before her face, dropping it to the ground. The appendage slithered further down into the void as Aggie kept her mouth wide open.
On the floor, the appendage took jagged paths, rapidly approaching Gary. He stood still. He held the pistol up before him, and he shot at her again, and again, and again, his face falling into that of a grimace. Several more appendages sprung out, deflecting the bullets, conjoining together like a black, hairy web.
Gary felt a sharp pain in his gut. He stared down. That first tendril had gone straight through him. Gary shakily reached down to grab his wound as Aggie tore the bloody appendage back out of his stomach. Gary fell to the floor overtop a pile of his own spilled organs.
Gary woke up in his bed. The room was warm, much warmer than the frigid cold of the void. Gary remained underneath the covers, all toasty. Gary smiled. A headache overtook his head for a moment. Gary did not care. He threw his covers to the side, and he leapt out of bed, stuffing his feet into a pair of shoes laid neatly beside his bed, and headed out the front door. He continued his journey across the spiral, at the end of which he found Aggie sleeping on top of an ornate red box. As his footsteps echoed across the void, Aggie stuck up her head, staring back at him. The box flew up into the air once more. Aggie stared down at him. Gary smiled.
He tore his car keys out of his pocket and he hurled them up toward her. At once, just like before, one of many tendrils shot out of her mouth, snatching the car keys from out of the air, and retracting back into her mouth as she swallowed them. A few moments passed before the tendrils made their way back out into the open world. They spiraled in a path resembling that of a drill. Gary stood still, and he closed his eyes, still keeping his grin. The drill shot straight through his chest, just as it did before.
Gary woke up in his bed. The room was warm, much warmer than the frigid cold of the void. He threw his covers to the side, and he leapt out of bed, stuffing his feet into a pair of shoes laid neatly beside his bed, and headed out the front door. He continued his journey across the spiral, at the end of which he found Aggie sleeping on top of an ornate red box. As his footsteps echoed across the void, Aggie stuck up her head, staring back at him. The box flew up into the air once more. She stared down at him as he strolled up toward the two bodies he left behind previously. With a groan, he grabbed each body by the collar of their shirts, and he held them up in front of him, sweating profusely. He slowly crept up toward her, underneath the box. Before even a moment could pass, the box slammed back down, grinding Gary into a bloody puddle.
Gary woke up in his bed. He continued his journey across the spiral, at the end of which he found Aggie sleeping on top of an ornate red box. As his footsteps echoed across the void, Aggie stuck up her head, staring back at him. The box flew up into the air once more. Gary smiled. He reached into his back pocket and he snatched out a frog. He hurled it up toward Aggie. She opened her mouth, yawning. In that moment, one of her eyes popped out of her head, plopping onto the ground overtop the void’s floor. As it made contact, the eyeball grew, as if it were a seed planted. The ball grew up to be a tree, while Aggie drifted soundly to sleep. At once, the tree bent toward Gary, soaring one of its many branches through the air, straight through Gary’s eyeball, and through the back of his skull.
Gary woke up in his bed. He continued his journey across the spiral, at the end of which he found Aggie sleeping on top of an ornate red box. He stopped just in front of the devilish tree, blocking his path. Gary sighed, raised his hands up in the air, and waited. Right on cue, the tree penetrated flesh and bone with one of its branches, and Gary fell dead onto his back.
Gary woke up in his bed. He continued his journey across the spiral, at the end of which he found Aggie sleeping on top of an ornate red box. He stopped just in front of the devilish tree, blocking his path. Gary was wearing his pizza-delivery hat and jacket. He winked up toward the sleeping Aggie as he bent down onto the floor of the void, and he grabbed the two bodies previously slashed apart by the tree. Gary crept about the thing, struggling to hold the two of them before him. Gary could feel his soul welling up inside of him. He stepped closer and closer up toward the tree, holding the bodies up in front of him, leaving no space.
With blinding speed, the tree struck at him, getting one of its branches caught momentarily in the corpses before him. Gary circled about, holding the two Garys in front of him still, as the tree tried to eviscerate him again and again. Blood poured out from his shields. Gary did not care. The tree tried to stab around the corpses. Gary turned to deflect the strike. It tried striking two sides at once. Gary held both bodies at his sides. It tried to distract Gary, striking at both of his sides before striking him head-on. He ducked out of the way.
In seemingly no time at all, Gary stood directly behind the tree, beneath the floating chest as it floated in the air, as if it were sailing over gentle waves. The tree continued desperately striking at Gary as he fished the pistol out of his pocket, holding the two bodies still in front of him. He held the gun up toward the chest, and he fired up into it.
The tree stopped moving. It stood perfectly still. As smoke rose from overtop the gun, there was no echo. The void feels completely silent. There was a quiet pitter-patter coming from on top of the chest. Aggie leapt down into the void. She stared up at the hole in the chest as it remained floating in the air. She shifted her gaze toward Gary, shaking her head slowly, before scampering away from the scene. The box continued to float, somewhat shaken, as if it were sailing through stormy weather.
At once, a human finger poked out from inside the whole of the box. The sound of a cracking reverberated across the void. The wooden underside of the box cracked, an incision spreading across its bottom. In an instant, the box split open—Something fell. Something fell out of the box, and it landed right in front of Gary.