I awake to find myself in a room of black. I can taste the asphalt on my tongue as I breathe in the sticky air. The ground is simultaneously rough and smooth; I stand up. There are echoes of silence as I drown in this eclipse. I tell myself that I must find the light, the light. Am I dead? I seem to remember people saying "go towards the light, the light," but I don't feel dead. I feel more important than that.
I feel empowered. Maybe I can create the light. Slightly amused with the idea, I speak. "Let there be light," I say. Nothing happens. So much for that. I am still drowning in this indestructible blackness. I turn myself around in a small three-sixty, hoping to see some kind of freedom. Nothing, the first time. I try it again; there must be something. And there she is.
"She" is a small dog, sitting patiently and looking at me calmly. I walk to the dog, hoping she is not just a figment of my imagination. She barks once, then turns, as if asking me to follow. She has no name, obviously she is a dog. I follow her. "Where are you taking me, girl?" I ask, as if she could answer. She barks, as if trying.
I can now see a little light to my left and right, and I can feel the heat of a furnace. There are great hulking shadows on each side of this pathway of nothingness that the dog leads me through. I cannot figure out what they are. I assume the light itself comes from some kind of fire, but the source of the shadows is unknown. The dog barks again as I struggle to catch up to it. I'm far too busy looking at the walls of my corridor.
There is a little more light. I can now make out subtle shapes: fingertips, bald crowns, severed limbs. These shapes are piles of the dead, awaiting their final purging in the flames. I cannot feel horrified. For some reason, this feels right. Right that the dead should be there. Right that I should not be part of them. I don't know why this is right, but I know that it is.
The dog barks. I follow. There appears to be blood on its fur, a cut on its left hind leg. In fact, it seems to be limping. I now realize I can hear it softly crying. It is leading me to who-knows-what and this creature is dying. This creature that is obviously more than a dog. It is more important than that.
Who destroyed this world? Was it I? I am the only person left, so that would be the logical conclusion. Or maybe this world destroyed itself. It pushed too far to the edge of chaos and fell off into the void of death. The black air is not quite so harrowing anymore. The fires are quite bright now behind these masses of the deceased. I can still feel the air's pressure, but it is lessened somehow by the amount of light.
Now the dog leads me into a shallow pool of what could only be blood. It looks black in the half-light, but I can smell its sugar, taste its salt. It replaces the asphalt on my tongue. The pool almost goes up to my waist and the dog has to swim across. Her blood mixes with the pool of blood and I can feel the change. The pool now seems suddenly right, as if it wasn't quite complete before.
It isn't long before we are out of the pool and on the other side. The bodies surrounding us close in onto a great morbid cul-de-sac built around a small wooden desk. Upon the desk is a small piece of paper, and a table lamp. I reach for the lamp, so I can read the paper, but the dog growls at me. I turn instead to her and pet her softly, intimating that she is a good girl. That she led a good life. That without her I wouldn't be here. She seems pleased and dismisses herself to lay at the end of the cul-de-sac, becoming part of the wall of corpses.
This, too, seems right. I want to mourn for the dog, but she seems like she should be part of this grand purge. Now everything is in place. I may take the final steps, whatever they may be. I reach to turn on the lamp, and think better of it. I instead pick up the piece of paper, hoping I can read it in this half-light. I can read it surprisingly well. This is what the paper says:
Dear God XIV,
This world has abandoned me. You know what they say about the number thirteen. It is your job to purge these poor souls who died to create a new world. It would seem that Gabriele is staying behind to lead you to this note. The bodies you see are simply waiting for the light. They must enter the light. The light, for all real purposes, is the lamp sitting upon your desk. It seems minuscule, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, this is what both ends old life and creates new life. I'm sure you do not need me to tell you how to turn it on, right? In any case, I wish you luck with your world. Hopefully it turns out better than mine has.
What? I am the new God? I thought there was only one God. This is impossible. I don't know how to be God. (turn on the lamp) Well, yes…I should probably turn on the lamp. But then what happens? What am I going to do? I can't be God! How was this decided? (you were the most righteous) Well, I suppose I must carry on life. I don't want my world to end up worse than God XIII's. I look around me slowly, taking it all in. Then I reach for the lamp and switch it on. At the same time, I say "let there be light."
There is light. And nothing else. Time to start creating.