Music has gone from the universe.

Time mourns, his eyes wide, his body bent, his voice, silent. For if music is gone, then no cry can be uttered.

The pressure builds throughout every world, the trembling need to cry, to lament, to grieve.

But it can never come.

For music is gone from the universe.

Stars wink out in brilliant explosions as the pressure becomes too much for them to bear. Hundreds of beautiful worlds are flung from their safe orbits in to trackless black oblivion, the life enveloping them stripped away, their surfaces frozen. The only sound is the soft whistling of the wind as warmth departs from existence.

The edges of the universe begin to fray, but at its center, a single figure lies slumped against a table. Time, under an awning, his books scattered around him, lies with eyes unseeing, as if in death. Somewhere in the distance a volcano erupts, then another, and then dozens of them spew lava and ash and darkness, the world rocking as it cries.

A girl runs lightly through the halls of an empty fortress, underneath delicate arches and through vaulted corridors, weaving between carved, fluted pillars and invaluable gemstone statues. Lacy abstractions flash by her as she runs. Doors open in to hundreds of beautiful rooms. Windows overlook lush gardens, and let in the light of a wan, dying sun.

Music has left the universe.

She runs in search of something, any sign of life, any rising voice.

But there is none, for music has left the universe.

She skids to a halt beneath an arch which leads in to what used to be a great hall, made to seat thousands. But the floor is gone, and a yawning abyss opens before her. The walls are coated in oily black ice. The air is heavy, thick, and as cold as death. Clammy fingers of fear worm their way up her spine, and suddenly, she realizes what has happened.

She falls, senseless and numb, in to the abyss, tripping forward on her own feet, her immortal soul wrenched partially away with the force of its own pain.

Music ... has left the universe.

A pair of vast dark wings suddenly appear, their feathers displaying the light of galaxies. In front of her very eyes, those lights begin to wink out.

music has come back for the one soul that mattered the most to it, the one thing that could wrench it from its pain and isolation.

Life has gone from the universe.

Hands reach from beyond those wings, a mane of sun-colored hair flies behind them, and a drum sounds, a heartbeat, trying to coax life back in to the broken body on the rubble below.

But life has gone from her body, and life has gone from the universe.

Music itself falls to its knees. And for a moment, all the light in existence winks out. In the darkness, one single flame remains, searing the great fortress palace to white ash.

Music kneels in the center of that pile, which simply lies where it is. There is no wind to stir it, for there is no life.

Music touches her bloodstained face with hands that shake almost imperceptibly. He closes the eyelids over the beautiful silvery eyes that had once shown up at him, and now will never shine again.

She had gone looking for life where there was none. She had run to a false music which destroyed her. Music had returned to the universe, but by then, it was too late. Life was gone. She had searched for compassion in a race that had lost it, and humanity itself killed her.

Music lay down in the ashes beside her, closed his eyes, and disappeared from his body.

Vast swathes of the universe fell apart, lost coherence, crashed in to one another. And then, eventually, everything fell still. And on a dark, ice-covered planet, music lies still, beside a frozen body that will never rise, never sing, never love, again.