by Philip Stetson


We all do our fair share round here. The Western Disjoint is hell, literally and figuratively. This cold piece of shit isn't meant for any living thing. No one in their right mind wants to live here. But we have to.

My child was looking at me with eager eyes. The warm light was filtering in from the shaded windows. It was spring and I was happy. I was telling him a story. “Years and years ago, Calmar was a complete planet. The first of its kind. Do you remember why it was built?”

He jumped up, excited. “Because we could!”

“That's right,” I said, “because we could. Your great-great grandfather helped build it. A full planet, built by man... considered our greatest achievement... filled with life.”

His mother had slipped into the room as I spoke. “Art, you need to come here. There's some men here to... see you.” She trailed off.

I stood up and ruffled my child's hair. His bright face slipped away and was gone.


The alarms were going off. For good reason too, but I was ignoring them. I pushed the throttle forward as I sped through the blackness towards the floating rock. I had heard the stories of the Western Disjoint of Calmar. That it was nirvana – a place of peace and happiness. Others said it was salvation. The second one steps foot on the rock your mind will open and become aware of itself. They believe everyone on the rock is a god and each man and woman is part of an awareness that controls the whole universe.

I really don’t care either way. I need to get away. Home is too painful. The Western Disjoint will be my new home or my new grave.

The rock loomed closer in the blackness and my eyes flicked open.


My head bulges and constricts in a regular pattern. Or is that a throbbing inside my head? I’m not sure. I try to open my eyes. Everything is fuzzy, a blurry mass of blue, red, and black. The red blur is flickering off and on. I am fading away into the darkness.

I can hear, barely. I think I am yelling for help, or maybe that’s someone else. I'm trying to focus. I can see my ship around me and outside the window. Everything is dark except for a few flashes of light in the darkness. They flash into my ship making it even more difficult to see what is going on. The squeal in my ears is deadened but all I can hear is the wailing of alarms wavering between powered and unpowered.

My chest hurts – everything hurts. I try to escape into my head.


My wife and I spoke, and as we spoke the ground around her fell into a thick sea of inky sludge.

“Sweetie, they're here to ask me to join them against the Chinese side. I'm not sure if I have a choice to say no.”

She was weeping. I don't remember what I was feeling.

“You can't, Art. He only turned five two days ago.” She stopped to compose herself, “What if you don't ever come back.”
“If I don't go, I'm positive they will make sure I don't come home...”

“We- we could escape! Run away!”

“I- All right, but we need to move quick. I'll tell them I'll join but need time to pack and prepare.”

I kissed her rotting face. She walked off the edge of the island we stood on and fell into the void.


I'm in the atmosphere. I can see lights in the murky black of the rock. There is nothing living here. It isn't possible. The rock is black and grey, not green and blue.

There are lights in the darkness calling out to me. I felt like they are saying my name.

Art… A-art! It almost sounded like the voices of my child calling me out onto the grassy padio. A-a-art! A-a-a-a-art! A-aaaaaaah! The pitch shifts down and morphed into a guttural scream. I realize it is coming from my own mouth.

I turn my head to the left and and see my arm bent unnaturally above my head. Bone is sticking out of my suit. The lights continue to flicker but I can see better now. There are men in red getting closer. The red clothes are wrapped around their head, waving with their movement, but not for any breeze. I see they had=ve guns, but they don't look familiar.

Shots come from the right. Red spreads into red as the men fell over. The sickening thunk of a head hitting rock sounds over all of the alarms. Other men appear from large rocks in the distance. These men are in black and move with much more grace than the red men.

I realize that I had stopped screaming but the pain comes spilling in. It hurt everywhere. I think I am blacking out but this time there is nothing.


“Good morning!” The girl says as she sits down on the chair next to my bed. “You finally woke.” A sharp pain extends up my arm making me cringe. I realize that she is leaning her weight on my bicep.

“Can— can you please get off my arm?”

She looks down at her hand for a second and lifts it up to her face wiggling her fingers.

“No, I can’t.” And she put it back. My eyes start watering.

In pain, I realize I don't know where I am. Last thing I remember is… black on red? Or was it red on black?

“Did I crash? Am I on the disjoint?” I ask.

“Yes, you are. Congratulations!” Her face lights up as she raises her hands into the air in excitement and then forcefully replacing them back onto my arm. “Welcome to Hell, sir. May I ask your name?”

“Art. It’s Art.” I breath deeply, the shooting pain more becoming noise in my head.

“Well, Art, we need to get you up and going. You’ve been out for a week now and I’d like you to get out of my house.” The girl lifts her hand and pushes her brown, short hair behind her ears. Her eyes spark as they talks.

I lift up my other arm and rub my face with my palm. Leave? She wants me to leave? I’m not even sure I can walk right now.

“Okay, I can tell you have questions. If it will get you to leave, ask away!” She backs up and sits down on top of what looks like a medical console.

I groan and turn my head to look at her. I do have questions – plenty of them. But I'm not sure what to ask.

“So, uh. What’s your name?” I say.

“Suicide Lady. Pleased to meet you! So, is that it? Time for you to get up!” She leaps from her perch and walks towards me and stop.

I look at her right in her eyes. They are almost orange.

“Okay, okay. You can ask more. Fine.” She sits back down.

I think for a second, “So, uh, where am I?”

“The Pilgrim Village. Or more specifically, my home in the Pilgrim Village. Next.” She sits staring at me, her hands on her knees.

“Umm…” I'm honestly not sure what else to ask. “Am- am I dead?”

She finds this hilarious, extremely so. She throws back her head and laughs. I find my chest constricting in anger, but I don't say anything, not that I can.

“That’s debatable, Art. I’d have to say yes, you are alive. But you’re free to make that distinction.” She breaths deeply and cocks her head slightly. “But, that was a good question. Please keep going.”

“Okay.” I feel more determined to ask more questions now. “Why am I here?”

“Because you were forced on me.” I look at her, not sure what she means. “Okay, you want more than that.”

She leans a bit closer towards me. “You were brought here to me by the Rangers. There’s not too many places to sleep and stay in the Village and I had a free bed. As for why you are here, on the Western Disjoint, I don’t know. I’d ask you that question. Why are you here, Art?” Her face relaxes a bit, as if concerned for me.

“Why do you want to know?” I’m not sure I want to tell her why.

“You don’t need to tell me if you don’t want to, Art. I just know that no one ever comes here for good reasons.” Her genuine tone is calming. I barely know this “Suicide Lady” but I feel compelled to tell her.

“I— I lost my family…” I shift in the hard bed, trying to get weight off my arm.

“Lost them how?” She asks.

“They… I don’t know. Well, I do, but I’m not sure I want to talk about it.” I cough into my hands. “There’s a war on The States.”

“I’m aware of it. A lot of people are here because of it,” She says.

“Is this place what they said it was? Are people happy here?”

Her face hardens. “No, they are not.” She stands and walks towards me again. “Art. I am not going to screw with you. You are on the Western Disjoint and nobody here is happy. No one here came here because they were happy.” She stresses happy as if she is disgusted by it. “As a result, no one here is happy.”

She paces to the other side of the room. The blue glowing light lights up her tall, long silhouette –- the edges of her glowing. “I think I may be the only one.” She turns around and smiles. “Regardless, you are here now. And you are stuck. No one can leave once they’re here.”

I think about that for a second. I feel the thought lower itself into my head. I’m stuck… but stuck where? I’m not sure yet. All I know is this bizarre lady and this blue-grey room.

“Anyway, now that you’re here, they’re going to want to make use of you. They always do. They’re going to give you a choice.”

“A choice? Between what?” I try to lift myself higher in the bed, resting my back on the back wall.

“You’ll find out soon enough, Art. I’ll go get them. In the meantime, you can try walking around.” She walks out of the room through a curtain in the poorly shaped doorway.

With her gone, I'm not sure what to do with myself. I lay and inspect the room more closely. The walls are windowless, covered in some sort of gray metal-like substance. The only comfort in the whole room is the bed I lay in.

“Well…” I say to myself, “Let’s see if my legs work.”

I pull the rough brown blanket off my body to find myself in clothes I don't recognize. A tan cloth sleeveless shirt exposing my arms to the cold air, my hair lifting to the chill. Black chaps cover gray cloth pants covering my legs. I realize at this point that I can't feel my legs. I groan in frustration.

“Here goes…” I swing my legs off the edge of the bed placing them on the ground. I feel the blood rush to my feet in an intense tingling feeling. I can feel the cloth rub against my legs under the chaps. It is such an intense feeling, it almost hurt. I'm not wearing any shoes and I see them turn red with blood as I try to wiggle my toes.

They seem to function well enough.

I sit on the edge of the bed, and sit... until what feels like an hour passes. I'm afraid to stand.

I'm afraid to commit to this world.

I'm afraid.

“Are you afraid?” Her voice carries through the room like a pigeon trying to escape.

I turn to look at her, trying to hide myself. “I haven’t stood up yet.”

“That’s fine, Art. But you’re going to have to face yourself eventually.”

We are both quiet, neither of us looking at each other.

“All right, they’re here. You’re going to be taken to Rapt to make your decision.” I’m not sure if what I saw in her face is concern. It looks like concern, but it could just be a mask to make me feel better. Well, it has, at least for a little bit, enough for me to lift myself to my feet.

The ground is cold and dead. It's familiar. It feels like the floor in my apartment on The States.

“All right, Art. It’s cold out there. I brought you a coat and some shoes. We better get going.”


The Pilgrim Village is bigger than I could have thought. I’m not even sure it can be called a village at this point. It is almost as big as Harrisburg on The States.

Above us looms the enormous crashed Statesian Military Ship. I know all the stories of this ship. It was revered as an object of worship by some on The States. From what Suicide Lady tells me, a lot of Pilgrims end up here because they wish to worship in the ship.

But everything changes when they learn the truth, she says. Nothing is as spectacular as we seem, she says.

She’s right, I know.

The ship is beautiful in its own way, but also disgusting. A twisting pile of metal jutting out of the crater it formed as it collided with the Disjoint. It had cracked in half and the front half had fallen in the middle, becoming the center of the Village, and we are heading towards it. Two men in dark blue outfits escort us through the twisting streets, never talking or giving their names. The blue lights illuminate our path towards the ship.

We blend pretty well into the crowd. There are more people here than I could ever imagine. I know there had been cults on The States that had filled ships and flew them onto the disjoint, but I hadn’t realized how much it had added up.

This is a city of broken dreams, and it makes for a rough landscape to look at. Crowds of people who have gotten a harsh look at reality. One I’m not even sure I entirely understand yet.


I stand nervously, flanked by the two men that escorted me here. The man I stand before is tall, muscular, and incredibly intimidating.

“So, why are you here?” The man asks me. I didn’t know how to answer him.

“I came here to find my family,” I answer, honestly. He shifts his weight with my answer. I think he knows what I mean.

“Well, I’m sorry for your loss. But you’re here now and we have to make use of you.”

I don't like the sound of that. Make use of me how?

“You have a choice. And you have to make it now.” He sits down in his large, worn chair. It looks like it was probably the captain's chair for the ship. This is clearly not the captain’s quarters, though. It is dirty and messy. Gear, clothes, equipment are scattered everywhere. A table, where the chair used to be, sits to the side of the room next to a bed made of folded up cloth a couple feet up the ground. And this man sits in the middle of it, owning it. It is all his. In fact, everything outside here is his as well. I knew it and he knew it as well.

“A choice? Sir, I don’t even know where I am,” I say nervously.

“Art. You know exactly where you are. You walked here, you saw the people here. You know them as we all know them. We are them.”

He's right.

“We all do our fair share round here. The Western Disjoint is hell, literally and figuratively. This cold piece of shit isn't meant for any living thing. No one in their right mind wants to live here. But we have to. No ship can leave once they’re here. They don’t work, and trust me, we have tried. So you have a choice. We have scientists who create things for us to survive here. You can’t be one, but you can try by helping them out. Go out into the wastes and find things for them. Or you can protect us. That’s the hardest job.”

“Protect? From what?” I ask. I straighten my posture a bit more to his gaze.

“That’s a long answer, guy. There’s a lot to protect us from. We have a wall of junk around the village, but there’s plenty out there that isn’t inside those walls. Small settlements and fresh pilgrims that need to be saved.”

He pulls out a hand-drawn map, one that has obviously seen wear and tear. Some of the lines on it seem fresh. The distinct shape of the Western Disjoint lines the page. A familiar image that’s plastered over propaganda and religious texts on The States. If only they knew the truth. I suddenly find myself wondering if I still would have come here if I had know the truth.

“This is the Western Disjoint. It’s big and unfriendly. And this—“ he points to a small dot on the map, “is us.” He then circles a large empty area with three small dots scatted on it. “This is the Wreck Plains and those three dots are Scavenger outposts. You also have the choice of being a Scavenger. They go out and find wrecks on the Wreck Plains and bring them here. Simple as that.” He laughs gutturally.

I look around nervously and find Lady looking straight at me. Her gaze supports me.

“You can also be a laborer, build things and take things apart. Or be a nurse, which is fairly self-explanatory. But don’t take that as being the easy choice. More nurses get killed than any other profession. Hells really like…” he hesitates, taking a deep breath, “targeting them.”

I feel Suicide Lady close nearby me. I hardly know her. In fact, I didn't know her. But I grab her arm and pull her closer to my side.

“Lady is a nurse, one of the oldest of our nurses,” he nods towards the two men. “Those are scavengers. They are basically badasses.” He laughs again.

He got up and got closer to me. “So, Art, my name is Rapt Carne. I’m your friend and your leader. And I am asking you to make your choice. And by asking, I mean commanding. So, why are you here, Art?”

“I was looking for my family,” I repeat.

“Well then, Art, do you want to keep looking?” He asks.

“Yes, I do.” I say.

“Good. Logan, go get him a Scavenger uniform.” The large man with a black balaclava nods and heads out the door.


The man introduces himself as Logan. He had pulled off his balaclava, revealing a thin face with a large nose. His blue eyes examine me. “You're not a tough man, are you?” He asks.

“No, I'm not...” I say, “I lived for my family, and now they're gone. I was happ-”

“We all were, Art,” he interrupts, “but if I had to listen to everyone's sob story when they join the Scavengers, I'd grow old and die.”

He motions for me to sit on a bench on the wall. He walks towards the lockers and pulls out an outfit.

“I'm not going to tell you that I don't care about you and your story, but I have two weeks to teach you how to defend yourself. Two weeks to educate you about how to survive a frozen sandstorm. And, specifically, two weeks to make sure you don't get killed in the most horrific way possible. You're in number 12, now. We're considered the best scavenger team on this disgusting rock.”

He throws the outfit at me.

“Put it on. We're going to go learn how to kill some fucking Hell Pilgrims.” He smiled.


I went into Suicide Lady’s house, wearing my new gear: a thick, flexible armor that allows me to move freely. It is actually suprisingly comfortable. I feel warm and a lot less scared.

“You look like a different man. Those blue eyes of yours have some determination in them,” she says as she walks in through the cloth door.

“I’m going to save people,” I say. “I at least owe them that after my own life being saved.”

“Look outside, Art.”

I look at her. She is serious, I realize. I walk out the cloth door and open the door to the outside. The wind is harsh. Particles of dust flying through the air at high speed like mobile sandpaper, and that air is cold – dead cold.

“Are you sure you were saved?”

She asks a good question. And I’m still not sure.

“Is this truly better than your war on The States?”

I see a man running through the raging dust wearing cloth wrapped around his face.

“Lady… I regret a lot of things in my life. I could’ve saved my family. I should’ve said good-bye to my sister. I should have made more of myself. I should have prepared myself for the worst.” I turn around and she is doing something in the kitchenette. I stop talking, thinking she isn't listening. A pregnant silence fills the air.

She coughs, “Go ahead, I’m listening,” She turns around with a small cup in her hand.

“I feel like I have a second chance here,” I say, feeling a knot in my chest.

“You do, we all do. But what are you going to do with it?”

“Like I said, I’d like to save people.” I walk back into the adjacent room and lay back on the bed, leaning my head on the wall. Lady follows me and sits on the medical console.

“This isn’t your second chance. This is the prologue to your retribution. Everyone finds it here. It just takes longer for others. Some find it by flinging themselves over the edge. Others find it by making a name for themselves, even among our little community. Others travel and find their second chance without waiting for it to come to them. Keep your eyes open, Art. It could come from anywhere.”


The body is fresh but still breathing. This is the first one in months. The last crash did not have survivors. They had been flayed alive, their body parts had been arranged in a circle with the heads piled in the middle. Forty heads.

But this one has a survivor.

“Art! Can you watch our back? I don’t want any Hells sneaking up on us,” Logan nods towards a conveniently shaped rock on the opposite side of the wreck. I pull out my MRM Knife and crouched behind the rock.

There is no one around, as far as I can tell. It's odd. Hells had been thick in this area for months. This is unusual for them. My gut twists tighter.

“Logan! Come here! Something's off here.” I motion for Logan.

“Hold up, Art. I want to get the Pilgrim out first.” He inches closer. His midnight armor blends into the darkness around the wreckage. My trained eyes can, however, see him quite clearly, as well as the splash of red behind the wreckage.

“Red! Logan, I see red!” I jump around the rock, sprinting around the wreckage. Logan jumps back towards me and pulls out his MRM Knife and ran with me. As I run past the wreckage I see the person inside, the bottom of his torso missing. He doesn't have long. The passenger seat has a long red stain on it.

He looks familiar.

“Oh, shit, Art. It’s a display.” His voice trails off.

I have already seen it. Sticking out of the ground is a large metal stake. The dirt under it is shiny and wet, spread out in one direction by the harsh wind. “Salvation” is written on the body of the woman hanging from the stake, her mouth hanging open.

“Sweetie... You-you were dead...” I say, as I stare at her.

But I can't see it. I see behind it. There in blue I see a girl, her slim figure shining against the darkness. She looks straight at me and my chest jumped. I know her – perhaps always had known her. I saw her the night I got here, hiding in the blood spreading from the heads of the Hell Pilgrims. Her blue against their red.

And then she's gone and Logan is next to me.

“Art!” He yells. “Art stop looking, for fuck's sake.”

He pulls out his MRM knife and stabs the body. It twists and turns, being pulled into the knife. It lights up the area with energy until the body is gone.

“Art, what is wrong with you?” He says.

I am still on the ground, my eyes are staring at the space where the girl had been. It is now filled with people.

“Hells,” I say.

“What?” Logan says, still looking at me.

“Hells, there's Hell Pilgrims right there,” I point.

“Oh, goddamn it. There's too many. We have to get out of here.”

I lift myself up. “No. I'm going to kill all these fucking bastards.”

Logan was already running.

“I'm going to kill all of them,” I say.

The girl is next to me now. I feel her, but she doesn't speak. The hells are already on me. My knife is drawn and I stab it into the first man I see. His blood read cloak disappears into my blade, his screaming diminishes into nothing.

I slashed into two more men, both of them screaming as a part of them disappeared into the knife.

I feel a hand on my shoulder.

“Art, are you fucking mad!” Logan yells, “We need to get out of here.”

He grabs me as one of the Hells lunges towards me with some sort of hand made mace. I see the girl standing among them, looking straight at me. She slowly got farther away as Logan continues to pull me away. I eventually turn around and begin running with Logan.


I named her Vanish. She is with me at all times now, never talking, but I love her.

Ever since the Hell Pilgrim display she has been my companion, but no one else saw her. Rapt tells me this was a common occurrence, though. People hallucinate many things – love ones, dead pets, dark creatures. Some people embrace them, others go crazy, and others believe them to be visions of the future. The latter generally end up as Hell Pilgrims, the ones that believe the Western Disjoint is hell and that everyone here is meant to suffer.

But I know Vanish isn't real, but I love her nonetheless. I'm sure why. She doesn’t remind me of anyone or even look like anyone. She isn’t my dead wife, she isn’t my dead sister, she isn’t my little girl grown up. She's just a woman, someone with a soft, kind face – an unjudging face. She makes me feel comfortable.

“Just remember she’s not real, Art. Do not fool yourself otherwise. I can’t have you becoming another one of the crazies,” Rapt chuckles.

“I know, Rapt. I’m trying…” I look at her, standing there -- glowing blue, but giving off no light. She gazes right through me.

The room we sit in is cold, but I feel warm inside.

“Art, it's been three months. Logan told me what happened. You can't let that happen to you. Do you remember what you said to me the first time I talked to you?”

I face him as he sits down in the chair. “Yeah, I do. Why?” I see his face grow concerned as I turn to look back at Vanish

“Because I don’t want you to forget it.”

“I told you that I came to find my family.”

“Yes you did.”

“I found them, Rapt. I found them. I didn't even recognize my son. He was so much older than I remember him.” I looked right into his eyes. “They were supposed to be dead, Rapt. I saw them die... twice now. I'm not even sure why.”

“Art, there's never a why that doesn't hurt when you hear it. It's probably best you don't find out.”


“She spoke, Logan! She spoke! I swear she did.” I shout running into Logan’s quarters. Logan was sleeping and did not appreciate my shouting. He got up from his bed and lumbers towards me.

“Dude, Art, calm down,” He says, pulling on a shirt, “Who spoke?”

Vanish! Vanish spoke!” He let go of my shirt.

“…Yeah, so?” he asks.

“I’ve told you, man, she never speaks. But she spoke.

“And what did she say?”

“Abandon,” I say. When I say it, Vanish appears nearby, smiling, but not at me.

“So what? You going to go there or something? Art, you know that the only people who go there are people who want to kill themselves. They wouldn’t let you in.”

“No, Logan, they will. I know they will.”


It is cold as shit outside. It seems like the only heat I had were from the stars shining above. I have been traveling for three days now and killed ten Hell Pilgrims that have tried to ambush me. I've seen their bodies collapses and dissolve into my MRM knife as they screamed in pain.

It’s been four years since I crashed in the Wreck Plains and Logan saved me, a year since I saw the Hell Pilgrim display of my wife, my son's bleeding torso, and found Vanish. And now I am going to the Final Path towards Mt. Elysian to find Vanish. My second chance was close, I could feel it.

Before I had left, I said good-bye to Lady. She understood. After living with her for four years, I was saying good-bye. I'm probably leaving forever. It's said that anyone who enters Abandon never leaves, but no one is sure whether it's by choice or not.

But Vanish had told me to go there. It's the only thing she's ever said to me.

She's with me now.

I look off onto the disjoint. I see the soft glow of Italium in the distance. From what I've heard, it's best to avoid it. A city of oppression. It is a long walk, however, and I need food. I'll have to stop somewhere. I'll just skirt around the edge and see if I can buy something. I have plenty of energy to trade.


I find myself among a small group of travelers. I had only spoken to them briefly and found that they are making their way to Marium, just north of Italium. I traded some of the energy from my knife with them for some food. Nothing much, just some bread. They seem like nice people, but not too talkative.

Fine with me.

I have already passed by Italium successfully. The towering walls of twisted metal had grown small in the distance.

The family eventually left me and I found myself alone again.

Vanish is smiling at something. She is always facing north towards Abandon. I reach out to touch her, something I've never done before. I feel her, the cold air she's composed of, and I fell into her.


“Sweetie, we need to leave now.” I rushed my wife and son towards the door. A large crash could be heard outside our window. There was no light coming in through the window, only escaped out of it.

The planet we found ourselves on, The States, was now at war and it had begun about 10 minutes ago.

“I know, Art. I know.”

Carrying only a few bags, we rushed down the stairs, the walls rushing past us. My son lagged behind so I lifted him onto my shoulders and continued running.

We jumped out into the street, fire billowed around us and the smell of burnt filled the air. A man not ten feet away laid on the ground moaning in pain. His leg seemed to be missing.

We jumped into the car and I sped towards the port. My wife held my son on her lap, covering his eyes.

When we arrived, the war hadn't quite spread here yet.

“Stay here, I'll go get the ship.”

I stepped out of the car and ran towards the hanger the ship was kept in. I turned to look at my wife and son, cowering in the car. And then the ground fell in and the car slid into a dark pit. An explosion sounded and ships flew over head.

They were gone, I was gone.

I ran to the hole, but the ground was still falling in. I took a few steps back as the pavement continued sliding into the dark pit left by the bombardment.

In the darkness, I saw a blue light. She was telling me to wake up.


And I did. A few people are standing around me. I lift myself up quickly and pulling out my knife.

“Get away...” I mumble.

The people took a step backwards.

My vision clears a bit and I started to recognize the people as the family I was traveling with earlier.

One of the boys spoke, “Are you okay?”

I put my knife back, “I'm... I'm okay. Just having a horrible dream.”

“Well, the road is a shitty place to take a nap, man.” The older man, I assume the father, said.

“Yeah... yeah it is.”

I brush the dust off myself and continue walking north.

“Hey man,” the father says, “Where are you going?”

“Abandon.” I say.

“Why?” He asks.

“You know,” I realize, “I think it's because I wanted to die.”

“Wanted to?” he asks, confused.

“Yeah... wanted to.”


I arrived at the entrance to Second Chance, the road to Abandon. Looming in front I see Mt. Elysian floating in the black of space. Standing at the entrance to the road is a cloaked figure. I sit and stretch before approaching him. I had heard the stories from the Pilgrims, that the Grim Reaper stands guard on the road to Abandon. I guess I want to be prepared, just in case.

He speaks. “Come here, you. Bring your apparition with you as well.” I look up and turn to see Vanish standing idly nearby, looking at Mt. Elysian. I stand and walk to the man.

“Why are you here?” he asks.

I know this question well. “To find my family.”

He nods. “How will you find them?”

“By sacrificing myself,” I say, with no hesitation.

“I see you found your daughter,” he says.

“I did. I like to think that she found me,” I look again at Vanish.

“Did she bring you here?”

I nod.

“Well, go home now.”

I stand shocked, “What?”

“Go home, Art.”

I stand looking at the man. I realize what he just said. Go home.

“Okay. I will.”

I turned around and saw the family approaching me.

“What are you doing here?” I ask.

“We're going to jump off,” The father says, “together.”

I look at him in the eyes, “Why?”

“Because, this place is hell. Because death is the only thing anyone here is familiar with. We want to greet her in the great void. All of us. All of us.”

I walk up to him and put my hand on his shoulder.

“Do you know what he just told me?”

“What's that?” He says, confused.

“To go home. Just... go home. Where is your home?”

He pulled his shoulder out from under my hand and shoved me to the side.

“Fuck you, man. I was born in Italium. My mother and father died from starvation and I only survived because I ate them and escaped in a Jazsk envoy out of the city. My home is the Western Disjoint and I would wish death to a man before I would wish him to go home.” He spat the last two words out like they were poison.

I watch as him and his family jump off the edge. His son didn't want to go, but he dragged him out screaming.

I turn towards the hooded man, “Why... why didn't you stop them?”

“That's not my purpose, young one.”

I stare at him.

“Go home, Art Bengough. You know quite well where it is.”

He is right, I know where it is. Everyone I loved is dead. Home is death. But I don't need to listen to this man. I don't want to die. I still have purpose here.

I turn around to leave, to walk back to the Pilgrim Village. Vanish stayed.