The end came and nobody noticed. No bangs or whimpers; not a ripple. The souls of the faithful were swept up to their reward, leaving a mass of aimless, fearful husks behind. They too did not notice what had happened. Their essence was shredded and consumed by the ghost they’d created over generations. To the faithless, the shells of the faithful seemed to be much the same, perhaps there was a bit more of an air of desperation, but it was hard to quantify.

The wrecks could be seen, though nobody ever noticed them, their vehicles, perfect in their shine, cell phones always at their ear, or seemingly talking to themselves with their earpieces in. They are but characters in a nightmare being experienced by a drunk lying on a street in a parallel universe. He wonders in his sleep who could possibly want to listen to these vile, empty vessels for hours on end.

A poison in his gut twists at his insides, so he shifts in his stupor. A wave engulfs a small nation. A war drags on in an arid and hot part of the globe. Death-squads wander through the surrounding streets. They know who he is and wish to separate this pole axed creator and the world he’s dreamt up. If they can bring it into a separate existence they can colonize it, for it already contains a population of perfect slaves.

The light was going out of both worlds, fading into entropic languor. The end became boring centuries before it saw fit to happen. As usual the promised spectacle failed to entrance. Audience participation was necessary to pull off the trick, but the illusion could not be agreed on.

Gods were created, and though formed fully in the minds of humans, ruled in unquestioned tyranny. Every one was dead by the end, though they had never lived. They had been brought into existence by human thought and feeling, but had also pre-dated them. They survive the end and predate the beginning. None of them were real.

The death-squad smelled blood. They didn’t know the reason for their hunt, nor question it. They’d play. They’d move. This set them apart. Blind rage was a tool to hide the futility of the search for meaning. They wanted the drunk for his self induced psychosis. Many were outside the fence, but didn’t matter any more than the billions of clones within the set limits. It was because he stopped participating, stopped talking about it and started to dream it. He would bring it all with him as he breathed his last.

People in the world being dreamed could sense their origin. Some fell into despair, some joined the stupefied creator in his habits, and others remade him in their parent’s image. Most had work to do and couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to nonsense. If the world was to end, they needed to redouble their efforts to get the project completed, the war won, the perfect partner found, the dog washed, the trash taken out. The quickening injected each action with a new urgency for a while, and then this urgency turned into despair, violence, hatred and finally apathy.

The dreamer coughs and a million press releases go out to announce the death of culture in the form of hundreds of talent-deprived young droids. Money shifts its tides in their direction. Perfect shiny vehicles blast the news, rattling windows, killing conversation. A thousand college students die of alcohol poisoning.

Pale ghosts ran inside and barred the doors as the death-squad approached. They knew they weren’t being sought, but they also knew what it would mean to get in their way. The pale spirits vision would start to float and fray at the edges and dissolution unquestionably begin. The members of the squad could feel this too. They knew the dreamer was about to either wake up from his soul shredding trance or die, causing both worlds to be swept back into the nothingness from which it had come.

The light took on a grainy quality that could be felt, like a weak electric current, as the squad approached an alley shouting garbled curses. The buildings leaned in to get a better look and laughed. They could feel themselves melt into the pavement as they reached the corner, beyond which they’d never see.