Dusk
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He awoke in a world he had seen before, a world beset by perpetual dusk that lingered just on the edge of twilight. He looked up to see stars, but the sky was empty and all that remained of the tapestry of lights he had known was a dull orange haze that filled the air as if by obligation. There was usually a bench nearby, one they had sat on to watch the sun sink behind the mountains forever. The bench was gone. The mountains were gone.

But the man was still there. His suit and cap were still there. His face, unrecognizable as it always was, seemed almost to fade into the haze around him. He knows. For a moment he might have thought the man looked angry, but the longer he looked the more he recognized the emotion. Fear. Sadness. Acceptance.

"Something has happened," the man said. His voice seemed hollow and far away.

He nodded. "Yes," he said softly.

"I see." The man pulled slightly on the hem of his coat. "Will it happen again?"

He said nothing.

The man adjusted his cap now. "I always thought that one should strive to go out looking one's best. With dignity, as in all things." He straightened up. "I suppose this will be the last I see of you. I don't expect we'll be here much longer."

He said nothing.

The man nodded curtly. "Before it's over, I guess I should want to know whether or not… whether or not this thing that you've done is going to be worth the price you'll pay for it." He laughed, but the sound caught on the wind and was gone in an instant. "I had always thought that there would be a number you would not tolerate, but it seems I was mistaken. I don't think it matters much at this point, and certainly not to something as insignificant as a fading specter, but… the mind cannot help but wonder."

He moved to speak, but the words caught in his throat and vanished into the haze. The man's sad eyes turned towards the horizon, where something dark hung in the sky.

"Give them my best, would you?" The man didn't look back. "Tell them I had some dignity at the end."

In another world, in a dark room beneath a mountain of ice, a massive machine groaned under an immeasurable force. A low sound filled the air, and the haze grew still. When he looked back, the man was gone. His cap danced in the wind for a moment more, before it folded inwards and disappeared.

Then the Overseer woke up.

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