Since the first of us stood up in the Great Rift Valley, humans were obsessed with how their world will end. Eschatology, the study of the end times, has been at the root of major religions, scientific initiatives, and lunatics shouting on street corners. Ragnarok and Rapture, Big Crunch and heat death, there was no shortage of ideas on every step of the continuum betwixt science and faith.

Would anyone have guessed that the end would come through the gradual unraveling of reality?

It started in the densest and most populated places. People started noticing areas in which time slowed, gravity behaved erratically, and light did not refract properly. They were regarded as mere curiosities until they began to grow. What had been a simple fuzzing of light at the center of the anomalies soon became utter blackness, only fading into focus and light at the edge of each anomaly.

In time, they grew to consume most of the urban areas, leaving only treacherous ruins and parts of skyscrapers hanging impossibly amid the abyss. Anyone entering–or falling into–one of the anomalies was never seen again; experiments with ropes and pulleys came to naught. New ones formed as well, with the only one piece of apparent rhyme or reason to their emergence: they seemed to appear where humans congregated most thickly. City life quickly became intensely dangerous: trading the safety of pastoralism for comfort could mean vanishing into a hole in the fabric of reality.

Perhaps the effect was inevitable, a natural function of the universe never before observed. In that case, assigning fault would be like blaming a man for a thunderstorm. But there was no shortage of theories as to why the perceivable universe seemed to be rotting from the inside out.

Animals were occasionally seen to emerge from the anomalies after entering, for one, suggesting that all or part of the phenomenon was limited to humans and their constructs. Some argue that the very act of human perception and cognition, especially when concentrated, has overwhelmed some sort of natural balance. Those of a philosophical/religious bent have seen in the decay the fulfillment of any number of prophecies.

All that’s certain is that the decay continues at an accelerated rate.

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