He takes my arm, leads me to a chair. “I must talk to you.”
“Yes honey?” I say hopefully.
He makes that face, eyes hooded, features gathered, under control. He sighs, his usual ‘the man’s gotta do what the man’s gotta do’ sigh and says, “The thing is I don’t love you anymore.”
It’s the end of the world.
I look down. The cat is dead on the rug, grey cat on grey rug, and where her stomach should be is an explosion of grey dust. Then the house tilts and the furniture starts sliding down into a dark sinkhole, the cat-shaped pile of grey dust pours after it, and I fall in too, pour in like smoke…
I open my eyes in the darkness of my bedroom. It takes a moment to realise it was a dream, and another uncomfortable moment of sliding between the two realities trying to choose one over another, and I’m not sure which. Because it was a damned dream and—I try to hang on to the last memory of it—before dissolving into smoke I started making plans for surviving. What were they?
But then I have an overwhelming urge to go and hug him.
I run out into the living room, padding barefoot on the cold tiled floor. He’s at his desk, holding his head in his hands. I rush over to him. “What’s wrong honey?”
He points at his monitor dejectedly. A tear slides down his cheek.
I can hear alarm noises even through his noise cancelling headphones. On his large monitor, red text flashes, “You have no chance to survive. Prepare to die.” Behind the broken cockpit glass a star is slowly exploding. Orange flames are licking the edges of the screen as the text changes. “You will be fined one bajillion credits and restart at level 0, at the rank of Harmless. Do you wish to continue?”
I stare mutely as he wipes away his tears.
“You don’t understand, honey. I spent months getting that ship, upgrading it. I levelled up to the rank of Dangerous. I had millions in my account. And now…” He tears his headphones off and throws them on his desk. “It’s the end of the world.”