Armageddon out of here. (I couldn't resist.)

Steve had no flare for the dramatic; he should have said that in a minute or so. But instead, he said it as we plodded through a dimly-lit cave hallway, with the two regular guys behind me. We walked in silence until we got to a door and he pulled on a lever and the door swung open.

Inside the room was full of desks and chairs and people and high-tech stuff all of which I didn’t notice for at least 10 minutes. Someone could have been chewing on my leg and I wouldn’t have noticed that for 10 minutes, because the room was dominated by a giant holographic display that at first appeared to be like a giant bunch of grapes. I’m no good with descriptions, so that’s the best I could do at first – a giant bunch of grapes. As I adjusted to looking at it, I realized that it was a huge cluster of spheres, projected into the air and filling most of this cavern. The spheres weren’t in any particular order or shape, really, but just were all glommed together, some touching, some overlapping, some barely next to each other. They were all roughly the same size except that towards the middle they got bigger.

Each sphere, as I walked in and as I began to notice more and more detail, was subtly a different color, and they whole thing was moving slowly: spheres were rotating and some were moving up, or down, or more towards the middle, or out from the middle. They cast a hazy light over the whole cavern, so that when, eventually, I looked away, everyone in the room was bathed in it as though they were underwater and there were 73 suns above them.

I kept walking closer and closer and saw that there was more detail in the spheres, each of which was about 3 feet in diameter. I could make out shapes and features on the closest ones. At first I thought they were patterns but when I was about 5 feet away from the nearest one, a big yellow-and-blue hologram I saw that they weren’t just random patterns but were like continents. I’d seen continents since waking up—Doc had shown me a map of the planet when I’d been asking him questions, and had explained what continents were and had shown me how our own continent came to have the Straits in them, that giant divide that split what used to be North America diagonally and left a huge waterway between America and West America. He’d explained it all and I’d been bored and hungry so I hadn’t paid much attention but I did remember continents, and I looked at this sphere and tried to figure if the shapes were continents.

It was hard to focus, though, because the spheres flickered, too, and I couldn’t make out what the flickering was. “Flickering,” again, isn’t the right word. “Glittering” maybe, is better because it gives a better idea of how it looked. Flickering sounds bad, like your screen is going out. “Glittering” sounds good, like things are sparkly and you’re getting ready for a party. The sphere I was looking at, and the others nearby it, were glittering and sparkling and I tried to focus on that for a second and I realized that the glittering was tiny pictures – moving pictures, moving images, hundreds if not thousands of them in the spheres, so quick and so small that I could see them only as an impression: a man here, something with tentacles there, a chariot carrying a giant glowing spear, rain, a table with food – all in detail but all flickering so quickly that my eyes must have registered it and then later I remembered seeing it.

I was holding my hand up near the globe and I almost touched it. But I stopped and looked at Steve.

Again, no flare for the dramatic: He simply said “Fine. Everyone wants to touch them. Go ahead.”

I gingerly touched it, not knowing what to expect. When I did, my hand barely touched the light that made up the globe and all the glittering images began to be more clear and I had an impression, a glimpse: Mountains, mountains taller than anything I could imagine, covered with snow at their bases, piles and piles of snow that never melted, which faded away to rock as the mountain went up, and then to grass and forest and trees and on the very top of the mountain, a flat plain in which a lake sat surrounded by pristine white beaches. People roamed the mountains in lopsided chariots, one wheel smaller than the other. The giant glowing spear…

I took my hand away. I was kind of dazed.

“You won’t get the full effect, of course, because you can’t Share,” Steve told me. “But that digipaint imprint gives you an idea.” He moved closer, and looked at the globe. “Dimension 63,” he said. “A weird one. One planet, only. One sun. The whole planet is mountainous, and the sun’s light doesn’t reach into the valleys, so they are in continuous ice age at the base of the mountains. At the top of the mountains, though, it’s perpetually summer.” He looked at me. “How much did you see?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Some.”

“They’ve discovered flight, and that allows them to get between the mountains more easily. Prior to that, I imagine, intermountain commerce wasn’t very big. They’ve also got a war going on, like all the other dimensions. Except Hell. Although I suppose Hell would have a war going on, too, if it could.”

He turned around, looked at one of the men. “That’s odd, you know. There should be a war going on here, too.”

“Why should there be a war?” I asked him. He was drawing me in, I was curious. And I still hadn’t looked away from the globes. I was forgetting, even, that he was a revenant.

“Because it’s Armageddon,” Steve said. “I thought I made that clear before. The end of the world is coming, or is trying to come, and we need you to help stop it and to save the 73 dimensions.”

“I really don’t understand,” I said back. I was still staring at Dimension 63, as he’d called it, trying to take in the glittering little lives that kept flashing at me, trying to picture life in a world of mountains. But I couldn’t really even picture life in this world, or at least not a life that didn’t involve kidnapping me and shooting me with ray guns and ending up all the time in Hell talking to revenants. Mountains seemed pretty nice at that point.

“This is a map of the universe,” Steve said, flicking his bony gross hand towards the globes in a dismissive gesture. He should have swept his arm wide and used a better tone, but revenants are sort of dead inside. Not even sort of, I guess. “These are the 73 dimensions that make up the universe, or the part we know. You can see how they interact and move. We’ve mapped them out as best we can using the best technology we can, something various groups have been working on for a long time to achieve.”

“Like the government?”

Steve looked over at me. I hate when revenants look at you out of the corner of their eye because you see only those ragged ripped eyelids.

“There’s no government. You should know that. There hasn’t been a government for a long time. There’s just us, and another group, but that other group doesn’t really exist anymore, and God, Inc.”

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