Here’s an unpublished story from a few years ago. The meaning of the title is, frankly, forgotten by this writer. WHo forgets a lot of things.
The Witch King of Angmar
by Jeff Somers
WHEN the report that the Beckels Sphere had become unstable, it preempted and interrupted every broadcast in the world. All the uplinks were seized by priority interrupts, and no one complained. I was with Denise, sharing a bottle of wine, when the hulking monitor in the corner of her living room came to life without warning, the looped report stating in clipped, computer-modulated sentences that the world was going to end now, it was unavoidable. Denise took my hand. We were both trembling.
I’d visited the Sphere once, about three years ago. Not with Denise, with Natalie. We were in the process of breaking up, and the trip out west to see the sights had been the perfect tableau to break up to. We were at that precise, bizarre moment in the death throes of a relationship where you’re still sleeping together but no longer emotionally together, if you know what I mean—your spirits had discovered the dark, unpleasant truth but your brains and bodies were still rutting like animals, playing a program long ago legacied and obsolete. We’d planned to see all the major sights: the Grand Canyon, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, all the great cities. And of course, the Beckels Sphere—not a natural wonder, but possibly the single greatest manmade wonder. If, that is, anyone ever figured out what it was, exactly. Arguing about what the Beckels Sphere was became a favorite thing for Natalie and I to argue about, one of those classically unwinnable arguments decaying couples utilize like a jackhammer, widening the small crevasses already appearing in their bonds. Might as well argue about the Meaning of Life or Whether There’s a God, but we beat at it and beat at it, and for an unwinnable argument we got pretty mad at each other about it.
Anyway, the Beckels Sphere: you have to take a monorail to the site. At the time it had existed for thirteen years and it had outgrown two of the black stone walls the Government had built around it, but it was pretty dangerous and they had to have some sort of barrier—especially since every year a couple of dozen nuts tried to kill themselves by swan-diving into the Sphere. The Government, always conscious of lawsuits, had tried to shut the site down, but public outcry was thunderous. Aside from being an amazing phenomena, the Beckels Sphere had also been a secretly funded government project that had blown up in their faces, costing lives, billions of dollars in equipment, and an entire administration’s jobs. The Feds were still smarting over that PR disaster, and it would be a long time before public sentiment would allow them to hide the damn thing away.
The monorail was surprisingly well-run for a Federal program; it was comfortable, uncrowded, ran on time, and served a great menu. The ride from the shithole Arizona town to the Beckels Sphere Site was forty minutes. Natalie and I sat together in a gross pretension of affection, her head resting against my shoulder, and we spent the time watching the automated tour guide give us the background.
“Dr. Daniel Beckels was a Ph.D. in both Anomalous Materials Physics and Progressive Energy Theories and was without a doubt one of the most brilliant men of his or any generation,” the pleasant, neutral male simulation said, “after a successful career in the public sector, during which he acquired over seven hundred patents and co-invented the BGH CPU chip, he was named part of the Research Team at what was then the United States Department of Defense Raven Base Labs here in Arizona. He was forty-three years old and perhaps the most respected theoretical physicist in the world.
“Exactly what Dr. Beckels and his fellow scientists were working on remains Top Secret and will remain so for twelve more years, until the Freedom of Information Act releases the pertinent documentation, barring congressional enactments regarding the FIA.”
I remember being amused at this single-sentence encapsulation of Governmental arrogance.
“The facts we do know are these: on April 9th, 2004, Dr. Beckels entered the Raven facility at 3:05AM Central Time. He powered up several of the main computer systems and several of the Experimental Field Projectors, which were used at the time to simulate theoretical dimensional environments. At 4:56AM he entered a strange voice-entry into his personal log—which was stored in digital servers off site and so survived the events which followed—which we reproduce for you here.”
A crackling, but eerily preserved, digital recording came over the small speakers of our personal seat-monitor: “I’ve set everything to what-the-hell and I’m going to press the button. Let’s see what happens.”
I remember thinking that Dr. Beckels’ slightly Midwestern drawl was friendly and comforting, but a shiver went up my spine. I thought, if that’s madness, we’re all in trouble.
“At 5:03AM, the Raven Operating System noted a general power failure stemming from an overload in Dr. Beckels’ lab. The backup generators came up in five seconds, right on time, and almost immediately failed. Immediately after relaying this information to its off-site servers, the Raven Operating System ceased to exist, as did most of the Raven Facility, swallowed up by the sudden and still inexplicable appearance of what we now call the Beckels Sphere.”
Our guide simulation faded away, replaced by a still photograph of a large complex, with gleaming white buildings, nestled in a small desert valley.
“When you arrive at the site, please remember that almost the entire area the Sphere now covers was once the Raven Facility.”
I remember thinking this was impressive.
“Theories on what the Beckels Sphere actually is are abundant, but none have been able to adequately prove their claims. Dr. Beckels indeed made absolutely no reference to anything resembling the Sphere in any of his known research notes or academic papers. That its creation might have been a complete accident is the most popular current theory. What we do know for sure about the Sphere remains comically little, even after thirteen years of study: it is a perfect sphere, it is non reflective and absorbs light shone onto it, it emits no energy or radio waves that we can detect, it is currently expanding at a rate of about twenty-six yards every two years, and as far as scientists can tell, anything which enters its diameter ceases to exist.”
A picture of the Sphere appeared on-screen. The valley had not changed much, but the facility was gone. In its place was what looked like the world’s largest marble, black. Not shiny. The photo had been taken only days after the accident, and some remnants of the Raven Facility still existed past the edges of the Sphere. In the photo, the sun was obviously high in the sky, but nothing gleamed on the Sphere. It was like darkness itself.
“Scientific views on the Sphere differ greatly, especially concerning what happens to objects and life forms which enter the Sphere’s area.. Currently, the Sphere penetrates the ground to a depth of fifty-three yards. Seismic tests show that this rock and dirt seems to have completely disappeared. Probes sent into the Sphere cease reporting back or responding to commands once they have entered the Sphere’s diameter. There has been no way discovered of gaining any knowledge of what, if anything, exists within the Sphere.”
We shut off the guide, then; we would see it soon enough.
The monorail hums along gently, and then you’re there: inside the great black wall the government had to rebuild every few years when the Sphere got too close. There’s a gift shop and a small café, and we’re kind of purposely allowed to mill about there for a few minutes, allowed to spend some money. Then our guide—a real, human one, looking nothing like the virtual guide we’d been watching—arrives dramatically. Naturally, he’s a Marine, one of those big, booming middle-aged men with permanently leathered skin and a habit of issuing orders. The Raven Facility is still DOD property, after all, and out of sight of all the tourists the place is crawling with grunts and NSA personnel.
The guide first has to walk us through the rules and regulations, and safety precautions. The speech poured out of him in a single, monotonous drone, without breath, without pause, without sanity.
“Ladies and gentlemen please, your attention.” he booms in a southern-bent drawl. “Welcome to the Beckels Sphere National Facility. Under the specifications of Executive Order #45667743 of 2005 A.D. this facility has been made open to public examination—but that does not mean that you have free reign to do as you please here. Please note the following rules of behavior: only those with Department of Defense Research One-Day or One-Week passes, with all proper signatures and Portable Background File entries, are allowed down onto the desert floor. If you do not possess that paperwork, you will not be allowed off of the Viewing Grandstand. If you attempt to leave the grandstand, you will be apprehended and escorted away from the site. Please remember that the Sphere is very dangerous and incompletely understood and we do not know how it will react to every situation or condition—please refrain from tossing objects into the Sphere and avoid any kind of physical contact with it. Ladies and Gentlemen, I regret to inform you that it is not legal to photograph any part of this facility. I am afraid I will ask you to leave all cameras, digital recorders, and any other recording devices here in the lobby, where officers of this facility will be glad to watch them. If any one is caught with a recording device in their possession they will have that device confiscated and they will be arrested on charges of Suspicion of Espionage. Please remember that this is a Restricted Access Government area.”
This caused some excited rippling through the crowd.
“On a final note, Ladies and Gentlemen, please remember that I am in charge of this demonstration and I have full authority to terminate it for any reason. The reasons I might terminate your viewing of the Sphere are as follows: if one or more of you fail to observe the rules as I have stated them, or in the event of unexpected Spherical Activity. When I ask you to vacate the Grandstand, I expect full and instant cooperation. Anyone not giving me this cooperation will be arrested and detained. I hope you understand that this is for your safety.”
We all understood. But to us, thirteen yards a year was slow. If you couldn’t stay out of its way at that rate, you probably deserved to cease to exist.
The Marine looked us over for a moment, and then nodded. “If you’ll form a line two across behind me, I will take you inside the walled area to see the Beckels Sphere.”
We quickly lined up. Natalie and I held hands, and I’d forgotten how annoying she’d been all trip and squeezed her hand. Secretly, I have to admit I kind of hoped that one of our group was one of those Beckel Suicides, come here to hurl themselves into the Sphere or die trying. The DOD did its best to prevent this, but still every year a few desperate folk made it. Rumors abounded as to what, exactly, happened, but I wanted to see it. Then I felt ghoulish, which didn’t change much.
Once he was satisfied that we were paying attention (thinking no doubt how much he hated civvies) our Guide turned, signaled, and led us through the large automatic doors which opened for him. We marched down a metallic ramp after him, and then out onto a large metal platform which the sun was baking to a hot and crispy simmering heat. And Arizona opened up around us, blazing heat and bright bright sunshine…..and there it was.
Perfect, in every way. Perfectly round. Perfectly black. Perfectly silent. Something about perfection disturbs the human eye, I think; we’re so delicately imperfect and revel in the possibilities imperfection allows us. Imperfection gives you all sorts of chances to cheat, to bend the rules, to find loopholes. Perfection allows none of this by definition. The Sphere loomed there and it seemed to slide away from my eye. I couldn’t focus on it. I found myself studying the rocks and reddish dirt around its base, watching the Sphere from the corner of my eyes.
“Please feel free to approach the railing for the best view,” our Marine guide boomed, his voice lost in the immense atmosphere all around us, “but please do not make any attempt to mount the railing. The fall from this height would kill you.”
I remember reading, when planning that trip with Natalie, how the Government had a continuing problem in that the Sphere was expanding, if slowly. Every time they built one of these Grandstands, the Sphere inched towards it until one fateful tour trip a lucky suicide managed to do an impressive flying leap into it. This was usually the sign the Government waited for to spur a new Grandstand. The whole site should have been off-limits, of course, but public sentiment was still strongly anti-secrecy regarding Government projects and so far every Senator who’d suggested shutting the tourist trip down found themselves unelected.
Slowly, we moved forward, spreading out. The Grandstand was huge and the forty-five people in our group had more than enough room. Natalie and I took a far corner and leaned against the railing, staring at the Sphere. There was no sign of the Raven Facility left, the Sphere was now filling most of the valley. Only a thin sliver of blacktop, the old access road which had led into the parking lot, remained, stretching from the Sphere like a blood vessel or a long, thin finger. As I stared at the road under the hot sun, I imagined it pulsed, filling the Sphere with darkness pumped from our own Earth.
In the hushed quiet, marred only by the howling wind in our ears, the Sphere eventually forced you to look it straight-on.
There was nothing there. Nothing. That I was looking into the absolute absence of anything was obvious to me, no matter what Dr. Beckels successors in Theoretical Physics muttered into their unkempt beards. I knew, looking into it, that the Sphere was nothing. The opposite of everything.
And I remember turning to Natalie and not seeing much more.
Denise was trembling. I’d met Denise shortly after the grim return trip with Natalie, two people on a succession of planes and rental cars not speaking to each other. After the Sphere I’d been unwilling to put any more energy into her and had ended it all with one sentence, an unembellished statement of fact. I had hoped Nat would choose to find another flight home—I would have gladly payed for her unused tickets to avoid sitting next to her the whole way home—but she didn’t. To punish me, I suppose.
Denise had been a friend of a friend, introduced a few times. I could recount the boring details of how two people sought each other out and started spending time together, but why? It’s always pretty much the same. I asked mutual friends about her, they told her I’d shown interest, a number finds its way into my hands. We had lunch or drinks, or went to the movies with another couple. We didn’t hate each other immediately. We continued to see each other, more and more often. Eventually we had sex and from that moment on we’d been more or less a couple. We’d been living together for four months. My motivations for asking a woman to move in with me were always the same: sex. I always regretted it, after a while. I had just about managed to remove all of Natalie’s presence from my place when I asked Denise to move in—and now the place is as much hers as mine. That’s the way it is with women. Men could pack their belongings into a single bag and you’d never know they’d been there. Women show up with the same bag, but then start shopping, filling the place with duplicates of everything they already own.
She was shaking as I limply held her, watching the virtual anchor read us the reports.
“…..the former Raven Government Lab has begun exhibiting unexpected random growth increases after sixteen years of steady and predictable increases in size. The first report came from Sergeant William Tanner, assigned to guard detail at the facility, at 2:31AM this morning. At that point the Sphere had suddenly grown two yards without any warning.
“Sergeant Tanner issued an alarm and all Research Staff arrived within moments. Shortly afterwards the Sphere increased another six yards, undermining the integrity of the scaffolding erected around its base, on which the staff had gathered to observe. An emergency evacuation was called and the facility remains closed at this time.”
An aerial view of the Sphere appeared in place of the anchor. Even at the distance it was obvious that the Sphere had swelled to within inches of the most recent wall. A live, real voice obscured by rotor blades came on.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beckels Sphere seems to have lost whatever predictable pattern it had. In the hour or so since I arrived on scene it has expanded three times: once by a sizable margin of at least three or four yards, and twice in much smaller spasms. As you can see it threatens to absorb the most recent security wall erected around it. According to the size increase it had demonstrated up until this point, it would not have reached this current size for another two years.
“The whole area has been cut off and armed personnel have arrived to make sure no unauthorized access is granted. It is not apparent if any scientific equipment or, more importantly, any research conclusions has been lost to the Sphere’s aggressive growth. Such research might hold the only hope the Government has of stopping or controlling the Sphere.”
Denise and I said nothing, but I suspect we were thinking the same thing: before it’s too late.
I shook my head. Everything I’d read indicated that there had been no significant breakthroughs regarding the Sphere; a thing that won’t generate any readings on any instruments doesn’t offer much data to analyze. Besides, I’d seen it. I’d looked into it. I’d felt its invisible and nonexistent breath against my cheek. I knew the Beckels Sphere was nothing. And now it was coming for us.
I looked down. Denise’ hand wasn’t trembling, mine was.
“You’re just leaving?”
I was tossing clothes into my bag without really paying attention. “Yes.”
“You’re just leaving me alone?”
I didn’t look at her. It was an effort to remember she was there, to keep replying to her. “What difference does that make?”
In response, she started weeping, which had always been Denise’s Way. When in doubt, weep.
I sighed, and pulled back from my sudden decision enough to pause, turn to her, and grab her by the shoulders, gently. She looked up at me with tearful, hopeful eyes.
“I think that Sphere’s going to keep getting bigger. And bigger. It’ll eat the world, then the Sun, and then everything else—eventually. I think this is the end of the world. Maybe I’m wrong. But something in here—” I pointed at my head “—tells me I’m not. Maybe I’m crazy. It doesn’t matter, I guess.” I sighed again. “Go. Go with me or go somewhere else, but go somewhere. Don’t meet it sitting in this lousy apartment, wringing your hands, crying, Denise. Meet it head on. Somewhere.”
Miraculously, she stopped crying. In the background the President was outlining the Government’s Emergency Plan for dealing with the Beckel’s Sphere. From what I could tell, it boiled down to run away and hide.
My eyes wandered to the gas gauge and realized that we were going to run out of fuel in a few minutes if a lucky, untapped gas station didn’t appear somewhere on the road. Finding stations wasn’t so hard out here. Finding one that hadn’t already been ransacked and bled dry, however, was.
I made this announcement to the group and it was greeted with stoic silence and a few nods. We’d all known we’d have to walk eventually, and we’d made it further in the SUV than I would have imagined. We’d been passing similarly gasless vehicles for about half an hour.
The jowly black guy, I think his name was Harry, offered everyone gum. We all took a piece in silence. I’d picked Harry up two days ago, still in Colorado, still in the sane world. He’d been jocular and agreeable as we snuck around blocked roads and army posts around the Rockies, but he’d fallen silent once we’d made it through the quarantine border. The sight of the Sphere on the horizon made us all less inclined to speak.
I’d thought to bring four large containers of gasoline, so we were still driving after most others were walking, and I began to pick people up if they asked. A few pleasantries were exchanged, they’d settle in in the back, and then silence would take over again. None of us had much to say. As of two weeks ago, our stories were the same, and everything that came before really didn’t matter anymore. Everyone was slowly realizing this, but we were the first. Initially we’d been called crazy, people who quit their jobs and decided that the world was ending, people intending to hasten our own destiny. But I knew that if the army had really been trying to stop people from getting to the Sphere, we would never have gotten through. I’d seen an occasional uniform making its way west, too, beyond the Rockies.
It was night, and the Sphere was hidden out here in the desert. When the car sputtered and died I steered it to the side of the road and we all got out, groaning on stiff legs. Feeling foolish I put on the hazard lights anyway, and for a moment their static clicking was the only noise in the air. It was freezing, and I pulled my jacket closer. Some of us weren’t wearing much, but they didn’t seem too concerned.
After a moment, I shrugged and started walking, pulling on my gloves, staring ahead into the darkness that hid the Beckels Sphere.
It had eaten Arizona, and was nibbling the edges of New Mexico, Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. Mass evacuations had been implemented, but the death toll was still pretty high, and the cost in money was incalculable. Part of the problem was the spastic nature of the Sphere’s growth: sometimes it would remain stable for hours, not growing at all. Then it would suddenly and quickly swell to twice its size, consuming everything in its path. The Sphere had never shrunk, so what happened to everything inside the Sphere was still a mystery.
Theories abounded. One part of the scientific community contended that the very instability that made the Sphere so dangerous now was a Good Sign, that it might indeed someday collapse or fragment. Other scientists grimly came up with calculative models concerning how long it would be before the Sphere either consumed the world or undermined the planet’s structure in some devastating way. A huge brain trust spread across the globe worked frantically to study the situation and discover a solution. The rest of the world either bided its time or was making their way across New Mexico with the rest of us.
As the sky lightened and the sun dawned, I realized that I could make it out, a huge wall of dark on the horizon. I felt the familiar squirming in my head, my perception’s revulsion at perfection. Although a great deal of it was underground, now, as it expanded, it was still perfect. A curve so graceful and gradual it didn’t seem to belong on our Earth, otherwise filled with misshapen and damaged stuff. Silent. Seemingly still and static.
I looked around, and as the dawn grew lighter I realized there were hundreds of us, walking across the desert towards it. Someone not too far off had a radio playing the news; the Sphere had grown almost ten yards overnight. I was sure that whatever Dr. Beckels had begun so many years ago was coming to fruition, just as I was sure I knew what the Sphere was, when so many of the world’s brilliant men and women were perplexed: the Sphere was nothing.
I was a civil servant. I processed forms for the Internal Revenue Service. I sat at a small desk in a gray cubical in a large office building. I got good benefits, mediocre pay. I was bored most of the time. Processing a form had become second-nature for me; I could work without thinking and let my mind wander, which made me restless. My building was located at a strip mall off the highway. At lunch I liked to take walks, but there was no place to walk to, so I just wandered the grounds. The people I worked with were okay, I even liked some of them and had had affairs with two of the women. We were all warily friendly.
The forms were black and white, very often smudged or written on so illegibly that translating a single line could take an hour. They were all requests for extensions. That’s what I did, I processed extension requests, people claiming they didn’t have enough time.
Sometimes we went out to a bar after work, ordered jaunty drinks with umbrellas in them and tried to get drunk like we had back in school, get crazy, have fun. Usually we just ended up depressed.
Sometimes we went out to lunch, too, to a Thai place in the same strip mall. Usually we ate lunch at our desks. Sometimes I ordered Thai food in from the place nearby, which always seemed silly.
I wore the same shoes every day.
I knew the Sphere. I knew it intimately. We all did. We’d all stared down that black maw in endless dreary smeared gummy days, filled with nothing. We knew the metallic reek of nothing. All of us, me especially. I had nothing, I contributed nothing. I worked a nothing job with no consequences and I had no relationship I couldn’t walk away from and be forgotten from in time. I swam in the lukewarm waters of nothing every day, it had permeated my skin, burned me a little. I knew nothing very well.
The Sphere was like coming home.
The army sent a helicopter to circle around the Sphere and yell at us. They didn’t try to stop us by force, but the loudspeaker on the helicopter played a message begging us not to throw our lives away. No one knew what really happened when you dove into the Sphere, but they all did know you didn’t come back. You either died, or maybe traveled to another dimension, like through a wormhole. Either way your life on this plane was over.
We waved at the helicopter and cheered as we walked. I didn’t know if we were the first group to reach the Sphere or not, but it felt like it. News helicopters were circling around much further off, filming us for the mid-day nets. We waved for them too, smiling. Like most suicides, we were cheerful. I didn’t really think of it as suicide, though; my mind kept using the word because it couldn’t think of a better one, but it didn’t feel exactly right. Certainly I expected everything to end when I entered the Sphere—but I expected the whole world was following soon after, and the whole universe after that.
“I used to work here.” The man who’s name I thought was Harry said. He’d been keeping pace with me ever since we’d abandoned the SUV. “Well, at the Raven Lab. I knew Dan Beckels. I was a Junior Fellow with the lab, pretty fresh from my Ph.D. If I hadn’t been sick that night, I would have been at the lab when this….happened.”
I looked at him again. Forties, soft, jowly, light-skinned, close-shaved afro. Looked gentle and well-read, with that squinty look heavy readers get. I pictured him in a lab coat and a pocket protector and it worked well. “Do you know what it is?”
“Know?” He shook his head. “I don’t even think Dan knew. But I’ll tell you what I think it is.”
“I think this is the threads of the universe pulling apart. The fabric unraveling. What was here before the universe?”
I smiled. “Nothing.”
“Exactly.” He nodded. “That’s what I think. At any rate we’ll find out soon.”
I looked around as we walked. “It’s gorgeous out here.”
Harry nodded silently. “It sure is.”
I wondered if Daniel Beckels, Ph.D., was inside it, like the Wizard of Oz, pulling levers and eating the world on purpose, if he was The Witch King, giggling as he watched our world devoured. If he still existed, if he had ever, if any of us had, or if perhaps this Sphere growing before us was awakening, the coming consciousness of God, rising from slumber, wiping all of us dreams aside.
Standing right beside it, a few feet away, I stood, and waited. It was quiet, except for the wind. You didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary, or sense anything, no movement, no energy. As close as we were, the Sphere filled the sky. Before us, the world had disappeared. I stood next to Harry, who I still knew almost nothing about, and just studied it for a few moments. We were probably about fifty feet away, and in the back of my mind I knew that it might swell up at any moment and consume us, and I didn’t want it to happen that way. I wanted to be deliberate about it, choose it, walk into it.
“What the hell were you guys working on?” I whispered.
Harry shrugged his bulky frame. “A lot of different projects. In a nutshell, we were developing materials which could not naturally exist in this universe.”
I nodded. “Well, you got one.”
He nodded. “Or,” he said slowly, “the absence of one.”
I wondered where Denise was. Or Natalie. Or a dozen other people, forgotten and meaningless, like me.
Harry chose to just stand and wait for it, however long it took. I shook his hand and turned away, walking slowly but steadily forward, towards the artificial night ahead of me, the flat, black field curving upwards. The army and the news copters had written us off; if we were intent on hastening what had seemingly become inevitable, they were not about to waste sensible people on stopping us. They had their hands full evacuating the entire southwestern United States.
As I walked, I thought about everything I could. I considered the crunch of sand beneath my good, solid walking shoes, which were comfortably snug and secure on my feet. I savored the warm wind in my hair and the smell of heat in the dry air. I felt my clothes against my skin, rough and hot and itchy, damp with my own sweat. I listened to the empty, echoing howl of the wind, filling up this huge space. The play of natural light on the reddish dirt, hurting my eyes when it flashed off of glass like rocks. The Sphere, soothing them with its blankness. The shift of my joints as I walked, the pleasing operation of a familiar and beloved machine. My lungs, filling and emptying. My heart beating strongly in my chest. My smile as I considered the ridiculousness of cataloging my existence when it was all going to stop in a few seconds.
Closer in, the wind died down. The sun got blocked by the Sphere and I stood in its shadow, which seemed bright and cheerful compared to the thing’s actual darkness. I expected something, a buzzing, a tickle against my skin, but there was nothing. The air didn’t move except when I did, the sand didn’t shift except when I did, and there was no indication that there was anything on the other side of the darkness before me. I was two feet away. I reached out and my fingers were centimeters from the edge.
Without warning, sound, or movement I could discern, my arm was consumed up to the elbow.
I gasped. The Sphere had expanded perhaps a foot. I stared at where my arm entered it; was the rest of my arm gone? There was no pain, no blood, and in my confused moment I couldn’t be sure if I could still feel my hand, my fingers. I breathed once, twice. I closed my eyes. I wanted it to be seamless. I wanted perfection.
It was like coming home.