It is March 25, 1995, and Martin is in the Underworld.
The Underworld is a place where awful things happen. For example, Martin’s got cooties, and he’s turned someone he loved to dust, and he’s started to understand why he isn’t.
(Isn’t what, you ask?
Worst of all, though, there’s a wogly.
It floats near him on the mud. It’s a hollow thing, shaped like a torus. It has soft ruby skin and two winky eyes. It hisses.
Inside the wogly it’s empty.
“I know why you’re there,” Martin tells it. “It’s because I believe in the kind of love that has teeth, but the toothier it gets, the more it resembles a monster’s love. It’s because I think suffering helps people, but there’s a lot of suffering in the world that isn’t doing anyone any good. It’s because I’m not some pathetic kind of angel, wringing my hands and hoping that someday people will grow without a shove, but I can’t figure myself for a sociopath either. I know.”
The wogly, impartially, rotates right.
“I’ll get to the heart of the Underworld,” Martin says, “and learn how to fix things, and then everything will be okay.”
The wogly rotates left.
It devours a bit more of the integrity of the world.
From every direction, now, Martin hears the cries.
“Help us. Save us.”
The air is full of these cries; they come from every direction; they ring through Tartarus. They are a sound attuned to the resonant frequency of Martin’s soul.
It is March 26, 1995.
The cries are silent, and Martin’s hands are full of dust.
There are many woglies now. They crowd around him like the end of Martin’s world.
(But it’s okay!
Just in case you were worried.
We already know he survives.)