The Witness stood on the grey, ashen cliff as the last line was severed from existence. After centuries of expectation, he was almost disappointed to see that nothing, literally nothing, happened when the creature exhaled his last gasp. He had always imagined some kind of eventful display, the horizon turning upside down perhaps, or maybe the sky crashing into the ground. Something, anything that proved that the universe still cared about what happened in it.

From the rocky cliff in which the Witness stood the sight was that of a grey, dusty carpet made of vaguely humanoid shapes hurriedly stitched together. Far beyond the battlefield, the remnants of what had once been a city stood against the horizon, oddly shaped buildings deformed by heat and shockwave. Silence crept over the dead landscape, wandering aimlessly among the thousands of corpses randomly massed. The very same silence he had experienced before in countless worlds, after the Hooded Ones had finished their job and before moving on to witness but another end.

The Witness started to turn when something caught his eye. Down below among the corpses, a Hood lay kneeling, holding the scarred body of a dead soldier. Slowly, almost tenderly, the Hood put the soldier on its lap and then turned its face hidden by cloth towards the dying horizon. It was not the first time he saw one of them doing that. Sometimes, in some worlds, they would just do that. When all the killing had taken place, when all the lines had been harvested (if that was what happened, for he still was not sure about anything) they would lie among the dead and hold them close.

The Witness observed the Hood as it lay still, its robed shape a black fold in a grey carpet. After too many centuries, he still didn’t know what moved them. He had been puzzled at first, but then, as worlds and extinctions succeeded, he simply had stopped caring. Like the universe, he didn’t give a fuck anymore.

The Witness turned and started his way back to the place he had been ported to. The Hoods always chose places like that, high enough so that he could take most of the landscape in with a single glance, but close enough to the events so that he would not miss a thing.

The Hoods were already waiting for him, silent among the sharp rocks. He knew that they wouldn’t move until he approached. The killing was over, the job was done, extinction was complete, and now it was time to move on. But still, they would not move a single muscle (or whatever they had under their dark robes) until he approached. They needed him. And he still wasn’t sure why.

“I am ready.”

The Hooded Ones stood still.

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