Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

116. The Grand Ah-whoom

The ragged rim of oblivion was now inches from my curling toes. I looked down. My lukewarm sea had swallowed all. A lazy curtain of dust was wafting out to sea, the only trace of all that fell.

The palace, its massive, seaward mask now gone, greeted the north with a leper’s smile, snaggle-toothed and bristly. The bristles were the splintered ends of timbers. Immediately below me a large chamber had been laid open. The floor of that chamber, unsupported, stabbed out into space like a diving platform.

I dreamed for a moment of dropping to the platform, of springing up from it in a breath-taking swan dive, of folding my arms, of knifing downward into a blood-warm eternity with never a splash.

I was recalled from this dream by the cry of a darting bird above me. It seemed to be asking me what had happened. “Pootee-phweet?” it asked.

We all looked up at the bird, and then at one another. We backed away from the abyss, full of dread. And, when I stepped off the paving stone that had supported me, the stone began to rock. It was no more stable than a teeter-totter. And it tottered now over the diving platform.

Down it crashed onto the platform, made the platform a chute. And down the chute came the furnishings still remaining in the room below.

A xylophone shot out first, scampering fast on its tiny wheels. Out came a bedside table in a crazy race with a bounding blowtorch. Out came chairs in hot pursuit.

And somewhere in that room below, out of sight, something mightily reluctant to move was beginning to move.

Down the chute it crept. At last it showed its golden bow. It was the boat in which dead “Papa” lay.

It reached the end of the chute. Its bow nodded. Down it tipped. Down it fell, end over end.

“Papa” was thrown clear, and he fell separately.

I closed my eyes.

There was a sound like that of the gentle closing of a portal as big as the sky, the great door of heaven being closed softly. It was a grand AH-WHOOM.

I opened my eyes—and all the sea was ice-nine. The moist green earth was a blue-white pearl. The sky darkened. Borasisi, the sun, became a sickly yellow ball, tiny and cruel.

The sky was filled with worms. The worms were tornadoes.

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