After recurring dreams that she is trapped on a cliff in a world shrouded by gloom and decay, Zero takes a leap of faith.

Zero tilted her head, shielding her eyes from the sun. It all looked so familiar, so much like her dream, that she wondered if she might be sleeping again. She took a step closer and stared off over the edge. The cliff dove down into a thick bank of clouds, through which nothing could be seen. Up above hung dark grey clouds; the sun shining through them only as a spot of light amidst the sea of gloom. Zero glanced back behind her. The plateau on which she stood stretched away to the horizon, an expanse, grand in its monotony, broken only by a single tree which stood leafless against the heavy sky.

She folded her arms about her chest and returned slowly to the tree. Standing under its stark limbs, which were twisted like the bones of a great, arthritic hand, she took a deep breath and thought about her dream. She had had it so many times that it had become something of a ritual in her sleep. It had become comforting in a peculiar way; familiarity often breeds such contentment, even when that which is familiar ends badly. And the dream did end badly. At least, it did half of the time.

The edge of the cliff marked a line between safety and danger. At first, Zero had avoided going near it. Just thinking about the fall made her stomach turn. Night by night she became braver as she grew more accustomed to her fear. Dream after dream, she ventured closer to the cliff until at last she could see the drop. The first time she saw what lay over that precipice, she immediately ran back to the tree in fright, and for nights afterward she would not leave the cover of its gnarled branches. Soon, though, she was back at the edge. She would sit facing away from the drop, looking out toward the barren plains which spread their vastness behind the tree until in the distance they seemed to join with the brooding clouds in the sullen sky.

The End

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