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Astfgl peered through the swirling gas clouds. At least he was in the right place. The whole point about the end of the universe was that you couldn't go past it accidentally.
The last few embers winked out. Time and space collided silently, and collapsed.
Astfgl coughed. It can get so very lonely, when you're twenty million light years from home.
"Anyone there?" he said.
The voice was right by his ear. Even demon kings can shiver.
"Apart from you, I mean," he said. "Have you seen anybody?"
Astfgl sighed. "I mean anyone recently."
IT'S BEEN VERY QUIET, said Death.
WERE YOU EXPECTING SOMEONE ELSE?
"I thought there might be someone called Rincewind, but -" Astfgl began.
Death's eyesockets flared red. THE WIZARD? he said.
"No, he's a dem -" Astfgl stopped. For what would have been several seconds, had time still existed, he floated in a state of horrible suspicion.
"A human?" he growled.
IT IS STRETCHING THE TERM A LITTLE, BUT YOU ARE BROADLY CORRECT.
"Well I'll be damned!" Astfgl said.
I BELIEVE YOU ALREADY ARE.
The Demon King extended a shaking hand. His mounting fury was over-ridding his sense of style; his red silk gloves ripped as the talons unfolded.
And then, because it's never a good idea to get on the wrong side of anyone with a scythe, Astfgl said, "Sorry you've been troubled," and vanished. Only when he judged himself out of Death's extremely acute hearing did he scream his rage.
Nothingness uncoiled its interminable length through the draughty spaces at the end of time.
Death waited. After a while his skeletal fingers began to drum on the handle of his scythe.
Darkness lapped around him. There wasn't even any infinity any more.
He attempted to whistle a few snatches of unpopular songs between his teeth, but the sound was simply sucked into nothingness.
Forever was over. All the sands had fallen. The great race between entropy and energy had been run, and the favourite had been the winner after all.
Perhaps he ought to sharpen the blade again?
Not much point, really.
Great roils of absolutely nothing stretched into what would have been called the distance, if there had been a space-time reference frame to give words like "distance" any sensible meaning any more.
There didn't seem to be much to do.
PERHAPS IT'S TIME TO CALL IT A DAY. He thought.
Death turned to go but, just as he did so, he heard the faintest of noises. It was to sound what one photon is to light, so weak and feeble that it would have passed entirely unheard in the din of an operating universe.
It was a tiny piece of matter, popping into existence.