At the Old Folks' Home at the End of the World
by John P. Murphy
There is an old folks' home at the end of the world, a modest-sized white clapboard building
perched at the top of a hill overlooking the sea. A single scraggly rose bush still grows by the
front porch. The rose bush is an item of discord: every month or so, Percimandias the Timeless
and Enyo the Undying get to arguing over whether the bush ought to be fed with aspirin water or
the blood of unicorns.
It's a moot point, of course: they have no aspirin, and the last unicorn -- along with the last
maiden who could lure it -- died centuries ago. But they enjoy the argument, and each secretly
suspects that the other is right. All they know for sure is that the flowers were more vibrant
yesterday, smelled more lovely. They could be right; there are a lot of yesterdays in an old folks'
At the old folks' home at the end of the world, Rama the Terrible takes a walk every morning
along the seawall. He rolls up the bottoms of his trousers, wades into the water, and uses his foul
magic to patch up spots that look iffy. It's the same spell he used to use to maintain his
impregnable Skull Fortress. He hadn't really ever intended to leave his fortress, only to visit the
codgers for a couple days.
Days became weeks, months, and years. Decades. He went back one day and found his Fortress
growing ivy out of its giant marble nostrils and covered in bird shit. He told everyone that a hero
blew it up, and they were very sympathetic about the nuisance.