Racing through the dissolving hallways, Ian fights to avoid falling into the abyssal gaps that are devouring Raven’s Hold. Doors have melted into puddles to expose rooms that are crumbling into dust. Several of the chasms have exposed bone around their edges and sticky blood seeps from the ivory frames. Turning a corner, Ian watches a cowering guard drop into a pit that opens beneath his feet. The man has no time to yell before he is gone, unlike the panicking orderly down the hall. A vertical abyss is slowly swallowing the woman who is clawing at the ground and screeching in terror. When she is nothing more than a head and arms, she stops fighting and cries while being sucked into the void. Being so close to freedom, Ian only looks at her demise as giving him a clear run for the door. He sprints as fast as he can and dives between two abysses that pull at his skin until he is out of their reach.
He realizes that the building is different than before when he bursts into the common room, which should have been in the other direction. Parts of the garden hang from the ceiling and reach for the surviving residents that are hiding under tables. Ian leaps from one island of solid ground to another while the screams of people erupt and are swiftly cut off. He stops himself from dwelling on what would happen if he falls into the one of the voids, focusing entirely on reaching the exit. With his hand on the handle, he believes he is going to survive and put this nightmare behind him.
The crackling of a stun gun causes Ian to stop and twists out of the way, the weapon discharging against the door. He catches Gina by the arm when she tries to shock him again and the pair tumble to the floor. With the abysses growing around them, the siblings’ struggle consists mostly of pulling back and forth on the sparking stun gun. Seeing the cuts on Ian’s chest, his sister smacks him on the wounds and tries to use the jolt of pain to wrestle the weapon away. Instead of getting the device out of his hand, she accidentally ends up pulling it against her stomach. Before she can turn the stun gun around, her brother presses the button and unloads the last of the electricity into her body.
“They really should have stuck to the sedative syringes. Stun guns are too easy to turn on the user,” Ian mutters as he catches his sister and puts her over his shoulder. He puts her down as soon as an elbow strikes the back of his head. “Do you really want to keep fighting? We don’t have much time before this room is gone.”
“How did I get here and why am I wearing these clothes?” the orderly asks before she recognizes Ian. Unaware of the danger, she gives her brother a tight hug and nearly knocks them into a void. “I finally found you. Let’s go home, Ian. We’re going to have a long talk about your behavior.”
“Wait. Are you Carla again?” her brother asks as she leads him to the door. He slips his wrist free and cautiously watches her in case this is another trick. “Do you remember calling yourself Gina and working here?”
“That’s ridiculous,” Carla answers, her eyes following the dangerous gaps. A vague memory of what is happening crosses her mind, but it vanishes before she can focus. “The last thing I remember is arriving in Crow’s Landing and getting a boat. There was a storm, I fell into the water, and now I’m with you in this creepy place. Something tells me that we have to move quickly, so we can discuss this later. Don’t stand there like an idiot!”
Ian finds himself numb to his sister’s revival, the constant stress making it impossible for him to feel anything more than a twinge of relief. He lets her guide the way to the door while he takes a final look at the common room. The fingers of the final resident are vanishing into a hole in the floor while the furniture rapidly ages into dust. A few vines remain from the garden, which is dead and crumbling off the ceiling. The creak of hinges draws his attention back to escaping, but his heart leaps into his throat when he sees the fringe of a white dress through the expanding crack in the doorway.
Dawn barrels into the room and slices Ian’s hand off with her bouquet, the severed part still clutched in Carla’s fingers. There is no blood coming from the wound, which seems to heal into a crusty stump. A burst of thunder shatters the window, but the enraged bride merely aims her middle finger at the outside world. The distraction is enough for Carla to tackle her from behind and try to throw her into an abyss. Dawn catches the edge of the nearest hole and yanks herself to safety, but the front of her skirt is sheared off in the process.
“You’re always ruining my stuff!” the woman shrieks while she stares at her exposed slip and garters. Pulling the ruined fabric together, she makes a tighter skirt that sprouts lacey flowers down the sides. “This was never meant to be your home. Sweetie should have kept you away or killed you. He won’t tell me what your purpose is, but I don’t think he knows. He’s confused and lost now that our world is disappearing. Both of you destroyed us.”
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” Carla claims before grabbing Ian by the arm. She shoves him toward the door, but it closes in his face. “Damn it! Let my brother go and we’ll settle whatever this is.”
“Nope. He needs to stay and see you die,” Dawn replies with a smirk. She licks her lips while drawing the unicorn horn from behind her, the golden spike humming in her hand. “I have a powerful weapon and you have nothing. You’re a mistake and I’m going to erase you from the world. Nobody will remember that you ever existed. Even your children and husband will forget about you.”
“You’re going to fight me with . . . what is that?”
“A unicorn horn.”
“Right. I’m guessing it’s fake.”
“We’ll find out when I carve up your daughters’ faces with it.”
“Don’t you dare go near my family.”
“They’re Sarah and Allison, right?”
“Pretty names for me to write on their tongues.”
With a scream, Carla rushes at Dawn and attempts to tackle her to the ground. She is unable to stop her momentum when her target yawns and steps out of the way. A tug on her neck turns the woman around and she feels the necklace snap against her skin. Carla takes a final look at Ian who is starting to move forward, but will never reach her in time. Closing her eyes and ignoring Dawn’s giggling, she thinks of her family and wishes she stayed home. To her surprise, there is no pain as she falls into the abyss and ceases to exist. As far as she would be concerned if she still had the ability to think, Carla is simply removed from the world.
“Like I would get my unicorn’s horn dirty. I still need to plant it and grow a new one,” Dawn states while she examines the penguin pendant. She tosses the bauble to Ian and smiles at the stunned man. “Us and sweetie will be the only ones to remember her. You know, I was only defending myself. This is really your fault for accepting the invitation. Though I’d still blame Grace because the dead can’t defend themselves. Now, I’m going somewhere safe and you’re going to stay here to die. Seems things go wrong whenever I try to kill, so I’m going to let you do the work for me.”
“My sister,” Ian whispers while he clutches the necklace. Coming within reach of Dawn, he stares into the gaping void that devoured Carla. “I saw her unravel in there. Piece by piece came away and dissolved. Now I have nobody and there’s no reason why. Tell me why I shouldn’t throw you in there, Ms. Addison.”
“It’s Mrs. Sweetie now and don’t even try it,” the brunette replies while moving around the young man. Unable to reach the far exit, she tiptoes her way to the glass door that would normally lead to the garden. “You don’t really have it in you, little puppy. Even if you did, my sweetie would stop you.”
Ian takes a slow step toward the woman, his attention focused more on his own reflection in the glass door. “Where will you go? This place is falling apart and everyone is dying. Raven’s Hold is no longer a haven.”
“Go? There’s nowhere for us to go, little puppy,” Dawn replies in shock. Watching the common room get consumed, she feels an emptiness in her heart and releases a shuddering breath. “This was and always will be our home. Like any strong couple, we will survive this disaster and rebuild. It won’t be the same and might not be as good, but we’ll be together and that’s the important thing. After all, we’re married now. Unlike you, which really is your fault like you’ve always believed.”
Ian waits for the brunette to turn around and reach for the door handle before charging. With a roar, he tackles her and the pair smash through the glass as an abyss appears where they once stood. Jagged shards stick into their arms and legs, but only Dawn has a few large pieces embedded in her face. One of them is in her eye and removing it causes her to scream loud enough to echo across the island. Agony ripples through her body as she realizes that there is only an empty socket left. She picks the rest of the glass out and tries to stand only to be knocked down by a blow to the back of her head.
Leaving Dawn unconscious and bleeding on the grass, Ian limps away to watch Raven’s Hold finish consuming itself. He can see several people on the roof, the figures cornered against the side. One man jumps and shatters on the ground, making one wonder if any of the patients and staff members were real. The rest of the survivors huddle together as the abysses converge on them and the entire building blinks out of existence. With Raven’s Hold no longer in the way, Ian can see to the pier where a lone figure is patiently waiting.