“The Nothing is spreading… It’s growing and growing, there’s more of it every day, if it’s possible to speak of more nothing…”
A little later they flew over the outer edge of “The Labyrinth,” the maze of flower beds, hedges, and winding paths that surrounded the Ivory Tower on all sides. To their horror, they saw that there too the Nothing had been at work… The once bright-colored flower beds and shrubbery in between were now gray and withered. The branches of once graceful little trees were gnarled and bare. The green had gone out of the meadows, and a faint smell of rot and mold rose up to the newcomers. The only colors left were those of swollen giant mushrooms and garish, poisonous-looking blooms that suggested nothing so much as the figments of a maddened brain.
Enfeebled and trembling, the innermost heart of Fantastica was still resisting the inexorable encroachment of the Nothing…
“Have you seen the Nothing, sonny?”
“Yes, many times.”
“What does it look like?”
“As if one were blind.”
“That’s right – and when you get to the human world, the Nothing will cling to you. You’ll be like a contagious disease that makes humans blind, so they can no longer distinguish between reality and illusion. Do you know what you and your kind are called there?”
“The Nothing pulls at you, and none of you has the strength to resist it for long…”
“When your turn comes to jump into the Nothing, you too will become a nameless servant of power, with no will of your own. Who knows what use they will make of you? Maybe you’ll help them persuade people to buy things they don’t need, or hate things they know nothing about, or hold beliefs that make them easy to handle, or doubt the truths that might save them.”
“Yes, you little Fantastican, big things will be done in the human world with your help: wars started, empires founded…”
He now realized that not only was Fantastica sick, but the human world as well. The two were connected. He had always felt this, though he could not have explained why it was so. He had never been willing to believe that life had to be as gray and dull as people claimed. He heard them say: “Life is like that,” but he couldn’t agree. He never stopped believing in mysteries and miracles.
He had seen enough. At last he really understood the horror that was spreading through Fantastica.
“Oh, nothing can happen more than once,
But all things must happen some day.
Over hill and dale, over wood and stream,
My dying voice will blow away…
The Childlike Empress is sick,
And with her Fantastica will die.
The Nothing will swallow this place,
It will perish and so will I.
We shall vanish into the Nowhere and Never,
As though we had never been.
The Empress needs a new name,
To make her well again.”
From “The Neverending Story”, by Michael Ende