Grace Horton had a very punctual alarm clock built into her brain. It served her very well whenever she fell asleep after her little... excursions. She always woke up just in time to go home and have hot food on the table by the time her husband arrives; she was a good wife, excursions aside. Doesn't everyone need a hobby? This time she was especially glad to wake up. She had been having a nightmare so awful that her mind refused to remember any details, and that must have been for the better. Nice to be back in the safe real world, even if someone's toast was burning really, really badly - by god, it smelled like burning tires, or something. Gah... That's probably Charles, and as fun as Charles is under the sheets, the man should never be allowed within ten feet of any kitchen appliance. She rolled a little to her right, and her body hit something... gruesome, in places hardened, in places sickly soft, like the rotten spot in an apple. A cloud of stench flew from it as she knocked it, the smell of open sewers mixed with that of meat gone bad and intensified a hundredfold, and her eyes immediately flew open, a gurgle escaping her throat as she tried to scream and throw up at the same time, neither quite succeeding. At that point it seemed for a moment that she would choke, and that would perhaps have been kinder. It was quite hard to escape the fact that she was in bed with a corpse that was rotten beyond recognition. For the time being at least it quite took her mind off the fact that she was also lying in a room that was destroyed beyond recognition. The only thing relatively unharmed was her conventionally pretty body, though now covered in soot, mildew and god-knows-what-else that stuck to her from the sheets and marred with the stream of vomit she finally managed to expel. But maybe she'd think that fitting. She had always believed in dressing for the occasion. Simon Chance was enjoying a well-deserved day off. The saplings he had ordered arrived this morning, and he spent the entire morning working on his garden. He opted for an afternoon nap before taking Bobby running, not a good idea, considering the dreams he had... Bobby was his dog of no particular breed, adopted from one of his friends when the dog of that friend - also of no particular breed - unexpectedly answered Nature's call to multiply. Speaking of Bobby, it was rather suspicious: the dog was never this quiet for such a long time in the daytime, except if he had been bad. Time to get up. He had forgotten to close the windows, and why on Earth was the mosquito-exterminating car going around in the daytime, and in autumn, anyway? He hated that smell. He opened his eyes and ascertained immediately that not only were the windows open, so was the ceiling. The room around him looked like it had suffered an explosion. He blinked a few times to make sure that this was what he saw when awake, but apparently it was. Was it the gas? No, he hadn't used the kitchen all day, except for making a few sandwiches for breakfast. Was it the boiler? Unlikely, the corner of the room closest to the boiler wasn't damaged any worse than the rest. Was it a deliberate attack? Possible, but he didn't hear the burglar alarm going off... Wait, that's just it. He didn't hear anything. His house had exploded and then probably been on fire for an extended time, and he slept right through it. Granted, not very peacefully, but shouldn't that have woken him up? Furthermore... He looked at himself. Underneath the torn mess of a T-shirt and boxer that he had been wearing to sleep, he himself was intact and in a perfect condition. Not exactly clean, but that comes with lying on the sofa, which was in horrible shape. How on Earth did the sofa get burnt right through his untouched body? Simon decided he needed more information. He staggered out into the remains of the garden through a missing chunk of wall. A thick yellow blanket of fog covered the town, making it look and smell like a particularly revolting swamp, only allowing him to make out the silhouettes of the nearby houses. Some of them looked to be in as bad of a shape as his, some seemed at a glance structurally intact. A corpse lay in the middle of the street right across his home, in a position where it would certainly be run over if there was anything left to run over it, but he doubted that. A bombing perhaps? Which he also slept through unharmed; no, that won't work. Was that a leg in his driveway? It looked like something that had been a leg once, weeks ago. Finally Simon came to a conclusion and announced it to the dilapidated neighbourhood. "Hell..."