When Wynter came to the world was painfully bright. She didn’t believe in a heaven, and she knew she couldn’t be in hell; she’d just left there.
White walls, white floor, everything glassy smooth and radiating golden white light. She rubbed her nose and her hand came away blood streaked. Some of it dripped to the floor. That would have to do as breadcrumbs.
Wynter walked down a long white hallway. For all the emptiness and hard surfaces the sound was unnaturally muffled. She felt…calm, oddly enough. She’d expected the unexpected, but she was surprised nonetheless. Maybe it was the meds.
“Wynter!” someone called enthusiastically.
She spun to her right to find she’d just walked past an opening, an arched doorway without a door. Had she not noticed it? Or was it not there a moment ago? A tall, thin man stood up from behind a glass desk within the side room. He looked like the personification of a cartoon rabbit and moved like he’d had a week’s worth of coffee and just as long without sleep.
“Welcome, welcome. Welcome back to the Neverwhere Nomorrow. You must tell me of your travels at once!”
“Do I know you? Wait, what did you call this place? The never-what?”
The man gasped and his eyes bugged. He began to pace and chew his fingernail, muttering, presumably, to himself. “Ah, but of course! The first. She had to come eventually. It was only a matter of time. Ha!” He smacked his palms together and rubbed them. “No way to know. Very well, very well.” He turned again to Wynter. “Allow me to be the first to welcome you to your anchor, the Neverwhere Nomorrow!”
“Slow down. Anchor?”
“Yes, yes. Not quite a ship as it never travels. Can’t travel. Out of space, out of time. Or perhaps more of a junction, the way any point on a circle is both the circle’s origin and its terminus. What with time behaving as it does.”
“Is that where I am? On a point on a circle?”
“Oh, goodness no!” he chittered. “You’re on a hyperpoint on an infinitesimal-manifold. It’s a most beautiful topology. Anyway, do you like it? You built it yourself.”
There was a loud thunk from somewhere not too far off, and Wynter felt the floor shudder. “Who else is here?” she asked.
The man’s index finger bounced on his chin like he was tapping out Morse code. “Well, there’s me. And…let’s see here. Oh! Well, there’s you! And. Hmm. Well, that’s mostly it.”
She felt another thunk and the walls shimmered. “So who’s doing that?”
The strange man’s face turned an odd color, like the sky before a twister. His voice dropped low. “That, Wynter, would be Wynter. There are many Wynters here, from many wheres and many whens, most of which are gone now. Dead branches of the temporal topiary.” He looked down. “The price of failure.”
After a long pause he looked back to Wynter again. “Would you like to meet her? Perhaps she could better explain your current circumstances. To both of us! Oh, she’s been waiting so long to speak to you. Let’s go now, shall we?”