They stand in their panoply before the gate, the mighty gate.

“Lead?” says one, her chin in her hand.

“Graphite, perhaps,” says another, his voice softly accented.

“Shh!” hisses Salazar, “no one must know! Remember your vows, ladies and gentlemen!”

They set to work. It is a work of ages: shrouded in secrecy, riddled in mist. They work long hours between the dry lake and the forbidding gate. The gate moves, and they move with it, uprooting their careful structures and trundling across the cracked bed of what had been water. Night owls with faces like aliens follow them, shrieking.

“At last!” They hold hands, shield their eyes. The atmosphere stays where it is; the universe is not unmade. The gate swings wide, black flakes of rust falling from monstrous hinges. They catch their breath, for they have become in this second gods, and gods do not breathe.

The world on the other side is exactly the same. The plains stretch on to infinity. An owl flies through and is lost in the mist.

“What now?” wonders Julius. “Where now?”