Cobwebs. Festooned like holiday bunting up the stairway, which led to blackness. From the top of the stairs, across the beams of the ceiling, and over to a cracked and dirt-covered window. The morning sun didn't shine through here; it merely lessened the dark. Beneath the window, wire and rubber connected in an old bicycle, the seat mouse-eaten and moldy, the frame rusted to mere filament.

Scratching came from the layers of dust covering the floor and shelves; bugs, perhaps, or mice. A leaf, refugee from the woods outside, was tugged along on the back of a large beetle. Tiny red ants followed in its wake, hunters awaiting their opportunity. The leaf caught on the underside of an old bureau as the beetle fled beneath, dropping softly down on the ants, momentarily distracting them. Reprieve.

On top of the bureau lie pieces of wood, glass, old forgotten faces staring up at the spider nests on the ceiling. Potato bugs wandered across, not even considering the disrespect shown the old folks. They had their own agenda.

A single dandelion seedhead drifted across the space, propelled by some force so light as to be undetected by human senses. It drifted, undecided as to its destination, tempted to land on the bureau, switching and moving further afield. Wandered toward the far corner, past the derelict machinery, abandoned just as the land had been. Over the broken pieces of furnishings, flotsam left when the owners had given up their hopes and fled to another plane. Almost determinedly, it moved toward the only real warmth in this nearly dead world.

Slowly it positioned itself on the soft strands, comforting as best it could. It was only a dandelion puff, but it was a token of gentleness in an otherwise harsh cocoon of threat and misery.

The seedhead gently rolled downward, following the smooth floss to skin, holding for a moment on soft lashes before caressing its way past damp cheeks, brushing lightly on lips dried by an unanswered voice.

He felt its softness, and allowed himself a small, sad smile.