The world is cold, still, lifeless. The seas are frozen, hard as the stony crust that underlies them; the very air, in winter, has begun to fall as snow in the coldest places. All life has perished on the utterly chill surface of Earth; even the depths of the seas are solid ice, dead as they were before life came to the world. Only in the dim depths of the planet's crust, not lit but warmed by Earth's inmost fires, does aught survive. Man, too, in abysses lightless or redly-lit, remains; but by what terrible bargains, by what desperate deeds, was that small survival eked out? The world's very turning has grown slow, as though the cold has crept into the very bones of Earth and numbed its movements; a carmine ember that could once have been a sun burns coldly in the sky, giving scarcely any light or warmth. A vast moon hangs close like Damocles' sword, crept too near the Earth, itself a barely visible red.
The dream breaks, and Helen claws for light, tearing at the blinds on the window. The sunrise in the East is its proper color once more; the stream downhill from the house is liquid, as it should be; the trees are green and living, no longer frozen fossils. The nightmare slips from her mind like water running from a stone lifted out of the stream, yet a seed of disquiet remains.