“If you want it, take it,” Vaslo challenged. Endo looked at the chalice. Then at Vaslo. The old man’s eyes glinted with mockery. His long, ancient fingers rested on his thighs. Endo charged. Vaslo raised his left hand, palm pointed at Endo, and let out a guttural roar, raising it to a piercing scream. Endo knew at once he had underestimated the old geezer’s power. It felt as though gravity was intensifying as he ran toward the chalice. His body was being squeezed in upon itself and it felt like time was being slowed. The physical world around him started losing its substance. The floor, the walls, the windows became smudged streaks of colour. Endo felt the ground beneath his feet fade. He looked down to see a black wound gaping where tiles had been only moments before. He glanced back up at Vaslo, who was chortling at the panic that must have been obvious all over his face. And then normal gravity and time returned. But not the floor. Endo fell into the darkness, a terrifying drop into a chasm of death. Was this real? Had the ground really disappeared, or was this a trick of the mind that Vaslo had implanted somehow? Endo could not tell. He fell fast, surrounded entirely by blackness. A streak of light. Then a powerful splash into a thick, warm, almost syrupy soup. Surprise. Gasp. Endo, submerged, choked on the liquid, desperately flailing unsuccessfully to find up and down before he could drown. His last thought a prayer that this was all a trick of the mind.