As Dr Skin drank the bottle, Max shrugged and leaned back in her car seat. She looked out the window, but apart from the revelation of the sky, it was still a wasteland out there, unchanged from their first arrival.
And then Max felt it coming on again. The buzzing noise that had nearly driven her crazy earlier began to build up again and everything Max looked at, both in the car and outside it, seemed to come into focus with such clarity it felt like it was searing her retinas.
Her breath quickening, she leaned forward and rubbed her hands together, but even this action felt like too much sensation, every piece of her body suddenly feeling hyper-sensitive.
She glanced at Skin, who didn’t seem worried at all. Or was doing a better job than Max at hiding it.
“I can feel it too,” said Skin, as if he could sense exactly what Max was thinking. He closed his eyes and his knuckles turned white as he squeezed the steering wheel tightly. “Another change coming on. Not so random this time. Get ready.”
Max wanted to ask him what he meant by ready, but then it all exploded in her mind’s eye. The wasteland suddenly curved up around them, blocking off the bone sky as they found themselves driving down a long, dark tunnel, a burst of light at the end of it getting ever closer.
Putting her head in one of her hands, Max scratched the side of it with the free hand as the buzzing noise increased, but then it all cut out as they suddenly burst through into the light.
It took Max a moment for her eyes to adjust to the sudden glare, but then she realized they were driving through an immaculately kept park, with flowers blooming and neat green grass all around.
Skin didn’t slow down as they speed through the park on a concrete pathway. The buzzing noise had vanished, but nothing had replaced it and all Max could hear was the beating of her own heart as they drove on.
Then figures began to fade into view all around them, hundreds of people enjoying the sanctity of the park, paying no heed to the car barreling right through the middle of it.
Max caught sight of several of the figures and realized she recognized many of them. She saw Farrar and Kubrick walk around a rose garden, gesturing wildly as they argued in total silence. She saw the security guard who had stopped her entering the court, holding back Jono from entering another part of the garden. She saw Brian and Sonya, sharing a cigarette on a grassy knoll, both waving lazily at Max as the car sped past them.
She thought she saw Claire off in the middle of the crowd, but she only caught a glimpse of the back of her head before she vanished into the throng.
Dr Skin also saw familiar faces from his side of the car. He saw the league of assassins who had tried to stop him playing a friendly game of soccer amongst themselves and the child oracle they had been protecting, still playing in his sandpit.
He recognized the Griffin asking a group of police officers riddles and it shook a claw at him happily. He saw the Librarian up on a small hill, ignoring him as he read a thick book, saw Cthulhu walking hand in hand with the maniac in the hockey mask, saw Mr Green, Mr Yellow and Mr Red all seated at a table, playing cards.
They both felt a shift in the air as somebody appeared in the car’s back seats.
“They’re all here,” said Rocket Fish from directly behind Skin.
“They had to be,” agreed King Goob behind Max. “All the chances that were thrown away, but never forgotten.”
“Can you feel the love?”
“My friend, we are the love.”
Max turned to confront them, but they had vanished before she got around.
“Yes,” said Skin suddenly, a spark flaring in his eye. “Yes!”
“What?” asked Max, but she was shoved back in her seat as Skin floored the accelerator, pushing the car even faster.
“What the hell?” yelled Max as Skin drove the car faster and faster. Max looked out the window, but they were already going so fast there was nothing but a green and red blur to be seen.
“We need to accelerate past it all!” Skin screamed suddenly. “Velocity is the key!”
The car continued to pick up speed and Max felt her ears pop as they smashed through another invisible barrier. They were now traveling through something Max could barely comprehend, a colorful mix of everything, all the detail of all the worlds, all put through a cosmic blender and spread out from here to eternity.
They got faster and faster and the car began to fall apart about them, firstly as small pieces began to tear away, then more seriously as whole sections of it peeled off.
“Fuck!” cried Max as the car exploded around them, the shattered debris instantly vanishing. Neither Max or Skin slowed down, they continued to hurtle through existence itself at speeds that barely made sense, but still managed to exist.
Max felt her very being stretch and pull thin. She thought she was going to tear apart just like the car, but Skin grabbed onto her hand and pulled Max with him.
“Come on!” hollered Dr Skin, barely able to hide his joy. “This is it! This is everything!”
Max wanted to know what he meant, what it all meant, but she couldn’t find the words.
“Holy shit!” screamed Skin, reaching a hand forward as the forces of reality battered around and through them. “I can see it! I’m almost there!”
And all of a sudden, Max knew what it all meant. It was all so clear. She knew what they were facing, but she also knew he wasn’t ready for it. She would only slow Skin down.
Dr Skin looked back at her and in the eerie light of everything, Max saw Skin smile and nod slowly.
“It’s okay,” he said in a small voice that Max somehow still managed to hear. “I understand.”
Max tried to reply, but she couldn’t speak, her words caught in her throat.
“It’s all right,” continued Skin. “I wouldn’t have got this far without you. But I’ll take this last step myself.”
He let go of Max.
Instantly, they were an eternity apart. Max fell back, pulled back down by some inexorable gravity.
She felt calm, knowing she was heading back to her life, away from the weird, back to the normal.
She felt a little regret, but knew in her heart she had no other option.
Dr Skin took one last long look back, then pushed on, into the infinite.
It all opened up for him. Just like he knew it would.
Skin laughed as passed the last barrier and broke on through to the other side.