"And if this should lighten the toil of men," said Similarity 5-0306, "then it is a great evil, for men have no cause to exist save in toiling for other men."
Then Collective 0-0009 rose and pointed at our box.
"This thing," they said, "must be destroyed."
And all the others cried as one:
"It must be destroyed!"
Then we leapt to the table.
We seized our box, we shoved them aside, and we ran to the window. We turned and we looked at them for the last time, and a rage, such as is not fit for humans to know, choked our voice in our throat.
"You fools!" we cried. "You fools! You thrice-damned fools!"
We swung our fist through the windowpane, and we leapt out in a ringing rain of glass.
We fell, but we never let the box fall from our hands. Then we ran. We ran blindly, and men and houses streaked past us in a torrent without shape. And the road seemed not to be flat before us, but as if it were leaping up to meet us, and we waited for the earth to rise and strike us in the face. But we ran. We knew not where we were going. We knew only that we must run, run to the end of the world, to the end of our days.
Then we knew suddenly that we were lying on a soft earth and that we had stopped. Trees taller than we had ever seen before stood over us in a great silence. Then we knew. We were in the Uncharted Forest. We had not thought of coming here, but our legs had carried our wisdom, and our legs had brought us to the Uncharted Forest against our will.
Our glass box lay beside us. We crawled to it, we fell upon it, our face in our arms, and we lay still.
We lay thus for a long time. Then we rose, we took our box, and walked on into the forest.
It mattered not where we went. We knew that men would not follow us, for they never entered the Uncharted Forest. We had nothing to fear from them. The forest disposes of its own victims. This gave us no fear either. Only we wished to be away from the City and the air that touches upon the air of the City. So we walked on, our box in our arms, our heart empty.
We are doomed. Whatever days are left to us, we shall spend them alone. And we have heard of the corruption to be found in solitude. We have torn ourselves from the truth which is our brother men, and there is no road back for us, and no redemption.
We know these things, but we do not care. We care for nothing on earth. We are tired.
Only the glass box in our arms is like a living heart that gives us strength. We have lied to ourselves. We have not built this box for the good of our brothers. We built it for its own sake. It is above all our brothers to us, and its truth above their truth. Why wonder about this? We have not many days to live. We are walking to the fangs awaiting us somewhere among the great, silent trees. There is not a thing behind us to regret.
Then a blow of pain struck us, our first and our only. We thought of the Golden One. We thought of the Golden One whom we shall never see again. Then the pain passed. It is best. We are one of the Damned. It is best if the Golden One forget our name and the body which bore that name.