It's closing in, getting tighter. Every second ticking by makes that something spun around him grow thinner and more brittle but it's still holding fast. Not breaking. Not yet.
Sorrow. That comes from a corner of his mind to fill him up to the point of overflowing, salty and bitter. Grief. More than that.
Bright threads of anger and helplessness and hopelessness, all wrapped around another. Wrapped around him. His cocoon.
Individual threads start to cut his skin, drawing dust instead of blood, a cloud of dust that fills his mouth. Makes him choke.
He doesn't know. Doesn't know what will break first that damned shell around him, or he.
It's not the first time. Many times before has this happened in some way. But never like the last time. Everything came crashing down, shards of him and the world and Heaven and Hell all scattered on the ground in a mess. And something around him, then, breaking his bones to shift them, breaking his mind into pieces, rearranging, an oily film across his vision that turned red-black fast. And waking up, painful and new, built from his own ruins. Newborn. Old. The whole world had changed, and he with it.
Now, all that hate and pain and work and fear for nothing? Without use. Without sense.
Again he feels the shell around him draw in tighter, almost to the point of cracking. Again he feels the disorder. Again, he stares into a mirror and watches himself melt away and transmute into something else. Maybe nothing at all, this time.
It starts now, finally, muscles turning liquid and twisting and shifting. Bits and pieces are breaking off. Still he's breathing. Still his lungs expand and contract. He isn't dying, just changing. A feeling like falling or flying and even through sorrow and fear and raw panic something glimmers.
A sliver of hope. A shred of joy. It grows, shifts with him, getting brighter but something else.
Something under his skin now, under his fingernails, inside his head, twisting and burning and icy.
Mind. Soul. Voice. Smashed to pieces and rebuilt. Remade.
Something buried in his heart resurfaces. Hands twist and break and heal.
He can feel the pressure of pure change build up. The shell begins to crack. Something bright and wet runs out through the cracks, the first breaths and tastes of new possibility. Still the pressure is unbearable, nothing is able to contain it any longer and-
The sudden silence makes him aware, in retrospect, of the noise that was there moments ago. His eyes focus on a hand. Holding a pen. Moving. Writing. The final signature. The last letter.
The cocoon ruptures. Blinding light is everywhere, cascading like water. His skin has peeled away yet is as new. His eyes snap open. He stands. Breathes.
He has changed and twisted and transmuted and yet he is not dead. Yet all the pieces fit together. The world is not what it was seconds ago, and never will be.
The Russian Federation is born.