The Veil little Alice longed to penetrate led to one of many similar waste spaces, filled with flitting objects whose common trait was their circular form. They varied in temperature and size.
Balls extracted from this dismal nothingness were easily defaced in the probing hands of inquisitive children.
The morose woman in the little house jumped.
She saw Alice move rapidly toward the darkness. She saw Alice thrust her arm in. She saw Alice emerge with a greenish gray ball, small enough to fit her little hand. Immediately, Alice dropped the ball to the ground.
Alice's mother knew the ball must be one on which life once existed, a rare and valuable treasure. It was balls such as this to which Metropolis owed its present evolution.
"It's icky, Mama," Alice cried. "I don't want it." She raised her little foot to crush it.
"No," her mother said firmly, scooping the ball up with consummate care. On its irregular surface she could see tiny iterations of lost metropolises and pock marks signifying collisions in waste spaces.
And suddenly something happened in her. A phrase from Metropolis she had scoffed at in earlier days leaped into her head.
Till earth and heaven are the same
She was lost for a moment. There might be way out. The ball might save her life.
She would notify Metropolis, strike a deal, start over.