“What a situation you've found yourself in now, hm?"
Molly sits up with a gasp, the raspy voice echoing in his ears. Sounds come to him gradually, along with vision; laughter, shrieks of delight, a jaunty tune on a calliope, tents as far as he can see with one rising above all others, and rows of stands. A carnival.
Glancing behind him, he sees nothing but wasteland.
Standing next to him, both hands resting on the head of a cane, is a man in a tailcoat and top hat. Molly can't quite make out his face.
“I've been watching you and your friends for quite some time now," the man says as Molly stands up. “It's incredible, the way you all bend the narrative around yourselves."
“What?" Is all Molly can say to that.
The man turns to look at him and still all he can make out of his face is a wide, manic grin. “That's another story, for another time."
The very faint sound of someone yelling his name reaches Molly's ears, barely audible over the howling winds of the wasteland and the sounds of the carnival.
“Ah. Looks like your friends want you back," the man says. He almost sounds sad.
“Ba- Am I dead?" Molly asks, and the man chuckles.
“Not yet," he says. “Getting there."
Molly hears his name again, louder this time. Yasha's voice. The man sighs.
“One day, Mollymauk Tealeaf," he says, “one day you'll join my carnival. But for now... I'm afraid I have to kick you out."
He swings his cane into Molly's stomach, knocking the wind out of him and throwing him backwards into the wasteland.
Molly wakes up with a gasp to his friends staring down at him with tears on their faces. He cracks a smile, and faint calliope music echos in the back of his mind as he's beset upon by tearful affection.