The large black spider-crablike creature lumbered through the dim grey foam that filled the tunnel. Its loneliness flooded all of space and time, so that it became a kind of singularity. It walked forever. Time ebbed and flowed back and forth in the tunnel. Space stretched and compressed meaninglessly. There were no points of reference in that foam.
The tunnel opened out onto a vast plane. On either side of the opening were other tunnels opening onto the plane, tunnels and openings, next to each other, in either direction all the way to the horizon. The black spider-crab emerged from the tunnel and surveyed the horizon in all directions. Spider-crabs emerged from every tunnel opening, one after the other until the entire plane was black with the lumbering creatures
The creatures stopped their lumbering motion and stood still.
And then an amazing thing happened. They raised their hairy segments until claw touched claw and interlocked. The segments elongated tenuously and packets of light flowed up one segment, down another, from one creature to another, and another.
From high above the plane the moving lights would have looked like the bejeweled lights of a bustling throbbing city, the meanings of self-importance flowing against the tides of meaning of higher levels of organization.
Down below on the black plane, one of the creatures opened a claw in which Exim was curled up asleep. He opened his eyes and raised his head slightly to look around. He saw the claws around him open, inside of which were other Thots curled up asleep. He saw them open their eyes and look around. He saw the claws of the spider-crablike creature next to him open up, and the creature next to him, all the way to the horizon. All the Thots stood up, stretched their arms, and shook the sleep out of their heads.
Exim climbed out of his claw and jumped down to the soft ground. Others climbed out and jumped down too. The Thots walked toward a huge hall from which issued a loud cacophony of voices.