Areté Story

The scale of it was unspeakable. It crowded forests out of topographic drawings, citykillers off seismographs, the coal-fired powerstations of China out of pollution statistics; one 'day' even the sun out of sunrise. And this is only to refer to it by what it displaced. A scholarly few reckon its pervasiveness was then such that every sixth breath would inspire particles of it, as every ninth fart expelled them — the particles not released were, they suppose, used as energy for leukocytes, perhaps renal filtration.

You could only catch its real size in sidelong glances. In the Pacific the oceans' population of blue whales gathered round Midway as priesthood to its God, singing creed. Everyone felt saturated by it, but had no way to conceive of resentment for it was all they'd known or knew.

Soon it began to register with the surveillance AIs of extragalactic species; they despatched monitoring probes in tremulous haste.

Life meanwhile in England was long torment, since as its greenish pallor gobbled the sky it became hard to tell the cloudy days from squally, and astrologers lost track of the zodiac's dimmer half. Eventually, when hope was nourishing as the few tins of corned beef that lingered in our padlocked and warm fridges, lives as drained as the raided jars of pickles, sex animally routine,
one Monday afternoon with stormless thunder Craig Raine's ego imploded like a trodden football, because by accident he'd read one of his own poems sober. Without fuss, it seemed, but with mute expressions of bewildered joy, the newly unhazed light of the sun tanning their paper complexions, the citizens of Earth quit refuge, the world's polities healed and fought again, and the flat, leathery remains of an ego drifted where the weather took it, marshal no more of wind and hail.

All the characters in this post are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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