Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Extinction of Stories

The stories died out gradually, then catastrophically, as the tiger and the eagle had -- other creatures that perched atop the food chain seeming durable and self-reliant, but which turned out to rely on absolutely everything.

How can a story survive in this city, which arrives and departs on time, which is comfortable and convenient and hurries in perpetual silence?  Even meticulously kept in a climate-controlled room, fed fruit and lean meat, and given a wheel on which to run -- the stories languish.

Because there must be gossip, doomed love affairs, and idle chatter. Time wasted with pals, and drunken talks, and arguments forgotten by morning.

Mosquitoes were always considered an annoyance, but without them many things we loved began to vanish. Who ever imagined that stories, which appeared to thrive in every environment, which went on forever, were actually so vulnerable, so vastly and intricately interdependent?

Of course there are still things called stories. Like that man who twists goats' horns together and claims to have created unicorns. There are now special preserves where stories are born and raised. Even the government has gotten involved, and speeches have been made.

The stories which result appear oddly domesticated. They are correct and impeccably groomed. Their parts are all there. Yet they are strangely dull. Like sheep raised for their wool and meat.

Just when you're about to give up on stories entirely, one appears in the backyard. Gnawed its way out of the preserve evidently. Must have gotten hit by a car.

Don't get too close to it. Despite its ridiculous appearance, that thing will tear your arm off. The goddamned thing intends to live and never mind it's only got three legs.

(An earlier version of this story appeared in Gargoyle #57)

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