The earth coughed one evening. A loud, dry cough that went into a wheeze and which sounded as if its throat was tight and being squeezed. Throughout that long night, the earth gave irregular tremors as its coughing fits led its vast body to aggressively heave in its fight for a shallow breath.
winds could not cool its fevered surface and the pure seas could not
clear the infection in earth's chest. And although the sun wrapped
its warmth around earth's girth like a cosy blanket, earth still
miserably shuddered and shivered. The symptoms of the disease were so
erratic that in a single day any extremes of weather were possible:
hot, dry, wet, wintry.
over time darkened and there were monsoon-like rains and hurricanes
as earth battled this illness and with it its vexation. A frustration
that led to tears and rages; sullenness and childish tantrums.
Thunder boomed and cracked, bolts of lightning streaked the sky;
hailstones pelted and rivers burst their banks. The seas could be
passive, then furious with little warning; the sun could blaze, then
suddenly turn cold. The light could one minute be bright and the next
a very dull grey. Getting through twenty-four hours was an supreme
effort for stricken earth and its ill-fated inhabitants.
inhospitable, not liveable cried these mortals trying to go about
their day. There was more road rage, more traffic accidents. More
substance abuse, more domestic incidents. More bullying and
belittling in the workplace. More brawls, lewd behaviour and
cat-fights. A high rate of theft and knife crime. A wave of
unconnected murders in unlinked towns and cities. More fractions
broke off from society to protest, riot, strike, or form their own
tight communities. The tension and dissatisfaction in the stale air
constantly there, palpable.
earth's creatures felt this strain. Cattle stopped producing milk or
young, hens didn't lay, song birds lost their urge to sing, and foxes
were tamed by this imbalance. Those beasts, considered tools of this
world, were saddened. There were no green fields for them to graze
in, no spring-like sunshine to frolic in, just barren plots and feed
lots. Cramped quarters with food they were unused to and forced to
suffered more now that earth was sick.
prices were high, wages were low. Employment was irregular:
unpredictable hours, casual contracts. And happiness was no longer an
economic factor that could be measured, but all countries were at
least equal. All faced the same problems until they each put
different systems in place to combat them. Some grouped together and
adopted a single currency; some introduced new benefits and taxes;
and some failed to agree which led to mutiny. There was disparity
between the masses. And in these uncertain times, people either
opposed or rose together. Every life had its own hardships.
had tried to contain had happened. Disharmony had spread. Its illness
was the precursor, not the origin. Successful governments had
succeeded in penetrating its weakened climate and the disease had
raised armies to attack; no defences could have held them back, and
besides earth had exhausted any it had long ago. Fatigue had set in.
by killer cells, earth was aggrieved and revengeful. In a stage of
dying. In denial, the symptoms had been suppressed, ignored, fought
through; then came depression with its fits of lethargy, crying and
black moods; and finally as the disease ravaged its body it was
assaulted by anger, which it poured on the population. They were the
chief cause of its decay and should be made to bear witness to as
well as feel it.
change had come, but too late to affect the outcome. Earth stifled a
yawn and accepted its fate, despite its population lagging far
behind. They were too scared, too ignorant to recognise that this
shift could not be undone, it had to happen. Earth knew it would be
reborn, but not in what habitable state. It would be a new age, a new
Picture Credit: View of Toledo by El Greco