The Nothing

“Something has happened in Moldymoor,” said the will-o’-the-wisp haltingly, “something impossible to understand. Actually, it’s still happening. It’s hard to describe — the way it began was — well, in the east of our country there’s a lake — that is, there was a lake — Lake Foamingbroth we called it. Well, the way it began was like this. One day Lake Foamingbroth wasn’t there anymore — it was gone. See?”
“You mean it dried up?” Gluckuk inquired.
“No,” said the will-o’-the-wisp. “Then there’d be a dried-up lake. But there isn’t. Where the lake used to be there’s nothing — absolutely nothing. Now do you see?”
“A hole?” the rock chewer grunted.
“No, not a hole,” said the will-o’-the-wisp despairingly. “A hole, after all, is something. This is nothing at all.”
The three other messengers exchanged glances.
“What — hoo — does this nothing look like?” asked the night-hob.
“That’s just what’s so hard to describe,” said the will-o’-the-wisp unhappily. “It doesn’t look like anything. It’s — it’s like — oh, there’s no word for it.”
“Maybe,” the tiny suggested, “when you look at the place, it’s as if you were blind.”
The will-o’-the-wisp stared openmouthed.
“Exactly!” it cried. “But where — I mean how — I mean, have you had the same. . .?”
“Wait a minute,” the rock chewer crackled. “Was it only this one place?”
“At first, yes,” the will-o’-the-wisp explained. “That is, the place got bigger little by little. And then all of a sudden Foggle, the father of the frogs, who lived in Lake Foamingbroth with his family, was gone too. Some of the inhabitants started running away. But little by little the same thing happened to other parts of Moldymoor. It usually started with just a little chunk, no bigger than a partridge egg. But then these chunks got bigger and bigger. If somebody put his foot into one of them by mistake, the foot — or hand — or whatever else he put in — would be gone too. It didn’t hurt — it was just that a part of whoever it was would be missing. Some would even fall in on purpose if they got too close to the Nothing. It has an irresistible attraction — the bigger the place, the stronger the pull. None of us could imagine what this terrible thing might be, what caused it, and what we could do about it. And seeing that it didn’t go away by itself but kept spreading, we finally decided to send a messenger to the Childlike Empress to ask her for advice and help. Well, I’m the messenger.”

-Michael Ende, The Neverending Story

 

It is self-indulgent and ungrateful always to look on the dark side of things, but there is no denying that some days it feels like the US is being eaten by the Nothing.

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