People flooded the sidewalks. The mayor had promised a parade. It had rained for three days after that, but now the skies were clear and bright and the evening sun cast a slow flame to the film of water on the road. A rhythmic tread was echoing off the walls of the buildings that lined the street, and the denizens of the city were nervously fumbling with the loose change in their pockets. The parade was coming.
All at once it burst into view.
M’s stretched to the horizon in the haze of daylight like a chain of crumbling mountains. Some were juggling rubber balls in the likeness of decaying planets, while others drummed and blew on instruments to the steady tempo of their advance over the cobblestones. They shined like prophets, and the people cheered.
Somewhere at the rear of the parade moved a strange and silent creature. It was the letter U, slinking behind the glorious procession. It was tired and slow, locked in a cycle of depression and forlorn sensitivity. It could not know itself. The bowl of its shape was empty and warm.
Far above the splendor of the scene sailed the sun, its hot breath bathing the parade in power. It glowed with the wisdom of an ancient goddess. Staring into its blinding light, the crowd could distinguish the vague outline of a wide and all-embracing O.
A small child huddled in the throng, pressed to himself by the density of humanity. He reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a damp slip of paper. He unfolded it with tenuous movements of his fingers, and stared into an image of the letter I, scrawled in elegant cursive.
A spark of understanding seared behind his eyes, and a holy plague spread through the hearts of the people. In a sudden wave the mob reared up, each individual standing erect, and together they took fire and gasoline to the buildings around them. As darkness fell, the parade marched on through a tempest of flame and shadow.
The city burned like the emblem of a forgotten creed, and the night shrank back in fear.