by Erik Koht

When whirling dust mixes with methane rain, it's not a good time to enjoy the out-of-doors. The wizards sought shelter as best they could in small groups below protective ledges of rock or under the delta wings of their flitters. The whole conference was about to get washed out. The final approval on The Black Book revisions might have to wait for another year, though the need for consensus was greater than ever. The signs and portends were not good, and the future of all humanity lay in their hands. The wizards knew what was at stake and one by one they managed to collect their thoughts and make the deluge stop.

The result was encouraging. The wind abated, the rain stopped, and one by one the stars of the night sky reappeared. The bonfires and torches were lighted anew. Deliberations could resume.

The problem was not the sale of wizard's hats to the third world or the number of magic rods wielded by each warring faction. These were mere symptoms. Rather, the wizards were discussing the fundamentals, trying to define the mechanism that caused this excessive use of magical powers. Of late the world was brimming with meteorologists earning vast sums of money by predicting weather and climate - and then using magic to make those predictions come true. Cereals were grown by magic, causing foodstuffs to have strange, unnatural properties such as never spoiling or rotting. Computers were endowed with magical properties giving anyone at all access to forbidden knowledge. Most of the world had outlawed computers, but not the Americans. They claimed it wasn't the computers that were dangerous but the users. They claimed they could teach people to use the magic powers with restraint, but no such lessons were ever given. Still computers proliferated.

As the conference continued under the star-speckled night sky, each delegation stayed connected to Earth by ESP. Every few minutes new disasters were reported. A plague of frogs brought Alaska to a stand-still. White rabbits infested the major cities of Europe. Millions of colourful handkerchieves blocked out all sunlight in South America. While the wizards deliberated, things were coming to a head on Earth.

The wizards knew they had failed. In just a few hours the situation on Earth had become irreversible. Watching helplessly they could but stand by as chaos consumed Earth. But worse was to come. The stars shook in the firmament of heaven and faded, moons and planets fell from the course set by nature. Logic and meaning ceased to exist. There were no longer any substance that the five senses could detect. The wizards became like spirits that whirled out of control on universal tides. Then they heard the voice, a voice as familiar as that of their mothers. And the voice said: "Let there be light!", and there was light.

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