The Dance

It began slowly at first, a little wiggle here, some foot shaking and twisting there. Once started, no one ever stopped. Early on, it was mostly the adults dancing, but then children too, and finally, even newborns came forth quivering and quaking. The entire world got that flop and fling, that bounce and bump which came to be known simply as the dance.


Tough to do much effectively when in the dance, but you can persevere.  Sleep becomes rare, but it happens.  Fidgety as a squirrel, you adapt to walking, talking and cooking.  Concentration diminishes, yet science and research continue. Behavioral changes, muscular dystrophies and myopathies were studied with many theories initially proposed, like hyperthyroidism, Cushing Syndrome and Sydenham’s chorea.  It was all of those and none.  PSNP, polystyrene nanoplastic, was the link.  Although difficult to persuade people initially, the truth became apparent. PSNP accumulation in the pancreas disrupts glucose homoeostasis, inducing increased cortisol secretion and hyperactivity.  Simultaneously, although most nanoplastics accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract or the outer epithelium, they also cross epithelial barriers to reside in the brain and heart, causing a complex set of feedback interactions between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and interennal tissue (HPI-axis).  This too results in changes to metabolic rate with a stress response of rapid uncoordinated jerking movements, and the telltale purple pinstripe skin markings.


Permanent movements, it turns out.  No drug or surgery stays the dance.  Constant inhalation and ingestion of invisible particles of acrylic, melamine and polyester are the genesis, one without vaccine or adaptive immunity.  Microplastics from industry, cosmetics and packaging formed a multi-millennium life cycle in the environment, a culmination of chemphotodegradation and fragmentation that put these particles everywhere, land, sea or air. In that time of motorized vehicles with tires, the synthetic styrene-butane rubber eroded into unseen clouds in all our cities, cities that are no more.


We few who remain are the children and grandchildren of microbiologists whose legacy to us was a machine to filter the blood and another to purify water and our food which emerges always as a kind of gruel. Only our small indoor crop is real food, and therefore savored. Much time is spent maintaining these machines in our sealed ex-university building, replenishing the silk filters, for example, but that work becomes increasingly difficult now after nearly seventy years without even the merest manufacturing supply network which made their construction possible. Our brief time, our human lifespan, is grievously insufficient to the degeneration and reduction of these materials, or to the necessary evolution and adaptation of our bodies.  Once, we were the Adams and Eves, even so optimistic as to decorate our many rooms. Now, sitting in this vast library of knowledge, artistry and symmetry, I am more likely the final chronicler of a lost race.


The hyperkinetic writhing, grimacing and tongue fasciculations perhaps resemble the carnival-like, frenzied dances which took place so long ago on the feast of St. Vitus, in front of his statue. The dance goes on until it consumes you.  Lives became brief, yet somehow resplendent, even joyful, as a new compassion advanced, post-civilization, an amnesia of hatred.  Each saw the other with the same affliction, the identical end, saw the other with . . . humanity, once and for ever, all dancing together.