He stood on a platform overlooking a vast area. There he could see hundreds of machines like none he had ever seen before. Each machine appeared to be slowly inflating a bubble. Each machine was attended by one individual. Each individual was working hard to keep the machine fuelled with coal. In the distance he could see the entrance to a mine. They struggled back and forth from the mine with barrows loaded with coal for their machines.
Some bubbles were larger than others. Some were very large. He could see the pride on the faces of those working the machines with the largest bubbles. They looked around at their neighbours with their smaller bubbles and grinned to themselves. But they could not stop. They had to carry on working hard, to stay in front. If they did not, someone else's bubble may catch theirs up. They could not stop. Off to the mine they kept going. The brief sense of pride replaced by grim determination once more.
The largest bubbles tended to be owned by the more mature looking individuals, those who had been working for the longest. Then once in a while, catastrophe. The Visitor watched as one of the larger bubbles burst. He watched the sudden devastation on its owner's face. He watched as they fell to their knees and broke down in tears. He watched as their neighbours appeared to show brief concern, before carrying on with their own incessant tasks.
"Why are they doing this?" asked the visitor once more.
"The bubbles must get bigger." answered his guide. "That is the way. It has always been the way. The bubbles must get bigger."
"But why? What is the point of it?" The Visitor asked further.
"What do you mean, why? Didn't you hear me? The bubbles MUST get bigger."
Just then The Visitor noticed a commotion. Some way off he saw men dressed in military-style uniforms marching towards a lone figure. The figure had stopped working. He had simply sat down by his machine. The visitor thought he could just make out that he was laughing. Those working around him were jeering at him as they passed. Still he sat. Still he laughed. The uniformed men came closer.
"What is happening there?" asked The Visitor.
"Ah, that happens now and again. We call it The Fever. That man sat down there has lost his mind. He has gone so doolally that he thinks it does not matter whether his bubble gets bigger or not. Don't worry. We have drugs to sort that out. The doctors will look after him. We will soon have him back at his machine."
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