THERE WAS A huge conference called to discuss the Animal—‘Down with the Animal!’ ‘Are its fins medicinal?’ etc.—but in order to discuss the Animal, it had to be in the room. This was for complicated anatomical reasons. The Animal was not like a llama or a rabbit or a walrus, all of which can be discussed very easily without the presence of one in the room. The Keeper of the Animal was trying his level best to explain this to mankind’s gathered representatives, abruptly stopping in his explanations here and there to restrain the Animal, which he had around the neck with a wire hoop attached to a stiff pole. Switzerland demanded the pulping and distribution of the Animal’s flesh to the world’s hungry. The Keeper asked Switzerland to let him finish. The Animal was huge, the Animal’s shoulder blades scraped liked banshees against the dome of the conference hall. The scraping was disrupting the translation headphones. ‘Ah!’ complained China, clawing at their headphones and baring their teeth in irritation. ‘If I could just finish explaining about the Animal–’ pleaded the Keeper of the Animal. Then the Animal gave birth all over the gold leaf mural of the planet that dominated the floor at the centre of the conference hall and had been commissioned at great expense and at extremely short notice for the occasion. The representatives roared with impatience and the many newborn of the Animal revolved around on the floor, gumming the gold leaf mural, trying to nurse on podiums, still unable to open their eyes.