We hear the theme music building steadily -- a Strauss waltz hummed by a lone green heron perched on a rock overlooking the river. Faint sounds of pumping steam engines and gnawing saws can heard in the distance. Then, suddenly, there are loud clanging noises, earth-shaking thuds, and steam whistles, and a monolith rises out of the water midstream. As the scene fades to black, a steam calliope plays a jaunty rendition of The Robert E. Lee.
The cause of the destruction was a sudden, massive infestation of human beings. The infestation was local, but it came on the heels of successive infestations that are responsible for the loss of more than two-thirds of the old forests on the planet.
From the diary of an eyewitness comes the following:
As the forest became more heavily infested with these insidious parasites, the more pathological individuals (natural born thieves) began to appear in greater and greater abundance, and ultimately they burdened the whole of the structure to the point that it broke down; the forest was no more. It reminded me exceedingly of the infestations of racketeers, who, with the utter contempt for others and indifference to the consequences for themselves, invade our cities to devour entire households, neighborhoods, districts, and communities.
It is a fact that human beings enjoy the widest world distribution of any parasite, both geographically and in respect to the types of environment which they can exploit, and their conquests both of territory and of other animals and plants, not to mention members of their own species, are the most complete and successful. They have no equal.
The diarist continues:
It was an eerie sight; birds and animals of every description fleeing the advancing army. These refugees crowded in on their neighbors in the most unwelcome fashion, invading home and hearth, claiming as their own the food won by others. The less fit perished in the stampede.
Again we hear Strauss -- a waltz played backwards.
The parasitic invaders destroyed the nucleus of their own support system, thereby chaining a succession of cataclysms to the first.
The diarist writes:
It was obscene; the head eating the tail. But none seem to grasp the meaning of their actions, and this went on to the bitter end. We were helpless to intervene.
The history of this place ends here. The diarist ran out of paper. The heron miraculously grew opposable thumbs, then went mad trying to figure out what to do with them. Where thousands of species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms had once shared common ground there were only rotting stumps, wood rats, and deer mice.