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THE WHALE

    Once a whale became concerned about the size of the ocean.
    The size of the ocean wasn’t something that had caused the whale much worry in the past. In fact, it hadn’t given much thought at all to how wide the waters were at their widest point or how deep they were at their deepest. Having its own space never seemed a problem. So long as every¬thing else got out of its way when it came through, the whale didn’t really care how crowded a place might be before or after it passed. Live and let live was how it typically regarded other denizens of the main.
    The only exceptions were various species of squid. The whale felt exceedingly uneasy about squid. It didn’t make any difference how in¬significant the individual squid hap¬pened to be. Given its appetites and its rate of growth, the tiniest squid might one day pose a threat even to something as colossal as a whale.
    What caused the whale’s sudden concern about the size of the ocean was a rumor that in the lowest depths there al¬ready lurked a giant squid. This squid was not only enor¬mous but was said to be growing larger every day as its restless tentacles gathered up more and more of the sea’s creatures and pressed them into its cavernous maw.
    Suppose only half of these stories about the giant squid are true, the whale thought apprehensively. Soon it may not be content to remain in the deep. What if it sends up its long tentacles towards the surface or, worse, heaves that gaping mouth into my path? The fact that the whale had never actually seen this mega-squid only suggested how cunning the potential foe must be.
    The whale could think of only one countermeasure to take: get big¬ger itself. So it too began methodically swallowing up every bit of life it came across. Nothing was ignored anymore, for who could tell what small fry not swallowed might make that little bit of difference when the hour of truth arrived? The whale couldn’t afford to let its own share of the sea shrink by the slightest amount.
    And yet, as the whale increased in size at what rapidly became an as¬tonishing rate, its fear of the phantom squid grew just as quickly. By calculating the amount it was taking in on a daily basis itself, the whale projected what share of the remainder would be seized upon by an already monstrous competitor growing at the same rate. The pro¬jection was alarming in the extreme. 
    And even if it managed to snap up everything in the seas around it, the whale couldn’t feel secure that the squid wouldn’t outgrow it by doing the same in the others. So it would never be enough to com¬mand the depths it was in; the whale would have to become supreme across the seven seas at once if it hoped to survive.
    Desperate to stay larger than its rival, the whale began a single-minded attempt to swallow all the waters of the world, just to be on the safe side.