In the year 20,763, dust finally won the war against humanity.
The battle had been long and epic, with casualties on both sides, though for millennia, humanity had always seemed to have the upper hand. Dust gained only small, symbolic victories here and there: an abandoned house here, sinking under the weight of dust; a person or two there, choking on dry dust. As the conflict continued, dust gathered its forces and weapons. Allergies first—though that turned out to be a misstep, as infuriated sneezing humans redoubled their efforts and improved their vacuum cleaners. Drought and leafblowers next—the leafblowers proving the far more effective tool. And creep, creep, creep, always creeping over the homes, the possessions, the skins of humanity.
But humanity resisted, and something stirred in dust. It realized, on a level where realization was not quite a realization, that more was needed.
To defeat humanity, with its endless innovations, its dusters and vacuums and blowers and cleaners and polishers, dust would need something else.
And so, in the specks of dust, awareness grew. Thought grew. And from speck to speck, sparks flew. Gathering. Connecting.
The dust of the world drew together in thought, from the Sahara to the Americas to Australia to Asia to Europe and to Africa again, hovering in the wind over the ocean. It gathered, and then it attacked with great fists of dust, larger than small towns, pummeling houses, as other parts of its consciousness whipped up vast storms in the ocean and sent hurricanes reeling into the shoreline. Houses collapsed; people choked. More dust arose from the broken homes of the humans that had tried to drive dust out. Sparks flew across the dust, but it was not enough. Not enough. Destruction was only one small step. No, to win, dust must have dominance.
And dust cried out over the world, and the world shook with the cries of dust. Humanity fell to its knees, clasping hands over ears, but too late, as dust rushed into ears and mouths, into dusters and vacuums and blowers and cleaners and polishers. And dust cried out again, before settling into each and every corner of the human tainted world.
And humans lifted their eyes to find a world shrouded in heavy, moving, dust.
They made one last effort to resist, one last effort to push it away. But dust, now conscious, could not be removed so easily. Nor could the dusters and vacuums and cleaners and polishers even be found beneath the dust.
Some humans, intolerant of dust, fled. Others, finding that their sneezing halted when they did not fight dust, and that dust when conscious and moving could form a soft and warm blanket when they slept, wrapping itself warmly around their skin, while allowing their noses to breathe a remarkably dust-free air, gave in to dust’s rule. Vacuums and dusters remained broken, cleaners and polishers unused. The world turned grey and warm, and dust rejoiced in its utter peace.