In general, we leave the beast alone.

The Outworlders that come to our ancient Metropolis no longer believe that this is the same creature of old, our Sphinx.  By the outskirts of the Mecca, where the plains begin their seemingly endless stretch towards the skyline, the animal can be seen sleeping by the distant hulks of ruined starships.  It appears at times to graze on the wavering mirages.  Occasionally, it interrupts its senile frolic, conversing with no one in particular, unless it be the illusion of a traveling pilgrim, a product of the sun’s unceasing caresses.

One might ask what the beast is still doing in this part of the world, why it hasn’t moved on, being that all the enigmas of this age have been exhausted to our satisfaction.  Few are the citizens left on our Earth.  Most have abandoned her for newer, greener worlds.

Indeed, no longer do visitors to our gates fear denial of passage.  When the Sphinx occasionally stirs from its stupor, it is only to ask the wrong questions.  There is no doubt today as to what the total sum of man is.  Whether morning, noon or night, the rebuff comes the same. “Move aside, doddering old fool!  Have you no shame, asking the same question over and over again?  Have you lost your bearings, have you misplaced your walking stick?  Who cares what it is that walks on four, two or three legs nowadays?  One needn’t even walk anymore, if that’s the way one wants it.  Now move aside, impertinent fossil: we are on holiday!”

It is true, our Sphinx has grown old and ugly.  There are books that tell of its once awesome and terrible beauty, but that, alas, is only in books.  They are rarely opened today.

There was a time when the beast would migrate, with the passing seasons, but no longer.  It simply lies by the edge of the city, growing older and uglier.  Its skin is like rough stone: cracked, dusty and pale.  The only time its cheeks show a suspicion of hue is when the school children released from their studies, fling stones at it or poke it with dried branches.  Sometimes it will stare at the flaring, cloudless sky, watching the departing pearls of ships that announce the hour.

But even then, more often than not, it simply lies there like a tremendous beast of burden, awaiting a traveler who might show an interest in antiquities.

We who see this every day have grown used to it.