Remembering UE

Posted on June 29, 2004 by Jenna

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It’s kind of funny, in hindsight, how much fuss we made.

We’d had plenty of horror in the world for a long time. Cruelty, and torture, and rape, and hatred, and a bunch of smug satisfied people who treated it all as business as usual. It’s hard to say whether those people were evil or just sensible. Maybe both. It’s really easy to put aside basic fairness and other peoples’ happiness, and doing so seems to work out pretty well for people. But that’s just ordinary evil.

This was Universal Evil.

This was UE.

He wasn’t mean. He wasn’t cruel. He wasn’t our kind of evil. He was a grand, terrible badness from beyond the stars. It washed off of him in waves, this physical, palpable aura of evil. He was …

He was like those stories say. He was evidence, in his own person, that the universe was a cold and uncaring place. That in the end, all the dreams and loves and morality of humankind don’t mean anything. This all shall pass, and the stars shall die, and hardy coleopterans shall make merry on our graves. You could look at him and know that we were just an insignificant speck in a universe more horrible, cold, and full of obscenity than anyone could ever dream. Humanity was just a thing the world spat up before the universe grew wise.

He had so many fans.

The media was full of people denouncing him. They said he’d lead our children astray. They said it was wrong to let him on the air. But people ate it up. He showed up on the Tonight Show. He had a guest spot on Everybody Loves Raymond. He was on MTV. And ratings soared.

He urged us to blasphemy. He showed us that there was no God, only chaos and madness and things like himself. Children would come in to school with their Universal Evil Trapper Keepers and their UE tribute CDs and there was a hard edge in their eyes. He was shocking. He was defiant. He shattered our institutions. The Church hasn’t been the same, you know. Or the government. Or the schools. Everything got a little weird, thanks to UE.

They say that he died of radiation poisoning. They nuked him, you know, and he came back, and now he was radioactive, but in the end, it wasn’t very good for him. They say he died as he lived, puking out his guts—or someone else’s—into the gold-plated toilet of his five-story mansion.

There are conspiracy theories, of course. People like to imagine that the Swiss Guard had a radical wing that took him down. Or that Mr. Limbaugh finally made good on his threats. But nobody pays attention to that kind of theory any more. There’s too much data out there, true and false, in this Internet-driven age. You can prove anything, if you try.

There’s even some evidence out there that he’s still alive. That there’s still a UE, somewhere in the world. There are reports. There are tabloid stories. There are people, still, who see him at gas stations and truck stops. They don’t dare talk to him. If they’re wrong, they don’t really want to know. But they’re pretty sure. So they rush home and they tell all their friends, “I saw him! I saw UE! He is alive!”

In the end, the coming of Universal Evil doesn’t seem to have changed that much. Most people are still pretty good, and most people are still pretty bad, and the math works out because it’s easy to be both.

It doesn’t really matter what happened to his body. He touched our lives. If we remember UE, he’ll never really die.