May 21st

Kage Baker would have been mordantly amused at the present Apocalypse prediction. Being an historian, she knew how often this kind of thing had happened, and what the usual result was. She kept a list of them. And while the phenomenon  is nowadays associated with Christian fundamentalists, she was pretty sure it had been going on  since about a day after people noticed there was a world.

I was going to ignore this, but there is just too much chatter to do so. It is, as Francis Truffaut’s character in Close Encounters observes, “Une event sociologique.” And it would have intrigued Kage; she’d have been monitoring it, noting bad jokes and comparing it to other millennial frenzies she had known. And there have been some entertaining things to note.

People seem to enjoy the idea of the end of the world, There’s always someone who wants to call it quits. Kage thought that was a particularly unhealthy aspect of human fear and self-centeredness. I don’t like the world, so it has to end. Oh, and the people I don’t like will have to suffer, too. Sort of an ultimate Nyah, nyah, nyah: because hardly anyone ever predicts that the world is going to end and a Golden Age will be ushered in – nope, it all goes straight to shit, and the people the prophets like the least get the most shit.

Where the Rapture is due to begin is uncertain. Estimates vary wildly. Some have said: everywhere at once, beginning at 6 PM Pacific Standard Time; which seems pointlessly arbitrary.  Others have bet on 6 PM local time, everywhere at once – which doesn’t seem to be working out; the Pacific nations west of the International Date Line have so far failed to yield up any population loss. West coast of North America, East coast of same, Asia, Christmas Island, New Zealand – none of the candidates are experiencing anything yet.

And other people are checking live cameras and the Internet to monitor it. It’s probably the widest-spread, and least hysterical, Apocalypse ever recorded. Most of the world is at least dimly aware, and watching to see what will happen – but mostly calmly. Amused, even.

There was a good-sized earthquake in Papua New Guinea, which got a few folks excited. Not the PNG-ians, though – as they observed, this happens practically every day there, and no one ever cared before … a legitimate complaint, I think.

Even Mr. Camping – who has predicted this kind of thing before, but apparently dropped a decimal or something – has issued a couple of cautious hedges. Like, it’s still May 21st somewhere, and God can take all the time He wants. Like, a day to God is 1,000 years to us. Like, Camping will not be available for comment on Monday if this doesn’t pan out: the world is on its own, I guess.

Kage had her own theory. She said, when asked – and she did get asked, seeing as she wrote about the End of the World – that every single Apocalypse on record had, in fact, actually happened. Every one. But no one ever noticed. It was, she said, a failure of human senses, not of divine timing. Most of the time God just replaced the world with one almost exactly like the old one, and no one ever figured it out.

Except Kage, I guess. When I would ask about that, though, she’d just look around furtively and shush me. And we’d slink around for a little giggling, and wondering if Dr. Zeus was going to send an assassin after us … we hoped for Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax. But if he ever came for us, I either got missed or have forgotten that Apocalypse, too.

Though Kage, clearly, did not …

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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9 Responses to May 21st

  1. widdershins says:

    That’s the best theory I’ve heard yet.


  2. Marc Bailey says:

    Worlds can end and some people don’t notice anyway. See Newt…


  3. Margaret says:

    Me, I am holding out for the date of the supposedly Maya-predicted end-of-the-world next year. Not what they predicted at all, indeed, and besides, I gather it all depends on which correlation of the Maya calendar to ours that one favors.


    • Kate says:

      Me too, Maya. Kage preferred it too. As she pointed out, it was a better calendar than anything the Europeans had/have come up with, and was devised by people who used chocolate: so it has to be better.

      Though as to precisely when the End of Time will come, I guess it depends on how you line us up with the galactic center. And what happens then …

      Mind you, the modern Mayans are mostly torn between stating all us gringos are plain old nuts, and hoping that it just means the end of the world for the government of Mexico. Can’t blame them, either.


  4. Margaret says:

    Ah yes – I hadn’t considered the factor that a people who made such extensive use of theobromos would, of course, have the better calendar – the endorphins, no doubt.

    Always pleasing when the non-natives do something amusingly stupid and also fairly harmless. I am reminded of the time I saw some Central European types in full lederhosen, fancy suspenders, and little hat with brush walk through the outdoor market in Puno, Peru. Anybody who’d believed the stuff about stoic and humorless Andean people would have been bemused by the Quechua ladies who were falling about laughing.


  5. Kate says:

    Man, when ladies wearing pork pie hats think you’re funny-looking, you know you are sad indeed. Of course, anyone giggling at lederhosen automatically has excellent taste …


  6. Medrith says:

    Hi Kate-

    I got in last night, wiped out from the first paintout of the season. My brain was too tired for much of anything but I was still too buzzed to go to bed, so, reading. I knew I wouldn’t make it through a novel. I had Jonathan Strahan’s Life on Mars anthology from the library & a short story sounded just right. Imagine my surprised delight to find that the 1st story was “Atlee and the Long Walk” and with a comment from you afterwards!


  7. Kate says:

    How wonderful, Medrith. I’d forgotten I wrote something for an afterward … don’t remember what I said, but I’ll look it up as soon as the author’s copy comes in the mail. I’m so glad the story was there for your amusement!


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