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 …