I wasn’t going to put this up on the Blog as I wrote it for a competition. However, upon submitting it just now I realised that it is in fact being shown on the wall of the competition submissions page and being judged in part by the public. Ok, I wasn’t quite expecting that, but I can live with it. I just kind of wish now I wasn’t the first person to submit…
The brief was to write a piece of flash fiction, under 500 words, on the theme ‘The End of the World’. I didn’t want to write about zombies (I watch too much Walking Dead for that), or meteorites. I flirted briefly with an idea about the Hadron Collider being pushed to its maximum, but in the end I did what I always do. It’s about a bloke trying to chat women up. But I had a joke about the rapture I tweeted about eight months ago that I was desperate to use in a story, so I did.
Anyway, it’s called Harold Camping ate my Hamster and is, I suppose, more about trying to sell yourself than anything else, trying to get something – fame or sex – on the back of building a brand out of yourself. It also takes a few cheap swipes at religion:
Harold Camping ate my Hamster
Evolution is a mug’s game. All that crawling about in the mud; all those millions upon millions of little adjustments to claw your way up painfully to a newt or a monkey and have shit thrown at you. Who can be bothered with all that? Get a contractor in, give him six days, and get it all sorted out in one go. You know it makes sense.
It’s just a shame he didn’t leave better instructions. Too many trumpets and hailstones for me. Everything has a lamb in it, or a ghost, or a burning locust firstborn Israelite. I can’t work it out. Even Ikea give you little diagrams to follow. It’s a smoke and mirrors routine, a PR campaign, the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Max and Clifford.
It’s May 21st, 2011. It’s the end of times – the Rapture according to Camping’s obscure calculations. I could be at home; I could be on my knees making sure I’m in the seal: that sweet spot of saviour with the four angels holding back the winds of the earth for me. But I’m not. I’m standing on a country road, unsure of where I am, and I’m drunk.
‘Are you coming tonight?’
‘It’s my rapture party.’
I sensed there was a punchline in my future. Call me psychic.
‘You’re having a rapture party?’
‘It’s a no lose situation. If nobody comes, then it’s not the end of the world.’
The reality was he was turning thirty. He picked a pub in the middle of nowhere, but I had a thing for his sister. I’d walk it if I had to. The star Wormwood could descend in the car park and I’d still be trying my best lines on her.
‘I used to play football. Semi-professional, but Didier Drogba broke my ankle in a charity match.’
Style over substance is the name of the game. Who cares about truth when there’s a brand to build. Say it like you mean it: the bullshitters shall inherit the earth.
‘My dad was the original drummer in Led Zeppelin.’
She didn’t look impressed. I thought I had that one nailed after she picked out Bowie and The Faces on the jukebox.
‘I’m in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band.’
She went to the toilet and never came back.
At the end of the night I surveyed the devastation. There were seven survivors, shell-shocked with no-one to go home with. I set my sights on the best looking woman.
‘Hey, there’s still ten minutes to Armageddon. Want to spend them somewhere more private?’
Her eyes turned the colour of disdain.
‘It’s never going to happen.’
I was starting to think she was right. They all left, and so did I. I had no money for a taxi. I swayed slightly in the breeze and watched the mercury moon rising through the trees. There was no way home tonight for me or the reverend.
As I said, I think I’m the first person up, but if you’re interested in seeing what other people post, they will all eventually be here on the WOW website.