End Of The World (Again)

  • I'm driving through an unfamiliar city, on my way to visit my friend, Jennifer. I get caught in a traffic jam composed of honking cars, crowds of pedestrians, wailing police and ambulance sirens. It looks like the aftermath of a riot. I finally get through and arrive at her apartment. The door is open so I walk in. I hear Jennifer upstairs and I walk over to the sink to wash my hands. I grab a scrub brush and am cleaning my fingernails (who knows why) when she comes downstairs and welcomes me. Later on I meet her two roommates, one of which looks a lot like Elizabeth Hurley. She even tells me how much she looks like her and shows me a magazine photograph. I agree that the resemblance in remarkable. Some time later I'm alone with the roommate in the bathroom. She's taking a bath and I'm undressing, about to join her. I turn and throw my clothes towards the other side of the room. When I turn back she has vanished into thin air. Behind the tub is a large window, standing open. But we're on the second floor. I guess she went out through the bathroom window.

    I'm tripped out by the strange event and run out into the living room to tell Jennifer. At the same moment a man busts in through the front door. It's the missing roommate's boyfriend and he's been searching for her. He's extremely agitated when he sees me in my birthday suit and instantly knows what's up. He stares at me crazily, "This time I brought a gun." He grabs something out of his coat and points a plastic toy gun at me. He collapses in tears.

  • The North Pole. A white wasteland of snow and permafrost. I'm part of a dogsled expedition and we're searching for a missing member of our party. She disappeared yesterday but I don't remember who she is or even why I'm out here. In the distance I see the colors of brown earth and green trees rise up out of the mist. We are headed straight for this oasis and as we draw closer I feel the temperature lift along with my spirits. I feel I know this place. I realize we are returning to our origin not reaching a destination. As we cross the edge of the singularity, I regain my memory of where I am. Haven. Kind of a commune at the end of the universe. It was founded a few days before the Apocalypse using a combination of yogic techniques and advanced technology. Haven exists at all points in time preceding its founding, making it a special kind of giant time machine. Thus Time doesn't pass in Haven. I grow no older and have no idea how long I've lived here. We've all brought our friends and loved ones (living and dead) to live with us here. We've also resurrected some of the great figures of history, Plato, Mahatma Gandhi, Terence McKenna, et al., to help us create and maintain our Utopia. There is not much structure to our community. With time out of the picture, we eat, sleep and fornicate just for pleasure. We do not reproduce so our population is stable (quite an important issue when you are immortal).

    I just came back from a foray into an Ice Age. Since Haven is not of this time, when you're away from Haven your memory of it fades as well (I suppose in order to maintain causality). With my memory now restored, I remember that I am one of the founders of Haven; and it is good to be home. I play around with some kids, balancing an assortment of objects into a teetering sculpture. It all falls down and my mother scolds me as if I was twelve years old. Everyone laughs and there are no hard feelings. Another founder, my friend August, joins us. It's time for some esoteric activities vital to maintaining Haven's existence. You see, Haven is not perfectly stationary in time. It has been inching forward from the moment it was founded. In fact, at the farthest temporal point that Haven exists, there are only a few minutes left until the Eschaton; inside Haven, it will take centuries before we touch it, but even though our ability to slow time gets better as we go on, we seem to be drawing towards an inevitable conclusion.

    August and I walk to the edge of Haven and perform some technoshamanic rituals to slow Haven's movement in time. Right now it looks like we're in the middle of a jungle. When we finish the rite, an extremely human-like ape leaps over the wall, grabs a pile of garbage and scurries back into the jungle. It happens sometimes. August and I have been discussing the Eschaton problem for some time now and decide to take a quick look at the actual Present. A few seconds mean decades to us but they may give us insight into our dilemma. We transport Haven to the Present and quickly stick our heads out for a peek. I see an enormous transparent shockwave rippling the sky and everything in sight. I see green hills burn to black cinders then back to green hills in the space of a moment. We bring our heads back in. I have a strong intuition that what we just witnessed was a Good Thing. August thinks the same thing. We decide to exit Haven and watch the Eschaton.

    I have the sensation of standing on the roof of a moving train. The strange rippling fills the world and invisible landscapes flash in and out of being. As the final seconds tick away, all the people of Haven come out to join us. However many millenia had passed inside, they came to the same inevitable conclusion: the end is unavoidable. Then I see, coming up the road, a woman on a bicycle. It's Leslie, August's mother, who didn't enter Haven with us. She calls to us, "there is no such thing as 'the end'." Another intuition hits me and I turn to August, "The end is the beginning."

    I wake up in bed with a final image in my brain: hands in a sink, cleaning my fingernails.