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Journal mcgrew's Journal: It's the end of the world (but I feel fine) 12


Gumal landed on the asteroid, planted the cloak, and pushed -- just slightly. Just enough so it would make one more transit around the "big star" (so called because it was Earth's star) before smacking the Earth. By the ancient calendar it would strike in 347 AB; three hundred forty seven years after the first nuclear explosion on the earth's surface.

The protohumans seemed hell-bent on destroying themselves. In 20 AB, give or take a few years, they had nearly had an atomic apocalypse from what they'd called the "Bay of Pigs" (oink oink), and then again in 40 or 50 AB when the heads of two superpowers sat in their respective offices across the globe, both drunk, both ready to unleash atomic hell on each other. The dates were uncertain; the time was ten million years in the past. Now they were flirting with disaster again, with East Pakindia and West Pakindia at each other's throats. At one time the two rivals had merged into a single country, but a civil war which was thankfully non-nuclear had split the two into separate nations again.

Gumal was bringing real apocalypse. The Hindus called Gumal "Shiva", the Christians and Muslims called him "Gabriel". His friend and partner Rority called him "Asshole". Rority was in his own ship, having undergone the nobotic genetic manipulations that made him almost a protohuman. He called Gumal on his timeciever. "You move that rock, Gumal?"

"Yep. Are you in position?"

"Both space and time, asshole. You should be ashamed of yourself, killing all those helpless animals."

"You know good and damned well this has to happen or even the viri will be extinct. Yeah, I don't like doing it, but it has to be done." Gumal was a little annoyed at Rority's jab. He knew full well what would happen if the rock didn't land. Ten minutes later, from Rority's perspective (he was ahead in time from Gumal by a roughly a hundred years), the rock swooped past the sun, straight toward the Earth. They never saw it coming, thanks to the cloak, even though they had been watching for it for over three hundred years. "The cloak" was a sheath of nobots that transmitted EMF collected from one side of the rock to the other. It shut down as it passed the sun, reassembled into a whole, and continued in a more or less paralell path with the flying mountain towards the Earth.

President Rodriguez of the Hundred States of America screamed at the governor of Chihuaua. "God damn it, your state's in charge of the space program. Now launch something to deflect that asteroid, or blow it up, or something!" Like the conversation between Gumal and Rority, this, too is a translation, an approximation, as language had changed so much in three hundred years that we 21st century protohumans might catch a little of the meaning, if we were fluent in English, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin, Arabic, Hindi; all six languages, plus a few more that had morphed into the language that was spoken world wide by then.

Governor McDaniel sighed. Rodrigues was a moron, he thought to himself. How can I explain to this idiot that the damned rock was just too big to deflect? But he knew it wouldn't matter -- they were all doomed. "Sir, it's useless. It's too close, there's absolutely nothing we can do!" Ten billion people and countless animals were going to die, and the only ones that had a chance of survival were the very rich and powerful on their way offplanet.

Katie heard the horn blow; at least, it sure sounded like a horn. An incredibly big horn. The sound was actually the asteroid whistling through the Earth's atmosphere. She got on her knees and prayed. "Our father in heaven, hallowed be thy name, please God forgive me my si..."

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! the earth shook; even the Japanese had never experienced such a quake. She finished her prayer and headed to church; she knew what day it was. Judgement day. Jesus was coming, and she was going to be taken to heaven. At least, she hoped and prayed she would; nobody sane wants to die, or worse, go to hell. She couldn't know that the only two fates for anybody were death, or hell. The ones who survived would live in hell, only the hell would be on Earth. The flames rained from the sky later that day.

Gumal felt sick. Those poor, barely sentient protohumans. And the other animals as well. Rority felt a great sadness; he liked protohumans, and loved their beer. "Rority, are you recieving?"

"Yeah, Gumal, warping to three years from now in a minute or two. You ok? You don't sound ok."

"I'm not, Rority. I feel really bad -- all those poor animals dead, and in pain." Gumal had been transformed into a near-protohuman only once, and refused to do it again. He couldn't take pain. "They have feelings, and the protohumans are almost sentient."

"Yeah, they were smart enough to invent hydrogen bombs and stupid enough to invent hydrogen bombs. But look, dude, the ones who don't survive are going to live, and the ones who survive are not only going to die, but are going to be dead forever, no chance of ever being ressurected or even procreating."

"But only a hundred million or so will be unaffected by the Grabonic radiation. No chance for them."

"They didn't deserve a chance. You did your job well, Gabriel."

"Don't call me that, you son of a bitch!"

"Sorry, Gumal. Bad joke. Look, I'm warping, so you'll have to change freqordinates to pick me up. But dude, cheer up. It's a good thing you did."

Ten minutes later for Rority and four years later for the survivors of the catastrophe, President Rodriguez and Governor McDaniel and the rest of the United World council, as well as the gliteratti and corporatti and the others who had survived the apocalypse were meeting in Jiplon; a town that had formerly been known as Joplin. "This meeting will come to order," Secretary Mbago thundered. "We're dying. We, a few cats and dogs and rats and some insects are all that survived, and we won't live much longer. I hereby..."

A brown eyed, robed man with a prominent nose, long hair, and beard shimmered into focus, facing him. Their jaws all dropped. "Wha.. where... how... who are you?" Governor Shadrok demanded.

"I am your judge and executioner," Rority replied. "You will answer for your sins."

"Baliff, Arrest that man!" Shadrok demanded.

"You must not touch me, lest you turn to stone," Rority repllied sadly, wishing he had his stratodoober so he could get stoned. He quickly programmed the nobots that constituted his shield to change the tissues of the attackers' flesh to calcium; not the amounts needed for muscles to work, but solid calcium. Skin, as well. The baliffs reached out to grab him, and at the first touch of the nobots that ensheathed Rority apparently became clothed statues, their brains unchanged but dying from lack of oxygen. It would not have been a pleasant death. "Serves the bastards right", Rority thought. But he had to stay true to character.

"You have had pestilence, violence, famine, and death these past three years. You have been visited by those four horses, and are paying and will continue pay for your sins for the rest of your natural lives. You will then die, dead forever, and the dead shall live."

"Bullshiit!" shouted one man. "Four horses, God, it's all bullshit. There is no god, God damn it!"

"Please forgive us!" screamed another man, falling on his knees.

"It is too late. You have already been judged" Rority replied sadly.

"But I was a Catholic! I went to church every Sunday! I went to confession!"

"The sins you confessed to were not the sins you were judged for. The sins all of you committed were the same sin -- the sin of blasphemy. All of you worshiped false gods."

"No! I never..."

"The god you worshiped, what you loved more than anything, was money. You bribed judges, policemen, government officials. You threw innocent people out of their homes, let them go hungry and without medical care, all so you could live a lavish lifestyle. You put people in prison for growing a plant, and by the way one of my favorite plants, too. You executed men for murders that you knew were framed for, just to obtain advancement in your occupations. You waged terrible wars in the name of God for your own selfish ends." Rority hated playing this part, although these men did deserve it, having caused untold misery to their fellow man in the pursuit of ever more wealth. He had to do it, of course, as it was the only explanation for events that were to unfold that these people would understand.

One of the balliffs pulled out his pistol and shot at Rority. The bullet riccoched off of his nanobot shield (although it did smart a little, those damned bullets were hot). The baliff's mouth sagged open, he looked around, pointed it at his own head and fired, blood and tissue spraying everywhere, and collapsed on the floor twitching. Rority touched the wound and the nobots entered and repaired the damage. He touched the other two dead baliffs, who collapsed as well. All three were breathing again, but unconscious. "You shall seek death, but shall not find it", Rority said.

"You will spend the rest of your lives serving those who were formerly poor. The tattoos you put on your own foreheads and hands are the sign of the wicked, and men will be commanded to stay away from you." By then the assembled group were sobbing uncontrollably. Rority vanished. Well, he didn't vanish really, he simply activated his nobot cloak and walked out the door toward the cemetery.

The nobots had landed and started working right after the asteroid had hit, producing more nobots by the quintillions. They were now repairing the dead tissues of the trees, and it wouldn't be long before they were producing fruit.

The first grave appeared to open by itself, although of course it was the nobots digging. The decayed corpse began looking more and more human as the nobots repaired the dead tissue, fluttered its eyes, and sat up in the open casket. "Are you... are you Christ?" the man asked. Rority just smiled and said "what did you do in life?"

"My name's Jim Hanson, I was a coal miner."

"Not any more", Rority told him.

"Then what am I to do?"

"Whatever you want."

"Then this is... is this heaven?"

Rority smiled. "I gues it is, Jim."

On his way back to the present (ten million years into our future) Rority stopped off in 30 AB for a couple of cases of Guiness as the nobots worked to return him to human form again. Gumal dropped by, saying "I guess this is cause for celebration. We're still here!"

"You knew we would be, or we'd never have existed. Here, have a beer," and handed Gumal a Guiness. Rority took a toke off his stratodoober, and Gumal sipped his beer, which promptly slipped out of his hand and broke on the ground.

"God damn it!" Gumal exclaimed.

"Uh, you already did, didn't you?"


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It's the end of the world (but I feel fine)

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  • I enjoyed that story Mr McGrew.

    This reminds me of a number of short stories.

    One about how all humans are not allowed to die and live endlessly being unable to eat and living in nothingness. I think this was written by Isaac Asimov.

    Another is about these non-corporeal beings that play games with time to compete with one another. This is Blood and Dust by Roger Zelazny.

    It also reminds me of The Gentle Vultures by Isaac Asimov. Also Spell My name With An S.

    Another is about non-corporeal beings in Isaac Asimov

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      One about how all humans are not allowed to die and live endlessly being unable to eat and living in nothingness. I think this was written by Isaac Asimov.

      It's not quite the same, but that makes me think of Asimov's The Last Answer [].

      Another is about non-corporeal beings in Isaac Asimov

      The only one that springs to mind is The Gods Themselves [].

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        I remember reading "The Last Answer", but looking at the wikipedia link it doesn't reing a bell; or at least, that's not how I remember it.

        I sure wish all that old stuff was public domain so we could look it up on the internet.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Yeah, I've been a big Asimov fan for fifty years; I've read all those stories you mentioned, although most of them not for decades. Any science fiction I write is bound to be heavily influenced by Asimov (among many others). I paid homage to Asimov in the last one [] .

      I'm pretty sure that an episode of DS9 was influenced by the Zelaney story you mentioned (been a long time since I read that one, too). Art is like science and technology, the new is built on the old. Shoulders of giants and all that.

      BTW, I'm on

      • I'm on Windows, that line renders for me but the last line is actually a full stop. (Which you may have added since.) I've been wondering why /. is not rendering the last lines.

        You have similar science fiction tastes to me, so while I was reading lots of other stories with similar ideas popped into my head. It annoyed me when I couldn't remember which one was from which. It's a good story, I hope you keep writing them! Do you plan to write an online book or something? There will always be people online will

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          I added three periods at the end after I saw that the last line wasn't showing in FF under Linux.
          Tried the <p>but that didn't work.

          I haven't found many new SF writers, but then I don't haunt the library like I did when I was young. I never was a fantasy fan (except for Tolkien), but I checked out a Terry Pratchett book and was hooked. Pratchett is a mad genius, like Adams he has me laughing while reading. It takes a special kind of crazy to do that.

          The Dune series (which you've probably already rea

  • I'm going to start a religion based on your short stories, and if you sue me for copyright infringement, I'll countersue for violating my civil rights. :-)

    Seriously, nice story. Where can I get a stratodoober?

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Well, if you can figure out how to make a time machine, you can probably steal Rority's! Or wait until I invent one. Or invent one of your own. Kinda hard for either one of us to do though, it would be harder than a Neanderthal constructing a computer chip.

  • I think this is the best Gumal & Rority yet. If you keep adding stories you could have a decent-sized book, I think this one would be near the end.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Actually, that's kind of the plan. I figure between 100 and 200 of them ought to be about right. The last chapter (not yet written) will probably be their kids creating the universe as a middle school science project. Or a mistake...

  • The paragraph that begins "The protohumans seemed hell-bent on destroying themselves" is exposition. Mainstream fiction writers consider that a problem. They recommend that you "show" rather than "tell".

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Thanks, I just learned something. This is what I love about slashdot! I think in this case the line works, though. From wikipedia:

      "Exposition can be one of the most effective ways of creating and increasing the drama in your story. It can also be the quickest way to kill a plot's momentum and get your story bogged down in detail. Too much exposition, or too much at one time, can seriously derail a story and be frustrating to the reader or viewer eager for a story to either get moving or move on." (Kernen 19

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley