In 2005, after the car accident that nearly killed me, I was laid up for quite a while. I wore a cervical collar 24/7 and had the day off from work (actually, quite a few of them). I had no car payment because I had no car because I couldn’t drive, hence no insurance payment. Not to mention, a ridiculous blue book pay out from my auto insurer to cover my moronic excesses. In other words, I had a lot of money and a lot of time. I bought a pricey laptop and shuffled around the house all day, still trying to recover my bearings.
During this long break, my body was trapped in immobile hell, but my mind was working overtime. I finished a short story during my break. It was about the end of the world. I’m not sure which psychological trapdoor had been released which compelled me to write a story about the end of the world. But I did and I dove into it with a demented zeal.
I could go into great detail about the story but I won’t.
It’s not saved on this computer, I think it lives on my external hard drive which is connected to my other computer and I don’t have the desire nor energy to boot up that computer, search for the Word document, retrieve the story…for what? Its details are not vitally important and honestly my memory fails me because I don’t even remember the title. Let’s just say it’s a first person account of a narrator who lives alone and who coincidentally has just been in a major car accident. My stories tend to be way too autobiographical. Anyways, the narrator speaks in hushed tones of an asteroid that scientists have announced is on a path to intersect with earth and of course the consequences are less than sunny. The world awaits. But my story, despite the global magnitude of the calamity, barely transcends the shell of the narrator’s inner world. He revisits some key physical locations that symbolize his life and he begins seeing a dark, shadowy figure lurking out of the corners of his eyes. The story takes a strangely supernatural direction, but the weirdness pales in comparison to the fate about to befall earth. The lurking shadowy figure torments the narrator, a Grim Reaper for the ages. I finished the story and never tried to sell it. The print out sits somewhere in a dusty pile.
Anyways, the story ends with the narrator laying in bed waiting for the moment of impact.
Hey man I’ve always been fascinated by the end of the world. By a loud and magnificent Apocalypse, absolute destruction of all life and civilization. I think the examination of a world facing such a death sentence is fascinating. The effects on the psychology of the masses as they come to terms with looming Armageddon. How does collective society react when there is truly nothing to lose?
When the world’s demise draws the human race into its final embrace?
A psychologist once postulated that my fixation with Armageddon scenarios was due to an inner antagonism I held against mankind in general, and that the Apolalypse fantasy was really just my lame (not her word) attempt at seeking some universal equilibrium to soothe my dispiriting sense of helplessness.
Sounds good, I guess. Don’t you think? How can I argue with that summation?
But of course Hollywood takes a concept and runs it ragged, guts it of any higher meaning or introspection or delusional appearance of intelligence. Hollywood has demonstrated a boundless ability to digest the concept of Armageddon and literally spit out the biggest special effects besotted, superficial character study in pseudo-heroism possible. Cover up all the narrative short-comings by throwing the biggest Hollywood names with salaries to match into the mix. Voila, blockbuster! Come and root for [popular and hip male star] as he risks his life (and the lives of those he loves) to save the planet from collective death!
I have to admit, I found the remake of War Of The Worlds a few years ago quite entertaining, but by far, the best end of the world movie ever actually mirrored my short story. Well, not exactly. It was a Spanish (as in Spain) movie from a few years ago and I cannot remember the title and Google is failing me. Anyways, the movie focussed on a group of people huddling together in an isolated Spanish village while a large and obnoxious celestial object barrels toward earth. (In case you haven’t noticed, my recollection of the movie, like my short story, is a bit hazy).
In a fit of metaphorical irony, there is also a human killer headed to the village to seek a very earthly sense of retribution against one of the main characters. For a slight, an offense, which now seems inconsequential in the grander scheme of their planetary fate. As the movie races towards a conclusion, we literally watch this race between disconnected characters – the meteor, as it continues its deadly path, and the killer who rushes to the village on his own deadly path. A very good movie but I felt as if my great idea had been snatched from the unlocked files of my mind. Some stinking writers had tapped into the great authorial mass consciousness and siphoned out my idea like someone might skim peaches from a private garden. Bastards.
I think this was incited by a news story I read the other day about the sun re-entering its turbulent 11-year cycle involving massive solar storms and incomprehensibly large sun spots. One of the most rattling aspects of galactic events is their sheer size. The news story attempted a weak attempt at dignity and restraint but buried deeply between its lines was the alarmist message: “solar storms can spell the end of the earth!” Well, at least be prepared for disrupted communications because we live in a world that is increasingly reliant on electronic signals. The coming solar storms are likely to interfere with our precious signals. And, there is a slim chance, very slim, but it bears repeating because a little fear is never enough…you see, there is a minute chance the solar storms may RAIN CATASTROPHE ON THE EARTH AS WE KNOW IT!