If could turn you on, if I could drive you out of your wretched mind, If I could tell you I would let you know.
‘Sir. I’m afraid it is coming, whether we care to do anything or not.’
Fumbles fumbles. Paper fumbles.
‘Um.. sorry? What is coming? I think I may have missed something – I was away at.. err… a meeting. A very important meeting. The world is dying, you see. Much to do, much to do.’
‘That may be so, Sir…’
‘He’s not Sir, any more – she’s Madam. Or ‘M’am’. But please speak respectfully either way.’
‘Yes, well, that may be so Si… err.. Madam. But the wave is coming whether we care to do anything or not. If we do nothing, the only thing for sure is that there will be no more meetings at all.’
Lemon peels grow in her mouth. The taste is new and familiar.
‘No more meetings? Not even… the important ones?’
‘None, Sir. I mean M’am.’
‘That’s all right – you can call me Sir. I prefer Sir.’
‘He’s right, Ma’m. The wave is coming. Our estimations predict it is approximately one million miles high and moving at the speed of light. Give or take a few miles per hour.’
Lemon peels burnt to ashes – you can taste it too. After all, they are only human. Just like Us, They are only human.
‘This is preposterous. Why didn’t somebody say something sooner? And can’t we travel faster than light already? I’ve seen it, seen it with my own eyes!’
We’ve all seen it. What excuses are there?
‘It was a simulation, Sir. Not real. Well, that’s not accurate. Of course it’s real. But we pulled the funding. Because the wave is coming, you see. We need all the funding we can bleed.’
‘Ah, so you did know! And why wasn’t I told? I have a family to think of! And who was the prophet?’
‘We don’t use the word “prophet”, Sir. It’s not correct. We are a secular people.’
‘Hmm. Secular, eh? In that case who was the madman?’
‘Laing, Sir. Mad as a burnt lemon peel. Or perhaps sane as a tree. No one really knows any more. But either way, we found this old telegram in the back pages:
Fumbles fumbles. Paper fumbles. Unfamiliar paper fumbles.
Tidal wave one million miles high moving at speed of light. Impossible to go above or beneath, to run away, to get round to left or right. The Government fires the land with massive flame throwers, earth to desert, to absorb the water. Fire against Water.
‘The man’s a genius! How many flame throwers do we have? Massive ones?’
‘Millions, sir. But it’s not enough. At best estimates, we need at least a thousand for every mile of height. Due to the speed of the wave, we’re overwhelmed. We would need billions…’
‘There is… one option, Ma’m.’
Tessellated marble at gate of Sixth Heaven may be mistaken for water.
‘Speak or be spoken away.’
‘Inside, Sir. We could hide… inside. Inside our selves.’
‘Hmm. Self, eh? The long forgotten? What, are you a magician now?’
‘Every man, woman, and child for their Self, M’am.’
‘Children too, you say?’
‘Well, if I read Lain’s telegrams correctly, they’re probably further ahead than we are.’
Fumbles fumbles. Paper fumbles.
‘Yes, Ma’m. Further ahead. They are still becoming mad a we speak. Love will do that to a child, you know.’
‘You speak with the self assured nature of a man become sane. Self. Inside. Is it so simple? I fear we may no longer be welcome there. Without rope nor net… what will happen?’
‘The world as we know it will be gone, Sir. But we will live on. Beyond life and Death. We will no loner have need for fear.
We will Be.
There is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing.’
The ultimate reassurance.
And the ultimate terror.