Convo Two – Recreation in Nine Conversations

A new kind of zeal; one that was almost fervid, shone in Arnesto’s eyes. But the way they seemed to glitter behind the lenses of his glasses had less to do with fervour than the reflection of the screen in front of him. Another Zoom call, but this one was to be different.

‘Yeah, so I had a deep realisation last night and then, at the hour of nectar, I was shown, clearly and vividly, how it is and how it’s going to be. And it’s nothing like any of you thought. Not even the seniors realised what’s been happening all these years.’ Arnesto paused to let the impact of what he was saying sink in.

Dan was the first to react and, customarily, it came in the attempted style of a witty riposte: ‘So you’re saying, basically, that you had a vision.’ Except that this time there was no wit in his tone. His words were not even a question; they were a challenge. Dry, without inflection. A disbeliever.

‘Vision?’ Arnesto paused again but this time, his finger rose in the air before his face, there for all on the call to see. He was thinking. He was asking for silence while he did so. He cocked his head to one side and cracked his face into a smile that was impish and yet confident. ‘Yeah, I guess it was. Yeah. A vision.’

Veronica spoke up. ‘So, young Arnesto, it seems that the end times are upon us. God says that when we start having visions then he’s about to swoop down and gather us into his loving arms and take us back home.’

‘Like a swarm of mosquitos,’ Nathan said, as if he was completing Veronica’s thought. ‘Hmm,’ he said, as if in comment.

‘Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that,’ Arnesto said, but the rather self-satisfied look on his face as he sat back in his chair betrayed his thoughts. It was a vision. And a powerful one too. One that would change everything.

”So, what was this, ah … vision about then?’ Dan sat forward in his chair and adopted a rather vulpine pose that was slightly spoiled by the way he then reached up and ruffled his hair before gently pushing his wire-rimmed spectacles tightly onto his face with his outstretched middle finger.

Arnesto smiled and wondered if the slight was intended, then decided that Dan’s more than half a century at the forefront, albeit in a local context, of a spiritual organisation was proof against him giving someone the bird during a conference call. ‘It’s about the Advance Party, he said. ‘I know where they are. At least, I know where they are now. But they’re going to move soon. They’re going to be brought together into one place. Or several places maybe. But I don’t know much about that other than that it’s going to happen. Soon. All I know for sure is where they are now,’ he repeated.

The virtual room was silent but each was thinking the same thought: the Advance Party were the group of souls that were to prepare the world for the golden age, so that when destruction came there would be a place where the residents of that paradise could come together and form the basis for the renewal of the world. No-one knew where these elevated souls, the ones who had studied God’s knowledge for decades, were, but two things were sure: they had to be isolated from the rest of the corrupt, old world, and they had to have some serious tech.

‘And?’ Dan tried for friendly and light-hearted but the single word he uttered rasped through his voice-box and fell from his mouth like sand.

‘They are among us. Living in plain sight. We didn’t see them because they …’

‘Yes?’ Dan prompted, interested despite his cynicism.

‘Well, we see them as being … flawed. They’re here, but they’re not included in society properly.’ Arnesto struggled for the right way to phrase this thoughts. A way that acknowledged the greatness of these souls without slipping into the derogatory language that the rest of the world used when referring to them. ‘They’re …’ Arnesto shook his head, helpless to contain the compassion he felt in his heart for this misunderstood part of society. Words gathered in his throat and fell out of his mouth in a rush now; an avalanche of revelation. ‘They’re the retards and mad people. They’re the folks on whatever spectrum we’ve forced them onto. It’s the schizophrenics and manic depressives. It’s the people who are in comas and care homes in the grip of what we call senile dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s the ones diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and psychosis. Its the ones we call psychotic. The ones we try to drug out of existence and then turn out onto the streets to fend for themselves in whatever way they can. It’s the addicts and the hopeless; the people who’ve fallen through the cracks of society and left to rot at the bottom of the heap. The disregarded and lost. The pitiful souls we ignore and walk by as if they don’t exist; as if they have no importance. It’s them. They’re the ones. They are the Advance Party: our shining hope for the future. And they’re about to be gathered up.’

‘Well,’ Veronica said. I certainly didn’t see that coming.

Blurb – Recreation in Nine Conversations

I know I’ve only written Convo One as of now, but I have to start thinking of how this novel is going to look on the bestseller shelves! Not going to do the cover yet, but I’m about ready to do the blurb.

The blurb, for those of you who aren’t conversant in the language of publishing, is the bit on the back of the book. It’s a precis of the story without giving away the ending. Its purpose is to give the bookshelf browser a little something to whet their appetite.

The blurb is not to be confused with the synopsis, which is a longer description of the novel that will get sent to the publisher to persuade them to sign up the author for a three-book deal (minimum) and a six-figure sum (somewhere between 100,000 and 999,999 pounds sterling for those of you who don’t do maths). You also see the synopsis on the Wikipedia page for this novel. No, don’t look yet; it ain’t even been written, much less published!

So, yeah, without further ado (’cause we’ve just done enough of that, right!) here’s the blurb:

You’ll Laugh

Arnesto hasn’t joined the Moomins,
despite what his mother thinks. In fact, he hasn’t even
joined a cult. So then why is he telling all his friends
that they need to straighten up and that the
end of the world is just around the bend?

You’ll Cry

In every country, people are disappearing,
but not just any old folk. It’s the special boys
and girls who are vanishing from sight: the ones on
spectrums, the indigo children and, the strangest
of all, the schitzophrenic and senile.

You’ll Die!

It all happens at once: plague, flood,
neutron bombs, famine and, finally, death for
the masses. The only ones who seem to be thriving
are the not-the-Moomins. Turns out that they’re all
heading up a mountain somewhere in India!

But That’s Not All.

Get yourself copied into this email chain
because it’s all going down here: the warning
signs, the preparations and the end of the world.
Then, of course, there’s what happens next.
I’ll give you a clue: mangoes!

The Kids was Bored

The kids was bored and so, to sharpen them up, we telled them that the world was going to end in 10 minutes – boom – just like that. And they said ‘well, what’s that got to do with us?’ and we said that when the world ends then we all end and that means you and me and they said ‘does that mean that we will be dead?’ and we said ‘yes’.

Course we was not really sure if they knew what dead meant, what with them only being eight and all that, but they seemed to take it seriously enough. Their little foreheads creased up and their eyes went kinda far away as if they was thinking and then they said ‘so that means that we don’t get to have lunch’ and we thought to ourselves that this was typical of what kids was like – always thinking about their bellies or whatever was about them, them, them. Selfish little buggers. So we said ‘yeah, no lunch’ and then, just for wickedness, we said ‘and then straight to bed.

Course this was a really stupid thing to say because if the world was going to end and all of that then there wasn’t going to be no bed time as such except to say that it’d be bed time for all of us if you know what I mean. The big sleep and all of that.

Luckily they didn’t twig on. So, with only three minutes left to the world we thought that perhaps it’d be alright because the kids didn’t say much after that They just sat, picking their noses and watching the clock as it ticked towards one, which is when ten minutes was going to be up. Cunning buggers. Cunning and cute and all sorts of stuff like that. When it pinged one they just jumped up and said ‘yaaaaa, world didn’t end; another game!’ and so we had to think of another one.

Still, they wasn’t bored no more so I guess that’s one upside to the world ending.

Continuity Assumption

The continuity assumption states that accounting systems assume that a business will continue to operate. The importance of the continuity assumption becomes most clear if you consider the ramifications of assuming that a business won’t continue. If a business won’t continue, it becomes very unclear how one should value assets if the assets have no resale value. If a business won’t continue operations, no assurance exists that any of the inventory can be sold. If the inventory can’t be sold, what does that say about the owner’s equity value shown in the balance sheet?

Understanding the Basic Principles of Accounting by Stephen L. Nelson

Pandemic? Don’t worry – it’s not the end of the world.

Southern Death Cult

Back when I was a teenager there used to be a band called The Cult (maybe they’re still going (I hope so)) and they were brill. Sort of like high-energy rock with a gothic twist. One of the best bands I’ve ever seen live – they played until they ran out of songs, so you can’t say fairer than that.

Before they were The Cult they were called The Southern Death Cult. What a fantastic name for a band! It sure what it meant, but it summons up interesting images.

Anyways, I’m in the BKs and I want to leave. It’s not as… sticky as, say The Moonies – there’s no actual brain-washing involved, but still – it’s difficult enough.

There’s a whole lifestyle behind it, you see. And my wife’s one of ’em. And they have some views that I don’t share about the end of the world being nigh and I plan to live to 120 so it doesn’t go down well when I express something like that.

Anyways – I want to leave. Any ideas?

The Road South

I’m a nice guy. You’d like me if we met. I’d strike you at first as being kind of shy; I have this way of holding my head as if I want to talk to you but I’m not sure that I can. But once you open me up with a couple of glasses of something strong and a well-chosen bag of snacks, I’ll go all night.

Oh, no – wait – not like that. I’m not the kind of man that can be bought so cheaply. We have to talk deep and long about life and love and commitment before I’ll let you go there. Unless, of course, you want to. I mean, I’m an open-minded guy at heart.

So, here’s the thing, we’re going on a road trip tomorrow. It’s all prepared. Got the shopping trolly all stacked up with whatever cans of food we had left from the raids we did on the neighbours. They didn’t mind so much. They’re all dead. And yes, of course, I’m sad about that on one level, but it was a while ago and we need that food.

We watched a movie called The Road before it happened. Adapted from the book of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. That’s where we got the idea to go south. In the movie, they’re always heading south. They ‘won’t survive the cold’, if they don’t. And neither will we.

Who’d have thought that a movie like that would become our bible! We had no clue when we were sat working down a big bowl of popcorn that night, that the world as we knew it (thanks R.E.M.) would end the very next day. Thing is, though – when the bugs hit (at least that’s what we reckoned happened), we felt anything but fine. We were knocked out; absolutely zonked for a week. Graham Crackers were all we could manage to eat, and even then it was a struggle to get through the plastic. A week later and we tried a can of soup. Took us all day to get into it. Then we found out that the gas was off. Cold soup. Crackers. Thing is, though – it tasted wonderful.

We wondered why it was so quiet until we started to knock on doors. We had to do that because the internet was down. And the TV and the radio and the telephones. All of it – dead. And power was off too.

I was confused. We talked about it, but it was as if we were talking about the moon landings or life on Pluto. There was this kind of disconnect. Sleep. Wander around the house in a daze. So quiet outside. Why so quiet?

Eventually, I started to think. Then we went a knocking. The first call was Betty and Jo. They were lesbians, but we’d come to terms with that long ago. I mean, I know the Good Book says that they shouldn’t; but they did, and they weren’t struck down and so, well – we thought if God’s not going to do anything then neither are we.

They didn’t answer the door on the first knock. Or the fourth. So we used the key under the mat. Boy, you’ve never seen such a mess. The place was trashed. And the stink? Unbelievable. We found them in the bathroom. Both of them were naked and leant over, one at the bath and the other at the toilet. Don’t know why they bothered; there were pools of vomit on every surface.

Of course, they were dead. You would be too if your body was covered with so many sores. Some of them were straight through to the bone. Looked like some sort of acid attack but I don’t think so. Anyway, we didn’t look too close; we got out of there pronto.

Canada gets awful cold in the winter. Summer doesn’t last forever and what with all the power being off. There were generators. But even they didn’t work. The electricity hadn’t just gone off. It’d gone away. Like the tech just didn’t work. No, not the tech; the law. The law of whatever makes electricity and magnetism work was just turned off.

We didn’t know why until we saw the ships. Yeah, you know what kind of ships.

So it’s south for us. Night travel because of you-know-what. Packed up the trolley like I said. Sat him safely on top facing forward. And there’s the road, just like in the movie.

I tell you, if I didn’t have Teddy Booboo to talk to, then I swear I’d go stark, raving mad.

Dry Violence

I must say that I was rather impressed by how much blood pooled into the carpet beneath his body. I would give him a name, but you know as well as I do that names are for thinking, doing beings and he’s none of those. Some people like to name other things, but we both know they’re wrong-headed to do that. Stuffed animals, towers, streets, stones. None of them deserves to be called anything other than what they are: corpses.

He protested a lot at the thought of being dead. I was quite surprised considering how much he told me about his longing for death on the forum. Our first meeting was spent comparing scars. The slashes on our arms. The chunks out of our knees. The way his face was annihilated by the acid. Mine too.

It seemed strange to me that there would be a support group that was so specifically targeted. You wouldn’t think that acid-attack victims would be that common in the DC area. Not that many Indians. Not that many crazies. Happens all the time in the motherland; but here? In the land of the free? Still, I’m glad there was. Gave me an opportunity. I like opportunities.

One of the best nights of my life, apart from this one, of course, was the one I spent on the roof of our apartment block. You remember the one. We sang to the stars after three glasses of wine and howled at the moon after our second bottle. Then we had one heck of a shag. Yeah, I know you remember. I was surprised and you were delighted that you could even get it up. Good times.

We should go now. There’s only an hour before dawn and I don’t want the sun to see me looking like this. Too much of cliche you might say. Blood-stained woman sitting in arm-chair watching death march across the world, claiming one more victim. Not a cliche? You obviously don’t know me as well as you think you do.

Where to? Home. Obviously. There’s nothing to stop us. The zombies don’t come out in the night. Only the day. Only ten minutes walk and we’ll be there. Two flights of stairs; step around the corpses in the lobby. There are three wrecks on this street and two on the next. Heck, we even have time to dip into the convenience store on 18th. Pick up a can of something nice for breakfast.

Damn, but this chair is comfy. Time for a snooze before we go? I believe so. Snuggle me. Be sure to wake me in five. Okay, ten. But no more.

Where are you? Turn off the light. Light? No!