This is the story of Lilias but, unusually, she says that she doesn’t want to be involved in it so we’re going to have to set her aside from now. She’s sat on the sofa there at the back of this hall, smiling at me, but it’s the kind of smile that hides a sulk. Nonetheless, because this is a tale rooted deep in history and has a cast of billions, not to mention a lot of stumbling around, I’m sure we’ll cope, for now, without Lilias. We’ll leave her on the sofa with her sulky smile and turn our attention to Colin who’s at the front of the hall.
Colin’s on a stage sitting on a chair that’s proving to be a little too comfortable for him. His eyelids are flickering like he’s having some kind of a seizure, which would be comical except that forty-six people are staring at his face. They’re all supposed to be, like Colin, remembering God, but how many of them are actually doing so and how many are pretending is something we won’t know for sure until the results are posted. Which will be sooner than you think.
Let’s put a pin on the map and say that the world, as we know it, will end in 57 minutes and all the fly-blown nastiness that constitutes the ass-end of this world will undergo a metaphysical transformation that will result in several billion people being forcibly ejected from their corporeal vehicles. That’s going to leave just three-hundred thousand people looking for a shovel or two, several bio-degradable, sealable bags and a piece of ground in which to dig a fair quantity of corpse-sized holes. If not, there’s going to be a whole heap of fly-blown nastiness sitting around stinking up the place.
Anyhow, just about a minute before all that happens, there’s going to be a noticeboard on which everyone’s going to be listed, number wise according to how much effort they put into their God-bothering. Colin’s going to be at number 547,382.
This is how it begins:
In about a minute from now, a donkey’s going to walk into the hall where’s Colin’s eyes are flickering, and it will announce the end of the world. In actual fact, this isn’t quite true because no donkey will be involved in this scene. Instead, we are all going to have a collective vision. And when I say we, I mean you, me, Colin and Lilias and the rest of the audience. You’re on row three, third from the centre aisle on the right as you look at the stage and I’m on the back row on the far right, next to the window. We’ve already established where Lilias and Colin are.
Here, that is to say, the world is a place that’s calling out for a vision of a donkey. And sure, I know what you’re saying in your head as you hear this news: uh-uh, not me. There ain’t no donkey in my vision of the end of the world. And sure, you might well be right in your assertion (geddit? ASS-ertion?) but, as you might have heard, God works in a mysterious way. That’s to say that William Cowper said it in one of his pomes and we all agreed with him. So, yeah, if God gives us a donkey, who are we to say nay? I mean, if God’s got a sense of humour then God’s got a sense of humour and that’s that.
So, a donkey walks into a hall and says: it’s the end of the world, folks, form an orderly queue at the back of the hall for a little something to sweeten your tongue and then go out there and tell all your friends that those guys with boards proclaiming that The End is Nigh were spot on and it’s now.
Of course, no one moves a muscle apart from Colin, who sits up a little straighter in his comfy chair, and Lilias, who’s got a bit of a sweet tongue and so heads on over to get her little mouth-sweetener.
A minute later, God gets a bit tetchy. Having announced the news to all his faithful en-masse, which includes not just this hall, but several thousand other locations dotted around the globe, in the time-honoured tradition, vis-a-vis a vision, He decides that he needs to be more direct about this. Now, he’s not really been partial to fire, plague, war or flood since the first testament days and so he decides to be a little more laidback about his methodology today. He sends another vision.
This one is a little more direct. It features a concentrated minute of blazing horror that constituted the state of the world as it is now and seared the inner eyeballs of all who witnessed it but resulted in no real lasting harm, then another minute of concentrated sweetness in the form of a nice looking scene where people were dancing, animals were cavorting and plants were preparing their various fruits for lunch. God then, in a way that astounded and inspired the various psychologists, psychotherapists and other counsellors in the audience, causally linked one scene to the other with a delectable smorgasbord of elemental instructions revolving around adherence to the triple-pillared schedule of a good, solid haptonomic link with God, a manifestation of that link of all levels of being and the consequential exemplification of these in terms of the communication of the foregoing with all who had ears to hear, these three being the basis of what God liked to call the good stuff.
God expects a little more as a result of this latest vision. He reckons that three minutes of revelation would be enough for anyone to get the message. He reckons wrong.
You yourself are only in this hall because you saw a poster saying ‘free yoga’ in the local library. You’d always wanted to try yoga because you’d heard it was a good way to keep fit and the fact that you had several pairs of perfectly good jeans in your drawer that would no longer fit could only add added impetus to this desire. So when the donkey came in closely followed by what you could only assume was a bad reaction to the curry you had last night followed by all the other stuff, you were ever so slightly puzzled and not a little keen for the exercise schedule to begin especially as you’d worn your second best yoga pants.
Colin is probably the most clued-up participant in the hall when it comes to his experience and interpretation of visions but only because he’d been on a course. Well, not really a course, per see. More like a skim through several websites that advertised courses. He’d been horrified by the prices if the truth were told. The cheapest was £75 and the most expensive £1,225. He’d been briefly tempted by a book that came in at £7.50 but after a few moments consideration had settled on reading through the various illuminating quotes. One which particularly struck him as being useful was this one about visions of the future: “If you want to change the future then don’t know it.” This appealed particularly to his rather lazy nature. This is why he’s going to be number 547,382 on the list on the board at the end of the world.
Lilias didn’t even look at the board because that’s what eating too much sugar does to you.
As for the rest, well they came in number wise according to how they took the news.
So, the world’s due to end in 53 minutes. What number will you be?