Year Zero


Gabriel, the Alpha Centurian spokesangel, sends out invitations for the chosen people of Earth to be saved. Unfortunately postage has gone up to 65 Farklng Draculas for a first class stamp. and the Alpha Centaurians only have small change in their own currency, the Plinge. (a 'Plinge' can be translated as 'faith' or 'bogey' depending on the weather). So it is that the only people who are ready to be evacuated from the doomed planet are Newsfield readers, who have kept this paragraph safe until the next century, and assembled in the Right Place at the Right lime (the back garden of Bishop Cynthia Payne of Streatham, London SW16.)


Gabriel appears on satellite television's most popular global slot, Frey-U, to appeal for several billion First Class stamps. Shares in the Church of England plc rocket when punters see that Gabriel is a beautiful winged angel, but the market drops out of their bottom when she reveals that both God and computers are only figleafs of the imagination. There is one true religion, however, which is rock'n roll, but only when performed by Desmond Tutu in Welsh.


Redundant gods turn up at the Social Security plc to sign on for unemployment benefit. They include a horde of well-known Romans and Greeks, a fair selection of animal-headed humanoids, the Dollar, several Radio One disc jockeys and anyone with the surname 'Darling'.


The newly discovered Fingers computers are found to have all sorts of uses, especially when interfaced with the serial ports of human beings. Centresoft begins distribution of a range of peripherals, including thimbles, rubber gloves, plectrums, baby oil, and nail varnish.


The poisonous clouds that are enveloping the world eliminate the weakest first, such as people who own Hammond organs or who can't pronounce the word paella even though they've been to Spain for their holiday. The Ark manages to assemble two of all the species left on Earth, Including the world's most intelligent creatures the liver-fluke (or Cutie-Poo), and the unicorns, who have been lying low since Noah got the last global disaster contract.


As the last drop of fuel is used up, and the last mechanical engine splutters to a halt, The Ark lifts off from Earth and settles into a low orbit around the shattered planet. Fighting continues, guns being replaced by clubs, spears and arrows as the bullets run out. Warmth is maintained by burning mountains of junk mail which has accumulated over the past decade, and the skies turn blacker than ever. The last ray of sunshine to reach Earth bathes the loveliest place on the planet for 12 seconds in a beautiful golden light. It is the top window overlooking the canal of the Hotel Brian, Amsterdam. But I'm damned if I'm going to tell you why.


The final ABC figures are published on recycled paving slabs and Computer magazines all claim to have the highest circulation. Football Manager is still in the Charts. Plague, famine, darkness and unsold copies of The Race Against Time cover the globe. England loses the Test Match.


Children assemble as usual, to wish the Queen Mother a happy 101st birthday. In the absence of any proper ingredients for a birthday cake, they volunteer to be made into candles and a pudding. Bruce Everiss handles the marketing.


One new species seems to be thriving, which in 69,000,000 years will become superintelligent and invent the ding-dong door chime. It is a biomechanical hybrid of a 10 Farking Fracula coin and broccoli.


Earth is silent at last. At peace for the first time since an amoeba named Shirley decided to split in a primaeval slime disco. Not one voice is raised in anger, no children starve, no homeless die of cold, no gun is fired, the last ever Benny Hill repeat comes to a flickering end. Planet Earth is not a giant computer, as Douglas Adams would have it, but is of course a living creature, grazing peacefully through space, feeding on light and warmth, harming nothing, paying the mortgage regularly, and bidding a gentle farewell to each pair of creatures who ever lived, plus all ZZAP! readers who read this, as the Ark majestically leaves orbit and heads for Paradise, a small planet in the Canis Turdus system.


As for the rest of us? We all die laughing! Well, you've got to laugh haven't you? I mean, after the end of the world, eating hamburgers is gonna be real difficult, 'cos you can't help smiling when your lips have been vaporised.


And so, gentle reader, in little more than a dozen years time the world will end not with a bang, but a Wimpy. And good riddance, say I.