[The apartment. Nigel looks in disgust at the contents of a bowl.]
Nigel: You have got to be kidding me.
Katy: You know the rules, Nigel. You miss supper, you miss supper. No doggy bags. We all agreed that when LJ got lynched trying to find fresh oregano.
Nigel: What is this stuff?!
[On the couch with Eve, Dave rolls his eyes.]
[Indeed they are. Nigel takes a spoonful and munches it.]
Nigel: And this used to be the breakfast of champions? It's flavorless doritos... IN MILK! I am eating soggy corn chips... in bovine lactose. I might as well chew cardboard. Is this supposed to be nutritious?
Maurice: [vo] Oh shut up and eat it, you tosser!
[Maurice is slumped on the exercise bike, looking annoyed.]
Maurice: So you missed a steak sandwich. Boo freaking hoo! I missed the path to a new life on another planet because of your skepticism!
Eve: You haven't been reading Dianetics again, have you?
Dave: Who cares? More peddling! The DVD player's starting to run out of juice.
[Grimly, Maurice starts peddling.]
Maurice: Nigel was there! He saw what happened!
[Everyone looks expectantly at Nigel, who grimaces as he chews the cornflakes.]
Nigel: [to himself] How could this wake you up in the morning? Surely it'd put you back to sleep... [notices everyone looking at him] Oh yeah. What he said. Bunch of looneys in the car park by the station. Got beamed up into the stratosphere or something.
Andrew: And you didn't think it was worth mentioning?
Nigel: Manifestly not. I brought you the cult leader, didn't I? [rolls eyes] Do I have to do EVERYTHING now?
Eve: Hang on, if Maurice is right...
Maurice: And I am.
Eve: ...why haven't we heard about it?
[Dave switches on an old-fashioned bakelite radio. The March of the Wombats begins, mingling with some sounds of gunfire and screams.]
Radio: Hello, Gladys, Phillip Addams here and I hope you are too. With the end of the world scheduled for this Friday, weather permitting, it seems some people aren't ready to wait their turn. Apparently beams of ectopic ball lightning are striking random points across this wide brown land and within the last few hours apparently 13 thousand people are now missing from New South Wales alone. I have a troubled feeling they're my regular listeners...
[Everyone exchanges worried looks.]
[Night. There are the sounds of dingoes howling and drag races. Thunder rumbles overhead.]
[Inside the apartment. Everyone is huddled between the sofa and the burning rubbish bin, all wrapped in blankets.]
Maurice: ...and these guys at the soup kitchen were going on all about all the fish dying and that story Palestine got turned into a heap of salt, and they kept saying that something wierd was up with the leylines, like they were set to overload.
Dave: Leylines aren't real, Maurice.
Maurice: They are! Pigeons use them!
Andrew: Oh, well if pigeons use them...
Katy: So where did you get this idea you'd get transported to another world?
Maurice: It was a sort of... group decision.
Eve: A group decision?
Andrew: He means a focus group.
Maurice: A SPIRITUAL focus group. Look, when the islands of Fiji are buried in the rotting corpses of every sea creature known and quite a few that aren't, it doesn't hurt to be a bit optimistic.
Nigel: So... what? You thought standing on top of an overheating leyline would be worth a try on the off-chance?
Maurice: Oh, what about your family, Nigel? The Yangs were the first off to the moonbases last year!
Nigel: My family are idiots.
Nigel: And what's with the awkward silence?
Katy: Something... uh... happened to the moonbases this afternoon.
Andrew: Something apocalyptic. It's been quiet from them ever since.
Nigel: ...oh. [sighs] On the bright side, that means I'm the sole beneficiary! HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES!
Dave: Great. You got three days of being rich.
Nigel: [shrugs] Better than three days of being poor.
Eve: Aren't you worried that your entire family could be dead?
Nigel: In the longrun, probably, but I'm still monumentally pissed off about them "forgetting" to invite me aboard the last shuttle. [yawns] So. We going to check out ground zero tomorrow?
Katy: Why not? If there IS some escape clause from Armageddon, it'd be dumb to miss out.
Maurice: [grumbles] Like I've been saying all along...
All: SHUT UP, MAURICE.
[Next morning. It is very windy and cold. Everyone is wearing coats, jackets, hats and scarves as they approach the carpark. There are a few patches of grey sludge.]
Nigel: Did we have to get up so early? It's freezing out here!
Andrew: Oh, stop moaning.
Eve: I don't see any "huge dust-like deposits suggestive of mass translocation matrices" like you so floridly described last night.
Nigel: [irritable] Because it got washed away in the rain you blonde bimbo! Like the water you waste with your accursed ablutions...
Eve: Honestly, Nige, just because I don't let you shower with me to save water...
[Nigel folds his arms in a huff.]
Nigel: But you let Dave! This is so unfair. I wish my family were still alive, just so I could wish they were all dead again...
Katy: So, Maurice, is this thing going to happen again any time soon?
Maurice: Oh, and how would YOU know, unbeliever?
[Dave nods towards the horizon. A white light is forming in the sky, turning into a blazing beam descending. Maurice looks delighted, Nigel looks bored, the others are awestruck.]
Katy: Is that what happened before?
Nigel: Yeah, but it's not quite as impressive the second time.
[Maurice starts to run down the street towards the light.]
Maurice: Come on! If we're quick, we might just be able to...
[The light beam retracts into the sky and the noise fades.]
Maurice: [sighs] Oh I hate my life.
[He stays where he is, disappointed, as all the others move past him up the street.]
[The pub. The doors are open. White dust and ash spills from the doorways. Smoke pours from the chimneys. It's completely deserted and silence. The gang approach.]
Maybe it's Happy Hour?
Katy: Shut up, Maurice.
[They creep into the pub. There is a heap of clothes visible in the dust.]
Dave: You... you think it was the Rapture or something?
Nigel: Why would God choose this place to start? Even HE must have standards...
[Dave spots a huddled shape, roughly human, seemingly made out of ash. He touches it and it collapses completely. He looks ill.]
Dave: [shaky] You know how, in TV shows and stuff, they pretend people get vaporized when they've just been teleported away?
Dave: I think this is the opposite. These people were incinerated and it just LOOKED like they were teleported away.
[Maurice leans on the bar, irritated.]
Maurice: This is typical reactionary paranoia. Where's the evidence anything bad happened?
[Julie the Barmaid stumbles out from behind the bar, moaning miserably. She is covered in ash and some of her hair has fallen out.]
Julie: Something TERRIBLE happened!
Dave: [aghast] Julie?
Julie: I can't see out of my eyes!
Maurice: [soothing] Hysterical blindness.
Julie: It's not hysterical blindness, it was that horrible flash! It killed everyone!
Maurice: [huffs] You're being very negative...
[Julie lets out a final moan and falls onto the bar, crumbling to powder on impact. Silence. Everyone looks at Maurice. He swallows nervously.]
Maurice: Ok. Maybe there IS an argument against it.
[Street outside apartment. The gang approach.]
Nigel: I don't believe we are even discussing this. I wasted the last of my old Australian currency on the petrol for Wynona. It's meant to be saved for emergencies.
Katy: This is an emergency.
Nigel: No, a drag-race with an orgy for the winner at the end, THAT is an emergency. This is just wasting resources.
Katy: OK, we'll do it the democratic way.
Nigel: That's not fair. I'll just be outvoted. It's a foregone conclusion. You're just PRETENDING to be democratic, and actually you're just running a dictatorship.
Katy: What? You want anarchy instead?
Nigel: Look around you, pettanko, we already have that.
[Street. The gang are packed into Wynona. It now has metal bars over the windows and Mad Maxx style spikes and bullbars. Nigel in the driving seat, Maurice in the passenger seat and Andrew, Kate and Dave in the back with Eve sitting on Dave's lap. They continue the conversation.]
Andrew: You know, anarchy isn't half as bad an idea as people make out, you know.
Eve: Oh? I thought it meant no laws and chaos and stuff.
Andrew: In practise, but not in theory.
[The car moves down a deserted road, passing the odd burnt out vehicle, approaching Victoria park. It is full of raggedy people, refugees, tents and the like.]
Andrew: The idea of anarchy is that there are no laws, and people are smart enough to be responsible for their own behavior.
Dave: Ooh, is that our daily irony supplement?
Maurice: No. [points] That is.
[Ahead of them a beam of light appears in the sky and slices downwards further down the street. The figures in the park look up at the lightning in surprise. There is the sinister pulsing sound as it strikes the park, flooding the entire green with white light. Nigel hits the brakes and Wynona grinds to a halt outside the glare. Maurice undoes his seat-belt and opens the door.]
Nigel: Where the hell are you going?
Maurice: I've missed the last two trips thanks to you lot, but not this time.
Katy: Maurice, it'll kill you!
Maurice: Not if it works right! Trust me, I know EXACTLY what I'm doing!
[Maurice charges into the white glare, stiffens, screams and vanishes in the glow. Dave slumps in despair. The flaring white light finally disperses and retreats up into the sky, leaving the park completely deserted and covered in ash.]
[A few moments later. Katy, Dave and the others creep towards Victoria Park. It is completely silent now. Nigel wretches at the smell. Eve spots something and runs over to it - half buried in the dust is a barely recognizable mummified corpse.]
Eve: [numb] It's Maurice.
Andrew: Great. The one conspiracy theory that mattered and he got it wrong.
Nigel: [sighs] He died as he lived, anyroads.
[Andrew looks out across the park, buried in dust. Objects and possessions are covered with it. Some of it hangs like smoke. He walks through it, approaching the drained swimming pool. There is no one there either, just more dust. He walks back to the others.]
Andrew: There's nothing left. Nobody.
[There is a groan.]
Andrew: [grins] Hah, knew I couldn't be right.
[Andrew and the others head for behind a very large, wide tree. Slumped in the corner, in rags, is a chubby bearded man in clear pain. One arm is ash-coloured and dissolves into dust at the wrist.]
Katy: Lucky for you. You were only on the edge of the flash. You should be OK.
Dave: Who are you, anyway, man?
Survivor: [coughs] I'm Kyle Sandilands.
[A long pause. Everyone exchanges looks, then use their weapons in a Shaun-of-the-Dead-style zombie beating to death. Blood spurts. They finally stop.]
Andrew: Anyway, like I was saying. No survivors.
Katy: What do we do now?
Nigel: Well, you're the leader, remember?
[Katy sighs and looks at the ashes around them.]
[Outside a massive shopping centre. It is slightly run down and there are flaming torches all around the place, even though it is daylight. Barricades and road-blocks are heaped around the car park and entrance. Mad Max-style warriors lumber around with crossbows. Wynona slows to a halt.]
Nigel: Well, out you go.
Katy: You're coming too.
Nigel: No way, I've heard how they treat intruders. Besides, you've all been there before. They'll trust you.
Dave: He's right.
Eve: [brightly] Which means we can vouch for him.
Nigel: [grins] I hate you so much I require medication, I really do.
Andrew: And whatever you do, don't speak unless spoken to. If they even think we've spoken we'll get delayed for three hours and have warm honey dripped all over us.
Dave: I hate that bit.
Eve: Yeah, and the way they make you do a striptease...
[Everyone looks at her.]
Eve: They didn't do that with anyone else?
[They shake their heads.]
[They leave Wynona. Wordlessly, the guards force them into single file and march them into the shopping centre.]
[The main plaza of the shopping centre. It is vaguely reminicent of Rome, with drapes, statues and concubines dotted around the place. A throne has been placed atop a stage and a beautiful massuese is massaging someone lying on a bench. The gang are marched in.]
Guard: Newcomers, your Crowning Awesomeness.
Chamber: [sleepily] Who interrupts our royal health regime?
Katy: Oh, get over yourself Chamber, it's us!
[It is indeed Chamber. He opens one eye.]
Chamber: Bit of respect, Miss Katy. I AM the most powerful person in the entire Southern hemisphere.
Katy: Only because you've got internet access.
Dave: Yeah, and it wasn't you that got it, it was Doctor Spoon.
Eve: How much of all this does he get?
Chamber: [yawns] He doesn't want it. Unlimited access to the Bodacious Babe Website is all he requires. He's a guy of simple needs. Ever since the Adult channel stopped, anyway. So, what do you people want?
Andrew: [grandly] We seek knowledge.
Chamber: [rolls eyes] Another wikipedia request.
Andrew: [shrugs] Pretty much.
Chamber: [bored] That'll be 700 volts or batteries to the equivalent. Settle it with the accounts department next to the vomitorium. [annoyed] Hey, I've been awake for more than twenty seconds and I'm not getting a whipped cream orgy here! Those tongues have been idle, girls.
[Concubines rush around him. The gang grimace and wander off, bar Eve who stays to watch out of curiosity. Dave comes back for her and leads her away.]
Nigel: [vo] You gotta love the sexual politics of this place.
Eve: [vo] Do you?
Katy: [vo] Shut up, Eve.
[Dr. Spoon's quarters. It used to be an internet cafe. All the terminals are lashed together with ridiculous cobwebs of wires, and lots of overheating modems. A neglected chemistry set gathers dust in the corner. "Help" by the Beatles plays as a wild-eyed Doctor Spoon glides on a wheeled chair from screen to screen.]
[reverent] Mankind crawled out of the primeval ooze, mastered the art of walking, of fire, created whole civilizations, just for this moment! [cheers] HANNAH MURRAY SNUFF FLICKS! Stab him, Cassie! Stab him! Oh, I am SO downloading this...
[The gang enter.]
Andrew: [briskly] Afternoon, Rupert, need the interweb for a bit.
Doctor Spoon: [annoyed] What? I'm busy! Don't you lot have gods you should be praying to, or, or mass suicides to be involved with? [to Nigel] Or are you wanting to check everything's still all there?
Andrew: [frowns] I thought you'd never been here before, Nige.
Nigel: I am not responsible for what you may or may not think, Andrew.
Katy: [to Doctor Spoon] What did he want?
Doctor Spoon: Just wanted a new wiki category added.
Andrew: Which was?
Nigel: There's really...
Doctor Spoon: "Women Nigel Verkoff Has Slept With" - all the way from Angelina Jolie to Za-Za Gabor.
Nigel: [loftily] Look, if humanity IS going to be extinct before Christmas, is it such a crime to want a legacy to leave behind.
Katy: [suspicious] How did you pay for this?
Nigel: [awkward] Yeah, remember a couple of months back...
Katy: You wasted a whole month of rations to irresponsibly edit wikipedia?!
Nigel: Oh, give me a break, January! You even went apeshit over my cover story!
Eve: That you swapped it for some magic beans?! DAMN RIGHT WE WERE ANGRY!
Doctor Spoon: Look, I don't want to complain but there's only forty-nine hours until the end of created time, so can I hurry you? What do you want?
Katy: We want to know what's happening, with all the lights from the sky and people disappearing and turning into dust.
Doctor Spoon: Oh that? Not too complicated. Something from upper orbit is firing laser beams through the atmosphere, targeted at meridian points. The earth is covered by electro-magnetic laylines, like a kind of energy grid or nervous system. The points where the lines converge are being zapped. Kinda like accupuncture.
[Doctor Spoon punches up a powerpoint presentation. The Earth is encircled by grids of light criss-crossing on the surface. Where the lines cross is linked by flashing red lights.]
Dave: So this IS global then?
Doctor Spoon: Oh yeah. America, Africa, Europe, you name it. Anyone on those points is being reduced to dust. I'd put it down to some Gaia world revenge thing, except the moon was nuked first. 21 million people living up there... until yesterday.
Katy: They're all dead?
Doctor Spoon: [shrugs] Well, Mr. Squiggle might have escaped at the last minute...
Nigel: Hey, hey. How do you know what happened there?
Doctor Spoon: Oh, I subscribe to their webcams. Nothing's been said or done for five hours now, and also several reactors have gone into meltdown because no one's checking on them. If they're not dead now, they will be in a week or so.
Dave: So that's it. We're all stuck on Earth... and Earth... is doomed.
Doctor Spoon: Pretty much.
[Doctor Spoon leaps to his feet and guides them over to the doorway.]
Doctor Spoon: Sorry I couldn't be more help. Sort out the bill at the front desk.
Andrew: No, wait, wait, wait. Those people on the moon, they said something at the end.
Katy: Yeah. Something about Charles the Fourth?
Doctor Spoon: No, Charles Fort. If you'll just...
Nigel: [interrupting] Who's he?
Doctor Spoon: Fort? Fortean Times? [sighs] More abysmal ignorance.
[Doctor Spoon crosses to the computer, types at the keyboard and reads out from the wikipage.]
Doctor Spoon: Charles Hoy Fort. August 6, 1874 – May 3, 1932. Was an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena. Skip a bit... ah, yeah. Novelist and researcher into the unexplained, wierd and downright scary. Ever heard of The Book of the Damned? The first ever guide to stuff no one could understand? The X Files of its day, only more scientifically accurate and without Gillian Anderson?
Andrew: They said he was right about something. A farm and property?
Doctor Spoon: Oh yeah. "The Earth is a farm. We are someone else's property."
Nigel: What the hell made him say that? Sounds out of context to me.
Doctor Spoon: Basically he decided that UFOs were spaceships and they were hanging around the world like farmers keeping an eye on crops. Abducting a human in a flying saucer? Nothing more than plucking a mulberry off the vine.
Katy: So that's what's happening now? Aliens are zapping people to be eaten?
Andrew: It was turning them into dust.
Eve: Maybe that's how aliens eat?
Nigel: They must be bulimic then.
Dave: [upset] This is insane!
Doctor Spoon: Like Charlie boy said, "If there is a universal mind, must it be sane?" Maybe it's just a routine part of the Mayan apocalypse?
Eve: What is this Mayan stuff anyway?
Doctor Spoon: Don't you read the newspapers?
Eve: What newspapers?
Doctor Spoon: Yeah, guess I'm a bit out of the loop myself. OK, long story short. The Mayans believe that the world is linked to the sun. The sun lasts only so long then it is destroyed and replaced with a new one.
Katy: You mean an eclipse.
Doctor Spoon: That's what it LOOKS like to blasphemous heathen eyes. And they were certainly able to predict the extremely long eclipse in 91 a good five hundred years before it happened.
Nigel: But if they were so smart, how come they didn't predict they'd get wiped out by the Spanish?
Doctor Spoon: My god, such ignorance. The Mayans weren't wiped out by the Spanish, the Aztecs were! The Mayan civilization died out and was replaced the Aztecs. THAT new age was the one of darkness and superstition and it lived up to its name when Cortez arrived, destroyed most of the Aztecs and all the records that would answer the petty little continuity details you go on about.
Katy: So, the new sun triggers a new age of civilization.
Doctor Spoon: Yep, but there are only six suns. No more, no less - and three were used up by the time the Mayans got organized. The fourth sun died the year Cortez arrived, and the fifth bit the bullet in 1991. There would be earth changes, cosmic awareness and chats with the masters of the stars. Not long after the 91 eclipse, UFO sightings shot through the roof - hell, one was seen and RECORDED on film for 23 minutes while the eclipse happened. Then the Mount Popocatepetl exploded. Earth changes, cosmic awareness, masters of the stars. Convinced yet?
Andrew: So we're on the sixth sun now?
Doctor Spoon: Yep, and it dies on Friday.
Andrew: But that was over 20 years ago... why is this sun going to die so quickly?
Doctor Spoon: Oh, well, the carvings that might have explained that were smashed up by some greasy wop five hundred years ago! Look, the movement of the Earth goes through the procession of the equinox, a 28 THOUSAND year cruise. So far, Earth's been in the Age of Pisces the Fish, right? Nice and reasonable and ordinary. Next up is...? Anyone?
Eve: [unsure] The Age of Potato the Chips?
[Doctor Spoon headbutts the desk.]
Dave: You mean, the age of Aquarius?
Doctor Spoon: Bingo. Also known as pure chaos. We go into pure chaos without a sun. Fair to say the world ends.
Katy: But it's still Wednesday! Why is all this happening now?
Doctor Spoon: I don't know! Oddly enough no one was blogging 28 millennia ago! Now, look. According to the few civil defense ministries still on twitter, all the signs are this accupuncture will be done soon, then there will be one simultaneous stab and the leyline will go thermonuclear. Every danger spot linked to every other danger spot. So, in the unlikely event anyone is in the safe gaps, Earth will be scorched like some giant basketball. Oh, and then the sun's due to go out. I'd like to spend what little time's left engoing all the delights human pornography has to offer.
Nigel: I don't suppose...
Doctor Spoon: ALONE! GET OUT!
[They leave. Doctor Spoon sighs and slumps at the table.]
Doctor Spoon: It's the destruction of all creation and idiots from high school STILL keep pestering me.
[He notices one of the red lights on the grid map is flashing. He presses a key. It zooms in on Australia. The flashing light has a caption: YOU ARE HERE. Doctor Spoon gulps. He looks at his watch and rolls his eyes.]
Doctor Spoon: Oh, for fuck's sake!
[He hangs his head in his hands. The throbbing noise is heard.]
[The gang are making their way through the barricades towards Wynona when the noise is heard. They look up as a spear of white light plunges through the sky towards the shopping centre, the noise getting louder and louder. The gang run for it as everything flares white...]
- to be continued...