How I spent the end of the world

It is December 21st, 2012. On your way out of the door, you grab a book from your shelf for the train journey. It is a novel by Italo Calvino, chosen chiefly because of how much you enjoyed one of his nonfiction books recently.

Now you’re in the station, waiting for the train. I won’t be so rude as to inquire where you’re going; that is your business alone. But at this time of the year, with so many of your friends returned, it can only be to the pub. I keep this thought to myself, however, so as not to offend you.

You take the book out of your jacket, which you have chosen because it has pockets exactly big enough for most reasonably sized novels. You immediately notice how fitting the title is to your current circumstances: If on a winter’s night, a traveller.

You begin to read the book. It’s a good book, well written. Not what you were expecting. The most striking thing about it, however, is how infectious it is.

Not in the sense that you can’t put it down, though that too is true. But in the sense that it has begun to infect reality. The book is describing someone waiting at a train station, just as you are. In the book, it is winter, just like it is for you. You decide you want to write a blog post about it when you get the chance, but you’re not sure how to.

It’s not until you’re writing the blog, a few days later, that you read the blurb on the back. Halfway through, however, your eyes are drawn to the recommendation by Salman Rushdie. This fleetingly reminds you you must sit down soon and give The Satanic Verses the proper attention it deserves. But your attention is suddenly held by something else Rushdie has written:

“I can think of no finer writer [than Calvino] to have beside me while Italy explodes, Britain burns, while the world ends.”

Hadn’t you been reading Calvino on the day of the supposed Mayan apocalypse? You count back the days and realise that you had.

What a strange coincidence.

Or was it that that was how the world ended? An invasion of a fictional or metafictional world into the physical or metaphysical, the entry point and incident nexus located a few centimetres from your face in a Birkenhead train station. A truly ‘pataphysical event where a book by a dead author rewrote the world without anyone noticing.

But rendering these ideas into a blog post is ludicrous. You don’t even believe in the Mayan apocalypse.

Your blog is called Implicate Disorder. You’ve never been too sure why.


Published by

Laurence Thompson

Laurence Thompson is an English writer. He is almost certainly drunk.

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