Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This Is the Way the World Ends

The world ended millions of years ago. At least, it did for the dinosaurs. The world ends. It happens every day. In fact, in a world of nearly seven billion people, the world ends—someone's world—ends every minute. Perhaps even every second. Several hundred thousand times per day, some world ends. A child dies, a parent disappears, a lover leaves. Worlds end in many ways. Eventually, the world as we know it, the planet Earth, will end for everyone, once and for all. Maybe it won't happen until the sun begins to expand and turn red some billions of years from now. More likely it will be a random comet or an unforeseen viral mutation. Whatever end may come, it probably won't make for a very good movie, and even the death of a Bruce Willis antihero won't be enough to stop it.

Here's one such end.

But a Whimper

Well, gang, I know that—like me—you’re all happy to be out of those damned cages for a change. The blurs have promised us two hours in the auditorium today and every third day from now on. If you’re wondering why I’m doing all the talking, well they—the blurs, that is—found out that after my pro basketball career ended, I made a name for myself as a motivational speaker. Possibly you’ve seen my million-selling DVD series, Making the Half-Court Shot. It retails for $399.95, but for just 24 monthly payments of—aw, hell, we’re all friends here. If anyone’s interested, I can dig up a copy for you to watch, gratis. Money’s kind of meaningless now. So, anyhow, the blurs have asked me to explain our situation. I ask those of you who speak Chinese, Spanish, or Arabic to please pass on what I’m saying to the rest of the confused-looking folks in the crowd. As for our little rain forest friends with no pants—I’m not sure they’d understand anyway. The bottom line is that the blurs don’t want us to get fat and lazy even if we aren’t really doing anything but laying around eating and drinking and sleeping.

We, as many have conjectured, are the last of the human race. Eighty-seven men and women from various locations around the world. The blurs wanted to keep a few on hand to study and, as they explained it, figure out where we went so wrong. That’s their words—not mine.

I’m sure you all remember—well, those of us who had access to TV—all remember the day the blurs arrived from space and landed on Pismo Beach. Despite the military honor guards, the bands, the dignitaries and scientists and celebrities on hand to greet our first ever visitors from another world, the blurs ignored us and marched right down to the sea and out of sight underwater. Turns out they weren’t here to meet us. The blur who spoke to me—very nice lady, attractive in a blue-skinned, green-haired, four-breasted way—anyway she said they had been listening to transmissions from Earth for centuries and wanted to meet our world’s great musical geniuses face to face. I was a bit confused at this, considering how they’d snubbed us on the beach. So I said, well, you know, Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart are all dead, but we still have some fine musicians here and there, depending on their preferences. I was careful not to mention anyone like Kanye West or Madonna or Justin Beiber because, you know, de gustibus.

Anyway, the blur looks at me and she says, “Beethoven? Oh, the deceased German composer. Well, that Ninth Symphony of his wasn’t bad, I suppose, but it simply pales in significance beside even the most basic freshman mating songs of a juvenile humpback or blue whale. Those are the geniuses we came to meet—your cetaceans.”

As you can imagine, I was flabbergasted. I pointed out that we humans had built cathedrals and cities and the Internet and cured diseases and catalogued all sorts of natural laws. So, first she says they’re willing to let the cathedrals and cities and the Internet slide. She was even willing to forgive all our wars and slashing and burning of rain forests. Then she said our efforts in the sciences were commendable but that the whales and dolphins have known about what we call Bernoulli’s and Pascal’s laws for as long as we’ve walked upright. She also pointed out that, while we humans built cities and catalogued things, we also eradicated hundreds of species of plants and animals and even managed to wipe out some of our own societies and races along the way. She was really down on the whole war thing, so I wasn’t sure how much forgiveness she was really talking about. Not too happy with our environmental record either, I gathered.

Worst of all, she said, we’d hunted the whales to near-extinction. The highest form of intelligent life on the planet, she said, and we’d almost destroyed them to supply ourselves with corsets and scented candles. I played the Newton and Einstein cards, but she said the whales beat us there, too, and did it without access to lasers, ground lenses, or electricity. She also claimed the whales likely would have developed those technologies if we hadn’t been so intent on wiping them out.

Finally, I know it was arrogant, but I said, “Hey, if they’re so superior, why were we able to almost wipe them out?”

She countered with the black plague—the power of rats and fleas. Using my own argument, rats and fleas are superior to humans.

And so, the other shoe dropped: as far as they’re concerned we are the rats and fleas. What we thought of as our civilization, they think of as an infestation. The human race, she explained, had to be eliminated to save the Earth. So they sprayed for humans. I mean, literally, sprayed a genome-specific antigen into the water supplies. About that same time, they gathered us up—a handful of samples of all the different human races.

Personally, I didn’t have anyone really close. I’ve been something of a loner since my fifth wife left me. That’s not important. What I mean to say is, I’m sorry for your losses. I’m sure this news means that most of you are just now learning that you’ve lost friends and family members. So, I’m sorry about that. Maybe we should have a moment of silence for prayer or contemplation or whatever. 


So, back to what I was saying.

The good news is that the blurs are nothing if not ethical; they don’t want to commit genocide, even against genocidal critters like us. The blue whales—incredibly good sports, really—are in agreement with this, and the humpbacks and sperm whales are willing to live and let live. Dolphins—who we never deliberately hunted—could give a shit. They’re all about having a good time.

The orcas are a different matter. They could be trouble. Seems they never thought too highly of our little Sea World exhibits. The name Shamu has become, like, the orca equivalent of Uncle Tom. So, the orcas are lobbying—aggressively, I hear—for permission to hunt us all to extinction. So, everyone should make nice with the blurs, don’t make trouble, don’t argue, cooperate, be friendly with any dolphins or whales who decide to contact us. As for the orcas, let’s hope they don’t manage to sway the others—or we are so screwed.

If no one has anything else, we have the auditorium for the next hour and a half, and the blurs have provided athletic equipment. Anybody want to shoot some hoops?


  1. Written as skillful as always Dennis. Surprised you chose an athlete for your spokesman, you even made him educated. I found the feel and cadence very much like Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, great job.

    1. Thanks, Little Cousin. Always good to hear from you.