Well, I was going to draw another page of my “Stories” comic earlier, but I couldn’t think what to draw. So, I decided to write a random short story instead. This story is more of a descriptive writing/stream-of-consciousness kind of story more than anything else, but hopefully it’s still interesting and not too over-written.
If anyone is curious, the two songs alluded to in this story are The Sisters Of Mercy’s excellent cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and a random cyberpunk song called “DNA Codec” by Valium Era.
Anyway, without any further ado, here is “Timeless”.
We decided to ride out the apocalypse in a club. It was the kind of place you could only find in nineteen-nineties fin-de-siecle cyberpunk adventure games. The kind of place which the apocalypse would probably find comfortingly familiar. They had cheap cocktails and a good DJ too, it’s the kind of place which last memories are made of.
Revenz sat next to me, sipping a neon purple cocktail and looking at something on her phone. I think it was a countdown program of some kind, a morbidly fascinating death clock for the world.
Although we’ve known each other for years, it always seemed slightly odd when she used a modern phone. She kind of has the whole fifties Bettie Page gothic domme look going on – with maybe a bit of roaring twenties, art deco, silent movie Louise Brooks glamour too. Although she’s the same age as me, she could have fitted into any time in history and still been edgy and interesting. She’s an anchronism of the most amazing kind and I couldn’t think of a better person to spend the apocalypse with.
‘Lore, you know what this place needs? Pyramids.’ She smiled.
‘Yeah, pyramids. Bright golden pyramids. They go with anything.’
I couldn’t disagree. They were as timeless as Revenz. Pyramids were the kind of things which were strong enough to not only withstand an apocalypse but to lodge in the collective consciousness of the cockroaches which would inevitably survive for a hundred generations. Yet, they were ephemeral, up for grabs, public domain. Ancient history. And that’s how things survive – they spread like viruses. Or should that be “virii”? They stay open, they get changed and modified by everyone until they’re nothing more than a recurring background detail in the world’s subconscious mind.
Revenz finished her drink and said: ‘So, do you think it’ll be for real this time?’
‘Nah, people have been predicting the end of the world since it began. It always survived, it’s probably like quantum immortality on a larger scale.’
‘What?’ She raised an eyebrow.
I took a sip of my pina colada and tried to work out a way to explain the whole thing. It’s like Schrodinger’s Cat, but not quite. It’s kind of the idea that, due to a whole bunch of things to do with parallel universes, it is impossible for a person to subjectively experience their own death.
It was all very theoretical and hypothetical and involved an experiment which looked like something out of a Golden Age sci-fi horror movie. A deadly game where someone sat in a metal box and diced with death every ten seconds – or didn’t, if the theory was to be believed. Anyway, my own interpretation of the basic theory behind this geeky game of Russian roulette was absolutely fascinating, but annoyingly difficult to explain.
Finally, I muttered ‘Nothing, just some random thing I read.’
‘Whatever it is, as long as it works, then it doesn’t really matter.’
‘I think it works, it’s impossible to prove or disprove.’
‘Like the apocalypse?’
We smiled at each other and I shook my glass, Revenz nodded and I got up to get some more drinks. As I squeezed through the throbbing dancefloor, the DJ started playing a version of ‘Gimme Shelter’, I hadn’t heard before. It had haunting guitars, staccato drum machine rhythms and sonorous eighties vocals. Everyone slowed down, as if it was the first cracklings of the apocalypse.
When I got to the bar, it was still crowded three deep. All I could do was stand at the back and let myself be carried forwards, as if by osmosis. When I got there, I rustled a note onto the sheet metal counter and asked for a pina colada and a purple sparkle. The barman cupped his hand to his ear, I almost shouted it. Pina colada and a purple sparkle. He raised an eyebrow, so I tried again. Fighting against the all-consuming music. This time, he nodded, plucked the note off of the counter and started mixing.
A punk guy with bright red hair and a mushroom cloud tattoo picked up a pint of lager from the counter and almost spilled it over my dress. We muttered subliminal apologies to each other over the music before he walked away and I turned back to the bar. The two drinks were waiting and I moved to thank the barman, but he’d already gone. Picking them up, I osmosed through the crowd again and circumvented the dancefloor entirely.
By now, the music had changed to mechanical techno beats intercut with audio clips from an old German science video. It was oddly mesmeric. When I got back to our table, Revenz was playing with her phone again. She looked up and nodded at me.
‘Fifteen seconds left.’ She smiled.
I smiled too, hopefully not too nervously. For all the stuff about quantum immortality, I still felt butterflies in my stomach. That exhilerating pre-freefall lightness which can happen completely at random and make the whole world feel warm, bittersweet and exciting for a few seconds. Ten to be precise.
‘To the end.’ I muttered and raised my glass. We clinked them together and downed our drinks in one gulp. Fortifying.
Revenz brushed a strand of hair behind her ear and put her phone on the table. In bright red and black, there was just a number on the screen – eight. Then Seven. Then Six. Five. Four. Three. Two.
The music stops. Conversations fade out like static on a dying radio. Glasses clink in a skeletal drumroll.