It started as a rumour.  No-one believed it at first, of course; just like every previous time when the end of the world was announced.  Just voices whispering about how strange things had been sighted in the sky. A meteor, hurtling through space, passing close enough to the earth’s path to be seen clearly.  Only the maths had been done and indicated that it wasn’t going to be the near miss that had originally been predicted.

Instead it was going to hit directly.

The newspapers were dismissed as panic-mongering, and retaliated by calling experts to back them up. The argument raged over the media for days, until it began to dawn on the public at large that far too many experts were not giving direct, reassuring answers, but instead were avoiding the question and talking around probabilities and trajectories and failing to disguise was what beginning to look a lot like panic.

No-one seemed to know what to do.  Panic buying struck; shops sold out of bottles of water and tins of food.  We didn’t believe the rumours, of course, but still we could see that if we didn’t buy in stocks pretty soon then supplies would dry up following the excessive demand, and so we bowed to peer pressure and stocked up in our turn. It was Bill’s idea to buy in frozen food. We pointed out that in the case of massive disaster electricity would stop working and the freezers would fail, but Bill pointed out that it would probably keep long enough to get through the initial aftermath, and after that – well, if things weren’t sorted soon they’d never be sorted at all, and so having food that would last for years instead of days would be unlikely to change the overall outcome.

So everyone built up their stores, and talked about the end of the world in a disbelieving manner, and moved through each day not quite sure how to behave, whether to celebrate still being alive or mourn what it was suggested was about to come.


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