“Wake up!” Mrs Mayan Calendar shook her husband’s shoulder none too gently. “It’s your Day of Work, and you’re sleeping in. As usual.”
“Wha…whassup?” Mr Mayan Calendar rubbed his eyes. “Can’t I get a little sleep around here?”
“You’re done with sleeping.” Mrs Mayan Calendar shook him harder. “Up, now. Up.”
“Mmf,” Mr Mayan Calendar said. “Five more minutes. Five more.”
“You’ve been sleeping for a full year now,” his wife reminded him. “You’re always sleeping, never do a lick of work, the roof needs mending and we’re out of bread, you never ask, never wonder how I’m running this place, and now you dare tell me you want to sleep for five more miserable minutes?”
“All right, all right.” Grumbling, Mr Mayan Calendar arose. “Keep a hold on yourself, can’t you? What did you say I have to do today?”
“Nothing much,” the missus told him, not forgetting to accompany it with a nasty look. “It should even be within your capacity. Just end the world, that’s all.”
“Huh? Oh, it’s that day, is it?” Mr Mayan Calendar rubbed his chin, wincing more at the thought of having to shave than at the stubble. Still, it wouldn’t do to turn up at work unshaven, especially on as momentous an occasion as this. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. Unfortunately for you, I’m sure. The people from your office called bright and early to confirm I knew to wake you up, as though I’d forget. So you’d better get cleaned up and off now.”
Mr Mayan Calendar cast a regretful look back at his bed and headed to the bathroom. When he emerged, twenty minutes later, it was with the expectation of breakfast waiting at the dining room table – but there was none.
“I work my fingers to the bone,” his helpmeet snapped, when he dared to mention the fact, “to cook and clean and keep this place going, while you lie in bed all year snoring. If you want breakfast you’ll have to make it yourself.”
So Mr Mayan Calendar boiled an egg for himself (it turned out a mite runny, but he was in a hurry to get out of the house before she ordered him to get into the chores) and had a cup of unsweetened black coffee. He hated black coffee, sweetened or otherwise, but they were out of milk and cream.
All the while his wife was hovering in the background, and now she once again started in on him.
“As if you even care that you have a job to go to, what with sleeping the whole year, and you couldn’t care less what’s been happening anywhere anyway, and…”
Mr Mayan Calendar spooned up some of the egg yolk and slipped in a word edgeways when the lady paused for breath. “So what’s been happening in the world anyway?” he enquired.
His wife paused in mid spate, like a clipper ship whose sails have suddenly run out of wind. “Why are you suddenly concerned with that?” she asked suspiciously. “I never knew you to give a damn before.”
“Well, um…” Mr Mayan Calendar looked into the depths of the awful coffee for inspiration. “I just, you know, wanted to find out what was going on in the world, seeing as I’m going to destroy it today.”
“You sure it isn’t just to get out of being told the truth about yourself?” The breeze freshened and began to fill out the clipper’s sails. “I just tell the truth, and if you don’t like it, that’s just too bad. You’re going to get it anyway. When I think how my friend Mrs Y2K and her husband…”
Mr Mayan Calendar was washing out his cup at the sink when he next got a chance to speak. “And what’s been happening in the world this last year?” he repeated casually. “Since you’ve been so alert all year, you might as well tell me, mightn’t you?”
Apparently the wind died down as abruptly as if someone had closed a door. Mrs Mayan Calendar gulped, like an exceptionally large bullfrog swallowing a dragonfly. “Well, uh,” she muttered. “Where do you want me to begin?”
“Well, how about current affairs?” Mr Mayan Calendar said, rummaging in his wardrobe for a clean shirt. “What happened in politics? Wasn’t there some Emperor Obama of Whitehouse as I recall?”
“Yeah, him. That’s the one who wanted Change.”
“Change? What for?”
“How on earth should I know? Maybe his daughters needed some to buy burgers from the local MacDonald’s. How does it matter either way? But the people wouldn’t give him enough Change, so he made a law allowing him to lock them all up.”
“He did? And then he took all their Change from them?”
“No, because apparently they didn’t have any left. Everyone was very Depressed over it. They kept talking about their Depression but apparently there weren’t enough medicines for it, or something. Someone called Banks was responsible, who lived in a street with a wall. It must have been a pretty big wall because 99% of the people went to occupy it.”
“I remember something about that, vaguely. And then?”
“Well, there was some kind of place called Off Gone ‘Is Tan. Which I assume means someone could no longer pay for a tanning salon. Anyway, Emperor Obama maybe thought he could pay this poor man’s bills, so he went and attacked an Eye that Ran about. At least everyone called this place Eye-ran, and the Emperor went to Occupy it himself. But that didn’t turn out all that well because of something called the Price of Gas.”
“You don’t say.” Mr Mayan Calendar had finally found a reasonably clean and reasonably uncrumpled shirt. “So that’s all about the Emperor?”
“No, because of the Price of Gas, people had even less Change to give him, so he made himself God-Emperor and Droned at everyone who thought otherwise until they all gave up thinking otherwise. It was either listen to his droning on and on and on, or attend some kind of Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, as I gather. Anyway. after that everyone gave him all the Change they had, which wasn’t enough to buy his daughters burgers, either.
“And in the meantime there was Is Real, that place that not everyone accepts is real. Apparently they had a lot of boorish people who didn’t appreciate good things, art and culture and such, so they called them Philistines. These Philistines wanted their own country where they could desecrate art and culture all they wanted.”
“Fancy that. What happened?”
“So in defence of art and culture, the Is Reals wiped all the Philistines out. The Emperor sent them some Change to buy more washcloths to use when they want to wipe out more people who hate art and culture.”
“And what about the rest? You know, like, what was that place called? Europe.”
“I think it ran out of Grease to lubricate its parts, so its workings seized up something awful. They haven’t sorted it out yet. I heard they’re planning to replace the Euro with the doubloon. Someone said the pirates did well with it. And talking about pirates, in April the Somali pirates registered their business on the stock exchanges. I bought a thousand shares…”
“You what?” Mr Mayan Calendar turned from the wardrobe in righteous anger. “You did what? I worked for that money!”
“…and those shares have appreciated two thousand per cent in value,” his wife went on, unperturbed. “Piracy is a growth industry, and you’ve done precious little work in two thousand years. So just you shut up about that.”
“All right, all right. Enough about current affairs. What about…oh, science?”
“Yes, well, science, yeah. You’ve heard that they finally proved some things move faster than light?”
“So light got angry and went on go-slow. It went so slow that snails were crawling faster than it and travelling back in time, and everything got so screwed up the scientists went and ran more experiments proving nothing travelled faster than light. Then light was happy and went back to its own speed again.”
“Do you think this tie will go with this shirt?”
“No, it’s too reddish. It’ll make you look like a liberal. Wear that one, the conservative dark blue. Next, there was this thing about Global Warming. A scientist said he’d proved conclusively that it was a hoax, but the Nobel Prize people refused to give him it on the grounds that he was microbiologist and not a climatologist. So the industrialists got together and awarded him their Nobble Science Prize, with a gold medal and a statue. Unfortunately the next day someone went and painted LIAR on it.”
“Is the tie on straight? Anything new in religion?”
“Not really, just that a new Prophet is making a lot of Profit in India after declaring himself the New Almighty God. Sixteen churches, eight Hindu sects, and three different schools of Islamic thought have already announced that they are the new Almighty God instead. Here, let me fix your tie.”
“Thanks. So what about culture? Films? Music? TV?”
“You don’t want to know, Trust me. I mean, you really don’t want to know.” Mrs Mayan Calendar paused. “Why are you taking off that shirt and tie? What are you doing?”
“Going back to bed.” Mr Mayan Calendar sighed. “There’s no point in my going to work anyway.”
“What are you talking about? You’re supposed to destroy the world today, aren’t you?”
Mr Mayan Calendar sighed again.
“The humans have beaten me to it already,” he said.