As the loop plays out across the sky people stop working to stand up and see themselves magnified across the heavens as they plead and weep and cry before a lens that doesn’t care. The canned laughter and syrupy music only serves to make the humiliation ever more complete were it even necessary for that to be so right now.
Iseult and Gilly watched in wonder as they stood under shelter in the courtyard of their gulag.
‘What on earth can all this be?’ asked Gilly with a tremble. ‘I cannot begin to understand.’
‘And that is exactly why we should focus on the things we do know,’ said Iseult. She put her hand of the old man’s shoulders.
‘Why focus on the darkness when it is the light that keeps the night at bay?’
The film cuts again and this time an image of Stooky Bill materializes in an enormous close shot and, like the worst excesses of popular television from a time way gone, begins to sing in the most mocking and creakiest of voices;
‘There is no Future now
Nor was there ever before
And with the Past behind us
There is now just Nothing evermore …’
Cut once more to another staple of popular television, the ultimate heart-string-tugging telethon as the video statements made by the doomed begin to play across the sky on a celestial loop accompanied by teary, swirly music and peals of canned laughter.
The clouds now part and the Crowley-Baird Inc. logo appears as if the sky was a giant screen. Behind the logo is a sunny dappled playful meadow and as the sunshine in the picture slowly fades the logo is replaced by the words ‘Terminal Transit.’ An automated voice begins to speak.
‘On behalf of everyone at Crowley-Baird Inc. we would like to welcome you all to Terminal Transit.’
The film playing now fades in to a beautiful sandy beach with slowly lapping waves and a hammock gently moving between two palm trees.
‘Congratulations to you and your planet for having been selected.’
A lightning storm takes hold and rolls across the sky with jagged ferocity, stabbing the darkness.
A booming voice rings out through the tumult.
‘Welcome to Terminal Transit.’
The suffering we are now visiting upon you is simply the fruit of whim.’
‘We mean you each and every harm you are currently experiencing.’
The streets began to fill with professional comfort-givers; priests, nuns, politicians and television personalities – now with no recognized formal function but determined to try and maintain some claim on events as they unfold.
With a permission based solely on the same cosmic perversity and absolutely nothing else, these comfort-givers were given special dispensation from the labour at hand in order to offer empty promises and visions of a future that cannot possibly exist now. Walking among the weeping, toiling crowds.
Everything always finds an eventual rhythm and the end of the world is no exception.
The sky is now so black that day and night are only useless memories of a time.
Where once beautiful clouds thrilled their audiences by floating low and slow across the city and then out to sea they now lay sullen and black and heavy and still.
There is only rain now. Hateful hellish rain. And winds strong enough to make you walk double as you go about your pitiful business.
Imagine a single pleading stream of hopeless angry frightened desperate voices captured and then eventually set adrift across the darkest darkness of Time and Space forever more.
‘We are very sorry.’ ‘Isn’t there someone who can stop this?’ ‘We wanted to grow old together.’ ‘I can’t find my mammy.’ ‘I don’t want to die.’ ‘Can we talk about this?’ What did we do to deserve this?’ ‘How dare you!’ ‘Please don’t do this to us.’ ‘My wife died this morning.’ ‘We’re not afraid.’ ‘I think my parents are still alive.’ ‘I refuse to say anything.’
Like a nation forced to sign its own book of condolences the video testaments continued relentlessly. Even on the happiest of occasions a camera’s lens can make you feel tongue-tied but imagine how it would make you feel at a moment like this.
Whole families standing before it.
Single men and women.
New-found friends clinging together.
Everyone waits in line for their turn.