Being inspired, maybe – 65
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, then, the words:
To say there was a storm coming was an understatement.
Not only caused by the weather but if certain events kept going the way they were, there could be a cataclysmic upheaval that would catch a great many people by surprise.
I couldn't say I'd read the signs correctly over the last few weeks, but it was now apparent that some people had, and were doing what they could while there was still an opportunity to do so.
Or that what they were doing became public knowledge.
It explained a cryptic phone call from a friend that I hadn't heard from in several years, not since he had been headhunted from university to a government department that he couldn't tell me about, only that he would be located in the nation's capital.
I hadn't understood why he went, or how his area of expertise could be used, but apparently, someone had seen something I hadn't.
The phone call, at first I thought it was a prank called using his identity, but I soon recognised his voice and manner but overlaid with something else. Fear. I'd not heard it in his voice before.
You should take a holiday in the next few weeks, I am, and stay there for a while, you know, get away from the hustle-bustle of city life. I'll send you directions for a place Jennifer an I found last year. We call it our little sea of tranquillity. I'll send you the location.
I was going to say hello, a simple formality he seemed to have forgotten, but not unusual for him, but he continued, "Look, I've got to go. I'll see you there, eh?"
Then the phone line went dead and leaving me looking somewhat astonished at the phone on my hand.
What on earth, I thought, was that about.
For a week I forgot about it, especially when no address or location arrived. Wally always had been a little overstrung, and I put it down to being a precursor to a nervous breakdown. After all, it would not be his first.
But, over that week world events took a turn for the worse. Presidents, Prime Ministers and heads of state had begun to use what could only be described as frightening rhetoric, and where they should have been seeking reconciliation, all they were doing was to make belligerent states even more isolated.
There was, one astute current affairs commentator said, a growing feeling that some people were seeking a war that no one would win.
What put a lot of what was happening in context was a conversation with s neighbour who hitherto had never deigned to speak to us in all the time we'd lived in the street. He was packing his 4x4, in what I assumed to be a pre-holiday pack.
I thought I'd break the ice. "You picked the right time to go away."
We'd just come out of a wild winter of unpredictable storms and unprecedentak cold, snow, and rain. In early spring, it seemed the weather could only get better.
"We're leaving. I suggest you do the same?"
"Leaving? You're going on holiday aren't you?"
He was the last person I'd have thought that would be frightened of anything, but it was clear, in his tone, that he was worried about something.
"The world's going to hell Mike. We're going now before the shit hits the fan, and it will. God knows what it's going to be like, here, in a few months."
He was starting to sound like Wally. I didn't think that the situation was as bad as he painted it. That was just a media beat-up, newspaper magnates skewing the news just to sell papers.
"I don’t think its all that bad. No one is going to make any rash decisions. "
He simply shook his head. "Don't bury your head on the sand Mike. If some fool doesn't launch a nuclear weapon, the climate will get us in the end. Leave now, find somewhere that doesn't depend on oil or a supermarket. We're going back to basics, it's the only way to survive what's coming."
OK, I was curious. I'd heard about this going back to nature before, the last time the world was heading for disaster.
"I'm sure if you think about it, you'll realise where."
It was as much as he would tell me. It was obvious he was not going to say where he was going, making me think this doomsday stuff was a cover for something else like he was on the run.
Or maybe not.
I heard the sound my phone made when it received a message, and I stopped to take a look.
It was from Wally and it was practically gibberish.
Then, the more I looked at it, certain words were standing out, and I suddenly realised it was a message in code, a code he and I once used at school, that used words to convey numbers.
If you knew the words that held the numbers. That would require a bible, not just any bible, but the one left in hotel rooms all over the world.
An hour later I'd worked out what the message really said, a set of GPS coordinates. A place he called the promised land.
It was followed by another message, or a notification, which alerted me to breaking news. Some fool had attacked a very large tanker in the Hormuz strait with a missile.
Not a huge tragedy in itself, but it was sufficient to stop the flow of oil.
The end of the world as we knew it had just begun.
© Charles Heath 2019
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