Previously, on Countdown to Annihilation! . . .
. . . the sun blew up!
. . . ruining the chances for Lizard Cops to become a breakaway hit!
. . . also, Charles and Iphigenia were trapped in the Eden Sphere
. . . as Snavering Lavelwods rampaged through his factory!
But can Charles pull sweet chocolate victory from the grinding jaws of defeat?
Will the mass of the animals clinging to the Eden Sphere render Charles’ careful ballistic calculations useless?
And just why are the first two books of the King James Version subtly incompatible?
The eleventh hour is upon us!
The Lizard-Peoples’ Prayer
The world was full of promise then.
When we evolved our thumbs.
We thought that we would rule
The world and bring an end
To all that’s cruel
But then the cold
And then the snows
And one by one the lizards froze
And so the end, ere it began
Of our great world
We dwell in deeps
And ancient sleeps
And on TV when it’s not sweeps
we find we’re often mentioned
And Lovecraft knew a thing or two
But misjudged our intentions.
What we can’t claim
We will not claim
The world belongs to humans now
When you’ve moved on
We’re kind of rooting for the cows.
But please! Kind humans in your homes
And if there is a merciful God
We ask that you not leave the Earth
To the hated
Charles stands there, staring at his watch for a moment. He is performing mass calculations in his head.
After a moment he looks up at Iphigenia.
Then his smile grows broader.
It is now a grin.
And Charles laughs.
“It’s going to be all right,” Charles says. “It’s going to be all right! I can jettison the television receiver! Lizard Cops won’t be on!”
He rushes among the trees. He pushes buttons. He flips back panels. Iphigenia watches in some startlement as an iris atop the Eden Sphere opens and a peculiar-looking television tree launches itself through the gap like a rocket. Then the iris closes tight.
“Yay?” says Iphigenia.
But Charles is not paying attention. He is still racing about. He stops and stands for a moment beneath an apple tree. “Is this the one?” he says. He stares at it for a time. Then he shakes his head. “No! It was the pears.”
Charles charges to the pear tree. He stops. He stands very still, like a man at attention. If his watch is correct, it is now 10:59:58, on Saturday, July 16. He is practically quivering.
“Now!” he says. He pushes the knot. He reveals a button.
There is a sighing, all through the world, as the last light of the sun touches the Earth, then fades away.
Charles pushes the button.
The world ends, wrapped in wings of darkness and of flame.
And Charles slumps.
“There,” Charles says. He leans against the tree. He smiles at Iphigenia. “There. It’s all done. All of it. Every last bit.”
“Anyone else would be dead,” Charles says. “No one else could have worked out a way to survive the extreme conditions at the very end or beginning of the Bible. But my marvelous Leviticus-Luke gyroscope will. It buffered us against the end of the world and it’ll protect us against the beginning. Don’t you see, my dear child? The only way to survive The End is to flip the Bible back to front and use an Apocalyptic Slingshot effect to hurl ourselves back to the second book of Genesis! Kapowie! Suddenly the world’s not quite so over, is it?”
Iphigenia blinks at him.
“The second book?”
“It’s too inconsistent with the first book of Genesis,” says Charles. “Clearly, someone traveled backwards in liturgical time. So, why not us?”
Charles looks at her seriously.
“But we can’t be greedy,” he says. “That’s why it’s so important that you choose the thing you care about most. When you’re working with inventions, greed never works. I could have gone back naked and alone and I’d have lived with that. But that’s too cruel for anyone else. So I decided long ago that I’d break all the rules of time and theology, if I had to, to make sure that anyone who came with me got to pick one thing. One comfort from the final days of the world to carry with them into Eden. I couldn’t have brought you here without knowing you’d picked one. I would have had to kill them. I was ready to kill them. But now I won’t. Now I don’t have to. They can stay in the future on a frozen Snaverer world, and we can live!”
“. . . I don’t know if I’m ready to . . . to rebuild . . . the species . . .”
Iphigenia is blushing bright red.
“Dear, dear. No one did that kind of thing back then in Genesis 2. They just . . . begatted. That’s why I made the marvelous Begatting Gun. It uses the power of ribs—nature’s genetic batteries!”
“Oh,” Iphigenia says.
Then she grins.
Charles smiles. “So, what will you keep?”
Iphigenia looks embarrassed. “What are you keeping?” she asks.
“My marvelous Apples of Knowledge,” Charles says, firmly. “They’re caramel! But we shouldn’t eat them.”
The apples are, in fact, labeled “Apples of Knowledge—DO NOT EAT.”
“Wow,” Iphigenia says. “You know that we’re going to get in trouble for that, don’t you?”
Charles waves a hand. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Iphigenia does not know how to answer that one.
“Come on,” Charles says. “It’s your turn.”
So Iphigenia reaches around behind her back and pulls out her choice. She blushes. She holds up the one thing she is keeping. Charles looks at it for a bit.
“You know those are desperate to destroy humanity at any cost, right?” he says.
The thing she is holding hisses. It coils unhappily around Iphigenia’s arm. It looks with a cold calculating cunning towards the apples on the tree.
“I know,” says Iphigenia, hugging the Snavering Lavelwod to her chest. “But they’re so adorably fuzzy.”
“Score one for inerrancy,” Charles says.
As recorded in Charles 1-18 of the Dead Sea Scrolls, viz., “Countdown to Annihilation—DO NOT APOLOGETICIZE!”