In the perfect silence that you often find early on a late winter morning in the Berkshires, the world prepared to come to an end. This was the second time that the world had prepared to come to an end in just under eight years, but this second time was a bit more convincing. Perhaps you all remember the first time that it ended – there was a general sense of peace and optimism, combined with an overwhelming regret that as a race we had not started acting less like complete assholes to one another a lot earlier. People quickly realized how much easier life might have been had we not made a habit of acting like the bodily orifice to which this euphemism referred, and for just a short time tried not to act like that anymore. This lasted about a day and a half. So much for applying ourselves to something.
On the day before the scheduled second ending of the world, a delegation of tree planters was sent to the very center of the earth – the center of all that is known in the world. Tradition had informed us that this was a place known for several thousand years as “Jerusalem,” but the actual center turned out to be a place known as “Minneapolis.” Minneapolis hosted a wonderful fair every summer, but this really played no part in the end times, despite what the organizers claimed. The tree planters were surprised to find Minneapolis as their destination, but dutifully packed their bags and headed out on I-90 through Chicago, a bit north and then straight to the Twin cities on I-94. They made a slight detour into Madison, Wisconsin for a corned beef sandwich at an east side deli, but otherwise they drove straight through on their sacred mission of staving off the end.
Arriving at the center of the earth, the delegation of tree planters went straight to work and began the back-breaking labor to which they had dedicated their lives. The trees were all artificial, however, live trees having been made illegal by the Federal Bureau of Apocalypse Vegetation. And so the tree planters worked diligently at putting 653 plastic piss-elms into the ground, encircling an entire pancake restaurant near the center of the city.
It always seems that there is a small child who is able to bring some sensibility and some honesty to any proceedings dealing with the end of the world. This time around was no different, and little Peter Pechnik of Hudson, Wisconsin was visiting the Twin Cities with his family at the time that the tree planters finished their task. As the Pechnik family left the pancake restaurant, little Peter went up to the head tree planter and tugged his sleeve.
“Hey Mister,” said little Peter Pechnik, “whatcha' doin'?”
“We are planting trees to stave off the end of the world,” replied the head tree planter, beaming.
“Ha!” said little Peter, examining one of the trees. “You big gobshite, this is nothing more than a glorified pipe cleaner!”
The tree planters all looked at each other and then at the ground.
“And I got another revelation for you, too,” said Peter. “There ain't gonna' be no end of the world. Not now, anyway. And it ain't gonna' be 'cause you numbnutses pushed a bunch of pipe cleaners in the ground.”
“Whaa...?” asked the incredulous head tree planter.
“Nope,” said Billy, “it ain't gonna' happen tomorrow like you think.”
“How do you know?”
“Simple,” said little Peter, handing the head tree planter a piece of paper. “See for yourself.”
The crushing of the prophecy was there for all to see. It was printed in bright, five-color graphics, and spoke of hope, expectation and a great bounty for all mankind. The head tree planter read aloud for all to hear.
“Colossal Syrup-riffic All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Orgy. Next Friday from 9 to 5.”
“Kids eat free,” reminded little Peter Pechnik.