01 Feb When Gods Blink
There was no sudden jolt, no collapsing into unconsciousness, no transition into utter darkness and back again. Nothing.
For everyone, time had appeared to pass as normal, one second moving uneventfully into the next. Birds flew, people talked, the wind and the rain blew and fell respectively – nothing had occurred to indicate that anything untoward or unexpected had happened to the inhabitants of the Earth. Only those who looked beyond our planet and its ring of constantly chattering satellites now found that the rest of the universe told a different story.
NASA and related space agencies noticed first. Signals to ongoing missions beyond those in orbit around the Earth were all off by almost 30 minutes. Frantic investigation revealed that the same time discrepancy was occurring for all incoming signals. Naturally they came to the conclusion that the problem must therefore lay not with these external elements, but with the computers on Earth. But this led to a bigger question – one computer glitch was possible, but all of the various space agency’s computers across the globe showing the same failure at exactly the same time? Naturally, a virus or a sophisticated global hacking attack was the next obvious answer. An international team to investigate such a large, well-coordinated cyber-attack was being discussed when the first calls of alarm came in from confused and concerned astronomers, and the true significance of what had actually happened became known.
Using data retrieved from telescopic arrays at Jodrell Bank, Palo Alto, Mount Pleasant and others across the world, confirmed against existing stellar records and computational models of the local galaxy and beyond, it became apparent that for twenty seven minutes and fifty four seconds the Earth had somehow been out of sync with the rest of known time and space. In essence, the world as we knew it had winked out of existence during this period, and then returned as if nothing had happened.
For all intents and purposes during that short window of time, we had ceased to be.
The international investigation team was repurposed, a blank cheque written, giving it its pick of resources and the best minds in their fields, all to investigate this one event and all sworn to the utmost secrecy. None of them needed to be told the panic that would ensue if this information became public before a suitable, and hopefully reassuring, reason could be given for the event. Those that couldn’t keep silent were quickly and quietly silenced themselves.
Despite the various project names assigned to the sub teams, those involved began referring to the event in a half joking manner as ‘…the day God blinked.’ In casual conversation between project members this was eventually shortened even further to just ‘the blink.’
After six rings, Ben finally answered the door.
“Mark! What are you doing here?”
“You invited me, remember?”
“Did I?! How odd! Well, I probably had a reason at the time. It’s still good to see you anyway. Come on in!”
I’d known Ben since childhood. We attended the same schools for a while, before his crazily high IQ led him onto a fast track of higher education and beyond. We kept in touch though; his parents were sensible enough to realize he needed some grounding in the real world, and encouraged our friendship with the usual sleepovers and camping trips. Their smarts lay in forcing Ben not to let his social skills atrophy completely like a lot of very intelligent kids were wont to do. As a result, whilst he was frequently side tracked and forgetful, he still functioned in normal society with a degree of success.
After our respective schooling had finished we both moved into the IT industry, although at vastly different levels. For myself, I now worked in tech support, mostly maintaining insurance systems for a range of small independent companies. Boring, but it paid well and allowed me to travel. He, on the other hand, was self-employed and preferred working from his ‘Apartment of Solitude’ as he called it, referring to himself as a ‘Consulting Technician’ (he’d gotten the idea from watching re-runs of ‘Sherlock’). His work was a lot more varied and advanced, and whilst he never openly admitted to hacking, he certainly had enough technical knowledge and experience to have been employed in the past by such names as Google, Microsoft and IBM when they needed someone to test the all new, unshakable security they’d just put in place, or track down those that had subsequently been able to breach their all new, unshakable security. He preferred the latter work he told me; it added the ‘thrill of the chase’, plus it usually paid better.
What was less well known was the work he occasionally did ‘off the books’ for such groups as the Department of Defense and the NSA. He admitted his working for them was twofold: one, they wanted his expertise and brilliance, and two, it allowed them to keep tabs on his expertise and brilliance. He didn’t mind this as he explained once:
“Well, it keeps them happy knowing where I am and what I’m doing. Or at least what they THINK I’m doing,” and then he’d grin and pass me the latest decoded email he’d intercepted. He didn’t do anything with the stuff he found, he just enjoyed the challenge.
To be completely honest, sometimes it was hard to pin down just who Ben was and what his motivations were from one moment to the next. I’d just grown up accepting him and his eccentricities, quickly coming to the conclusion his life was a complex pattern of impulses and ideas, woven together from threads that were as much madness as genius.
There was his belief that every time someone said ‘Abracadabra’, an angel lost its wings, or that the common cold existed as a vast, hive mentality that avoided detection by its elements constantly hopping from body to body. Mad, crazy shit like that. Half the time I thought he was joking; for the rest I just hoped he had enough common sense to rein it in when in public.
Then there were the times he did and said things that ended up on the opposite end of that, when what he said made absolute, unnerving sense. On those occasions he spoke with a lucidity that seemed to cut through all the crap humankind had built around its certainties and beliefs, as if he’d touched on some universal truth we should all by rights know. All I could do at those times was marvel at how someone with such a kaleidoscope for a brain, entertaining such a maelstrom of contradictory thoughts constantly, could suddenly bring all those elements together to produce those single blindingly white lights of truth.
Then he’d suddenly go off on a tangent, accusing his neighbours of being CIA agents trialling neurotoxins on the local cats and we’d be back to normal.
Still, I came at his summons. Despite the crazed theories and odd habits, it was definitely the most entertaining conversation around, plus his library of illegally downloaded films was truly a wonder to behold. That, and he was my friend.
It was during a piece of work for NASA, idling through their secure systems looking for proof of Area 51 during his off time, that led him to first discover and then piece together all the facts concerning March 25th and the ‘blink’ found by the international team so far.
Being his only close friend, he’d decided to fill me in on this ongoing conspiracy, mainly so he could show off his talents once more, hence the invitation. As he spoke he appeared completely oblivious to how my face was gradually growing more and more incredulous. He described what the world’s space agencies and astronomers had discovered, and how a secret scientific think tank was now investigating what had happened. Physicists, Quantum theorists, Mathematicians… the whole spectrum of sciences, all focused on this one problem and the questions associated with it: what had happened, why it had happened, and most importantly, was it likely to happen again, and if so, what was the risk of it being permanent.
He told me of the total news blackout and how any amateur astronomers or similar who now came to the same conclusions were to be either brought on board, treated as cranks, or disappeared with extreme prejudice. Their biggest fear was a mass panic he said, or the world’s religions taking credit on behalf of their respective Gods and several genocidal wars kicking off as a result. As he said:
“There’s nothing more disconcerting I guess then not being able to trust your own reality. We’ve been raised in a world where it’s fine to distrust your government, your employers, even your family, but your own entire existence?! Definitely a recipe for chaos.”
“Places like CERN have been placed on almost permanent hiatus. The governments of the world have no proof experiments like the ones they were doing there are the cause, but then I suppose they had to point the finger somewhere until more evidence showed up. There’s a lot of theoretical work being done now, but pretty much zero practical. I guess it’s only a matter of time before they get the scriptwriters in from Doctor Who to brainstorm a possible cause.”
He sighed at this, sat back in his swivel chair and spun round, gazing at the ceiling seemingly lost in thought, then he slowly came to a stop and returned his gaze to me, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes:
“Then on the other side, you have all the religions…”
At this he paused again, looked around his cluttered desk, and then started building what looked like a tower of various bits and pieces. As it slowly grew in height, he continued speaking:
“Remember our bible classes? I liked the stories, if not the morality. I especially liked the story of Babel…”
The rising structure of books, hard drives, chocolate bars, magazines and other random items his hands could find in reach had risen to a height just below his chin. He added a few more items, adding to the precarious sway it already had. Pausing again, his hands not touching it but spread wide on either side ready to stop any imminent collapse; he attempted the voice of an old English vicar delivering a sermon:
“Man in his hubris decided to build a tower to God, so he may converse with his creator! God though, in his glorious wisdom, decided man should not be allowed to do this and took steps to rectify the situation. So he cursed mankind with the gift of many tongues!”
He smirked at this, his eyes never leaving his tower, and returned to his normal voice.
“Well, many a project, plan or peace has been ruined by the inability of people to understand each other. It might be that humanity is over reaching itself again. With the final proof of the existence of the Higgs-Boson, maybe God’s decided we’re getting too close again, and he’s selfish about his tricks. Time for another lesson perhaps?”
At this he slowly closed his hands into fists on either side of the precarious edifice he had created, then with a single finger gingerly pushed it near the top. With a crash, his metaphorical tower scattered across the table and the floor. He waited until the sound of the books and rubbish falling had died away before speaking again, this time in a thoughtful voice.
“Maybe the ‘blink’ as they call it was God giving us a heads up, a warning to stop encroaching on his intellectual property, else risk the consequences.”
Then he grinned, his tried and true atheism once more reasserting itself.
“Personally, looking at all the facts so far accumulated, I believe the answer lies even further afield,” he said, a knowing smile on his face.
I took a comfort break at this point, shaking my head at this new conspiracy theory. When I got back, he’d moved on already, his head now buried in the side of a PC tower case now perched on a different desk he reserved for ‘mechanical endeavours.’ It was quiet for a while, broken only by his humming as he fiddled inside the case whilst I looked for somewhere reasonably clean to sit. Then abruptly he spoke again, his voice oddly masked by the case.
“As I was saying, I believe the answers they seek lie further afield. I have statistical proof in fact.”
He’d often laughed at statistics in the past, and blamed them for 63.75% of the world’s ills (in his mad pedantry, he had indeed worked out a formula that he said proved this figure). That being said, he told me once he could destroy the world with a single spreadsheet, and in my more fatalistic moments I honestly believed him.
“I accept, statistics in all their perceived infallibility, are the most fallible things in the world,” he mumbled from inside the case, reaching aimlessly for a screwdriver on the desk next to him with a hand coloured orange and black from a mix of grease and Cheetos.
“Take a work of fiction and add numbers to it, and suddenly it becomes non-fiction. Add a pie chart and a graph and it becomes an inviolate truth.”
“Bollocks,” said I, only half listening as I lounged on a large dirty bean bag littered with wrappers and the odd wire.
He’d then retracted his head from the case, looked me in the eyes and said with a devilish glint in his own:
“Pass it to the right people in the right places at the right time, and it becomes law.”
“Hmmm,” I replied, deciding not to entertain his paranoid fantasies further in favor of a magazine I’d just found on the floor amongst all the other junk haphazardly discarded as part of his less than ordered, less than sanitary, lifestyle.
He grunted at my lack of enthusiasm for continuing one of his favorite topics, and buried his head back in the tower case once more before continuing anyway.
“However, in those cases I am referring to your basic, biased statistics. Marketing, pressure group, political… that kind of unreliable crap. Now pattern recognition, that element within the field of otherwise exploitable statistics, THAT I do have time for.”
Extracting his head again, he looked around the desk the case was on, shifting papers this way and that as he continued, partially lost in thought:
“You’ve heard of SETI of course…”
“Hold on… if we’re heading into alien territory, you can kiss my ass right here and now.”
He fixed me with a glare, and I threw my hands up in the air in resignation, muttering:
“I’m sorry, please continue oh knowledgeable one!”
“Thank you. SETI, the search for extraterrestrial life, one of their jobs being the analysis of signals bouncing in and around our local galaxy.”
“Of which they have never found any conclusive proof of intelligent life,” I reminded him pointedly. He ignored me.
“What if the patterns they’ve been looking for are wrong? What if you could analyze these seemingly random signals another way. What if there is a pattern, but it’s spread over a longer period so you don’t even see it as a pattern. Ah ha!”
Triumphantly his hand came out of a pile of books clutching a pad of post-it notes, scattering the books across the desk in doing so. Fishing a pen from his trouser pocket, I saw him scribble ‘To Do’ on the top note and slap it on the side of the tower’s case, before turning around to face me with an excited grin on his face.
“Have you been watching the Discovery Channel again? Is there a UFO special on this week?” I asked pointedly.
He looked at me indignantly, though I noticed he quickly closed a TV guide that had been open on his desk amongst the mess.
“What if I told you I had written my own pattern recognition algorithm? What if I told you that I had found a message in those signals?”
“Bullshit,” I said quietly, suddenly less sure of myself, now more than a little shaken by what this meant if he had indeed succeeded in discovering a message from an alien race.
“Well, it wasn’t easy,” he continued, feigning an air of false modesty, “…and I do have the NSA to thank. Although if they discover I’ve been running this algorithm in the background on their decryption supercomputer, then I may have to leave abruptly, or apologize. You never can tell what mood they’ll be in one day to the next…”
“Ben. What about the message?” I said firmly, cutting him short, standing to face him.
He went quiet, looking around evasively. My doubts quickly returned.
“What was the message Ben?”
“Well, it was short, and it is really rather impressive decoding anything like this obviously…”
He paused, and then said abjectly: “Hello. Are you content?”
There was a few seconds silence, before I started laughing uncontrollably, mostly out of relief. Ben looked indignant.
“Well, I think it’s a very poignant message. Better than ‘Prepare to be annihilated’.”
“Oh god… hold on a sec… I can’t breathe! You had me shitting myself for a moment there!”
“I take it then you don’t believe what I’ve found is a message from an alien race? Would you PLEASE stop laughing!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Ahhhhhhh… Ben, you’ve got to admit, if you were to imagine contact from another species, I think I’d be looking for something a little more, I don’t know, profound? I mean, we’ve sent out a gold disk giving a snapshot of the human race and our knowledge. Music, mathematics, you name it. And what do the hyper-intelligent aliens send back? The equivalent of ‘Have a Nice Day!’ ”
“You don’t think it’s from outer space then?” he reiterated.
I looked at his pained expression and answered in a more reasonable voice:
“Look Ben, I’m sorry. I think your algorithm found a pattern that wasn’t there, and extrapolated meaning from it.”
Turning, I returned to the bean bag and my perusal of the magazine.
He stood there a few moments, and then he turned and flopped down in a large, comfortable swivel chair behind another desk, this one littered with laptops in various states of construction and destruction, connected by an array of cables in what appeared like haphazard fashion. Pressing the on switches of three of them, his face was illuminated in the telltale glow of their screens. His focus flitting between the screens and his fingers dancing across the keyboard in front of him, he had nevertheless decided to continue, and began outlining his newest theory.
“I disagree. I’ll go even further and state that this is an alien species with an interest in the human race. A species directly involved in the evolution of mankind.”
“Here we go. Are we really back on the ‘Engineers’ theory once more? Has Ridley Scott been sending you secret messages in his films again?” I muttered, not looking up from the page I was now reading.
He ignored this and continued:
“Think about it. The human body is an amazing machine. It regulates itself, heals itself, and has the ability to create more of itself through reproduction…”
“I thought you only believed in things you had experienced for yourself?” I asked; peering over the top of the magazine at him, my voice now openly amused. I saw him scowl before he continued with his monologue.
“As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, the human body is an amazing machine. And that is exactly what it is. A piece of technology, built using biological parts rather than mechanical ones. It is not however, a perfect machine.”
“What do you mean?” I asked despite myself.
“Well, think about it. It has its own defensive capabilities in the form of white blood cells to ward off illness, the ability to heal wounds, etc, etc. Occasionally though, this excellent piece of machinery goes wrong; it functions incorrectly. It has a faulty piece of code if you will. The immune system could start overreacting, attacking normal healthy cells, or maybe it fails in it’s job in attacking the defective ones it should be dealing with, letting them grow and expand unchecked.”
“Why, cancer of course!”
“What?!” I asked, shocked despite myself. It was only another crazy conversation with Ben, but the word ‘cancer’ always sent an involuntary shiver down my spine. I’d seen enough of its effects on friends and family to be adverse to even its mentioning. Ben though, oblivious to my discomfort, had continued:
“Cancer is just one example of the body failing to perform it’s defined function, an internal failure of a biological system. A mistake, nothing more.”
“We have in essence, a design flaw, and if our God or Gods are supposedly infallible, then logic dictates we were not built by a benign omnipotent being, but rather are constructs of more fallible ones. Action should have been taken to rectify these errors. To complain if you will.”
Despite myself, I took another look over the magazine at him; nervous now for a reason I couldn’t quite put my finger on:
“What. Did. You. Do?”
“Why, I sent a message back telling them this of course!”
I hadn’t seen Ben in six months. Work had kept me busy in London, and he wasn’t one for texting or casual telephone conversations to catch up. Then one day he called me up suddenly to come visit.
By this time, snippets of information about ‘the blink’ had begun to leak out onto the internet, on even some of the more respected sites and journals. Most normal people saw it as just another mad conspiracy theory. Having spoken to Ben before though when he’d outlined all the data, the fact that other sources were now relaying the same information sent chills through me. It was one thing for it being just another of his crazy theories, but quite another when a growing number of external bodies were now seeming to confirm the event’s existence.
This time when I rang his doorbell he answered on the first ring, but I wasn’t ready for the sight when he opened the door. He was haggard and tired, like he hadn’t slept in days, and his clothes were rumpled and dirty, even more so than normal. As I stood there I caught a look in his eyes. They were bloodshot and there were large, dark circles under them, but there was a calm I hadn’t seen before, which was echoed in his voice as he welcomed me in. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first, but then it dawned on me; I had seen and heard this kind of response before in those who were in the final stages of terminal illness: Acceptance. I felt my body prickle with unease; that chill that ripples across your skin when you stop thinking in the past or the future and all your attention is suddenly focused on the NOW because you know the world you’re used to is about to change in some fundamental way.
I paused in the doorway, and looked him in the eyes. Then without thinking I drew him into a massive bear hug. Ben had never been one for physical contact in all the time I’d know him, but he accepted the hug without question, and I felt some of the tension release from him. We parted after a short while and I asked him sincerely:
“Are you okay? Nothing wrong with you?”
“No… No… Nothing physically at least.”
“Good. Good, because you look like shit.”
He laughed weakly at that, and then quieted. We stood there silently for a few moments, before the thought that had been nagging at my mind since he’d invited me forced itself out:
“I’ve noticed on the web there’s been a lot of noise about this ‘blink’ thing you mentioned last time. I was wondering… did you get an answer?”
He smiled weakly, ignoring my question, inviting me in and simply pointing me to the large bean bag for me to sit, as I had done so many times before. If anything, his apartment was even messier than the last time, but somehow the impression of organized chaos was gone. This was just mess that had been left to accumulate, like the owner no longer cared.
As I sat down, he went over to a desk and fiddled with a laptop, moved some random items on the desk, almost like he was stalling. Then turning to face me, resting himself against the desk, he asked me in a vague voice:
“Do you remember what I was talking about the last time you visited?”
“You mean the alien thing?” I answered, trying to make my voice sound light, the smirk on my face forced and obviously fake. I’d given in to his suspicions and he knew it. Before he would’ve rubbed this fact in my face, but today he didn’t. Such things didn’t seem to matter to him anymore, which made my voiceless fears even greater.
“Not just humanity, but all life on Earth, has been engineered. An external source created it, and maintained it. It is my belief…” at this he laughed a dry mocking laugh at his use of a word he had previously despised.
“It is my belief now that the Earth has experienced various ‘stages’ of life. There have probably been several of these stages, back from when Earth was first formed, up to and including today. Of these earlier ‘versions’ we have no substantial evidence of. The last one before us though, we do have several indicators lying around.”
He left it hanging, waiting for my mind to catch up. It didn’t take long, although I was surprised at how easily I was accepting what was possibly another one of his eccentric theories.
“You mean the dinosaurs don’t you?” I said quietly; his restraint somehow infecting me as well now.
A small smile arranged itself on his lips again, though the sadness never left his eyes.
“Indeed. Those big stumbling sods before us. For the sake of clarity, I’ve classed them as Version 5.0 of life on Earth. We are Version 6.0 I now have reason to believe.”
“What about your message, did you get an answer?” I asked again, a bit more impatiently.
“Not just my message. The Earth’s been sending radio signals and more out for quite a few years now. If we can find their signals as I’ve proven, they can certainly pick up ours, even the unintended ones.”
“What are you trying to say Ben?”
“That they got our messages, and they took action.”
I tried to swallow now in a dry throat.
“You work in technical support. What is usually your first recommendation when something stops working correctly?”
“I don’t know… usually turning it off and back on again does the trick in the majority of cases…”
At this my voice trailed off as I realized what he was implying, what this said about March 25th and the lost 27 minutes and 54 seconds.
Ben started laughing, trailing off into a sad cough as he saw what he’d said take hold in my mind. Then he suddenly went off at a tangent, just like the old days, and I listened despite the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach at what I was now thinking.
“Chariots of the Gods! Chariots of the frigging Gods! Imagine that. Aliens coming down to teach ancient civilizations new tricks. Or maybe they didn’t. Maybe Version 6.0 was still under warranty at the time and part of that warranty included on-site maintenance. Hell, my money’s on the Greek gods actually being extraterrestrial consultants sent down to fix bug problems. Makes you wonder which fucked up piece of code triggered Pompeii!”
“SHUT UP!” I suddenly raged. Maybe he was in one of his mad phases again, but I knew that he wasn’t. The sane, logical part of me didn’t want any more truth; knew I couldn’t handle any more.
I looked up, and Ben was staring at me, not in anger, but in sympathy. He settled down next to me on the bean bag, passing me a beer he had obviously just fished out of the small fridge he kept behind his desk. I took a long swig, let my breathing settle, and then passed it back. Taking that as a cue to continue, he did, but quieter this time, less tinged with the hysterical note that had appeared to be emerging in his speech earlier, like he’d reached the peak of his madness and was now trailing off the other side.
“It would explain why so many people believed in pantheons of Gods back in the day. Alien engineers popping down to fix ‘the system’ whilst we were still covered. Just like Microsoft ending support for older versions of Windows though, maybe we just passed the date where Version 6.0 of life on Earth was covered, so they stopped coming.”
He took a swig and passed it back, his voice now wistful, his eyes unfocused, trying to look across the unfathomable void to where he imagined our progenitors resided:
“And now, in this age of radio and microwave signals, the people of Earth are finally sending messages and emails that can be picked up by their ‘Gods’, bemoaning this and that failure with their bodies, their families and the world around them, demanding answers, and these messages tumble out across the ether of space, picked up by some backwater tech support desk in some forgotten nebula. The number of messages reaches a critical mass, a statistical point where action must be taken, and some alien equivalent of a high school dropout named Gary checks a scrap of paper on his desk for the instructions to an age old piece of software…”
He downed the rest of his beer.
“…and then turns it off and on again.”
Silence reigned for a few minutes, during which he stood up and made another trip to the fridge, this time bringing back several more bottles. He settled back down on the bean bag and passed me one before he spoke again.
“I got a message back you know,” he said simply.
I looked at him incredulously, and then demanded:
“Jesus Ben! What did it say?!”
His eyes were dark, pausing a long while before reaching into his back pocket and slowly unfolding a piece of paper, mumbling something about ‘decryption software’, ‘language analysis’ and ‘Word auto-formatting’ before passing it to me. It read:
Thank you for replying in regard our recent query as to your ongoing happiness with your software. We passed on your multiple concerns to the relevant technical support helpdesk.
Unfortunately ongoing support for your current version of LIFE 6.0 has ended. The initial reboot of your hardware/software attempted previously appears to have not resolved your issue(s). Therefore we will be refreshing your system to previous stable release LIFE 5.3.
Your contract does not include backup/restoration of existing data, so all current data will be wiped post version LIFE 5.3.
Thank you for using LIFE and please contact us if further issues occur.
“Refresh?” was all I could mutter, confusion and dread dulling my senses.
“Using the version numbering as a guide, my guess is that would be resetting the Earth back to the late Jurassic period,” he murmured thoughtfully, taking another swig of beer.
“I sent a message back of course, asking them not to do anything. I even couched it in the proper terms: ‘We have decided to continue with our current installation, please do not reboot nor refresh the system. Please ignore all other bug reports unless forwarded by me. Ben Glover, Sysadmin of Earth.’ Hopefully they got it in time.”
Then I looked at him again, the look of disbelief obvious in my eyes.
“Sysadmin of Earth??”
He didn’t meet my gaze, but rather sheepishly kept his eyes locked to his beer bottle.
“Well, I had to sound like I was in charge didn’t I?”
“Do you think they got your message?” I asked hopefully after a pause.
“I honestly don’t know. We can hope though. By my calculations we’ll know in the next couple of hours or so. It’s why I invited you over I guess. So we can watch the end together. Then again, we might just wink out of existence…” his voice trailed off.
Silence reigned again, broken only by our occasional sips. There wasn’t, in all truth, very much else to say.
After a while he finished his beer, rested it gently down next to him, and then yawned expansively, leaning back on the bean bag with his hands clasped behind his head and said matter-of-factly:
“Well to be perfectly honest, I don’t think the dinosaurs were given a fair enough crack of the whip the first time round. Only right they should be given another go.”
I turned in disbelief to argue with him at this irresponsible attitude, and then saw the barely suppressed laughter in his eyes. When all was said and done, what was there left to do but wait and see what happened, and laugh at the absurdity of it all? He started, and I joined in, till the tears were rolling down our cheeks.
And there we sat, laughing and drinking beer until our world ended… maybe.