The Case of the Missing Apocalypse: From the Files of Chik Chaos: Pop Culture P.I.Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
December 21, 2012. I was crouched under my desk, just as I had planned for the past four months. When this day came, I knew I’d be ready for it. The end of the world was happening — tonight — and I was prepared to face it. Kinda.
All right, all I had was five bottles of spring water and a couple Jambalaya MREs I’d bought from the local military surplus store. But business had been hard lately, even for the world’s most famous Pop Culture P.I. My last case had been over a month before, when I’d helped a group of folks from the local rest home learn how to pronounce “Les Miserables.” (“No, no, it’s not ‘Las Mizerabola.’”)
But like everyone who watched The History Channel, I knew two things: One, the Mayans predicted that the world would end on 12/21/12, and two, you can make a fortune selling old junk to chubby guys who work in a Las Vegas pawn shop. Or out of a van. Or at an abandoned storage facility. Wait. Is that History? I don’t think that’s History. Feels like it’d be on History, though.
Anyway, I was crouched under my desk, prepared for the worst, when I heard it — an odd scraping sound, coming from just outside my office door. It’s here!, I thought. The end is nigh! The bombs are dropping, the zombies are attacking, the poles are shifting. They’re making a prequel series to “Boy Meets World,” the universe is about to collapse! I stuck my fingers in my ears and waited. And waited.
Suddenly, a figure crouched down in front of me. “Hello,” he said in a crisp British accent.
“Ahh!!!” I screamed. I scrambled for the nearest weapon, wielding my office flyswatter like a lightsaber.
“Whoa, hold on there, no problems,” the man said. His voice was excited but reassuring, young but weathered. He was dressed like a dork, in a suit jacket and dress pants. His bow tie was okay, though. Bow ties are cool.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Oh, where are my manners? I’m the Doctor,” he said.
“Doctor…who?” I asked.
“No, no, though you’d be amazed how many people call me that. No, just ‘The Doctor.’ Um, quick question. What are we doing under your desk?”
“Because the world is ending,” I explained. “So I’m gonna stay here until it’s over.”
“Here,” the Doctor said. “Under your desk.”
“Well, that’s where they told kids to stay if a bomb dropped in the Cold War,” I responded. “And if the government says it, it must be true.”
“Right,” the Doctor said, skeptically. “And the world is ending because…?”
“Because the Mayans said it would,” I replied.
He sighed slightly. “Oh, bugger, it’s 2012, isn’t it? All right, listen, um…what’s your name?”
“Chik Chaos, Pop Culture P.I.”
“Well, Chik, I can tell you for a fact the world isn’t ending today.”
“But the Mayans…”
The Doctor took my hand and all but dragged me out from under the desk.
“The Mayans were a remarkable people in a lot of ways. But this Long Count nonsense? Complete rubbish. First of all, even the Mayans didn’t think it’d be the end of the world. All it meant was their calendar was ending. The Long Count being over was the same thing as you turning the last page on that Daisy Duke calendar over there.”
“Her name is Catherine Bach,” I corrected.
“Apologies,” the Doctor said, contritely. “My point is that when the long count was over, the Mayans did what you do when a year was over — they had a big party. Oh, what a sight those were. My pal Donna got sloshed on fermented Cacao juice.”
I sat in my chair as he continued. “Anyway, you humans tend to get all apocalypse-happy every 10 years or so. I bet you’ve survived more ends of existence than you can even count. Nostradamus, Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Pat Robertson, Y2K, Harold Camping, Honey Boo Boo — these have all in their own way foretold of the end of the world. And look! You’re still here, aren’t you?”
“So…so why do people obsess over every potential apocalypse?” I asked.
The Doctor sighed. “Because you’d like to believe you’re in control. That you can fight against the inevitable. Humans dislike the idea of not seeing the end coming. The problem is…you won’t. Whether it’s one person or an entire civilization, when the end comes, it’s usually quick and unexpected. That’s the bad thing about death. Believe me — I’ve been through it 10 times and I still haven’t quite got the hang of it.”
“So what do we do?” I asked.
“The same thing you always do,” the Doctor said. “Live. Love. Find joy. Eat a biscuit. Hug a child. Do whatever makes you happy, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. And always, always fight for what you believe in.”
He looked over his shoulder toward the large, blue box which had somehow appeared in my waiting area. “Well, I must be off, places to go, people to see, giant alien robots to thwart, you know how it is.”
As the Doctor was walking out my door, I shouted, “Wait! What…what about you? What do you believe in?”
He looked back and smiled. “I believe in you, of course. I believe in humanity. It’d be nice if sometime, you all would too.”
Email Toledo Free Press Star Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.