Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2)


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Peek into the Soul of a Boxing Writer—Part One

Rowling would have it, the battle nevertheless continues:.

You would think that sooner or later it would all come to an end. Things fall apart and vanish, and nothing new is made. People die, and babies refuse to be born. And yet, there are always new people to replace the ones who have vanished. Auster, 7. In the meaningless void of a city in which slaughterhouses sustain a black market in human flesh, Anna escapes being killed but, prior to their reunion, Sam loses his mind:. I gave up trying to be anyone […].

The object of my life was to remove myself from my surrounding, to live in a place where nothing could hurt me anymore. I said goodbye to you, Anna; […] I said goodbye to the thought of going home. I even tried to say goodbye to myself. I could imagine no more perfect solution than that. In the end I came close to living the life of a stone. Written in the first person by yet another female narrator, in this instance fifteen-year old Daisy, it narrates with adolescent matter-of-factness what might possibly have been the end of the world. That was a bomb that went off in the middle of a big train station in London […] and something like seven or seventy thousand people were killed.

That obviously went down very badly with the population at large and was pretty scary etc. That still left a whole afternoon with the end of the world about to happen […]. Rosoff, Passion, maybe. And something else. The air was suffocating, charged, the hungry plants sucking at the earth with their ferocious appetites. You could almost watch them grow, pressing their fat green tongues up through the black earth.

They emerged selfish and starving, gasping for air. In Rosoff, too, the ending is inconclusive, leaving at best the possibility of a new beginning of sorts, but never free from the remnants of the past:. Franz Rottensteiner, quoted in Ketterer, , Wherever man goes there are only extensions of himself. Ketterer, Less intuitively obvious, but with the same effect in what has been argued above, is the hypothesis that even after cataclysmic apocalyptic change, we can only ever imagine more of what we already know.

Writing about the possibility of absolute planetary destruction, Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, argues as follows:. Rees, The parts are separated by periods of six centuries each. The first part begins years after 20th century civilization has been destroyed by a nuclear war, known as the Flame Deluge. The war had led to a violent backlash known as the Simplification against the culture of advanced knowledge and technology out of which had sprung nuclear weapons.

During Simplification, anyone of any learning and eventually anyone who could simply read becomes the target of lynch mobs. Isaac Edward Leibowitz, a Jewish electrical engineer working for the United States military, who survives the war and converts to Roman Catholicism, founds a monastic order, the Albertian Order of Leibowitz, dedicated to preserving knowledge by hiding books Memorabilia , smuggling them to safety booklegging and, as in Fahrenheit , memorizing, and copying them.

Leibowitz is eventually betrayed, martyred and later beatified as a candidate to sainthood. A final vignette depicts the devastation left on Earth: as seabirds and fish succumb to the poisonous fallout, a shark, the oldest living species on the planet, escapes contamination by moving down into deep water, although even there, it is noted, there is nothing left for it to eat.

The knowledge preserved by the escaping flock, we suppose, would include the awareness of the nuclear possibilities that had necessitated this new exodus in the first place. Paradoxically, then, the mechanism now activated to ensure that even if the entire Earth is destroyed, its intellectual achievements are not, transplants to the new reality that which led to the destruction of the old one: at the end, what we witness is the beginning of a new but identical cycle, merely in a different place.

In the latter novel, for example, due to an engine malfunction a space ship is propelled through cycles of billions of light-years, beyond the end of the universe, and through to the early stages of a new one. There, the crew homes in on a newly-created planet where, paradoxically they find that the only vocabulary that can articulate the new reality is a risibly arcane one.

Arcane and therefore also limited by all the hallmarks of the old reality, now dead: competitiveness, hierarchy, species entitlement:. He smiled in a way they had not seen before. Certainly not. On the contrary. If cataclysm is the starting point for a new beginning, it is also often the opportunity for the rise of new forms of leadership redolent of all that was most familiar and often most reactionary in the time before.

As in George R. Let it be marked, no Changeover — Self, As in The Children of Men James, , a large portion of the population has become sterile. The underpinnings of the Republic of Gilead are derived from the Biblical story of Rachel, wife of Jacob. Rachel was barren. After many years, she finally achieves her desire for motherhood by persuading Jacob to impregnate her maid, Bilhah, who subsequently gives birth while reclining between her legs.

And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. Genesis Thus, in pre-Gileadean society, and despite holding a university degree, Offred was a low-ranking white collar worker whose colleagues, all women working under a male boss, generally lacked full material autonomy.

Stewart , Poul Anderson and many others, results in new worlds filled with compliant Stepford wives: a phenomenon itself worthy of scrutiny in a future study. Dick and P. James, unusual intellectual gifts often represent a danger to those that possess them, and can be used as the justification for undue exercise of force on the part of a defensive status quo. In all of them, however, we find strong hints that after global events of a cataclysmic nature, authoritarian statuses quo tend to emerge as the default social organization.

Furthermore, these new autocracies, and the brands of alienation they sustain, may turn out to be quantitatively but not qualitatively different from social structures ostensibly supposed to be or to have been essentially democratic. It may be true, then, that, as suggested by these and other works, in all cases, albeit with diverse enemies in mind, and in the language of the standard film trailer, we should all be afraid.

We should be very afraid! Sometimes, even, one of those who, in Western democracies, we have selected and elected to protect us. In Shadow on the Hearth Merrill, , for example, although an unexpected Soviet nuclear attack was the catalyst for a radical world change, from the point of view of Gladys, the immediate adversary in the aftermath of the disaster is someone much closer to home.

The film, disapproved of by the Pentagon but encouraged by President Kennedy in the months before his death, opens up debate on the possibility of democracy being overthrown in the name of national security. If the enemy is one of us, who shall I fear today? Are enemies, old or new, in fact sometimes not identifiable and controllable others, but instead part of the fabric of a self which, as urged by the oracle in the Temple at Delphi, we should seek to know?

Are the atomic explosions unleashed by a homely Stetson-wearing cowboy at the end of Dr. Strangelove the precursors of real-life possibilities under the command of equally attired leaders such as Ronald Reagan and George W. That they are already in our midst? That they are us? He is instead the Middle Eastern version of the oriental Kamikaze, the elemental high-jacker of jumbo jets flung against the skyscrapers of the New World in the first year of the new millennium, or else an enemy even closer to home: the Beardy Weirdy with a black rucksack on the London underground.

At present, the alien Muslim in our midst is ever at hand to justify the silencing of inopportune civil rights libertarians prone to condemning knee-jerk preventive reactions on the part of Establishmentarian forces of law and order. In his essay on the American s fear of Communism, The Great Fear , David Caute argues that the body politic has always used popular paranoia as a useful means for containing and controlling dissent.

The cast may change, but the plot, whether fictional or historical, old or new, does not differ in essentials. The script, whether that of sci-fi plots, real-life historical autocracies or their contemporary equivalents Pentagon neo-cons, their Whitehall fellow travellers, Middle Eastern enmities of polymorphous varieties, to name but a few remains essentially unchanged.


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  • The End of the World!

A number of conspiracy theories, both in fiction and in reality, argue that the forces ostensibly deployed by the status quo to protect us against supposed aliens in our midst aim in fact to protect that self-same status quo against us. Writers from Ray Bradbury to Philip K. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? The reality, however, involved a limited and short-lasting nuclear war which left behind an only partly contaminated Earth, now divided into enormous quasi-feudal demesnes ruled by a happy few very few , thanks to a confidence trick that has kept the remnants of left-over humanity in bondage and servitude.

In Saramago, as well as in the other narratives mentioned, the component of decay and the resulting stench become the primary objective correlatives of a problem that is literal but also symbolic of political and social corruption. In each case the disaster not only unleashes violence and autocracy in a variety of forms but it also reveals that such tendencies were always already there, only latent. And why not? The label of madness is a solution which has been historically tried and tested by every human autocracy whether defined by party politics, class or gender since difference began.

At the spot where he found himself, he was not sure that he would be able to find the lavatories, but he decided to take a chance. He was hoping that someone would at least have remembered to leave there the toilet paper which had been delivered with the containers of food. He got lost twice on the way and was in some distress because he was beginning to feel desperate and just when he could hold back no longer, he was finally able to take down his trousers and crouch over the open latrine.

The stench choked him. He had the impression of having stepped on some soft pulp, the excrement of someone who had missed the hole of the latrine or who had decided to relieve himself without any consideration for others. Saramago, The first thing I was aware of the next morning was the smell.

It rose from every city and town for weeks, and travelled on every wind that blew. When I woke to it that morning it convinced me beyond doubt that the end had come. Death is just the shocking end of animation: it is dissolution that is final. Wyndham, [] Normality, it soon becomes clear, is only what the majority declare it to be.

In Wells, the hero, Nunez, is an educated man, traveller, explorer and philosopher, conqueror of both lands and ideas, who in the course of a mountain climbing expedition finds himself adrift in an imponderable new world. Arrival in the country of the blind is a plunge into the unknown, both literally he falls down a ravine into the valley where that country is located and rhetorically he finds himself marooned in an upside-down world, where life is lived by night and sight is an unknown phenomenon.

Both adopt a standard formula, namely the desire for conquest in both senses of the word conquest of power and conquest of love , based on the assumption that in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king and the two-eyed man, presumably, is Master of the Universe. In effect, however, in each narrative the sighted or speaking man finds himself at a counter-intuitive disadvantage in a habitat set up respectively for either blindness or ape domination, and in which neither sight nor human status are of any relevance.

Those damn [triffids] have the drop on us. How did they know? They started to break loose the moment there was no one to stop them. But when they could, they did it at once — almost as if they knew they could. If it were a choice for survival between a triffid and a blind man, I know which one I would put money on.

In the early stages of the epidemic the problem to be addressed regards the means whereby the status quo the sighted might control the alien the blind and contagious other , something reinforced by the bureaucratic language that describes the measures taken in response to this outbreak of difference:. The Government regrets having to enforce to the letter what it considers its right and duty… Saramago, The army regrets having been forced to repress with weapons a seditious movement responsible for creating a situation of imminent risk, for which the army was neither directly nor indirectly to blame… Saramago, Similarly, in The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes , attempts to restore structures of social organization in the aftermath of disaster, inevitably assume the character of dictatorial rule.

The arrival of Nunez in the country of the blind is not the gnostic outcome of an enterprise undertaken with deliberation, but an unintended plunge into the geographic and sociopolitical unknown. In this case, therefore, the journey of discovery was wrong-footed from the start, and the knowledge that is attained is troubling in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is not king after all, and may in fact be forced to go blind in order to gain acceptance.

Norman Mailer

There is no such thing as a born-again virgin or an un-fallen mother. In Saramago, knowledge comes with the flavour of the proverbial poisoned apple: as the world recovers its sight, it is left with the consciousness that all it takes is the temporary removal of the restraining binds of civilization for the primeval brute to re-surface in the average citizen. And in both works, therefore, the very concept of civilization, which to have meaning requires belief in its superior merits, becomes untenable when we acknowledge the ease with which it can be pushed aside.

Wells , the imprisonment of the powerless the sighted man in the valley of the blind in Wells, the survivors from blindness corralled by the triffids into communities under siege, the blind in the disused psychiatric hospital, in a city spiralling into chaos, in Wyndham and Saramago, respectively. The answer, however, as Nunez learns, invalidates his status as a viable human being, let alone as king, because it addresses, in the end, something fundamental: the art of survival.

That sensation, habitually the correlative of either enlightening, understanding, epiphany or arrival at Eternal Life which is arguably the attainment of ultimate knowledge orunderstanding , however, here betokens spiralling despair. The ophthalmic and existential darkness of the inhabitants of the country of the blind, on the other hand, is literal, they only see darkness, they live by night and sleep during the day when it is too hot to work but it is also not so. Progressive but gradual generational blindness had resulted in the development of a community with a blind-friendly, perfectly structured and organized habitat in which life for the blind everyone is prosperous and productive, and sight is an irrelevance or even a drawback the rules of communal existence being determined by the blind for the blind.

To see or not to see, that is not the question. In the end, like the triffids who have no sight or indeed any other sense apart from touch, the usual human definition of fitness is not necessarily meaningful in the survival stakes, or in gaining mastery, in these differently-arranged universes. Within these setups, however, while adjusted modes of existence quickly emerge, the radically altered circumstances unhelpfully show signs of reproducing the intellectual, moral and social defects that arguably provoked the present disaster. Or, in other words, the seed of a recycled end already lies at the heart of the brand new beginning.

Whether with good or bad intentions, it all boils down to the fact that post-apocalypse, brave new worlds more often than not come already equipped with a hell pre-paved with those intentions. Whatever the causal components of catastrophe, be they war, scientific hubris or natural cataclysm, the common factor in the aftermath of apocalypse may be that the two categories of humanity are at best evenly matched but probably not even that.

And this, in its turn, opens the possibility that in the near tabula rasa that follows global disaster, the problems that brought about that disaster in the first place become part of the new equation. The would-be enemy — Communism — supposedly represented not just by them but later, during the McCarthy witch hunts, by thousands of others in the fields of academia, science and the arts Charlie Chaplin, Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, Orson Welles, Linus Pauling — twice Nobel laureate — and, with supreme irony, Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb intended to destroy that very enemy?

Or the Cold War warriors that purported to protect the world from it? In the end after the End , the real shock of the new is that it is not actually new at all. You can suggest to your library or institution to subscribe to the program OpenEdition Freemium for books. Feel free to give our address: contact openedition. We will be glad to provide it with information about OpenEdition and its subscription offers. Thank you. We will forward your request to your library as soon as possible. OpenEdition is a web platform for electronic publishing and academic communication in the humanities and social sciences.

Desktop version Mobile version. Results per book Results per chapter. Open Book Publishers. The World Gone M. Falling out with Hal and Hester. Search inside the book. Table of contents. Cite Share. Nano-engines are a potential cure for cancer. Bombs are inserted into people as kidney transplants. A district of Detroit is sealed off to protect the city from criminals.

Same director and concept as District The Broom of the System. The "Great Ohio Desert" G. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Buck Rogers 's spacecraft was frozen in May , after which he was frozen and not revived until A nuclear war broke out in November Post-apocalyptic world invaded by demons. Call of Duty: Ghosts. Predicts South America unifying into a single superstate called the "Federation of the Americas" and launching an invasion of North America with the goal of occupying and annexing it.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare [21]. Video game [21]. The United States intervenes in the war to stop the coupists, who then detonate a nuclear bomb during a battle with the US Marines, killing tens of thousands of US servicemen. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized. Set in the same setting as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2 [21]. Depicts a terrorist attack at a major international airport in Moscow that is framed on the US Central Intelligence Agency by the attack's perpetrators. The International Space Station is destroyed by a stolen Russian nuclear bomb detonated in the atmosphere above the US Eastern Seaboard by the UK to devastate the invading Russians via the subsequent electromagnetic pulse.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 [21]. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 — Defiance. The prom takes place in May The story also includes excerpts from accounts published in Depicts a war in Western Europe involving a neo-imperialist France. In , the United States has fragmented into post-apocalyptic wastelands. There are also sexbots. Set in the late 20th century. By , civil liberties in the West have been severely eroded due to the Cold War, coming to resemble the Soviet model. In , the inner cities have become unpoliceable " free fire zones " and military androids are assigned as schoolteachers.

A Clockwork Orange. Juvenile delinquency is countered by extreme aversion therapy. The film adaptation was released in In , the US economy collapsed. There are fifty million people unemployed in the United States. By , personal jet packs and time travel are routine. Command and Conquer: Generals. Predicted the rise of an Islamic State -like terrorist organization called the "Global Liberation Army" in the early s. In , the United Kingdom is a Communist state, having been invaded by the Soviet Union several years earlier. London has been renamed "Londongrad.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. A plague from space killed every dog and cat on Earth in which led to apes being domesticated and eventually turned into slaves. This in turn led to Caesar's revolution against humanity in Cosmic Voyage. Post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, six years after a nuclear war.

In , prisons are overcrowded, the threat of nuclear war constantly looms, and all activities are controlled and restricted. Crimes of the Future. Cosmetic products have wiped out all sexually mature women on Earth. Men engage in body horror and paedophilia. Concept album by the band My Chemical Romance set in a post-apocalyptic California. Damaged Goods from Doctor Who. Depicts an interplanetary war between Earth and Venus. In , terrorists developed a biological weapon called "Blizz". They used this weapon in local weather patterns in the United States.

Dark Angel. Set in a dystopian future after a terrorist electromagnetic pulse attack wipes out much of modern civilization. Genetic augmentation of humans is now mastered. Dalek from Doctor Who. The Doctor travels to in this episode, to a Museum of "Alien Artifacts". A throwaway line suggests that scientists have found the cure to the common cold. Depicts the events of a devastating nuclear explosion , hinted to take place in , in the small town of Lawrence, Kansas. A world in which vampires have become the dominant species, and there is a shortage of human blood and humans in general. Predicts the collapse of the global economy and the forced segregation of the unemployed.

Cyborg super-soldier and mechanical Warbeast. Remake of Death Race , but set in a private prison. Predicts the collapse of the United States' economy in The remaining form of the entertainment is a transcontinental car race where innocent bystanders can be hit and killed for points.

Deep Trouble. Main characters are cryogenically frozen from and wake up in Also predicted a "Great Earthquake" in that merged parts of Southern California. Destroy All Monsters. Initially "the close of the 20th century" in the Japanese version, in the subsequent English-dubbed version. Dino Crisis. A district in Paris is walled off from the rest of the city. District Ultimatum. Sequel to District Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The inspiration for the film Blade Runner. Set in a post-nuclear future in which synthetic humans are employed as slave labour.

A future history of the world, focused on northern California, following a series of nuclear events of uncertain provenance. The world has descended into a post-apocalyptic dystopia in which mutations are common, animals have evolved into higher intelligences and psychokenesis exists.

The Doctor travels to December 30, The film is set between December 31, and January 1, Doomsday Plus Twelve. The Door into Summer. In , household robots and the use of suspended animation are common. An earthquake levels Los Angeles in Set in the early 21st century. Calendars in-game suggest October—December Depicts shrink rays, jet packs, and bases on the Moon.

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CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST

An adaptation of the short story by Ray Bradbury. On June 18, , Earth was evacuated due to the fallout from a nuclear war. Humanity settled on Mars. By , consideration was being given to repopulating Earth. The book opens in the then contemporary period, in which a measles-like disease has wiped out most of the Earth's population. The second section, "The Year 22", takes place 22 years later in which a primitive community is being forged in Berkeley, California.

The final section is set in an indeterminate future date, in which the protagonist of the novel, a college student at the beginning, is elderly. A woman who lends a map to the protagonist, Ness, tells him to "Come back in the year to return it. Earth Defense Force In , radio signals from space indicate the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Four years later, aliens invade.

In , the United States of America and the United States of Europe dominate world affairs and there are no more wars. The city of Columbia, formerly New York, is cleaner, better organized, more peaceful, healthier and generally better than before. Electrification generated by solar power and mechanization have brought widespread prosperity and the extremes of wealth and poverty have been levelled.

Government has assumed more responsibility: all land is owned by the state and people lease the sites of their palatial houses. The centenary of the Easter Rising heightens the sectarian divisions in Northern Ireland 's only integrated teacher training college.


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The Eight Truths from Doctor Who. This episode correctly predicted that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi would die from multiple gunshot wounds in Dean Winchester is sent five years forward in time to to find the world devastated by the Croatoan virus. A character returns to the future to prevent his lover from falling in love with him, since their affair triggers their defeat in an alien invasion. In , Earth is being ravaged by earthquakes and floods, causing widespread famine.

Overpopulation exacerbates the problem. By this time, Earth is politically divided into zones overseen by the World Zone Authority, a successor to the United Nations. By , most words in the English language are spelled phonetically and many of them are pronounced differently than they were in The film predicts a massive earthquake that floods the San Fernando Valley in , rendering Los Angeles an island. Escape from New York. Depicts an alien invasion of Argentina. Eternity Weeps from Doctor Who. Ever The Out of Infinity. Also known as Indigo Prophecy in North America; refers to the phenomenon and indigo children.

Early editions listed some time after Later editions showed after or , where they started and won two atomic wars. Predicted regular use of earbud headphones , [2] interactive television , video wall screens, robotic bank tellers , [40] the demise of newspapers and the prevalent use of factoids. The Flash Barry Allen is accidentally sent ten years forward in time to March 3, This episode takes place during the Summer Olympics. The Fire Next Time. In , the greenhouse effect and global warming have resulted in widespread droughts, floods, hurricanes and the outbreak of fires which have wreaked devastation over Earth.

First Spaceship on Venus. The Gobi Desert is irrigated in Fist of the North Star. Mad Max -inspired post-nuclear wasteland in which superpowered martial artists fight each other for dominance. The world is described as having been devastated by a series of nuclear wars in the s.

The novel correctly predicted that the Large Hadron Collider would be operational by and that a pope named Benedict XVI would be in office in that year. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. The black population is nearly extinct and personal aircraft are common. In , foreign spies steal a radio controlled flying bomb and plan to use it to attack the United States as a prelude to invasion. Folk Songs for the 21st Century. Published in The novel correctly predicted that Adolf Hitler would commit suicide after his plans of conquest were defeated.

An alien race destroys the Earth, but a small fragment of humanity are preserved by another alien race. The US limits families to only one child. In , the US president is elected via means of a computer, which calculates and determines the most suitable candidate for the post. The monster is created using an atomic reactor. The main characters travel forward in time to November Time travel is commonplace and criminals travel back in time to kidnap victims for organ harvesting.

Predicted an automated highway system. Future of a New China. In July , the Earth's continents are violently torn apart by a nuclear war, sinking most of them under the sea. As a result of the class wars in , the middle class has mandated that people be middling or dull. Non-conformists are imprisoned in the inner city ghetto. Sequel to Westworld and also set mainly in a theme park filled with androids. The movie opens in , with the main character entering suspended animation. The bulk of the film and the subsequent series, if it had been picked up takes place in This episode correctly predicted that the first African-American President of the United States would be in office by Martha Washington is born on March 11, The Golden Book of Springfield.

In , the residents of Springfield, Illinois are working to transform the city into a utopian paradise. Golf in the Year A man falls asleep in and wakes up in the year ; trains are supersonic and golf and politics are the only activities not yet dominated by masculinized women. In , a manned spacecraft reaches Saturn. In , scientists invent nuclear jet engines to attempt to move Earth away from a runaway planet on a collision course with it. The Great Air Robbery. The Great War in England in The Guardians. Following economic chaos in the s, democratic government in the United Kingdom has been overthrown in a bloodless coup, the Royal Family have fled into self-imposed exile and the UK is ruled autocratically by the Prime Minister Sir Timothy Hobson.

Hobson is initially a pawn of 'the General': a military officer by the name of Roger, who later becomes Minister of Defence. The Guns of the South. The plot involves a gang of South African white supremacists who travel back in time to from to assist the rebelling Confederates in their war against the US. Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth devastated by nuclear war. A scavenger discovers the head of a cyborg in the desert, and it later reanimates and goes on a murderous rampage.

Cybernetic implants augment the abilities of martial artists. Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. A new designer drug , crystal dream, is in common use. In , the Third Atomic War ended. The war left the surface of the Earth uninhabitable due to the high concentration of gamma rays in the atmosphere. The survivors moved underground and eventually established a civilization. High Treason. Hong Kong Depicts the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong. Set during the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong by the UK. House of the Dead III.

Set 20 years after the events of the first game , during a zombie apocalypse. Hunter Hunted. The world has been invaded, the human race exterminated and the survivors enslaved and forced to fight other captive aliens. In the Great Change of , a virus infects humanity that causes everyone to grow fur all over their bodies. A deadly virus outbreak in transforms all but one of the human race into vampires. Also predicted a Batman vs. Superman film, [53] [5] to be released in the film's future The United Kingdom is occupied by Nazi Germany in and St Paul's Cathedral is razed to make room for a Nazi Party headquarters and guerrilla warfare and any potential dissidence is suppressed through heavy policing.

Iceberg from Doctor Who. The tenth planet Cassius is discovered in Earth 's magnetic field reverses its polarity in In , the first permanent lunar colony was established in the Sea of Tranquility. Starting sometime after , each year is given a different sponsor name in a timeline called Subsidized Time , of which one of the years involves the year The story discusses about this going into the ninth year of this format. In the Days of the Comet. A comet lands in , spreading a green fog. Starting in Book II , the narrator wakes up to find a more peaceful and rational 20th century society.

In , Poland is overrun by the army of the final Mongol conquest. The nation becomes enslaved to the Chinese leader Murti Bing. A small number of people begin to exhibit metapsychic powers, and mankind is contacted by an alliance of friendly alien races. A fascist Russia invades the UK. The sequel series Savage , published from to the present, treats the events as alternate history. The Invasion of In , Germany launches an invasion of the UK. The German forces eventually reach London and occupy half the city. Although London is later liberated, the war is a stalemate as Germany has occupied Belgium and the Netherlands.

In the s, European engineers and their military escort seek to revive an actual 19th century proposal to flood the Sahara desert with waters from the Mediterranean Sea to create an inland " Sahara Sea " for both commercial and military purposes. By , the Socialist Party of America has become a major national party. An Oligarchy arises in the US from to Japan conquers East Asia and creates its own empire, India gains independence and Europe becomes socialist.

Human clones are kept alive and on standby for organ harvesting. A virus unleashed during the Summer Olympics initiates a zombie apocalypse. It Can't Happen Here. Depicts Franklin Roosevelt 's loss of the United States presidential election to a fascist populist. The Terror from Beyond Space. Jason Voorhees was captured by the US government in for experimentation and causes trouble in where he is cryogenically frozen. The rest of the movie takes place in outer space in Racial tension in the United States has reached such a point that racial enclaves now exist throughout the country and paranoia and unrest are stoked by arms dealers.

The Janus Conjunction from Doctor Who. San Francisco fell into the sea in From the producers of Thunderbirds. A Journey in Other Worlds. By , the United States is a superpower spanning multiple continents. By this time, solar power, air travel and space travel are commonplace. The Arctic Ocean is being dammed and Earth's axial tilt is being adjusted. The rocket Luna lands on the Moon on October 22, and the first moonwalk is broadcast to Earth over the radio.

In April , a mission to Mars is launched from the Moon. In , personal airplanes are common in New York City, people have numbers instead of names, the US government will only permit people to marry if they are compatible and babies are readily procurable from vending machines.

A manned mission to Mars is also depicted. West Germany is now a totalitarian regime. Nationwide budget changes have resulted in the adoption of cryonic suspension over standard incarceration for convicted criminals. The Knights of God, a fascist and anti-Christian religious order, came to power in the UK during a brutal civil war in After a worldwide ecological disaster, the population of Los Angeles moved underground due to the toxic atmosphere in In , the United States is a police state with its capital in Detroit.

It is run in the manner of a corporation with various vice presidents overseeing different parts of the country and a chairman in overall control. At this time, the US is at war with the UK over a jurisdictional issue. By , sub-orbital flights are established. In , the United States was a police state. The Last Man on Earth. An adaptation of I Am Legend.

Last Rights. In , voter apathy is at an all-time high in the United Kingdom , and a new right-wing political party, The Democratic Consensus Party has just been voted into office. Unbeknownst to the public, the DCP has a sinister hidden agenda to do away with democracy and turn the country into a police state. Set in a dystopian future wracked by global warming and overpopulation. The main character can retroactively alter reality, creating alternate realities , so many of the novel's predictions are undone, including a nuclear war in Although most of the episode takes place in , there is mention of a when the Observers took over the planet and initiated a purge of the populace.

The film depicts an alien invasion timed to the return of Halley's Comet. Correctly predicted the United Kingdom leaving the European Union in the s and the destruction of a Space Shuttle in the s. The episode depicts Big Ben as a digital clock that has not yet been properly set i. Emotional robots are common and car engines make the same sound as the flying cars in The Jetsons.

An adaptation of the short story by Murray Leinster. In , networked personal computers known as logics can be found in almost every home. In , the astronaut Commander Douglas Stansfield is sent on an exploratory mission to a planetary system roughly light-years from Earth. In , the United States is a socialist utopia. In , an international organization known as the Space Patrol has custody of all Earth's remaining nuclear weapons. By this time, there is a moonbase. Since the Labour Party took control of the British Government in , the British Empire has been a single party state.

The British Royal Family has been deposed, the House of Lords has been abolished, Oxford and Cambridge have been closed down and all their professors sent into internal exile in Ireland. The Anglican Communion was disestablished in and, like all forms of Protestantism , is almost extinct. The world now has only three main religious forces: Catholicism, Secular Humanism , and "the Eastern religions. Jupiter 2 , the main ship of the series, was launched on October 16, By this time, Earth is severely overpopulated. The Robinsons were on a mission to colonize Alpha Centauri.

Make Room! The world is overpopulated at 7 billion people, with 35 million people in New York City alone. The inspiration for the film Soylent Green Set in a French castle during the outbreak of a nuclear war. Was made into a film in The Manchurian Candidate. The film's plot revolves around the then-future United States presidential election. By , time travel is in common use. A librarian named B. Boyne from accidentally leaves an almanac from the future behind when he visits The Man Who Rocked the Earth.

In , World War I had an even more devastating effect than before. The monarchs of Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom all voluntarily abdicated and those countries became republics. By , the Moon has yet to be landed on and a self-described " robber baron " bluffs and schmoozes his way towards purchasing it, particularly through cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos and that the equatorial countries that the Moon passes over must have a claim to its land. According to my idea it is perfectly scandalous that at the great schools such an essential as writing is altogether neglected, while years are spent over Greek, which is of no earthly use when you have once left school.

I suppose the very worst writers in the world are men who have been educated in public schools. I had thought of it myself, but I was afraid you would think it was spoiling your last holidays at home. I will see about it to-morrow. I cannot get away very well for another fortnight.

If you have a dozen lessons before we go, you can practise while we are away; and mind, from to-day we will talk nothing but Russian when we are alone. This had been indeed a common habit in the family since they had come home two years before, as the two girls and Mr. Bullen spoke Russian as fluently as English, and Mr. Bullen thought it was just as well that they should not let it drop altogether. Indeed on their travels in Switzerland they had several times come across Russians, and had made pleasant acquaintances from their knowledge of that language. The holidays passed pleasantly at Weymouth.

Godfrey practised two hours a day steadily at the system of handwriting: and although he was, at the end of the holidays, very far from attaining the perfection shown in the examples produced by his teachers of the marvels they had effected in many of their pupils, he did improve vastly, and wrote a fair current hand instead of the almost undecipherable scrawl that had so puzzled and annoyed a succession of masters at Shrewsbury. After another month spent in London, getting his clothes and outfit, Godfrey started for [19] St.

On his last evening at home his father had a serious talk with him. However, in any case, you will learn the ins and outs of the trade there; and if, at the end of a few years, you think that you would rather work by yourself than with him, I can send out a special clerk to work with you. On the other hand, it is possible that I may require you at home here.

Venables has no family, and is rather inclined to take it easy. Possibly in a few years he may retire altogether, and I may want you at home. At five or six and twenty you should be able to undertake the management of the Russian part of the business, running out there occasionally to see that everything goes on well. I hope I need not tell you to be steady. There is a good deal too much drinking goes on out there, arising, no doubt, from the fact that the young men have no family society there, and nothing particular to do when work is over.

You will find Petrovytch himself a thoroughly good fellow. Of course he has Russian ways and prejudices, but he is less narrow than most of his countrymen of that class. Above all things, don't express any opinion you may feel about public affairs—at any rate outside the walls of the house.

The secret police are everywhere, and a chance word might get you into a very serious scrape. As you get on you will find a good deal that you do not like. Even in business there is no getting a government contract, or indeed a contract at all, without bribing right and left. It is disgusting, but business cannot be done without it. The whole system is corrupt and rotten, and you will find that every official has his price.

However, you won't have anything to do with this for the present. If I were you I should work for an hour or two a day with a German master. There are a great many Ger [20] mans there, and you will find a knowledge of the language very useful to you. You see your Russian has pretty nearly come back to you during the last two months, and you will very soon speak it perfectly; so you will have no trouble about that.

Godfrey found the long railway journey across the flat plains of Germany very dull, as he was unable to exchange a word with his fellow-passengers; but as soon as he crossed the Russian frontier he felt at home again, and enjoyed the run through the thickly-wooded country lying between Wilna and St.


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As he stepped out at the station everything seemed to come back vividly to his memory. It was late in October and the first snow had fallen, and round the station were a crowd of sledges drawn by rough little horses. Avoiding the importunities of the drivers of the hotel vehicles he hailed an Isvostchik in furred cap and coat lined with sheepskin. His portmanteaus were corded at the back of the sledge; he jumped up into the seat behind the driver, pulled the fur rug over his legs, and said, "Drive to the Vassili Ostrov, 52, Ulitsa Nicolai.

The snow has begun earlier than usual, has it not? We may have droskies out again to-morrow instead of the sledges. At night when we are waiting we can get into the drosky and sleep, while it is terrible without shelter. There are many of us frozen to death every winter. Godfrey felt a sense of keen enjoyment as the sledge glided along.

There were many rough bumps and sharp swings, for the snow was not deep enough to cover thoroughly the roughness of the road below; but the air was brisk and the sun shone brightly, and he looked with pleasure at the people and costumes, which seemed, to his surprise, perfectly familiar to him. He was quite sorry when the journey came to an end at the house of Ivan Petrovytch. The merchant, whose office was on the ground-floor and who occupied the floor above the rest of the house being let off by floors to other families , came out to greet him.

I hope that all has gone well on the journey. Paul," he said to a man who had followed him out, "carry these trunks upstairs. After paying the driver Godfrey followed his host to the floor above. Petrovytch was a portly man, with a pleasant but by no means good-looking face. Petrovytch said, "is Catharine.

You know in this country we always address each other by our names. The high-born may use titles, but simple people use the Christian name and the family name unless they are very intimate, and then the Christian name only. I heard you speaking to my husband as you came in, so that you have not forgotten our language.

I should have thought that you would have done so. I can remember you as quite a little fellow before you went away. Many dine at one, but my husband likes it when he has done his work, as then he does not need to hurry. After drinking a tumbler of tea and eating a flat-cake or two with it, Godfrey went to his room to have a wash after his long journey, and to unpack some of his things.

He thought that he should like both Petrovytch and his wife, but that the evenings would be dull if he had to spend them in the house. Of this, however, he had but little fear, for he was sure that between his father's friends and the acquaintances he might himself make he should be out as much as he liked. In the course of the next week Godfrey called at the houses of the various people to whom he had letters of introduction, and left them with the hall porter. His host told him that he thought he had better take a fortnight to go about the capital and see the sights before he settled down to work at the office; and as not only the gentlemen with whom he had left letters of introduction and his card—for in Russia strangers always call first—but many others of his father's friends called or invited him to their houses, he speedily made a large number of acquaintances.

At the end of the fortnight he took his place in the office. At first he was of very little use there; for although he could talk and understand Russian as spoken, he had entirely forgotten the written characters, and it took him some little time before he could either read the business correspondence or make entries in the office books. Ivan Petrovytch did his best to assist him, and in the course of a month he began to master the mysteries of Russian writing. At five o'clock the office closed. Godfrey very frequently dined out, but if he had no engagement he took his meal with the merchant and his wife, and then sallied out and went either alone or with some of his acquaintances to a Russian theatre.

With December, winter set in in earnest. The waters were frozen, and skating began. The season at St. Petersburg commenced about the same time, and as Godfrey was often sent with messages or letters to other business houses he had an opportunity of seeing the streets of St. Petersburg by day as well as by night.

He was delighted with the scene on the Nevski Prospekt, the principal street of St. The footways were crowded with people: the wealthy in high boots, coats lined with sable, and caps to match; the poorer in equally ample coats, but with linings of sheep, fox, or rabbit skins, with the national Russian cap of fur with velvet top, and with fur-lined hoods, which were often drawn up over the head.

The shops were excellent, reminding Godfrey rather of Paris than London. But the chief interest of the scene lay in the roadway. There were vehicles of every description, from the heavy sledge of the peasant, piled up with logs for fuel, or carrying, perhaps, the body of an elk shot in the woods, to the splendid turn-outs of the nobles with their handsome fur wraps, their coachmen in the national costume, and horses covered with brown, blue, or violet nets almost touching the ground, to prevent the snow from being thrown up from the animals' hoofs into the faces of those in the sledge.

The harness was in most cases more or less decorated with bells, which gaily tinkled in the still air as the sledges dashed along. Most struck was Godfrey with the vehicles of the nobles who adhered to old Russian customs.

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The sledge was drawn by three horses; the one in the centre was trained to trot, while the two outside went at a canter. The heads of the latter were bent half round, so that they looked towards the side, or even almost behind them as they went. They are always tied up to the stables with their heads pulled in that way, until it becomes a second nature to go with them in that position.

What magnificent beards all the drivers in the good sledges have! A driver with a big beard is considered an absolute necessity for a well-appointed turn-out, and the longer and fuller the beard the higher the wages a man will command and the greater the pride of his employer. They remind me of pictures of Neptune. Certainly I never saw such beards in England. Besides these vehicles there were crowds of public sledges, driven by the Isvostchiks, long rough country sledges laden perhaps with a dozen peasant women returning from market, light well-got-up vehicles of English and other merchants, dashing turn-outs carrying an officer or two of high rank, and others filled with ladies half buried in rich furs.

The air was tremulous with the music of countless bells, and broken by the loud cracking of whips, with which the faster vehicles heralded their approach. These whips had short handles, but very long heavy thongs; and Godfrey observed that, however loud he might crack this weapon, [25] it was very seldom indeed that a Russian driver ever struck one of his horses with it. Sometimes when Ivan Petrovytch told him that there was little to be done in the office, and that he need not return for an hour or two, Godfrey would stroll into the Isaac or Kasan cathedrals, both splendid structures, and wonder at the taste that marred their effect, by the profusion of the gilding lavished everywhere.

He was delighted by the singing, which was unaccompanied by instruments, the bass voices predominating, and which certainly struck him as being much finer than anything he had ever heard in an English cathedral. There was no lack of amusement in the evening. Some of his English friends at once put Godfrey up as a member of the Skating Club. This club possessed a large garden well planted with trees.

In this was an artificial lake of considerable extent, broken by wooded islets. This was always lit up of an evening by coloured lights, and twice in the week was thrown open upon a small payment to the public, when a military band played, and the grounds were brilliantly illuminated. The scene was an exceedingly gay one, and the gardens were frequented by the rank and fashion of St.

The innumerable lights were reflected by the snow that covered the ground and by the white masses that clung to the boughs of the leafless trees. The ice was covered with skaters, male and female, the latter in gay dresses, tight-fitting jackets trimmed with fur, and dainty little fur caps.

Many of the former were in uniform, and the air was filled with merry laughter and the ringing sound of innumerable skates. Sometimes parties of acquaintances executed figures, but for the most part they moved about in couples, the gentleman holding the lady's hand, or sometimes placing his arm round her waist as if dancing.

Very often Godfrey spent the evening at the houses of one or other of his Russian or English friends, and occasionally went to the theatre. Sometimes he spent a quiet evening at home. He [26] liked Catharine Petrovytch. She was an excellent housewife, and devoted to the comfort of her husband; but when not engaged in household cares she seldom cared to go out, and passed her time for the most part on the sofa. She was, like most other Russian ladies when at home and without visitors, very careless and untidy in her dress.

Among the acquaintances of whom Godfrey saw most were two young students. One of them was the son of a trader in Moscow, the other of a small landed proprietor. He had met them for the first time at a fair held on the surface of the Neva, and had been introduced to them by a fellow-student of theirs, a member of a family with whom Godfrey was intimate.

Having met another acquaintance he had left the party, and Godfrey had spent the afternoon on the ice with Akim Soushiloff and Petroff Stepanoff. He found them pleasant young men. He was, they told him, the first Englishman they had met, and asked many questions about his country. He met them several times afterwards, and one day they asked him if he would come up to their room. I shall be very glad to come up.

The room which the students shared was a large one, at the top of a house in a narrow street. It was simply furnished enough, containing but two beds, a deal table, four chairs, and the indispensable stove, which kept the room warm and comfortable. Oh, we get on very well!

Food is cheap here if you know where to get it; fuel costs more than food. Now which will you take, tea or vodka? Godfrey declared for tea. Some of the water from a great pot standing on the top of the stove was poured into the samovar. Some glowing embers were taken from the stove and placed in the urn, and in a few minutes the water was boiling, and three tumblers of tea with a slice of lemon floating on the top were soon steaming on the table.

The conversation first turned upon university life in Russia, and then Petroff began to ask questions about English schools and universities, and then the subject changed to English institutions in general. But then, on the other hand, they generally have their cottages at a very low rent, with a good bit of garden and a few fruit trees. They earn a little extra money at harvest time, and though their pay is smaller, I think on the whole they are better off and happier than many of the working people in the towns.

They would go to some other farmer in the neighbourhood. But there are seldom what you may call bad masters. The wages are always about the same through a district, and the hours of work, and so on; so that one master can't be much better or worse than another, except [28] in point of temper; and if a man were very bad tempered of course the men would leave him and work somewhere else, so he would be the loser, as he would soon only get the very worst hands in the neighbourhood to work for him. I should think not," Godfrey said.

It would do them a deal more good, and it would be better for their wives and families, who have to get on as best they can while they are shut up. If a lord struck a peasant the peasant would certainly hit him back again, and if he didn't feel strong enough to do that he would have him up before the magistrates and he would get fined pretty heavily. As long as a man keeps quiet and doesn't get up a row, he may have any opinions he likes; he may argue in favour of a republic, or he may be a socialist or anything he pleases; but, of course, if he tried to kick up a row, attack the police, or made a riot or anything of that sort he would be punished for breaking the law, but that would have nothing to do with his politics.

You can abuse the government as much [29] as you like, say that the ministers are a parcel of incompetent fools, and so on; but, of course, you cannot attack them as to their private life and character any more than you can anyone else, because then you would render yourself liable to an action for libel. Every man can go where he likes, and live where he likes, and do anything he likes, providing that it does not interfere with the rights of other people.

Akim made no answer, but Godfrey replied for him. We had serfs and vassals in England at one time, and feudal barons who could do pretty much what they chose, and it was only in the course of centuries that these things got done away with. A young woman entered. She was pleasant and intelligent looking. Godfrey, this is my cousin Katia; she teaches music in the houses of many people of good family. It is infinitely better than alternate rains and winds, with just enough frost occasionally to make you think you are going to do some skating, and then a thaw.

I suppose Petroff has got his allowance? My father has a vague idea that in some way or other I ought to pick up my living, though he never offers a suggestion as to how I should do it. The young woman went to the cupboard, fetched another tumbler and poured herself out some tea, and then chatted gaily about St. Petersburg, her pupils, and their parents. I board in an honest family, and live in a little room at the top of the house which is all my own and where I can see my friends. After chatting for some time longer Godfrey took his leave.

As soon as he had gone the girl's manner changed. You know how it will be; we shall get him into trouble. It is our fate; we have a great end in view; we risk our own lives, and although for the good of the cause we must not hesitate even if others suffer, I do hate with all my heart that others should be involved in our fortunes. I do not shrink; I should use him as I should use anyone else, as an instrument if it were needful, but don't suppose that I like it. If you happened to be arrested only as you were walking with him down the Nevski Prospekt he would be questioned, of course, but as soon as they learned who he was and that he had nothing to do with you, they would let him go.

But if he were with us, say here, when we were pounced upon, and you had no time to pull the trigger of the pistol pointing into that keg of powder in the cupboard, he would be hurried away with us to one of the fortresses, and the chances are that not a soul would ever know what had become of him. Still it cannot be helped now; he may be useful, and as we give our own lives, so we must not shrink from giving others'. But this is not what I came here to talk to you about; have you heard of the arrest of Michaelovich?

He shot two of them, and then he was beaten down and badly wounded. Of course he was betrayed. I don't think there are six people who knew where the press was; even I didn't know. Why should Michaelovich have sent them away when he hadn't finished work if one or the [32] other of them had not made some excuse so as to get out of the way before the police came? But that is nothing, there will be time to find out which is the traitor; they know nothing, either of them, except that they worked at the secret press with him; they were never much trusted.

But Michaelovich is a terrible loss, he was always daring and full of expedients. One of the outer-circle fellows like Louka and Gasin, who know nothing, who are instruments and nothing more, may tell all they know for gold, or for fear of the knout, but never once have they learned anything from one who knows.

Norman Mailer

Fortunately the press was a very old one and there was but little type there, only just enough for printing small hand-bills; we have two others ready to set up. I have orders that we are all to keep perfectly quiet till the plans are settled and we each get our instructions. Now I must go, I have two lessons to give this afternoon. It tries one a little to be talking to children about quavers and semiquavers when one's head is full of great plans, and you know that at any moment a policeman may tap you on the shoulder and take you off to the dungeons of St.

Nicholas, from which one will never return unless one is carried out, or is sent to Siberia, which would be worse. Be careful; the police have certainly [33] got scent of something, they are very active at present;" and with a nod she turned and left the room. Look at her. She was a little serious to-day because of Michaelovich, but generally she is in high spirits, and no one would dream that she thought of anything but her pupils and pleasure. Then there is Feodorina Samuloff. She works all day, I believe, in a laundry, and she looks as impassive as if she had been carved out of soap.

Yet she is ready to go on working all night if required, and if she had orders she would walk into the Winter Palace and throw down a bomb that would kill her as well as everyone else within its reach with as much coolness as if she was merely delivering a message. One evening a fortnight later Godfrey went with two young Englishmen to a masked ball at the Opera.

It was a brilliant scene. Comparatively few of the men were masked or in costume, but many of the ladies were so. Every other man was in uniform of some kind, and the floor of the house was filled with a gay laughing crowd, while the boxes were occupied by ladies of the highest rank, several of the imperial family being present. He speedily became separated from his companions, and after walking about for an hour he became tired of the scene, and was about to make his way towards the entrance when a hand was slipped behind his arm. As several masked figures had joked him on walking about so vaguely by himself, he thought that this was but another jest.

Now put up your arm and look as if I belong to you. And now what can I do for you? The young woman hesitated. There is a gentleman here who is supposed to be with his regiment at Moscow; but there is a sweetheart in the case, and you know when there are sweethearts people do foolish things. He is furious about it, and declares that he will catch him and have him tried by court-martial for being absent without leave.

The only thing is, he is not certain as to his information. He is at present in the back of that empty box on the third tier. I was with him when I saw you down here, so I left him to say good-bye to his sweetheart alone, and ran down to fetch you, for I felt sure you would oblige me. What I thought was this: if you put his mask and cloak on—you are about the same height—it would be supposed that you are he.

The colonel is waiting down by the entrance. He will come up to you and say, 'Captain Presnovich? This you will do, and he will, of course, make profuse apologies, and will believe that he has been altogether misinformed. In the meantime Presnovich will manage to slip out, and will go down by the early train to Moscow. It is not likely that the colonel will ever make any more inquiries about it, but if he does, some of Presnovich's friends will be ready to declare that he never left Moscow. It is necessary that the colonel should see for himself that the man in the cloak, with the white and red bow pinned to it, is not the captain.

By this time they had arrived at the door of the box. She was two minutes gone, and then opened the door and let him in. I had better see Captain Presnovich safely off, and then go and tell the young lady, who is a great friend of mine—it is for her sake I am doing it, you know, not for his—how nicely we have managed to throw dust in the colonel's eyes! Regarding the matter as a capital joke, Godfrey went down-stairs and made his way to the entrance, expecting every moment to be accosted by the irascible colonel.

No one spoke to him, however, and he began to imagine that the colonel must have gone to seek the captain elsewhere, and hoped that he would not meet him as he went down the stairs with Katia. He walked down the steps into the street. As he stepped on to the pavement a man seized him from behind, two others grasped his wrists, and before he knew what had happened he was run forward across the pavement to a covered sledge standing there and flung into it. His three assailants leapt in after him; the door was slammed; another man jumped on to the box with the driver; and two mounted men took their places beside it as it dashed off from the door.

The men had again seized Godfrey's hands and held them firmly the instant they entered the carriage. There is no chance of a rescue, and I warn you you had best not open your lips; if you do, we will gag you. Godfrey was still half bewildered with the suddenness of the transaction. What had he been seized for? Who were [37] the men who had got hold of him? He had heard of arbitrary treatment in the Russian army, but that a colonel should have a captain seized in this extraordinary way merely because he was absent from his post without leave was beyond anything he thought possible.

Godfrey had already guessed his destination, and his feeling of discomfort had increased every foot he went. There was no doubt he was being taken to the fortress. Two men with lanterns were at the door of a building, at which the carriage, after passing into a large court-yard, drew up. Still retaining their grip on his wrists, two of the men walked beside him down a passage, while several others followed behind.

An officer of high rank was sitting at the head of a table, one of inferior rank stood beside him, while at the end of the table were two others with papers and pens before them. Moreover, I thought that you might prefer his being searched in your presence. Take off that disguise. This is not the man you were ordered to arrest; you have made some confounded blunder. There, your excellency, is the bunch of white and red ribbons on his cloak. I reside with Ivan Petrovytch, a merchant living in the Vassili Ostrov.

Beware how you answer me, sir, for this is a matter which concerns your life. I may have behaved foolishly in allowing myself to take part in what I thought was a masquerade joke, but beyond that I have nothing to blame myself for. I went to the Opera-house, never having seen a masked ball before. I was alone, and being young and evidently a stranger, I was spoken to and joked by several masked ladies. Presently one of them came up to me. I had no idea who she was; she was closely masked, and I could see nothing of her face. It seemed to me a natural thing that a young officer might come to a ball to see a lady who perhaps he had no other opportunity of meeting alone.

I see now that I was very foolish to allow myself to be mixed up in the affair; but I thought that it was a harmless joke, and so I did as this woman asked me. I went up with this woman to the box she had pointed out, and there found this Captain Presnovich as I believed him to be. I put on his hat, mask, and cloak, walked down the stairs, and was leaving the Opera-house when I was arrested, and am even now wholly ignorant of having committed any offence.

I could not even see if she were young or old; and she spoke in the same disguised, squeaking sort of voice that all the others that had spoken to me used. The general threw himself back in his chair, too exasperated to speak farther, but made a sign to the officer standing next to him to take up the interrogation. The questions were now formal. Naturally the most minute search revealed nothing of an incriminating character. At length Godfrey was left alone in the cell, which contained only a single chair and a rough pallet. Was the whole story a lie?

Was the fellow's name Presnovich? By the rage of the general, who, I suppose, is the chief of the police, it was evident he was frightfully disappointed that I wasn't the man he was looking for. Was this Presnovich somebody that girl Katia knew and wanted to get safely away? She looked a bright, jolly sort of girl; but that goes for nothing in Russia, all sorts of people get mixed up in plots. If she was concerned in getting him away I suppose she fixed on me because, being English and a new-comer here, it would be easy for me to prove that I had nothing to do with plots or anything of that sort, whereas if a Russian had been in my place he might have got into a frightful mess over it.

Well, I suppose it will all come right in the end. It is lucky that the weather has got milder or I should have had a good chance of being frozen to death; it is cold enough as it is. Resuming his clothes, which had been thrown down on the pallet, Godfrey drew the solitary rug over him, and in spite of the uncertainty of the position was soon fast asleep. He woke just as daylight was breaking, and was so bitterly cold that he was obliged to get up and stamp about the cell to restore circulation.

Two hours later the cell door was opened and a piece of dark-coloured bread and a jug of water were handed in to him. The day passed without anyone coming near him save the jailer, who brought a bowl of thin broth and a ration of bread for his dinner. Just as it was getting dark the man came in again with another blanket and a flat earthenware pan half full of sand, on which was burning a handful or two of sticks; he placed a bundle of wood beside it. I should not have had these indulgences if they hadn't. Well, it will be an amusement to keep this fire up. The wood is as dry as a bone luckily, or I should be smoked out in no time, for there is not much ventilation through that narrow loophole.

The warmth of the fire and the additional blanket made all the difference, and in a couple of hours Godfrey was sound asleep. When he woke it was broad daylight, and although he felt cold it was nothing to what he had experienced on the previous morning. At about eleven o'clock, as near as he could guess, for his watch and everything had been removed when he was searched, the door was opened and a prison official with two warders appeared.

By these he was conducted to the same room where he had been first examined. Neither of the officers who had then been there was present, but an elderly man sat at the centre of the table. Ivan Petrovytch tells us that you work in his office from breakfast-time till five in the afternoon, and that your evenings are at your own disposal, but that you generally dine with him. He gave [42] us the names of the families with which you are acquainted, and where, as he understood, you spend your evenings when you are not at the Skating Club, where you generally go on Tuesdays and Fridays at least.

We learn that you did spend your evenings with these families, and we have learned at the club that you are a regular attendant there two or three times a week, and that your general associates are:" and he read out a list which included, to Godfrey's surprise, the names of every one of his acquaintances there.

That you, a youth and a foreigner, should have had the incredible levity to act in the way you describe, and to assume the disguise of a person absolutely unknown to you, upon the persuasion of a woman also absolutely unknown to you, well-nigh passes belief.

Had you been older you would at once have been sent to the frontier; but as it is, the Czar, to whom the case has been specially submitted, has graciously allowed you to continue your residence here, the testimony being unanimous as to your father's position as a merchant, and to the prudence of his behaviour while resident here.

But I warn you, Godfrey Bullen, that escapades of this kind, which may be harmless in England, are very serious matters here. Ignorantly, I admit, but none the less certainly, you have aided in the escape of a malefactor of the worst kind; and but for the proofs that have been afforded us that you were a mere dupe, the consequences would have been most serious to you, and even the fact of your being a foreigner would not have sufficed to save you from the hands of justice.

You are now free to depart; but let this be a lesson to you, and a most serious one, never again to mix yourself up in any way with persons of whose antecedents you are ignorant, and in future to conduct yourself in all respects wisely and prudently. I am heartily sorry that I was so foolish as to allow myself to be mixed [43] up in such an affair, and think I can promise you that henceforth there will be no fault to be found in my conduct.

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In the ante-room Godfrey's watch, money, and the other contents of his pocket were restored to him. A carriage was in waiting for him at the outer door, and he was driven rapidly to the house of the merchant. But how on earth have you got mixed up in a plot? We know nothing about it beyond the fact that you had been arrested, for, although a thousand questions were asked me about you, nothing was said to me as to the charge brought against you.

We have been in the greatest anxiety about you. All sorts of rumours were current in the city as to the discovery of a plot to assassinate one of the grand-dukes at the Opera-house, and there are rumours that explosive bombs had been discovered in one of the boxes. It is said that the police had received information of the attempt that was to be made, and that every precaution had been taken to arrest the principal conspirator, but that in some extraordinary manner he slipped through their fingers.

But surely you can never have been mixed up in that matter? I see now that I behaved like an awful fool. Both were shocked at the thought that a member of their household should have been engaged, even unwittingly, in such a treasonable affair. I could not have believed that anyone with sense could be silly enough to put on a stranger's mantle and hat! I am sure I have read so in books. And it did seem quite likely—didn't it now? It certainly seemed to me quite natural, and I believe almost any fellow, if he were asked to help anyone to get out of a scrape like that, would do it.

The wonder is they made any inquiries at all. If you had been a Russian the chances are that your family would never have heard of you again from the time you left to go to the opera.

Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2) Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2)
Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2) Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2)
Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2) Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2)
Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2) Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2)
Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2) Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2)
Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2) Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2)
Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2) Boxed Nihilism (End of the World Short Fiction Series Book 2)
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