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The chasm
The chasm

The two men looked at the small crack in the ground.

The older man had a tangled, greasy, yellowish mass of hair. His clothes were soiled, torn in places. He was barefoot. He stank of several layers of human dirt. He looked like he knew what he was talking about, though. He was a bum, but a serious one.

"This could be real bad", he said.

"How bad?", said the younger man. His hair was brown, slightly receding, and neatly parted in the middle. He wore a business suit with the matching tie, shoes, suitcase and cologne. He looked frightened, though there was nothing else too see but a small crack in the ground, too narrow to put a feet in it, large enough for a couple of fingers.

"How bad?", repeated the bum. "I tell you, sonny-boy. Bad like your mother sleeping with a donkey, even if the donkey's your father. Bad like broccoli. Bad like taxes. Bad like the end of the world ".

The young man hated a job where an idiot could call you "sonny-boy" and get away with it.

"You?re kidding, right?", he said.

The bum gave a hearty laugh that sounded like a giant belch.

"Sonny, you remember that plane, do you?"

"A plane crash is not the end of the world", retorted the young man. He shouldn't have said that. He wasn't there to piss off the bum. Last time, the company hadn't paid attention to what the bum had said about the plane. It had lost a lot of money. They wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

"It was certainly the end of the world for them passengers", replied the bum. "And so this little crack here, it's the end of you, sonny-boy", he went on.

"But what if... we fill the crack with concrete, for instance", said the young man, who had been trained to assert his positivity in all circumstances.

The bum snorted. "No, you don't stop the end of the world with concrete. You don't stop the end of the world with the grey stuff that passes for your brain either. You don't stop the end of the world, period. So don't worry about it, just have fun and relax, which is what you should have done instead of wasting my time. Which is running short, by the way".

"How short?" The young man felt concerned now.

The bum squatted, and put two fingers in the crack - or was it three? "Fifteen days. Make it twelve if you?re in a hurry to be swallowed down by a big mother of an abyss".

"That's bad", said the young man.

"Now, we?re getting somewhere" said the bum. "That's as bad as it gets. Now you want a nice picture, here it is. Within two weeks, this crack will be the size of Grand Canyon. But you won't have people touring it in a ?copter, because it will be teeming with creatures, you know, locusts looking like horses prepared for battle, with golden crowns and human faces, with women's hair and lion's teeth, with breastplates like breastplates of iron and tails and stings like scorpions. And others too, with lots of eyes and heads and horns, who will vomit fire, smoke and brimstone. That sort of creatures, poorly educated. Noisy too, lots of trumpets."

"I don't like trumpets. I wish Armstrong had stayed on the moon", he added.

"You don't seem to take it too seriously", said the young man.

"Hey, I?m just the messenger. You?re the one working for an insurance company. This will be a hell of a place once these critters are out. Lots of property damage. Did I tell you about the lake of fire? About the stars falling down on earth? About