A Message to the People of Earth (April 16 2001 AD)

To begin with, let me assure you that I am not God. I tell people that I'm the Creator with a capital C and they go off thinking that I'm the big guy himself. God did not create the Universe any more than Eiffel built the Eiffel Tower. He authorised the project and chipped in a few ideas at the concept stage, but most of the actual Creating was done on a contract basis.

According to my contract, I am required to come down here once every hundred years to check how things are going. The boss likes us to make sure the gravity is still running and actions really do have equal and opposite reactions. I've been doing it every century since Day One, 4004 BC. Usually it's a routine trip down to have a chat with the pixies in the control room and then a quick look to make sure everything's hunky-dory topside.

Last time I was down here was round about the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth century. There was a small problem with the big hamster wheel that keeps the earth spinning, but that should have been good for another few millennia. There wasn't long before the next refit in any case.

While I was down here, I noticed something odd. There was a lot of 'static' coming out of the newly invented wireless radios. This surprised me because of some memories from my old college days. When I was a young lad doing my course in Spatio-Temporal Construction Engineering we had classes in Stellar Design. I was never that interested in that aspect of the profession but I do remember, in between trying to woo the nubile young ladies from Muse College, that I was quite impressed at the amount of energy required to create any kind of radiation. Therefore, I was quite shocked to find this much random radio waves floating about. However, I was a busy man and did not give it much thought.

I was a little late for this century's check-up because of some slight trouble concerning a planet orbiting Omicron Ophiuchii. It would seem that the inhabitants of this planet had developed a wonderful cosmology based on the 'fact' that their planet was a sphere. It therefore came as quite a shock to them to discover that the world was flat. At least three major galactic civilisations had collapsed from laughter because of this mess and I was sent in to see what I could do to sort it out.

When I eventually reached Earth, everything seemed to be running smoothly. The pixies had fudged something together to keep the rotation going and the boys had almost got rid of that terrible ozone spill in the upper atmosphere. I was looking forward to a good decade's relaxation somewhere nice in the Elysian Fields.

It was the last day of my visit when I happened to glance at a television set. I was quite impressed by this piece of tomfoolery, humanity being the only civilisation in the galaxy to deem this a worthy idea. It seemed like an easy way to waste a few minutes so I sat down in my hotel room and played about a bit.

I was flicking through the channels and then, suddenly, there it was, a pattern of black and white dots dancing wildly on the screen. It took me a while to realise that this was the same hiss I had heard on the radio, except in visual form.

I was watching it carefully, trying to discern some rhyme or reason, when something flashed before my eyes. It was a diagram of one of the main load-bearing struts for the Lesser Magellanic Cloud. To say I was perplexed would be an understatement. A few seconds later, I caught a glimpse of one of the big pumps for the Nile. Then I realised what was happening.

On the back of the night sky (black firmament: twenty bob a strip at Crazy Johnny's Discount Universe Supplies), there's what we in the trade call The Plans. In fifty mile high letters of fire, all the Secrets Of The Universe are laid bare: the meaning of life, the recipe for Coca-Cola, even the winner of next year's Eurovision Song Contest. Regulations say they have to be left there so that any future repair contractors can see exactly what has been done where and why.

It turns out that all these televisions are somehow reading the plans from the back. Of course, it's all backwards, blurry and very small; the section you can see on your TV screen is roughly the distance from here to Sirius in width. I could only see the diagrams and that was only because I've seen them before. Unfortunately, the problem is going to get a lot worse.

The main culprit is high definition TVs. Every day of the week, somebody brings out a new model with a bigger and clearer screen. Within fifteen years, all you will have to do will be look at your TV in a mirror and you will be able to put any bookie out of business. The boss is not pleased.

That is why we're knocking the whole lot down. The lad responsible for the whole mess has been caught and he'll be put on asteroid duty from now on. I don't envy him. There's nothing more boring than making sure all the rocks stay between Mars and Jupiter, let me tell you.

The plan from here is to have a ten to fifteen year winding down period while we withdraw the pixies and salvage any reusable parts. Until then you're free to live your lives as you choose. If you like, you can try to read the plans. The bit about celebrities' sexualities is just left of Ursa Minor.

After that, I'm afraid it's the standard End of World drill. There's still some disagreement over whether we'll have a Battle of Armageddon or send Fenrir down to eat the sun. I don't mind either way; it all comes out the same colour in the end.

Speaking of colours, that's one thing I won't miss. You have no idea how boring blue and green get after six thousand years. I think I'll make the next one pink.

Originally written for English homework, under the title The most dangerous stations are the emptiest.

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