Transcript from Last Year’s Extinction

The Exodus
Horace William Petherick (1839–1919)

There are millions of us here tonight. Like here-here, on this seemingly-eternally-stretching intestine line, tight in the walls of each other’s flesh, breathing each other’s breaths, salty in the sprinkle of sweat, walking, with leg strains, without rest, unafraid of the end, kind of excited!

You know, fear is the word of the past when talking about the portent of extinction. Everyone was so dreadful for nothing! The Bible postured it as rapture, with its promise of angels honking horns and four pretentious horsemen riding the rage of the old. I brought the damn book with me to pass time, to read then rip off its pages to fold fans and other necessities.

“Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!” Whatever that means. Here, hold this fan. God, it’s so hot!

Wacky, isn’t it? The end turns out to be just one collective stroll and it’s dripping with the sweat of our decision. This is the Judgement, ineng.

We have weaned ourselves off vehicles and remained propped in our humble indoor tsinelas. Mine are these pink faux fur slippers I ordered online. And … I see you’re barefooted.

You’ll get used to this feeling of the world ending. Sticky and straining. It’s exercise.

Oh, you can also use these pages to wipe off sweat. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Here, dab this on your face.

. . .

You know, these orange streetlamps have been my only shower since yesterday. I feel the light streaming down, cool and caressing, every lux a splash. The color of rust seeps through my pores like soap. But the flickering always reminds me of shortage, magtipid.

The moon. It drips mint-flavored shampoo with generosity. I massage it to my scalp then rinse all the suds on the next streetlamp before the breeze blows my hair dry.

I rip off a few pages from the book to pat me dry. “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” Huh, convenient. I crumple it into a paper knuckle after it has served its purpose. I throw it to the ground where mankind flattens it to marriage with dirt.

. . .

I just realize things are going pretty fast for a species built upon ten thousand years of war and sex and civilization, eh?

But I admit, it’s been boring just walking for days. Here. “They shall not profane the holy gifts of the sons of Israel which they offer to the Lord.” Let’s fold some paper airplanes, ineng.

Where are we? Ah, Quirino Highway.

. . .

Observe. There is only a glimpse of the space between you and those in front. But look at the precise crevices on the ground that seem to portray the faces of all the prophets who expected this moment. They’re all grinning at us.

I’m hungry.

Here’s a page.

. . .

Putangina, ang daldal mong englishera ka!

No, I won’t stop talking, manong. You shut your musty mouth instead! Choke on these bible verses!

Tsk, the crowd’s compressing. A narrow road must be up ahead.

Anyway, where was I, ineng? Ah, you’re wondering how we got here.

I think it was yesterday, or last week, maybe the seventh of May, there’s really no point remembering specificities. But if we’re betting on it, I’m estimating based on the age of these blood-masted slippers. Hmm, the seventh of May.

That day, no news told us what was happening. Everyone skipped work and the world deflated with all of our sighs. Did you hear that too?

No. My mom carried me here while I was still asleep. Can we go find her?

No, and stop crying, ineng. She must have already been crushed by feet twice the number of people there is. Keep walking. Don’t trip. Here, I’ll rip off a page for you. “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” Use this to wipe your tears.

Anyway, that day, oh, I remember now, it was a Saturday! The 7 am sun crept up and wept light, and everyone, still in their pajamas or underwear (I swear I see a guy in tattered briefs wherever I look in this crowd), opened their doors, stared at each other’s faces, and knew what we all needed to do.

In the synchrony of legs flapping their pants, we all walked to an aimed direction and an aimless destination: North. Somehow, we’ll know when to stop when we get there. Maybe when all our toes have twisted to knots? When the flour of road ash breads our feet and the oil of our blood fries our soles to a crisp, then we’ll stop, momentarily, only to crawl to the destination like mud soldiers? Or maybe, when an ocean comes in sight, where we’ll all drift down to the cool soup that stewed us all here today. I prefer a cliff dive, though. What’s your bet?

Alien spaceship.

Alright. If you’re right, you get to have this voice recorder. If I win, you give me your eyeball when we’re a hundred meters before the destination. Deal?

. . .

There are rumors about who’s leading this parade, some sa- ineng? Where are you? Must have tripped. A cerulean sheet paints the faint distance. It’s the ocean!

I was never conscious of it until now. The chatters of boredom melt with the shrieks of those who trip and writhe under the stampede of a species hungry for mass suicide. The caricature of prophets on the asphalt ground is a muck of blood, piss, shit, and the faces of real people.

Ahead, the sea is split into two. I open my bible. “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea …” The ambivalent ones stride the middle, hoping for rebirth in this rapture. But some of us dive to the side to drown. This bible will forever be damp.

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