Thursday, 17 February 2011

A new ending for an old story

If you trace the Western Antarctic peninsular from Queen Maud Mountains in at the Ross shelf, along to the end of the western peninsular and the last of the Graham mountains, it spells نعم the Arabic for 'yes': naʿam. It is the world, it is affirmation. As he runs through the ruins of a place forty times older than the prophet, the captain hears a voice inside his head. The voice is reciting the Qu'ran, the eighty-first sura, about the end of the world. And is the world not ending? And all he can think is: it is her, it is the western girl, it is her. When the sun is overthrown, and when the stars fall, and when the camels big with young are abandoned, and when the wild beasts are herded together, and when the seas rise, and when souls are reunited, and when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked for what sin she was slain, and when the pages are laid open, and when the sky is torn away, and when hell is lighted, then every soul will know what it has made ready.

What has he made ready? Yes, he thinks. Yes, he thinks. He has almost reached the flank of the submarine when the first piece of the ceiling strikes him.

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