End of the World as told by Mr. J. Blue
Dusk came as we sat there
that afternoon, came with a light fog out of the east. Blue was telling me a
story…It was a story for a motion picture, he explained. I shall reproduce it
as best I can. I do not hope to catch the magnificence of it as he told it,
there up on the roof with the fog settling aimlessly over us like a thin white
smoke in the increasing dusk. I shall never, I know, have a story told me as
The last known Christian had been put to
death. (So Blue began.) He had been found living in a lower level of an
abandoned mine in South Africa. He was ferreted out and brought to trial. He had
professed Christ. There was no tumult or clamor. He had been locked in a lethal
chamber. The gas was admitted. In a few minutes he was dead. He was found lying
forward on his face where he had fallen from his knees.
The International Government of the World
announced the capture and execution. "The work of a thousand years is now
at an end," it declared in its exultant bulletin. The day of the
announcement was a day of great rejoicing all over the earth. The IGW—as the
International Government of the World was known—declared a half holiday for
all workers. Great effigies of Christ on the Cross were burned at all the
sub-capitals of the world. While the crosses flamed, the multitudes paraded and
sang. It was the first time in a century that singing had been allowed. The work
of extermination was over.
It was a strange world
that witnessed this day of jubilation. The peoples of the whole earth had become
slaves of a few masters. They had been herded into vast industrial centers,
great mountains of stone and steel, banding the round earth like mountain
chains, rising like huge wens on the face of the globe. But these men and women
were not ordinary slaves. They were creatures of the machinery of a mechanical
life, inferiors of the machines they operated, subsidiary attachments to the
monsters of a new age. The fantasy of the philosopher had come true: machines
had become superior to men. Men were not mere automatons; they were minor
automatons, servants of a mechanical state.
The masters of the IGW
were the sons of the masters who had established the state. Their sires had done
their work with brutal and consummate efficiency. All rebellious races had been
exterminated. All people unsuited for slavery, primarily Latins and Celts, were
segregated and slain. Only the stolid, unimaginative, automatic races,
dominantly Nordic, were preserved.
The days of the
ecstatic, passionate, beauty-loving, liberty-seeking peoples had, as was early
predicted, come to a close. The sluggish, frigid races had survived.
The founders of the world
state had prepared carefully for centuries. It was a long, difficult work to
concentrate control of all fuel, food, arms, and transportation into the hands
of six men. It was a chemist who, by a masterstroke of strategy, finally
perfected the consolidation. All agriculture and horticulture on earth were
destroyed by a gas that obliterated a thousand square miles of forest in an
hour. All fields, farmlands, gardens, woodlands from the great wheat areas of
Russia to the forest expanses of South America were turned into a fine powder
that lay like mist along the earth for days and then disappeared. When the work
was complete the earth was as bare almost as it had been when the primeval
glaciers withdrew their icy crust and first left the earth bare and bald beneath
the sun. No fruit or flower or grain or vegetable showed itself. And none was
allowed to show itself. The cultivation of any food growth was punishable by
life imprisonment in the mines in the bowels of the earth. The cultivation of
any decorative growth, flower or tree or vine, was punishable by death.
The few thousand inhabitants of the world
who had not been corralled into the huge black industrial fortresses came across
the dusty levels and valleys seeking admittance. They were counted, given
numbers, and assigned residential vaults. At first, people stared at these sun,
browned slaves from the fields. They ill-matched the white faces of the
vault-dwellers. But soon they lost their sunlight and became white as their
fellows and as characterless as the numbers on their backs. No one had names.
Individuals were known by numbers, and numbers only. There were no families.
When children were born they were taken to be bred by the IGW in central vaults
maintained for the purpose. If a child showed imagination or fire or spirit or
brilliancy or any non-Nordic trait, he was destroyed. The multitudes, everybody
except the masters and their large families and directing engineers, lived in
steel chambers in enormous cabinets that were on the average a thousand feet
high. These cabinets were like great filing cases. Each chamber was the same
size as each other, was fitted with the same steel furniture, had the same bare
walls. The chambers differed only in numbers.
No one wanted revolt.
The lives the slaves lived were mechanical almost to unconsciousness. It was an
existence that suited their racial type. But had some freak appeared, some
heroic soul with a love of liberty, he would have been helpless. The master
stroke of the chemist had made revolt unachievable. It was the perfect servile
state: no one wanted revolt, and if anyone had wanted revolt it would have been
Perfect slavery was
assured in this manner: the only food obtainable was liquid which was furnished
through pipes, as was water, from a central reservoir. This liquid was of two
kinds: a dark fluid which had lubricating qualities, and a lighter fluid which
had sustaining and fuelizing qualities. The formulae for these two fluids were
guarded with a secrecy that precluded even an attempt at discovery. The chemist
who evolved the formulae was killed immediately after final tests had proved
their efficacy for the common weal. (A huge statue was forthwith erected to his
memory.) The king of kings, that is the master of Masters, alone knew the
formulae. Anyone who made the least query regarding them was slain. The IGW
forbade curiosity with the same rigor that it forbade laughter. There was little
need for prohibition in either case.
When No. 862,337, say, arose
at dawn he went to a metal sink riveted to the wall. Over the sink were three
pipes. One was water, one was the dark fluid, one was the light fluid. Before
washing he took a glass of the dark fluid; after washing he took a glass of the
light fluid. These two glasses were sufficient to provide him with sustenance
until noon. At noon, he took two more glasses. At night, two more glasses. And
so on, day and night, until he died. The slaves, I imagine, considered it a
The two fluids were
very much like the oil and gasoline that were once used in automobiles. The
airplanes which furnished the only transportation for the IGW used these two
liquids for lubrication and fuel. When a driver left in the morning he took the
same food he gave his engine. They both worked in pretty much the same way. Each
industrial center was provided with a towering tank which served as a filling
station. Each early morning would find a flock of airplanes buzzing around the
top of the tank like flies over a dead fish. If any section of the IGW empire
ever became the least stubborn, not to say rebellious, these antiquated and
Christian weaknesses could be quickly cured by shutting off the liquid food
supply from the central reservoir. The slaves would immediately be without fuel
or lubricant. It was a simple system.
it so happened, said Blue, after he had described the IGW to me, that like all
mundane achievements the IGW had an imperfection. Even this kingdom of the
Anti-Christ, perfect as it was, had a weak point. And so like all things mundane
it came to an end.
The great capital of the IGW
was SC No.1, in what was once known as New York. Blue called it New York and I
shall. It is easier to say, for one thing, and for another it (even such as it
is) leaves a more Christian taste on the tongue. The weak point
in the IGW was a small, thin-faced wiry man who lived
in a vault in New York. His number was 2,757,311. But Blue called him White, for
Christian reasons. White was one of the last of the sun-browned country dwellers
to come in after all vegetative life on the earth had been destroyed. He had
come with a strange group of people from one of the outermost places. The
examiners at the gate had hesitated to let him enter. He had a light in his eyes
and it was well known that no genuine IGW slaves had light in their eyes. They
thought at first that he might have been a throw-back to some destroyed race,
but he had the proper credentials. They watched him carefully. In a few months
he began to look like his fellow slaves. But the resemblance was only on the
surface, said Blue, for his brain was afire and his heart bled.
White proved to be a
good slave. He kept step. He walked with head bowed. He made no human noise that
might soften the metallic din of the center. Winter came and went. White was
beyond suspicion. But with the coming of spring he cast surreptitious glances
sunward. At night he would look out of the ventilator at the stars. On Restday
afternoon, he would go over to the hills across the western river. His fellow
slaves could not understand his trips. "Why should he go over there,"
they would say to themselves, “when he could sit all day in the dark in his
vault and stare at the floor?" But that was the extent of their inquiry.
Thought was too much of an effort for them. Their sluggish minds would return
with their eyes to the floor.
White had a purpose in the
hills. He like the open and the sunlight, through none of his fellows would
believe it. But he had his eye out for something. One
warm afternoon he found it in a distant valley miles from men: a small patch of
brown moist earth. He knelt down reverently by it, and made a sign of a cross on
himself, touching his forehead and breast and shoulders with the first two
fingers of his right hand. After a long while on his knees, he arose and made a
sign of a cross in the air over the plot, murmuring as he did so. Then, with a
glance at the airplanes that hummed by high over head, he
took a little sack quickly from his breast and sprinkled its contents over the
shall bring God back to earth," White told the silences
he returned to Vault No. 2,757,311.
Spring grew into summer over the heaps of metal and flesh that were
known as cities, over the bare rock and soil that was known as earth. The people
in New York noticed that the air had become warmer, and that was all. Some of
them scarcely noticed that. But White knew and noticed. And now and then he
returned from his visits across the river with a light on his face that was
increasingly hard to conceal.
Autumn came. The patch of moist brown earth was now white with wheat
that rippled like water to the slightest wind. It was a small patch; no one had
seen it on land; no one could see it from the air.
Restday White visited his plot early. When he returned at dusk he carried with
him a small package of thin white wafers. He had cut down his wheat, beaten some
of it into flour, had mixed the flour with water, rolled the paste into
flat strips, and had baked them quickly over a fire made out of the remaining
White was jubilant that
He spent most of his sleeping hours on his knees. But the next day was a
solemn day for him. It was the day on which the IGW announced the capture and
execution of the last known Christian.
White spent the half holiday
on his knees in his vault.
All afternoon he could see in the streets far below him
Night came. White did
not go to bed. He unpacked a box he had brought with him from the country. It
held clothes, shoes, some tools. In the bottom of it, wrapped in an old coat,
was a large case. He went over its contents carefully. There were some robes, a
shiny cup, two small bottles, a book, a slab of stone, some miscellaneous small
boxes and metal pieces. He went over each carefully. He filled one of the
bottles with water. The other was already filled with a dark red liquid. Then,
he packed everything back carefully in the case and waited.
The city was as still as if
death had stolen in and possessed it. White sat patiently through the night
hours. The sky had a strange pallor, he thought, and there was a strange weight
to the silence of the city. He did not know whether it forbode good or evil.
Two hours before dawn,
he took up his case and made his way to the street. The streets were deserted.
Always they were deserted at this hour as the slaves slept. But in the deserted
dark of this night there was an unaccountable expectancy. The great masses of
metal towered blackly upward, massed themselves hugely upward, as if threatening
the stars. White walked quickly, a solitary speck of motion along the floors of
the caverns of the monstrous city.
He reached the base of
one giant structure that surpassed all others by a thousand feet, a memorial
tower to one of the first masters of the IGW. He slipped into the only elevator
and went hissing upward to the roof, a half mile above the earth. He locked the
elevator at the roof so that it could not be summoned. Then, he set himself
quickly to work. He changed his garments. In a few minutes, despite the dim
starlight, he was done.
"On top of that black tower of the
devil in the kingdom of the Anti-Christ," said Blue, "after all those
centuries of extermination, there stood a priest in amice and alb, maniple,
chasuble, girdle and stole, heir in a noble line of Christ's servants, clad in
their symbols of chastity, charity, honor and faith. The figure of Christ's
cross lay on his back. The anointment of Christ was on his soul. Before him was
his altar, his case topped with altar stone and missal and chalice. On it lay
the corporal with the wafer he had made from the wheat he had grown. By it stood
the two cruets of water and wine. He waited until first there was a streak of
light across the
east. Then he bowed down before his altar. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus sancti.
Mass had begun. He was keeping his promise
to bring God back to earth."
Blue's voice was
quivering. It was dark with night and fog. We still sat out on the roof.
What time it was I did not know.
Christian," said Blue fervidly, "was a priest. Can you see that heroic
figure in the twilight of the world saying Mass in the citadel of the
Anti-Christ? Can you hear the Christe eleison as he cries it to the
breaking skies of dawn? Can you catch the murmur of the Credo as the
winds carry it to the ends of the earth? Can you see him turning with shining
face as he gives his Dominus vobiscum to the empty cathedral of the
magnificent," exclaimed Blue as if he were telling of something he saw.
"And the while he is making the sign of the cross over the wafer of bread,
the powers of the Anti-Christ are gathering. He has been seen.
“An early plane spied
him as he bent over his altar in the first streaks of light. The warning has
awakened the city.
"Below grows a
tumult of multitudes. The clangor of the alarms and the rumble of moving people
rise to the top of the tower. But the priest does not hear. His soul is on his
Mass. The morbid slaves below awakening from their sluggish sleep are
electrified by cries of 'a priest! a priest!'
would not lift a hand to save a friend or give a sign of affection, these
apathetic slaves of the Anti-Christ, are transformed by this discovery of the
Mass. Stolid, stupid peoples, insensible even to pain, need—as ever—only the
mention of the priest and the Mass to drive them into unimaginable fury.
'The mobs surge about the base of the tower. There is
no access to the upper levels save by the lone elevator. Their blasphemies rise
in raucous uproar. Their frenzy would hurl over the structure itself if it
could. . .. The while the priest is reverently at his Mass.
sanctificator omnipotens, aeternae Deus. 'Come Thou Who makest holy,
almighty and eternal God...' He is beseeching the blessing of the Holy
The Mass goes on.
"The Master of the IGW has summoned the marshal of his soldiers. 'Stop the Mass immediately!' he commands.
reports that planes are speeding to the tower. 'The top is too small for a
landing. It is a difficult shot...' he is explaining.
Master is furious. 'Bomb the tower. Destroy it.
Demolish it. But stop the Mass!...'
"His face was
black," said Blue. "From his own tower he could see the silhouetted
figure bending over his small altar. He tears his flesh in his rage.
"Two, three, four
planes are circling above the tower. One drops a huge shell. It misses and goes
hurtling down to the street. It crashes in the heart of the insane mob,
annihilating a black square of them, shattering the steel walls, shaking the
structures for a mile around. Another bomb falls. Another misses. And again,
there are slaughter and destruction below...
"But now the priest bows low over his altar. Qui pridie quam pateretur... He begins the words of the consecration, the words that shall change the bread and wine of his altar into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. "He approaches Christ's own words at the Last Supper. "One plane is now low over the roof of the tower, so low that the crew can make out the figure of the Cross on the priest's chasuble. A bomb is made ready. . .
"And now the priest comes to the words that shall bring Christ to
earth again. His head almost touches his altar: Hoc est
enim corpus meum...
Blue was whispering. I
think he was shivering.
"The bomb did not drop.
No. No. There was a moment of awful silence. Then, a burst of light beside which
day itself is dusk. Then, a trumpet peal, a single trumpet peal that shook the
universe. Then, the sun blew up like a bubble. The stars and planets vanished
like sparks. The earth burst asunder…And through this unspeakably luminous new
day, through the vault of the sky ribbed with lightning came Christ as He had
come after the Resurrection. It was the end of the world!"
Blue's last words were just
"The Kingdom of the
Anti-Christ disappeared like ashes in a whirlwind. And hastening up out of their
tombs and resting places came the souls of the just, happy, hearty, wholesome,
to greet their king."
Blue paused. Then he added:
he ended his story.
There must have been five minutes of
silence. My body was cramped from its single position. My clothes were soggy
from the fog. Yet, I had not noticed these things before. Blue was waiting for
me to say something. I did not know what to say. I held my peace.
"Don't you think that would make a good picture?" he asked me
He was close beside me,
but I could hardly see him in the, fog. I told him I couldn't tell.
I suggested his theology was wrong. Isn't the Church to endure to the end
think of the possibilities! The scenes! The theme!
Think of a picture of Christ and the end of the world!"
I had to be honest with
him. I told him that it would make the sort of picture which would appeal to
himself and the few others like him. Outside of that, I said, I doubted if it
would have much success. “And, anyway," I added, "don't worry. It is
one of those pictures that will never be made."
We parted soon after that—I, to get some food and warmth on the street; Blue, so far as I could gather, to meditate further his strange dream of the end of the world.