Sunday, October 17, 2010

Full text of Brian Travers' speech for the Love Music Hate Racism Rally

Yesterday in London, sax player, rock star, and all around uber-human Brian Travers gave a rousing speech at the Love Music Hate Racism Rally. A speech, in which he was so kind to allow me to help him with. In the spirit of the rally, and in the hopes that I can help, in my own little way, spread the message further, here is Brian's speech in its entirety:


My name is Brian Travers, I'm a musician, and I’ve spent the last 30 years recording, and performing concerts worldwide, with a band that formed only a few miles from here in Moseley. We called ourselves UB40. We took the name from the registration number on the dole card of the day the: 'Unemployment Benefit 40'. There were so many of us carrying that same number after all. Almost one in ten of us were unemployed at the time in this country. It was a time that become known as the 'Winter Of Discontent'. It was 1978-79, James Callaghan's Labour Government was struggling to keep inflation down, and trade unions were fighting for a living wage. Things were a mess, everyone was struggling just to get by. Eventually, something had to give, and when it did, Margaret Thatcher, and her Tory 'boot boys' had landed in Number 10 Downing Street. I mention this, because I want draw comparison to the political climate of the late 70s, to what's happening now, in the 21st century. I want to highlight the importance of the work LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM is doing right now, and draw a parallel, with the incredible job their predecessors did, with the legendary ROCK AGAINST RACISM, organized by The Anti- Nazi League.

It's something I can talk about without diving into the history books, as UB40 were there, playing the gigs, and experiencing the dismantling of the then National Front, and The British Movement. ROCK AGAINST RACISM effectively made it incredibly unfashionable to be anything other than a committed anti-racist. Even the music press, and the more liberated radio & TV shows, got behind the movement. During its watch there were huge carnivals, featuring bands such as THE CLASH, and our very own STEEL PULSE from Handsworth. One such event in 1978, a march from Trafalgar Square to Brick lane, in the East End of London, drew more than a 100,000 people. Who then then marched all the way to Victoria Park. We celebrated together, Black, White, Asian; united by our shared belief in Great Britain’s multicultural ascendancy. The sun was shining, the future looked bright. We were young, we thought that we were changing the world.

UB40 were there, not performing, unfortunately...we were still learning to play our first songs in a rehearsal room (actually a cellar beneath a bedsit in Trafalgar Road). But we were there marching, we were taken to London on coaches, which left from Broad Street, and were provided by ROCK AGAINST RACISM. Days like that only gave us more belief in the power of music to unite people. It gave us the encouragement, we needed, to stick it out. Even through those tough, gig hungry, early days. It helped us as well, form a deeper political understanding. We heard some pretty fantastic music as well; tunes I still play today. Tunes that take me straight back to Brick Lane in 1978. Steel Pulse's 'Klu Klux Klan' name but one...

It doesn’t feel like 30 years ago, but here we are again. In a very similar political climate, the Nazis have re-named themselves...AGAIN...their representatives have swapped their jack boots, for pin stripes. They still have no other policy than hate. And we are still here, keeping a close eye on their activities. Thankfully the very same people that kept us alert back in the
70s & 80s are still vigilant today. What would we do without them?

Most of you are aware of everything I’ve just said, I know this is the sharp end of the movement. But I feel it is important, that we remind ourselves of past victories. There's is no harm in getting a slap on the back from a friend.

When Lee Billingham (Bruno Angellinis's contact) invited me to speak tonight, I was
immediately drawn to the idea of the then and now; ROCK AGAINST RACISM and LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM. Although they have the same ideals, they are separated by
decades of time, and a million miles of technology. We now have the Internet at our fingertips. This has changed everything, we are not simply talking about racism in the UK, racism is a worldwide pandemic. The citizens of the world are connected,
faster and easier, than most of us are with our next door neighbours. It was with this in mind, that I endeavored to promote LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM. I called on friends, from around the world via TWITTER. People, who’s minds I admire,to give me a few lines of rhetoric. Something they felt might connect with some like-minded souls here today, in Birmingham.

Tariq Aslam of Edinburgh Scotland, wrote back saying... “Compassion, acceptance and tolerance are all part of the unwritten constitution here in the UK. These are traits to be proud of, to promote and to appreciate for the benefits they bring. But
they don't come easily. They need to be hard fought in an ever-globalizing world in which they are bound to the fight against racism, which in turn is part and parcel of the struggle for civil rights...for human rights, just one link in the chain for equality for all people regardless of race, colour, creed or gender.

The Love Music Hate Racism events that have been held across the country are a timely reminder that racism is an ever-present danger within our communities and country. LMHR seeks to challenge racial prejudice, intolerance and cultural stereotypes through raising awareness, and celebrating cultural diversity. In thesetimes of economic hardship, of recessionary blues, and unemployment disharmony, it seems only natural that people want to vent their frustrations on someone, or join a political party that they might under normal circumstances never consider as a viable option. Our challenge is to educate, inform, unite and debate so that we can throw a ring fence around common sense and common decency, by sheltering the vulnerable from the politics of hate, and the venom of racism. The ghost of Enoch Powell still haunts the corridors of Westminster but the time has come to finally lay it to rest once and for all."

A 1st generation London Italian friend of mine, Bruno Angellini, who makes the best espresso on the Caledonian road by the way, wrote and said; his late Father Giuseppe Angellini, who came with his young wife to Britain in 1953, always
said: 'ringrazzio sempre l'Inghilterra per l'opportunita di farmi una
vita' He thanked England always for giving him the opportunity to make a life. My Father Joseph Travers, who arrived from Dublin, at around the same time, says exactly the same thing, not in Italian of course.

The Writer Joseph Lane, from Fredericton New Brunswick, Canada wrote back, saying...
“Borders are nothing but invisible lines, skin colour, only tiny differences in melanin. Nationality is dumb luck, and language is environmental. Religion is control, politics, but the combination of all humanity's warts. Music, however, is universal, the drumbeat of the collective human soul. Music is the global unifier."

He went on to add... "The APA (American Psychological Association) says, and I quote: “Psychological research has demonstrated that stereotypical thinking may decrease as a consequence of contact between people of different races.” Racism and hate run rampant in communities that are predominantly mono-cultural. Tolerance has a horrible time blooming in a void. Aside from forced integration, which to be frank produces mixed results; see Canada's struggles with the Native Communities and residential schooling, or the American civil rights movement. Instant acceptance in cultural integration is impossible. The trick, is to find the universal things that cross cultural, racial and linguistic lines, like music, art or food. If we the human population, all 6 billion, (or is it7 now?)of us,
viewed the world, not in terms of politics, religion, race or geography, but instead, as one great big human potluck. A bring your own music, art, culture or food global get together; hate, racism and intolerance would surely ebb. If we can teach the intolerant to peek out from under their cultural blinders, if the hateful can, for but a minute, listen to the drumbeat of the universal human, and if the racist could unplug his nose, and taste what the outside world is cooking, the neurosis, and the fear of that which is beyond their bubbles, will eventually pop."

The Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály said: "Real art is one of the most powerful forces in the rise of mankind, and he who renders it accessible to as many people as
possible is a benefactor of humanity. Music is the manifestation of the human spirit"

That's why LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT, that's why ROCK AGAINST RACISM prevailed in the bad old 1970s & 80s, and that is why LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM will prevail in the 21st Century... There have already been hundreds of events, large outdoor festivals, club nights, and top contemporary artists including Jon
McLures, Reverend and the Makers, Chipmunk, Ms Dynamite, Hard Fi, Babyshambles, Akala, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Estelle, The View, Lethal Bizzle, Roll Deep, and Basement Jaxx,*to name but a few...and there's a lot more of us out there, waiting for the call...


I was going to finish with something Edmund Burke said in the 1700’s, and its something that is just as true today as it ever was:“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” BUT I've just noticed it written on a UAF T shirt in the lobby... so, I'm going to use something sent to me by the London Broadcaster Rick Glanvill. "FIRST THEY CAME...attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller, about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazis rise to power... They came first for the Communists,
 and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

 Then they came for the trade unionists,
 and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me 
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

And if that doesn't work for you, here's one from The Reverend and the Makers Jon McLure, a quote from LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM’S Barnsley event, in May,



Saturday, October 16, 2010

My first ever blog post. Unedited in order to maintain posterity

First the url, to my first, of what were to be many, blogs:

Written in September of 2005, remember then? You will.

The opening Rant

So I decided that it might be fun to have my own blog. Christ everyone is doing it. I am by no means technically savvy enough to offer the patrons of this world wide web anything, other then what I think and feel at any giving moment. So what do I think and feel right now, well where to begin, this being my first rant, and what with the whole Katrina mess, where better to start but with the first ever crazypinkocanuck look at what I think is wrong with everyones favorite superpower punching bag The US of A.
In no particular order.
1. The US media. The media in the US are as driven by polls and market research as the politicians that they serve and protect. Sure now we see guys like Anderson Cooper from CNN, ranting and raving about FEMA's inadequate response, even Fox (which I keep track of only to see how the darkside is thinking, know thyn enemy, that and well the Simpsons) is now asking "serious" questions about the government response. The whole republican notion that the American media is liberal, is false, this administrations greatest victory was its castration of the main stream media. Checks and balances exist not in TVland, but on the internet where content is not driven by demographics and corporate sponsorship.
2. The American political system.Huh. The rules and institutions that make up the worlds greatest democracy are as hard to fathom as oh lets say cricket, and I read Jon Stewarts Democracy twice. The failures of Katrina have as much to do with an archiac system of government, then say a vacation happy President, or even an unqualified FEMA director. When local, state and Federal levels of government can not work together in times of crisis, because of redtape and partisian politics, its time to rethink things me thinks.
3. A superpower sans world view. The US's aversion to the UN frightens me. The war in Iraq is of course the most stunning example of this, the coalition of the willing, you are with us or against, and bring it on. All this false bravado, is nothing more then a superpower losing its mojo.
4. Karl Rove. Here is a man whom has never been elected to any post in the federal government, he has no fear of any voter agnst, or recall, or impeachment and yet it is he and Cheney that are running the country. Karl Rove is like the cartoon devil that sits on Georgie's shoulder....... where is the angel.
I could go on and on, and hey thats what a rant is all about, but seeing that this is the first rant, I shouldn't step on to many toes. Not only that but I am not really sure if I can even get this whole blog thing off the ground. If all goes well and I am not as technically inept as I fear, please comment, good bad and ugly, doesn't matter to me.

Spoiler Alert


Sunday, October 10, 2010


A short story by Joseph Lane

Have you ever seen anything like it?” Jim asked, adjusting his hat.

No, never.” said Tom, handing Jim $1.76 in change, then placing his milk and bread in a plastic bag.

What do you think it is? Where did it come from?” Jim grabbed the bag, and impulsively inspected its contents.

I dunno, but it wasn't here at 11, when I was closing up last night.” Tom fiddled with the 'Give a penny, keep a penny jar', then gazed out the store window like Tom.

So nobody saw or heard anything last night?” said Jim, now standing at the window.

Nope, which is odd considering how busy this street is, with all the apartment buildings there are around here.” Tom walked out from behind the store counter, and joined Jim at the store window.

I know it sounds crazy, and I don't believe that sorta shit, but it doesn't look earthly.”

Jim and Tom stood and watched the burgeoning collection of firemen, police officers, press, and the generally curious that had been gathering since earlier that morning.

“I bet it's a bunch of students from the art college in the city, all an elaborate hoax. Kids these days, you know.” said Tom, holding the store door open for Jim.

“Maybe. I will be sure to keep an eye on the news. Thanks Tom.”

“See ya Jim.”

Elizabeth Kelly, who was standing on the lawn of one of the apartment buildings across the street from Tom's store, was putting on her face, staring into a small compact makeup kit.

“We are on in 5 Liz.” Said Kevin, her producer and cameraman.

“I wish we had more to say. Am I talking to the geologist, or the police chief first?” Elizabeth fiddled with her hair.

“We are going with the geologist first. 3 minutes.” Kevin picked up his camera, pressed a few buttons. “2 minutes.”
“Michael Fredericks, right? The geologist.”

“Yes. 45 seconds.”

Michael Fredericks approached Elizabeth.  He was very tall, skinny and bearded. The picture of awkward academia. They shook hands.

“25 seconds.” Here we go, thought Elizabeth, my first spot on the National nightly news. She fiddled with her hair, took a deep breath, then looked towards Kevin.

Michael adjusted his tie. “Do I look at you, or into the camera?”

“The camera”

“In 5,4"  Kevin hand gestures 3,2,1, points to Elizabeth.

“Good afternoon. We are here, just off St. George Street, in the picturesque town of Mapleton Ontario, where sometime last night a mysterious Orb appeared.  Local residents, here in Mapleton, have never seen anything like it, and so far no one has claimed responsibility, for its seemingly magical appearance. With me now is Michael Fredericks, associate professor of geology at Eastern University.  Mr Fredericks, good afternoon, what are we looking at?”

“Good afternoon Elizabeth. As far as I can tell it's an Orb, and from my measurements, it seems to be geometrically perfect. It's really quite beautiful.”

“Have you seen anything like it in the natural world?” asked Elizabeth, cursing Micheal Fredericks, thinking to herself  'oh great a professorial type, who has the personality of a log.'

“No. I am also very confused as to what it is made of. From what little time I have had to study it, I am not sure what materials make it up. It seems to be both organic, and metallic at the same time.”

“Fascinating." Elizabeth could barely stop her eyes from rolling. "An elaborate hoax?” she asked. Which  was what she herself believed, that this was all the work of some crop-circle freaks, bent on messing with this small town's residents' minds.

“I can't imagine that it is anything else.” said Mr Fredericks, who despite his academic background, believed this thing was extra-terrestrial. There was no way he'd admit that publicly, especially on the nightly news, that would be occupational suicide, he'd be laughed off campus. But there was something unearthly about this Orb, and it scared the crap out of him.

“Thank you Mr Fredericks.” didn't that go well, she thought. I hope the police chief has more personality. Will this story even make it through edit?

“You are welcome.”

Michael Fredericks shook Elizabeth's, then Kevin's hand, and joined a crowd of people standing near the Orb.

“Is the police chief ready Kev?"

Kevin, 30, metrosexual to the very tip of his perfect faux hawk, was talking on his iPhone. He held a finger up to Elizabeth, as if to tell her to wait a minute. The look in his eyes was one of amazement and fear. He mumbled a few 'ahas' and 'okays', maybe a 'yep'. Whatever was being said on the other end of the line, was obviously far more important than anything Kevin might add in rebuttal.

Elizabeth was both impatient and curious. She would shoot looks Kevin's way, only to be met with a nod or a finger. What the hell was going on? What was the delay?

Kevin stuffed his cell into his pocket. Ever the fatalist, he had a feeling that something horrible was about to happen. He had that feeling when he first saw the Orb, earlier this morning. It wasn't just because he and his new girlfriend were supposed to head off to Cuba tomorrow. Sure, he didn't want this gig in the first place, he was a day away from vacation, and he didn't feel like spending the day in some hick town in western Ontario. No, it was more than just that, he had a bad feeling, in the pit of his stomach, as soon as he caught sight of the Orb. Something was not right, and he knew it.

Kevin walked a few steps towards the news van.  He looked at himself in the news van's side mirror; fit, smart, sexy, he said  to himself, and with a forced smile, made his way towards Elizabeth.

“What's up? Are we going to interview the police chief?” Elizabeth's hands were in the air. She hated not being in control.

“The story is changing, it's bigger than we thought.” Kevin said, trying, but failing, to hide the fear in his eyes.

“What do you mean? What the hell is going on?”

“That was Toronto. They told me that there have been similar reports of Orbs popping up all over the globe. There have been at least 35 discoveries in Canada alone. Discoveries in Europe, Asia, and Australia as well. There might be thousands of these things. We have been told to sit tight, and wait for further instruction.” Kevin's phone rang again, he walked a few metres away from the gathering crowd, before answering it.

“Get our ass to a TV.” The voice on the other end of the phone said.

“Why, what is going on?” Kevin responded, the colour draining from his cheeks.

“One of the Orbs, just outside Brisbane, Australia, has been vibrating and changing colours for the last half hour. Go! Something significant is happening. We want you two to a safe distance from the Orb.”

Elizabeth got as close as she could to Kevin, trying her hardest to listen to the voice on the other end of Kevin's phone...

“How far is a safe distance? What if this one starts to vibrate and change colours?" asked Kevin, shrugging.

Elizabeth, elbowed Kevin in the gut, and said  "I want to catch it all on film. I am not going to miss it.” ambition in her eyes.

“Find a place with a good view of the Orb, but I want you guys inside. And for God's sake be careful. Keep your cell phone on, we will be in constant communication.”

Kevin stuffed his phone back in his pocket. “We have to tell all these people that they should get a safe distance from the Orb. Where is that police chief?”

“What's up Kev? Is the Orb dangerous? Let's tell the story. Let's get the camera running.” Elizabeth was excited, she had the feeling she was now sitting on the story of the century.

“There are thousands of these things Liz. There is one in Brisbane that is vibrating and changing colour. We need to get folks safely away from this thing, until we have a better idea what the hell is happening. Where the hell is that police chief?" Kevin finally permitted himself to outwardly express the stress he felt. The forced smile was gone, the fear in his eyes less masked.

Police chief Fred Campbell, and his team of 10 officers had spent most of the day trying to keep teenagers from crawling all over the Orb. He had no idea what it was, frankly he didn't care. He would much rather be home in front of his brand new 50 inch HD TV, watching NASCAR. This was an unexpected, and unwanted event, one which he couldn't wait to be over. He was 64 years old, and about 6 months away from a much deserved retirement. This was nothing be a pain in his ass.

Constable Gnew, the new kid, 24, fresh faced, straight out of cop college, ran up to the chief, red faced and excited. “Phone call chief. It is Ottawa, they say it is important.”

“Thanks Mikey. Keep an eye on that group of boppers over there, will you?” said the chief.

“Sure thing chief.” Mike walked over towards a fence, where a group of teenagers were hanging out. Upon seeing him approach, they tossed their cigarettes, and quickly dispersed.

“Chief Campbell. Aha, yes, who is this? OK, yes. Really, yes I am listening.” The knit in Chief Campbell's brow grew more and more pronounced. He began to pace back and forth. 

Chief Campbell pressed the red button on the phone, then stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled. “Everyone clear the area! Everyone go home!” He whistled louder, almost drowning out the squawks of his walkie-talkie, and the voices of his perplexed officers.

“What's going on chief?”

“Just clear the area.”

“What we tell the crowd?”

“Tell them this area is unsafe.”

“Is it the Orb chief? Should they be afraid of the Orb?”

“For shit's sake, YES! Clear the area!”

Slowly the area around Tom's Convenience Store, and eventually a 5 block radius around the Orb site, was cleared of civilians. The only folks visible, anywhere near the Orb, were first responders, and folks in Hazmat suits. About once every half hour a press, military, or government helicopter would circle well above the orb.

“Fucking copters, you and I should be up in one of them, telling this story.” said Elizabeth plunked on a hotel bed, watching NewsWorld.

“You should be watching our network.” Said Kevin, leaning against a dresser, drinking a Heineken, which he had grabbed from the bar fridge.

“Screw that, this is a National, hell Global emergency, I only trust the National broadcaster when things go all to hell. And besides, my network just pulled me from the story of the century, so fuck em.” With that Elizabeth fell back on the bed, kicking off her shoes as see landed.

“It's for our own safety Liz. No one knows what those things are...”

Just then, there was a bright flash, then only static from the feed in Brisbane. Within a second or two, Peter Landsbridge was seen fiddling with his ear piece. “Ahem, we're sorry, it seems that we are having technical difficulties with our feed from Brisbane. We will return there live once things are ironed out. For those just tuning in, we have been covering, the still developing story, of thousands and thousands of Orbs, that have appeared, as if out of nowhere, and worldwide, over the last 12 to 24 hours...” Landsbridge held his finger to his ear once again. His eyebrows rose, confusion, then what looked like despair crossed his face.

“... we are getting unconfirmed reports of massive power outages in Western Australia. We have been unable to reach any of our correspondents in Brisbane. The ABC in Sydney seems to have gone dark. Stay tuned, we will bring you further information as it comes in.”

Elizabeth sat up, Kevin put his beer down on the dresser. From their window, on the 5 floor of the Mapleton Best Western, they could see the very top of the Orb. It sat grey, it was neither vibrating or glowing, yet. Suddenly, Kevin's phone rang, then even before he could answer it, Elizabeth's rang. On the other end of Kevin's phone was his girlfriend.

“Hey babe. I am safe... I am at a hotel, a Best Western about 5 blocks away... I don't know what they are... I know, I know, don't be scared, I'll be home soon....  everything will be fine, I promise. I love you too... stop worrying, I will be there soon... I gotta go babe, Landsbridge is about to tell us what is the hell is going on...a ha, yep. Love you too. Bye.”

Elizabeth had a very similar conversation with her mother. She too cut the phone call short to see what Peter Landsbridge had to report.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is with a heavy heart, and mind you this story is still developing, much is still unconfirmed, that I have to report that communication, whether it be by landline, cell phone or via the Internet, has ceased with Australia. Sydney has gone quiet, there is no news from Brisbane, Melbourne or even cities as far away, as Adelaide or Perth. Our producers were able, just a few minutes ago, to talk briefly with New Zealand's Foreign Minister, who released this statement: “At 2:26 am local time, a flash of light was seen throughout the skies of Oceania. Moments later, we lost all communication with our dear friends and neighbours in Australia. We have called on the navy to send ships carrying food, water, and medical supplies as quickly as possible to Australia. We ask that the global community pray for Australia. And we make a promise to go above and beyond, to help our dear friends recover from whatever it is, that has just happened.”

Landsbridge began to look ever-worried. “There are now reports of vibrating and glowing Orbs throughout Asia. China and Japan have called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. The American President, we are told, is meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Canadian Prime Minister has yet to call for a national state of emergency, but he has asked that citizens stay well away from any of the Orbs, and that each Canadian municipality, be ready to enact emergency measures at a moment's notice.”

Kevin's phone rang, it was Toronto: “We want you and Elizabeth to get in the van and drive to the airport. We are pulling you out of Mapleton, we are bringing you in. The corporate jet is waiting on runaway 3. Flash your press badges, the folks at the airport are expecting you.”

Kevin looked up at Elizabeth, who was transfixed by the TV. “We gotta go. There is a plane waiting for us. They want us out of here.”

“What about the story? We are here already, we can tell as good as anyone else.” Said Elizabeth, stubborn to the end.

“We gotta go. Those are our orders.”

The first satellite images of Australia were popping up on Google, and being broadcast. Australia was flattened. A huge plume of smoke could be seen from space.

“Holy shit” Said Elizabeth.

Kevin grabbed Elizabeth's arm, pulled her off the bed. “We have got to go. I am not letting you or I die in Mapleton.”

The drive to the airport was bumper to bumper. Panicked civilians, with little idea what to do, had piled into their cars and headed to wherever they thought might be safest. The airport, it would seem, was as good a destination as any. Elizabeth and Kevin listened to the radio as they drove.

NATO and the American Military were trying various methods to destroy Orbs. Conventional methods and weaponry had yet to work. The President up to this point refused to consider the nuclear option. There was however, an on-going operation, just outside Seattle, Washington, where the US Military was attempting to dig up an Orb, load it onto a rocket, where it would be flown into space, where it could blow up, or flash, or do whatever it does outside the Earth's atmosphere. “The worry,” said the radio newscaster “is time.”

Now at the airport, Elizabeth and Kevin weaved through the frenzied crowd of stranded passengers, and folks trying to fly as far away from Mapleton as possible. Kevin lead them towards a customer service kiosk. Once there, Kevin flashed his press badge, and said that he had been told that everything was set up, that there was a plane waiting for himself and Elizabeth on runway 3. The customer service representative punched a few words into his computer, looked over Kevin and Elizabeth a couple of times, then said: “Of course, please follow me.”

The representative lead them through customs, then hurriedly down long airport corridors. Just as they were about to enter gate 64, which would lead them onto the waiting plane, the lights dimmed and they heard load gasps throughout the airport.

“What now?” Asked Elizabeth, clinging hard to Kevin's arm. “I don't know? But I think it is best that we get on the plane, and get out of here.”

Elizabeth took a few steps backwards, she wanted to know what was happening.

“Liz, please, there is nothing we can do, no matter what's happening. Let's get on this plane, and home to our loved ones, while we still can.” Kevin lurched forward and grabbed Elizabeth's left arm. She tore it from his grasp and ran back into the airport. Kevin ran after her.

They didn't have to run far; high above the seats in the waiting area of Gate 64, there was a TV. Peter Landsbridge, even more ashen, and shocked as before, reported that the world had lost New Zealand, China, most of South East Asia. Japan, Mongolia, India and the extreme East of Russia. Most of the Eastern world was no longer responding to communication attempts.

Elizabeth and Kevin stood silently staring at the TV for a few minutes. Shocked, almost unable to move, Kevin finally grabbed Elizabeth's hand and said “Let's get home to our families. Please, Elizabeth, let's get on that plane.” Elizabeth silently capitulated.

Elizabeth and Kevin were not alone on the plane. There were about 15 other people, fortunate enough to have connections within the corporation, that had secured seats. The Vice President's son was on board, so too were another team of producer and reporter. The rest of the passengers were mostly family of executives, or advertising salespeople.

“Lady's and gentlemen, my name is Charlie McNichol, I will be your captain. We are scheduled to depart from runway 6 at 4:15 pm, or in about a half an hour. In the meantime, the lovely and capable Michelle will be on hand to cater to your food or drink needs. The flight itself, will take approximately an hour and 20 minutes. We are anticipating higher than average traffic at Pearson International, I will inform you once I have a better idea what's happening in Toronto. So sit tight, we will be in the air soon.”

“Sexist bastard.” Elizabeth muttered.

Kevin shrugged, wondered where this lovely and capable Michelle was hiding. He needed a drink to straighten himself out.

Elizabeth dug in her travel bag and pulled out her iPad. Thank God for 3G technology, she thought. She instinctively checked her emails, then a quick peek in on her social networks. Same old shit, bills and an email from her mom in her email box. Twitter and Facebook were littered with fears that the end was near. Surprisingly considering the reported devastation in Australia, and Asia. The Web seemed to be so far unaffected.

Elizabeth typed in the url for CNN. Things have gone all to hell, shit like this is right up CNN's alley, she thought. The headline, written in big bold black letters was: IS THIS THE END? Elizabeth couldn't help but chuckle, Jim Morrison's lyrics : “This is the end. My only friend, the end” were bouncing in her head. Oh how she loved the Doors as a teenager.

Kevin looked over Elizabeth's shoulder. “Are we all dead yet?” he asked, a weak attempt at humour, he knew, but at this point, that's all he could come up with.

“Ha, I don't think so, unless flying in a corporate jet is some new sort of heaven, purgatory, or limbo.”

“Are you religious?” asked Kevin, noticing that Michelle, the stewardess, was approaching with the drink cart.

“Nah, I am a borderline atheist. Not full-blown, figured I might wanna recant on my death bed, you know, just in case I am wrong.” Elizabeth looked up and smiled at Michelle.

“Would you folks like something to drink quickly before we take off?” Michelle asked, and yes, she was beautiful.

“I'll have a glass of dry white wine.” Said Elizabeth, lowering the try in front of her.

“And for you, sir?”

“A gin and tonic, with a lemon, no ice.” It was obvious that Kevin had said that many, many times before.

Michelle poured Elizabeth and Kevin's drinks. “Any good news?”, she asked Elizabeth as she passed her, her wine.

“Thanks. Not really. Orbs are glowing and vibrating all over Europe now. The whole continent is in a state of emergency and panic. Whatever is going on, it seems to be headed steadily west. Scientists are trying to calculate exactly when each Orb will flash, and the extent and distance of destruction each Orb causes. I hate being a Debbie Downer, but I think we are all fucked. You'll get us good and drunk though, won't you?”

Michelle, a little taken aback by Elizabeth's rant, passed the g & t to Kevin, and said “Sure thing honey, we might as well all go out happy.”

“Thanks Michelle, I hope to see you on multiple occasions throughout the flight.” said Kevin, as flirty as possible.

Michelle smiled, then pushed her cart away.

The jet's engines began to idle faster, as the captain began to taxi towards the runway.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you would please direct your attention to your stewardess Michelle, she will give you a run through on the safety and emergency features of this aircraft. We will be a taking off soon, and should be arriving in Toronto in about an hour and 20 minutes. Sit tight, and enjoy the rest of the flight.”

Elizabeth instinctively put away her iPad, she had been chastised by more than a few stewards and stewardesses about the use of electronic devices during take off. Kevin however, always tried to buck that rule, he purposely plugged some headphones into his iPhone, and stared out the window. Surely the rules are much more lax on a corporate bird, he thought. He was right, Michelle paid no attention to him. She had the apocalypse on her mind.

Minutes later the jet was in full flight, headed slightly southeast towards Canada's largest city. Both Elizabeth and Kevin had three drinks during the flight, but little was said. They seemed to have come up with a non-verbal argument not to follow the news while they were in the sky. Surely the world wouldn't come to the end while they puddle-jumped the Great Lakes.

Kevin recognized the ever-growing expanse that is Toronto Ontario, as the captain made his descent. Home sweet home, he mumbled to himself.

“Have you got anyone picking you up at the airport?' Kevin asked Liz. Holding his empty glass up, hoping that Michelle would notice and pour him one last drink.

“Yes. I emailed my mom before we took off. She promised to take me back to her place and feed me a proper meal. I called it a Last Supper, but I don't think she thought it was funny. My mom's kinda anal, not a lot of funny about her. Have you got a ride? My mom lives way out in Markham, but I am sure she'd be willing to drop you off somewhere.” Elizabeth declined Michelle's offer to top up her wine.

“Thanks for the offer... thanks Michelle... but I have to get back to head office, who knows, they might need me out in the field. I will use the company card and get a taxi to zoom me into town.” Kevin sipped his g & t, and watched Toronto grow bigger, and bigger as they approached the airport.

The captain pointed the jet straight and true, smoothly landing at Pearson International. He taxied slowly to an empty gate, turned off the engines, and met the passengers as they left the plane. Both he and Michelle did the forced-friendly good byes. Both wondered if they'd ever have to perform the routine again. Captain McNichol, had already been told that all commercial flights were grounded, not just in North America, but Worldwide. He might have landed his last jet.

Elizabeth and Kevin departed at the arrivals lounge. They hugged, told each other to stay in touch, then went their separate ways. Elizabeth was met by a teary-eyed mother, who threw her arms around her daughter. She had a look of deep dread, a look that Elizabeth had never seen on her mother's face before. Kevin made his way out a set of carousel doors, where a line up of taxis where there for his choosing.

“It's gonna be alright mom. We will figure this out. A few space rocks, or whatever the hell those things are, are not going to destroy humanity.” Huzzah to false hope. Elizabeth hated seeing her mom worry, she'd come up with anything in order to stop her mother from fretting.

“You stink of wine.” Those were the first words her mother said to her. Which made Elizabeth roll her eyes, something she had perfected since she was 9-years-old. “Oh I am glad you are home. Have you been following the news? Dear Lord, I am not sure what to make of any of it. I am scared Lizzy.” Elizabeth's mother was a meticulously, but conservatively dressed, middle-aged woman, who would be really quite beautiful, despite her age, if only she would smile more, and worry less. Today was not the day she was going to turn over that new leaf.

“Let's just get home mom. Any news from dad?” Elizabeth's parents divorced when she was 8. He is a senior environmental engineer, working for a big oil company in Saskatchewan. He remarried, and  fathered Elizabeth's two younger half-brothers.

“Your father, and both brother's called the house earlier this afternoon. They each said that they had tried to call your cell, but there was no answer. I told them that you were flying home, and that you'd touch base after supper.”

Elizabeth and her mother walked out the carousal doors, Kevin had already left by taxi.

“Didn't you bring any bags?” Elizabeth's mother asked, as she approached her tiny red Yaris, which was parked in the arrivals parking lot.

“Nah, we were told to get to the airport as quickly as possible, Kevin and I both left everything, except our carry-ons at the hotel. I guess we could get the hotel to ship it to us later.”

“If there is a later.” her mom said, engine on, slowly pulling out of her parking spot.

“That's the spirit mom. I am going to turn on the radio, let's find out how near the end is.”

“I'd rather listen to my Brahms's CD. I am not sure I can drive safely, what with all this talk of the end of the world. You know I am a nervous driver Lizzy”

“Fair enough. I will check things out on my iPad.”

“Please do.”

The 407, usually bumper to bumper at 6:30pm, was worse than ever. Rush hour traffic, but no one was sure where they should rush off too. It was as if Ontarians hadn't found their safe place. Like they were trying in vain, to find the safest pace to hunker down in, before an approaching storm.

Elizabeth had no Internet service. She couldn't log on. “Shit, the Internet is down. The shit is really hitting the fan. Let me borrow your cell, I think I left mine in Mapleton, I wanna see if there is any cell service.” Her mom passed the cell. She looked at the display screen, noticed that there were no bars, a message read that the cell was searching for a signal. Elizabeth shut the phone off and passed it back to her mom. “Cell service is down as well. Mommy, I must know what is going on. Let me turn on the radio, please.”

“OK darling, but only for a few minutes, I am worried enough as it is.”

Elizabeth pressed a button on her mother's car stereo, switching it from Brahms, to CBC Radio One.

“... confirmed reports that the Internet is down worldwide, cellular service is down from Newfoundland to nearly Saskatchewan. The Canadian government has declared a country-wide state of emergency, and has asked citizens to listen to local authorities, suggesting also, that if there are bunkers in your area, to get in them.

As of about an hour ago, the world lost contact with Europe. It is expected that Orbs in North and South America will start to glow, vibrate, then pulse, soon...

... we are getting unconfirmed reports, and with the state of Canada's communication infrastructure, limited now to just land line telephones and radio, most of the new information we might report will be unconfirmed, but we are getting phone calls from Newfoundland, and the rest of the Maritimes, saying that Orbs are beginning to glow and vibrate. Scientists estimate that the Orbs are in this state for about an hour before they pulse. Martimers please, try and find a safe place. Our thoughts and prayers are with you...”

Saimus McGinnley, the radio announcer, a Newfoundlander made good,  began to chokedup. One heard him clear his throat, sniff.

“... I am sorry, this story has just hit home for me (sniff). Be safe Canada. May God help us all.”

“Shut it off Lizzy, I can't listen to it any more.”

Elizabeth's mother pulled the car to the side of the road. Pulled a packet of Kleenex from the dash, wiped her eyes, then blew her nose. Even the ever-stoic Elizabeth was tearing up. She reached over and brushed a tear from her mother's cheek.

“Let's just get home mom. Do you want me to drive?"

Elizabeth's mother shook her head, took a deep breath and pulled back onto the highway, headed home.

Downtown Toronto was deserted. Kevin could count on two hands how many other vehicles, he and the cabby had seen since entering the downtown core. He felt like he was in an action movie, Kevin expected to see Godzilla and King Kong doing battle around the CN tower.

He and the cabby hadn't said much. Both spent most of the trip listening, semi-stunned, to the news that was coming from the radio. Kevin had forgotten why he needed to go downtown. Why was he compelled, after landing at the airport to go back to the office? Would anybody even be there? The cabby's mind was on his wife and two little girls, sitting at home in their tiny apartment in the west end.  This fare had lost all purpose.  Both Kevin and the cabby knew that there was no point being in downtown Toronto, what with the world coming to an end.. The cabby was tempted to pull over, kick Kevin out, and rush home to his family. Neither man had any interest in spending, what might be their last moments, with each other. But they were committed now, this snot of a yuppy, and the immigrant cabby, brought together by the cosmos. That and Kevin's irrational idea that if he was working, all this might go away, the cabby, well he woke up this morning thinking that this was but another 12 hour work day, just like yesterday. If only it were still yesterday.

“...Canadian and American researchers say that the pulse or beam given off by the Orbs is akin to heavy electromagnetic energy. This intense energy, vaporizes everything in its path. It is as if, researchers postulate, Earth is being clear cut, or slashed and burned. There must be intelligence behind the process, but as of yet, there haven't seemed to be any attempts at communication...”

Saimus McGinnley, the intrepid radio announcer, was also questioning why he wasn't home with his wife and 13-month-old son. Was it his destiny to be humanity's last scream for help? How soon would it be until his voice was no longer being broadcast to? When would the radio-waves be scrambled?

The cabby pulled up to the curb, in front of a large office building. Kevin, who had planned to pay the cabby with his corporate credit card, realized that not only was the cabby's debit machine mostly likely down, but what was the point of saving 40 bucks? He reached into his wallet and gave the cabby every last bill that was in it, close to $200.

If this were any normal day, then a fare like that would have been a blessing, but there was nothing normal about today. The cabby refused, saying; “No thank you. God bless you, good bye.”

Money still in his hand, Kevin watched as the cabby sped off. He suddenly felt like he was the only person in Toronto. He shouted, impulsively “HELLO!” - the echo of his voice off Toronto's skyscrapers was all he received in response. He looked up at the large office building that housed head office. It stood grey, and lifeless. Should I go in? Why am I here? What next?

Kevin entered the building. Nobody was at the front desk. He went around the desk, looked for a radio. There was not one there. He picked up a phone. There was a dial tone. He dialed his home phone number. Maybe there was time for his girlfriend to come pick him up. He hated the thought of facing the apocalypse alone. 1 ring, 2 rings, 3 rings... come on, pick up, pick up... 4 rings, 5 rings... where the hell is she?... 6 rings, 7 rings, 8 rings... "Fuck!" Kevin slammed down the receiver. What now?

Kevin remembered hearing the radio announcer mention that perhaps the best place to be, is underground. He made his way to the elevators. He pressed the down button. All three elevators had to come up from sub basement level 4. The middle elevator opened first. He went in, pressed the button for sub basement level 4, and had a near panic attack as the door closed.

Less than a minute later, although in his state of near panic, it felt like an hour, the elevator opened to sub level 4. He quickly hopped out. “HELLO!” More echoes, no response. He walked aimlessly around the sub basement, which was really just an underground parking lot, filled with news vans, and other corporate vehicles. “HELLO!” Still no answer. Kevin slid down a cement pillar, defeated, he sat clutching his knees on the cold, hard floor.

Saimus McGinnley didn't see the flash, he was broadcasting from the bowels of the CBC building. He knew that there was another event, because the lights flickered, and his microphone, and earphones went dead. “Good bye.” He said, and through a miracle of technology, a million or so Canadians, who were still hanging on his every word, knew that the wave of destruction had begun on the Eastern end of North America.

The large fluorescent lights that lit sub level 4 flashed, then went dark. Seconds later, the emergency generator kicked in, dimly lighting the figure of Kevin, who remained sitting, still clutching his knees. Well, that's pretty much it, it shouldn't be long now, he thought.

Elizabeth and her mother sat in the basement, finishing up the last of a macaroni casserole, when they heard Saimus say 'good bye'. They had lit a bunch of candles and oil lamps before they had sat down to eat supper, so when they power went off, they were not left completely in the dark.

“I love you Lizzy” Said Elizabeth's mom, wrapping her arms around her daughter.

“I love you too mom. Here have a drink.” Elizabeth poured her a glass of white wine.

“How can you think about drink right now?” her mom retorted.

“Thinking about anything else isn't much worth it, is it?” she took a long swig from the glass of wine, which was meant for her mother. “Can we not fight right now? My drinking problem, real or imagined, isn't really all that important right now mom.”

“You are right, I am sorry.” Elizabeth's mother took the wine glass from her hand and took a sip. “This really is a nice Chardonnay.” she said, clinking glasses with Elizabeth.

Kevin's mind slipped to thoughts of Elizabeth. They had only worked together for a few weeks, but he had grown to quite like her. Thoughts of an improper working relationship, had crossed his mind on more than a couple occasions, the last few days. He was not blind to the fact that her more curious as to what she was doing, as the end approached, and not what his girlfriend was up to. Why hadn't he taken Elizabeth up on her offer to drive him somewhere?

Elizabeth was thinking of Kevin, wondered how he made out, wondered why he had chosen to go to head office, rather than go home to be with his girlfriend. Was the planned trip to Cuba a last ditch effort to save a failing relationship? Did she secretly want their relationship to fail? Elizabeth's mother's thoughts were on her ex-husband, she missed him now, more than ever. FLASH!

“I love you Elizabeth” Yelled Kevin. FLASH!

Saimus thought of his wife and little boy. FLASH!

Tom sat, shotgun in hand, staring from the window of his store, at the glowing, vibrating Orb, which was only a 100 meters away. FLASH!

Jim was making love to his wife. He was determined to go out shagging. FLASH!

The last human voice electronically transmitted from Earth was Joseph Michael's, a 40-year-old amateur ham radio enthusiast, from Port Hope Alaska. His last word before the flash was “Why?”