Sunday, 24 March 2019
On the day God punished the Africans – thousands were wiped out in Gambia – Abdul Vazçèq was too busy tending to his wilted vegetable plot to notice. He was concerned that the dispute with his neighbour may have brought divine retribution to his door so he was busy. He was not watering the produce, for that was God’s work, but praying devoutly for his intervention from the heavens. But he had to go into town to join the compulsory daily mass demonstration at the behest of the supreme prophet; the holy father of the state religion and God’s representative on Earth.
Before the coming of the Great Silence we were assailed by the clamour of the devil, in the form of newspapers, television and the internet. It was a continuous babble of misinformation and contradictory truths. Nobody knew what to believe and the conflicts between those who voted for one outcome and those for another had become more and more frequent; the normal functions of society were disrupted on a near daily basis as London’s streets were clogged with protesters. But now it was clear that there can be only one truth and at last we have found it.
When they cut down the tree of knowledge (the world-wide-web-of-lies) life was supposed to get better for the devout and given that Vazçèq’s life was now a power-less, jobless, hungry existence he could only assume that his own lack of unthinking faith was to blame. He couldn’t exactly blame god because, well, that was illegal and god was omnipotent. If it wasn’t in the holy book it wasn’t true and he knew on which side his bread was buttered. Or at least he would if he had any butter. Or bread for that matter. It had been a while now.
As he crossed the town square, looking up at the cloudless sky and worrying about his vegetables he was only vaguely aware of the screens broadcasting god’s retribution on the Africans. Floods; how ironic. In a corner of the former market place – markets were now banned as unholy – a small gathering was busy stoning somebody who had expressed ambivalence for divine government in earshot of the religious police. At least there was now law and order. And everybody had the same opinion, if they wished to stay alive.
But where was the rain? And what must he do to appease the almighty; if only there was a sign. A hundred loudspeakers crackled into life and a booming, voice of authority commanded that all face the screens for their act of devotion. An old still image appeared and the crowd began to bay. The last remaining means of generating electricity now that god’s will was being done was reserved for the generators of state and church. The crowd repeated the mantra and the hated figure – now long dead – became for two minutes the centre of their universal excoriation.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Epsilon and the Upsilon...
A siren signalled the end and the crowd began to recover from their trance-like state of angry arousal. The face of Nigel Farage faded from the screen, to be replaced by the calming image of the supreme leader. People began to return to their normal business of finding enough to eat. But none would forget the experience and tomorrow they would worship again, their beliefs reinforced. A small cloud appeared in the sky and as Vazçèq headed for home he saw that his faith was strong; he was on the side of the righteous.