APOCALYPSE TWENTY ONE
Only the typical desert wind blew, the sun almost fired up the air. In the middle of a valley, a table, two chairs and a trailer. It was centuries since mankind and his actions carried on the eternal struggle between good and evil. This war of struggle had produced only endless wars, all kind of diseases and natural disasters that had changed and weakened the land which had always been the disputed object between the two forces, but above all there were all its living beings; plants, animals and men. But it was time to make a change to this war, the time had come, therefore the two sides decided to face each other directly, one facing the other in the desert. They chose a game invented by men, roulette, so they would not use their powers but would have bet on various numbers and entrusted everything to their calculations and reasoning. They both sent their best soldiers on the field, two generals with enormous intellectual qualities and great experience. Suddenly, in the warm calm of the desert, a great noise broke the silence, the sound of a thousand lightning tore the air, the heat opened and a figure descended. A blond angel, long hair, white and mighty wings, an athletic body. For the last battle, God had chosen his strongest angel, his best general, the archangel Gabriel. He sat up and waited for his opponent who didn’t make him wait long. There was another roar, similar to lightning, but this time it came from below, in fact it was not the sky that opened up, but the earth. From the open chasm came huge quantities of smoke and flames, then the chasm closed and in the middle of the smoke that gradually dissolved in the air, one could glimpse a dark figure, dressed in black, with dark wings, there he was, the rebel angel who in ancient times had challenged the lord and became the king of the underworld. Lucifer.
“You’re still here, after all these centuries, you still dare to challenge us? Did your last defeat and exile in that land of fire and desolation weren’t enough?”
“Last time you were lucky but don’t worry, I’ve gained experience and I’ll give hard time to you and to your master!”
“Just hope that luck will be on your side this time because in this game you’ll need a lot of it.”
“You can begin Gabriel, considering how much you care for this stupid planet!”
“As you wish but don’t come whining after!”
Gabriel took the handle and spun the wheel, then, while he was throwing the ball he bet his number:
“I bet on 12, red.”
The roulette spun under the two amused angels eyes. The ball stopped on the black 20.
“You’re out of luck, aren’t you blond?”
“Let’s see what you can do.”
Lucifer turned the handle, “Let’s see, I bet on the red 33, like the years of your boss’ last birthday HAHAHAHAHHA!!!!” >> The ball spun inside the roulette wheel, passed many numbers and then slowed down its run and stopped ironically on the number before the one chosen by Lucifer.
“Close. Not close enough to make fun of the Lord’ son my dear fiery opponent.”
Lucifer looked at him angered but couldn’t reply. They both weren’t satisfied with the game they were playing. It was Gabriel who proposed a new game.
“Let’s change game, let’s choose one in which there is the same quantity of skill and luck, let’s play Blackjack. What do you say?”
“Hold on a second, you, the angelic Gabriel, are proposing to me to play an evil game that ruined millions of people? Hahaha you must be out of your mind, all right, I’m in but we have to find a dealer who’s not from neither mine or your side.”
“I’ve thought about that, we can call Death, she’s neutral, she goes after every creature of this planet, men, plants and animals, any races or species, good and bad. She doesn’t make distinctions. What do you say?”
“Yes, I like her, she always brings many beautiful people to me, she doesn’t bore me, send someone to call her and tell her to bring the cards.”
Gabriel nodded with his head and whistled, a huge eagle came from far away and perched on his arm.
“What a fine beast.” Ironically said Lucifer
“She’s very important to us, she always takes us the prayers of the good men living on the Earth.
“Yeah, right.” Replied a bored Lucifer, Gabriel looked at him badly and then he told the eagle:
“Call Death and tell her to bring the playing cards.” The eagle took off quickly.
After a few minutes, a figure appeared from nowhere, a skeleton with a black cape. She was holding a sickle with one hand and a card deck in the other.
“Did you call for me gentlemen?”
“It was me who summoned you.” Answered Gabriel “You who are neutral have to arbitrate this blackjack game that will decide the Earth’s destiny.”
“Ok gentlemen.” Answered Death. Therefore she started to shuffle the cards. She gave two cards each, Gabriel had 11 points in his hands and Lucifer 14.
Lucifer started putting a nation on the plate, “Has a start, how about an African Country?”
“Ok, so I can start feeding the many poor children who inhabit it, because men, thanks to your intervention, only care about making wars instead of feeding their children.”
Lucifer laughed amused listening to Gabriel’s words because they sounded like compliments to him. They both asked for a card. Gabriel got a nine and hoped that his twenty could pass his opponent’s score. But Lucifer was luckier and with a seven he reached the maximum score. He revealed his cards laughing while he was foretasting the disasters he would have caused. Gabriel looked at his opponent’s cards then he looked down and prayed his Lord to forgive him for those innocent souls who’ll rise to the heavens soon.
In a Kenyan village by the Kilimanjaro, a woman was cultivating corn while all of a sudden she felt the earth shaking under her feet. In a few seconds, the earthquake’s intensity rose and the woman fell to the ground, a big roar ripped the air open, she looked up and saw a huge column of lava coming out from the big mountain and then stripping down from its principal mouth and from others located on its sides. The lava formed a big stream, like a river, coming down very fast towards the valley threatening not only the village but the entire region. The woman started running towards the village, she heard the screams of fear and the crying of the children. The earthquake destroyed not only the houses of wood and mud but reaching the nearby city, it also destroyed palaces and killed millions of victims. The lava reached the valley burning the whole region and surprised the poor people of the village who tried to escape in vain. The toxic clouds that rose from the mouths of the volcano mixed with the atmosphere gave origin to acid rain that hit the supersites who sought shelter or people in the rubble corroding their skin and suffocating their lungs. Gabriel heard the news from a dove that perched on his shoulder and then flew away a few minutes later.
“I just heard you had fun in Kenya.” Said an angry Gabriel to Lucifer
“Yes, just a bit, nothing big.”
“Millions of innocents people killed and you say it was nothing big?”
“All right gentlemen, shall we continue the game?”
Death intervened while she was shuffling the cards. She gave one each like before. This time Gabriel was luckier, he read the cards and discovered that he had a twenty one, the maximum score. Lucifer had an eighteen so he lost the hand but he still had that sneer on his face.
“Why don’t we rise the plate and bet an entire continent this time?”
“Are you sure you’ll win? Which continent were you thinking of?”
“I’d like to repair the damages you caused in Africa and improve the poor’s conditions.”
“You like the black continent, don’t you? Fine!”
Gabriel didn’t change the cards he had in his hands, he had a blackjack and knew he was going to win. Lucifer was forced to pick another card but he had a four so he passed the maximum score by a point and lost.
“You just won your precious poor children.”
Said the black angel while he was looking at his cards still wearing his challenging sneer on his face. He knew he lost a battle but he was sure about winning the war.
“Your wickedness didn’t win for once, those starving children did.”
The presidents of the most powerful nations of the world gathered in Africa after the earthquake, they decided to meet to solve the problems that arose after the disaster and help the affected populations. After hours of discussions they decided to help all the African Countries. The first thing they decided was to cancel all the debts that the poorer nations had towards the richer nations. Then they sent their armies and their cargo planes containing medicines, food and water for the poor. There was a heavy traffic of airplanes and soldiers sent not only to deal with children but to protect the flora and fauna from speculators and poachers. They came up with a financing plan meant to last for about ten years, taking turns the eight nations would have sent money to an officer appointed by them who would have fairly managed the money by sorting them to the neediest nations and villages. The officer in charge was a Franciscan priest, a 27 year old noble boy who had long since renounced to all the titles and inheritance he had inherited from his family. He had allocated all his wealth to the poor and then became a Franciscan priest. He had been living in Africa for years as a missionary and lived in his tent, which he dismounted and reassembled every time he moved to the various villages where he was called. The powerful nations found out about him during some charity tour they did in Africa. When they learned about his story, they decided to entrust him and made him responsible for the needs of the African population.
Death returned to shuffle the cards, Lucifer looked furiously at Gabriel, who was amused by the threats from his eyes.
“So, did you like my intervention in Africa?” asked Gabriel laughing
“Oh yeah, sure!”
“What’s your problem now?” said Death
Both the players started laughing. Lucifer continued, he started complaining about the intervention his opponent had made on the black continent.
“Listen, we can’t go on like this, win games, do our work in Countries and then witness the bailouts that you and your soldiers do immediately after repairing all the damage we do and destroy all our work. We spend time converting and changing entire populations of men who first destroy and then try to repair.”
“You’ve lost only one hand and you already start complaining?”
“It’s not just the lost hand in this stupid game, it’s been centuries that you and your boss keep ruining my plans!”
“Well, we could say the same thing but you’re right by the way, we have to put an end to this once and for all. It’s the purpose of this game after all, do you have any ideas?”
“I was thinking of raising the stakes, let’s do another hand only, who wins, wins the Earth, all of it, and whoever wins can do whatever he wants with it. No interferences whatsoever. Are you in?”
“Ok, I’m in. Whoever wins the next hand wins the whole game and decides the fate of the world. No interferences whatsoever.”
Death, who was the only witness of their conversation, in the meantime, continued to shuffle the cards and put them on the table in front of the players. They both looked at their cards and in amazement they realized that neither of them had taken any more cards. Both tense and curious, they discovered their scores in unison. They both had the same score, twenty one, the maximum that could be achieved at that game. They both looked incredulous, they didn’t know what to do, who would have won the world? In those cases how did humans behave? Death intervened telling information she heard during her work:
“When human beings play cards, they play for money and in these cases they equally divide the sum that’s in the plate, but in your case I do not know how to divide the world.”
After a few minutes spent thinking, Lucifer had an idea that could solve the problem:
“Maybe I have a solution. You take the land including the animals and plants and we take all of humanity leaving the world without human beings. I know that you are attached to them and that your boss tried to create them in his image and likeness but if you think about it they are not behaving well with or without my handle.”
The archangel thought about it and then replied “I regretfully have to say that you are right about human beings, your proposal could be interesting, I’m sorry for humankind but it’s wiser to punish them than to lose the whole world.”
Lucifer turned towards Death, who was waiting for orders to be given, sure that she would have to work overtime.
“Go to the world and bring me the souls of all men but give them the white souls of children. It is right that they go to heaven, they have done nothing.” Gabriel agreed satisfied, they got up together and shook hands. They would not step on their feet for many centuries, they both had a lot of work to do and wanted to respect the truce.
It had been 10,000 years since the last human was dead. A sudden virus, released from a laboratory owned by a terrorist group, spread out of control in a few months through the whole world, contaminating, without distinction, despite the enormous efforts of the world scientific community. In a world populated by millions of animal species, the only traces of the presence of a human past were the ruins of the cities that gradually crumbled on the passage of time and the weather. Some species of parrots that used to be in contact with men had learned a few words of various languages they had heard in their homes. In the cities once inhabited by men there were various animals that once lived in circuses and zoological parks, but without controls, they escaped from cages driven by hunger and contributed to the world repopulation, creating new species over the centuries. The world had changed, without men, it had improved, there were no more wars, excavations or other devilries to exploit the resources of Mother Earth which thanked cleaning the air and giving wonderful landscapes.