Posted on December 31, 2011 - by MG
Here’s an excerpt of the opening of the final chapter of The Joshua Files. You can pre-order the book from Amazon.co.uk
Blog Entry: The Joshua Doomsday Manifesto OR How to deal with the possible end-of-the-world
1. Keep busy. Learn a skill or trade. Do your exams. Take me, for example, I’m learning to be a pilot. OK I’ll admit that I’m partly doing it to impress a girl, but also, it might come in handy, especially if the end-of-the-world starts to look likely.
Mainly, keep your mind off the possible impending doom. The trade/skill/exam thing is just a bonus.
2. Stay in denial. The world is NOT going to end. Tell yourself this a few times a day. Thoughts of what might happen may spring up on you when you’re least expecting it. In those moments, you’ll need that denial to be rock solid.
3. DO NOT look at videos on YouTube about the world ending. Most of them have got it badly wrong anyway. They talk about asteroids crashing into Earth or the Planet Niburu or some other rubbish. You won’t find much about a Galactic Superwave and a gigantic electromagnetic pulse wiping out all the computer technologies. That’s so much less photogenic. Instead of massive fireballs, there will be a massive no-show. No TV, no InterWeb, no money going through the banking system and no twenty pound notes in the ATMs. No food trucks going to the supermarkets, no power in the hospitals. The whole developed world relies on computer technology. Very definitely don’t think about what would happen if there was suddenly a great big OUTAGE.
4. Make a bucket list – a list of all the things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’. Quietly. Show it to no-one. This is just for you. You’ll never have to use it, probably, because the world won’t end. It’s a just-in-case. Look at it for a long time and think about what really matters, what you really want to DO or BE.
You might surprise yourself. I did.
5. Stop reading this blog. How did you find it anyway? What makes you think I’m not making it all up?
6. Trust the adults to sort everything out and save the world. Hey, they usually do, right?
7. If you’ve tried all of the above and you still wake at 3am with a cold, vacant pit where your stomach should be, wondering if civilisation is on the brink of destruction – then there’s always this: GET INVOLVED.
Lately, I’ve been having the feeling that people aren’t being straight with me. Or some people in particular; my parents.
By ‘parents’ I mean my mother (Eleanor) and her partner Carlos Montoyo. If it weren’t for the fact that my real father died pretty recently, Mum would probably already be married to Montoyo. They fell for each other after a few months. Now they’re definitely a couple. But when you marry a widow, I think you’re probably meant to leave a polite interval.
Montoyo is an interesting guy and I won’t deny that I respect him. He’s been on the Ruling Executive of Ek Naab – a hidden, ‘invisible city’ – ever since the last proper Bakab Ix died – my grandfather. Now I’m the Bakab Ix; I’m next in line to succeed to the Ruling Executive. When I turn sixteen.
That’s if Montoyo will give up his place for me. If ever there was a wheeler dealer, it’s him. About nine months ago Montoyo played a sneaky trick on me. Since then things have gone downhill. Nine months ago, he tricked me into traveling in time in search of an ancient Mayan codex – the Ix Codex. Montoyo might say he had his reasons for tricking me, but it’s not easy to get over being conned into risking your life. It’s probably fair to say that if Montoyo could have managed the time travel bit, he’d have done the deed himself. If he could have touched the Ix Codex, that is. Like my dad used to say, if we had eggs, we could have ham and eggs, if we had ham.
Of all the people in the ‘invisible city’ of Ek Naab, only I can use the time travel device, the Bracelet of Itzamna. Only I can touch the Ix Codex. It’s not a magical power, it’s a genetic ability: I was born with it.
Until nine months ago, Montoyo didn’t think twice about risking me on a dangerous time-travel adventure. If the Ix Codex went missing, I was the guy for the job. It’s what I was born for, after all. Prince William doesn’t whine about being second in line to the British throne. And I try not to whine about being what I am, the Bakab Ix – genetically tweaked to be the protector of the Ix Codex.
There’s an ancient legend that the world-as-we-know-it will end in December 2012. The bad news is that it’s true. What is going to happen, has happened before. It will all happen again, too. The good news is that this time, we’re meant to be prepared – thanks to the Ix Codex.
The instructions for how to save the world from the coming Galactic Superwave of 2012 are in the Ix Codex. But the cover of the Ix Codex is impregnated with a poisonous gas. Only a Bakab Ix can touch the book and survive.
There were times when it was very hard to carry all that responsibility. I didn’t ask for the job; I was born into it. I wasn’t always keen. But I did what was needed, I risked my life again and again. I’ve been shot in the leg, attacked with knives, experimented on, watched people I care about being hurt by my enemies, seen my father in prison, seen him plunge to his death saving my life.
All to try to protect the Ix Codex, to do my bit to save the world from the Galactic Superwave.
So when apparently I’m too young and too inexperienced to play a part in this incredible plan to save the world…when I’m completely side-lined and ordered to ‘Get on with your studies and leave everything to us’…
I get pretty annoyed. I get a bit suspicious too.
It has something to do with what happened nine months ago, when I time-travelled. That’s when everything changed. Before that, I felt like I was on the inside, allowed to know what was going on, how the 2012 plan was coming along.
Now – nothing. No part in it for me. I’m surplus to requirements.
On the up-side: you can get a lot done in nine months, if you really focus. I had no idea. Nine months of intensive maths coaching and I’ve covered a decent chunk of the A-levels in maths, further maths, physics.
Not that I was a huge fan of maths before I came to live in the city, but for trainee pilots, maths is essential. My second cousin Benicio passed his pilot exam when he was fifteen. I’m determined to at least equal that.
And there are only six weeks to go, before I turn sixteen.
There’s a knock at the door to the apartment I share with my mother. Right now I’m here alone – Mum is off with some new friends, teaching them Irish cookery, soda bread, Irish stew, things like that. She and I are the only foreigners, the most exotic people to have lived in Ek Naab for over a hundred years. After six months of determined friendliness, my Mum seems to have won over even some of the more xenophobic residents, who weren’t too happy when we moved in. But after a while, her relationship with Montoyo made her quite popular – it seems people have been keeping their fingers crossed that he’d marry again – either that or leave town. Being alone didn’t suit him; that’s what I’ve heard.
I zip up my flight jacket, empty the pockets of lint and a half-eaten flapjack. Still only half-dressed for my flying lesson, I move out of my bedroom and into the living room, open the door. Standing outside is my girlfriend, Ixchel. She’s smiling and carrying a basket of something wrapped in a white linen cloth. It smells delicious
“Hey! What are you doing here? I’m supposed to be out. Already late for Benicio.”
“You’ve got time to taste a cookie though, yes? I just came from your mother’s class.”
I put my head on one side. “Aw honey, you baked!”
She grins. “Try one.” The grin vanishes for a second, to be replaced by a look of mock ferocity. At least I’m hoping she’s joking. “You’d better be nice. It’s the first time I’ve baked anything.”
She opens the cloth and hands me a crisp, warm, shortbread biscuit. I take a bite and the warm, buttery pastry crumbles in my mouth. I close my eyes and give a long sigh of appreciation. She watches with a hopeful expression. I’m silent, experiencing the delicious sensation of the freshly baked biscuit at the same time as gazing at her shoulders and neck. They’re tanned the colour of honey, a wonderful contrast to the strappy purple top she’s wearing.
“Amazing. Marry me.”
Ixchel is momentarily taken aback. So am I. The phrase just tripped off my tongue, a joke, yet not a joke, because for Ixchel and I, the whole subject is a bit tense.
After a second or two, she recovers her composure. “Josh Garcia; you don’t get away with proposing as easy as that.”
Thank goodness. We’re back to joking about it. “Why not?” I mumble, mouth full of shortbread. “We’re already engaged after all. I’m the Bakab Ix and you’re my betrothed. It’s all been agreed.”
“Engaged, betrothed. Do you even know the difference?”
“Give us a kiss, sweetness, and I’ll tell you.”
She plants a kiss on my cheek and grins as she pulls away. “Engaged is when you give me a ring and get down on one knee, and since you’re only…what age are you, again?” Silently, Ixchel pretends to compute my age in her head.
“I’m fifteen, almost sixteen,” I growl. “And you’re already sixteen, I know, I know.”
“It’s not that you’re a few months younger. It’s that we’re both too young.”
“Who says I even want to marry you anyway? I’m just being accurate about our relationship.”
“’Betrothed’ is just something our parents decided on.”
“What’s going to swing it for you, my good looks or charm? Or the massive political power I’m going to wield when I’m finally sixteen? They say it makes you irresistible, you know.”
She gazes at me. “Josh. Be serious. We both know you don’t care about power.”
“But they could at least listen to me, right? I know the rules say that Bakab can join the Ruling Executive of Ek Naab when he’s sixteen but…”
“…that’s never actually happened.”
“Right. And can you see Carlos Montoyo letting it happen? He’s doing everything he can to keep me out of the planning for 2012.”
Ixchel shakes her head in sad agreement. “I know. I’ve heard that he’s going to try to change the law. Make it so you have to be twenty-five. He’s arguing that the ancient law exists because life expectancy used to be so short.”
“Twenty-five will be about ten years too late. This 2012 stuff is going down in December! Now is when they should be asking for my help.”
From behind us a voice calls out lazily, “Maybe they don’t need you.”
Ixchel and I turn swiftly to see my cousin Benicio standing at the door to my apartment. He gives us a sheepish grin and knocks twice on the door jamb.
“Whoops. Knock, knock.”
Benicio is fully kitted in his flying gear; black trousers and a navy blue flight jacket that hangs open to reveal a clean white vest underneath. All ready for our lesson: me, Benicio and a Muwan Mark 2, the nimble little ‘sparrow hawk’ aircraft based on the technology of the super-ancient, lost civilisation, the Erinsi, whose writings are inscribed in the Four Books of Itzamna, including the Ix Codex.
“I guess you forgot about the lesson,” Benicio says with a nod at my shoeless feet.
“I’m nearly ready. And what do you mean, ‘they don’t need me’?”
“I’m not denying you’re handy when the Ix Codex is around,” Benicio says, lightly. He’s teasing me, but there’s just a bit too much truth to what he says. “But what we need now are grown-ups! Experienced soldiers in the battle to save the world from the Galactic Superwave!”
Ixchel says quietly, “Benicio, don’t.”
It’s too late, I’m already getting annoyed. “People like you, you mean?”
“Hey buddy, I’ve saved your life more than once.”
“I know. I’m grateful. But you know what I’m talking about. You know I’ve been in dangerous situations, right? You know I can handle myself, yeah? And Ixchel is, like, this total genius with ancient languages. We should be on the team to decipher all those ancient instructions. We should be helping with the 2012 plan.”
Benicio’s easy grin falls away, to be replaced with an expression of caution. “Yeah. Maybe. I couldn’t really say.” And I know Benicio well enough to recognise this behaviour – hesitant, as though he’s afraid to say any more on the subject. This is how he acts when he’s been ordered to keep information from me.
“OK Josh, but right now, let’s focus on turning you into a pilot. Today, I’m teaching you a flight manoeuvre that’s sure to make you vomit.” He snatches a second piece of shortbread out of my fingers before I can put it to my mouth. “So, no more cookies for you.”