Now that the world has ended, please send your cheque...

I can give answers from Nostradamus you always wanted to know - even though we're all dead
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The Independent Culture
AS YOU may have heard on the news this morning, Nostradamus's prediction did after all come true yesterday, and the world did come to an end. There was a blinding flash some time in the evening and we were all wiped out. That much is certain. What is less certain is why The Independent has come out as usual this morning, and why you are reading this - written by me.

Well, the second mystery can be explained quite easily. I wrote this on Saturday and Sunday, before the world came to an end, thus displaying a journalistic forethought that, I must admit, I hadn't always shown signs of before. I could have waited until after the end of the world to report it, as the normal lazy journalist would have done, but I need hardly point out the risks involved. Just for once I showed some real initiative and got the reporting done before the event wiped us all out . Thank you.

Now for the other mystery - namely, how it is that you are calmly reading The Independent this Monday morning even though the world has ended.

Well, there are several possible explanations for this. One is that we have a sort of collective unconscious memory which is so strong that it continues even after we are all dead, and that you are merely imagining you are reading this.

That is so preposterous that I move straight on to the next explanation, which is that although the world has ended, God was very curious to see how it would all have worked out (he was dying to know, for example, whether Northern Ireland could ever have got its act together), so he devised a computer model to continue the world by other means and we are now all in that computerised, but non-existent continuation of the world. A sort of virtual after-reality created by God, who after all is a sort of Bill Gates figure, even if not so obviously powerful as the great Bill.

That also is so preposterous that I move on to my third theory which is that we have all died and gone to the next world, and found that it is exactly the same as this! Yes, that was the mystery behind the afterlife all along! It was always going to be the same as this life! Those of you who sinned in the last life (which ended yesterday) are being punished by having absolutely no change of life at all, and those of you who were good enough to get to heaven are now learning the salutary lesson that the life you had already is as near to heaven as you were ever going to get. Yes, I think that explains quite logically where we are now, and how it is that the world ended yesterday without anything being much different today, and without anyone noticing. We are all dead, but carrying on unchanged in the afterlife, a sort of perpetual present. So Nostradamus was sort of right all along, but not quite how we expected.

Does anything else need explaining ? Well, yes it does. A lot of my readers will be disappointed by the end of the world, as it means they will now never know what the future held. They will never know if Tim Henman was ever destined to win Wimbledon or Peter Mandelson make a comeback or global warming fry the Earth...

Oh, but they will! Because Nostradamus had the answers to all these questions, too, and you can find them by writing in to me straightaway! Just cut out this piece, tick which of the following questions you want the answer to, and send the form to me together with a signed blank cheque.

n To: The Independent Nostradamus Offer.

Dear Sir, I realise I'm now dead, following the end of the world as predicted by Nostradamus, but I'd still like to have the answers to the following questions, to which Nostradamus also had the answers, which I understand are now in your possession...

$$ Did the Millennium Bug really bring the world to a dead stop?

$$ Did Rupert Murdoch finally take over the world and what happened when he died ? Was it a really great funeral ? Or was he preserved electronically so that he never really died at all ? And what did his obituaries say about him ? And did The Sun and The Times, out of delicacy, fail to mention his passing ?

$$ Did the Queen outlive Prince Charles ?

$$ Did the Queen Mother outlive Prince Charles ?

$$ Who DID become Lord Mayor of London ?

$$ What DID happen to Lord Lucan ?

$$ Did Manchester United ever get their comeuppance ?

I enclose a signed blank cheque. I agree that, if the world has not really ended after all, you are welcome to use it.