It began with a raindance. Or, at least, that is the earliest part I can remember. A beaming caucasian man, wiggling his fingers high above his head (presumably to represent the pitter-patter of raindrops), as dark ominous clouds gathered in the skies above. England, clearly, were in need of some saving. Again. The mellifluous tones of Richie Benaud, the sort of unflustered commentator who could remain wry throughout the ending of the world, confirming that, yes, the cricket was done. For today at least. All three results possible but, as evidenced by the gormless fellow’s grin, a draw looking ever more likely.
An enigmatic, rotund, bald figure gazed down on the scene from the window of his private jet. Not the sort you would see now – this vision was apparently of the far future, as you will soon recognise – but an impressively large airliner. Nonetheless, despite its increased capacity, there were only a dozen or so people on board. All were his employees, but at first it seemed improbable that such an individual could afford or merit such high-class accoutrements. He was constantly talking, dictating via some sort of wireless communication to a far-away underling, logging his report on the match, the country, the mood. Zeitgeist filler. Why did his musings hold such import?
As he droned on, so did his lavish aircraft. Presently, the weather’s turn began to impact more than merely the sporting occasion below. The pilots gave eachother brief nervous looks before deciding that, even though their master was never to be interrupted, this was surely the kind of exceptional circumstance that made such a rule obsolete. Walls came from the sky, making further forward progress impossible. They would have to turn back. Suddenly, they were in real trouble. As terrifying as the prospect was, they would have to try landing on the motorway, close to the cricket ground.
Even now, the passengers and crew are fairly confident. They’re in for a bumpy ride, of course, but nobody really doubts that they’ll make it out alive. The head honcho worries more about what this will do to his portfolio and reputation than any physical danger he might actually be in. The pilots are the best of the best. Naturally. Even in these trying conditions, they will bring the plane down. They do. Once the aircraft touches down though, disaster immediately strikes.
The left wing collides with the support structure of an overpass and is torn clean off. The airplane, hurtling along the mercifully-deserted highway, begins to rotate towards the sports ground. More flotsam and jetsam, more debris, more shrapnel is sheared from the plane and thrown in all directions as the main body smashes through the boundary walls and crosses the boundary proper. For the briefest of moments, having slid to a halt in the covers, the jet is still. They seem to have made it, basically intact.
Then the plane explodes.
Days later, as footage is replayed on an endless loop on every screen across the country and on many more around the world, the loss of life stands at an impossibly-high 500. A cricket score of death. Nobody seems to know how this can be, given that the stadium was almost empty at the time, the aircraft only had between 10 and 20 aboard, and the responding firefighters – who suffered heroically in trying to quell the conflagration – did not have anywhere near those numbers on the scene.
There is definitely something wrong with this picture.
The rotund, self-important and fatally self-assured individual, it transpires, was the heir to the throne. A journalist by vocation, granted, but a man of opulence by birth. The only son of William V. In a world of Kings and Queens, 500 might lose their lives but only 1 really matters. Prince George is dead. There is no more appetite to continue the Royal line – he was not particularly liked anyway. The Monarchy is briefly revered and remembered, with festivals and ceremonies to commemorate its ‘greatest’ moments and members…and then…
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…♔