The Millennium Bug by Joseph Ridgwell

I remember as a child thinking how wonderful it would be to live in the year 2000, and often I would discuss the issue with my tiny friends. This is some of the stuff we came up with. Cars will fly in the air, people will be able to buy babies in a supermarket, motorbikes will go underwater, and humans will live in spaceships or on the moon.

     I don’t remember saying I would be working as a porter in an Australian hospital and living in a cockroach-infested apartment in the heart of Sydney’s red-light district. But that’s exactly where I was at come 1999.

     Anyway, as the run-up to the end of the century approached the major news item, aside from the usual, death, wars, pestilence, disease and famine shit, was something called the Millennium Bug. The Millennium Bug was to be the end of civilisation as we knew it, causing all the world’s computers to malfunction!

     In fact the media were sending out so many panic signals I began to wonder if the first human being had walked the earth with a PC strapped to his backside. It was total bullshit, but it sold a few newspapers and increased viewing figures. Life went on.

     But, strangely, the people began to get worried. Fundamentally, despite the fact they were living piss shit turd lives, they were afraid of dying. Opportunists published best selling books on how to survive the impending catastrophe, and people began stocking up on non-consumables and water, and some extremists even constructed nuclear bunkers.

    I worked the Christmas of 1999 and was then given five whole days off. I was like a kid in a candy-shop. Five whole days! I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I decided to get drunk and stay drunk.

     I sat in bars and watched people forming queues to buy emergency supplies. When the supermarket shelves began to empty I remained unconcerned. My only worry was that beer might run out, and then I really would have a crisis on my hands. A city without alcohol was a doomsday scenario, a pub without beer too awful a vision to contemplate.

     On News Years Eve I began drinking early, around 9 AM. I sat their quietly supping beer and watching news reports about the end of the world.

     At noon I decided to have a beer in Simone’s club for Gentlemen. My apartment was situated in the middle of a street of brothels, but Simone’s was the best. You could sit in Simone’s and have a beer without paying for a hooker.

     The girls walked around dressed in sexy underwear and see-through negligees. With all that flesh on show most men eventually succumbed and spent their rent, child alimony, or maxed out their credit on one or two of the sexy girls. 

   At that time of day Simone’s was quiet and I spent an enjoyable hour or two chatting to the girls and resisting all requests to fuck my brains out, suck me dry, etc.

     Then, just as I was thinking of leaving, my nutty mate Blondie popped his head in. He was already half-pissed,

‘Knew I’d find you in here, what you up to tonight?’ He said with a wink and a nudge.

     It was then that it dawned on me. I hadn’t made any plans for the biggest night of the century, ‘Fuck knows.’

Blondie shot me another boozy wink, ‘I’ve pulled two Dutch sorts and they want me, I mean us, to take them on a guided tour of Sydney. You know strip club, pokies, bars, then later on the fireworks.’

     Despite the fact that people were dying in the streets, and committing suicide in lonely apartments dotted across the city, the mayor of Sydney had spent over a million bucks on a massive fireworks display. Well, if it was going to be the end of the world at least it would be ending in Technicolor. I said goodbye to the ladies, drained my beer, and hit the afternoon streets.

      Outside were two blonde girls, tall, blue-eyed and incredibly pretty. I wondered how Blondie did it,

‘Hi, my names Elsa,’ said the first Dutch girl.

‘Hi, I’m Inga,’ said the second.

     After intro’s we went straight to the nearest bar. I bought the first round and then Blondie began bullshitting on a massive scale. Apparently his parents owned land and property all over the UK, and were sailing out from Europe to meet him in their ocean-going yacht. I wasn’t impressed, but the girls were.

    After the bar we went to an expensive seafood restaurant in Darling harbour. Blondie had managed to wangle an Australian credit card, the credit of which he had zero intention of ever paying back. Subsequently he paid for the meal.  Now the girls were really impressed, especially when I made sure to order lobster and a couple of bottles of quality champagne.

     Once the meal was over it was time to head to the fireworks display. After the lobster and wine we were all in good spirits, all except Blondie who suddenly began to look the worse for wear.

    We found a good observation point in a park overlooking Elizabeth Bay. The harbour bridge was in full view. There were lots of other people around and everyone was in the mood to party. 

     Meanwhile, Blondie was continuing to talk bollocks. Apparently he was going to invest in lucrative uranium and plutonium mines in Western Australia. The girls didn’t seem as impressed as before and when he pissed up a tree in full view of everyone, including families with children, they began to distance themselves.

      As we stood there waiting for midnight a wave of anxiety washed over me. I suddenly realised we didn’t have any alcohol, and I began to panic. 

    There were four six-packs in the fridge of my apartment. I sized up the two girls, trying to work out which one might be up for a shag. Eventually I decided it was the smaller of the two, Inga. She was drunk and had been laughing at all my really bad jokes, the same one’s I tell to all new girls I meet.

     I popped the question,

‘Okay, we both come,’ said Elsa.

I had to think on my feet. Blondie was swaying and closing his eyes, ‘Inga why don’t you come with me, while Elsa keeps an eye on Blondie.’

Immediately Inga was up for it and her enthusiasm impressed me. Elsa looked at Blondie and frowned,

‘Okay, just don’t be long,’ She warned.

       Once in my apartment I jumped on the settee and put my feet up. Inga remained in the doorway,

‘Shouldn’t we be getting the beer?’

‘Fuck the beer and come over here, Miss Amsterdam.’

Inga let out a peal of nervous laughter, ‘I’m not from Amsterdam.’

    I grabbed her head and began kissing her violently. When she responded I didn’t fuck around. I began tearing off her clothes, along with mine. Soon I was naked and she was down to her bra and knickers. It was then that she tried to stop me,

‘No, no, what are you doing?’

‘Fucking you, that’s what I’m doing, the last fuck of the century.’ Then I ripped off her bra and began taking alternative bites on each pink nipple.

‘Ohh, argh, oh my god, you are raping me!’

I stuck a hand into her pussy. It was wet, very, very wet, like New Orleans after the levee’s broke. I manoeuvred into position, ‘You want it as much as me,’ I grunted.

     Inga looked me in the eye, like an animal caught in the headlights, doomed, but still alive, ‘No, stop, this is rape.’

Just as I was wondering if it was rape I suddenly slid all the way in. Inga groaned, said something in Dutch, and then stuck her tongue down my throat.

   When it was over I jumped up, ‘We’d better get back to the others.’

Inga was lying on my settee, naked, stroking one thigh and holding a hand to her mouth. She looked like a Rembrandt painting, ‘You raped me,’ she whispered.

    I chucked her clothes at her, ‘Stop being dramatic, that wasn’t rape, it was a memorable experience, one that will linger long in the memory.’ Then I grabbed three six packs of beer and chucked them into an eskie.

     By the time we got to the park the fireworks had already began. Blondie was lying on the grass fast asleep and Elsa was sitting on the harbour wall with a face like a cat’s arse,

‘Where the hell have you been?’ She fired accusingly.

I went to start bullshitting, but Inga beat me to it, ‘Look at the fireworks, aren’t they beautiful?’

    Then we all stared at the fireworks. The night sky was filled with dazzling colour and light. People cheered, champagne corks popped and fizzed. It was the end of the century. Shortly after midnight people began leaving the park in droves. I kicked Blondie in the gut. He had slept through the whole thing.

     Blondie jumped up and eyeballed us,

‘Come on people, the night is young!’ He croaked.

‘We shall return to the hostel,’ said Elsa resolutely.

Blondie raised his eyebrows, ‘Are you nuts? This is the millennium, the beginning of a new century, we will never witness the likes of this again!’

Elsa began walking away, ‘Come on Inga.’

Blondie held out his hands, ‘Don’t you want us to walk you back to the hostel?’

‘Don’t bother, we know the way.’

      Before leaving Inga gave me a peck on the cheek, ‘Will I see you again, I might be carrying your baby,’ she whispered.

I took this freaky comment in my stride, ‘Got a pen?’

She found a pen and a scrap of paper and I wrote an imaginary telephone number down, ‘Call me.’

     Once the girls had disappeared Blondie and me worked our way back to the Cross. The city was like a war zone, stragglers and casualties of the merriment everywhere. There was a free concert in the domain where a sixteen-piece Cuban band played, loud infectious rumba.

     It was late by this time and the first hint of dawn had already begun to appear. Then a sea mist descended from out of nowhere and gave everything, buildings, people a ghost-like appearance. Maybe it really was the end of the world.

     Somehow I lost Blondie in the mist. Then I was alone. I found myself outside the Sydney opera house. At sunrise two aboriginal didgeridoo players appeared high on a ledge of the architectural oddity.

     Then a lone blonde girl began singing the Australian national anthem. It was a haunting, but beautiful scene. I sat on some steps and took it all in, the new millennium, the start of a new century, the end of the world.

     On my return to the Cross the streets were empty. Litter and rubbish lay strewn everywhere, the aftermath. As I passed Simone’s Club for Gentlemen I stepped inside. The place was as empty as the streets outside, the Marie Celeste of brothels.

     I plopped myself down on a bar stool,

‘Anyone in?’ I hissed.

The owner appeared, a fat middle-aged woman with masses of grey hair and a gigantic mole on her left cheek, ‘Jesus Joe, you look like shit.’

‘I feel like shit.’

‘All the girls have gone home bud, its New Year’s day.’

‘Don’t I know it, any chance of a beer Gracie?’

    Gracie smiled tenderly, ‘Here, have one on the house, a?’

I took the bottle of VB, ‘Cheers, hey is your computer working?’

‘Yeah, why?’

‘Thought so,’ I said, and took a big swig of beer, which didn’t go down very well.


One response to “The Millennium Bug by Joseph Ridgwell

  1. Tight. Love the ending haha

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