The End Is Nigh

Ten bits of SF and fantasy weirdness that have crossed over into real life

Is real life reflecting sci-fi, or is sci-fi reflecting real life? Whatever the answer, we’ve spotted some major-league weirdness over the last month and thought we’d share our worries with you. Could these be prophetic signs that the Mayans were right and we’re facing the end of all things soon? Judge for yourself...

1 The Numbers From Lost Came Up!

As anyone who watched Lost can tell you, the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 are cursed. CURSED, WE SAY! But that hasn’t stopped thousands of people around the world using those numbers in their local lotteries, on the off-chance that a series of digits made up for a telly show have some sort of special significance.

Well, it turns out that perhaps they have. Last week over 26,000 players in America’s Mega Millions lottery won $150 apiece after the numbers 4, 8, 15, 25, 47 and 42 came up – four out of six is pretty damn close, if you ask us.

However, were they jinxed? “When will you people learn? The numbers are bad!” Jorge Garcia, aka Hurley, wrote on his blog . And so, while we wait for tales of winners taking plane rides and disappearing off the face of the Earth, we’ll point out that yes, actually those numbers weren’t a good thing – because if so many Lost fans hadn’t been playing them, the winners would have pocketed a hell of a lot more dosh without having to share it around. CURSED, WE SAY!

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2 Birds Have Fallen From The Sky!

If you watched Flash Forward you’ll know that birds falling from the sky are the prelude to every person on the planet having a vision of the future. If you’ve seen The Core (see clip) you’ll know that birds plummeting through the air can create all sorts of havoc (screaming children! Smashed windows! Flying London buses!). So should we be worried about the fact that last week 3,000 red-winged blackbirds dropped dead in Arkansas, followed by 500 blackbirds in Louisiana, several hundred grackles, blackbirds, starlings and robins in Kentucky, dozens of jackdaws in Sweden and 1,000 turtle doves in Italy?

Add to this feathery fallout several examples of massive fish kills, too, ranging from 100,000 drum fish in Arkansas (again) to tonnes of demised snapper fish in New Zealand. Oh, and thousands of crabs died on the Kent coast, too.

It could all be a huge coincidence – cold weather killed the fish, while the birds either hit power lines or were shocked to death by fireworks (it was New Year’s, after all). But we prefer to think that the Earth’s core is throwing a wobbly. Much more fun.

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3 A New Lifeform Has Been Found!

NASA announced that they had something Very Important To Tell Us at a press conference scheduled for 2 December, getting everybody in a bit of a flap as we presumed – from the subtle hinting going on in the press release – that new life had been found on another planet. As it turned out, NASA was overselling it a bit, but the news was still super-cool: new life had been found on our planet!

Yes, bipedal carbon-based lifeforms around the world were startled to discover that arsenic-based lifeforms now exist alongside us (albeit in microscopic form in a lake in California), something previously thought impossible. We won’t go into the technical gubbins here (we’re not biologists) but it’s all very astonishing and has opened up the possibility of life on other planets very unlike ours.

But the best thing about NASA’s news (for us, anyway) is that astrobiologist Pamela Conrad said at the press conference that finding an arsenic-based lifeform was like the moment in Star Trek ’s “Devil In The Dark” when Kirk and Spock discover silicon-based life – indeed, this was the equivalent of “finding that Horta”. Alas, she didn’t confirm whether the arsenic-based life told NASA, “No kill I.”

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4 Spider-Man Is Among Us!

After three and a half years spent unable to walk and with a mysterious, doctor-baffling wound on his ankle, it looked as though the unfortunate Brian Holman, from Fareham , was going to have to have his leg amputated. Then, after settling down to watch a Discovery Channel documentary, he discovered the reason for his affliction: a Peter Parker-style life-changing spider bite!

While on holiday in Turkey he’d unknowingly been nipped by a brown recluse spider, whose venom is a very nasty concoction indeed, but he didn’t make the connection until he saw someone on the show with the same symptoms. “I don’t think I will ever be the same again because of the damage the spider’s venom did to the nerve endings,” Holman says. But at least the knowledge helped him get the proper treatment and saved his leg - wonder if they used radiation therapy? We wish Mr Holman well with his post-spider recovery.

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5 El Chupacabra Attacks!

This poor, defenceless chupacabra, aka a fabled mythical goatsucker, was shot dead by a Kentucky man after he saw it in his yard and freaked out because he didn’t recognise it (note to self: never pay this man a visit after dark).

The X-Files dedicated an entire episode – “El Mundo Gira” – to the myths surrounding this ugly little creature. We get the feeling if Scully watched this video clip she’d raise an eyebrow and say to Mulder, “It’s a raccoon with mange. Get a grip.” But still... we want to believe.

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6 Flares Are Back!

Our sun is gearing up to hit us with some mega solar flares either next year or in 2013, according to all sorts of concerned, star-gazing experts including our very own government .

Should we be worried? Hell yeah, according to this clip of an unintentionally hilarious Fox News broadcast from last year (“We’d be thrown 100 years back into the past!”). But seeing as solar flares were the naughty buggers responsible for cocking up our planet in disaster movie 2012 , and NASA have since called that film an “exceptional and extraordinary example of Hollywood bad science”, we won’t be panicking just yet. Maybe next year...

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7 Wikileaks Say “The Truth Is Out There!”

The MoD may have closed down the department that investigated UFO sightings back in 2009 but there’s still a helluva lot of alien scuttlebutt being discussed, if Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is to be believed.

“It is worth noting that in yet-to-be-published parts of the Cablegate archive there are indeed references to UFOs,” he said last month, tantalising us with the promise of future revelations about little green men in Didcot Parkway, which countries’ ambassadors have been talking about them and all the horrible things Prince Andrew may have said to their faces. We can’t wait.

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8 The Ark Is Rising!

The Christian ministry who built the surprisingly successful Creation Museum in Kentucky have a new, and somewhat worrying, venture planned for the same state: they’re building an Ark. No, they’re not doing a Steve Carell in Evan Almighty : they’re not expecting a flood, merely building it as a theme park for anyone interested in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

It’s even going to have young animals on board, such as baby giraffes. “We think that God would probably have sent healthy juvenile-sized animals that weren’t fully grown yet, so there would be plenty of room,” said Mike Zovath, the vice-president of Answers in Genesis, who are building the big ship. “We want to show how Noah would have taken care of them, taken care of waste management, taken care of water needs and food needs.”

All fair enough, but we can’t help thinking that the fact that somebody’s building an actual Ark is asking for trouble, particularly with all that Mayan prophecy mallarkey about 2012 going on. Hmm. If the flood does come, we’d prefer those nice Arks Roland Emmerich made instead. They look comfier.

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9 Voyager Has Left The Building!

Actually, it’s left the solar system, not the building, but you know what we mean. The Voyager 1 space probe finally departed our humble corner of the galaxy last month, heading on out into the wide black yonder and possible encounters with black holes, alien intelligences and true sentience. One day it could return to us in a bit of a strop, annoyed that Earth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and determined to wipe us all out, a la V’Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture . Hey, it could happen!

Okay, so it was actually the made-up Voyager 6 that became the antagonist at the heart of the first Trek flick, but the fact Voyager 1 is heading into deep space is still worrying. Who knows what it will find out there? One thing’s for sure: if it bumps into any Klingons, it’ll come a cropper. Just ask Pioneer 10...

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10 Superheroes Are Real!

There’s a real-life superhero on the prowl in Lynnwood, Washington, and he hit the headlines last week after foiling an attempted car theft – much to the delight of the car’s owner, who was on the phone to the cops when the do-gooder appeared out of nowhere to chase off the villain.

Phoenix Jones has been patrolling the streets dressed in a black and yellow superhero costume for nine months now, armed with everything from a Taser to tear gas. Clearly this is a sign that the forces of good and evil are about to do battle: why else would anyone dress up in skin-tight rubber and wear a mask? (Er, other than for naughty stuff, anyway. But we wouldn’t know anything about that...)

If you click on this local news site you can watch a video interview with Phoenix and marvel (geddit, Marvel? Heh) at how nobody mentions Kick-Ass once during the entire piece. Now that’s an amazing feat.