A Circle

"Would you pass the shortbread, dear?" Elspeth asked.

Margot obliged.

"Bit of weather we're having" Gordon said bleakly, idly flicking the curtains as rain scattered across the partly frosted windows. The designer of the house seemed to approach things with something of a fabian strategy, putting in these little touches by degrees. Unfortunately it gave those rooms a half-finished look, or at worst a sense of being a mongrel of a home.

"Have you seen the news? Should expect more of it. Much more" Gordon continued, shaking his head three times to underline his solemnity. "It's them, what d'you call them Elspeth dear?"

"Chemtrails, darling" she said, and cast off.

They were sat all working on their projects - scarves, jumpers, garish socks. Except for Gordon, who was at best an honorary member of the group. He would always pace about, check the relevant forums and set out exactly the way he thought things would go.

"It's the Russians, y'see. You ever see Tomorrow Never Dies?"

The others shook their heads.

"Brosnan" he snorted "rubbish Bond. Not even half a Roger Moore, and Moore is at best a third of Connery"

"Ooh, I think that Daniel Craig is lovely" cooed Margot.

"That's not- my point is, and he's blonde! That's not right!"

"What were you saying, dear?" Elspeth said, prodding him gently before he went off on one of his digressions.

"Well, in that y'see there's a media tycoon, and he sets up Double-U Double-U Three with China and America. Well, it's going to be Russia. And us, with Trident. First Scotland falls, then Salmond forms an emergency government-"

"Oh, it's not Salmond anymore dear," Elspeth said "it's Sturgeon"

"But he's pulling the strings, still. You can tell. It's in his crafty face. So he makes an emergency government, and he starts rationing the food. Then the fallout starts to head down past Hadrian's Wall. That's when they get the ark project out"

"Oh not this again, dear. You're starting to sound daft when you go on about this"

"Nothing daft about it" Margot interjected "he's right. All the best scientists, the leaders, the elites..."

"Artists?" asked Lois, working on a circular knit.

"Yes, artists..."

"Like that Damien Hirst?"

"Oh, yes. Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin..."

"Oh, not Tracey Emin" Lois tutted. Her taste in art was formed in the heady days of May 68. That was when her family went to Brighton for a community arts fair. It was quite lovely. They bought some watercolors.

Gordon cleared his throat in a way they had all grown wearily accustomed to.

"Well why would they have artists? They need... they need people who can learn a trade, you know-"

There was a nearly-audible collective eye-roll.

"Yes, we know, electricians, plumbers... which is why..."

"Yes thank you Dierdre. Which is why we'll be fine. We've got me, a man about the house. We'll be fine"

"You don't sound any more sure the more you say it, you know"

Dierdre was one of the newer people in the group, and was already harbouring doubts. Nearly a fleet of doubts. Gordon was not taking to her at all.

"I just... feel while it's better to be safe than sorry, it's not sure to happen."

Everyone was staring at her.

"I'm sorry dear," Elspeth said "But are you sure this group is really right for you? I mean... that is one of the major parts of this group"

"Well, I like the knitting and I didn't get along with the other groups around here. Had a few differences of opinion with the last one I was in. You know, the very Christian group."

"Aah, you mean..."

"Those loons..."

"Well the um... Salvation of Christ and Revelation of the Beast knitting group was a little bit outre."

"Bunch of conspiracy theorist wackos"

"I guess they were, I mean... I suppose"

Dierdre was getting patted on the back quite firmly by Gordon.

"So Dierdre" he said "what have you brought this week?"

"well um... I have some chickpeas"

"Oh come on, what can you do with that?"

"You can make humus!"

"What's the point of humus once the NWO has taken over? Oh it'll be ok, we've got humus!"

"Um... well I have some beans."



"That'll do I suppose. Stock?"

"Well, I have an ISA and a little pot for retire- oh. Um... I make my own."

"Well, that's no good."

"I find it's a little better than store-bought to be honest"

"Well it won't keep, will it?"

Dierdre was confused "Oh, are we not cooking today? I thought it was knitting and dinner, or a potluck or something."

"Come with me" Margot said, and let Dierdre through the hall, past wall-mounted plates with pictures of churches and cats on, to a metal door with a large wheel in the middle. She gave it a turn and flicked on the switch. Before them there were rows of dry goods, tins, rope, fuel, little stoves, bottles of water, vitamin supplements and boiled sweets.

"I... I'm not sure I'm in the right group" Dierdre said "This is just like the other lot all over again. I'm just going to go home now, if that's alright"

Gordon blocked the exit. "I'm afraid you've seen too much, love." the others nodded.

"It's a sad day when we have to excommunicate, but like you've said Gordon, she's seen too much dear"

"Yes, much too much. What if she comes for our supplies once the global cabal collapses society? It just won't do, it won't do at all"

"But wait one minute! I'll have people looking for me!"

"Oh, yes, your grandchildren. They're always so keen on visiting. I'm sure your absence will be noted"

"But I am a respected figure in the community! I'm in the neighbourhood watch! And they will not look kindly on this I can tell you!"

Elspeth was on the phone. Dierdre overheard a little.

"Yes, yes... well she has been wandering I think... she was supposed to come to our knitting circle today and I'm a little worried about her. Poor Dierdre... let me know if you see her, won't you? Tarra love."

Dierdre made a dash for the door, but Gordon pushed her back into the vault. They slammed the door shut and the wheel was turned until she was sealed in with a fateful clang.

"You! You're all nutters! I should have stayed with the rapturists! At least they do cakes!"

The others sat down with a calm that betrayed their experience. "So" Margot said "I am bringing to order this week's meeting of the survivalist's knitting circle. It's a light week so I'm starting by opening the floor to questions and anything for the agenda."

Elspeth raised a hand

"Yes Elspeth dear?"

"I'm not sure if all that fuss was the best idea, I mean... surely someone will wonder..."

"She was hanging out with those fundamentalists. They always suspect them first. We'll be fine."

"But... what about the bones?"

"She did always say she made good stock" Gordon muttered.

Laughter rose from the 87th and last meeting of the survivalist's knitting circle. If Gordon were at that moment to look through the frosted glass window at the weather they were having, he would have noticed the Salvation of Christ and Revelation of the Beast knitting group being lifted up in the full glory of the lord into the heavens as the first seal was opened and the end times began.

A writer and MA student in Medieval Studies.