“Oh me god!” Gurt felt the blood slowly drain away starting at the tip of his nose and continuing down the rest of this face. He felt his mouth fall open in shock and he felt his eyes becoming wider and wider as he stared, in numbing disbelief, at the chillingly empty spot on the glittering pedestal.
“Oh me god!” he said again, this time a little louder, his voice sounding dry and foreign.
“Oh me god!” now he was shouting and turning and he started to run. Shooting pains was his old legs’ loud protest against the sudden increase of speed in his movements. He hasn’t moved this fast in sixty years.
“Oh me god!” he yelled again as he reached the double glass doors of the four story building. With a hiss, the kind of hiss that tells you the doors were opening up into a world of luxury, the two doors slid to the sides letting the old man in.
“Oh me god!” he cried into the grand foyer of the clubhouse, causing every single eyeball to turn in his direction.
“Oh me god!” he muttered one last time and sank to his knees, his trembling hands went up to cover his face as he started to cry. The sound of the old man’s sobs was a sound most of the impeccably dressed people inside the foyer have never heard before.
Disgruntled frowns, higher than mighty glares, dismissive stares and bored, indifferent glances rained down over the hunched shoulders of the shaking old man.
Gilly, the receptionist, who was still young enough to have retained a guilt inspired amount of sympathy for the obviously distressed human in the centre of the gold gilded floor, walked around the reception desk towards the old man. With as much poise as possible, she knelt down next to him and whispered so only he could hear, “Gurt you are making a scene honey. What’s wrong?”
“It’s gone.” he managed between sobs not removing his hands from his face.
Letting out an audibly annoyed sigh Gilly asked, “What’s gone?” She lifted her eyes, giving the glaring crowd an apologetic look.
“The wheelbarrow… it’s gone.” Gurt whispered.
He whispered so softly that Gilly almost didn’t hear what he said. To be sure she heard the old man right, and she had to be 100% sure, she couldn’t just assume that what she heard was the truth, she asked him to repeat his answer. And he did.
“THE WHEELBARROW… IT’S GONE.”
“Oh me god!” Gilly squealed, “OH ME GOD!”
The eyes of the crowd in the foyer started to flicker with selfish interest and concern. What if, whatever the two in the centre of the room was making a scene about, had something to do with them. What if, and hopefully god would forbid, whatever was pestering those poor people had an influence on them after all, on their perfectly curated day laying ahead.
“Oh me god!” Gilly was howling now.
An elegantly dressed man stepped through the crowd. People gave way around him, he was clearly more important than the rest. He frowned down at the two sobbing people on the floor, “What’s going on Gilly?”
Gilly, doing her best to calm herself and to recall her hospitality and crowd safety training, stood up and straightened her skirt. Swallowing hard she wiped at her face and cleared her throat.
“I want everyone to please remain calm…” she said with as much confidence as she could muster.
“What is going on I asked?” The well dressed man barked with even more authority, not that his tone was having any effect on Gilly. Nothing could shook her more than the shocking news she was about to share with the crowd.
She held up her arms in an attempt to mimic a calming gesture, “The wheelbarrow… it… it has been stolen. It is gone.”
“WHAT!?” The well dressed man bellowed at her. “WHAT!?”
“Please just stay calm…” Gilly urged.
The well dressed man named Gunter, choosing to ignore her, stepped around the old gardener still sobbing on the floor and walked towards the grand glass doors through which one could clearly see the glittering pedestal on which the gilded wheelbarrow stood.
“Oh my god!” Gunter roared. ‘OH MY GOD!”
The rest of the crowd was becoming noticeably restless. Soft whispers were turning into high pitched, strained chatter which shortly thereafter started to turn into hysterically frantic screams.
“Call Governor Gold! Immediately! Call Governor Gold!” Gunter shouted at Gilly. His eyes were wide and wild. His stoic demeanour that he was so proud of, that he crafted and carefully put together over many years, was being stripped away in less than 3 minutes.
Gilly rushed towards the desk and grabbed her phone. As she dialed the Governor’s number which, by law, was the first number on her and every other citizen of the town phones’, Gilly was struggling to breathe.
Gilly was finding it hard to breathe because 80 years ago a team of builders finished the construction of this glorious clubhouse, which then was only one story high.
Gilly was gasping for air because on the last day of construction, when the last brick was plastered and painted, the small group of builders took the old, trusted wheelbarrow that they used in the construction process, cleaned it and sprayed it gold.
Gilly was shaking with fear because those same builders took the last of the left over bricks and built a pedestal and mounted the wheelbarrow on the top.
Gilly was becoming increasingly lightheaded because even though the gold wheelbarrow mounted on top of the pedestal was meant as a joke, a temporary fixture in front of the entrance to the modest building which would serve as the new clubhouse for the Goldish Football Club. It would end up becoming much more than a feeble attempt of construction humor.
Gilly turning a light shade of blue because the next day, the day after the wheelbarrow was mounted on top of the pedestal, the first ever football match was played on the brand new field of the Goldish Football Club and the Goldishers would end up winning that match 3-0 against the strongest club in the whole of England.
Gilly was clasping the reception desk for support because the then captain of the strongest team in England, the team that lost against the Goldishers, was so upset that he made a snide remark towards an evenly upset reporter saying, “God only knows how we lost against a brand new team like the Goldishers with a fucking wheelbarrow for a club mascot.”
Gilly was struggling to pull oxygen into her aching lungs because she knew that those snide remarks would set off a chain of events that would change the world forever.
Since that day, the day of the first match, the Goldishers would go on to play against every other team in the country, every single team in Europe and every last one in the world, and they never lost a single football game. And being as superstitious as most football players of that time were, they looked towards the golden wheelbarrow with new found respect, a growing unnatural dogma. This tragic, superstitions dogma and obsession with the construction tool’s powers grew stronger and stronger and with it, so did the club’s winning streak.
As their victories on the field grew, so did their bank account, so did their group of influencers, so did the power of their management team and so did the stronghold they were getting on society. Over 80 years of relentless winning the wheelbarrow, which over time were gilded in 24 carat gold, turned the Goldish Football Club based in Manningtree, England, into the most powerful organisation in the world.
And now, after all these years, the management of the Goldish Football Club and absolutist rulers of the new world, were facing a potentially devastating event caused by the theft of the 24 carat gilded wheelbarrow.
As the news of the stolen wheelbarrow spread through the streets of Manningtree, so did the growing feeling of unrest.
It took less than 3 hours for total anarchy to break out across the entire town.
Less than 13 hours for that anarchy to spread through the country. Less than 23 hours to reach the furthest borders of England, and in 43 hours the entire Europe was burning. How long it took for the war to spread across the oceans, no one was sure, but it didn’t take that long.
Where Gilly was hiding in the corner of what used to be a football ball factory, she tried to tune an old transistor radio, that she has stolen from a museum, to a frequency she’d scratched into the surface of her bloody, wooden club.
The broadcaster was said to be one of those old timers that clung to the charm of FM radio in the prewar, streaming society. Ironically, with the internet going down 13 months ago, FM radio was the only form of communication left.
Gilly finally found the frequency and almost yelled out in relief. She hasn’t heard another person’s voice in 33 weeks. She learned about the FM station in the same way most news were relayed these days, by the graffiti sprayed against the ruined walls of the buildings.
The broadcaster’s voice was scratchy and far away but it was the most beautiful sound Gilly has ever heard, “…do your best and try to make your way towards Old London. Today is exactly 33 months since that fucking wheelbarrow got stolen… and according to my sources the fighting is finally over. To be deadly honest folks, I can’t imagine this not being true. What was there left to fight over..?”
Gilly sat in the corner of the cold warehouse for a few more hours. As tears washed two clean lines down her face, she struggled to make a decision. Was it really over? Should she risk it and moved towards the city? She wasn’t so far from it…
Three days later Gilly reached the burned down outskirts of London. She quickly realised that the broadcaster was right. The war was finally over… there was no need to start running at the mere sight of another human face anymore.
Slowly and with great hesitation, small groups of people started to form. Conversations struggled to life and people spend most of their time huddled around radios, listening to the broadcaster. Over the next few weeks a shocking truth was settling in over the miserable and minuscule amount of survivors.
The truth circled around what was now being referred to as ‘The Final War’ – the deadly conflict that spread across the globe like a shockwave and turned modern day society into this now dystopian nightmare.
The truth circling around The Final War was two fold and it was this:
1 – even though all the survivors knew what started the war — the theft of the wheelbarrow — no one knew exactly why this event set off such a brutal and lethal killing, in such a short time and,
2 – and this was the worst of the two parts of the truth about The Final War… this truth was so bad it caused many of the survivors to turn the last of their ammunition on themselves… this part of the truth was that the wheelbarrow was never actually stolen… the Club Manager of the Goldish Football Club knew exactly where the wheelbarrow was.
Again there were two things to be said, two bizarre events that aided in causing the biggest misunderstanding the world would ever experience:
1 – the Club Manager died in a car crash on his way back from his trip into town. A car crash caused by a group of hysteric marauders fuelled by the news of the stolen wheelbarrow and,
2 – this same group of hysteric marauders trampled an old man outside his shop a few hours later. The trampling resulted in the death of the last of the two people that could clear up the mystery of the missing wheelbarrow.
Yesterday, the dusty, gold wheelbarrow was discovered by a small group of survivors who was scavenging for supplies in an abandoned building on the outskirts of Manningtree, England. Hanging on a rusted nail above the broken door of this building was a faded sign that read:
Official gilder of the Golden wheelbarrow of the Goldish Football Club.