Engrossed in my music and my fame and my sexual conquests, I barely noticed it at first. What did I care what other people wanted to spend their time doing? Let them beat each other to a pulp if that made them happy! Just so long as they left me alone with my music and my love-making.

Or perhaps it was because I hailed from South Africa where violence was pretty common already.

It was only when my booking at Carnegie Hall was cancelled, that I finally paid attention to the headlines.

Slaughter in Spain! Massacre in Missouri! Blood on the streets of Bondi Beach! Carnage in Chad!

In the early days, it was group against group. That ‘them-us’ mentality ruled.

School kids from Secondary School X would gang up on kids from Secondary School Y. Or neighbours from Fifth Avenue would attack the homes of Tenth Avenue. And always with the media and the photographers in hot pursuit, assaulting them with questions.

“So why did you hit him over the head with that spade? What did he do to upset you?”

There were never any answers – well, not any that made sense. No-one seemed to know why they were hitting or stabbing or shooting. The police gave up making arrests. There was no space left in any jail cells.

Then the photographers from Television Station A took it into their heads to annihilate the reporters from Television Station B, battering them with their own microphones. So instead of reporting the news, they became part of the news.

Later, later, things become even more individual and up-close and personal.

Mr Z shot Mrs P even though they had been friends since Primary School.

Teacher S shoved Teacher T down the stairs outside the Science Lab.

A BMW-owner drove his car directly into the body of a fellow-BMW-owner.

Wars as we knew them, became a thing of the past. Armies were too busy slaughtering each other to turn their attention on the enemy!

And my gig at Carnegie Hall in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, was cancelled.

“No ways, Josh, my bro,” said my American agent in his American accent. “The streets outside Carnegie Hall are red with blood, slippery with brains. You stay safe in Cape Town.”

That was depressing. I’d been to New York once before, playing at Radio City. I was keen to return. But my agent was adamant.

So there I was, stuck in my Cape Town flat overlooking Devil’s Peak. Unemployed and bored and going slowly broke. Phoning Thandeka each night just to check that she had made it alive through another day. Playing my piano – a Steinway baby grand – for endless hours, wondering whether I’d ever play for international audiences again. Playing fortissimo – very loudly – to blot out the gunshots and the screams and ambulance sirens coming from the streets outside.

Once in a while, I managed to talk some woman into joining me so we could get a few crescendos going.

“Let us be lovers not fighters,” I would say in my deep baritone, still steady despite the horror beyond my front door. “Let’s make love, not war.”

Sometimes they smiled, these women, as they undressed in my pleasant bedroom with its view of Devil’s Peak. And its amber bed linen. Mostly they did not. But at least I could bring a little joy and comfort into their lives. And my own.

I always frisked them at the door though, I must confess. Took away any pistols or knives they were packing. And made sure my own kitchen knives were locked away. Just in case.

World leaders despaired. Parliaments discussed – well, until the discussions morphed into bloody fist fights. As for the United Nations – who knows? The goodwill ambassadors shut themselves up in the safety of their offices and wore bullet-proof vests when their secretaries entered. The UN’s entire lower floor was turned into a morgue to house all the bodies not yet cremated.

Burials had become a thing of the past. There was just no space left in any cemetery.

And that’s when the Luthanians arrived.

That is why they arrived.


Tell us what you think: What will the world be like in twenty-five years’ time? How will things be different?