I’d always been scientifically minded.

When I was five, I found out that Santa wasn’t real and distributed a bunch of little pamphlets I made, by hand, for the other children in my class.

Even though my parents scolded me, I went on to pass out notes on the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny until the teachers took away all my paper and felt tips.

Which was a shame. At the time, I’d recently heard about a bearded Middle Eastern man who turned water into wine at Sunday school. That would’ve made a good pamphlet and all.

And when I grew up, I dedicated my time to correcting people who fervently believed in things. Anything.

Jesus. Marxism. Muhammad. The best Beatles track. Smallpox. Air Pollution. Feminism. Liberty. Taxation. The best colour to paint your bathroom. Video games. Television shows I didn’t even watch.

I thought that you can’t really and truly believe in anything. Not one hundred percent. Even your own perceptions could be challenged, as anyone who’s experimented with drugs and alcohol knows.

And your brain is a cocktail of drugs right now. You’ve never experienced reality outside of the meat-slab sitting inside the bony Kinder Egg of your skull.

Surety, I found, was fatal. All throughout history, the biggest foibles of mankind revolved around some jackass who thought that the round peg was the only peg that could go through the square hole amongst the quadrillions of pegs and holes that make up our universe.

And that’s probably why I was the one who got picked. Out of the hundreds and thousands of attendees. Me.

My younger self would have said it was random chance. But I’m not that person any more.

I was attending ironically, I think it’s important to note. Sure, I made a small packet with my journalistically-minded friend for covering Flat-Earth Con, but money wasn’t an object.

I had a job in a factory and writing paid little.

And to have the chance to rip the piss out of some morons who wore tie-dyed woolen jumpers, braided their hair and smelled like patchouli, along with some charlatans who were probably getting paid to speak at the events?

Fuck, I’d pay to do it if I had to.

We were walking the stands, most of them selling tat like “Flat Earth Globes,” which were just cutesy little coasters, and T-shirts exclaiming “Ask Me About Our Flat Earth!” in neon-green Comic Sans.

We proudly bought some flat earth pins and were making fun of two hippies in an event booth.

They were using a plumb-bob and three quartz crystals to make some point about “vibrational energy.”

It was two in the afternoon. Both Tom and me were sipping from snuck-in flasks that had almost run dry.

We were both kinda drunk, and we were having a whale of a time.

Two purple-haired Wiccans were sitting near a large cauldron just off from a vegan pop-up pizzeria.

“Watch out for the witch!” I shouted.

The younger one, whose grey hair wasn’t yet showing through the purple dye, flipped me off.

For some reason, I felt a small tingle from that.

We passed several small concession stands selling Flat Earth Mouse Mats and made our way into the main convention room, where a guest would be talking.

But I never heard the talk.

A man gestured to me from the shadows, dressed in a robe. Well, I say a robe. It was more like a kimono. And it was coloured navy blue with large splotches of pale green dotted across it.

“Hi, I’m Mr. Earth.”

“Of course you are.” I replied.

“Would you like to come with me?”

At this point, I don’t know what inspired me to follow the lunatic. Tom had hurried past into the convention room and I knew that the conference was about to start in just five minutes.

Why I walked out of the con with this man that I’d just met is something I’ve never quite figured out or understood. I remember the intensity of his eyes, dark as the night sky above, but not much else.

The whole dumb parody docudrama we were making for YouTube just seemed to pale into nothing when I looked at him.

But I remember leaving, and I remember the black car that pulled up outside.

I remember feeling a sharp pain at the back of my head and a clunk of a baseball bat.

I remember wetness as blood poured out of a gash in the side of my head.

And I remember, as I slipped into unconsciousness, the one phrase that I will always remember for as long I live:

“Take him. Take him to the edge.”


I woke up in total blackness, surrounded by slowly humming walls of fuzz. It took me a minute to realise that I was in the boot of a car.

I yelled until my voice was hoarse, but nothing happened.

The car just rumbled on and on and on.

Several times, it seemed as if we passed through a city, as I could hear other cars and once a thin stream of light shone through the boot of the car. I could hear the feet of pedestrians on the wet pavement outside. I could hear the rain as it clacked against the metal roof of the car.

But nobody heard my screams.

Soon we seemed to be in the distant countryside. I thought I could hear the crunch of branches and the whip of tree branches off the side of the road.

But then the boot opened and I realised we were in the middle of a desert.

“The Sonoran Desert” came a voice from the outside as I gulped in the fresh air of the outside world. “Few facts for you. It’s situated between Mexico and the U.S. and the U.S. border wall will probably cross here. In addition, the Sonoran Desert is home to Coachella Valley. Coachella, of course, is a government program to stop people going to Flat Earth Con.”

“You’re crazy!” I spluttered.

I stood up and tried to run, but my legs ached from being cramped inside the boot of a car.

As I pathetically jogged across the sand, passing cactuses standing sentinel under the twinkling milky way, I felt my leg suddenly fall from underneath me as if it had suddenly deactivated. Then I felt tingling, then I felt pain.

And then my leg felt as if it was on fire. There’s no other way to describe it.

I flailed, kicking up sand as my body jerked under the electrical current.

I looked down and saw the trailing wire.

The man holding the taser was approaching me. I felt a sudden bolt of pain again as he compressed the trigger.

“I’m not crazy,” said Mr. Earth. He reached a hand inside his jacket and pulled out some papers. “I have medical documentation if you would like to see it.”

“I don’t give a shit about your documents, you fucking basketcase!”

I tensed, waiting for the pain to flare up.

It never did.

“That isn’t a very nice thing to say,” said Mr. Earth.

I felt bad and a little guilty for insulting the man standing over me. Then I remembered that I’d been abducted and felt a hot flush as anger crept over me.

I tried to crawl away.

That was when the paint jolted through me.

I cried out.

“I mean, I’ll just keep increasing the voltage until you agree to come with me,” said Mr. Earth. “Although personally, I don’t even know why I need to use it.”


“Well, you’re that debunker guy, right? You do blogs and those weird YouTube videos?”


Mr. Earth sighed.

“I like a lot of it, but your editing leaves a lot to be desired.”

“We don’t have an editor at the moment. We’re actually in the process of looking for a new video editor because our previous one went off to study—“

I remembered I was being abducted.

“Fuck you, I don’t need to explain shit.”

A man in a dark hoodie drew up next to Mr. Earth.

“Please stop swearing, sir. We’re trying to help. Now, can you please use this?”

He knelt down and he handed me a knife.

I remember my heart feeling as if it was turning to ice.

“You expect me to…kill myself?”

The man in the dark hoodie put his head in his hands as Mr. Earth rummaged around in the pockets of his trousers and pulled out a small packet. Fumbling to get it open, he eventually passed it over the man in the dark hoodie, who bent down and passed it to me.

It was a drugs test.

“Just a drop will do. Just so you know we haven’t popped anything suspicious into you whilst you were unconscious in the boot.”

I obediently sliced the knife across my finger. A bead of blood leaked out and I pressed it, firmly, into the pad.

I handed it back and we waited for five minutes.

When he showed me the conclusive result, I pretended to be interested. I didn’t really care. After all, I had no choice in the proceedings.

And we walked; we walked for miles and miles. I don’t think another human, even ancient explorers from before the time of Scott of the Antarctic, Columbus, and Francis Drake have walked as far as we walked that night.

And into the early morning.

Until we stopped.

Because we couldn’t get any further.

The man in the dark hoodie and Mr. Earth both grabbed me as I almost fell.

“Every damn time,” said Mr. Earth, grinning.

I looked down as the Earth gave way to space itself. Up was space, and down was space. Sand rippled over the corner of the Earth and fell over the edge. Then rose slightly. Then fell. Then shifted off into the void of space.

The cosmic stars crackled and shimmered below and above me.

I tried following what was going on, but it was all too complicated. When I tried to follow the edge, my eyes just shifted. The ground was moving under me at a blur, but my feet were standing still.

I followed the edge to the end, where it looped upwards, and suddenly I saw it above me, curving and twisting.


“A Möbius strip, curving through space like the treads on a tank,” said the man in the dark hoodie.

“But how—“

I looked behind and saw people falling upwards in their millions, floating gracelessly through the air. They floated up and up until they disappeared into the dark, thousands of miles above, where I could make out a conveyor belt in the depths of space covered in icy peaks, deserts, mountain ranges, and forests.

“Essentially,” said Mr. Earth, “when you fall asleep, your astral self floats upwards and upwards until you hit the exact spot you fell asleep, where you then wake up, happy and content. Your body then reforms, and you’re none the wiser. In fact, you never believe you’ve moved!”

“I don’t understand,” I replied, watching the world spool around and the people flying upwards like so many raindrops.

“It’s not space. It’s time,” said Mr. Earth. “Stay awake for four days and you’ll see the edge for yourself, but it’s only two days without any sleep if you travel in any direction.”

I felt giddy and found myself struggling to stand.

“You’ll go under in the next twenty seconds. Few people make it this far without the influence of narcotics. If anything, you should be congratulated.”

Mr. Earth took my shoulders as I felt my body sag. “The scientists are right about atmosphere, they’re right about the speed of the earth, and they’re right about heliocentric theory.”

My vision darkened.

“But they’re wrong about one thing.”

I closed my eyes.

“You already know what it is.”


When I awoke, I was in a brightly-lit convention centre.

I wish I’d blacked out, but I knew I hadn’t.

Mr. Earth and the man in the dark hoodie told me how they’d carried me back to the car when I blacked out and drove back to the convention centre under the influence of six Red Bulls and five coffees.

(I found out later that the man in the dark hoodie was called Alan and he wore the dark hoodie to cover his eczema. It was pretty bad.)

After I sat up, I simply shook hands with the two gentlemen and went home.

Tom phoned me later, asking me what had happened, but I just hung up as soon as I heard his voice.

I remember the first sandwich board I made, in my garage, that very same day.

The smell of varnish, and the paint, and the feeling that I got when I slipped it on.

I walked into the centre of town, tears running down my face, emblazoned with two wooden slats. On each of them was painted:

“I Know the World is Flat.”