Top scientists have now set the date for the end of the world as we know it as 20th June 2005, just before tea time. Recent satellite photographs confirm what researchers have suspected for some time: a five mile wide area of shortcrust pastry at the North Pole. The pastry, which forms a layer three inches thick, is spreading out over the ice cap at an alarming rate and scientists predict that it will not be long before it envelops the entire planet. In fact, they say that in just four years time the Earth will be nothing more than a huge pie hanging in space.
NASA has assembled a huge team of experts to look into the possible causes of the problem, but after spending close to a billion dollars on the project they have come to no satisfactory conclusion.
"We are currently considering several possibilities," says Doctor Ralph Lunatic, who heads the project. "The theory which presently has the greatest support is that the polar pastry cap is the result of freak weather conditions brought about by an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It has also been suggested that the pastry is spewing up from the Earth's core through volcanic activity, and we certainly can't rule this out. Personally I favour the idea that the whole affair is just someone's idea of a practical joke."
Well, if it is a joke then it's certainly a most elaborate one, the consequences of which threaten to extinguish all life on Earth. In light of this fact, how does NASA propose to counter the menace?
Out of the frying pan...
Students at a Manchester Comprehensive School have devised a remarkable experiment which accurately models the origins of the Universe. Taking flour, egg whites, sugar and half a pound of pure Irish butter (elements which scientists believe to be the basic building blocks of all matter) they subjected them to extreme temperatures and pressures for several hours to simulate the kind of conditions which existed in the early Universe.
After making careful observations and detailed measurements, the students have deduced that our Universe will eventually turn out to resemble a Victoria Cream Sponge.
"We're going to build a big rocket," Doctor Lunatic tells us. "A really, really big one. Then me and some friends of mine are going to get in it and sod off some place else."
This is fairly typical of the reaction of the scientific community as a whole, who seem at a loss to explain or offer solutions to the pie-crust problem. But an amateur astronomer in Penzance has shed new light on the matter by claiming that spontaneous pastry formation is a completely natural phenomenon. Wendy Miller has been studying the night skies for twenty years through a telescope which she designed and built herself out of milk bottles. Now she has no friends and a squint, but her tireless observations have led her to a remarkable discovery.
"It is my belief that the conditions we now see occurring at the Earth's polar regions are by no means unique. I have substantial evidence which suggests that at one time the surface of the planet Mars consisted of pink sponge to a depth of one and a half miles. Studies of Jupiter's cloud formations imply that pockets of icing sugar still exist in the lower stratosphere. And it is now more or less accepted fact that Neptune is made out of marshmallow."
One of Miller's more outlandish theories suggests that the planet Pluto is not a natural satellite at all, but a giant nuclear-powered Smartie, driven by space aliens. But Miller's ideas have received a hostile reception. The Royal Astronomical Society has branded her 'a right nutter' and the Ministry of Defence have ordered a five mile exclusion zone around her house which comes into effect next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the search for an explanation goes on. A team in Canada has used computerised image enhancing techniques to study the satellite pictures in more detail. Scientists in New Zealand have sent up balloons packed with sensitive equipment capable of measuring the smallest particles of flour in the atmosphere. And French technicians have been pushing a chock ice up a drainpipe, but to date no one has had the nerve to ask why.
But for now the final word must go to Doctor Lunatic, who when asked if there was anything the general population could do to halt the advance of the polar pastry caps, gave us this reassuring piece of advice:
"Take plenty of exercise, drink at least three pints of water a day, and make sure you include plenty of fibre in your diet - it's very good for you and it keeps you regular."
It has long been posited that if ever we were to make contact with an alien civilisation, the differences between our two races would make communication virtually impossible. Now the polar pastry cap controversy has sparked suggestions that alien life could take the form of confectionery and, more remarkably, may even be here amongst us already. Indeed, there is some anecdotal evidence that this is the case. A man in Preston, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims that he was accosted by a vanilla slice in Sainsburies, which quizzed him for several minutes on the defence capabilities of Earth's military forces. And in the face of much ridicule, Mr. Leo Scart of Inverness maintains that he was kidnapped by alien puddings and taken aboard their spaceship, where he was the unwilling subject of inhuman experiments. There is a singular lack of evidence for Mr. Scart's claim, but nevertheless, his book comes out next month and a major Hollywood film studio has already expressed an interest in the rights.
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