"The original computations were wrong!" he said, "The ancient calendar ends next week. The whole cycle comes to a close. The calendar runs out!"
"What does it mean?" I asked him fretfully.
Behind my eyes I saw the terrible future this might imply: clockwork Aztec warriors made of brass and obsidian, a sea of blood filled with razor-smiled carnivorous fish, angry kudzu spirits wiping out whole villages, swarms of giant locusts consuming whole landscapes and choking out the sunlight, holy white fires, moral reckonings, endless thunder and decade-long earthquakes.
He scowled a little, surprised at my alarm. "It means I got the darn calendar wrong and I have to publish an embarrassing retraction."
"No kudzu spirits or clockwork warriors?"
"What? It's just a calendar."
"So there's no cataclysmic change coming then?"
His brow furrowed, "Oh, there are a lot of cataclysmic changes. Global communication networks, climate change, NBC warfare that could kill us all, the hope of stem cell cures, ever-increasingly available information, melting ice caps and endangered species and genetic modification and peak oil and cybernetics and nanotechnology and unified field theories and the spread of democracy and freedom. We're teetering on the brink of radiant explosive growth or utter self-destruction. Maybe both. The world's ending every day; we just don't need a dusty outdated calendar to tell us that. The end times started two generations ago."