When the date appeared in chalk around town, it was an oddity.

When it became spray paint, it was a nuisance.

When lovingly crafted hand-fired tiles with the date were found plastered on everything from streets to building walls, it was a sensation.

Eventually, police apprehended the person responsible as he was gluing a tile to Circlebooks. The perp was John William Smith, age 44, who lived alone with his ailing mother and had a history of making bizarre phone calls to local radio shows and universities.

Smith claimed that the graffiti was “a notice” of an imminent and important event. Through research at the local university library, communing with crystals, and interpreting radio waves emanating from Jupiter, he had realized that at 12:00:00 Greenwich Mean Time on 4-3-2017, the world would cleave into two alternate timelines.

One of these timelines would lead, inevitably, to paradise. The other would lead, inevitably, to the destruction of the universe and damnation. Smith said that both process would be subtle, a matter of aeons, but inevitable. Those who were trapped in the latter were heirs to a doomed world.

After the date had passed, a small but fervent group began a discussion over which of the two branching paths they remained in: the one destined for paradise or the one destined for destruction. Smith himself, when consulted in the mental institution where he’d been remanded, refused to elaborate,

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