The Last Thing Before The Apocalypse


SKU ebook Category

175 in stock


By Peter G. Mackie

ISBN: 978-1-84991-908-1
Published: 2013
Pages: 95
Key Themes: Mental Health, Short Stories, Mental Illness


The Last Thing Before the Apocalypse is a collection of somewhat mysterious writings starting with a short story Faust Returns to the Fatherland, a tale of love, drugs and tragedy as seen through the eyes of a young Scotsman who finds himself in Berlin at the time of the squatting movement in the early 1980s and discovers that everything becomes stranger and stranger all the time – and ending with A Seventies Odyssey, a narrative describing a young man’s experiences as he starts travelling in Europe in the late 1970s. Most of the stories touch upon the subject of mental illness and have a dreamlike quality about them.

About the Author

Peter G Mackie was born in Perth, Scotland in 1957 and, as a teenager, was mistakenly kept in the Adolescent Unit of a psychiatric hospital for two and a half years, an experience which affected his whole life and which led him to suffer from depression.

Due to problems with his family, he ran away from home at the age of 16 and suffered abuse on the streets of London.

At the age of 17, after a brief period in a hippy commune, he wrote his novel The Madhouse of Love in a bed-sit in Tooting, South London, based on his earlier experiences in the psychiatric unit.

From 1977 to 1984, he spent a period working and travelling in Europe, which helped him to see a different perspective on life.

However, due to unemployment in the 1980s, he was forced to return to Scotland, where he took an HND in Computer Data Processing, but failed to find work in that field.

Due to his education having been disrupted early in life, he has had to survive by doing unskilled jobs interspersed with periods of unemployment.

From 2001 to 2007, he went through a very difficult time, moving from place to place, trying to find work and accommodation, with little success, causing him to have a nervous breakdown and to lapse again into depression.

He ended up homeless in Edinburgh, where he sold The Big Issue for over a year.
In 2011, he completed an IT course at Redhall Walled Garden, a project in Edinburgh run by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

Between the 1970s and 1990s, he had poems published by numerous small press magazines.

He has also recorded a CD of music on piano and synthesiser All Over the Shop, which is available over the Internet.

In July 2012, he did some voluntary work with disadvantaged teenagers in Slovenia and is now planning to train to work with homeless young people in Edinburgh.

Book Extract

Little Johnny grew up in the 1960s in a quiet backwater of a winding suburban street in a sleepy little town in the middle of Scotland.

There was a telegraph pole at the bottom of the back garden which somehow gave Johnny a weird feeling, there were several gardens behind that leading to houses that faced on to two other streets and, across the road at the front of the house, there was an overgrown path leading to a field where boys played at night.

His father worked in a bank and his parents were what Johnny would realise later were known as “lower middle class” people, without much imagination – but Johnny had a powerful imagination which would transport him into vast vistas in the nooks and crannies of his mind, of which his parents – and most other people – could only have caught the very merest glimpse.

Johnny shared a room with his older brother Dave, who was about 15, and, one day, when Dave was undressing, Johnny noticed with curiosity how well-developed he was. Their mother came in the room and Johnny secretly wondered if his mother had enjoyed seeing his brother undressing.

Johnny had, at one point in his early childhood, had a spate of nightmares, but had not been afflicted with quite so many bad dreams recently.

On the wardrobe in Johnny’s and Dave’s room was a strange-looking brass door-handle which was shaped like a pair of eyes at the top and came down to a point underneath. Johnny always felt as if it was looking at him, so, each night, he would undress quickly and rush into bed before the handle could catch him. He must have heard of the idea of reincarnation somewhere because he imagined in his mind, for some reason, that he must have committed suicide in a previous lifetime and that the last thing that he had touched before he had died had been the door handle, which must have been why it seemed so eerie and frightening. When he thought about this in later life, he had absolutely no idea how all this could have come into his head as a small child.

One day, Johnny’s father took them through to Glasgow to do some shopping. Johnny had never seen slums before and was shocked by seeing what seemed to be never-ending rows of broken-down houses going on for miles with seemingly absolutely no ending. He noticed in passing from a street sign on a corner that one of the streets was called “Rottenrow” and he thought to himself that the name described just exactly what it all was, just rotten rows of houses…..

There was a house down the street where Johnny lived, which belonged to a woman whom the boy across the road would go and visit sometimes, referring to her as his “aunt”. However, she wasn’t really his aunt but a friend of his mother’s. She was divorced from her husband and was living with another man and tended to be looked at slightly askance for that reason. Johnny’s parents never really explained it to him properly, although his maternal grandmother did say to him once, “It’s a difficult situation, you see!”

The man she was living with had a dark blue Audi car which he kept parked outside the front of the house all the time. His father said, “That chap’s trying to do something like Mercedes Benz,” but that remark was lost on Johnny who didn’t realise that Audi was also a German make of car.


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