AS YOU read this, it is entirely possible that the planet is wreathed in the unforgiving fire of either a Satanic or Godly apocalypse.
Graves may have opened and the dead may be walking among us. Blasphemers have presumably been hung by the tongue, women who dress in a suggestive manner may well have been suspended by their hair over a bubbling mire. And that's just Ashburton.
All over the city, goats are quite probably running amok.
It is now the sixth day of the sixth month in the sixth year of the new millennium. This may mean no more than that it is the sixth of June and a Tuesday.
The committed satanist, numerologist or heavy metal nut will, however, be enjoying an eerie confluence of the calendar that spells the number of the beast: 666. Time for Satan to claim the Earth.
Six hundred and sixty six is a number to conjure with; 666 is the sum of its digits plus the cube of its digits, it is the sum of the first seven primes, is apparently found hidden in every barcode and is the street address of Donald Trump's corporate headquarters.
It is defined in the Revelation of St John the Divine thus: "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six."
It is in the conjunction of beast and man that things get interesting, according to Drew Sinton, former Grotto Master for the Australian Church of Satan and author of The Antichrist Bible. "It is the number of man, it's from Genesis. Man was created in six days, therefore man is Satan, man is the devil," he says. Seems clear enough, if somewhat circular.
Which brings us to this morning. The message: beware of men. "It may be in the end that the sixth of the sixth may be just like the first day of the millennium, when Christ did not come again," Mr Sinton says.
The local Church of Satan is not planning to mark the day with anything more than an air of curious expectation, while, according to the Pagan Awareness Network, "Witches across Australia are cheerfully regarding this whole 06/06/06 thing as a load of old cobblers."
Neither group is therefore likely to claim responsibility for the striking street posters you may have spotted advising that "The Antichrist is coming". These refer to the movie release The Omen 666. This is a remake of the legendary 1976 The Omen, which, as you will recall, deals with devil spawn Damien Thorn. It is presumably this, rather than anything more biblical, that has convinced some impending parents to alter their birth plans.
"I did have a couple of parents who said they were loath to have their babies on that day," said one leading Melbourne obstetrician. Presumably he will meet with similar demands around the time we see the first screenings of the Poseidon Adventure remake.
Not that they mean to be killjoys, but the Australian Catholic Film Office advises that the sixth of June is not in fact 06/06/06 anyway.
The calendar as we know it was concocted in the fourth century, an exercise in transposition from the original Roman date system that erred by four years. "We assume Satan knows that the sixth day of the sixth month in 2006 was in fact June 6, 2002," Father Richard Leonard says.
And is therefore, already among us. Perhaps in the Big Brother house. Who knows?