Two weeks after meeting with Arthur in Toronto, Miranda is on a beach in Malaysia. She is unaware that the collapse is occurring. She’s in Malaysia since Neptune Logistics owns dormant boats that have nothing to ship due to the recession. No one is spending money, so there is a surplus of shipping space. Suddenly, she receives a call from Clark Thomson, Arthur’s oldest friend. Clark informs her that Arthur died on stage.
Again, we see the excess of civilization and the potential to ship items that will soon cease to exist. Before the billions of deaths looming, Miranda is informed of the singular death of her ex-husband. The news of the death, too, comes from a means of technology that will soon perish.
In New York, Clark hangs up the phone and pauses before moving on to calling Elizabeth Colton. During the pause, he receives a call from Arthur’s lawyer, Gary Heller. Heller starts talking about the possibility of a second will, believing that Arthur intended to include Tanya as a beneficiary during his final weeks. But Clark is disinterested, and begins sadly (and fondly) remembering Arthur when he was a young man. Clark proceeds to hang up and call Elizabeth.
While Gary Heller wonders about the logistics of Arthur’s death, Clark contemplates the loss of a dear friend and memories of young Arthur. The ease with which Clark connects with Gary and then Elizabeth is a further emphasis on the miracle of technology, which at the time seems completely standard and un-exceptional.
The conversation with Elizabeth is short. Clark informs her of the news, and tells her that the will dictated specifically that the funeral should be in Toronto. As he talks to Elizabeth, Clark remembers a conversation with Arthur years ago about the cities they’d lived in. Arthur says he values Toronto because he came from a tiny island where everyone knew him, and then he moved to L.A. where he was famous and well known. Toronto was the only place he felt free.
Arthur’s funeral will be held in Toronto, since it is the only place he ever felt free. Delano Island is isolated and removed from civilization, which means that there is no anonymity. In L.A., because he was so famous, there was constant attention and expectations. But in Toronto he was able to feel free and anonymous in a large city, one of the most appealing aspects of civilization to Arthur.
The next day, Clark wakes up early and heads to the airport. Though he doesn’t know it yet, he has a series of miraculous near misses, as he manages to make it through the city and airport without encountering anyone who is sick or contagious. He then boards an airplane filled with similarly lucky, healthy people, including, by chance, Elizabeth Colton and her son Tyler. As they board he says hello, and they don’t speak again during the flight until the plane is diverted to somewhere in Michigan and everyone deplanes in the Severn City Airport.
Clark’s miraculous survival is an example of the novel’s exploration of fate and chance. Is it merely a lucky accident that Clark passes through New York City and manages to avoid contact with the flu, or is it some sort of fated occurrence? As always, this question involves the people to whom Clark is connected, as it’s his coordination with Elizabeth that leaves all of them together in Severn City.