a short story
A new day…
Walking into new horizon after new horizon. Maybe one day he would find it…
He had been walking for so long. Some days he wouldn’t even stop, to eat or rest. On the road, the continuum of movement was the only natural law. The walking sustained him. The steady cadence of putting one foot in front of another, for miles and miles, it took him places, through the broken landscape, the cities, the desert.
What was the difference anymore? The hallowed architecture of man and God alike, this new forsaken wilderness of metal and branch and dust was perhaps worthy of the careful consideration of an omega man. One such as himself. Philosophically, there was a lot here to ponder, ironies to weigh, and self-righteous bets to be cashed out for the survivor of it all. However, there wasn’t any time for it. Progress should not be slowed, not by any of this.
His survival instinct was embodied in his pace; there was fortitude in the consistent strides. Endurance was the name of the game, and he felt like he was making his monkey forefathers proud. These years had given him a singular power. One he had never paid heed in the midst of former luxuries. The power to simply continue. Perhaps he represented the sole member of a new evolutionary species of hominid, a new Man. Yeah, he certainly liked the idea of that.
And it was enough. Movement was catharsis. He liked to think that life incarnate sprung from each of his steps, countering the enveloping death-world all around him each day. Steps stepped from a full-blooded and fully operational human being. Boots on the apocalyptic ground, shouting “I AM STILL HERE!” Despite all the loss around him, he never stopped gaining ground. This self-fulfilling prophecy of movement and thought was all that was left.
The world around him wasn’t done dying. Every day, he saw more things fall, more ash blowing in the winds, more bones crumbling on the side of the road. Even in survival, he was enduring an unending Death. Perhaps this would matter if he was still sane. The civilized realms of mankind had been butchered with impunity by the forces of nature. But only after arrogant self-brutalizations for the decades prior. Our ego enveloped the natural sadomasochism of the mob and the end result was the fair shake of our cultural suicide. It was a fair game, of this he had no doubt. Nature hadn’t put the noose around our neck and tied it from the ceiling fan, we had happily done that all ourselves. At that point, we just needed the chair kicked out from underneath our already dangling feet to let the whole show begin. The withering winds ceaselessly obliged. The end was in us all along. And we had finally unsheathed it.
He smiled. Somehow, you had to have a sense of humor when everybody else was dead.
In a relatively short amount of time, this dried up husk of a civilization had perished before his eyes. But through all of this, the planet had not forgotten how to provide. It was thoroughly mocking him now, knowing its services were no longer needed. It had been murdered, slowly yet brutally, long before. And we were the ones carrying the murder weapon. Seeing all of it, step by step along the cracked highways, he always thought they had done a real bang-up job. Messy and with plenty of evidence left at the scene. But a for such a big job, it was impressive nonetheless.
Now in this after-world, many hadn’t even tried to go on. Witnessing the fall of mankind had been the easy part. It was quick and not painless, but a relatively easy transition. After all, there weren’t many left standing to deal with. The difficulty came after. Those few who had survived had been broken long ago.
But not him. He continued. He lived. And he walked.
It was enough.
How far could it be…
This was another one. Another mile. Nothing more.
He had been alive before. Of this, he could be sure. When the world died, he couldn’t even remember what exactly he had been doing or anything about the days before. The moment he realized what was happening, when it was too late and things had become so far gone that he had to leave and begin moving. It was funny, because normally those traumatic events in your life, the truly earth-shattering moments, people remembered just exactly what they were doing, where they were, those details were preserved forever to be recalled again and again when the time served. But for him, it was different. There was just nothing there, no solid memory of the day the shadow enveloped the world. No anniversary to celebrate. No happy apocalypse day. Such a shame. Perhaps because there was nobody, nothing to share it with. He had decided it wasn’t worth remembering all together and then forgot even that decision. Stranger things had happened, he knew that.
There were many other things he did remember. About the past, about before. But strangely enough there was one thing that stuck with him more than anything else, something that really just settled itself in his memory and wouldn’t relinquish its prime, indomitable position at the forefront of his mind, constantly remembered, relived.
It was a simple fact, not a revelation.
He was a killer. Long before any of this, he had it in him.
(written in 2011)