This is my story. This is the story of someone who had to accept everything around her ends the way you expect before you realize the only thing you didn’t expect was you’d still be around to see it.
Stupid right? Welcome to my story.
I’ve written many beginnings to this story and I’ve played around with how I was going to do this, but now I’ve made a decision. The information I tried to explain in a way to get you interested bored me so screw it.
Something happened, people freaked out and began blaming each other and then everyone except for the lucky few died. Now we’re fighting each other to survive and fighting this new world to keep from dying.
I tried testing out a beginning to show the moments leading up to the end for the real world, but it sounded just like everyone else and it pissed me off. So here’s the edited fast-paced version.
My brother was the first to die. He died the day the world gave up. My sister was next. Died in the middle of a sentence. Took my parents and I a few seconds to realize what happened. My father was next, but he locked himself in the bathroom so my mother and I never really knew for sure whether it killed him or he killed himself before it could. Then my mother died.
When my brother and sister died my father buried them in the backyard. When my father died my mother and I buried him beside them. When my mother died, I buried her with them.
This would’ve been the point I introduced my neighbor and his family who seemed to luck out and be surviving. I’d talk about how he constantly made an ass of himself to me talking about how lucky his family was.
They died during the winter. He survived, but their bodies remained in the basement of his house. He moved in with me…partly out of my own pity for his inability to fully accept what happened, but mostly because he wouldn’t go back to that house even if I forced him to.
He lived with me for two months. We loved. We argued. We laughed. He remained an asshole and I realized I didn’t want to stay in that stupid house until we both died. He did, apparently and that’s when we separated.
I left. He stayed. I don’t know if he died or ended up killing himself from the loneliness…my bet is on the latter. I had some supplies, but should’ve known it would never have been enough to survive on long. Luckily it was spring so really all I had to worry about was starvation…but not snow.
See? When I tried writing this the first time all of that took up nearly thirty pages. A waste of paper that I used for warmth giving fire. And I bet you’re wondering if I’m going to continue the story from that point. Well, I’m not. There won’t be a real story because this is my story and I’m going to tell it the way I want to. Why not?
There aren’t any rules anymore. At least, not the old rules from before. This will be written how I want it because there’s no one left to tell me I can’t write this way.
At the same time the only person who’s going to be reading this is me anyways. Everyone else is dead. So I’m going to write what I want to read. Maybe I’ll write something a little more uplifting some day (if I live that long), but for now here we are. Here I am.
Traveling on my own causes my brain to go into overdrive with thoughts. Regrets mostly, but then again I think about the uselessness of arguing in the old world. Arguments occur when two opposing ideas clash. In good arguments both sides see the merit of the other’s argument. But there’s never been good arguments outside of schools when children learned the art of arguing in their classrooms.
In the old world, arguing was simply a way to a) have people listen to your opinions and agree with you, b) have people listen to your argument and argue with you so you can make them look like fools (in your eyes), c) beat your argument into the heads of those who have no capacity to think for themselves, thus ensuring you have avid followers who listen and argue on your behalf, or d) simply to gain ratings as the person who constantly argues with people.
Stupid, right? But that’s how the old world was. In this new world, once the professional arguers died, arguments went one of two ways: a) you argued, you died, or b) you argued, you ruled.
Even more stupid, right?
But that’s where this new world actually sort of got it right. It got rid of the hours and days and weeks and months and years and decades of people arguing over the same things day in and day out and simply ended the argument the moment the stronger person enforced their dominance over the opposing arguer.
Arguments don’t last long in the new world.
I bet you think the human race banded together like in all of those post apocalyptic shows and books and whatever. It did for a time. The typical groups rose up. Those who enjoyed and embraced the chaos, those who wanted to find a way to save the world, and those who simply closed off from the outside to live in their already prepared escapes (the so-called preppers). Unlike those tv shows, movies, books the truth is everyone eventually turns into their own ideas of what the old world was. Even those who embraced the chaos slowly rejoined societies and cities kind of returned to normal.
There was no electricity after a while, but the few remaining who knew how to keep the large plants going kept some of the major cities electrified. Outside of the cities people managed to survive well enough. The only truth that continued to haunt the world was it.
It was a disease…and here’s where I’m going to skip around again because otherwise it’s going to sound like everything else you’ve ever heard. An incurable, unstoppable disease killed the world. The only reason it remained incurable and unstoppable was simply because everyone started pointing fingers at everyone else as to who released the disease on to the world.
Truth is, in my opinion, the disease had always been around it just needed the proper trigger to erupt all across the globe. In some places it spread faster than others, like any plague, but by the time the world realized the only way to stop it was to unite, it was too late. Half the world population was gone and still in a sharp decline. That was the day my brother died.
Ultimately, it was never the disease that killed the world, it was man unwilling to unite and now we die out as a great man once said: This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.
T.S. Eliot. The only bit of poetry that stuck with me from all of my schooling. It oddly spoke to me…Maybe you’d see it as fate, but I simply see it as that was the only way it could’ve ended. The explosive endings portrayed in disaster movies never scared me. It was always the ones where it took a long time to kill us. Now I know why. Because the true fear isn’t knowing that you will die from it, it’s the not knowing how long it will sit waiting for you to accept you might survive and then dropping you dead.
That’s why I have no optimism. That’s why I come off cold to any I happen to cross paths with as I wander from place to place simply because I choose not to sit and wait for it to kill me. If it’s going to kill me I want to be moving. But maybe that’s also why I’ve lived this long. Maybe it’s stagnation that breeds the strength it needs to finally do the deed.
I know that’s not true, but it sounds good doesn’t it?
I’ve pissed off a lot of people with the way I talk about things. They get angry at me for being a pessimist and condescending to those who still believe humanity will survive this.
But isn’t it good for me to keep them angry? It gives them a reason to live. They want to prove me wrong…of course they’ve all died, but they died still believing I was wrong. Isn’t it ironic?
In most movies and TV shows and books the pessimistic asshole either dies or has an epiphany where they see they were wrong. I’ve done neither. I came close once…very close.
It was during one of my stationary periods. There were a few.
One of the few cities built from nothing and surviving better than the rest. They’d built a wall around them, a strong wall of cinderblocks they’d spent years making. The city inside was beautiful. The people weren’t blinded by their wall from the dangers outside and they weren’t blinded from the inescapable death inside.
My crossing paths with them were purely an accident. I saw the walls and knew to stay away, but the one watching the door that day begged me to stay. I usually turned away from any who wished me to stay, but something about the man convinced me.
There are still days when I believe the city was purely a dream. Something my mind conjured up in a moment of madness. There were many months like that. An entire year once after I lost…but I’m losing track.
The people of the city told me I could stay or leave whenever I chose. Food was oddly plentiful and there were enough rooms at a small inn for me to stay without any form of payment.
The leader of the city welcomed me and explained that if I chose to stay longer than two days I would need to work; help with the food, assist teaching the children, clean the city, and any number of other options.
I told him I had no intention to stay even one night, but he insisted I should.
* * *
I guess I should mention the ever present and eventual reality that many people also focused on in the new world. The immune. There were many who believed there were those immune from it and many people chose to spend a lot of time breeding in order to give birth to children who would prove to be immune. Then there were the strange rumors that constantly spread of those believed to be immune. Even in a world of lessened technology, news and gossip managed to spread quickly. Now to continue:
* * *
I was believed to be immune. I heard it, or rather overhead it when a woman forced her way to speak over me to the leader and demanded I be given something or another to encourage me to stay. I can only assume this woman intended for me to be used as a breeding sow in order to replace a lost child she suffered.
The leader did confess stories of a lone woman traveling the country with my description had been the main reason the man at the gate begged me to enter the otherwise impenetrable city.
Let’s jump around a bit. I was forced to speak to the people of the city. The people believed it was to encourage them I was immune, but the leader told me to tell them what I truly believed. I did and many hated me for it. Some tried to convince me otherwise, hoping to cause me to see the light and realize the “truth”. When that didn’t work they left me alone and I returned to simply being a stranger in the city.
I did end up staying two days, but informed the leader I would be leaving the morning of the third day. I’d stayed too long and already felt the eyes of contempt on my back when I walked through the city. He agreed and offered to fill my supply bags as generosity was their city’s greatest gift.
Before turning in for the night, I went to stand at the door of the wall to stare out. I wanted to imagine what it would be like to live in the city and only have the small window in the doorway to see the outside world. The man who opened the door for me was still there. I asked why the city needed a guard at the door. He told me the truth.
He wasn’t a guard. He was a prisoner. A prisoner to the outside. He feared it more than he feared the disease still threatening to extinct our race. Perhaps I almost had my epiphany there. But the truth is my near epiphany moment came that night. I woke to a man attempting to force himself on me. I say attempting because once I tried to stop him, he did. He stood and held a gun to my head. He asked me:
“Are you afraid of death?”
I told him yes.
“Do you deserve life?”
I told him no.
He removed the gun from my head and simply said, “The wall is broken.” Then walked out the door, shutting it behind him.
Now I say this moment almost caused me to have an epiphany and become an optimist instead of the pessimist I am, but only because that was the moment I realized I was ready for death and truthfully I wanted it. I wanted the disease to take me as it did my entire family.
The reason it didn’t change me? Because I was still alive. The wall had indeed been broken. Men who’d been scouting the city for weeks finally made a move to get the food they knew was inside. What they hadn’t realized, and neither had I, was that though the city seemed, on the surface, peaceful everyone understood the truth of those outside the walls. Guns were fired all through the night. I found the leader and he showed me a way out away from the main fighting.
I never went back to that city. I know they survived longer, but as with everyone else in the new world. They will die if they haven’t already.