Monday, June 6, 2011

Humanity - Part 6

 Here is the final part of the story:

In the wake of hundreds of accounts of birds dropping dead all over the world during 2010, the US government admitted to a little known operation called Bye Bye Blackbird begun in the 1960’s.  This was a secret government project created to control bird population.  It’s purpose was to ease the strain of crop management for farmers.  Pesticides were introduced that killed off birds throughout the United States.  The human population was rapidly increasing and conspiracy theorists speculated that other major world powers had begun similar projects to aid farmers.  While unverifiable, this has the ring of some truth to it.  The originators of these projects never foresaw these ramifications.  Humanity has a clever way of fooling itself.  Somewhere along the way we lost our respect for nature and used her simply as a means to an end.
    The source of the worst famine the world had ever known was two fold.  The birds protected the crops from certain species of bugs.  Left unchecked, the bugs flourished and decimated crops.  Coupled with the well documented decline in bee population, the crops had no way of propagating themselves.  Most crops required the pollen of the bees to grow seeds.  By 2012 the crops of the world were vanishing.  No one expected the decline to happen so quickly, but changing weather patterns and extreme temperatures aided it.
    Agriculturists, farmers, and scientists were scrambling for a solution when they were blindsided by the world’s next great catalyst.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was a huge collection of garbage right in the middle of the currents of the Pacific Ocean.  Attempts had been made to measure its density.  They were unsuccessful.  The majority of trash lay just under the surface of the water rendering satellite imagery ineffective.  In 2012 the garbage patch, estimated to be larger than land mass of the United States, reached critical mass.  Some speculated that in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the coast of Japan in 2011 tons of garbage was sent barreling into the patch with the receding ocean water.  Whatever the final cause, the currents that had kept the refuse became the very same currents that now distributed the garbage the world over.  Fishing nets pulled more trash then fish.  Dead fish began washing up on the coasts of all nations.  Their natural habitats now infested with humanity’s waste, the fish had two options, die out or recede to the depths of the oceans.  The world’s fishing trade was demolished.  Boats hung onto docks and piers were abandoned everywhere.  Famine increased and western civilization began to resemble the starving in third world countries.  Just a few years prior, western television commercials had used those starving to manipulate an affluent society to compassion.  A more egregious use of suffering could hardly be found in our histories.
    In 1997 a mysterious noise was recorded in the South Pacific, off the western tip of South America.  The noise was recorded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  It sounded somewhat like an air bubble slowly bursting at the surface of water, sounding for nearly a minute.  This was referred to as the “Bloop”, it’s moniker reflecting the noise it resembled.  The NOAA had no idea what had caused the noise, no one really did.  The sound was heard by underwater recording equipment as far as 5,000 klicks away.  Other noises were recorded such as the Julia, the Train, and the Slow Down but the Bloop was the most well documented and researched.  As it turns out, the Bloop was the sound of an enormous air bubble coming from under the crust of the earth.
    The second Bloop occurred in 2013, just as the world greatest minds were working on solutions to the famine and not succeeding.  This bloop registered on recording equipment as far as 10,000 klicks away.  Some near the ocean had even claimed to hear it.  The immediate effects of this were disastrous.  The oil had vanished.  The leading theory was that pockets of air had been trapped beneath layers of oil since the time the Earth was formed.  Oil was like glue that filled cracks in the earth’s crust.  The air trapped beneath pressurized the oil, keeping it near the surface.  Over time, oil pumps weakened this layer of protection and when the second significant pocket of air escaped in 2013 the vast majority of oil wells dried up.  The oil had sunk deep into the core of the earth.  No amount of digging would restore access to it.
    Humanity can be quick to lay blame when it feels vulnerable and many cried out that the BP oil disaster off the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 had caused this.  People were dying from starvation, populations were revolting, governments had no answers, and many religions claimed the end times had come.  Mobs raided the BP executives homes and a scared, ravaged, angry people executed the executives and their families on their doorsteps.  The local police and army tried to intervene but were severely underfunded and undermanned to intervene with such a large, out of control mob. 
    The details get hazy here and reports are scattered at best.  Dictators arose and took power as in ancient times.  Tensions were high among these power hungry warlords and they took to arms against each other.  It was a fight for power over a dying planet, innocent people the world over suffered for it.  It was only a matter of time before some of these warlords got their hands on nuclear weapons.  Dictators in the Middle East struck first, their bids for power had been an ongoing way of life for centuries.  The first nuclear bombs ravaged Moscow, London, New York City, Washington, Sidney, Hong Kong and Mexico City.  Civilization had no answer for the depravity humanity can sink to.  Humans have always been adept at finding ways of killing one another.
    The last vestiges of government that existed in the U.S. made a decision that made Hiroshima look tame.  They released a killer virus on humanity in the hopes of preserving it.  The world was days from being torn asunder by massive nuclear crisis.  This impending nuclear holocaust was the catalyst for the releasing of the nano-virus that would wipe out 99% of the world’s population.  On December 15, 2015 humanity’s swan song began.

*    *    *

In the end, I arrived at my house.  There was not much there.  I never found my family, I never really expected to.  I stayed at the house for a few days, but it was no longer home to me.  Home is born on the ideals of safety and family, both of which were lost to me.  It was then, on the west coast of the former United States of America, that my life really began.  I traveled up through Oregon and Washington, stopping at now deserted towns to scavenge for supplies.  It was a couple of months before I met any survivors.  Just south of Seattle a group of people had found each other.  There were 42 of them.  I stayed with them for 6 months, we spoke of love, loss and memory.      In my time with them I wrote this book.  People are tired of fighting and they are ready to embrace a new world.  It was humanity’s own nature that destroyed itself, but it’s in that very same nature that we find our ability to love.  Love and hate can be difficult to define, but they are summed up in this statement: Love looks toward others, hate looks only to self. 
    It has been five years since I left that first group and I have encountered three more.  I stayed with each for a time, telling them of love and humanity and our purpose here.  I gave them a copy of this book, to remember.  Others have begun sounding our message.  They are going to the north, south, east and west to spread the message of love.  Together we are rebuilding humanity.  Together is what we were always meant to be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Humanity - Part 5

Part 5

I found the first dead bodies the next morning.  Death has always been surreal to me, its presence accompanying life as a final companion.  Man spends his days trying to avoid death, hardly stopping to consciously think he is avoiding it.  Though the religious man contemplates it, death is merely seen as a gateway to life.  Death, in all its finality, is a thing to be avoided, but its end is one of few absolutes in human existence.
    My hosts had not been so fortunate to avoid death and I found them in it’s final grasp.  One was laying in a bed I was thankful I had not slept in, the other in a chair opposite.  Some time had allowed decomposition to set in, significant enough that any lingering scent had all but gone.  I guessed they had been here for more than a year, but I was no expert on the matter.
    They seemed to have died peacefully, both in calm repose.  This was not a scene of horror, although a body marked by death hardly culls up feelings of peace.  It was obvious that these two had chosen to die here.
    They were man and woman, I guessed husband and wife, perhaps done in by some sickness.  I looked in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom hoping for some revelation of their fate.  I found none. The two had simply died here.
    I felt slightly morbid for having stayed in their house.  I had impinged upon their burial ground.   I backed out of the room and made my way to the kitchen.   For a few moments I stood, unsure of what to do.  I opened a few cabinets and took what little nonperishable supplies were left, but couldn’t shake the feeling that what I was taking was not mine.
    I was overwhelmed with pity then, for the hopelessness in the way they had died, both resigned to their fate.  Looking over this foreign home, I couldn’t help but be burdened with a sense of their loss.  All I could think of was this couple happily enjoying their home, the couch, the art I had admired, and the  intimacy shared in the bedroom that had become their final resting place.  Family photos were scattered about the living room.  There were scenes of children and grandchildren, a legacy of joy.  I saw a happy couple before tragedy had befallen their world.  I felt human then, and that comforted me.  In that moment it mattered not wether any society or culture was left.  Humanity resided within me.  Who I was and the sympathy I now felt wasn’t determined by a culture, a city, a hero, or history.  I loved and I felt and I was human.  I took solace in that.  Humanity may have decayed and created this world, but I had not, I still felt, I still breathed, I still lived.  If the last vestiges of humanity resided within me, I resolved to do it justice.
    I approached the bedroom again and spoke out loud for the first time since coming from the cabin.  My voice surprised me.
    “I’m sorry for what happened to you,” I said.  “Thank you for your hospitality.  I’ll carry your memory with me.  You don’t have to worry, I’ll do humanity justice.”  That seemed fitting.  It wasn’t simply these two I was speaking too.   It was each family in this neighborhood, each surrounding city.  It was for the innocent that had suffered in all this.  Whatever had happened here, these were not the purveyors of this violence.  Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.  Behind these atrocities lies mankind’s desperate bid for power.  It always does.
    In the garage, I found a car.  The keys were still hanging on the key-rack.  I threw open the garage door, silently thanked the owners for the use of their car and left that neighborhood.  I was deep in contemplation and a half day’s drive from my home.
        The human being seems to understand himself in light of the people around him.  I had defined myself by the lack of others around me, but that predicated itself on the existence of others.  I didn’t understand that until now.  I had removed myself from society because I felt more comfortable by myself, but I now realized that I was only human in how I related to others.  I was human because I empathized, sympathized and honored.  While at the cabin I think I wrote to remain human.  I made myself believe I was an objective observer of humanity, but objectivity didn’t exist.  The more I strived to become objective the more subjective I became.  I couldn’t be objective because I was human.  All of what made me me was in my relation to other people.  No other being on earth had the power to define itself in that way.  I could not be objective about humanity because I myself was human, the subject.  I saw in a moment how Kierkegaard, Epicurus, Socrates, Lucretius and all philosophers were flawed.  They attempted objectivity in humanity but were always influenced by who they had become in relation to other humans.  Every hurt, wound, smile, and laugh that others had caused shaped them.  Their entire existence was subjective, just as mine was.
    Flawed characters are the most interesting because we can identify with flaws.  We see our flaws in how we relate to others, and in that way they define us.  When we see flaws in others we are immediately drawn to them because we are flawed ourselves.
    I drove, lost in thought, not paying much attention to the passing scenery.
    Epicurus had defined his philosophy on his own desires and passions, believing that the experience of those wants and needs were the reason for existence.  Maybe he saw in all men the potential for good, but all men don’t share in his equanimity.  Years of misunderstanding would turn his philosophy into the free-for-all, morally degraded society that ancient Rome became.  Kierkegaard based his view of faith on the dissolution of his engagement to the woman he loved, seeing in himself a tragic hero.  He believed life could only be understood in the absurd and illogical.  Men took his thoughts and ran with them, looking for some illogical experience to give them meaning.  Surely Kierkegaard, a man of deep, resolute faith never intended for this.
    Philosophers failed not in themselves, but in the men that followed them.  These followers took one man’s conclusions and applied them universally, rather than letting those conclusions inspire them to live their own life as they were made to live it.  Perhaps the greatest thinkers are those that reduced life to the simplest of anecdotes.  Is it possible they discovered that life could only be understood by living it?  The Proverbs of Solomon and the saying of Confucius give wisdom it’s simplest form in some of the most profound statement ever recorded.
    It was precisely then that I heard the voice.
    I looked around querulously, wondering what I was hearing.  It took a few moments to register that it was coming from the radio.  When it dawned on me I reached down and turned the volume up.  The voice then announced what I knew was the end of the world.
    “...55 PM, a nano-virus was released on the general public.  The virus spreads rapidly, stay indoors.  Repeat, do not go outside.  Contact with infected members will result in eventual death.  End message. This is an emergency broadcast.  At 6:55 PM a nano-virus...”
    The soothing, feminine voice repeated it’s message ad infinitum.  I had no way of knowing how long this harbinger had been sounding her gong.  Somewhere between the 5th or 6th repetition I shut the radio off.  I drove in silence for a while.  The soft voice that had conveyed humanities death stroke to me was an odd contradiction.  It was the first voice I had heard since returning to find the world the way it was, I hoped it was not the last.
    I drove in what was now a grave silence, unsure that the destination I longed to reach was even where I wanted to be.  The concept of home had felt safe in my thoughts but now that sanctity was challenged.
    When civilizations decay, the bubonic plague is born.  When humanity decays, man births his own killer plague.  Men are capable of great highs and ignoble lows.  It seemed as though when man’s grasp of technology became complete he created his own killer.  Man had preemptively cast his own stone.
    I wept for the innocent and felt little remorse for the guilty.  In the demise of humanity I had found mine.  I wept for my mother and my father, I wept for my friends, I wept for the losses of others.  And in that hopelessness, resolve was born.   At first merely a glimmer, and then it increased.  A steely resolve formed and took shape and multiplied.  Each tear, each loss served to fertilized the soil in my heart.  The more I lamented the loss of humanity, the more I decided that I must continue it.  I resolved for each Ghandi, each Jesus, and each Mother Teresa to find other people and speak of the nobler things.  To reinvent society.  Humanity at once was his own destroyer and his own purifier.  Where people existed I would spread this message: You are human because you love.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Humanity - Part 4

Part 4

    I spent the afternoon driving, alone with my thoughts.  I tried the radio a few times but had been unable to pick up anything but static.  There were few interludes in my driving and I spent much of it watching the ever descending gas gauge.  The sun had a way of reminding me that I was alive.  The way it trickled through the tree foliage wreaked havoc on my retinas.  Humanity may try to end itself at nearly every turn with hate and war but life continues unabated.
    Trees eventually gave way to rolling hills spotted on occasion with barns and farmhouses.  I don’t know why I never stopped to see if anyone resided in them.  Perhaps I was scared of what was becoming a growing certainty in my mind.  Other than the occasional bird soaring high overhead, I had seen no signs of life, no one to shake a fist at when they cut me off.  I stopped to check a couple of cars I came across on the side of this forlorn highway.  They were all abandoned and low on gas.  A few books, fashion magazines, a cell phone that wouldn’t turn on, and some change were all I found, it was nothing that would help me.  At one car the driver door had been left hanging ajar.  My heart jumped at what looked like a sign that someone had been here recently but quickly fell when I found the car had been that way for some time.  The battery was dead, dirt and a few leaves had been blown through the open door.  The scene suggested a panicked exit.  I gazed at the horizon for a moment wondering what had become of the car’s owner.  Eventually I resumed my trip.
    I thought of my book.  Was it pointless to write if no one was to read it?  The thought amused me for a while.  If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it still make a sound?  Likewise, if a man has a message and there is no one to hear it, is there still a message?  Writing seemed vanity without an audience.  Would I write to convince myself of something?  Maybe I always had.  Modern science can tell me that the tree will surely make a sound, but it can not answer the question of wether my voice will be heard or not.  I found myself humming the tune to “People are Strange” and chuckled at that.      What happens to man when civilization decays?  The answer to that question is easy, it has been shown time and time again throughout history.  Man reinvents himself.  He discovers new heights of morality, new technologies, he finds himself again.  Of course that takes time, and historically much bloodshed.  But man has proven capable.  But what happens when humanity itself decays?  Can it reinvent itself, or is there no life left and man must die as ignobly as countless scientists say that it began?  All these thoughts and more swirled in my head, some seemingly more trivial than others. 
    After a time the sun hung low on the horizon and the gas needle had followed suit.  I began looking for a place to stop for the night.  Of the three towns I had passed each was as empty as the next.  I thought of searching more cars and some homes, but was eager to finish my trip.
    In the last town, the sun had released it’s tenuous grip and the night had taken over.  I pulled into a neighborhood of homes, there were no lights to be found.  Streetlights that normally illuminated the night hung empty and lifeless.  Each house was as empty and pitch black as the one before it.  The headlights of the car I drove shone upon each driveway without favor.  I  chose a house arbitrarily.  I had no affinity for it.  They were tract homes, each resembling the last.  I can’t say why I chose the house I did, it just happened to be the one whose driveway I pulled into.
    The front door was unlocked and I let myself in quietly.  Still holding onto some form of civilization, I removed my shoes.  It felt good to stand after a day of traveling.  The home was modestly furnished, what you would expect from a middle class American family.  A few couches, a dining table, some modern pieces of art, two or three lamps, and a ceiling fan.
    The light from the moon cast half-seen shadows across the living areas.  The darkness served to hide most of what the owners had made this house to be.  But one thing was obvious, no one had lived here in a long while.  The air was musty, thick from the lack of circulation.  There were no signs of recent use in the kitchen or in the living room.  Nothing scattered about, no dishes waiting to be washed.  Not that the house was impeccable clean.  From what I could see in the darkness, the house simply looked unused.  In the first bedroom I came to my gracious absentee hosts had left a bed made for me.
    Exhaustion came then.  I undressed, rolled into the bed, then fell fast asleep.  And, unlike the previous night,  my sleep was untroubled.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Humanity - Part 3

Part 3

    I resolved to head to the center of the town, which I knew to be a brief walk.  I passed more buildings that, by all appearances, had not seen use in some time.  A few cars were scattered here and there, all had the unmistakable appearance of disuse.  Weeds had grown around the tires of each, windows and paint were discolored and dirtied. 
    The town center was marked by a park that was a popular spot for tourists and picnickers alike.  Today it was empty.  The usually trim grass was overgrown and the trees were surrounded by leaves that I guessed were normally cleaned on a weekly basis.  No one had visited this park in some time.  Each shop or restaurant was the same as the others I had encountered.  I puzzled and tried to put together a clear picture of what happened here, but lacking any information, all I could do was speculate.  Most doors were locked, which told me that people had time to lock them.  There were few cars surrounding the park telling me that people had driven somewhere, else there should be more vehicles.  Whatever it was that happened, people had some time to prepare.  Maybe a chemical outbreak? I thought.   But if it was a chemical outbreak surely the area would have been quarantined, or some sign of government clean up crews would be present?  There was no evidence of violence.  No guns, the buildings were dilapidated, but not decimated.  And most of all, there were no bodies. 
    I walked across a street to a gas station to check the news stand.  The door was locked, but some of the glass was broken making the lock accessible.  I unlocked the door and approached the news stand.    The nearest newspaper was dated, August 8, 2014, almost two years ago.  The headline article read "No More Oil?"  A cursory glance revealed that the article was about the growing oil crisis that scientists had yet to resolve.  It appeared that the world's oil reserve was quickly dwindling and the oil wells weren't producing any oil.  Kuwait, Iraq, Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico all reported a growing concern over the lack of oil production at their wells.  I looked outside and noticed the sign that detailed the gas prices read “$16.84” for the lowest grade of gas.  I stared at that for a moment, stunned.   Grabbing another paper I read the headline, "Mass Famine!  Farm Failures Across the World". 
    What happened in the nearly six years I had been gone?  An adequate question given my current situation, the answer to which I could not begin to fathom.  Something tragic had fell upon the world and had similarly affected this small town. 
    A breeze ruffled the edges of my coat bringing with it a sense of dread I was not accustomed to.  What of my family?  Although I was not close to them, I still cared a great deal for my mother and father.  Were they still alive?  My friends who struggled to respect my boundaries, what had befallen them?  This town and this emptiness had stirred feelings deep within me that had lain dormant for years.  I had convinced myself of my lack of need for companionship, but maybe that belief had been rooted in the possibility for companionship in the future.  Now, with the emptiness of this town trying to convince me that a similar fate had fallen upon the rest of the world, for the first time in a long time, I desired human contact.  I wanted someone to tell me it was alright. 
    The next breeze brought no answers. 
    I knew of but one antidote to despair and that was action.  I decided in those moments to travel up the coast to my home.  I would visit the houses of my friends and parents and see just what fate had befallen them. 
    I turned to the few cars lying about the central park.  The idea of taking one of these stirred feelings of guilt in me.  Could I bring myself to take one?  Was that akin to stealing?  They seemed abandoned, but what if they were not?  Would the owner come back to an empty parking space with only me to blame?  I could not shake these questions and thought to myself, “Damn my conscience.”  Even in the face of anarchy, I struggled with morality and consequence. 
    I can’t just take someone else’s property, I thought.   
    But there may be no law left, I told myself.
    Can I redefine those self-evident truths simply to fit my needs?  I may be American, but I am surely not Roman.
    In the end, I decided on what I thought to be the least expensive car, and somehow that justified my actions.
    The car happened to be unlocked and the keys were in the ignition, a stoke of luck I turned into hope.  I curtailed my growing sense of guilt out of necessity and turned on the car.  The engine of the two door sedan groggily shook to life and was purring gently within a minute.  I tossed my pack into the back seat, threw the car into reverse and headed home.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Humanity - Part 2

Here is the second part of my short story.

It was the sun that woke me up.  Half asleep, the light shining on my face momentarily confused me.  I opened my eyes and saw a hole in the ceiling that I had not noticed the night before.  A single pillar of sunlight paved it’s way through the hole to where it presently rested upon my face.  A solitary bird whstled outside. 
    When I had arrived at the hotel late the night before, the front desk had been deserted.  The lights were turned off but the doors hung ajar.  The parking lot was empty, not entirely uncommon for a hotel this far removed from any town.  I rang a bell marked service a number of times, but it appeared no one was present.  What the hell? I thought and walked around to the other side of the desk.  The board with all the door keys was behind the counter.  There were only a few still hanging, I grabbed one from peg 215.  Earlier that day I had reached the service road leading into town from the forest.  It had been a two and a half day hike from the cabin, a hike I had made many times.  There were no cars on the road, but that was normal for the area.  I had walked the rest of the way to the hotel, but hadn't arrived until late. 
    After taking the key, I made my way up the stairs to room 215, opened the door and flipped on the lights.  Only, the light did not come on.  I flipped the switch up and down a dozen or so times, not sure why I was doing so.  I would call room service in the morning and tell them of the problem, I told myself while too exhausted to do anything about it at the present.  I kicked off my shoes, removed my pants and fell into a restless sleep.
    I arose from the bed I was lying in, my head still cloudy from the restless night.  Half remembered dreams swam into memory, but nothing I could clearly recall.  I went to the bathroom and rinsed my face.  My beard had become a thick matte of hair from the years spent in the forest.  I resolved to shave the first chance I got.  I turned on the TV and was greeted by a dead screen.  When I picked up the phone there was no dial tone.
    I took a shower.  The water was cold, but I was used to that.  Sleepiness partly abated, I decided to visit the front desk to find out about the serious state of disrepair this hotel seemed to be in. 
    I made my way out into the crisp, morning air, my lone companion long since having taken flight.  The front desk was still deserted, I was puzzled by this.  I left a note with my home address, explaining that I had stayed for one night, and that the hotel could bill me, for which I would be happy to pay.  Satisfied with my good intentions, I left.
    The road I travelled on was deserted, which seemed an odd thing for this hour.  The sounds of birds and the wind rustling through the trees were my only company on the lonely walk.  I was used to loneliness.  The absence of company had become a companion itself.  As much as I looked forward to the friendly faces of civilization, I must admit, solitude had its comforts. 
    I had never married.  My only friends were a few I had kept in contact with since my days in  school.  Personally, I had never seen the point of marriage and measured myself as happier to be alone.  Maybe that's in part due to my parents divorce.  It had been a bitter time for me.  I had isolated myself.  I became content in that isolation and didn't long to end it any time soon.  My friends were accepting of me although they didn't see life from my perspective, and I never expected them too.  When I was around they were happy for my company and rarely bothered me for my choice of lifestyle.  I appreciated them for that.  The cabin had felt like my home for a long time now, and each foray into civilization was likened as a vacation to me.  Although, I did maintain a house and payed for someone to clean it once a week while I was gone. 
    Presently, I was nearing my destination.  A small train station on the outskirts of a town.  I tried to recall if I was missing some holiday, and that was an explanation of the lack of people, which was really beginning to perplex me.  Usually, there were cars and trucks passing me regularly by now.  The sun had risen high in the sky and begun it's graceful decent, marking the beginning of the early afternoon.  I was getting hungry, and as I had some provisions in my backpack, I ate modestly.
    I arrived at the train station to find a building in shambles.  I knew without entering that it was deserted. It had the distinct look of a building that had long gone unused.  The train station was never an impressive buliding to begin with, but in it's current state with broken windows and unhinged doors, it was even more forlorn than I remembered it.  The architect must have been a simple man, never bothering himself with extravagance in that which he built.
    Trash marked the walkways leading up to the building, bushes were unkempt, the last surviving windows were dirty and marred with scratches.  The entrance was comprised of two doors swinging opposite each other, both made of metal with bars cut through the middle as a means of swinging the doors open independently. The doors were chained together at the middle and one of the doors hung limply on one of it's hinges, propping itself up against the other.  I walked around to the side of the building and then to the tracks in the rear.  To the north and south the railway unwound it’s metal causeway.  I travelled this route before and was familiar with the contours of the land.  I peered in the distance for a few minutes, hoping that something would arrive, knowing with growing certainty that nothing would. 
    The platform was simple in nature, mimciking the building that it was attached to.  A few benches littered either side of the tracks and some now defunct computer monitors failed to display anything but the blackness of an empty screen.  This was a small town train station and, as such, it saw little use, but it appeared as if it had not been traversed in quite some time.  The normal janitorial routine would have served to clean up the mess that stretched from the platform down onto the track into the distance.  There was a ticket window along the back of this building that I recalled purchasing tickets from numerous times in the past.  The window was now smashed in and broken shards of glass littered the ground.  I peered into the once inhabited ticket office.  Papers were strewn about, chairs were upturned.  Some drawers lie limply open.  The office was an empty shell.  I stood still and listened for a moment, hoping to hear some vestiges of humanity, but heard none.  Work had ceased abruptly here, that much was obvious.  This forlorn platform was as devoid of human life as the lake I had been living by for the past 5 years.
    My curiosity had been displaced by an eery sense of wrongness.  Heretofore, the peace and stillness surrounding me had been a welcome, if not confusing, companion.  That very same stillness had now become the source of my unsettlement.  I recalled the few shops I passed before arriving at the train station, they had been eerily quiet.   No lights, closed doors and shuttered windows.  I jogged back to the nearest one, a local floral shop, and tried the door.  It was locked.  I knocked on the door to no avail.  I repeated this at two other buildings with similar results.  The town seemed deserted.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Humanity - Part 1

I have decided to post in increments a short story I have been working on.  It is about a man coming into a world he doesn't recognize. The story will consist of 5 or 6 posts in total.  I hope everyone enjoys it.


    The sunlight sparkled across the lake as the water tickled the sand on the shore.  Trees bent in the nearly silent breeze.  Stillness hovered over the lake and mingled with the forest, only interrupted by the occasional wind.  The air was crisp but warm as only the sun can accomplish on a cold day.  Each small wave would bring another, hesitantly beckoning the sand.  The surface of the lake often appeared to be littered with a thousand pearls so luminescent it felt as if you could reach out and close your hand on a small fortune.  The interplay of the sun, wind, and water created this effect, an ever-moving sea of riches.  It was majestic, it was quiet, and it was serene.  Local wildlife respected this serenity.  Peace bled into the atmosphere and quieted birds and baying animals alike.  This is where I spent my days.
    The small cabin I was staying in couldn't afford me much in the way of luxuries.  A simple cot, a wood burning stove, some pots and pans, a few other dishes, a table and chair and a window over the cot i slept on rounded out the amenities I lived with.  I cherished it all.  My walks to the lake each morning afforded me time to think.
    And think I did.  I contemplated philosophy and science, nature and religion, all subjects were fair game.  I thought about how a single tree was but a tree, and a forest was a thousand single trees, much like an atom is but a single atom, but our bodies are millions of atoms.  Did you ever notice how many parallels there are in nature that reflect our make-up?  Take for instance how the wind influences the waves like our thoughts influence our emotions.  Or that the  forest floor, littered with sunlight and shadow, is much the same as our soul littered with light and dark.  I mused on the uncanny ability of sunlight to expose the forest floor and the shadows nack of hiding it.  I came to grips with myself then, feeling as though the stillness in my surroundings was reflected in my soul.
    This wasn't a short process by any means and I apologize if I have made it seem as such.  I spent a significant amount of time at that cabin and equally as much at that lake.  The birds and the deer became my best friends.  I confided in them and I imagined they did likewise.  In a way, they did, offering me the privity of their daily routine.  I understood If they couldn't be bothered to actually speak to me, and, if God hadn't afforded them that ability, who was I to question that?
    My first book was born from those silent musings.  Murmurings I called it.  Half the time I wrote with the ravings of a madman, and the other other half I spoke sweetly, the gentle ramblings of an old sane man.  The first line went like this, "This book is like a stream, it meanders with little obstruction and rushes when things get rocky."  It made me a small fortune.  Nothing extravagant, but I was comfortable. 
    I came back to the lake and cabin often, rekindling my relationship with nature.  I was in the middle of writing my second book, in my fourth year at the lake when the world went dark.  "When the world went dark" was a euphemism for the collapse of civilization.  Of course, I didn't realize the world went dark because I was at the cabin, completely isolated.  I wrote as if nothing had happened, because to me nothing had.  Nature has a curious way of continuing despite humanity’s problems.  The birds still sung, the deer drank lazily and I floated along in my dinghy, writing, writing and writing.
     I've tried to piece together what happened from the little information I've picked up, but by no means do I have the whole picture.  In retrospect, there were signs humanity could have payed attention to all along.  There usually are.
    Near the end of my fifth year, I left the cabin, manuscript in hand.  I called it Seeing, He Could Not See.  It was the story of Edwin Cooke, a man born blind but with memories of a previous life.  He was a man with an identity crisis, struggling to be blind Edwin Cooke but remembering a vivid world.  I was confident in the tale and was happily looking forward to handing it over to my publisher.  It was 2016, and I had not seen a soul save my own in a long time.  Do you know how quickly the world changes?  I can tell you, because this is the world I came back to. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Post the first.

In recent years I have found myself writing more. 

In retrospect, I began writing to feed my ego.  That quickly faltered.  I soon realized how little I knew and my lack of skill.  I faced this mountain and began my long, arduous climb. 

I have in no way arrived.  In fact, I am sure that I am still near the base.  But, in my climbing, I traversed the plane of self-importance.  If I was writing for the purpose of my own self I would hardly survive one critique.  I have learned that, in the way of most things, trying to please others is a sure-fire recipe for failure.

Often, the thought of blogging has crossed my mind.  With those thoughts were others, “Of what would I write?”  “Fiction or non-fiction?” “Politics and religion or muse and mirth?”  In the end I decided just to start and work out the rest as I go along.

I welcome comments.  Comment one, comment all, I say (I know my wife will laugh at that).  I’m working through what I believe, who I am and what I like.  Your thoughts on my journey are invited and valued.  With that said, please be kind.

To be direct, you should find stories I have written, articles I hope to link to, quotes, candid thoughts on various subjects from religion, politics, abortion, creation, and humanity, as well as many others.  The tumultuous city is a reference to an ancient Sumerian tablet that read “the city, where the tumult of man is.”  We are each a city set on a hill, clear for all to see.  My city is often in tumult, a myriad of thoughts, expressions, beliefs and emotions.  If your city happens to be as well, then join me as I delve into my "tumultuous city".