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.

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