I talked yesterday about there being no reason to anything. And I don’t mean that in a fully nihilistic way. I know there’s still a need to live, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no greater purpose in life. I still stand by that. In the World That Was, people acted like things happened for a reason, that the bad would work out to be good. You don’t hear that cliché much anymore, and I’m fine with that because I always thought it was garbage. Bad things happen and anything good that comes out of it happens in spite of the bad, not because of it. I grow stronger because I am resilient, not because evil made me stronger.
If anything, the evil that exists has come close to breaking me over and over again. I don’t talk much about my past. I allude to it, probably way too much. I think it’s my way of flirting with bringing stuff out because I know, emotionally, it would help. But then I just stuff it back down. Try to keep the darkness out of sight. I know I’d tell people in therapy to open up, to release and process their emotions. I’d tell them that people are more understanding than we assume. But I know that’s not the case for me. I can’t forgive myself for the things I’ve had to do in the past, so I can’t imagine anyone else would. So I’m a hypocrite. But so is everyone on this planet. Anyone who says they’re not is a liar. And a hypocrite.
And so I hold everything in and think about the dead. Even if I don’t own up to my own actions, the least I can do is honor the dead and feel that their lives meant something. I remember this guy in Pittsburgh. This was, maybe, a month or two after The Fall. I had gone around looting and gathering supplies and doing other things necessary to my survival. I’d come back into town and found that a wall of dead cars and other jetsam had been built around a small housing project. Josh talked before about fortifying his neighborhood and how it was pretty doable because of how the neighborhood was built. Housing projects are even better. They’re compact, they hold a lot of people, and they’re usually isolated. Thanks to racism and classism in society, housing projects are usually in their own little cul-de-sac. People don’t want to be around them, so they’re easier to fortify. And that’s what people did to this little apartment complex.
Anyway, I was walking past and I saw that the walls were under siege by a freaking legion of the undead. This is right in the heart of Pittsburgh, by one of the hospitals that was used as a quarantine center when this plague left Cincinnati, so you can just imagine how big a mess things were. The undead were all swarming a single part of the wall. They all had their attention turned on this guy. Kid really. Couldn’t have been over eighteen.
This guy, I cannot remember his name. I don’t know why I can’t remember. Tay, I think it was. Yeah, I think he went by Tay. Tay was standing on the edge of the wall, ready to jump into the swarm. The zombies could see that, sense it, and they were going insane. They were trampling each other trying to get the first grab once he finally came into range. I just watched and something inside of me started to care what happened to this kid.
Up until that moment I had gone totally numb. Everyone was dead, everyone I cared about was gone. I no longer felt human, no longer cared if I lived or died. But watching Tay on that ledge, part of me came back. I climbed up a deserted portion of wall and started talking to this poor kid. I knew that I felt just as empty as he did, but for whatever reason I had a drive to keep living where he didn’t. So I talked to him. I reached back and pulled up the therapist in me, the human part that I thought died in the earliest days of The Fall. I talked this kid down off the wall.
His family was beside themselves with thanks. They took me in, insisted I make my home with them and the others that created this little settlement. Even now, I try to think about that, to think about Tay crying in relief with his family. I try to think about the good. Then the darkness of this world takes over and I think about the rest. I remember that a few weeks later, Tay tried again during the night and this time no one was there to stop him from jumping. I remember that less than a year after making my home there, everyone was dead. I remember the marauders rolling in, tearing down the walls. I remember the dead pouring in.
I try to think of the good. I try to focus on this beautiful life that exists in Haven. Focus on the fact that Humanity has endured and we’re rebuilding, that nothing can stand in our way. But no matter how hard I try lately, my mind turns to death. You can’t strive against death. Death always rolls up and takes us all. Everything decays. You can’t stop it. Yet I keep moving forward. I don’t know why, but I do. The thought of giving up is abhorrent to me. So I keep pushing forward, hoping that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Still, I know that, while there may be a light eventually, I’ll probably die before I ever see it. And if I ever do see the light, it’s just as likely to be an oncoming train. Because that is the world we live in. But I think I’m ok with that. For today.