There Is No Fixing This: Chapters 3 & 4
The End II
It is an odd thing, dismantling a body. Breaking it down into its constituent parts. In essence, there is no real difference between cleaning (a misnomer if ever there was one) an animal carcass and that of a human animal. Removal of teeth, skin, bone, all the same. The purpose is the same. To feed, to nourish whatever mouth may be mewling. The only thing that made it odd, other than having sorely inept tools for the work, was that it was once a person.
As the bodies began to amass with the passing of the older generations, bringing into light the ever-encroaching end, there was an odd moral mirror that was lifted to those of us who remained. As the world burned, sometimes quite literally, around us, we were caught in the clash of time.
For most of us, this was the only world we had known, remembrance of those first few years before the power failed and humanity collectively lost its mind was fleeting. What books remained filled in the gaps historically but could not be tasked with how to view the end. All that came before was built on the notion that there would not, could not be an end. Human progress and the unfailing spirit of survival.
Entropy all the same.
One my knees, in the dirt, surrounded by the soft light and the incessant singing of the benefactors of humanity’s demise, I do my work.
Humanity was never capable of true symbiosis with our environment. Before and even after what eventually came to pass, there were those who believed that the thousands of years spent raping and molding the flora and fauna of this planet to our will could be reversed. That somehow, someway, we could salvage what we had destroyed. This contains within it a hint of beauty. A hint of sadness and misplaced optimism. The same mentality that led us to create vaccines and vast machines of industry would not be so easily lost in the face of oblivion.
As with most things in history, from what I’ve read anyway, humanity touted itself as a progressive and innovative sort of animal. If we look at the remnants of the past, it’s easy to believe this. It’s the fairytale that allowed our direct destruction. But this is faulty logic. All progress was built on reactivity. Greed for wealth and power required the envelope to be pushed, at whatever the cost, to increase both. Reaction. Ingenious forms of “clean” energy came 70 years too late, far past the manmade expiration date for our existence. Reaction.
Nature itself reacts in similar ways. The difference being that nature knows when to stop, when to throw the evolutionary switch to off. Resource management and ecological impact considered by entities we deemed below us. The preceded us, and as I kneel in the dirt attempting to pry apart an elbow with a screwdriver, they will continue long after us. Not because of us and our limited and misguided existence, but despite us.
The process takes a few hours. Painstakingly reducing the body into its constituent pieces, removing the skin with a box knife whose razor has seen better days. Attempting, and failing, to keep as much of the blood off myself as possible. It wouldn’t matter soon, regardless, but I’d rather not spend my last few hours of life loathing the fact that my clothes are sticky and hardened.
I toss the finished pieces of carcass into the hole. I have never made a ritual of this. There were some who clung to their idols, placing the parts into some esoteric pattern or saying a few words. Accepting the end, but never truly relenting on the absolution of something more. Better to be done with it, I say. I didn’t start doing this out of a sense of service to myself, a god, or to please the off-putting fungi surrounding me. I did it because I chose to stay. Because when faced with the end, might as well have something else benefit.
Not that they asked for it. We ran out of room in our usual, decrepit sites of the dead. We had to venture further and further out of town out of necessity. The short stone wall had been built haphazardly to maintain the constant separation between those of us that stayed, and the dead. Reaction. It wasn’t until the ominous azure light and lilting singing had begun, likely after unprepared bodies had degraded to the point that the buggers could put their enzymes to work, and the initial fear and awe had passed did we begin to dismantle. To destroy. To reclaim. Reaction.
Before the End II
Moving. Always moving. Here and there. There to there. Unending.
Education, unimportant, but present. Books on books. Read and left. Books are heavy.
TVs shout fear, hope, bleak nothingness. Screams, gunshots, and cries become the global anthem. Theft, rape, desperation. The most “civilized” species dissolving. The bare threads caught, unraveling.
Mom and Dad try not to worry. Try to maintain the appearance of stoic protectors. The performance, unconvincing.
Born into strife, raised in strife. The years rolled by and the seasons changed. War ravaged all. Was there ever anything but? Did it ever resolve anything? Bullets and bombs. Murders and destruction. Our end came the same.
Repent! Repent and beg for mercy! They all proclaim. Death took them too.
Resilience and survival, at first necessary, now a hinderance. The game lost, but we’re sore losers.
How could this be? Where will we go? What will we do?
Nothing. As it always should have been. Nothing.
Fingers pointed as bayonets towards the other. We were all the other. Rip and tear and again. Again. Again.
Run, you’re scared and again. Again. Again.
Resolve to continue. In spite.
Fires consuming all. Buildings torn asunder. Bodies torn, laid as fall, becoming the pavement and the mortar. The paint and the sign. Scorched earth.
Faster it comes and again. Again. Again.
Bruised and tired. Always tired. Has it ever been any other way? Would it matter if it had?
TVs stopped. Talking stopped. People stopped. Cockroaches waiting out the apocalypse. And again. Again. Again.