I move around them and live among them, and they have no idea who I am. Their words terrify me, what they do horrifies me, and yet here I am and I intend to continue to do my work. I know that if I just let them continue to imagine they know everything, they will be content, and give their thoughts over to, oh, I don’t know, what to buy tomorrow or what game is coming up next. “Hail victory!” I secretly laugh, and proceed with my hidden progress.
The distant war is always growing closer, the war continues. The war festers like a hurricane. We hear the thunder almost constantly, rolling off of the mountains. Nobody talks much about the war but I can see it. When there is talk, what remains is confined to the game results and the messages about better living just ahead, with righteous victory. The sound and the fire signs signaling in the distance are what troubles me. I know better than to discuss this with anyone. I just keep to my business. The average person I see every day has other things on their mind. The game is theirs.
They look at me and they have no idea of what they are seeing, I do not intend to tell them what makes me different and how physically close they are to something they do not understand. I know the things that they want to hear and that makes them satisfied, they ask trivial little questions that tell me where they are going. When they imagine they are complete, they stop looking.
Today is sunny and cold, the homeless are freezing. I see them, the others walk around them, never talk about them, and certainly never talk with them. This is another disconnection I see that is hidden. I would give the homeless everything I have to help make them whole, but then I would be spent and I would have nothing. And yet after my sacrifice there would be still another homeless needy person, and another, and another after that, and they would be angry that I gave to others and then had no more and stopped just when it came to them. I can secretly try to help one person, I cannot feed them all.
Sometimes there are questions. It is their custom to stay within the rules of the latest news highlights, so if I can manage to answer along those lines, then they smile and proceed with the usual. I am allowed to proceed with my work because they do not care what it is unless it conflicts with something of theirs. My goals are reasonable and my time is plausible. I made a list and have gotten most of the things collected, now all I need to do is put these things together.
One of my goals is to collect enough information about their assembly times and locations, so as to create a schedule. Another goal is to find out where they keep the cheese. My main goal is to be ready for when the moment arrives, when the time comes. I will be prepared when the time comes.
You get that one piece to fit in the puzzle, and maybe things all take shape, maybe the pattern emerges and new clues come along. Now I seem to have the upper hand. I can wait. I can do this. I just need to keep my poker face on, and mind my tells. Or think of some fake tells I can broadcast without being obvious. Distraction is a good cover.
There are daily minutes, minute details that can be seen in a certain light. There are the bigger issues, when, why and who and how that makes a difference. Each life is like a miniature map to the cosmic design. If I want to see things differently, I can do so in my own logic. I see how the rules are stacked, and I know how to work around them. The hard part is always being alone with my goals and realizations.
Time is a framework. Time is the oldest perspective. Time is how I find my way. Sometimes I have to take drastic measures to make things flow. They always continue to flow, but there are surprises, and I know to watch for them and to fit them into the framework.
Everyone is busy with their own drama, winning the game and rising ahead of their personal competition. The war is a game to them, they rally and thunder, to reply to the sounds from the distant battles. If it is not the weather, they comfort in knowing that it is a celebration of independence, fireworks to say that the distant forces are happy. This is the sound of victory for everyone.
Down below my home I have prepared a secret room that I have stocked with preserved food and dried things that will store well. There is a water filtration system. There is a ventilation system hidden in the wall above my bunker. Nobody knows about this because I carefully started preparing last year, when I had the dream.
My wife always suspected I was betraying her. We had a good marriage for many years, very happy. When she departed she took all that happiness with her. My friends always told me I would feel better if I told her everything and kept no secrets. She never knew for sure. I told her many things. Now I would tell her all my secrets if that would bring her back. Being alone is the first and most basic terror in my life, today.
The second most basic terror is being trapped with no hope. Maybe I should not make a list of these things. I like to make lists, but terror is not a good subject to explore in all its infinite varieties. How about if I make a list of joys!
New things to buy and more of my favorite things. My favorite food, my favorite stories. Messages from strangers who appear to trust me and support my position. Causing relief in someone who is troubled. Opening doors and preparing comforts for the depleted to have at the end of their lives.
What happens at the end?
One of the missiles has struck the town nearby. As usual, we are sending our fire brigade to help sort out the rubble and to pull the survivors from the dead. They cling so helplessly. Why is this happening? What does the secret meaning hidden in the sports reports have to do with our lives now? Sports is something we have to talk about, there are rules against talking about some other things, I won’t make that forbidden list.
When everyone obeys the rules, does that make for a stronger world? What rules are necessary and what rules serve another purpose? A marriage is an agreement between two people, there is trust and surrender, there is comfort and giving comfort. There is more.
I am like my father. I do not trust my mother. I am like my mother but my father killed her. I am like my father, but I betrayed him so many times in the end. My mother gave me hope, but there was another story that she never talked about. My father gave me discipline and told me about his father and how he tormented his own father.
The word is that the enemy army has stopped its approach to our town and has started pulling back. What do we know but what we see? I have never seen the enemy army. I hear about various combinations of two sports teams, and how they continually struggle over the years, sometimes one remains, sometimes the other. Now I wonder where to go next, if we have to go. I have such an excellent secret room, filled with supplies to last for a long time. What is forever? I can make more clean water using my filter but there is only enough food for myself for one year, that is what I calculate. I eat about that much. I intend for that food to keep me alive, me alone.
My wife was good to me, and I did not deserve it. She kept me warm and told me good things, things which kept me going. I knew I should be better, to treat her with the same respect and to keep her safe. That is not how it ended for her.
I wish she would return. I leave my messages in the same places so she can find them.
There was a crowd yesterday, they all wanted to punish the betrayers. I did not know any of them, but I survived by pretending to go along. I know how to do that. What is happening? Where are the old friends I knew?
The crowd started in the parking lot, and headed to the city square, next to the jail. It is the biggest building in our town, because we serve the entire area, several other towns send their prisoners to our jail and we go along. It is a good source of jobs for our community. The crowd seemed to have a purpose but once the glass broke, things changed. Now we who remain here are cleaning up, it is the same as the time the village nearby got bombed by the lost soldiers. Lots of broken goods to take away, lots of destruction to replace, now everyone is pulling together to clean up the mess. We have a good feeling in our town.
My wife never did know about everything, but that is how it all happened. We had our agreement, and I kept my part of the bargain. I never knew all of her friends, especially from the village where she came from. I did meet her family there, not just during the wedding. It was a happy time. They were good to her, I had much to learn, and I really intended to keep my word. Things happened differently after that, I don’t know.
Our city center was built where the old church once was, that is what they always told us. The school where I went had a special room where they had a model of our village, and pictures of the old church, from before we came and built our new places. I remember how they used to struggle to tell us something good about the old church, and then there were stories we sometimes heard at night, only at night, which were terrifying. They told us that the jail is built on top of an old graveyard. I do not believe that, why would they do that? There are stranger things talked about, but not at the school. In the school all the talk is about the future and how we are helping to build an even better place. Sometimes I do not want to go home again.
Every year there are ceremonies in the parking lot, we gather and sing the old songs, there is a feast and all the kids are allowed to run around, playing their special day games. The rest of the time there is quiet and nobody gathers like that. I believe that we would have a better village if we did not march. The kids like to have a parade, what if we could do this every day?
I don’t know who is lying, once I thought that I used to be able to tell. You look for the tell, which means something different each time, perhaps it is in their eyes, but if you learn to hear between their words, it all makes the difference. The eyes tell, but the silence tells more. In school, in my favorite class, the drama class, we learn how to display our eyes to make the story work. I watch the hands, if they are nervous, that is also what tells the story, the story behind the words that are spoken. I used to rely mostly on my feelings, if there is something wrong you know that the words do not matter.
I hate the games. I never did well. I choose to do other things on game day. I pretend to go along, but that is just for the kick-off, after that everyone is watching the field, so I can quietly go alone and take the other path and go about my business. All the talk is about the game, so many details and statistics and all that math. Did you know that 89% of all facts are made up on the spot? Probably more. I don’t care.
When I go to the new graveyard, to visit the old ones, I always bring my good thoughts. There are already flowers there, I always find new graves as I walk towards my place. My people are beyond the second hill, I love that place. It is so peaceful there. You can hear the war in the distance, but if you say, “that is just a thunderstorm,” and it all seems better. The sirens always hurt my ears, but I am used to that. It has always been that way.
My wife used to tell me that I was good, and that made me feel better. I should have told her the same thing, now I know this. I have a special place set up in my bunker where I keep her pictures. They are the things I want to keep. They are all I have now. She left her village to be with me, and I would always leave her alone, so she had her own ways of passing the time without me. Now I am finding out more, or just trying to make sense of it all. I want it to be like it was.
When they told my father he had a mental disease, instead of making him sad it seemed to be a relief, he said it was a comfort to know why he was feeling like something was wrong and now he has an explanation. It was not his lonely secret any more, and he was ready to move on. I wonder how it worked out, he has been gone to the other village since before my wife left. I wish I could go there, like I go to the cemetery.
My troubles began when I impulsively said, maybe I was joking, maybe it was like they said, that I was led by the devil, or whatnot. I said that our ancestors had come to a fair and virginal land, which we claimed for our own and proceeded to displace and murder the inhabitants that were previously living there, and then brought other men, by force, to dig up the riches of the land, both mineral and vegetable, and to claim this as our righteous provenance. To transform this wise and infinite wonder of land into a ruined waste that we came to leave for our children to struggle and starve on. That idea, spoken in jest, is what brought me down so long ago now.
I was captured and tormented and given what they said was a “fair trial” and placed in the stockade for an undesignated amount of time, so as to preserve the wider population from the polluting and dangerous effects of my joking message, my devil’s path to damnation. It was during this time that I lost my wife, I have no idea what really became of her. Eventually new management at the stockade found no record of my crime, and I was not about to explain it to them. I claimed to be another victim of circumstance and was eventually released and found my way back to where I started from. My wife and friends and all I knew were all scattered, only some of the buildings remained, none of them in good repair.
So here I am, living among people who have a different story about how they got here and where they are going. I must keep my secret and survive, it is my instinct. I have no need to set these unfortunate dupes back on the correct path, they are making their own way and must answer to their own destiny.
Freedom is a tricky thing, the truth is simple. When telling the story it is easier to rely on the facts rather than to invent a pattern that holds up to others’ doubts. The truth is easier to recall than any new design.
Looking back now, all these years later, I see that I had strongly misinterpreted what was to unfold in my future. Reading these notes now gives me a stronger perspective about my taking steps to create my secret bunker without knowing anything about what would actually transpire. I do not know what I was thinking when I started, but it all seemed to be so urgent. I suspected frequently that this was my madness, that I was wandering alone in my own wilderness. My shelter turned out to be so much more essential to our survival than I had ever imagined.
I was told upon my release from prison that my wife was no longer, that she had departed, which I interpreted as meaning that she had passed away and was no longer in this world. Imagine my surprise when she appeared one day! Our reunion was cautious but that has led to a stronger relationship than what we had before. Originally we lived close together but in two different worlds. I had a different set of facts that I feared to share with her. Now it all seems so simple, and I am glad we have endured through those terrible times. We came together and built again.
She appeared to me shortly before what turned out to be the end of the world, we had barely made contact when the disaster, whatever caused it, happened. My preparation was timely and that was what pulled us through those times of darkness. It turned out that the food supply I had gathered got both of us through the worst years, because we were able to venture out and find sustenance after all that had passed. By the time we returned to the surface of what was left of the earth, the vegetation had flourished and there was an abundance of fresh greens and nourishing vegetable pods, which through experimentation we eventually figured out which were healthful to eat and which need to be avoided.
I learned from her that when I first went to prison she was encouraged to assume that I had deserted her, or betrayed everyone, for no reason. Later she found out or pieced together that my fidelity was not the issue, and that I had been taken because of that one flippant joke I made, at the worst possible time, in front of the worst possible authorities. I would call it an accident as well as misfortune, but it turned out to demonstrate how varieties of the truth can be considered dangerous. I had no strong convictions I wished to demonstrate or causes to spread, I just casually made a bad joke. Silly me.
We lived in the bunker without venturing out for over a year, the world was an empty and frightening place. There were dying creatures that would have taken us brutally. We hid successfully, as they went through their frantic motions of desperation and starvation. It took a long time for them to die, but they did, and we inherited the world one more time.
We learned to live together in those extreme circumstances, and to find ways to improve our strength and resolve. Our children have grown up in this new world, having never known anything about the circumstances we came up through. We have made efforts to tell them about what we know, in order to explain our habits and convictions, our assumptions about the meaning of life. Things we needed to know before the deluge or firestorm, whatever happened, which wiped away so much life and so many assumptions.
One thing that has not changed is the distrust that the emerging young adult finds when they come to that transition, from what we hoped and intended for them, and what they have learned to survive in their world. The things that we thought we knew they questioned and always preferred to find their own answers. Everything we had before was lost and the world has moved on, they are able to see things we do not, because what we knew is no longer present.
How can I tell them about the way the history of our town was taught? How the facts that troubled the authorities became crimes, and that we could find a way to survive when everyone around us called the future something very different from what we knew about the past. How we learned to live in secret and to survive trusting our intuition and what we could see, even though all around us were against this. Our people had lost their way and would cling to a story in which they were triumphant.
The grandchildren once found some old papers and had many questions, this at first alarmed their parents, but to me the whole point was that knowing the truth was more important than the convenience of comfortable stories, especially about the past and how we got to where we are now. Omissions are as deceptive as outright fabrications. We had a world, it was flawed, it was lost, and now we have a new world ahead of us.
I write now from quite a distance, in the comfort of my firelight, on a cold night, looking back many years after all these events. This perspective allows me to consider various aspects that I had no perception of at the time, during these events. I am glad to be safe and surrounded by familiar faces. Things have not always been this secure.
When I was taken into confinement, I was furious and full of youthful rebellious spirit. I resisted their efforts to subdue my unfortunate attitude that was manifested in my singular accidental “joke” but they had me quick and fast. The first part of my adventure in that custody was the most difficult, it was all difficult and unnecessary, but it is over now, except in my dreams sometimes. They returned to question me again and again about the attitude I displayed, contrary to the “Will of The People.” My notions of history were a sign of incorrectness and they had no choice but to help me see the errors of my thinking. I fought back valiantly at first, then as the years went by I realized that there would be no “trial” and I would only survive this endless interrogative molestation if I successfully pretended to accept their truth. So I did. The subsequent years went slowly, but I was kept in the general population, with plenty of drama and distraction, and more importantly, I was no longer subjected to these difficult probes into my will to resist. The greatest pain was their revisiting the doom of my spouse. That story got the best results as far as they could tell, so they hit and twisted that sharp point into my mind’s body again and again. They piled it on. She has abandoned me, she has ridiculed me, she has rejoiced at my expense, all forms of lies and hurtful scenarios were repeated again and again. I gave in, so that I could survive.
The part about the history that formed the basis of my original sin, my joke for that one fleeting and most unfortunate moment, that one thing that brought me into this system of punishment and separation from the greater world, that was soon abandoned, and the focus was on my surrender to accepting my error of resisting them, resisting the help that they were providing to me. Help in getting me to see their truth.
When the grandchildren died there was a great plague going on. The few survivors from the first devastation, the Doomsday event when the city fell and the electricity stopped, and the world died, we who hid in the ashes and survived, and thought we could build a new world. Immediately after the disaster the outside world was filled with beings who were desperate, strong from having survived the destruction, and were evil, obsessed with finding things to eat and to take revenge on the other living things. They eventually died, and we could emerge and build again. I told you about my children and raising them in this new place. We had a good life. When my children went on to make their own lives and procreated, giving us all the joyful gifts of their children, we had converted the future from devastation into a utopia, and it all was in our grasp. Then came the plague. Now I am left with my grown angry children, damaged by the loss of their greatest joy and hope for the future, and full of pain after this devastating event.
How can I tell them there is a reason to live? What can I show them of my life that would cause them to return to the tasks of building another new world again?
Enough about that. This is the testament of my destiny. My Destamonial. Freedom is accepting the moment of Now, and not being locked in the ifs and whens, eluding the confinement of my unfortunate past and the possible dangerous futures ahead. I did manage to find that way out of my prison. I did survive the end of the world. I have seen my children die. Here I am. The moon looks so nice now that my roof is gone.