(The New American Apocalypse
Table of Contents: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; Part Five; Part Six; Part Seven; Part Eight; Part Nine; Part Ten; Part Eleven; Part Twelve; Part Thirteen; Part Fourteen; Part Fifteen; Part Sixteen; Part Seventeen; Part Eighteen;
I wake up furious and by the end of the day I am too exhausted to do anything about it. I am beginning to think this is how the place is designed. It is easier just to wait and die than it is to fight. On the plus side: I have found drugs. If I corral enough of them, potent pills in particular, I might be able to draw something similar to courage out of them. I may need it.
Imagine me, courageous. What a change of pace that would be.
For now, though, I bide time. Wake up hateful and fiery, full of the passion that revolutions are sparked from, work until the passion is drained out of me, and return to my bunk to collapse in defeat and forfeiture.
It seems there are few here who have the inner spirit to rise to Mr. Baldwin’s level. I was surprised, at first, to see so few men and women in the spirit and soul of protest, so few angry faces screaming out for more. After my first weak I felt beaten, yes, certainly, but it has been this second week that has taught me the meaning of defeat: to give up. How easy it would be just to subsist, here, to let the banks wear me to my bones and brainwash me with the mindless TV images constantly berating my fellow workers, to let them pump me full of numbing, thoughtless bliss and let it carry me into a sleep as dark as the bottomless guts of the eldritch abominations who run the place. How easy it would be to sag my tired bones into the dimple of a couch and let the flickering re-runs stretch my time into oblivion…
But Mr. Baldwin is there to remind me. He and his small crew of secret rebels meeting in the quiet corners of this damnable place…they keep me awake and thinking. They remind me that I am not…that we are not cattle. We were not bred to work and slaughter. And, yes, the fight is grim, and we are not winning, but there is still a fight. To listen to him speak, even at a bare whisper, is to listen to the voice of revolution. Of suffering given hope.
He brings in news from the front. How it travels all the way here, I don’t ask. He wouldn’t tell me anyway and considering my weakness against fear and interrogation…it’s better if I don’t know. The news is as follows: it seems Mr. Swift and Mr. Conrad have joined a group in DC. They’re limited to guerrilla tactics and have thus far been unsuccessful in dismantling the abyssal hold the Dark Ones have over the Capitol. Ms. Bradbury and Mr. Ballard were last seen only days ago, alive, in retreat from a horde of rampaging zombies that have invaded the western coast of Queens. One of them snapped a photograph, uploaded to Instagram with the tags #nofilter, #undeadgentry, and #TheEndIsExtremelyFuckingNigh. It shows dozens of shuffling creatures flooding the streets, each wearing an off-the-rack suit and many holding bottles of craft beer, as they batter down apartment doors to claim their new residences.
I deflate at the news. My old apartment is likely reclaimed, now. I think of my roommates torn asunder, devoured by the zed onslaught, their bones bleaching in the New York sun. Or worse: perhaps they joined the Cannibal Class. Perhaps in the fight between the human spirit and the Great Darknesses, they elected to join the Great Darknesses…to exchange their threadbare lives for a wealth of status symbols and mindless servitude to gibbering, unknowable Gods. In either case, I doubt my keys will still work.
Making the blind and foolish assumption, of course, that I ever get out of the particular hell I’m living in, now.
I’ve accrued a solid collection of drugs. Enough to keep me unafraid of death and debt for a week or so, should I delve into heavy use. Which may be necessary, considering that my latest paycheck has come in with the ‘Owed’ line in big bold font, alerting me that not only have I failed to make a dent in my debt, but I’ve somehow grown it. An attached letter from the bank CEO (a form letter, naturally, and the copy likely written up by some zed assistant who was happy to take on the work in exchange for an extra sliver of gray matter offered him by his masters) — it accuses me of not working hard enough, of failing to produce the numbers required to make good on the gracious loan they’ve made to keep me out of prison, of being a leech on the body of their goodwill.
This letter, combined with the general sense of anguish aching in my bones, has driven me to meet with Mr. Baldwin in discussion of certain ideas I’ve been toying with, ideas that his own inspiring voice has planted in the previously fallow trenches of my brain.
He has a network of informants and messengers, of course, though I stay clear of the details — which means he is able not only to bring news in, but to get messages out. What he’s been using these means to do, thus far, is not on my mind. I assume he’s acted as an intermediary between groups, the middle man of a small, quiet rebellion… but there are other methods.
“You know what I’m talking about,” I whisper. We stand inches away from each other in an ‘Employee Lounge’ the approximate dimensions of a coffin.
“You would risk the lives of dozens of men and women.”
“But you know! You must know the sway such things can have!”
He looks over his shoulder–an unnecessary and paranoiac reaction considering the claustrophobic confines we meet in–and purses his lips. “You’re talking about making art.”
“It may be the only weapon we have left.”
“It will not work, alone.”
“You think I don’t know that? I’m not proposing a solution, here, dear sir, I am proposing a step.”
“A dangerous step.”
“The good ones always are.”
He considers this for some time, his serious eyes boring into me somehow even further than the Scanners’. What does he see? What does he see that the monsters do not? What does he see, at long last, that makes him nod? And when he nods, he says: “I thought you might have it in you. And you’d better not squander it.”Share This: