I’d recently jotted down the idea that we never knew when the third act of our lives began. Antler and I were taught and wanted badly to believe that Good ultimately triumphed over Evil. It was hard to ignore, though, that it was the time between evil’s inception and that triumph that the bad things were at their worst — as the saying went: it got a lot worse before it got any better. Was this the climax or the end? Who was to say we would even see the triumph? I heard that the end of the world had begun in Texas with a virus from out of space. Before the media had a chance to tell us what had really happened, people were vomiting and bleeding and dying. The thing had spread quicker than the news.
Finally, I was fertile with ideas and inspiration. It occurred to me that the real reason I’d been blocked before was from a lack of stimulation.
Now, at the end of times, I’d finally found a spark of inspiration. The irony was not lost on me. I had briefly considered that my lot in life was to record the experience so that if, by some small chance, God was not done with us yet and society managed to rebuild itself, they’d look back on my eyewitness accounts like a new-old testament; A testament to the fact that yes, the man upstairs could still swing a mean vengeance when he wanted to.
I wrote every night about what me and Antler had been through, what we’d seen, what I thought had happened versus what I assumed versus what we could remember from the newscasts we’d actually paid attention to. There was no way of knowing what was important, so everything was important.
Mostly, the goal was survival that included as normal a life as we could muster. The idea of normality had always been on a shifting scale anyway, but now it included the primal sort of self preservation that most 30 year old suburbanites could never imagine. We had come to meet each other in the thick of insanity. Rationality was never the strongest trait of the large group, and that fact made large groups fall very quickly. Antler and I had bonded through this mess, through learning how to survive and count on each other. We’d survived by realizing that stupidity was the latent gene that lay within the species, never truly dormant — always just underneath the skin and prepared to thin the herd in obscene numbers when it finally got its chance. It was the kind of stupidity that made people loot, riot and steal television sets when the world was ending. The kind that made people immediately turn on each other when the enemy was bearing down on them the entire time; the scary, biting enemy that may have been held off if people had only used a bit of common sense. A little common sense, we realized, was the only surefire way to be Omega Man.
Once we’d managed to survive long enough to stop looking for other people, we began to count the small blessings; Spam, AK 47’s- Prince’s Batman soundtrack. Whether it was a contractual obligation or a huge mistake, that CD was a small blessing today. I have often thought what I’d ask the people you ask things of when this sort of thing happens, and I could only think of one question: why Prince? I’d always assumed that it was a way to complete his ongoing contract battle with Warner Brothers — but, why? What person walked into a meeting and suggested that Prince would be the perfect guy to write 17 original songs about Batman?
As Gordon Sumner had so aptly put it, “When the world is runnin’ down, you make the best of what’s still around…”
But the Lord… he do taketh away, don’t he? There was no hope left that this was going to end. There was no hope left that there would be some spectacular bit of last minute wonder to put the world back the way it was.
We used to live in a world where insane things never made sense anyway. Now we were in a world where the insanity at least had some sense of consistency. Perhaps ravenous undead cannibalism wasn’t the end of the world. Perhaps it was evolution.
Stories by J’Mel Davidson appear in every issue of Birmingham Weekly. Write to email@example.com.