Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad; whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
- John le Carre
- John le Carre
Degeneration: Part 3
This is a serialized work of fiction and is for mature audiences only.
If you're behind you can catch up here:
Read Part 1, Part 2
I slept in as usual, got up, then checked the usual haunts on the web.
Old habits never die, but everybody else does apparently. Sorry, aftermath humor.
I checked my bank account just for the hell of it and found that the monthly subscription dues from VIP members are still going through. Makes no difference now, cash is worthless when you can walk into any establishment and take anything you want. Nobody to safeguard or regulate the funny little slips of paper with dead presidents on it. I've got a couple of laundry bags full of bills I've collected. I haven't decided what I'll be doing with it but I'll come up with something.
It's weird to check all the social media sites and nothing's been updated since that evening. I keep reading it anyway, hoping that I'll see a blip of fresh content come in. Even the major news sites have turned into digital ghost towns.
It reminds me something that my dad used to say. He used to pick up the morning paper and say, "I better check the obituaries to make sure I'm still alive." He had dark humor like that. And yes, I checked the paper (the last one printed from two weeks ago) and didn't see my name on the obits. I guess I'm still in the game. Lucky me.
The last two days I've been holed up in my house doing nothing but read and listen to music I'd discovered from one of my scouting trips. This was from an old cabin a few miles down hidden and tucked away amidst a web of smaller back roads. I made room for the Victrola in the middle of the living room, chose a random record out of the crates that I hauled with it, cranked it up and waited. An uncomfortable few seconds of scratchy sounds was followed by music from another age. Something eerie about it.
The sound stripped down and imperfect, had a comforting quality to it. I sat back, smoked a cigarette and drank some vodka taken from the same cabin. The people who lived there sure had some interesting things. Walking around the cabin felt like stepping back in time - the smell of old books, the texture of a distressed wooden surface, the unmistakeable curves and color palette of a 1950s era modern design. People always told me I had an old soul. I'm just particular about what I like.
Would it be wrong to say that I've enjoyed all the recent freedom and unrestricted activity I've had lately? I do what I want, when I want.
Sure, it's lonely at times but it was like that even before the event happened. so there's not much difference really. You can almost say that I was trained my whole life to deal with this situation. Technology allowed accessibility and constant contact but nobody really spoke to each other anymore. Instead, we let the voicemail handle the call. We debated issues online and never did anything to change the things we complained about. We hid behind personas, accepted funds electronically from strangers, interacted in a virtual setting. We watched reality shows about fake people. Reused the songs and the fashions and the culture of the previous generations instead of coming up with our own. Whatever this is, we deserve it. I'm not here to figure out why I was spared, I'm not equipped to figure that out. I built an empire out of virtual strip clubs. That's my claim to fame. I'm not your hero. And if you expect me to give you the answers, you're hassling the wrong bitch. I'm here to make the best of this situation with whatever I've got left. And right now, the world is my oyster baby.
What about you? You got any grand plans of seeking out survivors? How are you holding up at your corner of the world? Me, just resting up. I've been achy from hauling supplies for the last two weeks. I've got everything I need right now but I do plan on going to the RV lot. I've had my eye on a reissue of a classic airstream. the only thing I;m worried about is when the power grid goes off. I need to be prepared for blackouts and such. Not really sure how long all this will stay up and running, the infrastructure can collapse at any point so I'm making a list of things I'll need that doesn't require electricity. Solar-powered, hand-cranked gadgets. That sorta thing. Oh yeah, and candles. definitely candles.
I've always wondered what I would do with my time if I had any to spare. I've always wanted to start another band and create art. Both require an audience to fully appreciate the craft. Sure, the act itself is fulfilling but without anyone to share it with, it's useless.
The lost art of making things up. It stopped being profitable a long time ago and so most people gave up on the arts and those who continued traveled a lonesome and impoverished road. The underground scene became the future thinkers, idealized by those who were to chickenshit to join the fight. Always on the other side of the line. Playing it safe.
Take me for example. I've changed so much that when I think of my past and all the things I used to do, the dreams I once had, the places I've wanted to see it feels like someone else's life entirely. Like waking from a dream, just seconds away from being forgotten.
I'm taking the rest of the day off. Maybe it's the liquor talking but today I just want to pretend like nothing's changed. That people are still out there going about their business. That my girlfriend's gonna enter that door any second now. That my dog's gonna come running in the room with a chewed up squeaky toy. That down the hill, my neighbor is probably logging on the websites I built and just authorized his credit card to transfer funds to my business account and is now watching his favorite strippers entertain him. That right now, bad things are happening to good people. That decisions are being made for us by a select group of leaders. That down below, in an undisclosed warehouse, an organized movement casts a dim glow. That tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and go through the motions.
I know it's all a lie. But I don't break down, I cope. And this is how I cope - booze and denial. Tomorrow, I would have recovered from this down-trodden mood I'm in and you'll be the first to know.
You there, stranger behind the screen.
Are you even real?
Or is this all part of the game?
Tomorrow, I'll check the obits and scour this town. Prepare for the unavoidable blackout. Tomorrow I'll awaken from the dream, just blinks away from being forgotten.
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