Working Chapter 9 of my Is it for us alone? novel in progress
Routines had always been part of humans’ lives despite some valiant efforts to divorce ourselves from them. They helped us tick along when we weren’t quite sure that we wanted to and allowed the days to turn into years. There was nothing particularly fun about these orderly little steps, but they were there. They sat in our subconscious and directed parts of our lives which we were never sure of, or rather which we were because of our faithful routines.
In Anders’ subconscious the routines battled for supremacy while on the exterior they frustrated Anders. There were mornings where he would wake up and move to drink coffee and others where he thirsted for whiskey. The former were better days and the latter days of absent minded stumbling, first on the search for the life affirming poison in neighbouring homes and then in the aftermath of the drunk. Still, despite what must have been months (but could have been days) no personality had been able to fully and finally take over Anders’ mind. He was still Anders, but now he was floating amongst billions of other lives with trillions of ideas and knowledge that were previously alien to him.
This morning when he had roused himself with the sun he felt the urge to take a run. Luckily he had a relatively fit body despite his previously chronic habit of remaining holed up in his garage, and so the run was not a complete shock to his system. Running had not produced the clarity he had expected, but everything he felt was like an old memory – it was in between familiar and foreign, like visiting Canada as an Englishman. When he reached the top of a cliff where he had planned on turning around and continuing his run home, he stopped. The place was familiar – as almost everywhere was now – and he decided to take a breather and figure out what it was that he could remember about this place.
He remembered running up here before dawn to watch the sunrise after its short slumber in the early summer.
There was a pang of lost youth when he saw himself sitting here late on a beautiful midsummer’s eve drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.
Dark memories surfaced of a decision as whether it was time to end a life and passionate ones of lives being conceived.
There were many memories as allowed them to come to the surface and then none as he asserted his dominance again. He walked around the small grassy area at the top of the cliff and then he noticed a bench overlooking the ocean. Control slipped from his grasp as another consciousness half took over.
Emotion flowed through his body as he remembered the beginning of a life – not conception, but a shared life, a love. That love was never lost, but the three pieces of it had been separated and only two had found their way into Anders. There was nothing to it now but to discover what had become of the third. At his fastest pace Anders ran back to his house.
Somewhere in the city. That’s where he had to go. Exactly what he was looking for was still a mystery to him, but there was an overpowering urge to make for the city. When he got there he would know where to look. He packed some basic supplies – coffee, water and food – and then he made his way out the front door.
As he crossed the threshold he instinctively stopped and began to worry about decaying bodies and the disease they would breed. Then he worried about the wild animals that had or will be attracted by the flesh. Coffee, water and food were not enough out there in this wild world that he had created. He needed some proper supplies.
Then the pang of loss, the draw to the city came to him again. It was harder to describe than love and infinitely more compelling. He simply had to get going and find whatever it was that was drawing him in. The bare essentials that he had weren’t enough, but he didn’t need much more despite the parts of his mind telling him that he did.
His mind wandered to logistics again rather than the feelings that were drawing him. There was a helicopter at the coast guard base just outside of the harbour and his subconscious now begged him to reach at that opportunity as well – it was a way of reaching joy and satisfying the draw at the same time and he could not resist it.
After hastily packing a few additional supplies to satiate parts of his mind Anders made his way on foot out of his house. As he reached the end of his driveway, he stopped and looked back. His self, that part of him that had become obscured since he undertook his great experiment, had burst through to retake control of his mind and body. It was similar to the moment of hesitation, that some feel, before making a jump of a cliff into the water whereby you know that everything will be ok and concurrently are afraid to jump. As with everything since his absorption of all living minds, this feeling was amplified in such a way that he fell to his knees and grabbed his head.
Finally his pure mind had full control and he shook his head in anger at what had happened to him. How could his worst fear have really come to pass? This was not part of his grand plan to be alone, truly alone on this Earth. He screamed at the top of his lungs and raised himself from the ground. This would simply not do for Anders. A life of solitude and rationality was what he needed and what he deserved. Freedom from all of the insanity that he knew dwelled in the reserves of his mind at this point. They would have to be expunged.
No easy feat this would be, but he knew that he could put them away. He made his way back to the garage, discarding the backpack he was carrying as he did so. A fatal mistake it seemed, as some rattled in the pack and sent a striking memory of a child to the fore of his mind where he couldn’t hide from it. The child in this memory was lying on her back rattling a toy rabbit that her father had bought her before he left to go and fight. It was fluffy, but had the rattle of a classic child’s toy. The noise was from something more like a dream than a memory though. This had not actually happened, it was no true memory, and knowing this made him search out for some other part of his mind. Nothing was found.
Anders was gone again and only the emotions, spurred on by the rattle and the void where he was searching for some other soul remained. They drove him to pick the pack up again and head for the helicopter. These emotions also knew that they could not leave the garage intact, as Anders would always seek to come back if there was anything left. That Anders needed to be locked away now though, and the view of the garage in flames would do that. Quickly, he ran over to Thomason’s house and picked up a canister of petrol from his garage. After dousing most of the equipment in petrol, he dipped a long cloth into the canister to act as a wick and lit fire to it. As he walked away quickly he could sense the impending explosion. And then there it was in all its glory. He turned his head to look at it and then Anders, the pure Anders who feared humanity was locked away.