Ma chil’, I know y’ loathe me, fo’ I’ve committed n’ unforgvable atrocity aginst yor soul, an' in ma selfishness, m’bout to commit anudda’. Ma sins’ve wrought deep creases n’ma face an’ i’is clear to enni who see me that ma ‘ntire visage’s foul; ma soul ha’been tainted by lying too long widdin the depths ov heinous debauchery. But I knew the price I’s t’ pay for ma affronts aginst life. Ma gods will spare me none imaginable suffrin’. An’ fo' wat? After a mere glimpse of pleasure, n’infinity ov torture awaits me. A worthy trade? Who cud resist? Yet ‘pon ma first glimpse inna the maw ma soul quaked an’ I, like a grouse frighten’d from his roost by padd’n feet, fled. Fool! Ma flight onny solidified ma despair. I’ve committed unspeakable atrocities wi’dese… accursed hans. All n’order to prolong ma entrance inna retribution, yet wi’ each blasphemy I deepened the hell I’m t'endure. An’ dov you? Will yor gods spare ya fo’tha lives ya’ve smote? Is yor god merciful? Cud ma soul be yet saved? But, alas, I know notta whom yor soul belongs. Yor skin’s so discolored an’ yor features so altered by d’cay. From which race ov people ya wor born from, I’m atta lose. It’s been so long since I took ya under ma vile veil. Who ya wor has faded from ma mind. Ma dear tortured soul, yo’r a question. Who wor ya? Who’r ya? Who’ll ya become after ma death?
An orange notebook rests on the end table next to Gordon's couch, eclipsed by the lampshade hovering above it. I can only imagine that it belonged to Gordon—each cyan line carrying the weight of his thoughts. The unfilled pages will now remain so, or rather, if they are to be used, it will not be for their intended purpose. Gordon purchased this notebook to house his mind, to help carry the burden of his thoughts, to calm the turbulence within... and now...? Now perhaps it will be kindling, or with any luck, it will remain unused and incomplete. Perhaps I can save his thoughts from combustion?
Piles upon piles of read books have accumulated throughout the aisles of this library, and yet thousands more remain unread. What have I learned? Well, librarians try to justify their grandeur by writing books about a relatively (relearned that word recently) simple system and deluding their readers into believing it is more complex than it actually is. Jargon is all it is though; a lexical skill employed solely to drape a façade of superior intelligence over oneself. It is class segregation, which was a reality even when I was alive-alive, but it seems now that we have spent an enormous amount of resources to building buttresses to support it. We've built a cathedral of prejudice and bias, whereupon the diocese seeks to divide people and the doctrine espoused from the pulpit is discrimination—perhaps too glum? But really, I could catalog and sort books… though, honestly, I don’t really understand what librarians do. Their writing is so bad. I just can’t make sense of what they are trying to say, and to think there are five aisles stocked full of books written by and for the same audience. Preaching to the choir? Don’t we… or, considering the sheer amount of brainless walking things lumbering about, I suppose I ought to say: didn’t we all?
Gordon's apartment provided very little in the ways of cat food. Like my own, his lot had been strategically liberated of all items of value. That is, all items with any assumed value in the world's current state. It is interesting, this fluidity in the concept of value. The regression of humanity back into a hunter-gatherer state has resulted in the discarding of so many items that were so aggressively sought after before, the vanity of their material appeal having been fully exposed. Then, is this a true regression? Is the recognition of this superfluity of material appeal not a progression of sorts? No, it's not that simple, it cannot be, for above Gordon's couch hangs a print of Wheat Field with Cypresses; the works of Plato, Nietzsche and Hume populate his shelves; a crate filled with vinyl records of Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie rests inconspicuously next to Shilah's cat tree. Surely no cataclysm could render such items valueless... Surely these items would hold preference in the eyes of any scavenger.
“Of course the door is locked,” I thought, “why wouldn’t it have been?” I pressed my disfigured face against the glass and peered through into the vacant store; immaculate. Clearly it was unaware of the desolation that inhabited the city beyond its four walls. What now, what now? I shouldn’t have even left… wait a second why am I here? I, um… I reached for my phone to take note of my brain hiccup, but then remembered—I had lost my voice. “Just give up you fool,” I thought as I slouched even more than I already always was, “I just… what will I do with my phone after, if actually, if, I fix it? Write about how I am filled with repulsion, with hate, with terror, with anxiety, with doubt, with”—I hadn’t felt anything positive for so long. “I am… I am powerless.” I stood there feeling dejected. The moon waned then waxed and waned again.
What becomes of one absent of memory? My memory is confined into hidden chambers in my mind, released upon my observation of the unknowingly familiar, then incarcerated again just as quickly. I am a prisoner-conscious of the present, apprehensive of the future, detached from the past. I am no longer a human and I cannot expect the cognition of one. I cannot conjure memories prior to the rediscovery of my apartment, I cannot reflect upon events past, I cannot reminisce. I am envious. I must write down my thoughts.
I started to practice writing with a pencil. It took me a bit to be able to hold the pencil with my fingers, for one is just bone and the pencil kept slipping from between them. After a particular round of failures one day, another bout of depressive and hopeless thoughts rallied against my psyche. I resolved to never touch a pencil again. What use is there in a pencil anyway? Thwarted again. I found another pencil one day. It was supposed to be my salvation out from my mind, yet it brought me only pain, and I avoided the area of the library where I had left it like a coward. All the better I suppose, for I had yet to open a book. With my phone dead and no knowledge of why, and my confidence in using a pencil shot, I had little else to do but begin what I had come here to do – read. But where to start? Did it matter? Why do I ask such rhetorical questions? Here, let's start here at that book on that shelf just in front of me. With this book here; "An Introduction to the Dewey Decimal System."
A fuzzy shadow, forsaken, condemned to be swallowed by the darkness of the corner of her abandoned home -- apartment 51B.
The name populated my mind without thought. I stared at the wilting body perched atop the cat tree to the side of the couch; a lone sapling wrapped with ruffled carpet material, steadfast in the face of disaster. Her eyes weakly returned my gaze; a glint of hesitant optimism; a flash of recognition. Her jaw unhinged and she released a faint meow, a cry for help.
You don't realize, do you? Of course not, how could you...?
I tentatively approached, hand extended. She arched her neck, her nose tapping lightly against my finger. Another meow, gravelly and pained. Her tail twitched rhythmically from side to side as if counting down her remaining seconds of life.
Do you remember me? Is there any part of me that is familiar?
What am I? What self-aware creature doesn’t ask themselves this basic question? At least, that is to say, what non-cowardly self-aware creature. Then again, that is to say what non-cowardly self-aware creature that is uncertain of their own existence… hmm? Perhaps I could have been clearer from the start. I am a narcissist. I know how important I am. The only reason there is air is for me to breath it—I don’t breathe. I am self-destructive. I know everything that I am not, and I measure my worth through my inabilities. I am inadequate. I am contradictory, yet I do not attempt to excuse my hypocrisies—though I assume one could say that is what this is. I am an "I", an "I" that is afraid of itself, but not afraid to wonder what that I is. Hmm…? Not entirely better at all. Too many words still. Again? Even though I am an alive-dead creature in a dead world full of other alive-dead creatures that seem to possess less—nope. I forgot why I even started writing this, which happens too often to admit. Though writing that admits in indirectly how often… I should delete this. But why hide my failings? They make me just as much as my rare successes. I lack confidence.