Let me try to paint a picture. It’s a post apocalyptic Earth. The world lay in ruins. What caused it? Who knows. Did Obama bomb Assad, causing Assad to pull some strings and get Iran, Russia, China, and who knows what else to bomb America? Did that lead to all this? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Did mankind do this to themselves? Is this after a third or fourth world war? That would date this too quickly. Provided we survive the latest current events of stupidity, I’m sure this isn’t the last time mankind will almost destroy itself, and practice makes perfect. Maybe this is the near future and Obama was in the White House when it was destroyed. Perhaps it’s a few presidents from now. Either way is possible.
Perhaps mankind has nothing to do with it directly. Maybe a shower of meteors that scientists discovered coming our way gave mankind a few months to prepare but no amount of missiles shot into space could do anything to minimize the damage, and the panic and fear that shot through humanity at the futility of their existence in the face of a cold and heartless black dark of space caused worldwide panic and rioting, which did even more damage than the meteors did when they finally came.
Or we could assume for sake of argument that aliens have landed and are systematically slaughtering human beings without so much as a how do cuz they were short on veal chops in their spaceships. Too easy?
Here’s an old chestnut. Maybe zombies have risen from the grave and no one really figured out why, it just started happening, and the only way to really die now is to get shot in the head. Perhaps not. Perhaps it was a mishap of scientific investigation which has led to the slow painful demise of modern civilization and possibly entire species of mammals including the human race.
Perhaps someone, who was really really mad about humanity and his place within it, prayed really really hard to his god who happened to notice that asshole’s prayer out of all the rest of mankind’s prayers and fulfilled that one prayer, leading to the end of all that is. Maybe the monsters are demons from the hollow Earth come to swallow mankind whole in answer to a single prayer from a very disturbed person.
It doesn’t matter how we got here. The world lay in ruins.
We pan down to what appears to have once been a shopping mall or group of shops off a street corner. Convenience stores or maybe bakery shops or maybe something else entirely, but the roofs have completely been ripped and all we see now are some walls and remnants of what once was civilization. Some dead bodies in corners and lurking in shadows maybe or what looks like it may have once been human. Hard to tell. Not moving now. Just set pieces for the scene now. Just garbage over bricks and steel and concrete slabs now. In the distance we can hear screams and explosions and the cacophony of war, but immediately before us is curiously almost tranquil in comparison, if not very depressing and scary. The only light source is from the cloudy and smoky skies above which paints everything in blue and grey hues.
The only real movement a midst the smoking wreckage is what our camera’s eye slowly pans down to observe. Before us are two people that mostly look like you and me but they have obviously been through a lot already. They’re dirty and grimy and their clothes are torn and ripped. There’s blood on them but it’s hard to tell if it’s their own or someone else’s. Probably someone else’s blood, cuz neither of them behave as if they’re wounded. Perhaps an abrasion or a bruise here and there but nothing life threatening.
One of these two people is carrying a weapon of some sort. The other one is carrying a curiously large bible. The one with the weapon is trudging ahead of the one holding the bible like a shield. The one with the weapon is looking for something.
“What are you looking for?” the one with the bible asks the other.
“Bullets.” The one with the weapon reaches for anything not bolted down, observes it, tosses it aside, and continues seeking. “This thing won’t work without bullets. We need bullets.”
“It worked before.”
“Yeah well that’s when it had bullets. We’re out. It’s just a fancy club now and–” The one with the weapon has turned around to face the one with the bible for the first time since they entered this what used to be a building, “what’s that?” the one with the weapon points the weapon at the book, “Where’d you get that?”
The one with the bible motions behind them, “back there.”
“Well put it down and help me find bullets.”
The two of them stand and face one another. One holding a useless gun. The other holding a book with words in it. I love this image. Don’t you?
I could just have these two stand here indefinitely and look at this. I love this image. I love what it says and what it doesn’t say. I love the blue and grey hues painting two dirty and grimy humanoid forms standing in front of a backdrop of modern day commercialism and captive consumerism gone horribly and disturbingly to pot. I’m enthralled by the sounds of man made thunder in the distance. Two human beings holding two man made objects they’ve picked up from the ruins of mankind’s successes and progress. This is humanity distilled. Gun and book. Book and gun. By the way, I’m trying not to use gender classifications but if i accidentally do, assume the use of ‘he’ is just out of an habitual entrapment of living in a patriarchal society. This could just as easily be two women as two men, or a man and a woman or two guys.. it’s entirely up to you. I don’t consciously mean to make that decision for you.
I can go anywhere with this story at this point. Does the one with the useless gun club the one with the bible? Does the one with the bible start reciting memorized passages from it at the gun person? Do they struggle? Does the one with the gun shrug? Do they both sit down with some randomly discovered twinkies and mull over the book of John? Do they pray? In light of everything happening to them, do both of them still believe? Does the one holding the bible still believe and the one holding the gun not believe ever? Will the one with the bible convert the one holding the gun? Or I could put a twist on it.
The two stand there for a long time. The one holding the bible swallows hard, and in the painful silence finally, meekly says, “I found this for you.”
“I know what you’re doing,” the one with the gun says to the one with the bible, “it won’t work.” The one with the gun steps away and continues looking for bullets.
“I can see what’s happened to you,” the one with the bible says to the one with the gun, “what you did back there with– what was that, twenty of those things?”
“I wasn’t counting.” Dismissively, the one with the gun continues walking the direction opposite the way they came, seeking bullets.
“Yeah neither was I, I was too busy being more scared of you than I was of them!”
“Well we survived it didn’t we?”
“I’m not so sure you have.”
The one with the gun turns back to look at the one with the bible, “What do you mean?” They stand there again with much distance between them, but also feels like a staring contest has begun. Like they’re nose to nose despite being across the room from one another.
“They weren’t the only monsters back there,” the one with the bible says to the one with the gun, “you were a monster back there too!”
“So I got a little bloodthirsty? My adrenaline shot up! We were both fighting for our lives!”
“You’re the fighter.” The one with the bible walks slowly towards the one with the gun, holding the bible out in offering as a gift to the one with the gun, but it also feels like again, the one with the bible is using it like a shield against the only person in the room holding a weapon. “I don’t know what I am but I can’t do what you’ve been doing. I’ve noticed in the short span we’ve been together the safest place in the world right now is right behind you! What did you do before all this?”
The one with the gun stands firm, not taking his eyes off the one with the bible. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Where did you get all this rage?”
“Our world has been taken from us! Aren’t you a little pissed off?”
“Not like this, no. Not like you.”
The two are now standing face to face again. The one with the bible tries to put it in the free hand of the one with the gun, who refuses to take the bible.
The one with the gun pushes away, “It doesn’t matter anymore!”
“It does! To you!”
“You told me yourself you don’t believe!”
“Yeah I did, and you told me you used to! That you still do!”
The one with the gun crosses past the one with the bible to a pile of junk and garbage, then sits down in a huff, “there’s no bullets around here. What’d this place used to be, anyway?”
“I don’t know.” The one with the bible joins the one with the gun, and picks up one of the boxes they have sat on as he does so, “but you appear to have found some Twinkies.”
“We can wait five years they’ll become as hard as bullets.”
They laugh. The one with the bible puts the bible down and starts to open a box of Twinkies.
“John one five,” the one with the gun puts it down and also picks up a box of Twinkies. The two open some packages and consume them. It appears they haven’t eaten in awhile.
“What’s john one five?” the one with the bible says in between bites.
“It’s a verse in the bible. ‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out’.”
“What about it?”
“I used to believe that meant the light of god.”
“Now.. I don’t know.”
“Well. Not knowing. That’s a start.”
“I don’t know.”
Of course, this would be the predictable moment where I’d have the zombies or aliens or humans or other kinds of monsters find them and attack; when their guard is down. Somehow I could creatively use the bible to help them save themselves and make their escape. Or maybe the twinkies. Or maybe they don’t survive. Maybe they both die at the end and go to meet their maker. Or not.
Or maybe that’s just where the story ends. Maybe they were the last of their kind, and the bad guys win. Or maybe humanity was the bad guys. So many directions I could go, but I think I’ll just end it here. I’ll let you decide how it ends.
Peace in our time.