by Ryan Lin
After mankind dethroned the machines, many of the radicals were forced into the shadows, disconnected from all they once knew. For them, coexistence seemed hopeless.
Even so, some lived and some suffered, as has the reality always been. To each and every one of the survivors, this was the truest moment to them. Waking up to the scorching deserts, reminding them of the land that was once utopian, now a simple dystopia.
Their final peace was to be in ruin. Perhaps that was already predetermined for them, but the thing that told them for certain was that the past could not be changed; they could never hope to coexist together. The string of connection was cut; people turned against each other for their own purposes over time.
Taking advantage of one another and deceiving one another, It was so simple yet cruel that this was, in a sense, no different than the utopia they once lived. People were meant to rely on themselves the most from the start, weren’t they?
And yet, amongst some, they still perhaps desire the belief that there is hope even in this dystopia.
Amongst the many that were torn apart, a youth in his twenties looked out of the window of their small refuge. He made sure that there were no signs of any human activity out there, even though he knew himself that none would approach this dry orange land today, like always. Fully aware of the current situation, he was aware of the best decision for himself, but he was unable to abandon his own family.
Captured by their ailing health, the man’s sister and mother were both in a separate room behind the refuge. He was the last one who would protect them from this relentless world, their final defense. They were both too damaged and too weak to be able to do anything. Too feeble to talk or think. They were only dependent upon others. In this world where it was almost impossible to rely on others, there was but one place already predestined for the two; death.
He was naïve back then, and, because of his naïve thinking, it had driven his family into this situation. The man once thought it was possible to survive as groups, as a team. It had led to his father being stabbed while protecting him and his mother and sister brutally attacked multiple times. He was barely able to survive that moment. They only just managed to escape and run away as fast as they could. The son carried the father, the other two barely able to follow. They had no specific destination nor direction except for any place that was deemed "safe."
They ran, ran and ran. Eventually they found a refuge for themselves in the middle of this desert, and now to the present. Of all the members of his family he was the one responsible to turn his own family into a mess, and yet was the only one perfectly fine. He was bewildered by it, but knew that he could be the only one protecting them. The man knew that he should be the only one shielding them from this simple yet cruel world.
He took a step out back onto the land of rock, sand and dust.
Just outside the leftovers from a building in which he called a ‘refuge’, a small stone beside the road had stood out the most. The man approached the stone that was engraved with scratches that barely spelt out the very word he wanted to see.
If anything, he had every right to despair of all that has happened to him. But he squatted down, smiled gently, and soon started having a conversation with the stone as if it were his father. Even though it was obvious that a mere stone was unable to speak back, he still talked about many things of the world that his father was missing. Time passed by too quickly for him, as he just realized the stone was dyed blood red by the soon-fading scarlet sky and the setting sun in the horizon. Time was against him. He knew that both his mother and sister were ill beyond repair; and when they are gone, his final connection to anyone may be gone forever. The man wanted to make the best of each and every second of this with them again.
He cleared out the thought, thinking it was just a minor mistake. Of course he wanted to see the two again; it should be natural for one to want to see one’s family. The man turned back and gazed back before entering the entrance of the refuge. It wasn’t too long since he last met with his sister and mother to check up on them. He glanced at the doorknob to their room, took a deep breath and entered the room.
Though ill, his sister tried to remain impervious to her declining health by attempting to have conversations with him, but otherwise would be silent like his mother when he wasn’t around.
Perhaps his life may be considered as "happy." If ever reality was to be that simple for some.
When he entered the room, the warm feeling flooded within him when he heard a welcome from the inside. It was a voice that he perhaps hasn’t heard for a long time; his sister’s. And so likewise he gave a greeting back to them. Both his sister and the mother were both lying down on the same large worn out bed that hardly fit the two together. From first glance he could tell how much their bodies had deteriorated. Numerous outlines of bones and ribs were visible through the skin, several bruises, cuts and injuries could be seen all over their deathly frames. Pained by the thought that they did not have much time left, the man desperately wanted to talk to them. He knew also that their conditions were intended to be like that when they almost always refuse to eat for his sake. The man held onto his mother’s soft arms, which felt hard at the same time when he felt the ulna and radius, to comfort her. And soon he slowly realized that he was the one who was starting to talk more and more. The sister soon spoke in a tone that sounded like giving up. He raised her forearm up and held it with both hands, giving her words of hope. She smiled while maintaining to lie down on the bed the whole time.
It was hard at first to see because of the darkness of the night, but soon enough the moonlight shone into the worn out room and gave a clearer view. He wanted to smile back at her, but instead he stopped and looked at the arm. At first he felt disgusted, for what he saw that he held was a rotten piece of flesh. Then his mind soon processed what happened, he hastily turned back and forth and saw the world collapse and transform drastically. The familiar aroma was replaced with the familiar stench. The corpses replaced his mother and sister. A ripped arm of a corpse replaced the arm he thought was his sister’s. He threw it back on instinct, and vomited on the ground. Soon recovering, the man backed himself away and wanted to scream so badly after seeing what was before him.
The man awakened from his schizophrenic hallucinations.
Memories flooded into him again, as if they all carried the purpose of tormenting him.
Everyone was dead, long dead.
Faced by the sudden yet evident truth, he despaired in silence, and wept.
Schizophobia by Ryan Lin