The soldiers neither wept nor wailed nor wrung their hands. But in unison, they spoke a stoic silence. It’s not my fault. I was just following orders.
A moment of silence, not for the dead or for the living, but for the sense of relief that they had done their duty without blinking an eye. They slipped on their headsets and sighed a collective breath. By fear or by conquest or by dawn’s early light, it made little difference. Let the dead bury the dead. There’s a six-inch cheese steak waiting for me.
They walked in an un-zombie-like trance, unaware of the present, detached from the past, victims in their own minds of a go-to-college-free scam. Young men. Boys almost. Disconnected from time and space and place, feeling neither the relief of innocence or the remorse of guilt.
Mostly they were just tired. Maybe they would make love to a flickering image or get lost in a battle of apparition ideals. Or maybe they would talk about the Dodgers or the Packers or Manchester United and embrace the mirage of the mundane and ever-so-gently turn away from their memory. Maybe later they would reconcile their actions and their humanity, but right now, my God, what they would do for a steak and cheese and a bed with real pillows.
The viewers at home were tired, too. The food was burning and they were fighting an insurmountable battle to keep a three-year-old from throwing his food on the floor and so they turned away, ever-so-slightly; amused, but mostly relieved that yet another monster had been slain. With every tug at a shirt or story from school or did you know what Margaret said about you yesterday, they soon forgot what exactly they were supposed to be afraid of.
The linguist sketched out a scene, grappling with his loss of words, until finally penning, with poetic precision, a piece on pretentious personification, "Death is not the battle cry and bag pipes offering the Dirge of Destruction. Death is Apathy, arriving in plainclothes, drinking sweet tea and greeting us in denim jeans, slipping in with a seductively silent soliloquy. She lulls us into a dazing, dozing, dreamy denial. and steps into the calm complacency. Then finally, she asks us to kindly sit still as she taps her syringe and then walks away. I am Apathy. I have become Death."
“The truth is that cultures change. They die. They transform every time we rewrite our stories. To say that a race is dead or a culture is dead or a society is dead denies the deeper reality that a father and a mother and a son and a brother are dead. Today, humanity died,” the anthropologist answered.
“Maybe Apocolypse is the right word for it,” the linguist replied. Then looking away, he whispered, “Maybe we shouldn’t try and put words to it.”