They said it was the end of everything we loved and in a way, it was. It was also the ascent of something pure, something simple. It was the future whether we liked it or not. It was here. It would all come down to one simple act, death. The death of not one, but thirty-two people including myself.
It happened on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, the sort of day that lulls you into a false sense of security. When you are complacent in life, your job is good, your significant other loves you, and you have all the money you could ask for. This is when disaster strikes, when you stop struggling, and disaster that day came in many forms.
The first was a sporadic loss of internet access, the providers across the globe claimed ignorance; that everything was working properly and that there was no cause for the outage. The second thing to go were the phones, and not just cell phones but even the rotary phones that us old folks still had plugged in the basement (for emergencies, ironically).
That was when things really started to fall apart around us, when everyone started to realize that to get help (or food for that matter) they would actually have to leave the house. No more ambulances, no food delivery, we were regressing. Hell I can not claim innocence here, I did not realize the depth of my own situation until I went to use Google Maps to find the path to a hardware store for supplies. Joke would have been on me anyway since I have not carried cash around for at least ten years, I did not even think of my debit card as being electronic or relying on a network of any kind.
I never would have guessed that we would find any hope, it was a dark time for us all. It was not long before the looting started, the riots, the hording of food and supplies. I wish I could say that hope came in the form of one solitary person, standing up to give us all a rousing speech. Convincing us to pull together and we would could rebuild society. We needed a hero; hell, some of us tried to find one in the world leaders making promises that things were not as bad as they seemed. That the human race would find a way.
One week, that was how long it took the governments to start to close borders. It was frightening how swiftly they enacted this, soldiers, no, entire armies stood at the major crossing points. Nothing and no one was coming in, or out of all the world’s super powers. The US was first, the President declared it an issue of safety and self-reliance. Canada followed suit with its own version of “protecting the welfare of all Canadians”. This was the nail in the coffin for me. The realization had sunk in that if we needed help, no one was coming. We had locked ourselves away under a blanket of false security, hiding from the monsters that every other country represented.
As I mentioned before it took thirty-two of us to finally put a stop to everything. Maybe everyone had forgotten about sacrifice, about selflessness. All it took was a small group of us to try to save one life. It was an accident really, we did not realize that anyone was around. If you had told me that someone still even had a camera to film with, I would have laughed in your face.
A small camp of us had stationed ourselves under a bridge to hide from the snow. It happened so fast that I would not even say we were being brave, bravery takes thought and willingness to overcome odds. We were human. I do not even know the kids name. In the blink of an eye this bundle of rags came tumbling down the hill and onto the ice of the river. We all gazed over in vague interest, at first we assumed it was just another body succumbing to the cold. Until it moved, it tried to stand at the same moment the ice cracked. I was on my feet and running, I could hear a few sets of foot steps behind me. It did not matter, all that mattered was that I get to that body before it became an empty vessel like so many others. I dove into the water head first, I could barely hear the muffled explosions of other bodies breaking the surface of the water. I searched the water for movement, for that pile of rags that became a human seconds ago. Someone next to me was grabbing my arm and pointing, we both swam down into the murk and ice. The cold was fire in my lungs, the dirt in my eyes was blinding. And then a body was in my arms, and I was being pushed to the surface, I could see so many faces above the water. Some dove in to help me get the limp child out of the water faster. It felt like an eternity, if I had to guess it was probably about forty-five seconds total. In that water every second felt like years. Those that were still dry had stripped their clothes to warm the now conscious child, looking up at us in confusion and fear. I was shivering so violently that I could not even get my own wet clothes off of me while sitting next to that source of life burning in a trash can.
I am not sure how it happened really (after all I have been dead for…god I do not even know how long anymore) but it may have been days, weeks, maybe even years. One video tape, passed around and played on every broadcasting wavelength we had managed to get up and running. The story traveled on old rabbit-ear TV’s, the audio played on HAM radios, from the mouth of one person to another. Thirty two of us died that day, saving one life. I do not think anyone here with me now would say we were being brave, tired was more like it. Tired of the death, the lack of hope. We just wanted to feel hope one more time, and in seeking out that feeling we may have jump started the oldest way of life. Humanity was starting to care again, and all it took was thirty-two minds to decide that for once, we would suffer in place of someone else.