I met him on a particularly fucked up Tuesday.
I sat alone in a dark corner. Panting. Bleeding. Each heartbeat pushed a pulse of warmth between my fingers. The hole in my digitized camouflage looked smaller than the fist-sized crater that I held pressure on.
Shouting filled the air outside along the alley formed by the battered concrete walls. Each passing moment felt like a lifetime. I vacillated between worry that an insurgent would discover me and drifting into random thought.
I thought about the building that I was hiding in. How it was once built by someone who wanted to build it. There was once an empty lot and someone said, “Damn, you know what would be great here… a fucking building.” So they got some stuff and poured concrete to make a shack. Then who knows?
Politics. Poverty. Conflict.
Something changed the world and suddenly the building was no longer a good idea. The people moved out and the rats moved in. Then the rebels filled the cavities with bombs and hateful ideas. Then people with loving ideals decided to bomb all of the hateful people who might make bombs.
They sent trucks and bright eyed youngsters to defend love with a strong offense. Then there was a flash beside the road and one of those trucks fell to pieces. I had been in that truck. That is how I ended up in the building.
My mind wandered back from the daydream to concentrate on a new wave of pain. A burning in my lungs. Bubbling. Dizzy.
A dark figure appeared and swept a large black cape around me and we blinked out of existence. A second later I was sitting in nothing but a shadow. Pure darkness. The figure was all around me. He was near me. I couldn’t see him but I felt that he wanted to talk.
Where am I?
What am I?
Why am I?
Fair enough. Who are you?
All that isn’t. An infinite void.
Are you death?
Some people say so.
I don’t understand.
Think of it like this. You can’t turn on the dark, only remove the light. Cold is the absence of heat. Yada yada. But the idea of opposites is fundamentally flawed. I am the absence of all the energy of life. Absence. Not opposite. You may call me death but I prefer… perfect rest.
So why am I here? Am I dying?
That might be a touchy subject. You are not succeeding at entertaining life. Don’t be worried, it is nothing about you specifically. She is a fickle mistress. Each life starts with a set of rules and when those rules are broken, life simply leaves. Flames burn until the fuel is gone. Comets live until their ice is blasted away by the sun. You… you drove over a bomb. Sometimes that is a deal-breaker.
You can’t blame that on life. If it weren’t for death everyone could live forever. You are a taker of life. You are a liar.
How can that be true? I just told you that I exist only where other things do not. I am the great void. The space between atoms and quarks. The expanse between planets. You call me death but I am your omnipotence. I am your God.
But God is… life. God is… is… supposed to be good.
I am good.
But you are death? How can that work?
What better advocate for life? And I apologize, “God” was probably a bit extreme. I don’t have any specific powers to see the future or change reality. I am the great nothing.
How are you talking to me?
I’m not. You are trying to find reality as life leaves you. I am your thoughts leaving your body. A whisper into a summer breeze. Everyone finds me before they die.
What happens to my body?
Life will continue to use you. You will be parceled out to the universe. Worms. Bugs. Soil. Gases. In a way you will be more alive.
I will be dead.
Well, life as a whole will increase. But you borrowed that energy anyway. It’s all very Zen.
But I will be dead.
It doesn’t have to be all bad. Your idea of life is flawed as well.
Life is energy. Vibration. Heat, light, sound. All of it is a disturbance of peace at the most basic level. Maintaining life is the struggle to keep things out of balance. In your favor but out of balance none the less. Life is sustained effort and destined to become less and less out of balance. Life will continue to be broken down into the most basic energies. A black hole is the last stop in the filter between life and death.
So I should just accept death?
You don’t have to make that choice. Life will stay or life will go. You just try to pay attention to the rules and enjoy the ride. After all life is a wave. In the meantime… I will be here. Which is nowhere. I would love to continue our chat but it looks like I have to leave.
I started to say something else but the pain in my side returned. Darkness became lights in a hospital. There was more shouting and footsteps but I understood the language. I struggled to pull life into my lungs. With tears in my eyes I looked around the room at all the struggle. The frantic doctors and nurses working to keep the water of life in proverbial buckets.
I noticed a small place in the corner of the room. In the shadow of flood lights and passing bodies there was a quiet, intense nothingness. Waiting for me.