I once heard a song called Silence, and I don’t remember much about it besides that it sounded beautiful. I once calculated my steps into numbers: one, two, three. The only number I suppose I forgot was zero. Zero was the pause before track one, zero was Silence. Zero started with the falling of raindrops as I meandered across the cracked, rusty concrete bridge walking home one day up to Second Street.
I remember counting each cold drop that fell on my head, and I remember it making a familiar sound. The scents of foggy, cool air filled my nostrils with the decay of the rotting streets ahead and the raging river below. Counting my slow and lazy steps, each breath I took, the inhale and exhale of smoky air, the hard raindrops that fell on my head, and each beat my sunken heart made. I felt like the tough ground on which I walked, I felt like a steamboat chugging away, losing fuel until maybe I could sink gracefully into the harbor.
I was trying so hard, it was painful. I was trying for no reason at all, only because the world demanded it of me that I keep counting everything. They told me to keep track or I might lose something. My ears began analyzing every sound byte like a computer and my brain kept working with a tick tock, tick tock. Listen to the metronome of the clock. A clock never stops, the numbers constantly switch, and if its digital the lines switch left to right instantly depending on the number, just like my footsteps.
And like a ticking clock, anything can change in a moment. Simply because a person’s heart might stop doesn’t mean the clock will. The human brain is now a computer, your nerves are the copper-filled circuitry and electric wires that make you work. If you’re grounded properly, you can receive transmissions from the airwaves high above, the swaying power lines that float over my head reminding me we are all but human in this technological age.
I stopped by the first tree in the park for a moment and sat down with knees drawn up a bit and my backpack on the right side of me and my CD player in my left hand. I looked directly up, ninety degrees, and noticed a spider descending from its web of tiny silk…or maybe it was a copper wire, I’m not completely sure. A spider has eight legs. Funny this one only had seven; it was missing one on its left side. This spider was not symmetrical, and for some reason that made me scratch my head with the index and middle finger of my right hand; two fingers.
Then the craziest thing came like a flash of lightning, SHOCK, it struck me so hard I forgot everything I had been counting that day, on the second day of the third month of…screw it. The spider defied all logic, unraveled everything apart within my mind like the copper and plastic wires which bound it.
I remember later I walked down that beaten road to the rusted bridge and saw a ship sinking slowly in the distance, its hull torn open spilling black blood oil into the river. That ship was flaming like so many red, green, and blue fireworks that day, but it doesn’t matter. My breathing got heavier and I may have blacked out.
The spider was no longer a spider, but a spark. It was a pulse moving faster down the spiral, blinking some Morse code signal like I had never seen before, bright white light. The radio towers used to do it when all other electricity ceased one night in our town several years ago (and I don’t remember what year).
What I do know is that all computers in the world at some point were flung into oceans, dropped like dead flies. Just like that, and the water became electrified somehow. We had to re-learn everything we had known starting from scratch. The old wooden counting racks with tiny beads: one, two, three, four, five. Fingers, you have five on each hand, ears, you have two unless you live in the Zone. Eyes, you have two unless you were blinded by the World Government for certain crimes.
I don’t remember much about that certain rainy day spent in Silence, but I find it evermore ironic that we have nothing better to do but keep counting. Soon it could be the volume in decibels, how sharp the brightness and contrast of your vision is. Hell, they already ask you “one or two?” for that. I’ve been told my vision is at least two points off in all sectors, but they could always be wrong.
When did man ever feed himself into a machine? We are told we have no ancestors, no one birthed us. So far it has been this way for three generations. We live in this crippled, tiny city with downed power lines stretching their wooden trunks across some streets and blocking traffic. Kids carve obscenities in them sometimes to remind the Government that there will always be rebellion, but no one dare go against the agents. Maybe they feel like its cutting into skin, but wood doesn’t bleed. Not like that ship I watched sinking, and not red. But the lighter color underneath reminds me of the sun, anyway.
Almost every window of the buildings surrounding the square are broken, the pieces left on the sidewalk and never cleaned up. Some people have fled to the beautiful, green open country because they’re too scared to live in this city. I can’t say I blame them with how strict things are.
I looked over the bridge, the ship was sinking. It took ten minutes and four seconds for it to go under completely, hissing and fizzing foam everywhere like some rabid dogs. I cannot help but think that perhaps we’re no different: we count our breaths and we die. It’s really that simple…sometimes.
But when I close my eyes anymore, I don’t see the black darkness. You can’t hide if your restless eyes are always wide open and you can’t go crazy if you don’t count. There are no real machines to download ourselves into anymore. All we have are the simple things, cars and guns. Our hate for each other is beyond resolve, and we are savages.
Even if I forget everything else, I’ll never forget that pulse at the end of some copper wire I saw descending from a mechanical web. Maybe we think so much we are becoming the machines: our blood vessels the wires, our brains the circuit boards, our memories, files. We are only zeros and ones.
Back to zero. I am de-evolved, forgetting everything. All memories like a flood are washing away the sunken ship of who I was, the water cascading and electrifying me as a signal to WAKE UP. The alarm clock is Silence, and the rain I can actually feel. It was never about the numbers, only the feeling, and if nothing else, we are human for that reason. No matter how much the world changes…we are still here.
I was bitten by a spider yesterday…and it was the most real thing I’ve ever felt in quite awhile.